Category Archives: Travel Log

New Opportunities & Beginnings, New Orleans & Baton Rouge Louisiana (Travel log 6 – 6)

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have to point out that at the age of about 15 I had made a “pact” with my best friend Sarah that we would travel to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) together once we were done with school. Our “plan” was to go to NOLA, live there for a few months before University and (because we “knew” we would love it) we’d return after University. Teenagers have such imaginations and no concept of money! It turned out that we finished school Sarah ended up going to the United Kingdom for University and I headed to Switzerland but took off a few months to live in France then  did an internship before starting University. In short I never made it to NOLA. Sarah did though after Uni and she kept telling me I really needed to go. When I knew I would be making the trip the USA I knew that it would be impossible for me go without visiting the place. Even though I couldn’t have known for certain that I would really love it as a teenager, it is like I was meant to be there and my gut wasn’t wrong!

So, that is the little introduction: please be warned I spent a week in Louisiana so there’s a lot to share. 

31st November – I flew out from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and as always arrived early so I wouldn’t be stressed out while travelling alone. It was supposed to be a 5 hour flight (total) with 1 transit and I was over the moon excited, I mean really, really excited. When I finally got on my first plane I was seated next to larger than life gentleman who, very pleased with himself announced that our flight would be delayed due to bad weather. I didn’t do a good job in hiding the fact that I was unable to share in his delight and prayed he would be wrong, he wasn’t. The pilot announced that we would be a little delayed until we got the all clear to fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Mr. larger than life at was also very “thirsty” (vodka tonics) and had roughly 5 drinks in the 45 minutes that we were grounded. He kept asking me questions, was intrigued that I was travelling by my self and planned to visit NOLA on my own.

Because I had a connecting flight I got a little nervous if I would make it at all with the 45 minute delay. When we landed I legged it across the airport, politely asked people to move and found out that I had to not only run across airport but had to jump on one of those connecting trains to get to the other end. In the end I made it. I was one of the last people to board the plane, out of breath, sweating and annoyed but I made it! The delay and short connection time meant that…*drum roll please*….my luggage didn’t make it with me! Yup, my bag were still in Atlanta when I arrived and I was told that if possible they would try get it on one of the other flights coming arriving that night, but in all likelihood it would only arrive the following day. So I jumped in a taxi and headed to my hotel, sans bags. After a smooth check-in I got to my room, ordered some food, inhaled everything and then went to sleep. 

The following morning I got my first taste of delicious Louisiana biscuits (I became obsessed with this over the next 6 days). I kept checking with the airline about the status of my bags because I had initially wanted to go and explore but had to be around to pick up my luggage from the lobby. I ended up losing that first day because of my bag but I was pleased it arrived in the end. Later that night I had randomly met two Germans guys that were in the hotel overnight and were fantastically friendly.  We had a few drinks together at the bar before I had an early night.

My next few days were filled with taking in touristy spots, eating and drinking (more than I should have), basking in the culture and friendliness of the south! I have never come across people as friendly as I did while in Louisiana! From the bus ticket lady, the driver of the bus, the guy renovating the hotel and random people that would come up and talk to me. Funny story: while on the Greyhound Bus (destination French Quarter) I was waiting for people to disembark so I stayed seated (super smiles and all because I couldn’t wait). A guy that was seated behind me stood by my seat and said something to me which I didn’t understand (this happened several times). I sheepishly said “Sorry” and he repeated whatever it was he was trying to tell me, again nope didn’t get it, “sorry I didn’t get you”. He proceeded to point at my face smiling and said “You have a pretty face” over emphasizing each word loudly so I could understand him. I wanted to disappear because it seemed like I was trying to get him to repeat it on purpose and make everyone else on the bus hear LOL. Poor guy just smiled after I again sheepishly said “Ohhh Thank You!” 

So the French Quarter was of course visited and a ton of photos were taken. I apparently wasn’t supposed to take photos of things inside the stores (I am sneaky and managed to do so anyways). Souvenirs were bought for everyone back home including a T-shirt I bought for myself (I LOVE it)! Music was listened to and gumbo was consumed. I can not stress enough how much I loved my time in NOLA. As I said before I had this “instinct” prior to even having stepped foot in in the State that I would love the art, culture, food, people, atmosphere, everything and I was not disappointed. 

