Friday, January 25, 2013

Got the Exam GoAhead

Just found out the provincial exam schedule and R's Biology exam is the morning of the 14th so we are good to leave on the 15th - eek! Just squeaked that one by...

Our first flight is booked, it was about a month ago. St John's to Halifax on June 15th. 9am!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Things First

Step one down!! Three of us needed Twinrix vaccinations (where the Hep B is already given in school, three only need Hep A) so M and I took a little trot off to the Doc where we got our first in the series. Twinrix is the combination of Hep A and B and is given three times. The second time is one month after the first and makes it effective. The third is about 6 months later as a booster. M was tough but doesn't like it that she has to go back!!!! The only other vaccinaton we'll get for this trip is the Yellow Fever which is currently the only vaccination made mandatory by the WHO for overseas travel. We'll have to go down to the travel clinic for that one unfortunately and pay through the nose. The other one they recommended was the rabies vaccine. Three shots each at $200 a shot - No thanks, I think we'll just tell them to stay away from dogs... We have time for those though, just needed to get this one under our belts. Sore arm today, but no big reactions. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Fashion of Packing for Six - Third Stop: The United Arab Emirates

When I look ahead to packing for this trip, my biggest concerns are researching how best to pack and dress for the United Arab Emirates. We may only be in this spot 3 or 4 days and we aren't sure yet if we'll be visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi but either way there are lots of factors to consider on this stop!

Firstly the weather! 

There's no getting around it here... The UAE is HOT. June and July AVERAGES 32 and 34 so you know there's gonna be a day hitting up around 40. 40 is hot. Desert is hot. I've been told by those who have lived in this area that it's so hot everyone stays inside all day and around 5:00pm the masses come out and hit the beach and the markets and stroll around.

Every bit of literature I've found says the air conditioning inside the hotels and malls is COLD so sweaters and wraps are necessary for those little forays.

Going out during the day to stroll the souks and markets will require loose and light clothing both for modesty and to reduce the risk of sunburns. Hats or head coverings will be a must for the same reasons. They recommend medium to dark clothing for desert trips because everything gets filthy. They also allow flip flops and sandals on these trips because sand gets everywhere.

All types of bathing suits are totally acceptable on the beaches, though unlike Iceland where topless bathing is the norm, that is not acceptable here (not that that would be me!!) Leaving the beach will require a cover up.

Secondly the culture!

It would be unnecessary to say that though this country is culturally diverse and highly touristy, it is first and foremost a Muslim country. I am truly excited about this experience both for myself and the kids.  In most malls and markets it is required (on top of the obvious no cleavage or midriffs) to have shoulders and knees covered.

Head coverings are recommended in many places so we will bring scarves. If you visit a mosque you are required to be completely covered but if you don't have something along they have robes and head scarves to borrow at the door.

Thirdly... the skiing?

That's right. If you're in Dubai why would you NOT go skiing indoors in the dessert??? Luckily for us, we won't have to pack our ski clothes and gear. Lift tickets include the price of all of it!

Even within their strict cultural and religious clothing restrictions, there are no holds barred when it comes to their fashion sense. Colours, layers, textures and embellishments are common place in their clothing, jewelry and makeup. For whatever reason (Pinterest!) and even well before this trip was planned I had a growing fascination of the Hijab fashion. One quick google will show you this is NO small industry! It is stunningly beautiful and so different from the skimpy and skanky things I see in our lives right now. 

Not that I go around in skimpy clothing, but it will be an interesting exercise to consider both the heat and the requirement to cover up. Though there is no law against a tourist 'dressing down', it will attract less attention and issue to respect the local traditions. I take no issue in following these expectations, this is why we travel is it not?

Travelling through Kenya will be similar in the need to cover for temperatures, bugs and sometimes religious reasons. In this, we do not need to pack separately for Dubai but should just keep a few things in consideration before going. I'm sure we will pick up a few things while we're there as well!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Fashion of Packing for Six - Second Stop: London

Though we haven't decided yet if we'll actually stay a spell in London, England it's to be considered on my packing journey because it's roughly halfway between the temps of Iceland and those of the UAE. Averaging 20 and 22 in June and July here, we'll actually get a bit of useable summer here. No hiding in the air conditioning and no layering in the chill. June may still be hit and miss in England but a light rain jacket and a pair of jeans will cover that. Much like here at home.

Why are we considering this stop? It may seem obvious that we should stop here. I, for one, have always wanted to visit London what with my fascination with Royalty, British music and their awesome clothes. However, Barton and Bridger were JUST there and also in the grand scheme of life, England is VERY easy to access from here in Newfoundland. A non-stop flight will get you there in just a smidge longer than going the other way to Toronto (it's true). So really, if I have the chance I might rather hit a different spot on this trip and take up a seat sale another year for a weekend in London. Something to consider.

