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!

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29/9/15 – Bye bye birdie

I made sure we woke up with plenty of time for breakfast today. Since Kel clearly can’t be trusted with snooze button duty, I had to use my own alarm. I have switched back to my ‘secret party’ tone though, which is always fun. Got ready, dropped our towels on some sunbeds first like usual, then hit the food hall. It’s been a while, breakfast – I’ve missed you. I had bacon, frankfurta, chips and a kind of one-sided ham and cheese toastie thing. All the yummies.

It was super hot today. Easily the best sun yet. It makes me a little sad though when it’s so hot that I have to keep switching between sunbathing and hiding in shade or water. Can’t I just tan the whole time please? We had to have several breaks to chill in the balcony pools. Suddenly the fact that they’re freezing cold didn’t seem like such a problem anymore. The heat even meant I started off having to have more pop than alcohol to stay nice and hydrated. Perish the thought.

At one point, it got so hot that even after another dip in the pool, we weren’t prepared to venture back out into the sun, so we had to sit under the canopy by the snack bar for a little while. We then decided that this would be a good time for lunch. Cue all the rice, pizza, some bolognese pasta, beefs cuts with some kind of sauce and what tasted like a Chinese style of pork. Of course, seconds were in order, so I had more pork and chips and was thankfully able to make the most of more rice. If I’d seen anyone trying to take it away early this time, I’d have been chopping off some hands.

As we were eating, I found myself in the stage where I couldn’t decide if I was developing a headache or a migraine. I’m getting really fed up of this malarky. I really don’t want to be taking my meds every day – that surely can’t be good for me. I chanced it on headache and stuck to painkillers and a few sweets from my bag (for some reason, particular kinds of sweets seem to help when I have a bad head; probably because of the sugar). Thankfully, I made a good guess and it soon cleared up as the painkillers kicked in. I felt happy to head back out into the sun. I was insistent on sticking to my sunbed this time. Did more reading and wrote another short story. I’m on a roll!

When the sun had gone in and then stayed in for quite a while, I headed back to the room for my usual Red Bull relaxation time before showering. Kel put another Fruits Basket episode on whilst I was doing my hair and then we kinda watched but mostly listened to Improv-a-Ganza clips whilst getting ready. It says a lot that we can now just listen to them without having to watch to know what’s happening. That Kazakhstan Taratino musical though… I wore another of my pineapple playsuits, as well as my new big pineapple heels that I’ve been trying to practice to walk in for quite a while now. I’m gonna have to be especially careful with plates. If I fall over when carrying food, then that’ll be genuine reason to cry.

Food tonight was of course rice, chips, pizza, bolognese pasta, small cuts of steak, Chinese style pieces of chicken and pork steak with Gran Canaria sauce, which tasted like it was primarily made of garlic. I had seconds for more rice, chicken and pork. I skipped pudding this time, as it always makes my sangria taste funny. It says a lot when I prioritise alcohol over pudding. Moved onto the entertainment room for more drinks and, well, entertainment. First up, was a parrot show with various macaws that rode scooters, rollerskates and would ring a bell the exact amount of times you asked it to. The guy also brought three of them round for people to have photos with. I got a scarlet macaw on one shoulder, a little grey one on the other and then a blue and yellow macaw to hold in my hands on its back like a baby. I’m not a big fan of birds, but that was adorable.

After the show, we got chatting to a couple from Cheshire called Cath and Jamie. They were probably in their forties. Learnt that Cath works for the council and Jamie travels around doing repairs on various vehicles and ships. We always seem to meet people who have such interesting jobs. They were really funny and we ended up talking to them all night. They share our love of food, so we clearly got along well. Jamie helped us out with some answers on our new movie quiz too. This one was way harder with rounds of having to guess from movie frames, edited posters and obscure versions of score music that sounded almost nothing like the original pieces. I have no idea how, but I knew the Breakfast At Tiffany’s poster. And I was geeky and able to pinpoint Armageddon just from one shot of Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan, before they even showed the rest of the clip. Told you movies are my forte. Despite the fact that it was much tougher, we actually won! It was funny as our team name was Where’s Larry, so Patrik was then asking who Larry was. Sadly, nobody from the audience shouted LARRY, which is the response I would have liked. Boo you, uneducated crowd.

