Posts Tagged With: Vacation

Another Piece of My Heart Lost

If you’re a perceptive person and glanced at the little Instagram feed waaaaay down on the bottom of my blog, you may have noticed that the past few days saw me feeding my IG account with a bunch of sightseeing pictures from London. Only just over a month since my last visit to this beautiful, beautiful city, I went back, this time to conquer the place with Mel.

Uhm...anyone alive?

Uhm…anyone alive?

After catching an insane 7 AM flight from Weeze to Stansted, we found an almost empty arrivals area and a slightly busier shopping area where we had to kill some time and enjoy a quick breakfast of sandwiches before catching out airport shuttle into the city. At this point I was already pretty convinced that I must have the face of a terrorist or a drug smuggler because at every passport control, it took a lot of glancing back and forth between my passport, their screen and my face and I was already preparing myself for a chat with a grumpy official. In the end, though, they always waved me through anyway. “No, officer, I’m not on any drugs, I’m just running on three hours of sleep!”

The airport shuttle was…a surprise. We’d watched all the huge modern coaches from National Express and Terravision come and go and I was already looking forward to an hour of napping in a comfortable seat when our Easybus shuttle arrived. I have no idea where they took the name Easybus from because the thing was pretty much an empty coke can on wheels, driven by a grumpy guy who seemed to trust that everyone would enjoy a little fearing for their life first thing after arriving in London. With hindsight, it was hilarious.

Heh.

Heh.

The shuttle dropped us off at Old Street from where we could catch the Northern Line straight down to our hotel in Clapham. Clapham is an area I had never been to before but I found it quite agreeable. There’s nothing exciting to do or see there and it’s really just one of the many cute little parts of London that are mostly residential but have a High Street to serve people’s everyday needs. But it was cute, with a large green common area and rather well kept town houses, so our hotel’s location could have been way worse. The first day, we had to walk quite a distance because the hotel’s information had said that it was right between two tube stations and it didn’t matter which one we got off on. The next day we found out that ‘right between’ means one is a 10 minute walk away, the other just around the corner. But at least we got to see a little of Clapham that way (and found that it had a café with a clever Game of Thrones reference.  Heh.). And being able to catch the Northern Line also is a good thing because it’s so easy to get somewhere with it. The hotel also seemed quite okay when we arrived, even though they wanted £4 just for storing our luggage. But it was either that or drag the suitcases around all day.

Come on, it's mandatory!

Come on, it’s mandatory!

After dropping our luggage off, we were faced with the decision of what to do first and guess what? We ended up at Starbucks! But not without saying hello to Piccadilly Circus. What is it about that place? You always hear about people running into celebrities there and even ‘mortal’ locals often happen to go to that place. I can’t imagine Parisians just randomly visiting the Eiffel Tower or New Yorkers to hang out by Lady Liberty’s feet but Londoners really seem to like Piccadilly Circus. Not like I could blame them, of course. It really is a magical place, even though I miss all the really cool stores they used to have there. (Read: I miss being able to buy records just anywhere in London without relying on HMV on Oxford Street!)

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Please notice the gorgeous blue sky!

Starbucks served us well, even though it’s safe to say we both felt tired and exhausted from the early flight all day. Since Mel had made plans with a friend to catch up, we told her we’d meet her at the British Museum, so we were headed there next. The thing with museums is that I have mixed feelings about them. Art is a wonky subject because I can’t get into everything but then there are pieces that capture me so much I can sit and stare at them for ages. With historical stuff, I can never get excited about huge displays of many tiny bits and pieces but I love large pieces and statue that make me imagine what they looked like originally, where they used to be before and what it must have been like there. So the British Museum is perfect for me. Their Egyptian, Roman and Greek exhibitions have so many remarkable things to offer and I feel like they’re doing such a great job at creating just the right atmosphere for every piece. For example in many of

Word!

Word!

the Egyptian rooms, the lights are dimmed a little, the walls are a little darker and they often created an atmosphere that made you feel like you were walking straight into a tomb. And the Roman and Greek parts were often really light and airy. I just love visiting this museum, even though its architecture is a little more modern and not quite as stunning as the Natural History museum. Mel’s friend joined us halfway into our visit and we explored the Asian exhibition and a few other parts together before finishing our visit in the library (cue me fangirling!). Sadly, the doors to the large reading room were closed but nonetheless, the library is stunning! What I wouldn’t give to spend a day there reading. The only thing I don’t like is that there aren’t any books on the shelves anymore. I get that it would just be too much work to take care of it all and people can’t go up on the galleries anyway, so it isn’t like anyone ever gets to appreciate what’s on the shelves anyway but I don’t know. An empty library feels a little like a dead body.

I don’t even remember if we had any more plans for that day but we ended up having what was supposed to be a quick dinner but got extended to a long dinner and drinks and chat session. Which was just as well, as far as I’m concerned. By that time my feet hurt and I was ready to curl up under the table and go to sleep. We talked about music a lot (well, for the most part I listened because, despite not being interested in some of the bands they talked about, I just love listening to people talk about their favorite music because it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know people still appreciate it) and when we made it back to Oxford Street for some shopping at HMV, I bought two albums on impulse. The Third Three Years by Frank Turner which has live recordings from one of his shows in Wembley (because nothing ever beats Frank Turner live shows!) and Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem. Admittedly, no new discoveries but I finally caught up with some of my favorites.

After saying goodbye to our company, we made it back to our hotel for a somewhat early night in. For me it is always strange sharing a room with people for the first time. No matter how well you know someone, your evening and morning rituals are always something they haven’t seen yet. But I believe Mel and I made the best of the tiny space we had in our room. And tiny it was. But somewhat clean and the bed was alright-ish, so it was okay.

London has a beautiful love affair with modern ceilings like this.

The next day started with the usual question: What do we do first? We decided to go to King’s Cross first to feed our little Potterhead needs. Upon arriving at Platform 9 3/4, we were a little disheartened to find they made people queue up and pose in front of a professional photographer and everyone else. The good thing is you don’t have to get a professional photo done but can also just let your friend take a picture. So that’s what we did. Or Mel did, anyway. I still get a little breathless imagining myself posing in front of a bunch of strangers. It’s stupid and I kinda regret not doing it but there’s always next time and now that I know what it’s like, I can begin giving myself pep talks two months in advance. We also visited the Platform 9 3/4 store and splurged a little. I bought a ticket for the Hogwarts Express, writing paper and a card holder which came in handy for my several credit and ID cards, so I didn’t have to carry my huge wallet around all the time. When we left, I figured I should have bought postcards but when I told my mom about the whole experience, she said she wants to see it, too, so I suppose I’ll be back in November anyway. King’s Cross itself was a surprise for me because I thought it wouldn’t be so modern. Other than that, it was just a typical train station, I suppose. It also brought us the scariest moment of the whole trip, though. When we were in the HP store, there was an announcement asking all passengers and visitors to leave the station immediately. Suddenly, there was police around everywhere and no one knew what was up. I have to say, though, Londoners are quite hardcore about these things, especially after the whole Charlie Hebdo panic. Everyone was just randomly standing around, some people just went to get a snack and others even refused to interrupt what they were doing. We walked around the station in search of a Starbucks or some other place where we could wait and then go back in later but by the time we had walked around to the other end, people were already walking into the station again. We followed carefully, halfway expecting to get kicked out again but nope. In general, I’d say my anxiety over the whole terrorism affair is pretty bad right now and I had been a little nervous about going to such a popular place as London, so I didn’t really need this kind of shock, but I’m glad it ended up being nothing.

In front of Sherlock's door with my Harry Potter bag - does that scream NERD or what?

