Story Time

Why I’m No Longer Going To England In January

Stupid VISA place. In case that didn’t give anything away…I didn’t receive my passport  back in time which in return means I can no longer go to England in January. It’s definitely disappointing as England has been a country I’ve wanted to visit for years now but it’s not like England is completely out of the bag. I’m still getting the VISA and it’s valid for six months so…I guess somewhere in the year we will visit England? I have no idea when but I’m sure it will work out somehow. Everything will fall into place.

Wait let me try that again. It’s not like I can post a 111 word blog online and think that’s okay. Let’s scratch out what I just said even though it’s basically the same thing I’m about to say. Sit back and enjoy the over dramatic tale why I’m no longer going to England in January. Stupid VISA place.

I’m going to fast forward you to the part where I just applied for the VISA and now we’re waiting…and waiting… and waiting…Christmas comes up and goes and we enter the shit it’s a week before you’re supposed to arrive and you haven’t heard anything from the VISA place yet. What should we do? We decided it would be best if I just go to Amsterdam, to the VISA place, myself and ask them what’s up. The said VISA place has no contact number, yes you read that right. There is no way to get into contact with them. If you want something done you need to go in. It was a Thursday and I woke up so sick but I had no choice. I HAD TO GO. So I willed myself to get dressed, ran to the train, nearly vomited at the station but I caught my train so yay. There was some train complications but I got to the place eventually. That’s when my phone started to act out and went from 70% to 35% in battery. I swore, put battery saving mode on as I might have to call my cousin in England at the last minute and rushed to the VISA place. The weather was absolutely miserable. Cold and windy. The fact that I was fighting the urge to puke and sometimes I would get dizzy didn’t help. Once at the place, the security guard ask me to come back in 30 minutes. It wouldn’t be worth it for me to walk back to the station and wait inside where it’s warm because it would literally be a ten minute wait at most before I have to walk back. I couldn’t just stand still in the cold so I walked up and down, around the block. Walking kept me warm and the cold wind was slowly blowing life back into me.

Finally 30 minutes passed, guard made me wait another 10 minutes outside. At this point my phone was on 11% even though I didn’t even touch the device. By now my mood was quite low. I go in, try to see if there is anything I could do…nothing. The most frustrating thing is if they told me when I went in for appointment there will be a delay because of the holiday season I would’ve paid for the express option and my VISA would’ve arrived in time. It was so disappointing and I knew my cousin is in quite a pinch because of this…

My phone died just after I told him about the situation and with train delays it was a good two hours later before I returned home. Sick to my stomach and just sad. We had a long conversation trying to figure out if there was anything we could do but alas there was nothing. We just had to accept that I can’t go to England like we planned. Luckily my cousin found someone who would look after his dogs last minute so his vacation wasn’t ruined. Mine however was. No more donut. No more free ticket out of Star Wars either. Sigh. England I will come for you…eventually. Wait for me, okay?

Story Time

Upcoming Travel Plans: I’m Going To England Baby!!

I’m going to England baby! I’m sorry for the repeat but I’m so beyond excited. I’ve been dreaming about going to England ever since I watched the Harry Potter movies. It’s been in so many of my favorite movies that I’m genuinely interested to see it. Now the main place in my dreams is London but I also really want to see the country side and the smaller towns as an entire country isn’t just one city.

So quite out of the blue my cousin who lives in England asked if I would be willing to look after his four dogs for two weeks while they go to visit the family in South Africa. At this time Onno was at the shops to buy stuff for dinner so me being a great wife said nothing before I spoke to the husband…but then my cousin said he would buy my airplane ticket and pay for the VISA and without any hesitation I agreed. Onno came home and I cheered and did my little I’m going to England dance which he rudely ended with; “What about Speculoos?” I will be honest. I completely forgot about my boy even though he was basically sleeping on top of me as he always does. I’m such a great mom. I mean my cat freaks out when I leave the house for 8 hours. What is he going to do when he can’t see me and cuddle with his favorite human for two and half weeks? The poor thing.

