Back to London

Finally, we are on the train and making our ways back to London! So I’m sure many of you are wondering how the competition went. In a word: egh. Not terrible, not great, nor any other adjective deserving a spot on the blog post. Just egh.

Yesterday was a relaxing day. I felt antsy, although I can’t explain why. It had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t start my day with my usual coffee, which is so important to me for reasons we’ve already examined. We went to the mall, into the French version of a supermarket, which they call a “hypermarket”. I just get pictures of people with ADD running around scooping things off shelves, but that’s just me. Anyway, Simeon had to take a look at a few suitcases. Why was he buying a suitcase in Marne la Vallée? You should take a look at the wheels of his carry-on. Really just one wheel… I don’t think it technically qualifies as a wheel anymore. It’s just a hunk of shaven plastic. His suitcase doesn’t even roll anymore. He’s been dragging it around the world for a good four months now. So he found a pretty good hard case that is smaller than his current carry-on, but only slightly. It fits everything, it just doesn’t have any front pockets.

I was still looking for a place to have a coffee, and I was determined to find a café of any sorts in the mall. I mean, at least in England, if I can’t find a Starbucks, I can find a Café Nero or a Costa Coffee, both of which are acceptable substitutes. But could I find anything of the sort in this mall? The answer is negative. We finally sat down at a patisserie and ordered two cappuccinos. A cappuccino, by the way, is a single shot of espresso, a quarter of a cup of steamed milk, and a squirt of whipped cream. That’s it. I gulped it down in about 5 minutes, but it served the purpose in centering me. I felt much better after that.

There’s an area of the mall called La Vallée Village, which is an open-air outlet strip. It’s really nice, and has all of the top name brands in outlet: Armani, Prada, Max Mara, Valentino. In other words, all of the stores Simeon and I cannot afford, even with outlet prices. I will add that throughout this entire time, my honing device was one like a forgotten wifi signal on your laptop. Suddenly, I felt the unmistakable pull, the urge, despite having just had a cappuccino, to order a Grande Eggnog Latte with two pumps of caramel syrup. The sun was in my eyes, I was being blinded! To escape the glare of the winter sun, I turned my head to the right, and there she was: the siren, arms in the air, hair wild about her shoulders, surrounded by a green and white halo. I had found the Starbucks at La Vallée Village, when Simeon’s phone, feeding off the mall’s wifi, had told him the closest Starbucks was at Disneyland. Kora’s Starbucks Homing Device had worked again. I should seriously consider marketing this sixth sense of mine.

However, I found the Starbucks too late. We had already had a coffee, and we had no need to use the wifi, as our hotel offered wifi in the reception and lounge. So we started a project Simeon and I (admittedly, mostly I) have been talking about. Since I seem to have this Starbucks sixth sense, since we use Starbucks to find the wifi in order to reconnect with our friends and family back home, since Starbucks has become that one sliver of familiarity in our fast-paced, chaotic world, we have decided to take pictures of ourselves outside of every Starbucks we visit. This way we can keep track of where we go around the world, via our Starbucks runs. We weren’t able to get a picture outside of the Starbucks at Disneyland, but I’m not worried. We’ll go back to this comp next year, where I’ll make sure we get a picture then! But to start out our Starbucks Project (that’s what we’ll call it), the picture of me at the Starbucks at La Vallée Village in Sorris, Marne la Vallée, France, is in another blog devoted to the project.

OK, comp update. I was not too impressed with the organization of this competition. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t know exactly who made these calls, but originally we had a quarter-final scheduled for the Rising Star; however, when we showed up, there were only twelve of us. That didn’t seem to stop the organizers from running it as a 12-couple quarter-final, which is ridiculous because a semi-final is supposed to be 12 couples! Well, they didn’t cut any couples. So they ran a 12-couple quarter, gave us no more than a 5-dance to rest, then ran a 12-couple semi. So basically, we just danced a semi-final twice. What really sucked was that our “quarter-final” was pretty good, while our “semi-final” sucked. We are not at the point in our dancing where we are very consistent with the feel, and we know that we stuck in a lot of traffic during our semi-final. Also, I think I pulled something in my thigh, or at least strained it, because after the Waltz in the semi, my thigh was burning. We didn’t make the final, which I was pretty upset about. We could’ve definitely been in that final. There were couples in that final who we’ve beaten before; and I think if they hadn’t run the original semi as a quarter, we probably would’ve made it. In other words, if our first semi had counted towards the final instead of the second semi, I feel we would’ve been in there. It was very frustrating. On top of it, we were not very centered with each other in our second semi, so it felt terrible, and we were at each other’s throats afterwards. We were fighting the car, but Simeon had to stop by the mall and buy some more groceries on our way back to the hotel, so by the time he returned to the car, he was calmer. And, as anyone who knows Simeon knows, if he is calm, then life is calm. When we got back to the hotel, I took a long bath to try to relax my leg and back, update the blog, and went to bed early.

Last night for the Open we had a similar situation as the earlier night. In the program, we were scheduled to dance a 1st round, but we only had 23 or so couples. They still ran it as a first round, and cut three or four couples only. Then they ran a 19 couple quarter-final. On the plus side, it meant the floor was pretty wide open for the quarter. They split the comp into two heats, with ten couples in the first heat and nine couples in the second heat. We were in the second heat. So, unfortunately for us, were Domen Krapez & Monica Negro and Warren & Kristi Boyce. They couldn’t possibly even out the playing field at all!

That’s alright, though. We didn’t make the semi-final, and although we were a little disappointed, we certainly weren’t upset. The semi-final was of very high caliber, and there was admittedly no one in that semi that we have beaten before. Furthermore, all the couples around our level, the couples that we normally battle with for positions, didn’t make the semi either, so it’s fair. Completely fair. Doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have liked to be in there, though.

I seriously cannot wait to get back to London. We’re on the train, somewhere in the French countryside, which is brown and bony and not that beautiful right now, and the train is delayed because of a broken… blah…. The driver has too heavy of a French accent for me to understand exactly what is broken. But I can’t wait to get back to a place where everyone speaks English, where we can find a Starbucks or use our phone to find one, and where we can cook our own food. Because as good as French bread and brie might be, when you’ve been living on it for three days, you get a bit sick of it.

Sutton Starbucks, your wifi may suck, but I’ll take you over France any day!


About korastoynova

With my husband, Simeon Stoynov, I travel the world in pursuit of our dreams, of which we have many. And, thankfully, all of our dreams are within our reach. We have made sure of it. From our lives as competitive ballroom dancers, a life which has taken us around the world and back, to my struggles to becoming an author, to Simeon's love of business, we have learned what it means to sacrifice, to apply ourselves with discipline, and to enjoy the journey to success. Our lives truly are made of the stuff of dreams.
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