Lady at Andilana Beach

The last leg of my Madagascar journey was to the northwest corner of Nosy Be, an island off the coast. Andilana beach had come highly recommended by every book I had read about the island, and was even ranked in the top 10 of some lists of Madagascar must-dos.

Andilana Beach in Madagascar

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Lady at Tsarabanjina

My boyfriend and I left Antananarivo at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day. After a long wait in the tiny departures area of Tana Airport, we boarded an Air Madagascar flight to Nosy Be, an island in the northwest of the country.

Air Madagascar plane at Antananarivo airport

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Lady in Antananarivo

When my boyfriend and I moved to London, one of our first goals was to travel to places that were hard to get to from San Francisco. When we sat down this year to plan our holiday adventure, we threw around ideas as diverse as The Seychelles, Brazil, and Vietnam. Eventually we decided on Madagascar. I’m glad we did, too, because when I opened my guidebook to the section on “Getting There”, I discovered that the author specifically called out San Francisco as the single most difficult place from which to get to Madagascar. It even cited a city on the southern part of the island as being San Francisco’s antipode. Success!

Antananarivo airport in Madagascar

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Lady in Madagascar

This morning I returned from an amazing trip to Madagascar. I had every intention of writing about the trip’s adventures tonight, but I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes open (a 6am arrival time will do that). The stories will have to wait until tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’ll whet your appetite with some photos.

Arrival sign in Antananarivo
Arrival in Antananarivo

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Lady Wishes You Happy Holidays

My bags are packed, my Malarone ingested, and my flight to Jo’burg hasn’t been cancelled by BA (yet). But before I leave for Madagascar, I wanted to write a quick post to wish everyone happy holidays and a happy new year!

Whether you’re spending time with family or friends, staying in the city where you live or spending time in a city far away, I hope you have a happy Chrismukwanzakkah and a great time ringing in 2010!

See you next year!

Snowman in London

Lady in a Winter Wonderland

I haven’t gotten into the holiday spirit this year. I went without an advent calendar for the first time in my life, I haven’t listened to much holiday music, and I was too lazy to get a Christmas tree.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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Lady Plays Pub Golf

During my last annual physical exam in San Francisco, my doctor told me that drinking more than four alcoholic beverages a week was considered alcoholism. Wanting to escape the guilt that came with drinking a wee bit more than that, I fled the country and moved to a small island nation known for its liberal attitude towards alcohol. Then last week when I went to the doctor in London, she told me that as long as I wasn’t drinking more that 21 drinks a week, I was in the clear. What a difference a few thousand miles makes.

My new quota in hand, I decided to celebrate by joining some friends for a round of pub golf in Islington. What is pub golf, you ask? It’s like real golf, only it doesn’t involve golf clubs, golf balls, or even a golf course. No, it’s a game of golf where each pub is a hole and each drink has a “par” attached to it. 18 pubs. 18 drinks. Even as I write this, I’m wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea.
In the US, pub golf is a team sport. Your team goes to each pub and “par” is the number of drinks you must collectively imbibe in 15 minutes’ time. It doesn’t matter who drinks them, and if you drink more than “par”, you get a lower score.
In the UK, pub golf is more of an every-golfer-for-herself sport. The group goes to each pub and “par” is the number of sips in which you must finish your drink. For example, if the drink at a given pub is a Gin and Tonic and the par is two, you must finish your G&T in two sips. Drinking your drink in less than the “par” number of sips gives you a lower score, and so forth and so on. And this being England, it goes without saying that fancy dress is required (Americans: fancy dress means costume party, not evening gowns and tuxes).

Yesterday’s pub golf tournament had a tee time of 11:30am and a first drink of a Bloody Mary. Having never drank a Bloody Mary before (something about the tomato juice conjures up a visceral aversion to the beverage), I was a bit put off by the thought of having to drink one in five sips. But some encouragement from my argyle-clad friends and a healthy dose of Tabasco pulled me through, and after hole one I was shooting par.
Hole two was at a pub near the tube station, and the drink of choice was a half pint of lager. Par two. Easy. So easy, in fact, that most people got a hole in one. Not I. I was pacing myself, or so my slightly-intoxicated logic told me.
Hole three was a Gin and Tonic, par two. We held the ice and asked the bartender to go easy on the tonic, and easily managed to make par. At this point, we were feeling good.
Hole four was a pint of ale at a pub that unfortunately allowed no hats. Off came the golf caps and the visors, but the publican was kind enough to let my friend that had come dressed as a golfing Jesus retain his crown of thorns. Bless her.
Needing a bit of a break, we threw par (which was five) to the wind and sipped on our pints for 20 minutes or so. I left a bit of mine behind when we left, but was feeling good about the next stop: vodka lime.
Down went the vodka limes at a dimly lit but lovely pub, and down went the curtains on my memory of much of the rest of the afternoon. My photos show a long line of Baileys shots, and I have vague recollections of eating a burrito at one point. My scorecard, which somehow remained intact, revealed that I made it to hole number 10, and my boyfriend has a picture of the shards of an empty glass of red wine that I put down on the bar a little too hard after declaring a hole in one.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to hole 18. I’m surprised I made it to hole 10. And I’m glad I stopped for a burrito somewhere along the way. I woke up in my bed at 7:30pm, wondering what had happened and hoping there was an award for worst pub golf player in the history of the sport.
I spent the rest of the evening drinking water, Lucozade (the strange English brand of Gatorade), and Advil, and wondering if my American doctor had been the wiser of the two. Or maybe my English doctor should have explained that it’s not a good idea to have all 21 drinks on one day of the week. Either way, I think I might be following Tiger’s example and taking an indefinite leave of absence from pub golf.

Lady in Paris…Again

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. I could go back every weekend and never get tired of exploring new neighborhoods, visiting new museums, and, of course, eating at new restaurants. The source of all of these new things usually comes from recommendations from friends, and after posting on Facebook that I was off to the City of Lights, I had no shortage of them on my trip to Paris last week.

Place de la Concorde in Paris

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Lady in Sidi Bou Said

The hilltop town of Sidi Bou Said came highly recommended. With its signature blue-and-white buildings and its beautiful views, Sid Bou Said was supposed to be one of the highlights of any trip to Tunis.

Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia

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