To: Travel – Honeymoon, Part I: Paris (May 12-16, 2010)

“Foreign’s where they gabble at you in heathen lingo and eat foreign muck and worship, you know, objects.” – Granny Weatherwax, from Witches Abroad
One of the projects this summer was to finally get our honeymoon pictures online, which began to prove itself to be a daunting task as we had nearly 1000 images taken over our 2.5 week honeymoon. Justin and I shifted between being the paparazzi which explains why you’ll find shots of beautiful architecture (him) mixed with trash found on the street (me).
We arrived in Paris on the morning of the 12th and left the afternoon of the 16th, which gave a scant few days to get the gist of the city. We were totally okay with this as I had been to Paris before so our goal was to eat, drink and museum hop rather then float around the tourist traps.1 I wrote a summary of our time in Paris while on the Thayls train to Brussels, but what has kept with us is not so much as seeing the great pieces of art and architecture, but the beginnings of a dear friendship with Jon and Alice, who came from UK for their own mini-break to visit us in Paris. So much so, Alice2 and I have already started plotting a take-over of Dublin next fall, which hopefully Justin and I will get to do.
I’ve spent the last few days sorting, cleaning up and organizing the photos up into Flickr and are organized below by general collection, city and by tag of interest. Justin, Alice and Jon all pop in and out of photos, with my promises to Justin that I would only upload photos including him if absolutely necessary. This is why you’ll tend to see the back of my husband or as an accessory to the photo rather than the focal point.
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips (all trips)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam (Honeymoon) (all)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16 (all)
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Eiffel Tower
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Louvre3
Flickr Collection: Over the Pond Trips: Paris […]: Paris – May 12-16: Arc de Triomphe
1. We “did” the Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe and such, but we cruised by and took pictures rather than shell out tens of Euros and hours of our time queuing to get INTO the sites. And oh yeah, French National Guard with machine guns patrolling the sites also turned us off from hanging about longer than necessary.
2. I have a HUGE girl crush on Alice, who is not only a geek but she’s also beyond creative. I love her jewelry, Snapdragon Beads, and totally pimp her out when I can because she does just simply amazing work.
3. Anyone who has museum hopped with me knows that as an art history student, I’ll cut a bish if I see someone taking photos in a museum with their flash on. Thus, all interior shots of the Louvre were taken with the flash off and the color and tone corrected in post processing via Photoshop.

May the 4th Be With You: Lisa and Justin got married.

Lisa & Justin, 1998
Originally, I was going to write up some pithy (well, not really) blog post about how we got here and the decade long separation between the last time we dated and now and why we are getting married. The entry was going to post at the time we were due at to the courthouse, but yeah, didn’t happen. So, instead I’ll go with this: to the left is montage of images that were taken in 1998 with a Logitech B&W webcam from when we were living together in the Bay Are. The images are small enough that blowing them up pixelates them beyond recognition, so it was just easier to create the montage. My favorite image is the one on the lower right, that look he’s giving me — that he’s still giving me 12 years later. Then he would have waxed poetic about how much he loves me, now he’ll wax on that the look is from gas.

Lisa & Justin 2010
Lisa & Justin, 2010

I remember when these pictures were taken, that the whole idea of publishing your life online was still a damned novelty and yet “The Lisa Chronicles” was launched that same summer the pictures were taken. A year after those pictures were taken, we would have broken up and it would be nearly a decade until before we would speak again. We are older & fatter now and I’m definitely more wiser – though according to many who know us claim we have not aged. We claim the sacrifice of virgins, but as this is Detroit, that is getting harder and harder to maintain. We got married for a plethora of reasons: love, legal status so that I can pull the plug if he is on life support, health insurance. People keep asking me if things have changed now that we’re legally hitched and the answer is: Not really, we’re still Lisa and Justin.
So on May 4th, next year and every year after, wherever you are: Raise a glass in salute to love lost and love regained, to the impossible and improbable and to Lisa and Justin getting married.

Honeymoon: Paris to Bruxelles

As I write this, we’re currently on Thalys train 9443, from Paris to Bruxelles, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. This may be one of the few times I’ll get to properly update since none of the hotels we are staying in Bruxelles or Amsterdam have free Wifi. The lack of free Wifi floating around Paris was poor — apparently for many of the free Wifi sites in Paris, you have to pre-register and then login once you get to the location.
For my iPhone, we paid for international data roaming (up to 50Mb) on this trip but you so much as spit while in a another country, you’ve used up a mb so everything has been shut off – data and 3G. I’ve only used data in Paris to Foursquare my way across the city when I could. This is going to be a very quick update on what has been going on for the last week since I only have about an hour before we get to Bruxelles.
Foursquaring, tweeting and other general updating will be done at the barest of minimums for the next 1.5 weeks. Also, all images from our camera are in raw format and I don’t have proper graphic software on my netbook so those will be done when we get back (more or less). If you haven’t been following me on Twitter, here is what you’ve missed:

