takayama

One of my favourite parts of our trip was the time we spent in Takayama. It’s a small city smack in the middle of Japan, about 4.5 hours by train from Tokyo. It gets a lot of snow, some of which was still visible when we arrived at the beginning of April.

Getting to Takayama was a bit of an ordeal. We misread our train tickets and got to the station late, then got separated from our group. Ed and I were able to exchange our tickets for a later train, but it meant we got into the station almost two hours after everyone else. We were originally only scheduled to be in Takayama for 18 or so hours, so losing some of that time was sad (we fixed it later, though). Still, it gave us time to collect our thoughts and also food before we boarded the train, so we were able to enjoy the ride with delicious treats and destressing, which was really needed after the morning trials.

The train took us along the coast and through the mountains. The ride was beautiful – Japan’s rail system is amazing – and the quick stop to change trains in Nagoya was painless. It was raining when we landed in Takayama, but our hotel was a short walk away.

The main reason we were in Takayama was to stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. We stayed at Ryokan Asunaro, which was incredible. The staff were amazing, the building was old and cozy and furnished with beautiful things (I fell in love with a lamp. I love lamp.), and our room was as advertised: tatami mats, shikibuton beds, and buckwheat pillows (which my spoiled western head found uncomfortable as hell – I am the worst samurai), and gorgeous yukata for us to wear. Our room didn’t have a bath or shower, which is part of the experience: the inn had an onsen for bathing.

Okay, so, onsens. A traditional Japanese public bath sort of like a hot tub: get publicly naked, wash yourself publicly with soap/shampoo/assorted bathing accoutrements in a public shower, then get into a glorious hot public bath to soak and relax and be quiet. Publicly. Super mega traditional onsens might have co-ed bathing, but that fell out of style years ago. Nowadays, onsens will have separate bathing areas for men and women, or specific “women only” times. Like many things traditional and Japanese, there are a lot of rules associated with public bathing: no phones, no clothes, wash yourself with soap separately beforehand, don’t wash your underwear in the onsen (this is apparently a big problem, because there were signs EVERYWHERE and on every website specifically telling people not to wash their underthings in the springs), and – sadly – no tattoos. Tattoos have a much different meaning in Japan, where they are seen as signs of gang activity. In North America, my “persist/resist” tattoos mean less that I am yakuza and more that I am sick of patriarchal bullshit, but many places in Japan still frown upon them. That being said, Japan enjoys the western dollar. Some places are okay with tattoos in their baths, and others will have relaxed rules and/or be okay with them if they’re covered up. If you’re going to Japan and plan to visit an onsen, I HIGHLY recommend you check the rules before you go.

I hadn’t bothered checking the rules for Ryokan Asunaro, because I assumed I would not bother with the public baths because public nudity.  However, getting there was *really* stressful. In addition to missing our train, we found out that a) I had accidentally booked my room at the ryokan for being for one person only, which is a problem when they’re busy and have you booked into a room with a twin bed, and b) our accommodations in Kyoto (our next stop and home for 5 days) had been cancelled less than 24 hours before our arrival, leaving us with nowhere to stay in the middle of cherry blossom season in the business tourist spot in Japan. Our group of 4 were screwed, bigly: the “replacement” accommodations HomeAway offered us had half the amenities we needed, and room for only three people. Nothing else was available in the entire city: two people searching non-stop came up with exactly three available hotels looking for $450+ per couple per night, and one sketchy-looking AirBnB that was even more expensive. Desperate, I started looking outside of Kyoto, and found us some decent (and decently priced) rooms in Osaka, instead. A slight change of plans – we were supposed to be in Kyoto for 5 nights, then Osaka for one night before heading back to Tokyo, and now we would be in Osaka for 6 nights – but we had a place to sleep and shower (and our hotel turned out to be super central and awesome), which that was the important thing.

So. After we checked in (the staff was wonderful and managed to accommodate us even though I had booked our room incorrectly), outfitted ourselves in yukata, huddled with M&S to figure out out housing problem, solving said housing problem, then getting re-dressed, we went out to wander the town. It was eerily quiet and crazy peaceful, and we enjoyed our First Dinner (ramen) and Second Dinner (sushi) and the company. When we returned to the hotel, Ed wanted to turn in for the night but I was still TENSE AS FUCK due to all the things that had happened that day – so I went exploring, and checked out the onsen.

