amster-done

After 4 years of trying, we’ve finally earned the right to display the Amsterdam travel poster on our kitchen wall. Success!

Ed and I spent 5 days in Amsterdam and 3 days in Haarlem with Excellent Friends and it was so fun. Cold, but fun. We’d actually spent the three previous years in countries much souther than the Netherlands, and so were somewhat unprepared for the horrors of a Dutch winter – the rain we could handle, but the wind and boner-killing COLD of it all was truly dazzling in the worst possible way. It seems that traveling to exciting new places and purchasing emergency climate-appropriate clothing is rapidly becoming a thing for us – we happened upon a Dutch clothing store (hilariously called America Today) selling delightfully warm and waterproof jackets, and the four of us gleefully bundled up to stave off the misery.

The weather wasn’t all bad while we were there – we did have two or three glorious days, which were appreciated that much more when they came around. I can only imagine that the Netherlands are fucking magical when it’s not winter, because even with the wind and rain it was pretty damn excellent. I would definitely go again. Maybe not in February, but again.

It’s been a while, but let’s see if I can remember how to do this.

Amsterdam in Numbers

  • Dutch pancakes eaten: 14
  • Bottles of Diet Coke smuggled into the country: 11; they lasted 6 days
  • Museums visited: 4 (Van Gogh, Moco, a diamond museum, and the glorious Rijksmuseum)
  • Epiphanies about Van Gogh: 1 (in addition to the mental illness, he had some problematic views about the “peasants” he so admired)
  • Cafes visited by me: 0. Funny thing about Amsterdam’s drug culture: it’s not as good as Seattle or Vancouver. I have zero interest in mushrooms, but thought about visiting a cafe or two because when in Rome and all that. Thing is, all their joints are spliffs – a mixture of pot and tobacco. I may fill my body with chemicals and have highly questionable habits, but I draw the line at tobacco – it’s super fucking gross and makes me cough and stink and sad. Plus, I’m WAY too cool to look like a common tourist so I just didn’t bother.
  • Red Light District visits: 3
  • Stairs climbed to get to our amazing hotel room in Haarlem: 56, several times a day ow
  • Gallons of freshly squeezed orange juice enjoyed: 4
  • Canals almost fallen into: 2
  • Bicycles hit by: 1
  • Kitties pet: 4!
  • Amazing retro clothing stores found in Haarlem: 1
  • Emergency leggings purchased at Primark: 3
  • Bird-shaped leather goods bought: 4
  • People thanked in neither Dutch nor English: 2 (Spanish)
  • Canal cruises taken: 2
  • Cheese eaten: too much
  • Chocolate: see above
  • Shoe-themed souvenirs brought home: 8
  • Trip casualties: 2 (the lint roller and my reusable straw in Fancy Case were accidentally left behind in Amsterdam)
  • Hotels selected because of the great name: 1
  • Likelihood of a return visit to Holland: 169

So, what’s next?

I don’t know, and it’s driving me batty. All travel planning is on hold until Covid-19 shows itself out. I’m sure my upcoming posts will be less coherent the longer my cabin fever (and hopefully not real fever) goes on.

 

please offer me an egg in this trying time

I fucked up.

It was decided that the post-Barcelona trip this year would be to Amsterdam. When it came time to book the flights, there was no way for me to get Ed from Vancouver to Barcelona, then Amsterdam, then back to Vancouver without enduring any hellacious 16-hour layovers. I tried different configurations for over a month and even tried using a travel agent, but came up with nothing. To get around this, I booked Ed on two flights, four legs total:

  • Vancouver to Amsterdam, leaving before the conference and returning after vacation (KLM outgoing, Delta return)
  • Amsterdam to Barcelona, leaving several hours after landing in Amsterdam and returning after the conference (KLM outgoing, Iberia return)

The plan was for Ed to rub elbows in Barcelona while I cleaned up cat pee, then I would join him in Amsterdam a week later. His BCN-AMS flight would have landed two hours after my YVR-AMS flight, at which point we would purchase some wooden clogs and find some tulips to tiptoe through.

