WTF Wednesdays: Travel Tag Edition

The lovely An Historian About Town nominated me for the travel tag. I was so excited to be nominated, because I love to travel and I love An Historian. Not only are her posts well-written, interesting, and positively filled with gorgeous photos of beautiful places and things, the girl behind it all is just fabulous. Go check out her blog-you’ll love it!

Now, without further ado, my responses to some fun travel-themed questions:

What is your favorite place that you have visited?

Hands down, the U.K. and Ireland. My trip was seven freaking years ago, but I still think about it everyday, and I have tried to get back to the U.K. on several different occasions.

Is it possible to look any more touristy?
My ancestor-Lady Godiva’s statue was dwarfed by a Primark. I felt equal parts let down and excited. I really wanted to buy a pair of £8 jean shorts.
 

I also loved NYC and have always dreamed of living it up a la every.single.chick.flick in all creation, as a Big Apple girl.

(All of my NYC pics are stored away on my external hard drive. Sad face.)

Large cities, with tons of energy and culture, are definitely my favorite places to visit, but I loved being in the middle of nowhere, amidst rolling green hills in England. I also adored driving through the otherworldly terrain of the Scottish Highlands, and even though the road to Dingle, Ireland is crap-your-pants scary, the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula is unmatched.

I feel like there should be an “I Survived the Road to Dingle” badge.
Somewhere between Inverness and Edinburgh

If you could visit anywhere tomorrow where would you go?

100% the U.K.! But, I mean, if someone wanted to take me to Japan or Italy or Brazil, I’d not argue one bit. *spastic winking*

Would you rather go on a city holiday or a beach holiday?

I’m such a city girl-the energy, the eclectic culture, the myriad languages, the food, the history… Also, I’m not a huge fan of sunburnt fat that turns into one big, ugly rash, because too much of my skin was exposed and rubbing together. Give me chilly weather, layered clothing, a coffee, and a walking trip around an historic city ANY DAY.

Buuuut, I won’t say ‘no’ to a beach holiday!

Just embrace the sand in your crotch and the sunburned everything!
Alcohol helps!

My top three travel essentials are: 

  • Obviously, my phone/camera is my number one travel must have. The best souvenirs I’ve ever gotten on a trip are the insane amount of pictures of every noteworthy (and, not so noteworthy-I have been known to photograph a random bench or ugly pigeon, because it’s a foreign bench and a foreign pigeon) sight and experience.
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and a travel-size hand soap are essential. I’ve never traveled somewhere exotic enough to encounter squatty potties or lack of running water, but you just never know what kind of facilities or amenities a restroom will have. Also, the very first hostel I ever stayed at did not provide hand soap or even paper towels. You just never know what horrors you’ll encounter. You.never.know.
  • A versatile scarf and a pair of Wayfarers. I know these sound like lame “essentials”, but when I’m feeling ugly as hell on the 6th day of crap hair, because my flat iron refuses to work with the expensive adapter I bought, a scarf makes me feel a little more put together.


Can you even tell my hair is greasy and I’m wearing zero makeup? See what I mean? 

Are you an over packer or an under packer?
Literally, I used to bring three full suitcases for a weekend trip back home when I lived in Elko. The pressure that exists when you have to decide what you want to wear before the day(s) in question is just too much. I can’t even. Also, sometimes my favorite piece of clothing looks hideous on me for various reasons. You just never know.

Before the trip I took to the U.K., I obsessively researched light packing tips and practiced packing the one bag I took. It was a real trial, and it took a huge leap of faith to know I’d survive if I wore the same jeans two days in a row.


So, I lied. I took three bags…

What is your favorite thing about going on vacations?

When I’m on vacation, I feel whole. It’s an indescribable feeling of just being. When you’re on vacation, you get to live a life that would exist if daily stressors, like bills and other lame adult responsibilities didn’t exist.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh, my love!
I also love completely immersing myself in the culture and the history of wherever I am. There’s nothing more humbling than standing in a church built before your own country even existed.

Said church-St. Margaret’s Chapel

Would you rather go on vacation with family or friends?

Yeesh.

Either choice has its share of positives and negatives. Traveling with family means that there’s a pretty good chance your mom might pay for some of the travel expenses. There’s also a fairly good chance she might forget you’re a grown adult and remind you to thank “the nice travel guide”. Or, she might feel the need to chastise you about your frivolous waste of money on name brand deodorant.