During my stay I met a completely insane girl at the hotel that was still drunk when she came for breakfast and accidentally sat at my table while I was getting my plate. She wore bright bright bright pink tracksuits every morning, not that she needed any extra attention with her crazy ways and her antics had me in stitches, we quickly got along.  She actually announced to anyone wanting to buy us drinks that we would take the drinks but they shouldn’t get any funny ideas, “we aren’t here to get picked up by you” was the line she would use time and again LOL! 

One evening after my new friend had checked out I was at the hotel bar with my book and phone, chatting to a couple that had been staying in the hotel since August (after the storm) when a guy decided to park himself right beside me. He too was apparently a local and decided to check himself into a hotel to “take a break from everything”. He was polite enough and small talk was made, After about an hour or so I had stepped out of the bar and upon my return found out he had paid for the last drink. I wasn’t too keen on this since I like buying/paying for my own drinks in general, especially If I don’t know you AND I am on my own. Regardless, it was done so I thanked him. Now here is the kicker ladies, he informed me that he was headed back to his room so I put my hand out to shake his and say goodbye. He used the opportunity to pull me into a hug and then whispers “Walk me to my room”. NOW in all my life, I have NEVER EVER had a guy ask me to walk him anywhere LOL. Correct me if I am wrong, it usually is the other way around, and I have no clue what made him think even that would have happen. I polity said I was perfectly happy sitting in my chair and quickly made a beeline to my room when two other guys walked in the bar and yelled” Hey ma’am, how are you, I am thirsty today”. 

On my second to last day I did a bit of shopping (of course) in yet again another HUGE shopping mall. I went a little overboard with shopping during my entire trip (this became obvious when my bags exceeded the limit on the day I was leaving). Anyways so shopping was done while in Louisiana as well. 

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I also met a friend that is a Baton Rouge local. Drinks and a movie were had as part of my last night in Louisiana before I made the 24 trip back home.  

Now, having explained how I had this “feeling” I would enjoy a trip to NOLA I have a feeling that a repeat is on the way soon. I have a tourist visa and the possibility to take a trip again for a little while. I didn’t feel like I got to see enough, do enough, experience enough so a longer stay is planned. My parents actually asked me if I planned to move there since they too knew NOLA was a “I will live there one day” spot. Who knows, anything is possible if you have the desire and opportunity right? 

That brings my “travel log” to an end and all I can say is I had an overall fantastic time in the US. I had a feeling I would like it but had no idea how much I would enjoy myself. My friends and the people I got to meet made all the difference. I have had this “I need something new” feeling for a little while and when I got back home it seems like that feeling has only gotten stronger. Like I said, who knows, a move might be in the works…

Maicurls

Maicurls

Whirlwind Washington DC Day Trip (Travel log 5-6)

29th November 2016 – was the day I decided to be a super tourist and ventured off to Washington DC for a few hours of strolling and photo taking. 

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Qais kept reinforcing that I couldn’t be so close to Washington and not visit it, he had a point. He wanted to join but had classes, so after getting ready in the morning I called my taxi guy. It was the same taxi man that I had been using for the last few days so he of course did the whole “what to look out for” speech, gave me advice on how to “hide my money” from pickpockets and went on about how much he despises Washington DC LOL.

I caught the Blue Line train and settled down for the 40 minute ride before I switched trains to continue my journey to Union Station. I had mapped everything out on my phone, made note of places I wanted to see and knew which train I would take back. I arrived without a hitch and was feeling all kinds of proud of myself. Washington DC here is Mai! 

The first sight I was greeted by was the Liberty Bell replica in front of Union Station which, made me go into “tourist mode” and out came the camera. Just down the road (a few good meters away) I spotted Capital Building (you really can’t miss it), so onward I went.

