Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I like driving in my car

(beep beep, honk honk, beep beep, honk)

And here we are, once again, ridiculously overdue for an update.

It's been more than a month this time.

Admittedly in that time I haven't actually done a huge amount. I flew to Victoria and stayed with Malcolm, Pixcel and the kids for pretty much an entire month. I got to hang out with Bob and Alexis which was awesome - I've seriously missed those guys.

Pixcel and I joined Bob and a huge group of his friends for lunch the Friday after I arrived, so I got to see a few more familiar faces from my last visit. They have standing events which people can just show up to if they want to, which is pretty great. I've seen more of Bob's friends more frequently than I usually see my own friends back home.

We played boardgames a couple of times which was fun, and Bob and me went out for lunch one Sunday. I didn't see as much of Alexis as I'd hoped, but he had too much stuff that needed doing and not a lot of free time.

I bingewatched some stuff on Netflix at Pixcel's and drank a lot of coffee, and generally relaxed and spent time with them.

I felt I should actually leave at some point (despite Pixcel's repeated affirmations that I was never allowed to go) so I flew into Seattle yesterday lunchtime and hired a car.

The flight down from Victoria is beautiful. It's a really short hop so the plane never gets that high, and you're passing over a huge number of little islands - much more interesting than empty ocean.

I ended up being talked into upgrading from a subcompact to a Prius, and with the amount you save on fuel it's maybe worth it? If nothing else I haven't had to worry about filling it up yet.

I got lost driving around the part of Seattle by the airport. In had intended to get out of Seattle and maybe as far as Olympia last night (I landed at 2.30, so not unreasonable) but I was worn out and a bit stressed from not knowing where I was that I just pulled into a hotel and stopped for the day. It gave me the chance to have a bit of a cry and feel sorry for myself, as well as work out that taking the next left off the road I was on would take me to the I5, which was where I needed to be going.

All that driving around random streets also gave me a chance to get used to the car. I managed to overcome the 'fuck why is it breaking like that?' when I realised my left leg was treating it like the clutch and I needed to pin my foot to the floor. I still need to keep an eye on my lane position, though. I keep veering ever so slightly to the right and I'm constantly checking my mirrors to see where the lines are.

Anyway, I left Seattle this morning and found the right road. I missed the exit for the road I needed and ended up going too far south on the wrong road, but a stop for food and a check of the map (along with a helpful waitress) soon out me back on the right track.

I've made it as far as Astoria today, and I'm finally actually on the coast, I think. The 101 has been pretty good, and it's a nice, snaking kind of road that flows along.

I'm booked into a hotel with a view of the river and decided I should actually update, given I finally have something to update with.

It's just past 3.30 and I think it's time to find some food and maybe take a nap.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Again with the late update

It's probably a good thing that I don't have a set of devoted followers avidly awaiting my every update...

Since my last update I have left Quebec City and am now in Ottawa. My roommates changed, I did some socialising, I spent more time reading and not being a tourist.

I didn't get to meet up with Francis in the end; the timing didn't work out, which is a shame but not entirely unexpected. I'm essentially dropping in on people who have other stuff to fill their time with, and sometimes it doesn't work out to see them.

I made it until just before breakfast on the day I was leaving Quebec before I slipped and fell. I've been expecting it everywhere I've been so far with cold weather, but the falling snow combined with the slope in front of the Frontenac caught me out. (I'm pretty sure this is the same place I almost fell and hurt my leg during New Year's last time I was in Quebec). Anyway, I slipped, I landed on my tailbone, I was glad I was sitting on trains not having to walk for most of the day.

Ottawa has mostly been milder than the other parts of Canada I've visited so far. It's windy, but today was actually really mild and we were all overdressed.

So Ottawa has been more failed tourism. I arrived on Easter Saturday while Zoe was back in Lennoxville so I had the apartment to myself (well, me and the cat, Neelix, who loves me). Zoe got back on Monday though, but she's got papers due that she needs to finish so she feels like a terrible host (she's not; I'm more than capable of taking care of myself). I've mostly been lying around with the cat or sitting in the cafe across the street drinking really good coffee. She did show me downtown Ottawa and the parliament buildings, though.

I managed to find a tea I can actually drink multiple mugs of, which is somewhat surprising. Admittedly it's an herbal tea with no actual tea in it, but it's the closest I've ever been. If I can work out the easiest route then I think I'm going to need to buy some (not least because I've nearly finished Zoe's stash).