Unfortunately, germs happened. GMSA cancelled the Mobile World Congress entirely last week. It’s the biggest mobile conference in the world, so thousands of people are scrambling and trying to recoup flight and hotel costs. Luckily, I had purchased insurance for both of Ed’s flights, so everything should be fine!

Narrator: Things were not fine.

I dealt with the inner two legs first, and tried to cancel AMS-BCN. I managed to get a refund for the KLM portion, but the Iberia leg does not allow any changes. I have to go through insurance if I want the rest refunded. Insurance has already told me that a worldwide pandemic is not a valid reason to refund flight costs, so while I can go through the super fun experience of submitting a claim, there’s approximately 0.2% chance of it being successful.

Next up was the YVR-AMS flight. I wanted to change Ed’s outgoing flight from 02/21 to 02/27, but KLM basically laughed at me and told me to get bent: the flight is 100% non-changeable and non-refundable. Adding a dash of fun and complication was the fact that I had purchased an upgrade for Ed, from basic economy to economy plus, which allowed him checked luggage and a much better seat. KLM happily took my money for this, but input the change as a seat change only because technically upgrading the cabin was a change, which was not allowed. They never told me this, just said yep here’s your receipt and your new seat and see you later. Cool.

So, I can’t make any changes to the KLM flight whatsoever. Ed’s return flight from Amsterdam was still fine – I was on the same flight, just on a different ticket entirely – so I booked him a one-way ticket from YVR-AMS, leaving on the 27th with me. Hooray!

Narrator: Things were not hooray.

There’s no reason for Ed to be in Amsterdam/Barcelona a week early, so he missed his original outgoing flight (scheduled for today). Unfortunately, when you miss one flight, the rest of your flights get cancelled – so I got a lovely email late this afternoon saying Ed no longer had a return flight on 03/07.

I called up Expedia, who basically told me we were fucked. Ed called Delta, who said the same thing. They’d be willing to reinstate Ed’s return ticket if we paid the difference for a new ticket, which currently costs $4800.

At this point, we’ve paid for a return flight to Amsterdam (Ed), a second return flight to Amsterdam (me), and a one-way ticket to Amsterdam (Ed) for a total spend of about $5k, which doesn’t include hotels and red-light visits. I’ve been working on this trip since October, throwing myself into planning two days after the Japan trip didn’t happen as a way to distract myself from the overwhelming disappointment of our ruined, non-refundable, insurance-doesn’t-cover-super-typhoons trip.

I feel so stupid. I should have realized that simply not showing up to one flight would render the rest of ticket void, but I’ve been so stressed out trying to unravel this mess that I just .. didn’t. It doesn’t help that my ego is sporting some serious bruises, because I enjoyed almost a full decade of extreme luck when booking trips, only for everything to have been 17 different flavours of bad since our first truncated trip in 2018. I’m also 100% done purchasing travel insurance, because this is the third time my trip has been fucked through no fault of my own but the policy (with Allianz, Aetna, and now AIG) hasn’t covered fuck all.

I was on the phone for two hours this afternoon, and we actually have a resolution: Expedia changed Ed’s one-way YVR-AMS flight to a return trip with the exact flights we want, AND they covered the cost of the change (best case scenario would have been $401). I was willing to pay the extra $400 to make the flight work because we were in too deep to back out now (and I don’t want to) and $400 was easier to swallow than $4800, but I’m so so so glad the supervisor I spoke with (I had to go full Karen and ask for a manager after the first agent wasn’t able to help me) went to bat with corporate for me. I’m exhausted and hate the phone and am thinking about breeding complicated dogs as a hobby instead of travel, but as of right now, things are good and it didn’t cost me thousands more to fix and holy fuck do I ever need this fucking vacation.

