Love

Love

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Blame You!

For my hundredth post I will speak of something I am very passionate about. Writing.
Clearly, my passion for writing and grammar is fairly obvious, but my passion for others literacy comes in a close second.

Very recently I have stumbled across a grade nine students English homework. Congratulations to them, they received full marks.
The person I have a problem with is the teacher. Since when, in high school English, do you not grade upon spelling?
The assignment itself was a simple one, the usual defining of words from a class story, and answering a few questions about the structure of the story.

I don't want to burst this teenagers bubble, but to me, this assignment was done terribly. Not because the answers or definitions were wrong, but because there were 20 spelling errors.
The first was in the title. This one really irks me, being that it is plain laziness on the students part not to look at the title of the story to check the spelling.
The second spelling mistake was the first word defined. After reading the definition of the word, it was clear that the word being defined was missing a key letter or two.

I could go on and on about each mistake. Some are understandable, and one or two are borderline acceptable for this grade level. But when words are written twice, two different ways and both wrong, that should be a docked mark.
I'm not sure if teachers became lazy or if this is the way they are now supposed to teach, but I bet I would be hard-pressed to find a parent who thinks this a brilliant idea.

English class is where a child learns how to speak, write, and read in proper English. If a teacher is not correcting a student's mistakes the student is not learning. This would make the entire job of that teacher void.

Not only was spelling a major issue in this simple high school assignment, but so was grammar. There were very few periods and almost no commas.
There were contractions, but not a single apostrophe was to be found.
In the question and answer portion of the assignment not one answer started with a capital, some did not even start with a full word, and none had a period. I have no idea as to what questions were even being answered.
When I was in grade nine, I had to answer in full, using the question as the beginning part of the answer, so the sentence was complete. I see nothing wrong with that practice, and saw nothing wrong with it then.

I do remember hearing about this, maybe a year or so ago, of this occurrence of teachers no longer grading on spelling and such at this level. I believe one of the reasons was that it shouldn't be necessary to check a students spelling, they should know what they're doing by now.

Clearly, they don't.

At this point and time I'm not sure who the blame should be on: teachers, school boards, the provincial government, society, or parents, for letting teachers get away with this.

I may not be a parent, but if this was my child, I would be asking the teacher to personally take an extra minute and go through and dock marks for the spelling mistakes.

Like I stated earlier, I do not want to burst the bubble of this student, but I would not want my child to take pride in some half-wit work, that they don't even have to put any effort into, to receive full marks.







Peace & Love
Chow



Monday, November 28, 2011

Time to rock out with our socks out!





If I had gotten out of bed a week ago to organize the lyrics that were rolling around in my mind, I'd have written a new song. 
It sounded wonderful to, not sure if that was true, I was exhausted, but it could have been. 






"the look in your eyes says the day had darkened skies 
the sentence in your sighs says more than words shared 
take a breath and make it count 
Each moment is a piece to the puzzle and we don't know the picture yet 
When the effort doesn't equal what you get back 
Remember life's not about the math" 

"So when the exhaustion takes you over and there's nothing left to do 
Take a breath and hold me tight 
we'll set the pieces into place and time will show the puzzles 
grown a little clearer in the morning light" 

"I can see it when you pause to think 
The questions form and reason falters 
Why does that voice continue saying it should be easier than this 
but easy doesn't satisfy and the days closing down
shake yourself back to reality and know it will be worth it" 



"The sentence in your sighs, says more than words spoken

Take a breath and hold me tight
See the night through to the other side 
The days are short and the nights are dark but let's not drift apart" 


I think if I had taken the time to write it down, it would have turned out like this.
I used to write songs and poems all the time. When the emotions just had to get out. 
During high school when every detail was all that mattered.
I found that writing my thoughts and feelings down helped me deal with the happenings and to move on.
Journaling was the main thing that kept me going. 
Letting it all out and giving my mind room to breathe and think about the constructive things.
Now I blog. So I hope you enjoy this, because this is my new... release.
I'll talk more later, I'm off to knit and fold laundry.
Peace&Love
Chow

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Well, at least I won't have to worry about songs skipping.

As I sit here in my living room, built in lights twinkling on our fake Christmas tree, I've come to the conclusion that CD's are a way of the past.
I'm sure at this point most of you are going, duh.
Trust me, I switched over from a discman to an iPod years ago, but I just realized how much I really don't touch my CD collection anymore.

Recently organizing and rearranging my house, I recycled my big stereo, because well, it was useless. I haven't had an antenna for it in years, and it would take me 15 minutes to change a CD.
Now as I look at my perfectly alphabetized CD's, I'm wondering why I haven't put them downstairs in box.
I have all that music on my computer and iPod, and I don't actually have anything to play the CD's on anymore.

I will miss them though. The album art, artists notes, and printed lyrics always made the hardcopy worth it.
Now, all they do is take up space.
Oh so sad.

 And the funniest part is, CD's have become popular and then faded away in my so far, short life.

What's next? And what will I get in my stocking this year?

Peace&Love
Chow

Thursday, November 17, 2011

tbh

In all honesty, I have NOTHING to write about.
That being said, I'm sure there's somethings I just don't feel like sharing.

So if you would like to keep up with the happenings in my life, here goes.

I've started watching Friends again.
Yes the addiction is back. I love this show, I will watch it over and over as much as I can.
The good news is, using our new dvd/blue ray player, the discs work a lot better than they did when using the xbox. So I get to see more episodes. Yay!

My knitting is coming along, slowly, but surely. I need more yarn though. Canmore trip may be necessary. (strictly putting that in for my Momma)

Recently, I've rearranged my entire house. It took a lot of work, heavy lifting, and a few touch ups on the walls.
Turns out my old dresser BARELY fits up my stairs. Yet it is possible. I'm handy with a tool set. And, Ava and I made it fit up the stairs. We're tough girls, don't mess with us.

Other than that, I've started decorating for Xmas, but my work week started again, so who knows when I will get around to finishing it.

Basically, I'm just trying to keep on writing, to keep writing. Have to keep the fingers moving.
I am working on a new article though, so stay tuned. It will be out, before the week is up!

Peace&Love
Chow


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What I've been doing...

I may not be writing a lot lately, but that doesn't mean I'm sitting on the couch watching TV.
This is what I've been up to...
Jason's Socks


And when I finished those I moved on to a few other things, since I've decided to knit all my christmas presents this year.

And when I haven't been knitting, I've been quilting!

Mav's Quilt

The quilt I didn't really have a plan for to be honest. I picked out the material almost a year ago though,
and finally got around to it. It took me two mornings to put the top together and half a morning to stitch it all together. Nothing fancy, just a simple quilt to keep the little man warm.

I will be posting a few more pictures in the next couple of weeks I'm sure, just to brag about how cool I am, especially when I take my knitting out with me. :)

Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clouds

To understand, I have always defined.

If I didn't know, I grabbed a dictionary. What does this word mean? How do I use it?

From then on, every thing seemed to need a place, to be defined. To be pinpointed down to its root. From there it can be built back up, reaching it's full potential and truest meaning.

But some words, some things, some emotions, are harder to define.

They don't have a clear base, no logical beginning.

What do I do with those? How do I understand?

Like standing on a cloud, there would be nothing solid, just falling through a mist. Which looked intriguing, but with nothing to grasp, it's empty in your hands.

Yet, they are natural.

When your tire of digging, and your mind gives up with searching, you fall back.

Letting all around you melt away.

And it comes to a place where anything will make sense, and one thing falls into the next.

It's simple.

By letting it be, it makes sense.

Not needing description or definition, but just by trusting.

Trust is laying on that cloud and believing it won't let you down.




Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Musings

I try to keep up with everything oilsands, but it seems to just keep tumbling in a vicious circle.

Someone doesn't like the oilsands because they aren't green friendly, so then we (government and oilsands representatives) become huffy and defensive.
Now the EU is discriminating against our 'dirty' oilsands and we are criticizing their lack of knowledge regarding other countries oilsands.
Well, I'm not quoting anything or going fact for fact, but this is all I have so far.

