Somewhere back in [indistinct noises], when I was still in [more indistinct noises], someone mentioned the Hay Festival in Wales. And so I idly looked it up and immediately was like holy shit, Eddie Izzard! And then holy HOLY shit, Neil Gaiman! With Stephen Fry and Chris Riddell! Fuck me sideways.

The Neil/Stephen/Chris event was only like $15, so despite having no place to stay — and literally everywhere near Hay-on-Wye sold out — I bought a ticket, like, immediately. I hemmed and hawed over Eddie a bit more, since it was more like $40, but eventually, you know, fuck it.

And then weeks later realized oh shit I should probably actually find a place to stay.

I think Eddie Izzard was on like a Thursday and Neil et al the following Monday, so there was some leeway in actually spending the weekend somewhere. Thought about Bristol or Gloucester, but eventually decided on Cardiff as there was a fairly easy/inexpensive train up to Hereford and then a shuttle bus between Hereford and Hay — and also because there were actually still rooms in Cardiff. And I’d never been.

Also on the way to Eddie Izzard, the train broke down for like three hours — thankfully I’d allowed for waaaay more than that leeway getting there for the first time — and now I am friends with a young Welsh politician and we periodically email about, like, ants and cockroaches, and just generally had a good time talking. I love train people.

The Festival was great, though I opted not stick around to get my beloved Neil Gaiman-signed journal double-signed, because (a) I had a migraine and (b) was also racing to catch the shuttle to catch the train to get back to Cardiff and did not feel like waiting in line for hours to fluster over another tired author.


(I considered it, though.)

And not that conducive to photography, since by this time I was solely reliant on my terrible replacement phone that ran out of juice in like thirty seconds.

But at least I can check “watch Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry banter while Chris Riddell live-draws them doing so on stage” off my list.

IMG_20170529_142636IMG_20170529_142731IMG_20170529_142931IMG_20170529_143056IMG_20170529_143207IMG_20170529_143220IMG_20170529_143300IMG_20170529_143347IMG_20170529_143851IMG_20170529_143859IMG_20170529_143913IMG_20170529_143940IMG_20170529_144034IMG_20170529_144916IMG_20170529_145059IMG_20170529_145102IMG_20170529_150329IMG_20170529_170057IMG_20170529_172909IMG_20170529_173029 (2)IMG_20170529_173033IMG_20170529_183239

And Cardiff was beautiful in and of itself. I bought a pair of Adidas there, which was pretty exciting. Like, why are my ankles even more achy than usual? — Ohhh, because I don’t own a pair of sneakers anymore because mine probably got blown up in Manchester. Some Romanian dude in the hostel who walked the line between cute and creepy hit on me on the daily, which was equal parts — well, cute and creepy, depending on the day.



Me too, dude. Me too.

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Manchester // words, no words

So, on 22 May, I flew into Manchester. This was, you’ll probably note, not a very good day to fly into Manchester. Nor a good day to leave your suitcase in the airport. Not really a good day all around.

I was lazing around the hostel in the evening, drinking and watching American Pie 2 (because it was like the only fucking dvd actually in its case) with a bunch of Aussies and another token American — who, oddly, had also been in DC on 9/11. (He’s like yeah I was in third grade and I’m like oh god I’m old.)

He gets a phone call and goes out into the hall, comes back in, shaken, and is like, uh… guys? So… there was just a major terror attack, like, a mile from here.

(Why is this not the first time I’d been in this situation??)

It was not, like, DC on 9/11 levels of strange and terrible, but still pretty strange and terrible, and the numbness and helplessness vividly threw me back to the feeling of sitting in my college apartment with my roommate watching the news, and listening to the sirens, and thinking well, there is a highly non-zero chance we might die today.

I hope to go back, because Mancunians were some of the nicest people of all the many places I’ve been, and just resilient and seemed to react to the horror of it by being even kinder to folks from elsewhere. And from what I saw of it, Manchester is gorgeous and grey and exactly my kind of city. I did not, however, do a whole lot of exploring and photo-taking in the following day or two I was there.

(Plus I discovered Primark, after awkwardly going up to the hostel person and being like uh so I lost my suitcase and have no clothes anymore please advise. And the fact that Primark is now in Boston is definitely another tick on the move-back-to-Boston-someday checklist.)

Next I went to Wales for about a week, to see Eddie Izzard (!) and then Neil Gaiman (!!!) along with Stephen Fry and Chris Riddell (!!!!!) so hopefully I will have more to say and show about that other than just like… this was a huge thing that happened and I don’t know how to talk about it.


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Ah, Copenhagen — kind of the beginning of the end in a way, before I hopped back to the UK. And the last time I was able to call myself a suitcase-owner.

Given that it was, you know, Scandinavia, and my savings were dropping into oh shit oh shit territory, instead of merely alarming, I didn’t stay long or do much.

Or eat, like, at all. I stayed at the Generator Copenhagen hostel, which like, Generators generally have a deservedly good reputation (I think I stayed at one in Venice and Dublin), but the one major irksome downside is they never have kitchens, or even a refrigerator, presumably to funnel people into their onsite restaurant/bar. Which, fair, but rubs me the wrong way. And I was only there two nights, which on top of being as fresh out of fucks to give as I was money, was just kinda like well a slice of bread will do.

I did wander through the Botanical Gardens — because yay, free, and also very cool, and dropped like $12 on a boat tour of the canals. Also cool, but kind of shit pictures, being, you know on a boat.

Which broke down halfway through, which was quite exciting.

I think things and places start to seriously blend together at this point in my wanderings, especially as it’s been two months now, but here, have some pictures.


