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What to do in: ROME

22 Aug

Every traveller in Rome should throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Folklore says those who do will return to this beautiful Italian city. Of course, I probably should have read more into it because I had no idea which shoulder to toss my coin over. I hope I did it right!

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Don’t rain on my parade

26 Apr

It’s my BIRTHDAY!! I’m sitting in a coffee shop (not the kind in Amsterdam, although that would be a story) and enjoying a delicious Americano while writing this overdue blog. Despite the dull, rainy weather, today is going to be a fantastic day! Last year, I was in Toronto for my birthday a mere week before backpacking Europe with my best friends. I’ve come full circle. My nomadic lifestyle has finally come to an end, for now. Continue reading

Back from abroad

17 Jun

View of Interlaken, Switzerland

Clearly, I’ve become a bit lazy with my posting – busy is more like it though. I had this great post about Switzerland and then it would never load properly, which only made writing another post less enticing. I took a break, but now I’m back in Canada so here is lovely update on the last two weeks of my euro-trip.

Making the trek from Venice, Italy to Switzerland was a little rough. One boat ride and 4 trains later – I was finally in Interlaken, a Swiss town known for adventure sports, but because I’m on a tight budget, I’ve stuck to hiking.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

On the first full day, I hiked 2.5 hrs up a mountain in town in order to see panoramic views of the Bernese Alps. The hike was brutal. It was bloody steep and Stefanie, Jessie and I had to carry a backpack full of food, water and jackets. When I had the backpack, I moved like a turtle and everyone said I looked like I was dying a slow death. Jessie yelled at me to hurry up and called me a city girl. I may be a city gal, but I probably get more physical exercise than her since I walk everywhere! She drives. Well, when Jessie got the backpack, she finally realized how brutal it was and apologized. Justice was served! Continue reading

Roma & Venezia!

2 Jun

typical tourist photo of the Colosseum in Rome

Ciao bellas,

I’m in Venice! Rome is an interesting city, but not my favourite. I wouldn’t consider it a very livable city at all. The sights are amazing though. I was able to explore the ancient Roman ruins (including the Colosseum), the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and some churches along the way. I even visited Vatican City and saw the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica! I actually walked all along the outside of Vatican City because we got lost on our way out and let me tell you, that place/country is huge!! Uphill, downhill – I wouldn’t do it again, but when I finally saw something familiar, a delicious gelateria was waiting for us. Continue reading

PHOTO UPDATE!

29 May

I know, I know. It‘s been a long time coming, but here it is – a photo update! I’ve probably taken over 1000 pictures. These are just a few from Cinque Terre, Pisa and Florence, Italy.

The Mediterranean sea – shot from Cinque Terre, Italy.

Cliffside Hikes – that’s amore!

27 May

Sorry about the disappearing act. The hostel in Cinque Terre had no wifi.

Cinque Terre reminds me a lot of the Azores. It’s essentially a national park amongst 5 coastal villages. There are a bunch of trails as well as a train system connecting all of the villages. I was hoping to hike the whole path in two days. It really only takes 5 hours; however, when I arrived in La Spezia, Italy to buy the passes, I found out that the last section of the hike (i.e. the most difficult) was closed due to a landslide. I was a little disappointed, but Stefanie, Jessie and I decided to hike as far as we could in one day and then relax on the beach on the second day before leaving. Continue reading

Ciao!

24 May

The beach in Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France

It’s been a whirlwind in Europe. I guess I should start at Villefranche-sur-Mer, France.

The south of France (especially where I’m staying) is absolutely gorgeous! It’s very peaceful and relaxing. I actually made it to a beach, which is surprising considering the weather in Europe right now. The water was freezing, but the sun was blistering. My only comfort was sitting at the edge of the water and letting the small waves crash against my legs. I noticed a mom and her baby pointing at something in the water, so I got up to take a look. From afar, it looked like a piece of seaweed – but when I got closer, I saw that it was a jellyfish!! Small, but I’m sure the sting would hurt. I took a picture and ran back to show Stef and Jessie. I looked up and one of our couchsurfing hosts was swimming in the water towards us, so I ran back down to the beach to warn him BUT it was too late. He was stung – maybe not by the same one though. He played a tough guy – of course. Continue reading

Viva Barcelona + The French Riviera

19 May

view of Barcelona where you can see the Sagrada Familia

I am in Villefranche-Sur-Mer in the South of France – but first, here’s a update about my last day in Barcelona, Spain.

I decided to do a walking tour about Antonio Gaudi – a famous architect with an eccentric mind. I saw a lot of his most recognizable commissions and then the tour ended at the Sagrada Familia – which you should look up because it is amazing! After the tour, I went to Park Guell (another area he designed). It has the world’s largest park bench which is intricately tiled. Very beautiful! After all that walking, I decided to visit the Barcelona beach one last time. Pure bliss. Continue reading

Barcelona, Spain

17 May

Flamenco show in Barcelona

Despite having a rocky start to Barcelona, I am having an amazing time in the city. The weather has been beautiful – sunny skies and a nice breeze.