In front of Sherlock’s door with my Harry Potter bag – does that scream NERD or what?

Our next step took is straight to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don’t know how often Mel apologized for ‘Sherlockizing’ this trip and I don’t know how often I told her it’s okay but it was often. We did a lot of Sherlock-related things and I didn’t mind in the slightest. First of all, it did introduce me to ‘new’ things about London I hadn’t seen and hadn’t done or even known about before. And then – as with the music talk – I just like seeing people get excited about the things they like. And I’m sure she’ll hate me for saying this but Mel is quite adorable when it is about something she’s truly excited about.

We ended our visit with mandatory pictures of ourselves posing in front of Sherlock’s front door. I was surprised to find there was no long queue outside because posing for pictures is completely free and I figured even a lot of passersby would stop to do so.

I’m nowhere near a Sherlockian but even I found some of the things they sold in the shop enticing. We didn’t buy anything, though, safe for the ticket to enter the museum. ‘Museum’ is a strange word here because it felt more like visiting someone’s home. 221b Baker Street doesn’t only look like a random town house from the outside, it also looks and feels that way from the inside, complete with cute wallpapers and creaking floor boards. The first two floors were awesome in the way that they looked like Sherlock was about to return any minute now. The last two were still cozy but they’d set up scenes from the books, using mannequins with often creepy faces and I didn’t like that as much. But the rest of the house I wanted to make my own. Even though my own rooms are so high and airy, I love small and cozy rooms, which a lot of British homes offer, and 221b Baker Street isn’t an exception to that. And the fireplaces! Oh dear!

 

Hay's Galleria - Our not so little shelter from the cold

Hay’s Galleria – Our not so little shelter from the cold

I don’t remember if it was our original plan or whether we made spontaneous adjustments but next we found ourselves at London Bridge from where we had a stunning view towards Tower Bridge. We decided to take a stroll along the Thames down towards Tower Bridge and passed Hay’s Galleria on the way. That’s another thing about London I love so much: You can just start walking somewhere and on the way you’ll pass many gorgeous little things you didn’t even know where there. According to the description, the Galleria used to be a wharf in former times but nowadays it’s something like a huge courtyard in which you’ll find bars, cafe´s and restaurants and also a few stalls selling crafts. We had a coffee at Starbucks and marvelled at the fact that we were sitting outside but somewhat sheltered, so it was unbearably cold.

Be still my heart!

Be still my heart!

Feeling refreshed, we pushed on towards Tower Bridge, but not without stopping to take a bunch of selfies in front of it. We were in good company, though, as a Spanish (?) travel group posed for a bunch of action group photos. Who could blame them (or us), though, since the bridge was simply stunning with the lights on and surrounded by all the other lights along the river. I can also proudly announce that after nearly five years, Mel and I managed to take our first real picture (well, pictures) together. And with Tower Bridge as our background, too. It feels like we’ve been waiting for this perfect opportunity.

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

Spooky trees in front of the Tower

We crossed the bridge, again feeling stunned by how huge and gorgeous and impressive it is up close, and found ourselves in front of the Tower. By then, it was too dark for any proper sightseeing. Or least to take proper pictures, as the seeing certainly wasn’t a problem with all the many lights around, making the whole city seem even more magical than it usually does. But since we’re little tourists at heart, we decided to put an end to the sightseeing for the night and went back to Oxford Street for some shopping.

Once there, our first stop was House of Fraser where I finally bought Mel her Christmas present. I’d given her a voucher for a Naked Basics Palette from Urban Decay since I didn’t just want to buy one and find she didn’t like the colors as much. It turned out to be a good decision because she wasn’t so excited about either of the Basics but lost her heart to the Naked 2 instead. So we bought that. I’m glad to finally welcome her to the world of Naked Addicts. Heh.

Next we went to Waterstones and the usual thing happened: I drag someone to a bookstore intending to BUY ALL THE BOOKS! but then end up not really able to find anything or get excited about anything and making an alibi purchase but my company buying something despite not even planning to do so. I’m also sorry to report that Mel’s purchase of Tinder was infinitely cooler than my simply continuing the I Heart series by buying the next instalment, I Heart Vegas. We ended the night with a visit to the Waterstones café downstairs where I had a delicious White Hot Chocolate and she had the grossest bottle of cola either of us had ever tasted.

The next early morning found us starting to hate our hotel a little bit because the fire alarm went off at four in the morning, and again several times between seven and eight. When Mel asked about it later, they said it was because of the construction workers they had around to refurbish and renovate the hotel but that they’d leave at six that night and it would be fine. Tired and still somewhat disgruntled but soothed by this news, we went out on our next adventure.

This time, our way led us to our next Sherlockian point on our to-do list, the Sherlock Exhibition at the Museum of London. Compared to the Sherlock Museum it was quite the culture shock because the whole museum, including the exhibition, was so very modern. All white, shiny walls, flat screens and audio effects. For me personally, the exhibition was very interesting because it focused largely on London during Sherlock (or Doyle’s) time, showing all pictures from the time, explaining a lot about the infrastructure and means of transport. But I suppose for real fans of the books, author and screenplays, it must be quite disappointing because it touches so many aspects but never really reaches much depth with anything. The museum itself wasn’t all that fantastic, either. The only absolutely cool thing was the Victorian Way, an area where they reconstructed what an old shopping district might have looked like (in a clean indoors kind of way, at least). It wasn’t amazing but I guess in a city that has so many museums, one has to be the lame one.

After leaving the museum, we walked down to St. Paul’s. Up until then we’d been so lucky with the weather, all blue skies and a kind of sunny cold. But that day was grey and dull and even a bit rainy and I’m afraid it pressed down on my mood a little bit. Nevertheless, we walked around the church and took some pictures but refrained from going inside because the entrance fee they’re asking for these days is just rude. And either way, the outside is already stunning enough for me.

I'm gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

I’m gonna love you and squeeze you and call you George!

The next step took us to the National History Museum where both of us had a fangirlgasm. Mel because of the architecture and I because of the little guy you see on the left. It was my third time visiting this museum and believe it or not, I had always forgotten to go look for a raccoon! Eek!  He’s a little faded and old and doesn’t look too friendly but I still wanted to take him home. I fear a couple of Asian kids thought I’d lost it because I snapped about a dozen pictures from all angles, and only of this little fella. Well, excuuuuuse me, I’m having a moment here!

Since stuffed animals and hordes of French school kids weren’t exactly to our liking that evening, we made it our of the museum after dragging me away from the critter and then…I flew. Yup, I flew down the entrance stairs, luckily only the last step, twisted my toe and ended right on my knees. I just crouched there and mumbled something like “OMG, oh please, oh no!”, feeling like the biggest tool. Luckily there was hardly anyone around, only a woman and her kid who probably thought that the chubby woman on her knees wasn’t just clumsy but also possessed of some kind of demon. A stronger character than me would have found this hilarious because even while I was falling I thought that, hm, this is kind of a slo-mo action here. Kudos to Mel who either pretended not to notice or left me the dignity of pretending I wasn’t sniffling and hobbling around all teary-eyed while nursing my bruised ego which was the only thing that took away a serious injury. Given my weight and the angle of the fall, I already saw myself in hospital with knee caps resembling crushed crisps. I also felt phantom blood trickling down my leg all the time even though I knew it couldn’t be bleeding because not even my jeans were sticking to my knees. Back in the hotel later, I found the left one a bit swollen and bruised quite colorfully and the right showing almost no sign of the accident. By now, the left is almost black (the first time I get to know why they call it ‘black and blue’!) but walking barely hurts anymore, so I guess I’ll get around seeing a doctor this time.

