While getting ready for my excursion around town, I thought I would straighten my hair again. Bad idea. While I was doing my hair, I suddenly heard a loud pop! sound and a whole bunch of smoke emitted from my power converter. I changed the fuse in it, but the whole thing has a very strange, almost burnt smell to it. I hope the fuse is the only thing that blew! I'm only 1/6th done my trip and I don't want to lose my camera again!
I may try the power converter out somewhere else when I come back to see if I can still charge my camera. Maybe. The last thing I want to do is wreck it any further or have my camera burst into smoke also!
I'll write more later. The sun is up and I'm going to hit the town -- with my semi-straightened hair.
I just got back from my trip around London and before I begin, I learned that London isn't just "London" -- it is multiple cities. For example, one of the cities is called Westminster, but just to keep things easier for me to record, I'll just refer to everything in the city as "London".
First I had a small breakfast at a very nice restaurant called Pret A Manger. Not only was the food delicious, it was all natural and hand-made there (or, if not there, then at a "preparation station" nearby). Their food doesn't have a shelf life, so if they don't sell it all they give it to charity. I'll definitely be going back to that place soon!
After that, I had about a half-hour wait until the Hop-On-Hop-Off buses started running, so I walked around my "neighbourhood". Finally it came and I started my long awaited trek. I went to Piccadilly Circus and saw the Eros statue, then I got off and walked down to the famous Trafalgar Square with Big Ben just down the street. Then, although I was told it was "too far to walk", I walked through St. James' Park and to Buckingham Palace. In front of it was a massive statue, but the four statues around it were behind refurbished and only the middle one could be seen -- thus my pictures aren't as amazing as they could have been.
There's a lot in London that's being reconstructed and refurbished. At first I thought it was because of the bad winter they had and they were preparing for tourists, but then I realized I was only half right. Next year was the Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics!
I left Buckingham Palace and headed east to Westminster Abby, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. On my way there a woman appeared from a crowd and offered me a flower in exchange for a donation to charity. I really didn't want to give her anything so I just went to give her a pound. She shook her head and said no, please, more for the children. So I went and offered her a £5 bill. However, (and I feel so dumb writing this) she still wanted more so I gave her a £20 bill. Then, as I tried to escape her haggling clutches, another woman materialized (her friend, I assume) and asked for some money, and a 5 just wouldn't do! I ended up losing £40 ($62) to those women and their children!
A piece of traveler's advice: don't donate to charity in a foreign land, especially when you have limited funds... or in my case, you forget to restock your wallet. I was down to £25 and it wasn't even 10:30 AM!
After I got pictures of Westminster Abby, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament I walked across the Thames and went to the London Eye. There I spent £19. Maybe to some, the idea of taking a gigantic Ferris wheel is worth that much, but I didn't really enjoy it all that much. Especially now that I only had £6 left for lunch.
Then I caught the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and took it to St. Paul's Cathedral. I arrived there just about lunch time and saw what seemed to be hundreds of miniature Harry Potters sitting all over the cathedral stairs. I wish I had money to pay and enter to take pictures, but any money I had was back at the hotel.
I walked a block south and I arrived at the Monument. The Monument is a tall tower that was erected in memory of the Great Fire of London in 1666 that destroyed a major part of the fire. It has 311 spiraling stone stairs and lets you climb it for a reasonable £3. How could I say no!?
I warn anybody who is going to climb it, however, that they should bring a water-bottle and be in reasonably good shape. The stairwell is less than three-feet wide and is extremely claustrophobic. Once you climb up and then come back down, you get a paper certificate about it. In my opinion, it was well worth it. But I wouldn't be doing it again.
I then strolled down to the Tower of London (which is actually about 13 towers), but once again couldn't afford the entry fee. A few blocks east from me was the famous Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London Bridge -- which wasn't very impressive at all!). My ferry was going to arrive and take me back to the Parliament Buildings in about twenty minutes, or then I'd have to wait over an hour for the next one to return. I could have walked to Tower Bridge, crossed it, crossed it again to come back and then catch the next ferry, but I decided against it.
