Posts Tagged ‘humorous travel blog’

The Fine Art of Cat Relocation

Monday, November 9th, 2009

I had a brief impulse to get all cutesy on you and call this “The Fine Art of ReloCATion” but I hate a pun as much as the next guy. More.

Me on the flight from Seattle to Miami after about three hours of sleep...the first night like that of many.

Me on the flight from Seattle to Miami after about three hours of sleep...the first night like that of many.

Apologies for my lengthy absence. In a practical sense, internet connections have been non-existent. In addition, traveling with three people, three cats, and nine pieces of luggage was, to put it simply, painful.

To put it less simply:

I wrote that blog for you Friday, and it was pretty much pure chaos from there on out. Stress was running high, and my friends expressed theirs during a lengthy and protracted bickering match that lasted about three days.

Oh joy.

At any rate, allow me to cover the highlights of pulling off such a feat, should you ever feel so stupid.

On Horseshoe Bay beach. I was kind of proud of this artsy shot.

On Horseshoe Bay beach. I was kind of proud of this artsy shot.

Step one: Clown car experience.

1.  Grossly overload a rented Toyota Camry.

2.  Realize there is no room in said rental car for the third wheel you’ve included in your nightmare (me).

3.  Overreact and come up with a weak plan to call a cab 15 minutes after you originally planned to be at the airport, thereby guaranteeing extraordinary amounts of stress for all parties.

4.  Decide instead to load third wheel vertically into the front seat, where she will lie in a precarious and painful position – wedged between the drivers seat and passenger side door and astride another person in a manner she has not even come close to attempting since she was 13 years old – for 45 minutes.

Me at Jobson Cove - a spot the locals used to use to raid ships that crashed in the surround reef (so said the homeless guy bathing there.)

Me at Jobson Cove - a spot the locals used to use to raid ships that crashed in the surround reef (so said the homeless guy bathing there.)

5.  Pray to whatever you believe in that lying in this manner doesn’t dislocate a disc or damage your back or send you (me) through a windshield or whatever.

6.  Arrive at airport in one piece. Hallelujah!

Step two: Security meltdown

1.  Take three fancy Persian cats through airport security

2.  Refuse to kowtow to the tried and true.

3.  When asked to remove a cat from its carrier and carry it through the scanner, become hysterical that that cat will scratch, kick, bite, break free, and live its life begging at the Anthony’s Seaport Grill.

Horseshoe Bay - bad weather rolling in

Horseshoe Bay - bad weather rolling in

4.  Flirt with imprisonment. Get irritated and use words such as “harassment” and “abuse of power” during TSA employee deep dive on bags.

5.  Lose shoes and start wandering around security area sorrowfully looking for them.

6.  Watch as four men escort you a private room for further bag investigation and a thorough excavation of the cat carriers. Ask if the cats will be receiving a cavity exam, and feel stupid when no one realizes that’s meant as a joke or laughs.

7.  Race to gate, realizing you have no food or water for the six-hour flight to Miami.

8.  Discover cat has peed on self in crate

9.  One hour into flight, notice harrowing smell and realize another member of the feline trio has crapped on itself.

10. Take offending cat to the restroom for a sponge bath.

Why would you buy eggs in a jar? Shipped from Portugal?

Why would you buy eggs in a jar? Shipped from Portugal?

Step three: Travel waaaay out of your way for dinner

1.  See above note about bickering

2.  Hang out in your room at the airport hotel with the cats until approximately 11:40pm

3.  After a knock at your door, greet your anxious (and hungry) third party member, and join her for a quick meal at the hotel bar at 11:45pm

4.  Learn that hotel bar is no longer serving food, and throw a conniption fit.

5.  If you are one of the two female members of the group, have a drink. If you are me, have a gin martini straight up with four olives (quite possibly the only solid substance you’re going to get tonight) and pray it goes to your head immediately.

6.  If you are the non-female member of the troupe, go and ask the concierge about places to eat, and completely lose your shit when you are told everything is closed. Storm out of the building – on foot – in search of an iHop. An iHop nobody has claimed exists.

If they hadn't cost $7.00 (USD + Bermudian are interchangeable. They even give you change in American money if you ask) I probably would have bought these out of curiosity. And because I like pickled eggs. Usually.

