Wednesday, May 30, 2012

3 Countries, 2 Continents, 1 Week (Part 2)

So after Marbella, we were off to Gibraltar. I wish I could say I was excited to go to Gibraltar, because that would mean I had ever heard of it before. But, I had not. Although I went to private school, they still taught American Geography. Probably how I ended up living in Moscow. I thought it was somewhere in Colorado. I knew nothing about Gibraltar, and although I wish I could say it was some hidden gem, it was not. All there really was to see was the big rock, which was as it sounds, a big rock. A bunch of wild monkeys, who live on the rock, and according to all of the signs around, pick pocket anyone who steps foot on the rock.

I trust this monkey, not at all.
I have never been comfortable around wild animals, but monkeys? Forget it. Those bastards are crazy strong. I am from Florida, home state of where the lady got her entire face ripped off by a "domesticated" monkey. A wild monkey? Pffftttttt.

I have mad respect for this girl, she learned young. Don't underestimate the power of a good side eyes look:

The rock IS worth seeing if you are in the area. Pro-Tip: If you are doing the rock, bring a change of shoes. I am constantly doing whatever I can to avoid looking like a typical American tourist while vacationing in Europe, and as a result I will not wear sneakers, no matter how practical or comfortable they would be for the 10+ hours a day of walking on unpredictable terrain I may have planned or unplanned. I wish I could give you good advice on a comfortable walking shoe on par with a sneaker that does not leave you looking like you should also invest in a fanny pack, but sadly, I do not. My Toms wedges are super comfortable, but as a wedge, not great for cobble stones (and you do walk around feeling the need to alert people that you are NOT a Hipster). 

Another thing about Gibraltar? Despite being a British colony, Gibraltar does NOT stamp your passport upon entry. Even if you ask. Twice. The entire town is tax free, which leaves it resembling a giant airport duty free shop, so if you are into that sort of thing, Gibraltar is the place to load up. 

Keeping a safe distance

Thursday, May 3, 2012

3 Countries, 2 Continents, 1 Week (part 1)

In 2002 I left a study abroad in Madrid with a big middle finger in the air screaming "NEVER AGAIN, SPAIN, NEVER AGAIN!!" I spent an entire semester looking down on the metro to see someone else's hand in my pocket, dodging piles of dog poo on the sidewalks, getting locked out of my host family's house, being timed while taking a shower, picking pin feathers out of chicken, sneaking off to the bathroom to dump cups of coffee down the sink so I wouldn't offend my host mom and being surprised by meat fillings in pastries I thought would be sweet.  I do realize that part of my poor experiences may have been because I was a naive blonde 19 year old American girl with no worldly experience, save several trips to Epcot. I kept that vow for 10 years.

Then, while planning our April Vacation (yeah I said April Vacation because yeah I get 14 weeks off a year. Go ahead and drool, it is my benefit for living in The Russia) the SOUTH of Spain started singing its' Siren Song and I found myself booking the Marriott Vacation club in Marbella, Spain. Whistle whistle look at my pool. Whistle whistle Paella. You like how my Sangria tastes? Oh, are you look  at Yo? Hola, Lover! Who could resist South of Spain? She is such a pervert.

So we booked 4 nights in Spain. Then my husband, who also had a piss of a time in Spain once upon a time in a small town called Barcelona, realized we could not spend the entire trip in Spain, we needed to diversify. He was not a 19 year old dumb blonde American girl when he went, but his bad experience could be explained by his high expectations due to his love of the Counting Crows and their serenades to Spain. Come to think of it, Adam Duritz, may be responsible for  for a lot of my Husband's issues. An entirely different post. We began looking at nearby cities, and countries, and decided to go all in by planning the last of our 3 days split between Gibraltar and Morocco. This is how we ended up on 2 continents in the course of a week.

I am making it sound much more jet setter-y and dramatic than it is.  It was actually the perfect span of time for these 3 locations, and the travel time was not outweighed by the enjoyability, which is easily which a diagnostic symptom of trying to cram too much in in too small of a span of time.

Saturday we flew in to Malaga airport. We flew on the airline that shall not be mentioned. Grrr. We arrived around 1am, grabbed our rental car and headed to the crappy, near the airport motel, we booked just to crash for the night. We woke up, had a leisurely breakfast of this:

Churros con Chocolate
Yeaaaah that is basically fried bread and a melted chocolate bar. That was on the breakfast menu. What was it I didn't like about Spain again? I can't remember. You misunderstood.

Then we drove out to Marbella, and I was poolside with my ginormous copy of Atlas Shrugged, Sangria in hand, bitching about how I had to lug this gigantic book with me even though I had it downloaded in ibook because my iPad is impossible to read outside by 1pm. Anyone who is framiliar with Atlas Shrugged will see how this was a theme. First world problems, I has them. I am going to submit myself to anyday now. I spent the rest of the day with my girl-friend getting faded on Sangria any other alcohol we could find, while the boys went for a bike ride. Then we stocked up at the grocery store since our rental had a full kitchen. Pro tip: never go to the grocery store drunk or you will end up with nothing but cheese, ice cream and enough booze for a small bomb shelter because you know what goes with a nice bottle of wine? A second bottle of good wine, or maybe a second bottle of not so good wine, who cares at that point?

Back at the hotel we walked down the beach in search of dinner, and ended up at a beach front bar that turned out to old serve booze and pointing to a chilled bottle of something pink at someone's table shouting, "we will have what he is having!"

