Santorini- These are the things that dreams are made of.

Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy! This is a long one.

When I was selecting where I would spend my holiday, I wanted to be somewhere that was off season. Avoiding the crowds and being able to actually take photos without people. That’s just what I got. I arrived at the port in Santorini at the bottom of a cliff. All I will say is I’m positive the guy took advantage of me because he knew I had no way of getting into town from the port. I’ll never share how much I paid. That’s another lesson learned.

I arrived at Pelican Hotel in about 15 minutes. Upon entering it had this fresh, clean smell. I was greeted by the daughter of the owner. What I loved most was the time she took to pull out a map and point out every sight I needed to see during my stay. The archeological sights, wine tastings, red and black sand beaches, restaurants and many other attractions. My head was definitely spinning trying to figure out how I would conquer this is 3 days. She was amazing at getting me settled in room 16 on the first floor. The room was quaint with an entrance that separates the bathroom and storage area from the living space. It wasn’t my favorite bathroom, but it would make due. There was a small TV mounted to the wall, desk, chair, full size bed with nightstands on both sides. Oh and plenty of outlets.

I dropped my items and went over to the restaurant next door as she suggested this place for dinner. Remember Pelican Kipos. They have a great patio area and seating for maybe 50 inside. It was decorated for the season with lights and poinsettia’s on the tables. I tried the wine tray (assortment of cheese, vegetables, meat and crackers) as an appetizer. I followed this with a Greek salad. Just know that I will never eat a Greek salad from another restaurant. It started with a bed of cucumbers, green peppers, olives, red onions and two large triangles of feta cheese. The waitress suggested I drizzle it with olive oil. As my main course I had the Four Cheese Rigitoni. I was very pleased with my meal. Before leaving they brought me a complimentary desert. No idea what it was, but I ate it all.

Friday morning the lady at the hotel suggested I change my rental car to a place right across the street where she could get me a better deal than Budget. I picked up my Skoda that reminded me of a toaster box. I took a couple of loops around the center of town to get a feel for driving. I stopped for breakfast at Graffiti Cafe. I had an omelette with cheese and veggies and a side of potatoes. The Cafe is very cute, bustling with people and good music. I asked for an iced coffee to go, but ended up with an Irish Coffee (I see how she could have mixed those up, but you gave me an alcoholic beverage to go!).

After leaving there I stopped for gas and then headed out to search for some of the sights. Michalis (seems to be a common name) at the rental car place adviced me that GPS is not really a thing in Santorini. However, I was able to get Google Maps to work.

I somehow found my way to the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum. I’ve never been to a wine museum. It’s supposedly one of the top ten in the world. I would say that it’s quite interesting. They have preserved many artifacts that document the history of the winery. I went on the self-guided tour with an audio box describing all 23 scenes. Afterwards I went back up to begin tasting. I had five wines; one white, two reds and two dessert. By far I am a dessert wine, rosé, or sweet red and white type of drinker. I really enjoyed the two dessert wines and listening to the process from vine to bottle. They were so delicious and it was suggested that they are best served over chocolate or vanilla ice cream due to their thickness. I wrapped up my session and actually went back to the hotel to read and write.

I really wanted to dry a different restaurant but Pelican Kipos had me wrapped around their fingers. Plus it was next door to the hotel. So I got ready and walked over. I went for the wine plate again as an appetizer. As much as I wanted the Greek salad I skipped it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat my main course. I love me some pasta, so I tried the Basil Pesto dish. Once again it did not disappoint. The rigitoni was smoothered in pesto sauce and topped with parmesean. Marie the host came over to check on me and said she wanted to share some of the best wine with me on the house. It was delicious with strong aromas of tobacco and vanilla from the oak barrel. Bon Appétit!

I got up Saturday morning ready to concur the streets of Santorini. So I started out on the curvy road to Oia. I wish I could tell you which direction it was from the center of Fira, but I can’t. Believe it or not, but I’m terrified of large bodies of water and heights. I will still jump on an airplane, boat, ferry or cable car in the sky to anywhere. For me it’s being able to say I keep conquering this fear.

