Some time soon, I will sit down and do this amazing trip more justice. But for today, I am exhausted and so I offer only this photo gallery (with comments!) and a few random videos I uploaded to YouTube.
Richard and I have finally finished planning our much-delayed honeymoon and are now scheduled to depart in mid-March for England and then Spain.
The honeymoon itself was delayed due to the fact that we had out-of-state and out-of-country visitors in town for the wedding and wanted to spend time with them, since they’d traveled all that way to see us. Richard’s poor brother alone traveled for fifty (50!!!) hours straight to get to miserable old Houston for the wedding, stopping on three different continents along his way (see: ways not to travel to Houston from Perth). Then there was the whole hands-on aspect of the wedding itself (pfft…who needs a wedding planner?), which necessitated a lot of actual work on my part — both before and after — and wasn’t conducive to just jetting off somewhere afterwards.
So, here we are, two and half months later, and we’ve finally booked all of our flights and hotels and rental cars and have even started scouring stores for some good boots for me to trek around the frozen tundra of northern England in. Here’s the itinerary:
March 21: Depart Houston for Manchester. Arrive nearly fourteen hours later, delirious from airplane-induced claustrophobia and possibly escorted by air marshals after slapping parents of small children who are misbehaving. Go immediately to pub for drink.
March 22: Adjust to massive time difference while learning to drive on wrong side of road; will send pictures of ensuing wreckage for all to enjoy. After crashing car, take train from Alderley Edge (where we’ll be bunking down in Richard’s parents’ country home — sans parents, of course) into Manchester city centre and take in the sights.
March 23 – 25: Trundle around England by car, train or foot, visiting assorted friends in Chester and Macclesfield. Tour The Theatre of Dreams and surrounding Trafford Centre. Drink lots and lots of lager. Find and eat an entire wedge of Stilton. Have proper doner kebab and chip-shop curry, preferably late at night after tastebuds have been numbed by Boddington’s. Visit Richard’s grammar school and grumble while he tells me about its founding in 1502 and how I “don’t know what old really means.” Sit by some roaring fires. Amuse people with my heavy Texas accent. Tour stately homes. Go shopping for English groceries to smuggle home in luggage. Attempt to survive extended periods in abysmally cold weather. Have fun.
March 27 – 28: Enjoy relatively balmy Mediterranean climate. Relax.
March 29: Depart Alicante for Manchester. Depart Manchester for Houston.
March 30: Collapse, exhausted, into bed. Wake up mere hours later to find ourselves back in real world and back to work.
I’ll try to bring some fish and chips back for you all, but no promises.
Last post of the day, I swear.
When Richard’s family were over here last week, we had several very interesting discussions with them regarding whether or not they’d ever move back to England permanently. For both his mother and stepfather (who live in a villa in Spain, but keep a house back in Cheshire) as well as his brother (who moved to Oz three years ago), the answer was a resounding “no.”
They had differing reasons as to why — for his mother and stepfather it was the alarming and steady rise in crime as well as the dreary weather, while for his brother it was the lower cost of living and higher quality of life in Oz — but all three agreed that they wouldn’t be moving back to the U.K. any time soon.
This article was written over a year ago, but it’s sad to see that the trend of British emigration hasn’t been stemmed at all in that time:
They flock unstoppably through Britain’s border crossings, thousands every week, posing a threat to social, demographic, and economic stability, according to some.
But this is not another verdict on the perils of immigration. This is about people moving in the opposite direction. Surprisingly, for a country obsessed about immigrants, Britons are emigrating in record numbers.
Official data show that more than 350,000 people leave the country every year, up almost 50 percent from 10 years ago. A recent BBC survey remarkably found that 13 percent of people said they were hoping to emigrate in the near future – double the figure from a similar survey conducted three years ago.
At least 4.5 million Britons – about 8 percent of the population – now live abroad, a far bigger diaspora in percentage terms than those of other rich countries like France, Germany, and the US. Those anxious about rising immigration numbers should take note: more Britons now live overseas than the number of foreign nationals resident in Britain.
Be sure to click the link above for the full, fascinating article.
Richard has expressed little interest in going home in the five years that I’ve known him. Sure, we’d like to go back to visit someday soon, but aside from the sweet, fleeting memories of his childhood at boarding school and laddish nights spent down the pub, I’m not sure that we’ll ever end up there either. He’s become too attached to the lower taxes, the easy ability to own two cars if one so desires, the far superior health insurance (sorry, Socialists) and the sunny attitude of his now fellow Americans.
I’m home again, and it’s awfully quiet around here today with Richard gone. I dropped him off at the airport this morning, less than 12 hours after we touched down in Houston. So, in approximately 24 hours, he’ll have been in Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and finally Rochester. My poor boy is such a travelin’ man these days.
