A Travellerspoint blog

A Comedy of Errors

Notes on Conservation in European Hostel Bathrooms

storm
View Erin and Megan Do Europe on meganselby's travel map.

One of the consistently different things about Europe and US (as I've been able to tell in my first week here) in the drive towards conservation. The place this has been most apparent to me is in the bathrooms. Almost every faucet I've come into contact with is the kind where you push the button and the water comes on for a brief 1-10 seconds. I suppose the thought is that you will become so annoyed at having to push the button over and over to get water that you will try to get your business done faster.

In the hostel in Dublin these fixtures were present not only on the sinks but also in the shower. The water would last about 15 seconds and then if you wanted more water you had to push it again, and again, and again.

  • Note about me: I like the Earth. I try to conserve. The one place though where I allow myself to let Captain Planet down though is in the shower. Ask any roommate I've ever had. I take seriously long showers. I would say it's a guilty pleasure, but I don't actually feel guilty about it.*

So, I was not the biggest fan of this shower that kept shutting off on me. Eventually, I realized if I just pushed the button after14 seconds that it wouldn't shut off. Brilliant. I did finish my shower quicker than usual though as it was a pest to keep up the button pushing.

Then, I arrived in London at the Palmer's Lodge Hostel... they have such special showers here and a slightly different take on conservation. Instead of conserving water, Palmer's focuses on conserving energy by making their lights motion sensative. So when you go in the bathroom for instance the light comes on when you enter. But if you're sitting in the bathroom for a while, for whatever reason, the light may go off and you'll be forced to wave your hands around or else sit in the dark.

These motion detectors are also in the shower stalls. So I get in the shower and after about 10 seconds the light goes out. "What the..." I move towards the door and then the light comes on. Realize though that between the door and the shower is this changing area so it was a bit of movement before the light came on. Anyway I go back to showering and the light goes off again, and again, and again. I start to move from side to side while sudsing up just to keep the detectors happy and develop this Rainman-like sway. So I'm in the shower, looking something like Dustin Hoffman circa 1988 and then I go to shave my legs. I don't know how other people shave, but i put my leg up on the wall. So while I'm standing on one leg, shaving, I don't move very much. After the first couple of strokes of the razor, you guessed it, the lights go out. I can't keep up my Rainman-like sway on one leg so I have to wave my arms wildly in the air. It takes a good 5 seconds of waving before I finally catch the sensor. And of course this happens again and again. I'm pretty sure this particular motion detector was set for very tall people because I have to really stretch my arms up there to activate the thing. What normally takes me 2 minutes, lasts a good 8 minutes from having to stop, wave, and occasionally re-soap because I had to put my leg down to wave my arms high enough.

My conclusion about conservation in European bathrooms is that they should really focus on water conservation. It was definitely more effective and less annoying to push a button than to do a very uncoordinated dance in the shower. Tell your representatives Brits.

Cheers,
Megan

PS - If you ever think it might be a good idea to dry your long hair in one of those new hand driers where you stick your hands down into the dryer and it blasts you from both sides, think again. Tangle-city.

Posted by meganselby 01:43 Archived in England Tagged ecotourism Comments (5)

London Day 5/Day 2

The pound to dollar conversion rate is killing us

semi-overcast 70 °F
View Erin and Megan Do Europe on meganselby's travel map.

Sooo today there was a Skyride Bike tour through London and Megan and I decided we wanted to rent bikes and do it...but apparently renting bikes in London is not very accessible. So unfortunately, we just watched thousands of people bike through closed off streets/ Somewhat soul-crushing not to be a part of it, but it was still a cool spectacle to see.

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We walked around Trafagar Square for a bit and then over the Westminster bridge to check out the London Eye. We then walked and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and through Green Park.

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Please note the sign we saw after Megan sprawled herself all over the Canadian Memorial.

We stopped at the Wellington Arch because it was free today to walk to the top...it is one of the busiest traffic areas in all of London.

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We then went to Hyde Park and had a little picnic in front of the rose gardens...

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and rented a paddle boat and paddled through the Serpentine Pond :)

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Funds are starting to run low here in London, so we opted to stop by the market and pick up something quick and cheap for dinner. We leave our hostel tomorrow and will be staying with Katie's sister, Megan!!

Posted by meganselby 12:07 Archived in England Comments (2)

London Day 4/ Day 1 for Megan!

