Tuesday, November 24, 2009

back from lunch.

disclaimer: on a french keyboard (in italia) which is even more annoying than a german keyboard, so spelling errors will ensue. sorry.


here are some thoughts i've had while wandering around rome today:

  • italian men dress very well. italian women need to take another look in the mirror.
  • i can't quite shake the fact that rome reminds me of southern california. probably because southern california tries to look like rome, but nonetheless...palm trees, pastel and sepia toned stucco buildings, excessive amounts of fur and bad taste.
  • i am going to get so fat in italy. pizza bianca is a revelation. ice cream ain't got nothing on gelato. mozzarella di bufala grows on trees here. truffles are my new best friend.
  • i must ride on a scooter. almost getting hit by one just doesn't cut it. where's gregory peck when you need him?
  • aperitivo! the perfect antidote to negroni.
  • i will never be able to say grazie properly.
  • tourists are funny. watching them pose for photos may be some of the most insightful people watching ever.
  • lonely planet is stupid.
i think i had more thoughts than this, but i can't remember them now.

anyways, this is my second week in italy. italy is stupendous. i didn't think it could possibly be as great as everyone says, but by god, it is. tuscany has to be one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen. perfect rolling countryside. i've already asked my dad if he'd like to be an investor in my future olive business. all i need is €300,000 for a villa and some land and to learn about olive farming and i'm set. seriously. very much considering giving it all up (all being a very relative term, as i am a soon to be pennyless unemployed fashion designer) and having my very own diane lane/under the tuscan sun experience. if someone can come up with a less chick-lit-y reference for this, please let me know.

here is my laundry list of things and places seen, visited or eaten so far:

  • pisa: saw the tower, posed for a goofy photo. shorter than i thought it would be. but it really leans!
  • florence: ate gelato, climbed the duomo, saw the david, walked and walked.
  • cinque terra and la spezia: ate my first bufala mozzarella, hiked the 5 villages, saw a great sunset, first glimpse of the mediterranean.
  • siena and san gimignano: great people, lovely medieval city, cooked for italians, negroni
  • perugia: stayed on a fake farm in an epty hostel, got lost in the middle of nowhere and hiked a country dirt road till i found my way, ate truffles
  • roma: colosseum/palatine/roman forum, pantheon, best pizza of my life, tivoli, piazza after piazza, trevi fontaine...more to come!

Friday, October 30, 2009

photos...paris. backwards.

le sigh.

success! francais!

notre dame.



the louvre.

eiffel what? eiffel wow.

eiffel tower at night! still can't figure out how to rotate. sorry.

oscar wilde's grave. unfortunately i had no lipstick.


les puces - vintage. (rotate please)

les puces - chandeliers.

les puces - shells.

because i'm vain. and moody.

view from the pompidou.

a bathing schizophrenic.

this my friends will be a long one.

still in budapest. love budapest. beautiful city. interesting city. stylish city. happened upon many an interesting boutique, food i can actually digest, a free wine tasting and lovely people. it's a city i thought i might like to stay in for a while. that's now up for debate.

had one of those days. started off with the best of intentions: get up early, get to the baths, see a museum and head out for the evening with some new friends to check out the ruin/squater bars in the old jewish quarter. but things got bumpy pretty quickly. plans fell through, where i would stay for the weekend was no longer certain, and my plans for where to go next were completely confused. bucharest or vienna? should i stop in zagreb on the way? why the fuck am i travelling in the first place, this totally sucks...i get agro very easily sometimes.

had a bitchy email discourse with a potential couch host in vienna which i will now copy and paste for your enjoyment:

Samantha Smith wrote:


i'm planning on coming to vienna next week (dates unconfirmed, but most likely monday or tuesday), and was hoping that you'd have a couch or some free time for me. i'm new to the couchsurfing community, so my profile is a bit limited, but so far i'm finding this a really exciting way to see new cities and meet new and awesome people.

i sense we'd have a lot in common, and at the very least you seem like a great person to point me in the direction of interesting shops, cafes, sights and the like.

hope we can work something out!


__________ wrote:
nope, sorry, no time. besides - i don't like shopping nor fashion. hint to get started: rather write to less people but the ones you could really connect with and try to transport that in your email. good luck and kind regards.

