Archives for posts with tag: backpacking
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At the top end of Australia, over a year ago.

One year ago yesterday, my plane from London touched down in Montreal. My mother was there to meet me at arrivals and it felt a bit like one of the Love, Actually airport moments where there’s hugging and jumping up and down and perhaps even a tear of two.

I was home after over a year of travelling around the world. I was home with my mum, ready to celebrate a wedding of a dear friend with old friends, ready to take on the next adventure. A chilled-out, at-home adventure.

That was a year ago.

I’ve neglected this blog because it’s supposed to be about travel and theatre and there has been very little travel and very little theatre in this past year.

Strangely, I’ve only recently started to miss those things, things that I thought defined me more than they ultimately do, I’m realising.

This past year has been amazing and I’ve felt very happy working a 9-5 job, coming home to my one-bedroom apartment, indulging in Netflix, and having long Skype conversations.

But now seems like the perfect time to get back to it all. Shake off the comfortable routine (i.e. laziness).

And it all starts with booking stuff. My credit card has had quite the workout and (if I cover the actual costs- literally, like, with my hand so that I don’t see the numbers), I love looking at the statement. My spending represents who I think I am.

  • Train tickets to Montreal. Discount business class tickets, baby!
  • Tickets to Cabaret in New York. Alan Cumming, wait for me!
  • Tickets to Paris via Reykjavik. In January. But I love Paris when it drizzles. And days with 3 hours of light. Right?
  • And tickets to a couple of SummerWorks plays.

SummerWorks is like the Fringe Festival’s sober sister. The one who has her shit together but still likes to have a good time. But a good time with focus, if you know what I mean. So my tickets are booked for two shows that I know are going to be amazing: He Left Quietly and Unintentionally Depressing Children’s Tales. Check them out.

I’ll also be making myself a calendar of playwriting submission deadlines. So I can watch them go by. Wheeee!

And, mostly, I hope to have many amazing adventures to post here.

 

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Doesn’t this look like something that would be on a feel-good-self-help-type post? I’m thankful for my brother and that he can jump high; thankful for the sunset, Croatia, and my camera.

This weekend was Thanksgiving for us Canadians.

I didn’t have a turkey or cranberries or even mashed yams. But I did use the 12 hours on the bus home from a weekend in New York City to think about all the things that I’m thankful for. Cheap fares on the Megabus being one of them. The experience of getting on the Megabus in midtown New York as fifty other Megabuses were also loading and then sitting in a Megabus for 12 hours not being one of them.

But I am thankful for the trip of a lifetime. For the friends that I got to visit around the world. Thankful for the friends I made along the way, thankful to the people who gave me directions, suggested I try amok, put me up, put up with me, took me to plays, ate cake with me on rainy days, taught me ridiculous sentences in their languages, and understood when I freaked out about ticks and monkeys.

I am thankful for being home now, thankful that I have a home where I bump into friends and old teachers on the street. I am thankful for the friends I get to see now that I’m back. For my family. For sunny days and crisp leaves. I am thankful for the fact that after living out of a backpack for a year, settling down for a while seems like an exciting adventure.

I am thankful that I can write all this cheesy goop and that you won’t mind too much.

 

On my bus trip from Montreal to Toronto, I noticed I was wearing shoes I’d bought in Sarajevo, jeans from Barcelona, t-shirt from Zagreb, and socks from, well, Toronto.

On my bus trip from Montreal to Toronto, I thought about how this would be the last bus trip (or trip in general) for a while. I am home now and things are falling into place. I am home and things like babysitting commitments now dictate which city I should be in.  I have found a room of my own and a job that starts after Thanksgiving (which means one more month of vacation! Where should I go?). Things are falling into place and I have a year of unreal memories behind me.

So, for your random pleasure, here are photos of some of my favourite animal street art from my trip. Because I don’t think you want to hear me complain about how overwhelming it is to pack and move house, especially after your entire life fitting into a 40 litre backpack for a year.

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Sheep, Barcelona (Spain). “Je suis ceux que je suis.”

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Zebra, Pula (Croatia).