Which was completely, totally, utterly empty.

I stripped down to my nothings, lathered up under the shower, then had myself an amazing non-life-threatening solo soak in the onsen, tattoos and all (Ryokan Asunaro has no rules against tattoos; another reason I highly recommend a visit). It was EXACTLY what I needed after my stressy-fuck day, and probably one of my favourite memories from our entire trip. I would never had dared go into the onsen if there were other people around – nobody wants to see my gross self naked – but being all alone gave me the push I needed to get my ass in that water. And it didn’t kill me! Which was a real concern of mine! See, the last time I was in a hot tub was several months after those pesky Heart Issues, and .. well, those signs that say “don’t get in a hot tub if you have a heart condition” apparently aren’t just for show. I almost passed out and got all ded and also felt super, super horrible for several days afterward. I’ve been extremely leery of hot water since then, but was feeling brave and naked and what’s the worst that could happen when you’re utterly alone on stone tiles and some 7.664 kilometres from home.

A SUPER RELAXING GLORY BATH, that’s what.

I’m glad I got SOME relaxing time in Takayama, because Ed snored all night long and I couldn’t get comfortable on a pillow made of cement so I ended up with very little sleep that night. I skipped breakfast (and apparently missed out on a delightful meal) to get some more zeds, then geared up for exploring. Originally, we were supposed to be on a train to Kyoto at 930 the following morning, but after seeing how awesome Takayama was the night before, we changed our train tickets to give us the day to explore. We bought souvenirs, had amazing honey yogurt, posed for selfies near roaring rivers, found some delicious lunch, and just generally had an excellent time – just what we needed before heading to Osaka.

more japan

By this time, we’d settled into a novel routine in Tokyo: wake up between 6 and 7 am to utter chaos (complete with people falling down the stairs – the record was three different falls on one morning), shower, raid the food supply for energy, then get out of the house by 9am. We had big, big plans for our third day in Tokyo, so after a quick stop at 7Eleven for strawberry sandwiches we were on the subway and heading towards the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Ali is a planning wizard and had arranged for us to have lunch at Sky Restaurant 634, the ultra-fancy restaurant some 345 metres from the ground. Our reservation was at 11:30, so we basically ran from the station to the lobby of the Sky Tree. This was difficult, because the Sky Tree is attached to an AMAZING mall, complete with Pokémon Centre. I confess to being utterly distracted by the Pokemon store gashapon machines, and had to be dragged out to make our lunch reservation on time (complete with promises that I could come back after lunch and spend money – yes, I am a petulant 7 year old cosplaying as an adult woman). We met up with our group, and before long we were seated by a window in the middle of the sky:

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dang, that’s dense

The view was pretty cool. The food wasn’t too bad, either:

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appetizer trio: in-house bacon, sea urchin stuff, seared tuna

I’m damning with faint praise, here – the meal we had at the Sky Tree was phenomenal, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. Everything we had was ridiculously good, including the scallops that made me cry tears of deliciousness. The entire experience was a total treat, from the crazy view to the amazing food and service and the excellent company. We’re not foodies by any stretch of the imagination – we’d happily eat strawberry sandwiches all day long – so we (okay, me – I’m the only one in our group who hasn’t experienced dining like this, mostly because Ed won’t take me to Art of the Table in Seattle) almost never get to have Fancy Eatings. I totally loved it. Ali is a genius with excellent ideas.

After we ate, it was time to see the rest of the city from 350 metres up. We explored the observation deck, which is something I will be doing again for Reasons:

  1. We rushed our way through window-looking because it was hella crowded and I was getting mall rage
  2. We had to be clear across town by 4:45pm, and we (not just me) really wanted to go shopping in the mall downstairs
  3. There’s actually another observation deck a little higher up that you can go to, and normally I would – I love city views from High – but see #2
  4. I neeeeeeeeeed to see Tokyo at night, from super high up

The views were absolutely incredible, but I didn’t get enough time with them. Definitely doing the Sky Tree again, as soon as I can.