We headed back to our room after Cath and Jamie did, armed with many drinks this time. Obviously we’d done another last minute drink run before the all-inclusive ended. We’re savvy with scavving the free drinks, duh. We had a drink and more watching of Fruits Basket in the room before bed. I’m liking this new late night development. Geeks who drink, yo.

25/9/15 – Where everybody looks like everybody

We got up fairly early. We’d both been doing very loud yawning and stretching as we got up, so I joked, “Who can make the most noise?” And a man immediately sneezed somewhere outside. I think we have a winner. We got all dressed and sun creamed up and headed down to breakfast. The food hall is huge and has a lot of variation of foods, though it’s not very logically laid out. We didn’t even make it to the typical hot breakfast stuff. By that point, I’d already filled up on bread rolls, cold cuts and cheese, a croissant, watermelon and this really nice cheese on toast with salami thing. Guess we’ll have to explore the rest tomorrow morning.

Our pool is very big and very pretty. We got sunbeds on the decking, overlooking it. There were activities going on throughout the day and we have three entertainer/rep type people hosting everything and wandering around, trying to encourage people to join in. They’re called Patrik, Joel (pronounced Jo-ell) and Marek. Patrik is very much the Slovakian Captain Awesome and Joel commented on my diamonds tattoo being Harley Quinn and that she wanted it. I do believe that’s the first person to have brought up that particular tattoo and not had to ask what it means. Kudos, Joel.

She gave us word searches and sudokus to do whilst we were sat around the pool. Hardest fucking word search I’ve ever done too! Some people went off to play shuffleboard. We abstained as we had no idea what the hell it was. Other people were then roped in to make pretzels, as we have a German Octoberfest kinda theme going on for today (the reps were all wearing cute green lederhosen type things). I passed on that too since you had to wear little latex gloves for it and those kind of things always bother my hands, but Kel had a go at that and then the aqua gym (water aerobics) too.

I probably looked like the miserable one, but I’d been developing another migraine by this point. I’d really hoped they’d leave me alone for this holiday, but apparently not. I went back up to the room to take one of my meds and bury my head in a pillow for a little while before coming back down. Once the meds kicked in and I felt a bit more alive, I could finally start making the most of our all inclusive deal. Had a couple of sangrias and a couple of cocktails whilst sitting by the pool, reading and writing. Very nice! My only complaint is that as pretty as everything is and, despite the fact that the air itself is quite warm, there is no sun! Where is the sun! It even started raining a bit on more than one occasion. I can’t believe I flew ten thousand miles for this shit. (Very harsh exaggeration, but I just wanted to get my quotes in).

First drinks! Yes, I was the greedy one who had two. Is anyone really surprised?

First drinks! Yes, I was the greedy one who had two. Is anyone really surprised?

We grabbed lunch from the snack bar at some point in the day, which is right nearby the pool, along with the one bar. I had chips, sausage and a giant pretzel. Then a bit later I had a bread roll and a teeny cake from the ‘coffee and pastries’ stage. There is hardly any time in the day when there isn’t some kind of meal being served. This suits me just dandy. I tried to make sure I had a glass of pop for almost every alcoholic drink I had to try and start hydrated to prevent further headachey stuff. This is the kind of thing you have to worry about when you start getting old. I think I’m gonna spend this holiday peeing.

Following the German theme, they also set up a game of beer pong. Sitting on the decking is the best place because we could just watch everything across the pool. We also kept hearing this stupid Istanbul song whilst they were playing. It’ll be like the German equivalent of that gabbu-gabbu-gabbu song we kept hearing in Greece last year. As it got later, we decided to have a wander out of the complex to find a nearby shop to stock up on necessities for the room. In my case, this is Red Bull, Kopparberg and crisps. In one of the shops, I did spy a big litre bottle of Grey Goose for about fifty euros! I know what I’m doing if I have money and case space left when we leave.