I don't know the great in's and out's, or the little details, but if I was to throw out a plan I would say that the oilsands are making money.
Yes, it's a finite resource, but can we not use money from said finite resource to invest in alternatives?
Sure, it would be a conflict of interest, but if the company investing, has a hand in the alternatives when they become viable, then they could move their company in a new direction, with a whole new future.

Basically all I'm saying is yes, we need to plan ahead, but with all the planning ahead, as a society there is not a whole lot of focusing and fixing the now. Without focus on the now it's really hard to progress smoothly into the future.

So with the oilsands working, use them to their fullest and exploit them to invest in other 'greener' and long-term projects.

I still have problems with the protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. This would be creating countless jobs for a US economy that should basically start looking for work and help where ever it can find it.

Sure it could be short-term work for some, not a life-time career, but it's a step in the right direction. It could possibly help whole towns get back on their feet.


That is rant number one.


Onto a more topical note, Halloween!
Halloween is my favourite holiday.
So I will share with you this lovely article about candy. More specifically, which candy is better.
I choose tootsie rolls, hands down.
Happy Haunting!



Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I can rationalize anything.

I have one routine. In the shower, I shampoo my hair, rinse it out, put conditioner in, then I wash my face before I rinse out the conditioner.

That, is my only routine.

I don't know why, but as many times as I've tried to start a routine, or have tried to go about my day in a certain way, it just doesn't come together.

Could be that I'm a little flighty in the memory sector, so I always forget. Or that I'm very much a fan of sleeping in until the last possible second before I work.

At one point I do remember having a morning routine. Wake up, fall out of bed (literally, I was sleeping in a top bunk with no rail), and go start the coffee. Shower, put on face, wrestle with hair, grab coffee, and go.

It wasn't so much a routine as the necessity of getting stuff together before I made it out the door. It's not uncommon for me to shut the car door, realize I'm missing either my phone, keys, or something more important and have to run and find it.

On the flip side though, I don't really mind just going through my lists and getting them polished of in a different way every time. I like a little bit of unpredictable in my day. Not too much though, because I'm sure life has lots it would love to throw at me, and I'm fairly certain it's not all pleasant. Like say a leaky tire, on the week I start coaching every night. Unpredictable.

I really don't think a routine matters so much unless it hinders the process. I know my process works just fine, as long I write everything down (so I know what I'm doing) and schedule it (so I know when I'm doing).

It could be the other way around though, too much routine, such as when working or coaching, makes it necessary to be a little spastic in the rest of my life. Then it's all about balance.

Seems to me that my lack of routine is healthy. I'm not a drill sergeant, I like me a little spontaneity, keeps the heart rate up, not knowing how or when I'm going to accomplish my list.

When all is said and done, I might not be very organized, but I have balance, and that is healthy. Helps maintain my fragile hold on sanity.

Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil

It's no surprise to anyone that with the age of information and post 9/11 life, children are growing up under much different circumstances than 15 or 20 years ago.
The difficulty level of parenting may be growing, with the question of how much information is too much, being asked more and more each day.
With paranoia bubbling over and taboo subjects up for general discussion, the innocence of children seems to be at risk.
...

A CBC article published just days after the tenth anniversary of 9/11 states that the U.S. has plans to ease restrictions on children 12 and under during security procedures.
The plan is to revamp a few pat down procedures to not include private areas, and to allow children to keep their shoes on, in most cases.
There still may be cases though where security will take unpredictable measures and the shoes may have to come off.
Also, children may be asked to walk through a detector or scanner more than once to double-check or obtain a more precise image.
After making sure it is clear to your children that their best behaviour is necessary just to board the plane how do you explain to them that it might be necessary for them to go through the scanner more times than the adults or other children?
...

It's never been easy, appropriately answering a child's eager questions without flinging the door wide open for more simple, curious inquiry.
Now, with more information readily available for them to stumble across, how are parents supposed to preserve a child's innocence? Even grade school seems to open their prying eyes and minds to ideas and facts some adults cringe about.
One father resorted to ripping pages out of his six-year-old sons school planner, because there were days of significance such as " International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genitalia Cutting/Mutilation".
...


It's days like this I feel blessed to have the 'sheltered' upbringing I did some days. I'm not saying I was lied to or anything like that. I'm saying I'm glad I was kept in the dark about these these big picture, worldly issues that most adults have problems dealing with themselves.

The sex talk doesn't even seem to be the most difficult and avoidable talk for parents anymore. I'm sure parents would probably gladly discuss the difference between girl and boy parts then why we have international days about them.

Reverting back to where society was before extreme terrorism or all-inclusive awareness is next to impossible, but there is no need to awaken a toddlers mind to the dangers of war without absolute necessity. When it comes to danger, the basics such as do not talk to strangers or play in the street should suffice. Even though these may seem like putting on a wind-breaker to face a blizzard, as long as a child's intake of information is monitored, there shouldn't be a lot of loopholes where it's necessary to discuss the daily news.

Constant monitoring instant easy but it never has been, and it has always been a major part of parenting. It's in the job description.
...




Peace&Love
Chow



Monday, September 12, 2011

Never get enough!

My guilty pleasure.... runway vids!
To be honest I don't feel too guilty about it, I love what I've been seeing.
One of these years I will make it back to New York, and it will be for Fashion Week. Promise.

I've been catching up on the runway shows going on the past few days, and let me say I'm intrigued.
Very feminine vs. masculine. The mix of sporty windbreakers over flowing dresses is hard to pull off but it was done in a few shows. Marc Jacobs being my biased favourite pulled it off quite magically.

It seems like a tiny revolution is happening on the runways. From waists being cinched by belts to drawstrings, to lifting just the front hem of long flowing dresses. Which reminds me, that I do like the trains or 'tails' flapping behind the above-knee hem of draping off-shouldered gowns.

One awesome pattern I can't wait to see more of is the 'botanical', as mentioned by Alexander Wang about his SS12 ready-to-wear. I noticed it later, or a similar tropical pattern also in the Altuzarra collection.

I'm so excited about these collections I think it will keep me warm just dreaming about it through the long winter ahead.

And on another note, I need the wedges from Marc by Marc. Rockin'.

Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, August 22, 2011

Silly Moments in Advertising

While watching TV with my soon to be hubby this evening, there were a few laughs.

I'm quite sure these advertisements weren't going for comedy but, they might want to rethink who they're marketing to.

The first incident was watching a subway commercial advertising a steak and bacon sandwich. They had me going, I was thinking man, that looks delicious. Then they ended it with a curveball, saying why don't you top of your meal with a yogurt parfait? Sure, it's kinda like desert, but it's not quite the same as a cookie. It's actually viewed as a healthier (somewhat) breakfast to some.
I'm not sure who're they're marketing to anymore.

Second case that got a giggle out of me was a jeep commercial. Started off with good mood-setting music, nice picture of a jeep splashing through mud with the voice talking about an adventure. Then they started off listing the features of this outback, tough, adventure seeking vehicle. It has handcrafted leather. Yes, that is first on the list. Don't get me wrong, but when I'm looking a mudding vehicle, I want something that is okay to get dirty. Handcrafted leather, now that's fine stuff.

Anyway, not much point to this post, these are just things I found amusing in my day.

Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, August 15, 2011

Copyright? Yes it's important.

It's Monday morning and I have a day off. As per a usual day off, I take the time to drink coffee and sort through the happenings of the world.
So far all I can account for this great country is that A: there seems to be a lot of violence out west lately, a higher than comfortable per cent being gang related; and B: Quebec is still a little a loopy on any issue regarding government.
I'm not going to go into the fact that Quebec's Premier would still like the PROVINCE to be regarded as a nation in the constitution, if the chance presents itself.
What really irks me this morning, is a story regarding a woman using the Conservative logo without permission.
Michaela Keyserlingk, is using the logo in her campaign against the use of asbestos, which for her is a very personal issue.
I have no problem with her campaign, I don't think we should be exporting asbestos to other countries, when we ourselves will not use it.
Keyserlingk's campaign has a solid issue as it's backbone, but her way of attracting government attention shed the whole thing in a negative light.
Using the logo without permission, and then having the party send a cease-and-desist notice, and not following through, is childish and reckless. It's understandable that the Conservative Party wants to take legal action, if they didn't I'd have questions about their backbone.
There are many other legal ways to go about attracting attention, especially on such prominent issues.
I think she had a good campaign, I don't agree with the government exporting asbestos, but I think she screwed her whole campaign over.
Sure, she may now have a lot more publicity but she has no credibility.

