Our last night…

We don’t want to leave.  We aren’t ready yet.  If we could move Hubble here, and I could find a job and Meaghen could find a job I think we’d move here. We love Spain.  A lot.  It is hard to pick a favourite place…Scotland, France or Spain.  England was fun but I think just fun to visit.  The people here are so friendly, the fashion is unreal and Meaghen loves it.  The weather is so warm, but not unbearable.  

We spent the last few days wandering, just purely wandering.  We spent a lot of time down La Ramblas, which is where there are street performers, and so many people.  All kinds, locals, tourists, those in fancy clothes and those in casual wear.  We tried to find Sagrada Familia but honestly we got distracted by so many things we didn’t actually make it.  We did see several of Gaudi’s buildings which are beautiful, and unique in their architecture.  We lovingly spent the afternoon yesterday eating tapas and drinking Sangria – which I now love.  Never tried before but it’s pretty damn yummy.  It was great, to just watch the people walking by while we were sitting out on a sidewalk cafe, with the sun beating down and the Sangria doing its job.  

La Ramblas has beautiful shops, artists, so many unique little booths set up.  And the food market – oh my god.  Delicious fresh fruit stands, fresh fruit juices, spicy peppers hanging from the walls of some of the stands, chocolates and macaroons and the seafood!  So much seafood. And cheap.  1 Euro for a big ol fruit juice.  Not too shabby.  

The fountains are remarkable here.  So many almost on the end of every block.  I loved the old-fashioned drinking fountains though.  It looked like an old statue with four spigots at each angle and looked like something made ages ago.  Beautiful.  And beautiful to see people actually using it.  Very cool.

I am not worried about missing sights.  We will be back here for sure.  Meaghen can’t wait till she’s older, not that it was that hard to get booze here for her, but she will have fun with the Barcelona nightlife.  I cannot wait to come here with friends myself! 

So here are a few things we have learned :

1) it is possible to travel with a 16 year old for a month, most of that time sharing a bed, without killing each other.  

2) it is not possible for 16 year old to put down her phone for toooo long.  She goes through withdrawals from snapchat, messenger, etc.  If not able to access at least once per day. 

3) I’m not afraid to travel.  I’m not afraid to put myself in the most uncomfortable situations to see things I wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else.   Truly, people are people.  Some of my fears were really unfounded.

4) you don’t need to know the language to travel, it sure makes it easier, but not impossible.

5) a few days in any one place is not enough. 

6) Meaghen needs a job that pays her a lot so she can go shopping everyday.  

I am sure there is so much else we have learned but right now we are just processing everything.  Trying to get our heads on straight from everything we have seen, and learned.  Home tomorrow, and yes we will be back to our normal lives, with a huge grin on our face and planning for the next trip – Portugal!

Cheers all.

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Our last train ride…

Well we spent a marvellous, much needed, relaxing few days in Perpignan.  We came here so Meaghen could see a friend that she met in her hometown, and after reading about the high traveller reviews and its proximity to the Sea I was ecstatic to visit.  However, it is not my favourite place.  Not a lot to do but on the positive side it left us with some relaxation and in our self-catered apartment that was perfect.  No interruptions and pure laziness.  Felt great after 3 and a half weeks of constant movement.  Perpignan is a pretty place, but still not quite sure what rates it high on the list – I’m guessing how close it is to the beaches but really, there are beach resorts to stay in as well. We did go see the Castillet, which is a remnant of the wall that surrounded Perpignan – to which Meaghen wittily replied, “why did they need a wall? Was Donald Trump here?”.  I love my girls sarcasm. And we went to see a magnificent palace – which was the best part.  Not stuffy and recreated but just walls and architecture and an ambience of what it was like many years ago.  Beautiful views. 

Well I met Meaghen’s friend. Let me say, letting my young daughter go off in a foreign country with a friend that I have never met to a place I would have extreme difficulty finding since I can’t speak French to order a taxi….was tough. Very tough thing to do.  But he’s nice, and I instantly I felt at ease.  And cute of course.  However Meaghen and I are still laughing as when he picked her up our initial meeting went like this…

Friend – ” I take her to the bar, and then we go back to my house for drinks.  Not too much drinks, but a drink.”

Me – ” silence and stony stare”

Me – “well I guess she can go if you can keep it in your pants”

Friend – “no, no I don’t do that, it’s okay, no I will not”

Me- “silence and stony stare complete with eyebrows raising” ( and a strong attempt to control my amusement )

Friend – ” wait, what. What. Oh no, wait. what is wrong? I don’t understand ” where he looks at Meaghen in panic

Meaghen – gesturing ” keep IT in your pants ”

Me – “Yes, if your balls come out to play, I chop it off. Chop it. Right off. Chop it off.” ( complete with scissor motion)

Friend – face the reddest shade I’ve ever seen ” oh my god. No. No I don’t do that, she will be pure. I know Meaghen, well I know her a little bit, she stay pure. Separate bedroom. My mom has spare bedroom.” 

