Day 618 OUT OF Beijing: Valentine’s Day, Love and Carnaval San Francisco.

 

Page 3 on Carnaval San Francisco's DRUM BEAT!

Page 3 on Carnaval San Francisco’s DRUM BEAT!

 

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and Jill and I both got a wonderful surprise that helped us celebrate our love courtesy of Carnaval San Francisco.

If you remember, Jill and I met at Carnaval almost two years ago.

That was 8 days before I was going to leave for China.

I was meeting my buddy, Jon-David, to hang out and watch the parade.  It was going to be my last Carnaval for 3 years since I planned to stay in China for the duration of my contract and wanted to see other places instead of coming back to the bay area.

Little did I know I’d meet the love of my life, Jill Loeffler.

I posted about our first date, the next day, and how we had a “First Date Re-Dux” when we got back to San Francisco about 2 months ago now.  By the way, we are leaving San Francisco in 14 days.  Time really does fly in so many ways!

I tagged Carnaval San Francisco in my blog because I wanted them to know how much we appreciate them and how important they are to Jill’s and my story.  BiancaEstella de la Rocha, noticed my blog post and how we met at Carnaval.  She wrote to me and asked if we’d like to be featured in the Valentine’s Day edition of DRUM BEAT.

DRUM BEAT is their official newsletter and we were both blown away and humbled at the same time.

Bianca told us that she would put us in contact with Valencia Newton and she would do the interview.

Valencia contacted us, about a week or so later, and we set up a time to meet.

We met at a coffee shop on Market Street and had a great time.

Valencia is someone that we instantly took a liking to since she is so happy, gregarious and outgoing.

She is also the current Queen of Carnaval San Francisco!

How cool is that?  Jill and I got to be interviewed by the Queen!!!

Valencia told us this was her first time she had professionally interviewed someone and we were quite surprised as she had a lot of questions, seemed at ease, and was very professional and concise.  I, on the other, tend to babble and Jill rolled her eyes more than once and said, “Yep, this is Aram.  He gets excited and tends to talk a lot.”  Jill worked in journalism, and on the radio, and so she knows how to do interviews and how to be interview. I tend just to talk and want to have people “raised up” by my excitement.  I think, in looking back, it is another reason why we do so well as a couple since we balance each other out.  She grounds me when I need it, and I ground her when she needs it (which is not that often.  Jill’s a rock and I’m constantly amazed by her stability and ability to know what is the right choice in almost any occasion).

The interview took about an hour and we talked about everything from falling in love, blogging each day, running San Francisco Tourism Tips for the last 5 years (and the last 1.5 years in CHINA!), minimization, getting engaged in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey, what we have planned for our new website and also what Valencia’s dreams and hopes are.  It was like we were friends that had known each other for years.

Valencia is going to be a natural at this and I see someone that is ready to take the world by the horns!

We were told the edition would come out on Valentine’s Day and Valencia let us know we could read through and do corrections with the different drafts.  About 2 weeks later, she sent us the first draft and it was almost perfect.  She had done an excellent job of getting the facts straight, making a very coherent and exciting article, and almost being 100% correct.  We were really pleased and excited to know that our story was going to be in print sometime soon.

Another exciting part was the photograph that Valencia chose for the interview: It was of us in Santorini, Greece, at our friend Vassilias Micheal Chryssos‘ bar and restaurant, Palia Kameni Cocktail Bar.  It was a very romantic night and we met up with Vassilias here in San Francisco as he and his girlfriend, Soneth, are traveling (and working) in California for a few months.

I’ve posted the interview below.  Please do me a huge favor and go to the Carnaval SF Facebook page and “like” their page.  Also, go to the Carnaval and support them with your patronage, your money and you joy.  This is an organization that does so much, for so many, with so little.  Along with allowing us to meet and fall in love, it is one more of the reasons that Jill and I love Carnaval SF.

 

Click here to see the PDF version of the Valentine’s Day DRUM BEAT featuring Jill and me!  We are on page 3 and 4. Valenica, who interviewed us, is in a photograph on page 2 dressed as the Queen and standing with the King.