Had to get that one out.

Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Underweight or Overweight, take 'em away

Here's a new hot button topic, taking severely obese kids away from their families.

Globe & Mail has an article about this startling topic that was developed from an opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Personally, I don't think taking a child away from the family would be solution to the problem. Sure, in some special cases like the one listed in the article, it may just work. For the majority though, even if the parenting is to blame to some extent, is there really a need to tear a family apart over this?

Tearing families apart has a greater chance of creating more health related issues, possibly emotional or psychological ones. What is the kid going to think? Yes, your parents can take care of you, but they are doing it wrong, so we are going to put you in foster care until you lose some weight.

I think creating a more effective physical education program in schools would have a better effect.

Also, last time I checked, the foster care system may be a little strained for resources and money, now they'd be adding a new type of 'problem' to look out for, causing more strain.

So investing in the school system seems to be a pretty good idea now doesn't it? I don't oppose checking up on these families in case of underlying family problems that me be causing the obesity, such as neglect. But if this form of treatment was ever implemented, I would hope it would be a last resort measure.

It seems that whenever there's a problem with children, laying it on the foster care system becomes a pretty reliable option.



Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ENGAGED!!!!!

It's very important news and I'm telling the world about it. Jason and I are engaged and I couldn't be happier.

Before I get into the proposal though, I'm going to share how my journey home went.

It started when I arrived at the Amsterdam Central station about noon, found out all trains travelling to the station I wanted were cancelled because of a faulty switch on the tracks or something.

So the alternative was to take a train to catch a bus to take my Hilversum (the first of my three planned stops to Hamburg).

Once I arrived at the station where I'd be catching the bus, it turns out I wasn't the only one having this inconvenience.

Loads of people were there waiting. So there we all stood at the bus stop in the hot midday sun, each hoping to push their way on to the next bus. Yes, 4 buses had come and gone by the time I was able to get a seat. Apparently they only had about two buses cycling every half hour to hour. Poor planning on their part. And when I say push my way onto the next bus, I mean it was bordering on a mob scene.

Once on the bus we made are way to a different town, where I had to change buses. Not really sure where I was at this point, I asked the lady sitting next to me, if this bus actually stopped at Hilversum (I was told it was going there, but you never know). She said no, but it took as to a train station where I could catch the train to Hilversum, which is where she was going as well. Very helpful.

So around 5 p.m. I finally made it to Hilversum. This was supposed to be a 17 minute train ride, and it had taken me four hours. But I made it to the first stop. I was getting somewhere and that was fine with me.

Once in Hilversum, I checked the schedule, got to the designated platform, and the train to my next stop, Osnabruck... also, not arriving. Just like the one in Amsterdam...

So I ran to the ticket office and asked the attendant how I could get to Osnabruck. I had to catch the next train to Amersfoort, and there I could catch a train, but I had to hurry, the last part emphasized. So I ran back to the platforms and caught the train to Amersfoort and within half an hour was at there.

Finally, I found a train to Osnabruck. I was very, very excited that it wasn't cancelled. Yet, it was stilled delayed, by about 20 minutes. Then 25 minutes. In ended being 35 minutes delayed with two trains that were supposed to arrive after it, come and gone by the time the train finally showed. Didn't matter, it arrived and I was finally on to the next stop.

During the train ride I ended up sitting in gum. That really helped the day along. Thankfully I've been living out of a backpack I had with me! So, it was only a slight inconvenience and I just switched pants in the bathroom. Very in keeping with the rest of the day though.

Made it to Osnabruck, and the train to Hamburg had also been delayed. But this was a good delay because that meant I didn't miss it since the train to Osnabruck had ended up forty minutes late. So after a short wait, I was on a train to Hamburg.

I arrived in Hamburg around 11 p.m. and made it to the airport by midnight. I had planned on grabbing my iPod and headphones, but since I arrived so late and some people sleep and work in the morning, so they are just going to be mailed to me eventually.

So I slept in the airport. Turns out quite a few people do this. Sleeping on my backpack and using my towel as some kind of cushion, I awoke around 4:30 in the morning to a hopping airport. At just after five I decided I would try and check in for my flight four hours early. Not a lot else to do.

Checked in and was informed that there was an earlier flight to Munich. It was at no cost, so I took it. It didn't mean I'd be arriving home any sooner, just meant that I would be sitting around in the Munich airport instead of the Hamburg one. I sat around in the Hamburg airport long enough, I just wanted to start heading home.

After a very short flight I arrived in Munich. Chilled for four hours, grabbed some... lunch. It was probably more like breakfast, but after travelling for almost 24 hours mealtimes aren't really that important as long as I get food at some point.

Oh, I would also like to mention that when I got on the flight to Munich, they were fixing the panel above my seat. Apparently it had come lose and was letting the masks fall down when they shouldn't be. Right above my seat. Thankfully I hadn't had coffee at the point, so I didn't have the capacity to care. It was an uneventful flight, so I guess they fixed it properly.

Anyway, after sitting around the Munich airport for a bit and spending the last of my euros on one more German beer. I was on my way to Toronto.

A long but pretty decent flight. I actually really like airplane food. It is quite delicious these days, and it's a full meal. Some for of salad, choice of chicken, pasta, or vegetarian, bun and a cookie for desert. Oh, and the free wine on long Air Canada flights is awesome. Wish it would've helped me sleep, but I was already content with the fact that I probably wasn't going to sleep for the a 24 hr period of time.

Once arrived in Toronto, a little later than planned (every plane did have a delay of at least 15 minutes by the way), I had just over an hour to clear customs and get to my plane to Calgary. Clearing customs took no time, but the waiting for the bags to come off the plane did take a bit. And when I did finally get my bag, it may have been down a strap. Yes my insanely heavy backpack now had one broken shoulder strap. No time to whine about it though, I slung it over one shoulder and half ran to my connection as fast as I could. Dropped off my bag got to the the connections floor, and not surprisingly, my gate was at the very end. Yea, makes sense about now.

I arrived at the gate, panting just a little from all the hurrying, to find out the plane was delayed. It was supposed to be pulling away from the gate in five minutes, yet it hadn't even arrived. All that rushing for a plane that wasn't there yet. Oh well, time to sit down and breathe.

Once boarded, the train was a little more delayed by an intoxicated passenger that wasn't allowed to board. Thanks to that delay though, they gave everyone a free alcoholic beverage. Yay for wine!

Once the plane was about an hour outside of Calgary, I was basically just bouncing.

So after many long travelling hours and countless delays, I somehow managed to arrive home. I'm actually not sure how I made it at some points, but I really, really wanted to get home, and nothing was going to stop me.

Once down the escalators, I was then proposed to. In the middle of the airport. It couldn't of been more perfect. I'm home safe and now engaged to my wonderfully awesome fiance, Jason Doiron. I couldn't be happier. I said it once I will say it a million times.

Thus ends my adventures through Europe. I'm stoked to see everyone again, and feel like I'm living in luxury right now. I have clean clothes! It's awesome, I don't have to wash things in the sink anymore.

I just want to say thanks to everyone's support and caring throughout the entire trip. I hope you enjoyed my stories. :)

Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home please.

Alright, last night in Amsterdam done. Now in a few hours, I'll catch the train to Hamburg, grab my iPod and headphones, then head to the airport to chill.
Then tomorrow morning, bright and early, I will catch the first of a few planes that will bring me home. YAY!

I've loved my trip it's been amazing, but I don't know what it's like to sleep in my own bed anymore. I think it's going to be weird at first, not living out of a backpack and staying in dorm rooms with different people every night. I'm going to have my own bed, with my own blankets and a whole closet of CLEAN clothes. Woah. It will be luxury. :)

I can't wait to be home though, I've been really missing a lot of people and I am so excited to see them again. Actually, I'm excited to see everyone. I think I'm done making friends for a year. That's not true, but I would like to talk to someone I've known for longer than a week.

So after I leave Amsterdam, I'm not staying in another hostel. I'm just going to chill at the airport when I get there. I think it's a better plan, I have to be there early anyway.