I’m applying for the VISA somewhere in the next two weeks and I’m flying over the pond (I made a funny) just after New Years. There I can meet their fur babies and human baby before they make the long flight to South Africa. I’m so excited to have a dog again. I love dogs and I can’t wait to get one. They have four huskies! I’m a sucker for huskies. They’re absolutely beautiful. I can already promise everyone on my social media that there will be a lot of dog photos on my instant stories. I’m going to be on my own for a week before Onno joins me. Once we meet up we will do a little London tour and all that jazz and the best part is…wait for it…I’m celebrating my birthday in London! Insert fan girl squeals. I’m seriously jumping up and down while I’m writing this. Okay that’s a lie. I’m sitting on the couch with a blank facial impression while writing this but it’s only because I’m so focused and…Speculoos just bit my toe. Okay another lie. His resting his head on my foot but I promise you the second I move I will be bitten.

I must not tell lies

I must not tell lies

I must not tell lies

Oh hell yeah Harry Potter reference for the win! As you might tell; I’m pretty excited for my upcoming trip. I haven’t really gone to another place like actually properly travel in quite some time. If I don’t count Onno’s trip in South Africa which I should totally write a blog about then the last travel I did was Crete, Greece and that was over a year ago. So yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to the time away although I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do before Onno joins my little mini vocation.

Please stand by while I Google possible things I would like to do. Annndddd I’ve returned…I guess I will just wing it. Maybe try to meet up with England fitness babes but otherwise I’m just going to enjoy the dogs, take them on walks, drink a lot of tea and catch up on my series. Once Onno joins…that’s when we go full tourist on England. In case it’s not clear yet, at the start of every trip I have no idea what I’m going to do on what day. I normally have an idea of what I want to see but never in great detail. I’m just talking in circles now but no worries the after travel blog post will be awesome.

Can I just say how incredibly excited I’m for England! I’ve started with the VISA process, my appointment is in December and damn I thought it was all behind me. The documents, the letters, the entire process. The requirements border line on being ridiculous like do you want my unborn child as well? Just so I can go on a two week holiday 300km away from where I live. Sorry I just had to complain about it once. The Dutch culture is rubbing off on me insert chuckle at my funny joke. It’s always such a big thing before I can travel anywhere but awwh well it’s something small. Anyway till the next one!

PS If anyone knows of great gluten free restaurants that can be trusted in London please let me know. Thanks!

 

 

Story Time

My Worst Travel Experience Ever | Wanderlust

First of all I want to clarify that the girl I traveled with was awesome and we’re still in touch. She made the trip bearable but the both of us expected more and I would never in my life use this tour company again. You will have to drag my dead body onto their bus and lock me up in their little ‘hotel’ rooms. I’m not going to mention the travel company because honestly badmouthing is bad karma and I don’t want any of that on my page. Let’s just call them Fudge Monkey only because I like the name and it makes me chuckle.

Alright so first off I discovered the Fudge Monkey Tours online after hours of searching trying to find a way for a poor Au pair to travel and see another big city in Europe. At this time I had no idea I would end up moving to the Netherlands so I was just trying to see as much as Europe I could before I go back to South Africa. However as I was saving up money to pay for my next Au pair year (in America) I didn’t have a ton of money lying around so traveling wasn’t something I could afford. You had to go about it a different way and really look for great deals online. Fudge Monkey Tours seemed like the perfect deal. They had all the right headlines. Three Days In Berlin. Three Days in Prague. Three Days in Brussels. Three Days in Paris. They even had one day and five day deals. Travel and Accommodation cost included? Count me in! There prices was right inside my budget and it all seemed perfect. I reached out to another Au pair who also wanted to travel and we went together. It was one of those things you had to buy two tickets so two people as they don’t have one person rooms. We booked our ticket with no idea what our future holds for us.

