Tag Archives: free wifi

Aberdeen

While it was time to take off and travel more of Scotland, I really was quite reluctant about it because it meant having to leave K&E!!  I still miss hanging out with them for a beer (or 20 in the case of K & I, lol!! AND whiskey on occasion!!) or for a delicious home cooked meal!  I had my first Cullen Skink there, and though I’m not at all a fish fan, the soup was VERY delicious and had no fishy taste to it at all!!  I miss the lean event we did together on the garage, driving around town in style, being shown all the exclusive and local parts of the area, the awesome conversation and company, and Sunday night burritos!!  Yea, I wasn’t looking forward to leaving, but it was time…

When looking up where to go next, I settled on Aberdeen then on to the Highlands, which are in central Scotland.  I was first thinking to keep going north from Aberdeen along the coast, but it would have been trickier to get around since I didn’t have a car and only relied on buses and trains.  Which brings me to a point… Scotland visitors would definitely benefit from renting a car!!!  There are sooooooo many nooks and crannies to see in Scotland that aren’t possible to see because the buses don’t go there, or they only go there on Tuesdays, etc, etc.!!  So if you really want to get into Scotland, rent a car!!  Or a car AND a chauffeur, which is how it would have to be in my case because they drive on the “wrong” side of the road and I could totally see myself killing myself within the first few minutes of attempting to drive alone!!

Moving on… I happened to find a train ticket to Aberdeen in first class for only 3 pounds more than the 2nd class ticket.  Having never traveled any mode of transportation in first class before, I thought heck, why not?!  And man oh man was it ever worth it!!!  Free food!  Free booze!!  Free WiFi!!!  Comfy seats!!!  I can’t say that I would have paid much more than 10 pounds more than the 2nd class seat to get a 1st class seat, but then again… Now that I know all the perks of 1st class, well it certainly made me want to always go that way!!  But I’m too cheap to do that!!  Or rather, the more I spend in one way means the less I can spend in traveling!!  So being thrifty always wins out!!

Aberdeen is an interesting mix of a place.  It is modern yet built in an old style.  The whole city is quite grey due to the granite they use on many of the buildings, both old and modern.  It is a very industrious town and has lots of oil business there and ship yards for various tasks such as fishing, oil, etc.  Funnily enough I learned that Aberdeen is where my sister’s place of work is based out of!  It’s definitely just a business place, with some character in the old buildings and the cemetery in the center of town, but that was about it.

Luckily I had only planned to simply get there, spend a few hours walking around (which I almost got lost at one point, lol!!) and then head out via the bus to Huntly.  And that’s what I stuck to doing.  I checked my luggage into the storage facility at the train station, walked around, then gathered my luggage and waited for my bus.

On to Huntly

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Keep Calm and Carry On

I’m no stranger to making fun of myself at any point… and well the title to this particular post is aimed to do just that… it’s actually specifically aimed at showing how uneducated and retarded I can be… I once saw one of my bosses (originally from England) wearing a shirt saying “Keep Calm and Carry On”… and I made the very uneducated comment of, “Oh, is that a spin-off from The Chive slogan of  “keep calm and chive on”???

Yea…. enough said… I can be THAT blonde quite often in life really… and it’s usually ALWAYS when I’m trying to be impressive somehow… Goes to show you should ALWAYS be humble, otherwise stupidity (at least in my case) will always creep out!!!

Moving on, I flew over the pond on British Airways on a fairly cheap one-way ticket I found on my favorite flight site of skyscanner.com:)  Let me tell you, British Airways has it going on!!  The flight was comfortable, the food was actually tasty, and beside a little bit of a hiccup during my movie where it turned off and wouldn’t restart until hours later (which really forced me to get some much needed sleep) it was quite the pleasant flight!

