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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Colleen and I journeyed to Amsterdam during her visit. It was the most amazing city! As I’ve been a wretched blogger I am just going to do a brief overview of the time spent in Amsterdam through a series of what we did and did not do. This will benefit any readers who’s attention span is as short as my own.

We did…go to the Keukenhof Gardens

We did not…get to see the tulips in full bloom as it was the last day of the season and most of them had been clipped however the ones that were there were gorgeous!

We did…take a lot of pictures of flowers

We did….go to the Red Light District

We did not…go to a sex show
We did…get propositioned to have sex with male and female prostitutes after going into every sex shop and eventually being recognized by the workers
We did…exercise our will power and turn them down, EVEN when they offered us safe sex. (Great selling points)
We did…watch a transaction go down between a woman in a window and a man on street, who started the conversation with “Are you good?” we had much respect for this as it is a valid question, we just figured what good prostitute wouldn’t lie?

Anne Frank Statue

We did….go to the Anne Frank House
We did not…purchase any souvenirs as it seemed odd
We did…think it was completely awesome and totally worth it. Recommend to all! Amazing!

Even the buildings don't know which way to go!

We did not…get lost. Who are we kidding? We got lost walking straight because oh yeah, none of the streets stay straight for long.
We did…figure out buying a map is no better than the free maps you can pick up anywhere.
We did not…admit to others when we were lost hence Colleen’s line of “I know where we are! Leidsplein!” she did not however, know how to get home from there.
We did…almost get run over by bikes, cars, boats, and pedestrians every five to ten minutes.
We did…go out drinking
We did not…order drinks appropriately as I discovered while talking to very nice Dutch man. Apparently no one orders pints, they all order half pints so that their drink stays cold until the last sip. I then spent the next ten minutes trying to gulp my pint down as fast as possible
We did…find a local bar
We did not…find the bar through the tourist book and out of respect for our new friends I will not say where it was because when they realized we weren’t Dutch (because we didn’t understand what they were saying) they freaked out. The conversation went like this:
Man: *says something in dutch*
Colleen and I stare at him for an awkward length of time
Me: Oh, we’re english. We don’t speak Dutch
Colleen: Oh my God, we blend in. They think we’re from here! Success!
Man: this is a dutch bar
Me and Colleen: Cool
Man: how did you find this bar?
Me: we were just walking and saw it
Man: what tourist book was it in?!
Me: it wasn’t in one.
Man: you have a tourist book though?
Me: yes but we were just walking and we found this. It wasn’t in the book.
Man: Just tell me which one.

people ignoring the sign and waiting in the queue when they don't have to be outside of the Van Gogh Museum

We did…go to the Van Gogh Museum
We did not…go to any other art museum
We did…LOVE the Van Gogh Museum

We did…learn all attractive men seem to live in Amsterdam. They are everywhere and they are gorgeous. Even better, for every 10 attractive males there is one female.
We did not…learn any dutch.
We did…say “Hallo” obnoxiously for about ten consecutive minutes every morning
We did…discover our hotel has thin walls and our neighbors seemed to be having much better morning than colleen and I. Now if only we could have figured out who they were at breakfast…

Our hotel in the museum district and right by the park. perfect!

I would like to end this blog with this final note. I LOVE AMSTERDAM. After spending a few days there I definitely fell in love with this city. Additionally, I have found myself daydreaming and fantasizing about…getting a bike. They are so cool! I want a bike so ridiculously bad now. And not just any bike, a fun, Amsterdamy bike. One with a neat lock on the back wheel with a fun color. And I want a cool basket on the front to put my stuff in, and one of those bags that drapes over the back tires to hold more of my stuff. I also want a seat cover to keep it dry when it rains and I lock it up outside. That is all. My blog on Colleen’s visit to Edinburgh will be next. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to keep my blog updated when I spend my days writing, so my apologies.

