filled with this:
OHHH EMMM GEEEE how freaking cute is that puppy? I want want want it. Seriously, I would just pick it up and squeeze it and bury my face in his little fluffy puppy fur and tell him that he's the most beautiful and smart puppy in the entire world.
I am alive and back in Texas now! I like to flatter myself and think that you have all be devastated by my lack of posting. But let's be honest here, all of you who read my blog have most likely already talked to me in real life and you are tots thinking "gah! Go back to Europe and stop talking so damn much!"
But I am here! And I do have lots and lots to blabber to about! We are currently internet free at home and I'm slightly annoyed at my neighbors. How can all 15 wifi signals I pick up have passwords? Don't you people know that I need to easily steal things (services, whatever) from you but not feel guilty because it's not like I'm stealing your puppy or anything.
So get excited for some good posting coming up! And don't worry, I'll keep posting even though I don't think anyone reads. Let's be honest, that's exactly what I do on twitter all the time.
just trying to make you guys all cultural and stuff
I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving day filled with friends, love, and lots of food. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Christmas seems comercial to me, don't even get me started about Valentines Day, Easter is also commerical, and does Halloween even count as a holiday?
I simply love Thanksgiving. It's the only holiday when family and friends gather together to enjoy a huge meal with the only expectation of being thankful. (Or at least I guess that is the ideal...)
This year there are so many things that I am thankful for: my family, my incredibly friends, the amazing future I have ahead of me, the ability to travel the world, the chance to be healthy and happy, and so much more!
And, I am thankful for each and everyone of you who reads my blog posts. It makes me happy to know that even if I can't talk to y'all on a regular basis I can tell you a little of what is going on in my life!
**p.s. when I get home Chris and I are going to go all out and make our own Thanksgiving dinner because I also LOVE Thanksgiving food! So, be excited because you will definitely see pictures and hear stories about me cooking my first turkey ever!!
Get excited because there will be a lot more posting in your future!
"It's me! Mario!"*
Will I ever have random deep intellectual exocentric thoughts? Doubtful, I don't even know exocentric means; I was just using it to
* if you don't recognize this quote then you obviously have not been
playing enough nintendo!
randomly and says this:
"Chuck Noris went to the Virgin Islands for vacation. Now they're just called the Islands."
I couldn't help but laugh.
I'll give y'all a bigger update soon. I'm just feeling blah and uninspired right now.
Not kidding at all. I'm sitting in an internet cafe paying 2 euro an hour for internet. And the man next to me is reading something on his computer and about every 15 seconds he makes one of these noises in rotations
or random mutterings
IT'S DRIVING ME INSANE! It's basically like Chinese water torture! I don't know when the next noise will be coming!
ugh... I just heard a wow and then a hummmm in 10 seconds!
now proudly say that I can deal with moldy showers, rooms that
slightly smell like a locker room, and all sorts of general uckiness.
I know that there are mysterious bed bugs out there and some of the
random bug bites I have had along the way are most likely from the
little monsters. Unseen bugs, mold, etc-- its all part of traveling...
And then I hit my breaking point of yuck:
Two nights ago I was laying in a hostel bed with the lights off. I was
laying on my side looking at something on my iPod when a bed bug
slowly walked across my pillow! Ahhhh! The bug was lit up in
silhouette from the light of my iPod and was terrifying! Being the
ninja that I am I immediately picked him up and squished him. His
death offered me no solace because he was filled with blood. Most
likely MY blood!
At that point there was no one at the reception and it felt like it
was too late to move rooms and I found out on a wikipedia search of
terror that they had most likely infested the entire hostel... So I
slept in my little bed of bugs hoping that they wouldn't gnaw off all
of my flesh in the night.
So far, two days later, I only have two bug bites on my entire body.
Let's hope that I don't break out into one giant mass of itchy oozey
bug bites like a guy a met at the hostel the next morning!
Omg my skin feels itchy just thinking about it!
Oh, and unless you really want to drive yourself away from all strange
beds don't google bed bugs. I'm warning you...
Last weekend I was going to fly home to the states and surprise all my friends for a great Halloween treat! But, then I´m an idiot and missed my flight in Paris, which made me miss my flight in Amsterdam, which made me unable to fly home until 2 days later and then I would only be able to be home for about 12 hours. Sadly, I did not go home, instead i went to Madrid for Halloween.
My friend Audrey lives here in Madrid and I am stay with her for a week or so and then I think heading around Spain, then Italy, then home!
six minutes after I close my eyes and rarely stir until my dreaded
alarm goes off. I'll also freely admit that I still need a regular 10
hours of sleep a night. It's ridiculous, I'm like a child.
I also have an issue that no matter how much sleep I have gotten I am
usually slightly sleepy or almost always would be willing to take a nap.
