Posts Tagged laundry

5 Things I Missed in South America

Sometimes you get used to things — things that seem commonplace and make your daily life easier. But some of those things were missing on our South American Adventure.

This is merely based on my experience of eight weeks in three South American countries — Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. I can’t speak for all of South America or even the totality of the countries I visited. But these are the five things I missed most during my travels…

Read the rest of this entry »

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Packing List Reflection

Early in our 30/40 World Tour, I posted a list of what I packed.  Since our return, one of my readers asked how well those items worked for me as I traveled.  Did I use all of it?  Was anything missing?

Overall, I think we did a good job of packing useful items.  We brought versatile clothing that got used over and over despite the variable climates.  Since we didn’t hang around the same people for more than a couple of days, no one knew that we had such limited outfit choices!

Electronics

Netbook in New Plymouth

Ms. HalfEmpty using her netbook at the art gallery café in New Plymouth, New Zealand

Our electronics served us well.  The netbook was a great size to tote around and jump on the internet when we had access.  Of course, you know that we used our digital camera throughout the trip, as evidenced on this blog.

The all-in-one travel adapter that we bought at the airport was amazing.  That one compact adapter worked in every country we visited.  Plus, the USB port was perfect for charging the iPod.

We didn’t realize we would need a USB charger, but it came in handy.  Since we used our Mac at home to load the iPod, the Windows netbook wanted to reformat the iPod each time we plugged it in.  Charging with the travel adapter was a much better option and prevented inadvertent data loss.

Thankfully, we did not experience a netbook crash or theft, so we didn’t really need our external hard drive.  But I was glad we had an extra copy of all our photos, just in case.

The audio splitter was great when we were standing in airport lines.  Mr. HalfFull and I passed the time listening to an audiobook or podcast together.  You might ask why we didn’t each use our own iPod.  The answer is that we found it fun to have this shared experience.  It’s like watching a movie or play with someone; you vibe off their reactions and can discuss it together afterward.

I can still remember Mr.HalfFull and I laying on a hammock together on a small Fijian island listening to The Art of Mindful Living.  At one point in the recording, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the sun overhead and the rustling of the trees before he ends the meditation with a gong.  We were completely in the moment underneath the sway of the palm trees, experiencing the gentle swing of the hammock.  Maybe we weren’t as hopeless as originally suspected after our meditation class.

Paper

The passports and tickets were essential since we didn’t travel with a printer.  I actually ended up having to boot up my netbook at certain customs counters to prove that we had plans to leave the country.

The only paper I started out needing, but grew out of was my checkbook register.  Yep, I went spreadsheet digital!

Wallet

Our International Student Identification Cards (ISIC) were invaluable!  We used them to get all sorts of discounts throughout the trip.

Clothes

Ms. HalfEmpty @ Sofitel

The extent of Ms. HalfEmpty’s ability to “dress up” at Restaurant V at Sofitel in Fiji

I think we did pretty well with clothes.  Everything served multiple purposes and was reused throughout the trip.  My dress and scarf allowed me to dress up a bit, however, we did have a few instances when we felt a bit underdressed.

This gave Mr. HalfFull the opportunity to get closer to my uncle, who he’s never met, by borrowing his shoes and a button-down shirt!  But I don’t really think it would have been practical for Mr. HalfFull to have packed those items; dress shoes are heavy and button-down shirts wrinkle.

I also felt underdressed with my shoe selection at times.  But if I could only have two pairs of shoes, I picked the right ones.  Sporty sandals weren’t the ideal dressy compliment, but the crisscross design helped provide a little elegance.

Luggage

Palisades Park

Duffel bags also double as pillows at nap time

Our duffel bags were great!  It was easy to see the stuff inside when unzipped, plus we could clip wet stuff or shoes easily on the outside.  But it was also useful to have a small day pack for the airplane and daily outings.

Toiletries

Towels are generally big bulky items.  I didn’t think we would need towels on our trip, but some of our pre-trip information was incorrect and neither of our small Fijian islands provided towels.  So our towel in pouch purchase was perfect!

Our list of toiletry items looks ridiculously long, but many of the items were thrown in because we already had them and they met our size requirements.  I ended up loving the Crabtree & Evelyn grapefruit scented shower mousse.  I don’t think I ever would have purchased such a thing, but it was a gift.  It always smelled so fresh and the pump produced a perfect lather without a loofah or washcloth (items I did not have).  Plus, it was an enclosed container which was easier to transport than a wet bar of soap.

maxi liner

Fun facts on maxi pad liners purchased in New Zealand

We didn’t end up finishing all of the toiletries we brought, but there were others (like deodorant, hair gel, feminine products, and SPF face lotion) that we had to replenish during the trip.  The one downside of transferring your liquids into smaller reusable bottles is that you still have to carry those empty little bottles back if you want to keep them, which is the point of reuse.  It’s a lot less eco-friendly, but more space-friendly, to buy travel size bottles and chuck them when empty.

