Gliding (fixed wing…)

So like a plane, except, extra long wings so that you can cut the engine and glide.  The BF got this as a Christmas gift, so it made my 2016 Goals, and struck something off the bucket list.

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That’s my pilot tinkering


I was pretty darn excited:

Excitable clapping also occured
Excitable clapping also occured

Here’s the inside:

Instrument collagae

Let me show you some ‘up in the air’ pictures

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The church my pilot, Bill, was married in.
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Coming in to land, with no engine on Far off on that horizon line is the Blue Mountains, and snow!
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My bread and butter – substations (this is outside my company’s area tho)
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A valley/flood plain

Here’s some shots of the sexy beast I flew in

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In the airfield, there was gliders from another ‘club’ which don’t have engines (they get towed up).  Seems the embedded engine is preferable – less manpower needed, and less ‘vehicles’:

These gliders can't 'self propel'
These gliders can’t ‘self propel’

I loved it! My pilot was super helpful, let me ‘fly’ and took right back over when the nerves got the better of me.  He also told the BF I squealed (true).  I have a real fear with steering a glider, or a jet ski.  But then no fear/freak out with hang gliding or parasailing (both of which I did ‘pre blog’).  I think it’s to do with being able to imagine a sudden, horrible outcome with the former two, and less so with the latter?

The BF also signed his life away and went up too:

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It was a pretty awesome way to spend Saturday morning.  We were really lucky to only book this date in, many people have been repeatedly rescheduled – the airfield was under water a month ago!

The pilots are all part of a club, and volunteer to take us city folk up (DINKs and the like who buy RedBallon vouchers).  The ‘profits’ for this are ploughed into the club, which owns to gliders and a little trailer/office/hut thingie.  There’s air traffic control at the air field, as there’s private planes and other dinky planes, but we also saw some super fighter jet take off too, as there’s an air force or cadets group that train there.  Anyhow, it’s a pretty ‘cheap’ hobby for the club members with the offsetting of once off flyers.  The other pilot there on the day had taken his grand daughter ‘up’ before us, and planned to take her again.  Nothing like the indoor sky diving costs (did I blog about that?)

Diner en Blanc 2014

Somehow, this post never got posted, but the pictures are no less lovely, so why not now?

Last year (ie 2013), we went to Diner en Blanc held at the surprise location of Bondi Beach.  I posted about it here.  This year (cough 2014!), we went again, and here’s a photo summary.  This year it was held in Centennial Park, which wasn’t as ‘wow’ as a beach, but still a lovely setting.

Schleping the gear from coaches to the destination
Schleping the gear from coaches to the destination
Serviette waving - the food eating may (formally) begin
Serviette waving – the food eating may (formally) begin
Pretty people, pretty tables, but nature is the BEST!
Pretty people, pretty tables, but nature is the BEST!
Where are we off to?
Where are we off to?
That sun set, if nothing else, this event makes me realise how lovely Sydney is
That sun set, if nothing else, this event makes me realise how lovely Sydney is
Here's a rabbit, there's a rabbit
Here’s a rabbit, there’s a rabbit
Beautiful tables
Beautiful tables
The sponsor...
The sponsor…
Sparklers time
Sparklers time

One year as a field manager

It’s been one year since I took a sharp and unexpected career turn, from acting as a manager of a handful of office based workers, to becoming a middle manager, with other managers reporting to me with line staff.  I wrote my ‘first thoughts‘ after the first week on the blog.

Sunsets over the depot
Sunsets over problem poles and wire (site visit on the way home)


In a similar fashion, I want to review how the year has gone, what I’ve achieved and what I’d like to achieve in the coming years.

