Rolling with it…

The art of staying flexible in the planning process.

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At Hampton Court Palace. East Molesey, Surrey, England. Summer 2013.

As promised, this week we’re going to continue to talk about nerdy book travels, although, as it always seems to happen in most attempts at planning, things have shifted slightly since my last post. But have no fear my fellow travel junkies and book nerds alike, while I’m still definitely keeping the nerdy book tour, it’s become more of an extended theme crossing through my travel plans for the rest of my time here in the UK.

When you look at the planning process, there are a lot of factors you must take into account when you get down to actually putting your plans into action. Whether you’re looking at finances, time, distance you’re actually able to travel, and/or simply those basic resources available to you, things don’t always work out as you had originally hoped for and mapped out.

This, as it turns out, is exactly what I’ve been dealing with.

When I started this planning process (as you can see if you look at last week’s post), I was planning on visiting two bookstores in France and then a few throughout England, mostly London and one up in the north—Alnwick.

I’ll be honest and admit my first problem was a lack of knowledge concerning geography. Simply put, I thought that everything was closer than it actually was—I was looking at a list of books and not really taking into account travel time.

As I started breaking my trip down and putting my hopeful destinations onto my maps, I was able to see not just the distance I’d have to trek across, but the transportation or sometimes lack of transportation (at least, cost effective transportation) to get me there. This became an even bigger deal when I took into account the time I’d be able to spend in those areas.

The first thing I thought about cutting was Lyon, France because, as it turned out, it costs more (and with extremely limited options) to get from Paris to Lyon than it takes to go from London to Paris. Therefore, visiting the city for a single day and (with travel time) visiting a single location wasn’t worth the cost.

After this paring down, however, I realized I would have more time to see the areas around other bookstores I had planned on my list.

The one that stuck out most for me was Alnwick.  I know that areas nearby have been used in filming various movies and TV show I’ve enjoyed and (unlike, Paris) I’ve never been there before (not that one trip to Paris lets you see everything the city has to offer!).

But as I researched the main areas I’d want to visit—the castle—I discovered that it’s actually closed until the end of March. Factoring this in, I’m opting to hold off visiting Barter Books until a later date. I’m thinking it’ll be a great weekend trip at the end of March, or possibly planning a larger trip which would start there and then continue up into Scotland.

With that being ousted, I realize I would have more time to explore the French areas on my tour.

Bringing Lyon back and extending the time I spent there, I was able to do a little research and find a lot of very interesting sites which would fill the time, would interest me and would make the cost of travel worth both the time and finance I’d put towards that part of the trip.

Did I mention this was going to be watching me really get down to the details of planning my trip? Yep, but hopefully this is helpful!

But, where does that leave us?

My basic plan as of now is (rather than last week’s jumping around to a new place every day with travel days between them) to split most of my reading week between Paris and Lyon before returning home in time to join my friend on the way to Bath and my birthday trip. Any spare day around the fringes I’ll be running round London getting to see any of the other nerdy book things I can get up to between balancing out my school work and fun.

So that’s my up-to-date plan, but here’s a look at what you guys can expect to see from me in the next month!

  1. Next week will cover transportation and how to best plan a quick trip like this (probably better than I have!), as well as a more in depth look (than my posts last year) at hostels and what factors you should take into account, especially (like me) you’re young, female, and traveling alone in a foreign country.
  2. The week after we’ll cover any last minute wrapping up needed before I head out as well as packing for small trips.
  3. The Tuesday I’m traveling, I’ll give you guys a live travel update/account of what I’ve been doing and some of the sites I’ve visited and people I’ve met (if there are stories to tell, I’ll do my best to share them!).
  4. And then once I’m back and getting back into my school work we can wrap it all back up with details from the second half of my travels.

I know that was a lot but those are my plans so I hope you guys stick around for the journey! Don’t forget, I’ll be covering some of the extra lifestyle bits of this planning and journey on my other blog site Silk Sheets & Grilled Cheese so stop by there if you’re interested and we’ll see you next week!

Until then, stay safe and happy travels.

This is a leaf on the wind, helping you soar.

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Rolling with it…

Book nerd…

The reason I’m in London….