Despite the fall, I bit my lip and went through the rest on our list. To be honest, since I was with someone so much fitter and more in shape than me, I had already been struggling with keeping up all the time. During most of our trip I felt a bit like Samwell Tarly on his way beyond the Wall. But hey, even he had his pride and so did I! And that’s a good thing because so much good came out of that. First of all we got to do and see a lot more than if I had listened to my body’s complaining and taken a million breaks all day. Then I could just file it under exercise. And finally, apart from losing another piece of my heart to London, I also left over two kilos there. So really, the sore muscles and aching joints were so worth it.

Hello Gorgeous!

Anyway, after my free fall performance, we finally visited Big Ben to say hello. But again, it was too dark for proper pictures, so we walked to Trafalgar Square and down Northumberland Avenue, where Mel had another Sherlockgasm over the Sherlock Holmes pub. We considered going in for a snack but found nothing tasty and vegetarian on the menu and were a little too cheap to go in just for a coke. So we pushed on and had dinner from Subway before retiring to our hotel for a super early night in because we had to get up again at two in the morning. Early flights will be the death of me.

Again, to our horror, the fire alarm went off thirty minutes after we got to our room. And again, we got a different excuse. After Mel gave them a piece of her mind, though, all was quiet and we could sleep for a while, an hour in my case.

The trip back to the airport was straight from a horror movie because we had to catch two night buses but the stop for one of them had been shown in the wrong place on the map and by the time we found the right now, we had missed the last bus. With only twenty minutes left until we had to get to our airport shuttle, we finally decided to take a cab. An excellent decision because the cabby was the nicest old-ish guy I’ve ever met. He was so calm and sweet and helped us find the right place so calmly even though we must have confused the crap out of him. Thanks to his efforts, we made it just in time. Well, we did but our shuttle didn’t. It just wouldn’t come and when the next one on the schedule arrived, I halfway expected them to tell us there was no space for us. But again, we were lucky and had a super nice driver who instantly apologized and knew there’d been a problem with the previous shuttle, so we were finally on our way to the airport where, again, we arrived only just in time for the gate to open. Apparently, luck was on our side! But can I just say: Stansted, WTF? Your departure area is more of a mall than any of our actual malls! A MAC Store? Really? I was so glad London had left me broke and out of time or I would have found death of shopping right there.

So yeah, after a surprisingly short flight (two pages read, a quick nap and ta-da, we’ve arrived!), we landed back in cold and nasty Germany where we were greeted with a round of ice-scratching and by a bunch of insane drivers on the highway. But alas, it was a very, very, very fun trip that had its little hiccups and accidents but for the most part was so good, showed me another side of London and also happened to be my very first trip with a very dear friend.

So this tale of our little adventure has to end but let me finish with our first picture together (well, one of them!) that I rambled about previously…

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Categories: Uncategorized, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Magic Kingdom

I thought long and hard whether I was gonna blog about this year’s trip to London. Because, honestly, we didn’t do much. With my mom still being on the sick and slow side and me on the ‘OMG, OMG, OMG, she’s gonna pass out again!’ one, things were veeeerrrry slow. Also, the traffic was a lot worse than it has been in previous years and we got stuck a lot, so we weren’t actually in the West End before noon. Well, huh.

You guys know I love London. If a fairy appeared before me and said I could move to London but I would have to go now without goodbye, I would. But hands down, this year’s highlight wasn’t the city, it was the hotel. Normally, we stay in average business chain hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis, that sort of thing. But this year, for some magical reason, we were booked into the amazing (!) Aloft London Excel. At first, we were doubtful. It’s way outside the city center and you actually have to switch from the tube to the DLR to get there. I have a love-hate relationship with the DLR, learning more towards hate. The last time I had to get on one of their trains, it only arrived once per hour and I almost missed the one I was supposed to take. Which was due to bad planning on my side, granted. But their stations are also pretty much deserted, you rarely find a staff member or a proper information desk or even just some stupid info board. This year, the line we needed had frequent service but due to some wrong information, we got off at the wrong station and, you got it, there was no one we could ask. I didn’t know London actually had areas where you wouldn’t pass a single soul for more than ten minutes but naturally, we found one. But anyway, the hotel was so worth it. It’s a hotel chain, too, sure but it didn’t have any of that average just-good-enough air. The outside was beautiful, with a shimmering front that looked a bit like a mermaid’s flipper, shimmering in different colors depending on light exposure. The lobby was so stylish, I felt underdressed. It had a lot of lounge areas, a huge bar and even cute little details like a sleep and water spot for dogs. And the rooms, oh my god, the rooms! If you’ve ever been inside a hotel room in London, you’ll know how tiny and cramped they can be, even with quite expensive hotels. Great Britain is a small country, London is a comparably small city and space is luxury, so you don’t really expect a ballroom when booking a hotel room. But the Aloft rooms are just that huge. We had a twin room and there was so much space, it actually had two (!) desks and then there was still so much space around the beds that we could have waltzed in there. Also, our room was on the seventh floor and the beds were facing the windows, so you can enjoy a wonderful view over the city right from your bed. It was amazing and I wanted to move in there.

Other than enjoying the hotel, we didn’t do all that much. Not much more than shop. I also finally got to see what’s supposed to be the oldest Starbucks in…England? Europe? I don’t know. But it’s also set in a nice old building off Regent Street and you feel as if you were in a 19th century café rather than an international coffeehouse. They had the most gorgeous bathrooms with their own wallpaper pattern design that looked vintage but upon closer inspection, you’d see that it said Starbucks and Seattle on it.

I went a little wild inside House of Fraser where I only meant to buy Urban Decay’s Primer Potion but ended up buying that, another eye shadow for my palette and a make up setting spray that I technically don’t really need but always wanted to try and hey, who cares if I just blew twenty pound on it? I also didn’t get my favorite perfume, Agent Provocateur’s Maitresse that I fangirled about in great detail in my post about last year’s trip to London. It’s a shame because it seems impossible to get here, too. So I’m ashamed to say I got a bit reckless with my shopping and bought several nail polishes and a new bag. Can I just say that it is unfair that England has such great drugstore brands? I mean, we have Catrice and P2 which are also quite decent. But they’re nothing compared to Rimmel or Barry M! They had so many matte nail polishes and I could have bought them all. Instead, I settled for a dark blue and a blood read one, thinking I was such a smart shopper…and then I hit the basement of the huge Boots on Oxford Street and went wild buying shampoo and Carmex and I don’t even know what else. I also really need to complain about Germany’s aversion to Carmex. It’s become really hard to get here. I heard some places took it off their shelves because there were rumors about some fishy ingredients but I don’t know. I’m a buyer and I don’t care. So there’s only one place that I know that still carries it. And then you walk into any old Boots or Superdrug or even just Sainsbury’s and there it is. And not just the pots or the tubes, either, but both and a bunch of different scents. I picked up the mint one, just because it was there.

When we returned to our hotel, we witnessed a little crazy scene. When we tried to exit the DLR station, several police officers were gathered around a girl who had curled up on the ground. At first they wouldn’t let us through but then realised they couldn’t just tell a bunch of people to take the train to another station. Still, they made us wait for a while. I have no idea what happened but suddenly a bunch of people spoke up who were apparently involved with the whole thing and it looked like some real drama. My personal guess is that it had something to do with the Britain’s Got Talent casting that was going on in the convention center right next to our hotel. Maybe the lady didn’t accept that nope, she wasn’t gonna be the next Lady Gaga.