Barcelonetta

I arrived in Barcelona on the 14th, but after the pickpocketing incident I didn’t really feel like doing anything that day. I had an early night and then woke up the next day and decided to cruise along La Rambla – a long pedestrian throughway with tons of restaurants and random vendors selling everything from your average souvenir and artisan craft to small rodents and flowers. After I walked the length of it, I wandered through the narrow alleys in the Bario Gotic – part of the old city – and then made my way to Barcelonetta, the beach. Even though it was a bit chilly, there were tons of people on the beach tanning. I can’t imagine how busy it is in August, if it was that packed in May. Tons of people come up to you selling sunglasses, coconuts, water, beer, tattoos, massages, etc. It is a little annoying, when all you want to do is relax. Continue reading

Paris, je t’aime!

10 May

Parisian streets

Bonjour amis! I’m in Paris now and the weather is much better. Rainy, but warmer so I can’t complain too much. Despite what I’ve heard, Paris is beautiful. Sure you smell  pee at times, but it’s no smellier than Toronto. My first sight of Paris was the Indian quarter and my first meal was Middle Eastern… I knew this would be a great city!

Anyways.

I’ve never climb so many stairs in my life! This morning I woke up at 7:00am to beat the line at the Louvre and let me tell you – arriving one hour before it opens still means you have to line up around the glass pyramid. As I was waiting in line, the camera died. Oh great! The day I’m cramming in the most sightseeing, the camera dies! Just then, Stefanie notices Gerry – a friend from high school who is traveling Europe at the same time as us. Strange, but awesome. So he joined us and we traveled the city with him and he took all of the photos! It was perfect timing. Continue reading

Wet in Amsterdam

8 May

condom display in Amsterdam

If only it wasn’t so miserable outside! Yesterday morning, I woke up and tip toed out of our couchsurfing host’s flat in Frankfurt, Germany to catch an early train to Amsterdam. The rapid trains are super fancy. Stefanie, Jess and I scored seats in a 6 person cabin with a table and temperature control – I’m sure that will be my last bit of comfort for the next while.

The hostel in Amsterdam was a bit hard to find. There are too many bikes, mopeds and cars whizzing by. It’s a little ridiculous at times. Nevertheless, the city is an organized chaos. The bike riders even have their own street lights which helps.

Yesterday, I took a trip to the Sex Museum, which is small but educational and a little weird. The museum has an early pornography exhibition, erotic media lounge and bizarre sex memorabilia. There are erotic photos from the late 1800s (I had no idea our ancestors were so kinky!) and even old chastity belts on display. The Sex Museum is a must-see in Amsterdam! Continue reading

Landed in Europe

6 May

I just arrived in Frankfurt. I’m staying at a couchsurfing host’s very cute flat 30 minutes from the airport. The flight was terribly long and exhausting. You would think they’d give you a roomier seat on an international flight, but no way! We flew Air Transat. They served dinner after midnight and breakfast at 5 am our time. It was bizarre.

When I arrived at the airport, I purchased my seat reservation for the train to Amsterdam tomorrow and then I followed the directions to our host’s flat. This area of Germany looks like Canada, except the houses have super tall and slanted roofs. Once I was settled, Sabine took us to a traditional German restaurant. We each ordered something different and shared. It was all delicious! Sour kraut, breaded meats, sauces, onions, potatoes! But now, I’m severely full and a little jet legged. It’s time for a recovery nap.

Tomorrow I’m leaving at 8am to catch the train. I should mention that I forgot my Nikon DSLR battery at my aunt’s house, so now we only have Stefanie’s camera to take photos. It’s a bit disappointing, considering I was looking forward to testing out my photographic abilities here in Europe. Oh well – I shouldn’t dwell!

No more procrastinating!

2 May

Gah! I need to pack. Seriously.

There is still so much to do before I leave for Europe and I’m running out of time. Even though my flight leaves Wednesday night, I’m going up to my aunt’s near Maple, Ontario the night before so I can do my laundry and organize my backpack. Equal weight distribution is key!

This means I only have two nights with my beloved pooch and Kyle. It feels strange. I just want to cuddle them both all day and night! I know it will be really hard on the heart, but this is only 6 weeks! Can you imagine how it will be when I’m gone for 3 months? Yikes! Still, it’s better to spend 3 months missing the people (&dog!) you love than regretting you never went to begin with. This is my mantra and I will stick by it no matter how difficult it is.

I am lucky to have been given this opportunity. There are so many factors that had to fall into place. Money, a companion(s), safety, health, time, attitude, etc. I just hope it all goes somewhat smoothly!

Happy birthday to me.

26 Apr

 

Kyle made me this box with a puzzle inside

So many life changes have happened since my last post. Where to begin? The most important thing is that I am now 22!

Well, Oli and I moved in with Kyle on Saturday (that was a lot of capitals). I was nervous about the ride up here – it was Oli’s first long car ride. I put a pillow on my lap and it was high enough so that he could lay down and look out the window. The car ride made him so sleepy – and me too! I struggle to stay awake during car rides. Oli was so excited when we got into Toronto. In the first 2 minutes, two groups of people stopped and played with him on the street saying how cute he was. I can already tell he loves it here. Continue reading

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