24/9/16 – Everywhere she goes, Toni loves mashed potatoes!

Much slower get-ready today as we had a later check-out. Packed everything up and then went for a very poor breakfast that consisted of just fruit, most of which was tasteless melon. I just stuck to the grapes. We then Skyped Kel for a little bit before eventually leaving the room. It had been our most expensive, yet worst stocked room so far, but I was a little sad as the Key West had a hell of a lot of different Pokémon to catch. I’d say it was the geek in me that was sad, but that’s basically all of me. We’d had the option of going to the Key West museum as I’d seen an advertisement on a bus that they had the famously haunted Robert the doll, which weirdly, they’d been talking about in the episode of That Anime Show that I’d been listening to on the plane. I’d initially been interested in going to see him, but after Googling pictures, I swiftly changed my mind.

We finally thought to hook up one of the iPods in the car rather than listening to the radio, so we listened to my fifties and sixties playlist on the road. Had a several hour drive with a stop-off at some restaurant along the harbour for lunch. Couldn’t quite decide what I wanted, so I just ordered from the starters menu and had chicken tenders with honey mustard and mozzarella sticks. Yummy food, but shame about the server with the really bad attitude – though she did forget to charge us for our drinks – and the weird, cabbagey smelling toilets. Gross. We had a little nose out on the harbour afterwards and saw some beautifully coloured trumpet fish. We then got petrol from next door to the hotel and went back on our way.

Stopped off at a Walgreen’s en route, where I replenished my Red Bull stash – some of which I enjoyed in the car – and I wrote a couple of flash fictions. I8’ve barely done any writing whilst I’ve been here; it’s really not acceptable. Our satnav then had a mad moment when we got into Homestead and kept trying to take us to a Best Western, rather than the Super 8 that we wanted. We hit a seriously huge thunderstorm and had to wait it out in their car park, before sending Dad in to ask for directions. Thankfully, we found our real motel in the end. I do love Super 8s The first thing I did was fill up the fridge, yay.

Milled in the room for a while, did more writing, read, showered and broke out more of the Seagrams. There was an Applebees right in sight of our motel, so we knew exactly where we were going for tea. Me and Mom shared a pitcher of red apple sangria. Lovely, but the size was a lot more stingy than I remember. I then had an eight ounce sirloin steak with garlic mash and new crispy cheddar bacon potatoes. When it all came out, my mash was cold. And I don’t even mean it was lukewarm; it was stone cold. There was no other way to describe it. I hate to be the person to send food back – particularly as I was starving and it means you have to wait longer – but I like my mash to be at least warm. Sent it back, had to wait, then when I got it back, the mash was still cold. I was too hungry to care by this point, so I just ate it. Put a little dampener on the meal, but everything else was still lovely. With a nice peppercorn sauce, it would have been damn perfect. Sadly, steak sauces don’t seem to be much of a thing here.

Back to the room after that. Mom liked the Super 8, so she booked us a second night there in order to give us somewhere nearby to come and go from when we visit the Everglades. That was cool with me. Got more Seagrams on the go and read and watched Psych in between watching some interesting documentary on telly about cyber predators who killed and kidnapped young girls. Morbid, I know, but then when have I ever had normal interests?

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I’ve waited a long time to have these again. Jamaican me happy indeed.

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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.

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!

17/6/14 – Backstreet’s back, alright!

So here I am, doing this whole blogging thing again. I learnt that documenting my last travels was actually good for retaining memories of all the smaller things, so I figured I’d try again. My lazy holidaying life in Crete won’t be anywhere near as exciting as travelling through America, but still more so than my everyday one. So here we are in a new notebook! Seeing as I obliterated my Durarara!! one with my American tales. I feel the cute sleepy puppies on the front of this one are much more symbolic of the laziness of this holiday.

The majority of our travelling was actually rather splendid. Dad dropped us off at the airport and we made a friend on the way whilst stuck in traffic – a guy in a truck in the other lane who was doing some very enthusiastic dancing and getting us to join in. Once we got into duty free we went to visit Amy at Pret á Manger. She gave me a lovely free hot chocolate with had both hazelnut AND caramel in it, mmmm.

From there me and Mel wanted grub so we went to Burger King too. Our flight on the board then changed from boarding to final call whilst I still had half a giant burger, half my hot chocolate and nearly all of my Fanta left. I had to shove the burger in my bag, down the hot chocolate (not something I’d ever recommend downing) and drink as much of my Fanta as I could on the way to the gate. Luckily we were at the one furthest away (who’d have thought I’d ever say luckily for something that involves more walking?)

The flight was a breeze compared to all the ones we did last year – only three hours and forty-five minutes! As we were taking off there was a weird groaning noise, to which Kel was like, “I think we just killed a whale!” Sky whales; who knew? I got excited when the in-flight movie started with the Disney castle but it turned out to be that Mary Poppins one, so I watched This Is The End on my iPod instead. Best film ever. I ate my leftover burger cold, which was odd to say the least, then listened to an episode of That Anime Show. Terri and Tatum never fail me on long journeys. And Apphia had a lot of love for Batman, which made me have even more love for her.