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To my surprise I saw a squirrel! I was super pleased to see the little furry fellow and again out came the camera. I wanted to get close but was worried I would scare him/her away. To my surprise the squirrel started heading in my direction! Now I was sure I would get attacked or something but I took photos nonetheless. I quickly realized that there were tons of squirrels everywhere so the novelty wore off after a while. I actually had one follow me while I was marching back to the station! (Squirrels like me :D) .

The park along the way stretched on for ages, the trees were so beautiful (even those without any leaves) then while I was walking it started to rain! I of course did not have an umbrella or raincoat (actually do not own one) so there I was marching in the cold wet weather, determined to explore and take photos. After getting sick of walking in the drizzle I made my way to a little food shack. Hot chocolate was had (at first) and then I decided I was hungry so Nachos accompanied it.

Once the rain/drizzle stopped I continued. My useless phone I bought while in the States had a shady battery so I quickly realized I was running out of juice and never like that kind of situation when I am away from places and people I know. I decided that I would save my battery and “wing it”, follow signs, ask people and “make note” of roads to find my way back. I knew I had to see the White House so I just kept going…in the wrong direction LOL.

I of course saw a lot the other tourist attractions during my walk:  the Library of Congress, The Supreme Court, the Smithsonian Institution Building, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington Monument.

Eventually I sheepishly asked a friendly looking gentleman if I was going the right direction; “no, but I can show you”. So off we went while making small talk. Frank lived/worked in DC and he told me all about his job and life. He walked with me for about 15 minutes before stopping to ask if I was married and if I wanted to go for coffee…(friendly looking Frank  was a bit of a flirt). I politely declined, pointing to my camera to indicate I was keen on taking a photo of the White House before heading back. He pointed down the road and said it would be on my right, no more than 5 minutes away.

There must have been some kind of event going on or something because there was a LARGE group of people dressed to kill! It wasn’t raining at the time but for whatever reason they ALL had their umbrellas out and occupied half of the street… literally around 60 – 80 people with umbrellas opened and dressed like they were attending a wedding or something. I wanted to take a photo but felt I would probably get yelled at so I opted not to. Anyways, 5 minutes later Frank was right, I spotted the White House! 

Now, my focus was to try and get as close as possible to the White House to take my tourist photo, I didn’t notice there was a police block ahead (of course). I kept walking, looking around (like a silly fascinated tourist), not noticing I actually walked around a barrier intended to stop me from continuing until I was a stone throws away from two policemen. I must have a knack for giving this “ops silly me” look because both of the police guys smiled and gave me the thumbs up as I shrugged and said sorryyyyyy (holding my camera in my hand) trying to excuse myself as being a “stupid tourist”.

It was only then that I noticed no one else was walking on the road I was on, everyone had walked behind another barrier to the left of the road and all the other tourists were packed together to take photos of the White House. We were not close but still, I could see it! I was asked to take a photo of two ladies and then one of them returned the favor to take mine, mission accomplished and it was time to march back. 

Now, because I was busy chitchatting with Frank I forgot that I was supposed to “make note” of the roads I took. Long story short I ended up power walking back! I had to make it back in time so I could meet Qais for drinks and dinner. I managed to make my train and still had a little juice left on my phone to call my taxi man. Instead of heading back to the hotel Qais told me to meet him at the mall and he picked me up from there.

I had been craving for some real Italian Pizza and Qais being the wonderful man that he is took me to get some along with my favorite dessert wine. We decided to go for a walk after dinner to “help digest the food” and to spend my last evening since I would be flying down to Louisiana the following day.

Louisiana was the last leg of my trip and shall be continued in my next post….

Blissfully Basking in Baltimore, Maryland (Travel log 4 – 6)

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27th November 2016 – I woke up at 7:00am, finally the day had arrived when I would meet my friend (K). We connected through (Napturallycurly.com) and our friendship grew after bonding over the experience of having lost our pet dogs. We had discussed for ages about how amazing it would be if we ever met and that day was the 27th November!

I made my way to the tiny Amtrack Station in Woodbridge, Virginia by way of taxi. My Taxi driver ended up not only coming from Nigeria but had lived in Germany (I am German/Nigerian) so he very quickly became friendly and handed me his card so I could call him in the evening when I was coming back from my trip. During the drive he gave me all kinds of advice and warned me about pickpockets and “rough” neighborhoods, he actually freaked me out a little but I knew I was going to be in the company of a local so I was ready.