Cheers, Jess

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My travels to Ireland with Michelle and Emily couldn’t have been more random or gone as well as we ever dreamed. Everything we thought would happen didn’t, but was definitely better than what we could have ever imagined. For our trip we decided to do the responsible, adult, and mature thing of making absolutely no plans what so-ever. We had a flight arrival time, a car rental, and that was pretty much it. Everything else we would figure out as we went along. Here is our trip in a nutshell, because it is almost impossible to write it all down for you.

Leaving Edinburgh

What we thought would happen:

Board the plane to Dublin

What did happen:

We were greeted with free makeovers at the Mac counter then discovered the free samples of whiskey, bailey’s, and gin floating around the airport in honor of St. Patrick’s day. We discovered them a couple of times before boarding the plane with our own bottle of whiskey in hand.

Arrival

What we thought would happen:

We would get into Dublin, hang out with Emily’s awesome friends, and go into town to drink some delicious beer.

What did happen:

Got out of the taxi, at Fergus’ house where we would be staying(Emily’s friend Leah’s boyfriend), met Fergus’ parents where my constant problem of being unable to pronounce my own name got me the nickname Jazz for the weekend.

If you are wondering how, the conversation is as follows

Me: Hi, I’m Jess

Fergus’ mom: Jass?

Me: No, Jess

Mom: oh, Jazz.

I just smile and nod

Fergus: No mom, Jess

Mom: Jass?

Fergus: Jess (looks at me) right?

Me: yes

Mom: it’s not Jazz?

We threw our stuff in a room and went straight to the bar where we consumed three Guinesses in about 45 minutes. Hands down the best Guinness I have ever tasted…and we all know how much I love Guinness. The Guinness at home is disgusting in comparison to the Guinness in Ireland. The drunken antics which proceeded are a little hard to depict (plus my parents read this) so I’m just going to give you the cliff notes version. Went back to the Fergus’s home. Met all sorts of his friends. Drank some more. When back out to the bar. Drank a little more. Returned back home. Drank a bit more. Went to sleep around 4 am. Essentially drank my weight in Guinness and Whiskey.

Day two

What we thought would happen:

Had absolutely no idea, do touristy things, pick up the rental.

What did happen:

I woke up, then proceeded to wake everyone else up then had the best time ever putting together the events from the night before. Such as learning that Michelle, locked herself out of the house and was let in by Fergus’s mom at 5:00 am just as she was about to give up trying to get back in to sleep with the dog outside. We then, still drunk from the night before, went to the store grabbed our hangover remedy drinks. Sprite zero for me, although I’m blessed with not getting hangovers, power drinks and water for the others. We then enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon in Dublin eating lunch in the park.

Picking up the Rental

What we thought would happen:

We’d get a dinky little smart car

What did happen:

I was given a set of keys to my dream car, a Land Rover. It was glorious! It was as though the rental gods new we were going on a road trip and blessed us with ultimate road trip vehicle.

Driving

What we thought would happen:

I’d be a not so good driver. Going down the road the wrong way, not driving fast enough, almost hitting people, hitting the curb, not staying in my lane, and creating a couple near death experiences.

What did happen:

Pretty much exactly that and then some. Damn Dublin roads are as big as a sidewalk….

On the Road

What we thought would happen:

We would drive to Cork and then Limrick

What we thought would happen after talking to Leah, Fergus, and John after they told us to expect to get stabbed in Limrick due to some sort of family gang war going on:

We would drive south until we were tired of driving, find a small town, go to the local pub for some food and pints, then stay at a little countryside bed and breakfast.