If you can imagine Friend in a French accent it is friggin hilarious.  I’m still laughing at the poor stuttering boy.  But, he was super cute.  Too bad he didn’t live in Canada, he might’ve had momma’s blessing as a boyfriend. Might’ve. But friends it is.  

We boarded our last train to Barcelona, and already I am in love.  We went from ghetto to 5 star hotel.  Someone once told me to do budget the whole time you travel until the last night, then get a really nice hotel to end the trip.  Fabulous advice. I’ve never had a valet open the door for me or take all 4 massive bags with him.  ( dude was extremely big, for some reason I think he should be named something like Igor.  Not all Igor;s are big, but for some reason I think it would suit him.). Anyhoo he walked us into check-in, which they lovingly found us a room ready extremely early, and we again got escorted up to the room with a nice gentleman who again carried our massive luggage.  I’m not sure if it is just me, but it feels weird letting someone else do that.  Truly, I felt like I should help but he didn’t seem happy about that.  Oh well.  I over tipped him cause I have zero idea how to tip here.  

We rested, showered and headed out to the Opera. We attended the Palau de Musica Catalana, and saw the Carmen de Bizet opera.  It is on my fucket list to see an opera, one more thing I can check off! It was beautiful, all in French, but with the music and the passion of the actors you didn’t need to understand.  Music really does transcend language.  And the flamenco dancers! Amazing.  We walked back up after, by this time about midnight through Barcelona, and it was just starting to wake up.  The cafe’s were starting to get busy, and the nightclubs weren’t even open yet.  It truly is a nightlife town.  

But,  I feel the need to rant.  This rant is about rude people at concerts, theatres, operas…..Maybe I am the only one in the world who feels this way, but some things really piss me off.  So here are my rules for concerts that I have ingrained in my daughter and I just have a natural expectation that they occur.  Yes, I know, there are many people out there, tolerance for all, I don’t know what their day is like, blah blah blah but today I am annoyed.   So, first – don’t frigging talk. Is there anything that is that important you need to say to the person sitting next to you?  Imagine deep moving moment, and then the people in front of you turns her head to her partner to say, ” we should make that pasta for dinner after this”. Are you fucking kidding me? Yes this truly happened.  Keep your mouth shut until intermission or after the show. Don’t wear your hair up in an elaborate updo that stands on top of your friggin head.  If I am wearing my hair up, in a bun, I take it down when I am sitting so as not to block people behind me.  It’s a bun, and usually a messy bun, you can put it right back up without a mirror hence the messy bun.  I don’t want to look at your big ass bun on top of your head while we are trying to watch actors and dancers on stage.  And, for christs sake, don’t take the program, the overly large program and start fanning yourself with it with your hand up by your face.  Be discreet, keep it low if you feel the need. But having a large waving paper in your eyesight that makes a crinkle sound every time you move it is really annoying.  And don’t put your arm up by your face and rest on it.  Seriously, we short people have to look through the peoples in front of us space between your heads to see – a big ass arm really blocks that view.  Raise your arm to … I don’t know, scratch your eyebrow for instance, but you don’t need to keep it there.

 Alright rant over. Out to see Barcelona!

When you don’t speak French and you go to a French town…

We spent 10 hours traveling yesterday from Bath to Perpignan, a small coastal city in the South of France.  We wanted to end our weeks here so we could relax from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and just chill out and drink wine and eat yummy food and go to the beach.  Perpignan is hot – 28degrees currently and staying around 30 for our duration.  Coming from balmy England it is almost, dare I say, too hot for me. 

We eventually arrived 45 minutes late from our train, which hit another tree on the ride here.  The station in Paris, Gare De Lyon is extremely non-English and took us a bit to find our way to our train.  It was a good train ride, beautiful scenery as we passed Carcassonne, Narbonne and a few other French cities that have a strong Catalan influence.  When we arrived we grabbed a taxi, and I proudly said in my extremely limited French, “Je suis desole, Je ne parle pas francais, parle-vous anglais?”, which the driver actually understood, but replied “un peu” which turned out to mean none.  He said a bit, but I think the only thing I could understand was he told us we should go to the beach here.  When we arrived, to our little back alley which cars can’t drive down, he told me it was 15 Euros, even though we’d been in the cab maybe 10 minutes.  In Paris it was over 15 minutes and cost me 6 euros!  So I didn’t have enough.  Meaghen and I scraped together 10 Euros, and he said that was fine, not to worry, and to have a good vacation.  Thank god we had an understanding driver.  And cute. He was probably the cutest I’ve seen actually.  

Carl, our host in our little apartment in Perpignan, is fantastic.  We are again on the top floor, which I am grateful for in one huge way, but still lugging our luggage up the narrow stairs was a bit difficult. Didn’t matter, I love our little apartment. It is quaint, but a perfect home away from home with its open layout kitchen into living room with everything we’d need, its little window with the beautiful purple flower pots, and the awesome, comfortable bed in the alcove upstairs.  Minimal, but perfect.  Best part? Air conditioning! He gave us great directions to downtown and a little restaurant to grab food, so happy he speaks perfect English being an Australian, ( and lived in Vancouver for awhile ).  However, we were both exhausted from a long travel day we decided to eat Jack Daniels chocolates, Razzles and tea and head to bed.  One of the best sleeps I’ve had since traveling.  We slept so long we missed the Saturday market, which I am slightly disappointed about, but there is so much else to see we just headed out.  I must admit, I am still not completely sold on the location…. It’s a little….different here.  Not unsafe I don’t think, but….I wouldn’t want to walk by myself late at night. I might change my mind as the days pass, we will see.