Then we shopped. It was fun. Things were purchased.

We hopped the train around 4pm to make our way to Shinjuku – we had a date with some robots:

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the calmest, most serene part of our trip

So, here’s the thing about the Robot Restaurant: I could write a million words about it, but it wouldn’t do a lick of good. You need to see the show for itself. This was another Ali idea, and it was a great one – yes, the show is a total tourist thing, but it’s hilarious and so bizarre and just generally a really good time. And you can drink sake or beer while watching it, which I can only assume makes things even better. A word of caution: calling it a “restaurant” is being extremely generous with the definition of the word. Go for the show, bring money for booze, but skip the food. Trust me. Plus, the area the restaurant is in is wonderful for exploring. Go find Godzilla Road! Look for the guy who grabbed Ed’s crotch! Find the game centre with the sympathetic attendant who rigged a claw machine so I would win a stuffed fox after trying a half dozen times and failing miserably! Shinjuku is awesome.

The following day was Wednesday, and our group diverged a little. Those with kids went to Tokyo Disneyland, but I had a list of things that I needed to see so we split up and tackled different things. First on my list was Shibuya, for the station, Dogenzaka Hill (because of Jet Set Radio Future), Hachikō, and the Scramble (because of The World Ends With You) – I didn’t have enough time to really explore Dogenzaka and the myriad of love hotels, but I definitely recognized it and that made me go eeeeeeeeee. The scramble and all of Shibuya Station was also great, and I could have easily spent an entire afternoon just people watching. It was really fucking hot outside though, so we ducked into the famous 109 for air conditioning, a bathroom, and Sailor Moon-esq socks. We walked around the area for a bit, visiting a Japanese McDonald’s (teriyaki burgers were great. cantaloupe milkshakes were weird as hell.), and just generally enjoyed life and sunshine and the thrill of being on vacation times. From Shibuya we went to Meiji Shrine (which was going through renovations, so most of it was inaccessible – the forest was beautiful though), then into Harajuku for some more exploring. It was an exhausting day, but a great one. I really like Japan. Have I mentioned that? If only they had Diet Coke.

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shiny boys and robot girls

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a good dog, bront

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wall! of! sake!

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harajuku puppy man

day one: tokyo

I have several friends in Japan right now, and the pictures they’re posting are making me sad and wishing I was there too. This in turn is making me feel guilty, like I’m forsaking my beloved London for another country. While I’m fully aware that it’s possible to love TWO (or more) places, you can only really live in one place at a time – so where’s my heart? Is it in London or Japan? I’m living in a Sweet Valley High book, except instead of choosing between handsome, sensitive, steadfast Brody and handsome, hot-headed, impulsive Chad, I have to (hypothetically) decide between beautiful, comforting, elegant London and beautiful, intriguing, inscrutable Osaka. What’s a girl to DO?

Luckily, I woke up this morning homesick for London, so I guess I don’t have to decide right away. Also, all of this is entirely in my head – it’s not like I have an opportunity to relocate to either Japan or the UK, but I can pretend it’ll happen some day. And I do love a good list, so I’m amusing myself by itemizing the pros and cons of each location while I wait for documentation to import. It’s the little things.

We spent the first 5 days of our trip in Tokyo, staying in a house in the Minato district. It was a great location: nestled in a maze of cool houses, two blocks from a magical 7Eleven, around the corner from a train station, and more. Much of our first official day (which was Sunday the 2nd, as we didn’t make it to the house until around 8pm the night before) was spent exploring the area: we found a Tokyo Swallows game about to start, a newly-opened Shake Shack, an enormous cemetery lined with cherry blossoms, an architecture museum, and so much more. In the evening, we went to Akihabara to see the fabled Electric Town for ourselves. I spent many yen trying to win something from the numerous claw games (spoiler: I failed), the kids explored every floor of Animate, and we had our first (and best) bowl of ramen in a tiny joint down a dim side street:

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in his noodly name, ramen

It was an excellent (and exhausting) first day.