What did happen:

We drove until it started getting dark, not wanting to test my skills on pitch black country roads, and couldn’t find a bed and breakfast. We spotted Kelley’s Hotel Resort and Spa and decided we could go in and ask where a B&B would be close by. Well, turns out the closest B&B was about 20 minutes away and they would charge us 35 euros each. The front desk woman was soo nice she let us stay at Kelley’s for only 50 euros each (it’s normally 105 euros each) and we’d get the breakfast along with the pool, the hot tubs, and the glorious beach. We were then given the keys to our very own house! Not a hotel room an actual house! We each got a double bed and our own bathroom. It was the awesome. Even better the Hotel was right on the beach!!! We later learned it was named the best hotel in Ireland and it was the sunniest spot in Ireland. The next day we ate our free breakfast on the deck over looking the water in the Ireland sun listening to the waves. It was easily the best morning ever. Pays not to plan things.

Night at Kelley’s

What we thought would happen:

The woman at the front desk said a band would be playing at their bar later on so we thought it would be fun to check it out. We thought it would be some old men singing and playing some classic Irish music.

What did happen:

The bar was like stepping into a time warp. The ceiling had little lights, which dimmed and changed colors, covering it like a night sky. Everyone in the bar was either a family or an elderly couple. Emily, Michelle, and I stuck out like sore thumbs. Oh and the band, it was two great singers singing American soft rock including songs from Grease.

Our table was then approached by Max, an elderly gentleman of about 85, who danced with all of us. His wife passed away this past November and they used to go to Kellys a few times every year for over 25years! The entire staff knew him by name. He was a really sweet man…and then took a great liking to me. Continued to “make eyes” at me and gave me his card. And he didn’t let age difference get in the way of his charm as he asked me for a good night kiss. Yep. I don’t know what it is with super old guys and me on St. Pat’s but who could forget the old man Jeff had to save me from two St. Pat’s ago? The one who wanted to take me home. I really pick up some classy guys.

Day three

What we thought would happen:

No idea

What did happen:

Emily’s friends, now our friends too, Leah, Fergus, and John met us in the world’s smallest town where we rented out a country house for the night. The town consisted of two bars and a gas station. That is not an exaggeration. Additionally, the gas station was closed at 7 pm and both bars didn’t serve food, so we had to drive 10 km to the next town which was twice the size. It consisted of a grocery store, a bar, a gas station, and Chinese take away. The grocery store was closed so chips and burgers at the Chinese take away was the next best option (and the only option).

The house was super big and awesome. There are not words to describe the décor which was something mixed between the 60s and the 70s with a country flare. Each room had a different color scheme: blue, green, orange, yellow etc. Once Michelle posts pictures I’ll be sure to add them in. it is something everyone should witness.

Day four:

What we thought would happen:

Go back to Dublin where I would return the car and get on the plane

What did happen:

Everything was running smoothly until we hit massive traffic in Dublin. Half the roads were shut down for a marathon! I dumped Michelle off (her and Emily were staying an extra day)  in the middle of I don’t know where and started panicking as I drove to the airport. After getting lost twice, yelling at the cab next to me for help on directions, going around the airport twice looking for the Hertz drop-off, I began to panic as my plane was boarding and I wasn’t even in the airport. The Hertz guys saw my nervous look as he went over the car with me, I explained to him the situation, then took off running with my 25 pound bag to the airport. Once I got through security I didn’t put my shoes back on just picked them up and ran to my gate. Literally ran through the airport shoes in hand. I managed to make it to the plane. The last one to board. I feel sorry for the gentlemen who had to sit next to me as I was wearing two shirts and a sweater and was now drenched in sweat. I’m sure I smelled terrific.

Best trip ever. City, Beach, Countryside. Couldn’t ask for more.

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I want to believe people are innately good. I need to believe they are in order to live in this world, because if they are not then what is the purpose. It’s  funny the way humanity works. Often when we see the worst of it, it is coupled with the best. I feel this is exactly how my trip to Paris with Brigid went.