It was really cold and I got to the train station a little early (as always) to make sure I would be on time. There was no where to sit and wait indoors so I braced myself for the 30 minute wait. For whatever reason you don’t find out which track the train will arrive at until it gets there so I decided to stand with the rest of the people. Of course, upon arriving it was announced that the platform was on the other side which, involved going up three floors, crossing a little “connection bridge” and going back down to the ground floor. There were a lot of elderly travelers, people with luggage etc. all of whom needed to use the elevator. I legged it across and made it, sweaty and all (because I of course was wearing a thick coat since I was cold) but anyways I made it!

I quickly texted K to let her know I was on the way, the excitement was building with every passing minute. After a little while I got a message from K asking if my train was going to be on time because she was informed that it would be arriving 1 hour late! This was news to me! Of course I panicked a little because we didn’t really have a lot of time to spend together and a one hour delay would eat away our time. I checked online and asked the ticket man who reassured me we would be on time and there was no delay. About 1.5 hours later I arrived at the station in Baltimore. Super pumped to meet my twin (we have a lot in common so we call each other twins) I looked around but didn’t see her. After a few minutes I spotted her looking around searching for me. HUGE SMILES, girly giggles and OH MY GOODNESS were exchanged along with a huge hug! Happy day the twins met!

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K wanted to take me out to brunch first. Now let me explain my LOVE for all things food! I am literally obsessed with eating LOL. K and I both love talking about food, discussing recipes, sharing recipes, sharing what we plan on eating, what we ate etc. So when she told me we were going to one of her favorite spots for brunch I was more than thrilled. We ate at a place called The Blue Moon Cafe. I HIGHLY recommend a visit if you are ever in Baltimore (they have two locations). The food was mouthwatering and the service was great! 

K did the honors of ordering for us and we shared everything selected because (US of A I will never get used to your portion sizes) this cafe had EXTREME portions! I am going to let the photos speak for themselves. And yes I did get to eat some crab (in here smothered with eggs and cheese and everything else) and yes, it was absolutely scrumptious! If I manage to get the names of each dish ordered I will update it here * will have to ask K. (Updated: Top Left – Cinnamon Roll (made with delicious biscuit), Top Right: “Sweet Baby Jesus (yes that is the name – this was the amazing crab dish with yummy cheese goodness) and Bottom: “Captain Crunch French Toast” – French toast coated with Captain Crunch Cereal before being cooked). 

So after we ate (both of us had leftovers…HUGE I tell you), K then took me to the harbor district. The sun was out and we initially wanted to walk but figured she would end up getting a ticket if we left the car parked so decided against it. It took us ages to find a parking spot, tried a parking garage but the price for just 2 – 3 hours was ridiculous so we drove around looking for a place.

We actually got threatened by an insane man in his car! He thought K had attempted to “steal” his parking spot even though she didn’t notice he was parked a few good meters away (he was far away enough that it didn’t look like he intended to take the spot in he first place). Mad man drove up beside us and yelled like a loon, “Didn’t you see me parked there waiting…yaddayaddayadda”. K attempted to explain that she hadn’t noticed him and asked him POLITELY to remain calm; to which he responded with “Go ahead and park there and see what will happen to your car when you come back”. I was so shocked (and have a big mouth) so I yelled “Excuse me?!? What did you say?!?” He was clear, “you heard me”! Normally if I were at home I would have gone off but I was a visiting tourist and my mother warned me to keep my mouth shut unless I wanted to be an arrested visiting tourist on my first trip the US so I left it at that (with a lot of shock and anger pent up)! We waited for him to drive off before looking for another spot, didn’t want to take the risk! 

Anyways after that little incident we found and spot and walked around the harbor which was stunning! K pointed out little spots, places she likes to go to, places we would visit again upon my return, I even picked up some accessories.

