I woke up at 4 AM today and was brushing my teeth around 4:30 when my hotel phone started to ring. It was my mom! She was calling to make sure I was awake. It was really nice of her to call, even though it was an ungodly hour. I think she really misses me.
I checked out of the hotel and went down the Russell Station. The station wasn't open yet so I had to wait for about 10 minutes for it to open up. It was then I realized that this was the same station where the 2005 London subway bombings took place.
There were a bunch of us waiting for the station to open and there was a group of people from America there, that wouldn't stop talking about how they "couldn't wait to get back to good ol' America". I wonder what it's like to travel across Europe with a group of friends...
I caught the Piccadilly Express and did my transfer at Green Park. I then rode the train to Victoria Station, and after a bit of searching, I found and got onto the Gatwick Express. While looking for it, I thought maybe the 2 hour-long train ride I took around London almost 3 weeks ago was the Express, but no. The Express was a beautiful train with soft cushioned chairs, which sold snacks and beverages.
I got to the Gatwick airport safely and checked into Thomas Cook Airlines. Then I went through security. The guy in front of me "won a free bag search", said the security guy. I'm glad he won it because I'm the one that normally does!
After security I found my Gate and waited for 2-and-a-half hours. Right before they opened my Gate, a Gatwick survey lady asked me to complete a survey for her, so I was was the last to get onto the plane. The whole journey from Imperial Hotel and onto the plane to Calgary was easy and thankfully, uneventful.
Right now we are flying over the Davis Strait between Greenland and Baffin Island. The screen on the back of the chair in front of me says we should get to Calgary in 4-and-a-half hours.
This time around, I'm sitting beside a British couple. The girl offered me some candy before we took off, as silly as that sounds. They're nice people but I'm so tired that I really don't want to talk. I bet they think of me the same as I thought of the Romanian when I first came to London.
I'm going to go back to my book some more. I'll write later. There really isn't anything to report except that I finally mastered the London Underground.
Now I'm in the Calgary airport. I forgot it was Saturday and that it was the beginning of Spring Break, and the airport is crazy!
The plane ride here was nice, though. I sat with two English people -- a woman from London and a man from Wales. The man had a very thick accent, but the woman didn't. They said they were going to Calgary to go skiing and next month they are leaving to Mexico -- both to go for a wedding, and to stay away from the Royal Wedding. The man said, I believe, that to accommodate the city for the vast amount of tourists that week, they city of London plans to start canal trips down the Thames, as well as opening the ancient canals throughout the city that have been closed for over 100 years.
Security went well in Calgary and I got a warm "Welcome home." from Immigration. However, one thing that security did confused me. They asked me if I had any sharp or fragile thing in my luggage and I said, "Just a mini-Eiffel Tower and two coffee-mugs." but all security wanted to see were the coffee-mugs. If anything, the mini-Eiffel Tower was the dangerous thing! The only damage a coffee-mug can do is break in my luggage. And even then, only my ego will be hurt.
I'll write when I get home for my final entry. Goodbye until then.
I got home safely. My mom, dad and my girlfriend all met me at the airport. They had all these questions to ask me and we talked until almost 1 in the morning about it.
How can I ever describe what I saw and experienced in Europe? How can I describe my life for the past 18 days? I'll tell them to read this, I guess.
Thank you all for reading this. I hope my story was worth the read. I hope I inspired and educated, or at least entertained you.
Take care, until next time.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2017 Ford Explorer. I grew up learning how to drive a Ford Windstar so I figured an Explorer shouldn't be that much different. Sure, one is an SUV the other is a van, but a Ford's a Ford, right? Well, not exactly. From the moment I sat down, I knew it would be a very different experience from what I was used to.
There were things about the Explorer I liked, and some that I didn't, but it was overall a very nice vehicle. It drove smoothly, turned nicely and handled grid roads very well. I found the brakes to be a little touchy, but by the time the week ended, I mastered how to brake without awkwardly lurching myself forward.
Beyond the learning curve with the brakes, here are my positive and negative experiences with the 2017 Ford Explorer:
December has finally arrived, and with it is the season of gift giving. Personally, I always find Christmas shopping – or shopping for any reason – very difficult and very frustrating. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but there just seems to be so many stores and so many sales that I always get pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to shopping for children. In an attempt to ease the pain of holiday shopping, I have reached out to three local businesses around Regina to tell me a little about who they are and what they have going on this holiday season. Have you ever visited these locations? Let me know about it in the comments below!
Located in the south end of Regina, Kids Trading Company has been a part of the Regina community for the past 15 years. Here you can find a mixture of new and gently used children's clothing, shoes, toys and accessories.
Enjoy shopping in a local store where the friendly staff knows the products and can help you find what you need, like warm winter boots from Kamik or waterproof mittens and fleecy hats. Brands like Desigual, Hatley, Yogini, Billabong and Mexx will give you lots of options for great quality clothes in the latest styles. Need a baby gift? Shop their baby section for the cutest sleepers and practical accessories like Amber teething necklaces and muslin blankets.