Sunday Procrastination

image

Packing is boring.  I used to be a great, light packer until I met my travel buddy.  She introduced me to the idea that one should never give up on the luxuries of home just because you are traveling.   And so, I have become a compact but complex packer – see further, random details here.

All day I’ve mentally been going through a list of things that I need to pack for my upcoming trip.  It is almost obsessive.  At one point over Sunday morning coffee, off in day dream land, I caught myself murmuring “that’s funny” to my coffee companion.  Have I learned nothing.  She didn’t seem to notice or maybe it was the language barrier but when our 1 hour coffee turned into 4 hours, she evidently, graciously, ignored my senseless comment.

The clock is ticking.  It’s getting close to bed time.

I dig my suitcase out from the bottom of my closet.  It is sitting, open mouthed, in the middle of the living room floor.  Clothes started to pile up in the middle as I tossed them in.

Now is time to roll, purge and close my case.

The front pocket feels heavy?   I dig my hand into the case and pull out piles of paper, maps, receipts and now I know I’ll be up until midnight!

My last trip.  Neatly preserved in my suitcase.  A treasure!

I want to go back.  I can feel it in my bones.

#københaven #goteborg #egeskov #helsingør #kronborg #helsingborg #vadstena #stockholm #uppsala #gamla #løvestad #malmö

Le-Weekend a Ottawa

Le-Weekend a Ottawa

20130915-130517.jpgWe decided leaving the cars at home and using public transit would a be a new and novel way to see our Capital.

The train didn’t disappoint although snoozing the blaring alarm at 4:45am, in a sleepy haze catching the 5:32am streetcar and walking 5 city blocks to Union Station, the start of the trip wasn’t proving very sleep friendly. We were travelling European style, whatever that means!

The train car was surprisingly full. After travelling for 5 hours swaying back and forth, and having to pee every 20 minutes from the swaying of the train, we arrived in Ottawa and found our way to OC Transpo and bus 95. We clamoured on with our luggage, and spent the 15 minute bus ride stumbling over each other trying to stay standing.

The entrance to the hotel was obscure. For a large mid-luxury hotel chain, we walked around the block twice looking for the entrance. Ok, I exaggerate and perhaps we only did one tour of the building and maybe all the construction out front helped in our confusion. We made it to the front lobby and towards the in-training concierge.

“Hello, can I help you,” she asked politely.

“Yes, we checked in online and we are here to retrieve our keys.”

“Your reservation number please”

We gave her the reservation information.

“Oh, yes, we’ve been expecting you!”

That sounds promising, I thought to myself as she went and found our hotel keys. After showing my ID, she handed us the keys and off we were to our room.

The room. Oh the room.

We opened the door and out came the smell of musty, stale, 1970’s cigarette air. You know the kind? It’s when the rooms used to be smoking rooms and after ten bouts of febreeze, the hotel had now deemed it a non-smoking room.

Ewww.

I grumbled something and the support I received was, “It smells fine to me, my nose is stuffed up with a cold,” followed by, “did you want me to go ask for a new room, this one is fine for me.”

That’s not helpful!

Too hungry and tired to start a meaningful conversation about changing the room that seemed fine to one of us, we left our bags in the smelly, stale room and went to find some food.

We found a delicious sandwich/salad shop a block away.

After lunch I decided I needed a quick 20 minute nap. Hopefully a full stomach would help me like the smelly room and put me in a better mood. So off I went on my own, back to the hotel to have my nap.

I got to the 15 floor, opened the door and had to steady myself against the door frame. The food in my stomach only made the room worse. I rationalized, “If I had booked a room in my own city as a weekend getaway and I was given THIS room, I’d probably just go home!!”. So I picked up the phone and dialled 0.

“Hello,” I said to the nice lady who picked up, “we just checked in to the hotel and I wanted to know if the room I am in is a smoking room, because it smells like old stale cigarettes.”

“Oh really, I am sorry to hear that, we no longer have smoking rooms. Did you want to maybe febreeze the room?” She offered.

“Sure,” this was a ridiculous suggestion but I was game to explore the option, “do you have a few bottles that you could send up here to spray the room with?”

She laughed, “have you unpacked yet”

“No”

“Ok, I will transfer you to the concierge and tell them you would like to change rooms.”

“Thank you”

That is how I changed rooms. I gathered our bags, re-folded the end of toilet paper roll I had used earlier, into the neat little triangle, put the used soap back in the box and slid it into my purse and raced up to the 20th floor.

Why did I re-fold the toilet paper or take the used soap bar with me?! I don’t know but it’s funny that was my reaction, I wanted to wipe any trace that I’d ever been in such a smelly room!!