In fact an ex-boyfriend who is not as kind as Chris used to be a real ass to
me about it and when I would say I was tired he would kind of give me a
half eye roll/dirty look and say "aren't you always tired?". In
fact, I might have developed a slight complex from it but that for
another post, a book really, called "complexes and hatred for The Red
Hot Chili Peppers caused ex-boyfreinds".
That being said I have an issue: omg public transportation in Europe
makes me SO sleepy!
Seriously, put me on a bus, train, tram, subway, etc at any time of
day and my eyelids will get heavy and I'll start to yawn!
While this isn't a heavy burden on short or very long rides it's
worrysome on the medium lenght trips. Missing my station would be such
a giant pain that could add hours onto a travel day. While some of you
might doubt my ability to sleep so intensely I give you this story:
The morning Chris, Eddie, and Allan left Germany I walked them to the
subway stop and wished them bon voyage before going back to the hostel
and sleeping for another 2 hours. After waking from my nap I packed my
things, checked out of the hostel, crossed the street, and got on a
train to Berlin. I was still sleepy so I shoved my jacket against the
window and closed my eyes. But, before I went to sleep I made sure my
train pass was on my lap but under my hand so the conductor could see
it when checking tickets and maybe wouldn't wake me. Two and a half
hours later I woke up rubbing eyes and trying to tell if anyone had
noticed that I had been slightly drooling. My ticket was still under
my hand and in fact it wasn't checked for the rest of the trip. This
was a little surprising because I was on the more expensive highspeed
train but not completely out of the ordinary. 4 days later I'm on a
train from Berlin to Prague and I get out my train pass to write intge
date when I make a huge discovery: my ticket WAS checked! Evidently
while I was asleep a conductor came by, punched my ticket and then
replaced my hand and I never woke up!
So, I'm not sure if there is a moral to this story; but from now on I'm
only letting myself fall asleep on trains when I have my alarm set to
wake before my arrival time or copious ammounts of time to sleep
before my stop!
Hostels are loud. Really loud.
This morning I was woken up at 6:45 am. I don't think you understand. SIX FOURTY FIVE IN THE MORNING!! Because my "roommate" seemed to be packing with the light on after she had gone to bed at 9 the night before. I was NOT pleased and am still a little bitter.
So what did I do? I gave the death stare, put on my ipod, and jammed my head under my pillow with a loud huff. I refuse to be mature when
woken unnessicarily at 6:45 am. What did I choose to listen to you must be asking?
That's right my friends. New age Celtic instrumental music does the trick for me. It's soft enough to put me to sleep but encoherent
enough that I never really have any idea of words. And the strange
nonsensical rhythms help block out random noises. It's completly
perfect except I usually wake up and my iPod is completely tangled
around my body...
Steve Jobs and Apple Corp
142 Machintosh Street
Somewhere west coast
My iPod is a liar. According to my iPod my 25 most played songs include:
- little red jumpsuit: face down
- dashboard confessional: screaming infidelities as well as 4 other dashboard songs
- fergie: glamorous
- gym class heros: Cupid's chokehold
- good charolette- I don't wanna be in love
- the instrumental version of my life will go on from titanic
Steve, I'm sure you have been teased in the past for being a nerd or a
computer geek. Then you should be able to sympathize with my situation; this list is embarassing and deserves to be made fun of. It's like the iPod's version of "now that what I call music: best of 2008". I didn't even know I had Good Charolette on my ipod so how can they be in my top 25 most played? Does my iPod hate me and want to embarass me by inventing this list of most played? Do I listen to this music in my sleep? What is happening?
Please Steve! Spare me the shame!
I'm off to take a long walk around Marseille, my home for the next few
days. But I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for interesting stories to
Oh! And I'll tell you all about my minor scooter accident!
people and my very happy life in Dallas. As some of you know, last
weekend was OU/TX weekend. I can't explain this weekend perfectly to
non-Dallasites but I'll give it my best shot. Every year, what I
consider the biggest rivals in the Big 12 football converence meet
head to head in my hometown. My city and my favorite hangouts are
swamped with dueling Texas and Oklahoma fans. For OU/UT weekend you
really have only 2 choices: leave town or embrace the game, strap on a
band waggon t-shirt, and join in for a day filled with Big 10 fun. I
defenitely prefer to take part in the day. I'll be honest, I don't
care who wins. Chris is from Oklahoma and is a huge OU fan so just for
the sake of my releationship I would have cheered for OU this year.