We came back up to the room to chill for a bit, shower and slowly get ready. The shower is super powerful and awesome. I love a power shower – it’s so much easier to wash your hair in. I drank my Red Bull and wrote another short story in between getting ready. I wore my poofy pineapple bargain dress from Primark, which is just too cute to have only been three quid. We’ve established that people will probably think I’m a nutter, as most of the clothes and accessories I’ve brought with me have pineapples on them and I even have a pineapple tattooed on my foot. So yeah, they would be correct.

We came down for food first and had fun around the illogical buffet again. I had a bizarre turkey skewer, chips, yummy herby potatoes, cuts of beef (which didn’t seem at home with everything else), lasagne, meat tortellini, meatballs and some delicious rice. There’s something about European rice. Greece, Turkey, Spain – they all clearly add some very tasty things to it. Then for pudding I had jelly, strawberry ice cream, a little toffee eclair, peach slices and strawberry and pineapple mousses. I love pudding buffets more than anything. After eating, we moved into the ‘entertainment’ area, which is basically lots of tables and chairs pointed at a little stage and dance floor space. Of course, throughout the night we were making the most of the all inclusive again with sangria and cocktails, then progressing to some very strong vodka and lemon.

The entertainment was actually hilarious. Firstly, they were getting people up to do the conga line. They grabbed Kel, but I escaped because of my big shoes that I’ve already fallen over very painfully in before, despite how much they tried to nag me. This is where I start to get a bit annoyed, when people pester you to get up and do something. I’m not like one of those miserable people who just sit in the corner – if I want to join in with something, I will, and often do. I actually quite like a good conga line, despite some very awkward past romantic experience with it (don’t ask), so know that I have a good reason if I abstain. In this case, not wanting to fall flat on my face feels like a good reason.

I was actually very glad I said no, since they quickly turned it into a limbo tournament. I’m pretty good at limbo, but again, certainly not in my big wedges. I couldn’t do the classy thing of taking them off either, as one of the waters had smahed a glass not long before. I’ve had to have glass picked out of my foot once before and I’d really rather not repeat it, thanks. We took fun from watching everyone else play and from just people watching in general. We found a lot of lookalikes. There was a creepy guy on his own who reminded me of a weird Murr from one angle and a younger version of Barry from work. There were a couple of Chris’s from work, a girl from the Inbetweeners, a young Clive from work, an older Curt Smith and an Asian Steve Frank. Not forgetting our very own Captain Awesome in Patrik too.

After the limbo tournament, we watched them all dancing to some of the classic songs like the Macarena and the Cha Cha Slide. It was particularly hilarious because Marek has absolutely no rhythm at all. He was all over the place. He did try though, bless him. They then got everyone to bring their chairs in front of the stage. Obviously we thought we were going to watch them play Musical Chairs. But no. They all sat down in a circle and moved their feet around to the music, then when it got to the chorus they all got up, picked their chairs up over their heads and started dancing around with them. It was absolutely hilarious and so not expected! That’s definitely the oddest game of Musical Chairs I’ve ever seen.

This is how everyone should play Musical Chairs from now on!

This is how everyone should play Musical Chairs from now on!

They pulled the tombola and the entertainment ended from there, as did the all inclusive, boo. After eleven you have to start paying for your drinks. We finished up the ones we had and decided to go for a bit of a wander down the road just to see what else we could find that was nearby. We clearly chose the wrong road because all we could find were little houses and a black cat that I dubbed Satan. Satan became our best bud for the walk and followed us around for a while, before we got bored and decided to head back. Time to build up the fan tower again!

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!