So yeah, that’s it. As I said, not much to tell this year. What I absolutely loved, though, was the Selfridges Christmas decoration, so I went a little crazy trying – and failing – to get the perfect picture. Normally, I find their decoration a bit tacky but this year, it looked amazing.

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Goodbye 2013! My Year in Review

We talked about 2013 on a forum I frequent the other day and when I wrote my short recap, I came to the conclusion that 2013 pretty much just was for me. It had its ups, it had its downs. I’m not sure I’ll look back on it as a year that was all that special on a personal level.

But even though, or maybe because, it was so unspecial, I’d like to focus on it in a bit of a detailed view. It’s good to look back on things and learn from them, appreciate them and just remember them. This also led to the first time ever that I jotted down notes before writing a blog post. I’m pretty sure what I’ve written in this blog in over a year now is a dead giveaway for how unfocused my blogging usually is. I sit down and write and to be honest, most of the time I have no idea where I’m going until I’m done. But when I decided I was gonna write a recap of my 2013, I quickly came to the realization that reviewing a whole year just isn’t gonna work without notes. Without thinking long and hard, I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch today, so remembering the past not-quite-365 days without a reminder here and there would be close to impossible.

In the process of taking my notes, I quickly started putting them into categories. Originally, this was just meant to help me organize my thoughts but then I figured it was a good way to do this. So here’s my year…

Personal Highlights

  • AFI: I wrote about this long and hard already, but my favorite band released a new record this year, after four long years of absence. It is hard for me to write about this on a platform like this blog because I’m aware how this comes off with other people. The majority of people have fond memories of being a fan of a band – when they were 14. They can’t fathom what it’s like when that kind of love for (an) artist(s) remains. With most people that gets replaced by other things that become important to them over the years and just like with other values that we are taught are ‘publicly acceptable’, we come to feel like ‘the odd one out’ when we feel differently. I’m not ashamed of how I feel about AFI, I’m just afraid of not doing how important they are to me and on what level justice by not finding the right words. I don’t want people to think this is a silly thing, just because I fail to explain it properly. For now, though, let it suffice to say that I’ve missed being an active fan of this band. And by active I mean actually having something new to deal with, having a word to spreads, having a tour to hope and plan for. The latter still hasn’t happened but I’m confident that it’ll happen in ’14. As an album, ‘Burials’ hit me on a very emotional level. The hurt and anger and emotional stress of this album is so raw and familiar to me that I think it would have caught me off guard either way, whether it is by AFI or another artist. For weeks, I built myself a home inside those songs and lived there quite comfortably. Which is exactly what I’ve always known and needed from this band. Which explains quite perfectly why they’re such an important part of my life.
  • Friendships: 2013 Has been quite the nice little rollercoaster ride for me when it came to friendships. I got a lot closer with one friend who is especially important to me because we have so much in common and are so very alike in aspects that matter. So far, there was this invisible wall between us that drove us apart whenever we started opening up, as if we were afraid to do just that. At some point, after a lot of fights and drama, this wall disappeared and we grew so much closer which is a nice, if even a little scary, feeling. With all of my anxiety and trust issues, I still feel the urge to run every now and again but I can even tell her about that without feeling like she thinks I’m crazy. Then another friend came back into my life at a time when I least expected it, catching me off guard and leaving me to contemplate things all over again. Now, after several months have passed, I’m confident that letting her in again was a good decision. It’s still a bit tender, like a new tattoo and I think it’s still a matter of trial and error with finding the right dosage of each other but at the moment, it feels right, like we’re doing the right thing. What I didn’t like was how it threw me into yet more drama with people who I feel have no say in what I do with my life and who don’t even know me. On the kindergarten frame of mind level, they still think in social groups and all you can do is choose not to play their games. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to still drag you down. I know that it’s partly my own fault for allowing them to do that and for letting it get to me but sometimes I can’t help it. Especially when some people are so obsessed with getting at me that they cannot even let it go, even when I choose not to comment on or reply to anything they say or do. The third friendship that is giving me a bit of a headache is also my oldest friendship. A girl who’s been nothing but kind to me in over ten years. Almost 15, I think? We used to be so close but over the past couple years, I feel we’ve drifted apart. And I’m not completely innocent, I know that. It’s just really hard to face this huge and important talk I know we’re supposed to have about it all eventually. It’s actually one of my goals for the next year to try and save this friendship or maybe move it to a new level, if need be. The last one that deserves to be mentioned here is a girl I met through my weight loss journey. We’re not so close, yet, that I’d see her as a part of my inner circle but we’re in such a similar position with where we are with our weight loss and what we’re struggling with that our conversations get increasingly personal and it’s nice to share that with someone who truly understands.
  • Mallorca: After I don’t know how many years, I finally had a proper holiday again! I’ve blogged about this more than is healthy already and I’n still missing the last part which I may add later just for closure, so I’m not gonna go on and on about it. Let me just say how good it was to get out, change the scenery for a bit, enjoy the sun and think of nothing but which sights I wanna see tomorrow for a while.

Things I Learned / Achieved

  • I’ve finally accepted and come clean about my own anxiety. It shows in many ways but mostly, my social anxiety is really, really bad. I go through good phases when it doesn’t bother me at all and life seems easy to me but the bad times are never far away. I’ve told my closest friends about it, so they know I’m not being unnecessarily difficult. Which doesn’t mean I get to hide behind it and be reckless, but I hope it’ll help them understand how my mind works sometimes. It’s also something that I know fessing up to was just the first step of. I’ll have to work on it and constantly push myself to my own limits so hopefully, I’ll get better at dealing with it, even though I don’t dare hope this will ever leave me.
  • One of the best things I’ve done today was changing my doctor. In Germany, everyone has a regular practitioner that you go to for check-ups and temporary illnesses like a flu and who you will also go to for a recommendation of professionals regarding more difficult or permanent things. My old one was just really not very helpful and supportive and I’m so glad I switched because even though I’ve only seen my new doc twice, she’s already helped me a lot and made me feel much better about myself and my health issues.
  • The other good thing, though I’ve not been doing so well in the past few weeks, was changing my gym. It’s a much more professional place and gives me the opportunity to follow a much more personal and custom plan. Unlike my old gym, it makes me feel like I’m not alone, like there is someone who will listen to what I want to achieve and help me get there. When you’re a born lazybutt like me and someone puts you into a gym, you just feel overwhelmed. Where do I start? What do I do? How do I use all those machines? What courses are right? At my old gym, though people there were nice, I just felt alone with my quest and like everything they had to offer was made to suit everyone. Which just doesn’t help. I have to lose a significant amount of weight, the next person may be skinny and wanting to gain a lot of muscle. So we have different needs but the gym wasn’t really prepared to offer help with that. So I already feel better knowing that what I do when I go there is the right thing for me.
  • I took up writing again. Nothing major but when Secret Santa time came around, not only did I finish the actual story for that but also one for a friend and it reignited the spark I’d been missing for so long. Since then, I’ve had a million different ideas and hope to go through with at least some of them, rather than adding another few dozen unfinished pieces to the long list on my hard drive.

