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Category: Holidays (page 2 of 5)

Delayed (again)

I am becoming a zen master at spending many hours in airports. And I even have a cold!

My flight out of Edinburgh boarded on time but sat on the ground for 45 extra minutes because of the weather in London. Landing slots all pushed back because of high winds. It ended up squeezing my already short connection time to an impossible-in-a-massive-airport 30 minutes once I was off the plane. It wasn’t gonna happen. In fact they had already re-booked me onto a later flight before we even landed.

So, things I will not be doing today:

  • Getting my first ride on an A380, which, even as someone who dislikes flying, I was kind of excited about
  • Seeing my parents (and seeing how many of Islay’s 8 distillery names my Dad can properly pronounce, which was going to be an amusing game)
  • Eating dinner at this place, which I was sooooo looking forward to
  • Running through Heathrow T5. A plus! It was definitely nice to be notified of the futility of such an action before I attempted it.

However. This is all ok. I mean, it’s kind of annoying, but also, what am I gonna do about it?

Due to said cold (it’s kind of a bad one) I’m slightly more miserable about sitting around in public for 7 hours than I normally would be, but I’m doing pretty well considering the circumstances. I loaded up on cold meds and bought myself a smoothie full of ginger and stuff from Giraffe the minute I got through flight connections. No airport beers for me today.

There’s a giraffe in my smoothie.

Then I managed to find the Quiet Area of T5 A gates, which is tucked away behind the massive Duty Free shop between gates 12 and 13. There are lounge chairs here. And they aren’t luxury sofas or anything, but they’re… loungey.

It’s easy to forget how bloody crowded the place is sitting here because it IS actually pretty quiet, save for the announcements. Not too many people walking by. Charging sockets at every seat. A nice view of the planes (and the rubbish weather). I spent two hours stretched out lazily reading (Station Eleven, which I’m loving) and watching silly airport vehicles in the rain. It was nice! And hey, I’m not at work!


Then I went and used my £10 voucher from the delay on some head-clearing noodles at Wagamama. Any day on which I get to eat noodles can’t be all bad. Particularly when someone else is picking up the bill. There was a lot of chilli and ginger and lemongrass involved, so I feel like I’m working on healing myself. Although now I’m a little soup-bloated. But no matter! I’m back in the loungey chairs to write this while I wait my final hour or so.

I must apologise to whoever ends up next to me on this flight. I am the girl you do NOT want to be sitting near. I am the one who is doling out the post-flight colds. I have often been on the receiving end. I’m trying to keep it to myself as much as possible but I’m sure everyone pretty much hates me. WHO GETS A CHEST COLD TWO DAYS BEFORE A FLIGHT. Well done, body! Also it’s kind of weird reading a book about life after a flu that wipes out most of civilisation when you’re going around plaguing fellow air travelers. I’m sorry, world. I am. Truly. Hopefully I’m not patient zero of the apocalypse.

Anyway. I got my parents to re-book the restaurant for lunch the day I fly home, so I’ll still see them AND eat the food (and my Dad will have more time to practice his ‘Bruichladdich’s and ‘Caol Ila’s). And I’ll be on an A380 on the way home, so I’ll still deliver on my promises to coworkers – who were even more excited than me when I said ‘top deck!’ – of pictures of the experience.

I do wish this cold medicine was a bit stronger though. And I’m looking forward to a G&T, a film, and a snooze once I’m in the air.

Travel Throwback Thursday

I’ve hijacked #tbt and turned it into #ttbt so I can tell stories about old photos of my past adventures. This time: I can’t believe it’s been a whoooooole year since I went to Africa.


Possibly one of the nicest pictures I’ve ever taken.

This is the best picture I took in Africa. But let me tell you what was going on here, because I was immensely overheated, exhausted, and uncomfortable. The most ideal looking thing is often very different in reality.

We were spending the day in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and had set up camp in a lovely spot on a wee island. We’d been poled out in these mokoros in the morning along with all our stuff. But on that trip, we had our camp mattress pad things crammed up into seats in the boats, so despite being crazy hot, it was super comfortable and relaxing gliding through the water reclining on our piles of backpacks and hiding from the sun under to cheap plastic umbrellas we’d bought in Maun.


