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06.10.10

australia: outlet converters and a dig.

I have the worst luck when it comes to buying outlet converters.

No matter what country I’m in, or how much money I spend on these things, they never work. This is not conducive to my internet junkie/hair obsessive needs. I remember dropping an ungodly amount of money on a fancy looking converter before my first big trip to Australia, and upon plugging in my hair dryer the day after we landed it promptly exploded and smoke came billowing out from the oulet. Devastation ensued.

Faced with the possibility of having a bad hair day for the next four months, I decided to walk over to the Australian version of Circuit City, a gigantuan store named Clive Peeters. It was there that I met an excitable, talkative male sales associate. He was tall and lanky with a toothy grin and the kind of tan that only Australians can naturally have. I remember thinking how much prettier his hair was than mine as it was unbelievably wavy and voluminous. Thus I shall call him Mr. Schuster.

After a lot of explaining and wild hand gestures, the two of us concluded that there were no outlet converters in Clive Peeters. Wonderful. This was when I tried to make a graceful exit away from Mr. Schuster and the wall of flat-screen TVs he was standing in front of, but he wasn’t very “keen” on this idea.

"So you’re American, are ya?" he said.

"Yep."

"Where in America?"

"Boston." EDIT: I’m usually friendlier, but Mr. Schuster was getting closer and closer to me as he spoke and it was starting to make me uncomfortable. Plus I still had frizzy hair, which is as good reason as any to be cranky.

"Ah, Boston, I’ve heard of that. What kind of TV do you got back in Boston?"

Jesus. “A small one.”

"Oh, really? I thought all you Americans had big TVs! You all like that flashy stuff don’t cha?"

I think this is where he was trying to be flirty and cute, but I was not having it. While simultaneously looking around for the nearest escape route, I snarled, “Wow, way to take a dig at me.”

A rare pause. “A what?”

"A dig."

"Come again?"

I remember thinking that this would be an opportune moment for someone to kidnap me. “A. DIG. You know, an insult?”

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. Mr. Schuster’s panties immediately bunched up into a fist-like apparatus, and he practically got down on his knees and prayed for forgiveness.

"OH MISS I AM SO SORRY I NEVER MEANT TO INSULT YOU PLEASE DON’T TAKE IT THAT WAY I’M SURE YOU’RE NOT FLASHY IN THE SLIGHTEST I LOVE SMALL TVS THEY’RE SOME OF OUR BEST-SELLERS TEAM USA" and so on and so forth.

His performance was Oscary-worthy, I will give him that. Definitely in the wrong profession, that Mr. Schuster. As much as I love a good round of public humiliation, between the sobbing and pleading I somehow managed to convince my perfectly coiffed friend that my feelings were still very much unhurt, and I would not hold his “dig” against him the next time that we crossed paths, which would hopefully be somewhere between “never ever ever” and “in the next gazillion years.”

After an entire afternoon of awkward conversation, hair envy, and not getting a proper outlet converter, I finally walked out of Clive Peeters and sulked back to my dark apartment, my straw-like curls baking in the hot Australian sun.

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05.12.10

house hunters international (no relation to the show)

I’ve been really into interior design lately, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I re-arrange my room twice a year, I obsessively make collages of pictures from the “Living” section of Real Simple, and I’ve been known to go buck wild in Home Goods. Remember that MTV show Room Raiders? That was my jam. I loved how the contestants could tell so much about their future date just from what he or she had going on in their rooms.

However, as I was flipping through some of my travel photos on the Fbook, I started noticing that it’s really the EXTERIOR of a house that can tell you the major things about not just the person who lives there, but about the place itself. What the weathers like, what the quality of living is, if you should be prepared to protect yourself against ferocious giant animals that don’t exist anywhere else (Australia, I’m looking at you). I’m sure if you were knocked unconscious and lost your memory, all you would have to do is wake up (fingers crossed!) and look at the nearest house to gather some clues as to where you were.

Here’s some houses I’ve come across in my travels. Can you guess what countries they call home?