Pro Tip: never do that in the South of Spain at a ritzy-ish seaside beach bar without asking the price first.

Pro Tip part dos: At least ask the price before you have a second bottle uncorked.

Yeah. Those bottles were 90 euros each. Nope, I have no idea what they tasted like. Who can remember such things when you end your night like this:

The rest of the time in Spain was basically rinse and repeat. Hungover by the pool or drunk looking for more booze. I would recommend this approach to vacation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Benefits of The Other Woman

When I was little I would beg my dad to please let me take a friend with us on family vacations. In the absence of siblings growing up, I wanted a companion on my trip who I wouldn't have to force to go swimming with me and would simultaneously roll their eyes with me about another sit down dinner. Anytime I got my way about this growing up, the trips were pure bliss.

As an adult, I am realizing this has not drastically changed. Last year my husband and I delved into the realm of "vacationing couples." We found a couple we travel well with. I formerly thought this was a mythical creature like a unicorn or a jackal-ope (those are not real right? I always forget) but I have found out that it IS possible for there to be another couple where my husband likes the guy and I enjoy the girl.

I have found there are enormous benefits of traveling as a foursome.

Firstly, I do not plan good travel. The whole process of planning and committing is confusing and overwhelming to me, so usually my husband is left to the planning of our trips. I am sure this gets annoying and burdensome to him. With another guy in the mix, the burden is now shared and my guilt is alleviated.

With another like minded female on the trip, I can now feel free to insist on the 45 minute detour to hit up Sephora to hope they have the new Naked II eyeshadow palette (which they did NOT, boo, hiss, stab) because now I am not the only one who wants to go! I am not the only one derailing the trip to do superficial shopping!  Also, we can both escape the eyeshadow debacle without our significant others thinking we are the superficial ones, we can blame each other for the detour in the name of being a good friend.

My husband now has someone to go on bike rides or hikes with and I don't find myself schlepping a backpack up a hill on my vacation while the most schlepping I want to do is of a sangria to my face by a pool.

I also can now wear whatever shoes I want on the trip and stop as frequently as they hurt as long as I coordinate this with the other girl, and I can escape looking good in my heels without looking like a bad traveler. There really is safety in numbers.

Now, the benefit of the couple travel versus just doing a girlfriend trip is that you still can have romantic time with your significant other. You can still have a dinner, stroll or outing by yourselves but the difference is you both get to do what you want to do and still can do what you want to do together. I imagine it is like traveling with a babysitter.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Iberia Airlines: Thanks, but no thanks

What is there to be said about Iberia airlines? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so that should cut this post down substantially:

I am all for airlines keeping prices down on tickets, but unless Iberia only plans to sell tickets to double amputees in the future, this lack of legroom is unacceptable. I am 5'2 in heels, I usually enjoy showing off the amount of legroom I am afforded in an airline seat, but on Iberia, not just my 6'2 husband's knees were up by his chest.

The seats built by contortionists for contortionists were not the only form of sadomasochism, but I didn't accept the slop tray they put in front of me so I can't provide you with photographic evidence.

Bottom line, Iberia Airlines is showing the cheapest option for your flight? Don't bother.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Off The Cuff: a PSA

I am imprisoned today by my pants and shoes combination. A self made prison of heels plus cuffed pants. Last time I wore a combination like this I face planted going UP stairs. This outfit is a death trap. Why do I do it to myself? I wonder if anyone else ever has this problem.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The World is MINE

I don't remember the context. It is not important. Last week I told my husband that I can't be sure anything exists unless I am looking at it. This applies to objects, contracts, people, buildings, etc. My perception is my reality, but is it yours? I don't know. This is something I have obsessed   over for some time, but have never put any valid effort into proving, because everything changes as soon as you look at it because it is being looked at right? Trippy? I know. I get this mirror inside of a mirror mind thing going periodically. It drives me nuts. It has a very tentative relationship with the whole obsessive thing that also habitates inside of my head. No, I haven't had it checked out. No, I don't plan on discussing it with a professional, there is not room for more in my head.

Yesterday, my husband who is currently working on his PhD and consuming an inhumane amount of articles daily, told me about one he had read yesterday that just came up and sort of proved my theory on a molecular level. Obviously I am a genius at quantum physics but I never knew. Or did my husband just read this article because I thought it, and I fabricated this entire exchange in my head? Who can ever be really sure?

Recently, in my spare time, when I am not working on applying for an honorary degree in physics or at my day job, I have been doing a little tutoring here in Russia. The pay is great, the discussion group I have been leading once a week has provided me with so many laughs/interesting facts, and let's face it, this blog has been lacking in content lately. I picked up one learner once a week, and agreed to tutoring a 3 year old 2 days a week. The problem is, I only actually like doing things in theory. Actually doing things is really time consuming and exhausting. Especially now that it is getting dark at like 6pm.

Immediately after accepting this twice a week tutor job I wanted an out. I mean come on, I don't even like kids.  However, I was referred by a friend, and didn't want to hear it dissapoint. So I agreed. I have spent the entire morning figuring out ways to build an acme black hole so I could crawl through it and not do the job. My physics knowledge may not be as vass as I previously thought, because this task is eluding me. HOWEVER, my power of telekentics? Spot on. I just got a text saying the kid got the flu and tutoring will need to be rescheduled. I now have an entire week to regret my decision! I willed this to happen with my mind, and I will accept no other explanation.