Our first stop was to try to find food since neither of us had really eaten since the morning before and we were getting hangry.  We started out in the way we thought the map sent us, but didn’t lead to the places Carl had mentioned the night before. So we went back to get the map he had given us and for Meaghen to change into something the wind wouldn’t blow about….she likes Perpignan, pretty sure Perpignan likes her voluptuous figure and tiny waist….

So we started again with the map, however again we went in the damn wrong direction.  I already knew we probably weren’t in the best part of town, but yikes, really didn’t feel all that safe down in the quarter we walked into.  A little bit scary.  A lot scary.  So we hightailed it backwards and texted Carl and asked him if he could come out of the house and show us where to go – which he did ever so nicely.  Truly, a great host.  He kindly, without laughing, told me I was looking at the map backwards and we were headed in completely the wrong direction.  And to head in a straight line down our street in the completely opposite direction – just a straight line.  Sigh.

So we headed out one more time, determined to find food, and wander a bit.  He was right of course, 2 minutes in the other direction and suddenly the center of town swelled up.  We hit up the first cafe we found.  I again used my new favouritie phrase, which the owner did not speak English at all, but we decided to eat there anyways and just figured we would use google translate for the menu and point.  So, no menus, just two things.  Which he said verbally and we pretended to know what he was saying. Fish, or Duck.  I am sure duck is tasty, but I have a hard time eating them.  So, we ordered fish.  Salad to start, which was easy enough. However I also asked for water, which I called agua and realized far too late that is water in Spanish.  So he brought us wine. An entire bottle of it, glad I said the little one.  And of course, we drank it.  A nice delicious rose.  Eventually we got water too.  The people sitting behind us informed the waiter that the “fish” were actually prawns so we would know what we were eating.  I agreed anyways cause i still don’t want to eat a little fluffy duck.  Now, if you know me, you know I am picky.  Usually the only seafood I eat is fish; sock-eye salmon, or basically any kind of white fish. Never food with shells.  And if it’s meat, it is cooked so long that it soon becomes akin to leather.  So much so I swear Meaghen throws a party when the chicken is not dry and the steak is actually chewable in a few bites.  So we got our salad, which was alright.  Just plain green lettuce with a drizzle of lemony dressing and a tomatoe cut into fours, with a toasted bread with cream cheese then brie cheese melted on top. I could handle that.  And some wine.  Yum.  Then came the second course.  Which when he put in front of me, Meaghen did everything she could not to start laughing at me .  I am sure my face said it all.  I am used to prawns being out of their shell, and just being little white and pink curly things in buttery sauce.  Even those I don’t eat.  Well, we got a plate with half a buttered potatoe (yum), artichokes (also yum) and 6 full prawns, with their tails and faces and whiskers and whatever else is on a prawn that just comes out of the damn water.  I hesitated, but I didn’t want to be rude when the man was so nice.  So, even Meaghen who eats the damn little shellfish off of the friggin rocks in the ocean raw, just right off a rock ( gross, I know ) wasn’t sure how to eat them.  Well she pulled the tail off, then the head, which I copied, trying not to vomit, and scraped off whatever blackish little runny bit goes down the back ( I swear it looks like prawn poo) and ate the prawn.  It wasn’t yummy.  It wasn’t exactly gross either.  And after a nice big glass of wine after each one, I downed 3.  I figured that was pretty good actually.  During our meal, the couple in the table behind us asked us if we were English, and if we were enjoying our meal.  Which I couldn’t say no, I mean I didn’t want to be rude. But as we were talking they found out we were Canadian which they said was even better than English, and that they were Irish, but they spent 4 months camping in an orchard they own just outside of Perpignan, 4 months back in Ireland and then 4 months in India.  Fascinating! She said they come to this part of town when here because it’s where the locals eat. Then she asked if we were sisters, which I laughed but the look on her face was serious. I took the complement, I mean truly, I know otherwise but it was nice to feel young.  They wished us a “Bonne vacance” and went on their way.  Then we got served ice cream to finish our meal….so yummy.  Tasted like egg nog.  I loved drinking our wine, sitting in the cafe people watching and wasting away our afternoon.  It was exactly what I was looking for. We were there for quite a few hours.

We eventually moved on, continued downtown and looked at all the pretty things but held ourselves in check.  I swear I am going to make Meaghen wear a burka in Spain.  She was completely covered and the girl just gets ogled.  On one hand, it’s like “yep, that my beautiful girl, I know, right? Wish she knew it.” and on the other hand it’s like, “that’s my fucking daughter you fucking pig stop looking at her or I’m going to punch you in the fucking face.” Tough choice sometimes.