So here comes the part where I whine for a while. I really have no
right to whine: I'm traveling across Europe Iand was in Cannes over
the weekend. But it's my blog and I'll do what I want! I missed OU/UT
weekend this year. There was a giant party with all of my friends and
a chili cookoff. I make great chili! I like parties! I like to watch
I can handle not sleeping in my own very comfy bed for months, having
to search to find the way to flush the toliet, the language barriers,
and all of the other challenges faced during traveling. But most of
all I miss life at home. How can it be passing on without me?
glamourous image of perfect rays of sunshine glimmering across the
gentle waves of the Medeteranean hightlighting the decks of spotless
white yatchs topped by beatifil sunkissed bodies in tiny swimsuits
drinking martinis or flutes of expensive champagne.
Not so much. In fact, on this overcast mid-October day this city is
more a sleepy city filled with old men playing a French game called
boules which is similar to bocce, kids playing tag across a park, and
sleepy curving streets.
My first experience in St. Tropez was in direct opposition to my
glamourous image. Upon arrival, I stopped in a grocery store to buy a
baguette, cheese, and a pear to combine with the tuna salad I had made
at the hostel for a easy lunch. When I was checking out a homeless
man came into buy a cheap 1Euro beer. The manager approached the man
and said he had already had enough and would have to leave. The man
started agrue that he had enough money to buy a beer and told the
manager that he simply was having a picnic in the park and wanted a
beer to quench his growing thirst. The manager, I suspect in order to
avoid a scene or maybe because of his detailed story,, told the man he
could buy this beer but he would not be allowed to return to the store.
I know I have an overactive, yet stereotypical, imagination. Maybe
St. Tropez is filled with bikini-clad Megan Fox look alikes during the
summer but on a chilly Tuesday in late October St. Tropez is nothing
more than a French village on the seaside filled with average French
people wrapped in coats and scarves experencing the same social issues
of homelessness we have at home in Dallas.
Does that count?
This is the first time since I arrived in Europe a month and a half
ago where I haven't been rushing from giant city to giant city in
order to make a check on my "to see" list before I hadto meet family
orfeiends somewhere in nomire than 8 days. Don't get me wrong, I
loved being with my family and friends (hi Mom, Chris, Allan, Eddie,
Audrey, Jill, and Allyson!) but I am excited fir the chance not to plan.
As of right now I'm planning to leader across the South of France for
the next 3 weeks making my way to Spain. Basically, I will move a
little farther west every 2-3 days deciding the night before where I
will go based on a loose list of ideas I have collected. Maybe it's
not the most exact plan, but it's working for me right now.
A plan-less Meredith
p.s. Could I have said plan any more times in that post? (to those of
you who get the reference please re-read the sentence in Chandler Bing
(International Herald Tribune- I'm giving you one intense stink eye
right now. And don't even get me started on the fact that you cost 3
2. I once had a copy of The Catcher In The Rye with white covers that
had the same issue. By the time I had finished the book the covers
were coated in smudgey grey fingerpirnts.
3. The Financial Times, you know- the pink paper, is smudge-proof!
aid digestion or something but it still gives me the creeps.
I'm terrible at blogging on a consistent basis. I'm not sure why I
can't get it together regularly; I think it's because a full blog post
seems like a grand undertaking where I have to write clever,
informative, and entertaining prose. So instead of just a little
boring something I write nothing. But then again, I'm not sure that I
am ever clever, informative, or ensughtful so I should just write!
So, I am attempting to reform! I have just discovered that it is
possible to email in blog posts so now I will be working on posts and
then uploading them!
Now, for your surprise (which sadly is not your very own pet unicorn)
and as your reward for your patience and dedication I have written,
submitted, and scheduled 4 posts to be revealed in the next 2 days!
That's right y'all! You get to read me babble 5 times in the next 48
At least pretend to be excited?
OMG. Stephanie Lauren Kahan I am so jealous of all of your witty blog titles. I know you've always been really really good at being good with words; think of all of the hilarious nick names, secret clubs, and inside phrases you created for us in college! But still! I want to be as clever as you!
That is all. I feel sort of better.
Check out her annoyingly perfectly witty blog titles at:
The holocaust is so incredibly unexplainable to me. I don't understand how so many people could have become desensitized to mass killings based on such small ethnic differences; the victims and their captors were neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Or if they didn’t have a direct relationship to one another they had relationships with someone ethnically similar to the prisoners in the concentration camps.
I can understand how the average German citizen could passively allow the Holocaust to begin. When the Nazis seized control they were able, through a manipulation of government power, to capture and jail any political opponents. I can imagine that as a German citizen you wouldn’t agree with the National Socialists (Nazis) at first but by the time you realized the true horror of what is happening you have no real choice but to be silent. If you spoke out you or your family will be hurt, killed, sent to a concentration camp yourself, who really knew what would happen to you?
