Author: Cecilia Iliesiu

A Dancer’s Path of Guillain-Barré

What is your first response when your toes go numb? Mine was to wistfully ignore it and keep dancing. Let me set the scene. It was this August and I had just flown across the country from Seattle, Washington to Becket, Massachusetts with my dance family, Pacific Northwest Ballet, to perform for the renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. I was cast to perform in all six shows that week, sometimes with three roles in one show. On the flight to MA, my toes went numb and then, halfway through the week, I started loosing sensation in my fingertips too. It is instinctual as dancers to push your bodies to attempt movements that aren’t normally feasible and I certainly wasn’t going to let my fingers and toes keep me from doing what I loved most – performing. While dancing in the final performance, my legs were out of steam. The power I was used to having in them when I jumped just wasn’t there. I was tired from the shows, traveling, and performing, but I was fine. I scheduled …

7.2-4.2016 Dublin, Ireland

One sentence: Dublin is the capital and largest city in Ireland, but has a charming quaint feeling. Day 1 – Arrived by bus from Galway to Dublin, making it from the western to the eastern point in 2.5 hrs – Visited Trinity College with its famous Book of Kells & Old Library – Tradition dinner & dancing performance with my Irish friend Phil, who I met on a study abroad in Rome four years ago – how the time has flown by. Day 2 – Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Met up at the Dublin Castle where we visited the The Coach House, Chester Beatty Library & State Apartments – Toured the Old Jameson Distillery which has now been relocated to the south of Ireland – Relaxing dinner at our Airbnb home Day 3 – Met Phil for coffee and a stroll around Temple Bar (the center city) and St. Stephen’s Greens – Lunch with the traveling dancers, Phil and another Irish Rome friend Michael. Chances would have it that we met a gentleman from Seattle who is …

6.30-7.1.2016 Galway, Ireland

One sentence: Galway has such a quaint Irish personality & charm and we couldn’t feel more welcomed.   Our itinerary Day One Lunch at McDonagh’s (best fish & chips) Walked & shopped along the Quay Street & Eyre Square Admired 3 churchs: St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church & Augustinian Church & Galway Cathedral Pub life with live Irish music & dancing: Tig Cóilí & Kings Head & Front Door Day Two Galway City Museum & Spanish Arch Lunch at Ard Bid at Nimmos Coffee at Coffeewerk + Press Explored the University of Ireland Pub life with live Irish music: The Crane & Tig Cóilí & The Quays   Off to Dublin…

6.22-29.2016-London

London has come and gone so swiftly. We experienced a historic vote, iconic sights, stately buildings, magnificent castles, informative museums, local restaurants, afternoon teas, pints of cider, and pure adventure. Not only did the four of us traveling dancers see the sights within London, we also managed to venture outside the center city. Each day brought us a different taste of London and English life. I found myself comparing London to both NYC and Paris. I don’t see myself running away to London, like I would Paris, but I adored learning about the country’s history, traditions and sense of pride. These three major cities share an explosive tourist industry and iconic sights, however London felt much like the United States. But, let me tell you, the direction of the traffic was extremely bizarre as a pedestrian and still hard to adjust to after a week. We will certainly not be driving in England or Ireland! I feel privileged to have visited the United Kingdom’s center during a historical event – one of its most important votes. …

Tues, 6.21.2016 Back to Reykjavik

One sentence: Returning back to Reykjavik felt like coming home. We have loved our magical journey through Iceland, but we look forward to our next two stops – London & Ireland. – 11a. Slower morning editing photos, packing and enjoying the last of our cabin before heading back to Reykjavik. – Found a Handmade Shop on the side of the road where Liz found two pincushions made of a dear antlers base and sheep wool pillow. – Stopped by Akranes to see the city’s lighthouse. – Entering Reykjavik, we enjoyed the look out at the Parliament Building Perlan. We thought there was a security line, but instead we found ourselves in the queue to vote. It made the Icelanders chuckle. The view from the circular dome was fun to point out which directions we drove and explored. – Found our Airbnb guesthouse, did our laundry and walked around town seeing the Harpa Concert House and Sun Voyager sculpture. – Wandered downtown and had cocktails, a puffin appetizer and divine desserts at Apotek.