I rarely wore makeup on the trip, but I was glad I had my little samples for nights out on the town.

Other

I wanted to do sink laundry often since I only had 3 pairs of underwear.  So I wish we had brought more laundry detergent, as it’s rather difficult to buy in small quantities.  We ended up buying a whole box in Sydney, filling our little travel bottles, and leaving the rest for the next occupant.  I’m not sure if there is a good solution for this since we didn’t want to carry around the extra weight.

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Ms. HalfEmpty eats cereal by headlamp

The headlamps were critical!  I’ve never used one before and thought they were only for spelunkers.  I didn’t understand why I would need anything other than a flashlight.  But the headlamp was invaluable for walking to the bathrooms in the dark while carrying a towel and toiletries.  Plus, who wants to hold a flashlight when you are in the stall?  It also made toothbrushing much easier.  Headlamps are hands-free lights for people who need to get stuff done!

The only thing we really didn’t use was the metal cage and lock.  The original plan was to use the cage to enclose the duffel bags and secure them to a permanent fixture when left unattended in our various rooms.  But we always ended up in private rooms because I’m not much for roughing it.  We did try to use the contraption once, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.  The metal cage was quite heavy and is probably the only thing I wish we hadn’t brought in retrospect.

Verdict

I think we did a great job packing.  Aside from one heavy, bulky item, we used everything in our bags.  No half empty judgements here!

  • Do you usually pack too much or exactly what you need?
  • What are your essential items?
  • Do you pack to be prepared for any occasion from casual to elegant?
  • How do you do laundry when you travel?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Day Layover in Madrid with my “Dog”

We arrived in Madrid early in the morning after our overnight train adventure.  Officially, our hotel check-in was at noon (which is pretty common elsewhere in the world, but is usually 3 PM in the US).  But we were so tired after missing a night of sleep that we hoped they would have a room ready for us when we arrived.

They did!  We enjoyed glorious slumber in a fully reclined position (including our feet) with clean sheets, an abundance of pillows, space to spare, and silence.  Beds are so wonderful after trying to sleep in a full train compartment.

Laundry

On this leg of the 30/40 World Tour, we only had a day in Madrid before joining VaughanTown early the next morning.  The program organizers told us that laundry service would be very expensive at the hotel in Gredos, so laundry was one of our priorities. With 3 pairs of underwear, laundry was a consistent concern on our 10-week trip.

We asked at our hotel in Madrid; they didn’t have weekend laundry service.  We wouldn’t have gotten our clothes back until Monday, but were leaving on Sunday.  So we scoured the internet for local laundromats and wrote down the addresses.

We had 3 laundromats on our list.  Surely, one of them would be open.

Lavanderia in Madrid

Closed lavanderia disappoints Ms. HalfEmpty

The first one no longer existed.  We walked up and down the block, but it was long gone.  The second laundromat was still in existence…yay!  But it was closed for the entire month of August…boo!

Isn’t it amazing that much of Spain takes the entire month off?  Plus, they get siestas when they are working!  I think I need to move.

We still had one final laundromat opportunity.  The third time’s the charm, right?  As we approached the third establishment, it looked open.  Our excitement started to build when we saw people inside!

If you remember our laundry experience in New Caledonia, speaking the native language was rather important in a laundromat.  The same was true in Spain.  Between bumbling our way through Spanish (difficult) and reading the signs on the wall (much easier), we learned that they were getting ready to close and were also closed on Sundays.  So once again we wouldn’t get our laundry back until Monday; by then we’d be long gone.  Super bummer!

So we ended up taking our dirty laundry to VaughanTown and planned to do some sink washing.  Apparently, there are many people who are not able to bring clean laundry to VaughanTown despite the warnings, so there was a special announcement about laundry when we arrived.

Before we were even allowed to check into our rooms, Mr. MC gathered the group in the meeting room to go over a list of rules.  Mr. MC was a young humorous Brit, so don’t think it was a long boring lecture.  There were definitely lots of laughs.

One rule concerned laundry:  we were not allowed to do laundry in the bathtub and turn on the jets.  Hahahaha!  A DIY washing machine with agitator!