Before leaving, everyone told us how Paris was their favorite city. They loved Paris. We got on our plane with all the excitement of making a great choice. Walking through the airport we assumed our tourist roles taking photos of each other at the welcome sign, looking lost, and not speaking the language. We were on the train to our hostel for about 20 minutes when suddenly at one of the stops something happened. To this day I’m not entirely sure, nor is Brigid, what exactly took place. We witnessed a man chase down another man out of the train, throw him from the platform and on to the tracks, drag the mans limp body by his neck up from the tracks with his own face blackened, another man pull the emergency cord, and then the police being called why the one man sat on the back of the other man. (if you are confused and disoriented by this story, then you feel a fraction of how B and I felt). The man, Brigid and I took for dead, was thankfully only knocked unconscious was arrested and taken away. Unable to understand the language, not sure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy, and being in an unfamiliar country where the airport was guarded by men carrying semi-automatics, you can only imagine how terrified Brigid and I were from that moment on. The woman across from us just looked at us and said, “C’est Paris.” A couple stops later, the same woman looked at us before getting off the train and in English said, “Enjoy your trip to Paris. Please be safe.” Exactly what our mothers would have told us. We traveled through train stations with extreme caution after that. We were suspicious about everyone. When we got to the hostel we finally felt safe, but still opted to sleep in the same bed. You know, just in case.

The next day Brig and I had our bearings and we had the best day ever walking around seeing the sites. We did just that. Saw the sites.  Continuing Lindsay’s theory of us being “25% tourists” since we don’t actually “do” anything.  We would see something, take a picture of it, take a picture of each of us in front of it, and then keep moving.

It was too expensive to stick around to visit any of the galleries and not enough time. Our mission while we were there was to eat everything that was delicious and we did do that. We enjoyed great baguettes, a delicious meringue, a scrumptious pastry, and yummy crepes. The streets smelled too delicious from all the pastry shops to pass any of these goodies up. We survived Paris using two key phrases. Mine always being, “Je ne comprends pas” meaning “I don’t understand” and Brigid’s was always “Parlaz anglais?” meaning “Speak English?”

On the last day of our trip we visited Notre Dame and hung out in the Latin Quarter. While trying to find a cheap, sunny restaurant to sit down and enjoy a coffee a man came up to us. He asked us what kind of restaurant we were looking for and started making suggestions of where we could go. As he led us to a great place where we could sit and enjoy the view of Notre Dame he asked if he could join us. We agreed, he bought our coffees, and we talked about Paris and life. Where he’s from (Manchester), how he loves living in Paris, why we were visiting. I know what you are thinking, have these girls learned anything from the train! We did. We were on our guard. (We weren’t following him down dark alleys, or going back to his place. We were always in crowded places, we watched our drinks) Then he introduced to the most wonderful bookshop I have ever been in. Shakespeare and Co.

The walls are lined with books from the ceiling down. They are in piles in front of the shelves on tables, on the stairs leading up to the second floor. Writers such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Allen Ginsberg have been known to gather and work there. It was the most wonderful store in the world. It was if Charlie, our new friend, were the Beast giving us his library. Before leaving us to spend the afternoon consumed in books, Charlie, bought Brigid and I each a copy of The Little Prince, his favorite book. He even made sure the store stamped the inside of it with their logo. One of the steps in the store had “Live For Humanity” painted on it. I can not think of a better way for Brig and I to leave Paris, having seen the best of humanity after witnessing the worst. (Brig took a picture of the step, so perhaps I can post the pic later) It was a great trip with a bit of rocky start but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I especially wouldn’t change the conversation of buying the train ticket to Notre Dame with a French woman.

Me: un ticket to No-ter Dame (I’m spelling it how I said it)

French Woman responds with something in French in the form of a question.

Me: No.ter. dame.

French woman with confused expression on her face.

Brigd: Notre Dame.

French woman smiles: Oui

…. the time I got yelled at in French

French woman yelling in French

Me: je ne comprends pas.

French woman points and yells now

Me: je ne comprends pas

she walks away shaking her head.