But what is truly terrible to me and absolutely unexplainable is the actions of the people who knew what was happening from the beginning and allowed or encouraged the plans and eventual actions. How could you be a guard in a concentration camp, an officer ushering people into cattle cars, or one of the hundreds of other jobs involved? I have debated which is worse: knowing what you are doing is terribly wrong or letting yourself become so brainwashed with hatred that you enjoy your job? I don’t have an answer; I don’t think I ever will.
It makes me wonder if I have become adjusted to injustice in the world. What could I be ignoring or turning a blind eye to because it's easier or doesn't affect my family or friends? The war in Darfur? Remaining daily racism and anti-Semitism? Educational and health inequalities between American races and social classes? Or even more dramatic, the inequalities between Americans and non-Americas? And if I can see these things occurring what can I do personally? Donate money? Write to congress? Quit my easy American life and become a relief worker?
I don’t think there are any easy answers. I wish there were.
Hopefully you guys are still asleep and no one is awake at 6:35 am getting ready for work! Most of you know this but I am NOT a morning person. At my last job one of my co-workers was C, former roommate and a college bff, and women who we worked with asked C if I didn't like them because I refused to talk to them in the mornings. I then felt like I had to go explain to them, it's not you I hate in the morning but simply the entire world. I hate mornings. And to be honest, I hate morning people; or hate them in the mornings at least!
Hostels are not really sleeping friendly environments. I realized the other day that I have not slept straight through the night since I arrived in Europe. In a hostel there is always someone snoring or a drunk person coming home loudly at 4 am or someone with a disgusting hacking cough or someone waking up and packing with the lights on at 5 am. This lack of full sleep only adds to my early morning hatred.
So, if you encounter me somewhere across the world here is my best advice:
1. Don't take my anger personally
2. Don't try to talk to me. Seriously, chitchat in the morning will be received with only one word responses and the death glare.
3. Ignore my giant ponytail that I have yet to fix that is awkwardly dangling from the side of my head because I'm too tired to raise my arms and make myself look some what presentable.
4. Wait until I talk to you.
Once I talk to you then you know I am now ready to incessantly talk about nothing (as I am prone to do) and I, once again, feel filled with raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, and all of my of other favorite things.
Berlin I'm in
I do not like that Berlin-I'm-in!
Do you like
soaked shoes and socks?
I do not like them, Berlin-I'm-in.
I do not like
soaked shoes and socks!
So, Berlin. Berlin-I'm-in. I'm afraid that Berlin may become the city that I irrationally dislike during my entire trip. In 36 hours I've been totally soaked twice by very cold rain.
Now, you may be calling me an idiot and wondering why the hell I didn't get out of the rain and stop wining. But I have an answer! I did get out of the rain! But the large majority of the interesting stuff (that so far I have found) in Berlin is OUTSIDE. Yes, outside, in the rain.Granted, I did go to an amazing, indoor, museum about the Holocaust which is in conjunction with the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" (intense name huh?) but on a whole I would have to say this about Berlin that has amazing free outdoor exhibitions, is covered in graffiti, and has a focal point of the former Berlin wall:
Berlin: look at the art on the walls of the buildings, not on the walls in the buildings.
I walked around the entire cemetary and was shocked when I wandered by Jim Morrison's grave. It was packed with people! There were at least 20 or 30 people hanging out there. I know I have the musical intellegence of a porcupine but I can't name a single song by The Doors. I saw so many beatiful stained glass windows, old grave stones, and met a 11 kilo cat names Fifi while there. I wonder how many people enjoyewd the cemetary or just went to take a picture with Jim and post it as their facebook profile picture?
For some creepy reason I actually really like cemetaries. I mean I also liked reruns of the Addams Family as a kid but that's a different conversation all together. There is something about the stillness that appeals to me. There is also an interesting cultural point about cemetaries; obviously someone cared enough about that person at some time to errect a stone but then over time they are completely forgotten. I don't really have an end conclusion to this point, but it´s something that I do think about while I am walking around.
I want to share some of my favorite pictures of the cemetary with you my loves:
Fifi the 11 kilo cat
My favorite picture of stained glass where you can see through the broken glass to the trees outside (turn your head to the side to see it because I can´t figure out how to rotate it on blogger, soooowwwwyyy)
And last but not least, my two favorite pictures I took the entire day:
Where were we last? Paris? From Paris I took a train to Frankfurt, Germany and have been in Germany and Austria for the last week and a half.
I met Chris, Allan, and Eddie in Frankfurt where we immediately got on a train and headed to Munich and Oktoberfest! The boys' friend from college, Audrey, and her sister, Jill met us in Munich. The 6 of us had an amazing time prost-ing, eating way too many sausages, and belting out the cheesiest American music playing at Oktoberfest (Achey Breaky Heart-- can you top that?)!
