Europe Diary: at ‘base camp’ …

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caveat:
I am dangerously ending up like one of those people who blog about everything in their mundane life with not great photos included to illustratte their P.O.V … which is usually thanks but no thanks – a visual nightmare and a visual confirmation of mundanity … and oh well, life {like we needed any reminder what life is about!}
fact is:
  • I had spend >20 hours traveling.
  • Witnessed daylight for > 24 hours … up to a point where my brain’s wiring had dysfunctioned and I was convinced that at a certain altitude, the sun is perpetually there 24/7, 365.25.
  • I had spend >13 hours wondering how is it possible that the Italian girl next to me is able to sleep non-stop and secretly harboured evil thoughts and channeled negative energy to her in hope that she would get bad dreams while I remained in my sorry insomaniac state!
  • I was left flabbergasted when the guy across the aisle from me only had coffee, red wine, coffee during the entire >13 hours flight and 1 toilet break… eager to see him actually take some REAL food and was tempted to tell him it’s free and included in the ticket fare…
  • … while I cursed the airline silently for not feeding me enough, resulting in a nasty bout of gastric of which I silently nursed with gel sachets of Gaviscon – the gel sachets by the way cost 2.5 times more than the liquid version, but hell! thanks to the world of terrorism, I was hampered by that liquid, gel rulling at airports.
  • Speaking of terrorism, I read 1-and-two-fifth’s of the Bourne spy fiction story novel bought at the airport purely for its price point – ok, plus ‘The Bourne Betrayal’ had a picture of a Range Rover chasing Bourne on a Harley as its cover – both of which ‘turns me on’, but only the Harley was actually featured in the book since it was chased by a Hummer – nevermind that.
  • Last but not least, I was “treated” to 1-hour plus {thanks to Brisith road works that got me going southeast before making a ‘U’-turn back to west} of Greek music and the ‘story of our romance’ by my Greek taxi driver Theo who has to be at least 65 … while fighting an exploding head that lacks sugar and sleep.
So in a stupor I had awaken to the noise of some birds chirping, rather gawking, with an unpleasant headache, having finally rested my head and shut my eyes for 5 hours plus. With the incesnant gawking that continued after I had done my thing in the bath, all I could think of while I set the kettle to boil is: BB Gun!
With errands to run before I leave for the airport for Sarajevo at the Godforsaken hour of 4:45 a.m., I fixed myself some air dried instant coffee with fine Harrods plantation sugar …
“…hmmm…this is like fixing a Rohe pipe fixture in the slums well system,” my amused brain thinks while the birds gawk away. 
Since killing, or rather not-so-mildly injuring the excited birds is not an option, I thought I’d distract myself with none other than the camera … ahhh… this digital Leica is making a lot of sense as long as we’re talking still objects! And here’s why the caveat above applies! 
Lo-and-behold!
The onslaught of who-the-hell-gives-2-hoots of photos ensues …
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break-ie time … the Vitamix machine’s existence did send a pang of home sickness as I thought of Mr. B … the Vitamis has kept him healthy and alive; blending solid nutritious food into microscopic size to be fed through his Bard button, attached directly to his stomach. Not mentioning the lactofree milk also got me spiralling emotionally downward as Mr. B is lactose intolerant as well … gosh! it’s only day 1 and I’m missing him!
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when london rains … just when I was going to head out to run errands, it started raining. OK, perhaps not the pouring dashunds and persians as we have back home, but it does get cold and the last thing I need is to fall ill; scratchy throad and slight cough just before I left home … drowned myself with Buttercup cough syrup – ok, ok, I love the taste of Buttercup cough syrup and those who knows it or has bought it home for me from the UK knows that I can be addicted to it.
Not having my rain coat with me {which yes, it’s more of a fashion statement though it still does a more than decent job of keeping me dry and warm}, I resigned to the fact that I was going to be holed up i the flat. So, out come the lappie … and you know what? London can rain and pour all it wants. I’m totally ok @ home with my current state of utopia: lappie, coffee, {good?} book, chocolates and camera …
though I would be so screwed if the ticket office at the train station is shut – of course it will be shut at 4:45am! – and I do not have enough £ in my oyster card – of course I wouldn’t have enough £ in my oyster card!
So off I went running other online errands like sending off my documents to Qatar {though I am still having lots of nagging doubts about this}, check out Val’s shopping lists {abstaining myself from going into amazon.co.uk}, booking Bicester Village round trip transportation for if/when I get back to Londoan, online check-in with British Airways, read up on luggage and check-in allowances …  
The latter is super crucial as I had hit more than the 32 kg allowances when I checked-in yesterday.
How in god’s name is this possible?!?!??
And mind you, this is not an area or situation where you’d want to be super-smart pants that pisses the retard over the counter as he or she has the power to let you through without paying a dime.
Knowing my flying and baggage allowances rights, I knew that:
  1. it’s a USD 25 per piece for anything exceeding the 20kg allocation for check-in baggage, limited to 2 pieces of luggage – so that’s USD 50 essentially, and
  2. one cannot have a baggage in excess of 32 kgs – else it might send someone to the chiropractor for life I would imagine.
In any case my objective was this:
  1. pay nothing – not possible at 32kgs, or