Books

  • The Land of Stories 1 & 2 by Chris Colfer: I’ve been a fan of the TV Series Glee for a while but never knew that Chris Colfer had written a book, or two by now. So I stumbled upon the first book by accident when I found a thread on a book community in which someone offered her copy as a wandering book. I signed up and had to wait for quite a long time. So long, actually, that I had considered buying it instead. But then it arrived and I read it and loved it so much that I immediately pre-ordered part two which I also got to read this year. I recently learned that Chris is working on part three and this got me so inexplicably excited! Fairytale adaptions are one of my weaknesses and he does it so well!
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: For some reason, TFIOS was almost the last book by John Green I got to read after falling in love with this author. Even though it is his most well known and popular publication so far. I think I was a little afraid of my own expectations. It is, after all, a YA book about a girl who has cancer. You find way too many books about The Big C on YA literature shelves and one day I hope to explore why that is so. Most of them are amazing but you know what they say, ‘too much of a good thing…’. So I was a little hesitant. But TFIOS really is as amazing as they all say. And more. I am 31 and I have a teeny weeny crush on Augustus Waters. There, I said it!
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This was probably my big surprise this year when it came to books. I bought this as part of an Amazon special in which you could buy three English paperback titles for 10 €. Most of the titles on offer didn’t seem very appealing to me as they were a lot of romance or sequels to books I hadn’t read. But I already had The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Map of Time in my basket and needed a third book and then I saw Ready Player One and remembered having read a good review about it somewhere. The plot seemed vaguely interesting, so I put it in my basket. It ended up being the first I read of the three and even though I was so suspicious about it, it turned out being one of my favorite reads this year. It was nerdy, clever, sweet at some point and set in a really, really detailed future world that you could imagine to exist a couple hundred years from now. Even though I’m nowhere near as obsessed with virtual worlds as the characters in this book, I can understand where the author is coming from. It’s so easy to lose yourself in online games and identify with your avatar in one way or another and Ernest Cline simply took it a step further, creating a wonderful ‘What If…’ scenario.
  • Authors: I discovered two new authors this year whose work really impressed me. One is Linda Castillo whose Kate Burkholder series I started with early this year. Right now, the fourth book is waiting to be read by me. It is set on the edges of an Amish community and besides the tension and suspense her stories offer, I like learning about these people and their traditions without it being boring in any way. With Neil Gaiman, I’m a little late to the party. Whenever I mention how much I enjoyed reading Neverwhere, everyone just rolls their eyes at me. Apparently, the whole world has been a fan for years. I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I made it a plan for ’14 to read more of his work.

Movies

  • Despicable Me 2: If you know me, you know I’m slightly obsessed with the Minions. I have posters, figurines, apps…whatever I can get my hands on and can actually use in some way. The first movie was probably one of my all-time favorites and I was looking forward to the sequel like other people are looking forward to their wedding days. For months, we had posters outside the cinema near the mall and every single time I saw them, I’d squeal. When the time finally came, sadly, I only made it to the cinema twice, not a million times like I’d planned. But it was glorious. Amazing. My God, how I enjoyed this movie! And I didn’t even particularly care for the plot, though it was enjoyable. I can’t wait for the Minions movie!
  • The Hunger Games – Catching Fire: I’ve read the books, I’ve cried, I’ve been tempted to throw my Kindle at the wall. So I have to watch the movies, too. And how brilliant they are! Catching Fire was so close to what I imagined things to look like while reading the book, I spent most of the time in the cinema convinced that I had already seen the movie. Which was impossible, I’d hardly even seen trailers. But it really came so close. I loved every second of it and can’t wait for the next part.
  • Now You See Me: This was my big surprise this year. I love Amy Adams, so one night when my friend and I found ourselves on the steps of a local theater, spontaneously in the mood to see a movie, I instantly voted for this one. But at the time I didn’t expect more than a bit of mild entertainment. But this movie was so, so good, really smart and had more strengths than just the magic tricks / special effects.

Goals 2014

  • Lose weight: I don’t remember a time in my life when this wasn’t part of the plan. Instead of making it a goal to be a skinny supermodel by the end of the year, though, I’m just not gonna set a specific goal but just promise myself that I’ll do my best to achieve as much as I can.
  • Be more organized: Again, this is a rather vague thing that involves more than just tidying up more or keeping the paperwork at home in line. It also includes small things like taking notes at work, using post-its for actual reminders rather than just doodling, remembering distant friends’ birthdays and sending cards out in time, taking two minutes to remove my makeup at night, not constantly forgetting to brush my hair, clear the dishes right after meals, and so on. If I get better at this, it’ll be easier for me to deal with everyday life in the long run because I know things are just running automatically and I don’t have to stress myself out so much over the smallest things.
  • Stay calm / Relax more:  I tend to freak out at the smallest cause because I’m just so annoyed with things in my life right now. It doesn’t make things easier and it doesn’t help and the only thing I achieve with it is make myself feel worse, so I need to find a way to stay calm and not act like a crazy ghetto bitch.
  • Rekindle friendships: There’s one particular close friend I already mentioned earlier who I’d like to become closer with again because I really miss her friendship. We’ve drifted apart a lot and I know we’ll never fully be on the same emotional level and share so many interests again but that doesn’t mean we can’t make this work. And then there are a few other people who I’ve never really been close with before but we were on casual terms, checking in with each other every other day and that’s gone down the drain over the years, as well. I’d like to get back to having that extended circle of friends again and let them know I’m here if they need me.
  • Save Money: I’ve really lost my way here. I went from having almost 1.000 € in my savings account + another 150 € in my piggy bank to have almost nothing left. And with the prospect of a possible AFI tour soon, I really need to get my act together. I’ve done well this month already by putting aside almost 100 € again and I hope to stay on this track. Also I want to stop abusing my credit card for spontaneous purchases whenever I don’t have the cash, so I can use it for the tour as well.
  • Go veggie: I want to give the vegetarian diet another go. I thought I may start by challenging myself to stick to a veggie diet for a week, if that goes well, extend it to two weeks, and so on. If I fail, I’ll start again. In the past few weeks, I’ve already explored several veggie lunch alternatives I could rely on at work. There’s a bakery / lunch restaurant that has freshly cooked pasta dishes every day and most of them are vegetarian. And there are a bunch of different supermarkets nearby that offer different kinds of salads or other vegetarian dishes. So even if I forget to pack lunch, I’d have good alternatives.
  • Cook more: This goes along with the goal above because it’s certainly easier to stick to a certain diet when you’re prepared. But it’s also easier to lose weight and be healthy when you eat homemade food that you know the actual ingredients of and that you can alter according to your own likes or dislikes.
  • Laugh more, cry less: Sort of explains itself, really.

Challenges 2014

  • Lose weight: This is not one big challenge as such but rather one I plan to take baby steps with as before. Right now, I’m still on the first step that’s listed on my Challenges page which is to lose 2.2kg by mid-January. Since I’m still lacking a working scale, I have no reliable result but hope to be on the right track.
  • Goodreads Challenge: As every year, I’m gonna take part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge again and since I’ve struggled to reach my goal of 50 this year, I won’t up it and set it to 50 again. This time, I’ll put the widget on my Challenges page as well as soon as Goodreads lets you do that.

So, that’s all, folks!

I hope everyone has a great NYE, a lot of fun, whether you’re partying or staying home. I know I’m ready for 2014 to arrive.

Ready for 2014!

Ready for 2014!

Be safe and see you on the other side!

Categories: Bookworm, Foody, Me Myself and I, Movies, Weight Loss, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Spirits

Over a month has passed. Things have happened.

First of all, there was my birthday which brought forth a week of celebrations and events. Most of which I was just tagging along for. They brought fun, new people, new things, some drama and the chance to leave my own four walls for a change. And also a new age next to my name, of course. Being 30+ wasn’t well received by me and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that I’m an adult. On my actual birthday, I went to a concert. It wasn’t “my” band but it was a concert. In a tiny club. The kind of gig I went to in my 20’s. And it was fun but my back reminded me of not only my age but also my weight. By the end of the night, I’m pretty sure some people were slightly disconcerted by the positions I took on to make it stop feeling uncomfortable. Sorry!

