15/9/16 – Maximum effort

Up early at half four and initially feeling like I’m just getting up for my six o’clock Friday shift, but nope, it’s holiday time! First time going back to America since the two-month stint and also, sadly, my first ever trip without Kel. Since she bought a house earlier this year, she couldn’t afford a holiday and my friends are all no-go options because of either already having holidays booked or being useless with money or not wanting to go the same places. So what option did that leave me if I wanted any chance of going away this year? Tagging along with my parents. Luckily, no matter what age I’ve been, I’ve always got on really well with my parents and I’m certainly capable of paying for myself. Plus when they said the first place they were going to was New Orleans, I really didn’t have any choice. New Orleans is my most favourite place in the world.

So we got packed up and ready and got to the airport about half six. Milled about duty free once we got through customs and had a laugh over a Moschino perfume that looked like a Mr. Muscle type bottle. Since I have a super fancy phone for the first time in my life, I can officially play photographer myself. As long as I remember to take pictures, that is – I’m kinda bad at that. I grabbed food from Burger King whilst the oldies had breakfast from Wetherspoons. Apparently, going away with your parents is a good bet, because Mom also got me a giant hunk of black pudding on the side of the breakfasts. I looove black pudding.

We boarded the plane for our first connecting flight to Amsterdam. Accidentally read a quarter of my Anita Blake book, oops. The flight was only just over an hour, but there was a slight delay before we took off, which meant we had to rush through customs and boarding straight onto the next flight, meaning we didn’t have chance to get drinks or anything from the airport. Boo. I was dying for a Red Bull. It was even more annoying, because there were then more delays and we had to sit on the runway for about forty minutes. I could have used that time to shop for my fix.

Thankfully, sitting on the plane was made way better by the fact that the in-flight entertainment was the best ever. Like most long haul flights, each seat has their own screen fixed into the headrest in front of them with a selection of things to watch. Only this selection was basically like having Netflix, albeit smaller, but with very new releases, including the latest aired seasons from this year of Flash, Arrow, The Walking Dead, Gotham, etc. I promptly found and put on Deadpool. The mature ones had to be edited a little, but it basically just meant there were less close ups of gore and they cut out the whole sex montage. Not so bad, as it would have been awkward if anyone else looked at my screen. I just had to miss out on hearing Calendar Girl.

After Deadpool, I watched Groundhog Day and then The Lady in the Van (was not prepared for it being as sad as it was!) I spotted Suits and figured I could continue watching from where I left off, but they only had season five, whereas I’m still on season four. Watched a couple of episodes of Impractical Jokers instead. In between all this, we had various drink options throughout the flight, packs of pretzels, little snack packs of olives (which were definitely left unopened) and crackers with a bell pepper spread, then ice cream pots and hot chicken, cheese and honey mustard sandwiches. The main meal was cheese tortellini, cheese and crackers, a bread roll, ignored salad and a lovely rich chocolate orange mousse. Good job, Delta.

Despite how well we were looked after, the flight just felt sooo long. I spent a while just listening to music and we still had another three hours to go. I turned to my saviour on long trips and listened to an episode of That Anime Show to kill another few hours. I seem to have a knack for choosing appropriate episodes, because they spent a good portion of it talking about travel and the sore points of flights. I had people constantly knocking my elbows as I listened to them, so I certainly understood. They even talked about New Orleans and Key West – both places we’re visiting on this trip! One thing I adore about That Anime Show is not only are they super geeky and produce the dubbing work that I love; they’re all so into travelling, it’s amazing. Not enough people have the interest in travel.

Finally, after nine and a half hours, we were landing in Atlanta. The sad part was that we still had one more flight to go. Thankfully, we had a little more time in this airport. We visited for a connecting flight before and it still amazes me how huge it is. How many airports have their own train systems inside?! (Later learnt that it’s the biggest airport in the world, which really doesn’t surprise me). One day, I’ll actually get to see Atlanta properly or at least more than just the airport. I finally got to get my much needed Red Bull, as well as some fruit punch Gatorade. I forgot that America means living on Gatorade and Powerade. I managed to connect to the WiFi in the airport and update people on where we were before we boarded our final flight.

Again, this one was only an hour long. I read another quarter of my book, then was just so tired that I attempted to sleep through until landing. Not only did it not work; I realised far too late that they were showing Flash on the screens. Damn it. That would have made it far more enjoyable. Baggage claim was fairly smooth and then we had the hopper ride to our hotel, which was another half hour to the journey. I was a lot more interested in watching everything through the window now that we were finally in New Orleans.

