It’s an adventure.

I’ve been abroad a handful of times, but there are some variables with this trip that have me a little nervous.

One such variable is my ability/inability to pack 10 days into a single duffel bag. (I did it though and now I deserve a present. But, it has to be something I don’t have to pack.) I’ve never left so much behind.

Next, I’m travelling with three friends, two of whom are zero percent familiar with my travel quirks. The other, Kate, could write a novel on the high level of maintenance I “require.” Her familiarity, however, does not necessarily make her forgiving of my crazy. So, 10 days in close quarters with these girls and I’m sure I’ll be forced to stray from my routine. If I need to get specific, yes, I am concerned I won’t be allowed my usual 15 minutes to diffuse my hair. Or, that I won’t hear the end of when I insist on doing it anyway.

Now, these girls are not without their own necessities, so I’m hoping for a lot of give and take. But what I decided it all comes down to is that we’ll have a great time no matter what.


Except it won’t kill us.

Because two days ago I thought I lost my favorite/lucky ₤ forever, but then I found it. Then today I woke up with another headache. But then it dissipated in near-record time. And when I turned my iPod on this morning, “Inner Smile” from “Bend it Like Beckham” played first. So, I can only assume, perhaps with a little prayer here and there, that there is no way this trip won’t be spectacular!

But also, this is not a vacation.

It’s an adventure.

At least, it will be. That’s what I keep telling myself. Because cramming four countries into 10 days is no time for layabouts!

First London for a few days, then Stockholm, then Tallinn and Helsinki, then back to London. What? Rick Steves made me do it. If Rick can do it, I can do it. No, that’s wrong. Rick doesn’t travel with two iPods, an iPad and an iPhone. Rick doesn’t need at least an hour to get ready in the morning. Rick will probably eat herring for breakfast.

Rick Steves I am not, but I got this. I think the many, many hours of planning will pay off. We’ve managed a good mix of scheduled/ticketed events, flexible entry type stuff (a la a couple of handy dandy city passes), and a few spots (Just a few – 10 countries, four days, remember?) of not doing much of anything.

So, I’ve got the butterflies I get when I get to travel. The good butterflies. There are even some rare, extra fancy butterflies reserved just for England. And I LOVE that this still happens.

Even if it all goes kerflooey; if every device fails, if none of the adapters or converters work, or if they blow up in the socket like last time, it will be okay. If the weather’s shit or I can’t do my hair or the train line is down, it will be okay. More than okay. Because it’s England. And also an adventure.

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Brasil 2 – England 2

LDN Tattoo

Tattoo, about five minutes after getting it.

That was for me.

In celebration of my tattoo’s birthday, also the 61st year of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign, the Three Lions drew 2-2 against the mighty Brazilians.

I have a strong disdain for teams that view a draw as a win (glaring at you, US Men’s National Team), but I think the Lions deserve a fair bit of praise for their performance in Rio yesterday. I’d go as far even to say that praise should be tipped in the direction of a win.

I mean, it’s Brazil.

And it’s not like they had their B team on the pitch. Neymar, Oscar, Hulk, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, among others all featured in the starting XI.

To be fair, we had a slightly stronger squad last night than we did against Republic of Ireland earlier in the week. Goalkeeper Joe Hart proved, once again, he’s worthy of the #1 shirt, blocking a number of shots that would have otherwise left his side with an embarrassing defeat. And I should also mention that whatever your opinion of Wayne Rooney, he’s still got it and if he’s able to settle his mind, he’s a world-class striker.

Could things be turning around for Hodgson’s boys? England have notoriously played well during in-between tournament matches, even qualifiers, but I WANT TO BELIEVE!

I should also mention, last time England met Brazil, England won.

Day Two

As Kate departs for London (yes, again), I find it fitting that I’m finally getting around to posting this…

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October 7, Base2Stay, Kensington

Although it pained me to even consider sleeping in the night before, I’m glad I did. After about 10 hours of much needed sleep, I headed out to do some exploring in “my” part of London. I also thought it would help if I re-acclimated myself to the Underground before meeting up with Kate. She can be so bossy, even though I am nowhere near navigationally challenged.

I began by hightailing it to High Street Kensington via Earl’s Court. I was on a mission to find the local Whole Foods, in search of a specific brand of whey protein. The protein was a no-go, but I did find the store the most gorgeous Whole Foods ever! Being harvest season, the store was decked in all its autumnal glory with Hollywood-ready pumpkins and assorted gourds and beautiful bakery fare. And that was after only making it about 15 feet inside the store!

My next stop was Zara as I was on a mission to find a trench coat. This mission was successful.

Harrods Pie Case

I think I wandered the halls of Harrods for a couple of hours before making it down to the Food Halls for some groceries… pies and pasties, prosciutto and olive galette.

I can’t tell you everything I ended up buying, but about half of it was left in my hotel mini-fridge. Shame.

England match. Montenegro 2 – England 2. Yeah, that also happened. Wayne Rooney was a bit of a disgrace, to be sure, but the Three Lions should have pulled that one out, anyway. No matter, my room did not get the necessary SkySports channel, so I just followed the game online while I settled in with my delicious galette and a night of quality British telly.

The end. Good night.

Well that was distracting…

So, Happy New Year and all of that… I was hoping to finish my posts on my October trip to Old Blighty, but I’ll get to that later…

About a month ago my mom called wanting to know the Royal Family’s last name. A bit of panic washed over me as I could not for the life of me come up with an answer. I was at first inclined simply to say “Why, it’s Windsor, of course!” However, I’m pretty sure this is wrong.