(Imagine from Pinterest)

I finally arrived in Oia in one piece and nerves intact. Oia is a cliff town sitting on the edge of the Aegean Sea. The buildings are consistently white or cream colored with some blue domes. There seems to be a lot of construction and renovation taking place. Also because it is on the side of a cliff, the villas seem to be built into the rock as the foundation. Additionally, I believe the only way you can reach the villas is by donkey. Overall it’s a beautiful location with astonishing views. It was very quiet, with a few tourist walking the cobblestone alleyways. I happen to pass two African American women that were very happy to see me; as I was likewise. We greeted each other in passing. Let me pause here and say that I have met some amazing people during my travels. I strolled for an hour or so capturing the beauty of quiet Oia.

When I left I decided just to drive since I had plenty of daytime left and was informed that you can’t get lost since there are three main roads. I saw signs for the airport and Kamari which is the black sand beach. I drove through the airport just for a view. For those of you familiar with the airport in Rock Hill, SC, it seemed smaller than that with one runway. I looped it in about one minute. I continued on the road and realized I was heading in the direction of the wine museum which is also the road to the black sand beach. I arrived at the black sand beach and walked around for a little while capturing some photos. This place is breathtaking in general. It’s beautiful to see the sky meet the ocean.

My next stop was Santos Wine Winery. When I entered the winery I recognized the two ladies from Oia who were now joined by a gentleman. I took my seat and the daughter came over and greeted me. She welcomed me to sit with them. She acknowledged that I was a solo traveler and may not want to. However, I think it’s important in my solo travels that I connect with people.

We made introductions and then quickly found out that we had all attended HBCU’s in North Carolina. They are from the Raleigh area and reside in Italy and the daughter lives in Chicago with her husband. Although our time was brief, I enjoyed their authenticity of engaging with me. We made dinner plans for later that evening. I’m betting you’re wondering if we went to Pelican Kipos. Keeping reading…

Santo Winery sits on the edge of a cliff with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea, Fira and Oia. I went with six tastings; four whites, one red and one dessert. I also added a Rosé champagne because it was so pretty and sparkling. The cheese, olives and bread with this red tomatoe based dipping sauce was perfect. I see myself returning here in the future.

After leaving there I continued on my journey to locate the red beach. I followed the signs until I arrived at the end of a road with a small white and blue chapel. I was looking for red sand, but only saw red rocks. Once again it was a magnificent sight.

On the way back I stopped to capture a photo of the area referred to as the Caldera. It is a half-moon shaped bay with a view I could stare at for days. At this spot, I gave thanks to God for allowing me to travel and see places that some only dream of visiting someday.

I headed back to my hotel to rest before dinner. We plans to meet around 8 and I reserved a table for the four of us. We met at the restaurant and ordered drinks while we perused the menu. I eventually choose the Lamb and Potatoes in a ceramic pot. My goodness… First of all I don’t think I’ve tried lamb outside of a gyro. What is wrong with me?! This was a nice sized portion and the meat just fell off the bone. T.J. (the husband) and I had the lamb. Jamie had mussels, which would have never been enough for me. Krys (the daughter) had the fried cod. I really enjoyed my time with them. We talked about everything from travel to getting parents up to speed with technology while living abroad. I hope to run into them somewhere in the future.

Self care Sunday…. I got up and did some under eye patches to make me feel refreshed. I got dressed and went next door to have breakfast and a mimosa. Afterwards I walked around for some time and then returned to my hotel to get ready for my ride to the port.

I boarded the ferry with ease and picked up my room key. I could have taken a flight, but I really enjoyed my time of the ferry. I was in business class so it was comfortable. It gave me an opportunity to write and read the magazines that have been sitting on my coffee table since arriving in Doha.

I arrived safe and sound at Pireaus Port. I opened my Beat app to get a taxi. One of the taxi drivers walked up to me and quoted $25 to get to The Stanley. I looked at him sideways, showed him my Beat quote and walked over to my $11 taxi. I can’t knock his hustle. I am comfortably in my room at The Stanley and I will include more about it in my next blog. Let’s just say I’m fine with the bathroom and the bed is cozy.

