Days 21 – 25 : Prague

Jenni —  September 15, 2010

We arrived in Prague on Tuesday afternoon and not having the patience to figure out the public transportation options, we hired a cab to take us to Hotel St. Charles  for 600 kc (about $30 US).  This included an extra fee courtesy of the driver – we smiled and paid it, vowing to return to the airport via public transportation. The 3rd floor room was quite nice: Victorian themed with a large marble bathroom equipped with a jacuzzi tub, TV with BBC, a fridge and a very generous free breakfast every morning (usually the best meal we would eat all day).  We headed out to find food and ended up at a Canadian themed cafe with free wi-fi, that was playing a rerun of the 1972 Canada-USSR game. We then ate at the adjacent argentine restaurant. There were many of these kinds of restaurants, the people in Prague seemed to really like their meat. Jenni ended up with a thick steak, Andrew a rack of lamb ribs. This feast only cost us about 50 US Dollars, as it’s inexpensive to eat a 4-5 star dinner in Prague. You ever get a chance to go, make sure you treat yourself.

Afterwards we wandered around and found an indoor mall near the Angel subway metro stop.  We were pretty amazed at the scale of the mall (4 stories), how much it resembled the ones typical in north america, and how close it was to the city centre. The oddest thing was the 2-story Tesco. 1st floor was for groceries, 2nd floor for Wal-mart type clothes & appliances. 

Capitalistic Prague

The mall seemed fairly new, but the people were well accustomed to shopping.  We wandered around and got a sense of what the czechs buy, most things were only a bit cheaper than in the US. We both ended up splurging on a set of headphones, as both of ours had become quite sad and travel worn.  

Wednesday we headed to the Stare Mestro (old town) to catch our bike tour.  Our guide took us and a pair of Irish ladies through the gothic powder tower – one of eight original city gates separating old from new.  We made note of the Dvorak Classical Festival and the Museum Kampa as possible return trips.  One of the interesting stops was the Lennon Wall – a relic from communist days where a small part of the sidewalk that is technically part of the Maltese embassy allowed for people to stand outside of soviet territory and express their thoughts with graffiti. John Lennon lyrics we especially popular at the time.

Lennon Wall

This tour didn’t include a food stop so afterwards we wandered and located a nice patio restaurant that served us mediocre food.

Lunch with a garden view

We returned to the Kampa, a modern art museum, and saw works by local Prague artists while being closely monitored by the museums security detail of near-sighted short old ladies.  Jenni wandered into the gallery without first purchasing a ticket which prompted a grilling by one of these geriatric guards.  We were then on their watch list and they were relentless with their ticket checking – you might have thought they would start smelling or tasting them to ensure their validity.  It was quite amusing, but we enjoyed the art. The top of the museum had rooftop access with a see-through floor and a small terrace from which the charles street bridge and park can be surveyed.

Charles Bridge view from Museum Kampa 

Our hotel was actually located near the Vysehrad – a historic settlement surrounded by crumbling stone walls and filled with quiet winding paths. In the evening we ventured there in search of a beer garden, but by the time we found it they were done serving food so we continued our wanderings and happened upon a quartette practicing so we stopped to listen.  We’ll post a recording of them soon.  

Thursday we headed over to the very large Stromvk park, as Jenni had a walking tour linked to GPS on her iPhone.  We took the gondola up and were beaconed to spend about 200 kc to be able to walk up a miniature Eiffel tower.  We passed on this and proceeded down the forested trails to find a place to picnic and have views of the town below. Afterwards we went into a bar that looked at though it was decorated by Tim Burton with sandworm-like metallic sculptures and light fixtures that looked as though they could bite you. We happened to chat up a fellow Texan and photographer who had been living in Prague, preparing for an art show.   

Friday we got up a bit late and headed straight to the Mucha museum.  It’s a fascinating look into the life and work of one of the greatest art nouveau illustrator/printmakers. The collection included illustrations Mucha did as a young boy, photographs of him entertaining the likes of Paul Gauguin in his Paris studio and the original posters promoting Sarah Bernhardts productions, which made him famous.

