Traveling Part I–Aruba Vacation (Day I)

We are off!! Today is the first official day of our vacation to Aruba!!! Friday was the longest work day EVER and honestly I don’t think I got any work done since I have been on ‘island time’ for about three days now LOL. Sam weathered the vacation fever fairly well but I tell you what on the last day of work (we work together by the way for those of you who don’t know) Sammy was on the testy side….both of us were ready for some much needed Vitamin D and relaxation.

Typically we stay up at the airport in a hotel when we travel since it’s an hour and a half drive from our town to the airport but since the flight left at like 8:30 we decided to just drive up and save ourselves the money (which by the way it ended up costing us $70 to leave our car in long term parking….ARG!!). At any rate, it was more convenient to just drive ourselves to the airport I suppose.

Once at the airport, ironically I did feel like I was at work again since we saw lots of people we work with all doing the same thing we were…..getting the heck out of Dodge!!! We knew lots of people who were escaping the winter rain in Oregon to get some sun in Hawaii, Miami, and Mexico…..looks like we weren’t the only ones with this brilliant idea!!

Sammy and I at PDX airport

We arrived at the airport ready for a long day (or two….) of travel. Aruba is located in the Caribbean just off the hurricane belt. It is about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela and is about 30 miles long. It is 12 degrees north of the equator so the temps don’t fluctuate too much. It’s about 85-90 degrees year round with a cool trade wind that blows CONSTANTLY. Lots of people have asked us why Aruba? How did you come to that decision? Well, honestly we didn’t want to go anywhere that was overly touristy and we wanted to go somewhere where not a lot of people know about or have been to. Most people don’t know where Aruba is or know much about it except for the whole Natalie Holloway disappearance a couple of years ago. So we pretty much chose it at random because it sounded cool and exotic LOL. Continue reading “Traveling Part I–Aruba Vacation (Day I)”

When did the world stop accepting paper money?

Well many of you may be wondering what mom and I learned from this whole experience….besides the fact that we will never take another vacation together as long as we live LOL (kidding!!)
We learned all kinds of things….revelations….things to ponder….and some things were are still wondering about (our WTF thoughts).
After we got home mom ended up in the hospital (the day after we got home) with chest pain and dizziness….no blood clot and no heart attack just some ‘pulled muscles’ in her chest supposedly and all around exhaustion…..nothing major.
She also had an inner ear/sinus infection which was causing the bouts of dizziness etc. I managed to survive without any sort of major problem or blood clot issue.
Mom had since made a full recovery…..for the most part. I thinks she still suffering post traumatic stress from the luggage situation though… am I! And I think she still has some lingering jet lag since she gets ‘tired’ now though I think she’s milking it LOL.
So here’s a list of overall thoughts, suggestions, feelings, revelations, and things to still ponder and what we have learned from our trip:

• When did the world stop accepting paper money?

• My entire life revolved around public transit and maps for 8 days

• Why the mass exodus?

• Luggage is NOT built to last forever

• However, Canon makes incredibly durable cameras!

• Why why why why is navigation such a problem? Is it too much to ask for better sign-age on street corners?

• When did English not become the universal language….especially in its name sake country?

• How do the French live entirely on pastries and wine and still manage to be thin?

• Don’t go to France and expect anyone to speak ANY language other than French.

• If your hoping to go to Europe and NOT look like a tourist….know that it’s NEVER going to happen.

• Always feed mom.
• Don’t bother asking anyone for directions because they either don’t speak English or you won’t know enough about the area to understand their directions…..besides everything in London is a 15 min walk always so forget it!

• A map of Paris, never leave home without one.

• You will probably get e-coli in France since no one washes their hands when preparing your food or you will get a horrible illness from the sheer amount of germs you come in contact with.

• Take plenty of change for the bathrooms since you get charged to use public facilities.

• There is no such thing as personal space and an old fat man pressed against you for three Metro stops is not considered sexual harassment…it’s just a way of life.

• The gypsies still run Paris…..think the gypsies like Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

• Versailles has over 700 rooms and no bathrooms in the original structure…..they used holes in the stairwell and lots of perfume to mask the smell….that explains a lot.

• The Taliban is alive and recruiting in London but if you want people to leave you alone and be out of your personal space just put on a head wrap and you should be fine.
• Don’t even bother trying to blow dry your hair because it will just look like s(*& anyway…..if possible wear a wig but NOT in London because it’s too windy.
• Plan on walking EVERYWHERE and DO NOT take anything larger than a carry on if you are even considering public transit.
• Don’t count on elevators, escalators, or anyone to help you for that matter. You are it… all alone with your suitcase….it’s your funeral if you take one if you dare, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
• DO NOT plan on having contact with the outside world and pack for just about every kind of weather.
• Why do people think they need to push past you? Because CLEARLY the train/bus/cab/car/airplane/subway/boat are all leaving without you even though you are standing right next to it!