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Otter?, London (England).

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Bush baby, Copenhagen (Denmark).

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Rabid squirrel attacking other skinny squirrel, London (England).

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Wild menagerie, Copenhagen (Denmark).

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Zebra-man. Half zebra, half man, all zebra-man. Berlin (Germany).

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Warrior horse (and others), Barcelona (Spain).

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Octopus, John Lennon Wall, Prague (Czech Republic).

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Snake, Portorož (Slovenia)

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Cheetah and baby cheetah, Ljubljana (Slovenia).

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Zebra crossing (for a literal take on street art and zebra crossing), Belgrade (Serbia).

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Cat (and humans), Mostar (Bosnia).

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Birds, Kochi (India).

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This feels so far away. This feels like yesterday.
Lembongan, Indonesia.

After a year of living out of a backpack through 18 countries, I landed in Montreal on July 28th.

I have been home for a month now and time is still warped in the way that it is warped when you travel. So many things packed into so little time… it seems both impossible that it has only been a month and impossible that a month has gone by already.

People talk about the ‘reverse culture shock’ you experience when you come home after a long time away. That hasn’t happened, really, unless I’m in such shock that I haven’t noticed I’m in shock. Unlikely.

Perhaps it’s that I’ve made a pact with myself to not stress about jobs or anyreal-life things until September. Maybe that’s help me keep my travel-head on for a bit longer.  (But if you are hiring or have any leads, I’m looking for a job! As soon as possible! With a salary and benefits! September is only 3 days away! Not that I’m stressing about it or anything.)

See, when you travel, you make friends fast, are open to new things, will make an effort to go see something cool, sleep in a different bed every night (get your mind out of the gutter), and walk a lot.

This past week alone, I found myself at a picnic knowing just two people (whom I’d only met a couple of days earlier) and felt surrounded by old friends. I walked a lot (my friends happen to live in awkward-to-get-to-by-transit-and-I-don’t-pay-for-Bixi-bikes-and-don’t-have-my-own-bike-here places that are about 40-50 minutes’ walk, so I walked a lot). I went to the insectarium and botanical gardens, which is hella east in my limited geographical life in Montreal. And I’ve been sleeping at my mum’s with a bunch of other people (namely brothers and nephews) and, depending on the set up, have been rotating beds and sofas.

Not that nothing has changed at home. Things have changed. Some neighbourhoods are hipper than they were, some shops have closed, the metro ticketing system is slightly different (what happened to being able to buy 6 tickets? Hm?) and there’s a new ice-cream place. I’ve come home to new tiny humans, newly-weds, pregnancy announcements, and friends buying houses with white picket fences. The city and the people are growing up around me.

As I job-hunt, go through my photos, and figure out what I should do with my instinct to find a place to nest, I will post a few themed round-ups of my trip on this blog.

Coming up next: photos of the best street art I’ve seen this year featuring animals. Prepare for amazement.

I am on a train. In Canada. On my way back to Toronto. This is full-circle. I left Union Station westward-bound July 19th 2012. In a few hours, I will be arriving back there from the east.

A trip around the world. Well, to certain places in the world.

I was warned about reverse culture-shock. The shock of coming home after travelling for an extended period of time.

But I haven’t felt it yet. It only feels like summer holidays, like the ones I’d have in undergrad.

I’ve spent my first two weeks back in Canada in Montreal. There, I have done nothing but let myself be spoiled by my mother, meet friends for coffee, poutine, and croissants, watch two full seasons of The West Wing on DVD (I’ll be the cop that doesn’t go to the meeting), and have a reunion with old friend in l’Ile d’Orléans to celebrate the wedding of one of the most beautiful couples there can be.

All this makes it easy to come home.

It also must have helped that I went through London on my way back to Canada.

London feels like home too, with a familiar public transport system, my favourite theatres, and, most importantly, close friends always ready to offer their spare room, go to gigs in sweaty caves, take the day off work to make ourselves sick with fancy cakes in pubs, and go halfway across the city to buy a mug I saw that one time.