Samantha Smith wrote:

you're so right. as all i'll want to do while visiting your city filled with great architecture, theatre, culture and parks, is find the nearest h&m and blow my cash on the latest trendy pair of acid wash jeans, we really could find nothing of interest to do together. and since i joined couchsurfing to only meet people with the exact same interests as me it would be horrible to meet with someone who could potentially, i don't know, teach me something new. forget the fact that my tastes are diverse, my interests in fashion lay on the side of green, and i'm a pretty open-minded person.

you obviously are in no way obligated to make time for me, and i understand you're busy and cs is a crapshoot, but, well, i suppose i'm a bit surprised and disappointed by your attitude.

thanks anyway,

anyways...after a few too many hours in front of the computer trying to organize my life, i finally headed to the baths. still steaming and stressed and confused, i stomped along the sunny, tree and statue filled andrassy st. fuming and on the verge of tears. a heavy dose of travel burnout and solo traveler loneliness. i'm tired of two day best friends. it's too much work. thought budapest might be some respite from that...now i feel abandoned. arrived at the baths: a line up! could this day get any worse?

no. because after i got through the sea of old lady tits that was the change rooms, i made it outside to the hot pools...an amazing (baroque? renaissance? i don't know) courtyard...slipped into the perfect water and immediately relaxed. quickly made friends with some fellow travellers when we caught each other laughing at an old man with ginormous balls. huge. saggy. hilarious. immediately my day was better. that's the way it always work. every time i feel hopeless, i meet some australians and they make me feel better.

now i'm holed up in my very own swank-ass studio apartment. there's a bathtub and a king-size bed. thanks tibor (my first couch surf host here owns some apartment hotel suites in the city). and i'm sitting here in front of the computer, in my underwear, cause i can (cause when you backpack you can never just be naked), with a glass of wine, gummy dinosaurs and a face mask on and there's some sweet funk-soul tunes on the hungarian radio station and i'm totally content.

still don't know where i'm going next...but i have at least a day and a half to decide...eons really.

therefore, i am totally schizophrenic. but i'm also squeeky clean.

p.s. told you it was a long one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

found my way.

i just reread my last two posts. sammi sounded angry. sammi´s not angry anymore.

after getting the hell out of prague, i headed to krakow, home of the bagel and my first official couch surf. no more australians, plenty of doughy goodness. krakow appealed to me immediately; on a chilly, foggy morning i was greeted by bagel (obwarzanki) stands on every corner, a beautiful town square and smokey student cafes. did you know the bagel was invented in krakow? these are so my people.

i mostly wandered in krakow: the main square with its old churches and the cloth hall, the old jewish quarter (no longer very jewish but full of great cafes) and wawel castle. i´ve been pacing myself on the church/castle sightseeing front so far, so they still have an air of grandeur for me. wawel castle looks like a mixed up jigsaw puzzle of a castle. it seems to have every era of architecture represented in its various towers and courtyards. apparently that´s what you get from hundreds of years of invasions and political unrest. every invader leaves their mark.

then on to warsaw. now, warsaw, she may not be the prettiest girl at the party, but she certainly knows how to show you a good time. the city itself is pretty much as bleak and grey as i had expected, but i stayed with great people (total strangers, i was introduced to justyna through a girl i met for, like, half an evening in prague) who fed me and entertained me all weekend long. best memories (mostly food memories. of course): the view from the university library rooftop garden, discovering oskypek (smoked and then grilled chunks of goat cheese with cranberry sauce) in the old town square, doughnuts (rose jam filled heaven), radek´s feasts around the small kitchen table, and a night out of vodka and pickled herring, beer in an old-timers smokey bar and shisha. great times had by all.

now i´m in budapest, and it´s sunny and beautiful and i don´t want to leave. my god this city is fantastic. i´m sure it will become one of my favourites.

egészségedre! (that means cheers! in hungarian. so far it´s the only thing i can say).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

spin the globe and point....where should i go next?

so i'm in krakow now. i think this is a very cool city. i like it much better than prague, thank you very much. but after i've eaten a bucket of pierogies and thouroughly depressed myself with a trip to auschwitz, where do i go next?

tentative plan that failed. krakow to stockholm to helsinki then back through and around the baltic countries...but nowhere to stay in scandinavia now so that's been postponed.

new thoughts: krakow to lublin (weekend trip with my couchsurfing hosts) to warsaw, skip lithuania, down to romania, hungary, bulgaria...then back to the west for a bit.

or: maybe eastern europe is just too fucking depressing and i will be lame and just go to italy.