- Alison

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03.28.10

Top 5 Things I Learned In Miami

It’s been about a month since I got back from Florida, and I’m still talking about it. Since you’re probably sick of me and my Sunshine State ramblings (haha, jokes! I know that’s not possible), you’ll be happy to know that this is my big wrap-up blog post. So, without further ado, here’s my list of the Top 5 Things I Learned In Miami:

1. Trying to rent a car in America sucks.

I alluded to this incident in my last post, but I can’t even begin to convey the nonsense that occurred when we tried to rent a car for a few hours.

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03.23.10

Miami (Day Four): In Which We Make Jet Skiing Look Good

I love jet skiing. I hopped on one for the first time when I was 16 and was forever changed. We go together like peanut butter and jelly, Laverne and Shirley, Lil’ Wayne and obscene face tattoos. It’s love at it’s purest.

Plus, can you even think about the city of Miami without thinking about jet skiing? How many images of Will Smith, Don Johnson and Rosie O’Donnell zooming around Star Island have you seen in your lifetime? Probably too many. That’s why El and I felt compelled to book a sightseeing tour via jet ski on our last full day in the 305 (to quote Pitbull, if I may).

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03.15.10

Miami (Day Three): In Which Our Lives Turn Into A Reality TV Show

Guys, a lot of important events happened on Day Three in Miami.

  1. I bought green shades that perfectly matched my green nail polish.
  2. Eleanor and I kicked little children out of a playground so that we could use the swings (hey, I never said we were role models).
  3. We ate really rancid Mexican food on Espanola Way, a historic Spanish village that has some really lovely boutiques and restaurants, the latter of which we must have missed.

But none of that matters. What matters is that, on this day, El and I finally had one of our lifelong dreams realized: to be featured on a reality TV show. And by that, I mean we accidentally surrounded ourselves with former reality show stars for a good 15 seconds, but I say that still counts.

Do you remember a little show called Miami Ink? For the two of you who never caught a rerun on TLC, it was a show about a tattoo shop in Miami Beach (the title is pretty self-explanatory). The artists were all either adorable or hilarious, and they turned out koi tattoos like you read about. As you all know, I’m a big fan of body artwork and I never know when to say no to them. What’s even worse is that Eleanor also has this problem. We may look like two American Eagle-wearing, pure as snow little girls from the ‘burbs (guilty), but in actuality, I don’t think either one of us would ever turn down a chance to get more ink done.

Having said all that, Eleanor and I both agreed that we HAD to make a mandatory stop at the actual Miami Ink show while we were in the MIA. Eleanor then came up with the idea of us getting the ugliest, cheesiest temporary tattoos in Miami Beach (not hard to find) and taking a picture of our new “ink” in front of the shop. Hilarious, right? Come on. Comedy gold. We should get paid for this stuff.

After a few confusing moments in our hotel bathroom, we were both donning two frisky-looking devils on our arms and ready to head over to the shop, which is now called the Love Hate Tattoo Shop.

The forecast for Miami was leaning towards “typhoon” that day, but we weren’t in a rush. When we finally got around to heading over to Love Hate, still fully committed to our photo strategy, I noticed a moderately-sized crowd gathered around the entrance to the shop. These kids looked like they were skipping Geometry class, wearing Keds and hoodies and awkwardly hovering and sneaking looks at a man who had his back to us. The guy was leaning against a black truck and wearing a black hat to match, and I jokingly said to Eleanor “That’s probably Ami, he’s been waiting for us all afternoon!” She laughed in my face in response.

Welp, turns out, I got the last laugh.

We arrived at the shop, and suddenly we weren’t so confident in showing off our devil tatties because Ami James, owner of Love Hate and star of Miami Ink, was just a few feet away from us, maxin’ and relaxin’ and talking to his intimidatingly-ripped lady friend.

So here’s Ami:

And here’s us:

I think both of us went into a Stage 5 panic attack. You see this person on TV for most of your life, and then all of a sudden they just materialize right next to you? In FRONT of the location that was also featured on TV? THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN. Reality TV became a little too real for either Eleanor or I to handle, and soon we were trying to decide whether to choose flight or fight.

We hovered with the high school seniors for a minute, found our cajones sitting on the floor, and then finally worked up the courage to ask Ami for a picture.