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Jet Lag Found Me

Jet Lag Found Me:
Jet Lag, like Death, will always find you

After traveling for about 18 hours and not sleeping on any of my planes, I rolled into Edinburgh at around 10 am and went straight to Lindsay’s flat. Apparently the day before Rosie had asked Lindsay if I would be up to going out all day since I would probably have jet lag; to which Lindsay replied, “no she’ll probably sprint here as soon as she gets off the plane.” I sure did. Figuratively that is, not literally. Lindsay and I grabbed some food, met with Rosie, shopped all day, and then met up with Lauren and Morgan for The King’s Speech, where I fell asleep for about 20 seconds but fought it off. Afterwards, we all went out to discuss the greatness of The King’s Speech and our anticipation for Black Swan. I headed home around 8 pm, was in bed by 10 pm, up at 6:30 am, left my flat at 7 am and was at Cole’s by 7:30 am. I had been up for 36 hours straight the day before and I had successfully beat Jet Lag. Insert evil cackle here.

Then Tuesday happened.

I don’t know where I went wrong. The first day back I fought every impulse to sleep until it was officially night. I went to bed early. I had a full night’s sleep of 8 hours, which for me, as many of you know, is sleeping in. My Monday went by as though I had never left Edinburgh, filled with me running errands and finishing homework. I went to bed at around midnight on Monday. When I woke up and looked at my clock it was 7:26 am. That’s impossible. It can’t be 7:26. I scrolled into my world clock. This has to be wrong. Holy crap it is 7:28am!! I’m supposed to be at Cole’s in two minutes!!! I slept through 2 alarms!
I sprang out of bed. I knew what was the matter. Jet Lag had come to me in the night. As I dialed Rosie, Cole’s mom, with one hand I was quickly putting on my jeans with the other. Hopping around my room and running into things as I threw on my wellies, grabbed my homework, my bag, my keys, my hat.

“Hi, Rosie, I’m sorry but I just woke up. I slept through my alarm.”
“Oh no, Jess! How long does it take you to get here?”
“30 minutes but I can get there in 20.”
“All right, well that will have to do.”
“Ok. Sorry.”
I hung up the phone and was still putting my coat on as I ran out the front door of my building. I sprinted to Cole’s house in my jeans and wellies – not figuratively, literally. While rounding my first turn in the road I took my homework out of my mouth and shoved it in my bag, I took the keys from the death grip I had on them and threw them in my bag as well. I put the bag on over my head and across my chest. Put my arms to my side and began pumping them back and forth. The roads were still covered in snow and ice so the entire run I kept telling myself “High knees. Pick up your feet. Don’t die.” I passed taxis, pedestrians, store owners, dog walkers, the world. I am sure I looked like a cross between Forest Gump running and Phoebe (from Friends) running but I did not care. I needed to be at Cole’s as fast as humanly possible. I made it there in 15 minutes.

When Rosie came to the door my hands were on my knees and I was huffing and puffing. God am I out of shape, I thought. She left almost immediately and I collapsed into the chair across from Cole. Then it hit me. I had not brushed or straightened my hair, I had not put on a bra, I had not brushed my teeth, I had not eaten. I had done nothing but put on jeans and wellies. Thankfully, I had grabbed a hat so my hair could be hidden, I have small boobs so my coat did a great job of concealing the fact I was not wearing a bra (I’m pretty sure a t-shirt could offer the same assistance but the coat was obviously better), and I carry gum in all of my purses. Sadly, I had class immediately after dropping Cole off. To add insult to injury, after walking up three floors (6 flights of stairs) I was greeted with a sign telling me class had been moved 8 buildings over and on the second floor.

When I finally reached class, I can honestly say I was looking HORRIBLE. My professor, Dilys saw me, heard my story, then exclaimed “if you want Jess, we can wait while you go get a coffee or something, maybe go to the bathroom.” “no, no. I’m good.” I took off my hat to have my greasy hair plastered to my head with sweat and bed head. Did I mention I didn’t brush my hair then ran two miles?

The morale of this story: Just as one can’t cheat Death, one can’t cheat Jet Lag.

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