Mucha Museum

We then jetted up the steep climb to Prague castle.  This heavily touristed conglomerate of museums, palaces, and St. Vitus’s Cathedral was interesting, especially the main hall of the palace where the royal sock slide contest was held.  In all seriousness, unless you really need to see another royal relic, this one might be a pass.  I was sort of disappointed we didn’t see the nearby toy museum.  After a cafe/wee fee/postcard stop we glamorously waltzed the red carpet of the Rudolfinum for an evening concert. 

The concert consisted of one man opera adjoined with a man at a piano. The gestures, flipping of the hair and exaggerations of the opera singer while singing was the most fascinating part for Jenni, who had never seen a concert like this before.

Classical Concert at the Dvorak Festival

Friday we woke at the crack and took public transit to the airport. Our entire day was spent getting from Prague to Venice, Italy, and consisted of: tram, metro, bus, airplane, bus, and bus.  We’ll get into thoughts on Venice in our next post (there were some strong views and options), but clearly this was not the best thought out leg of our trip.    

Share

Days 15 – 20 : Copenhagen

andrew —  September 6, 2010

Thursday we headed to the Schoenefeld Airport to board our EasyJet flight to Copenhagen.  A very decent selection of breakfast foods from marche had to be gulped down in haste while we lined up and waited an hour to collect our boarding pass, even without bags to check.  Thankfully the flight was short, and upon arriving in Copenhagen, our friend Falah collected us at the gate and led us to the very efficient train to travel to where her and her husband, Torben, live.  It was so great to see friends again after weeks of travel, it really lightened our spirits.  They took us to the city center for traditional danish street food of hotdogs – “ristet pølse”. These are topped with ketchup, mustard and remoulade sauce is followed by a sprinkling of raw and toasted onion, and a layer of pickled cucumber. Torben also introduced us to traditional Danish liquor shots (“snaps” and “fisherman”). Once filled with Danish courage, we took our talents to the local karaoke bar.

Falah & Torben 

The currency in Denmark is the Kroner, but taxes make many things much more expensive than other parts of europe.  We were very lucky to be able to stay with our friends and benefit from their savvy while in the Danish capital.

On Friday we picked up bikes.  Copenhagen is very bike friendly.  While we waited for fresh bikes to arrive at the shop, we walked across the street to get ice cream in the botanical gardens.  An extensive indoor greenhouse had a second floor reachable from cascading stairs.  We then rode to Christiania, a unique independent state established by counter-culture squatters of a former army base.  The rules are no pictures, violence, or hard drugs, so instead we drank Tuborg and ate sandwiches in the sunny weather.  We stopped at Bankeraat, a cool bar with oddities of taxidermy animals and artist types, for some more beer.  Back at the pad Falah made a fantastic Indian dish.

Saturday we biked to the Statens Museum of Kunst, an art museum.  The rear hall  is filled with natural light, and extends the original building facade.  The space occupied with an exhibit by Tomás Saraceno - giant suspended plastic biospheres.  We had coffee in the atrium cafe and wandered through the museum filled with art, largely of danish origin.

 Bioballs

After the museum we headed to a restaurant where we had some traditional Danish food.  Andrew gorged smorrebord: cheese, ham, herring, liver pate, and breaded whitefish.

Smørrebrød 

We topped off the afternoon in Nyhavn where colorful buildings – one of which was the birthplace of physicist Neils Bohr – line the canal filled with sailboats and further on a view of the operahouse.
 
Nyhavn

In the evening we headed to the local dive bar for Carlsberg and dice games, but the locals provided extra entertainment as they drank and played a 5-pin billiards game.    

Sunday it rained, and we were fully prepared with Torben’s excellent DVD collection, lots of food and boxed wine. It was the first Sunday that we had the opportunity to be lazy . [also football match]    

Monday we waited for Falah to finish her half day of work and before taking a train trip up to Elisnore.  At 7-11 we picked up an assortment of licorice – a Danish favorite.  All were quite tasty except for the salted variety, which I had to spit out after a few curious chews. 