The trip out in the morning. Super chill.

After swimming and listening to each others’ music all day in camp, we piled back into the mokoros to be taken to another island for a game walk. This time there was nothing to sit on, so it was slightly more rough and ready. And the guy poling the boat I took in the evening was a fan of plowing through the reeds, which really hurt. It was also SO. SO. SO. HOT. We went for the hottest walk I think I’ve ever been on. We saw very few animals because animals are smart and they weren’t hanging around where there was no cover from the sun like us silly humans were.

Hottest walk of my life

Hottest walk of my life

Of all the things we did on this trip, I’d have to say this walk was the furthest from a highlight. However, I don’t regret it. Because: Africa.

Plus, on the way back we got this perfectly timed, amazing view of the sunset over the Delta. And it just so happened that the boat I was in was behind Ben and Gary’s boat, which was lucky because the shot would pretty dull and forgettable if it was just the sunset on its own.

When we got back to camp, there was dinner and singing and dancing and drunken stargazing at the most stunning night sky with zero light pollution to a soundtrack of the most bizarre and wonderful clinky-sounding frogs. Completely un-capturable on camera as the best experiences often are. It was great.

Another reason to be excited about DC

I’ll be in the US in a month and I’ve got a pretty packed schedule while I’m there. I’ve been pretty slow about figuring out what it is I want to do on the few days that haven’t been planned out yet so I’m starting to get to critical ‘figure it out or wing it’ stage now.

Initially, I really wanted to find a regular swing dance night in either DC or Raleigh, NC to check out. While I’m generally socially terrified to rock up to something like that on my own, I know Lindy Hoppers are a friendly bunch, and it would have been really cool to see how stuff goes down in a different city. Plus I’m sure I could have dragged a friend with me and peer-pressured them into taking a beginner lesson. However, it seems The Jam Cellar in DC is on a Tuesday and The Lindy Lab near Raleigh is on a Thursday. And naturally, I will be in DC two Thursdays in a row, and in Raleigh on a Tuesday. WELL PLAYED, ME. So that’s unfortunately out this time around.

So last night, I went back to check the website of the 9:30 Club in DC (the best concert venue ever ever ever) to see if there had been any schedule updates. To my surprise, I found that Ben Folds is playing a sold out show on the Friday I bugger off to Frederick for the night. I kicked myself for not knowing about that, because to see Ben at the 9:30 Club again would make me so happy I can’t even explain it to you. But then I saw a wee link to the Lincoln Theatre show he’s playing on the Thursday that I AM in the city. And it’s NOT sold out.


I AM TOTALLY GOING TO SEE BEN FOLDS (for the eleventy-billionth glorious time) IN DC! Liam and Bobby are coming with me and they’ve never seen Ben live so that will be EXCELLENT.

Now I just have to figure out what to do during the day. It may be time for a trip back to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, because after spending $45 on a Ben Folds ticket, free stuff is definitely a draw. Also: SPACE. Also: horrendous freeze-dried ice cream. (And regular ice cream, obviously.)


Travel Throwback Thursday

I’ve hijacked #tbt and turned it into #ttbt so I can tell stories about old photos of my past adventures. This time: Kiplin Hall and the Lake District – my first time in the UK.

Top of Langdale Pike, which I'm pretty sure was my favourite hike of the trip.

Top of Langdale Pike, which I’m pretty sure was my favourite hike of the trip.

Waaaaaay back in 2003, I came to the UK for the first time on the best summer programme you could ever hope to imagine. At least, if you were a dorky English major. Washington College ships a group of us over to Kiplin Hall near the Lake District every summer to study the Romantics and tromp about where they did.