Now I wouldn’t be me if something else didn’t happen…my freaking boot heel broke! Now given it broke when I was in Miami (a new pair of never before worn shoes)! I tried using gorilla glue and even zip tied the heels to let the glue set while in Miami, but oh no it felt like breaking while I was away from my hotel and mid walking around! H&M came to the rescue with a pair of ballerinas LOL. 

To finish off our trip we picked up some coffee and headed to the station. I was disappointed that I didn’t get more time with her but K had work the following day, our initial plans  didn’t work out, everything sort of was rushed planning and there were no later trains I could catch directly back to Woodbridge. No matter, I shall be visiting her again in a few months and more time shall be spent together! 

The trip back was uneventful; I caught my train back to Virginia, my taxi guy was there waiting for me, (I realized I forgot my leftovers in K’s car which broke my heart) and I grabbed some dinner before hitting the sack! 

My next trip was to Washington DC which will be covered in my next post! 

Maicurls

Maicurls

 

Mashup Madness in Miami, Florida (Travel log 3 – 6)

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22nd November 10:00 am. I was picked up after Qais’s last course and onward we went to the train station, headed to Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport direction MIAMI!!! 

Upon checking-in what else was there to do but drink and eat. Now that we both were on holiday it was time to reallllly let loose. I was still suffering from jet lag, time difference, sore arms from lugging around my extremely heavy hand luggage the day before but no matter!

We picked a Japanese restaurant to have lunch and obviously were hungry because A LOT of food was ordered! The next move was onto a bar to have (a few more) drinks after lunch since we had time to kill. After two drinks we went through the security check (I hate airports by the way in case you hadn’t noticed in my two previous posts)!

Fast forward to me sitting on the plane and not next to Qais. Now enter me talking in my sleep AGAIN. I had finally drifted off to sleep and suddenly jolted awake to find the guy sitting next to me looking with this smile/smirk/attempting not to laugh look. I immediately knew buying Christmas presents was not just part of my dream but I had yet again shared…this time with a stranger!!! I apparently went on and on about the gifts I was getting my dad, mum and sister according to random guy (just kill me now)! I apologized and literally pulled up my turtleneck to cover my lips in the hopes that it would keep me quite for the rest of the flight!     

After we landed we went to rent a car which was an ordeal and a half with a mix up of credit cards….1.5 hours later we finally got our car and were headed to Brickell, Miami. Now finding our apartment hotel was yet again another ordeal with road construction etc. We eventually found the place and when I say he made an awesome choice I mean he made an AWESOME choice! The apartment was perfect! Clean, nicely decorated, free WiFi, HUGE bedroom with the most amazingly soft huge bed I have EVER slept in, HUGE bathroom, BEAUTIFUL view.

So as you probably can tell, this trip was one of over doing the partying. There is no need to delve too deeply into what we ate and drank since the list would be long (will share a little about it). Qais took me to see “touristy spots”, the beach and A LOT OF BARS and I met some of his old collage mates over the 4 nights in Miami, all of whom were so much fun! I also got to practice my French with the wife of one of his friends (I am so rusty but she was super polite and kept telling me I spoke it “perfectly” and with a French accent). *Buffing my nails* 😉

Aside from being extremely beautiful, Miami is party central, artistic and so diverse in what it offers. We went to a trash bar (trash music). I will say that the bathrooms in that place were trash too….I have never and hope will never see anything like it. As we walked to the entrance one of the women outside yelled “No bathrooms…no bathrooms” we brushed her off as being drunk; I mean how can a bar not have a bathroom right? She was trying to warn us and we quickly understood what she meant. The men’s toilet.was.out.of.this.world (and not in a good way)! Both were one stall each, right next to one another and I wanted to see if their toilet would be cleaner than ours (BIG MISTAKE). Okay I will stop about the state of the toilets but for the life of me I will never understand how certain “things” were splashed/dropped EVERYWHERE!!!

On our third night night we went to a bar decorated as a “beach bar” literally with sand in it (it was not near the beach). I tasted raspberry flavored beer in a Belgium Bar (I am not a beer drinker but this stuff was delicious), and was recommended by the super friendly bar guy. An Irish and English bar was also visited along with a Mexican Restaurant where they prepared fresh guacamole in front of us at the table. 