I am weepy, but pleased.

i hope you had the decade of your life

Lots of memes going around about this decade ending in X days, asking what you’ve done in that time. Ten years is a solid chunk of your life, and this decade saw me go from my 30s to my 40s in several million blinks of an eye. I stopped blogging daily somewhere in the middle of the decade, so large parts of my life have not been dutifully documented for prosperity’s sake – this will inevitably come back to bite me in the ass when I am super old(er) and someone says “hey, what did you do on August 15th in 2017?” and I don’t know because the only thing I have to go off of is an Instagram post of a picture of 10-year-old Kimli holding a pigeon. That is not helpful. Why did I stop blogging? This is terrible.

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more waffles than waffle house

I have had more metaphorical waffles in the last three days than I’ve ever had in my life. Here are some of the things I am waffling between like it’s a goddamn sport:

  • I’m totally fine with being at home!
  • No wait, I am filled with angst and sadness!
  • Let’s go to Vegas for a few days to keep ourselves entertained!
  • Vegas is not Japan and I don’t gamble or drink so wtf why Vegas!
  • We can rebook the trip for next month!
  • It’ll be a rushed, truncated version of our original trip and that will not be as satisfying!
  • New York?
  • New York!
  • But I would have had New York ANYWAY, so I’m still missing out!
  • Did we make the right decision in cancelling?
  • Everyone else is going ahead with their Japan plans!
  • The pictures of all the flooding look awful, and a lot of infrastructure is still shut down
  • But I am so miserable being at home!

.. and so on, and so forth. No new developments on the Refund Saga, but a thousand piecemeal suggestions have come and gone in the last three days. I keep changing my mind. Yesterday, I wanted to go to Vegas. Later that evening, Operation New York was a go. This morning, I wanted to make late November work for a shorter Japan trip. After doing the dishes, I decided on requesting a compromise for travel in 2020. I’d like to say my last (excellent) suggestion is the best one and will definitely be what we do going forward, but I’d said that at least half a dozen times in the last 72 hours. I no longer know what the fuck, because the fuck keeps changing. I am a soggy, gluten-free waffle made out of quinoa and squash. I am a poor approximation of food.

We do have plans to go to New York in early November. It was going to be a working trip – fly in, work during the day, then explore at night like Tourist Batman. One suggestion I had early on was to instead take time off while we’re in NY, making it a real trip instead of one where we work out of someone else’s house for a few days so we don’t use up vacation time. This is actually a really good idea, and one we’re probably going to go ahead with. New York is a fun city, we’d get to have some daytime adventures and food, and it’s ultimately less time off work than Japan would have been (I don’t have paid vacation, so everything I do is carefully balanced with “how much is this going to cost me”). Win win, right?

Mostly, yes. I’m still a little angsty, because I would have had New York (albeit on a lesser scale) ANYWAY, so I’m still out the whole of a vacation to Japan. I thought on this a little bit while jamming forks into the dishwasher, and realized I could maybe use the situation to my advantage. See, our trip to Japan was to have been 10 days. This never really sat right with me, because it seems like a really long way to go for less than 2 weeks, but Ed uncharacteristically put his foot down and insisted we take a slightly shorter trip than I like. I agreed at the time, because let’s face it, Japan was international trip #4 of 6 in 2019 alone so sure, I could give up a few days. I want a longer trip though, so I suggested another compromise on top of the other 50 compromises we’ve both made over the weekend: I will stop attempting to cram a do-over Japan trip into our rapidly dwindling 2019 and be satisfied with upgrading New York from Working Trip to Actual Vacation, in exchange for a minimum of two full weeks in Japan in 2020.

This was agreed to. We hugged on it. It’s the plan at the moment and I like it, but it will probably change 7 more times before we get anything resolved with the airline regarding our unused tickets for last week.

I am so good at compromise, you guys!

I’ve been slowly unpacking my suitcase, and it is very sad times. I’ve been hitting the pumpkin pie a little harder than usual to help me get through it. Thank god for whipped cream.