The new room was amazing. Newly renovated, it smelled like new carpet and fresh paint. The telephone was even clean and didn’t stick to the palm of my hand when I picked up the receiver.

This was a room I’d stay in if I had booked in Toronto!!

I unpacked a few of my items, slide out of my jeans, put on my pyjama’s and crawled under the sheets. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep when I remembered, “I need to text N to let him know I’ve changed rooms!!”

I rummaged around in my purse, found my phone, sent off two texts.

We’d agreed on 20 minutes so after 40 minutes had passed I started wondering if he:
a) lost track of time
b) was lost in the hotel wondering if I left him with just the clothes on his back

I closed my eyes and decided he’d eventually find me and so he did and none the too pleased when I opened the door to let him in.

Not wanting to pay for roaming charges, he’d turned off his cell service and didn’t receive my texts. Instead he arrived back at the room on the 15th floor, coffees in hand only to find me and our bags……gone!! He checked the closet and yes, I’d forgotten our jackets. He picked them out of the closet and went to the lobby to try to find me.

Ofcourse I wasn’t in the lobby. I was in our new room, snuggled under the sheets, having a nap!

He went back up to the 15th floor and found two cleaning staff in the room trying to smell the stale, cigarette air. When they saw him standing at the door they said, “Oh Mr. ‘insert MY last name here’, she has already moved to your new room.”

They kindly called front desk to find out what room I’d moved to and that’s how I ended up spending the evenings on a “European” inspired trip in a nice smelling room with a comfy bed and a clean phone that I never did use 🙂

Candy Goes to Sweden

Candy Goes to Sweden

whatsapp poop‘Just remember, Little Miss Full-Of-Yourself, the most important days of your life will be the days you don’t forget.’ Claire McCaskill

The time has come and gone. I hugged her goodbye Monday. I wasn’t going to think about what it meant to stand in front of the security entrance, hugging my best friend. That way the tears would stay buried under the practicality of the situation; she was en route to the next chapter of her life and I was so proud of her. Walking back to my car however, I couldn’t stop the tears.

It’s tough saying goodbye once, I am learning it doesn’t get any easier a second time around. My consolation both times? Memories.

The days we laughed together, cried together, the silly jokes we shared, the days we helped each other up when we’d fallen down. And just like the first goodbye changed my life in unimaginable ways, I am prepared this time!

We had 7 years together and after a skeptical start on my part, we became best friends. She’s friendly, optimistic, delicate, warm and ready to see the world through her rosey-shades. Honestly. I, on the other hand am naturally pessimistic and skeptical of anything that seems too-good-to-be-true.

She was too-good-to-be true.

I only wanted to get to my bedroom without having to interact with the bubbly girl with perfectly coiffed hair. Did she have any flaws?

There was something seriously wrong with this chick and I didn’t want to catch her disease.

Problem is, her disease was highly contagious. Not even the lock I subsequently installed on my door could innoculate me from her infectious positive energy.

That’s how it started. Her cheerfully introducing herself to me, extending her hand. Her belongings scattered around her feet. A huge warm smile on her face.

I took her hand, it was the only polite thing for me to do. I grunted something in her direction and escaped into my room.

I can’t tell you why she kept working on becoming friends. I can only guess that she wasn’t going to let no little-miss-skeptical ruin her Canadian experience. No, she was bent on bringing me along on her adventure.

And so over time we became best-friends.

I’ll miss her being a car-ride away, being able to meet up for evening coffee runs, sitting around solving our problems. But I look forward to stepping off a plane in a new country and visiting her new world.

I’ve learned many life lessons from her however, the most important lesson: just smile and wave babe, smile and wave, they’ll eventually come around…I certainly did. 😉

Portland

Portland

20130604-165843.jpgI was pretty excited to travel to Portland Oregon last month. I was looking forward to the brisk Pacific coast air, mountain sides covered in lush greenery and the windy roads.

What I hadn’t anticipated after travelling for 12 hours was:
1. Having a GPS from Dr. Suess. The GPS telling us we were just a block away from the hotel when we were really 40 minutes in the wrong direction from the hotel in a dilapidated neighbourhood.

2. The number of underage homeless people. To be fair I’d been warned.

3. After a gruelling trip, arriving at the hotel with the following food choices:
a) Grilled lamb tongue salad
b) Potted duck confit
c) Chicken liver …

When all I wanted was a sandwich.