9/5/15 – Exploring Sofia

Woke up at about four o’clock with a migraine, urgh. Why do my holidays abroad always seem to start out this way? You suck sometimes, head. Thankfully the meds cleared it up and I managed to sleep off most of their usual side effects. Tone: 1, Migraine: 0. We got up and dressed lazily to go down and check out breakfast. I do love the whole complimentary thing – I felt like I was back in America! Sadly no waffle iron though. Instead I had toast, scrambled eggs, cold cuts and cheese and some delicious pieces of frankfurta. They even supplied us with pudding type options – the best thing being that they had tinned strawberries in syrup. I used to have that at my Nan and Grandad’s all the time as a kid. Nan used to give me the whole tin in a giant fruit bowl and I’d eat the entire thing myself. Didn’t think I could have got away with just picking up the whole bowl here though, so I had to make do with a small portion. Sad times.

Slowly showered and got ready after that. The shower’s nice and powerful, but it tends to spray around the whole room as the flimsy shower curtain doesn’t reach all the way to the floor. I hate shower curtains anyway. They always stick to you and feel really gross. But then maybe my ass is just too big for the dimensions of the shower… Decided to suncream my arms up a little for the possibility of good weather – here’s hoping – and just take the bottle with me. Emi messaged Kel bang on eleven and told us to meet her just a bit down the road. It was lovely and sunny, so I was happy to be in shorts and a flimsy pineapple top.

Emi took us on the subway into Sofia city centre – only one lev per ticket (that equates to about 50p; take note, Travel West Midlands!) She took us through the main town and pointed out her apartment block, where she went to school and where her sister used to work, as well as some typical Bulgarian statues and architectures – all of which she reckoned were fugly anyway. Whilst we were walking I thought some Bulgarian man had tried to go for my bag. He hadn’t; instead he’d had the cheek to grab my ass. I couldn’t exactly rave at him because he wouldn’t have understood and I wasn’t sure if slapping a very tall Bulgarian man would be a good idea or not, so I had to settle for just giving him a dirty look. As you do. Sadly I don’t think it had the same effect when I was wearing giant sunglasses. Not only was he a chauvinistic, presumptuous dick, he also interrupted me mid happy Impractical Jokers rant. Screw you, tall guy.

We stopped to sit down a little further up and had a good natter. Nearly two years is a long time to build the need for a serious catch-up. We talked about work and stupid dramas and various silly things before heading back out for food. I have no idea what any of these places are called because even Bulgarian letters make no sense to me. Thankfully the menu had English translations so I ordered a cloudy lemonade and what was described as a baked potato with cheese, bacon, onion and parsley. What I actually got was what looked more like a lasagne. It was a tray of mushed up potato with all the described ingredients and a thick layer of melted cheese covering the whole thing. Not that I was disappointed though – it was lovely; albeit the oddest baked potato I’ve ever had!

We walked back through town afterwards and stopped again, this time for ice cream at a place Emi described only as the best. She wasn’t lying. Genuinely the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They had a very unique variety of flavours too – I had a forest fruits type of frozen yoghurt, blueberry ice cream with jam and mango ice cream. They were all delicious, but the mango especially was to die for. I will happily trust Emi’s judgement for the rest of my life.

We had another sit down in a little mini park type area whilst we – and by we, I mean Emi – finished eating. Bulgaria really is a strange but pretty place. It reminds me of Greece only with much bigger buildings and big, very American-like roads. What’s even stranger is if you look one way you can see the snow on top of the mountains. It just doesn’t feel right when it’s as warm as it is where we are! We got the subway back to by Emi’s place and checked into the supermarket opposite to invest in drinks and things for our room. Apparently if you spend fifteen lev you get a free Frozen glass, so of course we made sure we spent at least fifteen lev by getting a variety of Red Bull, alcohol, pop, crisps and popcorn. It’s surprisingly hard to spend fifteen lev here.