  2. pay USD 25 – i.e. pleading for leeway and not being forced into spliting the bag into two, thereby incuring USD 50.
Well, damn the check-in girl.
Damn airlines for staffing more girls at check-in than STRAIGHT guys.
So, yeah, yeah, my charms did not work on the girl {obviously} and out came the visa for USD 50 – and oh damn airlines for not accepting American Express. I generally do not patronise any merchants who do not accept American Express unless I have to.
What’s really puzzling is this:
  • we had both cautiously packed and laid down our packing list carefully … sharing items where possible.
  • we had both limited our clothes allocation to 4 pairs / changes … a BIG deal considering that we are on the road continuously for 21 days! The other 3 are at ‘base camp’ a.k.a London where major connecting flights take place.
  • we had ‘argued’ over liquid vs. powdered washing detergent …
and heck yes! I washed my travel clothes today to ensure that I have 4 fresh changes left when I leave for Sarajevo.  
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With the sun out – bright and merry – I finally headed out to run the other physical errands …
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Oyster card top-up for tomorrow’s unGODly hour train ride to Heathrow T5 and confirmation on the train timing …
Shocking revelation!!! the train station does not have an elevator! So much for a developed nation and disability access … I was told that it was space constraint. I am so f*@%-ed up … 32 kgs!!! not including the MacPro {and its juice enabler}, the Leica, travel documents, connecting flight tickets and hotel bookings … the “hand carry”, so to speak which I had decided not to pass to my fellow traveller, Roz, out of pity and civic mindedness.
See, he has on him {physically on his body} close to 20kgs of “hand carry” to deal with while inpersonating Usain Bolt as he tries to make it from Heathrow T1 to T5 in less than 2 hours.
With Heathrow … it’s near impossible. With Heathrow … 3 hours is just nice. So the plan we had conceived was:
Penelope
Arrives 1-1/2 days earlier (not deliberate – I had intended to rest upon arrival at ‘base camp’)
Lands -> Immigration -> Baggage Collection {back breaking!!!} -> Custom Walk Through {armed with both our lugagge combination codes which is uncanny as the numbers are almost identical!} -> look out for my name on a piece of paper … ahhhHHH Taxi! -> fight the Flat’s stairs {why can’t it be on the ground floor?!?!??}
Wakes up the next day and run errands (as intended originally) 
Covent Garden for FOREX transactions & outdoor gear purchases -> Oyster Card reload and Heathrow Train timetable etc. -> M&S Food for energy bar and {healthy} snacks … -> online check-in for both Roz and myself
THE DAY:
{throw} bag down flight of stairs -> Taxi to Train Station {manouver goddamn escalator with 32kgs! vs. original 12.5kgs} -> board train to Heathrow T5 while fighting sleep -> Bag drop at T5 -> pray and calm nerves while waiting for ‘Usain Bolt’ wannabe at departure gates!
Roz
Lands at T1 and does the ‘Usain Bolt’ thingy …
i.e.; be the extremely annoying Business Class hence its my goddamn right to pass through all you minion traveler to cut queue -> immigration clearance -> (NO luggage collection as I have the check-in luggage with me) -> custom stride through (hopefully no checks as he still has 2 handluggage totalling 20kgs) -> runs around like a headless chicken looking for the shuttle bus terminal -> boards the bus -> arrives at T5 -> dash to the departure gates … hopefully in time. 
Whilst mine seems a little more ‘commitment’ let’s say I’d rather have it this way than lug around 20kgs of gadgets and wonder why airports are contructed in a vernacular fashion with endless walkways, conveniently forgetting that planes are large.
I’d rather have the time of the day and do my little leisurely walk-abouts and errands running in ‘base camp’… bored as I may be, at least I get to test out the new baby {on loan} and get accustomed to shooting 35mm prime – it’s so small compared to my usual 24mm!
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… and the not so nice part of the neighbourhood!
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By the way, Leica users, can I please know if my photos look ‘normal’.
I mean it kindda looks ‘soft’ to me and the colours are a bit muted. Though frankly I am using a friends uncaliberated Sony lappie of which I am unused to the colour output. Then again, my MacPro has not been caliberated as well … so really, what do I know and am comparing with??? {duhhhHHHH}
or is it my focusing?
I am having some {embarrasing} issue here … I can’t seem to be able to align the ghost image very well simply because I shoot with my left eye and right hand … and my left eyesight apparently has some what deteriorated with the optometrist actually susgesting that I require reading glasses …
 arrrggggggggHHHHHHHHh!!! how dare he even suggest bi-focals?!???? I am way too young for that and though multifocal exists, I am in deniel and have not changed my prescription … so heck, all was fine and dandy with the auto-focus function on the Nikon {stolen}, then Canon {borrowed}.
So, please help assess and let me know!
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4 thoughts on “Europe Diary: at ‘base camp’ …

  1. photos looks fine.Leica always has that special quality. the subjects tends to 'pop-up'. somewhat 3-D appeal. you can adjust the colour, brightness, saturation on the M8. the menu is easy enough to maneuver and you are such a smart girl lah, if you haven't figured it out yet!loh gan fa? lolzsure or not?focus with both eyes open with the range finder. it's easier and if you keep your aperture to around 4 – 5.6 anything 2 m away will be clear lah. no need to worry about focusing. no need to take sexy images at the moment. just get used to using it first.what's wrong with the canon?saves you gym money mah.lolzenjoys!(BTW, you can give me the M8 if you don't want it)

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