All posts by fredletstravels

Paris: the middle part

I was doing pretty well for the first part. But being in Paris with a person who has never been there before and wanting to show them ALL THE THINGS takes a toll on your feet. Especially at the Louvre. Never again!

Although… it did amuse me to catch Magikarp by the pyramid fountain there. Maybe I’ll make an exception.

By the fourth day, I was sort of museumed out, but we still had more to cover. I had fond memories of the Picasso museum from the 90’s, though it didn’t seem to impress my hubby. He did, however, have a transcendent experience over Monet’s water lily paintings.

The Musée D’Orsay was the only museum that I really required us to go to, so I was completely exhausted but very happy to be there.

I tromped all over the museum until I found my favorite painting by Henri Rousseau. I was exhausted but I was not going to miss this painting.

Despite the fact that we were there for 10 days, it really felt like a whirlwind tour of Paris. I felt more like a tourist than I was used to feeling. I lived there for a while during school, so I was kind of accustomed to being more of a resident, enjoying la vie quitodienne. I don’t even know if I can recommend little out-of-the-way places in Paris at this point. We basically staggered home each night, ate in one of the little restaurants on the way to the hotel from the metro station, and then passed out in bed till we got up in the morning to do it all over again.

Oh wait! I do have one kind of an interesting fact to share; it seems that the iconic surly waiters of Paris have been replaced by adorable hipster waiters who laugh with you, make jokes, generally seem happy to be alive and help you with the menu. That was kind of cool.

But I really missed going to little grocery stores and looking at weird food packaging, sitting in cafés and sketching (as trite as that sounds I actually am an artist so I art a bit here and there ;)… also, COFFEE) and having random people talk to me about what I was sketching. The French are dear, lovely folks with a different set of priorities than North Americans. They won’t tell you their life story in the first 20 minutes that you meet them (like my happy Texan cohorts) or chatter aimlessly about life. They will ask you about your politics and expect you to be able to back up your thoughts and feelings with the reasons you think so. I understand that and can more or less do so in French, but I also find it super adorable when they get happy chatty about me sketching AND being able to speak French (despite the fact that I am an American who learned the bulk of my French in Texas.) It’s the little things in life, you see.

It was just going by too fast.

Oh well. I suppose I’ll just have to go back.

I thought it was going to be cold in October, but I was in short sleeves every day, which was really nice walking around the parks and made for some fairly striking pictures of the sculptures there, but seriously half the clothes I brought I couldn’t wear because they were too warm. I was frankly a little disappointed not to be able to wear my scarves. I’d worked so hard during my time in France to master the art of wearing a scarf all for it to be too sweaty to do so! C’est la vie!

And finally we ended up at the Eiffel Tower at night.

Beautiful… and still, to this day, startles me with how big it really is when you walk up to it.

Also new, and saddening, is all the security that they have around the base of the Eiffel Tower. The last time I went there in 1999 it was free and open, there were hotdog vendors who sold amazing hotdogs with the mustard that their grandmother made that morning (holy cow, so good) and now you have to go through a long line, a gate, and an inspection of your bags and generally cranky security folks who would much rather be drinking wine in a cafe enjoying the atypically beautiful October weather thankyouverymuch.

Dear human race,
Can we please get our acts together and be nice to each other so that we don’t have to go through this crap? Thanks ever so.

Again, we got back to the hotel about 2 in the morning, so I was rather looking forward to parking my weary butt on the Eurostar for a few hours to get to London for a sneaky little trip-in-a-trip. 20k steps a day (according to my FitBit) can wear you out.

J’❤ Paris.

Also, J’ ❤ this bunny.

Next up, those London parts… stay tuned.

Disney Pixarfest!

Alien and I will be trekking down to SoCal to visit the other aliens in the house of mouse sometime this year… yes, of course I will be dressed up ridiculously.