• Go knowing you are NEVER going to see anything you planned on.

• Jet lag…its better than Ambien.

• The thought of ‘luggage’ and ‘packing’ have taken on an entirely new meaning and terror for me.
• When did Visa/MasterCard STOP being accepted ‘anywhere you see the Visa/MasterCard card accepted logos’?!?!?!
• Who the f*(&^ carries a coin purse AND a wallet?!?!
• Americans wear too much perfume….it’s in everything (laundry detergent, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo) and Europeans….not NEARLY enough!
• There is simply no need to storm the gates when entering Customs….one at a time please they aren’t closing the borders yet!
• Why say ‘pardon’ when trying to pass people on the Metro when you’re just going to push past, jump over, or knock me down…just do it already and f(&^ your ‘pardon’.
• Exchange your money BEFORE leaving especially if you don’t speak the language where you are going….you might be shot or arrested depending on where you go.
• Charles de Gaulle airport (enough said).
• If you have a bleeding disorder confine yourself to a wheelchair for the entire vacation as you could fall at any moment and bleed out if not.
• Know you are going to fall on your face AT LEAST ONCE since the streets are a bipedal nightmare.
• Don’t bother trying to make phone calls because they charge $35 USD for ‘toll free’ phone calls.

• I hate Oxford Circus.

• Backpacking through Europe…..NOT a good idea do not attempt!

• The three musketeers can never be separated again.
• When did the detour to Mumbai happen??? I wasn’t aware the English Channel came out on the Ganges River!
• Your feet will become horrible disfigured and hurt no matter what you do….you might as well wear cute shoes!

• Susan loves to eat and mom likes to take ‘short breaks’ and I just keep going and going and going and going.

• Something good must come from this whole experience….and to date I am still waiting for that something to happen.

• Mom cursed out trip by saying I planned the most excellent adventure.

Above all……I need a man to take care of me!
I use to fancy myself very independent….like I could always take care of myself. I am married to the most amazing man ever…..Sam is always so good at providing testosterone whenever my mom and sister and I are together….he is the voice of reason and logic in our world.
When him and I went to London and Paris last year…..we had f*&T^ up things happen but nothing like the three musketeers (mom, Susan, and I) experienced. When Sam got married I don’t think he counted on gaining three wives…..we will just call him Brigham Young now!
I am sure I missed a bunch of thoughts here but as you can see…..there were just so many to choose from that it was hard to make just a short list (I would be embarrassed to call myself and English major if I could describe ANYTHING in 500 words or less).
Now I hope my blog can get back to its original purpose…..a blog about literature and books. I will post pics in the next few days as I finish doing my Photoshop magic so be watching.
Now for the BIG lesson leaned on this trip…..plan nothing and laugh.
I had so much fun with my family. I planed and planed and planed this trip hoping to make it the best trip ever. It was something special I wanted to share with my mom and sister and I just wanted everything to be perfect which it clearly wasn’t.
Since I had been to Europe before, I felt lots of pressure to ‘know it all’ and in doing so I clearly realized that was not the case! I know shocker right since I pretty much know everything LOL!
*dripping in sarcasm*
Mom and Susan and I all can laugh at each other and our selves, and know that everything we say or do is not meant to be taken the wrong way. We all had a great time together and we wouldn’t trade our vacation for all the tea in London or pastries in Paris.
It was an amazing experience that we will all remember forever. Regardless of how our trip turned out or whatever we didn’t see…..bottom line is we got to spend it together. So if you are all planning to go to Europe any time soon…..know it’s probably not going to turn out how you wanted so just go with it and enjoy yourself….see what you can when you can and throw out the schedule…..and throw out your suitcase!
Europe….it was everything I dreamed of…..and SO MUCH MORE!

Shrink wrapped luggage apparently is the way to go

Graphic Art by Sara A Mendez
On our last night in London I laid in bed anxiously waiting to find a solution to my suitcase issue.
After I decided NOT to spend ridiculous amounts of money on new luggage (especially in a foreign currency that I can’t convert to save my life) my worst nightmare came true……my bag would not survive the trip. The only thing I regret about our trip is that I didn’t take a picture of my suitcase before we left.
Ode to my Samsonite knock-off, may it rest in peace
  1. Smashed in the turn style at Charles de Gaulle airport
  2. Drug up and down endless flights of stairs
  3. Rolled down the cobblestone streets of Paris and London
  4. Melted its plastic innards from the friction of being drug for miles
  5. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs
  6. More walking or rolling in this case
  7. Dismemberment (its dislocated handle)
  8. The wheels dislodged and hanging on for dear life
  9. Hemorrhaging clothing from the gaping hole in its back
  10. Poked and prodded with pins and tape trying to salvage it…..
All the heroics were for nothing….the suitcase survived only to circum its inevitable fate…..death by zipper derailment.
RIP to my little knock-off black Samsonite suitcase! Continue reading “Shrink wrapped luggage apparently is the way to go”

Cheap canvas suitcases are a hot mess–Invest in good luggage!

