Back on the Wagon

Okay, since I’m apparently terrible at writing about my trip to Europe, I’m just going to start writing about random stuff again. I’m currently in Washington, DC. I’ve been here since January 13th. It’s been a fun time of seeing friends and enjoying some inaugural festivities.

Also, I’ve discovered the neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant. It’s awesome! If I move back to DC I’ll for sure try to live here.

I still plan to write about my European adventures at some point, but in the meantime you can look at this nifty map of my travels in 2008. As you can see I did a pretty good job of following my plan.

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Paris, France

10/16/2008 – 10/21/2008

On our first day in Paris, Becks and I walked around, had coffees, and enjoyed chilling out. I also began trying to remember French.

Friday morning, Christina arrived bright and early. Also, I had my first casualty of the trip, forgetting my watch in our first hostel room when we changed rooms. Oh well, it lasted one day at least :). We headed out to meet Christina’s friend Sarah, and together stumbled upon something rare in France, a great breakfast (petit dejeuner). After a couple of hours of eating and chatting, we parted ways. The rest of the day was spent walking around and helping Christina stay awake. We met some more of her friends for dinner and called it a relatively early night.

Saturday morning we ventured out with plans to see the Louvre. First, stops to pick up bread and cheese, then a breakfast in front of the pigeons outside of the Louvre entrance. Next, a lot of art. The “big three” had been moved around since my last visit, but we managed to find all of them. The Louvre is huge–one visit is nowhere near enough. As a side note, this conversation between me and Christina was repeated about a hundred times during the weekend:

Me: Hey Christina, what’s the french word for XXX?
Christina: It’s YYY.
Me: Thanks! I’ll stop bothering you sometime soon, but I have all these words on the tip of my tongue and I know that you know them so I ask. Sorry.

After the Louvre we wandered around all afternoon & evening, eventually making our way to the Eiffel Tower for some pictures. We tried to make trip up but I had to make a phone call to the states (Air India had cancelled my flight home, which was awesome) so we hung out at a phone booth instead.

Versailles, the palace of Louis XIV, is a fun visit. That’s what we did Sunday. Also, we went to Refuge des Fondus, an incredibly popular tiny restaurant that serves fondue and wine in baby bottles. We ate a lot of cheese and got mildly drunk. šŸ™‚

After a full weekend (most of which I’ve managed to not write about) Christina left early Monday morning. Becks’ flight wasn’t until the afternoon so we hung out for a while playing cribbage, eating, and drinking. After I walked her to the train station I went back to the hostel and met a few of my fellow guests, notably a talkative pair of Canadians from Calgary, Dylan and Dylan. As I was heading out to get food I ran into a friendly German girl who lives in England named Katarina. We ended up eating together and hanging out on Montmartre with a bottle of wine. Fun times.

I woke up in the middle of the night to catch a bus out to Beauvais, the cheapo airport.

Reading: maps.
Departure: Coach to Beauvais, 13ā‚¬; Ryanair, Beauvais to Stockholm Skavsta, 1ā‚¬, plus 10ā‚¬ in silly fees (not being an EU citizen, not having a UK or Irish credit card); coach to Stockholm, 110 SEK (about 11ā‚¬).
How Many Places Iā€™m Behind on My Blog: I have no idea!
Photos:

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New York, New York

10/14/2008 – 10/15/2008

Lee Lee Beauty & Hair Salon, New York

We had a good Thai dinner with a couple of Becks’ friends, but mostly my time was spent concentrating on getting better. I was back close to normal Wednesday morning, so Becks and I went out in search of a haircut. A place in Chinatown, Lee Lee’s, had been recommended at dinner because it came with a head and back massage and a shampoo and was still only $17. A map was drawn on a small piece of white paper. We found the place. I got the haircut deal, while Becks just got a massage, shampoo, and style. It was great.

After some doing we made our way to Newark Airport, sandwiches in hand, and caught our flight.

Departure: New Jersey Transport to Newark, $15; Air India, Newark to Charles de Gaulle, $690 roundtrip; train from CDG to Paris, 10ā‚¬.
How Many Places I’m Behind on My Blog: 3!