I got to hike all over some gorgeous bits of the country (Have you ever walked the coast from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay? Because you should.) and read a lot of good stuff with one of the best professors ever. I saw Edinburgh for the first time on that trip. The fifth Harry Potter book was released while we were here (I bought it in York). We went to Ireland as well. And for a lot of us, it was the first time we were allowed to drink in a bar because we were under 21 and the UK is a magical place for American college students where you only have to be 18 to buy a pint. So it’s also when my love affair with cask ale began.

Exhausted on the lawn of Richmond Castle.

Exhausted on the lawn of Richmond Castle.

Clearly it was amazing, and it started something bigger than I thought in terms of My Life Stuff. But then, I think anyone would be hard-pressed not to fall head-over-heels in love with this country after spending even one day in the Lake District. Even in the rain (which there was a fair bit of).

Having a break after walking out to that bloody Bronte Wuthering Heights house. Nice walk, horrible book. YES I HAVE AN OPINION. (That sheep also ate half my sandwich, but that's ok.)

Having an impromptu Lit lesson and a lunch break after walking out to that bloody Bronte Wuthering Heights house. Nice walk, horrible book. YES I HAVE AN OPINION. (That sheep also ate half my sandwich, but that’s ok.)


Swing dance summer camp is a thing

And I am trying to decide if I should go.

Seriously. DON’T YOU WANT TO, TOO?

So, I’ve mentioned it in passing here before, but I’ve been learning Lindy Hop for the past year and I really, really love it. And in the past few months, lessons and social dancing have become easily my favourite part of the week. It’s an awesome group of people, a super fun time, and a pretty hardcore workout to boot. I’ve had to miss the past two weeks, which I was kind of bummed out about, but this weekend I’ve got a workshop on addition to the usual Thursday night business, so I’m psyched for the weekend.

Anyway, when I was sitting in bed wiling away my sick days a few weeks ago, I fell down an interweb swing dance wormhole. One side effect of which was I learned all about Herräng. 5 weeks of summer camp. For adults. In Sweden. All for dancin’.

It looks and sounds amazing. Yes?

I mean, in addition to the idea of doing one solid week of lessons and social dancing and practice being really appealing, getting to be at summer camp as a grown-up is basically the coolest thing ever. It looks bonkers and creative and full-on and exhausting. And like the perfect summer holiday. Plus it’s in Sweden in the summer so the sun pretty much never goes down. And I love Sweden.

I’ve priced it out, and to do a week all in, including a day or two in Stockholm beforehand, would be about £800. That’s it!

The only reason I’m struggling with it is, that’s £800 less for the Trans-Siberian. I have to wait to find out about the money situation at work before I know if that £800 would be a deal-breaker. This is also one of the things that has been making me re-think my long-term travel plans as a whole. It would definitely mean I’d probably only be able to do one month at the end of this year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the other great points about this whole summer camp thing is that it’s a really good excuse to get away from technology COMPLETELY for a week. There’s a place to get wifi in the camp, and I’d have my phone with me, but honestly, I’d be quite happy to not use it at all. I’d be too busy learning new stuff, running around, hanging out at the beach, eating ice cream, meeting people from all over the world, and staying up all night dancing. Who needs the flippin’ internet when you’ve got all THAT?

I mean, this is the stuff that summer camp dreams are made of:

So, I’ll let you all know in a few weeks what the verdict is. But I’m really hoping I can work it out.

Paris/London 2015

NOTHING BESIDE REMAINS. (Ok except some wine, but that was short-lived.) #canard

So my quick trip to Paris and London was pretty full-on. I crammed a lot into less than a week, but it was good fun. I don’t have any pictures of the London portion, but this whole trip grew out of the need to go down there so I could get a bridesmaid’s dress from David’s Bridal in Stratford. And that went just about as you’d expect spending two hours in a large American chain bridal store on a Saturday would go. Eeesh. I did pick out a nice dress though, and I didn’t even have to carry it home because it needed ordering, so that was pretty successful.

I then headed straight for the chaotic centre of London to check out the Revival Retro boutique, which was the complete opposite experience. Absolutely lovely and everything on the sale rack was in my size (NEVER HAPPENS). I straight CLEANED UP in terms of vintage style early birthday presents to myself, including this dress, which I love love love.