or: maybe eastern europe is too fucking depressing and i'll just go to turkey. thoughts on turkey in the off season?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

fuck you prague.

that's what i wanted to call this post about 5 hours ago, as i walked through the soggy streets of prague composing an angry rant in my head. too many tourists. too many dumb fucks in my hostel. too much rain. what do people do here? a church is a church is a castle is a church. that sort of thing.

needless to say, i've mellowed out a bit since then. i've been in prague for about three days now, and i gotta say...it's beautiful, beyond picturesque, haven't seen a city like it yet...but it's not really doing much for me beyond that. it feels almost like a cartoon city. too many pastel coloured buildings i guess. too many tourists. do any czech people actually live here? maybe i just can't shake off berlin.

that being said, i am determined to make the most of my next few days. i will eat goulash. i will go on a day trip to kutna hora and see the Church of Bones. i will go to the ballet. i will drink pilsner in smokey bars with old czech men. and goddammit, i'm going to like it.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

quick update #1

More things I like about Berlin:

-cold cuts for breakfast
-beer (large bottles, dirt cheap)
-kaffee und küchen
-bodemuseum (lovely lovely sculpture museum)
-berlinische gallery (amazing modern art museum)
-helmut newton. nudes nudes nudes!
-happening upon special places, always while eating a röstbratwurst. i think they bring me good travel karma

2 things i don't like about Berlin:
-bed bugs

Saturday, October 3, 2009

bestill mz heart, berlin.

ok, to preface this post, i have to apologize for the spelling. im on a strange german keyboard where the z and y are switched and i have no idea where to find an apostrophe. so grammar be damned. also, ive had a complaint that my posts are too long, and as someone who also has the attention span of a 2 year old, ill try to tighten things up, post less more frequently or something. not that anyone is reading this blog other than justin and my mom...

paris, which i loved, and was very sad to leave, is now but a distant memorz in the wake of berlin being so damn awesome. i thought id be tired, grumpz and disoriented when i got here (no sleep and an absurdlz early flight make sammi an unhappy traveller) but i arrived in the city and was immiediatelz swept up in its bizarre charms. first thing, i wandered around alexanderplatz to get mzself oriented and stumbled upon a parade where a giant mechanized marionette was being maneuvered by a group of french puppeteers, followed behind by a band plazing strange 60s-ish pszchadelic rock. people were going nuts for it, following along behind and beside it, taking pictures and cheering. zoung people, old people, families...i thought it was so strange. i had no idea what it was for at the time, though ive since found out its part of the celebration for the "reunion/reunification daz". i decided to follow it and the throngs of people through the streets, not reallz sure where i was going, ending up in bebelplatz about 45 minutes later. when we got to the square the music crescendoed and thez put the marionette to sleep (literallz, snores and all), and all of a sudden the cold, grez clouds cleared and the sun came out. i stood there in the square, a rostbrätwurst in hand, and thought: berlin, huh? i think i could get used to this. heres to getting more used to it. i fucking love it here.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

trop fromage et mal a gorge.

i am in paris. i now officially speak franglaise. i happen to be very good at it.

while it has definitely taken me a day or two to not feel like a lost little puppy in this big bad city (i have a cold, it doesn't help things), i am now here and loving it. paris is soooo beautiful, but also totally rough around the edges, which allows it to be both the silly fantasy paris of my dreams and a raw and complex city. people who say paris is an amusement park have no soul.

things i have done of note:
-bartered at the pharmacie for cough medecine
-bought an overpriced sim card
-eaten cheese
-climbed the eiffel tower
-picnicked in the jardin de luxembourg and at the pantheon
-climbed to le sacre coeur to watch the sunset and paris light up at night (twice)
-eaten a life changing falafel (fanny i happened upon l'as du all on my own then realized it was one of your tips. thanks!) in the "jewish quarter"
-found out the catacombes were closed for renovations (?) after circling the intersection for half an hour
-eaten more cheese
-les puces de st. ouen - 5 hours of flea market heaven
-watched adorable french enfants play in the park by my hostel
-caught up with old friends
-made new friends (i know. cheesy but true)
-slept with a kitchen knife under my pillow and one eye open. just in case.
-bravely chose to stay in my fairly shitty hostel room with a cement hole in the wall they call a washroom because i am no pussy.

and yet, there is still so much to do.