Elisnore is home to Kronberg castle, which was the hypothetical setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  We had just enough time to tour the tapestry-filled castle, climb to the roof where we could see the Swedish coastline, and browse through the maritime museum which had a fantastic collection of ship models.  When we got home, Torben had prepared an amazing meal for us.

The guy with suspenders            

Share

Day 12, 13 and 14 : Berlin

andrew —  August 22, 2010

We arrived in Berlin on Monday, August 16 and located our flat on the 4th floor of a building in Kreuzberg.  The area seemed a little rough on the outside but we soon discovered cosy, inviting stores and cafes.  Berlin – at least the area we were in – is actually fairly inexpensive but we still hit the local grocery store for fresh fruit, yogurt, and snacks.

Inside the Berlin apartment

We took time to get to know our surroundings by heading out to get a bite to eat.  Kreuzberg is quite diverse and has quite the variety of food possibilities – we stopped by a great vegetarian burger joint called yellow sunshine for dinner.  The next day we headed to the TV tower for our second Fat Tire bike tour of the trip.

Berlin

Kevin, our guide, took us on a great route that covered many of the historical building that survived WWII such as the Reichstag, and cold war relics such as checkpoint charlie and the wall.  

Fat Tire Bike Tour Berlin

The tour even included a stop at a beer garden where we chowed down on sausage and beer.

Biergarten Break

We really can’t say enough about these bike tours – you’ll never be able to see or learn as much on foot.  After the bike ride we made our way to Zoologischer Garten to see some of the critters at the Haptstadd Zoo.  We had a good time taking in a domestic squabble amongst the Hamaydryas Baboons.

Berlin Hauptstadt Zoo

The next day it rained for most of the day, so we did some shopping.  Jenni bought some tights, and sat around in cafes.  At night we had some Korean food at Kimchi Princess.  We were only in Berlin for two days, but it’s fair to say that we mostly took it easy.

  Die Fabrik cafe in Berlin

Share

Day 9, 10 and 11 : Amsterdam

Jenni —  August 18, 2010

Day 9 Amsterdam

It was a 3 hour train ride to Amsterdam from Paris. I was a bit overexcited and my OCD really acts up on travel days. I really can’t calm down until I’m where I need to be and know I will not miss my departure. Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who likes to get the airport way too early then end up sitting around for an hour or so in the terminal. Call me weird but I like that time before getting on a flight, it’s peaceful for me. But it annoys Andrew a bit, “We could have had coffee and breakfast at so-n-so place for the time we’ve spent here!” But he also knows That if we did stop beforehand I would be wiggling, looking impatiently at my watch and sighing alot. It’s usually best that we get there early anyhow cause it sometimes takes longer than we would have planned to pick up our tickets and such, especially when it’s in a foreign language. 

This was my first long train ride, I was excited for the new experience and it gave me time to process Paris.  

I’d been looking forward to it as I truly love their music, movies, art, culture in general, but Paris got me a little down in the dumps. Not that the city itself wasn’t wonderful and the people were generally friendly. Let me put it this way, anyone who thinks that people who come to America should automatically speak English, go to Paris. Try to get around knowing barely any French and you’ll change your mind. You’ll see how tough it feels just trying to do the simplest things. Many Europeans are fluent in more than one language. I let Andrew do most of the talking in Paris cause I could barely even pronounce the words right. France is very proud of their language, it’s polite to just try to speak it. They will generally give up trying to understand your broken French and speak to you in English. I was so very thankful for that each time and would tip bigger because of it.    

We arrive in Amsterdam and had the same problem with the pay phones as we did in Paris, so we had to make another expensive cellphone call to our next AirBnB host, who promised to pick us up from the ferry. The room was very home-y, cozy and our host was so super nice. Then we went off to get bikes.

Off to get bikes
 
Amsterdam is more tourist friendly and their people are more willing to speak English. The woman renting us bikes was throwing around English, Dutch, German and I think even French. So jealous.

