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Tactile Aliveness

by Andrea

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On this blog we share our travel experiences through stories, updates, and photos. 'WOA' is also about traveling into 'aliveness'. For me, that also means waking up dormant senses. I tend to describe things mostly using sight/visual description, and writers are told to engage more senses to try to "show" instead of just "tell".

One time, back in Santa Fe, New Mexico I had a massage treatment where I received a suggestion that when you get too caught up in your thoughts/head, to go "put feet on it." For example, literally rubbing your toes within your shoes to reconnect to the present and "come back to earth". (It helps me, try it if you like.)
One time, in a cenote in Mexico, I was keenly aware of the density and smoothness I felt swimming in the clear blue water. Later on our travels, as we walked along Orange Beach in Pensacola Florida, I noticed how the densely-packed sand felt under my shoes. I also liked how the sand felt at Cocoa Beach, Florida which was solid with a softness on top.

In Reykjavik Iceland, we visited the newly built HARPA Concert Hall/Conference Center which opened in 2011. Its geometric-shaped glass invoked a sort of bubble-plastic texture for me. I also liked the sporadic placement of pastel-colored glass.
I can also remember how the icy snow in Boston felt crunchy when I stepped on it, sort of like a snow-cone. BOS_crystalcove_snow.jpg

Recently, as we hiked up 'Arthur Seat' in Holyrood Park (Edinburgh, Scotland) I felt the stability of the solid stones on the path up the hill.

We both felt the smooth ICE train gliding on the tracks to our next destination.

I consider this new tactile awareness as the sense of touch waking up in new ways that help to remain present, while adding more to my experiences and impressions.

Posted by woa 11:48 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

French haircut in Warrington England

by Andrea

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When we arrived in London, I started itching for a sassy, wash-and-go haircut. Since the pound-to-dollar exchange is still expensive, I thought I'd wait until we get in the euro zone. Then we arrived in Warrington, England on Friday (4/10). I know, we hadn't heard of this city either but accommodations were reasonable, and Warrington was still on the way to Edinburgh.

Walking around the town center I popped into Callaghan's Hairdressing to find out how much a haircut would cost, and if they could take me in. I then decided to go for it. I met Fabienne who is French, and she was able to cut my dry, frizzy, triangle-shaped hair and create choppy layers, add volume, and work with my curl. She was great and I had fun chatting with her about hairstyle, travel, and life!

If we ever pass through Warrington again, I will stop by Callaghan's friendly and busy little salon to see Fabienne. I highly recommend her!


Posted by woa 14:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Lord & Lady Cavendish get Snatched & Showered w/Chocolates

George Reporting

sunny 48 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Warrington, England is one of those stops that makes no sense to me. I mean, it wasn't in our plans to stop there
but it was on the way to Scotland and it was damn cheaper than spending the night in Liverpool which is just
16 miles west. What could possibly happen in Warrington in the few short hours we are there? As it turns out, plenty.
We arrive, backpack through town on yet another unusually warm day and arrive at our hotel which doubles as a pub.
We head out to explore and Andrea decides to get a haircut by a French woman who had moved to England some years
ago. Across the street is a realtors office and I notice that the homes in the area are rather inexpensive compared to
the other UK towns we've been to. Incidentally Americans can stay up to 6 months in the UK. Warrington properties
include a nice 3 bedroom house around $70klbs and rents hover around $1000k USD a month. The
Wifi is much better here and there is plenty of good, free signal to be had. I then enjoy a pint in a virtually
empty bar around the corner and continue more research.

I pick up Andrea and she shows off her new haircut which looks great. We stroll for a bit and decide to celebrate
the new look by having fish and chips, a burger and a pint at a local pub.
We ate what turned out to be a large dinner and finished our beer and decide to head back to the hotel to catch up on some needed rest
before going off to Edinburgh, Scotland. As we walk out, a gentleman held the door for us. After walking
a few steps he asks, "Where you from?" I turned around and walked straight up to him which is something
I don't ordinarily do. "I'm from California, the United States.", I said pleasantly but firmly. This large
man's vibe was not at all threatening but here we are in a strange town surrounded by strangers so I am
always on guard. He began to ask questions rather quickly about where we were going, where we were staying
and eventually led to him saying that he could "show us how to get to Edinburgh for about 5Ls". I was
intrigued enough and didn't sense this to be a negative experience so we followed along with him and his
friend to another bar just down the street.
I quickly remembered the past'kidnapping'which started with the same question in Merida, and now I am feeling
and thinking the same thoughts and going with the experience more openly.

