Aaand I’m off!

Well, it’s always bittersweet when I reach the end of my travels. I’ve loved almost every minute of my time away, and I’m leaving behind so much more to see, even in the cities I’ve visited this time. However, I am also very weary after more than three weeks of moving around. I’ve walked a ton, climbed what felt like millions of steps, and I’ve been battling this cold for almost 10 days now.

I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone at home and cuddling my cats. I also can’t wait to sleep in my own bed, and shower in my own tub!

Luckily I managed to get one last cupcake for the road…

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Birthday Continued…

After Bea’s, we headed back to Wapping for lunch and to get my backpack, as I’m staying at a hostel tonight. Then I went and got my nails painted at a place called Mudpak near St. Paul’s. The girl did such a great job! It’s so simple but so pleasant to have someone else do your nails for you. Plus, they match my red lipstick now!

I went and checked into the hostel. The Generator was the first hostel I ever stayed at back in London in 2003. It’s recently been renovated, and is actually quite nice now! Looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight (hopefully).

At the Generator, Courtney and I met up with Kathleen for coffee! It has been a long time since I’ve seen her now that she lives here, so it was nice to catch up. I can’t believe how many people were at TNT inventory, and I’m so sad I missed it for the first time since I was 16!

Courtney and I headed off to Chettinad for dinner. I may have ordered something a little too spicy for me, but I did manage to finish it…

We hurried off to Book of Mormon but ended up having to watch the first song on the monitor in the lobby (arrived at 19:31). Not a big deal, and we had great seats on the main floor! Thanks, mama, for the Christmas gift! Really enjoyed it – super funny!

After that we had Häagen Dazs ice cream until we felt ill… So delicious but so rich!

I’m now back at the hostel, charged my phone and am trying to keep up with the wonderful birthday messages. Gonna head to bed and hopefully get a somewhat early start in the morning!

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Happy birthday to me!

30! Oh my god, no more 20’s! I have a feeling it will be a good decade though, full of lots of happiness and good changes.

So far, I’ve managed to get some breakfast (quite the feat as breakfast has suffered lately!) and eat a cupcake! Yay!

We will now seek out a nail salon so I can have pretty red nails to match my pretty red lipstick!

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London Town

Back in London today! Pretty uneventful flight (a bit turbulent) and train trip into the city. Met up with one of my Aussie friends for a bit before sending him off to the Arsenal game. Holy football fans! There were hoards of them in one of the stations. They were a little disconcerting to me – needed police guidance!

After that, I hurried to Covent Garden for War Horse. What a show. Second time, and love it even more now. I’d love to be in it. It’s amazing how easily you can become emotionally attached to the horses when they aren’t even real. A few tears may have been shed… Unfortunately, I ended up having trouble staying awake in the second act, and slept through the finale :(.

On the way up the stairs at the theatre I tripped and landed hard on my bad wrist. Ouch. Don’t think I did any real damage, but it sure is sore now. May have hurt my knee a bit as well. At least the ceiling didn’t collapse!

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What beautiful weather we’re having

50km/hour wind gusts and a decent amount of rain. Awesome. There were a couple times we thought we were going to blow away like Mary Poppins, even without a brolly.

Luckily, we were aware that it was supposed to rain today and tried to get our walking around done yesterday.

Yesterday we bought Celtic mood rings. I’ve pretty much been in a romantic, happy, loving, and passionate mood since then!

Edinburgh is the place where umbrellas come to die. I counted at least 9 dead umbrellas just on a portion of the Royal Mile!

Went on an underground Edinburgh tour. Learned that at one point, there were 200 brothels on the Royal Mile!Also went to a pub that has been called the most haunted in Scotland! Nothing creepy happened while we were there, though.

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Blaaaah from Edinburgh

Still so sick. Hoping I don’t make Courtney sick too. Now have cough suppressant and sinus meds along with my Riiiiicola. I’d better feel better when I wake tomorrow! I have pretty much no voice now, only whispers.

Courtney and I walked along the Royal Mile today. Didn’t go into the castle as it’s not cheap, but took some photos. We were reeeeally tempted to get photos taken in traditional Scottish garments but held back. It’s very pretty here, and the people are ridiculously nice!

We are going to do a walking tour tomorrow of the Edinburgh underground!!! So excited!

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Au revoir Paris. Until next time…

I’ve never found it easy to leave Paris. This city definitely owns some of my heart!

Last night I made the mistake of thinking I should go out to find some New Years action. Ugh, so sick still. Have almost no voice. Pretty sure I’ll be getting a cough in the next day or two, but for now my chest is just super tight. I took a series of metros (it helps to decide where you’re going ahead of time…) and ended up at the Hôtel de Ville. There is a skating rink there, although by that time everything was shut down. I then wandered down to Notre Dame. It’s really nice being able to see the city in the dark – when I’ve been here before it’s always been in late spring or summer, and the sun doesn’t set until late. Notre Dame was all lit up and there was a Christmas tree out front, and a folk-type band playing.