 

Page 4 of Carnaval San Francisco's DRUM BEAT!

Page 4 of Carnaval San Francisco’s DRUM BEAT!

 

 

Day 563 OUT OF Beijing: Greece Comes to San Francisco!

 

Our first drink at Palia Kameni.

Our first drink at Palia Kameni.

 

Jill and I spent a few nights in little town of Fira on the island of Santorini, Greece after we got engaged.

We had been to Mykonos, Naxos and Paros and were worried Santorini would be too crowded and expensive.

Imagine our surprise when it was actually about the same price as the lesser known islands and not crowded at all.

We walked around Fira and found this amazing bar named Palia Kameni Cocktail Bar.

It was facing towards the caldera and where the sun would set later that night.

We decided to sit down, have a drink and hang out.

One of the waiters, from the UK, talked to us for a bit and seemed like a nice guy.

After our drinks came, the owner, Vassilias came up to talk to us as the waiter told him we had just come from China and were engaged.

We talked for about 1-2 hours and discussed how he came to own this bar at such a young age (he was 28 years old), how to live the life we want to live, and how to achieve financial freedom as soon as possible to be able to travel and see the world.

Vassilias told us that he took the bar over from his dad and he is slowly making changes. One of the changes was to pay his staff enough that he, and they, could shut down for the 6 month winter break, and be able to live without fear of running out of money.  For Vassilias, that also includes going to visit his girlfriend, Soneth, who is a speech therapist in San Francisco and Los Angeles this winter.  We told him that we will be back in SF and wanted to meet up with him.  He agreed and we came back the next night to watch the sunset again.

We just got back to SF on December 15th and Vassilias told us he was leaving on the 20th for LA and we decided to meet up at the Squat and Gobble in the Castro Area.  We had a wonderful time talking and figuring out future plans and how we can support each other as he builds his business and we build ours.

It is everything we love about owning our own business, being able to travel, and living a life that is less structured and more independent.

It is not for everyone, but there is no way we want to live any other way, at least not at this point in our lives.

I’ve include pictures taken from his restaurant in Fira.  If you ever go to Santorini, please say hello to him and enjoy the sunset from there.  It is life changing.

 

Day 404 in Beijing: And We Are Out Of Here!

 

A beautiful view of the mosques in Istanbul.

A beautiful view of the mosques in Istanbul.

I hope you enjoy the next week or so of blog posts because I won’t be able to update them much since Jill and I will be in Turkey and Greece.

We leave today and return on August 15th so we will be gone for exactly one month.

We have been in China, non-stop, for 7 months and are extremely excited to get away and have some peace and quiet.

Istanbul will be busy but we will be hanging out with friends, and some family, and just enjoying it for the first week.

Trust me, compared to Beijing, nothing is busy and anywhere is quiet.

Jill has been to Turkey three times and I’ve been there once so we have some familiarity with it and the people.

We have always loved going there and meeting with people who are very open and friendly.

We will start, and end, our trip in Istanbul.

We are going to go to Cappadocia and do a balloon ride through the Fairy Chimneys.

Then to Pammakule to see the perfect blue waters and natural white thermal pools.

We are also going to other parts of Turkey but those are the highlights.

We will then go to four different islands in Greece including Naxos, Paros, Santorini and Mykonos.

We will spend about 3 days on each island and Jill will be able to celebrate her 41st birthday on Naxos.

Last year she celebrated in China and we think this is a very nice way to celebrate Jill.

Who knows where we will celebrate her birthday next year?  The world is our oyster!

We will head of Athens for two days and see the sites and then head back to Istanbul to finish off our trip and grab our flight back to Beijing on the 15th of August.

I’ll do my best to post a few pictures of our travels and hope you enjoy them.

I’ll be doing more full blog posts when I get back to Beijing and have time to sort through everything and figure out what I want to write about regarding our trip.

Here are a few pictures from Jill’s past visits to give you an idea of what we will be seeing and doing when we arrive in Istanbul.

 

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