I'm a 37-year old Seattle girl who was bitten by the travel bug on my first tour of Europe in 2004. This personal blog follows my attempts to visit as many countries as I can, as often as my budget will allow. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've also worked as a freelance copywriter for an online travel publication. This only served to add even more must-see locations to my already extended list.
Follow me as I try to balance "real life" with exploring the world, all while trying to conquer a wickedly ironic case of homesickness.


London Uncensored

The day after arriving back in Seattle from London, I had two emails in my inbox, one from a friend that lives there and another from a friend that just moved away. The both shared the same sentiment: I've earned Honorary Londoner status for having survived what was one of London's most challenging weeks in a long bloody time.

First, throw in Easter Holiday. It's far more observed in Europe than it is in the US, and everyone has a 4-day weekend. TFL, thinking everyone would abandon the city for these 4 days, decided to close or defer more Tube lines and stations than ever at one time. But what they didn't anticipate was the massive influx of out-of-towners flooding the city for these 4 days. Masses of humanity everywhere; I've never seen London so overflowing with people. It took an hour to get absolutely anywhere.

Normally, I'd compensate by kicking it old school. London is pretty walkable, right? That's where the -7 degrees comes in. A storm passing over from Siberia brought unbearably cold wind, snow, hail, ice...you name it. If it's mentioned in a Christmas song, it gripped London every single day we were there. And we temperate Seattle girls only came armed with slightly warmer Spring gear. It didn't take long for each Tube car to look like a doctor's office, with all the sniffling and coughing; it's no wonder we all got very sick.

And to top it off, this was the trip we decided to rent our own flat. No longer were we conveniently next to a Tube stop with restaurants, banks and bus stops a-plenty right outside our door. Nope, we were in a quiet suburb neighborhood of London, mucking it out with the rest of the locals that were frankly quite unamused at the surprise return of winter.

The moral of the story: be careful what you wish for. I wanted to experience London outside the Tourist Bubble; what it would be like living as a local, being frustrated with public transportation instead of fascinated by it, enduring what the weather can dish out beyond the beautiful spring or summer, hauling groceries by hand 20 minutes in the blistering cold. For the sake of the growing desire to live in London for a year or two in the future, I wanted to be sure I really loved it there.

That's why I can now say with certainty that I do. Because beyond the soggy, frozen, overflowing, cranky, stinking, sneezy, frustrating experience I just paid quite a lot of money to endure, I still miss it while I'm sitting at home typing this. Even when we woke up to a blizzard outside and I felt like I'd give my country for a decongestant, even though I wouldn't care right now if the District Line was destroyed in its entirety "due to faulty signaling" and I'm still trying to digest some of my dinner from last Saturday, I still wish I could bundle up, walk 20 minutes to the station, squeeze into some guy's armpit and ride an hour to Millennium Bridge where I could watch the sunset behind Westminster.

Because the sun always seems to come out in London.


Murphy's Law, meet Jet Lag

Can someone please tell me why I will sit on a 10-hour flight throughout the night, in a dark cabin, surrounded by white noise, wearing an eye mask, slippers and earplugs, with a pillow and a blanket, a full stomach and a reclining seat (well, sort of), and not be able to sleep one single, bloomin' minute?

Yet the moment I manage to wrangle my 50-lb suitcase onto the Tube and we start whizzing by all the suburbs of London, with visual stimulations of all sizes, colors, textures and styles, 9 inches from a stranger that smells funny and feels compelled to stare at me incessantly, stopping and starting over and over again, getting a huge blast of cold air every time the doors open, people pushing and shoving in and out, announcements every 20 seconds, the time you really ought to keep your eyes on your belongings lest they grow legs and walk away and your ears on your train stop lest you end up in a town where the sheep outnumber the people...THIS is when I can't help but succumb to slumber?



Deluxe Pill Organizer

This could possibly be the geekiest thing I've ever purchased. On one hand, I feel like an 80 year old toting this thing around. On the other hand, however...this thing is awesome!

I'm a vitamin girl; I don't go a day without taking a strict regiment of vitamins and supplements. And when I travel, I bump the types and doses up a bit to combat the extra germs and stresses. Consider also that I've had some colorful experiences trapped in foreign countries desperately searching for the flashing green pharmacy cross to solve a very pressing, highly irritating health concern. For that reason, I now make sure I have several other "just-in-case" items: melatonin for jet lag, Aleve for headaches, Pepto Bismol for that local lunch I shouldn't have eaten. Basically, I end up toting around a pharmacy when I travel.

But I don't need entire bottles for a week long trip. 5 large vitamin bottles is a huge waste of space for only seven days. This nifty little pill daytimer sorts out only the pills you need. And a single day's doses go into a little removable plastic bag, perfect to tuck into a purse or day bag.

This vitamin-enhanced geek is all ready to go!


My tiny addiction

I have an irrational addiction: travel-sized thingamahoozits.

It's more important to me to pack efficiently than to be frugal. For that reason, I get way too excited before a vacation to go out and spend insane amounts of money on teeny tiny versions of the things I already own in bulk at home. For that brief moment, saving precious space is worth more than exorbitant cost.

And I mean exorbitant! It costs approximately one half to buy one tenth of a product in its itty bitty little mini counterpart. Normally, the penny pincher in me would simply refuse to waste money like that. But you're buying more than just the shampoo, toothpaste or handi wipes. You're also buying a clearly marked label and a sealed container that can save you many a headache with TSA.

I spent over $60 today on things that all fit in a single grocery bag...and I'm so excited to pack it all. I found single Wet Ones antibacterial wipes for the plane and questionable bathrooms. Always feminine wipes, one of today's greatest inventions, also come in single packages. 2 loads of concentrated laundry detergent fits in a bottle the size of my travel-sized shampoo. 5 Ricola cough drops come in a tiny resealable bag, and a mini Lysol spray can will also help me stave off the germs. Oh, and the joys of Tide To Go...

First on my list: pack all of these items into a single efficient suitcase, easy to identify, carry and maneuver in airports and train stations.

Next on my list: get a life.
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