i am convinced that the french know something we don't about life. and i'm determined to figure it out before i leave. perhaps the cheese + wine + chanel + baguette + cigarettes + amour + histoire + beaute = a happy life. for the sake of research i'll play with those variables and let you know what i come up with.

bon soiree,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

tartans and tea: select photos from my trip so far

a mackintosh street lamp in glasgow. mackintosh everywhere.

fish and chips.

on the way up to arthur's seat for a panoramic view of edinburgh.

me in loch ness. no monster to be found.

st. paul's cathedral from across the river at the tate modern.

boroughs market - tomatoes!

boroughs market - pig!

looking morbid in a cemetary.

the ceiling in bath abbey. very magestic.

sunny afternoon in a graveyard in bath.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bath and Dreary London.

just got back from a two day excursion to bath. picturesque little town that is. arrived in the early afternoon and decided to have an orientation picninc break before setting off to explore. thank you marks and spencer for the 99p taster packs of cheddar and chorizo and sally lunn's for the sally lunn bun (a local specialty, that's basically a fluffy brioche-y thing). i tried to pace myself with all the sights but it turns out that bath is quite small and i managed to fit in a gallery, the fashion museum (snuck in for free), the circus roundabout and victoria park all in the afternoon. random wandering completed the day before a gruelling climb up a giant hill to get to my secluded mansion hostel. funny place. lots of old ladies. sat on a big leather couch and watched a miss marple mystery with some grannies.

the next day i woke up early and sat in a field near the hostel and ate jaffa cakes while taking in some views. jaffa cakes are great. the field smelt kind of farm-y and it wasn't until lazing in the grass for a while that i realized that the field was also a grazing ground for cows. there was cow shit everywhere. not on me luckily. but it made me think of this children's book i used to love about a girl who keeps asking her mom to buy her new and better markers (culminating in the "super indellible never come off till your dead or maybe even later" colouring markers), so that she could draw apples that looked realer than apples and oranges that looked realer than oranges and cow plops that looked realer than cow plops. cow poo really is very ploppy. but i digress...i continued on my way down a tree covered path to an old graveyard, which was really cool. mushy, peaty grass, overturned tombstones and an old abandoned abbey. it was overcast that morning so the whole thing had a really romantic, eerie quality to it.

headed back in to town, ate a pasty for breakfast (been eating too many of those lately) and looked at this interesting photo exhibit taking place in the main square of town called "the earth from the air". It's made up of all these amazing aerial shots of different regions of the world that are suffering from various ecological issues, trying to raise awareness about sustainability and how we're desecrating the earth's natural resources and the like. it's a touring exhibition and the website is earthfromtheair.com if you want to check it out. saw bath abbey, pretty majestic (and free, which was nice change of pace) and the roman baths (pretty ho-hum and overpriced). drank some of the healing thermal spa water. it tasted like a dirty hot tub. climbed another ferocious hill then found another, much sunnier, cemetary to explore and nap in. and then off to catch the bus home.

hm. two days in a small town and that's my most thorough post yet.

back in london now. it's raining. spending the day trying to book flights and hostels for paris and berlin. any thoughts on hostels with a curfew. all the good ones seem to have them and i don't like it. thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

now (drum roll please) i am going to post photos! in a bit.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To market to market...

Markets in London are awesome. Yesterday I checked out the Boroughs market which is a great food/farmers market in south east London. Stunning. Whole pig roasts, crazy heirloom vegetables, loads of samples, tasted a smoked olive...life changing. Once I figure out how to upload pictures off my camera (I've only had it for, like, 5 years...) I can show you the crazy cow heart tomatoes and pig's head I saw. Loved it.

Today I headed to Portobello Market in Notting Hill, which for some reason I thought I had seen the last time I was in London ages ago, but clearly I was confusing it with Camden, cause it is fantastic and I have never seen a market as splendid in my life. After eating some sub-par bangers and mash I perused the vintage stalls which, gasp, have clothing that actually dates back further than the 70's (a rarity in Canadian vintage shops) and I am determined to find a perfect tweed hunting blazer as my official London souvenir before trips end. Along with general knick-knackery (vintage cameras, printing press pieces, watches, coins, western corral gear...) there are farmer's stalls with excellent wares, like the biggest artichokes I've ever seen and green cauliflowers that look like the hermitage in Russia...