As we walked in the bar, the song 'Hotel California' was playing on the jukebox of all things. However, I felt my eyes widen and my
inner voice again asking, "What the hell is going on here??"

Bill and Harry offered to buy us a beer. We declined since we already had our fill and were tired from the days travel. But we lingered
Bill continued to talk to us and we had a friendly chat for about 30 minutes about ways to travel to Scotland cheaply and
where the Amy Winehouse statue is located in London. Bill (like our friend Maria in Merida) seemed adamant in talking
to us as quickly and as much in as short amount of time as possible. The fact was, I was pretty
beat and ready to head back to the hotel but needed to find a polite way to exit but they bought us some
peanuts and once again offered to buy us drinks! I must have said, "It was nice meeting you but we need to go"
at least 5 times. It was soon clear that Bill must have had a tremendous time in America when he visited because
he seemed hell bent on giving us everything including his reading glasses.

As we started to leave, Bill says he has "something for us" and before we know it we have a box of chocolates to
take with us. I make the mistake of remarking, "Oh how nice! My wife loves chocolates." After that, he reached
into his bag and pulled out yet more chocolate goodies and was handing them to us like a possessed Santa.
I think Bill just wanted to show appreciation to us two Americans for the apparently great time he had visiting
New York and Boston recently. I think, in his own way, he was passing that experience forward by
giving us all the chocolates he had on him. I tell Andrea later that the idea Bill was really expressing was that
we too should "pay it forward" by helping those from places that have been good to us. Warrington, England is now
on that list. So what will we do with all these treats now dear readers?

Posted by woa 04:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Lord & Lady Cavendish Take a Bath

George Reporting...

sunny 55 °F
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We get up the next morning to take the Underground subway to Paddington then train it on over to Bath, England. Once a Roman outpost
over a thousand years ago, Bath is scenic with an aura of fashion and upper middle class living. It's a little bit cheaper than London and much smaller and very quaint. The center piece in Bath is the famous Roman Bath House, a Romanesque style building with a large thermal heated pool in the center. However, you can only see the pool, you can't actually go inside and swim around. I find this to be nothing short of a major tease so we opted to find some bath salts and take hot baths back at our lovely Victorian hotel up in the hill. Our room was one of the nicest ones we've stayed at and the price wasn't nosebleed worthy. The fun thing about Bath (and London as well) was finding the small alley walk-throughs where no cars are allowed and only the occasional local passes.

So Bath is a good launching spot to take a nice inexpensive tour bus to see the stone monoliths of Stonehenge. Stonehenge was never a 'bucket-list' sort of thing but, like Chichen-Itza, it demands to be visited if you are passing by. I suppose a person could look at Stonehenge and
see a series of stones stacked on each other. What's the big deal you might ask? There are still many things not known about this place and then there is the mystery of the 'crop circles' which appear near here. It's interesting that Stonehenge, Chichen-Itza and other ancient locals have
some kind of connection to UFOS and extraterrestrials. Stonehenge, from the looks of it, looks like the work of humans of about 5000 years ago.
Humans, I think, were just beginning to realize that organizing and working towards a massive project could be done collectively. Imagine corralling
a bunch of hunter/gatherers together and convincing them that it would be possible to hoist tons-heavy stones on top of each other would be
possible if we just work together. I could also see evidence of early art-making as well as ritual creation. The best way for me to look at Stonehenge
is to think of early modern humans playing with rocks like a Lego set and somehow finding it inspiring and exhilarating to create something that
would astonish others.stonehenge4.jpgstonehenge_ag3.jpg

Back in Bath, we find some time to read a newspaper. It's an election year here and the paper is chock full of naughty tidbits about this person or that person. Yes, your dog can get attacked by a wild boar and yes, jewelry heists happen in the middle of London. More disconcertingly is to read about the wide-ranging pollution that is currently hitting much of England and Europe. Mass pollution mixed with sands blown from the Sahara and mixed with rain creates a toxic mixture called 'Blood Rain'. Well, we are heading north now in the hopes we don't get blood-rained on. But pollution can get very bad here and people are warned to stay indoors. Another growing problem is obesity which sounds like another American export which it certainly is in my opinion. To see another KFC or McDonald's in the U.K. is just a reminder of the reach of crap-food capitalism. On the bright side, Andrea and I were able to find many healthy food options available in Bath including an all-organic deli.bath_street.jpg

