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What are your rituals or special things you do when visiting a new place?

Apart from sanitizing my living space--rewashing all the dishes, cutlery, pots and pans in the cupboard (Who knows what sorts of microbes still linger from the mouths who have come before you?)....

OCD: Activate!

Obsessive cleaning mode: Engaged!

...there are some other curious idiosyncrasies I engage in to make myself feel at home in a new place.

I purchase cat food and seek to feed and pet at least one street cat in each new land I find myself in. I carry a bag of cat treats with me wherever I go--out for a walk, run, out to dinner with my husband or with friends. The whims of fate are inscrutable, and one can never predict the moment of encounter with a famished street cat. Failure to prepare is preparation for failure. I derive immense pleasure from tending to the feral feline souls that roam this vast expanse, those elusive denizens of the untamed world.

Click the red button below to help me feed more street cats. Join forces with me in assuaging their insatiable hunger!

If a place leaves a remarkable impression on me, I may browse for a small piece of jewelry as a transitional object.

I looked for some amber in Riga, Latvia and in Vilnius, Lithuania upon paying a visit to the Amber Museum and learning of all the medicinal properties of this resin gemstone, but nothing seemed quite my style.

In Riga, Latvia, I found a ring from Raganu Rotas, with various Baltic runes carved around the outside, which I now don upon my thumb.

A viking runic necklace for protection.
A Viking runic necklace from Iceland.

I'm always on the lookout for new cat cafes around the world, and do judge a place based upon the grace which is bestowed to its cat citizens..

Photos from cat cafes in Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania.

I also attempt to explore every point of interest on Atlas Obscura in a new location. I love Atlas Obscura because it fosters a deeper and more complex understanding of a place. Finding beauty and intrigue in the everyday and ordinary, Atlas Obscura encourages people to appreciate the overlooked, seen and unseen aspects of the world. It stokes a sense of childlike curiosity and wonder, and proffers an escape from the mundane.

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before!" - Captain Picard of the Star Trek Enterprise

How else would I have come to learn of Saint Cyprian, the third-century sorcerer's hand in Bucharest, Romania's Zlătari Church? The Republic of Molossia--the smallest country in the world nestled in the heart of Nevada? The Stebuklas Miracle Tile of Vilnius, Lithuania? The black cat perched atop a roof protesting the City Guild in Riga, Latvia's Old Town? The micro-nation, the Republic of Užupis' unique constitution which includes the mention of cats multiple times throughout!?!

Atlas Obscura search results for Lithuania.
An example of the search results Atlas Obscura yields when you type in your desired destination.

While out and about, I keep my eyes peeled for vegan restaurants and local vegan dishes, always leaving room for dessert! Vegan cake and vegan ice cream? Yes, please!

I appreciate the culinay creativity that goes into crafting plant-based dishes, and look forward to trying innovative creations from different parts of the world while supporting the growth of the local vegan community and encouraging more sustainable and ethical food options in the places I visit.

Chocolate vegan cake from Radost in Belgrade, Serbia.
Vegan cake from Radost in Belgrade, Serbia.

Vegan cake in Belgrade, Serbia.
Vegan cakes in Belgrade.

Kotor vegan ice cream.
Cattarissimo dairy-free berry vegan ice cream sorbets in Kotor, Montenegro.

Beer pyramid.
An impressive Lav "beerymid" constructed in Subotica, Serbia with our friends. I don't drink beer. None of this was my doing!

Most of James' rituals are devastatingly practical--get a SIM card, check if the water is drinkable, find an ATM, turn on the A/C...blah, blah, blah...

Learn the native word for "beer," and add to his encyclopedic knowledge and ranking of world lagers and ales.

Click the button below if you wish to support my husband's continuing education.

James is always on the lookout for cans of vegetarian refried beans, Taco Bells and greasy pizza chains. He's a man who knows his vices and can sniff 'em out in any corner of a city.

Taco Bell fast food in Helsinki.
James scouted this Taco Bell in Helsinki, Finland.

A Pizza Hut in Egypt.
A Pizza Hut James spotted in Egypt.

A cherished custom my mother upholds is the lighting of candles in foreign basilicas, chapels, churches, citadels, and synagogues for my late stepfather, who departed this earthly realm more than a decade ago. With profound reverence, she ignites the flames, infusing them with the sacredness of her love, ensuring his memory is enshrined in the gentle radiance of each candle's dance.

Mum is inordinately fond of Christmas ornaments from foreign lands, and tries to procure one from each country she travels to. Annually, when she adorns the tree, it transforms into a vivid tableau, evoking memories of her worldly explorations. In my own wanderings, I too seek to procure ornaments from the realms I visit, with the sole intention of bestowing these tokens upon my dear mother upon my return, conveying the essence of my journeys and kindling a sense of connection to the diverse corners of the globe she has always been so fascinated by.

Cat magnets on Homer's Ithaka.
Cat magnets on the island of Ithaka in Greece.

Practical, lightweight, generally affordable and easy to collect, some folks buy magnets to remind them of the places they've been.

It's also quite common for people, once in a new place to seek out a simple grocery store or marketplace to explore the local foods and regional snacks.

Naturally beautiful and generally free of charge, people may collect shells, stones or sand. My mum is quite the rock and shell collector.

Others buy postcards or collect stamps. I do enjoy sending my loved ones throughout the world postcards, and collecting a few from special places to perhaps frame one day.

Some folks collect more commonplace souvenirs--bumper stickers, hoodies, T-shirts, keychains, snow globes, shot glasses, mugs, coasters, tote bags, pottery, coin purses, flags, patches, pins, lighters...

Then there are those who commemorate with tattoos...

Spices from Riga, Latvia.
Latvian spices.

...bring exotic herbs and spices home...

...collect dried flowers, leaves and petals.

...adopt the local fashion.

I've known others to make a formal introduction of themselves, while expressing gratitude to the land for hosting them, asking the new place for permission to be there, promising to honor the people, animals, culture and the earth upon which they tread.

Atlantic Ocean view in Iceland.
On a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in beautiful Iceland. Grateful to be here.

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