Stories on the edge of familiarity
World Tour, Day 268: Let’s Catch Up Using Vegemite Pics!

World Tour, Day 268: Let’s Catch Up Using Vegemite Pics!

Behold, all the Vegemite pictures from the places I visited between Virginia and now! (Minus Japan, because I’m still here).

As I said in the last post, I will write full posts on the three locations you’re most interested in, so after you’ve read this, let me know your vote.

(Note: If you read the last post when it came out, you’ll note that it said it was day 153. That was a miscount on my part. It was actually day 263, making today day 268.)

Without further ado:

Whitehall, Pennsylvania (days 44-55)DSC08141

In Pennsylvania, I saw these dorks (pictured). From left to right: Lori, Caitlin, Autumn, and Matt. Lori sells jewelry, and she’s the mom of Caitlin (who makes freaking amazing art), and Matt. The picture is actually in New York, where we met up with Autumn, who I know from Twitter and who we discovered has a mutual friend of mine and Lori’s who we know from The Puttytribe. (Cue “It’s a Small World After All.”)

Aside from hiking in New York with Autumn, Lori and her kids and I went to see some beautiful and mysterious steelworks, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, spotted wild Tim Horton’s coffee in the grocery store, and went book shopping. And more, but that’s the list of things I took pictures of :P

Reykjavik, Iceland (days 56-58)

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I visited Iceland for the heck of it, because The Illuminated Heart is set there, and I wanted to see if I’d got the descriptions of the landscape right. I stayed in a lovely guest house I would go to again in a heartbeat, and met some cool people on the plane, who I went to see the Northern Lights with. One of them, Matthew Guillory is a photographer, but alas, neither of us were able to get good photos of the lights.

Most of the time I spent in Iceland was me being chill, walking places, and eating food. The only touristy thing I did was the Northern Lights tour and, although I was very tempted to also ride some Icelandic horses, I didn’t have the money for it. One day. Plus, I discovered Skyr, and that was pretty darn excellent :D

Glasgow, Scotland (days 58.5-61)

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I WAS SO JETLAGGED IN GLASGOW IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY. But I was able to meet up with Rachael Stephen (I can’t wait for her next book to come out- I loved State of Flux). We know each other from Holly Lisle’s writing forums. She showed me Conehead, which I totally spaced on taking a picture of later when there was better light, and we went to a neat art and design building.

The Vegemite is pictured at about 3am just before I walked to the bus station. This is probably not the smartest thing to do in Glasgow. In my defense, I did call an Uber, but he cancelled on me a few minutes after starting to head my way and there wasn’t anyone else driving at the time.

Warwick, England (days 62-67)

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In Warwick (after a delightful bus ride, where I saw fields with sheep grazing), I visited Sarah Bates, who is best known for Llamas in Pajamas, and who I also know from The Puttytribe. We met in Birmingham, where she showed me a couple hilariously ugly buildings, and took the train to Warwick. There, we visited Warwick Castle, bought English candy I’d only ever read about before, checked out churches hundreds of years older than Canada, and laughed at a great many silly things.

This part of the trip also features The Great Dental Scare, wherein I went to a dentist only to discover there was absolutely nothing wrong with my teeth.

Bristol, England (days 68-73)

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Several people told me I would love Bristol, and they were all right. I visited Angela there, a friend from university. She showed me the first suspension bridge ever built and we visited more churches, rode on double-decker buses (pictured), checked out cool street art, and discovered unusual uses for hairdryers.

I also learned just how handy fridges and wifi are, as we had neither where we were staying xD

Hastings, England (days 74-77)

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I visited Lizzie Fowler here (yet another friend from The Puttytribe! We are legion), and she introduced me to scampi, which is the tastiest fish ever. Speaking of fish, I ate SO MUCH AMAZING FISH in Hastings, including fish fingers and custard (pictured).

Lizzie showed me a beautiful park, many churches (including one that was technically closed, as all the lights were off, which was exactly the right sort of creepy and awe-ful), and we visited the beach, where I stuck my feet in the water and saw real shark egg cases for the first time.

Hannover, Germany (days 78-136, except when in other places)

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Back when I was in grade eight, I very nervously asked Inga (who was in Canada for a year) to teach me German. We hit it off and I always meant to visit her in Germany one day, which is where the idea for this trip was born. Finally visiting her in Hannover was wonderful.

While there, I celebrated part of Advent and also New Year’s, visited a medieval Christmas market, dealt with all the culture shock that had built up over the course of the trip thus far, had a butt ton of fun hanging out with Inga, went to some beautiful gardens and visited the Hannover Zoo twice (the Vegemite picture here is from my second visit :D ). I also visited Katharina Gerlach one afternoon, who I also know from Holly Lisle’s writing forums.

I also ate SO MUCH GOOD GERMAN FOOD OMG I STILL CAN’T GET OVER HOW GOOD IT IS.

Hannover also ended up being my base camp in Germany, from which I visited all the locations listed below before Australia.

Bremen, Germany (days 88 to 92 and 130 to 132)

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Okay, so this is more in the area of Bremen, but that picture is definitely me in front of the Bremen Town Musicians statue (aka, my most favourite folktale ever). No Vegemite in this photo, as I forgot to bring it with me.

