My “Mac-Sense” Is Tingling

29 09 2008

I am WAY too excited. I read this today.  It was on the front page of WordPress as one of the hottest posts.  With all these rumours – there’s no way they’re fake!  15 more sleeps!

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MacBooks Are Sexy

28 09 2008

MacBooks ARE sexy.  You cannot possibly disagree with me on this comment. So when I heard rumours about a new MacBook being released on October 14th, which is supposed to be better, faster, stronger AND cheaper, how could I resist?

I was already in the market for a new laptop (my Toshiba satellite is not only on its last legs but is too big and bulky to carry to England).  I was debating whether to stick with a PC or switch to a Mac.  I’m not in University anymore so I don’t do any heavy number crunching.  My computer time is media based with music, tv, blogging, videos, etc.  Obviously a MAC seems better suited for my current needs.  And it’s sexy.  An icon of being “cool” in the twenty-something’s world. (i.e. me) I have always wanted a MAC, but they have always been a bit out of my price range, and I was scared about adapting to the new interface.  Now, with the new generation being released right before my move to London, I say “why not?” These new books are rumoured to have trackpad technology as well.  How cool!

As I was making my decision I was reading the blog  One Giant Step.  Jason had bought an ASUS and sent me a link to this blog – Nomad Backpackers, where they had also bought an ASUS vs. a MacBook for their travels.  So now I was stumped.

MacBooks are pricy and I would cry a lot if mine got stolen.  A lot, a lot!  Yet again, I am not traveling around the world, I am moving to England and am planning on having a few trips during my stay there. (Ok maybe more than a few…weekend getaways here I come!)  I will have a house, and will not be living out of a hostel and using internet cafes.  I won’t be dragging my laptop whereever I go, and it can’t be any heavier than the brick I carry around right now. I want a decent sized screen as I probably will be too cheap to afford cable, so the laptop will be my source of movie/tv watching. (Besides, have you ever seen British TV shows? Apart from Coronation Street, I doubt I’ll be watching too many). Also, I want a decent sized keyboard as I do spend copious hours at the computer. *sigh*  Plus, MacBooks are sexy.

It’s a done deal.  Oct 14th (assuming the rumours are true) I will be the owner of a brand new MacBook.  Being the techy geek I am, I’m pretty excited about it too.  Yipee!





Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

24 09 2008

I’m claustrophobic by nature.

So when they told me that I couldn’t leave the country until my UK Visa was processed, I panicked.  That’s 6-8 weeks of being immobile. I’m not even allowed to visit the US, which is just a hop, skip and a jump over the border.  I guess when you’re the kind of person that isn’t used to being in one place for extended periods of time and enjoys their freedom, this confinement doesn’t bode well.

*Panick*

I actually DID have a trip planned to Thailand in early November.  I will now have to reschedule.  Boo.  However, I did get a great tip today.  British Airways give you a free stop to London when you book with them.  So if I buy a one way plane ticket to Bangkok (via London), I would be able to get a ticket back to London free of charge.  I could potentially combine my two trips into 1.  Fly to Bangkok and then straight to London to stay.  That would mean that I would have to drag a years worth of stuff with me to Bangkok when I was just planning on bringing a carry on backpack. Hmm. Decisions.

Do any of you know where I could find cheap tickets to Bangkok from Toronto? I’ve gotten it down to $1200 (with tax), but my goal is to get $1,000.  It will be my last hurrah before I make the move up to London.





St. Petersburg – Final Thoughts

21 09 2008

Warning: This post may be a long one…let’s find out.

My last few days in St. Petersburg went by very quickly.

The main purpose of this trip was really for my mother to reconnect with her old University buddies.  A school reunion if you will.  It was quite cute actually.  10-12 of her closest friends (some that were at her wedding) sitting down over dinner and gabbing over past memories like they are still the school children they are reminiscing about.  It was clearly quite boring for me as I had absolutely nothing to contribute to this conversation.  Instead, I got a cold.  Yep, I got sick cause it’s so cold there! The heating is regulated by the city and is turned on for the city all at once.  It was not turned on yet.  Really. *Sniffle*

