Friday, October 31, 2008

Getting into the spirit of things

I carved a pumpkin for the first time tonight. His name is Cleetus and he's a yokel pumpkin with only two teeth. He now has pride of place on the front counter of the hostel. I think the Halloween party tomorrow night is going to be pretty interesting!

Some more characters to share:

Mike, the ex Marine who went to the Philippines, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He was some kind of laser dude who guided missiles into targets. He thinks the current war is an absolute travesty and will be firmly voting for Obama. He now DJs house music at strip clubs...Florida is where the big money is at people!

Suzanne, also from Florida. She's probably in her late 30s but likes to think she's 18. She's from Boca Raton and works in promotions...she was raving on before how she was friends with porn stars and Playboy models and from the interest she was taking in Mike's strip club DJing, I think she's keen to get into the game. Basically she's the most obnoxious person I've ever been in the presence of - loud, annoying and stupid all rolled into one.

I finally realised what crazy old Bob's accent sounds like - Mr Mackay from South Park....mmkay?

Erin and Carly, two Australian sisters who are also in my room. They're not characters in the sense that the others have been, they're actually very sweet girls. But they were so impressed with my packing effort that they've told all their friends back home who've gotten back in touch with them to find out more details! They're each carrying two huge suitcases.

Ah, just another night at the Green Tortoise...

Venturing out

I wandered down to Pier 52 this morning, to catch a ferry over to Bainbridge Island. I didn't know much about Bainbridge Island, it was recommended in a guide book Canadian Colleen had lent me last night (after the lobotomy conversation). I decided a ferry ride and some fresh air was just the thing for me.

Well, if it was the quaintest little town I ever did see! There was a nice little main street, with lovely orange trees lining either side, and nice little stores (cute but pricey) and cafes everywhere. They had a knitting shop, where a group of ladies sat around having a stitch and bitch. I wish I'd had some needles of my own to join in.

After walking both sides of main street, I wandered back to the nice bakery I'd found and settled in with my book, and the biggest piece of apple pie known to man. I really felt I got my money's worth with that one! At the next table were a group of ladies planning some kind of charity event, and there was one younger woman who was obviously new to the group. She kept making suggestions that were immediately shot down, "Oh no, Sarah Jane, it hasn't happened like that in the past, I hardly think that's necessary" and so on. Poor Sarah Jane, I felt sorry for her. The rest of the bakery was filled with yummy mummies and their precociously adorable children. And a very cute barista that made that second cappuccino all the more enjoyable ;-)

I could see the weather was starting to set in (I knew it couldn't go five days without raining in Seattle) and decided to get the next ferry back. It started raining on the walk back, but nothing catastrophic, it just made the walk more atmospheric. I finished my book on the way back, and spotted a sea lion (or was it a seal?) wish a fish in its mouth, frolicking near the shoreline.

Time to find a new book (I'm reading far too quickly - I only started the last book this morning!) and settle in for the afternoon.

A cast of characters

I think someone should make a film about the characters that are at the Green Tortoise hostel. There are apparently people who've lived here for 4 months, I'm not sure who they are, but I guess it's not the worst place in the world to live. Free dinner 3 nights a week, free internet, a huge collection of books and videos, and of course, a never ending supply of fresh people to interact with. Here are just a few of the interesting folk I've come to know over the past 5 days...

Mark from Arkansas, who's been up working on a boat in Alaska for the past few months. He's a bit of cowboy, always traveling with 2 enormous hats, and likes to tell stories that emphasise what a salt of the earth fella he is, like how he didn't eat fast enough when I lady friend took him home to meet her parents in England. Sure, he's a bit rough, but when he noticed I had a cold he immediately pulled out a brand new packet of vitamin C and put 5 individually wrapped lollies on the table for me. He then checked every day how I was feeling.

Then there's Bob, from parts unknown, who's just come back from Australia. "Oh, I love Australia. I want to live the rest of my life in Australia! The people there are so nice, they got no guns there, I never saw no fightin the whole time I was there. Yerp, I love Australia. They did hurt me though, they hurt me real bad..." I asked Bob who'd hurt him. Turns out he overstayed his visa by 4 days and went into the immigration office in Darwin to admit his mistake. Well, they put him in jail for 10 hours, and then transferred him to a detention facility for 10 days, sent 2 guards on a plane to Sydney with him and deported him. He had to pay for the guards' flights and wages, and now owes the Government of Australia $5000. He also thinks that at the ripe old age of 26, I should definitely not be single, and that I should just scoop myself up a husband before I turn into a spinster like his 29 year old, helicopter pilot daughter. Who he also thinks is a lesbian. And a bitch. Ah, he's an old softy!

Mikael and Christian - zee Germans. They like their Rammshtein (a heavy metal band) loud, their joints fat, and I think have pyromaniac aspirations.

Allen, yet another Alaskan fisherman, who invited me to join a game of Spades. A much easier card game than 500, but there was all this talk about 'bags' and how they'd send you back in points, but he couldn't quite explain what a 'bag' was. Well, it was 2pm and he'd been drinking since about 10am...

Andre, I mentioned in my last post. Yesterday, he told me that I'm "as cute as a barbie doll, and honey, where did I learn to dress so sweet?" He did the whole gay "mmm mmm mmmm" thing and thoroughly approved of my cardigan and pink shirt. He's a classical musician, composing a ballet at the moment...I guess it's not going so well if he's cleaning toilets at the Tortoise...

Colleen, a lovely Canadian lady who's in my room. Last night, when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and read myself to sleep, she got right into a story about her children, and grandchildren, and then the photos came out (cute grandkids). And then the story about how her husband had left her 10 years ago for another woman, but at least he waited till she recovered from her partial frontal lobotomy. Lo-bot-o-my. I didn't think they still did that, but apparently they do. She now enjoys tutoring little kids with learning disabilities and told me all about some of her students. I didn't get into bed for over an hour.

There have been other characters that have come and gone, and at 5 days in, I feel like an old timer. It's a nice feeling of community here, but I wouldn't stay 4 months.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Showering is awesome

I was having a chat today with Andre, a lovely gay man who came on the 'dead guy' tour, as he was cleaning the bathrooms in lieu of paying for a bed. He first made mention of how cute I looked today, very Banana Republic and how totally opposite Sophie (my dreadlocked friend) and I are and how it's strange that we get along so well. He then said that it was his simple aim to shower and brush his teeth everyday. To this, I said that I can't function in the morning without a shower to wake me up. He said that I was his inspiration to do the same.