Anyway, I’m slowly sorting through the roughly 250 pictures I took in Memphis (I’m…not kidding. It’s a sad sort of addiction.) and I’ll post some later this week. For now, though, a really great quote from a New York Times article about Houston:
It’s true: The greater metropolitan area is truly a geography of nowhere, a crazy quilt of strip malls and strip clubs and gas pumps and houses. But the sneaky thing about Houston is that the city’s heart isn’t to be found in one place; it’s in a thousand small places and subtle pleasures. Trouble is, most outsiders don’t have the time to assemble the scattered pieces. Only with time does mishmash become mosaic.
How abundantly true.
Okay, so Chicago didn’t die. But kudos to you if you remember that song. Anyway, I’m in a picture-posting mood, so here are some random pictures from our trip to Chicago.
View of the skyline from the Shedd Aquarium/Field Museum. I love the saturated colors in this one. It was cloudy almost the entire time that we were there, but I didn’t mind since it kept the heat at bay – helpful when you are walking absolutely everywhere.
Sometimes I have no idea why I take pictures. Again, I just really liked the colors in this one – greens against browns with a little bit of blue sky (some of the only blue sky we saw during our stay). And I love the great old “Tip-Top-Tap” sign perched on top. I wish Houston had better preservation laws and took an active interest in its architecture and history. Anyway…
I think my father still owns that phone on the far right. Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry.
Another pic courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry. Seriously? If you’re a huge dork like me, you have to visit this museum if you go to Chicago. So much fun. Bit of advice: don’t take the El. Because then you’ll have to walk about 80 blocks through some really scary parts of town on the south side to get there. And then you’ll have to catch a cab back to the El station and your cab driver will be from Swaziland and he (a) won’t speak English and (b) won’t know what the “El” is. So you’ll have to direct him for 80 blocks using only hand signals.
That aside, what a fantastic little model of Seattle they’ve built…in the middle of a museum in Chicago. Yeah.
Okay, last pic from the Museum. Real pig or highly-lifelike plastic pig? Your move, holy man.
The only plus side to walking all the way from the El station to the Museum is that you get to pass through the truly gorgeous University of Chicago campus. When Richard says that he feels like he’s back in England for a minute, that means something. And apparently, that something is that England has gotten really hot and crime-ridden.
I don’t know about “Interactive Toys in 1793.” These are pretty much the same toys I played with when I was a kid in the 80s. Kids these days are spoiled little assholes. Sticks and frogs are as good as it gets, man.
Chicago Board of Trade. Not much to say about this one… It’s a Board. Where people Trade.
View from…where else? The Sears Tower.
Little known fact: Harry Caray’s bottom half was made entirely of small, malformed lesser human beings. Embarassment over his affliction led Harry to a lifetime of announcing, where he could discreetly hide his freakish lower legs behind a desk and microphone. When in public, Harry relied upon enormous prank glasses to attract attention away from his deformity.
Last but not least, John Malkovich was kind enough to join us on a pleasure cruise around the lake. That isn’t annoyance you see on his face from having me repeatedly take his picture while trying to be inobtrusive (which you all know is impossible for me), that’s annoyance at the fact that the I.T. department at his office didn’t get him a computer nearly as cool as mine. He’s right pissed about it.
Okay…Chicago in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed.
A short post from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico…
I am sitting at an open air bar (which happens to have a computer with internet access), under a palapas, watching the Germany-Italy match, with two pina coladas sitting in front of me and, having just finished snorkeling in the reefs off Cozumel all afternoon, am in heaven. The ferry ride from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel is not the most pleasant means of transportation if you are prone to seasickness, so the only unenjoyable part of the day is that I had the pleasure of vomiting into the beautiful turquoise waters during our trip. It was a small price to pay.
We’re leaving in the morning, quite early. We have to catch the ferry back to Cozumel at 6 am. I promise to write more when I get back and possibly include pictures. We’ll see how tired I am and how utterly depressed I’ll be to be back in Houston.
A short collection of my favorite quotes from Tom, my traveling partner for all of the lame business trips I have to take (including this week’s exercise in extreme patience):
1. Yeah, you’ve got that short and stocky build.
2. But you’re a woman! (after I asked him if I could help him move a heavy box)
3. Put on your seatbelt, young lady.
4. I’m just an old fuddy-duddy. (Yeah, we know, Tom.)
5. But you’re too young to drive! (after I rented the car for one of our trips; the best part is that he was serious)
6. You need to learn to drive with both hands firmly on the wheel! (after I took one hand off for a brief second)
7. Your advertising is very misleading. This is definitely not the best shake in the world. (after a waiter made the mistake of offering “The World’s Best Shake” to Tom and then asking how he liked it)
8. You don’t have salsa?!?!?!? (I don’t know how many times I have to explain to Tom that Waffle Houses in Boise or Holdredge or whatever ridiculous little town we’re in probably don’t carry salsa)
9. You don’t have Luzianne?!?!?!?!? (screamed at the Krispy Kreme Donuts guy while in Idaho)
10. I don’t park up front. (Why not, if there’s a space?) Because I just never expect to get one, so I always just go around to the back.
I am so fucking tired, people. I need to get out of here. Is it Friday yet?