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6 floors of delicious chaos

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MEAT (and a cat cafe, in which the cats were girls)

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something for everyone: the second floor was a cat cafe, the third floor a shooting range, then a bar/karaoke club, maid cafe, and night club

on japan (part 1)

Things I Will Miss About Japan (alternative title: things to import from Japan):

  • ROBOT. TOILETS.
  • .. with taps, for convenient and eco-friendly cleanliness!
  • Vending machines EVERYWHERE, with recycling bins attached – so you can always find a drink, and always recycle the empty
  • Canned/bottled milk tea
  • Vending machines that deliver hot canned coffee and tea
  • Ticket restaurants! Pay up front, present ticket, receive food.
  • An amazing country-wide rail system that runs with eerie efficiency
  • Tokyo Banana! It’s delicious.
  • Gashapon! You do not want to know how much money I spent in vending machines in Japan, and not just on water/milk tea/corn
  • Tiny 600cc city cars. It’s like a scooter with walls!
  • Wet rooms and the art of sitting down in a shower. Makes for good, warm sleeping (even if you shouldn’t).
  • Japanese 7Elevens. “7Elevens are universal”, I foolishly thought before our trip. “You’ve seen one rancid hot dog at 3am, and you’ve seen them all.” Oh, how wrong I was. Japanese 7Elevens are EVERYWHERE and they are AMAZING and they are the true epitome of “convenience store”.
  • Onsens! More on this later.
  • Baby wall seats so you can put your baby down while you pee or wash your hands. It’s genius, and I don’t know why we don’t have them in North America. I don’t even HAVE babies, but I can immediately see how brilliant this idea is. Travelling solo? Don’t have someone to hold the baby while you do your bathroom business? WALL SEAT. Baby is safe, happy, and most importantly, off the bathroom floor while you allow a robot toilet to blast your nethers with warm, pulsating water. It’s like a gentle hug for your anus while you make silly faces for your wall baby.
  • In Japan, roaming trucks play jaunty tunes. Is it an ice cream van? A truck that delivers red bean paste and soy sauce? No! It’s the garbage/recycling truck, playing music to announce their approach! Forgot to set the trash out? No problem! When you hear the familiar tune, you can rush outside with your neglected waste. Smart *and* hilarious! Also, ice cream vans aren’t necessary because ice cream vending machines are totally a thing that are wonderful and so much cheaper in Japan.
  • Speaking of ice cream, you can buy soft serve waffle cones in the freezer section of convenience stores (including my beloved 7Eleven). They’re delicious, and like ¥130 (just over $1US/$1.50CDN).
  • Solar panels everywhere. If a tiny mountain town in the middle of Japan can have solar panels atop almost every damn building, why are we still arguing about them here?
  • Whiskey Ice. You can buy bags of crystal clear ice meant for whiskey sippin’ (or in my case, water) everywhere.
  • Cream puffs the size of my hand (which is admittedly small, but still large in terms of the mighty cream puff)
Things Japan is Missing:
  • Diet Coke
  • Me (don’t be jealous, London – I have so much love to give)
  • Every hotel room shower cap in a 4-city radius (sorry Japan, but I need them when I dye my hair)
  • The automatic Canadian reflex to apologize when you bump into someone (there are so many people in Japan that being walked into is just a way of life)
  • Escalators in most train stations – I have never walked up and down so many goddamn staircases in my life, but damn if my calves don’t look great

Things I Missed from Vancouver:

  • Cats
  • Soft beds/pillows
  • Being naked all the damn time
  • Bacon

Things I Will Miss, Period:

  • Being on vacation
  • Travelling with friends
  • The stillness of Takayama
  • The hustle of Tokyo and Osaka
  • The jaw-dropping beauty of Japan in full cherry blossom season
  • Vending machines

Trip Highlights:

  • The amazing lunch with an equally amazing view in the Tokyo Skytree
  • The show at the Robot Restaurant
  • Stumbling upon a Sakura Festival
  • Staying in a ryokan
  • Having an onsen completely to myself
  • Osaka Castle Park
  • The small bit of Kyoto we saw
  • Shibuya Station and the Scramble, where I got my Jet Set Radio Future and The World Ends With You fangirl on
  • The Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the National Art Centre in Tokyo
  • .. especially the Infinity Room
  • everything.

