Tag Archives: travel

Semi-charmed kind of life (an early bird special before this story hits the papers!)

19 Jan

Let me be honest: I am pretty spoiled. Being your mother’s only daughter will do that to you.

My mom takes me on fun trips and we do exciting things together, “Gilmore Girls” style.

BUT (there’s always a but), don’t hate me too much yet. My fortunate circumstances more often than not run into some highly unfortunate events in their midst, and when bad shit happens to me, it’s go big or go home.

Take, for instance, the time I went to Nashville when I was 10 to spend Christmas with my dad. I wound up with strep throat and a double ear infection, which consequently led to me barfing all over my aunt Debbie’s car and her expensive throw pillow I clutched for moral support.

Then there was that trip to Disney World in seventh grade. I had the time of my life traversing through Epcot and Animal Kingdom, but all that faith, trust and pixie dust had me hospitalized with a staph infection a mere two days after our return.

Next up we have my sophomore trip to Hawaii: I severely sprained my ankle during soccer tryouts the week before and was on crutches the entire time. No surfing lessons for me.

However my most noticeable and gruesome of circumstances befell me this past winter break when my mom and I took a last-minute trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico for a week. (Yes, a week alone with my parent—don’t worry, it was an all-inclusive bar. We all cope in our own ways, mine being double-fisting glasses of Dos Equis.)

The first signs of this trip’s hardship surfaced on the plane ride to Cancun. After napping, I awoke to blurred vision in my left eye.

A quick swipe with a cocktail napkin revealed filmy, green gunk as the culprit of my foggy eyesight. But it was probably just some really disgusting sleep in my eye, right? Wrong.

As the day wore on and we arrived at Grand Esmeralda, our digs for the week, the gunk became a recurring problem. Just as the 55-year-old dude in a Speedo with a monster beer belly began to look more like one of the hot French guys I saw playing cards earlier, my mom would turn to me, and with a disgusted look, point to my eye saying something along the lines of “ew.”

By the time morning rolled around my ocular orifices were down to one, being that after a restful night’s sleep, my left eye had crusted itself closed. At this point it became pretty clear I had an eye infection and should probably do something about it.

Of all the godforsaken places in which to seek medical attention, Mexico doesn’t even make my top three.

Yet it was either put my trust in Grand Esmeralda’s resident M.D. or walk around with a perpetual, oozing wink sure to creep out attractive waiters and small children alike.

Seriously, when you picture my eye, think of the guy from the basement in “Goonies.” All I had to do was ask for a Baby Ruth and we’d practically be fraternal twins. So, naturally, it was to the physician or bust.

Guy from "The Goonies," aka my temporary twin. Source: listal.com

Being that I could only use one eye, my depth perception was highly askew and I tightly gripped my mother’s arm as we trekked to the main building.

Luckily, the doctor was in and she had seen bacterial eye infections like mine before. For 35 USD she could even write me a prescription for eye drops! Frankly, I was ready to drop any sum of money to clear up my cream puffed eye, so 35 bucks seemed more than reasonable.

While we waited for the prescription to be delivered my mom and I went to get breakfast. Keep in mind; my eye looked like one of those pictures of STDs-gone-facial they show students in middle school health classes.

For this indoor situation I had two options: take my sunglasses off and look like I went for a quick romp with a waiter in a back room only to receive a shot of Chlamydia to the face, or, wear my sunglasses inside just like a movie star who doesn’t want to be recognized.

Obviously I chose option number two, though I am not a movie star so I conditionally looked like a pretentious douche bag trying to be cool. It was the lesser of two evils.

But eventually the medicated drops arrived and worked their magic after about 24 hours of use, rendering me able to be where I should have been all along—poolside with a mojito in hand by just shy of 11 a.m. But experiences like this can scar a girl.

Just what diseases lie in wait for me in other locations across the globe? The prospects are terrifying.

However, I will continue to take my chances, because no matter what medical maladies befall me, this bird can’t be caged.