I haven't worked out when I'm heading off to next, yet. Zoe has told me I'm not allowed to leave, and other than deciding that I don't think I want to go to Toronto, I haven't sorted my next step.

Food is ready, so I'll leave this here.

Monday, 30 March 2015

The bells! The bells!

So I'm once again overdue with an update on here...

Montreal was a little depressing. Constantly rotating selection of Asian roommates aside the city isn't really my favourite place in the world. Once again I failed to do any of the big tourist things and instead spent most of my time reading in the hostel and exploring the Eaton centre.

I spent more money than I intended.

Other than a couple of tops which I wanted to replace some of the ones I bought with me, I also ended up getting some bras (on sale in La Senza - it's been forever since I found exactly what I was looking for), a new bead for my Pandora bracelet (a little aeroplane) and some more tops (which I didn't need).

I got the train up to Quebec City on Saturday evening and grabbed a taxi to the hostel. The hostel is ok, but not great. The gap between top and bottom bunk is a few inches too little - you can't sit up in bed, which is annoying. They had originally assigned me the top bunk but, along with my intense desire not to sleep on a top bunk, there are only two sockets per pair of bunks and none of my cables would have stretched far enough. Given that none of my batteries are lasting very long because of the power supply, I need to be able to charge stuff pretty much constantly if I don't want them dying on me.

After the girl at reception failed to find an extension cord I could use, she reassigned me to the bottom bunk - success!

I hadn't realised how much I'd kisses Quebec City. We were only here for a few days about 4 years ago but it's amazing how much I remember about the place.

I went exploring on Sunday morning and found myself back in the square in front of the Chateau Frontenac where we stayed last time just in time to hear the bells ringing out from the church.

It's such a gorgeous city. Yes, it's ram-packed with tourists and souvenir shops but that doesn't detract too much from its charm.

I've been shopping again, I'm afraid. I just can't seem to stop finding things to buy. I picked up an Inuit-carved whale in Montreal (another semi-unplanned purchase) and I just bought an eudialyte and silver ring. It might need resizing slightly when I'm back home, but we'll see how my fingers change size while I'm still travelling.

It's snowing today. It hasn't settled at all but it's lovely walking through the streets of old Quebec as it falls. It's not as cold as yesterday so I don't mind, and I bought a Quebec hoodie with a lovely warm furry lining.

I'm definitely going to need to ship some more stuff home...

I don't know what I'm really planning to do in the city. Hopefully I'll be able to meet up with Francis if his schedule allows - it'd be good to see him again. Other than that I might just wander around and relax some more.

And drink maple syrup lattes. They're amazing.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Oh Canada

It's definitely time to update this thing again...

New York was less amazing than I think it could have been. It was probably a combination of weather, homesickness and lack of interest in most of the big tourist spots.

I'm in Dartmouth, NS, now, though. I flew up on Monday night and crashed in the hotel at Halifax airport for a few hours. I landed at about midnight and figured it would be more sensible to navigate in daylight.

There's a lot of snow. Apparently I timed my arrival for right in the gap between two snow storms, which is pretty good going. I was definitely glad to only have a rucksack rather than a wheely suitcase because I'd have never made it through the snow to Mel and Rob's apartment otherwise. But I got here eventually and befriended the cats pretty quickly.

Tuesday night they were predicting the second snow storm so we went out for food at a bar across the water in Halifax proper and celebrated St Paddys with German music (played by Nova Scotians in lederhosen with inconsistent fake German accents). It was only really fine flakes of snow but it was coming down all night and well into Wednesday so we got about 30-50cm in all, on top of the couple of feet already on the ground.

One of the fairly new traditions of the region is #stormchips. Essentially whenever there's a snow storm everybody empties the crisps aisles of all the food stores and stay inside indulging. Apparently this has been pretty frequent this year because winter just isn't going away.

It was a proper mission going to get storm chips, mind. The snow was waist deep getting onto the street from the apartment and I have neither snow pants nor waterproof boots (I totally thought my boots were waterproof, but apparently not).

My legs have just about forgiven me: it's hard work wading through snow that deep. My feet have yet to sustain any permanent damage from hiking through Halifax with cold, wet socks.

By Thursday most of the roads had been ploughed and the ferry was back up and running. We stopped off at Timmy's for lunch and Mel and I hopped across the water. We had planned to go to a knitting store called The Loop together before Mel had to be at work, but the ferry was only every half hour so there wasn't time. It's a gorgeous little store though. Nowhere close back home sells that much proper wool - it's mostly acrylic. I ended up spending $35 on a skein of the most beautiful hand dyed teal wool (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon) with the intention of making a cowl when I finish my current project.