My first BIG problem with this tour was the bus ride. Oh I shiver just by remembering it. Now there is one thing you should know, I’ve been traveling on buses since I turned 9. It was never short rides, most of the time it was around 10 hours of travel time on my own so I could go visit my dad. I’ve sat next to those in your face, hear, feel and smell me people for so long I wanted to jump out of a moving bus. I’ve had a bus ride where the bus broke down in the middle of nowhere two hours in and we sat at that spot for two hours before we drove for one hour before we stopped again for three hours. After the bus was finally fixed I had another six-seven hours ahead of me. I also started my first ever period on a bus and had to panic shop at a bus stop and buy pads for the very first time. So my tolerance for bad bus rides are high and when I tell you this bus ride was bad, believe me. It was bad. Now there wasn’t a lot of in your face, hear, feel and smell me people. There was some loud people and some smells really nothing to out of the ordinary. The thing that really grinds my gears was the music that played, the fact that I had no internet connection, over giggly people around me and the worst thing yet…the bus driver was driving so slow a fucking snail could pass him. We stopped what felt like every two minutes and what was supposed to be a seven hour drive turned into a fourteen hour drive. I can’t handle slow drivers. It just rubs me up the wrong way. I would rather sit next to a constant farting person for one hour then sit in pure luxury with an internet connection for 14 hours with an average speed of 60km/h (on a highway. I mean buddy you can go 100km/h.) It’s my pet peeve. Slow drivers is my Achilles heel.

The next thing goes hand in hand with my imagination and fine print. I’ve mentioned before that accommodation was included and in my head we will be quite close in the Berlin city center, so night exploring would be an option. What we got was a semi creepy old hotel (but more like a motel) a 45min drive away from the hustle and bustle. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t good either. Our room didn’t even get a WIFI connection so it was very annoying. The place did offer breakfast free of charge but dinner you had to pay quite a lot of money so we ventured out and luckily found a McDonald’s around the corner and that’s where we ate every night.

The first day in Berlin the tour bus took us to a few tourist stops and what I didn’t like was the time factor that went with it. They were like okay so you have 15 minutes at this stop. Take your pictures and get a move on. If you’re not on the bus in 15 minutes we’re leaving. So I was obviously stressing out. There wasn’t a lot of WIFI points so I was on my own if shit hits the fan. Around the afternoon they dropped us in the city center and arranged to meet us at the spot in 4-6 hours. This I really enjoyed. My friend and I had so much fun walking around the city and seeing everything there was to see at that spot. We walked so much my feet was killing me. After the bus picked us up they showed us a few spots before we headed back to the motel around dinner time. We had McDonald’s and considered our plans for the night. The two of us wanted to go back to the city for the night crawl scene. There was a bus stop close to the motel but our entire stay there I never saw the bus go by. We checked the time but the bus never showed and the problem was the time they run and how to buy a ticket and etc. Basically we were stranded. A taxi ride would be ridiculously expensive and not worth it. It was disappointing but we had one more full day in Berlin and decided to make the most of it. Oh the fine print. The second day in Berlin the bus dropped us off at another location in the city and this time around. It was right in the middle of all the luxury shops and as an Au pair you can’t even buy a lipstick much less actually shop. We made the most of it by exploring the streets but all in all we weren’t that happy with the stop. We made up for it by drowning one litre of beer each in record time. Around dinner time the bus picked us up and we visited a few more tourists stops but nothing glamorous. The bus driver dropped us off and arranged the leaving time the next day.

And you guessed it. The drive back was snail slow. The first stop back in the Netherlands I practically jumped off and took a train. The train ride would be quicker than this guy. 90 minutes later I knocked on my boyfriends door (now husband) and ate pizza (he ordered and had it ready for me). All in all the friend I was with truly made a bad situation great but I won’t ever go back to Berlin. The people were rude and impatient (although I get it. Tourists are annoying). From my little travels I’ve made Berlin is by far my worst experience. Although I guess the title was semi misleading. You guys probably expected something straight out of hell and not just slow bus ride but guys. Slow drivers makes me want to pull my hair out of my scalp. Fucking 14 hours on a 7 hour drive. I would rather eat toe nails. The city itself probably has more to offer and could be a great experience…I’m just not interested to go back very soon. I would rather visit the other cities in Europe on my bucket list than go back.

