Forgive me for a massive post, Gentle Reader, but I had so little time on the second half of my trip abroad (aka Gail’s Grand Tour) that I did not have the opportunity to blog, or even make notes, that I feel I must get it all out at once so I am caught up on my own life.
Last of England
After Nottingham I had a brief few days in London visiting family. I stopped consuming a ridiculous amount of fat in the form of British breakfasts, and actually walked around for a while. Visited the meat market and St. Bartholomew’s church.
And was spoiled by the second cousins with a posh trip to the amazing Gilbert Scott at the newly made over St. Pancreas station. The food was absolutely delicious and the company more so.
I saw old friends I hadn’t seen in ages. One of them it’s been over 12 years and she hasn’t changed a bit. The other whisked me away to a speakeasy in Soho. I tasted two cocktails themed on tea, amazing, and after ate some of the best food I have ever eaten in London at a little place called Spuntino’s. It’s what I would call New York Italian American fusion. It pays to know people who work in hospitality, what we used to call R&B in my day (restaurant & beverage).
I had two clandestine meetings. One of them with my French publisher (there is a good chance I will be in Paris next year) and the other with . . . wait for it . . .
The Swedish edition of Soulless is the first on in hard back and it has lovely black page edges, Styxx’s signature look.
Stockhom is a lovely city, and not as cold as I had expected. I really had a very lovely time wandering around, everyone spoke English beautifully, which was slightly embarrassing.
I spoke at the library which is this amazing building, a full circle of books surrounds you, it is the closet thing to a literary mecca on earth.
I ate delicious Italian and the Japanese food. The Swedes rather disregarded their own cuisine, except the cakes of course. The following conversation occurred on several occasions.
Gail, “I’m open to anything.”
Publisher, “Shall we have some cake? Yes.”
Sometimes I am more like Alexia than even I care to admit.
I’ve never been to Budapest before. I have to say something about the hungarian language ~ it is remarkable. At times it sounds Finnish or Italian but also has some passing resemblance syntactically to Japanese. It’s a very old living language and I thought it amazing to listen to. I was lucky enough to have three days in Budapest and my publisher there was determined I should make the most of it. They spoiled me rotten with both events and much personal touring. I got to see a great deal of the city and have a Turkish bath!
At first we ate more amazing Italian food, but then my guide, the adorable Szilvia, discovered my love of local cuisine and made certain I had an abundance of Hungarian fare.
Chimney cakes! A street food that like a baguette meets pretzel meets churro big enough to wear on my forearm. Made wrapped around a steel cylinder over and open brassier and then rolled in cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar.
At the book faire, a small version of our BEA, I had my very own booth babes. So fashionably dressed.
I got to meet my Hungarian translator. I asked her how difficult the books were to translate and she said the steampunk parts were the hardest but that I did manage to make her laugh even when working.
The city is just lovely and we mostly walked everywhere. I took a million photos, but I won’t bore you with all of them here since they are mostly old buildings. I have a weakness for spires and Budapest indulged me shamelessly.
The parliament building with a Earthday fair out front.
“Just an apartment building,” says Szilvia.
Had a meeting with bloggers at this fantastic cathedral like cafe, but we were driven out by piano playing and ended up in a smaller one down the road.
On the way there we encountered the Budapest’s critical mass, strangely accompanies by a Zombie flash mob.
Getting out of Hungary, however, was a bit dodgy for a while. I had Szilvia’s number and several a horrible moments of thinking I may end up stranded on her couch. RyanAir “had no record” that my checked luggage had been paid for already, and with no time to argue they sucker-punched me with $120 in charges. (Twice what the flight cost!) No more RyanAir for me. The security was so slow at the Budapest airport, and I got a pat down, that in the end I literally had to sprint for my plane. (Discovering that I am well out of shape!) Luckily, there were two other girls in the same situation so they held the plane for us, but I was literally the last person on board!
I fancy myself having ~ after too seasons excavating in Peru, high school spanish, and a two week language emersion in Cuernvaca ~ a decent understanding of Spanish (if not being a very good speaker). However, I forgot how incredibly fast they speak the language in Spain. I catch maybe one word in five, so I can only loosely follow any given conversation. Lets not even mention Catalan.
After the horrendous RyanAir debacle of the wee morning hours, I landed feeling slightly shaky and not a little traumatized. My pick up was then late which left me with the realization that, without internet, I had no phone number and no hotel information for Barcelona. I was just considering my options when a lovely young lady with a horrible cold came bouncing up full of apologies. She proved to be my editor. Thank goodness! After the stoicism of the Hungarians and the Swedes the effusive exuberance of the Spanish was quite awe inspiring.
As was the whole concept of St. George’s day. This is a massive festival in Barcelona all about St. George, the city’s patron saint, and the fated dragon. For some reason it has be co-opted by vast numbers of books and a red roses. Everywhere, you go in the city there are tents with books and stalls selling flowers. It’s quite remarkable.
I ended the day at a signing that included several famous musicians and possibly a reality TV star or two. This occasioned the appearance of large crowds which gave me my first taste of what it will be like at ComicCon, I suspect. None of them were for me, of course, but it was brilliant people watching.
I’m writing this at the airport in Barcelona. I left the same amount of time to get here as I did in Budapest yet I am over an hour early. My gate information still isn’t posted and I’ve been typing for over an hour. Thus I sit, sipping my very last European coffee and listening to the British Tourists Abroad down the end of the table from me talk about their pregnancies.
This is a strange life my little scribbles have catapulted me into.
[Posted from Heathrow hotel night before I return home.]
P.S. Flight from Barcelona to Gatwick on EasyJet was wonderful. Pleasant, not crowded, on time and one could buy both magazines and bus/train tickets on board.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight…
Soulless Reviews from
Quote of the Day:
Line from the menu at the parasol decorated restaurant in Budapest. I don’t know what the mean by “wingles” but I might have to use that word as a name in a future book.