After that I headed what felt like miles further into (and possibly out of) Halifax to the Clay Cafe, a place I'd discovered online and wanted to try out. Most of the way there I was walking in the road because the footpath was 4-5ft deep in snow or climbing narrow channels sunk in the snow where the footpath actually was. I haven't fallen over yet, but there's definitely still time. The regular act of having to walk through inches-deep slushy puddles is unavoidable and my feet suffered for the frequent soaking.

I think I ended up spending about three hours painting and it was gone 5 by the time I left the building. They put a rush note on my stuff because otherwise they wouldn't be ready until Tuesday, which is a day after I've moved on. They should hopefully be ready either today or tomorrow, and Rob spent most of yesterday shovelling snow so we can actually use the car to drive up there (the snow was so deep after the storms that only the top of one of the wing mirrors was visible).

I don't actually have any plans today, particularly. When I've showered and stuff I might actually venture out with my camera (which I've completely failed to do thus far). Hopefully my boots have dried out now.

I think there are plans for Korean barbeque at some point before I go, and now that the car is free we might do that tonight. Apparently it's a while away and the buses aren't running because of the snow (although because of that the ferry is now free until Sunday).

I finally sorted the next leg of my trip last night. I've booked an early afternoon flight to Montreal for Monday and sorted a bed in a hostel until Saturday. I might look at heading up to Quebec City for a few days after that, but I'm not sure where my next stop would be. I've had an offer to crash with another girl from Bishop's in Toronto if I head that way and I'll be stopping in Ottawa at some point.

I'll work something out, I'm sure. Theoretically I have leave to stay in Canada until July 15th although I doubt I'll be here until that late in the year.

(I definitely need to proof read everything before I post it. This tablet keeps changing words without my noticing. Think I caught them all...)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

This blog post has no title

Today I ventured into Manhattan for the first time. I ended up spending a small fortune on the subway going back and forth because I didn't know where I wanted to go for a chunk of the afternoon.

I found a coffee shop not too far from the nearest subway station and started the day with a mocha and a grilled cheese. It's probably a good thing I don't have a serious caffeine addiction or I'd never have survived the last few days without a proper fix. The coffee was ok, but I didn't come here expecting the coffee to be amazing.

I took the train across to Manhattan and hopped off at Park Place. I got a little turned around and nearly froze my ears off in the wind (yesterday was so much milder I completely failed to wear coat, hat or scarf today. At least I had my hoodie...) but I eventually found ground zero.

The 9/11 memorial museum is definitely worth a visit. It was strange going down into this huge, dimly lit space filled with people talking in hushed voices. The whole way round I kept remembering the day it all happened. I don't think I knew anything about the plane crashing into the Pentagon until years later, but I remember getting home from my first day of high school and finding my mum standing in the kitchen watching it on the news. The whole way round there's this constant barrage of images of the first tower burning and the second tower being hit and the constant stream of voices remembering that day.

The whole experience is strange. All the way around there are remnants of peoples' lives. Burned pieces of paper, wallets from dead men and shoes with dried blood dripped down the heel. I don't know if it was an experience I enjoyed but I'm glad I went.

I grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch before heading off on my meandering journey of the subway. On the whole this is definitely a strange week food-wise. My friend doesn't really do evening meals so I'm aiming for a decent feed at lunchtime to see me through. If nothing else it'll prevent my waistline expanding too early on in this trip.

I don't know what I'll do tomorrow. Depending on the weather I might walk across Brooklyn bridge or head further into Manhattan towards Central Park.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

New York, New York!

So it's been nearly five years since I last signed into this blog, let along updated it. But I'm off on another adventure so I'm waking it back up to keep people posted (and to remind myself of everything I get up to while I'm away).

First things first; I'm in New York, as the title might suggest. I got the train up to Newcastle yesterday afternoon (and cried a little bit - I love travelling, I just don't like the leaving bit so much). An early start for the airport this morning and one slightly delayed flight later I was in Dublin rushing to make my connection. The signs for US preclearance vanished abruptly and it meant I ended up coming out into baggage collection by mistake and had to rush back through security again. I made the gate during final boarding call. I don't like being that rushed and I ended up with untied boots for the entire 7 hour flight across the Atlantic.

All in all the flights weren't too bad. The seats weren't too unbearably close together and uncomfortable and the transatlantic hop had individual screens with a reasonable selection of films. I didn't manage to nap at all but it could have been worse.