Moving on before I feel like a granny…

After the birthday shenanigans (this word makes me feel even more like a granny!), it was back to work and for some reason, I found it really hard to get back into the routine of it. I spent two weeks sleep-walking and used every single free minute to nap, even falling asleep at my desk a few times. I was starting to worry that something was seriously wrong but then I got the results from some of my blood tests. Apparently, my former doctor was a bit of an idiot because she said that my thyroid was totally fine and nothing needed to be done. That wasn’t so long ago. Well, now I’m glad my new doc insisted we test it all again when I switched because she said the values were still much, much too low. So we upped my dosage and hope that’s enough. She also asked me straight away if I hadn’t noticed anything, wasn’t feeling tired. I told her I was, very much so. She said it’s common with a low thyroid function like that. Go figure! I’d asked my former doc about it and she said fatigue never had anything to do with the thyroid. I’m so glad I finally got my act together and switched. I feel so safe and comfortable with the new doc! Not only is she really sweet and actually listens to what I say, I also feel like she actually remembers my case and knows what she’s doing. I may talk to her about the waves of depression I still encounter somewhat regularly. But I don’t know yet…

Anyway, so after two weeks of work, it was finally back to London again!

Still feeling tired, I hadn’t made many plans. I spent almost the entire ride asleep and felt like I’d been hit by a truck when we arrived, so Saturday turned out to be Shopping Day as I had no energy to come up with any interest in sightseeing.

I’m not gonna recap every single shop we went to any everything I stuffed my face with but there are two culinary things I absolutely have to mention:

Decadent Godiva White Chocolate Strawberries

Decadent Godiva White Chocolate Strawberries

One would be the most delicious and most decadent strawberries I’ve ever had. We saw them on display at Godiva on Regent Street. They had them dipped in white or dark chocolate and their sight was enough to make my mouth water. I figured they’d be a bit pricey, Godiva and all, but we didn’t even ask for a price before we bought them. Well, turns out they were 10 GBP for about six or seven strawberries. Oops! My mom also bought some delicious dark chocolates for herself and paid 6 GBP for five. But shockingly, I’ll have to stay they were so worth it! Maybe because it’s Winter and it’s rare you get delicious strawberries. Or maybe my taste buds just wanted to love them because they were so expensive. I don’t care, because…yum!

The other thing was another really good Italian restaurant that we found in a little street just off Regent Street. What I love about London is you can be right in the center, surrounded by people and chain stores, but then you turn a corner and you’re almost by yourself and you find the cutest little stores and restaurants. Just like this one. I think it was called Bella Italia or something equally cheesy. It was tiny, a bit shabby, had rude staff but it won me over immediately because it had the most delicious veggie risotto with green asparagus. So, so delicious, possibly the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Sadly, I couldn’t even finish it because the amount of food they serve you is huge. I’d meant to try their homemade desserts, too, but nope!

For the rest, I’m gonna be one of those bloggers and present you my shopping loot. But beware, most of it is very girly…

London Loot!

London Loot!

1. – 4. Books! The annual Waterstones loot is pretty small this year. I ‘parked’ my mom in the café in the basement and meant to spend hours browsing shelves. But then I kind of lost myself and needed to pee and also wanted a drink really badly, so I figured four books would do. I got The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, Black Roses by Jane Thynne, The Mammoth Book of True Hauntings by Peter Haining and Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. Only when I took this picture did I notice that all my purchases were very ‘red’, judging by the cover, the first two even looking very much alike. I don’t know what that says about me. Ha! The one by Justin Halpern was the only one I really had on a mental checklist because I’ve been hunting for it for a while and only found a German hardcover version. I’ve heard so many good things about it and can’t wait to start it.

5. Duets by Frank Sinatra. Actually, my mom bought this but she gave it to me to import to my iTunes library, too. I’d heard about this album before we left and when I saw it in HMV, I pointed it out to my mom and she instantly bought it. True fact: I love swing music a lot and this one’s so good!

6. AFI – The Lowdown. I have no idea why I bought this other than…frustration?! I’d meant to buy Knife Fight, the movie Davey Havok has an appearance in, but couldn’t find it in any HMV or elsewhere. Apparently, the UK didn’t get it, either. Then I thought I’d browse the shelves for some good old AFI, hoping I may find a single, EP, vinyl or something else I don’t have, yet because it is UK only or something. But there was nothing. And then I saw this thing. I don’t know if these kind of CD’s are a UK thing but I’ve never seen them elsewhere. Usually they consist of two or more discs that have some random person telling the band’s story and then some interviews that you’ve heard a million times before. They also come with all kinds of cheap, low quality bonus stuff like posters, stickers or whatever. I knew it wouldn’t be something I’d ever listen to. But now I have another item that says AFI sitting on my shelf. And it was only 7 GBP or something, so it’s alright.

Urban Decay DIY Palette w/ Maui Wowie and Loaded

Urban Decay DIY Palette w/ Maui Wowie and Loaded

7. Ah, one of my highlights of every London trip! A visit to House of Fraser, particularly their Urban Decay counter. UD is one of the brands that are really effing hard to get in Germany, even online. So every year, I look forward to treating myself to one or two of their goodies. This year I’d meant to check out the Naked 3 palette but they didn’t have it, yet. Then I looked around and found about a million things I wanted to buy. And finally, I ended up in front of their DIY palettes. The empty cases alone are so pretty already! And UD eye shadows are just amazing, really highly pigmented and good quality. So I like that I can buy them without having singles rolling around my makeup shelf now. I bought a case and two shadows for now (at 14 GBP each, I figured I shouldn’t buy one for all four slots yet…), Maui Wowie and Loaded. There were so many shades I loved but I went with two that I could actually use together for some looks. They were a little hard to get out of their cases and move into the palette but once they’re in, it’s easy to remove and replace them if you have to. Seeing as I didn’t really do much since London, I didn’t get to use them yet. But I still stare at them and secretly fall in love a bit more each time.

8. Ciaté Caviar Manicure. Our hotel was in Wimbledon. When we got out of the tube station and wanted to change for a train, we learned the train platform was closed, so we had to go outside and look for a bus. On our way to the bus stop, we found that Wimbledon High Street actually offers a loooot of nice shops, too, including a TK Maxx. I can never resist a TK Maxx. For a Shopaholic like me, it’s like a wonder bag. You never know what you find inside. I fell in love with about ten different bags and other things but stayed strong and didn’t pick anything up. Until I got to the cosmetics section. As usual, it was full of a lot of skin care products, soap, etc. In short: Things I don’t get excited about. But then I came across a display that had a lot of nail polishes. Including this one. I’d heard about Ciaté and especially this Caviar Manicure before but it’s just way too expensive for me to buy and experiment with. But they sold it for 7 GBP so I picked one of them up. They had three different ones and I got the Tutti Frutti one which came with a baby pink polish and sort of rainbow colored pearls. I didn’t have the patience to experiment with it, yet, but it looks easy enough.

9. Deco wet bubble balls-whateverness. What looks like a little bag of weed in the picture actually is something that I hope to be really fun. On our way to Waterstones, we came across a small Christmas fair that was organized by a church. It was so much cuter, better and more seasonal than any of the big Christmas fairs we have in Germany or the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Basically just a dozen stalls selling handmade crafts and seasonal goods. One of those stalls didn’t really fit in because it was guy who only had a display with these bags and a bowl with little bubble balls in them. The bowl had a sign that said ‘Touch Me’ and when I did, I squeaked because the little bubble balls were wet and felt a little creepy under the touch. Sort of like the bubbles in Bubble Tea. The guy explained that you just add water to the tiny crumbles in the bag and they grow into those bigger bubbles and then you can use them as decoration, for example in a vase. I haven’t used them yet because the space where I usually have some flowers is occupied by the Christmas tree right now but if I remember, I’ll take a picture once they’re set up. I got them in black and I hope it’s gonna look pretty cool with white or pink flowers.

