Men in Kilts…

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Yeah, I’ll bet that got your attention. Well, as long as you’re here, let’s talk about Edinburgh. First order of business after I get back home: secure a supply of this:

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How can something be both crisp and smokey? Caramel-y, yet not too sweet? Sorcery is the only rational explanation. If anyone knows where I can buy Thistly Cross in the San Fran area, speak up!

I’m loving Edinburgh and fully expect to lose at least 10 pounds walking up and down its hills. It’s crowded, a sea of cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians; but all that bustle electrifies the atmosphere. The hotels are expensive, but the food is reasonably priced. The Cuckoo’s Nest, which came highly recommended by more than one travel site was just alright in my opinion. Not bad by any means, but over-rated. If you’re in the neighborhood you could do worse, but don’t go out of your way for it. It is worth seeking out The Cellar Door, where the above heavenly brew was first imbibed by yours truly, and Petite Paris. You won’t have to go far to find them, they’re both close to the Royal Mile.

And don’t forget to do some whisky tasting…preferably with men in kilts.

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…and I’ll bet you never even knew you needed one…

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A while back I promised to do a full review of CupCase after I’d used it on a trip, so here goes.

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First, CupCase performs as advertised on their website while taking up relatively little space, that’s all I really ask for so I will definitely be using it again. Three bras fit neatly into the case and kept their shape through numerous episodes of packing and unpacking. I did find it a little less than front-closure bra friendly but that’s not a deal-breaker unless those are the only kind you have or plan to pack. I bought directly from CupCase’s own website but it is worth noting I looked at other sources (Amazon etc.) and found some of them claimed a single case could hold up to four bras—it can’t, so don’t try to go there.

Other reviewers, and some family members, have said they think the price is a way too high. I’d say that depends on how much you spend on your bras. I have two that came back from one trip permanently smooshed out of shape—I call them Quasimodo and Elephant Man, now they live in a dark place with a hairdye-stained tee shirt and some thirteen year old stretchy pants with three holes in the ass and peek-a-boo seams (that they didn’t start out with), only getting to come out when I plan on doing some cleaning or other project that will leave me and everything I’m wearing distastefully sticky and sweaty, or for the occasional Fuck It Day*…it’s a very sad life for them, trust me—so anyway, Quasimodo and Elephant Man were only lower-end of moderately priced bras to begin with, still, replacing both of them with identical bras would cost twice as much as a CupCase. And if you ruin a couple of $50 or $60 bras now you’re looking at $100+ to replace compared to about thirty bucks for the CupCase. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth the price tag you’ll just have do the math for yourself because I don’t know how much you paid for your bras.

Speaking of sweaty brings me to my one real reservation: after any day of really vigorous hiking I didn’t care for the idea of putting the bra I was wearing back in with the clean ones. My obviously Exercise-Addled Brain told me Not a big deal. We’re not leaving the hotel tomorrow, let’s just rinse it out in the bathroom sink as soon as we get back. It’ll be dry before we have to pack again. She doesn’t know me at all. Because, by the time I actually did get back to the hotel room each night, after one—or four—pints too many…well, yeah, that never happened. Exercise-Addled Brain thinks I’m much more organized, motivated, and sober than I really am.

In summary I stand by my original estimation, CupCase is quite possibly the perfect combination of function and frivolity; it’s pretty, does what it says it will do, can be cost-effective unless you buy your bras at Walmart or Goodwill (yuck!), and too much exercise makes me self-delusional.

Now, where can I find one of those fabulous vintage suitcases?

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*Fuck It Day: a day in which one intentionally, and for no particular reason other than finding it bizarrely therapeutic, says fuck it, spends the entire day on the couch wearing clothes they normally would not be caught dead in, eating only French toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and watching entire seasons of shows they would not under other circumstances admit to watching. (Note: two to three planned Fuck It Days per year are perfectly normal and healthy, more than that and you might have a problem.)

She Who Dies With the Most Passport Stamps Wins!

