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rewind… back to the beginning

April 3, 2009


Well, well, well…. turns out the whole blogging while traveling thing didn’t work out so well, did it?  In part because the internet in Italy costs more than wine and given the choice between sitting in some grungy internet point or drinking wine on the beach… hmmmm?  I’m sure you guessed that the latter took precedence.

That is not to say that I didn’t write… I wrote plenty.  Filled an entire journal and then some and I must say that I quite enjoyed putting actual pen to paper.  At any given moment, I could pull the cork, take a swig from the wine bottle, perhaps nibble on focaccia and cheese, whip out the journal and paint a picture with words when I felt the need to absorb everything without a lens glued to my eye.

I am home now, safe and sound and slightly on this side of melancholy and full of words that need to come out. It’s not until you sit, silently, homeward bound, somewhere over the Atlantic, that everything comes rushing in, like the flashback montage in a movie.  You see each segment so clearly yet there is a dream like quality to it all.  You wonder if it truly happened. Everything was so magical, you actually start to second guess it.  Everything was so wonderful, you wish to second live it.

And so, over the coming weeks, that is exactly what I intend to do here.  To help ride the shifting waves of April until Spring arrives in full force on Montreal’s doorstep, I will reminisce.  All the scribblings and snippets and delicious morsels of the past month, I will share with you, strait from my journal.  From London to Rome via Bath, Bristol, Malaga, Granada, Cordoba, Barcelona, Venice, Florence, Siena, Cortona, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Salerno, Pompeii and Positano.  Except this time, you are all coming with me.

Though I already gave you a glimpse of England and Spain, I’m starting over at the risk of sounding redundant.  It only seems fitting that my blogs posts would be all over the map as that is how I journeyed over the past month.  No plans, from point A to G to C… beautifully messy, perfectly timed for serendipity.

So here we go.  First stop, London.


March 3, 2009

I’m too tired to write this properly, in a way that will do justice to how I feel, but I fear one moment will slip into the next and get lost, never to be remembered again and I want to remember everything.  And so I write, in this delirious haze, this soothing fatigue that comes from a long sleepless journey to a foreign place.  I write without care for prose or grammar or embellishment.  The facts are these, all stringed together, dangling bits and colorful, shiny moments in time.  Take a deep breath… there will be very little punctuation for pause.  And pardon my speaking in the second person.  Perhaps I wrote that way, because I didn’t truly feel like myself.  It’s as if I was watching someone else.

When I leave the house, it is cold, bitter cold, -17 effin degrees cold to be precise, which would contrast nicely with England’s mild 7 degrees (it’s all relative, isn’t it?).  Sylvia drives me to the airport, reaches in the back seat of her car and pulls out the bag of fun.  It is a bag filled with goodies for the trip.  Two trashy gossip magazines (a must on the plane), one Italian conversation book, one travel towel, gum, tangerines and a bag of plantain chips.  I nearly cry at the thoughtfulness of it all. She snaps a shot of me at the airport with my big ass backpack, gives me a giant hug then off I go.


I think we all have a switch within us, and when you flick it, you stop thinking about everything that was, all the nervousness you felt before you crossed the airport sliding doors and suddenly, you just are.  You go to the self-serve baggage ticketing station, you figure it out, you board the plane, eat breakfast in the middle of the night, chat with the British men’s bobsleigh team that just competed in Lake Placid, get off the plane, wait in the long customs line, get your passport stamped, follow the signs, buy a train ticket, listen to the announcements, love the English accent, hop on the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station (so very Harry Potter except there is no 9 3/4 platform), take the Hammersmith and City pink line to Kings Cross, look at maps, ask questions, take the 73 double decker bus to Newington Green, leave your backpack on and lean into it, look out the window, totally blissed out.  You’ve always been a big fan of the bus but this ride takes the cake.   The daffodils and forsythia are in bloom, which, compared to the cold icy crust caking the sidewalks of Montreal is a warm welcome, the sky is a blend of light gray, charcoal and deep slate, not ominous, just perfectly English (the way you imagined it to be) and you wouldn’t have it any other way.  You knock on a total stranger’s door (a friend of a friend), you like him instantly, he gives you the keys to his place, the keys are brass and look like something from an antique shop, you dig it, you both grab breakfast at Acoustic Café down the street, you eat marmalade for the first time in years, you’ve never been a fan but it somehow tastes better here, take the bus downtown together,  this time unencumbered by a giant pack, you sit on the top deck, chatting the whole while and taking in the scenes with your own private tour guide, you get off the bus, he goes to work, you point your feet in a direction and start walking.