Excellent segue actually, as it appears my dream of going to Russia on this trip just may be fulfilled. My lovely friend Nadja is heading to Moscow mid-October and, if I can get myself in order visa-wise, I will be joining her there. Amazing. So excited. Will have to buy a warmer jacket.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be continuing my market tour of London. Heading to Spitafields and Brick Lane with Xandra for an East Enders perspective. I've been told to expect good curries and chaos. Looking forward to it. Then on to Bath for an overnight on Sunday, where, as I mentioned in my last post, I will try to act posh, wear something neo-classical and fall in love with Mr. Knightly. Or something. (Don't worry Justin, he's fictional.)

Signing off...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Hello friends!

So I am now happily settled in London...not much to report except that, um, it's awesome. I forgot how exciting a city this is. I am mostly floored by it's pace, it's fashion and how much my feet hurt at the end of the day. So far I feel like I've mostly been walking through neigboourhoods and sites at a break neck pace, seeing things, but forgetting that it's ok to stop every once and a while and enjoy. That'll be on the agenda for tomorrow. Since the weather has been fantastic (a welcome change from Scotland) I hope to spend tomorrow lounging in a lovely park with a book and perhaps a quick jaunt over to Notting Hill or Chelsea to check out what I hear are excellent charity thrift shops. Rich people get rid of the choicest items.

I've been here for just over 2 days now and I've managed to see Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster, the London Eye, Trafalger Square and other such monuments. Seen them before. They're still pretty cool. Excited for the Tate Britain/Modern, continuing to explore SoHo, Saatchi and more neighbourhoods. Plus, a quick trip to Bath, Bournemouth and maybe a couple other sea side towns. Drink tea, wear something floral and attempt to be posh. Though I don't know how convincing I'll be at that, on Bond St. today they could smell my poverty :)

I'll be here for another week and a half most likely, so if anyone has any must see destinations for me to hit up, let me know. I'm planning to just continue exploring markets, and neighbourhoods, window shopping, galleries, people/fashion watching and the like. Special moments are much desired. Keep me posted.

If anyone can figure out how to comment on my posts/actually reads my posts let me know how you're doing.

xx, Sammi

p.s. Scotland was nice too. Funny hostel. Interesting characters. Lots of rain and fried food.

p.p.s. There's no garden in Covent Garden. Just tourists.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gerrrls, gerrrrls, for i am in my prrrrrime.


lovelier than glasgow. beautiful in fact. fewer scots. friendlier hostel. highland tour tomorrow. 30 seconds left on internet accees....aaaaah


Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Inauspicious Beginning

hello friends,

here begins my travel blog. it is officially my second day in glasgow. after a good night's sleep i can officially say that glasgow is lovely. a bit run down in an industrial/historical way, and the nightlife is just as i expected, fairly ridiculous and exciting. lots of people wearing neon. lots of slurring drunken scots. oh and lots of charles rennie mackintosh buildings, which is right up my alley. went to see the glasgow school of art yesterday, which is an amazing mackintosh building. it's up this intensly steep hill and there must be a private (public?) school nearby because there were all these uniform clad kids walking around in horrible long pleated skirts which were amazing and made me wish i had brought my copy of 'the prime of miss jean brodie' with me. the whole building is like a giant riff on a mackintosh chair and, knowing me, i love a good grid pattern, so i thought it was stupendous.

as for actually getting to scotland. well, and this is for you kate magoon, i had my first 'triumphs over adversity' before i had even left vancouver. that would be called: a cancelled flight. that would also be called: flight rescheduled much earlier than expected and oh shit i have twenty minutes to get to the airport. thank you justin for getting me to the airport. and finally, there was the: mean mr. customs officer encounter. apparently UK customs does not appreciate a one way ticket holding, no definite itinerary booking, unemployed canadian girl who plans to travel for an undisclosed amount of time. not at all. after two bouts of questioning, being taken to one of those little interrogation rooms, having my bags and travel diary read through, and being threatened with never being allowed back into the UK again if i'm found to be working (duh, that's clearly not going to happen) or re-enter the UK without a return ticket i was allowed entrance. well thank you very much for the kindly scottish hospitality. jerk. they did give me water though, so that was nice. did i mention it was 6 am scotland time/god knows what hour vancouver time and i hadn't slept in like, a day...jerks indeed.

anyways, now i'm here. happy to be here. working on getting the hang of this backpacker thing. but i'm sure i'll do just fine.

till next time...