Tokyo DisneySea

Last week we were lucky enough to visit Tokyo! I was invited to teach a Lindy Hop workshop with my pals, Lennart Westerlund and Sing Lim. We also visited with our niece who is preparing to perform at Tokyo Disneyland in the show, One Man’s Dream II.

Video – Part 1

Geoff has put together this beautiful video and another video is on its way along with his extensive, excellent photography.

Tokyo DisneySea is often voted the best theme park in the world and after our experience, I would wholeheartedly I agree! It’s stunning. And when it comes to embracing themes, they’ve gone the extra mile and really made it something special. Originally, the park was meant to be in California but they realized it would be too expensive and shelved it until some wealthy Japanese investors came along and voila! An incredible and unique Disney park in Japan.

Best Theme Park!

Besides the fact that it’s beautiful, my favourite thing about the park is the commitment to the themes. I particularly love the Mysterious Island/Jules Verne area with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I was really excited about the latter and it lived up to my expectations. LOVED it! Great story, settings, and ride through and through. It’s now in my top favourite rides of all time.

I was also really excited about the alternate story line for Tower of Terror. It was neat to experience it with a different story. I guess in some of the Asian cultures, ghosts are not seen as something to be trifled with so instead they implemented a theme with a tribal relic that puts a curse on the Hightower character who is big in the Asian parks. I was a little disappointed that it was more like the abbreviated California version of the ride and only went up and down rather than moving forward on the tracks like the Florida version. It was good but not as great as the full Florida classic.


Getting fastpasses at Tokyo Disney Sea & Land was a bit chaotic at first, but then I rather liked it. They’re still on the old paper system which means you have to hustle to get your first pass once you arrive a the park and then you need to pay attention to the time listed on the paper because it will give you the time when you’re allowed to get your next fast pass.


When you enter the park, you hang left which is where everything is. Unlike most parks, it doesn’t flow in a big circle. If you go right, you still end up having to go left on the other side of the water and you can’t get all the way around the way you would expect.

The first priority was to get the Tower of Terror fastpass and it was a total zoo to get it. You have to line up to get the fastpasses, which is annoying. But the line does move more quickly than a ride line. Once we had our fastpasses, we went on to explore the stunning park.

We started with a ride on the boats, which we were able to walk right onto with no line. It was a great way to get an overview of the park and appreciate how beautiful it is. I recommend it. Then we did about a 30 minute wait for 20,000 leagues under the sea which I very much enjoyed.

When it came time for us to be able to get another fastpass, we beelined for the Journey to the Center of the Earth line where we had to queue again. It’s a very popular ride. But I can see why! Like I said, it was amazing and there’s nowhere else that you can experience that ride. Loved it.

We opted to do the single rider option for Indiana Jones, which is very close to the one in California, which allows you to join the fastpass line. That made a lot of sense rather than using another fastpass on it.

Our third fastpass was on the Raging Spirits ride in the evening. It looks really cool from the outside, located right beside Indiana Jones. It’s a very smooth roller coaster but not really that special; definitely not as cool as my favourite coaster, which is Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom.

We were only able to get 3 fastpasses since most of them had “sold out” by the time we were eligible for a 4th.

One area that was Geoff’s favourite is the area around the pirate ship and the Magellan observatory area. It was really beautiful and special. Really, we should have returned there again later to enjoy it more. I was a bit distracted when we went to it because we hadn’t been on many attractions yet and I was eager to do so before the park got too busy, but the attention to detail and beauty of it was really unique and wonderful

Another fun surprise was walking right on to Sindbad’s Storybook Adventure ride in the Arabian Coast area. I guess it’s not super popular and also is able to accommodate a lot of people. I really enjoyed it! It’s kind of fun to do a ride where you have no idea about the story and I thought it was presented very well. And we enjoyed the catchy song, which I think is Geoff’s new theme song.

