I just needed to get away for a little bit. From the grey, the jostling, the constant busy-ness of it all. So I did a very English thing and googled 'Winter sun holiday'. Options are pretty limited this time of year. The most tempting of them all is the Carribean. But flights were a whopping £800 each and the distance was just too much. So I settled for Abu Dhabi. 7 hour flight, consistent 30 degree days and some much needed beach time. Throw in an awesome waterpark and I'm sold. And I was right. Besides a shaky start that involved a 4am arrival at our hotel and no actual bed to stay in where we then spent a few uncomfortable hours on the lobby couch before getting our room and a free buffet breakfast. But it was all uphill from there. We have a private beach - hilariously named Hiltonia, where a staff member will subtly stalk you until you find the perfect beach lounger. In which he will hurry over, fluff your towel and tuck it perfectly into place, set up your umbrella and then leave you in peace. Yes, we've strayed far from our backpacking days. The weather was perfect today for a day trip to Yas waterworld, where we went on that ride where the platform drops beneath your feet to plunge you into sheer vertical terror. We met a lady who got stuck in that ride because she was too light to make the full loop around, though we initially thought she was a girl because she only weighed 35kg (we know this cause we needed her to meet the weight minimum for a ride). Tomorrow, more beach. And a visit to a famous mosque. Compared to our other travel experiences, this trip was been zero work and just complete relaxation and fun. Though, I am working hard on this tan.
Monday, 16 March 2015
There are times in your life when you catch a flash of something beautiful and you break out in a smile. You scramble for your camera, hoping you could capture it, but you often can't because those moments rush at you in a blur and then weave away just as quickly. Or maybe you're just too shy to take a photo of someone, not wanting to flash cameras in their faces like a tourist, ruining that moment with crassness. Looking back on some of the prettier photo's we've taken, I often feel no connection to them. It was often a moment of boredom, looking around for something to do. Seeing one sight to another. These photos imply things that may or may not have been real.
So here are my travel moments. Ones that only exist in my memory. I play them on repeat to remind me what life is about.
Riding on a bus in Buenos Aires, an elderly man sits on a bench, his golden retriever sits at his feet. The dog lifts up with his paw and waves it at the man. The man reaches out and they sit there, hand in paw. The bus moves on, they move out of vision.
Kevin and I are snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. The rest of our group of 14 have gotten on the raft to head back to the ship. There's not that much left to see and we're keen to get dry. Then we spot a lone turtle. He's just floating there, with his flipper under a rock. No one else had seen him. We get close to him, watching him in his sleep. It's just the three of us. He wakes up, sees us and swims away.
We're snorkelling with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. They're incredibly playful. Darting quickly this way and that. Then one hurtles full speed right at me. My heart skips when he gets so close there's barely a metre between us. Then he dives down at a 90 degree angle. He's just playing.
After a long night out with some amazing New Yorkers, I'm on a natural/alcohol fueled high. I spontaneously put on some running shoes and run from Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan at sunrise. A garbage man waves and calls out good morning. I smile and greet him back. I must have greeted at least 5 people that morning. The morning sun throws a shining glow over the New York skyline. I've never loved a city nor it's people so much as in that moment.
We're sitting with some wonderful friends in a natural hot spring in Pucon, Chile. It's dark and raining. A terrible night to be outdoors normally. But our bodies are hot. Our faces cold. And somewhere in the middle it's just right. We're jovial, my friends chant 'shower, shower, shower!'. I make a mad dash to the freezing cold shower and take a quick frigid shower, squealing the whole time. Then I rush back into the welcoming warmth. Of the water and my friends.
There are so many more little moments. If you put them all together you'd make a pretty awesome reel of joy and sunshine and all things good in life. This really was just a selfish post, for me to read back on, to breathe and be grateful.
Sunday, 1 March 2015
For a solid two years Kevin and I have been living with people. Firstly in the form of 6-12 bedder hostel dorm rooms and then onto house shares during our 18 months so far here in London. And I wouldn't have changed it for the world. It was so much fun and there were moments where you're just so grateful to have come across the people you did at just the right time. People have shared with us their stories, fireworks, weddings, black market money trading tips and everything in between.
But you do miss the freedom of random bouts of nudity, not having to wait in a queue for the loo, finding said bathroom just as it was last time you saw it and not covered in hair and other things, space and having a bit of peace and quiet as you please. People who have roommates always have a nightmare roommate story to share with you. Usually it's due to variations in ideas of hygiene.
As with anything in life, housesharing has it's pros and cons. For us, we've decided to move to that one bedder in 3 weeks. What with it's instant access to bathrooms and multiple cupboards and fridge space for food storage (this actually does mean a lot to me!). We can cook pungent Asian foods as we please without offending housemate nostrils and not find random (human) poo's on our staircase on New Years day (that's a whole separate story folks).
And luckily with work providing an apartment above a nearby Vet clinic we're not facing that horrid 50% increase in rent - normally its about 1500 pounds per month plus bills plus real estate agents fees (eeek!). And we having parking! No more waking up early on a weekday off to move the car back to the clinic because London only seems to have permit or paid parking everywhere.
Yes we've met some lovely housemates on the way and fortunately we haven't had too many horror stories to share but I'm so excited what with the move, followed by our Abu Dhabi holiday followed by Spring. Yes things definitely feel like they're picking up.