No shopping today, well except for some remarkable pastries and baguettes from a little pastry shop and groceries.  I couldn’t find milk.  It was weird.  It was just…dry milk or some other stuff but I wanted good clean regular old cow milk.  Just normal cow milk from a normal cow. For my tea.  Which I am now drinking milk-less.  Sigh.

After wandering around we decided to head back as most things were closing for the afternoon siesta.  I love that they do this.  So we decided to go have a nap too: when in France, do as the French??  Sitting here though we got lazy and decided to  finish our evening by doing much needed laundry, and just watching Joe Santagato videos. Damn he is funny.  We didn’t get a true sense of the city yet, we mostly just wandered a few streets in our area, but tomorrow we shall explore!

Baa Baa Black Sheep…

It is our last night in England.  I am sorry to leave it, we have had amazing memories here.  I truly enjoy the English countryside.  We spent the day on a tour with Mad Max, and and was great – very small tour so extremely personable.  Our driver, Kevin was very knowledgeable and friendly.  We first toured Stonehenge and managed to get there before the crowds.  By the amount of people and coaches there when we left, I am glad we made it early.  Stonehenge is remarkable. To think how many centuries old it is, and yet the magic of it still prevails.  For me, a big part of the magic is the not knowing – nobody knows exactly why it was created.  There are many guesses and theories but no concrete evidence.  It is unfortunate that they have cut off access to the site by roped fencing, but understandable given over 10,000 people visit the site everyday.  To imagine moving those huge 4 ton stones 150 miles to create this is an amazing feat.  Especially given there were no wheels in England at that time apparently.  The burial mounds that surround it are equally remarkable.  I have to say I thought I would feel…a certain energy there but really didn’t feel anything but admiration for the architecture.  

There are sheep everywhere in the English countryside.  Everywhere.  Apparently the English use the sheep to mow the grass.  But, with sheep comes sheep dung. Our next stop, at Avebury was fantastic – once we managed to avoid stepping in sheep poo.  Avebury is another site of these stone circles, but unlike Stonehenge, the stones are in their natural state – not shaped.  Apparently they were ressurrected based on 17th century drawing of the area after early settlers destroyed the stones due to pagan conflict by burying them in the ground and covering them in dirt.  So although they are remarkable, I have to ask – what if those drawings are wrong and we are worshipping and celebrating at places that are re-created wrong?  Hmmm interesting thought to ponder.  Wonder if people would still feel their magic if they found out it was created inaccurately.  I will say, we held copper rods near the stones and the energy from the stones and the ley lines around it was able to be felt – those rods were definitely moving of their own accord.  It was beautiful to see and powerful to touch.  I think I prefer the more quiet Avebury stones.  The whole area is just beautiful and peaceful.  There is a tree there, with tons of roots around the base, that Celtic and pagan worshippers put ribbons and wishes on.  Just lots of different colored ribbons blowing in the wind and as you stand underneath there is a certain magic that overcomes you.

We made our way to a small village, where filming of Downtown Abbey, Harry Potter and a few other movies were  completed.  These were great to see as we both love Harry Potter.  Made me kinda want to watch the films again !  We stopped there for lunch and spent quite a bit of time in the village itself.  I think around 400 people live there, and there are street sellers selling local crafts that just put them out on the side of the street, and operate on the honor system.  One lady even puts her money pot there for you to get change back.  Love it, simple, honest way of life.  So many front doors were just open as well.  Long gone are the days where that feeling has been in many places I’ve lived.

We then headed to Castle Combe, a quaint little village in the Cotswolds.  It is like time has stopped here.  There has been no buildings erected since the 1700’s.  There is one street down the middle, and that is it.  Minimal shopping and restaurants.  Our guide Kevin said a home there cost about 3.5 million pounds !  We walked up the one lonely street and visited the church – small but welcoming feel to it.  And just behind, is a gorgeous Manor House and park.  So peaceful and almost no other tourists.  I loved it there.  There was notable filming here too, such as War Horse, and Stardust.   It was a great way to end the day, and a great way to end the England portion of our trip.  I know we still have another week and a bit, but it feels too short yet and we want to stay longer.  At the very same time we miss our friends, and we miss Hubble.  Every time we see a dog we both comment how much we miss our puppy, even though I am sure after 5 minutes home and his chewing my socks and underwear, and my furniture, his constant biting and chewing of my hands and his constant tugging on the leash, will be extremely frustrating. But I tell ya, I sure miss him and his complete lack of keeping to his side of the bed at night.

Nothing Exciting….

Yesterday we spent the day in Bristol.  It feels like a young vibe there – I love it.  Meaghen loved it too.  It’s just about a 15 minute train ride outside of Bath.  We popped on the On-Off bus again, even though neither of really enjoys them, but we found the map slightly confusing.  We circled around Bristol, and had beautiful views from the bus at “the downs” which is a grassy knoll where you get fined if you swear – about 50 pounds each time – so I didn’t get off there.  But the view is amazing – gorgeous greenery.  In fact, all of Bristol seemed to have a large amount of green section to it, lots of parks and green spaces.  Very nice to tour.  The hills though!  Prepare to walk hills if you tour Bristol.  We also went to their suspension bridge – which was not scary in the least even though it is considered one of the top attractions, it is a road bridge, you walk along the side of it, and it is fully covered below for walking, and covered on the sides.  Not exciting.