The next day, while sick, we took the bus out of town to Pushkin (sp?) where Katherine’s Palace is, and the Amber Room.  The thing about all these palaces in Russia, is that they start to look the same after a while.  Gold, gold, gold and more gold.  Also, they not only charge you an entrance fee to the palace grounds (i.e the park), you then have to pay an ADDITIONAL entrance fee to go into the palace itself. Rip Off! Who wants to walk around the million foot park when its frigid cold outside? Not me, I say. Not me.  Regardless, the Amber Room is really cool.  It was only recently opened in 2003? or was it 2005? to the public after they had finished all the restoration.  Pictures are strictly forbidden in this room as the flash dulls the Amber.  (FYI- Amber is known to have healing qualities!)  Our tour guide (*grumble*) was very Nazi-esque about this, yelling at everyone who even reached into their purse for fear that they would pull out a camera.  She went so far as to snap at an English tourist – even tho she had no idea what she was saying.  I wanted to translate, but then they would know I was a tourist too.  See my previous posts for my its not good to be recognized as a tourist in Russia.

On the Thursday, we went to the Hermitage museum in the morning.  I can’t say I am one to spend a long time in museums.  I tend to walk quickly stopping at only the really interesting things to read the little snippets.  This makes all my museum visits short.  We had a few hours to waste before the ballet gala (yay!) at 7pm.  We ate, walked through more stores.  Since I was still sick, I felt like I was being tortured following my mom through all these endless stores.  7pm could not come fast enough.

Finally, it was time.  What I had been waiting for…the ballet gala! (A ballet gala is a mixture of a whole bunch of different ballets instead of one long story ballet) It was ridiculously wonderful. Like, ridiculous!  This ballet was top notch – much higher caliber than the Swan Lake we saw.  They performed Romeo & Juliet, Esmeralda, Don Quixote (my fav), and more. Also as an added bonus, a lady from Boston was sitting next to us and I finally got to use the English language after two weeks of being partially mute.  Whew.

The day departure was spent mostly for packing purposes, and since we had to wake up at 4am to catch the 730am flight, it was an early night.  On the way home we flew with Air France….on a huge Airbus! It was wicked.  We had seats at the top of the Airbus meaning more leg room and faster service.  Amazing.  Unfortunately, all the movies they were showing I had already seen (thank goodness for my sudoku book)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • I missed the sun, and was glad it was shining when I returned.
  • Russians are not particularly friendly – I guess we’re spoiled rotten with kindness in Canada.
  • I need to go on a diet.
  • Even though I am Russian – I am glad my parents made the choice to move to Canada when I was 6 years old.  Seeing what my life could’ve been made me appreciate what I have all that much more.




Compliment? Yes, Please!

13 09 2008

NOTE: This post is pre-dated.

There was a lot of highlights to my day today. 

For one I got told that I look like Milla Jovovich! I’ll take that! Woo! Goodbye Donna from ‘That 70’s Show,’ hello Milla Jovovich!

Second, I met up with a friend that I haven’t seen since I was 12 years old when she visited Canada.  Our realationship started when some of our family friends in Canada required a translator to translate some letters from their Russian relatives.  She was the Russian relative, and we were the translators. 

Katya, who is 26 took me around the town.  We went to a cool museum where we saw weird scientific/medical findings – and whose name I will butcher if I try to write.  We then gabbed like two school girls over Chinese Food.  We are planning on coming over to their apartment for dinner on Monday, so we can see her mom too.

Another highlight – we decided last minute to go to another ballet! We already have tickets for a ballet gala next week too.  We saw Swan Lake.  Surprisingly enough, I’ve never seen it.  Beautiful.  Minus the two girls beside me who would not stop talking. 

I want to be a ballerina.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Their cell phones seem way prettier than ours.  They also seem to work inside the metro station which is way, way, WAY (like a 5 minute escalator ride way) down.  Stupid Bell Mobility! *grumble*
  • Russia breeds the cutest kids on earth! For real.  They are all blue-eyed little porcelain dolls.  I want one.
  • Most apartments have a telephone booth sized room for a toilet alone.  A separate room with a bath and sink is beside it.  Weird.
  • Am still praying the mullet trend doesn’t reach North America.  Am still too chicken to take a photo of one for personal safety reasons.




I Love Vodka! Vod*hiccup*ka! Vo*slur*dka! Vakdo!

