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Showing posts from October, 2003
I wanted today's post to be really poetic - but I think when you want something too much, sometimes it doesn't work.

It's my last day of having regular access to this blog. I will not be able to write every day now because obviously, backpacking around Europe is not ideal with a laptop - and I'd want to experience it anyway.

As the day goes on, I'm getting upset. The first person at work has just left and it was the first real goodbye. This is just going to get worse.

I think instead of trying to write something, I will post what I wrote my work colleagues:

"Thank you all for:

Making me feel so welcome
Putting up with my foreign words such as 'pants' and 'vest' and many many more
Being patient with my bossiness - but feeling content to boss me right back - I need it you know!
Making me happy that I chose Yorkshire and not London - Leeds rules!
Letting me sound really smart when I talked about Canada - when I get home, I won't have that!!
A Good Sendoff

The partying has begun. I feel completely unispired to write today simply because my head is pounding. 5 large glasses of white wine was perhaps not the greatest idea on a Wednesday night. Leads to dancing in routines, as though I'm Brittany Spears as well.

But nevermind - I'm leaving in 6 days. It somehow doesn't seem possible.
A Full Year and an Inspirational Moment

A year ago today, I woke up at my parents' place in Chicago, finished packing (eternal procrastinator) and set off to O'Hare Airport fly over the ocean to a new beginning.

I was to arrive in Amsterdam on October 23rd, 2002 to meet D - who I hadn't seen for 20 days - not that I was counting. Leaving was meant to bring many things for me/us - one of them being a renewed enthusiasm for writing and being a writer.

It seems quite fitting, when I think back over this last year, that Amsterdam was the first place I hit. It was Anne Frank who got me started on this whole writing thing in the first place.

I remember reading her in elementary school for our English class. I was so touched by her story. I starting writing religiously in my diary every day, in the hopes that I could someday make a difference like she did, that in someway, people would read my diary and feel the way I felt when I read hers.

I started trying to write more profound…
My Little Green Book
The strangest things excite me these days. I felt quite 'chuffed' and satisfied when I found a little green book, perfect size, with a hard cover, for my lists and my travels.

I have this tendency to imagine items that I want to buy without even knowing whether or not they exist. I get an idea in my head about what I want and I have trouble buying anything that is not the exact replica of the imagine item. Creativity gone awry.

But the other day, I went looking for a small sized note book that I could take with me on our travels. When we were out the first time, I had this great travel journal that a friend bought me. It asked various questions about specific days and one of them included meals. I would have never thought to include that detail in a travel log but it turned out to be quite useful. Many a time, D and I would be on trains and he would say, 'Well what did we eat that day?' - to be honest, I never really thought that question would come…
Keeping in touch

I realize now more than ever the importance of really planning to keep in touch. It's easy enough to say 'we'll be friends forever' but it's a bit more difficult than that.

I used to think that if you had to work too hard at a friendship or family relationship, it wasn't worth it. Being friends or family means you will just be there..when you're needed. You don't need to constantly be keeping up to date on each others lives.

Sadly, I used to see keeping in touch on a regular basis was 'working too hard'.

It's so easy to get caught up in day to day life. Everyone's busy and they have their own things going on - I was one of them. When I was working in Toronto, I felt like my life was consumed with work or money - or more correctly, the lack of money that I seemed to have. I seemed to be making enough but I was always getting stressed about getting in touch with friends for fear of having no money to actually enjoy myself i…
Would you like fries with that?
Using my creative juices to come up with inventive ways to make money over Christmas:

1 - Waltz into a travel agent and tell them I've been living abroad for a year - do they need any help filing?

2 - Head to Molly Maid - I've cleaned my house enough times - plus, all those rich people who will be having parties at Christmas won't have time in between shopping to Hoover the floor

3 - Giftwrapping at the mall - someone has to do it

4 - (similar to 1) Waltz into an English/Irish pub and tell them I've been living in England for a year - can I show them how they really do it?

Size is Relative
Just booked our room in Prague - it's really happening isn't it?

Getting the details of the room made me realize how little we need to actually feel comfortable. It was described by the owner as 'not luxurious' but the location is amazing.

D and I are not used to staying in any kind of luxury while we backpack. We prefer a room to ourselves as opposed to a dorm style. We like to take an 'afternoon siesta' and it's always a bit awkward with multiple people in the room.

Plus, I have a habit of spreading all my stuff out - in dorms you have to lock everything up - I'm a girl! I need to make things feel homey!

We're arriving into Prague around 8:00 at night which is why we even looked at getting a room ahead of time. We don' t even really ever book ahead.

Since the owner sent us the size, we attempted to figure out just how much room we would have.

A mate at work looked concerned,

"Well, that won't be very big but you wan…
Final Countdown
The countdown is on. Only 12 days until we fly away.