After 4 days in Munich Jill and Audrey returned to Spain where Audrey lives and the boys and I continued on to Salzburg, Austria. Yes, the birth place of The Von Trap Family Singers!!! While we didn't take the Sound of Music bus tour like I wanted to do I was mentally running through the SoM soundtrack in my mind the entire time. With an afternoon trip to the German Alps and a day full of bike riding we had a great time in Salzurg.
Don´t worry I´ll give you the full scoop on all the stops, including Oktoberfest, in seperate posts!
only about 200 more to upload to the website.... I evidently take a ridiculous number of photos a day.
Check out the photos! Still unedited!
I love you all!
p.s. there are 2 girls sitting next to me and they are bickering so badly about choosing a train and it's HILARIOUS and you know me: I love listening in to other people's convos!
After taking the world's most expensive cab ride in the history of all cab rides my flight to Paris was perfectly smooth and I arrive in my hostel around 12. The first hostel I stayed in was in Montemarte so I walked through Sacre Coure Cathedral and the surrounding neighborhood. While I was walking I stumbled into some sort of French festival complete with French singers and some sort of renamactment.
I went on a great free 3 hour walking tour provided by NewEurope. We saw all of the major sites and I definitely got a better lay out ofParis in my mind. I also walked around the Latin quarter. This area is where the prestigois French school Le Sorbonne is located.
I saw Notre Dame Cathedral. The stained glass windows are beautiful; actually the entire church is mannificent. When I am in these churchesI always try to image what it would be like to be present in the church right after it was built. These were built before cranes, computers, and modern architecture and engineering. The construction just completely blows my mind. After Notre Dame I went to an area of Paris called the Marais; it's the old Jewish area of town and is filled with delicious falafel stands, amazing bakeries, and tiny winding streets. This night I also went out to bars with some Californians from my hostel and stayed out way too late.
While battling feeling tired from the night before I went to my favorite museum in Paris, and I might dare to say the world, Le Musee d'Orsay. I treated myself to a giant bowl of amazing soup in the cafe and then spent the next 5 hours in the museum. I'm going to write more about the museum later.
I went to the Louvre, l'Orangerie, and a really cool English bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. I then had a little dinner picnic in front of the Eiffle Tower
I was going to go to Versaille this day but after a hostel crisis (note to self: do not leave booking a hostel until that morning!) left me scrambling for a place to stay until 12:30 I had to change plans. So, instead I went to Pere Lachaise cemetery where Heloise and Abelard; Jim Morrison; Oscar Wilde; Edith Pilaf and others are burried.
Today I walked to the oldest still existing flea market in Europe, wandered around the stalls, and then just walked around Paris taking it all in.
I leave for Frankfurt tomorrow and will meet Chris and our friends Eddie and Allan there on Monday before we all head to Munich for Oktoberfest. I am so excited to see friends and to go to Oktoberfest.
I'll be sure to keep you updated about our progress along the way! I'm trying to upload photos as we speak but who knows how it will go on the hostel's computer. If not I'll fork out the 5 euro to have all of my photos downloaded to a CD just for you my loves!
I tried to do to the Museè d'Orsay today but there was a 2 hour wait. So instead I went Notre Dame and then to the old Jewish neighborhood of Paris saw the Jewish History museum, ate falafel, had a pastry, and saw a flower market.
My French is definitely not as good as it was 4 years ago when I was in Paris last. I know enough to get by, but only that. So usually what happens is I try to buy something or go into a museum and can say the basic statements but as soon as someone says something to me that I'm not expecting I'm completely lost!
I'm changing hostels tomorrow and I will give you all the scoop about living in hostels.
For my NC loves, by random chance in my six bed dorm late night the 2 guys in the bunk next to me were from Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina and went to State! Of all of the places to run into some random North Carolinians!
I promiss to post again tomorrow morning!
big x's and o's to you all!
the back story:
For some inconceivable reason I booked my flight for this morning at 7:50. Which meant I needed to be at the airport at 6:30. At the time of booking I didn't thinking about needing to take public transport at an ungodly hour to get to the airport. Also to add to the difficulty of this morning, the airport my budget airlines is located was about 40 miles outside of the city and would take an hour and 40 minutes on three different buses across London. So, my only decent option was to take a cab.
the night before:
Last night I called a cab and asked the amount of time a cab would take and how much it would cost. I gave the dispatcher my address and post code IN London (this will be important later) and he said it would take 30 minutes to the airport and cost between 20 and 22 pounds. Awesome! 20 pounds? Done!
I wake up extra early, head out to the street in the dawn light, and wait for the cab. Well, then I wait some more and then wait some more, and by more I mean 5 minutes. I call the cab company and they say these words to me:
"What's your postal code? That's not possible. You are in East Hampstead? Oh, you're in Hampstead in London? Oh. Oh. You're never going to make it to the airport in time.... uhhh or we can send another cab to you."