Athens – Round One

I arrived in Athens late Tuesday night. I scheduled my pickup from the airport through Welcome. This is similar to a service that I used in Cartagena. They come into the arrivals hall with a sign so you know it’s your ride. My driver was friendly and gave me a hug welcoming to Athens. He grabbed my bags and took me to the car. In the car was a nice clothe bag with their logo and a bottle of water.

He took me straight to Tropical Hotel and I checked in with ease. This last year I would say that I’ve been traveling extensively. During this time I’ve been using Booking.com to secure my hotels. My rule of thumb has been a 7.0 or higher rating and reading the most recent reviews. For the most part the reviews have been accurate and I’m satisfied. The best part is you can sort reviews based on solo travel vs. families. That gives me an idea of how someone like me experienced the accommodation.

The one thing I have learned about European travel is if says the bathroom is small…then it’s smaller. The room was suitable and clean. The best part was the ocean view from the balcony. I also choose this hotel as a landing spot for its proximity to the Port of Pireaus. After a good night’s sleep I headed out Wednesday morning to explore Glyfáda. This was a recommendation from my driver.

Glyfáda is a neighborhood with plenty of shopping and eateries. Somehow I ended up in Mark’s and Spencers purchasing a dress for my photo shoot later that evening. I walked around Glyfáda for a while, capturing a few pictures and trying to figure out how to get a ticket for the tram. I finally found a store that sold the pass. I got on the tram and rode it to the last stop taking in the scenary. The best part of this vacation is time. I have time to explore with no set agenda. I rode until I found an area with plenty of food options. I had fries and a gyro. The taziki sauce was to die for. I got back on the tram and headed to hotel. However, I got on the wrong one and ended up getting off and reserving a Beat (taxi) to take me back.

I got up and dressed myself for a night photo shoot with Michalis. I found him on Airbnb experiences. With everything going on in the world it can be a little scary at times booking excursions and experiences online. However, I did follow him on Instagram @Michalis_m prior to just to vet him and the photos. I met him at the Hellinic Parliament in central Athens. We met prior to the changing of the guards so it was special to see that. Afterwards we started the photo shoot. He even brought a Santa hat to help me get in the spirit. He took a few pictures in front of the parliament and then we strolled over to Syntagma Square.

Michalis is great behind the camera for the simple fact that he makes the person in front of the camera feel comfortable. I’ve always looked at photos and wondered how the photographer was able to get a certain pose, and now I know. The funniest part for me was when he says to look off into space and he takes the pictures. Obviously I’m no model, but I definitely have a different respect for them now. We had a lovely time walking around finding areas with the perfect light or backdrop. Some many different places. In front of flowers, Christmas lights, graffiti, restaurants and Acropolis at night. We walked the winding streets of Athens for two hours taking fancy pictures and it was a little bit of a tour as well.

In the middle of the photo shoot this guy named Bradley started singing, which brought a smile to my face for the perfect picture. He was an odd character by the way. He proceeded to share with me how much he loved black culture, music, etc. Bradley was familiar with Charlotte and Charleston. He even went as far as to tell me he feels African American. I kindly reminded him that he wasn’t. It’s always weird to me when Caucasian people share with you that they want to be African American. Just know this life is not easy, but I would have it no other way.

(Weird and odd Bradley)

Michalis and I continued our hunt for the perfect photos. We wrapped up our evening over food, drinks and shisha overlooking Acropolis. We reviewed the pictures which I thought looked amazing even without editing. I am currently in Santorini, but I will be returning to Athens in a few days to get my sightseeing in along with a ride on the hop on hop off tour.

Oh Man in Oman

I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I need to catch up on my blog. With eight hours at sea today there was no excuse. So I’m going to work my way backwards. The first six weeks of school was a little challenging. Not only getting back in the swing of teaching, but my Tuesday and Wednesday class has some girls with peculiar behavior. Like the type of behavior that disrupts the learning process for other students in the class. It took me some time to put some strategies in place so I could actually teach. Anyway, Tuesday and Wednesday evening usually evolves wine or gin. So one Wednesday I came home and thought….. Traveling makes me happy, so where can I go for a weekend getaway? The girls must have worn me out that day.

Dubai would have been my first choice, but due to the blockade you can not fly there directly. Kuwait and Bahrain are pretty close, but that did peek my interest. So, I settled on Muscat, Oman. I selected the weekend of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the Middle East and I thought this would make me feel a little better being away instead of trying to celebrate in Qatar.