Traveling with friends has its benefits in that your friends are usually more in tune with your level of fun. That might mean an adventurous competition to see how many museums at the Smithsonian you can visit in one day.


This was the day after our Smithsonian challenge. Someone had a museum hangover #8thgradeugly. 

Or, maybe, that means buying every kind of foreign candy in the convenience store and then going back to your hotel room to see who can get diabetes first.

Diabetes!
When you travel with your friends, there’s also the potential for a complete WWIII, nuclear fallout, because after being together 24/7 you can’t stand the way they chew their food or breathe.

Whether traveling with a friend or family member, just drink. Their mouth breathing won’t matter near as much. 

Either way, memories are made and that’s all that matters. Right?

What is the most adventurous dish you have ever tried from another country?
Abso-freaking-lutely that would be haggis with ‘neeps and ‘tatties that my friend and her Scottish husband made for us while we stayed with them in Edinburgh.

It was actually amazingly delicious. No shit, I crave that dish on the regular.

My amazing Scottish friends! 

I’d like to nominate the following bloggers (please don’t feel obligated to participate):

The Wandering Flamingo
This girl is an amazing photographer, writer and blogger friend. She also lives in my favorite country, so I always feel I get to live vicariously through her photos and posts. Also, she is an avid traveler, so I’d love to know more about her envy-worthy travels. Please go check out her blog and beautiful photography-you won’t be disappointed!

A Walk and a Lark
Here’s another blogger bud who lives in one of my favorite cities-London! She’s become an amazing blogging supporter and friend, and I simply adore reading her blog! She is well-traveled, so I’d love the inside scoop on some of her favorite places! Check out Josy’s blog! I promise you’ll love it and her!

All Thoughts Work
This chick cracks me up. Every time I get a comment from her, I know I’ll end up practically peeing myself from laughter. I’ve gleaned that she’s an avid outdoors-woman and talented writer, but that’s all I know. I need to know more! Head on over to the funny lady’s blog-you won’t regret it!

Monday Musings

I’ve been feeling like I should be in England lately. I didn’t realize until just the other day that it’s been almost a year since I was offered a teaching position in England, and, after a really difficult decision-making process, declined the offer. 

I know, who decides against living abroad after being offered gainful employment? I know, right? 

I really struggled for some time after having made my final decision (I’m still struggling). I wondered how much of my choice was driven by my inate second-guessing, worry-wart, scared-to-jump mentality or legit financial concerns. 

I’m a huge fan of those girl-has-devastating-break-up-and-career-let-down-at-the-same-time-so-she-hops-on-a-plane-to-her-dream-get-away-locale-and-despite-having-eight-dollars-and-thirty-cents-and-no-change-of-underwear-she-somehow-lands-a-job-apartment-and-dreamy-new-man-chick-lit-books, because, duh. 

Isn’t that every girl’s dream-to move abroad on a whim and it’s just like in the Lindsey Kelk books? 

I’d like to hear of a real life situation where this scenario works out, because I had $800 in my pocket and I knew that would only get me as far as Toronto. 

When I first started seriously considering working on obtaining a teaching position in England, I didn’t think it would be so easy. Or quick. I figured it’d take a few dozen tries, I’d have time to really mull over legit moving to another country, and that I’d have plenty of time to save and get my finances in order. 

I was so mistaken. One minute I was dreamily planning how I’d decorate my make-believe tiny flat with decor from TK Maxx and the next I was using Skype for the first time, going over classroom management with a head teacher in Oxford (this was the first of two interviews I had. I didn’t end up getting the teaching position in Oxford). 

Let me just break it all down for you in an easy-to-read timeline:

4/17/16: Applied for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

5/3/16: Application for QTS was approved, received login to view/print certificate 


5/6/16: Emailed application to Stanwell Fields CE Primary School, among others 

5/9/16: Received email response from Stanwell Fields Business Support requesting I fill out application

5/13/16: Received email from headteacher inquiring about availability for phone interview

5/19/16: Phone interview with assistant headteacher 

5/23/16: Received voicemail from headteacher offering the job (I was too scared to pick up. What a noob)

I still have the voicemail…

So, in a little over a month, I had gained the necessary qualification to teach in England, interviewed at two schools, and was offered a position. 

