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.

p1160044

i love this place.

lonely in advance

I’m going to London next week, for two weeks. I’ll be working for half the trip, and exploring the city/revisiting favourites the rest of the time. As you can probably imagine, I am excited. I may already be packed, even. I could leave now!

As excited as I am (don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you), I am presently allowing myself to wallow in the sads. I figure if I can get the sads out of the way now, when I’m in London I’ll have nothing but happy excited silly times because frankly that is what I do best.

Here’s why the sads: I’m going to be lonely in London. I’ve realized that while I love exploring and seeing things and experiencing Diet Coke in different time zones, it’s a thousand times better to do those things (and more) with someone else. I asked Ed if he would come with me for even part of this trip, and he didn’t want to – rumour has it he wants the alone time so he can have affairs – so I’m going to be all by my lonesome and that is making me sad. I am a selfish creature: I want to have excellent adventures, but I want to have someone to share them with. I have the “someone” part down, but he’s not interested in accompanying me (for a variety of reasons). I reluctantly get it – not everyone is cut out to hop on a plane for 9 hours to go to a repeat destination just because they weren’t kidding when they said they didn’t want to be in North America on inauguration day – but I’m still sad about it.

Clearly I’m just going to have to save more money between trips, and pay someone to be my travel friend.

Okay, off to be sad for a bit. I’ve got a few more days to be sad, and then I will make a list of Things I want to Do while Adventuring.

happy place

happy place

 

2778 words about ireland

I KNEW there was something I was forgetting to do – write about the trip. I’ve been incredibly scattered (more so than usual) since we got home, for reasons I am vaguebooking about. All will become clear soon, but in the meantime: hey, we went to Ireland!

Our flight(s) there were long but uneventful, with the exception of some EXTREME TURBULENCE between Toronto and St. John’s. Seriously, I have never experienced turbulence like that. It was fucking terrifying. People screamed, like in movies! Me, I almost ripped the back off the seat in front of me because I was gripping it so hard. Scary stuff. F——, would not turbule again.

We arrived into the Dublin airport just after 7am local time on Friday morning, and made our way through customs. Because of the early hour it was easy to grab a cab – lucky for us, since there was a bus strike going on and options into the city were limited. We were at the door of our AirBnB around 8:20am, perfectly on time.

Continue reading

book it, danno

BOOK ALL THE THINGS IN ALL THE PLACES

So, we’re going to Japan in April. It’s gonna be awesome. I booked the trip this past weekend, and some accommodations. We’re going with a group, so there’s been a lot of back and forth about what we’re doing – but it looks like everything has been planned, and haha we’re going to Tokyo (and Kyoto and Takayaka and Miyajama). There’ve been a lot of discussion about what people want to see – Tokyo Disney, castles, temples, sake tours, cherry blossoms – but there are really only 3 things on my list:

We arrive on April 1st. The Penis Festival is on April 2nd. Gosh, I wonder how that happened.

Before I can truly get bat-shit excited about Japan though, I’ve got something a little closer to be excited about: we’re going to Dublin later this month. I’ve spent the evening booking adventures for us in Dublin: we’re gonna rent a car and go look at some creepy-ass statutes, drink some beer (if I have to drink an entire pint anywhere in the world, it might as well be a Guinness right from the teat), fondle the Oscar Wilde statue, then rent a car again and go roaming the Irish hinterlands armed with little more than a camera and Google Maps.

I AM EXCITED FOR ADVENTURE!

I am also incredibly amused that most of the internet says “If you can handle the long drive, the coast of Ireland is a sight to see” – the “long drive” they speak of is 3 hours. A 3-hour car ride must be a daunting trek to a European, but I’m from Canada – I’ve driven more than three hours to get to the good Denny’s, instead of going to the terrible one. A 3-hour drive is nothing. We should have ample time to stop a million times for a) ridiculous scenery and pictures, and b) peeing a lot.

This is all very awesome and I feel so lucky that we can do this, but I am sort of sticking my fingers in my ears and not looking at the credit card. Go away, reality. I have fantastic adventures to plan.

Besides, I just got a raise. That extra $1.25 an hour is gonna pay for SO MANY AIRPORT IMPROVEMENT FEES!

Oh, and I’m not doing the Remote Year. I have a Grand Plan that is pretty much just a fantasy at the moment, but once my near-future solidifies a little bit more, I will know what I am doing. In the meantime, I’m going to bask in planning and maybe just maybe have something else brewing up my voluminous sleeves for the fall.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

maxresdefault

fully expecting shibuya station to look exactly like this, graffiti soul and all.

 

horizontal at last

That was some long-ass travelin’.

Our trip to Barcelona took us through Amsterdam, on KLM. The flight was surprisingly efficient – we departed ten minutes early, and landed almost an hour early. Ed managed to snag a couple of seats across the row from me, so we each had a luxurious 42″ or so of room to wiggle around in. I probably only slept for an hour total throughout the 9-hour flight, but by the time we landed in Amsterdam I felt much more alive than usual (even when taking the Nokia-shaped bruise I have in my right ass thanks to an armrest that was bolted down).  Still, the layover in Amsterdam was difficult because:

  • The non-UK part of Europe has Coke Light instead of Diet Coke and it’s not the same
  • The chairs were hard as fuck
  • We were tired
  • So tired
  • Zzzzz

A 4-hour layover isn’t enough time to leave the airport and explore, so we had to stay put. Eventually our flight to Barcelona was called, and two hours later we were in the enormous shiny futuristic and apocalyptically deserted mega mall they call the Barcelona Airport. There were men with guns but no customs to go through, which was weird. We gathered our bags, Ed grabbed his conference badge (I am hella jealous that he’s attending the Mobile World Conference and I’m not – I’M the mobile nerd in the family, damnit), and by 5pm local time we were in our hotel room.