The day finally arrived. After work I went home, gathered my luggage and headed to Hamad International Airport. I checked into my flight with Qatar Airways and waited patiently to board. By the way, Qatar Airways is the best airline I’ve ever been on. If you consider traveling to the Middle East, book with American Airlines and you will most likely transfer to one of their planes. They make sure you’re not hungry or thirsty (free flowing wine/liquor in economy).

I purchased my visa online for about $12 USD and it was available within minutes. This facilitates a quick process at immigration. After exiting the airport, there were plenty of cabs available. I caught my cab to the Grand Millennium Hotel which was about 15 minutes away. The cost was about 20 OMR. That’s $50 USD. Now, before leaving I checked out Budget Rental Car. I could have rented a car for the weekend for $75 USD with my discount. Let’s just say lesson learned. The exchange rate is insane. The prices in Qatar seem comparable to the US, so I was shocked.

(view from hotel)

Anyway, so I get checked in to my room. Not the best view, but incredible bathroom with a garden tub. I live for a good tub. The bed was just right and lots of snacks and drinks available in the room. Unlike most trips, I didn’t do a lot of planning. I said I would figure it out when I get there. One of my favorite things to do is the hop on hop off bus tours. It was insanely expensive and crowded. They only have one loop with about 10 stops. I got off at one.

They had a stop at the beach which was close to the resorts and restaurants. I spent my day walking the beach and ate traditional Turkish cuisine for lunch. I got back on the bus a few hours later and completed the tour. I walked around the souq, but they were just too aggressive. I returned to the hotel and soaked up the rest of the day at the pool.

I had read and heard pretty good things about The Cave which is a club/restaurant complex in this structure that looks like The Flintstones home. I went here for dinner. I had Mexican cuisine and it was good to be in the Middle East. I also had several dirty Martini’s with gin and some excellent shisha. The music and ambience was pleasing. My final day, I slept in and had a late brunch. The Grand Millennium Hotel is connected to the mall, so I walked around for a little while. I went back to the hotel and picked up my luggage and headed to the airport.

Let’s chat about the overly friendly taxi driver. As a solo, female traveler I always take precautions and try to use taxi companies, Uber, Lyft or Beat. As we are driving he is asking me about my trip and pointing out things along the way. Then he says, “Are you my friend here?” Excuse me was my response. He repeats the question as if I didn’t hear him. I never really answered, just looked at him with an awkward smile. Then I picked up the phone and talked to my “husband” all the way to the airport.

I will probably never visit Oman again although I’ve heard wonderful things about Salalah, the sink holes for swimming and hiking available in the region. Additionally, Friday is the holy day so it feels like things were really slow. All in all, it was an opportunity to go somewhere I had never been and that can’t be taken away from you.

Friday mornings at the Farmer’s Market

You probably can’t imagine my excitement when I saw the email that Torba Farmer’s Market was opening this weekend. Coming from Arizona, going to the outdoor market uptown or downtown and swinging by the dairy along with a car wash was my favorite Saturday morning activity. With the school week ending on Thursday, Saturday has become Friday along with Sunday becoming Friday as well. And well Saturday actually feels like Sunday with no church. I digress.

Anyway, I made my way over to Ceremonial Court, which is a beautiful area within Education City. Upon arriving it was filled with people and cute wooden booths. All types of vendors were present.

The first thing I tried was a lemon ginger shot which was pretty tasty. There was a place with with natural items such as lotion, soap and body scrubs. My next stop was a bakery with desserts. I decided to get a slice of lemon iced pound cake because it was calling my name. I grabbed a London Iced Latte from another place as I continued to wonder about.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers were readily available. Clothing boutiques and natural dog food businesses were present. But let’s go back to the pound cake. I sat down at a picnic table that was designed by a local project with excellent designs. I bit into the cake and it was so moist. To the point that I contemplated should I have another piece.