I think my primary accessory (other than my alien who has been all over the world with me) will be this backpack (Venture Pal Ultralight Lightweight Packable Foldable Travel Camping Hiking Outdoor Sports Backpack Daypack (Blue)). I’m adding a Pizza Planet patch to it and will have a few things in there for the day. Alien headband, sunscreen, water bottles, various snacks etc. Must leave room for purchases.

I also have a short sleeve shirt with the aliens on it that I’ll probably wear most of the day, but long sleeves is always necessary at some point.

If you hear lots of squeeing, it’s ok, just me losing my mind over all the alien stuff.

REI Introduces the ZipAll

“How do you make the perfect piece of gear? It’s a challenging, time-intensive process of addition and deletion, finding what works and what doesn’t. From the new REI Co-op Drypoint GTX jacket to the iconic REI Co-op Quarter Dome tent, the co-op has created hundreds of products over the years, seeking that perfect balance between needs and dreams. But, for the first time ever, we’ve designed a piece of apparel so versatile and customizable it almost defies common sense: the REI Co-op ZipAll.”

Read more…

WowAir Basic Fare Packing

I used to go to Green Bay, Wisconsin in February and March (sometimes as early as January) and, as you might realize, it can get a little nippy there. But after doing this for about 10 years, the panic over “OMG I’m going to freeze to death!” calmed down to “Why is it so freaking hot inside?”

Most of the time I ended up in a long sleeve layering shirt with a snarky T-shirt on top of that and yoga pants. When I did go outside, I had a Patagonia down sweater, and for the occasional sleigh ride (it was a vacation) I just put on snow pants over my yoga pants or leggings; whatever I happen to be wearing that day.

Special guest star: barn kitteh at the Rock K Ranch

I have it on good authority from a Green Bay resident that Iceland is lovely and now I really want to try Wow Air and their basic fare (here are a couple of people who have done this: Pam Yang and Dariadaria) and I want to use my BoardingBlue bag which meets the free carry-on requirement for Wow Air.

I’m pretty sure it will carry all I need since I won’t be camping, I’ll probably just take a day tour to see some waterfalls, do the Blue Lagoon-natch, and noodle around town taking pictures. If I can manage it, I’d like to see the black sand beach – but that is negotiable. I also really, really want to see the northern lights, but I hear that can be tricky. Well, we’ll give it a shot.
(Suggestions for fun? Leave those tips in the comments!)

I have a comfy pair of Sorel winter boots (the Waterfall model from a few years ago – tested in GB) I can wear on the plane, my snow pants, I have a thin smartwool sweater for another layer, my Marmot rain/wind layer packs up super flat and I can carry my down jacket with hat and mittens stored in the pocket. I think this will be fairly easy to accomplish.

Here’s the BoardingBlue with my snow pants snuggled in:

And then my standard packing cube o’ stuff tucked in:

I’ll bring other stuff like flip flops and a swimsuit, my travel towel, packable daypack, etc, but there’s lots of room left in my bag… though not enough for the 40 Icelandic sweaters I want to buy, but that is another issue all together 😉

Excitement. I haz it. 😉

2 funerals and… well, just 2 funerals

Just before Christmas and at the end of January I lost two members of my family.

Happily, I had reset everything in my suitcase after the first funeral so I just picked about half of my previous stuff, dumped it in my bag and went back home for the second funeral. Not having to think really made a huge difference since I was not in a good place at that point.

I did get a new bag to travel with for xmas so I took this with me instead.

The BoardingBlue Personal item meets JetBlue and other US budget airlines personal (free) item as it fits under the seat. It does so easily, moreover it holds quite a bit of stuff. (I was flying Southwest, so the carryon point was moot, but I like to test drive things when I have the opportunity.)

I think it only took up about 3/4 of the window seat under seat area. It has a bunch of nice features: small zip pocket for a small phone battery and a cable (you can see it in the photo above; it has the USB icon embroidered on the flap), a water bottle pocket (VERY IMPORTANT thankyouverymuch), it expands – though it exceeds the personal item size if you do this, and a zip that opens almost fully the length of the bag. You can see below there’s a flap just inside that snaps closed to hold things in while you get your papers, laptop or tablet from the inside pocket.