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Lights and London’s eye. The London Eye, London, England. December, 2014.

If you’ve been paying attention, dear reader, you’ll remember that I moved to London four months ago to get my Master’s degree (and travel when I can, obviously). So this week in class, we’re really starting to look into our masters dissertations and, with my focus, this means one thing: major nerding out when it comes to anything literature based.

My focus seems to be settling of comparative history, mixed with industry analysis with a dash of grub street while my elective is looking at the history and culture of books (as in the actual object and construction of books)…

So yes, I’m (being) a book nerd.

But what, you may well ask, does this have to do with travel?

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably continue to say for a while to come: plan your travels to your passions. And that, my friend, is what I’m starting to do.

In just shy of a month, I’ll be on my reading week and, since most of my breaks have been spent wandering pretty aimlessly around London (not a bad thing to do or a bad place to do it), I’m working hard now to be free of school responsibilities and free to wander out further.

This is where the nerd comes in. While I can’t really travel around the world in the week I have off, I’ve been doing my research and there are a few things I’ll be going out to see.

First, I’m planning a Bookstore Tour of some of the coolest bookstores (look and history) that I can get too in the week. While there are lists like this that give you tons of options from around the world (which, hopefully, I will manage to get out too eventually!), I’ve narrowed my field to stops in England and France.

I’ve been to both of these countries before and plan to go again, so making a few day trips out and about to spend the day wandering to and around bookshops doesn’t seem like a waste of travel days—it’s all about the experience!

Right now, I’m looking at Barter Books, Stanfords (cause how can I not check out a store for travel-centric books?), Hatchards (Piccadilly’s, of course, for the history), and Daunt Books throughout London and (more broadly) England, and Le Bal de Ardents and (one of the highlights) Shakespeare and Company in France.

During this time, I’ll also be finding the location of the extinct “Grub Street”, which is framing my dissertation, and then I’m off to Bath for a belated birthday, to see one of Box Tale Soup‘s literary productions. That week, they are putting on puppet enactments of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” for children’s theatre; and M.R. James’ “Casting the Runes” which are both supposed to be brilliant. I’m sad they aren’t doing Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” at this time, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for other chances!

So, that’s my nerdy plan and I’ll be updating you on my comings and goings, as well as any adventures unfolding in the next couple of weeks and remember: life’s too short not to follow your passions, even if they lead to a week of running in and out of bookshops!

Cheers!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

Book nerd…

Held in Customs.

The long wait to avoid…

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 Walk along the river. River Thames, London, England. December 2014.

Well, dear readers, I am happy to announce, after two months of being without a phone (the kind that doesn’t cost you for everything you do and existed before cellphones could “flip”), my phone will be back in my possession by tomorrow afternoon. To say I’m excited is a major understatement.

What I’ve learned from this whole fiasco is something I talked about in my packing adventures back in September: shipping will rob you blind.

If you remember, I talked about my debate between bringing an extra suitcase which weighed just under the maximum limit (50 pounds) and shipping a few boxes so I wouldn’t be burdened carrying the extra suitcase while moving into my new flat. The extra bag cost me between 50 and 85 dollars, but I had everything I needed the moment I arrived. My mother was able to bring my guitar over for free as an extra by checking it at the gate for safekeeping when she visited.

Continuing from the phone fiasco, my phone—along with a few other items from home, since we’re shipping around Christmas—in a box around the size of a pair of boots’ ended up costing just shy of 285-300 dollars in shipping and customs fees alone. How, you might ask? Well, with about 60 dollars to get my phone home, about 150 dollars to ship and cover everything, and another 75 dollars give or take to get the box out of customs (and their surprising extra fees), everything just starts to add up (and we’re not counting the various cost of replacement items from a music player, watch, and camera I had bought to replace all the things my phone used to do).

So, what to do if you are away from home long enough to need something shipped to you?

In my case, I should have started by getting some insurance in London for the things I would definitely need replaced if something happened to them – that way I could have replace the phone right away. Or, if you haven’t done that, contact your insurance and see if there’s a way to replace what you need wherever you are and get reimburse for what you plan covers. Either of these will save you money and get you the replacement faster than dealing with shipping.