We got our cases pretty smoothly but then had some trouble finding the right coach for our transfer when the rep tried sending us to the wrong one twice. Thankfully the coach driver of the wrong one helped direct us to the right one. The transfer was only about half an hour as we were the second drop-off, woohoo. We got to Nikos Apartments and were taken straight to our room, which seemed to be the reject one in the corner. The room itself was nice enough but we didn’t have a balcony, which was disappointing. Mel went to ask Van (who was very nice to us when we last stayed ten years ago) if there were any other rooms we could move to. There weren’t, but he promised to check again for us on changeover day.

We decided not to unpack properly until Friday in case we did get lucky and to just wing it for now. Though right now we’re finally here and that’s all that matters. Bring it on, Stalis!

 

Kel was a bit mindblown by the lime green walls…

13/11/13 – Home. We’re coming home again

Up earlyish, mostly so that I could have my last waffle for breakfast. We stayed in the room for as long as we could before checking out, since it was then a day to be spent in the lobby because of our crappy flight times. We holed up in a couple of chairs by the vending machines. My taurine addiction started roaring again so I had to settle for a can of Monster. Eh, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Though I’d still only use it as a last resort. It was even colder today so we definitely weren’t brave enough to venture outside. Instead I got comfy with the first That Anime Show Halloween special.

Oh man, how have I not listened to these before? They each consist of collections of ghost stories and encounters told by various voice actors. They’re the real deal too – it’s some freaky stuff! Tatum told a totally creepy one about an abandoned cabin, which really freaked me out. Jamie and Jean-Luc shared a re-telling of Jamie’s mother’s story about her old house. It genuinely made my hair stand on end. And then Tia told this gorgeous tale about her last moment with her grandaddy. It made me really tear up. It was just so sweet and, if anything, I was actually really jealous that she got to have a moment like that. I’m still happy for her though.

We broke for lunch and I had another steak and cheese panini, then had to help Kel with her big-ass pizza. That is officially the last pizza I’m ever going to eat. If anyone suggests pizza to me now they’re going to get punched. We migrated to some new, comfier chairs after and I listened to my next Halloween special. Again, more fantastic stories. Tia spoke about an infamously cursed doll that is now in a museum in Florida, eek! Glad we didn’t go to that one! Josh told his story about breaking into an old church and Terri shared about her real-life horror movie stalker. Terrifying!

By this point it was time to get our shuttle to the airport, if we wanted to be on the safe side, so we did. Had a good four hours there with our flight being delayed. Listened to the last Halloween special I had and watched some Durarara!! The first flight and airport stays passed in a blur of Psych, Spirited Away and not-so-great attempts at sleep. It was light again by the time we got to Denmark, but then dark only a few hours later. Way confusing. Did manage to get some crazy cheap Coco Mademoiselle for only twenty-six quid though! (even if it took me a little while to figure out the crazy Danish conversion). I always seem to find good perfume bargains. Then when everyone was boarding our final flight – and last leg of the journey – I had a hairy builder’s crack shoved in my face. Thanks for that, Denmark.

The last flight felt longer than it actually was – likely because it was the very final trip of our adventure. I did manage to get a huge chunk of writing done though, so I was at least pleased about that. We were met at the airport by Auntie Ann and Sarah, still in part of our scheme of telling Mom and Dad that we were coming home a day later than we actually were (we’d given them fake flight times and everything – because we’re sneaky like that). It was so, so nice to see familiar faces in the flesh again! Kel had a little blub and we all had a goss on the way home, after some silly confusion of not being able to get onto the right floor of the car park (of course we couldn’t end our journey without there still being something).

We left all our baggage in the car when we pulled up at home. Auntie Ann went to go drag Mom and Dad outside with some inane excuse whilst me, Kel and Sar hid behind my car on the drive, ready to jump out. It worked a treat. Mom went from a scared scream to a happy scream. We then had our own surprise as we accused them of replacing our dogs, since one had no teeth and one was three times the size as when we’d left! And of course I was starving by this point, so I broke open some of my old traditional Super Noodles. Ah, home sweet home.

So that’s it. It’s been a whirlwind of two months. We’ve seen some fantastic places, done many amazing things, met both new and old people and finally learnt the damn knack to packing and re-packing. Now my only thought is… where to next?

8/11/13 – This is the story about the day I died (i.e. totally party!)

The first chunk of our day was pretty chilled and non-eventful, but all necessary in leading up to our wonderful and gloriously spazzy evening! Polished off most of our pizza for breakfast and then headed out. The drive to Chico was about two and half hours – cue more That Anime Show. We checked in and then alternated between Skyping Sid and the oldies pretty much all afternoon. We then got ready for the night we’d both been dying for. I got all weird and stupidly shaky over the idea of it and couldn’t even pluck my eyebrows properly. How annoying! We went to Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ for a quick tea and I had a yummy BBQ turkey sandwich.