12 09 2008

My feet hurt.  Although I think I’m beginning to hit that traveler’s wall where you can no longer feel your feet and legs, making walking a lot more enjoyable.

We took a boat cruise through the channels here.  The boat accidentally started to leave without us at first.  The tour leader lady starting yelling “Jump! Jump!” Are you crazy, lady?! I’m no Scuba Steve! So, we had to stand there and wait for it to drive itself backwards a few feet to pick us up, as everyone stared at us in disapproval.  Meh, I wasn’t planning on being a stand in for Evil Knievel today.  Anyway, the boat cruise was lovely and as you can guess I tuned out the Russian tour guide and enjoyed the sights.  My mom would  fill me in on the interesting stuff. 

The next morning we went to visit my mom’s cousin.  I remember visiting him all the time in Riga when I was little.  (Riga is in what is now Latvia)  Now he lives mainly in Germany and sometimes St. Petersburg.  He is truly a lovely man and I plan on visiting him in Germany when I’m in Europe again next year.

This was followed by a day of shopping around the flea market where I found myself a gorgeous purse.  Also, McDonalds was frequented today.  Ahh, a little taste of home.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • You like Vodka? So do we.  I now understand.  It’s the only thing that keeps you warm enough through the cold days.  Because there are so many cold days, alcohol is freely bought and drunk anywhere there is a free seat.  Sidewalk included.
  • Want to park? Go ahead, its FREE! Anywhere you can find room.  Side of the road, top of the grass, in the middle of the parking lot.  Doesn’t matter.  Not tickets given!
  • Remember the game “chicken?”  Basically, you stand in front of a moving car and see who “chickens” out of the way first.  If noone chickens, you can imagine the result.  The Russian people play this game everyday of their lives.  Half the crosswalk lights don’t work, and the cars will definitely not even slow down.  I almost lost a toe.




Peterhof!

10 09 2008

I’m still 24.  How lame.

Today I woke up ready to go to the castle where the kings reigned! (I think I was incorrect mentioning of this castle in my earlier post).  Peterhof!

After getting turned around a few times on the metro (again), and then the bus, we finally found our way there. Peterhof was the summer home of our lovely kinds and queens and is bright yellow with white shutters…and its HUGE!  Fountains everywhere in the yard.  Very pretty, indeed. (Can’t upload picture now unfortunately).

Again, buying the tickets for the price meant for the “locals” as opposed to the tourists, we also got a tour included. (tourits dont get a tour – logic in that?)  We put on our shoe cover-alls that you see in the hospitals so we dont bring in any of the dirt off of our shoes – and we were off!  The tour guide this time was elderly and spoke Russian very slow and very clearly.  Bless her heart.  Yay!  The castle was umm…goddy? Lots of gold trim covering every inch of every room…not far off from the Russians themselves.  Nevertheless, the guided tour was very interesting as I learned the purpose and history behind each room.  I had a couple of questions, but even if I wanted to ask them, I was not allowed.  For I was afraid that the minute I open my mouth to speak, it would be a dead give away that we were just imposters pretending to be locals!  All I can picture is my face on posters behind every tourist attaction kiosk reading “Do NOT sell real tickets to this girl – she is Canadian – sell her the 3x more expensive tourist tickets! *Sigh*

However, I enjoyed my tour, and the usage of the free bathroom (you pay here in Russian for public bathrooms) since we ate at the restaurant.

Also, I finally saw tourists! They exist!

After getting on the wrong bus again, we made it home safe.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • The metro here is 17 rubles…OR roughly under 1 dollar CDN. WHAT?! Toronto is 2.75$!!!! 10 rides is 140 rubles…do the math….roughly $4 and change.
  • Cigarrettes can also be bought for less than $1 CDN.  Not that I care, but its evident why smokeing in Europe is so passe.
  • No shove, no love.  Get your elbows up.  Its really the only way to survive.  I realize I’m repeating this observations, but thats how strongly I feel about it.
  • Mullets are STILL cool.  (I thought I would wake up and they’d be gone.  No such luck).

P.S. – I apologize for the horrific spelling – but I’m too lazy to spell check and I’m not on my own computer – so I’m trying to get bang for my buck and I rewrite my stories from paper to screen.