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Rainy Days and Subways Always Get Me Down

13 Oct

Yes yes, I know, this is heinously behind schedule. However, I thought it would be a good time to capitalize on a headline that partially applies to both my Philadelphia trip and the present day.

Let me pick up where I left off: Friday in Philly.

As my bleary eyes adjusted to the gray morning light, I tried to work out the kink in my neck (that would be my companion for the duration of the trip) and peeked out the Megabus window onto the drizzly streets of one of America’s most historical cities. After a few more minutes and a confusing pseudo-stop, at which some passengers got off when I don’t think they were supposed to (we almost did), we finally rounded the bend into the Philadelphia Amtrak station.

Since we didn’t actually have a plan (we were thinking we’d try our hand at couch surfing, remember?), this great marbly structure functioned as a cozy resting place and free wi-fi connection for the next couple of hours. What we really thought would be cool was if we could meet some other college kids attending POPPED!, become best friends with them, convince them to let us crash at their place, and go to a fun University of Pennsylvania college party with them. Therefore, the plan formed to make our way over to campus in search of our new Philly friends, and we Google mapped our route from the train station.

FACT: if you’re trying to make friends with strangers, it won’t happen. This stuff needs to be organic. I sort of wish we wouldn’t have been so deluded by sleep deprivation to not recognize this.
It also may have been more likely that we’d meet people had it not transitioned from sprinkling to pouring in the rain department not minutes before. None of us had actually wanted to consciously admit it might rain on our trip, so we had no coats or umbrellas to protect ourselves or our backpacks containing all our worldly possessions. Hence: the Turtlebacks.

Turtlebacks: the latest in backpack rain protection.

Yes, we walked around Philadelphia with garbage bags (not used, we got them fresh from the train station gift shop) on our backs. Is it any wonder we didn’t make new friends? I’d never felt more nomadic in my life than on this trip. Yet walk we did, all the way to the U Penn campus where, being completely soaked, we retreated to their book store still clinging to our last vestiges of hope. Let me note a couple of things:
1. The U Penn bookstore is like a classier version of Barnes & Noble. For goodness sake, they were selling wine glasses and whiskey tumblers with the U Penn logo on them. It made our bookstore look like a scary dungeon, though looking at it in general usually makes it look like a scary dungeon.
2. Shit gets real when you’re soaking wet, the threat of pneumonia is looming, and you’ve only gotten minimal amounts of sleep in uncomfortable positions over the last 12 or so hours, coupled with looking like a homeless crust punk in a building full of East Coast kids in their daily prep wear. A hot shower and a cozy bed started to sound like a godsend.

We totally caved on the couch surfing. Not that we didn’t look, but no one in Philadelphia was offering up a spot for four college kids. So we tapped into the U Penn bookstore Starbuck’s wi-fi and began our hotel search, but after a while the connection got super shoddy. I think it sensed we weren’t there to buy our Philosophy books. Thus began our campus coffee shop tour in search of enough Internet to get us on expedia.com and book a room. We wandered for a while, occasionally popping into area hotels to look for vacancies.
Now I know how Mary and Joseph felt, except no one was even offering us a barn. I think it had something to do with the garbage bag backs.

Finally, Dan found us an affordable place in Historical Downtown Philadelphia, and we quickly booked a room and Googled directions (Google Maps was by far the single most useful resource of our trip) to get us there as quickly as possible. Bedraggled and looking like we had just survived an attempted drowning, we shuffled in disheartened silence to the nearest subway that would take us to our dry destination.

Arriving at a hotel has never made me happier. The service was awesome and they had free candy in a bowl by the desk, which Hannah confiscated copious amounts of for later concert sustenance. At long last we were in our room and taking steaming showers and quite possibly the greatest nap of my life, preparing ourselves for the true purpose of this long journey: POPPED! Philadelphia.