New clothes!

If only I were so lucky every time I had to get new clothes.

Anyway, after that, I grabbed some gelato at Gelupo to bring back to my fantastic hosts’ place for dessert. I stayed with David who I went to college with, his husband Jason and their housemate Krysta. They made me dinner and cocktails and had great chat and wine (Jason is a wine seller, check out his shop if you’re in London!) and were pretty much impeccable in every way.

Sunday, I met my friend Chloe and we had an epic Sunday roast in a pub then a walk along the river in the sun before wiling a away the afternoon before my flight out of London City in The Understudy, which is a great new bar at the National Theatre looking out on the river. Excellent beer AND coffee.


My full Flickr set for Paris.


I couldn’t remember if I’d factored in the cost of the bridesmaid’s dress when I set the budget for this trip, but I’m going to guess that I did because the dress was £110 and all my other spending was about £120 short of my full budget, which was £600. I did not count the money I spent on clothes in London in budget spend because it was just kind of normal shopping I needed to do (ALL of my clothes are falling apart at the same time, ergh.)

Trip total: £475.49

At 6 days, 5 nights, that’s an average of £79.25 per day. Higher than my average for Finland, which was slightly surprising, but I did pay for accommodation for part of this trip, and I didn’t do that in Finland.

I'm loving the updates to Trail Wallet by the way!

I’m loving the updates to Trail Wallet by the way!


 £187.90 on food and drink. I TOLD YOU this trip was all about eating. This was my biggest expense, and I’m perfectly happy with that.

£113.95 on transport. This is mostly local public transport, as I only spent £35 on the flights since I got them with BA miles/Avios.

£9.76 on entertainment. A ticket to the Louvre and a donation at Notre Dame. I did so much walking and wandering on this trip that most of my entertainment was free. The Louvre is kind of expensive, but I’d say it’s justified.

£125.00 on accommodation. My first Airbnb, which was fantastic! I’ll definitely be using it much more now.

£3.70 on stuff for me. This was some travel bits and pieces at Muji in London.

£35.18 on gifts. For my hosts and for a few treats to bring in to work.


Paris: Less money or less hurry?

In which I realise there IS such a thing as too much research

Paris plans

Paris, part one (and being a wimp)

Paris, part two (I am so very full)

In the headphones

Nina Simone

On the Kindle

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Paris, part two (I am so very full)

A bit of our dinner at Le Dauphin.

A bit of our dinner at Le Dauphin.

So, go back out last night I did, and I ended up at Le Dauphin. This place was amazing. It’s apparently the tapas-y offshoot of a much fancier, more expensive restaurant a few doors down. It was a little pricey, but seriously worth every Euro penny of it. Plus we shared everything so I got to try ALL THE THINGS. And I basically just let Elisabeth and Noura pick what we got, right down to the wine, so I got traditional French stuff as well as good twists on various meats. They did something MAGICAL to fresh mackerel. And the French original that a deviled egg is modeled on is a thing of pure transcendent joy, I’m telling you.

I never imagined in a billion years I’d end up in a place like that, so, that’s why it’s good to know locals.

It was a late night, ending with Japanese whisky, a metro home, and battling with the wifi to try to get some images on the last post then ultimately giving up and passing out from exhaustion and drink. I stayed in bed til about 9.45 this morning and popped out to grab some breakfasty things (including more pastry) before having a coffee with my lovely airbnb host Mathilde and going out to face another day of walking. This time in my trainers, which was such a good plan.

Today my wandering was accompanied by Dramophone on loop in my head. Perhaps slightly more appropriate than Alan Cumming (considering Cabaret is based in Berlin). Caravan Palace ARE French after all. And Thursday is usually Lindy Hop day.