Mon, 6.20.2016 – Snaefellsjökull Westward drive

One sentence: As we looked over to the Kirkjufell mountain, it looked more like sunrise than sunset, but it was clear the day was over because we were exhausted. – 11a. Headed on the circular road around the western peninsula of the sub-glacial stratovolcano, Snaefellsjökull. – First stop: Arnarstapi where we found a charming field. Also, found a local eatery and a fellow traveler from the Ukraine to share lunch with. We ordered far too much food, but it was delicious. Wandered with attacking birds to the unusual coastal lighthouse made of stone and the spectacular rocky shoreline. – Second stop: Cave Vatnshellir where we splunkted into the center of the earth. (Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) calls it the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth.) We lowered 35 meters or 156 steps into the cave with a guide. My favorite moment was when we entered the lowest cave, turned off our flashlights and listened to the sounds of the dripping cave that had been there for 8,000 years. – Third stop: Ólafsvak where we fell …

Sun, 6.19.2016 – Icelandic Sweaters & Bruarfoss

One sentence: An authentic Icelandic day buying sweaters and picnicking by a waterfall.   – 9a. Enjoyed a leisurely morning sipping coffee and sharing travel photos & memories with the Canadian friends I made from the other night. The hostel owner passed us and said, “I am happy to see that Canadians and Americans can be friends” and so are we! Our friends have been camping around Iceland for about a month. Look at Steve’s blog for his story & world travels. {http://thelostcanuck.com} – 11a. Packed out and drove to our next destination – Grabrók. – Finding an authentically-knit Icelandic sweater was on the top of my list and it couldn’t have been a more memorable experience. Our hostel owner pointed us in the direction of a local sweater wool shop. Rosa Vinnustofan is a native Icelander and is a grandmother of nine. She and her younger sister knit every item in their little shop connected to Rosa’s home, mostly in the winter because nobody can make it to her house. We choose our items and ended up in her …

Sat, 6.18.2016 – Drive to Iceberg Lagoon

One sentence: A 12-hr driving day brought us through countless scrapes ending at an icy paradise. – 9:15a. Started on the road towards the Iceberg Lagoon on the eastern coast of the island. – We were amazed by the magical and distinct landscapes. A stretch of waterfalls carving out the mountainside and houses sprinkled along their bases. Lush purple mountains layers over green moss over glaciers into the distance. Icelandic horses grazed the vast fields of green pastor framed with tall narrow trees blocking the sharp winds. These horses are like no other we’ve seen with bushy manes and shorter legs. Winding through a colorful mountainous landscape with high winds slightly swaying our car from side to side. Drove through a foggy mist as we entered a lava rock scape that made us feel like we were on Mars. There was an odd arrangement of small lava rocks,”poop rocks.” Choppy milky streams running through black lava rocks covered in cushioned moss. Red-roofed houses nestled in the grassy & rocky mountains with sheep covered farmlands on …

Fri, 6.17. 2016 – Haukadalur

One sentence: Driving through Iceland gives me a sense of the variety of the Iceland roads & scenery; We hit the top spots of the Golden Circle (Thingvellir, Geyser, Gulfoss). – 11a. Set out of Reykjavik by rental car to Hafnarjordur & drove through the gravel road of Reykjanesfólkvangur. A remarkable landscape that could be painted by watercolors. – 1p. Stop to enjoy the National Holiday of Iceland in Selfoss. A fun family holiday festival with cotton candy and the hokey pokey. – 3p. Thingvellir National Park – UNESCO Heritage Site. – 6p. Found our Skjol hostel in the middle of nowhere Iceland – how liberating! It has a nine-room hostel and a camp ground. – 7p. Pizza & beer dinner at the hostel restaurant. The owner is incredibly kind and generous. – 9p. Geyser & Gulfoss Waterfall. It was still completely light out and significantly less tourists then there would be in the afternoons. Both were a short 5-10 minute away from our hostel. – 11p. In the hostel restaurant editing photos and meeting two nice campers from Canada who have traveled around …

Thur, 6.16.2016 – Reykjavík

One sentence: I am forever spoiled by the healing mineral waters of Blue Lagoon. – 6:15a. Arrived safe and sound from Seattle (through Vancouver) to Reykavik with Liz & Carli with a smooth-sailing customs and baggage claim. – 7:30a. Hopped on a bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon. – 8a to 1p. Soaked in the rejuvenating mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon making new friends as we floated through the various nooks. We lathered ourselves in two mud masks – Algae & Silica. It felt as if we were in another world with the silky water steaming into the overcast sky. – 1:30p. Bus back to Reykavik as we settled to our first Airbnb home in Iceland. The landscape is one I have never seen – flat, rocky, mossy with mountains far in the distance.   – 7p. After taking an unexpected 2 hr nap, we wandered the streets of Raykjavik. Finding a museum garden, the Lutheran Hallgrímskirkja, dinner at Loki’s and the shopping streets. -10p. We found our way back home in complete light. It …