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taking lsd before crossing the brooklyn bridge: check

ireland in numbers

We’re home! Ireland was okay I guess. :P

  • Distance driven: 1286km
  • Places we stayed: Galway, Doolin, Killarney, Kinsale, Kilkenny, Dublin
  • Tiny islands visited: Inis MórInis Oírr
  • Pints of Guinness enjoyed by Ed: 14
  • Pints of Guinness not enjoyed by Ed: 1
  • Sheep storms: 3
  • Most types of potato served at one meal: 4
  • Caves explored: 1
  • Lens caps lost in caves: 1
  • Times I heard “Forever in Blue Jeans” by Neil Diamond before I realized it was playing on a loop: 5
  • Gaps driven through: Moll’s Gap, the Gap of Dunloe (number 1 favourite good time gap), Sally Gap
  • Legit haunted places we stumbled upon: Leamaneh CastleDerrycunnihy Church
  • Bangers eaten: 36
  • Primarks visited: 3
  • Unsettling things in Kildare: 7
  • Gingers ogled: 147
  • Faerie villages visited: 1
  • Incredibly boring films about Irish wildflowers viewed: .81
  • Burger King visits: 5 (they’re the only place in all of Ireland that serves an actual American-style “large” drink)
  • Emergency trips to the pharmacy for sticks to pee on: 1
  • Statues with comic-book-style boobs that gave me an inferiority complex: 7
  • Hidden roads driven down that led to incredible scenary and my favourite place in all of Ireland: 1
  • Jaw-dropping, epic vistas: 293

Ugh you guys Ireland was so awesome. The driving tour was better than we hoped: we saw incredible things, like sheep. And .. more sheep. And ridiculous landscapes, rugged mountains, breathtaking valleys, terrifying cliffs, and and and. It was so great. I would highly recommend the trip to anyone (maybe don’t get sick at the end) – we used Discovering Ireland for the arranging, which was frankly brilliant. Every place they booked us into was perfectly located, the rooms ranged from old school to modern but they were all comfortable, and breakfast was included at each location (which went a long way in ensuring we ate reasonably well the entire time).

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we joked about this place being haunted when we found it. turns out it totally is. ahhhhhhhhhh

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oh what a cute abandoned church we found that is also TOTALLY HAUNTED FOR REALS

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this was my favourite place on the entire trip

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another view of favourite place

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the gap of dunloe was also incredible

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sally gap was not too shabby

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anyway, here’s wonderwall

Where to next? That is to be decided. The next few months will be dealing with the move, and Ed is going on a man cruise in February. Will I solo travel to Japan? Back to London? Somewhere else entirely? All of the above! I just .. can’t plan anything at the moment, which is frustrating. I should probably sell the condo first. Anyone want to buy a condo? I’ll throw in a free coffee table!

Okay, back to work and daydreaming.

we’re off!

Adventure: Ireland begins today! We leave for the airport in a few hours, flying first into Heathrow and then taking a short hop into Shannon where we pick up our rental car and drive to Galway. I’m not looking forward to flying into London and then immediately leaving – there will likely be tears, because I am a ridiculous creature. Still, I’m very excited about our upcoming trip. We’ll be driving around Ireland for 10 days, then hanging out in Dublin for a while before coming home. ADVENTURE!

We’re also celebrating some milestones on this trip. On September 10th, Ed and I will have been together for twenty fucking years jesus christ that is a long ass time. If that’s not scary enough, the 21st of September will be our 15th wedding anniversary. We are celebrating with literal shamrocks and shenanigans (this remix is better than the original).

The hashtag for the trip is #kimligobragh. I’m not crazy about it, but let’s be honest – nothing will ever top #kimlichiwa as a trip tag. Also, the future is weird. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram, where I will undoubtedly post a zillion pictures of epic cliffs and roaring seas.