Hooty!

Hooty!

10. HOOTY! The other thing I couldn’t resist buying in TK Maxx. It’s just one of those plush animals that you can heat up in the microwave. I get terrible period cramps, especially in Winter and I also like to take a warm water bottle or something similar to bed with me when it’s cold, so Hooty had to come home with me. Plus, he smells of lavender! He was only 7 GBP, too, so who could resist that price and those eyes?

Not pictured: Maitresse Eau de Perfume by Agent Provocateur. I bought Flash by Jimmy Choo a few months ago and I love its scent but I get allergic reactions wherever I spray it. So I needed a replacement, and fast. I was looking around the duty free shop on the ferry and couldn’t really find anything. I tried all the different scents by Agent Provocateur but wasn’t impressed, then moved on and looked at other stuff. Somehow, I ended up sniffing the little paper strip with Maitresse on it again and again and fell in love with its scent. It seemed like one of those perfumes to me that doesn’t overwhelm people, isn’t too sweet or too heavy and I thought it’d be really subtle. Well, since then two people have asked me about it and kept sniffing me, so I guess subtle doesn’t quite cut it. Ha! But the reactions were completely positive, so no complaints from me. I think it may just be one of my favorite perfumes I’ve bought over the years.

So…that’s it! Sorry, no cool London photos or anything. Just visual proof of my shopping addiction!

Categories: Me Myself and I, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kathy Goes to Mallorca Pt. II: Oh, the Good Life!

First Morning

First Morning

The first morning in Mallorca was stunning. I’ve never been a person to comment on beautiful sunrises or sunsets but perhaps that is because I’ve never seen any truly beautiful ones. When you step out onto the balcony at eight in the morning and face an ocean bathed in blinding sunlight, you can’t help but gasp in an almost dramatic way. I’ve never felt so little need to use a filter on any picture before. Not like I have really do any editing to my pictures unless I upload them to Instagram, of course.

After I managed to drag myself off the balcony and into the bathroom, I even found the energy to make myself up in an almost human way. In fact, I am happy to report I actually did the entire face scrub – moisturizer – make up thing every single morning in Mallorca. Usually, even when I’m on holiday, I slack after a while. My skin has never been so happy with me before! But I digress…

The Hotel From Across the Bay

The Hotel From Across the Bay

After a breakfast that even topped the dinner buffet (four different kinds of homemade yoghurt!!!) and another hour spent on the balcony, we took a walk along the bay, towards the town center of Portocolom. Which would be said too much because the town center is just the port / marina with a few restaurants, cafés and bars and the very odd jewelry shop among them. The biggest business in town seemed to be a very strange art gallery which, among other things, had a statue of a very pregnant looking Afro lady on display. I’ve never been in a place so quiet before. On the one hand, the few businesses in town seemed fancy and like they were there to attract people with money on their hands. But on the other hand, the place seemed so sleepy and forgotten that I’m not sure anyone really bothers to go there for anything. Yet, it didn’t seem like a bad place to live. It had its shabby corners, old abandoned hotels and buildings which we weren’t sure were still under construction or abandoned. But for the most part, it’s just an idyllic little town in a quiet bay area. I suppose if you spend a week or more there without ever leaving the place, it can be a little boring but that first day was perfect in its own way.

For a while, we just walked and stopped here and there to watch people fix their little boats or walk their dogs. Then we sat in a café by marina and had a coffee. At that time, it was hard to imagine that I actually had another life somewhere back home in Germany in which I was stressed by my job and had several dozen other things to worry about.

Äffchen's Little Sibling

Äffchen’s Little Sibling

The first (positive) reminder of that life came in the shape of a little kitten that we met on our way to a local supermarket. It looked like it could be Äffchen’s sister or brother and I just wanted to take it home. Obviously, it didn’t like to be touched so it stayed just out of reach but otherwise kept meowing at us and when we continued walking, it followed us all the way to the supermarket. When we came out again, it was still there and walked with us back to the crossing where we had met it. I felt like we were just taking a walk with a new friend. Sadly, they didn’t have any treats for cats at the supermarket. Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure I would have still only had two cats by the time we got home…

The rest of the day was spent reading and eating, so let’s skip that part.

The next morning, we could pick up our cute little rental car. I won’t lie to you, that car was my one true love during the week we spent in Mallorca. It was some kind of Peugeot, I forgot the model. I’ve never had a car that was so much fun to drive. Of course, it had a ton of features that I would never be able to afford in my own car but even without the awesome sound system, a/c and whatnot, it would have been fun to drive. And it certainly made things easier when we got lost on the narrow streets all over the island. And boy, did we get lost! Basically, when you’re trying to get away from Portocolom, the best thing to do is go to Manacor and take the highway towards Palma and pretty much anywhere else from there. But on our first day of driving on Mallorca, we didn’t grasp that easy concept. For our first day, we had planned to go to Sollér which is pretty much straight

Cute little rental car

Cute Little Rental Car

on the opposite side of the island. So we thought we were clever by trying to find a direct connection there rather than going via Palma. Oh, what fools we were! It is impossible to just jump from town to town because somewhere on the way, you will lose track of where you are and where you need to go. And it’s only downhill from there. Once you realise you’re lost and become, let’s say, desperate, you start taking more and more wrong turns and then the streets become more and more narrow and before you know it, you almost get stuck between a truck and a stone wall somewhere in the middle of nowhere. On a positive note, if we hadn’t been so busy bitching and yelling at each other and the other drivers, we would have enjoyed the gorgeous countryside of Mallorca a lot. All the tiny fincas and olive trees were beautiful, though I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d never find my way back. To be fair, though, you’ll find signs leading to Palma just about anywhere and if we hadn’t been too stubborn to change our plans, we could have just gone there and then moved up towards Sollér. But alas, we rather spent three hours getting more and more acquainted with the Mallorquin countryside.

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew

At first, Sollér seemed a little disappointing to me. We crossed the town and followed signs to underground parking which ended up being in an area that seemed pretty modern to me. It almost seemed like some kind of a youth hostel. But after we’d walked for maybe ten minutes, we had made it to the absolutely gorgeous town center. There’s a square in the center which isn’t big – just like the whole town isn’t big – but is surrounded by dozens of little cafés and old buildings, the most impressive being a large church. And, most importantly, there was a little ice cream parlor which my mom had seen on television about a German couple who had moved to Mallorca to open said little business. I was itching to explore Sollér some more but we’d said we’d have ice cream there and so we did. Luckily. Because it was the best ice cream I’d ever had till then.

Afterwards we went over to the church but unfortunately the doors were locked and there was no sign stating any opening hours. But it was okay because by then, something else had caught our attention. Right through the already narrow and cramped streets and across the square goes a tram line. It’s an old style tram with open windows through which you can admire the landscape as it takes you on the slow and short journey down to Port de Sollér. There’s also a train starting from Sollér which goes straight to Palma. By the time we were done with our ice cream and had walked around a little, it was quite late but we decided to take the tram to Port de Sollér anyway.

Sollér Tram

Sollér Tram

This decision turned out to be great, though it put us through some unnecessary stress later.

