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Dublin Day 1

Our introduction to Dublin was an interesting one. We received an informal but welcome tour of the city by Ronan, our cab driver, who revealed he’s lived by the Dubin airport for 53 years.

Our Dublin hotel was probably one of the worst hotel experiences I’ve ever had, and I don’t quite know where to begin. So I’ll lay out what happened chronologically.

  • Arrived around 8:30 pm, and the door to the hotel was locked. Not the door to our hotel room, the door to the hotel. Ronan the Cabbie had to bang on the hotel door for us to get the receptionist to let us in.
  • Timoty (yes, spelled that way) was very frazzled when I gave him my name to check in. He asked if another member of our party had already checked into the room, and I told him that was impossible because the only people who were supposed to be in the room were standing in front of him.
  • Timoty revealed to us that another person had been given our room accidentally, so we would be given his room. No big deal, as long as we have a place to sleep.
  • The room was suite-like, with an exit onto the top floor balcony. Which was great. Until we learned that the door that leads from the balcony to our room DOES NOT LOCK. The top floor balcony is shared among all sixth-floor residents so anyone on the sixth floor could walk into our room.
  • Exiting the room for dinner, we came across Timoty who was struggling under the weight of delivering a new mattress to the room next door. We didn’t stop to get the full story, but it struck me as enough of an oddity that I’m sharing it with you.
  • At 8 am the next morning, I woke up incredibly paranoid that someone was in our room. I got out of bed to look around the room, only to find that the balcony door was wide open. Cold Dublin air and strong winds were gusting into our room before I shut the door. (No one was in the room, but it was the sound of the door banging against its frame that had startled me.)
  • At 9 am that same morning, the fire alarm went off on the floor for a brief 10 seconds. It was enough time for me to shoot out of bed, grab my phone, and prepare my shoes. I popped my head out of the doorway where the housekeeper shrugged her shoulders at me and said: “I dunno what that was, it wasn’t me.” So I returned to bed.
  • Between 10 and 11 am, a mysterious door somewhere near our room kept opening and slamming shut. The slamming was so abrasive that it shook the headboard of our bed repeatedly. I have a few theories as to what this door was. Perhaps it was a neighboring hotel guests’ unruly balcony door in the wind. Or more likely it was the housekeeper’s supply room door opening and closing as she accessed the supplies.

Somewhere during my personal hell outlined above, we set out to find a late dinner at a pub Ronan the Cabbie recommended. We walked past St. Stephen’s Green and the street Christmas decorations, and we were impressed. The city had an interesting feel to it at night. Homeless men gathered around a folding table that was dispensing hot drinks and food. There were different street musicians playing. Someone played the bagpipes, and a few talented guitarists were out.

The pub Ronan recommended was strange. With a smoking section on the top floor, and a serve-yourself-cafeteria-style dinner. We left in favor of a loud pub and ordered food as the kitchens were closing. It was a good inauguration to the city for two people coming down with tremendous head colds.

We passed out shortly in the room for the most restless night ever.

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London Day 7

Alas, we reached the conclusion of our first week abroad. It felt overdue, as evidenced by the nasty cold symptoms Kenny woke up with. Already, one day of touring and a 9 pm flight to Dublin looked like they were going to be a stretch.

We took our time to get ready and pack up our belongings, careful to check the safe three times before dropping our bags off with the front desk and checking out.

We went to the Science Museum in London, a free museum, and it seemed like the entirety of the city had the same idea. Between the Science Museum and the British Museum, the lines were ridiculous. We navigated through the exhibits without much concern for what we were reading. I was too stressed about making our international flight, still unclear if Ireland was in the U.K. (I know, I know) and Kenny, having fallen ill, was at a feverish point where his brain had turned into soup. We eventually forsook the Museum in favor of finding Kenny a place to rest and me a place with free wifi where I could check us in for our flight to Dublin.

We navigated back to a pub in Pimlico, near to our hotel, and I ordered us food and stress-ate over making sure we had plane seats that were not ridiculously small for two Americans of average height– a struggle we faced on our flight to Heathrow. We then returned to the hotel collect our bags and bid a saddened farewell to the hotel staff who had become our family, if just for the holidays.