Just typing this now, I’m feeling the excited, heady warmth in my stomach one gets when exciting things are on the horizon. 

It was all fun and games until shit got really real. 

Just in case the headteacher at Stanwell Fields ever reads this (though it’s highly unlikely), I’d like to make it clear that I was genuinely serious about teaching abroad. That is, until I realized I was crazy to think I’d ever be able to afford it. 

I had naively assumed that since England was in need of teachers, they would possibly offer a sign on bonus, much like many districts do in the U.S. when they have a teacher shortage. Or, they would assist with getting a visa. 

Nope.

Schools aren’t profit-driven, and the sad reality is that many are in desperate need of teachers, but have no extra funds to entice educators to move countries. 

Not that I needed enticing. No, I just had no money and thought I could move my life abroad with $800 and my already-reaching-the-limit credit cards. 

So, after researching the cost of a work visa (roughly $800, currently) and the cost to rent a one bedroom flat in the south of England (around $1000 a month), I realized I was in over my head. 

Despite the fact that the school offered me an extremely nice pay raise, the cost of living in south England, coupled with my current bills, that would be traveling with me, made it so I simply could not afford to live. 

Not only would I need enough money to live once settled, I’d need at least $800 for a one way ticket to London, money for a hotel or hostel once in England, a deposit for a flat, and funds for many other travel and moving expenses. 

My mom and I estimated that I’d need at least $3000 to move and get settled (and it always ends up being more costly than you calculate beforehand). 

Did I mention I had $800 in my savings? I’m amazing at adulting. 

It was really depressing. Really, really dismaying, and not at all like my favorite chick lit books. 

These were some of my biggest concerns:

  • The cost of living in the area was too high (I’d be paying triple what I was currently paying in rent)
  • Many available flats were unfurnished-I’d need to buy furniture (at minimum, a bed)
  • Despite the pay raise, due to certain taxes in the U.K., the pay would be roughly the same or less than my current pay, yet cost of living tripled 
  • I’d be too strapped for cash to travel (travelling to other parts of Europe was a big reason I desired to live abroad)
  • It would have been necessary to drain my savings and rack up further debt for moving expenses (I was already in a significant amount of debt to begin with)
  • I would have needed to sell my car after having it less than a year (if I couldn’t sell it, it would have been another expense I couldn’t afford)
  • I’d barely make enough to save for a plane ticket back home, had that been necessary or desired 
  • I’d have zero teaching supplies and shipping them over would have been too pricey

Regardless of the fact that I had very real financial concerns, I still feel like I let an amazing opportunity go. It didn’t help that I had so many people telling me that debt didn’t matter. YOLO and all that crap. 

Big decisions and I have never been friends. Usually, when faced with a big, life-altering decision, I just bury my head in red sand and fail to make a decision, if at all possible. 

I’m a master of the what-if discourse. I can go all day and go circles around anyone. 

Yet, deep down, I know I made the right decision for me and my present financial situation. 

I also know that I’ll never stop dreaming of England and doing what must be done to make it back. 

For real though, how do most people move abroad? Are you in a better paying field than me or did your company pay for your move? Did you get a huge inheritance?  Are you just in massive debt due to the move? Do you know some magic trick to making fast travel cash? If anyone who’s done it cares to spill the beans, I’m all ears! 


Flashback Friday-Nostalgia and Longing

Ya’ll, I wish, from the very depths of my soul, that I could be a travel blogger. Why hasn’t someone super rich and stupid with their money hired me to travel and write up hilarious travel snafus? Why?

Not only do I long to travel more, I wish to go back to where I left my bleeding heart-London Town.

I went on my last, serious trip seven years ago. Seven.years.ago. 

This is unacceptable. 

Seven years ago was the last time I was in England, and a little bit of my soul dies every day more. My ultimate fear in this life is never getting a chance to get back there again. 

As I type (tap on my asshole phone that still thinks, after all this time, that I mean “duck”), my heart is literally aching and my stomach is in knots. 

It feels like homesickness. 

I miss where my heart belongs. 

Ya know?

#fbf to when I was living it up in London (This is also a flashback to when I thought I was fat-I wish I could be that fat again). 

I had some super sweet photography skills seven years ago. I’m glad I was able to travel all the way to England to capture this dude’s chops so well. 

#awkwardtouristphoto

Those T-Rex arms, though.

