Category Archives: travelbunny

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 I do have one kind of an interesting fact to share; it seems that the iconic surly waiters of Paris have been replaced by adorable hipster waiters who laugh with you, make jokes, generally seem happy to be alive and help you with the menu.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

1 week in the @tombihn Night Flight Travel Duffle

It is actually very easy to travel to my family’s place in just the Tom Bihn Night Flight travel duffle. I pack my merino wool T-shirts, a pair of leggings and a hooded shirt. Winter in Texas is flip-flop weather, and minimal toiletries mean that I can travel super lightly and easily.

My airplane outfit serves as arriving and returning clothes, and I wear my tennis shoes in the airport so that I can walk the 3 miles between terminals comfortably. (Note that I  also a bring packable day pack to carry presents to everybody which then gets folded up and put in my bag for the return trip, or carries back presents that I was brought so it works out well in any case.)

In the main compartment I have some jammies  (the blue tank and some ex officio black boxer shorts), three T-shirts; all merino wool, and my buff (just in case). Then I have my orange toiletries kit (dry products), purple REI mini towel, two Tom Bihn pouches with first aid stuff and fiddly bits. You can’t see them, but in the bottom I have my flip-flops for noodling around the house.

The silver thing is my iPad mini with a Bluetooth keyboard cover, a hairbrush and a banana republic shopping bag that has an elephant on it – so that obviously has to come with me ;).

The base layer packed:

And then the second layer:

Right before I go through security I tuck in my clear plastic plane kit that holds my earphones, phone battery, adapters, etc. that hangs on the tray table while I’m sitting in my seat. It fits in the area where the space is left.

The side pockets:

The right side pocket holds my electronics. In the pouches underneath my CPAP I have my wall adapter, the CPAP’s accessories, my phone charger cable, and any other cables that I might need on my trip.

The outside right pocket holds my wet toiletries that get pulled out for security at TSA. This little case from Daiso holds about six days worth of supplies for me.

The left side pocket holds socks and underwear, my packable day pack and any other thing that might need to be squished into my bag. It’s not overly full but it doesn’t have a ton of room left either.

Left outside pocket holds my slim wallet when I travel so that I can put my phone and it in my bag before I go through the scanner at TSA. It helps keep them organized and I don’t have such anxiety over losing my ID etc.

In general I’m usually over optimistic about what I will wear, but I actually did wear all of the stuff I brought this time (though given my druthers I would just wear this particular outfit the whole time):

Yes those are cat knees on my leggings and that Columbia hooded shirt is the best thing in the world, I’m having to darn the holes all the time because I’ve been wearing it for three years solid and it’s starting to wear out a bit. I will be sad when I can’t wear it anymore. I hope they come out with a good replacement!

(This outfit fits in the bag but I was wearing it  so I didn’t pack it up to take pictures.) I have a pair of black pants and a shirt to wear on the plane and then I keep the Columbia hoodie either on me or tucked into the snap handle on the top of the duffle. The leggings get tucked into wherever they fit at the time.

I fly home later today so I can verify that this set up works really well since I’ve been gone for about a week now. The only thing I really feel I’m missing is my cats. But they don’t like to travel and don’t really fit into this bag. 😉