If they hadn't cost $7.00 (USD + Bermudian are interchangeable. They even give you change in American money if you ask) I probably would have bought these out of curiosity. And because I like pickled eggs. Usually.

7.  Talk to taxi drivers and return to your comrades at the bar. Explain to them that you just learned there’s a restaurant a few minutes away called “South Beach.” Convince everyone to join you for a quick meal.

8.  Pile into back seat of taxi and ride…and ride…and ride…and cross bridges…and ride…and go to another continent…and ride…all with the growing realization that you are not going to South Beach, the restaurant, but South Beach (and you are in no way, shape, or form dressed to take on South Beach)

9.  Eat a pretty good meal (all things considered), discover a new way to make vodka lemonades (add mint!!!, and get back at 3am, all the while wondering how this day got so damned long.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

More tomorrow on day two of the journey to get here (and hopefully wifi for my own computer so I can upload some photos to augment your reading pleasure).

p.s.

Justice was served. Blueberry neither peed nor pooped himself. In the end, the bad cat was the good one!

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There’s a fine line

Friday, June 12th, 2009

 

I’m staying with my friend in DC, and I walked over to the National Zoo – a few blocks from her home – today.

 

En route, no less than five men screamed at me from their car windows (varying versions of ‘Hey baby’ or ‘How YOU doin’?), while another seven or eight did so from the sidewalk. Sometimes I would quietly say, “Hey,” back, but mostly I pretended to be deaf.

It’s a funny thing about unwanted attention: there’s a fine line between flattery and harassment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as capricious as the next woman. Sometimes I go for a six or seven mile run and not one car honks at me and absolutely no one behaves inappropriately and – let’s me frank here – it’s a little bit discouraging. Am I losing it? Is it something I ate?

 

Chinese restaurant. I love the Peking Peeps.

Chinese restaurant. I love the Peking Peeps.

On the other hand, when I stop into a grocery store for two minutes in order to quickly procure a cake for my friend’s birthday (ultimately settling on an Entenmann’s cheese coffee cake when it they don’t have much of a bakery section. Coffee cake is still cake. It has the word ‘cake’ in it, thus making it cake, albeit not a traditional birthday cake) and hear an unfamiliar booming voice announce, “I love white girls. I’m going to take care of you tonight. I love you, White Girl,” I wish I had lost some of it. 

 

The same man recommended I look some stuff up on the internet (the names of which I promptly forgot, but by and large suspect was porn) and return the next day to the Safeway in order to be ‘taken care of”, and I considered pretending I didn’t speak English. In the end, I was able to wriggle free without too much trouble and – glancing behind me to make sure I wasn’t being followed – I headed back through the maze of leering and commenting strangers to the apartment.

 

Tee hee.

Tee hee.

 

 

Unrelated – or maybe it is related? – it is so humid out here, and my hair has gone absolutely nuts. It’s like a frizzy cross between Howard Stern and a Standard Poodle, and it makes me crazy. I invest a lot of time, energy, and money into fighting my naturally curly hair and seeing it break free of my efforts and shake its groove thing is neither desired nor appreciated (nor attractive).  On the other hand, perhaps this is somehow related to my sudden popularity on the streets of Washington D.C.? Lecherous men love frizzy curly hair?

(Note to self: Possible PhD candidacy thesis idea…)

 

The grand prize winner. As it should be. Super cool.

The grand prize winner. As it should be. Super cool.

 

 

In closing, it turns out that every year the Washington Post holds a Peeps diorama contest, and you can see the finalists and winners at Artomatic. If somehow you’ve been living or a cave, or a country that doesn’t celebrate Easter, or a country that doesn’t celebrate Easter with the consumption of gross quantities of packaged sugar products, Peeps are marshmallow candies in the shape of little ducks (or sometimes rabbits and other stuff) and covered with colored sugar. In other words, complete junk.

Anyway, as  part of the annual contest, people arrange the peeps in varying dioramas (kind of like a project you’d do in elementary school) and the best ones – as previously mentioned, the best as judged by the Washington Post – win. Having examined the offerings in this year’s collection I was impressed, but I also struck upon a common trend – come up with a clever idea, execute it enough to be recognizable, and you’ll probably win.