SWOON, right? Eleanor was giggling like a hyena, and I became mute, but dammit if we didn’t get photographic evidence of our brush with reality TV. After getting high off of whatever intoxicating cologne Ami was wearing that day, we floated down Washington Avenue only to have Darren Brass, another tattoo artist from Miami Ink, walk by us with a delicious-looking smoothie in his hand. Sensory overload.

Well needless to say, we got a little cocky. We ran down the street to Dash, hoping that we would find Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian “working” so that we could become the kind of best friends that exchange BFFL charm bracelets and paint each other’s toe nails at sleepovers. But yet, they weren’t there.

I’m sure they just forgot our numbers or something.

Have YOU ever had a celebrity encounter while traveling?

- Alison

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03.10.10

Miami, Day Two: In Which We Quack At Strangers

If you read my last post, you already know that Eleanor and I spent Day One trying not kill ourselves in Reagan National Airport (success!), and ended the day by going to sleep at 10 pm in our hotel room, snuggled up in our plastic-covered bed (cozy!).

Well, I think we made up for our lameness on Day Two. And if we didn’t, then God help us because we tried really, really hard at not sucking.

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03.04.10

In Which We Take Miami - Day One

It was a snowy, bleak January day in Boston, and two young girls were aimlessly gchatting each other about the activities of the Kardashians and about how delicious banana pancakes are. Suddenly and without warning, the following conversation occurred (I am copy and pasting verbatim):

Me: when do you want to go to Miami?

Eleanor: letssee i will grab my calendar

sooo anytime in march? orr late feb?

Me: i was thinking late feb

Eleanor: okk

And so it was. Plane tickets were booked, a hotel room was reserved, and soon we were off!

Ok, so it wasn’t that simple.

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02.23.10

An Afternoon at the Boston Globe Travel Show

I’d like to confess something to all five of you who are reading this right now: I had no idea what a “travel show” was when I purchased my ticket to this event a few months ago. “Showing” travel could mean so many things. Memories of my family breaking out the ol’ projector at Christmas and playing films of vacations that took place around the same time that man first walked on the moon began to fill my head. Did I really want to pay money for that?

But I thought, what the hell. 1) It’s in Boston, where I hang out a lot, so that’s convenient 2) Travel is in the title, a good sign and 3) The advertisements for the show had the cutest giraffe in them. Done deal.

First of all, I need to pose a question to the planners of the Boston Globe Travel Show: Why, after purchasing my ticket, would you email me a document that said in capital letters THIS IS YOUR TICKET, but then when I show it to the prickly older gentleman at the entrance he goes and forces me to turn around and wait in a separate looooooong line to exchange said document for a tiny blue raffle ticket? To quote my excitable step-dad, that’s just asinine.

Once I figured out the Matrix-like system of getting into the show, everything was gravy. The World Trade Center was packed! Not like, “green line at rush hour” packed, but enough where I kept having to apologize for knocking people over with my unnecessarily large purse (sorry!). Countries from every corner of the Earth had booths overflowing with pamphlets and contest entry sheets and business cards and glitter and bananas and penguins. I mean, what?

The penguins didn’t tap-dance or break out into Queen songs, but they were still pretty cool. The lizard was from Australia, and as a former iguana-owner and Australia resident, he immediately found a spot in my heart. Alas, the giraffe from the advertisements was nowhere to be found. Le sigh.

The booths were a trip (pun intended)! Complete sensory overload. They had everything from bright signs and free food, to giveaways and synchronized dancing. All of the tourism people were so nice and helpful. I’d like to holler at the guy at the Puerto Rico table who gave me one of his shiny orange pens because I liked it so much, and also to the people manning the Ireland section because I’m sure we’re somehow related. One of the most fun/torturous things about the travel show was that it made me want to start planning trips to, well, everywhere. Azores is the newest addition to my Travel Bucket List, and I almost booked a trip to Barbados right then and there.

And that’s exactly what people were doing. Sitting down and booking epic vacations in the middle of a crowded showroom. I’m not going to lie; I don’t understand this at all. I’m sure you can get really great travel deals at a show like this, but I would lose my head if I tried to make big financial decisions in the middle of all this commotion. More power to you if you feel differently. I’ll just be over here, kickin’ it with these biddies in the JetBlue seats.