I took another loop around just to confirm that I didn’t miss anything. Im not a fan of dates, but they looked to good not to sample. Last week Adnaloy introduced me to Lotus ice cream. Think about the cookies you get on Delta airlines crushed into a creamy consistency like Nutella or Peanut Butter. Jesus. So anyway, the date I selected to sample was cut down the middle and filled with Lotus spread and crushed cookies on top. My God. I bought a box.

I kept going and found a place with salsa. I sampled both with some tasty chips. That also came home with me.

Overall, I was satisfied with the market. The selection was varied and something for all, even the kids. However, at 82 degrees on a fall morning I tapped out after an hour. I was soaking wet, like sweat rolling down my leg. Maybe a January visit will feel better.

Transportation Dreams

So…. I said I would give myself three months to determine if I nedeed a car. I knew at the end of month two I was done with Uber. It sounds cool not to have a vehicle to worry about, but I started out driving my paw paw’s tractor and my mom’s Fiat up and down Smith Rd in Filbert before I should have been behind a wheel. My dad used to let me drive from the house to the tennis courts behind the library in York. Driving has always been important to me and gave me a sense of independence. The only time I’ve really been without a vehicle is my freshman year in college (That was for the best).

I also wanted to be smart about my purchase and not rush. We are faced with so many decisions on any given day. Anyway, I started looking at three brands: Honda, Volkswagen and Audi. Kia was in the running but quickly fell off. I thought about SUV’S just to help with command and respect on the road. But, my SUV taste is much more expensive than my car taste. Additionally, I thought that tinted windows help, mileage under 100,000 Km and 2014 or newer. As I was looking this week, I found several Audi’s at Elite Motors that I really liked.

They were all a little out of the price range that I wanted to maintain, but were still good deals. I did some price comparisons because certain things are cheaper here than the US and vice versa. I looked on Carmax for the same make, model, year and mileage in Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina. All listing were much higher than what was being asked here. I also did some comparison here for listings and found that they were all similarly priced. So I made my way over to Salwa Rd Saturday and drove all the A3’s.

Next is all the fun steps to complete the purchase. First of all Malek was amazing with my 500 questions about purchasing a car. He diligently answered them as I am sure he could see the mass confusion on my face. Once I selected the car I wanted, I had to take it to the German Specialist to complete a full inspection. Basically they tell you if the car is worth purchasing by completing a multi point inspection and identifying if there are any underlying issues. They also take it out on the road and allowed me to accompany them. Everything came back fine.

I returned to the dealership and Malek reduced the car by 3,000 QR and filled out a quotation for me to drop off at QNB along with the inspection report. Also, the instamra, which is insurance, is valid until June. Malek said if I come back before June he would renew for me. Sunday morning I dropped the quote off at the bank and Tuesday afternoon the funds were in my account. All the bank wants is a salary certificate. All in all I was able to keep my car payment significantly less than my monthly transportation stipend. I’m not worried about petrol because we are in oil central.

I sent Malek a text letting him know that I could pick up the car today and he reported they were washing and cleaning for me. It took less than 20 minutes to complete the paperwork and transaction. In the US they will take your whole Saturday. Running credit checks, asking what you can put down (I did put a down payment down although it wasn’t required), trying to make you purchase something more expensive and signing your life away. Looking back, I was frustrated trying to understand the car buying process. However, between Malek, the guy at the bank and Leslie helping me it was pretty simple.

I am one happy girl! Blueberry now has a sister and her name is Serena.

Fall Break is Giving me Life!

This is not going to be a long blog, just a starter. I’ve been out of the groove of writing because I’ve been working. I selected Madrid and Barcelona for Fall Break. I was looking for cool weather. I wanted to utilize my boots and leggings and that’s just what I got so far.

(View from room)

I left out of Doha this morning at 3:40 am. Leslie took me to the airport. It was nice to have him see me off this morning. All of Qatar Foundation was on this flight. Just when you thought you were getting away from work folks. I flew on Pegasus, which is the Spirit of international airlines. Well at least that’s what they say. It wasn’t that bad that I can’t fly them again. The ticket was cheap, but I paid to select my seat. I’ve decided I’m an aisle girl. I get to control who moves. I slept all the way to Istanbul with the help of Melatonin and then on to Madrid with one more. If you’re sleep people feel bad about asking you to get up. I was lucky to have a row to myself the first leg, the second was packed.