R is considering though, the necessity of the grad dress very soon and how she might like to purchase that in England... ;)

Whether we leave the airport in England or carry on, no great lengths have to be taken to prep for a few days in this Capital of our Commonwealth.

The Fashion of Packing for Six - First Stop: Iceland

This trip is going to challenge my ability to ‘pack light’ big time. 6 people in at least 4 (very different!) countries in 4 weeks? Yikes! It’s going to be hot most of the trip, so that’s one thing to consider. The modesty requirements on some of our stops will be another thing to consider. On top of that there’s that whole malaria-carrying-mosquitos thing... no biggy. Versatile items that don’t show dirt and wear are probably going to be the requirement. I’m happier in skirts than shorts or capris so I will be taking a pile of those. Google and Pinterest are a great help in this area and I only WISH I was cool enough to pull off (or remember to pull off) those great outifts!!!

Let’s start at the beginning...


We’re not talking about a tropical location here folks, the Weather Network informs me that the average temp in Celsius is 9 in June and 11 in July. So for this stop we’ll need light jackets and sweaters, possibly even a pair of mitts and a hat. Depending on if we stop here on the return trip it might be worth dropping these at a donation box so we are not taking hats and mitts through the dessert. Swim suits are a necessity as we'll be hitting the springs and spas and there's the off chance we'll get a beach day. 

When I think of Iceland I think of Bjork. How can you not? (Of course now I also think of “Of Monsters and Men” - maybe we’ll catch a show?) A quick little Google search shows me where her fashion sense came from. The people of Iceland have found a way to turn the necessary fashion of the cold climate into an array of colours and patterns and textures with a totally unique flare. It looks like downtown Reykjavik (eventually I’ll be able to spell that without cheating) has a downtown shopping stretch with local designers and interesting goods. I can’t wait to peruse these shops and find some treasures I can guarantee you no one will have back home! 

Check out these gorgeous ladies captured on the street by an Icelandic Design Blog. Nothing dreary here, Newfoundlanders could take a page out of this book!

The long and short of it is layers are going to be key in Iceland since we won’t be bringing heavy clothing along. If we come back through, the shopping will have to wait!

Quadra Continental Epic Family Adventure

The wheels are in motion to plan an epic journey for our family. Through an entirely other (wonderful) story, my mother in law is spending a full year in Nairobi, Kenya teaching/working at the Pan Africa Christian University. Naturally (and especially because our plans for Argentina were kiboshed) we thought this would be a great time to visit! This is her fourth trip to Nairobi so she is familiar with the area and the people and if you're going to visit somewhere new - this IS the best way!!

The plan so far:

Continent 1: North America

Depart St John's Newfoundland on June 15, 2013 and through Halifax travel to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Continent 2: Europe

Arrive in Iceland on June 16, 2013. Spend about 3 days there exploring geysers, glaciers and hot springs!

Depart Iceland and land in London, England. Not sure yet if this will just be a stop over or if we'll actually spend some time here... TBD

Continent 3: Asia

Depart England and arrive in Dubai spending a few days there, exploring beaches, buildings, shopping and possibly some indoor skiing?!

Continent 4: Africa

Depart Dubai and head over to Nairobi, Kenya!!

Accommodations: a 3 bedroom townhouse on campus
Plans: explore Nairobi, shop the markets, experience the culture, visit the Maasai Mara and go on a safari, travel to Mombassa on the Indian Ocean and there's been a mention of Kilimanjaro... we'll see about that!
Goals: get kissed by a giraffe...

Most likely the reverse trip will happen in the same way arriving back home around July 13 or 14 - just in time for R to start her provincial v-ball training.

While we're still 5 months away and anything can happen, the plan is to book our flights soon, once we know the dates of R's grade 11 public exams (which the higher uppers at D of Ed say are the 14th - phew!) We actually have the first leg of our trip booked (St John's to Halifax whoop!) because a seat sale came up we couldn't pass on!

First orders of business:

- Find out about the provincial exam schedule and
- Get the necessary immunizations. Some of us need TwinRix, some of us need just the Hep A and we all need Yellow Fever, which is currently the only mandatory immunization for overseas travel. (M and I are booked for Monday! OUCH!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back at It

Hey - if you're reading this, I apologize for the lack of "oomph" this page currently has!!! I left it to be for a bit too long and I'm revamping... we're in the process of planning another epic journey and I'm getting ready to start blogging about it... stay tuned and thanks for your patience!