Thanks to my realization I had motion-sickness, most likely from the mix of the train and ferry, we took the day easy. You will see in all the Amsterdam photos that I’m wearing lil black sweat bands, my motion-sickness prevention bracelets, since we have to take the ferry at least twice a day or more. We did make it out to the Red Light District for drinks, its like the Mardi Gras Parade, but every night. We did find a decent bar and talked to some New Yorkers. The bartender took a liking to me as he caught me gulping down my beer to hand him the empty glass. I’m pretty sure he was raised by pirates, but I gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek none-the-less. 

Day 10 started out with a wonderful collection of yogurt and fruit thanks to Andrew’s trip to the market, then were were off on a bike adventure. The plan was to go to the Stedelijk modern art museum but it is still under renovation. We enjoyed the area anyhow as there were many food stands with traditional Dutch favorites. Andrew was a little too excited about the herring sandwiches. Jenni held her nose and enjoyed her ice cream.

The Herring Sandwich

Vondelpark is a wonderland of bikes, hotdogs, beer and funny smells. It was an unusually warm day and we were a bit travelworn so we decided this was the perfect opportunity to hang out in a park all day.

Vondelpark

Day 11 started in the east side of Amsterdam for breakfast then to the Jewish Historical Museum where they had an exhibit by Charlotte Salomon and the history of the Portuguese Jews migrating to Amsterdam. 
   
 The Jewish History Museum

Then there was a bit of shopping

New Amsterdam Addition

And then we decided to try to find an electronic music event in a Westerpark that we had randomly read about in a Dutch magazine, but gave up and just enjoyed the park instead. We started getting hungry and came across a section of the park where an industrial area had been remade into a square and restaurant, Westergasterras and a dance club with the electronic event we were looking for next door! It was clear from the look on the waiters face that this was a place mostly frequented by locals, but they were very nice and helpful with the Dutch-only menu.

The dance club was getting more kickin’ when we arrived after eating, it was really great music, non-douchy atmosphere and we had a blast. There was this super happy guy dancing and really seemed to like us, especially once he found out we were from Texas. He knew the promoter throwing the party and introduced us to him. When finding out what we were doing in Amsterdam, he commented “Americans seem to treat Europe like it’s one big country.” I didn’t know what to say to that so I shrugged, then he promptly asked how we found out about the event. I told him we found it in a Dutch magazine and he said, “Really? In a magazine? I wasn’t told it was going to be published in a magazine!” and stormed off. I felt a little odd after that, but we continued to dance until out feet couldn’t take it anymore and biked home in the rain.

cheezers   

Share

Day 6, 7 and 8 : Paris

andrew —  August 18, 2010

Day 6 Paris

Eurorail whisked us under the english channel to our place in the 4em of Paris.  Upon arrival, we realize there is no way to contact our host except by phone, but the pay phones we find require credit cards with embedded chips.  The only solution is to pop a SIM card into one of our iPhones and make an expensive call.

I am starting to see the benefits of having a local SIM and so I am going to check the price of these.

After being shown the room, we are left with only one key and are told the previous guests have the electronic key to the building door, and will deposit it in a mailbox when they return for their luggage.  Our host then promptly leaves for the south of France.  Making the best of the situation, I leave Jenni in the room and head off in search of a bank and groceries.  As i am walking back up the street I hear a frantic voice calling to me from a window.  Seems I locked Jenni *inside* the room, and neglected to tell her that I had arranged with some workmen downstairs that they would keep the building door open for my return.

After the tearful rescue, we head to the Eiffel tower for a nighttime bike tour of Paris, which ended with a boat ride along the Seine.  Its great way to see lots of Paris in a short amount of time.

Louvre Panoramic

Day 7 Neither of us had been to the Orsay gallery so we picked this over the Louvre.  The Orsay collection is housed in an old train station – the interior is really stunning.  The original station clock dominates one end of the room – Jenni drew a sketch of it (Security was very tight about taking photos).

Train Station Clock inside Orsay

The hallways containing Impressionism period pieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renior, Degas, Rodin, Monet and Manet were packed with people, which made it difficult to appreciate the art.  I now have a new reason to become a millionaire – to afford private guided tour of museums.