The ferry cruise (which was free because of the Hop-On-Hop-Off pass) was also very nice. We had a funny commentator who cracked jokes the whole way from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier. I recommend that cruise, especially after having a stressful day of having your power converter blow up and basically being robbed by poor women in exchange for a small, purple flower.
From Westminster Pier I started walking towards Trafalgar Square. My plan was to get to the square, go to Piccadilly Circus and catch the bus back to the hotel. However, I never found the square. I ended up going down some strange underground shopping mall with about 12 barbershops and a strippers' club in it. Then, after a ways of walking, I found another mall. This one was "normal" and had stores, a place to eat and street-side performers like "fake statues" and magicians.
I found a map on a street-corner that told me where I was. I had completely missed Trafalgar Square and was about 15 minutes away from my hotel. I ended up walking home.
Once there, I picked up a new power converter at a Sony attached to my hotel. I tried the old one in the same power-outlet as last time, and it didn't work, so I tried to new one. Again, no such luck. Later today I'll try my hallway outlet to charge my camera and MP3 player. Hopefully I haven't screwed up my trip too bad!
PS: The man at Sony told me that I can't use my hair products with this new power converter. I guess I'll either have to use a UK/EU straightener or go curly for the rest of the trip.
I went to the Royal National Hotel to check up about my tour group. Yesterday I found a sign at where the meeting place was supposed to be, but it said that it was under construction so to meet at the Royal National Hotel. I got there and they sent me across the street to the other part of the Royal National. There was a sign on the desk there that said a tour representative would be there from 11 AM - 7 PM. I checked my clock and it said it was 6:58 PM and nobody was at the desk.
Once I got back to my own hotel, I called the phone number that was left at the desk of the Royal National. They told me to go back tomorrow. I'm not sure when my tour starts, but I'm pretty sure it's either tomorrow or the next day. I'm going to be right at that desk tomorrow at 11AM sharp!
Once I got back to my room, I decided to try out my power converter on the plug-in right outside my hotel room door. While I was there, my neighbors called housekeeping to get some more toilet paper. The maid saw me and asked why I was sitting outside my room (I guess it looked suspicious?). I told her my hotel room plug-in had stopped working and I had to use this one. It wasn't a complete lie -- but I never said I was the reason it stopped working. She went back to the toilet-paper person's room and asked to see her "wardrobe". There she found the fuse-box and flipped the switch. I have power again!!
Things are finally starting to look up. Let's just hope tomorrow I can catch the tour representative and figure everything out!
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.
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If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.
Among the tombstones of the Regina Cemetery are little blue and white flags. In 1993 the Regina Ethnic Pioneers Cemetery Walking Tour put together their first tour, which focused on the city's founding fathers. In 1999 they then put together the second tour, which focused on the diversity of immigrants that live within the city. The blue flags mark the path of the first tour and the white flags mark those of the second.
The walking tours are self-guided, and can be purchased at the Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery for $2. Together, they offer over eighty different locations to visit.
For this project I teamed up with Patti Haus from I Heart Regina. She's another local blogger that has just broken into the scene and blogs about food, drinks and things to see around the Queen City. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She provided many of the pictures for this article.
150 years ago, Canada became a country, albeit a much smaller one. Since then, Canada has grown much in size, reputation and as a favorite for travellers from around the world. Lonely Planet recognized these accomplishments last year and ranked Canada as the #1 travel destination in 2017. With the addition of free National Parks all year long, 2017 is the perfect time to visit the Great White North!
I am always interested in Canadian adventures, so I thought I'd check out G Adventure's website to see what tours they have planned this year. Since G Adventures is a Canadian based travel company, I figured they would have something going on this year to celebrate our sesquicentennial. Instead, all I saw were the same eight tours as last year, and the year before. Thinking maybe there was some big announcement coming for 2017, I emailed G Adventures asking about it, hoping, praying, that maybe there was something, something, anything at all… but I received no response.
Now, don't get me wrong. G Adventures has eight great Canadian tours, and they all look really awesome, but they only show off a small sliver of what Canada has to offer. In fact, four of the tours are almost exactly the same: