Sniff Sniff

*Sniff Sniff* My baby cousin leaves today for a European cruise for the first time. She’s finally going out and seeing the world.  I am so proud of her!  She’s a nervous flyer, but I know she’ll do good.

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India August 18- 21 2011 Part 1

Holly Heck am I really late on this post. I’ve been home from India for almost a year. A Year! So why is my post late, well a few reason. Around the end of March last year the place I had been working at had suddenly closed down and I was transferred to another place that downgraded me from part time/full time hours to 1 shift a week. And having purchases a non-refundable plane ticket to Delhi and being within the group tour’s no refund time period I was stuck trying to pay bills (2 credit cards, rent, cell, internet and tuition) and save up money for spending, transportation to and from the airport and the cost of my visa. Let’s just say a lot of services were not working when I arrived home.

By the time I had paid off my bills so my services were restored (thank god for student loans) I was back in school finishing my final year – well it was suppose to be my final year. During that time I had travel to New York City twice, visited Boston, Washington, Ottawa and Montreal and countless other cities along the way of these road trips. Some how in between the studying and traveling I manage to fall in love.  Oh and did I mention a book – actually 2 books.

But now schools over till January, more trips on the horizons. I am taking sometime to write for the blog that I loved so much.

August 18 2011- August 20th:

I took the early morning train from Brantford to Toronto. When I arrived at Toronto I took the shuttle bus to the airport. I was early and had to wait for check in to open. I was america airlines upgraded me on my flight to NYC and offered me an entire row to myself on FinnAir flight to Helsinki. The flight itself is alot like Helsinki – a little boring.

Eurohostel Room

I spent 26 hours in Helsinki, staying at Eurohostel on Linnankatu. The cleanest hostel I’ve ever seen. My room reminded me of an ilea inspired private dorm room. But who could complain? The bed was comfy, the room was quite, the bathrooms although shared with multiple stalls was still private and clean, and their was an huge flat screen TV that hung above my bed.

I wonder around Helsinki. Like I had mention, Helsinki a little boring. Nice. But not a whole lot to do or see. I spent most of my time around the harbor which I found beautiful. I did however followed a

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Frommer’s walking tour which took me to most of the important sights in Helsinki. I spent some time at the children’s zoo and Suomenlinna Sveaborg.

On my last day there I went ate breakfast in the market before I set off to see the zoo. It was early so I sat alone at a table underneath an orange tent eating my waffle. I hear a commotion. I looked up to see a tour group of Asian tourist lined up taking a picture of me eating a waffle alone in a Finnish market.

That night I headed back to the airport for my 8pm flight to Delhi. That flight I was so fortunate to have a entire row to myself.

 

August 21  20122

I arrived incredibly early in Delhi (5:30am). After deplaning I made my way through the long, hot, humid arrival lounge to customs.  I stood in long lines waiting for my chance to go an agent who as usual would only keep me there long enough to look at my visa and stamp my passport and waving me through. The benefits of being a Caucasian Canadian female, I guess. We’re not seen as a threat by custom guards. Before leaving the airport I exchange my Canadian money into Indian Rupees at the exchange both to the left of the exit.  I lugged my pack onto my back and made my way through the exit into taxi area, immediately getting hit with the heat and humidity that made the air thick and hard to breath. I crossed the road and got inline to by a prepaid taxi. Getting hassled every second by men who try to get me to come with them to their cab.  I paid for my cab and before I could pick up my bag a man had grabbed it urging me to follow him to the next cab in line. He through my bag in and helped me get in – and demanded a tip, in euros. He would not leave until I handed over my last 1 euro coin.

The taxi ride itself was interesting. The cars were old, even by 3rd world standard. The driver zig zaged bus way through the streets narrowing missing street vendors along side the road, dogs, cows and people and other cars. I sat in the back clutching my bag, praying that I would make it to the airport alive. The driver wasnt really sure where the hotel was and stopped to ask random people for directions.

When I got to the hotel a man carried my bag from their sister hotel and waited patiently for me to check in to be tip. That’s the thing in everyone expects one. Even the man who took my bag, took 2 steps and put it in the car demanded euros when I offered him a 1 rupee coin.

Once in my room after paying 720 rupees to check in I slept from 7:30-1pm. I ordered room service. I stayed in my room only venturing out to the hotel reception to see if they had a plug adapter.