On various recommendations, I went over to the 19th and 20th (‘the Leith of Paris’) and wandered through Parc des Buttes Chaumont, down through Belleville. I got an amazing sandwich from a boulangerie just across from the park in Belleville where they totally upsold me to the best meal deal I think I’ve ever freaking had. Basically, they were like, if you buy a sandwich, you can pick ANY OF THESE AMAZING LOOKING DESSERTS for sometime like 50 cents or so less than they usually are. And I was like, UM, YES, WHO SAYS NO TO THAT?! I got a massive slice of vanilla rhubarb custard tart with my cheese, walnut, honey and rocket sammitch. Then I sat outside in the park and ate the sandwich incredibly slowly because I was still kind of full from the night before, not joking.



After struggling to finish my lunch (I saved the tart for later), it was on to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise where all the famous folk are buried. I’m not terribly interested in most famous people, and least of all Jim Morrison, who most visitors seem to be after if the graffiti in the ladies toilets is anything to go by, but I did seek out Oscar Wilde’s grave. Because: Oscar Wilde! I don’t know if Jim Morrison’s is glassed off because I didn’t see it, but I was kind of disappointed that people had treated Wilde’s so badly they felt the need to seal it up. I love the choice of poetry snippet on the back from The Ballad of Reading Gaol. It’s also incredibly bizarre that this has popped up again just now because another passage from it is mentioned in Alan Turing’s biography as the way he broke off his engagement with Joan Clarke (I am STILL reading it, it’s a slog but worth it) and I just read that particular bit on the plane the other day. Coincidences!


The back of Oscar Wilde’s grave.

The cemetery was a nice place to wander around. The columbarium in particular was lovely. My grandfather is in the one in Arlington which is all very military and uniform, so I’d never seen one that had such creative and varied markers. I don’t have pictures because I feel weird taking pictures of that stuff, but people obviously put a lot of love and thought into the small square they got as a marker.

I then metroed to Bastille and did some window shopping and wandering round a Paris department store. The kitchen floor! They had a whole AISLE full of CHEESE TOOLS. And the stationery and art supply floor! Eeee. Man oh man, I have no idea how I managed to NOT buy anything. Some kind of mad self-control.

I nipped back to home base to regroup and eat some bread before heading back out post-sunset to see the Eiffel Tower. I have to say, I am so, so happy to live in a city where I am not obliged to ride an public transportation at rush hour. The sardine-like nature of the Paris metro is almost unbearable. The only thing that makes it survivable is knowing I don’t have to do it more than a few times. Yeesh. It’s almost worse than London too, because you don’t get the orderly, queue-obsessed Britishness of MOVING DOWN THE CAR.



But I digress. Eiffel Tower! I managed to round the corner from the Trocadero metro JUST as they were lighting it up at 7, which was pretty awesome. It goes all sparkly for 5 minutes every hour. I opted not to go up in it because it’s expensive and the queue was massive, but that was fine, because looking at it from outside is great. If I had the energy I would have maybe done the walk-up-stairs ticket just to see the construction of it all from the inside. But my feet are pretty dead from two full days of tromping about, so I just admired it from many angles. Then I wandered away along the river to get the metro back for an early night. One thing I did notice when staring back was that the spotlights at the top of the tower are actually 4 different lights timed to look like one rotating light shooting out from both sides. For some reason this fascinated me, probably because I bet most people don’t pay attention long enough to notice it.

I could have stared at this for hours.

I could have stared at this for hours.

I’ve had an early night tonight to regroup and rest my feet and stomach (bread, cheese and tomatoes for dinner – couldn’t handle much more). Tomorrow I’ve decided I will indeed hit the Louvre before jetting back to London. It seems wrong not to.

Paris, part one (and being a wimp)

Morning walk on the Seine.

Morning walk on the Seine.

I’ve been here just over 24 hours and I have already been reminded over and over again how long it takes me to get the nerve up to do anything. AGES. When I went out for my first wander last night and realised everything was still actually open after 5pm, I decided I needed a pastry. And then proceeded to walk past every damn patisserie I saw because I was trying to work up to asking for something in French. I am not joking, I walked for nearly an hour until I got so fed up with myself I had to say, ‘OK KATE, THAT’S IT, YOU ARE WALKING INTO THE NEXT PLACE YOU SEE WITH BREAD PRODUCTS AND BUYING SOMETHING, ANYTHING. DO IT. DO IT NOW.’