It was strange coming that far north. I was on the right side of the plane to see the top of Greenland as we flew past (and there is absolutely nothing green about it) and we flew over all the ice in the Newfoundland sea. I've seen more snow in the last 10 hours than the past two years, I think. I'm definitely expecting more, though. There's a whole massive area of Canada which from the air seems to be little more than dark rock, snow and frozen rivers. Maybe it's less desolate when you're down there...

New York isn't as cold as I'd worried it might be. It's chilly and raining, but not unbearable. I just wished I'd stopped to put my lenses in at the airport instead of waiting until I got to the bagel shop.

Thankfully I'd worked out how to get to where I'm staying ahead of time. It's bad enough being somewhere unfamiliar on your own - if you don't have a clue where you're going it's definitely worse. (I distinctly remember crying in front of a Montreal bus driver because I was lost, tired and travel-stupid).

Timing is a little off in meeting my friend and getting into the flat so now I'm sitting in a bagel shop with a coffee and a bagel I don't really want to eat anymore, waiting for my friend to finish work and come meet me. There's not really anything wrong with either of them (except the coffee is lacking in sweetness of any kind), I'm just feeling a bit travel-rubbish and meh. I got a banana as well, which was actually much more what I needed.

I'm also trying not to cry again. It's raining and I'm tired, and all I really want is a shower and a nap to see me through. Part of the reason I'm updating this now is to distract myself from the fact I'm current alone in a strange city about 5000-some miles from home. That and the fact that I feel like I'm on a boat in rocky water.

I promise the next update will be more cheerful. I suppose we should all just be grateful that this journey was nothing like my trip out to Canada at the beginning of this blog. One slightly delayed flight and a minor bout of early homesickness is nothing compared to that.

I'll try to keep up to date with this thing, but given how terrible I am at keeping in semi-regular contact with people (including my mother, I'm ashamed to say) I can't promise anything. I'll aim for once a week and see how we go.

This post is definite getting longer than I'd planned. Maybe I'll just keep rambling until either the shop closes or my friend shows up. Whichever happens first. At least it's dry and has free WiFi.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo

I do believe it; I do believe it's true...

Ahem. I'll stop...

I seriously suck at this blogging thing, don't I? Third update in four months... I suppose it could be worse, but I've definitely failed at keeping up with it this semester.

Anyway, so I finished at BU last week and came to Oshawa to stay with cousins for a couple of weeks. Didn't do much for the first week and a half but now my friend has come over from the UK for the week. We spent six hours walking around Toronto Zoo and managed to take about 200 photos...

I also got sunburn, which I kind of saw coming. It was glorious sunshine and we were going to be outside for hours on end. At least it doesn't hurt, right? I have a weirdly shaped neckline now though, which will be mildly annoying, I think.

Not sure what else we're doing when, but we're planning to go to Toronto itself and out to Niagara as well. It should be fun and keep us busy for the week, and then he's flying home and I'm flying out to Victoria, BC for about a month to stay with a friend and explore out there before I finally get home in time for my birthday.

It was hard leaving BU, which I was kind of expecting. I guess I just hadn't thought about the fact that I actually had to say goodbye to everyone. I know there are some people I'm going to see again (some already had plans to be in the UK within the next couple of years) and there are others that I'm probably never going to see again.

This semester was pretty awesome. Some of it nearly killed me, but other parts were amazing. I got published in the Mitre (oldest university literary journal in the country) and managed an 82% average or something. Best semester of uni so far.

What else was there about this semester? So many things have happened and it's been a stupidly long time since I updated this thing. I got three new piercings, which I don't think I said in my last update, even though I'd already got them by that point. There was QUEUC (Quebec Universities English Undergraduate Conference) where we basically spent two days listening to interesting papers and meeting new people, plus a wine and cheese and a second poetry slam. I actually read some of my own stuff this time, since I knew I was definitely going. It was a lot of fun again, and I'm glad I got to do both of them.

I know there were other things, but I really can't think of anything... Six hours of walking in the sun and a mild case of sunburn has melted my brain. Now I'm sitting in the 'basement' watching Wanted and contemplating getting coffee. It was much easier when I had Dewies, but ah well. It's probably a good thing not having easy access to that much junk food...

I could totally crash right now. It's been a long day. Brain has disintegrated into mush and I'm fading fast. Maybe I'll try to update this damned thing a little bit more often, but it has been seen that I kind of suck at sticking with it. We'll see.

I think I'm done.