I wait 10 more minutes getting more and more annoyed and then get this call
"the cab who was on his way to you got in a wreck and no one can come now"
And this point I'm starting to slightly panic and really just want to kill the cab company. So Allyson and I walked down to the high street and pulled a cab off the street. When I tell him Luton Airport this convo happens:
Mer: "Luton airport please"
Cabbie: "That's a long way love"
Mer: "How long? How much will it cost?"
Cabbie: "130 pounds or so"
Mer: "OH MY SWEET GOD WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?"
okay, that was just in my mind. What I really said was:
"Oh, wow, do you take credit cards?"
I made it to the airport on time and got on my flight and am now in Paris but goodness did I learn some important lessons this morning about booking early morning tickets!!
Now that I'm staying in a series of hostels the cooking supplies and budgets are extremely limited. But, I'm still determined to eat healthy meals, try to get my daily servings of fruits and veggies, and stay under budget by cooking regularly.
Each Friday I'll update you with what a girl with 7 frying pans can create from 10 American dollars, hostel kitchens, and a lot of creativity.
I forgot to start taking pictures, but I will this next week!!
breakfast- muffin on the plane
lunch- out at a Middle Eastern counter. Order the lamb shawarma and have left overs for dinner. cost: £3
dinner- combine leftover lamb with pre-marinated squash, bell peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes. cost: £2.05 and a definite success
breakfast (8 am)- hostel provided cornflakes and jam sandwich
lunch (11 am)- Ham sandwich made from hostel breakfast bread, half an orange cost: £1.29 with leftovers remaining
snack (3 pm)- half of orange, rice with veggies and tomatoes from Sainsbury mixed with ham, 1 plum cost: £3 with leftover plums
Dinner (8pm)- pasta with zucchini, spinach, bell peppers cost: £2.20
breakfast (9 am)- hostel provided cornflakes and jam sandwich and terrible instant coffee and leftover plums
lunch (11 am)- Chicken sandwich using hostel breakfast bread with plums cost: .69£ with leftover chicken
snack (3 pm)- cup of coffee with semi skim milk and evidently lots of sweaty palm inducing caffeine cost: £1.80 and the ability to blink for several hours
dinner (8pm)- inspired by one of my mom's favorite dinners of asparagus and Parmesan shavings I made a full bunch of asparagus topped with tomatoes, blue cheese, and cut up chicken deli meat cos and plums: £3 with left over tomatoes and blue cheese
I'm only three days in and so far i think I'm getting enough fruits and veggies. See the plum trend starting on day 2? I do realize that on day 2 I ate 4 meals, but I walked 10+ miles!
I'll be keeping good records for the next Food Friday!
I'm so sorry that I have been MIA these last few days. It's been kind a whirlwind of emotions ranging from excitement and joy to complete fear and panic.
So, I'll give you the scoop on all that I've done in the last three days:
Landed at Heathrow bright and early. I made my way through a huge customs line and when I finally got to the customs official I definitely got a through examination. I have told some of you, but in preparation for my trip I printed out bank statements, flight itineraries, and purposely went ahead and booked a hostel and a flight out of the UK and came to customs with all of these in hand. I did all of this because I have heard 5 or 6 stories from friends and read about strangers in the Dallas Morning News who were delayed in customs or actually denied entry into the country because they didn't have proof (or actually have) of return tickets, enough money, or a semi-solid plan of itinerary. So I walk up to the desk in my regular kill them with kindness (some jaded people might call it ass kissing) attitude and am immediately here's how the convo went:
- How long are you going to be here?
answer: 2 weeks and then I'm going on to Paris, sir *insert award winning cheesy smile*
- Can you prove you are going to France in 2 weeks?
answer: yes, here is my ticket, I'm actually leaving from this airport
- How long are you going to be in Europe?
answer: 4, well, no, 3 and a half months, I'm going to Turkey too in the middle. *start getting nervous*
- Can you prove you will be leaving Europe?
answer: yes, here is my return itinerary *begin looking around the area to make a Bourne Identity-esk escape... if I ninja kick that dude and steal his gun I can make it into that air vent and sweet freedom will be mine!*
- How much do you think all of this is going to cost?
answer: Well I have ##### in available funds, and then can access an additional #####. do you want to see those reports? *o.m.g. I'm never going to be allowed in!*
Then the customs official gives my passport the hard stamp as if he doesn't really want to let riffraff like me into the country but I've come too prepared to be denied.
Deep breath. I made it in!
I then took the subway/underground/I never know what to call it/tube to my stop to find the hostel. I wander around confused for about 5 minutes until I find some sort of information desk and am told which way is north. Let me warn you now, I have wandered around lost a lot lately, so prepare yourself now. Started heading north. Got kind of lost. Then due to my tremendous map reading skills (people-- i had drawn the map from the subway wall map because I hadn't bought one yet) became un-lost and found the hostel!!