My first Thanksgiving was also spent in Miami. Qais and I ended up sharing a “Thanksgiving for two” at a super fancy Italian Restaurant and when I say I was stuffed, I was stuffed! It was a three course meal that of course included super succulent Turkey with Rosti, Brussle Sprouts and a whole heap more as the main course; followed by pumpkin pie for desert. (I don’t know how I forgot to take pictures since I took photos of everything but trust me when I say I was extremely happy)! Again he made a good choice! 

On our last night in Miami we bar hopped (surprise surprise). By this time my body was so confused about everything from my first 5 days in the States that I actually feel asleep in the taxi while we were moving from place to place. I am happy to say I did not talk in my sleep however, there is photo evidence that Qais took (has yet to be destroyed…shall never be seen in public EVER)! 

Part of our bar-hop-marathon included an outdoors bar/lounge. I LOVED it! It had both indoor and outdoor bar service areas (two outdoors), a huge dance floor, beanbags to chill on, benches and tables to kickback with friends. I really loved it but can not for the life of me remember the name. When I am back in the States and on my next trip to Miami (I foresee a few trips) it shall definitely be revisited! 

Our trip back to Woodbridge, Virginia was uneventful; we ate and drank at the airport (again surprise surprise), arrived without a hitch, (I froze again) and got back to the same hotel I first stayed in. Qais took me out for dinner and then I prepared for a train trip to Baltimore, Maryland to meet someone I consider my twin. I can tell you I was exhausted but super excited to finally meet her after what seemed like forever! 

To be continued…

Wanderlusting in Woodbridge, Virginia

Picking up from where I left off…

Woodbridge Virginia

3:00pm 21s November – Qais had wanted to pick me up from the airport but had training he couldn’t get out of it so I looked around for a taxi, no taxi in sight. I headed back into the airport and noticed that I walked past 2 shuttle service desks with guys screaming about their services when I first walked outside (I was oblivious to them before). I quickly found out that my hotel did not offer shuttle services so I had to book one. This is where I got my first “Where are you from? You have a lovely accent” compliment in the States (this came up a few times during my holiday).

After 20 minutes my shuttle number came up and out I skipped. 10 minutes of waiting outside and no sign of the shuttle, I waited, I froze and still no shuttle. 3:30pm I spot my shuttle. A guy walked up with his luggage and handed the driver the paper with his drop off address as I stopped to hand in mine. Immediately, I notice that the driver’s attitude of “Good Afternoon Ma’am” has changed and he seemed….for lack of a better word pissed off. I brush it off waiting for him to carry my luggage to the back, instead he scoffs “bring your trolley closer”! Once on the shuttle I quickly pull out my phone, ready to capture whatever I can when all of a sudden the other passenger and I are flung into our seats. Mr Driver must have had his foot on the asphalt because we went from 0 – 60 kilometers per hour really quickly he didn’t even get a chance to put on his seat belt. The grumpy driver was crossing lanes, speeding (at least in my mind), mumbling stuff to himself…very obviously upset about something.

What should have taken me 30 – 45 minutes maximum ended up taking 2 freaking hours! I later found out the problem was that the guys that arranged the shuttle shouldn’t have put the other passenger and I in the same vehicle since we basically were staying at opposite ends and Mr. Driver was not pleased. He explained of all this after having dropped the passenger off, apologized for being pissed off and made small talk (he actually was nice when not pissed off).

So I FINALLY checked into my hotel and was literally given 20 minutes before Qais arrived to pick me up for dinner and drinks…and then to meet a group of his friends to celebrate the birthday of their friend. Keep in mind I went through a 17 hour flight; Qais does not comprehend the words “take it easy” or “I need sleep”.

Enter Vodka tonics, GINORMOUS Margaritas (the above was a “small” drink) and copious amounts of food. P.S. my to my US readers, how on earth can everything in the US be so ginormous?!?! Your roads, your airports, your food, your drinks everything!