Firstly, I’ve gone from 75 staff that ‘roll up’ to me.  Now I have 52 staff appointed and three apprentices. I did not fire a person (I couldn’t even if I wanted to!).  There’s been a wide spread implementation of a voluntary redundancy program, and many volunteered.  The initial 75 didn’t include about 10 staff I came to inherit after it started to seem apparent I was effectively their manager due to geography! What this says is there’s been about 30 (!) staff leave.  A few have moved roles internally as well.  It’s been really good to clear out those who wanted to go – as they were demoralised and unhappy at times, and it didn’t help productivity. That being said, there’s still a huge amount of business pressure to further reduce headcount overall, but there’s no one who ‘wants’ to go in my groups, so everyone is very nervous that voluntary redundancy will evolve to forced redundancy.  Me?  I would prefer we had a mechanism to remove those staff who are a destructive influence to productivity – who ACTIVELY take the business for a ride.  The staff who take inordinately more time and energy to manage than the majority.

Photos of the Kurnell storm 'recovery' (not my photo!)
Photos of the Kurnell storm ‘recovery’ (not my photo! I stayed in the office for the whole time, as I couldn’t have all computer systems working remotely as effectively.  Plus – it was pretty cluttered with people!)

Achievements, of all sizes

  • Improved bins for light globe and head recycling: I was having all sorts of grief with what would and wouldn’t be collected, and with much back and forth, managed to get all the right bins to satisfy the environmental group and appease the waste contractors
  • Bigger truck parking bays: this was a concern to some of the staff, worried about the tiny gaps between truck and the twisting they needed to get in and out.  It was such a simple change (repainting lines) but with many things, just need endless vigilance to resolve the issue

Developing staff

  • Appointed five of my staff to the highest technical training course (and over time, they will get financially rewarded).  Sadly, one of those promoted will move locations to meet business needs, but it’s still a net benefit for him.
  • Appointed four staff to the afternoon shift I oversee, which effectively ‘saved’ most of them from their precarious contract conditions
  • Names an additional three staff for short course training to take on higher responsibilities (again, a pay bump!)
  • Trained two field workers in an office based role – me offering informal training and mentorship for no immediate financial gain for them
  • Two field workers ‘acting’ roles in the office with the financial rewards

Cost savings

  • Returning a number of fleet which were surplus to requirements, to reduce business costs (and the win was: I offered before I was forced!)
  • Rolled out iPads to 90% of my staff, and offered first port of call assistance on every issue <- an epic undertaking!  It’s wonderful to be able to email field staff, and get high resolution photographs in the middle of the work day (not when they get back to the depot)
My fleet includes a boat to inspect otherwise isolated assets!
My fleet includes a boat to inspect otherwise isolated assets!  This was my maiden journey

Overall, I LOVE my job.  To many outsiders, it was a big change.  From the role I was ‘acting’ in for six months to this one, it’s a pay cut, but as I said in my linked post, this role comes with a vehicle which offsets the dollars for me.  What I really enjoy about my job is the people contact, but further than that, the development of these people.  I often feel proud of being able to ‘grow’ the people in a business that is contracting and cost cutting.  I really appreciate a boss who by and large trusts me, and supports me in my crusades and missions.  Occasionally, I’m ‘too passionate’ or ‘too frustrated’!  I feel a sense of autonomy, without having to check in, clock in etc; I feel trusted.

What would I like to achieve in the year ahead?

  • Daily iPad usage  for the ‘getting’ and ‘closing’ or ‘reporting back’ on work.  I want to move away from print outs and the time in the depot morning and afternoon to collect and return items. It will be a watershed moment when time sheeting becomes electronic for field staff, though whether that will be within the next year, I have absolutely NO idea.
  • Personal responsibility to getting tasks done: currently if it doesn’t get done today, it gets passed back in to be ‘rescheduled’.  Things slip through the cracks.  I’d prefer crews/staff knew it needed to get done and ‘fitted it in’ at the very next opportunity.  With electronic jobs, the idea of “lingering” tasks will be more transparent.
  • Productivity increase: simply, not one staff member in the depot after the first half hour (after 7.30am) and before the last half hour of the day (3pm).  There’s a strong lingering attitude, and I want to work to fill 7 hours with meaningful work!
  • Field supervisor led team briefs – smaller groups, shorter, more meaningful (hopefully)
  • Personalised, serious performance reviews and development plans, rather than repeating the same handful of lines for everyone, every half year
  • Focused ‘targets’ to meet for different work programs: there are some standards that are well know (fix street lights in 8 working days), but overall, there’s not a strong focus on meeting this and all the other targets that ‘management’ have.  I’m not sure if it’s lack of visibility and timely feedback loops on target progress, or whether the ‘work tasks’ chop and change every day in the week, so there’s no ownership.