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Toronto, Ontario

10/7/2008 – 10/14/2008

CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

I left Portland at midnight, and didn’t arrive in Toronto until 7 PM the next day. Quite a bit of that time was spent sitting around — in JFK and Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The Megabus, which has an awesome name, and also only costs $9, proved the saying true that “you get what you pay for” — it was more than an hour late. While on the bus I managed to finish the excellent book I was reading, Bomb the Suburbs, and also watch an entertainingly angry new yorker on the bus yell about how shitty the service was for about 20 minutes after we got on.

In Toronto, Chip walked over from his apartment to the bus station. Conveniently, it’s across the street. If you know Toronto at all, you’ll know that this means Chip lives in a really great location. The University of Toronto is a 10 minute walk away and the main downtown area is even closer. Cool! We ate some Filipino food and then watched Transformers and drank beer.

University of Toronto, Ontario

Since I left DC I haven’t really been able to throw a frisbee around, but we did it almost every day in Toronto! Wednesday was the beginning of that, when Chip and I went for a tram ride down the expo grounds and tossed the disc in a little bit of rain. Despite the weather we managed to have a good time and I got to see quite a bit of the city as we wandered around. That evening was the first of another activity that happened throughout the week: watching Planet Earth dvds. This show is pretty cool, and we watched quite a few episodes.

Cousins, Toronto, Canada

Thursday had a slow start, followed by lunch at Chip’s brother Anton’s work, The Village Idiot Pub. More disc, then more wandering, and finally in the evening we made several trips to the airport, first to pick up Chip’s second cousin Joselle, then again to fetch our DC buddy Gabe. We proceeded to meet another friend of Chip and Gabe’s for a few beers in a weird arcade/bar (but not, notably, a barcade). Moosehead! (Picture of Joselle and Chip about 30 minutes after she arrived.)

Gabe and I went to a sort-of college reunion of his while Chip and Joselle picked Becks up at the airport. After dropping off J’s stuff at the house, those three eventually joined us at the bar. It was great to catch up!

On Saturday, we walked around some more: our destination, the Steam Whistle brewery tour. While waiting for the tour to start we tossed the disc around some more. The tour was pretty good, topped off by Chip trying to convince the guide that the Philippines is farther away (from Toronto) than Australia is. Not true, but he made a valiant effort. That evening we went to Anton’s house for a Canadian Thanksgiving party. Pretty much it was a regular house party with a whole thanksgiving spread of food on the side table. Nice! Canadian Thanksgiving was actually on Sunday night, but they bumped it up a day for the sake of the party.

Sunday, we went to Niagara Falls, which was really cool. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Falls/Rainbow, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Heeeeey, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Tightrope, Sort Of, Niagara Falls, Ontario

We concluded our visit to Niagara with a delicious family-style fried chicken meal. Chip was delighted. As were the rest of us really, but no one’s love of chicken can compare to Chip’s. šŸ™‚ Just jokes, buddy!

Monday we made a ferry trip to Toronto Island, which was very nice. In the evening we ate way too much sushi. Then I got sick, not from the sushi. I spent a feverish and sleepless night before getting up early Tuesday to catch the bus to New York with Becks. Despite the sickness the last day, it was really a wonderful visit to a great Canadian city.

Reading: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Bomb the Suburbs.
Departure: Megabus, Toronto to NYC, $60.
How Many Places I’m Behind on My Blog: 4, again.

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Oregon, Again

Eugene, Oregon
9/29/2008 – 10/4/2008

I spent a few days in Eugene, mostly chilling out and seeing friends. Nothing too exciting happened during most of the time, but I got to see Jake and Steph a bunch which was cool. Also I discovered that Kristen has been playing World of Warcraft obsessively for more than a year. She showed me how it works and we played together a bit. Fun times, that. Traditionally, I’m the nerdier one. Haha.

On Saturday, Jimbo came down to DJ a party. He stopped at my mom’s house and we watched the Oregon game and ate pizza. We went to the party and ended up staying up most of the night. A couple hours of terrible sleep later, and we were driving up to Portland in his pop’s car. Good music, though.

This was the last time I’ll be in Eugene until Christmas Eve, if my flights work out right.

Portland, Oregon
10/4/2008 – 10/6/2008

The early drive to Portland was mostly my idea — I wanted to meet Gentiana for lunch. This was especially important because I hadn’t seen her in several years. It was really great to catch up, and to finally meet the “gentleman friend” as she calls him. After lunch we visited Voodoo Donuts and had a beer and played skeeball. Skeeball!! I’m not very good, but because of that book it’s pretty much my favorite arcadey game.

