Quite a few exciting things have happened in the past few days…
I’ll be in Portland! I found out I was going to have a few days off the week before Gareth gets into town. Which was kind of the worst timing ever and felt a little like the universe was mocking me. He’s always worked when I’ve been in London, but he has much more sociable hours (if I’m also not working–if we were both working with his crazy schedule, we would literally never see each other). But he’s come to the states three times, once in May of 2015 after my job had ended, once to LA before I found a new job (during the dark months of unemployment), and once over Christmas (which I guess was still during the dark months, but I could pretend it was just the holidays). Never when I’ve been working. And I work like 12 hour days, which is going to feel like pure hell when I know he’s just down the street and I’m sitting in my office, trying not to feel like I’m wasting his whole trip working.
BUT! The extra days off. Before he was set to come. Well, he changed his plane ticket–only by a day, because all the flights were booked before then–but then we suddenly had a long weekend together. So we did the only rational thing–immediately booked tickets to go on what is shockingly our first proper trip away.
We’ve spent time in Cornwall with G’s family, gone to a few Crossfit events, had the best new years ever on a secret island with all our friends, hung out on Martha’s Vineyard with my mom, spent a weekend in Boston, and NH, and a night in Santa Barbara–but none of those places felt like getaways really. They were either spent with family or places one of us had already been. There was no mutual discovery or exploring together. We never had that feeling that it was the two of us out in the middle of the world, far away from “real life.” (That’s a lie, I’ve felt that in his mom’s house and in my parents’ houses, but it’s still different.)
So we’re doing a jam packed long weekend in both Portland and Seattle. We’re going to fly to Portland at 6:00 am on Friday, getting in around half 8 in the morning. We’ll spend all of Friday and Friday night in Portland, before eventually taking the train to Seattle, where we’ll spend Saturday night. We don’t fly out until Sunday at around 8 pm, so we’ll have a little more than a day in each city. Definitely a quick stop in each place, but we are happy to just stroll along the waterfront, have some delicious donuts, take a photo booth picture at the Ace, maybe go to the space needle, and definitely check out Powell’s Bookstore (but not spend the whole day there!). Also find as many happy hours as we can, obviously.
I’m SO excited. That we get to go somewhere neither of us has been. That I get him a day earlier and a day longer. That this four month (minus my last minute whirlwind bday trip) separation is finally over. We’ve done four months once before and it was horrible and I insisted we’d never do it again, but here we are. Thank god, almost on the other side of another one. But I mean it for real this time. Never again. It’s just too long.
As I’ve already posted about, I mainly fund my plane travel through airline miles. I took about a year off of actively trying to get miles, and was just basking in the glow of having accumulated 350,000+. Then the year passed and I continued to be in a long distance relationship, and suddenly my 350,000+ points were down to about 80,000. That’s only enough for one, MAYBE two if I’m really lucky, trips to see G. Or do anything else with my life, like maybe check off more of the countries on my list.
So I dove back in. It also helped that my coworker has gotten obsessed and is using me as a personal mileage guru. So here is what I’m currently doing to boost my miles back up. This should leave me with 155,000 miles by the time I’m done.
First, I signed up for the Citi Gold checking account. 50,000 miles for 1,000 spend over three months? Yes please! We sadly found out I’m targeted for this one, meaning not everyone can sign up just yet. BUT my coworker went in and it sounds like it’ll be open for everyone in April. It’s a great deal and I highly recommend (minus the fact that the checking account website is really ugly and I hate using it).
Then I did the Alaska Airlines card*, which I already wrote about. This was super easy, I closed it as soon as the miles posted to avoid the annual fee, and now I have 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles, which can be used on tons of different airlines, American included. (AND Alaska Air allows stop overs!!)
I just signed up for this, which is 35,000 after 3,000 of spend in three months. Unfortunately this offer has since ended and it’s back down to 25,000, which is still a pretty good deal. I’m using Plastiq to pay my rent, so that will be taken care of pretty quickly, thank you super expensive LA rental market! These points transfer to over 30 airlines, American and Alaska included. And for every 20,000 you transfer to Alaska, you get a 5,000 mile bonus! So I’m going to use the card until I have 40,000 miles, transfer to Alaska, and wind up with 50,000 miles!
Once I finish that off, I’m going to do the citi business, for that uh…. Etsy shop I’m going to open one day (that’s as solid as your business plans have to be to open a business card. Just don’t lie about it and you’re fine!). This is pretty straight forward and worth 30,000 for 1,000 in 90 days.
So, that’s that. The only card where I have to spend more than $1,000 in 90 days is the Starwood Preferred, and I’m using that to pay my rent. 155,000 miles, easy peasy.
*I just found out this card is churnable, meaning about 61 days after I canceled it, I was able to apply again. The deal has since changed and now it’s $1,000 of spend in 3 months, which I’m working on doing now.
One of my favorite things to do is plan, in great detail, trips that I’m not actually going to take. Or, to be more accurate, not take in the immediate future. But I will do a RTW trip one day, and when that day comes I know my route and about how long I’ll stay where, and what will be flights and what will be ground transport. And it will be epic. That was what I spent most of my time doing during the hardest months of unemployment. Planning that RTW trip.