Unfortunately, I missed Arthur and Pauline Frommer speak because I’m allergic to being punctual. But I did get to see Julia Dimon, a travel and social media junkie like me, give a presentation on becoming a travel writer. I’ve taken travel writing classes before so a lot of the information wasn’t new to me, but hearing about her National Geographic show, Word Travels, was really inspiring. I hope it gets picked up for American television!

Julia and I have also spoken on Twitter before, so I walked right up to her and said hello! Love meeting people from the internetz.

Overall, I had a lovely time at the show, and I can’t stop telling people about the Virgin America coupon I got which will take 20% off my next flight. Los Angeles, I’ll be seeing you.

Not everything can be cartwheels and fireworks though, people. What I didn’t like about the show was a) the lack of Australia representation, except for their lizard associate pictured earlier. That’s right Oz, I’m talking to you. Even Fiji had a booth! Tsk, tsk. And b) the lack of Yelp Boston’s finest:

Isn’t that empty booth the saddest thing you’ve ever seen? So sad that I missed them. I think I may have to deal with my depression by hopping on a flight to Barbados, where hopefully Rihanna’s family will adopt me.

- Alison

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02.17.10

Fiji: Me vs. Beetlejuice Snake, Part One

The first time I went snorkeling was in Fiji. I think this was God’s way of trying to apologize for my middle school years.

Not only was I in Fiji, but I was on the same beach that was used in the movie Blue Lagoon. I’ve never seen the film, but I’m pretty sure it’s about a young Brooke Shields and how much she hates wearing clothes. My friends and I had arrived on that white, sandy beach after spending two horrible days in our hostel on the island of Tavewa. Two days of getting bit by mosquitoes and peeing in dirt holes and getting sun rashes all over our bodies and hearing “BULA!!!” about twenty times too many. Needless to say, we needed a vacation from our vacation.

As I tend to do with most things, I jumped head-first into snorkeling without much hesitation or preparation. I had barely gotten my flippers on before flopping into the water, my mask crooked and fogging up rapidly. I flailed about awkwardly, spit flying from my mouth like a rabid dog in an attempt to clean my mask properly. With the style and grace of a gazelle, I dove into that lagoon without a freakin’ clue as to what I was doing.

After a few seconds, I decided that snorkeling and I were made for each other. Clad only in a teeny-weeny bikini, I glided effortlessly above the skeletal coral and skittish fish, sublimely humming “Part of This World” from The Little Mermaid to myself as I went (doesn’t everyone?). The hypnotic rhythm of my breath was the only thing I could hear, and I was completely at peace. Before I knew it, I found myself floating much farther out than the rest of my friends, but I didn’t worry. I was a professional.

Suddenly, my underwater heaven was interrupted by this guy:

When I tell this story at parties (who’s the cool kid?), I usually refer to this creature as the Beetlejuice Snake, or Satan. Surprisingly, neither of those names are as scientifically accurate as they sound. His real name is the Banded Sea Krait and he’s a feisty little thing. I wouldn’t learn this until much, much later in my life, but this particular sea snake produces neurotoxic venom at an average amount of 10-15 mg. They only need to use 1.5 of those milligrams to kill a redheaded novice snorkeler who’s cramping their style. In case you need more convincing that this dude is a BAMF, Beetlejuice Snake’s venom is 10x more lethal than Africa’s Black Mamba.

And as we all know from Kill Bill (Volumes 1 and 2), you don’t ever want to mess with a Black Mamba.

Find out what happened next when I write Part Two next week! (SPOILER: I’m still alive)

- Alison

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02.08.10

My Tentative Miami Itinerary (Open to Review)

A few things.

First of all, let me introduce you to my best friend Eleanor, since she will probably be making frequent cameos on this blog:

I met her in Australia in 2008 after she verbally abused me in the hallway of our dorm, and we’ve been besties ever since. The only problem is that we tend to get a weeeeee bit goofy when we’re together, and I’m a little concernicus that unless we have a game plan, most of our Miami vacay will be spent getting roasted on the beach and/or stalking the guys from Miami Ink (Núñez, call me).

I just read an article titled 10 Great Places for Miami Super Bowl Visitors and I’ve decided that I will be basing most of our itinerary on this list. Is that weird? Judge me all you want, but I think a few of these suggestions sound pretty solid.

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