We checked into our Best Western and started unpacking things. I soon discovered there’d been a toiletries explosion in my suitcase and that half of my clothes were soaked through. Oh, no. Thankfully, the culprit was my now completely empty bottle of heat protection spray for my hair. Not greasy and gross like the shampoo explosion we had one of the years and it actually smelt quite nice, rather than making all my clothes stink like chemicals. I hung them over every chair and rail I could find and will just have to hope for the best. On the bright side, we had free WiFi in the room and there’s fucking millions of PokéStops in New Orleans. I think we’re seriously cheated back home.

Updated a few more people on our whereabouts, played a bit of my silly but adorable Disney game, then finally hit the hay. Super, super comfy beds and I even get a double all to myself. It was seriously welcome after all the travel. Tonight’s gonna be a good night.

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If you got your bottles mixed up, it’d either my an expensively clean kitchen or a not-so-niced, possibly burning perfume.

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1/10/15 – Last day on Gran Canarian soil

We got up, got semi dressed and went down to breakfast first, this time. Why have we not been doing this the whole holiday? Had my usual sausage, bacon, chips and cheese and ham toasted thing. It was the last one and I actually ran for it, so I felt I deserved it. Cath caught us at breakfast and told me off for not wearing something pineapple-y. Apparently I’ve gotta that reputation as the pineapple girl that I was kind of expecting. Guess that’s better than my reputation as the drink that I got on our trek in America. Though that one became apparent this time too, as Cath was surprised at how much I’d been drinking in the day, every day. Eh, I’m on holiday. We wanted to leave some time to do some more packing after breakfast before we went down to the pool. Kel had already spoken to the guy on reception to see if we could keep our room on for a few more hours, which was fine. We primarily did it just to keep the all inclusive going, as we figured they’d cut our wristbands off as soon as we checked out.

Once we only had a few necessities for the day left out, we suncreamed up and headed down to the pool. We were given more word searches to do. This one was much easier than the last. I did that and then another short story. Patrik tried to convince me to join the aqua gym by sitting on the end of my sunbed, facing me, and doing his stretches. I must have an iron will if I can resist that. I really didn’t want to get wet though, as I won’t be able to shower or do anything with my hair later on, once we lose access to our room.

Instead, we got roped into the paper plane game. Surprisingly, this was the one activity that got most people to join in – over forty of us altogether! All to play with paper planes. We were each given a sheet of paper and told to make a plane with it. That was a challenge in itself as I’ve never even made one before. I’ve always gotten other people to make them and then give them to me to play with. I tried my best to make mine aerodynamic, but when it came to us all lining up and taking turns to throw them, mine just insisted on going nowhere but down. At least mine was more awesomely decorated than anyone else’s – I’d written Thunderbird 3 on the back of the wing. The Barry/Murr guy almost landed his in the outdoor shower, which was funny as you had to stand where your plane landed, so he was practically standing in the shower. One guy even had to stand in the pool when his went really off course. Gutted.

We then went for our last inclusive meal of the trip. So sad. I bid goodbye to the rice, pizza, chips, beef with champagne sauce, lasagne-less pasta and some new garlic potato cubes that I really hadn’t gotten the time to know. I did my last bid to get drinks in before we checked out, so I ran down to the pool bar to grab another sangria and cocktail and left them on the table by our sunbeds. We then brought the cases down, put them in a storage room for safe keeping as we don’t get picked up till later and checked out. Apparently my drinks preparations had been futile – they didn’t take off our wristbands or say anything about the all inclusive ending. Happy days!

I went back to my shade after that. I didn’t want to risk the sun and getting sweaty because of the whole no shower thing. I don’t wanna be that icky person. Joel caught us and got us to go join Patrik for the new rifle shooting activity. Now this is an activity I can get behind! I did feel a bit stupid holding a giant rifle in my bikini and big sunglasses though – the kind of look you’d expect to be all sexy badass, but this was me, so it wasn’t. But it turned out I was pretty good at the shooting part. Even Patrik was like, “Who are you?” My first shot went wild before I got the hang of it, but I quickly got the highest score and also the first bulls-eye. Boo-yah! Nerf guns, eat your heart out!

Did more reading and chilling in the shade afterwards. Also watched some bits of Arrow on my iPod. Ah Brandon Routh, you are a pretty, pretty man. Eventually, I conceded that it was probably time to sort out my appearance at least a little before eating. Had to pop in and out of the room where the luggage was being held (more so than I should have needed to, because I was stupid and kept forgetting things) and got changed and did a bit of makeup in the toilets downstairs. It was actually just a horrible ordeal, as it was really hot in there, so I tried to be quick about it.

We then went for food around six, pleased that we got an extra meal more than we’d been expecting. Bonus meal! The evening menu has a split earlier on and they seem to serve different foods for each half. We’d obviously never been down to eat this early, so it was all new to us. Was initially horrified to see that they had a yellow rice rather the usual amazing rice, but then it turned out it just tasted exactly the same anyway. You deceived me, rice; well played. Also had some salted potatoes with the Gran Canaria sauce, some pork and crackling (wow), chips, a chicken drumstick and some chicken and chickpea stew, which was super yummy.