The last few days in Amsterdam have been fantastic. Chilling with a few fellow Western Canadian's and some Australian's.
I've done a lot of aimless wandering around for the most part, some people watching, and not a lot of sightseeing. Though I did take a stroll through the red light district. That's interesting. At first I wasn't paying attention and wasn't sure if I was there yet. Then I turned my head to see a half-naked lady behind a window. I might have been caught of guard and fumbled with my half broken umbrella. Probably made her laugh.
People of all ages on vacation here though. I've seen quite a few bachelor/bachelorette parties. It seems Amsterdam is popular for it's good times. Who knew. :)

Well, I don't know if I will be updating until I get home now, where I will fill you in on the last leg of the trip, because I'm sure there are bound to be some adventures.

Also, if a guy says 'can I ask you a question?' and you say 'no you can't', he most likely won't know what to do about when you just walk off.

Oh, and clearly I'm not intimidating, because at least once in  every city, some random tourist seems to ask if I can take their picture for them. Good to know I look trustworthy.

Peace&Love
Chow

Friday, June 24, 2011

*No Hard Drugs*

Last leg of the trip is started and I have no new cities to visit.
Technically I've been to Amsterdam before, so this isn't even a 'new city'. How sad.
Not that sad, I'm pretty stoked to be home again within the week. It's been a blast but, I need my bed, I need my clean house (it better be clean when I get back) and I need my family and friends. 5 weeks is a silly long time to travel by yourself. No you know. :)

Now that I have all that out of the way, Paris was fantastic. On the last day I was there, I wandered around and did a little more shopping, because everything was on sale. I think they were switching collections or something, but every store was having huge sales.

I went and saw the Eiffel Tower. I didn't really get to see it being all lit up, since I went back to the hostel early. I did kinda catch a glimpse of it all lit up from the metro windows though. It's a really big tower. That's all I can say. I did not go up in it, because that's just too high. I feel much safer with my feet on the ground.
Police and military were all over the place though. You can't look any where without seeing an officer, military man, or security. I guess no one gets away with anything there.
Then again it is a on the other side of the park from the Military... base? School? something of the sorts across from it.

After my last relaxing night in Paris, I went to bed at a half decent hour (midnight ish?) and woke up bright and early to catch my train. Which I once again barely caught.

I was up around 6 - 6:30... checked out of the hostel and made my way to the metro. Caught both metro's easily arrived at the station and looked at my ticket. I should never assume that the station I buy my ticket at, is the station the train is leaving from. I was at Paris East, I had to be at Paris North. I ran back down to the metro, and thankfully found that the stations were only a metro stop apart.

I stood waiting for the metro, looked at my phone, and I had ten minutes until my train left. Once again, I give thanks to the guardian angel I must have, cause I made it. I may have had to run a little, or a lot, but I did make it.

It must be something about me, that says I can walk, run, or climb ridiculous amounts of stairs, because everywhere I go, I'm either one of the last train cars at the platform or the top floor of the hostel.

Yes, I am once again on the top floor. But it's alright, because it's only the fifth floor, and the stairs are only ridiculously steep. I'm pretty sure for the first flight of stairs the steps are only 5 inches deep. That's about the size of my foot, if that. Frightening. :)

Either way, this is the last hostel I will be staying for hopefully a very long time. I plan on staying in the airport for my last night. :) I have to be at the airport by about 7 a.m. anyway so there's no point in paying for a hostel for that night.

Anyway, I haven't done much in Amsterdam yet. Will start wandering around in a bit. I'm not sure if it's still raining or not, but it was when I woke up. No big deal, I now own an umbrella, so I may as well get some use out of it.

The sign on the hostel door is very amusing as it says 'no hard drugs'. Definitely in Amsterdam. Also I saw I sign on a pub that said, 'everybody welcome, except dodgy people'. I'm not even sure what it means but I was amused.

For the short time I spent wandering last night, it was interesting to see that people of all ages were out and walking about. Actually on the train over here, there were a lot of older people, coming to party I believe.

At the moment though, the hostel seems to be packed with Canadians. It's weird, I haven't met anyone from western Canada until now, and there's at least four other people from Calgary in the room.

So, I think that's all for now. I need some more, so I'm going to go find some.

Peace&Love
Chow

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lollipops

Yes, Lollipops. It's the name of the cute boutique I bought my new purse at today.

So I don't know who's smart idea it was to let me come to Paris unsupervised. :)
Shopping was done today and it was glorious and I love Paris. Oh yes, yes, yes I do. There will be a day when I will live here. It most likely won't be soon, but it will happen. I promise.

That's all I really had to update about. I found a store today selling Marc by Marc Jacobs clothing at 60 per cent off. That's not an offer I would even think about passing up. I have loved Marc Jacobs for years, and now I finally own some. Look at me go. Other brand names they were selling included: Alexander Wang, Chloe, and helmut Lang. Seriously. It was all between 50 and 60 per cent off. I just can't get over it.

So yes, Paris may not be cheap but I did hit 3 sales today, and saved as much as I spent almost. Cool.

Last night was a pretty good time by the way. A bunch of the group that's been chilling together at the hostel the past few nights, all went out together because a few were leaving this morning. It was an awesome time. We may have come back to the hostel and eaten spaghetti afterwards. :)

That's about all I have to say for now, just a few more nights here, then it's off to Amsterdam!

Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baguette's for Everyone!

You'll all be happy to hear that you are not the only ones getting rain. :)
It's Paris though, so I'm still better off.

Today I didn't do too much, it's Sunday and except for tourist locations, everything was closed. That's pricey. So I wandered around for a bit, ended up hitting a market.

The market stunk like fish. Aside from that it was pretty cool, your average farmers market, but still awesome. One lady wanted to take a picture of the fish guys (I can't find the word for this... vendor possibly). Anyway the fish dudes posed quite hilariously while shaking their dead fish around. It was interesting.

Other than that though, not a lot. Yesterday was a stop at the Louvre and it's gardens. Didn't go into the Louvre yet, as the line was long and it started pouring while wandering through the gardens.

Wandered through an area containing some of the designer shops. Including Chanel. I love Chanel. So of course I stood at the windows and daydreamed for a bit before wandering on.

The hostel is a pretty cool place. Everyone staying here is a lot of fun, and most evenings are spent having a few beers chillin' in the kitchen with everyone.

We tried playing poker one night but since no one wants to bet what little spending cash we have, we just used bottle caps. Since the bottle caps didn't count for anything, whenever someone went out, they just stole some from other people to get back in. Worst game of poker ever, but still fun.

One of the guys staying here from Germany has his guitar, and is pretty at playing. He played a bunch of songs the other night we all knew and everyone was singing along. It's pretty cool.

Today I went to the Louvre, and walked around there for over three hours. There is quite a bit to see. 

Other than that, I haven't really done much. It was supposed to rain, but it only did really early this morning, other than that, just a little gloomy. Good thing it didn't rain to, I spent an hour in line for the Louvre, and I still haven't broken down and bought an umbrella yet. :)

Now I'm quite tired. So I'm just going to chill at the hostel tonight, eating my cookies, probably having some of my cheap wine I picked up at the supermarket. The trick to surviving on a budget in Paris, is not going out to eat. The hostel has a kitchen so I can make my own food. Yay! And by make, I mean make sandwiches, because that's about all the skill I have.

Peace&Love
Chow

Friday, June 17, 2011

Woah, I'm actually here

Yup, totally in Paris.
Driving through on the train, it stunned me a minute to actually believe I'm here. Hasn't quite wore off yet, I think it may take a little bit. :)

Not much too exciting in the last few days, spent the better part on trains or in train stations. It's actually a lot of fun to observe people in the train station, you end up seeing a lot.

I managed to get a sleeper train last night. Not the most comfortable thing in the world, but since it was the only train I could get to Paris yesterday it wasn't so bad. Also cheaper than a night at most hostels with my pass, so can't complain about that.

I left Nice about 8 pm last night, and then I arrived in this little tiny town at 6 am to change trains. I had to wait until 9 am for the next train to arrive. Yea, no one really there at that time of day, and it was a very little town by the looks of the station. Fortunately they had a coffee vending machine so at least I was able to get that much.