Things I Regret:

  • Not having enough time in Kyoto
  • Resorting to American food when exhausted
  • Not attending Kanamara Matsuri
  • Coming home
  • Not buying more gashapon items
  • Vending machine corn chowder

Things I Drank Instead of Diet Coke:

  • All the water (Japanese tap water is delicious)
  • Milk Tea
  • Canned cream puffs (okay just once)
  • Water
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Coke Zero (gross)
  • Coke (even grosser)
  • Coca-Cola Plus (Coke with fibre. Why?)
  • Water
  • Melon Fanta
  • Orangina
  • Qoo
  • Mango in any form I could find
  • So much water

Devastating Life Lessons Learned:

  • I will never be a flight attendant.

Hope you’re not tired of photos from Japan, because I’ve only been posting pictures taken with my phone. There are still the camera pictures to go through. #kimlichiwa

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i done fucked up now

Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I completely fucked up booking routine airfare

I’m going to Orlando in March for a work event. I’ve never been to Florida, so I’m pretty stoked for a new adventure with alligators and crocodiles and David Caruso dramatically taking off sunglasses. Plus, I get to meet all my co-workers for the first time, so that won’t be stressful at all.

I was left in charge of booking my own flight to Florida because Canadian and passports and all sorts of complications. No problem, I literally book flights in my sleep – this will be simple. Fly in, go to a Waffle House, fly out. Simple!

Naturally, I had to go and make it extra complicated. I made several mistakes, a dozen or so wildly incorrect assumptions, a little of bit of hubris for good measure, and BAM I am stuck with a ticket that cost double what it should have and a whole lot of idiot guilt.

Let’s recap!

  • Find a flight that’ll work
  • Get approval
  • Wait two days to book the flight
  • Press buttons while asleep
  • Congratulations, you’re booked! oh and by the way the price went way up and it’s non refundable lol
  • Shiiiiiiit.
  • Also realize that my flight gives me 46 minutes to make my connection in Minneapolis
  • Call Expedia to sort this out
  • End up paying an additional $165 to increase my layover to 4 hours
  • Be annoyed
  • Sheepishly share flight info with team
  • Bosses freak out at how expensive I am
  • Feel terrible for being expensive
  • Start looking for ways to resolve this
  • Post to Facebook and get super helpful advice from people
  • Start researching
  • Realize I called Expedia 23 hours and 45 minutes from the time I booked my flight, so I should have been entitled to a refund on a 24-hour cancellation policy
  • Find two other important pieces of information saying a) Delta gives you until midnight the following day to get a full refund, regardless of where you purchased the ticket and b) the minimum connection time for an international flight into MSP is 1 hour, meaning I shouldn’t have been able to book a flight with a 46-minute connection time, meaning Expedia screwed up and definitely shouldn’t have charged me $165 to change the flight
  • Feel all Sherlock
  • Get my hair did
  • Submit a refund request directly with Delta
  • Call Expedia to be all “wtf dudes”
  • Get schooled:
    • Expedia’s flight cancellation policy is good until 11:30pm of the day you purchase your ticket, not 24 hours as is often assumed
    • Delta no longer honours the 24+ hour cancellation policy if you purchase the ticket from anywhere except Delta directly
    • I don’t go through customs in MSP, I go through in Vancouver – meaning the 46 minute connection time is perfectly valid, since it’s over the 40-minute MCT for that particular airport. This was a complete surprise to me, because my only frame of reference is the dozens of flights I’ve taken to and from Europe in the last five years – you ALWAYS go through customs when you land, so I assumed it was the same for the US. I haven’t flown into the US on purpose since .. 2007? It’s been a while.
  • I have two options: take the flight as is and enjoy the fine taste of the extra $165 I didn’t need to pay after all
  • Cancel the flight in exchange for a voucher that:
    • Can only be used by me
    • Must be used within 1 year
    • Is only good on Delta
  • I thought I could live with the latter option: I’d just rebook my flight to a more expense-report-friendly flight, and stash the rest to use later!
  • Hahahahaha no
  • If you use the voucher for a flight that is less than the amount of the voucher, you forfeit the remaining balance
  • AND Delta will charge you an extra $200 because using the voucher counts as a flight change
  • In theory, I could make that work .. but I have no idea where I’d go via Delta for that much money, and in the meantime I’d be out the original cost of the flight + the cost of the replacement flight. Either option means I’m losing a ton of money because of my fuck up.