Port de Sollér is another beautiful small place, though it’s a little more focused on tourism. There’s a small beach, so there are some more hotels and bars along the shore and up the hills. Most of the businesses there were selling cheap and tacky souvenirs and the bars were typical tourist traps but the view across the beach and the bay with its little boats made up for it. In a way, the bay is similar to the one in Portocolom but it is surrounded by higher and greener hills, so the scenery was much different. Because we had had not enough coins for the ticket machine in the underground parking – Mallorca must be the only place where you pay before parking! – we only had about two hours to spend there. So we walked along the beach and the small town square and I completed my mission of buying new flip flops in one of the souvenir shops. Then we had some cold drinks in one of the bars and enjoyed the view of the bay. The bar was…strange, to say the least. At one point I had to use the bathroom and on my way back, there was a couple changing their baby’s diapers.

Beautiful Port de Sollér

Beautiful Port de Sollér

Right inside the main room of the bar. Peculiar. But it’s only further proof that somehow, things on the island are all a little more relaxed and less focused on the details.

All too soon we had to hurry back to Sollér to get our car out of the car park in time. This, however, proved rather difficult and I think I may have been the cause of that. I insisted we take a cab back instead of going by tram again but cabs turned out to be a rare thing. The general rule of waving one over doesn’t apply there, even if you see one. No, there’s a central taxi spot in the town center where you sit and wait and then a taxi comes by and picks up the first person in line and the driver asks how many other cabs are needed and sends out a notice to other drivers over the airwaves. Only this procedure isn’t explained anywhere and it took us a while to figure it out, so we only barely made it in time. But at least the prices for trips to several places all over the island are declared right there at the waiting spot and the drivers stick to them.

On the first night in our hotel, we had met two nice women who we had a little chitchat with over dinner and they had told us about the apparently gorgeous beach in Alcudia, so for our next trip, we had decided to go there first. We drove up to the northern coast of Mallorca but as soon as we got near the bigger towns up there, we knew that this would be much different to the Mallorca we had seen so far. And when we reached Alcudia, I was thoroughly disappointed. It’s nothing more than a tourist place. The town stretches along a long road that takes you in and out of town within ten minutes. Left and right, there was nothing but big, impersonal hotels, chain stores and grimy restaurants. We kept saying we’d turn right at the next chance, park the car and walk the few steps to the beach. But then we just never did it. We reached the end of the road and then got the hell out of Alcudia without even getting out of the car. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see the beach but I really just wasn’t feeling the place at all and I feared it would ruin my impression of the island.

Not Quite the Cap de Formentor But Stunning Anyway

Not Quite the Cap de Formentor But Stunning Anyway

So, instead of checking out this place, we moved on towards Cap de Formentor, the northern most spot on Mallorca. Out travel guide said that a trip to the cape was recommended for “bicycle riders who don’t mind a little challenge”. As a driver, I gotta say even I felt challenged. Even though we saw a lot of cyclists, I have no idea if any of them actually made it up those winding, narrow roads alive. It was hot, there wasn’t the tiniest hint of a breeze and when you turned a corner and looked straight at a large bus or truck, you thought “So this is how it ends!” But somehow, we made it up to a spot where a lot of busses and cars clogged up an entirely too small car park. There were a bunch of cars behind us and there didn’t seem to be a single free spot so, feeling disappointed, we drove on. But then, a little further down the road there was a little bay by the side of the road where a couple other cars were parked. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be used by tourists to park their rentals but we still seized our chance and stood by the side of the road to take in the stunning view. True, the view from the cape must have been even greater but at least we had the spot to ourselves – no idea where the other tourists were – and we were just as overwhelmed.

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Kathy Goes to Mallorca Pt. I: Yay for free wifi!

So, it’s that time of the year. It’s vacation time. (Notice how I’m saying this as if I actually went on holiday once a month!)

After an early rise at six in the morning and arriving at the airport at 9:30, we learned that we couldn’t actually check in before eleven so the first hour of our vacation was spent sipping stale diet coke and – due to a nervous stomach – visiting the surprisingly Mediterranean airport bathroom about a dozen times while telling my body that no, it wasn’t getting any food it would be able to use as a weapon against me. Can you tell I don’t deal well with traveling by plane?

After checking in, we immediately sat in a café in what I swear is the tiniest departure waiting area in the world. People were sitting in each other’s laps (well, almost) until it was time to walk to the plane. Yes, I said walk. No nifty gates or shuffles. Walk. By foot.

I’ll spare you the details of how I clawed at the armrest of my seat, temporarily turned Christian so I could confess my sins and hope for the best and generally drove everyone insane with my cries of “Oh my god, we’re gonna die!!” So fast forward two hours and…

Tadaaaa! We’re in Mallorca!

Everything seemed to go so fast from there. John Lennon welcomed us to the island while we were being driven to our hotel. When we looked at the clock once we’d arrived at our hotel, over two hours had passed since we’d touched ground in Palma. But it had seemed like no time at all. We’d been so worried about a million little things since we’d booked online and through an independent travel agency. But everything went so smoothly.

And the hotel! Oh my! It’s a cute little place, none of these huge modern resorts but recently remodeled. The room is small but so gorgeous and we have the most stunning view of the sea and the lighthouse from our balcony.

When we arrived, it was close to dinner time and since we were absolutely famished, we only walked down to the port to look at the sea and then went back to have dinner. Which was also really good. Some reviews had said that the buffet didn’t offer much variety. Which I can already say is crap. It’s only our first night and we were already overwhelmed with food. And actual fresh food, too. Not the usual offerings of fries, noodles and some weird meat. Instead there were six or seven different kinds of salad, homemade pasta, fish and at least five different veggie dishes. And please don’t get me started on the desserts! I didn’t want to stop eating but after not eating all day, I didn’t want to overwhelm my body.

And I’m sorry to say, this was our first day here. I would have loved to go on a nice walk after dinner but the tiny bit of energy I had left only allowed for a nice cold drink from the hotel bar and an early night in to type this on my phone and letting the background noise of crappy television lull me to sleep.

So…I’ll leave you with a few impressions of Rodney and me and the sea and the moon.

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Categories: Foody, Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weigh-In Day II

I’m sorry for not posting this yesterday as planned but I didn’t really get a moment to sit down and write a post.

The last week was both, a disaster and a success. I had the week off and never even made it to the gym. Which is fine considering that I already planned to take time off from work and other things when I’m on vacation.

What wasn’t so cool was that I also let myself go with the eating and the not logging. I think the logging is the main problem. If I get better at that and actually see the calories I’ve consumed black on white on MFP, I’ll automatically eat less because I’ll think twice before eating that ice cream or cake or crisps.

Anyway, I pained for it with a 800g gain. Not cool.

But there were also good thing. First was the booked vacation in September, of course. That led to me going shopping on Thursday, aiming for a swimsuit. Yes, I am gonna bloody get into the pool, maybe even the ocean. I haven’t worn a swimsuit in about ten years and past vacations were spent avoiding the pool like the plague. But now I figured what the hell?! Who cares who sees me? I won’t ever see those people again. Still, shopping for one seemed a bit like a nightmare. I had one from H&M on my mind (that turquoise patterned one?!) but ended up buying the black version of it instead because it looks a lot posher. And also because the turquoise wasn’t available in my size. Which turned out to be a devastating 54, the biggest one. I used to be down to a 48 and looking forward to shopping outside the plus size department! That came as another wake up call (how many do I need?). I’m gonna try to lose as much weight and shape up as much as possible until Mallorca. Which may lead to the suit being loose but HAHA, I’m smart and I have an old smaller one just in case. Although my new, pretty one is shaped so nicely that it’d still look good, I’m sure. And, if I do say so, I don’t look so bad in it. I’m no Beyoncé but it’s not a nightmare like I thought it’d be.

Categories: Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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