My horoscope in "The Stranger" (the free rag in Seattle) had said the other day, that just like my fellow Leo, Obama, I have a power to influence others (though apparently, Obama has the power to give angels orgasms with a single word). And here it is, proof that horoscopes are undeniably, incontrovertibly true...I am an inspiration!!

And so, in celebration of this, I present to you Chicago's "You're the Inspiration", as performed by my dream man, Ed Stevens.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rockin Rollin Dead Guys

Yesterday I jumped in a van with a strange collection of folks for the 'dead guy' tour, operated by one of the heavily tattooed hostel staff. Our first stop was a really pretty graveyard, home for a little longer of Bruce and Brandon Lee, kung fu masters. I didn't realise that they'd both died so young. But they had a lovely plot overlooking Lake Michigan surrounded by beautiful orange trees. They'll soon be moved to a new home in a kung fu museum.

After stopping on the shores of the Lake to take in a nice view of Mt Rainier (and a very hazy view of Bill Gate's land - definitely couldn't see a house) we walked up hill into a very posh neighbourhood to the house where Kurt Cobain killed himself. There was a park bench in a space next to the house where people leave their messages. Whoever owns the house tore down the garage where it happened because people kept breaking in.

It was then a rather long drive to Renton, where Jimi Hendrix is laid to rest...just next to an asian cemetery. He had a nice little gazebo thingy, with some of his song lyrics inscribed into the marble. We watched the sun go down and headed for home.

This morning I headed with my rasta friend Sophie (who's been living in Byron Bay) to the Experience Music Project - an interactive music museum, where they had a huge section dedicated to Hendrix, with his guitars, notebooks and costumes. There was also the history of the guitar which was interesting to see the changes over the past 80 years or so. Then there was the fun stuff - a place where you could play the drums, guitar, keyboard or rock out some vocals. My sexy husky voice, a result of this damn cold I've picked up, took quite nicely to "Smell Like Teen Spirit" - you can't be a music museum in Seattle and karaoke to Nirvana!

There was also a Sci-Fi museum attached, which had some cool stuff, like the T-800 endoskeleton from Terminator 2, and the only 3D model of the Death Star. But there wasn't anything interactive and with my short attention span, I got sick of it pretty quickly.

Tonight, free dinner!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time for a new book

I just finished reading "Black Mischief" by Evelyn Waugh. It was hilarious...


Set on the fictional African island of Azania, the novel chronicles the efforts of Emperor Seth, assisted by the Englishman Basil Seal, to modernize his kingdom. Profound hilarity ensues from the issuance of homemade currency, the staging of a "Birth Control Gala," the rightful ruler's demise at his own rather long and tiring coronation ceremonies, and a good deal more mischief. From Amazon.com

In preparation for my visit to Seattle, I picked up "Nevermind Nirvana" from a $1 rack. It wass pretty average.



In Mark Lindquist's third novel, we find Peter Tyler at a crossroads. He's traded in his gig as a bassist with a quasi-successful grunge band for a respectable career in law. Instead of flannel he wears suits, and instead of taking the bus he zips around town in a Volvo. Emotionally, however, this paragon of maturity is still a kid: he hangs in the same bars, treats women merely as potential conquests (only now he's dating the little sisters of the strippers and groupies who used to notch his bedpost), and still slips the same old CDs onto his stereo. In the midst of this adolescent purgatory, a date-rape case lands on Peter's desk, and he finds himself prosecuting an old rock-star friend for committing an act he himself may have committed in the past. Time to grow up?

I see your schwartz is as big as mine...

I watched Spaceballs last night - I hadn't seen it in years, but was on the edge of my seat for the following scene. I remember my brother and I thought this was so hilarious, and now it's even funnier because I recognised that it was actually John Hurt (who suffered a similar fate in Alien). Mel Brooks is a genius!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Astral conversations with Toulouse Lautrec

I flew to Seattle yesterday. Armed with instructions on how to get to my hostel, I jumped on the 174 bus as directed and settled in. After about 15 minutes and not seeing a hint of city, I asked a guy sitting near me how far the stop was. He kindly told me that I was on the right bus going in the wrong direction. Whoops - why am I so crap with directions on this trip??

That was soon rectified when we reached a terminal and I sat down to wait for the right bus, right direction to come along. I hopped on, confirming that the bus was indeed going to Seattle, and took a seat in the disabled/elderly sideways facing area as I couldn't fit in a normal seat with my bag. After a couple of stops a very camp looking man got on and sat half on the seat beside me, and half on the one beside that.

"I like your bag," he said to the lady sitting opposite us, holding a bag that had in giant lettering Macy's New York. "Where did you get it?" "Macy's in New York," she replied. He then turned to the man sitting beside her. "Hello, how are you? What are you doing?" The man ignored him. This is when things got interesting. He then turned his body to the front, and leaned back - not quite touching me, but very close. He started talking into the window. I did have my ipod on (as a preventative measure to avoid having to make conversation!) so I couldn't hear every word, but it went something like this...(italics represent him talking to himself, normal text is him talking to someone in particular)

I wish that man would talk to me. Can't you make him stop doing his crossword to talk to me? I really like her bag, but I don't like Macy's, I much prefer X department store, it's much nicer. It's so much nicer. I got this sweater from Nordstrom's though, it's not as nice. My second wife was easy, because we didn't have to get counselling. My youngest daughter is 8. How much do you want for the car? 1500? With a 10% discount? Let me do the sums on that...The answer is 2500 for the car. How's your cross word going? Where did you get your bag from? Why doesn't he want to talk to me? My youngest daughter is 8 years old.

And on and on it went. He was having a lovely conversation with the window - I don't know if he was pretending to be on the phone or not, but it was just weird. There sure are some strange folk in America.

I made it to my hostel and before too long I made friends with a couple of aussies and poms and after fuelling up on the $5.50 teriyaki chicken meal from a little takeout across the street we hit the bars. I piked around midnight with one of the others and was asleep within seconds, dreaming of strange men that talk to windows.

20 points to the person who knows the subject line (without googling!)

