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Travel

Road Trip: Day 3 – Thoughts Between Kills

It’s Day 3 of the big road trip and today it got real. Today it was a full court press on the Premium Outlet Mall and Maggie approached it like the Allies hitting the beaches at Normandy.

She hit the beach running, debit card in hand and was through the doors of the first store before the staff could put up any measured resistance or even toss out a cheery good morning. Clothes were found. Clothes were tried on and clothes were purchased.

Emboldened, she forged ahead and within an hour we had three dresses, a navy blue suit, a new overcoat, three pairs of shoes, a new purse, a skirt and a belt.

Phew! It took my breath away – literally – because I was limping along behind carrying the packages while the Maggster hit the change rooms.

I was not alone. Continue reading

Road Trip – Day 2: Hot Tubs and World Peace!

It’s Day 2 of the big road trip and we were up at the crack of mid-morning which kind of surprised me. I can sleep through a nuclear war but usually Maggie wakes up with the birds – especially if the flock is heading to the mall and that’s where we were heading today.

Because it was well-after eight when we hauled butt out of bed, we had our showers and packed but opted to skip the hotel’s delightfully over-cooked breakfast and hit the road. It is a road trip after all and you can’t do a road trip effectively sitting around on your ass.

Dressed, packed, Jasper watered and then emptied, we hit the road and headed for the border between the land of maple syrup and the great and wonderful Oz where premium brand outlet malls are scattered across the landscape like Munchkins along the Yellow Brick Road. We had gassed up the car the night before so we only stopped long enough to fuel up at Tim Horton’s with a couple of large coffees and a nutritional muffin for the Maggster and a couple of plain doughnuts for me.

The original plan was to drive to Niagara Falls and cross into La La Land via the Rainbow Bridge. That seemed not only to be the most direct route but kind of appropriate for making the transition from the Great Bland North to OZ.

Maggie, however, suggested she knew a better way. Continue reading

Smuggler’s Blues

“It’s a losing proposition but one you can’t refuse – it’s the politics of contraband. It’s the smuggler’s blues.”
Smuggler’s Blues by Glenn Frey

 

I took the day off from the big blog yesterday to go down to The States and pick up some stuff I had ordered online from Home Depot. They were quite happy to deliver it right to the house but while shipping to anywhere in the United States is free, shipping to Canada is 300% more expensive than the actual cost of the item. That worked out to almost $1200 so I opted to have it delivered to the store closest to me in the U.S. and took a jaunty drive across the border.

The day started out dull and dreary but by the time I hit the highway, the sun had broken through, the coffee order was right for a change and the talk show I was listening to was just full of back and forth about DuffyGate, the Senate expense scandal that had expanded to include PeruGate when the Prime Minister hightailed it to South America without answering any questions.

In other words, the day was working out just fine although it did slow down a bit at the border.

Traffic was light but my American friends had decided to only open two lanes into the Land of Opportunity so, of course, traffic was backed up for at least 45 minutes. In situations like that, I don’t measure line ups by how long they are but by how long they take to get through them.

It’s my own little variation on Stephen Hawking’s space/time continuum theory and probably explains why he’s considered a genius and I’m not. Continue reading

Amsterdam – Being There Is Better Than Getting There

And so we’re back.

We’re still feeling the ravages of the flock of angry mussels we had in Ireland and the Maggmeister is still not too well but we’re home and as much as I love being away, I love coming home.

I truly enjoy visiting other countries but I hate the travelling part of travel.

Bulging Suitcase on BedIt starts before we leave. I hate packing. It doesn’t matter how long or how short the time we’ll be away; we pack like we’re getting ready to uproot our lives and trek across America in a covered wagon to start a new life out west. The only thing we didn’t pack for this trip was the piano and that was probably due only to the fact that we don’t own a piano.

It takes Maggie ten minutes to pack a suitcase, no doubt aided by the fact that she knows how to fold clothes. Folding is an essential part of packing – unlike fitted sheets that you can simply roll up into a ball and throw onto a shelf in the linen closet. I know this because I couldn’t get everything into my suitcase when I packed it but Maggie was able to fit it all in after she emptied my suitcase, folded my clothes and repacked my bag.

She can fold a fitted sheet too which absolutely impresses the hell out of me. The woman is amazing at times. Continue reading

Ireland Day 3 & 4 – The Dublin Two-Step

musselsI forgot to mention in my previous post about Ireland that we had mussels with our dinner on Wednesday night. It was an oversight that didn’t seem all that important until the food poisoning hit.

What a shitty experience this has been.

It hit Maggie first. She had just returned from a reception at her conference. She was pale and felt more tired than usual. The next thing I knew, she was in the bathroom vomiting and doing other things. It was two exits, now waiting – everybody out. I didn’t feel the onslaught yet, just a little tired and I put our Maggie to bed and soon joined her.

She was tired the next morning and feeling weak so we thought she had come down with a virus but I couldn’t convince her to stay in bed rather than go to the second day of the conference. She’s quite determined is our Maggie, or as the Irish say it, stubborn as a mule. When she got back mid-afternoon, I wasn’t feeling great and we decided to lie down for an hour.

Five hours later, we got up. Maggie was starting to feel better; I was starting to feel worse. Nonetheless, we decided to go down to Temple Bar and do a bit of wandering and get a bite to eat. Bad decision. We weren’t back at the hotel ten minutes when it hit me and I mean walked to me and bitch-slapped me as hard as it could across the back of the head. Continue reading

Ireland Day 2: Camilla and Me

“Fé Mhóid Bheith Saor ” (Sworn to be free)
National Motto of Ireland

The hotel at which we’re staying is modern and fairly new. The staff is not what we might have considered traditional Irish. They didn’t step-dance over to our taxi to help us in with our luggage and they didn’t have a Guinness waiting for us at the reception desk.

Bummer!

The staff is mainly Eastern European, mostly Russian immigrants, which makes me feel a little like we’re in the movie Eastern Promises. I keep expecting Vigo Mortensen to pop up at any moment to show me his tattoos. They’re polite, very efficient and while they never actually work themselves up to a full smile – very pleasant.

I learned that there are no elevators in Ireland. They have ‘lifts’. I learned this by accident as I seem to learn most things lately. It looked like an elevator and had the appropriate up and down arrow buttons like an elevator. It even had a sign posted telling you what to do in case of an emergency. I thought the sign said,

“Do not lift in an emergency,” and I thought. “Great!” I didn’t want to lug the suitcases back outside anyway. But the sign actually read, “Do not ‘use’ lift in case of emergency” and that is when I realized that Ireland has lifts, not elevators.

 Our lift talks. When the door opens, a female voice says, “Door opening” and “Going up” or “Going down”. Once you’re on the lift, she says, “Door closing” and at each floor, “Ground floor” or whatever floor you’re on. She’s good – she never gets the floor wrong.

You might have thought the voice would have a bit of an Irish accent or at the very least, sound like Natasha from Minsk but it doesn’t. It’s British; very refined, very proper and definitely not in a mood to be amused.

The lift is all business.

Dublin Temple BarIt reminded me of the way the Royal Family speaks so I’ve taken to calling our lift – Camilla – after the wife of Prince Charles. It sounds like her, so every time I get on or off the lift, I always say “Hello Camilla” and “Thanks Camilla,” when I get off. Continue reading