Day 8 We must be either brave or crazy as we head for the Palace of Versailles at about 10am, after grave warnings the from our guidebook regarding exceptionally long lines.  The secret of getting tickets in the train station is apparently no longer possible, so we join the line at the gift shop around the corner from the palace.  After an hour of waiting, and facing another hour to enter the palace, we splurge and purchase a guided tour which gets us past further lines.

Walking through the palace’s royal rooms is very similar to strolling through the vatican: you are like cattle herded through the most expensive barn ever created.  Every square inch of the walls seem to be covered by paintings or ornately carved.  Below is an example.

Detailing of the Queen's walls

The guide did a good job of providing an overview of each room, and of the previous occupants, whose total lack of any modesty was part of the justification for the french revolution.  After about an hour of this, we escape to the gardens and picnic by the Swiss lake.  We can hear people shooting somewhere off in the woods, and we take time to nap before strolling through the immense gardens, maintained with Disneyland like precision.

 The Palace Gardens 

We finally tire of palaces and statues and return to Paris where we find a Montreal Chalet-themed restaurant and continue our splurging over dinner.

  Fancy French Dinner (which happened to be Montreal themed)    

Share

Day 4 and 5 : London

Jenni —  August 13, 2010

After an early hectic morning of Andrew trying to follow my gazelle legs through the underground, we’re on a bus to Cambridge. I was a bit worried about making it to the bus on time with our current sleeping patterns, which mirror our pattern at home. Staying up until 3am, waking up at 10am, naps somewhere in between. I safely say we’re acclimated now to the time difference. I’ve also given up the dream that we’d get up early everyday. That’s never going to happen no matter what country we’re in.

Day 4 started with a bunny dress and the mission of breakfast. Andrew scanned yelp and found a cafe located inside the Wellcome Center (a museum dedicated to medicine and the body), which was ooh’d and aaah’d about with the promise of internet. The cafe was alright, but the museum a nice surprise with quite a collection of medical oddities. They had a shrunken head, a lock of napoleons hair, Florence Nightingale’s slippers and paintings (which I thought contained a real Hyronomous Bosch, but just ended up being a copy).

The next stop was The British Library and happened upon their exhibit on old maps, which Andrew really enjoyed. 

George III collection : The Kings Library

The library also has a permanent exhibit, "Treasures" collection of literary pieces. They range from different illustrations of Alice in Wonderland, the original Magna Carta, original various religious texts, Di Vinci’s notes, and artifacts. Since no cameras were allowed I decided to sketch Jane Austen’s writing desk for you.

Jane Austen's writing desk

And thus we began the longest walk through a park ever. Hyde Park is a massive stretch of park, the park other parks were inspired by, the park that took us over an hour to cross only to reach another adjoining park, Kensington Gardens. It was a race against time, a race to make tea time at The Orangery, THE place to have high tea and closed at 6. We started around 3:00pm, with us thinking,”oh that’s PLENTY of time!” and moseyed around a bit, taking our sweet time.
4:00pm, when tea time begins, we were only halfway through the park.

4:40pm: We are still trekking through these flatlands. The crew is starting to lose hope of ever making it out of here alive. We are getting desperate but have made it to Kensington Gardens only to not be able to find The Orangery anywhere. 

4:45pm: A CAB! A cab driver will take us there, of course!

4:47pm: Cab driver drove us 5 feet and said The Orangery is through that gate. He did not charge us for the 5 feet, in exchange for our dignity.

4:49pm: The walkway through the gate is blocked off by construction, there is no way through, just a giant wall, a wall with no directions to The Orangery. We spit and shake our fists at this wall.

4:56pm: We follow this wall and have FINALLY found an alternate entrance and… The Orangery! And a long line. BUT! It moves rather quickly and I have the best tea time I’ve ever tasted and experienced. It tasted like sweet victory, which makes anything taste better.

Our Spread

And then, the girl in the bunny dress thanks The Orangery with a curtsey. The End.

Filled with Tea & Scones, the girl in the bunny dress thanked The Orangery.