This is how I roll

Friday night in San Francisco, the world is your oyster. Or in my case, the world was my funky warehouse rollerskating costume party! I wish I could upload the photos, but this computer just won't have a bar of it. Sylvia had failed to come up with a costume, but when we looked through her suitcase and found a black and white striped top, I had a stroke of genius. With my beret, and gloves and a quick trip to the chemist for some white face paint, she became a very cute mime.

Her friend Alecia rocked up as a drag drag queen (well that's what I call a woman dressing as a man dressing as a woman) and we made our way to an industrial neighbourhood, to a warehouse that had been transformed into the "Black Rock Roller Disco". It was only a small skating space and as time went on, more and more outrageous costumes crowded the floor. The DJ, dressed at Don King, played a great mix of roller songs, and came down to the floor to lead us in the electric slide.

It was one of those events that you see photos of in the local rag and wonder how people ever find out about these things. Well my friends, it's by scouring the local rag for something to do on the weekend!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Struggling for an original subject for Alcatraz

"Escape from Alcatraz" was just way too obvious! I caught an old fashioned cable car down to the bay this morning, and hiked to Pier 33 to get my boat over to Alcatraz. It was really cool - I got one of those dorky audio tour guides (hey, it was included in the ticket price) and it was narrated by old guards and prisoners. There were some very cool stories about escape attempts and life in the prison in general. And the weather was gorgeous! People keep telling me that this is completely unseasonable weather (hot and sunny) and today was a perfect day for a boat ride and a meander around the island.

I caught the cable car back (so much fun hanging off the side), grabbed my stuff out of the hostel locker and moved to another hostel with Slyvia, as the place we'd been staying at didn't have any vacancies tonight. I've seen about 6 people at the new place who were from the other place already. It's a much cooler hostel, unfortunately located in the Tenderloins district, but a good place for my last night in town.

Tonight, Sylvia and I are headed to a costumed rollerskating party, which is part of the documentary festival that's going on. I saw the ad in the local free paper, and have been excited about it all week. The bumblebee is coming out again! I will take lots of pictures, but who knows when I'll be able to upload them.

Tomorrow, I fly out...

Catch me if you can!

And yes, 10 points officially go to Steve for his le tigre-esque victory.

Friday, October 24, 2008

If you're going, to San...Fran...Cisco

Just quickly, I had a super duper day today. Walked across the Golden Gate bridge and with my ipod blaring and the a nice breeze blowing me along I thought to myself, "Carly, you're pretty awesome. Look at you, strutting across the bridge, on holidays by yourself. No wonder you're such good company, you're awesome". Yeah, I had a bit of a self esteem epitome on the bridge. The emergency crisis counselling phones tell me that a some people have the opposite feeling...

I then headed down to Golden Gate park, which is nowhere near the bridge, and enjoyed strolling through the botanical gardens, playing with the squirrels (they were mighty friendly) and just relaxing. I walked then to Haigue Ashbury, the old beatnik district. It's still full of plenty of interesting characters and shops. I picked up an old book for $1 - Evelyn Waugh's "Black Mischief" - I figured I'd give him another go after thoroughly not enjoying "Brideshead Revisted" (though loved the BBC miniseries...)

Found a cool cafe, picked up a beer and sat for a while, watching the weirdos go past and loving the book. I came home to try to upload photos (with very limited success - check out my photo site) and was absolutely delighted when Sylvia picked up a dinner of beer and chips! Awesome.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Strollin' in San Fran

I made my way up to one of the other HI hostels at Fisherman's Wharf this morning to join a walking tour. After my individual efforts yesterday, I figured going around with a guide would be a nice way to see the sights. And there were so many! We walked for about 4 hours, up and down numerous hills, and walked down Lombard Street - the curvy one that you always see photos of. Yes, I've got photos, and no, I still haven't been able to upload any of them yet. It's going to be a marathon effort when I finally get to a computer where I can access the USB port!

We walked up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, and then down again - I honestly don't know how people move into these houses, you can't access them by road, only stairs. I wouldn't want to be a piano player here.

I can't describe all the places we went, because there were so many, but they did include walking past the first club to ever have a topless AND bottomless stripper, a fortune cookie factory, an alley in Chinatown where they used to auction off young girls for prostitution or slavery (legally), the church which Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio took their wedding photos in front of (they weren't allowed to get married there because they'd both been divorced) and the cable car museum which Dad would enjoy. I'm saving the cable car ride for when I have to go back uphill to Fisherman's Wharf to get to Alcatraz.

But now, it's time to take rest!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Freakonomics

I went to the lecture that I mentioned in my previous post. Edward Miguel was a surprisingly young economics academic, who has co-authored a book called "Economic Gangsters" which sounds like rollicking good fun...well, if I pass it on the street and it's on sale, I will probably pick it up and buy it. If only I'd had a copy tonight, I could've got him to sign it (seriously, there was a queue afterwards...)

He had some interesting things to say about development, corruption and violence, but the lecture had been billed as a forum for him to present his solution to all these problems. And frankly, his solution, though very sound, rational, and logical, has not been tested and probably won't happen. What he's suggesting, as a tool to prevent conflict in times of economic crisis, (e.g. a drought = poor harvest = no money = increased crime and violence) is what he and his colleague have termed "rapid conflict prevention support". That means, using data or information to predict when there's going to be an economic crisis and funneling in money beforehand to ease the pain and prevent the violence.

It's really good in theory. But I know that it's very hard (and this is for NGOs here) to get funding from governments for preventative programs. Disaster mitigation is now becoming better funded, but that's only because of the spate of disasters the world experienced from the tsunami onwards. It's not sexy until disaster strikes. And this is where I think the academic side of things has failed Prof Miguel. He didn't have a good answer when I asked about how he'd managed to gather support for his method (which I asked to see if there was any way NGOs could learn from him), because he hasn't gotten any yet. He did say that he thought the tool was probably better suited to bigger players like the World Bank or IMF, so that got him off the hook with me.

He really did have some interesting case studies, from the correlation between corruption and UN diplomats with unpaid parking tickets, to the increase in witch killings in Tanzania during droughts, and he was a pretty entertaining speaker. And I'm glad I decided to be a little bit intellectual. I also learned that it's these types of events where the good looking, educated men hang out - a fact I happily passed on to my new friend Sylvia!