So, this sucks. I feel terrible about it for multiple reasons: that I’m gonna get fired because I’m clearly super bad at Florida and/or at the very least get in trouble and people will be stern at me; because it was such a colossally stupid situation to get myself in; because I pride myself on the details and I fucked them up so laughably badly that I’m kicking myself with pointy boots; because it’s going to cost a ton of money that I didn’t need to spend; etc etc etc. Last night was a bad night. There were tears of frustration and quasi-illogical worry. I AM SAD.

On the plus side, my hair is hella cute.

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i do not handle failure well

going green

I am trying to be logical about this. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway. I’ve known for months it wasn’t going to happen. I’m super busy, and have a whole lot of things I need to take care of during this time. I just got back from London, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

But GODDAMNIT am I ever bursting with envy that we are not in Barcelona right now with half of the people we know and love.

I know that I am ridiculously lucky to do all the travel I do, and I’m super happy I got to spend two weeks in London in January. We just got back from a weekend in Victoria (which doesn’t count), I’m going to Orlando in a few weeks (this doesn’t really count either, it’s for work), and we leave for Japan in 37 days (in a row). Doing Barcelona again was always a long shot, and this year it didn’t happen .. but many of our friends are there and I’m seeing their posts and I am greenish with envy. Facebook’s helpful new “hey look at these memories” feature is not helping, because I was in Spain this time last year. Also complicating my endless jealousy is Steph’s pictures of London – I know I was just there, but I ALWAYS WANT TO BE THERE.

I grew up a practical sort of dreamer. I spent a lot of time inside my own head dreaming about amazing things (mostly robots), but there was never any sort of longing for what others had that I didn’t. I endured my mother moaning and whining about all the things she would do when she “hit the big one”, and it always seemed incredibly distasteful and a huge waste of time. I don’t spend time thinking what I would do with a lottery windfall, because the odds of that happening are so infinitesimally small. Plus, it just seems .. rude, like you’re not satisfied with the life you have and can only be happy when presented with MORE. I know that’s my broken childhood talking, but it still stands: I’ve never wasted time on jealousy for what others had/have that I don’t. If I want it badly enough, I can make it happen.

That’s all fine and good, until I discovered the one thing that makes me ache with longing: BEING SOMEWHERE ELSE. I am jealous of people who are SOMEWHERE ELSE. It is a weird and uncomfortable feeling complicated by the knowledge that I am frequently SOMEWHERE ELSE myself, and should focus on my own trips instead of being wistful about others. The logic isn’t really helping though; it’s just making me petulant and cabin fevery. Which is dumb. I best check myself, lest I wreck myself.

Victoria was half dutiful and half super fun. Our hotel room had ants. I am still hella torn on whether I want to move back to the island. I sometimes wish I had a more traditional relationship with my mother, who is apparently Catholic now. I got to spend some time in front of some crashing waves, and I could have happily stayed there all day edging ever closer to the water. Once again, we swore we’d ride our motorcycle/scooter to Victoria some time this summer. We found a new favourite breakfast joint, took my mother out for dinner twice, and met her Gentleman Friend. We drove past my old house and I creepily took pictures of it. It brought up a lot of weird conflicting feelings.

I am hungry.

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mrw i think about SOMEWHERE ELSE

in and out again

As is tradition, when you return from one trip you must immediately book the next. We’re going back to Ireland! More on that later, though – here’s all about London.

I had a great time, even though I was sick and had to work and was very cold and had many internet issues. Still, London. All of those things are minor annoyances when you’re in your favourite place in the world.

That being said, next time I think “hey I should go somewhere in January”, please remind me that most people would go someplace WARM, as opposed to some place colder than the place they left. London was surprisingly frosty, and in my delirium (I was so sick) I kinda forgot to bring a coat. I don’t wear a coat in Vancouver (mostly because I do not go outside), so I should be fiiiiiiine in London. And I wasn’t, at all! The first day I went outside (still sick), I had on 5 layers of cardigans (because that’s all I brought) and I froze my vagina right off. It was cold. Luckily, I had internet and money, so I bought a coat and arranged for it to be delivered the next day. It wasn’t the warmest thing I’d ever put on, but it did the trick and I spent the rest of my time in London delightfully warm-ish and also plaid.

