Posts Tagged 'travel in style'

The North: A Trip to Scotland and Yorkshire

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I had never been to Scotland, and an opportunity came up to visit as well and stay with friend in Middlesbrough aka Cleveland and take in the sights. I enjoyed Glasgow a lot more than I thought I would, and the same goes for York (despite the crazy number of tourists). If I had taken this trip a few years ago I would have been miserable, due to the amount of hills and stairs that would not have been very compatible with being on a cane — let alone any other physical disabilities. So I am very glad the timing worked out. We spent a few weeks filled with train travel, art museums, museums, carb loading, tea, cats, nightclubs and meeting-up with friends.

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Edinburgh is so gorgeous I will have to make another trip back to do everything I wanted. My husband Ben, and I, did the full tea service at The Balmoral Palm Court and even skipping lunch and dinner, it was an insane amount of food. It was all very royally done, and I think the Rose tea was my favorite. A side note: I enjoyed haggis and blood pudding in general, they don’t deserve the bad rap they get in the USA.

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One thing I signed-up to do was get over my strange fear of birds. Not too far from the city center is Dalhousie Castle, a hotel and spa, as well as the home of a large amount of birds of prey. Each one of them named for a David Bowie reference. Owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles. Want to get over your fear of birds? Hold a 9 pound eagle and flight a hawk for several runs! I’m addicted to falconry, now. There’s a few videos at the end of this post.

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Our elevator broke in Edinburgh and we were in the attic on the 7th floor. It was like Crossfit that I didn’t sign up for.

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We stayed directly across from the Sir Walter Scott monument….

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A goth night anniversary in Newcastle with The Butlers! Mel Butler was one of the DJs. Thanks to them, I’ve been turned onto some newer goth bands that I really like. They drove us all around to old viking sites, seaside towns, and more for a great Bank Holiday weekend.

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They met for the first time in this exact spot in York, back in the 80s. Did I ever tell you kids about the 80s?

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York Minster is perfect for photoshoots — especially if you are pretending you are in a band.

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This is the seat for the Cleveland clergy in the York Minster Chapter House. Cleveland UK that is, not Cleveland, Ohio.

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My first 99!

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The Glasgow Necropolis!

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Laz from the excellent Bubblegum Lemonade took a series of photos of Ben and I where we look like we should be in an indie/electronic duo. Laz gave us a walking tour of Glasgow indie music history, and we even ran into Mr. Love of Teenage Fanclub while out seeing Gospel Beach do a gig.

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We visitied the Glasgow School of Art because I was supposed to attend there for a semester as a sister school to CalArts. This photo was taken of Ben on May 30th and it blows my mind, that now weeks later, the entire place was wiped out in a fire. 

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Mel Butler took this of us in the Chapter House, and I love it!

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The Marrakech Cure

It was a week after the passing of a dear friend that an email alert popped up with a deal to Morocco round trip for $440. My husband and I had always talked about going, and in a spark of ‘why not because we could die tomorrow’ I decided I was going. I then texted my husband, “guess what, I just bought non-refundable tickets to Marrakech!”

Ten months later, and with two friends, we embarked on our first real vacation that wasn’t a ‘working trip’ after a crazy year of both my husband and I having surgeries a few months apart, his near death experience, and the resulting PTSD. I’ve traveled internationally all of my life, but this was great to go somewhere completely unfamiliar and where we knew no one.

We landed at sundown and stepping off the plane (old school down a flight of stairs onto the tarmac) in the heat at the edge of the Sahara, I knew this would be different, and just what we needed. We spent an unforgettable week with our dear friends in the heart of the Medina. My husband wrote half of his next novel on our riad balcony. Souks, palaces, gardens, hidden alleys, amazing mint tea, and a lazy coffee on any terrace we could find with the echoes of the call to prayer. Our raid, Dar Jaguar, was amazing I think partly because we were literally the only guests there. Every morning breakfast was served on the rooftop and we had one night where the chef made us dinner. We even had resident turtles in the courtyard, which for some reason I was very excited about.

There’s so many riads in the city and I’m glad I didn’t book anything at a fancy modern hotel. They are surrounded by walls and a bit outside the old city. I would almost compare the surrounding city to Palm Springs. Condo communities and golf courses are being built everywhere, and you need to go by car if not by scooter most places. I would never in a million years drive a car there — just crossing the street is tempting death.