Since this is running long (and my power lecture is almost over, forcing me to change locations #FirstWorldProblems) I will do my concert reviews in a post later tonight or tomorrow, but you will definitely want to hear about some of the amazing artists we had the privilege of hearing over the course of the rest of the weekend! Stay tuned.

peace, love and turtlebacks,
J

Good Lord, What Am I Getting Myself Into?

19 Sep

I’m going to Philadelphia, please don’t tell my mom.

In what is sure to be an adventure–and probably spawned from a need for youthful rebellion and most definitely from a love of great music–me and three others (Hannah, Dan, and Margaret) will be trekking our way from the midwest to the east coast for a weekend of non-stop travel and debauchery this approaching weekend.

We embark on this journey in order to attend POPPED! Philadelphia music festival, hosted at FDR Park in Philly September 23 and 24. Headlining Friday night will be the freshly reformed Shins, and Saturday we will be getting down to some Pretty Lights. Some of the other acts playing throughout the weekend include Foster the People, Girl Talk, Cults, The Joy Formidable, Cage the Elephant, Panda Bear, and Kreayshawn. It also features a comedy tent.

Pardon my French, but, I am pretty fucking excited.

Yet half of the weekend fun may be in the process of getting there. In lieu of driving a total of 32 hours over the span of less than four days, we diligently monitored plane ticket prices on airtran.com (a great travel website for any college student going to common destinations) until we could find a faster, affordable way to the Great Cheesesteak City.

Unfortunately tickets to Philly suddenly exceeded our price range as we waited, so we’re flying to New York! The travel breakdown goes like this (it gets long, I apologize):
Thursday: Depart Madison at 3:30pm after last classes and drive to the Milwaukee airport.
Board plane to LaGuardia airport New York, NY at 6:55 and arrive around 10 p.m.
And now we play the waiting game…
Next up, we will likely take turns napping in the airport while waiting for our 6:30 a.m. MegaBus that will take us to Philadelphia by 8:30 Friday morning.

Friday: Once arriving in the city of It’s Always Sunny fame, the plan is to figure out where we will be sleeping/stashing our stuff for the next two nights. Since forking over plane ticket money has left us broke-ass college students, we are trying our hand at Couch Surfing, the perks of which include it being a free place to sleep and that we could potentially meet some really cool people. Or creeps. Whatever, we’ll be in a group of four.
The actual purpose of our visit begins at 2 o’clock, from which point on we will be blissing out on new tuneage until at least the double-digits of the evening.
No actual plans have been made for any jaunts after hours, but my secret hope is that we will befriend a smaller band and party with them. Just saying, it could happen.

Saturday: The fun starts same time, same place. Although we will also be doing as much touring of the city as our tired bodies and time constraints allow prior to festing. I’m hoping to find a Flipadelphia t-shirt somewhere and sample a Philly cheesesteak.
Then it’s music music music, all day long. Post fest, I will be getting a venti coffee because we will need to stay up for our 2:30 a.m. bus taking us back to New York. That’s right, sleep is for the weak.

Sunday: We will arrive back in the Big Apple a las 4:30 in the morning. This time I venture to say we will simply count down the minutes until the first coffee shops fire up their morning brews. While we wait for our 11:45 a.m. flight back to Milwaukee, the ideal situation is that we get to site see something or at least buy some knock-off merchandise in Chinatown. Maybe we’ll pretend to be prospective students and tour NYU, the possibilities are–well, not endless, but there are a lot of them.

Once on our plane, we fly non-stop back to Milwaukee where we will pick up Leeroy (my Buick) and book it back to campus just in time to do all of our procrastinated homework and pass out probably at 7 p.m.

All I’m taking with me is a backpack that will at least contain my tickets, a camera, and a toothbrush. Hello, grungy. But no matter, it will all be worth it for potentially the most exciting and exhausting weekend of my life.

I’ll be doing my best to blog any crazy adventures while I’m there, and you’ll definitely hear from me once I’m back. Also, I’d love to hear recommendations for places to visit, things to see, or foods to try if you’ve ever been to Philadelphia!

What else do you think I just have to squeeze into my backpack? Get at me.

Wish us luck,
J