The last time I did London solo, I was gone for over three weeks and found that to be too long a time to spend inside my own head. This time I was gone for just two weeks, and it was perfect – I missed Ed and the cats and general human contact, but I wasn’t despondent in my lonely despair. This is good information to have, because now I know I can be all “lol bored going to Germany now bye” yet retain the majority of my sanity.

So, what’d I do in my two weeks of me time?

  • Wandered Brick Lane for hours, taking pictures of graffiti and finding my favourite piece again to test my location memory
  • Visited Spitalfields Market
  • Watched the sunset from Sky Garden
  • Attended the Women’s March on London
  • Took a canal boat from Little Venice to Camden Lock, wandered the market, drank SO MUCH orange juice
  • Did nothing (was sick)
  • Went to the V&A (three times)
  • Visited the Saatchi Gallery
  • Explored the area around my flat, which included squares Sloane and Duke of York
  • Saw many Sloane Rangers (hah!)
  • Went to the Natural History Museum and spent a lot of time in the earthquake simulator as practice for Japan
  • Met up with Jen of Oxford and had Lobster Rolls!
  • Bought every damn pair of leggings from Primark – sorry, everyone else
  • Went to the waterfront by the Tower of London and took several thousand photos of Tower Bridge all lit up at night
  • The V&A is open late on Friday nights; discovered it turns into a bizarre nightclub with live acts and fancy people going WOOOOOOO
  • Got locked in the V&A courtyard and had to literally scratch at the door to be let back in (aka stand and wave at people until someone made eye contact, then played charades until they realized I was trapped) – luckily, that courtyard is one of my favourite places on the planet (albeit much more so when it’s warm and I’m not locked outside) so I didn’t mind all THAT much
  • Discovered that eating grilled pieces of halloumi cheese with a spicy-fruity sauce is fucking amazing and that’s all I’m going to eat from here on in
  • Had many adventures with the Travelling T-Rex
  • Portobello Market! Love this place. Wandered. Did not buy boots, but did buy pearls. I am so fance.
  • ASTRONAUTALIS SHOW WOOOOOO I’d been wanting to see Astronautalis in London for some time and it just so happened that he was playing London while I was there so I went to the show and remembered to stand on stage right and it was so awesome and YAY
  • Chinese New Year! Went to Chinatown and watched dragons and crowds and got totally soaked in the rain.
  • Seven Dials. Accidentally bought four boots.
  • Covent Garden! London Transport Museum is awesome! Also, Shake Shack. So good. Missed Ed.
  • Finally visited Tate Britain!
  • Waterfront, this time by the London Eye. Took many photos of Big Ben, the parliament buildings, and the Eye.
  • Science Museum! No cosmonauts this time, though. Still cool.
  • Ate fish and chips (but only once, on my last night there)
  • Had an amazing fucking time
  • Finally shook off my terrible flu/cold thing
  • Rekindled my need to live in London for a while

.. I did a lot of things. I walked a terrific amount, so much so that my watch and ring were both very proud of me. Had some fun shopping, which caused issues bringing stuff back even though I tried really very hard to be good. Honestly, I didn’t want to come home: I wanted home to come to me. I missed Ed and the cats and having hot water and water pressure and loads of internet, but dammit .. I want to be in London. Especially now that Vancouver is fucking covered in frozen white bullshit. Yes, the UK gets winter too, but some things are easier to manage when you’re where you need to be.

Half of my pictures can be viewed here. The other half will be uploaded shortly, but I experimented with not hauling a camera around with me and looking like a tourist, but using my phone instead. I have some extremely good iPhone lenses that extend the abilities of the already-amazing iPhone 7 Plus camera, and it was nice to be able to wander around with fewer things to carry. I don’t think I’m going to repeat this in Japan because I’m going to want to capture every damn thing ever, but for a place I know very well, it was nice to have options.

It was a really good trip, yo.

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i love this place.