Sing and I attended King Triton’s Concert, a Little Mermaid show, while Geoff did some photography. There is a chance that my niece will apply to be in that show next year when her current contract is done so I enjoyed seeing what the role would entail. It’s all aerial work, no pun intended, and was pretty cute.

It was very convenient to grab the trolley, which runs between the front American Waterfront area and the Mysterious Island area. We rode it several times both for the view and to get around.

Popcorn is a big thing at both Tokyo parks. They have flavoured popcorn (we got curry) and the big thing is to get a collectable popcorn container of some kind. Geoff and Sing both picked the Steamboat Willie container.

I’ll continue to add to this post as I remember things that I think were important, but mainly I’m excited to see the rest of Geoff’s footage and photographs. The ones here so far are just from my phone.

To be continued…

Vienna, June 2018

We had a wonderful time in Vienna in June!

It was a business and pleasure trip. You can read about our reason for traveling to Vienna here.

I don’t have time to write about the entire trip and I’ve left it a bit long, but here are my top recommendations for Vienna that I shared with a friend who was traveling there shortly after we returned.


Schonbrunn Palace is awesome. Save it for good weather. The ticket situation was annoying. You have to get them right at the front gate in the building on your immediate left. You can book a time for the tour, which we enjoyed a lot. While you wait for your tour, the gardens are free and fabulous. This is definitely worth at least a half day and depending on how long you spend in the gardens, could be a lot longer.

We liked the ease of the Vienna Pass which includes the Hop on, Hop Off Bus. That way we could pop into a lot of places but not feel like we had to stay. The bus is great and the red line in particular gives you the full tour of the downtown which helps you get to know the layout of the centre of the city where most of the stuff is.

The Hofburg Palace is also great. I would have liked to see more of it. When we were there, the Spanish Rididng School was closed for a few days to prepare a ball which was disappointing. It’s supposed to be a highlight.

Definitely if it’s opened, the Spanish Riding School, which is part of the Hofburg. I think if I were to do it again, I would have gone to more of the various museums and exhibits that are part of the Hofburg. There are a few different parts attached to it.
Beyond that, I went to some art galleries that were nice and there are lots of cathedrals but the other parts don’t stand out quite as much.

Had amazing apple strudel at a bakery called Backerei Cafe Felzl.

We had a funny experience going to see a concert. There are people on the street selling tickets to concerts. The one we ended up in was in a tiny basement, the sales guys dressed up in the streets were very deceiving, but the music was excellent. I think it’s worth getting some info and splurging to see a good performance with costumes, etc. that walks you through the most historic and important Viennese music. The thing that has stayed with me the most is the wonderful music so next time I would try to see a good show.

Those would be my top recommendations.

Geoff’s Facebook album

Day 25 & 26

Sort of broke my silence out of necessity today when the Enbridge guy came to cut off our gas due to a potential leak. It was waaaay too complicated to write. I tried to speak quietly but it turned into something louder than a whisper but more like a croak. My voice objected to being used. Speaking again next week is definitely going to be a phased process. Today is Day 26.

Why I’m a Member of Parliament of Asgardia

In case you’re wondering what Asgardia is all about and what it means that I and my husband, Geoffrey Holmes, are Members of Parliament, I thought I’d offer some explanation!

What is Asgardia?

Hold on to your hats: Asgardia is a new nation—a space nation. For the moment, it’s primarily a virtual nation, though the Asgardia-1 satellite is in orbit and symbolizes Asgardia’s sovereign territory. Also, some of the people who count themselves as Asgardian citizens are astronauts and are in space right now. Pretty neat. (See the cosmonaut video below.)

But mainly, the vision for space is long-term. In the meantime, Asgardia is establishing itself as a democratic nation with everything that goes along with it; a constitution, a flag, a government, etc. Eventually, it will seek recognition by the UN and in the shorter term, it’s seeking diplomatic relations with individual nations.