Who are you tryin' to get crazy with, ese? Don't you know I'm loco?

I decided to wander the downtown streets of San Francisco this morning, get a feel for the place. I spent last night chatting with my dorm-mate Sylvia, who's from L.A. originally but has just moved to San Fran for a new job and is waiting for an apartment. Anyways, she'd told me about the different neighbourhoods and how there's a great hostel nearby (I need a room for Friday night) but it's in a dodgy 'hood, called, get this, the Tenderloins.

Anyway, quicker than I expected, I found myself being accosted by crazy people, men blowing me kisses, asking me very inappropriate questions, and just lots of crazy people talking to themselves. I discreetly checked my map, and yup, I was in Tenderloins! One of the first things I noticed when I got to San Fran were the homeless men on literally every street corner. So I got out of there quick smart and otherwise enjoyed wandering up and down (literally) different streets, enjoying the sun. The streets are steep beyond imagine!

Come the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a movie, and went and saw "W." I seriously misunderestimated Josh Brolin. Now, the last thing I remember seeing him in was the Goonies, so perhaps my expectations were pretty low, but he was brilliant. His George Dubya was superb. A lot of the other personifications weren't as good (Condi, Rummy) but his was spot on. It was long, but good. Of course, I laughed a lot more than anyone else in the theatre, but I'm guessing if they were Republicans, they wouldn't have been there in the first place.

Tonight, I'm engaging in an even greater intellectual pursuit. I'm going to a lecture by some economics professor on poverty and corruption...experiencing the Bangladesh context first hand has given me some insight into this, so I'll be interested to hear what he has to say. Hopefully it's not too economic-y.

Another 10 points up for grab with the subject...Rowan, come on down!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Keep your eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel

I left the Motel 6 this morning, put the top down on the 'stang and kept heading north. I don't remember how far I'd driven when I saw the sign for "elephant seal vista". 'Pfffft', I thought, 'as if there would be any elephants OR seals'! Just kidding, but I really didn't think there'd be any seals. There were lots of cars parked, so I pulled in, looked over the railing, and sure enough, there were seals!! Big ones too! Then I looked a bit further down the beach, and there were hundreds of them. It was hard to tell if they were alive, but every so often, one would give a contended sigh and roll over. Pretty cool. There were also heaps of squirrels running around, which people were feeding. I clicked my tongue at one, and he headed right for me. I didn't have anything to give him, but he kept coming after me. A squirrel chasing Carly!

Other animals I saw today included the biggest eagle I've ever seen, the biggest bull I've ever seen (who had the best prime real estate ever - a nice grassy hill overlooking the ocean!) and a teeny tiny hummingbird, who flew off backwards before I could get my camera out.

I can't begin to describe how wonderful today was. It was a little chilly, I had the heater going on my hands and my jacket on, but the sun came out around 11. I had my new friends DJ Spinbad and Richard Cheese to accompany me (on CD) and whenever I got the chance to go from 0 to 65, I'd let out a whoop of joy - boy could that baby go!! And funnily enough, there were more than a few opportunities to do that - there were traffic lights every so often on the highway. I counted about 7 seconds, but what with it being an automatic, and me not quite flooring it, I reckon the Stig could get it to 60 in about 5 seconds.

The thing is, the mustang gives off a certain impression - it looks a bit mean, and that it needs to go really really fast. But in reality, I was more than happy to set the cruise control for the speed limit, sit back and enjoy the ride. But the people in front of me kept pulling over to let me pass. I like having someone in front of me, so I can see what's coming up. If they're behind me, I get anxious that they'll get annoyed at me for going the speed limit!!

Anyway, the Californian coastline is really beautiful, and I loved going from yellow sand and blue ocean to autumnal pine forests. I took it really easy and ended up getting into San Francisco around 4pm. I thought I'd find my hostel first and then go for more of a cruise around town, but just getting there was so stressful!! Too many one way streets (I had to do an illegal left turn to get to my street...but I only realised it was illegal after I'd already committed to it!) and trams everywhere. Thankfully, there was a Hertz drop off point on the same street, so I pulled in there and sorted everything else, and only had to walk 2 blocks (downhill thankfully) to my hostel.

So that brings us up to speed. If I can figure out how to plug my camera in, I'll try to upload some photos, because I've got some good ones. I've got 5 days here, I'm looking forward to exploring!!

Mustang Carly, guess you'd better...

I woke to a warm, but hazy morning in Hollywood, before my alarm, as I was excited about my road trip. I checked out of the lovely Renaissance hotel and went to the car rental desk. After about 15 minutes cruising down Sunset Blvd in my rent-a-bomb, a car came out of nowhere on my right, side swiped me and knocked off my side mirror! Luckily it was still hanging on by a wire or two.

Ok, ok. That's not entirely true. Replace "rent-a-bomb" with "2009 red Ford Mustang convertible" and "a car side swiped me" to "I hit my side mirror on a parked car's mirror" and you'll have the true story. Big whoops! I know I'm going to cop a lot of crap for this one (particularly after I received an email from a friend telling me to be careful even though I'm a safe driver!), but please take into consideration that it was the first time I'd ever driven on the wrong side (the right) of the road!

Of course, hands shaking, I drove back to the hotel, very glad I'd paid the $15 for insurance, and the man was really cool about it. Unfortunately the other Mustang they had, had been reserved by someone else, but he did have a Chrysler Seabring. He brought it up the front, only to tell me that the top didn't go down. Now, while I did get myself into this predicament, I sure as hell didn't fork out for a convertible with a faulty roof! The car did, however, have GPS that could locate other Hertz offices nearby, so I plugged in the nearest and took off.

I got one block away from it, and the road was closed due to a charity walk. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get to it. So I tried another one. Closed! I was getting a little bit frustrated at this point, and though 'to hell with it, I'm just going to cruise along Venice Beach and find one after that'.

As I got close to Venice Beach (as close as I could get without paying $15 for parking!) I decided to try again...CLOSED!! Grrrr, arrrgh. I noticed that the next closest was at the Venice Marriott, and figured that since my hotel had a desk that had been open on a Sunday, they would too. Thankfully it was, and they had a mustang. Unfortunately it was white, but hey, beggars can't be choosers!! But back to having no GPS.

