Here are some photos from some recent family trips. The keychain is from a London Loo Tour. I thought it should see a bit more of the world.
Another IETF, another adventure, this time to London, United Kingdom. When I was planning the trip, my friend Emily mentioned a dance festival in Scotland that she was going to. So I decided to meet her there before the IETF.
2014-02-27 – 2014-02-28
The flights from Boston to Edinburgh were relatively uneventful, though there was some pleasant turbulence over the Atlantic. I took a double decker bus from Edinburgh airport to the city center, and I got to ride on top in the front with a good view.
Emily met me in the hostel I was staying at and we decided to go see Edinburgh Castle. On the way there, we saw two halves of a fake cow. In the Prisons of War (part of the castle), we saw The Worm‘s cousin’s home.
After we left the castle, we ran into Joey, one of Emily’s hostel-mates. We went to a fudge shop that she recommended, then got delicious thalis for lunch. After lunch, jet-lag set in for me and I hung out in the hostel lounge. For dinner, Emily and I each tried haggis (with neeps and tatties) for the first time. To me, it tasted halfway between meat and TVP. I’d eat it again if I were hungry, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. As I was trying hard to stay awake after dinner in the hostel lounge, there was a very boistrous impromtu guitar and Italian song duet.
I was walking around in the afternoon, and ran into Joey again. We sat and talked for a bit, then went to the National Museum of Scotland.
On my way to the dance, I got a bit lost. Luckily, I ran into three women dressed like folk dancers. They were also lost, but less so than me. At one point, we all danced across a street. Eventually we found our way to the dance hall. The dancing was very familiar, though there were a few differences from what I’m used to. I really liked the square dances, because they were taught like traditional squares but were more complex. After the dance, Emily and I got late-night/early-morning pizza at Dominos.
Emily joined me on a quest to find a specific type of za’atar at a store called Jordan Valley for a friend back home. The quest was only a partial success (the specific type of za’atar didn’t exist any more, so I got a different type). However, the experience was great: The store’s owner was very friendly and even made tea for Emily and me. When he saw we were each planning to get a bottle of hot sauce, he told us that his was better. He then proceeded to back up his claim by letting us taste his homemade harissa on some bread. I bought two containers of the harissa.
After leaving Jordan Valley, we then headed over to a pub that was highly recommended by one of our mutual friends. At The Banshee Labyrinth, we each got a cocktail and a burger. I had a wild boar and chorizo burger with bacon, pepperoni, an egg, goat cheese, and pesto. It was a tasty combination.
I took the train from Edinburgh to London. There were some good views of the east coast and lots of farmland. As we were approaching London King’s Cross, I saw a rainbow out the window.
The hotel was a bit fun to navigate, but luckily the IETF Secretariat made an instructional video.
The IETF social event was at the Museum of London Docklands. There were a few really good human statues, and the first one managed to surprise me. Another one was holding what I thought at the time was a Holy Hand Grenade. When I asked her about it, she held it out and squeezed it. Turns out it was a squeaky toy. [As I was writing this, I did some reading, and I now think it was actually meant to be a Sovereign’s Orb, not a Holy Hand Grenade. Shows where my education was.] And here are some pictures from outside the museum:
After being in London for three days, I finally got fish and chips. It was good. I also went to a fun salsa dancing lesson with colleagues.
While eating lunch, I heard a funny line on TV that was something like
Even the typical Scottish weather failed to dampen … spirits. Later on, I saw a TARDIS!
While waiting for breakfast, I saw what looked like a sewage truck drive by. It had
TARDIS Environmental UK printed on it. Apparently, that‘s a real thing.
I took a tour of the Globe, then wandered around the exhibition.
Then I wandered around a bit more, heading in the general direction of Waterloo station.
Earlier in the week, Emily had mentioned a really unusual London activity, Loo Tours. I knew I had to check it out if I had time. So, at Waterloo, my second tour of the day commenced. Rachel (The Loo Lady) was entertaining, and I learned a bit about London’s toilet history.
Time to go home. The flight over the Atlantic was really surprisingly not even close to full. I got a port-side window seat with an empty seat next to me. I had a good view of northern Labrador and Québec.
There were horses and I got buried in snow.
I drove and walked around a bit. The towns I know I ended up in at one point or another are: Boxborough, Stow, Bolton, Clinton, and Harvard.
I went to IETF 88 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. My friend Anna met me after the week of work and we drove a rental car out to the Rockies. Anna brought the tunes. I especially liked Canada is Really Big and The Last Saskatchewan Pirate.
I parked my car at work and took the T to the airport. Normally, weekend mornings have very light traffic. That morning though, the trains were packed because of some sort of parade. I guess I’m a bit unconnected to local sports. On the A319 from BOS to ORD, I saw a glory for my first time. In Vancouver, I got a front seat with a good view on the SkyTrain. Overall, it was an interesting travel day.