Anyways, back to my first night. Overall it was a really enjoyable evening with a lot of laughs, I really can not believe some of the guys I met were actually doing training (they are all a little insane LOL). So on the drive back I was trying to explain to Qais about my shuttle bus ordeal when all of a sudden I hear him ask me “What??? What does eyebrow lady have to do with the shuttle bus guy”? I literally had fallen asleep while talking to him, started dreaming about going to an eyebrow shop and started telling him about my dream mid shuttle bus story…all while sleeping! (I talk in my sleep when I am extremely extremely tired). I was exhausted LOL. (This incident shall be repeated again…more in my next post). 

22nd November 2016 – After 3 hours of sleep (yes 3 was my magic sleeping number) I had breakfast and decided to walk around while waiting for Qais to finish his training to head to the airport for Thanksgiving break, MIAMI was calling us!

P.S. I returned back to Virginia after my Miami trip so the return will be posted below and Miami will be kept in a separate post.

26th November 9:00pm – I rechecked back into the same hotel I arrived in after our trip to Miami. Other than grabbing dinner and drinks with Qais practically every single night (it became our ritual), nothing much happened on my second visit in Woodbridge. I will point out that the type of cold weather I experienced was incredible! I mean I froze every.single.time I stepped outside!

And oh no I lie, I kind of went shopping while in Woodbridge! And by “kind of” I mean I went all out! My first trip was to the strip mall less than 5 minutes away from my hotel. I had heard all about this amazingly huge shopping mall and was told it was close to my hotel, so when I saw the shops from the car I thought this was the big mall. At the time I didn’t realize that a. this was called a strip mall and b. there was no other stores behind the ones facing the road. So I went hair product hunting and found a stash I wanted to try which, was exciting but I kept thinking how can Body Bath and Beyond and a few other stores be that amazing that “people all around head over here to visit”. Little did I know that this wasn’t the ridiculously humongous mall my friend K, Qais and my taxi guy was talking about. When I realized I was at the wrong place, I jumped into a taxi and was taken 7 minutes away from my hotel to the monstrous mall! SHOPPING HEAVEN! So aside from the hair products and tiny bit of makeup I picked up I also bought shoes (by shoes I mean 3 boots and a pair of “girly” shoes), a bag to go with the “girly” shoes, two skirts, a top and body lotion. I also picked up shoes for my mother and a dress for my sister. 

My last night in Virginia was surprise surprise spent with Qais filled with laughs, reminiscing over the trip, things back home all the while stuffing our faces with food and drink. I ate like no other on this trip…then again I eat like no other in general but push it when I am on holiday. 

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Up next my Miami trip! 

Maicurls

Maicurls

17 hours, wine, excitement & nerves (Travel Log 1- 6 Flight to the USA)

Before I begin to share everything I saw, ate, drank, experienced and felt in 4 States during my first trip to the United States (over the next 5 posts) I shall start at the beginning.

21st November 2016 12:00 am – woke up after maybe 3 hours of sleep thanks to excitement, nerves and my need to: check my packing list – recheck my packing list, pack – repack, check my passport & ESTA papers – recheck my passport & ESTA papers. So, needless to say I woke up tired and excited with a touch of nervousness, knowing I had 17 hours of travel ahead of me (15.5 hours total flight time with a 1 hour layover at one stop)!

Lack of sleep washed away after my shower, I proceeded to get dressed and ready. I decided on keeping it simple (as I always do) making sure I wouldn’t freeze on the plane (as I always do) by wearing a sweater, jeans, flat boots, a knitted cardigan & donning my less than glamorous twists. I knew I wasn’t about to get off the plane after 17 hours in any kind of normal looking “out” (twist-out, braid-out, bantu knot-out)…think messy clown and that would have been me especially without my satin scarf, so twists it was.

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2:00 am – Check-in done, bags checked, hug and kiss to my dad and off I set for my big adventure. Security check dusted without any issues I headed straight to the lounge; thanks to my fancy card giving me access to some free breakfast and WiFi (I somehow always have an appetite). What is a trip without a shot of food and beverage right? And a random stack of face towels…?

So after breakfast was quickly wolfed down off I went to the gate. Nerves started to kick in and then I realized I somehow managed to forget my book (HOW…HOW), no matter there is a book shop in the airport, new book picked up and now off to the gate, book in hand.