Emi walked us back to our hotel so that she could pick up the makeup that Kel had technically personally imported for her so she wouldn’t have to pay the outrageous shipping prices. On the way she pointed out several cars that had lots of big dents in the bonnets, apparently caused by a crazy hailstorm with golf ball sized chunks of hail! Maybe I won’t be complaining about the British rain so much anymore. We showed her the dresses we were planning to wear later so she could pre-plan what makeup to do on us. It’s an unwritten law that when we’re with Emi she has to do both our nails and also our makeup if we go clubbing. We have no choice. Not that we’re complaining of course.

She went back to her place so we could meet up again later. Had a bit of downtime – I did some writing and started reading my next Cassie Palmer book whilst Kel had a little snooze, then we went down to the restaurant to get some grub. The English in the menu wasn’t laid out particularly well so I played it safe and just ordered a margarita pizza. It was alright, I guess. Just a bit samey. Like any plain pizza would be. Came back up to the room after to finish getting ready – bar the eye makeup of course – then headed over to Emi’s again.

She met us halfway, this time with her friend Daisy who’d come to visit. We all hung out in her room for a few hours whilst she did each of our eye makeup in turn. As always, she did it flawlessly! We got carried away having a natter – at one point I went off on a happy little Ralph Macchio tangent, which amazingly was instigated by Emi, not me – so we didn’t get out till coming up to midnight. We’d originally been meaning to go to a cocktail bar first, but since it was later than we’d intended we decided to get a cab straight to the club. One of the things I’ve learnt about Bulgaria is that their drivers are absolutely batshit crazy. Another is that all Bulgarian doors open outwards (I never even realised most British doors open inwards until now).

We got to Morgan’s Bar, which was kitted out with a full awesome pirate theme. The cocktails were an absolute bargain, working out at about two quid a pop with the exchange. That’s like student night at Nightingales! I had an apple Cosmo and a couple of Lime Daiquiris, which were nice but very sour. Another of Emi’s friends, Galia, met us there for the remainder of the night. Both her and Daisy were nice, but of course it was tough to actually make conversation with the language barrier. We couldn’t really make Emi play translator all night when we were technically out as a belated birthday thing for her. I’d passed on her half of the Harley Quinn friendship necklaces I’d got for her (I haven’t given anything like that since I was a kid and didn’t know if you were supposed to initially give both halves or keep one and give the other, so I just had to wing it), which she loved!

They played some general club music and also a lot of songs in all kings of various languages, not just Bulgarian. We got some of the good stuff in there too though. Got to have a boogie to some of our favourites like Bruno Mars, Macklemore, Robin Thicke, T. Swizzle, Eminem and even the Bloodhound Gang! It then felt like we may as well have been in Popworld when they started plaing Right Said Fred and Mambo No. 5. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. Another odd thing was that every so many songs in they’d suddenly blare a proper big ship style foghorn. It’s very offputting to be really in the groove to your favourite song and then you’re suddenly being warned of oncoming sea traffic. Kel then ruined pretty much every song ever for me by pointing out how often you could relatively get away with doing a Joe Gatto style ‘display your crotch in a grand fashion’ move. Thanks Kel – I’ll never be able to listen to LMFAO the same again.

There weren’t any food places open when we left, so Galia hit a little 24-hour off license type place and very nicely bought us each a little chocolate cake bar thing that tasted very much like jaffa cakes. Yummy! We got a taxi back and Emi gave us the lowdown of the plan for tomorrow when she dropped us off at the hotel. I somehow managed to let the taxi door shut on my knee as I was about to get out, right on the funny bone. Ah well, I guess it’s not a holiday without me doing myself a stupid injury.

Ready to get out on the Bulgarian town in my favourite little red dress!

Ready to get out on the Bulgarian town in my favourite little red dress!

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.

7/3/15 – Chihuahua Woof!