The tour meeting was at 5pm where I met my group. All girls minus one guy. We went to dinner a few street over at a family resturant. The tour guide left us there after a bit. Me and some of the other girls went to buy water and to find an ATM. We got lost trying to find our hotel in streets filled of men that stared at you as walked through. Two of the girls wore revealing outfits by Indian standards that causes us even more attention.

My roommate didn’t arrive till 6pm ish nor did she come to dinner. I gave her a huge scare that night. I had fallen asleep and was having a nightmare where I was on a stair well that had gone black and all I could feel was openness. I was scared in my dream so I had started to yell for help. However once my roommate turned the lights on I found my sitting up right in my bed screaming for help. I looked over at her sitting in her bed with a freaked out looked on her face, asking me alright, telling me I had been screaming at the top of my lungs.

**** Stay tuned for part 2*****

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Home and Sunburnt

I arrived home last night from my road trip with my newish boyfriend. I am a bright lobster red now after exploring Washington, DC from the top of one of those hop on hop off double decker open top tour buses. I cant wait to tell you all more about my recent adventures.

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Next trip

NYC and Boston Here I Come…..

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Hiatus

Hiatus

Dear Readers,

I haven’t posted since July of last year, I do apologies for such a long and unannounced hiatus. Stay tune because Travel Along the Way will be back with stories from India, Finland and, New York City and my upcoming road trip with a new travel buddy, dun dun dun.

JoC

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India (monsoon season) and Finland packing list.

1 gym bag backpack + 1 collapsible tote bag as carryon bag .

Contents to be put in main bag once arrive in India and all luggages are received. Using gym bag backpack as day pack

  • Tickets and vouchers.
  • Passport and Visa and other ID cards
  • Cash. Debit and Credit Cards.
  • Money Belt
  • Toilet Paper
  • Clear toiletry bag w. 2 in 1 shampoo, hand sanitizer, mascara, bar of soap, toothpaste and brush, lip balm, sunscreen (SPF 45), body wash, allergy meds, prescription meds, deodorant, body spray. Hair spray/gel. Bug spray. All items are 100ml or less per guidelines.
  • Hair brush
  • 3 underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 knee length skirt (purple flowers)
  • 1 purple polo top
  • 1 long bohemian skirt.
  • 1 tights/ bike shorts for underneath skirt.
  • 1 set of PJs
  • 1 long thin sleeve shirt.
  • 1 jean capris
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of water shoes. (Monsoon season in India. Cooler then rain boots)
  • 2 Digital camera, memory cards (2x- 1 GB and 1 x- 8 GB), charger and X-batteries.
  • Feminine hygiene Products
  • Adaptor plugs
  • Cell phone w/ charger
  • 1 scarf.
  • Reusable water bottle.
  • Ear plugs
  • Journal and pen
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Flash light.
  • House keys with compass key chain.
  • Maps and guidebooks.
  • Sun glasses.
  • Hand held fan.

60 litter backpack

  • 9 pairs of underwear (extra due to heat and lack of time to do laundry.
  • Bandana.
  • 9 bras (sports and full support)
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of light weight pants (in black, olive green or grey) e.g. kaki or linen style.
  • 3 pairs of capris or long walking shorts (in black, olive or purple)
  • 3 t-shirts.
  • Toilet Paper
  • 2 modest sleeveless tops
  • 1 thin long sleeve top.
  • 1 bathing suit with cover up.
  • Scarves, and other hair ties and hats.
  • 1 black or grey thin shrug.
  • Extra toiletries.
  • Razor
  • Rain poncho (monsoon season).
  • Rain cover for backpack.
  • Candle with matches.
  • First aid kit.
  • Baby wipes.
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The Trip from Hell and it Hasn’t Even Started.

This year’s trip – let me tell you have been one bugger to plan. I choose to do a tour again for the specific purpose I had no real time to plan a trip due to school. My originally plan was to go to Egypt for 9 days and then Greece for 2.  This was fine and dandy until the riots happen.

Photo borrowed without permission from http://redriverpak.wordpress.com/

I waited for a while before I had decided that Egypt may not be all that safe to visit come July. So I made the decision to cancel my trip to Egypt and go somewhere else. I decided on India.  India is one of those places I didn’t have a burning desire to go to, but would go just to check off the list. Even now a month away, I still can’t really get into the destination. Sure I’ll be standing in front of the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and a testament to love, on my birthday. However I just can’t get excited about it. I haven’t even planned my packing list or booked my hostel for my extra night. I haven’t even booked my hostel for my layover in Finland.