I spent the night at Nathan’s on the basement couch, then I woke up and played a lot of Grand Theft Auto on his giant TV. Dinner and drinks at Jimbo and Carl’s house before Carl generously drove me to the airport for my midnight flight. Also, I won a game of cribbage against Jim.

Reading: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Into Thin Air.
Departure: Jet Blue, Portland to Buffalo via NYC, $160; Megabus, Buffalo to Toronto, $9.
How Many Places I’m Behind on My Blog: 4. Yuck.

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Seattle, Washington

9/27/2008 – 9/29/2008

I arrived in Seattle at 10 o’clock Saturday night. Long story short I had a super fun night where I hung out with like 14 girls (Jess’ ultimate team plus friends) at a dance night called Cherry. Best name ever, right?

The rest of the weekend involved eating, sightseeing, running, and meeting Jess for lunch at this awesome restaurant that raises money for homeless people and gives them jobs and training in the service industry. I forget the name of it. šŸ™ That’s what happens when you don’t write about your trip until three weeks later.

I also finally managed to meet up with my friends Sarah and Sarah for dinner and lots of long-time-no-see catchup conversation. They are both in grad school at the University of Washington, though in different programs, and are both super busy. And still fun to hang out with for sure.

Reading: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Departure: Amtrak Cascades, Seattle to Eugene, Oregon, 1000 Amtrak Points.

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Tidbits in Current Events

  • After spending approximately 5 hours on the phone with Cheaptickets.com and Air India, I managed to repair my return flight to the USA. Yay.
  • I am in Sweden.
  • This poster is in the house I’m staying in. I like it.

The Advantages, Stockholm, Sweden

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Maple Ridge & Vancouver, British Columbia

9/25/2008 – 9/27/2008

I arrived at Langley Greyhound station and wandered around a little bit before figuring out which local bus I needed to take to get to Fort Langley. A short ride later and I got off at what I thought was the right place. I walked a few blocks and eventually found the ferry to take me across the Fraser River, where Ryan managed to come pick me up in his quickly-breaking car. Whew, I made it.

I got to spend some more time with Ryan and the whole family on this visit. Jill was actually around this time which was really nice, and I spent more time with everybody than I did last time. I love these guys! Fraser, Lynn, Ryan, Jill, Emily and Olivia. I even got to say hi to Melodie on the phone. We: went to a concert in Vancouver, played rock band, tossed a frisbee (w/Olivia), went for a run (w/Ryan), learned how to play Buck Euchre (w/Jill & Ryan) and even regular Euchre (w/Jill, Ryan & Lynn). Super fun. I once again got a ride to the skytrain from Ryan and off I went to Vancouver to meet Sebastien and Hope at a friend’s party.

I had some trouble finding the place and actually startled the host from the street about half an hour before I actually met her, but Seb eventually saw me walking around looking lost and scared the crap out of me on the street. Much silliness concluded the evening and a good portion of Saturday morning was spent recovering from Friday night. I did meet some neat Irish fellows who had just moved to Vancouver and were full of funny and interesting stories. They had actually met the host when they purchased her couch through craigslist and she had invited them to the party. Awesome!

We went for a wonderful walk around Stanley Park on Saturday morning and I saw some more things that reminded me of childhood memories. The mini-train! The Aquarium! Then we ate hot dogs which is always one of my favorite things to do. Finally, we rented a zipcar and went shopping at MEC before dropping me at the train station shortly before my train left for Seattle.

Departure: Amtrak Cascades to Seattle, $30.

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Western Canada, Somewhat Briefly

I’ve fallen so far behind that I’m going to start combining things. This blogging-while-traveling thing is harder than I expected. I’ll try to do better. Also, I have pictures that I meant to post with this but they are left behind on my computer in Eugene, Oregon so I’ll have to add them later. Sorry.

Regina, Saskatchewan
9/14/2008 – 9/18/2008

I ran, ate, played card games with my family, visited my great aunt in the hospital, and generally relaxed for a few days here. Highlights included a long run around lots of Regina, including Lake Wascana, and a nice walk the next day with my great aunt Donna and her dog, Fyre, around part of the same lake. We visited the Saskatchewan Parliament, too, though I didn’t do the tour.