Day 5 was Cambridge day. We took the two hour bus, not really knowing what to do in Cambridge but thought we’d figure it out when we got there. England has been a good place to start the trip being that they speak the same language, I’m a little nervous about going to places where I don’t know the language.

Once we arrived, we went to the information area and picked up a few pamphlets. Being a bit museum-ed out, we were happy to find out we could rent bikes. Cambridge has a wide array of bike trails which go not only through the town, but to adjoining towns as well.

Oh look, we're lost... again, let's take another photo

We happily biked upon a lovely lunch place called The Orchard in Grantchester, one of the adjoining towns. With total lack of respect for tea time, we ordered beers with our scones and sat under pear and plum trees in the backyard where other famous Brits had done the same (minus the sacrilege).

 Plums in the orchard

On the way back to Cambridge, Andrew jokingly suggested we bike like crazy people through the town and scare the tourists. I may or may not have taken him seriously and made lots of use of my bike bell. Heh heh.

Share

Day 3 : London

Jenni —  August 7, 2010

It’s quite late but we are still up, having accidentally napped from 9pm until midnight after stumbling into a pub in Camden Town that served fruli – a strawberry flavoured beer – and then (literally) stumbling out.

The Lock Tavern panoramic

Today was a day of markets. We started off skipping Pret and eating at a boulangerie near Russell Square, which was sort of a silly thing to do given the glorious treats that awaited us at Borough Market near London bridge.

Yummy Treats

I was given a strange face followed by a chuckle when I asked a construction worker for the location of the nearest tube stop. They are tube stations, i was informed, followed by very typically polite but questionably accurate english directions.

The northern line isn’t stopping at Kings Cross, a major transfer point, and this complicated our trip some and may have precipitated aforementioned beer drinking.

Camden Town made up for the frustrations – we had a nice tea at a place called yumchaa. Jenni bought a nice dress with bunnies on it, and I spent some time in a game store and came out with a copy of fluxx – a little card game for our travels.

Yumchaa in Camden Market

And, after two days of threats, it finally did rain.

See more London photos.

Share

Day 1 & 2 : London

Jenni —  August 6, 2010

Jenni is in the kitchen making tea and i am typing our first report, after two solid days in London.
The flat where we are staying is quite close to Russell Square, which is a tube stop, and also a park. The guy renting us the room is quite nice and the place has everything we need. Points for airbnb so far.

When we first arrived we made every effort to resist sleeping, and after refueling at ‘Pret a Manger’ – a ubiquitous chain of quick-bites – we proceeded to the british museum which is walking distance from where we are staying. We had to contend with a sizable crowd but Jenni got some great shots in the Egyptian, Roman and Greek wings. The European wing had a lot of local history – like a gold coin bearing the image of emperor Carausius, who lead a breakaway ‘mini-empire’ of Britain and Gaul in the late third century. It was found in someones backyard in 2007.

Interior of British Museum

The temptation to nap just became too great, but we did awaken in time to make it to the Lexington to see a concert. ‘Chad Valley’ opened with a one-man synth-opera style that we both thought was great. Then ‘Plants and Animals’ came on. In the past this band from Montreal was instrumental, but the vocals were decent. We didn’t stay long after the headliner, instead attempting to barhop, which wasn’t very successful as we didn’t know which areas had the scene.

Chad Valley at The Lexington

We started late the next day, grabbing Breakfast at Tesco (supermarket) – we ate in Princes Garden before hitting the Science Museum, which gets mixed reviews. Its really for kids, and there were so many of them and the admission was so free that we did a flyby past some apollo space vehicles and jetted out there. We headed to Westminster and walked along the Thames to the Tate Modern, where we we saw an exhibit called Exposed – mostly voyeuristic photos. Jenni liked it. Andrew is now paranoid.

Exposed!

We tried to get tickets for Anne Boleyn at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, but it was sold out – we’ll try for the matinee tomorrow. It was pub time anyway, and we dropped in on The Banker in the north side. Seem like a good place to go for a pint or if you want to discuss the economy. Finally we capped the evening off with a trip to Piccadilly Circus to see Gainsburg at the cinema. Jenni liked it. Andrew slept.