Not to worry, I found my way to the Pacific Coast Hwy and started to relax, with the wind in my freshly dyed hair (it's a bit too dark actually), that was safely ensconced under my hat, and lots of sunscreen too. The music was up, the cruise control was on, and I loved every second.

Eventually, I got to a place called Oxnard, maybe 80 miles north, when suddenly Highway 1 disappeared and I didn't know if I should go on the 101 as it wasn't labelled on my map. I found a visitor's centre and the extremely lovely ladies there assured me that the 101 was the way to go, recommended a town to stop in and two alternate routes to get to my final destination. I put the top up for this highway and watched the miles fly by. 144 miles later I pulled into a Motel 6 in San Luis Obispo and felt the relief wash over me as I managed to park between two cars without bumping, scraping, scratching or denting either.

It's a terrible feeling to go back to those first few times you drive a car, and don't know how big it is, or where the wheels are. Reminds me of a girl who went to my university whose parents bought her a BMW Z3 roadster for her 21st birthday (she'd gotten a boob job for her 18th!). Her boyfriend took her out to teach her how to drive it and as they were pulling back into her place, he told her to put the accelerator on lightly to go into the garage. Well, she slammed her foot on it and went right through the back. Yep, that's how blond I felt every time I had to drive in built up areas!! But hey, it's an adventure right!

Another 250+ miles to go, catch me if you can!

And yes, go on, leave your scathing, sarcastic, ridiculing responses in the comments! I can take it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream?

We all got into LA yesterday afternoon (even though I was on a different flight, on quite possibly the smallest plane ever invented!) and had the most amazing sushi for dinner. Really, really incredible.

Anyways, today's we've done a bit of walking around Sunset and Hollywood Blvd and took some touristy photos of stars and footprints...I found my man!!





Both Matt and George had much bigger footprints than I could fit my awesome new orange striped Adidas into, but Gene Kelly had itty bitty feet.

And then we found the ooga chucking David Hasslehoff!!



Did you know that the below man has counted to infinity twice, and CAN divide by zero?



And you'll have to take my word for it, but this is Vardy doing the funky chicken on Kevin Bacon



Good times, good times!

The crazy three fly out tonight to go back home and to work (*snicker*) whereas I'm jumping in a hire car and driving out of Hollywood tomorrow morning. I decided to pay a little bit more to fulfill a long standing dream of driving along the Californian coastline in a convertible, and unfortunately, the only convertible the Hertz man has available is a MUSTANG!! Oh yeah!!

Where am I going tomorrow? I don't know myself, I've got a map and I'll see where I end up.

Catch me if you can!

10 points if you know what movie the subject is from...

Some stupid things Americans have said...

Julie asked if anything the menu at Casear's Palace was gluten free. The waiter said no, but went to double check with the chef anyway. He came back and told us how he'd just learnt all about kosher food, and how it has to be blessed, and unfortunately the chef couldn't do that for Julie. Yes, gluten free = kosher! Julie is now Jewish!!

I was stopped for (another) additional security check at Las Vegas airport. The guy looked at my i.d and saw that I was from Australia. Another guy approached, having heard Australia, and said "that's just beside Texas isn't it?" He was serious.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Viva las Vegas

There's an old adage that says, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" - and I'm going to abide by that...mostly because I'm ridiculously hungover and can't be bothered writing any details.

Last night, we got very glammed up (ok, I didn't actually wear my new reflective aviators out at night!)



and went to the Palms Casino, home of the Playboy nightclub, which Adam had VIP passes to. Up on the 52nd floor, the view over Vegas was pretty spectacular, and it was pretty lush inside too. There was an adorable old woman (seriously, she had a walking stick) dancing the funky chicken or something to RnB music...classic. There was a wall with plaques for VIP members, George, Brad and Matt were all there, guess they must've rocked up there after the heist at the Bellagio in Ocean's 11!!

Vardy and Adam piked at about 2ish, Julie and I were keen to carry on Margueritaville, but unfortnately, and unbelievably, it was shut!! At 2am on a Wednesday night...what's up with that?!



We eventually settled at one of the bars in the place we're staying and made some new friends...we were playing up our Aussie-ness for laughs, and laugh we did, all the way till 5:30am. We weren't laughing when the fire alarm went off around 11...

There have been some very fun times in Vegas:

Eating a Caesar salad at Caesar's Palace (it was more of a trough of salad actually)



Purchasing a halloween costume and wearing it in public (for reasons that will stay in Vegas)



And just generally having an awesome time with Julz, Vardy and SLB.

We fly out tomorrow, catch me if you can!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Road Trippin

I don't remember exactly what time we set out on our road trip, it wasn't unreasonably early, but there was definitely a need for a large cup of coffee to wake up. Our first stop was just outside of El Paso, to walk right up to the fence at the Mexican border. We hung around for a few minutes, taking a few pics (but no good ones on my camera sorry) and expecting border patrol to hoon up any second. We did spot a car parked some distance away, but they let us do our thing and carry on.

And carry on we did, into New Mexico. After stopping in at the Visitor's Centre, and grabbing a map (we did have GPS) we spotted the town of Truth or Consequences - a town that my friend Julie had mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago. Seriously, the name of the town is Truth or Consequences. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a hole, but we did get a breakfast taco and kept on going.



It took us quite a while, on the I40 to realise that we were actually on Route 66!! We'd kept seeing exit signs saying "Historic Route 66", but after a few hundred miles, we figured out that the I40 and Route 66 were the same thing. I did a road trip on Route 66!!



We definitely got our kicks on Route 66!



The hours went on and on, and then, we did a left at Alburquerque! Just like Bugs Bunny always said he should have. And then more hours went on and on, in a straight line. The GPS would say, in 500km, turn left. Yep, it was pretty boring, and Adam did the whole drive by himself. The scenery was pretty spectacular throughout New Mexico, but once we got into Arizona, the moutain range disappeared and it was basically just desert. The sunset was pretty cool though.




On and on we drove, and were very excited when we came across the Hoover Dam - it was all lit up (construction going at after 9pm) and I wish we could've stopped, but we were so close to our final destination...

VEGAS BABY!!! The lights were incredible, but what was perhaps more incredible, was the look on Vardy's face when we pulled into The Bellagio...total luxury. We were settling in, when Adam realised he'd left his credit card in the car, so off he went to find it. Eventually, there was a knock on the door, and as Vardy went to open it, there was a squeal...Julie was at the door. The final surprise (perhaps?) it was great to see her.