Since I do not live in D.C. and will probably not be participating any time soon, I offer up some of my own thoughts, yours for the taking:

American Gothic  (maybe call it ‘American Peepic’ or ‘APeepican Gothic’?) – Take two Peeps and stretch them long and thin. Outfit them in a farmer outfit and long dress, respectively; make sure the man has a pitchfork, and provide a bucolic background.

Jabba the Peep – Smoosh an entire package of yellow Peeps together into a singular ‘Jabba the Hutt’ shape. Consider involving a blow torch or glue – whatever it takes.  Next to him, place a shapely Peep wearing a gold bikini with a chain around her neck. Watch the movie and provide whatever background is appropriate. Voila! You have recreated an iconic piece of American filmmaking 

Land of the Peeps (the TV show, not the movie. The movie looks awful. Actually, the show was awful, but the damage is already done – I’ve seen it – so I may as well work with it) – Take three Peeps and outfit them in plaid shirts and jeans. If you can, stick some yellow braids on one of them. Take a fourth Peep, lick it all over, and roll it around in dog hair or bark or whatever you can find. Set them in a spartan and poorly rendered cave home and provide a poorly written script for context, and you’re a shoo-in!

You’re welcome, and good luck.

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Don’t fear the reaper

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Fear a bargain

 

There was a great deal here at the Hilton in Valencia. An amazing deal for one of the highest rated hotels in the whole city. Five star luxury for only 70 euro a night. Unbeatable!

 

Me after a day of warm Valencian sand (and some sun.)

Me after a day of warm Valencian sand (and some sun.)

I paid that for a dive in Pula, Croatia. Off-season

 

 

 

What I should have asked is why.

 

Why so little for such spectacular lodgings?

 

In answer to that question, let me share some of the alternate titles for this blog:

Greetings from The Outer Limits

Deep Space Nine and Ten are really pretty interchangeable

Who knew Timbuktu was in Spain?

Affordable luxury in no man’s land

Everybody knows this is nowhere (although I felt like I’d used that before)

The World’s Most Expensive Internet Access Any Time, Any Place, Anywhere, Ever.

 

How much, you ask?

Are you seated?

Are you ready?
Are you seriously ready?

Are you without a doubt seated and ready?

(And, again, this is not Dubai or Tokyo or Antarctica or the moon)

$20 Euro an HOUR

 

Me in front of the fountain in the main square in Valencia.

Me in front of the fountain in the main square in Valencia.

And god bless all of you, but I haven’t made 20 Euro ($32) off this blog in its entire 11 months of existence combined. Not even close.

 

 

Try $17…all thanks to Lucky/Dr. Buzzard and Brad and their ‘buy me a beer’ contributions. (And THANK YOU!!!! Dr. Buzzard and Brad!)

 

Speaking of which, we are bearing down hard on the first year anniversary of this blog. An entire year of blogging. To think, just a year ago this seemed like such a good idea. Or a fast ticket to fame and fortune. I so had no idea what I was getting myself into…

 

In other news, I’ve logged a few hours on the beach both in Valencia and Barcelona. The beach here (Valencia) is incredibly deep and soft, and the sand is so warm I just want to roll around in it. I almost wish my towel were thinner so I could suck the delicious heat up better. It’s unspeakably wonderful.

 

Scene in the lovely Valencia square.

Scene in the lovely Valencia square.

Also, the vendors are fewer.

 

 

In Barcelona, you are approached every three minutes by someone selling beer and potato chips and Asian ladies carrying pictures torn out of anatomy books offering 15-minutge massages for a mere 5 euro. Here in Valencia there are just the massage givers and some African guys selling sunglasses, and they’re much fewer and farther in between.

 

I’m baffled on many levels by the beach-side masseurs.

 

Why are they always – without fail – tiny Asian women?

Where are all these ladies coming from?
Why is it you never see any Asian people anywhere in Spain, and then you get on the beach and the place is teeming with these masseuses?

Is it some kind of black market slavery ring?

They abduct you from your home and make you sell foot massages on the beaches of Spain?

And seeing as you never see a single person take them up on their offer, how are they making a living and eventually buying their freedom back from their captors?

And if you, as a sunbather, did succumb to the considerable pressure (this one chick WOULD NOT leave and kept touching me until I actually started to get mad), would they just straddle you right there on your beach towel, temporarily borrowed from the cheap but faraway Hilton? Ride ‘em cowgirl?