Also, in little towns like that, not a lot people speak English, and I REALLY don't think they care. It's kind of funny actually. They will still try to explain things to me in French and clearly, I haven't the slightest. I might try and catch on pretty quick though, would like to learn.

Easily caught the next train, arrived in Paris, and then was at the hostel within a half an hour. Pretty impressive I might add. By now, I'm a total whiz at European metro systems. Once again, the metro system is massive of course. I arrived at the train station, went down three levels to the metro, ended up walking up three levels to change metro lines three stops later and that took me from above the city to underground at my stop. Kinda like a carnival ride. Always enjoyable.

I prefer the above ground metro's because then I can see what's around every stop, so if I see a market or something, I can always make a note and come back later.

So I noticed that it is very french to say hello to dear friends or even colleagues with a peck on either cheek. I totally forgot about that until I arrived and then everyone was doing it. I shouldn't be so surprised but I noticed even attendants at the train station greeted each other that way. It's different.

Also, there was some topless bathing on the beach in Nice. But for the most part, women kept their tops on. And the ones that didn't, maybe should have (no offense, but there's a certain age where some people should not be doing that). Also, boardshorts have gone out of style over in Nice. The older the men got, the smaller their bottoms. This is why I just really enjoyed reading while one the beach...
It was pretty cool though, not going to lie.

Oh, I forgot to mention before that while chatting up some people at a bar in Nice I was asked on a date by a street performer/clown. Of course I declined, because I am happily taken, but hey, not everyday I get asked out by a clown.

Just a side note, it's very common for females to wear heels for any kind of occasion. I didn't bring any heels. So I'm feeling shorter than usual. :)

Anyway, here I am in Paris for the next six nights. Pretty stoked not to be lugging my backpack around for a bit. Though I am pretty tough these days.


Peace&Love
Chow

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Nice is quite nice!

Last night I'm chilling on the beach with some people from the hostel, and then a few of us go and stand in the water while the others keep sitting there. I left my bag with them on the beach in the circle. Some guy walks past, grabs my bag and starts walking away like its not big deal.

Everyone clues in, chase ensues, and thankfully the police were right there and caught the guy.

This is part of why I've been MIA for a little bit. But only the beginning of my evening. :)
Had a really good night aside from that, Nice is beautiful and I was staying less than five minutes from the beach the last two nights. The hostel wasn't that great though, so I'm in a different one tonight. It's clean, the other one had a cockroach. I named him Fredric just in case you're wondering.

Anyway, after my bag was almost stolen I had to go to the station and give a report, so when I got back to the hostel it was four in the morning. Time just tends to really fly I guess. It did for the next few hours for sure, because when I got back to the hostel I ended drinking with a guy and playing cards until eight. I decided I had really needed a drink after, especially while running after the guy earlier I totally tripped and scraped up my knee and foot. It's okay though, I got my purse, that's the important part.

But then after staying up, I slept way in and missed my train to Barcelona. Which is okay, because I have now decided not to go to Barcelona. I keep hearing about the pick pockets there and how much worse they are than here, so I think it's in my best interest to not go.

On that note I took the train to Marseille today hopeing to get into a hostel there, but they weren't cheap so I came back to Nice to a different hostel.

This has been my last 24 hours. All in all, it was an excellent adventure. I'm sure there are parts I'm missing, but as I'm way past exhausted since I've been roaming around with my backpack all day, and I've only had 5 solid hours of sleep in the 3 days now. It was a noisy hostel to. I'm really liking this one better.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and catch a train to Paris, if they are not all full, and then I will be staying there for quite awhile I had planned to stay there for five nights, but I think adding a few more on is a good idea.

Well, that's all I can tell ya for now. I have some pics of nice that I will be uploading soon. So everyone just keep calm and it will be okay. :)

Peace&Love
Chow

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Tell me, that you'll open your eyes" - Snow Patrol

I miss my iPod. Sigh, it may have ended up in someone elses bag while I was partying in Hamburg.

The good news is, they were able to get a hold of me so I will get it back. Unfortunately, not until I'm back in Hamburg. Right now I'll just have to settle for youtube whenever I'm able to connect my laptop.
It doesn't seem to be very cooperative yet, but I threatened to hulk smash it, so it's working again.

Anyway, just thought I'd share, I don't know if I mentioned it before.

Still in Milan, tomorrow I'm off to Nice. It's kind of a stopover between here and Barcelona, but it should be really pretty I think, interesting anyway. My first trip to anywhere french, I've never even been to Montreal before. I've travelled more in other countries than I have in my own.

Yesterday was a lovely shopping day, and I did catch a glimpse of the Duomo and appears to be under construction. How sad. Later I plan on catching the metro down and seeing if it's still open or if I can get any decent pictures. A lot in Italy seems to be in the 'repair' process, including this hostel and the last one I stayed at.

With smaller countries, taking metro and transit is so much easier than driving, drivers are nuts and between the bikes and scooters, lanes become more of a guideline. (as a pedestrian, cars and scooters will stop, but only long enough until you are not directly in front of them; so don't dawdle. Bikes will not stop for you)

Once you've taken the metro in one place it doesn't take long to figure out how it works somewhere else. Tickets and passes are fairly inexpenisive as well.

Transit seems to run on all levels. I mentioned earlier that in Berlin, the S-line and Intercity trains were above ground, the trams, trains, and taxi's were on ground, and the U-lines were underground.

Same idea in Italy. In Roma, the metro seemed to go down at least two levels before you finally reached the tracks (the main station metro was definitely under constuction). I went down an escalator and two flights of stairs and down to long passeages before reaching a few stops.
It came out really bright, but this is two levels underground.
This is my stop 'QT8' for the Milan Hostel.
Everything is clearly signed with the line names, but it can seem confusing the first time.

I don't really have a point or signigicant point for this post by the way. I'm just giving random descriptions because I'm bored at the hostel. A lot of things close on Sunday, and I'm putting off doing my laundry until tonight. :)

I don't know if rubiks cubes are back in trend but yesterday I saw two different people (one on the metro, one at the hostel) who completed a rubiks cube. Then later I saw a girl with a cube tatoo. Maybe they are back in trend and I missed something. Everything comes back around. Personally I've never completed one, and end up just dismantling out of pure frustration. :)

When it comes to fashion, I will probably write a more detailed post on my other blog (the one that is strictly fashion, articles done on designers, shop owners and such in calgary heartofthenewwestfashion.blogspot.com). For the most part very similiar to home. Jeans, t-shirts, are the norm, but not to many hoodies. Little steps are taken to make everything just a little more presentable. Even casual tends to have a certain air of effort to it. People never seem to just roll out of bed and throw things together. Not a bad thing though, effort is good. They are more excepting of trends though. Not tween trends either, but actual catwalk turned everyday. I'm not saying eccentric, but just it's easier to see that longer dresses and skirts are in, and flowy sheer fabric also is.

That's all I'm going to say on that for now.

I should really get going though. It tends to rain in the evening here, and yesterday was a hailstorm.
I do not want to be caught in one of those.

Peace&Love
Chow

Friday, June 10, 2011

Milan

Well the day started off on the wrong foot, but it's turned out pretty well.
:)

I woke up super early this morning to check out of the Yellow because I planned on grabbing breakfast there to before I headed to the main station. Well I got up before they start serving breakfast (7 30, yea that's pretty early for me) and instead of waiting I decided to just head to the main station and grab breaky. That's not so bad, I sat down and had my coffee and chilled for an hour or so since my train wasn't until 9 15.

Then about twenty to nine I started wandering towards the platform and then I looked at my ticket and realized it was booked for Sunday. Awesome. This would be one of the ones I booked in Berlin with the lady who didn't speak English. I thought I double-checked the dates when she handed them to me, apparently I missed one though.

So then I started running around. I went to one place to see if I could change the ticket and they sent me somewhere else. Then I went to another place to see if I could change my ticket, and they sent me somewhere else. And that line up was loooonnnnnggggg. So I totally missed the train I had planned on taking, and after waiting in line for an hour, I had to get a whole new ticket. Thankfully with my rail pass, they are only 10 euros instead of 91. That would have sucked.