Here’s to a stronger year ahead – lean and efficient, but growing and learning more.

Thoughts on the US

More lanes than an Aussie could imagine!
More lanes than an Aussie could imagine!

When I wrote this, it was our second last day in the US, we hired a car to tide us to our 10pm departure tomorrow.  It’s a pretty smart way to handle our luggage as we’ll have ‘checked out’ of our Airbnb.  The travel took us to Sauscilito, then south to Palo Alto and Moutain View.  To tech nerds, those are the homes of Facebook and Google.

I think I geeked out more than the BF and took lots of photos of the Google bikes and the general sites of what is possibly one of the biggest game changers in my adulthood.  Ten or twenty years ago, there were googles you swam with and a Google was a large number.  Now, it’s a verb.

The campus is much like a lot of the US – low level sprawl. Many building but none more than a few stories. Our return to San Francisco was between 5 -6pm, so we got to see a fair bit of traffic.  It made me somewhat hopeless about how American ‘is’.  This highway nation – things so spread out.  It’s just incredible to think people make these lengthy, congested commutes every day.  I can’t believe the level of industry I drove past – not heavy industry, but this medium level for the developed world – strange centres, huge hotels in the middle of an urban nothingness.  I feel lucky to have travelled to and seen so much of Europe and know that they present a slightly more balanced approach to life and work, and consumerism.  I know it’s not all rosy in Europe, but I just feel like they work harder to balance the pros and cons of everything.


I suppose my melancholy isn’t aided by my current reading, a book I found in the Airbnb and am racing to get finished before we check out called Fast Food Nation.  I’ve been sickened by the accounts of how mega companies have lobbied government and got away with murder. quite literally.  There are meat packing plants that operate such that people have limbs amputated by machines, or have respiratory problems from cleaning everything with hoses at scalding temperature and bleach.  These cleaners are lower than the low that are those people who work in slaughterhouses, often illiterate, if not illegal migrants too.  And then there’s the inevitable infections and problems of spoiled meat – in a hurried production line, it’s bound to happen that fecal matter when removing a digestive tracts can spill and mix with meat.  Meat we eat.  However, despite E. coli being found as the cause for illness or death in people there’s not legal obligation for companies to publicise the recall (it could hurt their business too badly).  Furthermore, there is often such delays and hand wringing, that by the time the announced tainted meat is known, much of it is consumed.  Oh, and of course the meat distributors are the least likely to spoil their contracts by disclosing where meat has been on sold to – such as public school lunches in a time when the government seeks the lowest bidder.  It makes me sick to think how business and profits manipulate regulations, that effectively skirt so many responsibilities as HUMANS.  The ‘best’ meat, by and large, goes to the buyers who are big and demand it – sadly, the McDonalds is likely to have better tested meat from a better processing plant than a school lunch.  It just beggars belief.  I’m not really looking at the hamburgers as intently as I have previously!  That being said, I’m under no illusion that chicken farming, or fish farming is widely better!  However, it’s so hard to know how to thwart the greater hands at play here – I’m mindful green washing of products is just as prevalent, and adds a surcharge that may often be pure profits.

What are your thoughts on the ‘greatest nation in the world’?