As it turns out, I have relatives in this part of Germany, descendants of my great-great uncle. While they really are German (Mennonites, specifically), they moved to Germany in the 90s from the USSR because our ancestors settled in Russia a few hundred years ago at the invitation of the Czar. The first language of my relatives there in mom’s generation is Russian, though, as the Soviets made speaking Plautdietsch (Mennonite Low German) illegal sometime after my great-grandparents escaped the country.

In Bremen/surrounding area, I celebrated Christmas with my family, met a lot of relatives who look like my relatives in Canada, learned more family history and some of the history of Bremen, and later went back for my cousins’ annual bowling night, before which I took pictures of a lovely wood I went walking in with one of my… second cousins? I’ve lost track of the correct terms xD

Berlin, Germany (days 108 to 110)

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My sole reason for going to Berlin was to see Maria Busque, who I know from the now-defunct Gathered community created by Sarah Bray (she’s made a new iteration of it called &yet Community, which looks fantastic).

Before and after Maria and I met up, I worked out Berlin’s transit system, wandered around nearby all of Berlin’s most famous spots while somehow managing to miss seeing any of them, and discovered just how much language skill ordering at Subway takes. Then we found each other despite me not getting any of her texts, ate at a sushi place, and had an excellent conversation. She is a fascinating person, and I am in awe of the fact that she knows five languages.

Karlsruhe, Germany (days 119 to 121)

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I met Tara Brannigan randomly on Twitter (which describes how you meet anyone on Twitter, really). She was living in New Zealand at the time, but moved to Germany just before I arrived in Hannover.

We tried to visit a palace, but it was closed, so instead we walked around the surrounding garden and bits of Karlsruhe, where she pointed out all kinds of weirdly fascinating, beautiful things, and we wondered what the heck the blue pipe running through the city is about.

This leg of the trip features no other photos, but it does feature an awkward encounter with hostel staff over me misreading the check-out time.

Helsinki, Finland (days 125 to 128)

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Remember how I met a lady from Finland while on the Amtrack, who I referred to as J?

Well, I found a jaw-droppingly good deal on roundtrip tickets to Helsinki and ended up taking her up on her offer to show me around. I stayed with her sister (who works at the publishing company that does the Finnish translations of Shaun Tan’s work!!!!), and enjoyed some wonderful Finnish hospitality.

J showed me a cool building with carvings inside of creatures and people from the Kalevala, Helsinki’s most famous cathedral, an island reserved for walking trails and historical buildings, and Suomenlinna (Helsinki’s sea fortress- that’s where I am in the picture. The Vegemite is not with me, alas, as I forgot to bring it), among a goodly many other things.

My visit in Helsinki also features ICE AND SNOW HALLELUJAH WINTER IS NOT DEAD.

Melbourne, Australia (days 136 to 144)

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Here we meet Lauren Clinnick, also known as The Great Sender of Vegemite. She and I met on Twitter through Tara, and I ended up in a live chat with Lauren about books. We chatted a bit after, which led to her sending me the (in)famous Vegemite and a package of Tim-Tams.

I mostly chilled because jet lag (although it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as when I was in Iceland and Glasgow, I think because of how much light there was), but I did go with Lauren to the beach, a botanical garden, and a WWI memorial. We also saw a play called The Rage of Achilles (after the road rage of Lauren due to awful traffic xD ), and later saw Moana in a kid’s theatre. And, one day, I found myself in the Melbourne library, playing Pokemon Go and reading a book called Reading Egyptian Art, which we can all admit is a very Thea thing to do.

Also featured: kangaroo meat.

Canberra, Australia (days 144.5 to 153)

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Here, I stayed with Amy Laurens, yet another person I randomly met on Twitter (well, come to think of it, I met both her and Tara through Liana Brooks, who I still don’t know how I met on Twitter, but I’m very glad I did). Fun fact: Amy came to Edmonton back in September, only days before I left on this trip, for a book launch. The book ended up being delayed, but she had already bought tickets, so she came, the publisher had a general bookish event, and I drove Amy to the airport the next day.

Amy took me blackberry picking, walking in a great many beautiful places (including a lighthouse that used to be used by the Australian military for target practise), and wombat-spotting. I also got to meet Clare, who I met on Twitter through Amy and Liana. That’s Clare on the left in the picture, and Amy on the right.

Also features: kangaroos.

Seoul, South Korea (days 223 to 229)

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After two months in Japan, I went on vacation with my best friend, Taryn! She and I have been friends since high school :D

We met in the airport in Seoul and, after finding our hotel, proceeded to be ridiculously touristy. Thankfully, everyone else, tourists or not, was taking pictures and selfies everywhere we went, so we weren’t in the slightest out of place :D

In Seoul, we visited various castles, a huge secret garden, a couple different markets, Namsan Mountain (which is a hilarious rendering of the name as “san” means mountain, so the phrase translates to Nam Mountain Mountain), Seoul North Tower, and a beautiful church.

For the last few days of my vacation, we also went to Nara and fed deer in the deer park and various shrines, as well as Kyoto, where we saw the famous bamboo grove and a really old bridge that’s still in use.

Time to Vote!

Which place would you most like to hear about? Or, if you can’t decide that, which Vegemite picture do you like the best?

The deadline for voting is in five days: midnight at the end of June 27th, MDT (I said MST in last week’s post, but I have since discovered that Edmonton is in MDT right now, so that’s the time I’m actually going with).

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