Travel

Things to do before boarding a plane to the other side of the world

Tomorrow sees the start of a new week and myself on a plane to my adopted city of choice – San Francisco. I’ve ended up having to travel to SF almost twice per year since I got my job in August 2015 with this amazing company that has its HQ there. I had been to the US twice before then, so I did know a thing or two about getting ready for long-haul trips (and waiting time in airports) however I really feel now that I’m starting mastering the art of getting ready -both physically and emotionally- for the huge shock that is translatlantic travel.

Union Square, here I come (again!)

 

So here we go in no particular order, I’m just writing down these things as I’m actually doing them today:

  1. Take your time : My flight is on Monday, so I’ve spent the better part of my weekend doing the things on this list. Taking your time is important when preparing for such a long trip, there is no way getting away with waking up an hour in advance and throwing stuff in your hang luggage hoping you haven’t forgotten everything! Even if you are the most well-prepared person on earth, I would strongly advise packing the night before so in the morning the only thing you have to throw in your carry-on is your toothbrush. Otherwise let me assure you that you will reach your destination sans underwear (no, no, it’s never happened to me).
  2. Make sure all your tickets, visas, check-in’s, etc. are in order: If you require a visa for the country of your destination I’m sure that you’ll have already gone through quite a procedure in order to get it, so I’m not too worried that you’ll forget. However, if you only have ESTA to worry about (like Greeks do for the US), it is pretty easy that you forget that you need it (or that it has expired without you noticing – almost happened to me the last time). The best strategy is to check right after you book your tickets, this way you will have plenty of time to organize yourselves and follow any procedural steps in case your papers are not valid any more.
  3. Do laundry: It’s kind of a super mundane task but to me is equally important is bringing all my chargers and adapters with me!! I spent my Saturday and Sunday doing laundry and ironing because going off to a work trip means that I want to have as much of my “work wardrobe” available to me as possible. There is nothing worse when packing for a week full of work meetings and realising that your go-to white button down has this tomato sauce stain still on!
  4. Think hard of what you need with you on the plane and pack smart: I’m thinking books/magazines, snacks and bottle of water here, as well as a few cosmetics you need with you on the plane. I have to admit I looooove flying long-haul. It’s the only time I really get 10 hours to myself, no email, no phone, no way for anyone to reach you or annoy you. It’s the best time to catch up on reading, and that’s very much what I intend to do in the plane tomorrow 🙂 I am also going to prepare a sandwich with healthy stuff I have at home as well as get my Hidrate Spark bottle with me to make sure that I don’t feel hungry or thirsty at the airport or on the plane. Remember: it will be a long day, you need to treat yourself a little bit!
  5. Download the Netflix app: It often happens to me that I’m traveling in planes without individual screens for every passenger, meaning I have to put up with two hours of StarWars, two hours of the Mupper Show, and another 6 hourse of American reality television. I’ve nothing against these entertainment choices, however the one after the other can drive me to an overdose of boredom and anxiety, that’s why I was so doped when Netflix announced we can now download stuff on our phones and tablets. I still haven’t watched The Get Down and I’m totally planning on doing so at this trip!!
  6. Choose your outfit for the plane: Again, this is something I never leave to the last minute. I’ve made too many mistakes in the past and ended up wearing too tight jeans, too short skirts or extremely uncomfortable shoes for 15 hours. This time I’m going with an oversized pair of jeans, my trusted black sweater and my beloved over sized scarf to keep me warm. Wearing a pair of VANS trainers to keep my shoe game comfortable as well. #win
  7. Have your documents ready: Needless to say you can go nowhere without your passport, so make sure it is the first thing you put in your purse. I also always have with me foreign currency and a public transport card/ticket. I usually keep these items in a separate bag so I can always find them quick and neat.

    Little pink wallet from Narciso Rodriguez, purse from YNot?

So, wish me luck for my big trip tomorrow. And let me know what tips you have for before boarding long-haul flights!!! xx

City life

The recipe for a perfect weekend

It’s Friday today, and hopefully you’ll have the chance to get off work a bit earlier than usual, grab a glass of wine with a friend in the sun and plan a thing or two for the weekend ahead.

I often get this feeling on Friday evenings that all I really want to do is stay in for two full days, watch those movies I’ve been obsessing over on Netflix and spend the rest of the weekend cooking and reading The New Yorker.

This is a perfectly legit weekend, with only one minor problem: Monday comes and I feel like I didn’t do anything at all. I don’t feel like I enjoyed myself, I don’t feel like I’m ready to go back to work.

On another scenario (this one hardly ever happens any more…), I go out on a Friday evening for dinner and drinks. Saturday late morning I’m out shopping and then meeting with friends for coffee. There is a party in the evening, where I drink a bit more than I can handle. As a result I’m up around 7am on Sunday morning (yep, THIS is what happens to me when I drink a bit more than I can handle…) with a huge headache and make plans to go to a museum around lunchtime to fight off my hangover. In the evening, I go to the movies to avoid Sunday blues. What happens in this scenario is that I don’t feel rested at all, but am perfectly happy having experienced a pretty full weekend.

(These two scenarios of course materialise when you stay in Brussels. You can always get a plane to Rome for a weekend à l’italienne).

And the question is: when does rest come on top of creating new memories? (That’s how I like to think about partying hard, as creating new memories ;-))

This is kind of a rhetorical question, meaning I’ll leave the “obvious” response to you….

To avoid the conundrum of “what to do this weekend”, I’ve summed up a pretty rad list for you for me for this weekend:

  1. Go visit a neighbourhood in Brussels I’ve never been to. Last Saturday my boy and I decided to take a small city trip to downtown Brussels. Now, Brussels is a fairly small city compared to London, Paris or Madrid, but this only makes us more lazy as everything that requires spending more than 10 minutes in the metro qualifies as a trip to the other end of the world. However, the boy and I were brave last Saturday to go to Yser for some Greek grocery shopping and I was very happy to find the below:
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    A clear blue sky with hints from the 70’s
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    An amazing sight of the St Catherine church
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    A great installation / sculpture in the Comte de Flandre metro station
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    Greek mini cheese pies!!!
  2. Begin MoMA’s free online photography course – I’m really excited about this one and I’ll come back to you with full
  3. Experiment in the kitchen. My plan for this w/e is to make the PERFECT quacamole.
  4. Plan your next trip to Paris (these will be 2 full hours completely wastes on Pinterest, looking at ridiculously beautiful pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Brigitte Bardot and breton shirts by Petit Bateau, as there are completely no plans whatsoever at this moment for me going to Paris any time soon…)
  5. Finish watching Harold and Maude – I love how quirky this movie is, starting watching it last night (but fell asleep), I think it’ll be the best way to fight off Sunday evening blues. If not, I think  I ought to catch The Revenant in the theatre – Leonardo, the Oscar etc. etc.
  6. Pick up the phone and call the friend you haven’t seen in the longest time.

 

Note to self: try to do more stuff that involve culture one way or the other.

Note to self nr. 2: all this planning will go out of the window the moment I hit “play” on House of Cards – Season 4. It’s heeeeeeerreeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!