Now, with that very important task completed, I’ve moved on to a road trip around Europe. I roadtripped from Boston to Los Angeles in January of 2010 with my best friends from college, and it was one of my favorite life experiences. So when Gareth got a car last year, I started googling and realized just how tiny Europe actually is. It only takes two and a half hours to drive from Brussels to Amsterdam, or five and a half to drive from Berlin to Warsaw, for example.
I don’t know exactly when this road trip will happen, but it’s definitely going to. I think it’ll be about two-two and a half weeks (though only 12 days with a car), and renting a car in Brussels and dropping it off in Tallin 12 days later is about $300.
I feel like that’s how much cars rent for in Los Angeles a day.* The ferry from Tallin to Helsinki is only 19 Euros, and there are flights back to London for as little as $80. This feels so doable and not very expensive, minus the fact that gas prices in Europe are crazy high.
Take a look!
Also as I was planning this I got more adventurous and look at this one! What a beauty! Though I can’t find anywhere that has online information about picking up a car in Calais or Brussels and dropping it off in Belgrade. Or even Budapest.
It’s not happening soon but that doesn’t matter in my crazy head. Planning, to me, is half the fun.
*This felt like a huge exaggeration but I just checked Enterprise and to rent a car from Friday-Monday is about $250!
On February 1st, two important things happened. I turned 26 and I made a crazy, impromptu weekend trip to London. It was also the year anniversary of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, but who’s counting?
I found out a few weeks before that the weekend of my birthday, which was on a Monday, was a long one. We had Friday and Monday off. I joked to G a few times that I should fly to London, but it was always a joke. That’s 24 hours of flying for one weekend. That’s crazy.
Flash to Thursday morning. I woke up from a really vivid dream that I was in London with my girlfriends, getting ready to go out. Nothing special happened, it just felt SO real. And I woke up devastated it wasn’t. Heartbroken I wasn’t about to meet all my friends at the pub, that Gareth was actually half a world away, already midway through his Thursday.
So. I decided to be crazy. I booked the tickets. (Which I was able to do last minute because of the thousands of airline miles I obsessively collect.)
Also I was late for work, because I needed to make the decision, call the airline, and pack in the time it usually takes for me to just roll out of bed and get in my car (my morning routine, ladies and gentlemen). I spent the whole day buzzing with excitement. We had a birthday party at work for me and the other assistant who stole my birthday minus a year. Then I got a bunch of alerts that the plane was delayed by hours. I tweeted AA and they responded that they needed to find a whole new plane. Then I read this article and figured out why. That could have been me! That was the plane I was meant to take on its way back to the UK.
It was mostly fine, I hung out in the admirals club and drank free wine. We boarded five and a half hours late, something I normally wouldn’t care about but that was a decent percentage of my total time in London! The flight was empty. Probably everyone else got on an earlier flight or decided to go home and sleep in their beds instead of wait at the airport until 1am. But not I! And I was rewarded with an empty row and basically a flight attendant all to myself.
I landed in London and it was SO good to be back. It felt so surreal. 24 hours before I had no idea I’d be in London the next day. Seeing Gareth had been months away and actually being in London even longer. And suddenly, there I was! Fighting to get my oyster card working and sitting on the tube. It was a really special moment that reminded me not to take anything for granted, that the world is so much smaller than you think. And that Gareth really isn’t as far away as he sometimes feels. I took a picture to capture it. To me it’s a picture of the endless possibilities and the strange turns life takes. To everyone else it probably just looks like a train.
Then I was home and everything was amazing. My keys still worked (obviously), the drawer of clothes G convinced me to leave were still there, ready to be worn (though I did raid it on my way back, shhh), and Gareth had flowers, dinner, chocolate, red wine, Prosecco, and a toothbrush ready and waiting for me (read: he is perfect). And all my friends dropped everything and met me at the pub that night. It was amazing. I made my literal dream come true!
The weekend was a lovely mix of seeing friends and getting some great one on one time with G. Both nights all my friends came over, and during the days Gareth and I would stroll around London, eat delicious food, and play our favorite card game. It was really perfect. It was just a glowy haze of fun and feeling so full and happy.
The next morning the three people I hadn’t been able to see yet came over for breakfast (G makes the best breakfast sandwiches in probably the entire world), and then we went on another walk and then for my birthday dinner. Which was amazing. We keep trying to go to this Italian place by the train station, and it keeps being closed on the only night we can go. But instead we went to Olivelli on Lordship Lane, and it was perfect. The food was delicious and we had the most comically grumpy waiter. Also they had this dessert that was the best thing I’ve ever had. It wasn’t even chocolate, and it is RARE I enjoy a chocolate-free dessert. I don’t remember what it was called but the waiter said it was very traditional Sicilian. It looked like cottage cheese. And I want it 100 more times in my life.
My last morning we had breakfast and watched bad TV, which was what we did most mornings this summer. Then he took me to the airport and even though it was sad, because it always is, this time it felt different. This time I knew that he really was just a plane ride away. That we could plan to see each other in May but we could change our minds and be with each other 24 hours later.
It was the perfect weekend. It didn’t feel too rushed, it didn’t feel like a clock was ticking down. It felt stolen, or like the most perfect birthday gift. I’m so incredibly happy I had a vivid dream and a crazy, impulsive reaction to it. I hope I have them more often.