 

 

Story Time

My Top 5 Dream Places That I Want To Visit | Wanderlust

I’m feeling some withdrawals from lack of traveling so why not imagine and dream about my top five places I want to see before you know, bye-bye?

  1. Japan

I fell in love with Japan through watching anime. I’ve seen parts of what it has to offer through said anime and not only fell in love with the country, language but culture as well. Everything fascinates me and it would be a dream come true to experience that in person. I want to feel the cherry blossoms on my skin and touch their bright colors. I want to eat ramen and fry meat on a little fryer inside the table. I want to drink sake on a porch. I want to go to a natural hot spring. I want to wear a kimono and go to a festival. I want to pray at a temple. I want to make a lucky charm. I want to stay in the traditional house. I want to meet the locals and experience the country side. It’s a beautiful country and I can’t wait to make many great memories there with my husband.

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  1. London, England

Ever since I read and watched Harry Potter I’ve been interested in the cold rainy country. I want to tick of everything on a typical tourist agenda but add seeing the country side and visit family. The Big Ben, the London Eye, Stonehenge, something Harry Potter related for sure, Buckingham Palace, the bridge and so much more.

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  1. Rome, Italy

Another movie sparked my interest in this country although I have a special need to see Rome. I’m very interested in the Italian culture, the food looks delicious and overall the country looks beautiful. I have a thing for old architecture. Also I can visit family so it’s important place on this list for sure.

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  1. Northern Lights, Norway/Sweden

To see the northern lights is on my bucket list and definitely a perfect candidate for my top five. Another movie sparked this interested if I’m honest. Disney’s cute movie, Brother Bear. After watching the film as a young child the lights in the sky was something so beautiful and exotic I knew I would see it one day.

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  1. France

I’ve been to Paris before and it was truly one of the best experiences in my life and I would like nothing more to see France as Paris is only a hint of the beautiful country.

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***

My favorite and most memorable travel story is Paris. I ventured into the city with my best friend and locals. They truly made the weekend one of my favorite memories. Previously my best friend’s parents met this lovely family and they kept in touch. So when the time came for the two of us to make the trip out to Paris they welcomed us with open arms. They picked us up at the bus stop with our country flag and took us to meet their family and ordered us the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. They had potatoes on top of a pizza. Heaven! The next day we had our first full day in Paris. They took us to the palace where we explored the royal grounds and also went for a boat ride which I attempted to row but yeah…Let’s just say we never moved away from the wall and we basically staid put. My friend nearly passed out from laughing. It’s a memory that always makes me smile. The next day we took the tourist bus and saw so much of Paris that it was breathtaking. The Eiffel tower was like a dream, the boat ride, the views, the churches…everything about it was truly so wonderful. I took over a 1000 pictures that day. I’m not even kidding. I just wanted to capture everything so I could never forget it. Our third full day in Paris we went to outer parts of it, saw the vineyards and explored the narrow streets. I would go back in a heartbeat.

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I love to travel and although Onno and I explored only a few towns outside the Netherlands I can already tell that traveling with my loved one is truly amazing. I can’t wait to see the world with him.

 

Fitness Tips

Bicycle Tour Update | Mini-Tour

So I’ve been mentioning the change in plans all over my previous post which is bicycle training week 9 – 10 in case you were wondering without much explanation. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to lay it out for you all but I’m going to try my very best. First I should probably explain the entire tour briefly for those who are new here. The link will be below for all the finer details but to sum it up: The plan is to cycle the Netherlands in May 2018. Approximately 3235,4km. 100km in 31 days. 145 towns. The first original plan was to cycle 180km everyday in two weeks which is absolutely ridiculous and far from reality. Okay so now that you know what the current plan is I can explain why things have changed.