After checking in at the hotel, I walked around looking for dinner. I shortly found signs for a promising-looking place. Then I took a wrong turn into a place that had some really good sushi and Korean barbecue.
I wandered into a Japanese grocery store. It had a small section dedicated to maple syrup. For dinner, I found a really good Mongolian BBQ.
I got some pictures from near the top of my hotel:
Since I was in Vancouver, I felt that I had to try a JapaDog. I ate it by Vancouver Harbour and watched the float planes taking off and landing.
I met Anna at Pacific Central Station. We checked into a hostel, made some plans, ate sushi, and took a walk around. On Davie Street, we saw an interesting cross walk. A grocery store was selling a really large box of chocolates. English Bay Beach was pretty. We even got to walk on a dock in Vancouver Harbour.
At breakfast, I asked if my pancakes could be made with chocolate chips. The waitress said she had never heard of chocolate chip pancakes before, but she seemed excited by the idea and said she would ask the cook. The cook had never made them before, so s/he had to make a practice one first. I think that was just an excuse to try one.
After breakfast, we walked around Marine Peace Park. The park was beautiful and the air smelled really good.
Golden was one of my favorite places on the trip. The Island Restaurant had an excellent bison burger, and Anna and I shared a roasted duck salad. The chocolatissimo chocolate cake was quite tasty too. We stayed at the Dreamcatcher Hostel. The lounge was incredibly cozy, with a central fireplace, a black lab, a golden retriever (in Golden!), and a piano and other instruments.
The breakfast at Big Bend Cafe was outstanding. We stopped at two outdoors stores to get bear spray and ice traction things. They didn’t have what we were looking for, but they told us where we could get them in Lake Louise. Then we walked around town for a few minutes before leaving.
We got the bear spray and Yaktrax at Wilson’s like the people in Golden said we would, then we checked into the hostel. We drove up to the lake and walked around in the cool mountain air.
After returning the skis, we drove to Banff for some delicious burgers followed by hot springs. We did a little bit of swing dancing in the pool. It was snowing part of the time, but the air was too hot for the snow to reach us.
The person working at the hostel in Jasper recommended a sushi place called Oka. It was the best sushi I’ve ever had. We got the chef’s choice, and Oka made some very good choices. I especially liked the toro nigiri.
We checked out Maligne Canyon.
Then headed on to Medicine Lake.
We turned around at Medicine Lake and headed back down the Icefields Parkway. First we stopped at Athabasca Falls. Then we saw more bighorn sheep. Next, we walked around near Athabasca Glacier and did a photoshoot. The weather at the glacier was very nice. It was about -4°C and intermittently very windy.
We stopped at HI–Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel for the night. It was a great qualitative halfway point between a backpacking hut and a more normal hostel. It had outhouses, not indoor plumbing. The lighting was battery powered and the batteries were occasionally recharged by a generator. The parking lot was below the hill that our front wheel drive car couldn’t climb anyway. Most importantly, there was a sauna. After dinner, we went to the sauna. For the first sauna break, we stood by the snow-covered creek looking at the nearly-full moon. The next break was for rolling around in the snow. The break after that was for a brief snowball fight. After the snowball fight, two ice climbers from Calgary joined us in the sauna and we talked for a while.
It was nice to wake up and walk over snow on my way to the bathroom. Before leaving, I took some pictures of the hostel:
We back-tracked a bit on the Icefields Parkway to see some waterfalls.
Then we headed back towards Banff to see Johnston Canyon.
After Johnston Canyon, we drove back to Golden via Radium. On the way to Radium, we saw a whole herd of over a dozen bighorn sheep. Back at the Dreamcatcher Hostel, one of the other guests gave me a local beer from Revelstoke.
For breakfast (at the Big Bend Cafe of course), I had poached eggs (with lime hot sauce), bacon, ham, sausage, pan fries, a multigrain pancake, and a slice of whole wheat french toast. It was delicious.
We drove back to Vancouver via Kelowna. The drive was pretty, and it was interesting to see traffic lights and traffic again.
I met a couple from Bavaria at the hostel’s breakfast. They were in Vancouver to work for a bit before traveling around Canada, and we talked a bit about our travels. Anna met me a bit later at breakfast, then we parted ways.
I spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the hostel lounge. A Swiss man told me about the mountains in Switzerland. I learned that a lot of Australians go to Vancouver and the surrounding mountains to work for the winter because they like snow and the Canadian work visas are relatively easy for them to get.
For lunch, I decided to walk to Chinatown to find something spicy. About halfway there, I saw a Japanese noodle soup place that was advertising red ramen soup with spiciness anywhere between 1 and 10. I got the 7 and it was amazing.
I woke up rather early and walked to the SkyTrain station. On the platform, I met a construction worker on his way to work and we talked most of the way to airport. My flights were pretty uneventful. Then I went home and slept.