First one up at about half eight. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. Did a teeny bit of writing, then had a chat to Sar when she got up. One by one the others got up too, except for Ben, and Auntie Ann came round to take our orders for breakfast. Door to door service! We then all migrated over to their cabin for eats. A man stood out on the decking of his cabin probably wondered where on earth we were all running to in our pyjamas, bed socks and my fluffy Totoro poncho thing. All worth it in the name of food though. I do love a full English. Well, my idea of a full English – sausage, bacon, beans and plenty of toast!

After we’d been fed we swapped cabins again to get ready to go out for a walk. This is the kind of thing that is only acceptable in countryside locations. Nobody wants to just go out for a walk through the middle of Birmingham. It actually looked so nice out, bar the wind, that I literally just wore leggings and my Stephen Amell’s fuck cancer tank top. We had a good couple of hour’s walk up out of the valley and through the hills. Some of it was quite hard-going and we lost a couple of our group along the way (anyone walking the same route afterwards would have found checkpoints of Auntie Helena and Uncle Dave). It was crazy windy once we got up to the top of the hills so we were all quite happy to start heading back again. We all had a laugh when Auntie Ann had to stop to have a pee in the bushes. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Just glad it wasn’t me! Me and Uncle Dave found a shortcut along the last leg of the walk back, so we beat everyone to the cabins. Win!

Ditched our trainers and walking boots, then came back over to the oldies’ cabin for cake. Never had red velvet before – it was quite nice. We’ve established that so far the only times we’ve visited their cabin has been for food. We’ve got it made this holiday. Plus they seem to have all the food since our fridge is completely full of alcohol! After cake we decided to hit the pool in an attempt to work off some of the calories. Didn’t really happen. The pool was pretty shallow and the same depth all the way across. We ended up shooting water at each other instead by squeezing it through our hands. I was pretty crap at it, so couldn’t really retaliate when Ben kept spraying me (besides my one fluke of a genius jet that got him right in the eye!)

Since we were all in our swimwear we decided to leg it over to the cabin and get straight in the hot tub. That was fun running over just in my towel and ankle boots. Glad we’re not exactly in the middle of civilisation here.Had a very quick scoff of some cheese savouries since I was feeling peckish, grabbed a couple of drinks and got in the hot tub for about an hour. It was mega hot this time and left me feeling quite lethargic (though that probably wasn’t helped by all the vodka). Best friend Auntie Ann had cooked up a pizza for us whilst we’d been in there and brought it over not long after we’d got out. I’m not a big pizza fan at all, but that fresh cheese and tomato was just absolutely ideal right then.

We all chilled for a while and listened to music. Safe to say my iPod didn’t appeal to everyone, particularly when it kept wanting to play anime score music. Mark seemed to love Reindeer Are Better Than People though. Can’t beat a bit of Disney. We all showered in slow procession, put in our orders for the chippy and watched some of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Not a show I’d normally choose to watch but I do love the Celebrity in My Ear segments. Come on, it’s just totally Impractical Jokers style!

Moved over to the other cabin for food again. Chips and pie, yum yum. We had a few drink runs back and forth (armed with a torch this time to combat the crazy dark) and settled into playing a couple of rounds of Kel’s new Chain Reaction board game. The rules seemed a little extensive at first, but once we got into it it was actually hilarious. Some were really silly, like one asking for dog breeds but for everyone to say ‘woof’ after their answer. And I almost died laughing when I picked up a card asking for famous baldies. I was ready to own on a couple of categories like naming types of dinosaurs or Harry Potter characters, but sadly not everyone was as geeky as me and couldn’t keep the flow going. If only I’d had my Flick with me! Our team still won both games though, oh yeah!

More alcohol came out when we got back to our cabin and introduced the others to a game of Roxanne. For those who don’t know it’s a drinking game of two teams listening to Roxanne by The Police – half of you drink every time you hear ‘Roxanne’ and the other half drink every time you hear ‘red light’. Being on the Roxanne team is the more brutal, which of course was the one I was on. We then chilled watching music channels for the rest of the night. Had another lazier game of Roxanne a bit later on, which effectively spelt bedtime for me after that.