First I’m going to go into detail with what’s wrong with my plan. I didn’t take any rest days into account. Which is a big problem on my part. So I brainstormed on how we can adapt our current plan to where we can take a few rest days but still stay in our 4 week time limit. As Onno can only take 4 weeks off from work we really had our hands tied. Now the most obvious solution was to just simply rack up the daily maximum kilometers. This however pushed it into the impossible realm. So I had to come up with a different solution. I spend days trying to figure this one out but nothing came to mind. How can I do the entire trip, take rest days and still do and see everything I want to do and see. I then asked myself how long would it take me to do this tour correctly? If I had all the time in the world; how long would it take me to complete the tour? I worked it out. It would take us 8 weeks easy with a decent amount of kilometers per day everywhere from 100km to 50km with rest days and time to explore and enjoy the towns we cycle to. There is no way Onno can take a straight 8 weeks off from work so my next idea was to split it up. To do one half so 4 weeks in May and the other half somewhere later in the year, when that would be I haven’t figured out yet. You see this is when we encounter another problem. In September my studies start and then my schedule will be in the hands of my university. Another problem we face is the winter season. We want to avoid doing the tour when it’s absolutely miserable outside. We also want to avoid the busy season of the summer. Our problem just wasn’t being solved. It threw me for a loop.

So I asked myself why did I want to do this in the first place? Was it the big goal of the challenge? Or is it a little more than that? Originally the idea behind it was I wanted to see and experience the Netherlands. My new country and why not do it in a different way than what could be expected? The Netherlands is all about their bicycles so the steps my brain took was understandable. Plus like I mentioned before. I love challenging myself. I firmly believe that the best things that happens to us is when we challenge ourselves. I brainstormed for another few days. How can I solve my problem? Eventually it clicked. I don’t want to just race trough the route, spend two minutes in a town before getting a move on. I want to hear nature. I want to smell nature. I want to hear my tyres on the road. I want to drive my husband crazy with my singing and nonsense. I want to stop in every town and take my photos, move in the town and get a feel for it. I want to take a moment and just enjoy. I want to stop aside of the road in the middle of the country and just enjoy the scenery for thirty minutes. I want to slow the entire tour down because in the end it’s not a competition or a challenge that needs to be completed immediately. I can take my time.

When this year started one of my new year’s resolutions was to move a total of a 1000km  for the year. This included walking, running, dancing, swimming, cycling anything that can be considered LISS. By the first of August I completed my goal. I still challenged myself. I still got up and moved. I still crossed that finish line. I had a few good months were my average kilometers was sky high and then I had a few months where I averaged with 2km a day. I still got the job done. I still completed my goal. So I’m going to incorporate that exact same mindset because as we all know…

Rome wasn’t build in a day.

So if you’re still with me here is my new plan. We’re going to cycle only a third of the Netherlands next year in May. 35 towns (we crossed out 4 to make the route smoother). Approximately 835,5km with a wide range of kilometers per day. Our maximum will be a 100km and so far our minimum will be 50km. Without any rest days so every day on the move we will complete this mini tour in 10 days. Onno will still take 3 weeks off from work and we will have all the control in the world. We can decide when and where we will stop for the day and how long we want to stay in that town. We go out and experience new things and these different parts. We can do so much more now. We can even add a few towns and go up to a 1000km and make it the near perfect third. This way when the mini tour ends we will have the room to have Onno rest a few days before he goes back to work. It’s brilliant and the ideal situation. If I could do the big tour like this I would do it in a heartbeat but a third is still a tour, just a mini tour.

You might still see a problem with my perfect solution or well not a problem just a hole. What about the other two thirds of the tour? When will you get that done? Honestly I have no idea yet. This entire tour has been a learning curve. I think we will try for late summer before school starts for the second part of the third but otherwise we still have next year. It might end up taking us a little longer to complete but again, in the end of the day if I still cross the finish line and I still honored my promise. Tour the Netherlands.

bicycle route website

Links to connective post:

Bicycle training week 9 – 10: https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/09/19/bicycle-training-week-9-10/

Challenge: 3000km bicycle tour: https://fitcouchpotato.com/2017/08/10/challenge-3000km-bicycle-tour/

 

 

 

Story Time

The Airplane Flight Straight From My Nightmares

I can’t be the only one that despises anything related to the oh so famous metal bird. The idea of flying sends a little chill down my spine and not for the reason you might think. I’m perfectly okay with the actual flying part and in these last two years I’ve racked up quite a large amount of hours in the air. If only my experience in the machine was pleasant.