A pilgrimage to Jardin Marjorelle was in order to pay tribute to Yves Saint Laurent; it was overrun by fashion bloggers I almost had to shove out of the way in narrow walkways. We missed the proper museum opening next door by five weeks but maybe one day we’ll go back. Yves’ partner, Pierre Bergé, whom he bought the property with, passed away one day later.

Of course, the cats who roam the city rooftops came to visit us every morning at breakfast, and this might have been the best reason of all to stay in the Medina. One in particular slept on a motorbike seat in our alley and really liked us so he followed our group into the riad next door all the way to the roof when we had wine. I had a habit of buying from shops that had a nice cat sleeping outside, but maybe that was because the owners will strong arm you in a charming way the second you notice the cat.

Our friends were able to buy the carpet they desired, and that was a whole Odyssey lemme tell ‘ya! I did get used to the wheeling and dealing culture and even had fun for a while, but by day 6 it was exhausting. I think at one point I never wanted to shop again, but that didn’t last. Sometimes you had to pick out what was cheap crap from China and what was real, but we mostly stayed around the perimeter of the souks and didn’t go into them. I don’t think I could have handled it. My friend and I had to physically fight off a henna women trying to make us sit, and those gals are strong! I learned to say a few phrases in Arabic and I must have said “no thanks” 80 times in one day. At one point on the way to the mountains I did get trapped by a clasped bracelet when a man came out of nowhere and handcuffed me with it; my husband was nowhere to be found because he narrowly escaped a cobra being put around his neck so he ran back to the car. I ended up getting 3 other silver bracelets for a steal from the cuffer because I carried little cash and was told a few times I “barter like a Berber” because — well, I’m kind of a bitch.

I’m still shocked at how other tourists from Europe dressed (we rarely saw Americans, we met, like 2) mainly the women. I tried to cover my shoulders at all times and my tattoos, but I think I saw more ass, tits, and skin in Marrakech than at any strip club. A lot of women didn’t get the memo when you wear a white caftan, you have to wear more than a thong under it! The men were going crazy, it was hilarious. It could get up to 107 degrees but I still covered up. I know it is really lax in Morocco but I just didn’t want to be the ugly American. But not to worry, the episode of AbFab when they go to Morocco played out in real life in front of us almost every day. People assumed my husband was a British rock star detoxing, but they still tried to get him hash, and one restaurateur tried to arrange a private car for us to get him to the flashy club he owned.

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Now for the big news. We booked a tour to the Atlas mountains where we took tea with a Berber family, rode camels, and bartered hard for anything and everything. I never want to ride a camel again. Put it this way, horses are way more comfortable! It was the mountain hike that solidified for me that after years of work, I didn’t need my cane anymore. A cane I’d had since surgery seven years ago. I didn’t realize what we had signed up for (and we decided not to do the mule ride) but this was a lot more physical activity in very treacherous terrain! One wrong step and you go splat, or break a bone. I threw my cane out in the trash at the airport in Marrakech upon leaving. Between the hike and dodging scooters in narrow alleys daily, we’ll call it physical therapy Moroccan style! I’ll still need a cane if I wear heels and I still won’t ever be able to run again, but to not have to drag it around with me everywhere has been so freeing!

[As an aside, please, the next person who says “I didn’t recognized you without your cane” I’ll never speak to you again and I might trip you when you aren’t looking. Oh let’s be honest, women never say this to me, only men do. WTF is that about? It’s not funny. Don’t be a dickhead.]

I caught a cold on our last day and fought it off with mint tea, and Moroccan aspirin was pretty hardcore! I’ve kept some and now wish I had bought more to stock up on. It makes me wonder what other goodies the pharmacy had that are better than what I get in the US. We almost stocked up on spices but were afraid they would get dumped at customs with our day in Amsterdam or coming back to the US. Oh, did I mention I only packed half of a carry-on suitcase for this trip so I had room for all the stuff I bought? I literally left one side empty! I was away for about 10 days and survived. I was going to do a packing video again of ‘ how to pack for Africa with practically nothing’ but you can see I did something similar with my husband here.

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Anyway, here’s just some of the stupid amount of photos I took and bits of video, because I took a lot. We are planning on a trip to Tangier next year!

 


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