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Ah the airport! Is there any other place with that unique atmosphere of mingled mind-numbing boredom and barely suppressed excitement? It’s a paradox, an oxymoron even, but there you have it. All the planning, booking,  and preparation, comes down to today. You pack, then repack when you find something doesn’t fit. You rush to leave on time…maybe a little early just in case traffic’s bad…all to get to the airport the recommended 2-3 hours before departure and wait in a series of lines with little to occupy your mind. Unless you happen to have started a travel blog. Then you stand in line typing on your phone until you begin to remember those things you’ve forgotten, much like me. My watch…which was only just returned to me after I left it in Portcouver in December. Some really nice travel binoculars I bought about 6 years ago and have since forgotten to pack every single time, and of course,  headphones. I forget those every time too, until I’m at the airport. At any given time I probably have 4 to 5 headphones floating around the house–most of them bought at airports. I might have the largest collection of airport headphones in history.

And, Jaimie and Barb, if you’re reading this: GO GIANTS!

Abroad for Beginners…or, How Not to Make Yourself {and everyone around you} Miserable on that Trip of a Lifetime, Second in a Series

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When packing for a visit to a foreign country, whose residents may or may not share your cultural norms and expectations, leave your judge-y pants at home. Preferably smooshed up in a wrinkled ball at the bottom of the dirty laundry hamper. You don’t need them and they make your ass look fat anyway.

Outside of a cruise or all-inclusive resort, the people you encounter are not being paid to cater to you and ensure you have a good time, they’re just going about ordinary business on an ordinary day. They’re under no obligation to speak or understand your language, move out of the way to give you a better view, or make allowances for your ignorance of their culture, if they do those things it’s because they’re being extra nice. If they don’t, they are probably still nice people and not just trying to piss you off, so check your attitude regularly. For the most part, people everywhere will treat you the way you treat them. Before you plop down a non-refundable deposit on your vacation package, learn what you can about customs, weather, food, even traffic. Be honest with yourself about your tolerance for the prevailing conditions and if it’s not for you, pick another place to go. Don’t visit Egypt in their summer only to complain about the heat or spend all your time bitching about traffic in China or Rome, and if you hate the rain don’t vacation in Ireland. Know what you’re getting into and embrace it.

Abroad for Beginners…or, How Not to Make Yourself {and everyone around you} Miserable on that Trip of a Lifetime, First in a Series

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Resist the temptation to overbook. This is so important I’ll say it twice & with emphasis: Resist the temptation to overbook! Sure, every place has its must sees & the don’t misses. There are always those things it’s best to book ahead, like the really popular touristy stuff during high season. But planning every day out to the nth degree has its costs. You will end up mired in time-watching & schedule-keeping, you’ll be exhausted, grouchy, and not very much fun! Leave time for the unexpected, the serendipitous, for the wrong turn that leads you to a sight you’ll never forget…or onto a hiking trail clearly not meant for cars after about twenty yards, but that’s a whole other post. Allow yourself the pleasure of a chat with a local, you’ll learn loads the tour guides never get around to telling you. Browse in shops but don’t buy anything {this advice is definitely of the do as I say not as I do variety, but I’m working on it}. Waste as much time as you want, you’re on vacation for fuck’s sake!

a little something for the girls

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Am I the only person who didn’t know about Cupcases? I’m stunned no one one thought of this sooner ’cause I gotta say, I think this is a brilliant way to pack your bras.

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I stopped dead when I came across this. They seem to be both supremely practical and the ultimate girly travel accessory. I caught my breath…did I need one? My inner frou-frou junkie started to jump up and down, squealing in excitement. “Yes, yes we do. And Look! They even have one in a blue that matches our suitcase! Oh please can we get one? Please?” While I carefully considered whether it would be worth the $29 price tag she went straight to calculating time to shipment and delivery. “If we buy it tonight it will definitely be here by this time next week.” I was still on the fence but the frou-frou junkie was having trouble breathing, she started rocking back and forth, whimpering. “We needs it, precious, yes we needs it. Get it for us. GET! IT! FOR! US!”

So yeah…I bought one. Don’t judge me. Once the frou-frou junkie has her heart set on something nothing else will shut that bitch up. Besides, as she so rationally pointed out before she totally lost her shit and went all Gollum on me, it does come in a color that matches my suitcase.

For all the travel-minded gals, I’ll post a full review after I use it on a trip. Maybe I can help you decide whether or not you need one…unless your inner frou-frou junkie is already stirring.