The view from the 26th floor is pretty spectacular, overlooking the fountain that has a show every 20 minutes or so....luxury, for one night anyway!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A night on the town in El Paso

After hiding behind a small partition in the hotel room, waiting for Vardy and SLB to arrive (having been tipped off by my main man Sam at reception) I jumped out and she was happily surprised to see me. After farting around for a little while, we went for a cruise through down town, which looked much seedier in the evening with all the shops closed up.

On the way into town, we'd spotted the Texas Roadhouse and decided that it was the perfect place for us to eat.



We entered to find peanut shells on the floor - my kind of place obviously!! After perusing the menu, we decided on a plate of appetizers to sample a few different things - including deep friend jalepenos...I gave them a miss. I thought I'd ordered ribs for the main, but turns out, it was one giant juicy steak.
I also decided that I wanted a beer - again, I thought I was just going to end up with a bottle of Bud, but instead....



When the waitress, Marian (a lovely girl who was a big fan of the Hillsong Church) took SLB's order, and he chose a side of sweet potato, she asked if he'd like it "loaded"? We were all a bit confused by this, but it turns out that you could "load" your sweet potato with caramel and marshmallows!! SERIOUSLY!!! Well, it had to be tried, and it was actually pretty delicious - like a desert pie or something. That's it at the top of the photo below...




We ate as much as we could (and I did make sure to drink all the beer), but it was just an absolutely insane meal. We managed to share a massive piece of apple pie for dessert between the three of us!



I think I got enough iron from that one steak than I did in an entire year in Bangladesh!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A few Bengali moments...in Mexico

It's been an eventful few hours. After calling the Sun Metro information line, and speaking to a very unfriendly man, I hiked about 2km up the road to a bus stop where a bus was guaranteed to stop. Again, I waited. In all my life, I have never been as tempted to hitchhike as I have been the past couple of days, but when a man in a huge ute pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride, I was very quick to say no thank-you! I made it to the connecting terminal and sat down to wait. I was soon joined by a young Mexican guy who introduced himself as Isaac. He handed me a piece of paper and it was a poem he'd written. I'll have to transcribe it for you later. He was asking if I was travelling with my husband - the first of many Bengali moments to come.

Anyway, I got into town and headed down to the bridge to cross into Mexico. The cars were backed up trying to get into the States, not so much the other way. I paid my 25 cents to cross over, and wandered into Mexico...and I immediately felt like I was back in Bangladesh. Perhaps it was the stench of stale urine in the gutters.

"Hello lady, taxi?" came from every street corner, but all I heard was: "Apa, rickshaw lagbe?" I kept walking, "hi, how are you?" from every second man on the street. Very Bengali. And I felt very white, and that I was drawing extra attention to myself for being so white...though the sun was taking good care of that. I actually did go into a pharmacy to buy some sunscreen - they wanted US$30 for 60ml. I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous.

I wandered around for quite a while, took in the Guadeloupe Mission Church, and as it was a Sunday there was a service on, so I didn't go inside. I kept walking through market after market, not tempted to buy anything, and actually feeling quite unsafe. Even though it was the middle of the day, there was just something about the place that didn't sit well with me.

From Juarez, Mexico (Oct 2008)

I decided it was time for a cold drink and some real Mexican food, so I stopped at this little place on the side of the road for a burrito. Manuel, the owner and cook, and I had an extremely awkward conversation in Spanish. He was very sweet though, after I'd finally given in and said "lo siento, mi espanol is muy mal" (I'm sorry, my Spanish is very bad) he switched to broken English, and we had a nice conversation about the food in Australia, kangaroos (do they live in the big cities?) and my travels in general.

From Juarez, Mexico (Oct 2008)

After regaining my bearings, I headed back over the bridge, this time paying 30 cents, and was a bit freaked out by a guy who seemed to be following me. Now, of course, if he were crossing the bridge, he would be obviously following me, but he'd stop and wait for me to catch up and leer at me. I'd stop to look in my bag, or take a photo, and he'd notice this and stop again. Eventually I powered past him and put some distance between us, only to find that there was now a queue on the bridge to get through American border control. But at least there were a few people between us.

From Juarez, Mexico (Oct 2008)

The dude at border control was much nicer than the guy in Dallas, (and better looking too) and then the security guy who scanned my bag asked me where I was from and said I had a cute accent. Now, that's customer service!!

And now, I wait. Vardy and SLB will be arriving around 5pm to the hotel, where I'll be hiding, waiting to jump out and surprise the crap out of her. I did consider buying a grotesque Halloween mask to really freak her out, but couldn't be bothered.

Tomorrow, ROAD TRIP!!! But where to??

Catch me if you can!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This cracked me up

Ok, perhaps not the most normal thing to find hilarious, but I just saw this ad on tv and laughed and laughed. At first I thought it was a spoof, as I was watching the Comedy Channel at the time, but no, it's real.



Tehehe, the most advanced thing you will ever pee on!

Stupid head

I was all set today to go to Juarez, Mexico. Although I missed the first bus I'd intended to catch, I wandered down to the bus stop and didn't have too long to wait. Of course, the bus driver told me not to catch that bus, as I'd have to go through the whole route to get to the connection terminal, and if I just wandered up the hill in the other direction and get the same bus from there, it'd be much easier.

I'd just seen that bus drive by minutes before. Bugger. Anyway, I thought I figured out when the next one would be (El Paso Sun Metro has the most confusing timetable I've ever seen!), so I headed back to the hotel to catch the end of "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" to then walk back again.

Off I went again, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. It was at this time that I felt the inklings of a migraine coming on. My stupid head just decided that it was the perfect time to really improve my day.

So instead of wandering around Mexico, I was laid up in bed for the rest of the day. At least at some point it rained, which made me feel a bit better, but what a waste of perfectly good wandering time. Grrrrrrr!

Just have to try again tomorrow...after I check the Sun Metro website and see if that's any easier!

The reason behind this crazy trip

Below is the text of an email I received from Sneaky Little Bastard a couple of days ago, he's kindly allowed me to post it here. This is why the whole insane trip was organised in the first place...