Clothes shopping spending habits

Last year, I don’t think I was very public on my blog about a challenge I set with my mother: We’d buy no NEW clothing from my birthday on 30th January, for a year.  My mother and I did spend two weeks in January 2015 in the USA, so my annual total does include ‘new’ items in this time.  We were allowed to buy clothing second hand and that helped us get together and go to events like ‘Around She Goes’ where we both succeeded in finding items to add to our closets.  We weren’t saints – I bought three items from Lulu Lemon – a zip up jacket that I could run in, a pair of cropped leggings and a workout top.  I bought some replacement knickers too (but I think we exempted those).  I also got a dress whilst on holidays in Thailand, which I said the BF bought me (partially true) – it’s also not really a public dress, so it’s like underwear perhaps? I’m clutching at straws here!  I don’t believe my mother held true the whole time, but it certainly curbed her spending, and opened her mind to how often she shopped, and whether it was necessary.  I also think my father loved it (he’s a saver if there ever was one!).

Silk top $120+
Silk top $120+

Over the year, I spent $823 which is considerably less than past years, on 45 items, 26 of which we second hand.

2014: $1875 for 79 items, of which 29 second hand.

2013: $1613 for 40 items.

I’ve been tracking spending on clothing since 2010, and had one ‘no clothes at all’ year!  On average I have spent about $1500 AUD per annum.

Every pair of knickers = 1 item, if you’re wondering.

I don’t actually set a budget for my clothing, it just gets bought out of the ‘walking around’ money – which is to say, I budget backwards.  I ‘pay myself first’, which is allocating money to all my savings: rent/food; bills; charitable giving; goals (travel).  Then I spend from what remains directly out of my bank account. Before pay day, I transfer what money I have left into whichever savings account I’m prioritising at the time.

I also do a lot of shopping whilst I’m travelling overseas.  When I add an item to my spreadsheet, I do account for it’s price in AUD, even if it was bought in USD or EUR.  Yep, bankers daughter here!

What I noticed from my year of shopping second hand:

  • I settled for ‘good enough’ and as such, many items we re-thrifted within the year due to poor fit
  • I felt less investment in second hand items, so less guilt to offload them, and buy more (second hand)
  • I couldn’t shop to specifics with second hand, I could more shop to ‘themes’ like ‘work clothing’ or ‘party dress’.  It meant there were a few items I was keen to buy new on Feb 1!  Actually, my mother gave me new skinny white jeans for my birthday as she knew I’d been hankering to have some!
  • I prefer thrift stores which sort by colour (as per this post, I rule out the ‘warm colours’ such as yellow, red and orange)
  • I shop on brand – I won’t be buying a second hand item that was ‘cheap’ to start with usually.  I don’t think it’s that I’m snobby, but I have to have a quick filter to get through racks and this is one of them.  As such, I have found some international brands in Australian stores, which is a bonus.
  • For pants, I like to shop on touch – I will feel for a non synthetic fabric.  More often than not, this is where I’ve struck the above point – Banana Republic or The Gap pants, which by and large are of a far better fabric blend than most pants sold in Australia.
  • I still browsed items in first hand, normal stores.  I found my photography of items i liked was usually more than enough to sate my desire (I do this with homewares a lot too)

I don’t plan to set a budget this year, though I do know a lot of bloggers do.  I do wonder whether it’d be worth setting a budget – what are your thoughts?

Chicago in quirky photos

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Chicago knows how to make a stunning building
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Escalators for trolleys (or shopping carts as they call them)
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Snow blowing sideways, and Michael Jordan’s steak house
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Something you do not see in Australia – bags of salt for ice!
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These were flowers for my friend in Milkwaukee who I met in 2006 in France. Who knew one protected flowers (tulips under there) from snow like this?
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This stately building is now the Hard Rock Hotel where we stayed for 5 nights. Very nice! Very AnExactingLife – you can try a guitar in room!
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Pretty ceiling in a Bloomingdales
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Pretty outside too!
One of the presidential candidates businesses....
One of the presidential candidates businesses….
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Pretty ceiling in the former Chicago Athletic Association (which is now a hotel with Shake Shack in the foyer – the BF’s best burger stateside)
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Snow selfie!
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What is this? Salad you say?
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A former pool, restored to be a floor in the ‘hotel’ of the Chicago Athletic Association
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CHICAGO DEEP DISH PIZZA (yes, I am yelling, cause the fat kid loves food!)