  • Our flight was delayed due to unknown reasons from Montreal to Paris, which wasn’t so much the issue. The issue was that Delta never bothered to contact me via text or email about the plane delays and I only found out by happenstance when we purchased Wifi in Montreal to find out what the fuck was going on since NO ONE in Montreal, it seems, knew what the hell was going on. None of the desks manned in our concourse for Delta/AirFrance actually HAD people manning the desks. Our flight changed three times, which also included our seating. Now, part of the reason why we booked our trip (in fact the main reason) was that we were able to request and have confirmation for bulkhead and exit row seats on all three legs of our journey (Detroit->Montreal->Paris, Amsterdam->Detroit). I get that due to Ash Cloud shenanigans, flights are going to be screwy, but to change our flight, disregard our requests, not notify us, and then not have anyone available to talk to at the airport? Yeah, fuck you Delta/Air France. What burns, even more, is that when flights were settled and we were ready to board, our tickets that were printed at DTW suddenly were not working at YUL. Air France said it was due to the change over in flight information, we were in the registry and our tickets were reprinted.
  • Due to the above all, Delta/Air France LOST OUR LUGGAGE!
  • It arrived 2 days later, but beating one’s underwear and shirts in the sink and then spending the day wearing damp, vaguely dirty clothes for another run is bleh. Yes, first world problem, but dammit, it’s my fucking honeymoon!
  • We met up with Jon and Alice (from #userfriendly/Twitter/etc) for the weekend and quite enjoyed the drinking, laughing, stumbling, and shopping that took place all over Paris. Since all of us were pretty much in agreement that it would be impossible to do EVERYTHING in such a short amount of time (and to be honest, you would need weeks to do everything in Paris), we just hung out and ate ourselves silly from one end of the city to the other. We also became the masters of the Paris metro.
  • Justin and I actually did spend the entire day at the Louvre, which was not as bad as I would have thought it would have been. Seeing the Mona Lisa was fairly uninspiring (too many fucking people flashing their fucking cameras on the fucking masterpiece that was covered in fucking glass). We did not see the ENTIRE Louvre but we saw a good portion — I also got to knock three Caravaggio paintings of my list, so that was exciting (my lifetime goal is to see everyone of his paintings and I’ve knocked a considerable amount of them off the list since I went to Rome and now Paris). But as for the rest of the Louvre, you get oversaturated with the religious artifacts, the 975 different representations of Christo on a cross and sheer amount of boobage everywhere. Even Justin pointed out that after awhile, you get sick of looking at breasts.
  • Alice turned us into the Le marche aux puces de Saint-Ouen (flea markets of St. Ouen) which was fan-fucking-tastic idea! This was such a brilliant idea and it was a shame we left it for the morning before we left because we could have spent the entire day there and still not have seen everything. I picked up a few trinkets for myself and for gifts while Alice picked up oodles and oodles of beads. We roamed through a good portion of the market and saw everything from used books, post cards to antique furniture and clothes to stall upon stall of Converse, hookahs and the every popular pashmina.
  • My netbook cracked sometime between when we left our hotel in Paris and when we got on the train to Bruxelles and will have to be junked when we get back (which is also why updating is going to be very, very sporadic).
  • In other good news (other than hanging out with Jon+Alice for the weekend), I had a job interview before I left for the trip (literally, the day before) and I have another job interview lined up when I get back from my trip, the first week of June. I’m getting the job interviews — I just need someone to FUCKING GIVE ME A JOB!

So, that’s a nutshell of what we’ve been doing (other than eating and drinking bad beer and hanging out at expat bars around Paris).
à bientôt!’

Dear internets: please help me plan our honeymoon [Poll]

When Justin and I decided to get married, we were in agreement that we only wanted to have a city hall wedding so we could use our cash for a killer honeymoon. Despite the commentary from our families (more mine than his) and friends (again, more mine than his) requesting that we at least have a small reception, we are still sticking to our guns in regards that we are going to get the JOP treatment, not have a reception and just flutter off to the great unknown for a few weeks.
So, then, what’s the problem?
Well there are a few:

  1. Timing: Justin’s upper echelons management have decreed that no one can take vacation or personal time after June 18th due to some shenanigans that may be occurring. Since we also do not know where we will be living or if I’ll have a job after that time date, planning a later honeymoon is not feasible for us. Since I’ll be done with school AND my job as of May 7, we figured we might as well use that time to do this. So, we can only go after May 7 and be back no later than June 17th. Which leads into…
  2. Cost: We have a pretty healthy honeymoon budget, but, as we can only go in May/early June, this is also the beginning of the tourist season in most locations we’re interested in. Flight costs are also jacked up as evidence of my search this past weekend (using Kayak, Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline as well as airline website). Justin is 6’6″ and I’m nearly 6′ – we thought, “Hey! We’ll fly first class! It’s our honeymoon!” Yeah — that thought process was totally rejected after searching at aforementioned sites and discovering that we can get coach seats for about $1K USD each but to go first class? Cost skyrockets to (on average) $5K USD per person. In some cases, some airlines were charging taxes that were nearly half the cost of the coach ticket (Air Canada quoted me a price of $1K USD for coach ticket AND THEN another $500 USD for “taxes/fuel surcharge” on top of the price). Calling around to airlines to get better deals using our miles and cash combo also produced similar results (and in some cases, more expensive than web offerings on said airlines website). Even buying coach seats that are upgradeable to better class is also impossible as you still need to use miles AND pay another $2-3K on top of the initial seat cost. Buying miles an option but most airlines cap the number of miles and we’re short enough on the mileage that is not feasible. Thus our goal to get 2 first class tickets for under $4K USD combined? Not happening, apparently.
  3. Location: Justin and I have wanderlust — we want to go everywhere and see everything. So one would think that we would have a list of places, ranked in importance. In a way we do, but we decided when it came to our honeymoon, we’d go somewhere were neither of us have been before. Great in theory, but in practice one of us (okay, me) is rattling off what places I REALLY HAVE TO SEE AGAIN. Scotland for the beer, food and beauty. Rome for the culture, food and Caravaggio obsession. England to get my Anglophile on. Brussels? I have friends there. Amsterdam? They know how to treat tall people! But what about Moscow or Prague or Paris or Venice? New Zealand? Australia? We can’t freaking decide!

So internets, I implore you: Where can we go for our honeymoon that we can wander around overdosing ourselves in art, museums, food and drink. and seeing wondrous things. Where our coach tickets combined cost is not the same as the GDP of a small country and that we can find a decent hotel near the heart it all or near a metro/public transport option? Stipulation: Cannot be in North/South America.