I packed a few merino shirts, some leggings, socks/undies/jammies, a funeral outfit and some walking clothes so that I could go out to escape the family zoo. I also knew that I would be helping clean out my grandmother’s house, and some things would be coming home with me, so not stuffing it full was good.

I really like this bag. They’ve managed to make it small enough, still have some cool features but not overbuild it so that you can use all the available space inside well. Granted, it wouldn’t work for batcrap crazy small personal item airlines (cough RyanAir cough) but does work for Wow Air, JetBlue, Frontier etc (I made a chart! Have a looksee…) so I’ll probably be using it for my personal item when I can only take a personal item.

<whining>Also if people I know would stop dying from horrible diseases that would be dandy so I can travel for fun and not funerals. </whining>

Please consider donating to ALS research or Pancreatic cancer research.

2-Week Trip in One Flash Pack

REI posted a great minimalist packing list in the 18L Flash pack (I love mine.)

I smugly smiled, easily tossing my lighter-than-light 18-liter REI Flash Pack into the overhead compartment of my flight from Barcelona to Lisbon. There was none of the usual huffing and puffing, no last-minute hopes that my luggage would fit. And, if I really needed to, I knew I could shove it under the seat in front of me.

Read more…

Packing list image

A New Bag!

Having watched untold packing videos on YouTube about minimalists traveling (some actual minimalists and some just rather pleased with themselves for only bringing on a full suitcase and a personal item) I decided a while back to see what is my minimum travel gear for leisure travel.

I tend to travel on Southwest since I can avoid flying through the problematic airports (O’Hare, DFW – eeeeevvvvil places IMO) to get to my Texas locations and they have a pretty amazing luggage policy (personal item, carryon and 2 bags fly free). Considering they have a really great on-time record, I’d say they are doing something right. However, not everyone is as fabu as Southwest, so I need to be ready.

I’ve done a week at my family home in the Tom Bihn Nightflight Travel Duffle (FYI: it is United’s personal item, perfect for their bare fare tickets); it worked pretty well and eventually I want to hop around Europe on a budget airline, such as RyanAir, but I don’t want to blow all my funds on carrying stuff around. I have several backpacks, but all seem to be just a bit larger than their specifications. So I went to eBay and found a RyanAir specifically sized personal item bag.

• Designed to be the maximum size for the second hand luggage for Ryan air
• Made from a tough wearing 600D polyester Material
• 1 main compartment
• 1 Front zip pocket
• Removable adjustable shoulder strap
• Piggy back strap so bag fits on back of trolley case when travelling – less to carry and easier to travel!
• Dimensions 35x20x20 cms  Weight: 0.4kgs

Also it has polka dots! ❤️

I’ve recently reorganized my specific travel clothes, using Lewis N Clark Electrolight medium cubes. The very basics in one cube and the ability for judicious expansion by grabbing cube #2 and/or one of the specialty cubes. (Read about the contents of my packing cubes here.) In addition to my plane outfit (jeans, black merino t, shell jacket and black walking shoes), cube #1 has a long sleeve black CuddlDuds item (triple duty item: pj’s, layering piece or just a long sleeve shirt), a short sleeve black shirt, a pair of black printed leggings, socks & undies.

There are some things that just live in my suitcase. My cross body purse (contains purse type stuff: phone, wallet, pen, iPhone backup thingy, etc), silicone coffee drip cone, Gobite Uno, USB cables, packable daypack, Jackery 12500 mAh battery, shampoo bar & carrier, flip flops, travel buddy… and not much else. It’s a pretty good set up for at least a week of wandering about taking loads of pictures.

If I do need more, I can throw in packing cube #2 with a bit more stuff in it.

But for this bag, my main packing cube fits the bill. Here it is in my new bag:

Lots of room left for another cube if I really need it, or even better, room for souvenirs!

Have suitcase, will travel.

(I’ve got my Boarding Blue Personal item bag for Iceland Wow Air packing almost done… stay tuned)