We visited the University, as it is one Meaghen desperately wanted to see, and I tried to convince her to join a student tour group and pretend she’s a student but she was a little embarrassed so we just walked away.  We then walked down to StokesCroft which is the street art capital of England according to websites.  It is just a road and area of Bristol that is covered in street art – and damn it is worth the visit.  All down the street, on walls, fences, sides of businesses, there is mostly well drawn art.  Magnificent murals 2-3 stories high.  And of everything – from phones to names to the stars and moon, just beautiful.  As we ventured further into StokesCroft, it became apparent this is where less tourists were – we didn’t see one besides us – locals were abundant here.  Not exactly the locals I might want to meet…..but we were safe enough for sure.  We decided to turn around and go on the other side of the street down so we could see the other murals from a distance as well.  

We made our train back to Bath late, and headed to the hotel for the night.  Damn the walk up the hill to our hotel everyday and the stairs to our room on the top floor sure makes the legs sore.  

Today, we decided to skip Cardiff.  Honestly, the train ride for an hour and a bit wasn’t appealing, and though we very much would’ve like to see Cardiff and Wales, we felt rushed in Bath and wanted to take it in a little more.  So we decided to go downtown and wander, and hit up the Thermae Bath Spa.  Lovely little day spa, rooftop pool, steam rooms ( our favorite was the Eucalyptus) and a large mineral pool.  It was great, so relaxing and nice for sore muscles for sure.  

And Back to England…

We almost didn’t make it back.  For some reason the guard didn’t believe we were related given our different last names. Had to do a lot of convincing to let us through – I was just about ready to pull down my pants and show him my damn c-section scar but thankfully it didn’t quite come to that.  

We caught our train to Bath Spa, and about 20 minutes outside of Bath, our train hit a tree.  On the railtracks.  So our train got sidelined and we waited, and waited, and waited at a small train station in a small village for the next train – which was also delayed due to the tree.  But we thankfully made it about 2 hours late, but we made it. 

I adore Bath.  Quaint older buildings, and our hotel is in an older home that has been remodelled.  We got upgraded to the top floor, which I am so grateful for, but lugging the luggage up all them stairs since there is no lift, was painful.  It is beautiful though, I love these massive rooms with older furniture with the most comfortable beds.  And a ghost.  Who happened to rattle the bathroom door and turn the knob and then open it.  Mhmm.  For real.

We woke up and had a nice breakfast in the sunroom,  and then headed out to explore Bath.  It is stunning.  We explored the ancient Roman Baths, which are about 2000 years old, and got to taste the Bath Spa waters which are supposed to be healing.  It tasted like old coins and smelled like sulphur.  The fact that we know what old coins taste like is kind of disturbing. 

We did a little more shopping and then hit up a day spa, well, because we are in Bath Spa of course.   Not sure why else you’d come besides spa days and shopping 🙂 We had a lovely pedicure, and manicures and felt a little indulgent. As we headed out the shop and walked down the Main Street in Bath a seagull shat on my freshly pedicured foot. That’s right. – shat right on my foot.  Asshole seagull.  At least it wasn’t my head.  So we ducked into a Costa’s, which Meaghen ordered tea while I scraped seagull poo off my foot.  However, she ordered my favorite, Earl Grey and Peppermint for herself and got Peppermint and Peppermint. So she kindly informed the girl it was supposed to be Earl Grey, which she promptly then gave Meaghen Green Tea.  I guess Earl Grey and Green Tea sound somewhat similar? But since Meaghen didn’t want to correct it again one more time we just took it, and have to admit, the Green Tea is actually not that bad.  We were going to take in a comedy walking tour around Bath but right as we stepped out of the coffee shop it started to rain.  We figured that was enough signs for us to head in – so we walked up the big hill to our hotel again and decided to settle in for the night and take the tour another day.  

Thank you Paris. I’ll be back…

Was fabulous day in Paris.  I fell in love with Paris.  Even though there was an incident at the Eiffel Tower the night before, we were still determined to go.  Thank goodness it was only a false alarm.  We decided to walk through Paris to get to the Tower, which is an amazing walk in itself.  We loved the little side shops with the yummy pastries and foods, and the clothes and the jewelry stores.  As we walked through the Seine river there is so many little booksellers, art sellers in these little green boxes, and I fell in love with a painting by a local artist of the Eiffel Tower.  Which my daughter bought for me…..Love her so much.  So grateful.  I guess one of the important things to note about my daughter and I – we are dawdlers.  We love to just walk and see and look, and really don’t mind spending time just exploring and seeing things low key, and well, dawdling.  