More than 200K people from all over the world have registered to become Asgardian citizens. We’re attracted to Asgardia for a variety of reasons; the mandate to keep space peaceful and free of Earthly-conflicts, the declaration of unity and equality for all citizens, and, of course, the goal to go to space—because that’s just undeniably cool! But we’re realistic about it. I know that Geoff and I won’t be going to space ourselves. (Though if Geoff had the chance, he would jump at it!)

It may all seem a bit extreme but in case you haven’t noticed, these days the future is really racing towards us. The idea of a space nation may seem premature but by establishing the nation now, it will be ready for habitable space colonies in perhaps 30 to 50 years from now.

There’s also a need for action to establish neutrality in space now, otherwise the Donald Trumps of this world will steam roller right over everyone and space will become controlled by a single, possibly aggressive nation. (Funny that Trump started talking about a space force the exact week of the Asgardia inauguration.)

If all of this resonates with you, you can join us and sign up to become an Asgardian at

Why Us?

My own interest in space has become much more keen since meeting and marrying Geoffrey, who was a young boy when the moon landing occurred. He’s been passionate about space and space-related science his entire life. I grew up on science fiction and Geoff’s keen interest in space has rubbed off on me.

The first round of Asgardian elections occurred earlier this year, and it just so happened that the bi-elections took place shortly after a fortuitous birthday and I was able to run for parliament. And we were both elected! Out of 140 international MPs, I believe that I’m the youngest Member of Parliament.

I was particularly inclined to run in order to add another woman to the list of representatives. One of the very important members of the Asgardia administration is Lena De Winne and she has been a great inspiration to me. Lena is a smart, well spoken, strong woman who I very much admire. I also encouraged two women who I thought would be excellent members of Asgardia to run alongside me; Leah Dale (Vancouver, Canada) and Sing Lim (Singapore). And of course, it only made sense that Geoffrey, the truly knowledgeable and passionate space enthusiast, also join.

The First Parliamentary Session & Inauguration in Vienna, Austria

Last week, we had the privilege to travel to Vienna to attend the first parliamentary session followed by the Asgardia Inauguration. It was an incredible experience!

Preparing for Parliament:

We gathered to choose our Speaker for Parliament (we selected Lembit Öpik, a former British politician), to share our own visions of Asgardia, and to get down to some parliamentary business, which I’m not at liberty to discuss here at this time… But it was all very official and fascinating!

There were 8 interpreters present so that all of the MPs present would be comfortable speaking and understanding in their native language.

As a member of the Digital Team, I also had the chance to interview several international MPs.

It was a very long, productive, and exhausting day. That evening after dinner, we celebrated with a beautiful Asgardia cake, which included two Sputniks.

The official inauguration took place at the Hofburg, the formal imperial palace in the heart of Vienna!

It’s an absolutely gorgeous palace from the 13th Century. We arrived early to set up and run several “pre-show” live streams on both Facebook Live and Twitter Live. There was an official live stream also available of both the inauguration itself and the gala that followed.

As part of the Digital Team I worked alongside Rebekah Berg and Ross Cheeseright, with Geoffrey Holmes (mainly) behind the camera.

Outside the Hofburg:

Facebook Live #1:

Facebook Live #2:

Official Live stream:

The entire ceremony was truly momentous, but the highlight was definitely the message from Cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev from the International Space Station.

There was a beautiful gala dinner in a second hall and incredible entertainment. Culture is very important in Asgardia, not just science, and the performances included multicultural representation from the 12 official languages of Asgardia, performed by the Vienna Opera leading singers and dancers.

Facebook Live #3 – Wrap Up:

It was not the kind of event that you get the chance to attend very often and we ate, drank, and danced in true celebration of the incredible occasion that we were lucky enough to be a part of.

Next Steps

Now we’re back home and there’s a lot of work ahead. In true “Mandi fashion” I’m rolling up my sleeves and diving in to get things as organized and mobilized as possible. I plan to work hard to make a positive contribution to the nation.

I encourage you to learn more about Asgardia and if you’re as intrigued as I was, sign up!