Checked into the hostel. Then made my way into the the neighborhood, Camden, around the hostel. Camden is kind of a working class neighborhood filled with cheap ethnic restaurants, markets, and bars. I got a delicious giant plate of lamb shawarma for 3£. There was so much food on the plate that I was able to take leftovers for dinner!
At this point I'm still feeling fairly energetic and decide to try to press through the rest of the day to battle any jet lag I might be feeling by trying to stay busy. I decided to go to the British museum, consult my map, make it about 15 or 20 blocks, and then get lost. Stop in a random hotel and ask the concierge where the museum is; she informs me that I am approximately 300 meters away I just needed to keep on walking. It was a little embarrassing.
On the way to the museum my energy starts to wain. By the time I'm in the museum and looking at the Rosetta Stone I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I stayed in the museum for approximately 8 minutes before I decided to bail (the museum was free, so no worries about my budget!), walk home, do NOT get lost. Make it home, lay in my hostel bed and write this in my journal:
"First night, it's 5:05 so tired too tired to have feelings or write"-
Pass out for 2 hours and wake up around 7 pm with nothing to do, no friends, not really hungry, and really sleepy. Shockingly, instead of letting myself go back to sleep I blasted some Brittney Spears on my ipod (Ashley, I know you would approve), went downstairs, made dinner of leftovers and veggies. Next to the hostel kitchen is a little tv room and I settled in with my dinner with some of the other hostel stayers (what do you call us? hostelers? guests? members?) and, I kid you not, watch that cheesy American show 2 and a Half Men (or something like that) with Charlie Sheen with them!
Whew! That was my day. I'm going to quit here and post about Day 2 and 3 separately.
All and all everything is going well. I've fought a little bit of homesickness and loneliness, but I am feeling great and even made a friend last night!
Get ready for posts later about my other days, the museums I've attended, and more!
I miss you all very much!
just a quick update!
good news: I'm not tired and think I might be able to defeat the majority of the jet lag today
bad news: "international" black berry is not working
more (and longer!) updates soon!
This is really the first time that I've been truly apprehensive about my trip. I've been nervous or felt like I should do more research but now that I'm actually here I'm feeling a little more pressure.
Of course I'll go; I wouldn't want everyone to think I was a chicken (obvi I didn't learn the moral from Back to the Future).
And gah! I just remembered I forgot to bring my fleece jacket. Um, Chris, bring it to me in munich? Please?
Okay, so, where was I? I'm not going to bail out of spending 4 months backpacking in Europe. I know it's going to be such an amazing experience and I am going to have a wonderful time. But, I'm still nervous or maybe just ready to start the trip.
So, send me your best wishes! It's really actually time for me to get on the plane.
Bon voyage a moi!
I have a to-do list that is about a mile (or should I go metric and say a kilometer?) before I leave TOMORROW!
I do realize that I have deprived you of many a promised post so we’ll do a quick run through of my basic tentative itinerary:
Sept 1-14 London
A good college friend lives there and I will be hanging out with her who has the blog that must not be named (that’s right, I just made a H. Potter reference, jealous much?)
September 14-21 Paris
I lived in Paris for 2 years as a child and I really just love the city; between walking down the rues, going to the museums, and sitting at cafes for hours doing nothing more than drinking a cup of coffee or tea and people watching I could spend years in Paris.
September 21-24 Munich
OKTOBERFEST!! Chris, Allan, and Eddie are meeting me from the good old state of Texas and Audry is coming up from Spain so we can all drink beer, dance to the polka, and basically be fools together in Munich. Oh yeah, and celebrate my birthday, yes, my birthday, at Oktoberfest. I know. It’s awesome
September 24-28 Berlin
September 28-October 2 Prague
I’m so excited for this! I’ve heard Prague is such and amazingly beautiful city, especially since it was never bombed during WW1 or WW2.
October 2-4 Vienna
Meet my momma here for the next 10 days!
October 4-8 Istanbul
October 8-12 Nice/South of France
And here is where my planning gets a little looser and I still haven’t made hard plans for exactly what I’m doing but somewhere in there will be Spain, Italy, and more France.
Look in for a post tomorrow I’m going have it set to update while I ON THE PLANE TO LONDON!!
Shoot me an email!
The bad ideas:
1. I can use any atm in Europe. However, I will have to pay a $5 fee each time I use the atm plus whatever fee that atm charges.
So, pay 5 to 10 dollars each time I use an atm PLUS the currency conversion fee? No thank you!
2. Only make purchases with my credit/debit card. But, on each purchase there will be a 3% fee on each and every purchase.
Add an additional 3 percent onto my budget, I definitely can't handle this option either.