Check out the London photos so far.

Share

The Trial Run: Canada part 2

Jenni —  August 3, 2010

After we all woke up and had our breakfast, everyone did their own thing for the morning. Andrew needed to finish up his final paper, Heather and I watched Fame. In the afternoon, we took the boat out to downtown Bobcaygeon.

Captain Jim
Captain Jim

Heather & Me
49DAA38B-BF15-45F6-A19B-6F47D1139C11

Being that it was summer, the town was packed with tourists. We stopped into a local pub, had some grub, a beer and some window shopping.

We packed up and made our way back to Toronto with Heather, Andrew’s sister to hang out with Scott, Andrew’s brother and spend the night.  We walked around downtown Toronto after feasting on the sushi platter Scott had bought for us to share.

Downtown Toronto : CN Tower & Sky Dome
Downtown Toronto

I started one of the books I’ve downloaded on my iPad called “Water for Elephants,” I’m four chapters in and already really into it. It’s about an old man in his 90′s reminiscing about his life in the circus in his 20′s in the 1930′s. It’s funny and witty so far. At the end of each chapter there are archived photos circus’ during that time. And I just found out they are currently making a movie out if it, starring Robert Pattinson & Reese Witherspoon.

We leave tomorrow so it’s going to be a really long travel day. I’m not quite as nervous as before and I’m getting use to going place to place in the pack now. The hardest part is making sure Andrew doesn’t put something down in a random place and forgets about it, aka his credit cards, passport. I don’t have to worry about his green card as that is firmly taped in his pouch! Which reminds me of, “I stapled the itinerary in your jacket.”    

Share

The trial run: Canada

Jenni —  August 2, 2010

I’ve been increasingly nervous and excited. My OCD has been in full overdrive as I find myself making meticulous lists of things to see. Organizing my bag just so, improvising packing cubes with target plastic bags to keep everything separate and easy to find. Rolling my clothes as tight as possible to get all the extra space I can. And of course fretting that I’m going to forget something super important and irreplaceable.

Then Andrew reminds me by going to Canada first, we have time to fix/buy/get rid of things for a few days before we leave for really real to London. So I’m thinking of it as a trial run. Of course we will be with family and still have familiar comforts, but everything we’re taking with us will be tested out. 

The first trial day was a little rough. A mix of super early morning, layovers, bad traffic, a police scare and a confused front desk guard preventing us from sleeping at Andrew’s brother’s condo downtown..

There were a few highlights, I got to see a beautiful sunrise.
Dallas goodbye sunrise

And the Detroit airport has some really neat art installations. Laughing Squid has some better photos.
Detroit Airport Terminal

FYI if you ever drive in Canada, do not speed over 50kph. They take away your license and impound your car right there on the spot. No one else can drive the car, they leave you on the side of the road. Not even the tow truck can take you. Thankfully the cop, although scary, lessened the speed and just wrote a ticket. (We were not driving.) It was one of those days where it was really bad, but it definitely could have been worse.

Our backpacks are pretty great, after carrying it through the airport for a few hours, having the hip strap was definitely the way to go. We both got the Kelty Redwing 3100, which is a 50 liter back, just small enough to be carry-on, but enough room for all our stuff.

Trial day 2: Toronto

We spent the night at Andrew’s sisters house. Then headed out on the subway to visit with Andrew’s childhood friend, John and his wife, Robin. We finally got to see their neat 100 year house in the neighborhood of Leslieville. A very up and coming neighborhood that is transforming into a cool place to live.

This shelf was handbuilt by John and his dad to hold all the jars of handmade pasta sauce they make every year.
Hand built shelf : Toronto

They took us to brunch then we headed up to Aurora, an suburb 30 minutes north of Toronto, to visit Andrew’s other friend, Denis, his wife Julie, and their adorable Amelie. Then we made our way up to Bobcaygeon, to Andrew’s parent’s house.

I love looking out on the lake in the mornings.
 Pigeon Lake, Bobcaygeon, Canada

You can see what photos we’ve uploaded so far here.

Share