The top of Rockefeller in NYC is REALLY high, & has these bigass glass panels all around the top on the observation deck. I’m not a fan of heights at the best of times, & when we got to the top, I was like 'Urrrgh!!!'. After about 10 mins, I managed to compose myself & started to become 'OK' with being close(ish) to the edge. Its dusk & the city lights are just starting to come on. I was standing on the southern corner facing Cherie with the Empire State, Time Square & the sunset directly behind me. I had the ring on my little finger in my pocket, & pulled my hand up to adjust my hat. The look on her face was priceless. Over the next 0.25 seconds, she leaped forward & jumped up on me before I even got to open my mouth. This pushed me back towards the edge, I automatically think I’m about to fall backwards off 69 stories, start to have a heart attack, & 'Bang' my back hard into the glass with Cherie launching into my chest!! Once I realise that I’m not actually dead, we both burst out laughing, I ask her to marry me, she starts to cry, & says "Yes".



Congrats!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I like big butts and I cannot lie...

Australia is apparently highly ranked on the fattest countries in the world list - I assume America is ranked higher. First thoughts on El Pasoans is that they definitely claim a high spot on the list...I don't say this in a derogatory way - in fact, it's something that is obviously celebrated around here. While Australia is home to the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple and the Big Prawn, El Paso boasts the Big Butt:

From U.S of A

And even the shop dummies have more 'junk in the trunk'.
But anyway, enough about butts. After waiting 45 minutes this morning for a bus that never showed up, and then taking rest for a little while, I got into a cab and ventured into downtown El Paso. Not quite as quaint as I was expecting, it's a city home to one million people, it still has a certain charm to it. I headed for the visitor's centre and picked up the walking tour map. I soon got bored of that, and just meandered around the streets.

An Aztec Calendar (well, a replicate)
The first cowboy hat I spotted, I love the expression on his face...
The O.T. Bassett Tower, which was built by Charles Bassett in honour of his father, who was one of the founders of the State National Bank.

It was a beautiful sunny day (note to self, buy sunscreen) and my legs, which haven't seen the light of day in over a year, very much enjoyed the sunshine. After a few hours I figured I'd seen enough for one day, and headed back to the visitor's centre to find out about the buses. The guy was mystified as to why I was staying on the other side of town, and had to call the bus company to figure out the best route for me. But in the end, the two buses I needed were both waiting for me when I rocked up and it was all very easy (and cheap).
Tomorrow, I'm crossing the border!

Friday, October 10, 2008

More adventures in air travel

What an eventful 24 hours! Sarah and I went out with a British friend of hers for a lovely meal in Paris last night, I was too full from delicious ravioli and the biggest hunk of veal I've ever seen to even consider desert, which was a shame because they looked amazing!

Anyways, I got myself back out to Charles de Gaulle airport this morning, and had just made it to the front of the check-in line when a combination of cops and army dudes started blowing whistles and screaming at people to get outside. There was an unattended bag, so they needed to evacuate everyone in case it was a bomb. So I stood outside the airport for a good 45 minutes, getting progressively colder, before we were finally let back in.

After a very boring flight (no personal entertainment system on American Airlines...what the?) which was only about 10 hours but felt like a lifetime, I landed at Dallas Fort Worth airport. Got through the first hurdle of fingerprinting and eye scans, laughing politely at the dude's joke about me being an anomaly for not carrying Vegemite with me (though he raises a good point...) and then headed for the customs queue. Not having to wait for baggage sped this process up substantially.

But the customs dude directed me to proceed not out through the exit door, but around into another room. I was then grilled by another dude about where I was staying, why was I going there, what did I know about the place, why did I only have one bag, what was this envelope for, etc etc. Eventually I got out of there, and by the time I caught the shuttle around to my terminal and walked to the gate, I only had to wait a few minutes.

I boarded my connecting flight and sat next to a lovely man from Michigan, who was going to visit his son for the first time since he'd moved away. He'd just hit retirement and didn't know what to do with himself and figured now was as good a time as any to pay a visit.

A visit to where? Well, El Paso Texas. Yep, I'm going to be here for a few days on my own, before I'm joined by Vardy and SLB (she doesn't know I'm here of course!) and really have little clue about how I'm going to fill the time. I will definitely be making a jaunt across to Juarez, south of the border down Mexico way! And I've heard there's a zoo...

At 6pm, there's a warm breeze blowing and I'm thinking I'm lucky I bought some t-shirts and skirts in Paris!!

Catch me if you can!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This is me in Gaye Pari

dog

A few pics from Paris

I'm sitting in my friend Sarah's Parisian apartment...there was a bit of a mix up...after rushing around this morning, (feeling the after effects of a few too many glasses of sangria with Sarah last night) Vardy and I cabbed it out to the airport. I had been concerned about how I was going to lose her, so she wouldn't find out where I was actually heading to, but it turned out we were due to check in at different ends of the terminal. I got out of the car first, we said out goodbyes and in I went. I looked up at the departure board and didn't see my flight on there. I got out my itinerary and checked. Yep, Thursday 9 October. I was confused. I was pretty sure it was only Wednesday but couldn't be sure (it is the sign of a good holiday when you forget what day it is!). I pulled out my great new ipod and checked the calendar on it. Whoops!! I was 26 hours early for my flight!!

I wandered on down to Vardy's terminal and we had a coffee and laughed over how stupid I was. Thank goodness I'd caught up with Sarah and knew I could stay at her house tonight, otherwise I would've been out on the streets!! So, I dragged myself back into town on the train, and sat in a cafe for a couple of hours reading, which is something I'd wanted to do. And now, I'm sitting in Sarah's fantastic apartment, with light streaming through the windows, enjoying fast, untimed, uninterrupted internet. So here are a few photos for you to enjoy - I've uploaded more to my photo site.

From Paris (Oct 2008)

There's something special about bright blue doors. Perhaps it was the movie "Notting Hill" that inspired my love affair, and this one was a fantastic specimen!

From Paris (Oct 2008)

We've seen more than a few beggars on the streets so far, and in Florence we saw a guy sitting on the footpath, with a massive dog in his lap. But I didn't stop to give him any money. This man in Paris however, had the cutest little puppy. I couldn't really understand why he had bought himself another mouth to feed, but I suppose it was to get suckers like me to give more money. He was a sweet old man though, he let me play with the pup for quite a while. We later passed another man who had two cocker spaniels, one which was very young. Both dogs were extremely affectionate, and it broke my heart a little to think of them having to sleep out in the cold.

