Monday, November 1, 2010
Since my last post in September of 2009, I have had some more fun world travels that I sadly did not blog mostly because they were very busy weekend getaways. The first trip was a long weekend touring around Europe. A friend that I had made while in Interlaken, Switzerland invited me to come back for a visit him in Germany. Thanks to my mom's airline passes, I hopped on a plane on Thursday afternoon and landed in Frankfurt on Friday morning. My friend Graham and I decided to take a 24 hour trip to lovely Amsterdam only a 5 hour drive away. This was my first visit to Amsterdam and it was spectacular! We wandered the town and visited with friends from Ottawa that also happened to be in Amsterdam at the same time. I, of course, made sure to buy many souvenirs before my 24 hours were up, but I really would love to have spent more time in this city. The following afternoon, we drove to Brussels, Belgium for a quick stopover for photos and waffles. I was impressed with the size of the Grand Palace but less so with the size of the famous Mannequin Pis. After a long drive back to Graham's, we spent the night at his place in Landstuhl, Germany. In order to see as many places as I could on this trip, I managed to convince Graham to make the trip to Luxembourg the following day. We took a tourist train ride to learn about the history of the city and country, and I got my obligatory magnet. I was satisfied. The following day, Monday, I took a train ride to Paris to catch a flight back to Canada. This trip was quite the adventure: 5 countries in 5 days. Awesome! The next time I got on a plane was to visit my friends Leslie and Adam in Boston. I had never visited Beantown and thought it would be nice to visit during the American Thanksgiving and experience my very first "Black Friday". Leslie and Adam were very gracious hosts and showed me their part of town (Cambridge/Harvard area), as well as the proper city of Boston. Leslie was also a good enough sport to get up very early to hit up Macy's and other stores to take advantage of sales. I tried to restrict my spending, and while I did fairly well, frugality has never been my strong point. A few weeks after my Boston weekend, I decided to go back to Germany to attend Graham's pre-deployment party (he was being posted for 6 months to Djibouti). It was essentially a weekend of being ridiculously drunk. Nothing to see here, folks. Carry on. In February of 2010, I flew to Vancouver to experience the Winter Olympics. I had bought tickets for them way back in October of 2008, and had been looking forward to it for well over a year! Since I'm pretty anal when it comes to organizing my travels, I had had the foresight to book my flights as soon as possible (Feb 2009) and was able use my Aeroplan points to do so. This is one of the key benefits of being the exact opposite of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of traveller. Since my original accomodation plans didn't pan out, I ended up renting a room from a guy in Vancouver. During our correspondance, he told me about the many travellers that have stayed with him and was the one that first introduced me to couch surfing. Thanks, Rob! The event tickets I had were for women's ice hockey, men's bobsled and a couple of others that I didn't end up using - instead I sold them to a friend who was able to make good use of them (I sold them at face value - I'm no scammer!). Since I had two tickets to each event, and my friend from Ottawa Jocelyn was volunteering out there, we went to the hockey game together. It was a fun time, but it was Swizterland vs. China. One guess as to which team won. We knew that there was also a men's curling game on that evening so we decided to go to the rink and see if we could buy a couple of last minute tickets. Unfortunately, the box office was sold out and had a pretty long wait list. We were able to buy one ticket from a family who's kid wasn't able to come in the end, but the second ticket we had to buy from a scalper. But not before we got into a pretty nasty war of words with him! That is a story for another day, and might be one Jocelyn would tell better than me. Regardless, we ended up getting into the rink just in time for the national anthem to be played. And while we didn't end up sitting together, I think both Jocelyn and I had a great time! Who knew curling could be so exciting?! The following day, I went up to Whistler with Rob (the guy who's room I was renting) and his friend Anne. I was planning to go to the Bobsled event and they were going to ski for the day, then Anne would join me for the event while Rob watched the hockey game (the first Canada-US men's hockey game of the Olympics). It was my first visit to Whistler and I can certainly see what all the fuss was about - sure was lovely! I spent most of the day wandering the streets and window shopping (as everything is pretty expensive there), and finally made my way up the slope to see men in spandex go flying past on a sled. What a great time! When I came back to the city the following day, I just spent the day wandering around and taking in the sights and city fun that goes on during the Olympic games! Certainly a great experience I will remember for a long time! I didn't go anywhere for a number of months until July 2010 when I joined my boyfriend, Matthew, on a trip to Los Angeles. I've never had the opportunity to go out there before so I jumped at the chance to see Hollywood for myself. I spent my first day on the typical tacky bus tour of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive and the like. The driver, though, had a strange accent so I'm pretty sure I missed out on some stories. Much of the afternoon was spent wandering around Hollywood Blvd. and seeing the walk of fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Centre. Wouldn't you know it though, I didn't see a single celebrity. Between you and me, I don't think there are any celebrities in LA! It's all a hoax! The highlight of my second day in town was going to a taping of the Jay Leno in Burbank at NBC studios. I had never been to a taping of a national television show (the morning show on A channel doesn't count!) so I was quite excited. My feedback after it was all said and done? It was fun, but you'd see the same thing at home in bed and it wouldn't be so GD cold! That place was freezing! They blast the AC to counter balance the heat from the bright lights, or something like that. In case you were wondering, the guests on the show that night were Rachel Weisz and Tony Robbins. (that guy is HUGE!) On my last full day in LA, Matthew and I decided to hit the beach and experience the sun that California is known for. We wandered along the boardwalk along Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach. Both very nice. Except for when I was pooped on by a seagull. Less nice, but very funny. Surprisingly, I didn't shop very much while in LA. While I did visit the Grove shopping mall and the Farmer's market there, I really only bought a magnet (obviously) and some lingerie (thank you Trashy and Frederick's of Hollywood!). Next time I'm back in LA though, I want to go with a bunch of friends and experience the party side of the city! So that's a quick (but very long to read) update of all my worldly travels since September 2009. I feel bad that's it's taken so long to update and I'm sure there are many great stories that should be included but aren't due to a bad memory and the trouble with trying to cram it all into one post. I'll try to do better in the future. Promise!