3. James Bond style I handcuff a metal suitcase onto my wrist and keep all of my money for 4 months traveling on my body at all time in order to avoid crazy bank fees.
This definitely sounds like the best idea. Dangerous, heavy, and easy to rob? I love it!
The decent ideas:
1. Transfer the money to a european bank where I can access my money in Euros from multiple bank locations.
The problem with this idea is that I would have to transfer the money from my current account here and I could lose money on the bank transfer fee.
The best option (I think, I hope):
1. Bank of America has association with banks in France, England, Germany, and Italy where I can make withdrawals without any penalties.
The only problem is that I'm going to Spain where BOA doesn't have any banks where I can make withdrawals without penalties.
But maybe I can take enough cash or travelers checks to Spain? Spain is at the end of itinerary so I have time to figure it all out.
Right now I'm just trying to save save save in these last 2 weeks before I leave. I'm babysitting several times a week; making meals at home out of all of the random supplies in the pantry and the freezer; and selling some old clothes, books, and dvds.
It's 2 very busy weeks until I leave!
You are probably curious as to how exactly I am paying for this trip. Well, almost a year ago while on a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas I was talking to a member of the hotel staff, Carlos (name changed for privacy), and he told me of a treasure hidden below the seas that had been left behind hundreds of years before by Spanish sailors. All he wanted in exchange for the information was the recipe for my delicious stuffed poblano peppers. I quickly scrawled the ingredients on the back of a palm leaf, rented scuba gear and found millions of gold dubloons!
Okay, I'm lying. Heavily.
I'm really paying for my trip to Europe in 2 ways:
1. Savings-- as previously mentioned, I have only bought 2 items of clothing since November. People, do you realize? That's TEN MONTHS of wearing the same things! TEN MONTHS! I have traded in 2 gift cards to get a new skirt and 2 pairs of jeans. But other wise I have been wear the same things over and over again! But, it saves a ton of money!
I have also been eating lunch at home every week day for months. Once two weeks ago I bought a pickle for a snack, and one day I had a diet coke. But otherwise it's been 99% eating at home. I also cook dinner for Chris and I an average of 6 nights a week. For the 2 of us I spend any where from 40 to 80 dollars a week. And since I take care of the week nights Chris pays for weekend entertainment.
By no means are we eating ramen for dinner every night but we're also not getting drinks at Nobu going to dinner at the Ritz once a week. It's actually been great. I LOVE to cook and have invented so many cheap delicious meals in the past months.
Besides my measly paycheck as a kindergarten teacher I have also been picking up as many babysitting jobs as possible.
In all I have been able to save almost $10,000 since November.
2. Family funding-- When I was born my parents bought a 20 year bond with a decent amount of savings (nothing that would even be near to a down payment on a house). After 20 the interest on the bond had allowed the initially investment to become 60 times greater. I received the money from the bond when I graduated in college and have done nothing with it in hopes to something life changing with it like put a down payment on a house, possibly start a business, or take a trip around the world!
So, while without a doubt I wouldn't have been able to take this trip without my family's help I have learned to save during this process which even if my travel plans fell apart I would still be so grateful for this lesson alone.
So, while maybe this wasn't the most exciting of posts I just wanted to clear that elephant out of the room.
Really, I swear I'm funny and smart and entertaining! Stick with me and when we get past the boring basics and are actually on the trip (ONLY 24 DAYS AWAY!!!) Things will get much more exciting!!
That's certainly not a lot of stuff! I think I can make it, but definitely need to bring a tide to go pen or 2! Or well, knowing me, 15.
I have been packing my apartment, donatating and selling most of my belongings, and of course planning my farewell party!
The packing has been going well, I've boxed up all of my books except for travel guides, some cookbooks, and a novel or 2. BUT, I haven't even started to tackle my clothes or everything in my kitchen. The kitchen is definitely going to be a nightmare!!!
On to the fun stuff: my going away party! One of my two best friends in the whole world, Dori, is flying into Dallas from San Fran just to spend one last weekend together before I leave! My bff here in Dallas, Courtney, has an adorable house with a sweet backyard and has so generously vollunteered to throw the party at her house! So Chris, the boyfriend, has brewed a very special beer just to send me on my way after my last weekend in Dallas filled with friends from far and wide, family, and farew'ale!
Soon to come on the blog:
What's a girl to wear?
"Won't you miss America?"
And many many other posts!!
… in 5 months.
I plan to travel for approximately 16 months with two definite segments. The first segment will be three and a half months spent in Europe. The second part of the trip will be a year spent across Africa, the Middle East, India, and South East Asia.
Until September, my departure date, this blog will serve as a planning stage with details about my itinerary.
During my trip I will access my blog as often as possible updating my friends and family of my travels across the globe!