Anyway so I was then to get on the next train at 10 15. Well it was 10 05 when I booked my ticket and I kind of had to run through the terminal to reach my platform at the other end. And then what do ya know but my car happened to be number 11. The last one, at the far end of the platform. More running.

Once getting to my seat though (which someone was in but they moved this time, yay!) I collapsed and was starting to feel less frustrated. The whole running around for the ticket thing at nine in the morning after only one cup of coffee (It's part of sticking to a budget) had me pretty frustrated at the time.

Once getting to Milan, which was really only an hour later than I planned at 2 in the afternoon, I felt a little lost.

The terminal was a little confusing, and the metro was a little confusing as well. But I did eventually find my way onto the right train, to the right stop, and then onto the next train. When I made it to my stop though, I wasn't really sure where to go. The directions from the hostel site said to get out at the QT8 stop and then the hostel was about a five minute walk from there. Didn't say which direction though. Thankfully I guessed this one right and was at the hostel in five minutes.

Though by this time I was pretty gross from my travels, and I hadn't eaten all day so I might have been a little grumpy.

Since I have had supper in me, and a good shower to wash everything off me though, I've been feeling much better. :)

The mirrors in the ladies washroom are really high by the way. I can't see in it. And the only other mirror is in the hallway. I'm almost one hundred per cent sure I will be sitting in the hallway to do my make up or hair at one point, but until then I will continue standing on a chair in the bathroom.
Good times.

Tomorrow I plan on doing some high end window shopping! Possibly off to see the Duomo to, gothic architecture, should be cool.

Also, I'm uploading all my photos as fast I can. They really don't want to be uploaded though.

Peace&Love
Chow

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Roma

Since my last update. I've done a lot.

I'm going to fill you in on today, since yesterday was a deserved lazy day, and I didn't do a lot. Pretty much just had some wine, and hung out. It was very enjoyable.

Today, was a much busier day. I started at St. Peter's Basilica this morning around eleven, and finished off at the Trevi fountain (I keep ending up there) at about four. That was all walking around. On the map it seems like it should take a lot longer to walk places, but Italy is starting to seem pretty small.

So St. Peter's Basilica was amazing. I had to stand in a queue line for about twenty minutes to get in, but considering the length of the line (it circled half way around the plaza) I was fairly impressed. Once inside it was mind blowing, I'm not a religious person, but it's a must see for anyone. All the statues, the artwork, the sacred places, I was in awe. It's hard to describe so pictures are being posted.

After the Basilica I stopped and had lunch, some yummy ravioli and then espresso for dessert.

Then it was to the Vatican. Well the Vatican museum. Inside the walls of Vatican City. That was also quite breathtaking. All the tapestry's, statues, paintings, and little artifacts they have, there's so much to see. Went to the Sistine Chapel. They don't lie. Michaelangelo is a pretty impressive guy.

After a good hour wandering through there, I was off to explore more. My next stop was the St. Angelo Castle.

After that I decided to head over to the Pantheon. Ended up going the total wrong way, and had to detour a little bit. I was distracted by some very yummy ice cream so I wasn't paying attention to streets. I may have licked the bowl clean. :)

When I did make it to the Pantheon (it really didn't take that long after I was back on track), it was pretty cool. Unfortunately I don't think most people realize that these aren't just tourist spots, a lot of these are sacred places. They end up being really packed and loud, and if anyone went for the religious part, it would be hard to enjoy. Just a thought on that.

So after the Pantheon, I ended up back at the Trevi fountain. I don't know how really, I was just wandering by this point. I passed a few cool buildings a long the way, more pictures were taken.

Eventually I made my way back to a metro stop and after getting back to the hostel and laying around for a bit, I feel like I'm ready for bed.

It was definitely a good day. I will recommend Rome to anyone, I definitely think the Basilica and Vatican Museum are must sees. If I'm ever back here I know I will be seeing them again. It's a lot to take in just once so I think a second trip would be even better.

Currently I'm having some issues uploading photos, but as soon as I can I will have them all up. Promise.

Tomorrow it's off to Milan (!!!!!!!!).

Peace&Love
Chow

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

After a small delay...

The laptop is back online! Hurray!
Yesterday and this morning, my laptop just didn't want to go online. It would connect and then give me no internet access. But with a little patience and a few angry glares it is now back in working order.

When I left Venice yesterday morning I was in quite a rush. I woke up late (shocker!). Miraculously I made it to the train on time, after having only an hour to check out, walk to the bus station, catch the bus (it took a good fifteen minutes to get there), and then walk a few more blocks to the train station. I was even a few minutes early for the train. I literally have no idea how, I'm thinking somewhere in there time had to stop, because I just can't make it add up. :) I'm not going to question it though, as it worked out.

Train ride was fairly boring. We went through a lot of tunnels so there wasn't a lot to see, and it was raining most of the way. It's actually been raining quite a bit off and on. Doesn't cool down at all, and today is bloody hot outside, but still rains a lot.

Once again I did not sit in my assigned seat. I sat near it, as a bunch of travellers had wanted to sit together, so I ended taking one of their assigned seats. I'm starting to think I just won't sit in my seat ever. Not a big loss I'm sure.

Once arriving in Roma, it took little time to find the hostel since it's only four blocks from the Termini (main station).

I'm staying at a place called 'The Yellow'. Definitely the hostel to stay at. It has a big bar area on the main floor, and they give you a free drink when you get here (my kind of incentive). Only being a few blocks from the Termini it's easy to get around and navigate to.

Unlike Venice this is inland so there are many roads with cars to dodge. More than cars though are scooters, or vespas. I really don't like scooters, I think they are clownish. Streetbikes on the other hand I adore, so seeing those makes for all the vespas I have to look at.

Walking across a street is a lot like frogger sometimes, cars and bikes will stop for you, but only shortly, and only every fifth one. lol, it's not so bad as long as you make sure to cross at the crosswalks.

Last night I ended walking around with a few other kids staying at the hostel. We went down to the Colosseum and took some night pictures of it. It looks pretty cool all lit up. Then we walked all the way to the the Trevi Fountain. Which I hadn't noticed was so far away last night, until I found it on a map today and actually looked at how much walking we did. Let me tell you, I am in shape.

It's a pretty good workout this travelling. My room is on the fifth floor here at the hostel, and the elevator is really just too sketchy for me to take (I took it once, I didn't like it, no more than two people can be on at a time...). So I've been walking up and down the stairs. I even walked up when I got here with my backpack on. I felt the burn. :)

The stairs in the Colosseum, which I went back to today, are very steep. The actual steps themselves are angled down, so traversing them is a little bit scary. But it's well worth it. From inside you can see the arena and then look out to all the other buildings (or what's left of them near by).

After grabbing lunch, I made my way back to the hostel, where I will now sit and wait out the heat of the day.

Peace&Love
Chow

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm sorry, I thought this maze was a city.

If you don't like water, don't go to Venice.

In the inner city, where there is no room for cars, boats are the way to travel. The most convenient way to get around is water, with Gondola's, water taxi's and anything else you can call a boat.

It's actually not to hard to find your way around when you're walking. That is only if you are going to one of the major tourist attractions. Other than that, may I suggest, that you are screwed. I don't really remember seeing any street signs. Just signs that said what plaza or canal or church area you are at. But don't worry the locals are very friendly.

The basis of my day then, was walking around Venice. I caught the shuttle bus from the hostel at ten this morning and that took me across the Liberta bridge. That's frightening. That is a very long bridge that has cars, buses, and trains going over it, taking you from the mainland to the Island. Once in Venice, I had to take a train (the people mover) to Piazzale Roma, or the main bus terminal. There I walked straight into Venice. With every other tourist. I planned on there being a lot of people, being as it Sunday and all, but oh my word was it crowded. I'm guessing there's not a lot of space on a good day, but this was nuts.

It wasn't hard to find where I was going. I went first to the Rialto market. Basically a lot of little vendors all over a huge bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. Next was on to the Basilica San di Marco, also found fairly quickly. You don't know you are these places until you step out into them though. You don't really see where you're going, just walk and follow the signs.

The Basilica was very crowded, and the line-up to get in was way to long. Quick history lesson, it was originally built in 829 and then has been built onto and reconstructed quite a few times since then. It's a religious building, with the body of St. Mark behind a massive alter piece. Hence the name.