Last day for Kaitlyn :(

sunny 70 °F

Today we walked to Primrose Hill, which reportedly has the best view of the city

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picture of the view = not so great

Then we went to Camden Garden, which is an old horse stable converted into a huge open air market. There were soo many stands and after making a few purchases we had ate lunch from one of the millions of food vendors. There was a bar inside the stable that had each stable converted into a different type of lounge...from sports themed to just a chill lounge. We went there for a drink and some live music.

  • *Edit: the following paragraph is written by Megan: I feel Erin was too calm about the stables - THEY WERE AWESOME!!! as evidenced by...

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SO SO COOL! Maybe I just had low expectations, but I was thrilled with them. It seemed like an endless maze of shops, but each shop was inside of what used to be a horse's stable. And I'm not talking some midwestern barn, these had intricately carved wooden doors, and at one point in the 19th century there were over 400 horses there. (Jeanna, you would LOVE it!) INCREDIBLE!!! And the food... ridiculous! All the vendors had food displayed in giant bowls at the front counter that were mouth-watering. It took us probably about half an hour just to decide what to eat from all the choices: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean (with intense falafel), Mexican, Morrocan, and much much more. In conclusion, the stables were the shit! Back to Erin...**

When leaving the market, we discovered a really cool canal

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and we followed it for a bit. It was really quiet and we learned that there are people who buy canal boats and live in them and dock them all along the canal and just hang out. We then took the Underground to Covent Garden...Kaitlyn and I have been but we wanted to show Megan!

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Since it is Saturday there were a ton of street performers and vendors out and tons of people! We sat down at a restaurant and had some wine, a cheese plate and yummy desserts!! Megan and I are debating doing the London Sky Ride tomorrow...they close down streets throughout London and open it to cyclists...it's free, but we need to find a place to rent some bikes...

It's hard to believe that our travels have only just begun...We will be flying to Athens on Tuesday and staying at the Zeus Hostel for 2 nights before embarking on our Greek Island tour! If anyone has any suggestions about Greece, PLEASE pass them along! Hope all is well and I'll talk to you all soon :)

<3,
Erin

Posted by erincadden 13:22 Archived in England Comments (1)

Around Dublin

pictures coming soon...

overcast 55 °F

I flew across an ocean. It was awesome. I spent 3 days in Dublin before I met up with Erin and it was pretty dope. The first day dragged on until I met up with my good mate (and former roommate) Kim and her husband, Richie. Kim has been living in Dublin for the past 5 years, basically since we lived together in Bloomington, IN. They took me out for a great Indian dinner, then a beer (I drank the WHOLE thing, which if you know me, is quite a feat), and then dessert. Kim has been teaching in Ireland so we spent a lot of time comparing education systems and Richie was great about answering my endless questions about Irish politics.

Thursday I walked around the city, drank tea and hot chocolate reading my book and the Economist. At night I went to a gay bar,The George, which was pretty great. I was too tired to stick around until dancing started :(

Friday was definitely the most awesome though. I took a 14 passenger tour bus into the countryside, the Wicklow mountains and Glendalough. I made friends with everyone on the bus and saw some super beautiful countryside. I've been learning this summer that I am way more impressed by pretty country than by cities. Some fun facts I learned on this tour:

1. Sheep poop looks like a bunch of olives.
2. Braveheart was not filmed in Scotland, but in Ireland. According to my tour guide it is because they needed a lot of extras and Irishmen are much more handsome than Scotish men.
3. Many rivers and lakes in Ireland are brown, not from pollution but because on tanin. We most commonly see tannin when we oversteep our tea and it makes it bitter. In Ireland when it rains in massive amounts a lot of plants die, but new ones grow on top of them very quickly so there are tons of layers of dead plant that haven't been decomposed. (People used to dig this stuff up and use it as fuel in their stoves.) When it rains the tannin in these dead plants come out and flow into rivers and lakes, causing them to look brown.

I left for London right after the tour. Made it safely. Erin is writing a post about my first day in London I think.

Cheers,
megan

ps- It was pretty chilly while i was there. I had a about 4 layers on. It makes me nervous for Northern Europe in late October/early November.