I was 19 years old when I flew for the very first time. The experience was new and aside from the fact that the gentleman seated in front of me took a bunch of pills which set a panic throughout the flight attendants. I must say it sure beat the entertainment system, I mean someone was being slapped through the face by a bunch of people. This was also the time I learned the hard way that taking the window seat doesn’t go well.

My fourth flight is the one that takes the candle as my worst airplane flight to date. It was my flight back to South Africa (from the Netherlands) after my tourist VISA (90 days) expired. I was emotional about leaving so that didn’t help. Two connecting flights. The first one took an entire hour to leave the damn airport. The air felt so stuffy. I was trying my best to stay patient and ignore the frustrating co-flyers but my patience level dropped steadily. Not enough to take it out on poor mothers and fathers trying their utmost best to entertain their children but enough to grow a fierce headache. All good so far right? A hour delay? That’s nothing. Oh I’m getting to the good part.

I’ve already mentioned the hour delay so I will jump right to the part that makes my teeth clench from actual physical pain. There was two hours in between my flights and not a lot of time to spare. If you’re a frequent flyer the chance that you’ve been to this airport is very high. Doha. Dubai. If you have yet to experience the luxury that is this airport to break it down its massive. Think of the biggest shopping mall or theme park you’ve ever seen and then triple that size. My two flights were literally at the opposite ends. I was so close to my boarding gate when it happened. Sorry I got to add some mystery here and really build the entire thing up. It’s a big deal to me.

Someone called: “Cassandra!” Cassandra being my name and the chance that there was another Cassandra in the airport, in the exact location I was at 2am in the morning is so small I responded to my name in a panic. Now you got to know I was mid run (trying to find and get to my gate in time) and carrying a shit ton of weight on my one side. The beloved laptop that I’m using to write this very blog. With all my important documents in the mix my laptop bag weights over 10kg. The weight is not that important but just the action I took when I heard my name. I turned to the voice so quick, I got whiplash. Whiplash alone is nothing pleasant but the weight threw things off even more. A horrible snap sound followed and a blaring pain shot through my entire body. The pain so intense I nearly screamed like a little girl and dropped my laptop. The searing pain made it unbearable to even lift my arms or move a inch. The last thing I wanted to do was fly for 9 hours.

Believe it or not, it gets worse. I got the middle seat. It doesn’t sound so bad right? I was in between two very large men that filled up my seat two and because I honestly didn’t want to share my personal space with these two strangers I tried my very best to make myself a thin as possible. This might come across as rude, but I want you to know I don’t mean it like that. I’ve been seated next to a little girl that barely filled her seat but was constantly in my seat with her toys. I also didn’t enjoy that experience. Okay now that we got that behind us let’s get to the part that actually made my entire trip worse.

These two men fell asleep on me. This could happen to the best of us I’m sure but it didn’t make my flight better to put it nicely. I tensed up which didn’t do my shoulder and neck any wonders after the injury. I had to fight the urge to cry from the pain shooting through my system. Oh but wait. It gets worse. Like seriously, how could it get worse? I mean just how much can a girl take before she cracks? I will answer that question at the end.

So I’ve mentioned the two men next to me and their complete disregard of my personal bubble. They also felt the great desire to strike up a conversation. Something I’m surprisingly not okay with. I love meeting new people but please don’t try to share your entire life story while I’m fighting the urge to throw up. My mother didn’t raise a twat so I friendly replied but kept the conversation brief. Again, these men disregarded my wishes. Before I could stop them, they whipped out their phones and proceeded to take pictures of me without my permission. At this point, I nearly lost it.

I can’t tell you why I never complained. To be honest I didn’t think I could. It was my fourth flight. I genuinely didn’t want to step on any toes. The flight however did manage to come to an end. Now, to answer the question: How much can a girl take before she cracks? It was landing. It dawned on me that it will be months before I see my loved one. It just made everything oh so much worse.