It's a lovely building though, quite massive with many different sections. The mosaic scenes on the front (a few posted on facebook) are very well done.

Next I made my way to the Gallerie dell'Accademia, also a little bit of a line-up with a few tourist groups out front.

Taking as many pictures as I could, I had a pretty good time in Venice. Weather was gorgeous again. Right now though I feel like I'm in the middle of a tempest. The thunder literally sounds like gunshots, totally made me jump. I think the storm is starting to wrap up (though as I type that, it's still roaring, just a little quieter), the rain not drowning everything out anymore and it's almost quite soothing.

In the midst of all my wanderings, I stumbled upon a flea market. It was wonderful all the little trinkets and whatnot they had for sale. I wish I had more to spend, but it's probably for the best that I don't have money to blow. :)

Once done all my wanderings, I made my way back to the main terminal. Before I arrived, I stopped at a little cafe and had some pasta and a glass of wine. I nice old man sat down at the table next two me. After awhile we started chatting. He was actually in Venice for his daughter's wedding, but he's originally from Stuttgart, a German city.

He told me that he was just waiting for his wife who was shopping on her own today. He hoped that she could find him, seeing as how Venice is such a maze. After talking for a bit we parted ways, he bid me safety and good luck on the rest of my journey.

Then I caught the bus back to the mainland. Ever take an accordion bus around a traffic circle? It's much like a circus ride. Stopped on my walk back to the hostel for ice cream, because it was still boiling outside.

When I made it back, it was actually only four in the afternoon. Which is how small Venice is.

So then today I did some laundry, as my trip is basically two-thirds done already, and I prefer my clothes clean.

I've spent the rest of my night preparing for tomorrow, where I have to be up early to catch the bus to the station and then the train to Roma. Maybe this time I'll be allowed to sit in my seat. :)

Peace&Love
Chow

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Now this, is a vacation.

Thus far, I've much enjoyed my stay here at Camp Jolly.

Laid out like a campground, it has spots for trailers, and tents, and also pre-set-up tents. I have a bungalow.
A 3 person bungalow, and lucky me, have it all to myself again tonight. It's fantastic, it's designed much like a camping trailer, with a mini fridge a bathroom and air conditioning. The showers a little tempered on giving hot water, but it's much preferred still over using a stall in the communal bathroom.

The restaurant here serves up some very delicious food. Both nights now I've had pizza. Yesterday I had a mozza, onion, and tuscan sausage, tonight it was the Hawiian. Very delicious. Made on thincrust, which I prefer. . They're definitely not 'personal' sized, as they are a good medium. Last night I ate the entire thing, but since I had an appetizer tonight, I had to have some packed up. No worries, it won't be wasted.
My pizza of the evening.


Didn't do much today, I'm planning on seeing lots tomorrow.
Today was reserved for a walk to the supermarket and then lounging around the pool.

The supermarket was very busy, and boy do people move fast. Similar to home, except that when you pick out produce, you have to wear a plastic mitt, and then once you have it in the plastic bag, you weigh it yourself. Then you punch the appropriate number on the sheet and it gives you a sticker to put on the bag. Fairly efficient I think, cuts down on the cashier having to look up the number.
Plastic bags you have to pay ten cents for, which is understandable these days. It seems a little odd though, I had to pay to have a plastic bag, but the garbage bins of plastic mitts used for produce were full...
Two good ideas there. One, let's not get germs all over the fruit so we'll make everyone wear a plastic mitt (that after they toss). Two, lets make plastic bags cost so people have more incentive to use other bags. It seems counter productive when you put the two ideas together, just saying.
It was a fun experience though, and the little carts for groceries were like little wagons that you pulled around. It was cute.

Then after I walked back, I layed out in the sun all day, and sipped a few cold ones while reading, beside the pool. That was simply wonderful. I did have sunscreen on but I'm burned. I was going for tanned, and well, I've exceeded that. But as a pasty white kid, I can't expect any different. But I am more freckled though, and I'm fine with that. :)

So tomorrow I'm planning on taking the shuttle into Venice and then hitting up a few main spots that promise to be very awesome.

Peace&Love
Chow

Friday, June 3, 2011

Venice

I made it. Still not entirely sure how, but I did.

So today I'm going to tell you a story. One that starts just as the sky is changing to faint blue, and a new day is about to begin.
At this point, I wake up (I think I was dreaming, something abnormally real again I'm sure).
I go to check the time, and I do not know where my phone is. I keep it with me on the bed, that way in moments such as this, I can always know the time and be less confused. So I search under the cover and under the pillow, and beside the bed on all open sides.
Still no luck, so I open my laptop a crack to give me some light and then I shine it under the bed, trying not to wake any of my fellow hostelers. There it is. So far under the bed, I have to shimmy to get it. Like a worm. It must have fallen down the crack between the bed and the wall. I didn't think that crack was big enough.
So once the phone is retrieved, I check the time and it is 4:30 a.m. Back to bed.

I was awakened a few more times before my alarm went off. Mainly someone else's going off earlier. One of those buzzing obnoxious ones, that they let run for a good minute. I couldn't be too mad though, because they were a very sweet Asian couple, who warned me the night before they were getting up early.

So by the time my alarm goes off, it's 7 a.m. And I fall back asleep. But don't worry, I'm used to this. I wake up with 20 minutes to go ready before I wanted to leave. Plenty of time.
So I'm out the hostel doors by 8, and on my way back to the Munich Hbf. It's walking distance, about 1k.
The street vendors and shopping markets are just opening up and setting up their stands for the day. I've noticed that this seems to be a part of town with quite a few middle eastern run shops. But this morning there's all kinds of people, off to the daily routine.

I made it to the Hbf in record time (apparently I was on a mission), and had over an hour to wait for my train.
Which was perfect because I planned on grabbing breakfast and other snacks to. Well as luck would have it, I found a Starbucks!
Once equipped with a venti coffee, croissant, fruit cup and water bottle, I made my way to the platform to wait.
I had made a small search for Gummi Bears, but after pouting and giving up I found a vending machine on the platform that sold them. And even better was it gave me two bags for the price of one as the other one had been stuck. So far, I was doing pretty well.

I'm now sitting down, eating my fruit, drinking my coffee, with my backpack beside me on the bench. (Keep in mind there are two benches, both being occupied by one person and their bag right now.) So as I'm minding my own, and patiently waiting, an older woman, around 70 (who is in fine health I would guess), struts up, stands in front of where my bag is and tells me to move it (this is what I got from her motions). So I move my backpack and set it at my feet where it falls over, while the guy on th bench beside mine was already moving his bag of the seat for her before she arrived. But she promptly sits down right beside me and utters a haughty thanks. At this point I'm able to balance my fruit cup on my coffee while uprighting my backpack and then using my legs to hold it up. By using my legs to hold it up, I mean I can't touch the ground now because I'm sitting properly, and this was not as easy at it should have been.

Oh well, not so bad, I still have coffee and if she prefers sitting here, well I really don't have a choice. :)
As it's getting time for the train to arrive, I notice the man on the other bench start looking worried and he goes up and asks one of the platform attendants something.
They come back to where his bag is and he grabs his ticket and she tells him something. Then she asks me where I'm going. I say to Verona and she tells me the train I'm looking for is track 12. The one behind me. Apparently, it switched tracks. So I thank her and hurry to my designated seat because the train has already arrived, and I get comfy for the trip. I also happen to be sitting behind the sits-where-she-wants lady. Of course that's how it works. No worries though, she ignored me from then on out.

After six hours on the train, through Austria (they do check your passport while on the train), and then into Italy, I finally arrived at Verona Porta Nuova. This is where I catch my next train to Venice.

All through Italy so far, I have seen how beautiful it can be, but also how old it is. And that age is really showing. If I'm not in a city center or tourist locale, it seems that Italy is in some disrepair. Lovely, yes, but lovelier it was.