From Paris (Oct 2008)

I was watching a travel show on tele recently, which followed a young Parisian woman about for a day. She chose to get around Paris on the bikes provided by the French Government to encourage people to use them instead of cars. I'd been really wanting to give them a go, but Vardy and I couldn't seem to figure it out, and weren't really keen on riding around in the crazy French traffic. But last night with Sarah (perhaps the Sangria triggered the part of my brain that figures out how to put money into a machine), we gave it a go. She'd never tried it, even after living here for a few months. While she was nervous and wobbly, I loved the feel of the wind against my face at 1am. We only rode a short distance, which was good, as (a) I didn't like not wearing a helmet and (b) I didn't wake up saddle sore!!

From Paris (Oct 2008)

I saw the reflection of an old building in a swanky new glass one as we came out of the metro stop near the Eiffel Tower, and thought it made an interesting picture.

From Paris (Oct 2008)

And speaking of Le Eiffel Tour, here's one of Vards and I looking very cute in our berets!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A big jump across the pond

We're heading back out to Charles de Gaulle airport now. Vardy thinks I'm heading to Croatia, but I'm not...

Catch me if you can

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Photos

I wish I could upload some of my photos, but most internet connections are too slow. I have put some up at my photo site and for those of you who are friends with me on facebook, there are some there too.

Hopefully I can get some more up soon!

What Mona was smirking about

I feel bad about this blog. I haven't been able to give the time and dedication that I want to. Which means I've glossed over a lot of the incredible experiences we've had so far. Florence truly was a beautiful city, and the city loved Vardy. Well, the men loved Vardy, one in particular called Giuseppe - a waiter at La Grotto di Leo, a fantastic cafe we found where the wine was cheaper than coffee (that's my kind of country!!) Oh, he was so taken by her, it was hilarious...considering he was an overweight middle-aged man! Gold.

You may have noticed my use of the word "was" in the above paragraph. That's because we're no longer in Florence. We're in Paris. Yep, SLB surprised Vardy with another stop on her adventure...this one I pretended to know nothing about. We arrived yesterday afternoon and headed out for a stroll. We ended up at the Notre Dame cathedral, and what with it being a Sunday, there was a mass on inside. The atmosphere was really astounding; the organ, the singing. It was beautiful. For dinner, we found an incredible creperie and I swear I ate the most amazing chocolate cake ever created.

A side note: I don't always choose the chocolate. After eating dessert in a restaurant in Noosa once, where I ordered the chocolate and my companion ordered the panna cotta, only to be stuck down with a severe case of food envy, I've learnt to try different things. (Meanwhile, had fantastic panna cotta in Florence!) But I went for the chocolate last night, and it was the most moist, decadent end to complement the buckwheat crepe with chicken and tomato. Oh!! Exciting news, I've been eating tomato...just in small doses, but not only NOT throwing up, but quite enjoying it.

Ok, back to Paris. We caught the metro this morning to the Clignancourt Markets, which were supposed to be the largest flea market in Europe, but were actually pretty crap. From there we walked all the way down through Pigalle (where we didn't even think to look for the Moulin Rouge - will remedy that tomorrow) down to the Louvre. Yes, the secret of Mona Lisa's smile is that she knew where to get good shoes that wouldn't cause major blisters and back pain. She, and the Venus de Milo were pretty bloody cool to see.

From the Louvre, we walked up the Champs Elysees, stopping along the way to enjoy a marvellous piece of raspberry tart and a capuccino (which, disgustingly cost 7 euros!) to finally reach the Arc de Triumph in no triumphant state. We got the metro home, too buggered to go to the Eiffel Tower...got to save something for tomorrow...

Oh, and while the men in Florence loved Vardy, the men in Paris love me...and I love them too! Though the men in the richer parts of town are definitely cuter. Perhaps it's my new beret...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Went to see a man about a fig leaf

Alas, poor David was all out of fig leaves and had to make do standing on a pedastal completely starkers. But he was a magnificent speciman, great buns!!

Yep, we've come to Firenze - Florence for those of you who don't speak Italian. A post-it note was found on the mirror in our hotel room in Rome, with something written in Italian, along with a gold envelope. Vards took the note down to reception, who told her it said "you've seen enough here, grab your girl and get to Florence!" After a last minute realisation that our train was actually leaving in 20 minutes and not 2 hours, we boarded the eurostar and had a very pleasant journey, which wasn't nearly long enough to enjoy it properly.

Florence is beautiful, stunning, amazing. The food we've consumed has been delightful, and just strolling through tiny cobblestoned lanes has been so relaxing. Both Vardy and I are all set to move here, but according to our accommodation slip, we've only got one more night here...where to next?

There is no word in the English language to describe the wonderousness of Florence, but in Italian, they say "fantastico!"

Catch me if you can!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

When in Rome...

...eat a lot of gelati. When walking at the same time as eating gelati, the calories in one gelati are immediately negated. If walking uphill while eating gelati, you consume negative calories. This is what Vardy and I have discovered in the past 2 days.

I picked her up at the airport at 7:30am yesterday, presenting her with a red envelope from SLB, which informed her that I would be her knowledgable guide in Roma. She was very excited to see me, but not particularly surprised...I think she might be on to us...nah!

We walked and walked yesterday, taking in the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and numeous other sights in that vicinity. A very excited Carly went back to Cafe Sant Eustachio, where I had previously had the best coffee of my life, but was disappointed with my un gran caffe this time around. Not to worry, there was plenty of other coffee, bruschetta and gelati to make up for it.

Today, I took Vardy to the Collesseum, the Circus Maximus and we walked, again, all day. It's now 8pm and we haven't stopped since 9am....except to marvel at the wonders of Rome. It's really nice to have someone to share all this with, as last time I was on my own.

Anyways, I was going to upload some fabulous photos from my fantastic new camera, but the internet dude wants to charge me an extra 1 euro to plug in my camera, on top of the 0.75 euro I'm paying for 15 minutes!! So you'll have to wait until my next location to hear more stories and see some photos (I've been getting artistic and everthing!)

I get the feeling another red envelope will be making an appearance, and Vardy will be finding out where she'll be going next, which means you will too...

catch me if you can...