I know that rules only exist because it happened before.  So I asked Mr. MC about this afterward, and learned that pair of underwear got clogged in a jet during a past session.  How embarrassing is that?  I wonder if the person reported the broken jets or if the hotel staff found the rogue underwear after check-out.

Lunch

Our short trip in Madrid (this time — we’ll have more for you after the VaughanTown posts, Tracy) wasn’t a total bust.  One of my dear friends from home introduced me to her friends from Kansas City who now live outside Madrid.  Mr. and Mrs. Missionary met us for lunch at El Museo del Jamón.

El Museo del Jamón

Mr. HalfFull with Mr. & Mrs. Missionary at Museo del Jamón

As we learned in Barcelona, Mr. HalfFull is unable to resist hanging legs of meat.  I think they make him feel like a manly hunter.  So how could he resist a restaurant called The MUSEUM of Ham???  A museum where you could eat the exhibits!

He was irrationally excited.  In fact, I think he picked our hotel because of it’s proximity to El Museo del Jamón.  Plus, Mr. & Mrs. Missionary didn’t object, so the location was decided.

I’m not sure if Mr. HalfFull realized El Museo del Jamón wasn’t really a museum or that it was a chain restaurant.  But it was inexpensive and the tapas weren’t bad.

The company was great.  We learned that Mr. & Mrs. Missionary had just come from the protests in Puerta del Sol.  As part of the 15-M Movement (because it began on May 15, 2011), young Spaniards occupied the square to protest high unemployment and the political establishment.  Earlier in the summer, they had erected a tent city like the Occupy movements throughout the world.

Mr. HalfFull and I aren’t religious and we didn’t know that Mr. & Mrs. Missionary were missionaries before we met them.  But we were pleasantly surprised to find that they were not singularly focused proselytizers.  We had great conversations on a range of topics.  I don’t think we discussed religion at all.

¿Cómo se dice “Dog?”

Perros No

Mr. HalfFull pretends to tinkle by the “Perros No” sign

I often call Mr. HalfFull Dog (or Dogg, Dawg, etc.).  I’m quite bad with names, but I don’t think I started calling him that until we were married.  So I doubt it was a name placeholder (like the way my dad calls all 4 of his children “Baby” because he can’t remember our names).  I think Dog was in the media at the time and it just stuck.

So in the French-speaking countries on the 30/40 World Tour, like New Caledonia and Mauritius, I would call him Chien.  Of course, in Spain I had to call him Perro (and practice my rolling Rs).

Walking back to our hotel in Madrid, I saw the perfect sign.  It read “Perros No.”  So of course, I had to have my dog pose with it.

Anglos

Eurobuilding 2

Ms. HalfEmpty @ Eurobuilding 2

Our final activity in Madrid before heading off to VaughanTown, was to meet the other VaughanTown volunteers (aka Anglos) at a tapas reception the night before our departure.  Free food and drinks are always a great way to gather a crowd, but this was probably a brilliant idea to make sure everyone could find Eurobuilding 2 and not be late for the early bus departure.

I was surprised to find that many Anglos knew each other and had already been to VaughanTown.  Many of them were expats from the UK and US living in Spain, mostly as English tutors/teachers.

It seemed like an interesting mix of people.  We were nervous and excited about the upcoming week at VaughanTown.

  • When did you most appreciate a bed?
  • Have you ever lost an article of clothing in a laundry attempt?
  • Have you met a friend-of-a-friend abroad?
  • Do you have a silly name for your significant other? 
  • Have you considered living and working abroad?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oye, Oye, Oye!

Sydney Train Station

Ms. HalfEmpty with her duffel in a Sydney train station

After spending a week on the beaches in Noumea, we headed back to cooler weather to visit the fourth country on our 30/40 World Tour — Australia.  We flew into Sydney and took the train downtown.  But we weren’t the only ones visiting Sydney; Lady Gaga was also in town.

Perhaps that’s why we were awoken at 2 AM one morning to a man shouting, “Welcome to f#@*!ng Sydney, Australia,” from the sound tunnel street ten floors below our room.  I’m fairly certain that drunken outburst was not our welcome committee.

Lady Gaga Kids

Lady Gaga fans in crazy costumes doing a photo shoot @ Sydney Harbor

The Lady Gaga followers were quite a sight to behold.  We watched them pose in their crazy outfits as multiple photographers swarmed to capture the shot.  It’s not the type of thing you see every day.

chocolates

No wonder my pants were sung... look what I was eating in Sydney!

Our hotel room turned out to be a suite with a full kitchen, two balconies, and a washer/dryer.  I guess they ran out of standard rooms or made a mistake.  Score!