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USA shopping

As I just spent two weeks in the US, it means I spent a LOT of time shopping.  I mean, I did my duty to help the economy and save myself from the cold 😉

My first day ‘alone’ whilst the BF worked, I went out to an outlet mall.  Here’s what I purchased



Converse Shoreline – supposedly sell out record fast, even at the outlets.  They are elasticized, and so slip on, which works for me!  Being the outlet, I had all the styles and colour ways to chose from, but I have to say, there was little to no discount 🙁

Bought in Chicago at 30% off
Bought in Chicago at 30% off
Seeing double
Seeing double










The BF patiently waited whilst I tried this one.  It’s a coton/line blend, and it was so comfortable I wore it for two days straight. I went back to gap and bought it in blue, and then wore it home on the plane!

Sadly, the internet is in denial about what Banana Republic Jackson Slim fit ankle pants exist – I bought a pair in navy and a pair in black, as I would wear my remaining 1 ‘new’ pair of BR pants from 2009 80% of the week.  I have succeeded in buying two pairs at thrift stores in the past year, however their fit (cough, my body) hasn’t been optimal to wear them (yet!)

Day one shopping made me realised my large Longchamp pliage which I travel with was a little too bulky, so instead I popped into Old Navy and picked up something slim and small.  From the moment I bought this, I wore and used it every single day!

Old Navy purse
Old Navy purse

I gravitated to button up business shirts as they are versatile from summer through to winter at work, and I loved the one I took to the US this trip.  At the international business wear brand, Van Husen I picked this shirt up:

Even worn this in my first week back
Even worn this in my first week back

Not to settle for three button up shirts, I scored a good sale at J Crew on a stretch cotton top too:

Like so many shirts
Like so many shirts

Otherwise, I did a little bit of thrift shopping, and whilst I didn’t need a new coat, I could NOT go past this one:

Wool blend coat with delicious lining
Wool blend coat with delicious lining

And then some flats at $17.50 seemed like a worthy gamble:

Work appropriate
Work appropriate

Oh a the Victoria Secret bra:

Comfy t shirt bra
Comfy t shirt bra

Yep, I spent a WHOLE heap, but I’m OK with that.  More incredibly, I’ve been back a week, and bought three more items!!

Super Tuesday & the US elections

I’ve never cared much for the US political system, though lately I have been reading The Economist more, and found myself in the US at a critical (probably one of many) time in the race to the presidency.  I bought an Economist magazine prior to leaving Australia which meant I was ‘up to date’ once I arrived, and slotted straight into CNN’s Republican debate Thursday week ago. (sorry, I tried to queue this up unsuccessfully)

One of the presidential candidates businesses....
One of the presidential candidates businesses….

