Lost Girl of the Week: Brenna Mulvaney

Lost Girl of the Week — By on January 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

Brenna Mulvaney, this week’s LG, believes she is the definition of the undefinable Lost Girl. She believes that the beauty of travel doesn’t come from bars or museums, but from connecting with people and their cultures. Follow her adventures at www.fabuleuxdestinbrenna.com.

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If you could have any definition of a Lost Girl, heck, I’m one of ‘em. You probably won’t even find me on a map! See Paris? Just drag your finger across, and I’m halfway to Germany. Care for a visit?

To say our nightlife is grand would not be true. We don’t have fancy ancient buildings that will take your breath away, or a particular local cuisine that draws visitors near and far. But that’s not really the point of traveling, is it?

For me, the best experiences I have are when I’ve connected with other people of different cultures. Often, they have cost no money. Usually, it’s not what’s in the plans.

Like when I volunteered on an organic farm for a week, pruning lavender against the deep green pine trees and inventing recipes for new jams. I savored the obvious physical beauty, but the sharing of moments; a mid-morning thesane break next to the fireplace, a mandatory apéro following a surprise visit from friends, a pair of slippers neatly placed outside your bedroom door, were what made the experience special.

Walking through the streets of Venice, I remember seeing the owner of our hostel seated outside in a big piazza, smoking cigarettes and sipping spritz. He waved me over, bought me a drink, and explained to me the healthy tradition of olives and cocktails; an age-old trick for Italian composure. He then invited me to cook dinner with him that night. There we were, whirling homeade pizza dough through the air, as Alberto whispered the secret to his perfectly seasoned, cheesy pizza pie.

Even in the south of France, we found our way to the tiniest of tiny villages, to join the locals for a rousing Sunday match of bullfighting. The tanned Provencal skin of the elderly men looked seasoned next to my black Irish complexion; they grumbled and cheered as they shouted the rules to me through thick mustaches, their arms flapping over their bellies full of terrine de campagne.

Over the holidays this year, the snowfall in Europe interrupted my trip home for Christmas. Oh well, I thought. If I had to be stuck anywhere, at least I was stuck in Paris. Yet I found no charm, nor intrigue in wandering the city alone, thinking about the possibly spending Christmas by myself. Traveling is not about the places you go, or the hotels you stay in; it’s about finding the joy in what we share and exercising your mind to explore our differences. Sometimes, you don’t even have to go too far. Even joining the club basketball team in my town has led to a plethora of support and encouragement from people who go out of their way to make me feel welcome.

For me, I really wasn’t looking to be lost. I had whimsical career dreams and longings to stay with my best friends back home. But in choosing to take myself on the map, I have found more direction than I ever needed.

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