You find yourself on the rocky shore of the Thames, the Bankside where nobody goes save the treasure collectors and the terns and gulls.  You always find yourself on the rocky shore, it is a magnet for you, except this time, it is a rocky shore in London and in the distance, you see the London Bridge, which doesn’t appear to be falling down. You stroll the Tate Modern (it’s free, who knew?), enjoy a double espresso while watching the rain fall, you are sleepwalking, dreaming the most marvelous dream.  In fact, you aren’t quite convinced that this is real, you pinch yourself.  Ouch!  Yes, it is real.  Jacked up on espresso (energy in a cup), you wander for hours, north, east, south, west, circles and squares, over to the London Tower.  It gets cold and rain spits here and there but it is invigorating, you, your camera, new sights to discover, in a place where nobody knows you.   Your eyes drink it all in.


You get lost around 5:30, when it is proper fucking cold and wet and dark and you have to pee like a race horse (I learned throughout this trip that there is a very delicate balance between hydration and the subsequent struggle to find a bathroom in a 3 mile radius… in order to avoid the agony of a bladder on the verge of bursting, you start asking yourself the question, how much water do I really need to drink to survive?).  Eventually, you use a simple, yet very effective technique called ASKING and you are pointed in the right direction.


You take the train from platform 1 to Kings Cross and one bus ride later you are back in Newington Green, putting the old key in the keyhole.  You have been up for 30 something hours, give or take a few hours sleep, so you hop in the shower then crash on the couch.  When Joe comes home, you have tea then head to Nobody’s Inn at the corner because there really is a little pub in every neighborhood around here.


And this is where I switch to the first person, perhaps because I start to own the experience.

Order pad thai and a token Guinness.  Yes, pad thai in a pub. Joe and I talk about how this is not a typical English Pub but then come to the conclusion, that in fact, it is.  Not what we, North Americans, would perceive as such but it is a typical neighborhood pub.  Meet Joe’s brother, a milliner (hat designer… amazing hat designer, I might add) who just returned from fashion week in Milan.  We have a few good laughs, the pub rings the bell for last call, we drink another pint and a whiskey before heading back to the flat where we have one more wee whiskey and eventually inflate my bed….

And this is where it starts to get really interesting.

We continue the banter, we know where it is leading but neither one of us is taking the first step.  Pre-kiss tension is the best, it needs to be stretched out because it is just as good as the kiss itself.   Truth be told, I have been thinking about this moment all day.  Eventually, he makes the first move and let me tell you, this girl doth not protest.  When you have been with one person for 12 years and celibate by choice for over a year… that first kiss is exactly that.  A first kiss.  And how amazing to experience that again at this point in my life.  I told him that I was nervous and all he said was “Don’t worry, I got you” (now imagine it with a sexy British accent).  I couldn’t have even conceived a more perfect response… and that is about the point where I melted and all my clothes came off.

Given that this is a PG 13 blog, I am closing the blinds on this chapter, which continues into the wee hours of the morning. All I will say is that it was everything I hoped it would be… and more.  The very next day, I sent this email to my mom, sisters and friends:

subject line:  just thought you girls might want to know…

that i got laid my first night in london
and it was amazing

this trip is off to a really good start
i’m back in the game baby

Guess you could say that I started my trip with a bang.   Ahhh!  You all missed my cheesy puns, didn’t you?  You know you did.  It’s good to be back.