We bought ourselves a baguette, some cheese and hummus, and local strawberries, and went to a park by the Louvre to have a brunch since we missed breakfast.  While we were sitting there a man came up to us and I thought he was trying to sell us a newspaper.  You have to remember that there are so many guys approaching you all the time to buy trinkets it was an easy mistake to make.  Well, the girl sitting next to us on the bench, conversed with him for a second, gave him her half eaten sandwich and he walked off.  She then said he was looking for food – we felt like such assholes as we literally had half a big thing of cheese, half a baguette and half a tin of strawberries left over just sitting there that we were going to throw out.  So we finished up, and went in search of the man cause really, it’s better it goes to him than the waste basket.  We found him sitting on a bench finishing the half eaten sandwich and gave him a bag of goodies.  He was so delighted, so glad the food didn’t get wasted, and so happy the girl next to us explained in English.

We got lost a little getting to the Eiffel Tower, but again there is just so much fun in getting lost and getting to see the “real” Paris.  We found our way and were in awe of this magnificent symbol of Paris.  I know it is not the tallest building in the world anymore, but damn it is big.  We looked at the queue’s for the lifts, and for the stairs and decided, fuck-it, we are going up the stairs.  So with pure trepidation, as I am very, very afraid of heights and the stairs are open to the views ( surrounded by see-through chain link fencing for safety), we started our ascent.  500 steps later we made it to the ground floor.  Oh what a view!! Meaghen and I were both in constant reminder, we kept repeating to each other – “we are at the Eiffel Tower, omg we are in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower.”Sometimes it still seems like we are dreaming.  After we walked around, got some much needed water and caught my breath cause I am so seriously out of shape…we started the climb to the 2nd floor.  Another 169 steps up and again, we made it – and here, oh I am not even sure I can describe it properly, there are no words to justify the view.  I have to say, both floors I could handle because they are surrounded by large chain fencing for safety…made me feel safe.  But we then made the short climb to the 3rd floor, and that wasn’t so easy – that one had no chain mail safety fencing and my heart had some freak out moments. But I sucked it up, and Meaghen and I walked all around that floor, which we later discovered was the third floor and we weren’t supposed to be there….oops.  We headed back to the second floor and started to make our way down.  OMG then I started to freak out.  Wasn’t so bad going up, but Jesus going down was tough.  I think it’s because then I could see the ground coming at me, you’d think it would make me feel safer going to the bottom but my knees were shaking the whole way and I had to go very slowly as to not fall the whole way.  We had a good laugh as went to the side to let three rather buff, strong, tough fellas pass by who were going much faster, and they offered to give me a piggy back ride the way down, ahaha.  Was pretty funny.  I contemplated taking him on the offer just for fun and a good story but that would’ve meant going higher and that wasn’t happening.  

We walked home again, and truly had a blast walking through Paris.  I loved it there.  I would’ve been happy to stay longer. Our feet were so sore from all the walking and stairs we decided to do something low key and hit up the cinema to see Suicide Squad – which was offered in English with French Subtitles.  Perfect!  Was a good movie actually.  Barely anyone in the theatre that late at night. So we sat in the middle, and wouldn’t you know it, a gentleman came and sat directly in front of Meaghen.  In a nearly empty theatre.  So we moved down a few seats.  And a new gentleman came and sat directly in front of her again.  Was so funny. But he was weird and kept looking behind him and zipping and unzipping his fanny pack and being fidgety – –  – – – – – it is the first time I felt unsafe.  So either; he went there to masturbate and left half way through cause he was finished, or he was really there to scout something, or as Meaghen thinks, he got stood up. Either way, it is the first time I felt uneasy amid recent events.  

Hello Paris…

Yesterday we caught the Eurostar to Paris.   I thought it would be a little more…ear popping given the speed and the fact that it goes underwater in a tunnel, but really wasn’t too bad.  Although for whatever reason both Meaghen and I are super exhausted from another travel day,  I think all the moving around is hitting us.  We exited the train and got caught up with a man who asked us if we wanted a taxi, which we did of course and he was under the taxi sign, but instead of taking us to to the taxis he started leading us to the car park…..um no.  So I stopped and said no thanks, we are going with that taxi stop out front and he said he was from Uber.  Either way, no, no. 

We made our way to our hotel with our driver who spoke little English, and pulled up to a beautiful hotel.  It is gorgeous here, warm room with a beautiful bed and like a palace compared to our last shitty hotel.  We briefly unpacked and headed out to dinner.  We hit up a place a minute from our hotel, that was Italian Food.  The waiter didn’t speak English very well, but overall I thought I did a pretty good job of navigating the menu and was able to order spaghetti and penne for us.  It was delicious.  Afterwards I ordered tea but asked for milk for our tea and he brought me mint leaves so that was fun to try to get right.  I understand why he have me an odd look when I ordered it.  The restaurant had a valet, and as we were sitting there a woman drove her car into the sign for the valet services and stalled her car right in front of our seats.  We all had a good laugh at her.  