It was awesome to have a free washer/dryer in our room.  This was a single front-load machine that washed and dried.  It seemed like a pretty neat concept… until Mr. HalfFull washed my jeans.  Now remember that I only had 1.5 pairs of pants for 10 weeks.  Plus, those jeans were my warmest pants and it was winter.  We soon learned that the all in one washer/dryer uses extreme heat for the drying cycle.  It was so hot that it melted the leather tab on the waist of the back of my jeans.  That made the pants way too snug and I certainly wasn’t losing weight on the trip (although Mr. HalfFull was).

Sydney Walkway

Wide sidewalk through Hyde Park under a canopy of trees

We were only in Sydney for a couple of days, so we mostly explored on foot.  Our hotel was across the street from Hyde Park, which had a huge canopy of trees above an oversized walkway with fountains and monuments throughout.  It was a fun place to people watch and stroll.  We noticed that pinstripe suits are very popular in Sydney.  It was quite a departure from the less formal attire we generally saw in Fiji and New Zealand.

Hyde Park Rainbow

Sometimes even Ms. HalfEmpty spots a rainbow @ Hyde Park

The Royal Botanic Gardens was another green area near our hotel.  Despite being winter, it was still beautiful.  But I think I was most surprised by the colorful birds we spotted flying free.

birds in Royal Botanic Garden

Birds munching on bread @ Royal Botanic Gardens

Our second day in town was unseasonably warm and sunny.  I was quite congested and didn’t feel very good, but I decided to be a trooper and take a short ferry ride to Manly Beach.  I was apprehensive about another ferry ride, but I hoped I would fare better than last time.  I knew it was a much shorter ride, not on open waters, with great weather conditions; so I took my chances.  Fortunately, the ride was uneventful.

Manly Beach

The tiny dots in the water are surfers @ Manly Beach

When we arrived in Manly Beach, we headed to the drugstore to find a decongestant for me.  I read a pamphlet at my doctor’s office a while ago that said the cold medicines you find on the shelves are ineffective as decongestants and you should buy the type with pseudoephedrine behind the counter.  Those are also sold behind the counter in Australia.  So I spoke with the pharmacist to see which ones they had in stock.  She asked me if I wanted codeine!  I didn’t take her up on her offer, but I was certainly surprised that you don’t need a prescription for narcotics in Australia.  Anyway, I took my decongestant pills and felt better.

We spent a few hours walking along the beach and watching the surfers.  Even this half empty girl could realize that it was a glorious day!

Sydney Harbor

View of a sailboat, the Sydney Opera House, and another ferry while ferrying back to Sydney Harbor

In the afternoon, we went back to Sydney and walked A LOT.  We were on a quest to find the best meat pie after reading a review.  We never did find that restaurant.  I was disappointed because I fell in love with meat pies in New Zealand.  Those pies were so delicate, flaky and delicious.  But in Australia, the pies I tried in Sydney were rather disappointing.  Maybe it’s because I was sick, but I don’t think so.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Fortunately this bird did not poop on Ms. HalfEmpty @ Sydney Harbor

In fact, I didn’t like much Australian food.  We always try to sample the local cuisine in each country, but we were generally disappointed with Australian restaurants.  We soon learned that the Asian restaurants were delicious.  I guess that makes sense with the close proximity and number of the immigrants.  So we ended up sticking to Thai and Japanese with great success.

Coffee School

Should Ms. HalfEmpty enroll at the Coffee School?

During that long walk, we found the perfect place for me — a coffee school!  Was it a sign?

Sydney Opera House sign organ poster

Mr. HalfFull at the Sydney Opera House. Is that the only answer? =)

That evening I took another decongestant pill before we walked to the Sydney Opera House to see a play.  It was our 5th play of the 30/40 World Tour… and the worst.  It was such a strange play.  But perhaps this was once again clouded by my sickness, although I doubt it.  On the walk to the play, my heart was racing, my legs were tingling, and I started shaking.  Then I was no longer able to flex my feet as I stepped off sidewalk curbs.  It was such a strange feeling.  When we got to the theater, Mr. HalfFull got me some juice.  After a few sips, I promptly ran to the bathroom to vomit.  Yes, I defiled the Sydney Opera House; it was an accident.

But don’t worry, even though I’m Ms. HalfEmpty, I got better.

 

 

  • Would you dress up for Lady Gaga?
  • Have you ruined clothes in the dryer?
  • Have you preferred non-native food to local cuisine while traveling?
  • Have you gotten sick while traveling?  Did you notice differences in the availability of medications?

