A Travellerspoint blog

And in the end...


So this brings us to the end of my latest endevor. I love London, I've been here a couple of times so far. On all occasions, I have not been able to get to Wales. For whatever reason, 1 country (yeah, I called it that!) that is a mere 2 hours away has always evaded me.

So knowing that I was passing through London on my way home, I carved out time to finally end things. My British former room mate is out of town anyways :(

I arrive in London around mid day. I take a long bus ride into the city and locate Paddington tube station. It has luggage storage for Sapphire, and it also has the regional train to get to Cardiff. There is some trouble storing Sapphire. I bought this really pretty glass lamp in Istanbul that the guy considered it to be some sort of explosive device. I take it out to assure him that is not the case, and part ways. After purchasing my tickets to Cardiff (**gulp** that's alot of money!), I hop on the train and relax. I've been so busy hustling around lately, I never get a chance to relax and watch endless fields pass me.

Two hours later, I pull into Cardiff station. I quickly hop out and look around. I really don't have any time here Just enough to stand on the platform, congratulating myself on my 61st country, take a picture of something, and get on the next train back to London. Here is that something:


I post the picture on facebook and make my why back to the train returning to London.

I arrive in London just in time to pick up Sapphire from luggage storage. I hoist her on my back, as I always do and head on the airport train to Heathrow. With the early flight that I have, I figured I'd just stay at the airport Sheraton. The train to Heathrow is pretty lush. And Toronto doesn't even have one at all! Every city councillor/mayor for as long as I can remember has said that 'we're getting one'. I'm sorry, I won't believe it until I'm on it pulling into Pearson.

After practically sleeping walking my way to the Sheraton airport bus, I get on and head to my hotel. I wish you could stay in those sleep pod things overnight. That would be sweet.

I arrive and order a turkey burger from room service. I look at the bill and there is a 3 GBP tray fee. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Its a reusable tray, why the extra fee? I kind of feel for the service staff, when there are extra charges, people tip less. Cause that's what I did.

  • *************

Flying back was eventful. I check in a the kiosk and it printed the wrong city on the tag, Vienna. Then I get on my flight to Geneva and the girl next to me is actually another Canadian (from the Gatineau area). Which is awesome. What isn't awesome is that she is terrified of flying. I tell her that I've been on countless flights in my day and the worst thing that has ever happened that my bag has gotten delayed (still fresh in my memory) and I've stubbed a toe once. But that's all she needs to hear to go into a panic. Out of politeness, I keep from her the times when my previous bag, Olive, got eaten alive by a conveyor belt and the time when a guy had a grand mal seizure during a safety demonstration.

I land in Geneva. Connections are always a nuisance. More time then you really to get from one gate to another, unless your first flight is delayed, then it ruins your whole trek. And of course mine is in Switzerland, which I LOVE, but lunch alone will cost $20-25. So I wander around the Geneva airport, wondering when is a good time to invest in a new swiss army knife, if swiss watches really are superior to other watches, blah blah blah.

After a long and uneventful (ie good) flight, I have landed in my beloved Toronto. Ugh, I just want to get home already. Wash the cabin residue off of me, sleep in a horizontal position, walk around in my underwear without a backpacking newbie room mate getting the wrong idea. Bit of a pain, there is a long line at customs at my stopover in Montreal. Ugh...

Nothing new in Toronto since I last left.

Until next time!


Posted by AshleyC 15:04 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

And Turkey makes 60!

So now in Turkey, my 60th country to date. Well on my way to my lifetime goal of 100 by 50. Since last hearing from me, I have been to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and now Turkey! Exhausting, but well worth the blood, sweat and tears to get here.

So I'll catch you up. There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, its hard to know where to start. One of the first things I wanted to do was try out a Turkish Bath, or Haman. So I go through my Lonely Planet and read online and settle one one. Unsure of the dress code, I google some tourist forums and see what everyone says. Mostly, they say that its expected to wear at least bikini bottoms in the saunas and bathing areas. So that's what I decide on. I walk into the sauna and I'm a little surprised. It appears that everyone had read different forums since I was the only person (all female btw) wearing anything at all! I am wearing one single piece of clothing and yet I've never felt so overdressed :0 Oh, and flip flops at times.

Fuck it, I look good naked.

My wardrobe for the Turkish Bath. The towel is for hair.