We tried to go to bed early but damn it was a rough sleep.  We kinda needed a bit of a quiet day today so we slept in till 11am and then headed out to the Notre Dame.  We found our way after stopping in 2 bookstores to ask directions, very helpful people I must admit.  So far the French Hospitality is something to be admired. We went to a cafe at the Notre Dame and again had a little trouble deciphering between the green and the Greek salad even though I pointed at it in the menu. Ah well.  Notre Dame is beautiful.  It was incredible to spend time in a building that is over 850 years old.  We were moved by the worshippers, and felt badly for the mass that was trying to be on – we sat through it for a few minutes but honestly the chatter of the tourists was very disruptive and we left.  

We headed along the Seine River to the Louvre.   It was one of the most magnificent buildings I have ever seen.  It is much, much larger than I thought.  We focused on the Greek Statues, and the have-to’s like the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, but after spending a few hours there we barely scratched the surface.  One day I will go back I am sure, but it was a great way to spend the day.  

We walked back to the hotel and decided to call it a night so we can actually get up bright and ugly tomorrow to get in line for Eiffel tickets.  Good Luck to us 🙂

Fear…. Kiss my ass

Yesterday we had a very busy day.  We headed down to the London Eye and booked our time for later that evening, and Meaghen convinced me to get tickets to the London Dungeon, even though all the warning signs said if you have claustrophobia, fear of the dark or a nervous disposition not to go through…..ahem.  We booked our times then headed towards the Tower of London.   So a confession here, I truly thought the Tower was the two big towers at the bridge.  I was a little surprised when we passed the bridge on our cruise through the Thames River.  The commentary provided by the crew was actually the most entertaining that we’ve had so far…. Even though he mentioned several times that he wasn’t actually a guide but just a member of the crew, and when we got off the boat he said any tips would be appreciated but in all honesty it would be spent at the pub doing more research for further commentary. Had to give him a few pounds for his honesty!

We joined the queue ar the Tower of London, and headed in. This place is massive but full of history, I loved it. Sometimes I think there must be something wrong with us cause we really get enjoyment out of seeing the places people got tortured, or beheaded. By the throngs of other people walking through each tower I’d guess they do too. The whole place is like a mini city, but glorious in the maintenance of the buildings and attempt to provide as close of a feeling of olden days as they possibly could to a tourist attraction. This is also where they keep the Crown Jewels. Seeing the guards with their massive guns was a little unsettling, but understood. These crowns and swords and scepters are beautiful and worth the line-up to see. After walking the tower wall we headed back to the hotel to change for afternoon tea at Claridges. 

So glad we changed into dressier clothes. Claridges is posh. Meaghen hit the right note when she said she felt like the girl in The Princess Diaries movie. Have to admit, I did too. Felt extremely out of place but so glad we went. I’d highly recommend it. Meaghen and I both had the rose champagne to start, followed by yummy finger sandwiches. Our waiter was extremely attentive, in fact the whole staff was. Pulling out our chairs, putting our napkin on our laps… Was very neat. We ordered spearmint tea for Meaghen and breakfast blend for me. Then came the scones….Meaghen even ate a raisin scone they were so darn delicious and she loathes raisins.   We finished our pots of tea which were poured and steeped exactly right from our waiter, and decided to try the Malawi Antler tea since it is so rare it is only offered at two places in the world to make sure it is kept sustainable. And then the pastries came out. Macaroons, Cheesecakes, blueberry things that tasted like Ferrera Rocher…and some sort of chocolate deliciousness. The rare tea was light and fresh and perfect way to complement all the heavy food. They kept offering to refill everything but there was just so much we couldn’t even try all the pastries. So they boxed it up in a doggy bag for us.  We both mentioned more than once that Meaghen’s friend Brianna should’ve been there as she would have fallen in love with it- was right up her alley. 

We finished up and needed to walk off the champagne and food and got a little lost again.  I love getting lost. I love the side streets of London.  We headed back to our hotel to drop off the goods, and then headed down to the Dungeon.  I was full of trepidation for this event.  But, I held back my fear, and Meaghen and I held hands through it all which helped us both I think. It was actually pretty cool and only a few times scary.  It is just two rides, which one was a minor boat ride, and the other was a drop which Meaghen forced me to go on – and it wasn’t that bad.  Didn’t pee my pants which I thought was a good sign. You walk through “underground” and there are actors  representing notorious villains of London, such as Sweeny Todd and Mrs Lovett, Jack the Ripper, etc.  They did a pretty good job of it, and we actually learned quite a bit about the characters.  The worst part was getting lost in a maze of mirrors, which we just held hands and circled with the rest of the group until they finally opened a door for us. I think the warnings were probably not really necessary.  

We finished and headed directly next door to the London Eye.  I am terrified of heights. I get…hysterical sometimes over them and completely irrational.  I am also claustrophobic.  So I did the two things I thought I would never do, but since the London Eye is on my fucket list, I enclosed myself in a glass capsule and glided towards the sky. It was a beautiful view.  I didn’t even cry which is amazing for me.  And I walked around, looked out each window, and took a ton of pics.  Meaghen did too of course but she’s not afraid of much so for her she was lovin’ it.  I only had one small moment which I grabbed Meaghen’s arm but she knows me so well and told me to “shut the f up” which I promptly did cause then I was mad, and the moment passed.  Love my girl – it is she who gets me through the scariest parts of all of these things.  I am not sure if it was because it goes so slowly that it doesn’t feel like you are moving, or the fact that I was just so damn determined to get on it, that it was so easily doable.  Hmmmm – maybe time to revisit that Capilano Suspension Bridge?  ( only if my niece and nephew go with though).  