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gothenburg // photodump / my friends are adorable and sweden is beautiful



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catch-up // budapest

My introduction to Budapest was kinda not great, in a very uninteresting way that wasn’t really Budapest’s fault. I had a shit time getting to the airport in Kiev, since my terrible cell phone didn’t get reception even with a Ukrainian sim card so I missed my Uber drive and had to frantically get a taxi, for which I way overpaid (I mean, it was still probably only like $10, but just irritating). And when I got to Budapest, I discovered the directions to my hostel were pretty much “get off the subway, turn left, and walk ’til you see us,” but not, like, which subway exit to take, or any cross-streets, etc.

And again, my phone being useless, had no way to even begin to load Google maps.

But desperate exhaustion outweighs shyness, so I stopped a couple of dudes on the street, who turned out to be a lovely Parisian couple visiting family there. Sadly they spoke English much better than I speak French, and I wasn’t really in ooh-let-me-practice headspace. But they looked up the place on one of their phones and found directions, and then walked with me until they could point out exactly where to go.

Travel people are nice.

And despite its shit directions, the hostel — the Flow Hostel — ended being one of my favorites. Budapest is legendary for its party hostels, and like, being a sad older traveler who abuses her liver enough on her own, I wasn’t really looking for that, but also wanted to stay somewhere fun and lively and social. And it was eerily big, with all kinds of weird spaces to hang out or chill (and a massive kitchen), which was neat. Also bed privacy curtains. Love me some privacy curtains.

Anyway, Sunday (I think it was a Sunday), as usual, I just wandered aimlessly for a few hours, along the Danube and through downtown, getting acquainted and taking pictures.

Which, like, going through and editing (and I use the term “editing” loosely, but whatever), holy fuck am I happy to have a phone with a decent camera again, as well as access to an actual camera here (like, basic cheap digicam, but decent). I apologize for the graininess in so many of these.


Also, the Hummus Bar does not fuck around.


Monday was about the same, but I did take the funicular up to the Buda Castle and wandering around up there before walking back down Castle Hill. Not sure if funiculars are so charming just because of the word funicular.


And finally, Tuesday I went to the Szechenyi Baths, which was all kinds of awesome even if I still can’t spell or pronounce it. I dropped more money than I could really afford on a massage, because my back was (and remains) hella borked after throwing it out in Albania, and then lounged in various pools for a couple hours, which I must say is a fairly civilized way to spend an afternoon, even alone.


And then Wednesday morning I finally left continental Europe for the first time in over six months, which was a very sad day.

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catch-up // kiev

Man, I really thought I had more photos from Kiev, since I was there for three or four days, but I guess I am a lazy asshole, as always.

I got to go to Eurovision, though! A dress rehearsal, anyway, since that was only like 17 USD. I had never actually seen the show at all, aside from a couple famous clips, so I didn’t really know what to expect, and didn’t really know what was going on, but it was a lot of fun. Even the dress rehearsal was fucking packed.

I was vaguely aware of the incredibly awesome cheese-level, thanks to the show, but wow, I was not prepared.

Aside from that, as usual, since my savings were wearing pretty thin by this point, I just wandered around the city, trying not to spend any money I didn’t have to. An exception was made for buying a new suitcase, as the roads of Plovdiv literally destroyed the wheels on my old one, and that was kind of important.

And then I had it for all of like three weeks, until I left it in the Manchester airport on the worst day possible and never got it back, and discovered that, well, I guess I don’t need a suitcase after all.

So, yeah, Kiev. It’s one of those cities that to me exists at that sweet spot between old, old, astonishing history, and different from the major Western European capitals, but also a major metropolitan city in itself. I wish I’d made it to the Арсенальна subway station, one of the deepest in the world (possibly the deepest?), because jesus, at 305 feet it’s over three times as deep as Porter Square in Boston, which already always gave me a little bit of vertigo looking down.

It’s an odd city — as, I suppose, are most cities — but I kind of loved it. Also, really fucking pretty.


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catch-up // odessa

Am back in the US now, and super not happy about it, hanging out with some dear friends in Boston for a few days (aka mostly being a pile of useless sloth but whatever) before catching a bus to NYC at like 2am tonight/tomorrow morning, so maybe I can at least start catching up with the tail end of my wanderings before I get back to Florida and sink back into the depths of suicidal stupor. So anyway.

Odessa, like Chisinau, was a little pointless, only in that I got there late on a Monday night and left at fuck o’clock on Wednesday morning. And my hostel was creepy-silent; I’m not sure I actually heard anyone having a conversation above a whisper. It’s a very, very lovely city, though, and given my lack of time there, there’s not much to say aside from photodumping.

Though I did have possibly the most hilarious non-conversation with an Uber driver to get to the train station at 4am. For whatever reason, I guess the destination didn’t go through when I put it into the app, and the dude spoke no English. So I’m like, uh, train station? Train? …Tren?? Which in most languages will be close enough, but naturally in Ukrainian it’s поїзд (“poizd” or thereabouts) and I didn’t remember it in Russian either.

So we’re both sitting there in the car looking at each other helplessly. Finally I’m like… train? *makes a tugging motion* choo-choo?

Dude’s face just lights the hell up and he burst out laughing, making the same gesture. Да! choo-choo! Да, да! And I’m like yes, train, choo-choo! Yes! Choo-choo, choo-choo!

I think we became best friends in that moment.

Anyway there’s a lot more pictures and more interesting things from Kiev — I went to Eurovision! — and then just Budapest, all around the UK/Ireland (plus Eddie Izzard and Neil Gaiman/Stephen Fry/Chris Riddell at the Hay Festival!) aaaand then probably radio silence until I drag myself elsewhere again.


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