Pre-traveling Rush

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The Shoes Store, Ottawa

I’ve been running for two weeks. Metaphorically of course—I don’t have time to run unless it’s after the bus.

It was to be expected: the pre-traveling rush is always intense. I had to wrap up work projects, prepare for the fact we are leaving for seven weeks and in between, keep up with the usual stuff such as grocery shopping and sleeping.

While we don’t plan our trips much (we still have no idea where we are heading after landing) there are still some prep work to do. Finding summer clothes at the back of the closet, buying toiletry products, a new pair of shoes, changing money etc.

Two Pairs of Shoes

I hate shopping for shoes (never quite understood women who collect dozens of pairs!) but I needed a new pair of hiking shoes. Most of the good brands (Columbia, North Face, Merrell, etc.) are expensive so I looked around for bargains. Unfortunately, whenever a pair of shoes was on sale, it was invariably only available in a small size such as 6 or 7. Ahem… I’m size 9-10. I finally splurged on a nice pair of Merrell only to spot another perfect pair of shoes, slightly cheaper and on sale, a few days later. So I bought it too. Now I have two pairs of hiking shoes—no more shopping for a while, yay!

ITunes Hate

I spent a while getting new eBooks and organizing my library on ITunes to feed my iPod. For eBooks, I use calibre, an awesome free library management system. On the other side, I hate ITunes with the burning hate of a thousand suns. It always wants to update or to install crap I don’t need such as Safari, it bugs, it loses my files… Ugh. No more ITunes. When I get back, I’ll look for an alternative.

Protected By France

I also did a lot of paperwork lately, including registering at the French Consulate in Toronto, thanks to Lily’s reminder. I never got around doing it because French who dare to live outside Quebec had to register in Toronto in person but I learned that now, you can just send your application by mail. Registering as a “French living abroad” is a good idea because you can vote for French elections at the embassy and can have your IDs renewed there as well. I don’t care much about my French IDs (I have a Canadian passport now) but I do want to vote for the presidential elections next year. I hadn’t filled in any French paperwork in a long time and it was a reverse culture shock. I had a good laugh at the card I received as a proof of registration: it’s a cheap tiny laminated black and white card that proudly states at the back “this person is under the French consular protection”. Gee, thanks. You know, just in case these heartless Canadians would harm me during a snowball fight.

Shopping For Camera 

Feng and I toyed with the idea of buying a small waterproof camera. We headed to Futureshop where one of the models was on sale. I wanted to try it but there was no battery. Half an hour later, an employee managed to turn it on.

“So what are you planning to do with that camera?”

“Er… Take it to the beach normally. We won’t be diving or anything,” I said. “We just wanted a camera that can take a bit of water.”

The employee made a face. “You know these cameras are not that great around water—”

“But they are sold as waterproof!”

“—And they don’t take great pictures. What you need is a DSLR.”

“I have a DSLR. The point was to buy a cheap camera I can take on a boat or at the beach.”

“Yes but with a DSLR…”

And I left. What was I going to do? Buy another DSLR to take into the water?

A few days later, I went to Henry’s onBank Street, still looking for a cheap—not necessarily waterproof—point-and-shoot.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, thanks. I’m looking for a point-and-shoot as a backup camera for a trip.”

The employee smiled at me condescendingly.

“And what will you be taking pictures of? Your cat, your friends?”

“I don’t have a cat.” I almost added that I didn’t have friends either. “I’m mostly into landscape and street photography.”

“Of course you are.”

More condescending smile. He went behind the counter and grabbed a $400 compact Nikon.

“This one is perfect for you. It has a lot of megapixels and you can zoom.”

“Ahem… $400 is actually over my budget for these kinds of camera. See, I have a DSLR and I’m just looking for a cheap backup. And I don’t care so much about megapixels, most cameras have the same standard these days.”

“I have this one too.”

I looked at the price. $359.

“You’ll love it, it comes in pink and in plenty of colours.”

Alright. I do have a pair of boobs but I’m a photographer, condescending motherfucker. I don’t need a pretty camera. I need one that can take pictures and that has a relatively quick shutter.

Of course I didn’t say that. I just left the store and made a note to self to buy online. Henry’s online used store isn’t bad but in this location, employees are consistently condescending and arrogant.

