Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Grimsby and Hello Ireland!

May 13, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice weekend! Wednesday I finished work in Newcastle, and in the afternoon drove to the next location, Grimsby, UK. It’s approximately three hours’ drive from Newcastle with an extremely different vibe. Grimsby is a smaller town with many people working at the refineries and the windfarms nearby. There are a TON of windfarms in northern UK and Scotland. I walked around the first evening around 7pm.

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Everything was closed and the few people walking around seemed very odd, unpredictable, pretty sickly. It was a little disconcerting. I visited a cocktail bar and was told not to take pictures of this ugly pace because it would break my camera! I ate dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was awesome, for the food and the cool employees. I ended up eating there the next two nights as well.

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Everything is inexpensive in Gimsby. I pay more for my small apartment in Boston than it costs for any of the rental properties here, including even luxury detached houses. On Thursday and Friday I worked. On Thursday afternoon I visited Cleethorps, which is the next town over and has a bit more going on, and a beach, which was under construction (?). Other than that, not much to report. I started a new book about Philosophy, was really productive work-wise, and wrote some raps and poetry.

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Also, it’s important to note that the people in Grimsby are really nice and welcoming, and the people observed on the first night weren’t a good representation. Now it’s Saturday and things have gotten way more exciting. I woke up at 4:15am, drove 1.5 hours to Leeds Bradford Airport for an 8:30am flight (in retrospect, booking the flight from Leeds was impractical and kind of silly… it looked closer to Grimsby on a map, even with driving directions, than it is in reality. Now I have the empirical evidence to really know that, so great… though… is it possible to really know anything? ugh, new philosophy book).

I said goodbye to the Ford Kuga, which I think got its flat tire back because the pressure alert came on again, and took a flight to Dublin. At Leeds airport someone pinned me as American and was like, “is it true, in America, they have burgers This Big??” with his hands like around an American football. So I said, “Bigger!” Ha.

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In Dublin I picked up a new rental car, and they gave me a white hatchback-kind of suv BMW as my “compact car.” Awesome! I made it a point to be extra charming and hilarious at the rental car desk, and to put on some subtle lip color before. It makes a difference. In line I met some businessmen who were super psyched to be starting a two-week guys golf trip all over the Ireland coast. They gave me the idea to go to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, which I’ll visit tomorrow.

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I was thinking of going to Belfast for lunch and chill before heading to Sligo, but decided to drive straight across to Sligo instead. It was a really fun drive — the car is smooth and fast with a far superior sound system AND a built-in nav system, which is really easy to use.

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The hotel in Sligo is great, and my room is huge! Larger than my apartment. At check-in, they let me know about an event tonight, stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan! I had no idea who that was but love standup so got a ticket.

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I got ready to go for a hike but then it started pouring so I drove to Rosses Point, and walked around in the rain. It was beautiful even in the rain, and then it got sunny! And then pouring again. So I had a coffee at a nearby hotel and walked around some more, then back to the hotel for cocktails and dinner and Tommy Tiernan, who, it turns out, is a pretty big deal, and hilarious, and a great performer.

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There was no assigned seating and I had a seat in the fourth row centre so was able to really observe his motions and way of working the stage. I feel so lucky to have seen this show! What a lesson in Irish culture, and about the reputation of Sligo county!: I’m driving in a cool car, NOT a “sweet ride” because in Ireland if you say “ride,” that means sex. If someone offers you a ride, you can say “i’ll take a lift,” unless, of course, you want the ride. Also, if a man is erect, that’s called a “horn.” I was also surprised that religious reputations, catholic v. protestant, play a role in daily life and assumptions about people’s personalities.

Love, Annie

 

Northumbria and Scotland

May 10, 2017

Hi Family and Friends,

Monday and Tuesday were nice. Monday I started work early and had a meeting in the afternoon. Then I went for a drive to Alnwick castle, which is in some Harry Potter movies. I took the coastal road back, which was beautiful.

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It’s one benefit to having a GPS, you can kind of “wander” and see where the road goes, yet it still calculates the route back. At one point I got out of the car to get fresh air and had a private beach! For dinner I ate at a restaurant specializing in muscles.

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Today I took a day trip to Scotland. I woke up at 5:45 and was on the road by 6:30 because the first stop was the Auchentoshan distillery, which is just west of Glasgow. Even with the GPS I got lost so I couldn’t make the 10am tour. Fortunately there was another at 11.