I lay down on a large marble octagon, staring up at the ceiling. The bath is a large building with a domed roof. Stars are cut in the ceiling, like small sun lights. I soak up the steam.

My attendant walks in and introduces herself. She instructs me to sit next to a gold sink. She's carrying a pouch of what I can only assume are bathing supplies and a gold pan and fills it with water. She dowses me head to toe in hot water. She then put some sort of mitt on and scrubbed my skin. Now I'm a very clean person. Its not unusual for me to shower more then twice a day in extreme heat. So it comes to my surprise how much dead skin I was carrying around. It all rolls up in little balls on top of my skin. She takes the pan again and dumps the water on me, washing the skin down the drain with it. She takes my hand and instructs me to lay down on the octagon again. She then takes what looks like a pillow case and dunks it in water. She then proceeds to twirl it around, filling it up with air. She crushes the pillowcase over me and I'm covered in a mountain of bubbles. She does it over and over again to the point where I'm probably not visible under the soapy froth. She rubs the soap into my skin. I'm face down, she notices my tattoo and mentions that she's from Bali. I haven't been there yet, but I will someday.

She dumps more hot water on me, rinsing the copious soap away. She instructs me to sit by the sink again. She rummages through her supplies and takes out a small vile. She pours its contents into her hand and starts washing my hair. I didn't realize that a spa package was this inclusive! Once my hair is rinsed, she starts to condition and massages my scalp. She rinses my hair one last time. She says that its all done and holds up a robe. I slip into it and carefully step into the flip flops. I follow her out to the lounge and lay on the sofa for what I thought would be a few minutes. Later turned out to be an hour.

  • *********************

Istanbul has been surprisingly cool since arriving. I thought it would be well in the 30s, almost 40s. Which is great because I burn in and instant and sweat like 5 grown men sharing one body. I checked out the Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar, The Archaeology Museum, and the Istanbul Modern Museum. The Modern museum is a modern arts museum on the edge of town. There was this one video of a many performing taxidermy on a goat's head (or what I think was a goat's head). Very cool museum. Its always great to see other cultures interpretations of art theories and periods.

Grand Bazaar was pretty awesome, but VERY hard to navigate around. Its much larger (or grander, if you will). I made a mental note of the shops near the entrance, knowing would have been a bit confusing. But when I got in there, so many of the shops are so similar, and there are so many of them, that was a lost cause. I left through the wrong door that lead me to some neighbourhood where everyone carries stuff on their heads. Eventually finding my way back to the main part of town. One thing that really freaked me out where these stones called nazars. They look like flattened out eye balls. Freaky!


Istanbul has been really awesome, definitely my favourite stop on this trip.

Next one oddly eluding country, Wales. I've tried making a stop there in my last two trips to London, but its gotten away from me each time.

Heres hoping it works out!


Posted by AshleyC 10:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

She's back!!!


So I've been in Croatia for a few days. Upon arrival in London on my way her; Sapphire, my backpack, lost her way evidently. I check the route the airline sent her through and she had side trip of her own via HELSINKI!!! Now, I loved Helsinki, but did they have to send her all the way there? You can't really go any further and still stay in Europe. Anyway, its great having her back. I've felt as if I was missing a limb this whole time. I rummage through her contents to find a clean sundress. Ahh, the smell of clean again.

Off to Montenegro!


Posted by AshleyC 12:25 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Eastern Europe, take 2

sunny 33 °C

So this is my second trek to Eastern Europe in my quest for global domination. Lets hope that the whole trip isn't as disastrous. So I get in the airport express bus and I'm nearing closer the airport and BAM!!!! There is an accident ahead of us and I'm sitting in the bus, waiting for it to clear. I'm watching the minutes tick away on my phone and I hope that I get to the airport in time.

I don't.

First, I go kiosk to check in. It decides that it doesn't like my passport. I head to a desk and I am informed that I missed the check in time by 4 MINUTES!!! No exception. If that piece of shit kiosk hadn't rejected my passport, I would have made it. They instruct me as to how get on the standby flight and I do so. I after getting a standy ticket and checking Sapphire, I head to the terminal. I have a few hours to kill before the next flight that I MIGHT get on, so I have a drink. Its not long before a guy starts persisting that he buy me one. Um, we're in an airport terminal, where could this possibly lead?

After wandering around the terminal, killing time, its almost time for the next possible flight to board. I run there hoping they have a seat available. I camp out by the desk and wait. There are a few people that are also on standby, but I was here first. Hoping that means something.