No entertainment room tonight. We hung out in the lobby instead, so we could see what was going on and if our coach turned up. We had our free cocktail to share that we’d won from the movie quiz. It was called a San Francisco (woo!) No idea what was in it, but it was nice and sweet. I made the most of my last sangria before switching to pop. I really don’t wanna be drunk on the plane or, worse, risking a migraine from lack of hydration. Sadly, we didn’t get to see Joel, Patrik or Marek before leaving. It was an awkward time in between when they’re clearly usually getting ready before the entertainment slots have to start. Sad times. But at least we have their Facebook details. The practicality of the modern age.

The transfer was a bit horrific. It had been alright up until the last pick-up, then about fifteen people got on and every one of them had a child with them, all of which were screaming and crying and shouting. It was like hell got on the coach. I was surprised I wasn’t screaming and crying and shouting too. To make things worse, the girl sat behind me could not stop complaining. Everyone who knows me knows that I actually really, really hate kids, but no way do I ever go on that much about it. Sh was actually causing more of a fuss than the kids and the kids really were making a fuss. Her and her mom were clearly not the kind of people you want around though anyway. Soon found out that they robbed a mirror from a club and were trying to get it through security. I secretly hoped that they weren’t allowed.

Checking in was a real ball-ache, as there were loads of us and then hardly any people behind the desks. The plus side was that we were told our flight was gonna be half an hour early. Getting through security was brief, though I did get swabbed for explosives again! Why me, guys? Do I look that dodgy? Once we were through, we grabbed some drinks for on the plane and I bought a big bottle of citrus Grey Goose from duty free. I’m calling in my early birthday present to myself. Since I asked people for vodka anyway, that’s just like skipping a step. No seriously, I really did ask for vodka for my birthday. I’ll get more use out of that than a gift card for New Look.

We got on the plane and had a bit of a mix up with an older couple who had misread their tickets and were in our seats. They were completely fine about it and the man apologised, saying it was their fault, to which the woman corrected that it was just his fault. She gets how it works. I watched the Psych musical on my iPod to clear some time. It was funny because at one point, even though Kel obviously couldn’t hear it, she could see Shawn’s mouth moving and knew exactly that he was doing the ololololololol hoo-de-hoo hoo-de-hoo bit that she loves from Santa Barbara Skies. Well done, Kel.

After Psych, I watched several episodes of Impractical Jokers. Those guys never fail to make me laugh. I then listened to the Galavant soundtrack, did a little writing and a little reading, then thankfully, we were coming in to land. I’d been getting really tired, but I hate trying to sleep on the plane because it always makes me feel really bleugh and out of it. Which probably would have been made worse by the fact that I’d still pretty much been drinking all day. Getting through passport and baggage control on the other side was pretty quick, thank god. We grabbed a black cab from outside and found ourselves with a very chatty, travel-savvy driver. Awesome.

When we got home, I saw that Dad had put the hard top on my car for me. Aww. I guess we left the sun behind in Gran Canaria for the rest of the year. Would absolutely go back though and recommend our hotel to anyone. Great food, great drink, great place and great crowd. First shot at all inclusive was an absolute success too. For now though, I have to concede to grey old England. We got into the house and, of course, Izzy was very eager to get into my bedroom. She got onto my bed before I did and immediately took up all the room. Home, sweet, home, I guess.

One fancy cocktail to see us off!

One fancy cocktail to see us off!

24/9/15 – Less suck, more good

Well, it certainly didn’t take us long to get onto our next holiday. We had just over twenty-four hours at home after the Isle of Wight before we were leaving again. I made sure we watched brand new Gotham before leaving. Oh, Cory Michael Smith, I have missed you since May. We decided on the way to the airport that our taxi driver was like a mix of Cisco’s dad and an Asian Mickey Flanagan. Yeah, we come up with odd deductions.

I seem to be making a habit of getting stopped going through security at airports. Though this time they informed me they were scanning me for explosives! Charming. I tend to wear short shorts and little tops, so I have no idea where they thought I’d be hiding these explosives. Maybe I don’t want to know. Our first stop when we got through to the waiting area was obviously Burger King. After that, we got the necessary things from Boots (mainly Red Bull for me) and then Kel had some surprisingly yummy white chocolate and raspberry thing from Costa’s whilst we were waiting. I did a bit of reading before we had to board. Didn’t get to play in the big musical Pod thing this time because it was overrun by kids, boo.