Now, let me sing you the song of our journey to Heathrow. Not unlike our journey from Heathrow to the hotel, our commute to the airport was stressful. Being an avid traveler, I usually like to show up to the airport sometime between yesterday and six hours before the flight is scheduled to depart. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but my mom taught me that nothing is sweeter than the taste of edom to roam an airport, uninhibited by a sprint to the terminal. As Kenny was sick, I tried to order an Uber– but Uber decided that I, a Washingtonian, didn’t belong in London, and shut down my account promptly. I still don’t have clarity on why this happened, but there we were. We had already ruled out taking a cab, fearful that we would blow through the pound, euros, and dollars in our wallets if we wound up with the same type of oh-so-hospitable cabbie on our return that we had on our first day in the city. Kenny advocated– and won– for the Undergound. With minimal transfers, and 20 stops later, the trip was over an hour long. We uncomfortably stood with our duffel bags among rush hour commuters.

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We arrived at Heathrow a comfortable 3 hours earlier than our scheduled flight, around 6:00 pm. A very kind Aer Lingus clerk checked us in for a flight that would take off one hour sooner, at 7 pm, giving us just enough time to spend our remaining pounds on Toblerone and bottles of water at the duty-free shop before boarding the flight for Dublin. We rested on the flight, simply exhausted, and landed safely in Ireland not too much longer.

Coming next week: the tale of our first night in Dubin. It’s a doozy, and deserved its own post!

London Day 1

Once again, I found myself drawn to the U.K. Maybe it was the terrific trip I had there six years ago, or maybe it was the fact that my travel buddy had never been abroad before, and an English-speaking country was a good initiation trip. Before you begin reading, let me apologize for the delay in posting my travel musings two months after the trip’s completion. I will say that the delay allowed me to write, edit, and rewrite these entries, and I’ll argue they are all the better for it. So as not to do an information dump, I’ll post these weekly. Enjoy!

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Our first day was beyond difficult. We both worked full days on Thursday, December 21 before dropping Teddy at the dog sitter’s, and heading to Dulles for our 9 pm flight to Heathrow. We were seated in the middle two seats of the four seats in the middle of the plane– we were in the sucker seats. I had previously ridden in the very tiny Lufthansa seats so I was used to the grueling challenge of endurance. But Kenny was not. Being the height of the beanstalk talked about in the children’s tale Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, Kenny didn’t get to sleep for any of the journey, and his knees were flattened by the time we landed seven hours later.

Exhausted but excited, we went to immigration at 9 am where we split up for our interviews. (We didn’t know that because we were traveling together, we should have gone for the same interview, thinking only that because we weren’t married, we should have separate interviews.) After a slap on the wrist and a roll of the eyes from a very irritated immigration officer, we got our bags and a taxi to our hotel.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more frazzled tourist moment than when our taxi driver asked “Where to?” in his thick Cockney accent. I could feel this Leave Voter staring at me as I searched in my phone for the hotel address. I was unfamiliar with the city’s quadrants when the driver asked me if the hotel was in “Southwest Victoria One.” Perhaps that’s why we ended up paying 70 pounds for that first cab ride– because I was too exhausted to pay attention to the route, and too scared at the 50 pound milestone to say something to the driver. It was highway robbery, or M4 robbery if you like, but I was just focused on getting to the hotel at that point.

We had been up for 24 hours by the time we reached The Windermere, and it was not welcome news to learn we would have to wait a few hours for the room to be ready. We dropped our bags with the front desk and wandered around the Pimlico neighborhood looking for breakfast. We collapsed in Le Pain Quotidien because it was familiar, and rested for a while. It came as a delight over brunch to discover that my work phone had cell service, so we could make emergency calls and navigate the city with Apple Maps and CityMapper. CityMapper told us that if we were insistent on taking a stand against cabs in London, we’d have to use the London Underground to make the 30 minute trek to Wembley Stadium for the Andre Rieu concert that evening. So we walked to Victoria Station to get Oyster cards.

When it was finally time to check in to the hotel at 1 pm, we crawled back to the hotel, and collapsed in our king bed for three hours. It would be the only three hours of sleep we would have in a day that lasted 36 hours.