I made the decision in late October/November to make the switch. By March the restaurant I had been working at closed down suddenly. I was transferred to another location that didn’t have any hours for me. I bought my $1300 non-refundable, non-exchangeable ticket and picked it up from the travel agent on Wednesday and was out of work on Sunday.

Now the plane ticket it self was a hassle.  I wanted to get the best fare that was only offered online. I attempted to book it through Finnair and then Expedia. Neither one would accept my credit card.

I spent 2 hours on the phone with my card company and Expedia trying to fix the problem.  My card company needed to know where Expedia was billing from in order to approve the charges. Expedia refused to tell me, the woman I talked to insisted it wasn’t required to know where they were billing from. The women cut me off repeatedly and eventually I hung up on her. I tried to book the fare through Finnair’s website, and had the same issue.

If Expedia or Finnair didn’t want my money, my local Marlin Travel agent would. With them I booked my slightly more expensive plane ticket to India. With a layover in New York City and Finland – and then waited for three weeks before they would give me my ticket.

Since the store closing down and the one shift a week I was getting at the new location (as well as failing a course and having to fork out 420$ for the repeat course) I had been putting off getting my visa. I knew I couldn’t cancel the trip. I would lose the $1300 I paid for my plane ticket, and $200 of the $650 I paid for my tour. I finally had enough money to go get my visa for India from the company that the Indian consulate in Toronto out sources their Visas too. I dropped my internship papers off at my professor’s office in Hamilton before taking the Go Train to Toronto. After some confusion I arrived at the Eglinton location at 2:10. 20 minutes to spare before they stop taking applications for the day. I signed in took my number and waited. It wasn’t long before I was at the counter having my visa application handed back to me because my picture didn’t show enough of my shoulders. That right denied on the account of shoulders.

Normally I get my passport photos and the likes done at Black’s photography. However trying to be cheap and save myself $10 I got them done at Shopper’s Drug Mart. So on Monday I got my photos redone at Black like I should have done in the first place paying 1.5X more for pictures had I done it there in the first place and made my way to Toronto again on  Friday for take 2. I arrived at the office, took my number again and waited.

Finally I got to the counter, handed my application and sweated nervously waiting for her to go over my application and hopefully not hand it back to me. Thankfully she accepted it after making a few corrections to the application.

Now Wednesday my application status says it has been processed and has been sent to me via UPS or Canada Post.  Hopefully I won’t have any more surprises (like my visa application has been processed but ultimately declined.).

Less than 30 days away now.

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Role Reversal. Passenger gropes TSA Agent.

Add to this to the list of sure-fire ways to not make it to your plane on time.

 Last week a 61-year-old woman refused to go through passenger screening at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and became argumentative before grabbing and squeezing the breast of a female TSA agent.

For the full story – MSNBC

She has a striking resemblance Yoko Ono, no?

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Meet My New Travel Companion – King.

I was wondering around Union Station in Toronto 2 weeks ago after having my Indian Visa declined temporary because my visa photos that were done at Shopper’s Drug Mart were done incorrectly, I met a percurliar creature. He had messy reddish hair and gigantic golden brown eyes. He said “excuse me, Miss where are you going? Can I go with you?”

“Well sir, I am going home. Perhaps some other time you can come with me if our paths should ever cross again.”

This past Friday I was in Toronto again, with new visa pictures done at Black’s Photography (well worth the $22 I spent) in hand. There he was sitting in the same spot I had left him sitting with his friends watching the busy people on their journeys. I smiled and nodded hello.

Visa application handed in and accepted and with tired feet I made my way towards the Go Trains. I passed him again and he called after me.

“Hello again miss. You did say if our paths ever cross again I could come with you. That I could come with you. That’s twice today, our paths have cross. Some would call that fate.”

“I guess you’re right, we must hurry now our train is leaving soon.”

He sat across from me on the GO train with his messy reddish hair and his big golden brown eyes and looked happy as can be traveling with me.

“I’m King.” He said.

“Well, hello King. I am Jo. Have you ever been to India?”

“No Miss, I have not. I would like to go one day.”

“Come with me then.” I replied to my new travel companion.

This is King's first ride on the Go Train.

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Historic Weekend

Talk about a weekend!

The future king of England got married in London on Friday……
The first UFC fight in Ontario was held in Toronto on Saturday…..
The Americans killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday morning….

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