The first time I took a breath through a regulator – on the pool deck of a local community pool – I couldn’t stop smiling. “I can breathe – anywhere!” I said to my PADI open water instructor. “Yeah,” he responded, looking a little bemused, “just wait until you try it in the water.”
I very rarely take pictures of my food. I’m always impressed by good food pictures that other people take, but I just don’t think food photography is in my skill set. Plus, I have hanger issues and I’m usually aggressively halfway through my meals before I remember that I should have documented. This isn’t usually a huge problem, but as it turns out, not taking a picture of my breakfast at the Puri Kesari Guest House in Sanur, Bali, is my only regret from my trip to Indonesia.
The airport in Bali was just chaotic enough that if I was tired from my flight (I was), I forgot all about it as soon as I entered the arrivals area, where I snapped into high alert. There were palm trees! And it was so blissfully hot! But also, there were people EVERYWHERE: fellow travelers swarming along, a wall of people with signs waiting for passengers, and even more people asking if those of us without prearranged rides needed taxis. I was sort of prepared for this and kept a firm grip on my suitcase handle, repeated “No” in my most serious tone, and kept my well-practiced RBF (also known as my “neutral”) in place.
[*DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THIS.]
When I was in high school, one of my two favorite teachers was my AP English teacher. He led us through all the themes and thought processes we would need to do well both on the AP exam and in general literary analysis. He was upfront and honest about how the all-school summer reading selection was not exactly high literature and so while he hoped we read and enjoyed it, he would not be wasting our time discussing it in depth. He had rap posters hanging up on the inside of the classroom’s closet door; he would never talk about them, but would just casually leave the door slightly ajar sometimes so we could see they were there. One time, he explained to us how to catch a monkey.
In 2011, I went to India for a wedding. When I told people where I was headed, one of the first reactions every time was, “Oh, have you gone to a travel clinic yet?” I had not, and was, in fact, completely unaware of the fact that it was something I might want to do. I travel a lot, but up until that point I had never considered that there might be health or vaccination recommendations specific to the new places I visit. This is partially due to the fact that up until that point, most of my travelling had taken place in Europe where, admittedly, there aren’t a lot of recommendations different than here in the US (…I think?). That said, I had definitely also spent a lot of time in places (mainly Caribbean) that do have specific recommendations, blissfully oblivious to them. Oops?
Smeaton’s Tower is iconic and is both central to Plymouth imagery and central in Plymouth itself, standing high on the Hoe overlooking the sound. The tower actually used to be 14 kilometers out to sea, but because the foundation was beginning to deteriorate, it was moved inland for preservation while a new lighthouse was installed in the water to take over the functional duties. This isn’t so unusual – Smeaton’s Tower is actually the third lighthouse to have stood in its in-water location, although the first two suffered more tragic fates – one was swept into the sea during a storm and the other caught fire, both taking people with them. I learned all this (along with more graphic details of the deaths associated with the previous lighthouses) as I bought my ticket to climb to the top of Smeaton’s tower.
What I saw
In keeping with the theme of this trip, I had a very basic itinerary for Plymouth (Best summed up as: See the lighthouse, eat scones with clotted cream) and other than that I just kind of wandered around. And around and around and around and around and around. While my first full day was that aforementioned windy, rainy, borderline bitter day, my second day was sunny, mild (in the 50s), and all around lovely. I was thrilled that I got to see things in such varied conditions, but that meant I wanted to see everything multiple times – in the rain, in the sun, during the day, at sunset… And so I wandered. So rather than bore you with the full-on itinerary of how many times I circled back to Smeaton’s Tower and the Barbican (so, so many), here’s the overview (you’re welcome):
April is Adult Learn to Swim month, as organized by the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation. Through my Masters group, this is my second year as a volunteer instructor and I can’t speak highly enough of the overall experience! The lessons are primarily one-on-one, meaning each student gets a lesson tailored to their individual needs while taking their particular history with swimming and the water into account.
As I’ve mentioned, I was lucky enough to live in London with my family for a couple of years when I was younger. During that time, we went all in on trying everything and, as a family with a collective sweet tooth, this was especially true about chocolate. By the time we left, each of us had a clear favorite and so now anytime one of us goes back to the UK, the traveler is instructed to bring back chocolate (the Cadburys just isn’t same in the states!). As the one who decided to go back to the UK for a semester abroad, grad school, spontaneous road trips, and more than a couple of weddings, this duty often falls on me, and I suspect, although haven’t tested, that if I came back without chocolate, I would not be allowed back into my parents’ house until I acquired some of the good stuff.
Where I stayed
When I was booking accommodation, my only requirements were parking and a fairly central location. The Drake provided both, as well as an interesting history and super friendly hosts. The parking is easy, with several spots up front and additional spaces in the back. Thanks to my super compact car, I managed to snag the last spot up front, which, charmingly, required driving over the sidewalk to wedge myself in between the building, a post box, and a light post. Too easy with an Aygo! Have I mentioned how much that car grew on me over the course of the week?
But I digress.