I don't get on it. DRATS! So I have more time to kill. I download some movies on my ipad and setup camp in a corner of the terminal.

Its time for the red eye flight. I HAVE to get on this one. I mean, I really have to. I have a flight from London to Dubrovnik in the afternoon and this will be my last chance to make it. I won't be able to go on the London Eye though :( With the conversion rate, its a tad pricey, so I never got around to going on it on my previous trips to London. But I planned to this time. Looks like its going to stay a plan.

I get on the flight and really ecstatic for someone that missed two flights in one day. And looks like a got a sprinkle of good fortune for my suffering, as it is an aisle seat (call me a princess, but I just can't do window or centre for a long haul flight, I don't like random strangers enough).

I land in London's Heathrow airport exhausted and gross, but excited that I'm almost there. I just have to take a bus (or coach, as it is there) to Gatwick Airport and head over to Dubrovnik, Croatia. In my quest for world domination, I have technically been to Croatia. I took a train through it from Venice to Budapest, stepping out onto the platform halfway through. But I've always wanted to really see it, so I set aside a few days to check it out.

I'm standing by the conveyor belt waiting for Sapphire and she doesn't appear to be there. I start becoming infuriated when I see this suitcase, go around and around without anyone picking it up.


I go to the lost baggage counter and do my thing. Hopefully she'll be on the next flight, whenever that is.

I get my carry on stuff together and make my way to the ATM. I'll need some money to get a bus ticket and whatnot. I go to the same one every time I'm in Heathrow, I don't know why. It spits out my card without giving me any money. Ok this is when you panic. Its really rare for my card to be rejected, and its choosing NOW to do it?? I get the various currencies I have with me and head to the forex, maybe I'll have enough. I had the guy some cash and I tell him that the machine didn't work. Now, I'm a flirtatious person, but I try my hardest to see if he can waive the commission. And guess what, he DOES! I have just enough to buy a ticket, but not much more. I do something that I never do, take cash advance on my credit card. A stupid move, but I have to do it. I know for sure there will be other surprise expenses that I'll need money for right away.

After battling the smartphone check in scanning thing, being stuck behind a giant family with young kids that clearly never been within 10 miles of an airport before, and sprinting my way to the gate, I make this flight. I get on the plain and I'm thankful that I prepare for almost any situation. I have baby wipes in my carry on and give myself a quick facial. Well, after 18 hours of airplane air, frustration sweat, and just general grossness, it felt like one.

I take a bus to the city. My hostel is in Old Town, which is an enclosed party of the city. It was hard to navigate through the maze of tourist shops and restaurants, but I find it eventually. I try to find a bathroom and it appears that this hostel that sleeps 50 or so guests only has 3 bathrooms!!! Oy vey. I finally get in one and I'm overjoyed to feel the running water on my skin. I "borrow" some of the toiletries that are in the shower. I justify it that I probably have "loaned" many toiletries over the years. Plus I "gave" an expensive stick of mascara to someone in Switzerland. I change into a "I <3 Dubrovnik" t shirt that I bought on the way to sleep in. Hopefully Sapphire will make her appearance tomorrow.


Posted by AshleyC 12:25 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)


So my South American trip is coming to an end. To date, I have visited to 54 countries. I have 20 years to get the next 46 out of the way.

I still keep up with the news back home. Turns out there is gargantuan ice storm back in the Tdot. I text one of my neighbours asking if our powers out, trees are down, basically any reason to stay in Chile. My family aren't quick to forgive for missing holidays, and I don't care for Christmas at all.

I ended my stay here with a cooking class where I learned to make empanadas, civiche, and other local fare. I told myself going in that I wouldn't eat that much. I ended up practically carrying my giant belly while waddling back to the hostel.


Waking up the next day, I start the sad process of packing for my flight home. If anyone knows how well tetris applies to real life, its the seasoned traveller. Everything fits in perfectly, even though I have more things trinkets and do-dads then when I started.

Landing in Toronto later in the day, it feels odd when I don't have several hours of jet lag coming home. Leaving the arrivals terminal, it doesn't seem as cold as I expected it. However, I just got received news that power at my mom's house it out. Which is going to make hosting Christmas tomorrow pretty tricky.

We'll see what happens.


Posted by AshleyC 08:16 Comments (0)

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