Attending the #AsgardiaInauguration

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been elected as a Member of Parliament of Asgardia, the Space Nation. In two weeks, I will be traveling to Vienna for the first assembly of parliament as well as the inauguration of the first Head of Nation at the Hofburg Palace.

This is the press release about the inauguration:

Inauguration of the Leader of the First Space Nation: Asgardia



The First Space Nation to Inaugurate Leader at the Hofburg, Vienna this June

Vienna, Austria — May 25, 2018 – Asgardia, the Space Nation, will inaugurate its first Head of Nation at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on June 25, 2018. Dignitaries, global officials, and about 130 members of the newly formed parliament will witness the historic event, marking the first commission of leadership for an off-planet nation.

Since its formation in October 2016, in less than two years Asgardia has established itself as a full-fledged nation, with a constitution, flag, anthem, and sovereign territory on the Asgardia-1 Satellite, currently in orbit around the Earth. To date, there are nearly 200,000 Asgardia citizens and the nation is 172nd in global population.

“Access to outer space should be a human right, beyond the control of any Earthly nation,” says Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli, who will be inaugurated as the Head of Asgardia.

Asgardia was formed with the mission to ensure peace in space, protect the Earth from space hazards, prevent Earth’s conflicts from being transferred into space, and with the long-term goal to build a habitable, orbital space station where someday Asgardia citizens can reside.

“To safeguard humanity’s future, Asgardia is taking steps into the vast space frontier as the very first space nation,” says Ashurbeyli. “The Asgardia constitution was formed on the basis of equality and anyone who adopts the constitution can become a citizen of Asgardia.” The constitution and submission for citizenship are available at

For more information, visit:


For press and media contact:

Yasmin Perez
+44 (0) 20 7395 0496



Asgardia – I’m running for Parliament!

Dear friends, acquaintances, and strangers,

I’ve been involved with Asgardia since December and have a recently decided to run for Parliament. I’d like to share some information with you, encourage you to join, and welcome your votes! Voting ends on Wednesday and it only takes a minute to sign up and cast your votes.

What is Asgardia?

Asgardia is the first-ever space nation; it’s a global, unifying, humanitarian project and it’s open to everyone. Asgardia’s objects are:

  • to ensure the peaceful use of space
  • to protect the Earth from space hazards
  • to create a demilitarized and free scientific base of knowledge in space
  • the long-term objective of setting up habitable platforms in space

When you apply for citizenship and agree to the Constitution, you will become a pioneer in the first ever space nation. Connect with Asgardia to join a global community of like-minded space and science visionaries, forging a new future in space together.

Sign Up

The birth of this new space nation really has incredible potential. There are already nearly 200K people from around the world who have signed the constitution and become citizens. (You don’t have to give up your existing citizenship and it doesn’t cost anything.) It just takes a minute. Click “Become an Asgardian” and once you’ve accepted the constitution, you’ll be able to vote:

Vote for me…

and my colleagues!

Those of you who know me know that I’ve always been a “people mover” so when I started to become excited about the potential for shaping an incredible new nation, I immediately thought of other excellent people I know who could also make a positive contribution. Follow these links to vote for us:


Mandi Gould

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m the person who gets things done. I know how to mobilize people and how to finish through on large and long-term projects. I’m already working intimately with Asgardia and look forward to taking it to the next level.

Vote for Mandi Gould – click here


Geoffrey Holmes

With a background in law enforcement training as well as a lifelong passion for space and science, Geoff is the perfect fit for Parliament.

Vote for Geoffrey Holmes – click here


Sing Yuen Lim

Not only is Sing an incredible project coordinator and diplomat, she also has an extensive global network and brings a strong connection to many communities across Asia.

Vote for Sing Lim – click here

Leah Dale

Leah’s background in health and safety, veteran affairs, and case work combined with her dedication and hard working attitude will be an asset for Asgardia.

Vote for Leah Dale – click here





I hope that you’ll join Asgardia, the potential for the future is really exciting, and thank you for your votes!