Sadly, we weren’t able to sit next to each other on the flight – we had to sit across the aisle from each other. I was sat next to a middle-aged couple and man, where they annoying. The man next to me clearly had no concept of space, because I was constantly getting elbowed, kneed, having things passed to the air hostesses right in front of my face and, at one point, I got fully leant on when he was trying to get a photo of his wife. No apologies for any of it either, which always makes it more annoying. Then when I was trying to write, he was very obviously trying to read it, then nudging his wife, whispering something and pointing to my notebook. Yeah, that’s reeeally distracting when I’m trying to work. Not to mention they had about eight mini bottles of wine between them, so of course, that meant I had to keep getting up to let them out so they could go to the toilet. Do you guys not get how the liquid cycle works?

I did manage to get another short story written though. As well as watch the 100 Clues episode of Psych (such a great tribute to Clue; it’s just perfect), an episode of Nabari and listen to some That Anime Show. Highlights were Tatum’s thoughts over Lin, which were hilarious – basically that he’s a dick but has great hair. Priorities, yo. They also talked about the less suck, more good direction when working in the booth. That’s what I want from my seat buddies on the flight back home. The flight itself took just under four hours, landing us there at about ten o’clock. Weirdly, there’s no time difference in Gran Canaria. I’m still trying to fathom how that works.

Getting cases was fairly quick, as was our transfer to the Hotel IFA Continental. I don’t remember ever staying in a hotel like this, unless we did when we were very little, but it’s huge and pretty fancy. Our room’s very nice and we have an awesome bathroom. It’s very hot though. After unpacking, we had to put our Tetris skills to use to make a tower out of the suitcases and books for our travel fan to go on, so that we’d both be able to feel the effects. Now I think we’re ready for bed!

Our schedule for the all-inclusive - we must familiarise ourselves well with this!

Our schedule for the all-inclusive – we must familiarise ourselves well with this!

22/9/15 – Finishing up with a lazy day

Got up earlyish, had a natter to Flick’s mom whilst getting ready, then headed down to the beach again. We spent a good hour or so looking for stuff, but all I could find was more fool’s gold – which has quickly become boring in the sense that it didn’t come from a dinosaur. I did give Kel a lot of laughs though as every time I found something that I thought could be something, I’d show it to Flick, she’d dismiss it as ironstone/flint/fossilised wood and I’d throw it back on the sand. Apparently it looked like I had many strops. It was super windy out, some of the waves managed to soak my jeans even over my wellies and the seaside air makes me feel super drained, as well as making my hair all gross, so I was actually pretty happy to quit this time. I guess being short-sighted doesn’t make me well adapted to hunt for things on the beach anyway.

We did a quick co-op run – snacks for all and Red Bull for me – then came back for lunch. We had curly fries with cheese and onion potato bakes and some Mexican falafel things, which I wasn’t too keen on because of the texture. In between, Flick showed us how she does her waxwork paintings. They’re so pretty – the effects she can do on them are amazing! After that and food, we went into the office and Flick showed us and talked through the props she uses on her tours. Much more exciting than you’re probably thinking as it includes teeth and jaws of a great white shark, a giant vertebrae from an Apatosaurus, the nose of a swordfish and a replica of an Allosaurus claw.

From then, we pretty much spent the rest of the day binge watching more Friends. Jenny’s friend Greg came round in the evening, so the five of us had a few hours of Cards Against Humanity. I won, woohoo! Though is it a victory to be classed as the most inappropriate one? Oh, who am I kidding; of course it is! When Greg left, we moved back downstairs to Jen’s cave to watch a couple more episodes of Chuck, then we had to go pack everything up before bed. Thankfully, we’re an old hand at living out of a suitcase, so our stuff had barely even spread about the room that much.

I was hoping for an uninterrupted night’s sleep to be ready to travel back home in the morning, but since my alarm worked fine and I was able to avoid another migraine, it was time for the dreaded ghost attack I’d been afraid of all visit. Apparently I couldn’t escape untraumatised. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this is exactly what happened, so take from it what you will. At about six in the morning I could hear somebody stepping around a lot outside our room, then I heard someone clattering about with metal pans in the kitchen, which was opposite our room, and the cats meowing. I first thought nothing of it, as I just assumed somebody was up and in the kitchen early. That was when the drawers in our room started opening and closing. I didn’t see anything, as I kept my eyes shut tight, because obviously things aren’t as scary if you can’t see them, right? Wrong. I was absolutely bricking it, particularly as I could hear the cats meowing even more and I know that animals are meant to be particularly bothered by spirits and such.

Thankfully, the noises soon stopped and I was miraculously able to get back to sleep. But then, before leaving for the ferry, Flick’s mom asked if either of us had got up around six and said that she’d heard the noises too and assumed it was either us or a supernatural ghost. They’re completely used to this kind of thing happening, so none of them were bothered in the slightest. Wish I could say the same, rather than having an absolute freak-out. Let’s see how long it is now before I can sleep properly again.