The traffic in Madrid is horrible. I could tell the Uber driver was slightly frustrated, but you knew where and how far I was going to hotel. Speaking of hotels, I booked JC Hotel via Booking.com. I had really good success with them them in all my travels this summer. The ratings were high, price was good for the area and the pictures sold me. The rooms are themed with no numbers. I am in the Colombia room. All things South America.

I settled my things in the room, freshened up and headed out for a drink and snack. I need to find a new scarf because evidently mine decided to remain in Turkey. This evening I’m headed on a pub crawl tour. Besides Hop on Hop off, they are my favorite. Drinks at the best places and plenty of sites with new people. Look out for my review later tonight or tomorrow.

#seesomemadrid

Messy Hair don’t Care…Well I Sort of Care.

So I think I’m over my dreads. I knew the day would come, I just didn’t know when. Back in 2008 when I decided to go natural it was driven by three reasons. One, I had just survived the worst trauma of my life. Two, during that time my hair was corn rolled and the person that took it down didn’t comb it out before putting water on it (tangled mess). And finally, it was a new start. It never crossed my mind that the chemicals were probably bad for your hair. I mean I lived for my roller set.

With my dreads I’ve had many phases. You know the ugly phase when you can’t wash and your waiting for them to actually lock and intertwine. Then all of sudden they begin to sprout, grow and you feel normal again. My hair grew really fast during this time. At one time they were below my bra strap. The issue with that is my hair has always been thick. So the longer they grew, the heavier they became.

About two years ago I started cutting my hair and I finally decided to shave the side this past summer. I knew that was the start of the end. So, here I sit contemplating cutting them off and starting fresh again. I have enough new growth to get some type of braids until I decide what I actually want to do with my hair. When I see Margaret today we will come up with a plan. On a side note I’m not interested in sitting in a chair for hours getting my hair braided.

What drives a new hair style for you? Anyone thinking about the big chop?

Professional Discourse

So again I had to really think if I was going to put this out there. Sometimes writing things out allows me to let it go. It also allows me to reflect and grow. My amazing colleague and friend Kristen taught me about professional discourse. Basically, it boils down to being able to have conversations with colleagues about teaching and learning in a professional manner. Meaning that we don’t have to agree about the others perspective, but we respect their stance.

So last week a small group of us got into a conversation about how we were teaching our students to write a SMART goal. Based on what two of us had observed, the students were struggling to take the individual parts of a SMART goal and condense into one sentence, two maximum. This conversation went all the way left and I don’t even know how! Her stance was they should be able to do the task with little guidance after using the resource we provided. Additionally, if they couldn’t do it, they needed to consult the English teacher. What I observed, was they couldn’t complete the task. There was a long back and forth between myself and the colleague. I also didn’t believe they should go to someone else for help; that’s my job to guide them through my assignment since I gave it them.

Now, I am clear that we all have different backgrounds and teaching experiences. While I use my experience, I have to be open that maybe what I expected in one setting just doesn’t work in another. I’ve actually learned that a couple of times over since arriving here. I felt what I would consider very passionate about the subject at hand, but never to the point of disrespect. My colleague proceeded to tell me that she felt as though I was angry with her and yelling. I was caught all the way off guard. I’m sure I did a double take and looked at her sideways. I immediately apologized, sharing that I was sorry if the delivery of my message hurt her as that was not the intent. I followed it up again with if she perceived it in a negative manner I was sorry. Her stance was hers, but mine was mine as well. I was committed to guiding the students as they will have to complete SMART goals all year. She just walked out of the office. I was completely shocked. I thought we were having a professional conversation. 

I have to sit next to this person in daily basis that feels as though I was angrily delivering a message and that wasn’t the intent. I’ve had to deal with some pretty interesting conversations with teachers, students and parents throughout my career. Never have I had someone react to me in this manner in my 14 years of working in education. That’s not even my demeanor. In all truthfulness, it has really put “a nasty taste” in my mouth for this person. 

My question is how do you deal with colleagues that disagree with your stance or feel as though you have hurt their feelings? 