I eventually made my way back to Montmartre. The funicular was free (along with the metro from 5pm Dec31 until noon today), which was good because I don’t think my lungs could have taken les escaliers de Montmartre at that time! I reached the top right at the stroke of midnight, and wow, what a party! The lawns and streets and sidewalks were absolutely packed with people! It was so much more crowded than it was when I was here for Bastille Day in 2005. Actually, I think Paris was busier with tourists this time than in any of my other visits. Took me a while to make my way through the crowd, but I managed to get back to the hotel and crash.

Today most things are closed because of the holiday. I rented a vélib (public bicycle rental), which was fun until I couldn’t find a vélib station that was open to return it! Finally did, but it was a bit stressful for a while!

EasyJet is so silly and anal about things. I have a tiny backpack (I could easily fit three of this backpack, fully filled, under the seat in front of me), and a tiny purse. They are super strict about ONE CARRY ON ONLY, so they make me put my tiny purse inside the backpack for boarding. The moment I get on the plane I take the purse out and everything is just fine!!! Imagine that!

I’ve now arrived in Edinburgh. Flight was early, quick coach into the city, and didn’t take me long to find the hotel. Courtney had already checked in, and was watching Gnomeo and Juliet when I arrived. We were both hungry and just ended up going to Garfunkel’s for dinner, as it was nearby and easy.

Not sure yet what the plan is for tomorrow, but I think were gonna need to hit a Boots as early as possible. I needs to try and get my voice back!

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Le Ballet – now!

Today was such a nice day, despite some rain.

Started off by moving out of the creepy hostel! Yay! My little hotel room is lovely.

Went to Sacré Coeur and got to hear nuns singing. I maaay have snuck a video. I also lit a candle for my friend Dylan, who has been on my mind constantly today. Not religious, but it seemed like the best thing to do.

After taking a couple photos in Amélie-land, I wandered to the Moulin Rouge and took a metro to the Arc de Triumph. Walked down the INCREDIBLY BUSY Champs Élysées to a Christmas market that is still up at the Place de la Concorde, then went back to the hotel to freshen up.

Oh! And I got a great lipstick. Makes me feel amazing!!!

Tonight I went to the ballet, le Parc, at the Opéra Garnier!!! Talk about realizing a life-long dream to watch something there! It was set to music by Mozart. I was a bit disappointed as I though it was going to be classical ballet, but it ended up being more of a modern piece. Oh well. The cheap seats are INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. So cramped that my knees hit the seat and person in front of me and I kept feeling the feet of the person behind me digging into my back. It was still amazing!

Caught a very scornful look at my bare knees from a Muslim woman in a hijab on the metro tonight. Meh.

Now I’m awake as my phone randomly rang in the middle of the night. Didn’t answer it. Telemarketers likely.

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Paris, je t’aime!

I don’t think I will ever tire of Paris. It is so romantic to this hopeless romantic. ❤️ I am determined to come to Paris one day with my significant other on a romantic getaway (not that coming with my mum, sister and girlfriends isn’t fun, but, you know!). I am also determined to come to Paris one day and wear heels like the French women!!!

What is not so romantic is the horrible motion sickness I felt on the train. I almost never get motion sickness. The only time I remember having it previously was one day in Gros Morne, Newfoundland (we drove 3000 km on that trip but the only time that bothered me was about an hour’s drive to locate ice cream). It was strange then, and it is strange now. I don’t know why it chooses random times to bother me. I basically had to keep my eyes shut for most of the journey. Not fun.

The ticket guy in the train was really funny. He was talking to some Brits – one had a youth ticket but is about to turn 26. The ticket guy was talking about how horrible it is when you no longer qualify for the youth pricing, and said when he turned 26 he drank scotch alone hahaha.

SO arriving in Paris, I call the owner of the apartment I rented on Airbnb to let him know I was here. I had a bad feeling already – I had emailed him to confirm last week, then again yesterday, but received no reply. When I called him (at $2/minute) he said there was a problem with the flat, that there was water everywhere, that he couldn’t get someone to fix it today and didn’t know when it would be ready. He tried to get me to take the metro to his friend’s flat, ‘very close by’, and I could stay there. Like I was going to go with someone I don’t know to an unknown location and accept the place, sight unseen. I expressed my frustration that he didn’t bother to let me know, even by email, though it apparently happened hours before I called. I’ve emailed him twice tonight to see if it would be ready for the next two nights, but he didn’t reply. Asshole. I have written to Airbnb to let them know I can’t access the apartment. I will be demanding a full refund.

Mum has been awesome and looked online for me for a new place to stay. Tomorrow I will be at a nice-looking hotel nearby, but tonight I am in a very dodgy hostel. The staff are all men and they are creepy. It’s not very clean. The wifi only works in the lobby so there are people all over the place on smartphones. The guy next to me is trying to work out a job opportunity by phone. Shitty.

However I’m happy to now be in Paris, where things are reasonably priced (never thought I’d utter those words!). Had a lovely chicken baguette for dinner, followed by a chocolat chaud.

Tomorrow night I go to the ballet!

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