Fucking Nandos. Dammit, I miss you.

I had just eaten a hot crossed bun. Baked goods create a certain glow about me.

Impossibly quaint.


I can still feel that cool, curry-scented breeze (it was a nice change of scent from the hotel room’s eau de funk). 
Le sigh 

History and Gold Mining Towns and Ghosts, Oh My!

We all know that I was my usual fatty over the week-long break I had recently. What ya’ll maybe don’t realize is that I don’t just eat all of the time (although, I do get my eat on a lot). I love to explore, travel, and experience. Without venturing too far from home, one can discover hidden gems, history, and fun times. 

I have lived in Nevada my whole life, and not once had I ever been to Genoa. Even crazier, for this history lover (lover, not buff–I’m terrible at history), I didn’t know that it was the first settlement in Nevada. It was established in 1851, and it houses the oldest saloon in Nevada. This was not surprising, as Nevadans have always loved their booze.

Since discovering Genoa, I’ve been twice. It’s a super cute place, dripping in history, and it’s only about an hour from Reno. The Pink House is a must do. The pulled pork sandwich, s’mores skillet and apple and pear crisp from my Food Baby Part 2 post came from The Pink House. 








Scurry!
A fun, little path to an antique shop

Another place I went to over break is Virginia City. I’ve been to VC approximately a billion times. It can be very touristy, but if you’re in the know, you can find some amazing things to do that doesn’t involve buying overpriced junky knickknacks. Some of these include The Steampunk Ball; World Championship Outhouse Races; saloon crawls; ghost tours and investigations; and the Camel Races. 

There’s just something about Virginia City. Maybe it’s the spirits, always on the prowl, the fact that I’ve always enjoyed my time there, or that the history is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Either way, if you’re ever in the Reno-Tahoe-Carson area, VC is a must. 

I’m hoping to join a ghost investigation soon. Be on the lookout for a post about Fatty Cake scaring the literal crap out of herself…#pooppants #boopoo

This is where I hope to do a ghost investigation! Stay tuned!


I loved this adorable, little zombie!


The Fourth Ward School
The windows made me do a double check!

From the old school, looking east, you can see for miles…


The haunted Gold Hill Hotel!


Reno Town

Because I mentioned the Steampunk Ball, I thought I’d share some of my different looks I’ve had for the event over the years.



Guilty of the Duck Lip!

The view from Cafe Del Rio. One of my favorite seats in the world.

Porta-Poop Revisited

This past weekend, a good friend and I went to the Genoa Candy Dance. I had assumed that people would be dancing and throwing candy around. I mean, isn’t that what it sounds like it would be?? To my dismay, the Candy Dance was just a bunch of over-priced vendors and food trucks (apparently there is a dinner and dance event in the evening). The food truck part was, however, much appreciated. What I did really like about this event was that it was held in Nevada’s oldest town/settlement. For a history lover, it is a real damn shame that I had never been to Genoa before. I fully plan on visiting again sans tons of people pushing to get to a stall selling crocheted rabbits.

Continue reading “Porta-Poop Revisited”

My London

I have been reading so many travel blogs lately. I am such as masochist, because doing so only makes me long, deep inside, to be traveling. Since my last big trip was the one I took to the U.K. and Ireland, now five years ago, it is what I obsessively refer to when I talk about my “travels”. The only thing I really want in this life is to experience new places, people, culture, and rich experiences. Since my bank account prohibits any such fanciful dreams, I can only live vicariously through my own memories.

I am re-blogging a post I did years ago on my old site. It is about why I loved London so much. Enjoy!

Continue reading “My London”

U.K. or (Literally) Bust

Loch Ness

Friends, I hardly ever ask for help. OK, that is a boldfaced lie. I ask for it all the time in the form of comments over at Shopper Lottie. However, this is different. For some time (like, 10 years), I have wanted to move abroad (get in line, sister). I have always had a crazy love affair with the U.K. and since visiting way back in 2010, I have never been able to forget about my one, true love.

For those who don’t know, I am at teacher in the U.S. I teach 3rd grade. I would love to be able to do something similar somewhere, anywhere in the U.K. I have friends in Scotland, so that would probably be preferable. I have heard that the education system is really very different when comparing England with Scotland, so one may be possible and the other out of my reach. I really don’t know.