Posted by meganselby 13:18 Archived in Ireland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

London Day 3

=sore feet and legs from walking all over the city

sunny 70 °F

Today Kaitlyn and I started our day off with a nice English Breakfast before heading to Regent's Park. Here we explored Queen Mary's Rose garden...aka Alice in Wonderland garden. It was pretty, but I'm sure it's much nicer when everything is still in bloom. Dad...you would've loved this! We then took the Underground to Oxford Street where there was lots of shopping...unfortunately shopping money is not really factored into my budget, but it was still fun to look. We walked from Oxford Street over to Kingsington Gardens and saw the Kingsington Palace and a memorial park for Princess Diana.

We then walked from Kingsington Gardens to Harrods, the big famous department store. From Harrods we walked to the Victoria Station and had a pre-show dinner at The Shakespeare. After dinner we headed to the Apollo Victoria Theater to see Wicked! It was amazing...it was actually better than when I saw it in NYC!

Right now I am awaiting Megan's arrival to the hostel! Hope all is well with everything...please post messages so I can keep track of everyone!!!!

<3 Erin

Posted by erincadden 22:59 Archived in England Comments (5)

London day 2

overcast 60 °F

So today Kaitlyn and I had another eventful day. We started by taking the tube to the London Bridge stop. We walked over it...it was really nothing special. We then walked to the tour of London which was really interesting...there was so much history. We saw the crown jewels and there was a special exihibit on King Henry VIII. Wethen walked over theSouthwark bridge and back over the Millenium Bridge which is right by the museum of modern art. The bridge supposedly wobbles when there is enough people on it, but we experiences nothing.

Right across the Millenium bridge is St. Paul's Cathedral which was absolutely breath taking! It was enormous and the derails inside were just amazing. Kaitlyn nd I them searched all over for Covent's Garden... Which turns out is not a garden but just an area of London haha. It was a great area w/ pedestrian streets, Open air markers and tons of restaurants and bars. We had a glass of wine at a restaurant on a roof overlooking the area and when it got too cold we moved into a bar for some beers and traditional fish and chips.

Another great day in London...tomorrow we got cheap tickets to see Wicked! Can't wait for Megan to come tomorrow...where would you like to meet?? Talk to you all soon :)

Posted by erincadden 15:54 Archived in England Comments (0)

I am in London baby!

And it is beautiful :)

sunny 60 °F

I have also made it safely across the ocean to London with a quick layover and some Irish coffee in Dublin first. Kaitlyn and I got into London around 11:30 (5:30 our time)! We spent the entire day walking all around the city taking in all the sites. We walked along Picadilly St and onto Trafalfar Square where we saw the National Gallery, Nelson's Column and a beautiful fountain with some huge lion statues. We then walked along Whitehall Street and crossed over River Thames to the London Eye.

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We thought about taking it for a ride, but for 20 pounds or $40, we decided against it! We continued walking along the water and came back over the Westminster Bridge and saw Big Ben

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and Westminster Abbey

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(please note the awesome face being made by the lady at the bottom of the screen, priceless)

which were both amazing!

After all the architectual sites, we decided to take a nice quiet walk through St. James's Park

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where birds appeared to rule the land

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...they were everywhere, but it was still amazing and we could easily have forgotten we were in a city. After St. James Park, we went the Queen's residence, Buckingham Palace.

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The fountain in front of was beautiful with a lot of gold embellisment and flowers all around. Unfortunately we missed the changing of the guards, but we still got to see them marching all around in their little outfits.

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After the palace we went to Hyde's Park which had a huge lake in the middle of it.

The park was originally used for King Henry VIII to hunt deer and was later opened to the public by King Charles (Kaitlyn read me the plaque at the beginning of the park!) There was a cute restaurant right on the water that we stopped at for some wine and soup to warm us up from the chilly breeze. Finally after walking around for almost 5-6 hours we started heading back to our Hostel. We just checked in and it seems really clean, we're just going to have to get ourselves back into freshman year of college dorm mode. We plan on making tonight an early night, so we can get an early start on tomorrow. Hope all is well with all of you and can't wait to hear about how all of you are doing.

Megan, so glad you made it safely to Dublin and I can't wait to meet you here! What time is your flight and where would you like to meet? DO NOT take a cab from the airport to the hostel...it will cost you waaayyy too much. Take the Jubilee line to Swiss Cottage and our hostel is right there. The address is 40 College Crest. Can't wait to see you :)

Posted by erincadden 12:11 Archived in England Comments (2)

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