Even if whatever you need can’t be dealt with through insurance, you should compare the cost of buying replacements where you’re staying to the cost of sending whatever it is you had at home. Do your research but count on things going wrong and round up any possible costs in terms of shipping—everyone I know has had trouble with it this year, so it’s not just bad luck.

When it comes to people wanting to ship you things (like presents for the holidays or birthdays, or other gift-giving events) avoid having your packages travel internationally. If someone is going to visit, have them pack it (it’s a great excuse—ask my mom and the guitar which I know have in my room!).

If no one’s planning a trip out, think about giving your account information—such as amazon—to the person sending you the gift. If you are somewhere long term—which I hope you are if you are having things sent to you and not just send things out—you are most likely going to set up a local account. That’s the account you give them and they’ll be able to input their payment method and purchase an item to ship that is already in your area—no international travel necessary. Just make sure not to open those email reminders if it’s a surprise and delete their payment info later so you don’t accidentally use their card later! This is how my mom got me my Christmas presents this year and it was super quick and easy.

If shipping like this isn’t an option either, remember money and a card is simple and easily shipped, and it is always appreciated.

Besides monetary issues, shipping also comes with some serious time issues, especially when moving internationally.

Like I said, I’ve been without my phone for two months now (half the time I have lived here!) but most (well more like just over half) of that time, the trouble was getting things done back home, not shipping issues. My parents shipped my parcel out on December 19th from Southern California and it’s scheduled to be dropped off at my London flat tomorrow, January 14th. Yep that’s almost a whole month.

My customs payment was also handled through a third party which was convenient because, at least, I could pay online and I didn’t have to go and find the post office/ customs office that was holding my parcel as other friends did. However, here’s where to take note: when you pay your ridiculous customs fee so your items can be released, if you are given the option to deliver the next day, say yes. As it turns out, despite you paying for your property to be released, if you do not state that you want your package delivered, your package will go into holding until you directly request its release. On top of this, you will only discover this extra hoop when you get tired of waiting and track your package online. While you get an email receipt for paying your fee, there is no other indication that there is more to do.

On the upside, the girl on the phone was very nice and got my package released promptly; A very small silver lining but it’s there none the less.

Anyway, my advice, if something has to travel internationally, and it’s not accompanied by a friendly face that will be staying with you for a bit as well, avoid shipping it.

Well, until, next time, travel well.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Held in Customs.

River Walking

A great way to see a city.

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River Walking. River Thames, London, England. December 2014.

As I’ve been cooped up for the past few days working on assignments as the semester approaches, I’ve been thinking about water.

While tours of a city or visits to historic or cultural places are great, one of the great joys I’ve found while traveling from LA to Dublin to Inverness to London and many places in between, has been walking along the river ways.

Rivers are a major part of my city exploration. Between the marketlife and the picturesque views along the water, I love spending a day of travels slowing down to explore these areas which usually hold historical significance (remember, cities build up around water as they can’t function without it!).

I’ve been to a lot of cities and have walked along many rivers and streams while exploring them, and whether they are the slowly revitalized trails along the LA River; the busy thoroughfares surrounded by traffic in central Dublin; the beautiful green-scape and decorative walking bridges of the River Ness; or the market and destination rich walkways along the Thames, there is something to be said about the life down by the river.

In my opinion, you can tell a lot about the make up, the history, and the heartbeat of a place from the waterway. In LA, the green projects tell a story of a world of concrete slowly trying to find a balance with community and nature that speaks to hope and change. In London, the world by the water is like the manifestation of things changing and staying the same; you may see a building everyday but there is bound to be one person standing there in awe, seeing it for the first time.

In the four months I’ve lived in London, I have walked along most of the riverscape many times, but soon I’m planning a day to walk all the bridges and spend the day by the water. It’ll be a day of comfy clothes, sturdy shoes, and a camera, but the sore legs are worth the hours of seeing the city, and not just the sights as advertised in travel brochures.

This is an adventure I truly recommend to anyone with the day to spend taking in  the city but without the pressure to go out and DO things.

For a girl like me, it also helps that following the river back lets me get home in a unfamiliar city just by keeping to the water’s edge.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar

River Walking