So I did. I got a wee brioche. It was pretty good. I managed to mess up two short French phrases but still ended up with what I asked for. So. Hurdle one.

Sometimes I’m good at being on my own, but sometimes I’m really, really not. I am incredibly shy, and I’m also for some reason intimidated a lot more by French than most other languages. There’s no logic behind this so I can’t really explain it. And it has nothing to do with the people, who I’ve never found to be anything but lovely and friendly. I don’t know where this stereotype of French people being rude came from because I’ve never had an example. They’ve been nothing but accommodating and helpful regardless of the fact that I butcher their language every chance I get. But I still find it really hard to get past my standard hesitation to get out of my comfort bubble.



Anyway, I did a bit of shopping after that. Bread (went for the ‘Tradition’ over the ‘Baguette’ on my friend Yann’s advice, which was SOUND), butter, yoghurt, wine, chocolate. You know. The essentials. And dropped that all back at my lovely airbnb before heading back out for dinner at the place my host recommended nearby. La Souris Verte, who squeezed me in even though they were busy and served me my first ever steak tartare with some amazing fried potatoes.

I then took a walk up to the Sacré-Cœur to take in the view (and walk off my raw, bloody, tasty meat). I didn’t stay for too long because some dude tried to ‘make friends with me’ and get me to follow him to the Moulin Rouge or something. Pain in the ass. I never felt unsafe (there are police with big guns EVERYWHERE at the moment too), but it’s just annoying to feel like a target just because you’re a single chick. So I headed home to drink more wine and plan my next day’s wandering.

Second coffee and pastry of the day in Marais.

Second coffee and pastry of the day in Marais.

Today I spent most of the day walking. I took the metro down to the river and walked along trying to find coffee. Pro tip: there’s not an awful lot of coffee going on directly on the river. At least not between Invalides and Notre Dame. So I turned away from the river and went into the first ok place I saw (it was now 10.30, needs must) which was fine, but the better stuff came later when I had coffee and a pistachio raspberry pastry at a patisserie on the other side of the river in Marais.



In between, I popped into Notre Dame, because I felt like I should probably do a tourist thing. Also it’s pretty impressive of course. I love the gargoyles. And there are all sorts of crazy details like these faces on some of the joints in the ceiling.

This is waaaaay up on the ceiling. Thank you, zoom lens, for performing fairly well in low light.

This is waaaaay up on the ceiling. Thank you, zoom lens, for performing fairly well in low light.

After that it was more wandering, all the way up to the canal, at which point it was nearing 2pm and I was hungry, so the same overcoming-my-immense-shyness-so-I-can-actually-eat-lunch process started again. I ended up in a nice place on a corner, Le Valmy, where I had some super nice duck leg in mushroom sauce with green beans and peppers, TWO glasses of wine, and a chapter of H is for Hawk in between people watching.

This is when I should have metroed it home, but I just went ‘meh!’ and walked in that general direction with the intention of getting some other cake or pastry on my way. Which I did, but it took ages and the inner-crazy went into full gear fueled by exhaustion and the need for a food coma.

So I am wandering around Paris half-cooked on food and wine and this is what is playing in my head: Alan Cumming. Singing Cabaret. On a loop. Don’t ask me why.

And then, from some small corner of my brain, a voice mischievously suggests:


And I snigger involuntarily while I wonder what on earth possessed me to walk around in THESE BOOTS. Which may well make me look less of a tourist, but they were not really made for walkin’ straight through the day. Ooft.

This is what it’s like when I spend a lot of time alone in a foreign country. (And even at home really.)


By the time I got back I was so shattered I took an hour nap. Paris has seriously taken it out of me. I’m still incredibly tired but I’m going out in a bit to meet the girls who stayed in my flat while I was in Finland in the summer. This is good, because they’ll make local decisions for me, and I don’t think I have the energy left to do that tonight. But I’m sure I’ll get my second wind.

Tomorrow I will make way more use of the metro. The weather is really gorgeous but I don’t think I can manage another full day of walking AND stuffing myself. And I haven’t even had cheese yet!