Though at least that happened on the last night. I was definitely relieved to be getting out of that room. Maybe I’ll have to stay in a nearby hotel next time I visit! Flick and Jenny saw us off onto the ferry, which was sad but also funny, as we were all doing dramatic waving – to the point where we couldn’t see each other anymore. I have two saving graces about having to come home. One is that Flick’s visiting Birmingham in just a few weeks anyway and I get to keep her for at least a whole weekend. The other is that we go to Gran Canaria tomorrow for a week. All inclusive with self serve sangria, fuck yeah! I certainly know how to make the most of my time off work!

Goodbyeeeee!

Goodbyeeeee!

13/5/15 – I don’t do these goodbyes

Got up to get ready and do our final packing, as well as trying to finish off all of the drink we had left that we couldn’t take with us. Well, I tried harder than Kel did. Waste not, want not! Emi came up to our hotel room to see us off whilst we were faffing with the final few things. We made use of the room and both had a last pee there. Emi even decided to join us (not all at the same time of course – it wasn’t a pee party). Then we went down to the lobby to pay for our room and order a taxi to the airport.

This is where things all went tits up. Kel had originally intended to use her credit card whilst we were here, but had learnt when we were still in England that she hadn’t used it since our America trip a couple of years ago and that she couldn’t remember hr pin. She’d sent off for it but it hadn’t arrived before we left, so we agreed we’d just to have to stick to our debit cards. Only the card reader at the hotel was really up the swannie and didn’t want to take either of our cards! Kel messaged Mom quickly and told her that if she’d had any post to open it and see if her pin number had come. She then left me with her phone and credit card whilst she and Emi went to find a nearby cash point to get the money out that way, in case we couldn’t get her pin. Mom did send the pin over, but the card reader still wouldn’t take Kel’s credit card either, so it was a good thing she’d gone to get the cash too. What a kerfuffle.

Saying bye to Emi when our taxi showed up was sad. I had to tell her off for crying, mostly so that I didn’t cry myself and ruin my makeup. I’m British, dammit – I’m not supposed to be emotional. Our drive to the airport then seemed ridiculously long, more so than on the way in. I started to become concerned that our driver could be taking us off somewhere. It then turned out that he wasn’t; he was just clearly much more sensible than the crazy driver we’d had before. I felt a little bad for that so when we paid I treated him to the entirety of my Bulgarian, which is basically just “thank you” and “goodbye” (which I feel is actually a bit of a cheat at Bulgarian anyway, as their thank you is the same as it is in French and their goodbye is the same in Italian).

We checked in to the crazily quiet airport and sent our cases off on their hopefully merry way. I grabbed a bag of some odd pizza ring crisps to make up for missing breakfast, as well as a cheap energy drink so I could take some painkillers with it. Headaches always plague me when I travel. I read a couple of chapters of my Cassie book, then we hit the duty free. Alcohol is always the best part of coming home from abroad, and even more so here. Everything is just so dang cheap! We ended up getting a whole vodka board – litres of Smirnoff’s fifty percent, the nice cranberry Finlandia, apple Absolut and a citrus Danza. The whole lot only cost about fifty euros. Our vodka stock at home has been getting low too, so hopefully this’ll keep us going for a good several months. Maybe until the next duty free visit, most likely in September.

Nobody told us we were the only people flying today...

Nobody told us we were the only people flying today…

I grabbed a last minute Red Bull and a Kinder Bueno before boarding the first flight, using up most of the remainder of my lev, I didn’t even spend a hundred quid’s worth this entire trip. Madness. The flight was about two and a half hours long, so not bad at all! I watched a few episodes of Fullmetal and did several pages of writing, all whilst having a bit of a munch. The guy sat next to me was kinda cute and was hilariously watching Fullmetal over my shoulder. I wonder if he actually knew it or was just wondering what the hell I was watching. I caught him glancing at my writing too, but he didn’t seem to be very well versed in English so probably didn’t understand any of it. Though to be fair, I don’t think many English people would understand it either. My handwriting really sucks.

We got rather confused by Frankfurt airport as it was pretty big, terribly laid out and barely sign-posted at all. I feel I probably walked an unnecessary five miles in there. Okay, that was probably an exaggeration. The flight had made me feel weirdly iffy, so I decided the best cure would be a Maccies. I know my body – cheeseburger and large fries definitely worked to make me feel better. We got excited once again about City of Heroes stuff when we loked at the prices for photo shoots online whilst we were waiting in the airport. I grabbed another Red Bull before boarding again. Red Bull is my coping mechanism for travel days. Actually, it’s just my coping mechanism every day.

