2014 Round Up

If 2013 was the year I never saw coming, then 2014 was the year I looked forward to with huge anticipation and many many expectations. It more than exceeded them.

This year I got to take part in 3 trips, 2 sites and one festival.

My favorite trip of the season – the RS

I visited 6 new countries (and am going to my 7th on Friday!) and took upwards of 100 people around my old favourites. I ate and cooked many new foods, including reindeer, Florentine steak, strange assortments of smoked fish and Rhubarb grown on the seaside of the most northerly part of Norway.

Mick preparing some Norwegian Salmon

I have been covered in snow, sweat, wine, charcoal and pasta sauce this year. I have danced under the moon, on the bar, with a table in my mouth and most of all, in the kitchen. I met up with friends I haven’t seen since I was 16, friends I made last year who I had been hanging out to see again and of course the amount of new friends made this year which is impossible to count.

Sangria fight
So glamorous

Some parts of the year were not as fun.

When it wasn’t raining it was glorious!

Pamplona – aka the running of the bulls, was held at the end of June/ start of July and whilst our passengers would only be with us for 4 days, the crew were at the campsite preparing for them and packing down for just over 2 weeks. It was 2 weeks filled with ups and downs. All of the ups were the people I got to work with, from Caity, the other chef with me, to Shae the festivals manager and all the ground crew working their asses off VOLUNTEERING and still having a total blast. The downs started with the weather which was raining whenever the passengers weren’t around, causing mudslides in our kitchen and emergency floors having to be put in (read: spare bits of old carpet put on top of the mud). The crazy amount of driving in a van I don’t love didn’t endear me to the situation, on the first day Bogdan and I did 17 hours driving, it only got slightly better for the next 2 days. The work itself was not hard, it was the pressure and amount of it that made it hard. Breakfast for 450 people? A BBQ lunch for 450 people on the same day? It’s no wonder that at the end of that particular day when a passenger came up to Caity and started asking her for dessert and then abusing her when there wasn’t any that she got upset and I have never felt more like knocking someone’s lights out.

What’s the most pasta salad you have ever seen?

Back to the good bits.

I ticked off 4 of the destinations I had aimed for this year, with a possibility of visiting Morocco in the next week as well, I’m off to the Canary Islands on Friday!

I broke one bone and fell for one boy. At the same time.


Self explanatory
Fun in Rome

I got to enjoy Rome for 5 whole weeks whilst I worked their on site. I went back to Venice site twice this year making it 4 months total that I have worked there. Just when I thought I had exhausted all of it’s delights I find that in this delightful city, there is no end! Susie helped me to find Octopus, Sardines, Polenta and Squid ink gnocchi washed down with Prosecco and Bellini’s everywhere we went. In other food related conquests, I had pizza in Napoli, found a new favorite gelato shop in Florence, ate Norwegian Salmon and consumed more tapas than you could wave a matador’s cape at.

The delights of Venice’s Burano
Pizza in Naples

New experiences I had were-

1. Every single day of my Red Star Special trip. Snowball fights at the arctic circle, polar plunging  in Norway, having to stop the bus because of the reindeer crossing in our path, 24 hours of daylight for about 2 weeks!
2. Sangria fights in Pamplona and watching the running of the bulls from inside the arena.
3. Watersports fun in Greece – high speed, sunshine and blue, blue water.
4. Exploring the abandoned theme park in Berlin, made more fun by the security guards we were dodging.
5. Dressing up in a Dirndl and doing a walking tour of Munich.
6. Behaving like teenagers with Erin and going to get our ears pierced in Amsterdam.
7. Getting to go under the colosseum.
8. Getting cozy in a cottage in the west of Ireland.
9. Watching the World Cup Soccer final in Barcelona. As Tom and I hurried from one bar to the next the hush on Las Ramblas was eerie, only made more strange by the explosion of noise that came when a goal was scored.
10. Having a boy fly to another country to see me. An intense but awesome first date.

Now that Topdeck has finished for another season  what am I doing? I decided long ago that I was staying over this part of the world for winter. It has been about 4 or 5 years since I last had a full winter so it’s about time to man up and stay put for the season. I have bagged myself another dream job (for me) Au-pairing for an Italian family living in a tiny, tiny town in the foothills of the Dolomites. They are also only about an hour from Venice so I wont feel too far from home 😛 I met them a few weeks ago and their English isn’t great which is why they are bringing me in, to teach their 5 and 9 year old boys as well as help out with looking after them. It will hopefully also be great for my Italian skills! I am starting with them on the 7th November and they want me until June next year, but it will depend on when Topdeck wants me back as to what happens there.

A new season, a new challenge. Also new things to look forward to! It is less than 2 months until Mum is landing in Paris to visit and I have been looking forward to this ALL YEAR. Tom will join us in Italy and I get shivery excited thinking about how much they are going to love my favorite country.

My love goes out to everyone who made this year amazing.

Travel safe and stay curious.

Warm in the west of Ireland
Underneath the Colosseum
Erin and I in our Dirndls
Lunch with the girls in Rome
I feel like I became a professional at Tiramisu
Snow angels at the Arctic Circle
Mick starts a fight
At the most northerly point of Europe
About to plunge in to a freezing Norwegian river
In the arena at Pamplona
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