At 4 pm, we woke up to get dressed and eat dinner in the hotel restaurant before attending a performance of Andre Rieu’s Johann Strauss Orchestra. This concert was the purpose for our whole trip. I’ve followed the Orchestra since I started playing their arrangement of The Emperor’s Waltz in my college orchestra. It was helpful timing that the Orchestra was playing in London at a time that Kenny and I could take off work.

The performance was terrific and we definitely enjoyed it. But nature dictated that we had to sleep. So we used the Underground to navigate back to Victoria station, then to the Windermere for some much-deserved sleep. All-in-all, a less-than-enthusiastic first day in London, but our exhaustion was tempered by our excitement of being in a foreign country.

Chore Division in My Home

via Chore Division in My Home

Read the results: Tracking our chores for one week.

“Did ya nick it?”

The workplace, negotiating, and moving cities: all here on bibbyandthegretz.wordpress.com

Bibby and The Gretz

People move for different reasons, but with each move comes a chance to reinvent. Which is why I was so thrown off when, after starting my new job in a new city, my previous city followed me to my new one.

I don’t have the Boston accent I’m expected to have when I’m first introduced to people. That is for two reasons: 1.) I didn’t grow up in Boston proper and 2.) When I first meet people I am extremely out of my element. As an introvert, I would rather talk to a select few than meet new people each day. Sometimes nerves sneak up on my tongue and I end up speaking The Queen’s English, then have to back peddle that I am not, in fact, British.

I once watched a show called Miranda (which is British) and Miranda Hart says to her best gal pal: “You know when…

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What to do when you can’t negotiate?

Read The Gretz’s terrific reflections on negotiating with HR, or what to do if you are in a job where you can’t negotiate your salary.
And while you’re there, please follow “Bibby and The Gretz” bibbyandthegretz.wordpress.com, I greatly appreciate it!

Bibby and The Gretz

What if you’re in a job where negotiating your offer really isn’t an option? Obviously this can be the case if you’re working at a big retail chain or a grocery store, where their wages are apologetically low and they’re not interested in negotiations. But it can also be the case for other reasons.

I recently signed a contract with my current job through December 2018. While I love this job and the people I work with, and I truly believe that my not-for-profit educational institution generally has the best interests of its employees at heart, still: the person looking out for me is me.

The reason I couldn’t negotiate is one that many people deal with every year but which is not typically considered in workplace advice columns: due to my immigration status, I don’t have much leverage. I’ll save the story of how I found this job for…

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So You Want to Move to Canada…

My amazing friend has imparted her wisdom born of experience into this How To Guide Blog. For those of you considering moving to Canada, read here!

Source: So You Want to Move to Canada…

Navigating Washington, D.C.

Read here to follow my initial thoughts about navigating Washington, D.C.!

Bibby and The Gretz

us-capitol-landmarks-at-dusk (left to right) Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building

1.) Make the decision to move.

I first began my love affair with this city in the summer of 2015. I was interning here, and a lot was happening. Then Secretary of State Kerry came back from Geneva with a broken femur and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The U.S. opened its Embassy in Havana. Campaign season was not yet in full swing.

It was a good time to be in the city and begin to firm up my D.Sea. legs. I learned quickly that the area was not as House of Cards and Scandal had portrayed it to be for women; I was not as well dressed as Claire Underwood nor Olivia Pope and I had the sexual prowess of neither.

I was not completely directionless; I knew I liked to write and I liked international affairs…

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Simmons World Challenge: Day 4 Reflection

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Today was perhaps the most physically and mentally exhausting day of World Challenge thus far. My team and I worked ceaselessly from 10 to 5, breaking only to brainstorm over lunch. We did research, and really tried to think through every important detail of our Swap Meet from every angle. We were able to iron out a budget, potential stakeholders, and the communication strategy for our Swap Meet.

Praise creativity, don’t diminish it. Read about one team’s experiences with a big corporation, let’s just call them “Aramark” *wink wink*, and how our team is progressing on the idea of a sustainable swap meet. Enjoy!

http://simmonsworldchallenge.blogspot.com/2015/01/day-4-reflections.html

Simmons World Challenge: Day 2 Reflection

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Good Guide is a website which allows you to check the health, social, and environmental products you buy. Sustainability is not just about doing more with less, but being conscious of what we consume. 

Read more about my exploration with conscious consumption here: http://simmonsworldchallenge.blogspot.com/2015/01/day-2-reflections.html