Something New and Unexpected – Part 3

9/16- So…. It’s official. I’m a certified cornball. Where do I get my membership card? After this weekend I thought to myself we might be going “steady”. That’s such an old school word. We really have a great time in each other’s presence. So I made a date night jar. Just to keep it fresh and exciting. Also to gives us something to look forward to for the weekend. He calls me the “planning manager”. I explained to him the rules of the jar. He was excited! Man. Excited. Date night jar. #rareman

9/17- He wanted to pull something from the date night jar so we had dinner. Here is the menu: Garden Salad with ranch dressing and croutons, Garlic cheesy bread (had to make myself), Spaghetti, Brownies and ice cream. We were pretty full, so we never made it to dessert. We enjoyed the meal and he would like to thank the people who taught me to cook. That’s going to be Eva, Sarah, Sharon and Aunt Sandra.

So back to the jar. We pulled karaoke night. As soon as he hears me singing he might run away.

So there is nothing super exciting to tell you. It’s seems as though the two of us have settled in and we’re pretty normal.

More than anything, I’m appreciative of his friendship. There are some things that I would normally try to figure out on my own in a new place, but he already knows the best way to go about the situation. The flip side of that is I think I’m so exhausted from having to think things through, research and all that stuff that it’s really refreshing to follow his lead. Did I just say that?? Out loud? C’mon if you know me, you know I’m independent and headstrong. While, I’ll never lose that part of me, I’m definitely open.

I’ve tried to do things my way for a really long time when it comes to men. So maybe this is the man that allows me to see both perspectives and decide which is best without repercussions.

We really like Fall for You by Leela James (click name to listen)-

This verse really hits home for me-

I’m so used to standing

So used to being on my own

But this thing is new, baby

It feels like I’m losing control

I’ll take another step

-The End

Church and Brunch

“Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy.”

Psalms 99:3 NKJV

I could hear the music from praise and worship coming through the walls of the church as I approached from the street.

I kept saying to myself that I have to find a church. Before coming here I had searched online and found Doha Fellowship. According to the website they are a Christian church and have been active for 20 years. So, I got my life together this morning and caught an Uber to the church. I’m not really sure why but entering a new church is always scary for me. The usher greeted me with a smile and escorted me to a seat. All the tension disapated. Everyone was on their feet singing praises to God and I knew I was at the right place.

The praise and worship team was on point setting the tone and preparing hearts for the word. The worship leader invited members up to the front to share stories of faith and overcoming situations through the power of God. Announcements were shared with the congregation. The church has their 20th birthday celebration approaching October 5th. They will celebrate at the Westin Hotel where all services will be combined. I can’t wait to go! After announcements they asked all first time attendees to stand. I popped up with ease and they welcomed me. The lady sitting next to me introduced herself. Her name is Jamilah and she has been attending for five years and loves it. I see why! Next we had tithes and offering.

Pastor Kevin came forward with a prayer before going into his sermon. His sermon focused on 1 Peter 1:13:

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

The first thing he discussed was anytime you see therefore in the Bible you should read the previous verse for context. He also shared an illustration about how you gird up your loins. He drew the comparison to preparing your mind for action. His emphasis was on being sober minded. If you’re going to be drunk, let it be with the Spirit. Also I thought this was powerful : Thoughts become an idea, ideas become your attitude, attitude impacts character. So prepare your mind for action in all situations.

He also dropped a little nugget for me. I’ve been struggling with four girls at school. He said look at the thinking that drives the behavior and not the behavior. The behavior frustrates me, but there is a thinking that drives their actions. Therefore, I have to prepare my mind for action with them and understand the thinking behind their behavior. I would rate my worship experience a ten and I will be back next Friday!

Brunch at Lemon Cafe followed church.

Friday is also the day to hit up some good brunches. I saw one of my fellow colleagues I met in the airport was at a cool looking place called Lemon Cafe. I caught an Uber to Tawar Mall and located the restaurant. It’s kind of hidden but was worth the scavenger hunt.

I ordered gravy fries and an iced caramel latte to get started and blueberry mint shisha. Jesus, these fries were smoothered in gravy and cheese with a side of ketchup. The shisha was robust and long lasting. For my main course I had Fettuccine Broccoli and Chicken. It was all a winner. Maybe this will become my Friday ritual.

Off to check out Tawar Mall!