Since the flight from Sofia had been slightly longer, our connecting flight to Birmingham was only an hour and half. I had my Red Bull, watched another episode of Fullmetal and got another big chunk of writing done. I felt really sorry for a girl sitting next to me, who’d been sat with her fingers in her ears from the moment we’d started descending. I always suffer with real pains in my ears during landing, so I understood completely and made her have one of my fruity sweets to suck. Well, I didn’t literally force it in her mouth; I just advised her that it helps a little. Also it weirds me out on flights that the exit lights all blink on halfway through the descent. Is this the point where we all suddenly have to get out and learn to skydive? But I brought my bag that doesn’t have a parachute attached!

Amazingly, getting back into Birmingham was an absolute breeze. We got off the plane and went through the self-check passport control as it had a much shorter queue. I got through the scanning part fast, but wasn’t impressed when the camera seemed to take quite a long while to lower to get down to my face level. Even technology is making fun of me. Then when we got through to baggage claim we spotted both our cases on the carousel almost instantly. Kel was able to figure out afterwards from the times that she’d messaged Mom that it had only taken sixteen minutes from getting off the plane to getting outside the airport into the car park. Sadly I think most of that time was probably taken by the passport control camera having to adjust for me!

To add to the madness it was even sunny and warm outside! I’ve never come back from abroad to anything other than rain before (though apparently it’s meant to be raining a lot tomorrow. Now that’s typical!) Mom came to pick us up from the car park, so we were then on our way home with another holiday over and done with. The plus side is that we have City of Heroes on Friday and for today we have new Flash, Impractical Jokers AND Whose Line to catch up on. The traveler in me might be sad to be home, but the geek in me is definitely happy!

Coming home is always better when you come home with an alcoholic's feast!

Coming home is always better when you come home with an alcoholic’s feast!

8/5/15 – Come on, baby!

Our next trip is go! This time it’s more for visitation purposes rather than a holiday, as we’re going to see our friend Emi in her Bulgarian homeland. If we get to add a new country to our list (and hopefully discover some awesome Bulgarian foods) in the process then that’s fine with me! The taxi driver picked us up at half eight in the morning. Most talkative taxi driver ever! I’m not sure why every Asian person seems to claim a personal connection to Slumdog Millionaire. Is there a British film that we do that with? Maybe I should start telling people I was an extra in Harry Potter. Or that Neville Longbottom was based on my clumsy-ass life.

We got to do self check-in when we got to the airport and had some initial distress when it looked like they hadn’t sat us next to each other on the plane, followed by confusion when the second lot of seats were then three-by-three instead of two-by-two. Sitting me in a different row is one thing, but I certainly don’t wanna be on my own plane! But it turned out we were just being stupid, as usual. Both seating plans were for one person – the first for our flight into Germany and then our connection to Bulgaria. Oops. Drama over. Of course my priorities once we’d then gotten through security (why do I always forget they make you take your shoes off? I couldn’t have been wearing brighter socks than my Flash one) were to grab some Burger King and a can of Red Bull. Necessarily in that order.

We had a quick nose in the arcade – never as good as I remember – then started heading towards our gate once the board told us it was open. On the way we found a big inflatable igloo type thing called ‘the Pod’. It was clearly for kids, so of course we had to have a mooch inside and see what was going on. It was dark inside with a circle of lights on the floor and a small screen on the wall to choose different options. We found out from the first option we picked that if you blocked any of the lights it’d make a different sound effect. There was one that sounded like a depleted horn/fart. Obviously that one was our favourite. We then picked the ‘groovy’ option and found ourselves turning into master DJs when we discovered that each light played a different layer of funky music or a woman singing things like “come on, baby”. I felt like I was playing Twister, trying to reach as many lights as possible at one time. Very amusing, though we probably pissed off the staff outside who likely have to hear it all the time. We walked away with our own funky masterpiece stuck in both of our heads.

We boarded and then took off all very quickly, leaving at about eleven in British time. I watched an episode of Psych on my iPod and we were given some drinks and extremely weird chicken and feta cheese sandwiches. I ate most of mine before giving up and turning to my Red Bull, which I was more interested in. Managed to fit in a little bit of writing and then suddenly we were landing, half an hour early! The journey only took about an hour and a half, making it half past one in German time. Munich airport was quite big, but eerily subdued. Apparently there’s some truth to Germans not being particularly happy people. As we saw the taxi rank outside we noticed that all of their taxis are a quite horrible cream colour. The Magnolias of Munich. Lovely.

Since we had a good five or six hours before our connecting flight we decided to make the most of our first time in Germany and do a bit of exploring. Kel had picked up a leaflet that said if we got the train from the airport to Oberschleibheim we could check out some of the fancy palaces. We left the airport, which opened up into this really wide space that was circled by shops and overlooked by a crazy high canopy. All very fancy. For some reason they also had a load of Mustangs parked out front. Of course I was enthralled – I don’t expect to see good Mustangs like these outside of America (sadly the only one that’s finally being imported into England as right-hand drive is a crappy new one. Boo).