When we got into the stage I was literally jumping with anticipation (as well as slapping Kel in excitement). When they were introduced on stage my heart was pounding so hard it was ridiculous. I really am an idiotic fangirl – I always get so starstruck. Though let’s face it; I never ever thought I’d ever get to see a Whose Line show live. And boy, was it fucking amazing! We got a fabulous mix of our favourite games – Freeze Tag, New Choice, Song To An Audience Member, Styles, Jeopardy, Whose Line, Moving People, Sound FX, Greatest Hits and Fairytale.

I felt like I didn’t stop laughing – it was easily the best comedy gig I’ve ever been to (and I’ve seen some damn good comedians live too!) Like most comedy gigs, it was difficult to remember all of the best bits afterwards as there were just so many! But we did get to see a Frankenstein Ryan during a Les Mis performance, Jeff sing to an adorable old woman who hated her dog, Pokémon jokes, plenty of lines that made no sense (I’m a doctor, not an escalator!) and a hilarious detective from the audience who totally killed Fairytale. We even got a crazy Jeff name (Alapecia).

And as if that wasn’t awesome enough we then made the very wise decision to wait around outside afterwards… And it totally paid off. Ryan and Greg were out first. We got autographs and pictures with Greg and chatted to him for a little bit. He was real laidback and told us he actually has some tour dates in London in December! I think Sid will be pleased. I then realised that Jeff had then walked outside and started spazzing out (cue slapping Kel some more). We got autographs and I had a mini heart attack when we brushed hands. Yes, yes, I know I’m sad – let me enjoy my moment. Having a million and one pens in my bag totally worked out for this night too. I will never use that Days Inn pen again now that Jeff has used it!

We did have one where he was actually smiling, but we’re girls and we’re vain and we both preferred this one of ourselves.

We had more pictures and Jeff was even nice enough to point out that the photos wouldn’t turn out great with the light behind us, and did a little skippy sidestep to move us round to the other side. Too, too cute! (I’m glad I didn’t trip over my own feet during that move!) He was really friendly and actually knew of Birmingham! He asked us if we were into the ‘footie’ and even mentioned about ELO being from Birmingham. I managed to stay coherent enough to compliment his socks, which prompted him into modelling them for me. He was apparently having a sock-off with Greg so I asked if he’d won, which of course he had tonight.

This is about the point where I floated off up into heaven. Just look at those cheekbones…

We caught Ryan in his car to cheekily steal autographs through the window, but he didn’t seem to mind (especially since we’d already sacrificed our own opportunity to take some woman’s photo whose camera had died). Once we were out of sight we then spazzed all the way home. Our priority was sharing the news with Sid and Emi and I then spent the rest of the night in a dizzy, happy little bubble. Years old dream totally fulfilled! How am I gonna sleep after that one? Oh yes, dreams of Mr. Davis, please.

It was probably just as well that he was sitting down. I already have height issues and he’s ridiculously tall…

5/11/13 – Third time’s a charm

Up, ready and packed early to head down to Monterrey Bay for our whale watching tour. We saw (and heard) harbour seals and sealions in the bay before we’d even gotten on the boat. They were a right noisy lot! As we headed out to sea we saw lots more sealions on some Free Willy style rock dam, and even further out we saw some more who even treated us to some jumping displays! Not long into the ride we came across a large group of Risso’s dolphins. I’ve turned into a bit of a spoilt brat really – dolphins just aren’t quite as exciting anymore! It was freezing out on the morning sea, even though we’d layered up in preparation. Plus the mood was dampened by a couple sat near us, who were throwing up over the rail. Eek!

André x1000!

But it was still all worth it because man, did it then get good! We were directed towards a group of at least five hundred sealions (the guy in charge decided afterwards that it was actually likely closer to a thousand!) It was a totally surreal sight but it was all for a good reason – they feed where the whales feed. Sure enough, we ended up in a position where there were humpback whales feeding and blowing water in every direction you looked. We saw the backs, lots of tails and even a few of the heads!

Real lump-in-the-throat moment!

It was truly incredible to watch, and to top it off the water being sprayed from their blowholes created rainbows in the air! It was the single most beautiful, spectacular sight I’ve ever seen. The whales we saw were apparently between fifteen and eighteen metres, wow! Then a while after we came across a smaller group of five (the first group we saw being a number of thirty) much, much closer to the boat. It really was the icing on the cake. Third time lucky!

We had a very quick (and stingy, I might add) lunch at another Chipotle and then hit the road. Drive was about two and a half hours with traffic. Cue more That Anime Show. Was particularly amused when Tatum shared his theory and method inspiration on Kyouya having unrequited love for Tamaki. Too funny! Felt ridiculously tired during the drive though and heavily regretted leaving my Red Bull in the boot, so I made sure I caught up once we got to our hotel in San Fran. We went to a place called Perry’s for tea and I did my new trick of having soup and potato skins. The tomato bisque was gorgeous, but the potato skins were just too much food, Gaston. Then spent the remainder of the night drinking and watching Big Bang Theory.

Mommy, baby!