In Verona I patiently await my next train, which about an hours wait. Train finally arrives a minute after it's due to leave. I end up having to run (literally) to the other end of the platform to board the right car. I get on, find my seat quickly, and theres someone sitting there. There's three seats in a row, two old men, one on the inside and one the outside with the middle table down. I try telling the one on the outside he's in my seat. He doesn't seem to car. So after trying to decide what to do, because clearly him and I do not speak the same language, he motions to the rest of the car, which does have quite a few empty seats and we are just about to pull away.
I choose a different empty seat and leave him be.

The theme today seems to be that elderly people don't want me to sit down where I want or am supposed to.
I'd rather not make a big fuss though, as I'm in a foreign country and just want to arrive at my destination.

After a much shorter train ride (only an hour!), I arrive at Venezia Mestre.
After exiting the station I realize, this was not the right station I wanted to get to. Unfortunately this is where my ticket went to. I grab my googled map, which helps me little. Look at my written directions from the hostel, and then consult my Italy handbook. I walk a little ways, and see a sign that says Marghera. That's the direction I want to go, so I start walking. Why? Who knows. It's a lovely day and I'm quite enjoying it so far.

I end up at a bus stop and look at the routes for number six, the one I want to take. I can't find the stop I want on it. So I keep walking. I walk, and I walk, for a good half hour, in boiling sun with my backpack securely strapped to me. Finally I sit down at an empty bus stop. I look at my sheets and then up at the sign, and then at the location I'm sitting at. And I light clicks on. I look ahead in my written directions and realize that I'm on one of the streets I'm supposed to be at. Yay! After more map reading I also realize that the stop I got off at, makes a lot more sense to get off at and is closer to my destination. Fluky!

So then I start walking, I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to go left or right because I'm not at the point in the street where I should be, and after another good 15 minutes of walking turn around and head back the other direction. Lo and behold I find my next street. I turn down that and after 10 more minutes of walking, in which I realize that my sandals (oh you bet I'm wearing sandals they've been good to me so far.), have given me blisters. Right smack dab on the bottom of my feet. Now I'm getting to the point where I'm so close, and so exhausted.

I make it. I arrive at Camp Jolly (oh yea lol), and check in. It's literally a little campground that has small shacks (bungalows) and places for tents and campers, and then pr-setup personal tents. I get into my bungalow, and the air conditioning has been blasting so it's nice and cool, and I'm the only using it. I pick my bed and make it.

I left Munich Hbf at 9:30 a.m. this morning. I arrived at Camp Jolly, at 6:30 p.m.

I've spent the better part of my day travelling. So now after regaling you with my tales, I'm going to go to the campground restaurant and eat, and probably have a glass of wine. I deserve it.

Peace&Love
Chow

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do you see what I see?

When did I last update, lets see...

I believe I was in Soest. I updated all my pictures on facebook, in case you haven't noticed.

In Soest, I went strolling through the market part of the city with Mara and Aunt Suzanne, it was really nice. Brought back a lot of memories. It should, I`ve been there five times now.

With that ended my stay in Soest. The next morning I was up early, to the train station by nine, said my good-byes, promised I would be back. I can't help it. I know one day I will be. :)

Then it was the train rides to Munich... boring.
Well not that bad, I took one train from Soest to Hamm, then to Dusseldorf from there. And the one from Dusseldorf took me to Munich. Quick changes though. No more than fifteen minute wait times, which is quite nice, unless you`re running behind, because then you would be screwed.

Saw a lot of country side. It varies greatly, from trees and valleys to flat farm land and little villages. I took a bunch of pictures, and even a few videos with my phone. I will post those later.

Oh it`s a holiday here. I`m not sure if anyone knows that holiday, but it is, and everything is shut down.
By that I mean, one restaurant, a subway and a McDicks are open within a five block radius... or more. I got tired of looking. So basically it`s fairly dead. And all I want right now are gummi bears.
Oh the tragic times. lol, I will pick some up tomorrow, do not be alarmed. If I haven`t yet informed you, German gummi bears, trump all gummi bears. There. Now you`re informed.

Tomorrow it`s off to Italy!!! A whole new country... where I don`t speak the language at all. Should be a blast.

Peace&Love
Chow

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh the rain, falling softly on my windowsill...

It's true, it's been raining all day. I don't mind though, it's still warm enough (I may be the only who thinks this) and I like the rain anyway, especially a walk in it.

So that's what I did today. Aunt Margret and I went for a walk in the cemetery where we visited my Uncle Hans' grave.

Their cemeteries are much nicer than ours, they look like a lot of mini flower beds all side by side. Each has their own rectangular spot, which is big enough for two or more people. In these they are all done up, with little shrubs, and flowers, and each is its own garden. They're well kept and free of weeds. It really puts ours to shame.

After that, Aunt Margret and I caught the bus to Bad Sassendorf which is a little town beside Soest. It's a good place to go if you want to get healthy. They have spa's and rehabilitation type centers. It's always a nice place to go for a cup of coffee or for a walk.

The rain didn't come down too hard so we walked around, arm in arm, with an umbrella and had quite a nice leisurely stroll.

And that's the basis of my day.

Most of you have noticed I'm sure, that there are pictures up on facebook. Well that's because I found the card slot in my laptop. It was hidden by a fake card that I didn't notice when I looked last.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, and my commentary on them. I'm just going to state for the record, that I was never one to take a lot of pictures, and up until two years ago didn't really own a camera.
The one I have I got for school, so I was even taught how to properly use it, but I still barely touch it. I'm just not a camera person.
So with that being said, excuse my pictures. They're really not that great, I do know how to use my camera, but I still tend to take crooked pictures (between that and my klutziness I'm starting to wonder), and there was a few pictures where I forgot to take my sunglasses off.

In the meantime I will keep learning as I go and hopefully soon I will be taking some awesome pictures. You think with a camera as fancy as mine it could do that without my having to push a bunch of buttons.

Peace&Love
Chow

Monday, May 30, 2011

Oh look, I'm in Soest. This just keeps happening...

Good Evening All,

To start off, I would like to state that until further notice I will not be posting pictures until I get home.
Maily because the laptop I'm using does not have a slot for my camera card. How dare it.
I will try and upload some phone photos later, but wish me luck on that one, because my phone seems to have a differing opinion.

Not a lot has gone on in my world today.

I left Berlin bright and early. Checked out of the hostel by 8, and on the train to Hamm by 9:30.
This is a pretty impressive feat considering it only took two alarms to wake me this morning. And I didn't grab coffee until the main train station. It's okay, no one was injured. :)

The train ride to Hamm was uneventful, and so was the connecting one to Soest. As far as I'm concerned, uneventful train rides are good train rides.
I would also like to mention that I had the most delicious Donair in Hamm. Really, i was quite impressed. I gobbled that thing up in no time!

Once I arrived in Soest, I met with my Aunt Margret and Aunt Suzanne at the train station and was then taken to Suzanne and Peter's house, where I am staying. It's very nice of them, and I even get my own bed in a room to myself! This will be a nice change from the rest of my trip which involves hostel dorm rooms.

(In all reality I'm actually fond of the hostel dorm rooms, until it starts smelling like boy. Because boys thus far, have proven smelly, and it's mainly all that axe crap they use. One guy literally used a whole four seconds of spraying to put his on! So I left the room, lol, silly boys.)

We enjoyed coffee and cake in the backyard/garden shortly after I got here, which made me feel very spoiled. It's much like coming home, as it's the same type of strawberry sponge cake (I'm really guessing, I have no idea what cakes are which because I can't bake. They are all yummy!), every time I am here.

Peter and Suzanne's backyard is a little haven in a fairly suburban area (European suburban, much more tightly packed in and much smaller houses). Instead of putting up a big fence to block out the neighbours, they used a variety of shrubs, bushes and planters to make a gorgeous little space for themselves.

Much of the rest of the day was spent relaxing in the garden, reading and enjoying the sun. It was thirty degrees out today, which was extremely wonderful. It may rain for a bit here tonight and tomorrow but should be gone by Wednesday.

Tomorrow promises to be filled with lots of visiting everyone, and I'm quite excited to see them all again. Most likely won't be my last time, but I still like to make sure I see everyone before I leave again.

So that is all I have for an update for you tonight. Nothing too exciting. Just that you should all be very jealous of the awesome time I'm having. Lucky for you I'm willing to share. :) (Kidding I enjoy letting you all in on my adventures!)

Peace&Love
Chow