We cut down into the underground and hit the ticket machines with our leftover euros from Greece last year. Kel managed to switch it to English, but we were still uncertain of whether our ticks would class as returns and which would be the cheapest option for us to get. Whilst we were faffing a very nice German man who was using the machine next to us finished up and then helped us to find the equivalent of a group daysaver, all on his own accord without us having to ask for help. I respectfully take back my unhappy Germans comment.

We’d been waiting for a while and not seen the train that we seemed to want, so we asked a German woman if we were looking for the right thing. She pointed out that we should check out a timetable as she wasn’t sure how often our train would be leaving from the airport today. After looking into it more on one of the timetables we learnt that none on the trains were departing from our station. Well, Kel figured it out. I don’t even understand English transport timetables, so I entertained myself by finding funny place names on it like Poing, Grafrath and Abfahrt.

We decided to just get on the next train and follow the crowd and get off anywhere that looked popular. Let’s just hope we don’t get lost. I only know three things in German – guten tag, danke schon and ich dein gesicht, oma. The last of which most likely won’t come in use, though it’s still hilarious (translation: shut your face, Grandma. Thanks for that one, Impractical Jokers). We got on the next train that showed up. Germany is surprisingly very green and also very flat. Kinda like the English countryside, only minus the many hills. We stayed on for about half an hour before we got bored, then got off at somewhere that may have been called Orleanzplatz. Maybe. As long as we can find our way back to it, who cares?

We had a little wander around what seemed to be a cute little town. It was surprisingly sunny. I obviously love the sun, but I wasn’t pre-warned to dress for this! We passed a lot of places that we couldn’t tell what they were. I’ve never felt so hindered by a language barrier before. It’s a good thing we’re only visiting for a few hours. We managed to find a bar with a semi-readable cocktail menu, so we stopped for a drink and a chill. I ordered a Midori something-or-other after I established that it was rum, triple sec, midori and various juices, including pineapple. Yay. The guy who served me sounded oddly like Robin Lord Taylor. My cocktail was very nice – very sour. Now I feel like I’m on holiday!

Our brief experience of Germany was very green, very sunny and very pleasant. Well done, Germany!

Our brief experience of Germany was very green, very sunny and very pleasant. Well done, Germany!

We headed back to the train station after that, feeling cautious about leaving enough time before our flight. We learnt upon getting back there that we were actually in Ostbahnhof. I clearly invented the other name. Was feeling ridiculously hot by this point and really hoping my foundation wasn’t going to melt off. Now wouldn’t that be attractive? Thankfully the journey back seemed much quicker. Probably because we got to sit down this time. We breezed through check-ins and customs. Had a wander around two floors of the airport in search of food, but couldn’t really find anything ideal. Looks like it’ll be the 24/7 pizza place that Emi promised us when we get to Bulgaria.

I got a little happy in duty free, but told myself it was fine because I’d completely forgotten about the leftover euros I had anyway. So technically it’s like free money (using the word technically very loosely here). I got a mini bottle of Grey Goose vodka – partly because I’ve always wanted to try it and partly because it was cute and I’m clearly the kind of person that minis are aimed at – and then a little Flash figurine from the toy shop. I’ve been needing something superhero for my toy corner. Makes sense that I fulfill that with my all-time favourite. I also got some mini tuc biscuits and some Kinder Bueno type chocolate for on the plane, to fill the void until we get to Bulgaria. Oh, and more Red Bull of course. Hey, I’ve done a lot of walking today.

Again the plane started moving pretty soon after we’d boarded and again took only an hour and a half – half an hour less than expected. I watched a few episodes of Fullmetal, did a little more writing and then we were already landing in Bulgaria at ten o’clock their time. Finished off the rest of my Red Bull in between customs and baggage claim, then finally Emi was there waiting for us just at the end of the airport! Of course we just had to sod everyone else for our reunion and tackle hug in the middle of everything. She was there with her mom who doesn’t really speak much English, but she was able to gather that we were very excited of course.

We had a little natter with Emi whilst she helped us with a taxi and then came down to our hotel with us. We were told we were in room sixty-six on the sixth floor. Oh, come on… Me and Emi exchanged a very knowing look over that. Kel, of course, didn’t get it. We agreed on a meet-up time for tomorrow morning and Emi promised to bring us her spare phone so we’d have an easier way to keep in touch rather than just relying on the wifi in the hotel, then left us to it for the night.

We had a bit of a horror when we unpacked and realised there’d been a shampoo explosion in one of the cases. Thankfully it’s very nice smelling Aussie shampoo and the only victims were a pair of my shorts, one Skecher and one of Kel’s bras. We tried to clean things up as best as we could, so hopefully they’ll survive the rest of the trip – maybe just smelling mildly like bubblegum and coconut. I finished off the rest of my tuc biscuits and did a little more writing whilst Kel was showering, then we slowly wound down for what felt like our well-deserved beds.