Bath, England is worth your time. The small city center is very walkable and the parks are lovely. Be sure to stroll through the Botanical Gardens as well as the Palace Gardens.bath_avon_river.jpgroyalvictoriagarden_a.jpg

Posted by woa 04:24 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Lord & Lady Cavendish and the Blood Rain

George Reporting...

sunny 54 °F
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While in the UK, Andrea and I have decided to take on the persona of outrageous UK characters we've seen on American TV as children. I've even started to talk like an old, pompous Brit as we introduce this 3-part series based on us, Lord and Lady Cavendish. (Keeping it cheeky you know)

When did we arrive in the UK? Well on Easter no less my good fellow. While we searched for eggs apparently some blokes were stealing jewelry
not far from us. The Dickens you say?

Clearly traveling through England has been the most costly part of our travels thus far. EVERYTHING has a price tag here and I can't say the convenience or service is any greater because of it. I'll get to the cost part and money-saving tips later. Let's talk more about the U.K. shall we?

First, we arrive under unusually warm weather conditions with the highs in the upper 50's. It's also clear and sunny which destroyed the normal dreary aspects of London weather. But there is a looming dark side to this weather as we would later find out.

We took the bus from Luton Airport to a stop near Regent Park in London. Regent is a big, beautiful green space and it was fun walking with our backpacks on Easter Sunday. We walked and watched as the locals and tourists alike take advantage of the nice weather.
Regent Park is close to Abbey Road Studios and, of course, Abbey Road. Inside Regent park, we stop for our first U.K. meal consisting of hotdogs and cider. We head out again and slowly weave our way through the city and eventually make it to our St. Giles Hotel just a stones throw from the British Museum. One of the reasons I wanted us to stay there was to take advantage of the YMCA downstairs. This was the first YMCA ever and is
certainly one of the best all-around gyms we've been to. The St. Giles hotel is also centrally located to many fun destinations.

Because of the nice weather, we were able to resume our intense walking-tour approach in discovering a new place. Our first full day consisted of walking through the heart of Soho then down to Trafalgar Square and eventually through St. James Park and Buckingham Palace. London is an exceptionally beautiful place with green spaces and exquisite architecture everywhere you walk. It was also exceptionally crowded and we weren't quite sure if this was due to the Easter holiday or it's always crowded.
Our next full day consisted of visiting the free British Museum, a walk along the Thames and then a proper fish and chips luncheon. The food portions here are pretty good so we decided to buy just one meal and divide it between us. That worked out very well as even a simple, single meal is an easy $14 USD. There are plenty of grocery stores too so we were able to grab water and fruit to take with us.
We then walked over Westminster Bridge an walked towards Westminster Abbey. This part of London is loaded with history and statues and we take the time to read about the important figures in history. Again, it is exceptionally crowded and we begin to think that this just may be the norm. A walk back through some parks and then into the National Gallery which was our favorite. A nice mixture of paintings and sculptures set in
large, luminous rooms and comfy seats so you can ponder the art or make a Tweet (btw, we don't Tweet).

In the evening we stroll through Piccadilly Circus and then Soho to see the action and the characters the night brings. The city is very walkable but it takes a bit of time to know where to look when walking across the street. Fortunately, we were only honked at once.Churchill_monks_g.jpgBritishmus..ta_stone_bk.jpg

The next day was dedicated to the glory of Hyde Park. Hyde Park makes Regent Park look like Soho Square. In other words, Hyde Park is huge! The weather was beautiful and you really need a day to explore all of what the park has to offer. From my perspective, it is the green spaces that really make this an interesting city to live in. The cost of living is monumental and it is easy to see why everything is for sale and costs much. The free museums are supported by the taxes and Londoners make it paramount that that is available to people particularly the young. If I were
a young child, I would come to the museums everyday and just marvel at the work and let my imagination drift.
If you plan on hiking around Hyde Park, be sure to wear good shoes and bring your own food. Even an empty cup costs $2 USD! We brought our own bottle of wine and sandwiches and would stop here and there to listen to the birds and to the people walking along the paths.

During this time, blokes were stealing jewelry and 'Blood Rain' or nasty pollution was approaching the area. Time for Lord and Lady Cavendish to hop on the Underground to catch a train to Bath, England.

Posted by woa 23:11 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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