You're a freak. You know that right? You have all of London to explore and you choose to hang out down here.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle Caron permalink
    April 3, 2009 12:43 pm

    Love it, love it, love it, love every word. Your first photo with the street lamp, really represents jet lag to me, how it’s night but you feel like it’s day or vice a versa. Can’t wait to hear more…

  2. April 3, 2009 3:07 pm

    Yay! How awesome. But you sent that email to your MOM?! whoa.

  3. Jeanine permalink
    April 3, 2009 3:23 pm

    LOL. i have a really cool mom.

  4. April 3, 2009 9:59 pm

    ahhhh, I’m so happy you had a good time. fabulousness

  5. April 3, 2009 11:38 pm

    SHUT UP! lololol YAY! self high 5 there girl! (clap hands over head) ok maybe you should not blog this but rather make it a book an sell it! sounds off to a fabulously juicy start. oh and the british accent (i am so picturing hugh grant) swoon

  6. April 4, 2009 2:41 am

    you mean you’re not going to give us a blow by blow account? 😉

    wheeeeee! you’re back! i can’t wait to hear/read every single juicy detail xoxox

  7. lunacyn permalink
    April 4, 2009 8:34 am

    Woohoo! What a fabulous start to your trip. I can’t wait to read the rest of what you experienced. Excellent!

  8. April 4, 2009 10:29 am

    Glad to hear your trip was everything you hoped for. I look forward to your photos and take on things. And congrats on your meltdown… 😉

  9. April 4, 2009 12:10 pm

    fantastic opening post!
    do you have that feeling yet? you know the one where you have seen all these things, these places, talked to strangers and fallen in love with yourself, the world and everything. And you get home knowing you are irrrevocably changed. And everyone you left behind is the same?
    I call it Travellers Lament…

  10. April 5, 2009 5:30 am

    this is going to be fun! thank you for including us in your amazing holiday.

  11. April 5, 2009 9:48 am

    Welcome back!! I can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

  12. April 5, 2009 2:09 pm

    Off to a good start indeed! So glad you’re sharing your adventure 🙂

  13. April 5, 2009 9:43 pm

    this is the best vicarious living i’ve done in a long time. thank you, stranger and friend, for every little detail. can’t wait for chapter 2.

  14. cala permalink
    April 5, 2009 11:42 pm

    SO GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK although from the sounds of it, i bet the coming home was a bit painful. Work on monday and all that. Can’t wait to hear more about the travels, proud of you, happy from you, Sure that you are still blissed out. LOVE YOU.

  15. sophie permalink
    April 6, 2009 8:35 am

    Ho, my….

    Glad you’re home safe and sound, I was thinking of everyone I know in Italy right now, considering that earthquake…

    I can’t WAIT to see all your photos, and visit Europe all over again thru your tales!

  16. April 6, 2009 8:40 am

    Loving the photos; loving the words: drinking them up to fill my wanderlust heart. xo!

  17. April 6, 2009 3:19 pm

    I’m so glad you are back safe and sound. I hope it was all you hoped it would be and more…I can’t wait to snoop through your Flickr and drool over your adventures. XO

  18. Anna permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:15 pm

    Love that you are posting entries about your trip. I’m home with a new baby, very happy but so wishing that I could travel!

    Design Sponge posted a guide to Montreal today, with all sorts of suggestions for shops, galleries, cafes… Maybe it would help you discover even more places to check out in your city…

    Having never been myself, it really made me want to go.

  19. April 7, 2009 6:04 pm

    I can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures. Sounds like London was very good to you. 😉

  20. April 7, 2009 8:12 pm

    your post is a feast ! delicious and curious and beautiful

    would love to see a photo from your journal:)

    happy travels:)

  21. kathryn Guerriero permalink
    April 10, 2009 10:05 am

    amen to all of the above and an additional woohooeee for the amazing worda and the delicious anticipation of the rest of the story….


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