After landing I did what I always do… Sat down and started searching for a place to stay for the night… You would think I would change my ways and plan SOMETHING ahead of time, but hey, that’s kinda part of the adventure of it all, isn’t it??  The only bummer here is that Heathrow airport only gives like 45 minutes of free WiFi to use!!  After that you have to pay for it!!  Seriously???  What if I had a layover there longer than 45 minutes??  Then I would have to PAY for WiFi???  Seemed like a total scam to me, but it was what it was…

Anyway after a bit of researching I did find a hostel that would potentially work.  What I really wasn’t expecting was how absolutely expensive everything was!!  Part of the reason it took me so long to find a hostel was because I was price shopping!!  I knew and had heard that in general Europe is expensive, but seriously London is out of control!! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

So after getting a place in mind to possibly stay, I headed for the ticket booth, got a map and ticket for the Underground tunnel train and headed off.  About 20-30 minutes later I was off the Underground and pounding the pavement of the streets with my feet.  I walked for about 15 minutes until I found the hostel that I thought to stay at.  Why did it take so long?  Well, the map I was given of the streets really wasn’t quite as accurate as it could have been.  So there were several times I wasn’t sure if I was going the right way as some streets were on the map, then the next several were not, then one would pop back up on the map… strange…

Anyway, I stopped into the YHA (Youth Hostels Association- they have a chain of hostels throughout  Europe… Red flag #1 in my book as I think hostels should be more private than corporate) which had prices advertised at 26 pounds per night…. Upon arriving however, it was 32 pounds per night… No thanks!!  That didn’t even include breakfast!!  So I asked about another hostel nearby and was shuttled in the direction of Generator Hostel London.

After another 20 minutes of wandering around somewhat aimlessly while attempting to follow the map but still needing to stop for directions I found the Generator hostel!!  Now, to my miracle, the days I spent in London were actually clear skies and warm!!  You all know by now how much I LOVE warm weather!!  However… when having to walk in it with a 40lb bag on back, it gets annoying quickly!  And I tend to sweat quite a bit.  So needless to say after the first mini-hike to the first hostel, then the second mini-hike to the Generator, I was looking forward to putting my stuff down and showering!  Luckily they did have room and though I was planning originally to stay 3 nights, I only went for 2 since the first 2 nights were 26 pounds each and the third was 40 pounds!!  At the time the rate exchange was $1.71 to 1 pound so 26 pounds was basically well over $40 to stay for each night… Oh and that amount was for ‘no breakfast included’ AND I was sharing the room with 11 other people and the bathroom with the entire floor (which was in the basement and probably had over 100 people at least per floor).

I was definitely missing the hostel prices I was used to in Central and South America!!  This was seriously a completely different ballgame financially!  In any event I paid for my room, headed down to my basement room, changed clothes, made a few calls and sent some emails then headed out for a beer!

 

On to Hostel Culture Shock

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Favorite things…

Again, because I lived in Puerto Viejo for an extended period of time, it’s hard to recall everything, so on this page I will simply mention my favorite things about Puerto Viejo and why I lived there for as long as I did…  The below is in no particular order..

Cabinas Garibaldi

  • Absolutely my favorite place to live!   Just down the street from Tasty Waves in Cocles beach, Cabinas Garibaldi was absolutely fantastic!!!!  I can’t say enough about this place!!!  They have short and long term rentals available and the family that owns the land and properties lives on site!  Mancho (aka Martin) is the son of the elder woman Dona Rosa who originally owned the place.  Martin along with his mom and wife take care of the property and no one messes with Martin!  He once noticed someone trying to break into one of the bungalows and he chased him down with a machete in hand!  No one since that event has tried to rob any of the places in Cabinas Garibaldi since:)  Why do I love the place so much??  Simple: private apartment with kitchen, bathroom, hot water, WiFi, across the street from beach (literally) all for about $260 a month!!!!!  The people were fantastic, my neighbors were great!  Dona Rosa even did our bed laundry weekly… just superior and super place!!!

 

Wildlife

  • Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins,  toucans, sloths, agouti, iguanas… Literally everywhere you looked nature was alive and beautiful around you!!  Puerto Viejo literally was the perfect blend of beach and Jungle right at your finger tips… The nature there is just so captivatingly beautiful and alive!  So splendid!

Beaches

  • Just north of Puerto Viejo was playa negra, the black beach, and as you moved into town the sand turned white all the way down the coast line to Manzanillo, the town furthest south in Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast.  The sands were wonderful and the water was always warm!!  Great snorkeling and scuba diving areas too!  Only word of warning: beware the currents as they could be quite strong!  Oh and lots of great surfing for those who enjoy either surfing or watching the hot bodies of surfers;)

Riding Bikes

  • Everything was accessible by bike or public bus!!  I never for one second missed having to drive a car anywhere!!  I loved simply riding around town, to and from work, etc on a bike!  And for those times where I needed to get out of town, public busses did the trick.