MINI at the Border

I am getting pretty good at crossing borders. I’ve done it enough times and I’ve come to the conclusion that the car you drive … matters. It matters to the conversations that take place and the decision to either let me through or search my car.

The MINI is a hassling kind of car, but not in the same type of hassling that one might imagine.

After escaping the toll-taker, I happily crossed the bridge and made my way to the first available border crossing booth.

I pulled up, rolled my window down, removed my sunglasses and handed over my passport.

It started the same as usual, “Where are you from, where are you going, why are you going, when are you coming back, what are you taking with you, where do you work.”

Standard questions right?

I wasn’t prepared for, “What major road does your residential street run parallel too?” and was only slightly more prepared for, “What is the major North/South road that runs perpendicular to your residential street?” I was tempted to break out google maps, but instead I smiled and rhymed off all the streets starting with the one he seemed to know and had blurted out.

Where was this going? I didn’t know. I just knew I had to participate.

I was quizzed on area bakeries, pubs and eateries. With all the talk of Pasta I asked him if he happened to be Italian. There should be a section in every border crossing where the traveller is allowed to ask questions, right?

He handed back my passport. A sure sign we were wrapping up our “get-to-know-each-other” session and I was awaiting his decision on what my next steps were to be.

I pulled my chilled elbow back into my car and the minute I appeared the least bit interested in getting on my way, he sternly decided to ask more questions about my place of employ and soon we were off on another topic – Golf.

He suggested numerous times that I get in touch with his previous golf instructor to learn how to improve my swing and my game. I am sure it was after the 9th time that I clued in and offered to make a note in my cell phone of said instructor’s name. I pulled out my phone and promptly added in the name.

How did it end?

He pled with me, “You know if you learn to really swing well, you’ll be invited all the time to play golf. Men really like it when a pretty young lady…(big pause)…woman like yourself comes out to play.”

He hardly had time to catch his breath and continued, “I really like watching the ladies, you know they have a nice smooth swing, really smooth.” as he demonstrated for me inside his little booth.

Then his eyes lit up like saucers and in a deep bare whisper, he intoned “Women are so flexible!!”

Maybe it was the look of sheer shock on my face, but with his last announcement, on what I can only imagine to be his seeming desire towards flexible women, I was waved through with a simple “have a nice trip.”

MINI goes to Indy

MINI goes to Indy

MINISince getting the MINI I’ve been dreaming up places to take him, to show him around. Maybe cars are suppose to be girls, like boats and ships, but my MINI is definitely a guy.

Before I crossed the border on my way to one of my favourite destinations, I took my MINI for a little bath at the local ESSO. It looks pretty good all cleaned up 🙂

Pulling up to pay the $3.50 toll to cross the bridge, I rolled down my window and handed the toll-taker $3.55.

Turns out the toll-taker wasn’t so interested in giving me my change. No sirree, he took my money then leaned way out of his booth and declared with much gusto “That’s one FINE machine you’ve got there!!! Did you just wash it?”

“Yes sir, newly washed.”

He eyed the MINI and stated, “There must be more room in that car then it looks eh, the trunk can’t be that small!”

“Well, truth be told the trunk is pretty small,” I replied, wondering if I was going to get my 5 cents change.

He wasn’t interested in giving me any money back, only interested in talking about the MINI as he continued, “Do you think the MINI would fit a man like me that is 6″1′?”

“Ummm, yes….,” can I leave now…

I turned to see the gate open, I rolled up my window and squealed out of the lane leaving my 5 cents change behind.

I wasn’t interested in passengers 😛

Oh Panama How I Miss You

Oh Panama How I Miss You

IMG-20121130-00925

It’s an adjustment getting back from being away and there are a few things I miss….quite a bit.

List of things I miss:

1. Jello as a dessert after lunch.

2. Cafe latte’s from the lobby bar.

3. Nightly entertainment in a language Yo No Comprendo! I did however understand that that one night the dancer’s were performing a rendition of S&M from someone’s bedroom. Am I really sitting amoungst a PG-13 crowd? What kind of resort AM I REALLY AT!

IMG-20121130-00932
4. Karaoke, again in a language I do not understand and more importantly a French-Canadian duet of “Lady in Red” ….. ahhhhh

5. Climbing palm trees.

6. Bathroom tissue with a mild baby powder scent. It exists. Odd.

7. Greek style lamb stew.

8. Eating bun-less hamburgers overloaded with salsa.

IMG-20121130-009199. The not so well stocked Lobby Library

10. The rain. Rain on vacation is not the worst that can happen. Being beat-up by an ATV is much worse.

11. The stairs, so many many stairs.

And most of all,

11. Being disconnected.