 

The other excitement at the beach was my fellow sunbathers. Today I saw a man – who had to be at least 80 – wearing an orange string thong. String. Two pieces of floss in the back and a small satchel in front. Which is not something you see every day. Thankfully.

 

There was also a woman bathing totally nude. And sitting Indian-style for the bulk of it.

 

Actually, I kind of admire their willingness to shake their groove thang without the slightest concern for personal modesty or good taste.

 

Speaking of good taste, I’ve hit my Spanish food wall.

I’ve had enough.

Minus the olives stuffed with anchovy paste (which I am ridiculously in love with), I’ve had my fill of ‘tortilla’ (the potato omelet thing), ham, cheese plates, shrimp with their heads on, paella, dry sandwiches, and oversized calamari for the time being.

Especially the calamari.

When I think of calamari, I think of little tiny, itty bitty squids all fried up nice and crunchy and miniature octopus-like.

Instead, they keep bringing me a plate covered with battered “Livestrong” bracelets. Not what I had in mind…

 

Nonetheless, the tapas and I will not be for much longer, as tonight we board an overnight train to Paris, and then it’ll be all baguettes and brie and escargot and cassoulet and coq au vin and whatever the hell else they eat until I get totally sick of it or head home on Saturday, whichever comes first.

 

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Spanish Rumplestiltskin

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but since getting here, I have slept an obscene amount.

Me at Parc Guell in Barcelona

Me at Parc Guell in Barcelona

The first night – and thirteen HOURS of sleep later – wasn’t so shocking, as I’d slept maybe nine hours in the two day prior. Obviously I was paying off a sleep debt.

But last night? And the 11 hours I slept then? Until 1:30pm? And five feet from the super noisy, mopeds screaming by at 120 kmh and at all hours? How is that possible?

Tomorrow it will not be possible, as we have to catch a 10am train to Valencia. And need to leave the apartment by 8:30 am. And have a dinner reservation for tonight at 11pm.

I think that’s the only thing that makes getting up so ridiculously late in the day seem less wasteful…knowing you’ll be eating dinner in the middle of the night. It’s sort of like the Spanish have skewed the entire day forwards four or five hours.

No wonder they need a two-hour siesta in the middle of the day.

If you were up eating dinner until well past midnight, you’d be tired too.

As for me? I like to combine my sleep and my siestas into one long, uninterrupted Sleeping Beauty-esque slumber.

 

Hes a bold little fellow.

He's a bold little fellow.

In other news, my cat Siddhartha is missing.

If your first reaction to that statement is “You have a cat?” then you are probably not alone. He doesn’t get much press coverage because he doesn’t tend to open pantries or ravage countertops or eat poison or do much of anything to give me a heart attack…apparently because he’s been waiting the nearly five years of his life to pull a real doozy (a.k.a. disappear for four days) and give me a possibly fatal heart attack just for show.

It started Tuesday night when he missed dinner. Sid loves to eat and has missed no more than a single meal in his entire life, so the sight of his still-full food dish Wednesday morning before I left was upsetting. Since word from home is that he still hasn’t appeared, and I can still see the food dish in my mind’s eye… it’s still upsetting.

See? Remember the egg thing I was talking about? Why can't they do this in America? Take the guesswork out of it?

See? Remember the egg thing I was talking about? Why can't they do this in America? Take the guesswork out of it?

It’s times like these I wish I was a pet psychic (or knew a pet psychic or cat dowser or a feline empath or any kind of far-out resource of that kind), as the worst part of a missing pet is wondering if they’re still alive. I’m vacillating between thinking positive (he wandered into someone’s garage or basement or shed and is stuck there, and they just haven’t figured it out yet) and extremely negative (a hawk grabbed him).

In the net, and as I’m both a believer in positive thinking and unsettled by the idea that anything painful would ever befall my furry kids, I’m choosing to visualize that Sid is currently wearing a velvet tuxedo, a large purple Mad Hatter top hat, and eating tea and krumpets and sharing a hookah with Alice and the Caterpillar, while the White Rabbit anxiously urges him to hurry up, as he’s now been sitting there for four days.

And knowing Sid, that’s not entirely impossible.

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