Today was our all things Victoria and Victorian-ish themed day. After a relatively good day at St Paul’s and Kensington Palace/Gardens yesterday, mom and I woke up for our last full day in London. Not entirely confident that it wouldn’t rain, mom and I both opted for close toed shoes and sweaters.

Mom totally lovin the city of London!
On the agenda for the day was the British Museum and our night time Jack the Ripper walking tour. However our big treat for the trip was going to Buckingham Palace to see the Victoria and Albert museum exhibition. I really wanted our trip to be special for both mom and I, so this was my little ‘secret’ purchase since I knew she would love it since we are both huge Victorian/ Gothic era history fans.
Since last year mom, Susan, and I have been really into Queen Victoria after watching the film The Young Victoria. We had to wake up earlier than we had on previous mornings if we wanted to eat a real breakfast and have coffee before we had to be at the Queens Gallery at 10:00 when the exhibit opened.
We decided to not get too adventurous on our trip with the food so we again went to the café around the corner and had the usual breakfast we had been eating for three days now—cereal, eggs, toast, ham, and coffee. We headed out fairly quickly and took the Tube….again….to Buckingham Palace and surprisingly, we managed to make it there without incident.
The Queens Gallery Entrance
Here’s some background on Buckingham Palace for those who are interested. The Palace didn’t become the official ‘royal residence’ until Queen Victoria became Queen in the 1800’s and she was the first to live in it as Queen. Queen Victoria of course, was the longest ruling monarch ever in British history (and the longest ruling female monarch ever) and pretty much re-populated a dwindling line of royal options by producing nine children!
She is thought to be the first to bring hemophilia to the royal line which caused major problems later, especially in the Russian monarchy…..Alexis future Tsar of Russia’s mother, Alexandra was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and also a recessive carrier of the hemophilia gene which became a dominant gene in her son….all very interesting, I love science too bad I can barely balance my checkbook otherwise I would have gone into genetics. Continue reading “Cheap canvas suitcases are a hot mess–Invest in good luggage!”

Feed the bird tuppence a bag-on the steps of St Paul’s

View of St Pauls from the Thames
Anne to starship command….come in starship command….we have established a connection with the outside world!
Finally on the sixth day of our vacation my mom and I were able to reach the outside world, thought it was still a primitive connection. We still did not have internet access however the hotel did manage to get us two TV stations: one which played the British version of Jerry Springer all day and the BBC which was able to provide us with SOME kind of weather update.
We woke up on this day earlier than the previous and decided we would again try the more relaxed approach to our trip (because CLEARLY it had worked so well the previous day). We watched the weather report on the BBC, though we couldn’t really understand the report since everything was read in celsius.
The general consensus was it was going to be ‘breezy’ with a chance of light showers. While watching the weather report, I noticed that the map which showed the directional winds looked oddly like something we would see in Oklahoma (tornados) or the Gulf (hurricanes). It just basically looked like a giant churning, windy nightmare. So I opted for jeans, jacket, and my trusty scarf/burqua while mom went for long pants and a t-shirt.
Mom sure looks happy to be ‘princess’ for a day
at Kensington Palace…..more like
Off with her head!! LOL
We went to our little breakfast place and since we didn’t really know what ‘porridge’ would be (oatmeal-ish?!?!?) we stuck with the same English breakfast we had the day before.
While enjoying our coffee we decided to plan our day. We had bought train tickets to Stratford-Upon-Avon for the day and had originally planned on seeing Shakespeare’s house and Warwick Castle. When Sam and I were in England, we went with a tour company (which would have been the smart thing to do with mom) and I really wanted to take mom to some of the places we visited.
I thought we would be able to manage on our own without a tour company, so I had bought train tickets to go to Stratford for the day. At one point I even entertained the mention of renting a car from the train station and drive around the English countryside….I have NO idea what I was thinking!
I obviously had delusions of grandeur.
We couldn’t even navigate the public transit system let alone try to drive a car with everything backward! Continue reading “Feed the bird tuppence a bag-on the steps of St Paul’s”