Calgary, Alberta
9/18/2008 – 9/22/2008

Cousins – that was the theme of this visit. But before that, we arrived at my Aunt Kathy’s house to be startled by the jackrabbit living in the front yard. Apparently this is a common thing in Calgary: there are rabbits everywhere. Weird. Anyways, that first night we just ordered pizza and talked the night away. I did a lot of listening, but one highlight was when Kathy made us all make lists of things we wanted to do. It turns out mine involves lots of high altitude stuff. I didn’t really realize that until I wrote it down. Also, I am actually going to get a motorcycle eventually.

On Friday, I went for a nice run in Fish Creek Park. I asked directions to the park from a woman who was going way farther than me and way faster than me. Cool. I’m curious if maybe she is a professional athlete of some sort. Not that anybody who goes farther and faster than me is pro, not at all, but she gave me a vibe that running was pretty serious to her. Hmm. After the run I got a ride over to my cousin Danielle and her husband Scott’s house. I got to meet my second cousin, Cade, who is only a year old and very cute. It was great to catch up with Danielle and to really meet Scott. I had met him at the wedding a couple of years ago but only for a minute. It was nice to hang out. Stacie (known as Jo) showed up after a bit and we had burgers for dinner and then played guitar hero. Stace and I tried to go to a movie that night but I read the schedule wrong and we ended up at a closed-for-the-night cinema. So we drove back home and watched a movie on our own. Fun times.

We actually saw the movie the next day, Burn After Reading. My first reaction was that it was strange and pointless but still entertaining, but I think as time has passed it has grown on me. I liked it. I’d like to see it again. Then we met Jo’s friend Claudio for very Canadian 5-pin bowling and together they gave me a bit of a tour of the city. We got fancy coffees and walked along the river. Fun times. Eventually, after several stops at pet stores in search of hedgehog food (hedgehogs have special food?), they dropped me off at my other cousin Tara’s house. We got dinner and talked a lot and then she took me to her work, at the airport, where she flies planes, and I got to look slightly psychotic while posing in the cockpit of her plane. Fun times. A beer and more chatting before I headed back to Kathy’s house for the night.

Bright and early we were back on the road, headed through beautiful Banff National Park and all the way back to Kamloops.

Kamloops & Lac Le Jeune, British Columbia
9/23/2008 – 9/25/2008

My last two days with my grandparents were spent doing more of the same: running, eating, playing games, reading, and talking, but the addition of fishing. In our first (of three) trips out on the lake I managed to catch a nice trout that we ate for dinner the next night, but we came back in empty-handed and cold on the other trips. Nevertheless, fishing is fun and it’s very relaxing to spend time on the lake. Thursday at noon I was on a bus headed to Vancouver.

Reading: The Balkans – finally finished it; A Storm of Swords; Ender’s Game – an old favorite that I found my grandpa using to raise his computer monitor up, I took it.
Departure: Greyhound Bus from Kamloops to Vancouver, British Columbia, $43.05 CAD.

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Road Trip Canada, Days 5-9

9/11/2008 – 9/15/2008

Olds – Regina – Kenosee Lake – Oxbow – Kenosee Lake – Regina

Family II, Regina, Saskatchewan

Another day of driving–Tim Hortons stops included!–and we arrived in Regina at my Aunt Donna’s house. After dinner and a sunset run we sat down to a game of Shanghai Rummy. (We play a version similar to, but still distinctly different from, the ones mentioned here.)

Friday morning we went to the hospital to visit my great aunt (sort of) who is very sick, then after lunch drove down to Kenosee Lake, where my great uncle Bob lives. The lake is in Moose Mountain Provincial Park and is a pretty nice place to live. A tasty dinner of ribs at the golf course across the road and then it was off to bed for everybody.

IMG_0270

I woke up early the next morning to run before we headed out to Oxbow for my great grandmother’s graveside service. At the cemetery we encountered the worst weather of the trip–windy, rainy and cold– but the tea afterwards had quite a good turn out and was nice. I was the youngest person in the group of 30 or so people by approximately 40 years, which was a bit strange. IMG_0278We then drove back to Kenosee so we could watch the Saskatchewan Rough Riders vs. BC Lions Canadian Football League game upon which I bet and won some money!

On the 15th we drove back up to Regina, where we would be until Thursday.

Reading: The Balkans; A Storm of Swords.

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