Related:  All posts in the 30/40 World Tour series

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Delicious Food & Dirty Laundry

My mom is going to be very excited about this post.  For months she’s been asking me why I only post about New Zealand.  I tried to assure her that other countries would come; I explained that since I had spent 3 of 10 weeks in New Zealand (the most time of any country on the 30/40 World Tour), I would have more experiences to share about that segment of the trip.  But alas, it’s time to move on to our first country without English as an official language — New Caledonia.

Both Mr. HalfFull and I studied French in school, but neither of us are fluent.  I wasn’t particularly worried about my language skills, but perhaps I should have been.  The real problem is that I haven’t practiced in years, so it took me a bit of time to retune my ear.  By that time, our week in New Caledonia was over!

Also, I’m a perfectionist.  When I spoke in French and the other person would respond in English, my pride would shatter.  I would leave thinking about the interaction — analyzing my vocabulary, sentence structure, and conjugation.  Sometimes a fancy verb tense would come to me in my sleep and I’d be armed for the next day of ordering and eating.

Speaking of eating, the food in Nouméa was delicious!  I love French pastries, breads, and cuisine in general.  In fact, bread was the reason Nouméa made it into the elite eight countries on the 30/40 World Tour.

Noumea

Ms. HalfEmpty relaxing on the Nouméa beach while watching swimmers on the dock and Duck Island in the distance

Mr. HalfFull has dreamed of eating a baguette on the beach in Nouméa since he read about it as a young adult living in Hawaii.  How indulgent is it to be sitting on the beach in Hawaii dreaming about another Pacific island?  But he’s been telling me that we had to visit “the Paris of the South Pacific” for years, so we put it on the itinerary.

man with baguette

Old man walking down the street with baguette in hand

Perhaps it was no coincidence that one of the first things we observed was a man walking down the street with a fresh baguette in hand — no wrapper or bag!  Mr. HalfFull’s dream was playing out nicely.

Sandwicherie

Ms. HalfEmpty prepares to order from the sandwicherie in French

We enjoyed our fair share of baguettes as well.  We found a little sandwich shop across the street from the beach that we frequented daily.  It was basically just a counter run by a couple — she interacted with the customers and he cooked.  There was no seating, so we would often take our sandwiches across the street to sit on a public picnic bench on the beach.  The sandwicherie was one of the few inexpensive (but still delicious) food options, which also made it appealing to students on group trips and US military guys in port for R&R.  The sandwicherie had a very specific list of sandwiches, but by the end of the week I was using my rediscovered French skills to create my own ingredient lists.

pastry

Ms. HalfEmpty excited to try a fresh tart from the bakery

We also enjoyed walking to a nearby bakery for breakfasts.  The pastries were so flaky and delicious!  We had croissants, pain au chocolat, and various tarts.

money & breakfast

Mr. HalfFull shows off the huge bills and numerous coins weighing down his wallet while enjoying coffee and a pastry

Many places like the sandwicherie and boulangerie did not accept credit cards, so we got cash quickly.  But the bills were so wide that they didn’t fit in a normal wallet.  I wonder if they sell special wallets in New Caledonia or if people generally fold their bills lengthwise.  We also learned that cash can be quite a weight lifting exercise with so many coins, rather than bills.

With only three pairs of underwear, it was necessary to do laundry in New Caledonia.  Our hotel charged about $4 per pair of socks, so that seemed a bit steep.  Thus, we set out on a quest to find a laundromat.  It was not an easy task.  I’m sure most tourists pack enough clothes and don’t need laundry services while traveling, but we were in a different situation.  We asked around and most people had no idea.  Finally we found someone who said they thought there might be one in a certain area.  We finally found it in a shopping center at the docks.  I guess people with houseboats need laundry service too!

When we arrived the proprietor was speaking with a customer at length.  It seemed like the conversation would never end, so I started to look around at the signs hoping I would find some information about hours and prices, but no dice.  We didn’t even know if the sea of washing machines were self-service or if we needed to drop off our laundry.  I don’t have an extensive laundry vocabulary in French, but once I spoke to the employee (who spoke no English), I learned that it was full service laundry priced by 5 kg loads.  It all worked out nicely in the end; I practiced French and got clean clothes!

  • Have you ever visited a place you read about?  Did it live up to your expectations?
  • Have you tried your foreign language skills abroad?  Did you get frustrated or were you successful?
  • Do you think walking around with a baguette in hand is sanitary?
  • What foods were especially delicious abroad?
  • Have you had difficulties with laundry while traveling?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

Tags: , , , , ,