I really like this city, but I have to say I probably would rather come back with another person. Mostly because of my (largely language-barrier-based) shyness, but another person also means you get to try twice as much different food.

Post-lunch canal strolling.

Post-lunch canal strolling.

Travel Throwback Thursday

I’ve hijacked #tbt and turned it into #ttbt so I can tell stories about old photos of my past adventures. This time: Kalaupapa, Molokai.

Me, Kelsey, and the impressive sea cliffs of Molokai. (Hoooo-leeee crap, look at how young we are.)

Me, Kelsey, and the impressive sea cliffs of Molokai.
(Hoooo-leeee crap, look at how young we are.)

So, my Aunt lives in Hawaii, and the summer after 10th grade (which would make us 16 and 15 I think), my friend Kelsey and I went out to visit. Which was a PRETTY SWEET DEAL for some high-schoolers from the east coast. We did all the usual Hawaii stuff – hanging out on the beach, snorkeling, going to the Pearl Harbour museum, checking out the North Shore, eating pineapple soft-serve after navigating the maze at Dole. I had been before with my family and done a lot of that stuff, but it didn’t exactly lose it’s shine or anything. I mean. In Hawaii as a teenager! We basically had run of the place when we weren’t doing specific planned activities. It was fantastic.

The one thing we did do that I hadn’t done with my family was take a very small plane over to Molokai to hike down into Kalaupapa National Park. This is where King Kamehameha V banished Hawaiian people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). It’s a small peninsula on the north side of the already tiny island that is pretty isolated (you either have to fly in on an even tinier plane, or hike in down a crazy-steep trail), so it was basically the equivalent of sweeping people under a rug. A rug with amazing views, but a rug nonetheless. A bit shit really.

I’ve just looked this up because I couldn’t remember, but apparently that trail is 3.5 miles long. For a super-steep trail, that’s a fair distance (ALL THE SWITCHBACKS) but to my current mind, it doesn’t seem all that long. It’s NOT, really. However, to our lazy-ass, opposite-of-sporty, high school selves, it was soooooooo farrrrrrrrr. I know it’s normal for you to remember things seeming so much bigger as a kid, but you tend to think that way of seeing the world fades out before you’re a teenager. This is one of those memories that proves that your sense of your own relative smallness sticks around a lot longer than you recall.

My Aunt and Uncle put up with our whinging like champs. We certainly appreciated it and it was an amazing day, but you’re talking about girls who were constantly yelled at in gym class for walking when we were meant to be running the mile. So. That gives you an idea.

Anyway, we DID opt for the walk over the donkeys (donkeys!) or the tiny plane, and we were duly rewarded with a history lesson I definitely never would have learned had I not gone there. And a stunning place in general.

This was on the way back up the trail. My uncle looking suitably unimpressed with our lack of hiking love.

On the way back up the trail. My uncle looking suitably unimpressed with our lack of hiking love. (And we did have a permit by the way. You need one to get in to the peninsula.)

Paris plans

It’s time for me to start gathering bits and pieces to connect my 3 days of wandering in Paris. Here’s one of my favourite things I’ve read on the matter in the past few years (and the thing that made me go ‘right, time to get yourself to Paris NOW’).

Eleven Days Alone in Paris

Can I just say that I may be more excited about breakfast than I am about anything else? Even wine. Seriously. Bread and pastries and all the cafe au lait I can handle.

Things I am worried about:

I’m rubbish at French pronunciation. So, SO BAD. I’m generally bad at accenting things properly in any foreign language, but because there are so many silent letters in French, I really just can’t get my head around it, ever. Also, my brain will inevitably default to the tiny bit of Spanish I know when I panic. It’s embarrassing. It will happen.

Eating so much before going to buy this bridesmaid’s dress I need that I will eff up the fitting. In fact, I really need new jeans but I’m thinking it will be way better if I just wait it out til this trip is well past over, because let’s be honest, I may well try every last bit of cheese in Paris.

Things I am not worried about:

Being hungry.