I have contacted a couple of agencies, but the wait to hear a response is making me certifiably insane. I am not even sure they are legit or the correct way to go about this. HELP.

Long story short, can someone familiar with these parts give me any information they have that could help me in my endeavor? Even better, does anyone have connections that would better enable me to have even the slightest chance to attempt to live one of my dreams?

My loving thanks in advance.

Quit Judging Me, Fitbit

Damn, Fitbit. Why you gotta play me like that? Between Friday and Saturday, I logged 33,806 steps, walked 14.91 miles, was active for 258 minutes, and I have a blister on my toe in the shape of Owen Wilson’s nose, yet my Fitbit is still harping on me today to get my steps in? What’s that you say? You mean, I have to move everyday? I should log 10,000 steps everyday? You mean…I’m not done?

*blank stare*

So, in order to do this thing called, “fitness”, and to be successful at said fitness, I have to do it everyday?

Never mind. I’ll just be returning this here Fitbit, if you don’t mind.

*Rustles in cabinet looking for Crack Cup*

Only half kidding. In all seriousness guys, 10,000 steps a day for someone whose favorite pastime is savoring rainbow sprinkles with a dollop of Cool Whip while watching past episodes of Biggest Loser on Hulu is asking a lot.

My grand weekend of getting in some killer steps was thanks to a quick trip over the hill to San Francisco. Not like, a marathon or anything (obviously, that was your first guess). 

If you have ever been to San Francisco, you know transportation in the city is either: a horror-themed roller coaster-like driving experience, with hobos popping out when you least expect it and you’re honked at for not mowing down pedestrians or it’s a serious walking nightmare experience. I chose walking, and damn those bunions hurt (just kidding, I don’t have bunions. I don’t even know what they are, but I bet they’d be hurting if I had them).

So, I guess my grand walking adventure in San Francisco where my thighs almost ignited due to rubbage did not, in fact, make me instantly fit and svelte. 

Oh, the pain and suffering! 

 

One of my favorite cities, the City by the Bay.

 
How you doin?
 
Getting my steps in by crossing The Golden Gate Bridge.

 
Garlic with pasta from The Stinking Rose. Amazing.
 
  
A view of the city from Alcatraz.

 
So.much.rain.
 
 
Clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin’s.
 
Pure effing Heaven. Funfetti. Cake batter. Rainbow sprinkles.
 

 

Walking up Lombard Street almost did me in. I had to stop every other house to catch my breath. Seriously.
  
My how-come-I’m-not-skinny-yet-face.
 
My rant about my demanding, asshole Fitbit turned into some pictures from the trip. You’re welcome. 

  

This Is Elko 

I just got home from visiting Elko after nearly five years since I fled. I left Elko after a very nasty, unexpected, but much-needed breakup.  It had taken the almost four years that I lived there to grow to love the place. For the first few months I lived in Elko, I ate my sadness through the entire McDonald’s menu (because that’s all I found acceptable to eat). Every moment my brain was free to recall that I was permanently situated in a tiny cow town in Nevada, I was depressed. I devised every possible flight plan to get myself out of my living hell while I double fisted Oreos and everything ever made by the Keebler Elves. It took months for me to finally accept that if I wanted to see a movie, I would have to sit on a rickety, bodily fluid-soaked chair in their ancient theater. Whenever I got the opportunity to make it back home, I spent long hours wandering the posh isles of Target, lamenting how Elko was too ass backward to ever understand how beautiful a Target would be up on the hill instead of the nasty Kmart. What I didn’t realize until I looked up, out of my KFC Bucket of Shame, was that Elko was more than a Target. More than a comfortable movie seat. More than what you see at first glance. Before I knew it, I had established a very comfortable, happy life in Elko, enjoying the beauty that can be found when you open your heart and clear your mind of any preconceived notions. 

I was going to list the things that I love about Elko, but instead, I will just leave you with the following pictures. A few of you asked, about my previous post, “What is Elko?” Well, this is Elko. 

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  


 
 
 
 
 
 
A lot the first pics are actually of Lamoille and Lamoille Canyon, but those places still mean Elko to me.   

Inverness

This is a post I wrote years ago about a beautiful spot I discovered in Inverness, Scotland. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of that trip. I yearn to go back. I left a piece of my heart in the British Isles, that’s for sure.

Continue reading “Inverness”