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While sitting on the plane I looked at my second boarding card and noticed the time of the flight, (goodbye common sense hello nerves)…why does it basically say I will have 0 minutes to catch my second flight when I land??? Read and re-read the boarding card, check and rechecked the time. The couple beside me are discussing their second flight and how they will have 45 minutes for their connection with a tiny bit of nervousness in their voices. I quickly turn to them “Doha is 1 hour behind us right?” He quickly proceeded to check his phone (could have done than myself…again nerves). “I think you might be right”….I hope so otherwise I am doomed before I get there! “Excuse me (to the air-hostess) Doha is 1 hour behind us right?” “Yes, Ma’am”. Relief took over and I smiled like a crazy clown (I don’t know why I keep referring to clowns I have deep seeded for them) to the couple beside me repeating what the was said even though they heard her too.

Let me skip the pesky details of the really dreadful “chicken” sandwich, slight turbulence (I am no good with turbulence at all think white knuckles, holding breath and praying). And let me get to the “good stuff”.

After landing and going through security (which seemed pointless to me since 1.5 hours ago I just did that; better safe than sorry) I make my way to the screen to see where my gate is. Of course, the other end of the airport! I leg it carrying my oh so (not) wonderful HUGE carry on that weighs a ton without anything in it let alone all my extras I carry on a plane. Marching and telling people to please move out the way (politely) I managed to get to my gate and….yes… ANOTHER security check, but this one was the mother load of checks.

Shoes off, scarf off (forgot to mention the scarf before), cardigan off, camera out and switched on, Laptop out and switched on, phone out and switched on, any other electronic items out and switched on. Through that beeping machine (I really do not know what it is called) and then a pat-down. I apparently must have been amusing to watch because two airport staff guys were standing there with fascination as this went on, whispering like two……ok I will let it go… (I was not pleased as you probably can tell)! Security check done and now everything goes back on and of course all gadgets should be switched off before the bags are stowed away on the plane for take-off.

I proceed to give in my boarding card & get “Excuse me Ma’am but you have to go back through security”. If looks could kill, the guy wouldn’t have been able to finish his sentence. “Um what? Go through THAT (pointing at the line and that whole ordeal) AGAIN?” “Yes Ma’am, I am sorry but it says on the screen that you need to go through again”. “WHY?? I just did all that”! He proceeds to move from behind the desk, passport and boarding card in hand without a word. My eyes are burning a hole in the back of his head. Luckily the pat-down lady saw us “Why is she coming back, she went through”. “Are you sure”. “I just checked her, she is fine”. Nothing else from boarding card & passport man other than “Have a good flight Ma’am”. *HUGE EYE ROLL*.

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I board my flight and I am seated on an isle seat the middle row for a 14.5 hour flight with no one sitting in the middle seat (happiness)! Now I remembered that I forgot my sunglasses after seeing a girl on the plane taking a Selfie with sunglasses on (HOW…HOW)? No, I did not buy a pair on the plane LOL! Enter again the “chicken” sandwich. At lunch time I am about ready for a bottle of wine but I settle for a glass or two. Now enter turbulence! The mother load of turbulence! Think skeleton knuckles, lip biting and screaming prayers (internally lol). I basically got maybe 3 hours sleep on the flight with endless hours of movie watching thanks to nerves, excitement and being jolted awake by turbulence.

After 14.5 hours of flight time, alcohol, finally something decent enough to eat and strolls up and down the plane I land in Washington Dulles Airport. I stepped outside the airport at 3:00 pm on the 21st November 2016 (yes it was 21st November AGAIN time difference is something else, more about this in my next post). I am greeted by 1 Degrees Celsius (33.8 Fahrenheit) wearing my sweater and cardigan. You best believe my luggage was opened and my thick coat and gloves were brought out. Smiling (again like a crazy clown) I am staring up at a beautiful blue sky, feeling the crisp “freezing” breeze and the excitement of exploration has taken over! First stop Woodbridge, Virginia…

to be continued in part 2.

Maicurls

Maicurls