T minus 4 days and counting!

Posted: July 15, 2014 in Planning & Preparation, Tips
Tags: , , ,

According to the countdown app on my iPhone, we leave for Europe in 4 days! That can’t be right…

Caitlin finished her West Side Story performances yesterday and spent today in a sort of listless half-life… Sort of like Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead. I managed to drag her to MEC to find a sling pack of some kind because the days of her sauntering around Europe without a care in the world – or a pack on her back to carry her camera, sunscreen, makeup, water bottle and assorted other goods and sundries are over my friends… After much deliberation she settled on a pack that, if she tries really really hard, might carry 3 or 4 items… Blessed be.

After that we hit up one of the last remaining DVD rental/sales places in town and stocked up on some cheap old movies to rip and put onto the iPads… So far we’ve ripped 60+ movies that (thanks to an epic sale at Futureshop) we have transferred onto a 64GB USB drive. We’ll load a bunch of them onto the iPads and then just replace them with movies as we go along. With 40+ hours of train rides (25+ of them at night with nothing to look at) we’ll have a lot of time to watch movies so it’s time and money while spent.

After stocking up on mindless entertainment, Caitlin and I checked out Lacey-Lou’s Tapas Lounge for a quick bite to eat and something to drink. They’ve only been open for a couple of months so were pretty quiet when we went in but are apparently rocking in the evenings with live music and a cool local art-meets open space-meets industrial lounge vibe. The Arugula, Fennel and Orange salad was excellent. The drinks (non-alcoholic of course – this ain’t Europe after all) were cheap and cold and the fresh baked cranberry oatmeal cookies were amazing! They even do a kids craft thing on Saturdays! Caitlin and I give it two thumbs up.

After sating ourselves with cookies, Caitlin worked her usual magic and somehow talked me into taking her to the mall to buy a pair of shoes. It was an impressive performance and it’s good to see all the money we’ve spent on drama camps and acting school paying off… Turns out they were having some kind of inside the mall sidewalk sale… I only had to drag her kicking and screaming from a couple of clothing stores.

Eventually, we made our way back home and pretty much accomplished nothing. It’s hot. What can I say.

I did manage to rouse myself from the couch long enough to have another go at the two wasp nests that have sprung up near the front of our house. One of the mysteries of our 100+ year old house is found on our porch where there’s a couple of old 4″ pipe openings that have been roughly stuccoed over… we have no idea what they’re for… In any case, some of the stucco patch has worked away over the years leaving a nice quarter-sized hole that leads directly into the space between the inside and the outside walls… It’s frigging wasp heaven. So far I’ve fired enough pesticide into the hole to kill a goodly swarm of those insect aliens from Starship Troopers and the damn things – the wasps, not the alien insect monsters – keep coming back. The other nest is right at the corner of the stairs leading to our tenant’s suite and it after dumping a couple of cans full of pesticide foam in the area, I’ve discovered that sometime long before we bought the place, our neighbours built their shed using our fence as the back wall of the shed… Turns out the nest is actually inside their shed but the wasps enter and exit through the slats on our side of the fence… Right where the handrail for the stairs is… Hope the tenants aren’t allergic to wasp stings… The kids renting the place next door are engineering students so we’ll let them know they’ve got a wasp nest in their shed and see what all that tuition money has bought them.

Now I’m sitting and writing this post instead of packing… It’s not that I don’t want to pack but more that Caitlin and Marie have taken over the room and the sound of show tunes wafting from the room is a little too cheery and feminine for me… I’ll wait until tomorrow when Marie has to go to work (sucker!) and Caitlin is sleeping and throw my 7 pairs of underwear, 7 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, 2 t-shirts and 2 short-sleeved shirts into my backpack and call it done…

In terms of other trip planning and preparation, I need to share what is liable to be the best travel tip I’ve come up with after dozens of days on the road and a couple of these epic adventures… It’s so good someone even mentioned I should patent it and market it (they may have been making fun of me… it was hard to tell). Here’s the problem – in Europe, everybody wants to see your freaking passport. And they want to see your passport. They don’t want to see you hand over your wife’s passport or your daughter pass over her dad’s passport. Airport staff. Train conductors. Hotel front desk clerks. Even some of the freaking museums want to take a look at your passport to verify that you are who you say you are… Now we frequently have one person (usually Marie ’cause she’s the paperwork person on the trip) carry all of them. Which means that when someone wants to see your passport there’s this moment where you have to pull out the stack of passports, thumb through them to see whose is whose and then pass them out… It’s not a big deal once or twice but after dozens of times it actually gets to be a bit funny (in an annoying sort of way)… But now, after years of field testing and product development, I’ve perfected a system for quickly and easily identifying our passports without having to thumb through it to see the picture:


That’s right… little coloured dots with our initials on them! Brilliant eh? Now watch there be some obscure law about putting coloured dots on the front of your passport that will get me into trouble the first time we pull them out at the airport! If anyone else is interested in this high-tech solution to the “whose passport is this anyways” problem, let me know, I think I have a couple thousands dots left over and can probably find a sharpie around somewhere!

Another little travel trick I’ve come across lately is Scribd – it’s sort of like Netflix for books. You pay $8.99 a month and can read an unlimited number of books from their extensive library. The selection of books is about what you’d expect from a decent used book store but for $9 a month you can’t really go wrong and they have a lot of classic titles as well. You can even download 20 titles to your device for offline reading! And best of all for travellers, they have a huge collection of Lonely Planet travel guides that you can download to your device – no more packing around 2″ thick books to make use of 17 pages of the book! We’ll see how it works out in the field so to speak but for now it seems like a great deal.

Okay. That’s it for now, must do some packing… After all, we leave in 4 days!



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