Okay, poll time – have any of you ever stayed at a hotel at which you needed to insert your room key into the wall to activate the light switches?

We collapsed into our (nice but only partially furnished) room. I had to pee, so I went looking for the bathroom .. but the lights weren’t working. I tried a few other switches, and nothing – our room had no power. This was disconcerting, because I really enjoy the luxury of electricity and sort of take it for granted. After Ed confirmed my wtf, he went downstairs and said we had no power. Front desk was confused, and said they’d send someone up. They did, and an unamused lady schooled Ed in the apparently-common-knowledge-to-everyone-but-us world of room key in wall slot equals power. The lady seemed to think Ed was somehow mentally deficient for not knowing this, but we both agreed that in all our travels (we so worldly) we’d NEVER encountered a system like this. And it’s not just us – Ed met a coworker on his way back from a water run who had the same issue with the not knowing. What gives? Is this a common thing that people know about but I somehow went like 85 years without ever encountering?

I need to sleep now. Tomorrow is my first full day in Spain, and I plan to figure out the deal with the bidet. Oh, and our flight sadly did NOT have USB available, so please enjoy this letter I wrote on parchment using my own blood as ink.

i have misgivings about this journey, but our george donner claims he knows a shortcut. what's the harm in trying?

i have misgivings about this journey, but george donner claims he knows a shortcut through the mountains

baggage, wine, and beer

We leave for Barcelona in 7 days, and I’ve barely started packing. This is unusual for me, but frankly I’m a little daunted to be packing for a place I’ve never been before. How exactly does one Spain? Heck. It is giving me anxious.

I looked online for advice on what to pack for a ten day trip, and found a lot of articles with helpful tips. However, they’re all written from the POV of a normal person with absolutely no brain issues whatsoever – “just do this and this and add an extra t-shirt – we like this designer laser-cut leather tank from Fancy Store ($495), it pairs well with the underprivileged children we use instead of carrying a handbag – and voila, ten days in the sun looking like a goddess!” That .. isn’t helpful. Neither was the article that breezily suggested bringing along 5 bras, three bottoms, five tops, three sweaters, one fancy dress, ten panties, and 2 pairs of shoes all in one carry-on. How? How is this humanly possible? I am panicking trying to figure out how to bring 3 bras, let alone 5. Clearly the people who write these articles have tiny small titties and wear puny bras made of tissue paper and string. Do you have any idea how much room 5 of my bras take up? A FUCKING LOT, OKAY. Throw in some fat girl underwear, and I need a steamer trunk just for my unmentionables.

In a fit of hopefulness that is utterly unlike me, I looked online and decided to buy a bra storage case for traveling. I didn’t think I’d be able to fit the 5+ bras it claims to fit, but thought maybe I could get a couple in there. It arrived today:

this may be the single daintiest thing i own

this may be the single daintiest thing i own

Cute, right? It seems fairly well constructed, with moulded insides for the boobie parts and a little pocket to tuck things into. Maybe this would work!

so .. no, then

so .. no, then

My naive optimism is just adorable. I can’t fit one bra in there, let alone multiples. If I squished the bras up real good, I MIGHT get two in there .. but I run the risk of ruining them and losing out on prime luggage real estate. Still, I had to try. For science. Also, does anyone with small boobs need a bra case? If not, I’m gonna use it for snacks. And Lego. Mostly Lego.

Back to the articles, then. Unfortunately, none of them address how to pack for a 10-day vacation if you wear plus-sized clothing. Any 4-5 shirts I decide to bring would take up more room than the 4-5 shirts a skinny girl might pack. It’s just plain science – even at my sluttiest, my clothes have more volume than those of my smaller brethren. Luggage allowances don’t increase just because I like cheesecake.

Complicating matters even more is the fact that I am hideously, horrendously uncomfortable in pants. I wouldn’t be caught dead in jeans and a tshirt, even halfway around the world. That means I pack dresses, which again take up more room than I’m told I need. If I decide to spend the entire trip rotating between two outfits, I might be able to get away without a checked bag .. but I don’t wanna. I want to be cute, not convenient.

I preliminarily packed last night, just to see what I’m dealing with. In the largest packing cube, I managed to squeeze in 6 dresses and two cardigans. I still need a couple more cardis and the aforementioned unmentionables, which I thought might all fit within a second large cube. Now that it’s written down, 6 dresses seems like too many –  I could probably do 4, plus whatever I wear on the plane. Oh but wait, I won’t have access to laundry. I can hand wash delicates, but dresses are another matter. Damnit!

This is a ridiculous problem to have, I know this. And while I don’t often envy those who can throw on whatever the fuck and be cute yet comfortable, right now I have a mad jealous boner of people who haven’t dressed themselves into an anxious (but oh-so-stylish) corner. I made a list last night, numbered each article of clothing I want to pack, cross-referenced each dress with the items it could be worn with, then eliminated the items that had the fewest number of matches. This is how normal people pack, right? With databases and algorithms and strategic planning sessions?