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I was in a tour with a family from France with an adult and his older parents. The parents didn’t speak English and kept speaking to me in French as if I understood. I had to keep telling her (unfortunately) I had no idea what she was saying, but i got the sentiments from body language. I told them aside from hello, goodbye, please, etc, I only know one word “travallier” which means “to work.” It’s kind of true and they thought that was moderately funny. The tire pressure gauge on my rental car was on, but I had decided to ignore it because it wasn’t “red” it was just “yellow.” But one of the staff members at Auchentoshan noticed I had a flat tire and they had a great tire pump that plugged into the 12 volt socket in the car so they helped me fix it. The staff there was so nice.

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For lunch I visited the West End neighborhood of Glasgow to a restaurant that came recommended by the distillery guide. It was a special meats place so I had a hanger steak which isn’t something I would normally order but was very delicious and extra exciting because I had literally eaten just peanuts for breakfast.

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Then I drove to Edinburgh, which is about an hour away. By the time I got there it was almost just after 3 pm. I put an hour and a half on the parking meter and started wandering. It was a lucky day and lucky parking space. I had no idea Edinburgh was so cool. Everyone was outside hanging out in the sun below the great buildings. I could appreciate the beauty of the situation but to be honest I felt terribly lonely and sad walking around there. It was an instance I would have liked to share.

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Then I started the drive back. There was some traffic getting out of Edinburgh but not terrible. I started to feel better when the roads became empty, and winding up and down the hills. With the kind of tight turns that are very thrilling and you want to take fast. And “blind summits” of hills that if you take fast, it’s super thrilling because you’re not sure what’s past it, maybe the car will fly away. I’ve felt this skiing. The bulk of the drive on the first leg was major highway but the drive back was all windy roads. The border of Scotland and England was especially cool. Driving today was a big loop. Total distance was just over 350 miles or 560 km. That was pretty aggressive — not as much as the 500 mi (800 km) trip between Klaipeda/Riga/Kaunas last may,  but up there.

For dinner I ate at a different Indian restaurant from the one on Sunday. Now, back to work.

Love, Annie

Adios Abidjan, Hello Sierra Leone!

August 23, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are well. I apologize, I did not write yesterday because I had a headache and couldn’t deal with looking at the computer screen. It was certainly a nice day though. 20130822_145325After a successful meeting (finally) I finished my work and then Chino and I went to a nearby beach town called Grand Bassam. It was very fun. We walked around on the beach and drank coconuts! On the way back, I tried to let a fly out the window but accidentally closed the window and squished it. We had a laugh about that. I also bought a wooden mancala board with some seeds to play. I think that will be a nice souvenir.

20130823_175202I knew how to play this game because when I was little, I played this computer game called Strategy Games of The World and it had Mancala, a game called Go-Moku (I think that’s how you spell it – it’s a Japanese game where you try to get five in a row of your color first) and a viking game that I don’t remember the name of because I thought it was annoying for some reason. This game was before Where in the World is Carmen Santiago and Command and Conquer. We played lots of computer games when we were little.

20130823_182931This morning, I woke up, packed, and headed to the airport. I was pretty happy to leave Abidjan! The journey to Sierra Leone was a long one. Two different planes. Then after getting off the plane at Sierra Leone International airport, a boat ride to take you to the city. I had an easy time with it because I had set up a service to pick me up at every step of the way (it’s best if you do that here). It worked really well, each time I got off somewhere (the plane, the boat) there was someone waiting for me with a sign with my name on it. YES!

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I was warned about the roads to the hotel, but didn’t realize how bad they would be! It’s pretty crazy, and SO interesting. I can’t believe the car made it up some of the hills. There is one main road that is paved, but other than that, It was an incredibly slow going, bumpy ride on dirt roads to the hotel. It’s rainy season, and all the rain really screws up the roads. In the picture is the paved road.

20130822_140757The hotel is FINE. It’s near the President’s house (which is also not on a paved road) and it looks way WAY better on the Web site (but don’t they all). The room is pretty good and the shower works FINE as well. There is a mosquito net. Im not thrilled about staying here for a week but it will be okay. Apparently this place is the best in town. Our client is staying here, and the people from the US Embassy also stay here. I had dinner with Paul, who works at the embassy. I met him on the way over. He wears a yarmulke and african clothes.

cutestHe is based in Frankfurt, and his family is there, but he travels to africa. He definitely keeps kosher because he stayed away from the shell fish and then I asked him about it. Cool! I asked him lots of questions about the foreign service because I’m curious about it maybe for the future, I know Lev (the handsome man in the picture above) might also be interested. Obviously that picture is not from survey, I just love it and look at it when I’m feeling lonely. I’m not feeling particularly lonely right at the moment, but wanted to share something that makes me really happy.

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In any case, Paul said got into the foreign service by applying just like everyone else. Of course. I was very nervous about the whole situation in Freetown before dinner, but am feeling much better after having eaten a good meal and after having spoke to some people about the safety of this hotel! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the markets are here! And to going home in a week!

Love, Annie