As a mildly engaged person in this electorial race, here’s my thoughts

  • Trump is definitely charismatic – he speaks to the Everyman and that’s proving to be VERY powerful
  • Trump gets ‘attacked’ by Rubio and Cruz for being a supporter of left policies – socialist health care, pro choice etc.  I can see this being part of his appeal, as he puts himself as the fence sitting candidate, or the more moderate right voters.
  • I feel all the Republicans are woefully lacking in understanding the threat that North Korea is (maybe I am – but the place seems so poor that it’s ability to threaten the US seem unlikely)
  • I bemoan the families in politics. The Bush family.  The Clinton family.
  • I do appreciate the overall diversity of three of five of the strongest candidates – a woman, and two candidates with Latino names. And then there’s Dr Carson (an AFRICAN AMERICAN) in the Republicans! I commend that!
  • So much time and energy is spent on selecting a leader and all the rhetoric, but in reality everything will need to be approved by Congress or similar.  Compromise is what government is about – so no matter what pledges they make, it’ll be diluted over time.
  • I hate fear mongering: the dole bludgers, the illegal migrants ‘stealing’ jobs.  The whole argument is as bad the name calling.  So rarely is it based on facts, but instead on emotion.  And what annoys me about emotion?  That only ‘certain’ emotions are acceptable.
  • It seems that money drives how many candidates stay in the race. This just seems ridiculous to me – the endless fundraising!  And honestly, no matter the policies, I have every assumption that there’s ‘no such thing as a free lunch’.

I took the time to do a quiz on which candidate I would back.  It didn’t surprise me that I was 94% for Sanders – the Socialist candidate.  I was surprised to see myself making qualifications for some of my more generous or open minded ideas.  I’m not sure if that’s due to three years with the BF who is a strong business advocate, or my role in ‘management’.  I may not like the idea of the nepotism, but I can’t be sad to see a left learning candidate that is a female leading the US.  And if I was asked to vote to the right, my thoughts would probably go towards Kasich – from the tiny amount I’ve read about him!  He seems compassionate, experienced and reasonable.  But in the CNN debate, he hardly had a moment to shine – it’s was a Trump show, and when others were speaking, it was often to attack Trump.

Overall, I don’t feel like the USA is the strongest nation.  It can’t be strong when it has such an under paid and under supported working class in fast food restaurants, or cleaning hotels.  I worry about a country whose allowed companies far too much power, how can it be ok to list ‘artificial and natural flavours’ and leave it at that?  How can companies opt out of Workplace Health and Safety?  How can states NOT have income tax? I even rile up that the price of something isn’t what’s marked – tax is added later, and then if it’s service based, then there’s tipping – it feels like businesses opt out of structuring their business in a way that can pay their staff a wage.  I do agree it can improve service (but it’s still not always as good as it could be), but it’s like bumping the livelihood of someone onto the whim of peer pressure to tip!?

On the other hand of all my negative thoughts, I am heartened by start ups and new technologies.  We used uber and lyft countless times – it was simple, it didn’t feel any less safe, and I feel like it allows disruption the status quo.

Seeing more of my readers are not Americans, what are your thoughts out there, fellow Aussies, Canadians and other readers?

Last minute US trip

I may have alluded to a secret in my last post.  Not that I *know* my young brother reads this blog (I know R does, but I’m not sure about S), but I was adamant to surprise my brother, S, who moved to LA in Deceber 2015.

The BF was offered a work trip in Chicago, and some possible meetings in San Francisco. Initially I was luke warm on joining him, as I have been to both cities.  But then I thought ‘why not?’.  I have the money, and the time.  But the thing that pushed me over was the possibility of surprising my brother a week after his birthday!  So, to set it up, I made sure his girlfriend kept the weekend free, which she did, though there were many a check in, so she made sure it was OK for her to work on Saturdya morning and things like that.

The actual surprise was comedic!  So… I had his address as 236 Main Street, but in actual fact, that’s the join between a huge pet store, and a huge grocery store.  Definitely no one living in that joint compound!  Alas, he was at 235 Main St, which we confirmed by the BF asked his GF what their address was as the ‘courier was asking’.  See, something Dad ordered for S’s birthday hadn’t arrived on time for his birthday, and there’d been many an email to try and sort it out between me (who’d placed the order for Dad), Dad, and the two LA dwellers!  Alas, we found the right address, and then… The inter phone or buzzer was broken?!  It seemed to play a Mexican radio station or nothing.  Or course, my brother’s girlfriend is saying to my BF ‘just get the courier to call S’!  In the end, I stepped back and from the curb, took a gamble and hollered out my brothers name to an open window.  And he appeared!