Our phone conversation on the matter lasted all of 90 seconds, but the black hole of research I fell into immediately following the call lasted well over an hour. And I was at work, mind you.

What I’d like to share with you now is the email I sent my mother after I managed to claw my way out of the murky, muddy pit…

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To: My mum’s email address

Subject: Well that was distracting…

I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t answer your questions outright… so I did some research… =)

I don’t think Windsor has anything to do with anyone’s LAST NAME. It’s just the HOUSE the bloodline comes from.

The House of Windsor began in 1917 by George V by royal proclamation. He changed it from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha because of the anti-German sentiment in the UK during WWI. Also, probably because that was a dumb name.

Now, how to explain this without jumping around…you’re not just talking about the royal line of succession, you’re talking about what it looked like before any of these people got married or were crowned! Oy.

Before Queen Elizabeth II was coronated, she was Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh (yes, both a princess AND a duchess). She gained the duchess part when she married.

  • Elizabeth and Philip were granted Duke/Duchess of Edinburgh upon their marriage, by Elizabeth’s father, George VI. (Oh, and Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip are second cousins, once removed.)
  • Phillip’s full name before marriage was Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, but he renounced his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the British surname.

Prince William recently gained the duke part, as did his wife gain the duchess. The King/Queen grants them their duke/duchess “locale.” I think William specifically requested Cambridge because he didn’t want Canterbury…it was bad luck or something. Anyway, I believe that Prince William, while still a prince, of course, will never again be referred to as a Prince of Wales. (If his father abdicates, or dies, Wills will become King William [roman numeral] of England…and the realm.)

Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay m. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall…NOW, Camilla isn’t “known” as the Duchess of Rothesay because DIANA was more commonly referred to as the Duchess of Rothesay (even though she was also Duchess of Cornwall).

  • The other thing is, Camilla isn’t a princess even though her husband is a prince… neither is Kate Middleton…she’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and will be until her husband is crowned king, then she will become the Queen Consort.
  • Prince Philip is a prince to his wife’s queen only because he was ALREADY a prince before he married. Kate was a commoner…I don’t think she’ll ever TECHNICALLY become princess OR queen.

Coronation and marriage seem to do strange things to the naming scheme… hard to figure out and I think they’re still making it up as they go along.

Prince William, the newly named Duke of Cambridge was Prince William of Wales until he married. Harry will remain Prince Harry of Wales until he’s married and is given Duke of London or Bristol or Manchester United, or whatever. Both are still princes, no matter what, but what they’re formally referred to is different now.

NOW, if the current queen should die AND Prince Charles doesn’t abdicate, Prince William’s title may change again because he will officially become NEXT IN LINE for the throne. But I really don’t know because the “of Wales” part in Charles’ title doesn’t seem as random when you look at the line of succession… his grandfather was HRH Prince George of Wales before he was crowned King, and his great-grandfather, Edward VII was HRH Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales before HE was crowned king upon his mother, Queen Victoria’s death.

  • But, AHA! QueenVictoria was HRH Princess Alexandrina Victoria of KENT before she was crowned queen. WTF!? Now I know why there are so many royal historians!

So, Charles will become [King] Charles (insert roman numeral here), and Wills MIGHT become Prince of [BRITISH PLACE], Duke of Cambridge. Or he might go back to HRH Prince William of Wales. Get it? No? Well, me either.

I think on Prince William’s birth certificate, it would have only said: HRH (His Royal Highness) William Arthur Phillip Louis.

Now, one of the only things that makes sense based on all of the above, Prince Harry is unmarried, so he’s not the Duke of anything yet… is HRH Prince Harry of Wales, taken from his father still. When he marries, he’ll be given a Duke of SOME PLACE WITHIN THE REALM name.

So…what did we learn? Nothing, really. It seems one of the perks of being a royal is that you can do whatever you damn well please. =) 

I love you!

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We’re gonna call this “Day One”

Errright, so now I’m going to take you back, day by day, through my trip to the UK (and Paris, but we’ll get to that/why it’s more of a sidenote).

Day One – October 6, 2011 – Base2Stay, Kensington

View from my hotel window. I know, right?

Just thought I’d start you off with that little glimpse of heaven… for t’was not sunshine and roses for a few minutes at the start.

Why, you ask? Because genius that I am, decided to use my spidey sense to navigate from the Underground station to my hotel with the world’s largest backpack on my back.

I should’ve gotten off at Earl’s Court, but instead went one stop too far to Gloucester Road. So, I was immediately heading in the wrong direction. I think I did a couple of circles around the block at one point.

But, I sucked it up and got out my map and pretty much hoped I remembered correctly where my hotel was because I didn’t write down the damn address (genius, remember) nor did I have a super-detailed map on which a little “X” marked the spot.

Eventually I found it. The staff were super-friendly – more on that around day three – and my room was perfect. Even when I zapped the shit out of my hairdryer/diffuser, it was perfect. For more on that little adventure, Imma refer you back to my October 6 post…

Mother England…

And awaaaaaaay I go! Tomorrow Idina Menzel, then who knows what magical adventures await me! I’ll be meeting up with Kate in two days time and all I gots to say is it’s been too damn long.

I will try to post whilst I’m in the UK, but I really don’t know the internet sitch. I know the internet existed the last time I was over there, but I really don’t recall ever using it… so we shall see.



I’ll ‘ave whot he’s ‘avin…

A bit of cheese comin’ at ya… and why yes, that’s me talking. 😉 Except that it’s not.