Caribe del Sol

  • Located just outside my house in Cabinas Garibaldi (aka Anna’s front yard) was the best restaurant Caribe del Sol!!  Great Italian cuisine and local casado menu!!  The floor of the place was all sand so it felt as if you were just dining on the beach with a view of the beach while not getting soaked by sea spray:)  The people were great and actually I just heard that the owner of the place married his long-time girlfriend (my friend as well) and moved to the States!  So hopefully the place is still as tasty as I recall it being!

Caribe horses

  • I spent some time riding with the Caribe horse club and loved every second of it!   You just simply can’t beat the views from horseback and the places you can get from the seat of a horse!  Great jungle and beach riding on safe and fun horses!!

Dogs, dogs and more dogs!!

  • Ah, I LOVE animals!!  So to live in a place where all animals basically were wild and free, I absolutely adored it even more!!  You see, while each dog had an owner, they were allowed to run free daily and do whatever they pleased!  Run along the beach, beg for food, run rampant on the streets, etc.  At night however, they all always seemed to simply disappear since most had an actual home where they would stay at during the night.  Or if the owners were going into town, the dogs would accompany them and chill with them in town before turning in for the night!  Each dog had their own personality and name of course, and you literally greeted them as if they were people wandering around town!  Now of course, this kind of life for dogs while great was also rough… Many did get hit by cars, damaged by other dogs, get mange attacks, etc. and they were treated as dogs, not necessarily as family members as we tend to do in the States.  So if an animal was injured, they wouldn’t necessarily be taken to the vet.  It was just part of the jungle life!

“Jungle”

  • Ok, now the following is not in any way intended to be racist, so I don’t want to hear about people complaining about it being so!  If anything didn’t work well or wasn’t quite working as it should, it was called “Jungle”… For example, the pool table in Tasty Waves was called a “jungle table” since it wasn’t quite level.  “Jungle coffee” referred to coffee made in the morning that had floating ants in it because I forgot to put the sugar away in the fridge! (First time that happened I was appalled!  Second and subsequent times I simply scooped the little buggers out and enjoyed my coffee:) Plumbing issues? “Jungle plumbing”…. you get the point!

Lazy Mon Sundays

  • I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere else already how every night was a different businesses night to draw in the tourists and crowds.  Well Sunday night was dedicated to the Lazy Mon hostel and restaurant almost smack “downtown” Puerto Viejo.  It is basically an open-mic night where people can come to perform.  Truth be told, it’s really more of a usual crew that come and perform for the tourists and my absolute favorite part of that show is the fire show!!!  Several men and women dancing to music while twirling various objects on fire!  Absolutely mesmerizing and was always a thrill to watch!!

A REAL community

  • People took care of each other in Puerto Viejo in a way that I hadn’t yet experienced.  People supported each other, their businesses, causes, etc.  You really couldn’t get away with much!  If you were a bad customer, didn’t pay your bill (many places allowed locals to run tabs and pay at later dates) or tabs or tried to screw someone over, everyone heard about it immediately and you would be shut out just as fast.  Of course not every society is perfect, but the people were always friendly.  People would look you in the eye and say good morning to you daily (imagine!!)!!  The sense of community there was brilliant.  You felt as part of something, and you did your part to take care of others as they did for you

Ahora…

  • “Ahora” in Spanish means “right now”… This is a very general term in Puerto Viejo and really Costa Rica in general… If you want something done or are waiting for the bus and ask “when will xyz happen?” and are told “hora”… that could be anywhere from “now” to two weeks from now… if you are told “ahora” it could be anywhere from “right now” to about a day from now… Love that relaxed nature!!

STREET MEAT!!!

  • I don’t know what the heck they do to their meat but MAN, I absolutely LOVE street meat!!!  Mind you, the street meat vendors only come out on the street as the sun starts to set because lord knows it’s way too hot to stand over a BBQ in the heat of the day, and luckily they stay open until the wee hours of the morning for all those stumbling out of the bars in search of something yummy to eat.  Basically they only sell chicken or beef on a skewer.  Sounds super simple, I know, but the spicy sauce they put on it is absolutely to die for!!  You can get it extra spicy or just regular spicy (I always got it extra spicy!!)!!  And I promise this basis of critique on the food is not because I was always drunk when eating!!  There were in fact several times that I went into town just to purchase a couple skewers of street meat spicy chicken for my dinner completely sober!!  My mouth is salivating at the very thought…

 

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