Alright, I should be packing… Do you know that nightmare most people had at one point or another where they go to work or to school and they realize they aren’t wearing any clothes? Well, I had the traveling version of it. I was rushing to pack and I suddenly realized my backpack was empty and that I hadn’t taken anything.

So yeah, I’d better pack.

See you in Mexico!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Hi Zhu,

    How well that I know the feeling here… you plan for months and still have a “mad rush” to get all types of junk.
    I put away T shirts before the stocks went down and just sort of stashed it all.

    I take 2 pairs of shoes, including a pair of sandals that can squeeze in a bag.
    I am thinking of a few choice words when I read about these salespersons. Really, they sucked…

  2. > You know, just in case these heart­less Cana­di­ans would harm me dur­ing a snow­ball fight.

    What if they forget to tell you sorry! The French will make them sorry! I burst out in laughter at this line. 🙂

    > Alright. I do have a pair of boobs but I’m a pho­tog­ra­pher, con­de­scend­ing moth­er­fucker. I don’t need a pretty cam­era. I need one that can take pic­tures and that has a rel­a­tively quick shutter.

    GO GET ‘EM 😀

    • Hooray! Another travelogue. I love it when you and Feng go on a trip and post about it. Here I am next door to Mexico and have never really seen much outside of a few tourist destinations. I will look forward to your posts.

      And the remark about the boobs struck me as really funny. I laughed so loud that my dog woke up and gave me a annoyed look. You really should have said that out loud. I hate haughty salespeople. Well, have a fun trip unmarred by accidents or incidents.

      • Glad I made you laugh! I was really annoyed. I’m usually not too sensitive about this kind of attitude but the guy really got on my nerves 😆

  3. Yes you had better pack! I don’t ask employees for help anymore, unless I’ve done my research… And then I’d be rude if they told me I needed a DSLR when I already had one… OR I’d walk out too!

    The shoe factor makes me snicker! Once in 2001 while in Paris, my friend bet me that we could find a pair of shoes for me there. I bet her we could not. I wear size 43 and well they don’t make women’s size 43 in France! Needless to say, after trying on many pairs of shoes, I won! We went back to the states and I bought some shoes. I hoard my shoes but it’s because I can’t find ones that fit easily! lol..

    Hope you have a great trip and that you found a small camera! By the way, I just go to the top review sites to pick out the best cameras. dpreview does it for me.

    • We decided not to buy a new one since apparently, the only perks compared to our old one is that the newer models are smaller. Not a big deal to me!

      And yes, size 43 must be very hard to find in France… I had trouble finding size 39-40!

  4. Good luck! I’ll be waiting for your blog posts!

    And I totally know that pre-traveling rush. I feel like my life right now is the same. I am in NYC right now, since I had to get a visa for Germany, and totally forgot the visa photos I took while I was in Buffalo. So I had to rush and find a store here which does them. There’s just plenty of things I am juggling at the moment that sometimes there are things that are forgotten…

  5. Let me know what alternatives you found to iTunes. I gave up on it a couple of weeks ago: too many ways I can’t listen to (legally purchased) music, not enough ways I can, and yeah, what’s with the incessant updating that bugs up my computer?? Bonne idée de s’inscrire au consulat. C’est drôle mais je me comporte toujours par rapport au gouvernement français comme si j’étais ici incognito 😀 Allez, bon vent la voyageuse. I’ll live vicariously through you for the next 7 weeks 😉

    • Pareil, je suis restée under the radar pendant 8 ans! Mais là, je me suis dit que ça serait plus facile pour voter quand même… il je veux voter aux présidentielles.

  6. I usually just buy the cheapest point and shoot camera I can find and that works for me. The last one I puchased is a Casio Exilim for about 130USD and it came with a camera pouch and 4Go SD card. I wouldn’t say it’s a fabulous camera but it does the job 🙂

  7. Hi Zhu,

    So, you are on the go again, eh? Good for you, girl!

    LOL there is nothing more soothing than buying shoes, and I say no more. But in the overall, I dislike the whole shopping process: I don’t know how some women can stand shopping all the time *nodding*.

    It is always good to be protected by our native country and I commend you for wanting to vote in the 2012 elections…I hope you are not going to do it just to boot President Sarkozy out lol lol :).

    Anyway, have a nice trip and greetings of the season.


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