In other news, I am in a good spot right now. August was made of stress around here, but things have resolved themselves to managable-if-not-outright-satisfactory and I can breathe heaving sighs of relief. I’ve also had some fun: last Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. I spent the weekend in Seattle with Ali, and our day started out with breakfast with the girls (complete with avocado theiving) and a trip to the new Funko store in Everett which holy crap that place is made of awesome. I was fairly proud of myself for not going nuts in the store and buying everything in sight, but Ed saw through my ruse and knew it was because I actually own most of it already. Still, the store is packed with life-size Funko figures which are super cute. The Japan section has a great Godzilla scene going on, you can visit Hogwarts and Gotham, and .. just go check it out. It’s worth the trip, promise.

That evening, Ali took me to Art of the Table for my very first visit. Ed has been to AOTT many times, as have most of our friends – but somehow, I’d never gone in the 10? years it’s been a part of our social circle. I was getting pretty grumpy about it, but this past weekend I got to experience the whole thing.

It was probably the best meal I’ve ever had. I wanted to try everything as it was meant to be enjoyed, so I didn’t let any of my food pickiness dictate my meal. We had the tasting menu, in which small plates come at you continuously until you basically can’t move – and as a special request Barman Mitch gave me an introduction to the world of Gin (as I have previously decided that I am going to enjoy gin). I got very drunk but in a sophisticated way (there may have been some drunken facebooking about my boobs, sorry about that), but I managed to keep myself upright and thoroughly enjoyed each of the drinks Mitch made for me. Ali had a paired wine with her plates that I also tried and actually liked – that brings the total number of wine I enjoy to TWO. Yeah, I’m all fancy now.

If you’re a foodie or just want to try something special, I highly recommend a visit to Art of the Table. Seriously, I can’t really do the experience justice with mere words – it was SO FUCKING GOOD.

After food, it was time for burlesque! One of my favourite people ever was performing in a show in downtown Seattle, so we went to see some beautiful people take off their clothes. We were a bit late and missed part of the first act, but the show was three hours long so there was plenty for us to take in. Also, burlesque raffle: I won! Boobs were involved, and other substances. It was great. We were there to see Lauren perform, and her act was so great – completely different from the other performers, it was hilarious and adorable. I love Lauren. Have I mentioned that?

It was such a good, good, day. It’s been way too long since I’ve had quality Ali time.

Oh and on Tuesday, Ed and I went to a live sex demo. It was live! Live sex! Demonstrated!

More on that later, if I remember: I need to go triple-check the number of cardigans I’ve packed, and probably put on some clothes for the plane.

ADVENTURE HO!

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cliffs for daaaaaaaays.

punk rock feels

Once of the first (PG13) things Ed did when we started dating was introduce me to punk. Until that point, the only punk I had really listened to was some early Green Day courtesy of a boy I had a huge crush on (which was unreciprocated because his “type” was the complete opposite of everything I am but dang if I didn’t try), so the music Ed played for me was utterly new and totally fascinating. I loved the music, and bands like Descendents, ALL, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Strung Out, and No Use for a Name became the soundtrack for that period of my life.

Last night we saw the Descendents play the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, and I was immediately hit with ALL THE FEELS for those early, confusing, libidinous days. The show was a bucket list item for Ed, and I’m so glad we went (we have a really bad habit of buying tickets to shows but not going) – they sounded amazing and it was a high energy show with multiple encores. Lots of old songs mixed in with the new, a comfortable venue with great vantage points, and just plain fun to be at a punk show with old friends. I mean, it wasn’t a white boy rap show, but it was still a good time – just faster.

I can’t help but wonder if the not-insignificant amount of longing I am experiencing for the early days of our relationship aren’t caused by the current upheaval in my life, our upcoming Big Anniversary, and my wayward hormones. I recently went through 25 years of non-digital photos to weed out duplicates and things that should never have seen the light of day, so those early years are fresh in my mind. It’d be easy to say “life was simpler then”, but that’s absolutely not true: life was messy and confusing and complicated as fuck. I like the now much better.

I do not know what to do with all of these feels, so I will go back to packing boxes and suitcases. We leave for Ireland in 24 days!

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us in a few weeks