Kick it into 'Travel Girl' mode.

And I love that packing will be much easier then it was last time.

I don't even think we can fill more than one box. Makes you realize how little materialistic things you really need in life.
I got this forward the other day - I realize it is might be copyrighted so I'll make this plug - checkout as I think that's where this came from.

It really put things into perspective. Not all of it makes sense to me or is absolutely true, but it's rare these days that I get an email forward that makes me really think.

They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis."

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you
didn't know and may not like.

You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't
exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones.

What you don'…
It hit me this morning that there are quite a few aspects of life in Leeds to which I have gotten quite accustomed. I'm sure in many ways I have forgotten what it's actually like to live back in Canada. Over the past couple weeks, I have been so excited about so many things about home. But coming into work, it suddenly hit me - what about all the ways of life here in Leeds?

And so, a new list in my head is begun....

Things about Leeds I will miss:

The way I feel as I walk down the streets of cobblestones and old buildings - square, concrete buildings will just not be the same

The double-decker bus - although it's probably the only thing about the bus I will miss

The adoration of tea - I've never met so many people who knew how to make a smashing cuppa

The social life - it's a place where going out on a Friday and Saturday night at ANY AGE is not only considered normal, it's encouraged. Plus, you don't need to have a reason to go for a pint.

Jacket potatoes …
My mom said something funny yesterday about the English and their tea.

I'll have to paraphrase because I can't remember her words exactly but she said the English always seem to get through anything if they could have a cup of tea.

"Oh, the bombs are coming again Nigel - let's have a cup a tea."
"Well, doesn't look like mommy or daddy will make it back from the black plague - let's have a cup of tea"

"They've been through hell over history but seem to conquer all with a cup of tea."

I had to laugh - I happened to be quite hungover and before she rang, I had just made myself a cup of tea.

Sounds so Monty Python in an "Every Sperm is Sacred" kind of way.

Only two more weeks left in Leeds. Hard to believe that all the friends I have made here - I may quite never see them again.

I am looking forward to our last journey this year - Prague, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Paris - perhaps three times a charm.

Sometimes I have to stop and realize what has happened over this last year. We will have achieved our goal of seeing every country in Europe by the time we go home...almost..

Ireland will simply have to get a full two weeks sometime in the future.:)
I seem to have all this creative energy going on in my head but no where to channel it. I find that when I try to sit down and write a spectacular experience, it never quite sounds the way I'd like it to. It's almost as if I'm losing all capability to describe events.

My journalistic instincts tells me to cut out the words - and in doing that, I end up writing some sort of simplified version of events. It's as if all my stories now are glorified versions of "What I did on my summer holiday".

( Just looked up and realized that I used the words 'events' twice in a matter of four sentences. I must be losing it.)

(I also just noticed that this entire blog entry is a bit whiney. Perhaps I should retire and return tomorrow...)
It's my buddies' birthdays today - J&J - bizarre that I would have two good friends whose birthday was on the same day.

Make me miss home a bit - the boys who I was going to tour Europe with after university. Some things don't always turn out as you planned.

Then again, sometimes that's not a bad thing :)

Happy B-Day boys - have some Timmy's and a butt for me....
This as a daily ritual is a bit difficult - seeing as I wanted to focus simply on travel stories. When you're not travelling, I guess you turn to remembering fondly things that you did when you were travelling.

I have now spoken French, Spanish, Porteguese, Greek, Italian and German. I feel confident that I could get by in a country with only a phrase book and lots of smiles.

I've learned that I love to communicate with people. And I will go to great lengths to make sure I'm clearly understood. While D is content with pointing and nodding, I feel I must master the "May I have.." and "Thank you very much" in every language.

It's my little way of connecting with the places in the world I visit - to feel like I know the country or city just that little bit more because of its people.
The thing about trying to write all these adventures down is that it always sounds better in my head. The adventure is much more of an adventure when I think about it.

Ah, the trials of a writer...

I do feel like I am but when I read it or even start to write, it's as if I don't know any words.

And so, I turn to crosswords to inspire me...
Just changed the template..hmmm..don't think I adore this one either but I'm all for change...I'll revisit in a couple of days. Realized I have to finish my Day Cruise story! Whoops!
My Meander friend gave me the inspriration to write today. She really is more of a travel mentor than anything. I guess it suits it well since she taught me so much when we launched the Travel Channel - one of them being - GET OUT THERE AND TRAVEL!

And so, I continue to go on jaunts - our latest was Oktoberfest in Munich. I love Germany. I have been so excited to get there since we started our adventure and three days with beers and sausage, I've been bitten by the bug. I can't really explain it.

I adored the streets - even though they didn't really look that different to other European cities

The people were so friendly - although as long as you try and speak the language, so it everyone else

I felt very comfortable - must be a 'past life' thing.