So many things went wrong, and could have continued to!  What if that wasn’t his apartment?  But it was!

We spent the weekend together, and then flew to Chicago on Monday.  I was so pleased we got a snow storm (something the BF hadn’t experienced) and it was quite intense – snow blowing practically horizontally!  But it was just one day, so that was nice.  The hotel was selected by the BF’s company, which was the Hard Rock Hotel in the old Carbon and Carbite building, which was beautifully ornate.  The rooms were a touch quirky, and it was well located to Michigan Ave, known as the ‘Magnificent Mile’ of shopping…  More on that later, for sure

We then headed back to California on Saturday, for the far more temperate San Franscisco which I was in just over a year ago.  Due to plans being very up in the air, we ended up going for an Airbnb, cause lemme tell you SF is not a cheap city, especially on a Saturday night.  So many places were sold out too!

We leave on Thursday, so some of my posts will have to wait til I get home (and I’m yet to master a way to get photos from an iPhone to a work iPad to WordPress – it might be beyond me!  Suggestions in the comments are welcomed)

Holiday planning

As I mentioned in my annual goals post and my bucket list – I want to visit much of Eastern Europe – Russia, Romania and Bosnia.

Russia is one of the BIG national powers.  I loved Paullina Simon’s books, particularly the Bronze Horseman, and I am in awe of the majestic religious buildings, particularly in a communist country, which in other nations has totally destroyed religious buildings.  I used to think the ‘cold war’ was over – having just watch The Bridge of Spies, but then I applied for my visa and I’m not so sure.  It was incredibly thorough!

(this routine was in the film, and I can guarantee they match!  Though the film’s music was even more emotive)

Romania is definitely off the ‘usual’ tourist path.  Since 2006’s trip was cancelled whilst I live in France, it’s been on my ‘one day’ list.  The first reason for Romania is my fanatical interest in Nadia Comenici – when mum had to go into school on school holidays, she used to put this on to keep us kids quiet.  I am not one for learning to rote a movie’s script – but this film (Nadia) I can!  The film is SO old I have a copy on VHS! It doesn’t exist in DVD or anything new fangled like that.  The second reason is that I made a very close friend in first year university who was Romanian, so I’m curious to see his home town.  In 2006, I booked flights to Romania, however it wasn’t part of the EU and required evidence of USD100 per day! As a young student, I didn’t have that sort of cash sitting idly (I was working as an au pair)!  It was just too hard to get a visa, so at no cost Air France let me change my fare and I went to Rome, which was memorable and delightfully crisp.  To ensure I wasn’t just a dreamer, I’ve read two books set in Romania recently – one at a beachside town where they defect to Turkey.  Another was an American based in Romania with a few other shady characters, trying to survive in the communist state that was slowly dis-assembly all relics of the past.

I read a novel based on the true story of a cellist who played for 27 days after a massacre in a bread queue (via)
I read a novel based on the true story of a cellist who played for 27 days after a massacre in a bread queue (via)

Bosnia is probably best described as ‘trauma tourism’ or similar. The same things that draw me to Holocaust memoirs and visiting Jewish museums interests me in the war.  And… I have an ex boyfriend who is Bosnian.  He shared so little of his culture, but I was always incredibly curious about him and his childhood, having migrated at the age of 12.  Again, I’ve tried to read to ensure I have a better idea of what I’m visiting, and I’m incredibly curious to see this junction of ‘East meets West’ particularly as we’ll now also visit Turkey, which has similar parallels.

So, to date, I’ve booked the long haul flights, in addition to accommodation in two cities of Russia, a flight to Romania, and accommodation in both Bucharest and Sarajevo.  It’s a solid start and I just need to keep chipping away at booking for air travel and hotels.  Thankfully my younger brother is a champ, and happy to go along for the ride.  I bet he ends up knowing all sorts of quirky historic facts, cause he’s that type 😉