We got off the Eye and decided to walk home.  We did a lot of walking today – seriously my chiropractor is an Angel.  A month ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of being able to walk or go up as many stairs or hike as I have been – I have been in pain for so long, years, and my physician hasn’t been able to offer solutions except more x-Rays or tests…But Dr Kippel has changed my life – love being able to get up and go.  Feels great to be able walk and walk and walk – starting to feel like me again. Anyways, we walked through London and loved every moment of it.  Meaghen loves London, especially at night.  Seeing the nightlife puts a smile on her face, and seeing the people at Trafalgar Square or Picadilly Circus just hanging out( some causing mayhem, some just watching), was a great way to view the city.  We got re-routed due to a police barricade – not sure if someone was killed or what but it was tented and cordoned off for quite a ways – yet turned out well as we got to see a few street dancers battling it out.  With the crowd and the loud music and the dancers – felt like something out of the Step Up movies.  Very cool.  Also made me wish I could dance like that instead of like Elaine from Seinfeld.

Tomorrow – Paris.

A little Rebel…

We have a problem getting up early.  This morning we slept in till almost noon.  Could be because we aren’t sleeping till 1 or 2 every morning.  But we had determined the night before we would get up to get an early start.  Didn’t happen.  It was a little awkward when the housekeeping first knocked on the door, then entered even though I had said Hi.  I jumped out of bed, Meaghen fast asleep in the bed next to me and grabbed the door. – poor housekeeper apologized but I told her we didn’t need the service that day.  She wouldn’t look at me, and I realized after a few seconds it was because my nightgown had somehow tucked slightly into the waistband of my underwear. In the front.  Awkward is probably an understatement.  I casually pulled it out standing there talking to her pretending it wasn’t happening.  Sigh.

We made breakfast and then put together a plan for the day. Meaghen really wanted to go to Kensington, (Yes, to see if superman was casually walking along the street), and a sweets shop we found the day before.  We have made a busy plan for Wednesday, so we intended to get an early night tonight – yet of course I am up writing since I can’t sleep.  So we sucked it up, hit up the bus again, and went to Kensington.  On the way, I am sure Meaghen was going to jump out the window of the moving bus as a BMW i8 passed us, and that car is her love.  I am sure that seeing an actual i8 in person has probably made her whole trip.   

We reached Kensington and decided to get off at the Palace.  We walked through the Park, and found our way out beside the entrance that people aren’t supposed to go to apparently.  The guards there have some pretty large guns and are a little scary.  We quickly put our heads down and kept walking out, and found our way up by the embassies.  It was cool to see all the embassies, the quiet street with locals walking about on their daily business.  We headed back to the park through a different entrance and found the monument to Princess Diana.  It was a little park that was modelled after Peter Pan. Very cool.  The rest of the park was beautiful.  Busy, but was so expansive you didn’t feel crowded in any way.  I think Meaghen fell in love with that part of London. We caught a taxi again and headed back up to Oxford Street.  We made our way to the Kingdom of Sweets.  Literally a two floor shop with sweets from all parts of the world.  We contained ourselves but still walked out with a fairly hefty bill.  We decided to get Turkish Delight, which neither of us have ever tried.  Meaghen found Razzles – which I think she saw in a movie – and we bought some Jack Daniels fudge, and some orange chocolate – definitely our favourite.  I love the Turkish Delight – yum.  Especially the lemon.  And Bonbons.  They are pretty damn yummy too.

We had the worst food ever at Garfunkel’s.  Don’t go here – yuck.   Then we headed to Guys and Dolls starring Rebel Wilson.  This time, I didn’t bring a jacket, and was very careful with my clumsy feet.  I talked Meaghen out of wearing her 6 inch heels on the broken cobbled streets of London and headed out.  We flagged down a taxi, who told us the theatre wasn’t very far but we didn’t want to ruin our straightened hair so we convinced him to drive us.  The play was amazing.  I highly, highly recommend it.  Rebel Wilson was hilarious.  I love when actors find things funny and break character slightly by laughing or smiling when they aren’t supposed to.  Not enough to ruin the show, but just enough to be funny.  The voices!  They were amazing singers.  And the Dancing!! Was incredible.  I would watch it again.  They ended to a well deserved standing ovation.  The audience was laughing so much through the entire show.  

We headed out, and I deterred a few boys who were trying to ask my daughter for directions, poor guys, can’t blame them I do have a beauty on my hands, but they were waayyyyy too old.  We went in the direction we thought we should be in for our hotel, and the bloody hotel was literally 3 minutes away.  I guess that is why the Cabbie, rightly so, tried to convince us to walk.