The view from our hotel room in Sofia. It looks like Greece and America got together and had a wonderful baby.

The view from our hotel room in Sofia. It looks like Greece and America got together and had a wonderful baby.

6/3/15 – Lost specifically just inside the Welsh border

Our next little vacay is go! This time we had a much more relaxed preparing session before leaving. I still got up fairly early to go with Dad to take Izzy to the kennels. He made his standard joke of did I want to go to the playground on the way back (we’d always done that as kids when taking Star and Oscar to be kennelled). I said yes, but he didn’t actually take me. Rude. Me and Kel ran round doing the last alcohol runs, packing the final things, etc. I made sure we still made twenty minutes spare to watch the newest episode of Impractical Jokers before leaving (that punishment was brutal – poor Murr!)

We met up with the rest of our twelve-person crew at Becketts Farm for brunch. I’m not really fancy enough to make brunch a common thing, but it was an awkward point to eat that was in between mealtimes. Therefore it was brunch. Had a lovely brisket and caramelised onions ciabatta and some fancy onion rings. As we were all getting back into the cars Mom suggested we all follow each other and stop off somewhere in Ludlow first as we wouldn’t be allowed into our cabins until later. We agreed, but then the rest of them sodded off and left us whilst I was still having to faff with the immobiliser. Rude again. So me and Kel armed ourselves with Disney music and her Aussie satnav Bruce and just had to head straight to Knighton, since we had no idea where to find the others in Ludlow.

The drive was fairly similar to the one we follow when we go to Little Brampton. There was an amusing moment when we passed another MX-5 going in the opposite direction – we started waving at each other pretty much at the same time! I love how everyone seems to have the same mindset that they want to wave at other people who have the same car (or in Mom’s case if they just have yellow cars too). The postcode we’d put into the satnav didn’t even take us the whole way, but after a weird detour round some little backwards town with tiny roads and some directions via phone call from Mom we were able to find the right path again.

We’d been driving down this creepy-ass road with room for only one car at a time and overlooked by big spooky hedges when it suddenly opened up onto a massive space that looked out onto Blackhall Lodges in the middle of a valley, where we’re staying. It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It has several cabins all grouped around in one little field (with a playground too, yey!) Can’t decide quite yet if it’s creepy or cute. We were given the keys to one of the cabins and got to have the first look around. Oh yeah. The cabin’s very nice! It’s all warm and cosy with high ceilings, a loft room and its own hot tub out on the patio that overlooks the surrounding hills. We sat down and chilled to some McFly over the fancy sound system whilst waiting for the others to turn up.

When they eventually arrived it turned out that we’d been given the keys to the wrong cabin, so we had to play swapsies. Luckily we hadn’t unpacked anything from the car yet. Uncle Dave was winding us up about having to move rooms, so I pointed out instead that I’d already used his toilet. Ha! We all unpacked and had a lounge around for an hour or so. Had a Kopparberg (let’s face it; it’s not a Tone holiday without some Kopparbergs) and chatted to Ben about games. Then we all convened again to get in the cars and head out in search of a pub.

Had another mad little detour around the crazy back streets but we soon found one. Was happy to see that they had Stowford Press on draft. Easily the best thing about Wales! The food took a pretty long time and we were all cursing, but it was worth it. I had chicken tikka masala with mixed rice, naan bread, poppadom and onion bhajis. When in doubt go for the meal that has the most extras! It was super dark by the time we got back. Kel had to use the light on her phone as a torch to get us from one cabin to the other. The idiot then freaked herself out by shining it on the anorexic bear statue outside our cabin.

Once we got inside I immediately got changed into my bikini, grabbed another Kopparberg and hit the hot tub with Kel, Mark and Ben. It was absolutely lush – even better than the one at Little Brampton. We had a goss about Arrow and Gotham and had another round of drinks. Getting out was brutal though. I hopped around with my towel outside for all of ten seconds before we all crammed in to huddle together on the mat whilst we were still wet. When I was drying off afterwards I found out that my old bikini had melted all over me in the hot tub. Yay. Safe to say that got thrown straight in the bin and best cousin Sar helped me to get the marks off my back.

We all chilled in the living room for the rest of the night. Broke out the cookies and watched the rest of Bridget Jones 2 that was on telly, followed by some lame horror called See No Evil. You gotta love Zone Horror. The whole time the wind was proper raging outside. Never heard it quite like that before! There’s something about sitting somewhere cosy inside and listening to the wind though. Of course it wasn’t quite so comforting after when I was in bed. Not only could I not get to sleep; there was an even weirder noise outside that sounded like somebody was getting abducted. Cue nightmare time. Let’s hope tomorrow night’s weather is a little less British.

Welcome to The Village. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Welcome to The Village. We hope you enjoy your stay!