It helps that my quick visit to London included breakfast in Southwark, a picnic in the park, magic tricks over cider, a Josh Ritter show, a Doc Brown DVD-taping, and two Irish plays by favourite playwrights (Martin McDonaugh, Conor McPherson) starring favourite actors (Ciarán Hinds).

It helps that it was sunny every day and that the tube lines I needed were open.

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A picnic in Soho Square behind this guy. Before a matinee of The Cripple of Inishmann, starring Harry Potter himself.

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Sweating to the sweet tunes of Josh Ritter in a hot venue in a hip part of town.

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Destroying cakes at The Bridge, London.

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And then home for a wedding and dancing all night (or until 1:30 because we are old now.)

Who knows what being home will mean, but I hope to keep my eyes, heart, and options open. You know, keep that “travelling” vibe.

The last couple of weeks of my 374-day trip have sped by. The play-it-by-ear motto of my travels so far has gone out the window. For my final stint in Europe, every train was booked, dinner dates set up, and hours of arrival confirmed with friends weeks in advance.

My trip is no longer about sightseeing. It has morphed into a slow transition period of a sort of normalcy where my tan fades, I meet up with friends I already know and evade the touristy.

I didn’t see anything in The Hague except for the tower of treats for high tea. Rotterdam, for me, is a train station and an Indonesian restaurant. Days were spent cycling on pristine bike paths.

I didn’t even take a photo of the windmills we passed.

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Picnic along the bike path with Yvonne (first met in New Zealand, then Bali, and now at her place in The Netherlands). This was before I ran my bike into a pole and fell over with a big clang.

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The king and queen, Rotterdam.

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Doing nothing after a day at the beach in The Netherlands.

Yvonne drove me to the Amsterdam airport on the Thursday night, and my old friend Gerry was waiting for me with pizza and ice cream in Edinburgh.

Bad timing, being a theatre-person, what with the Festival (with a capital F) starting next week. But I was relieved- it can be an overwhelming place to be, Edinburgh in August. So I was glad to meet Gerry’s family and play with train sets, watch TV, walk in the forest, and go to the pub. And not worry about the obligations I’d have to see show after show (if you are in Edinburgh for the festival, please go see Die Roten Punkte and Oh My Irma)

We went strawberry-picking (which also involves go-carts and trampolines!). It was sunny and 27 degrees. In Scotland.  Every single day I was there.

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Scottish strawberries may be huge, but they’re sweet and delicious.

My weekend in Edinburgh went by in a flash and by Sunday night I was already in Sheffield to see Elena, a friend from elementary school.

Sheffield feels like England with its quick-changing weather, brick houses, and lovely gardens. Sheffield has nice pubs and cafes and parks. It also has a paternoster (the largest in the world). Riding a paternoster around wasn’t quite the thrill of the swing in New Zealand, but it came close.

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Flower in a park, Sheffield.

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The paternoster.

Huge thanks to Yvonne, Gerry and Emma, and Elena and Matt for your generous hospitality and for distracting me from the fact that the travels are ending (for now) very very soon.

Germans travel. That means that throughout my own travels, I met a lot of really lovely German travellers. So it was a natural decision to go visit everyone once I got to Europe.

Unfortunately, with time ticking too quickly and train fares being a lot less affordable than I remembered, I only made it to a few cities to see a few people.

I took the train from Copenhagen to Hamburg. This is noteworthy because the train went on a ferry. The whole train! On a boat!

Also worth mentioning: German trains and railway services are not actually as efficient as the rest of the world assumes. For instance, when a train from Berlin to Kassel gets cancelled, any sign of it vanishes (they don’t include it on those departure screens- you have to figure it out). Luckily, when your replacement train is late and you think you’ll miss your connection (because now you have to connect in Hannover, seeing as your original train was cancelled), your connecting train is also late, so you end up having time for a pastry at the station before heading off again.

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Student demonstrations in Hamburg include old folk singers and sofas.

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Berlin is artsy. But the galleries are closed on the day you want to visit (in this case, Tuesdays).

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Germany is all about breakfasts. Bread and breakfasts. And Nutella, juice, coffee, deli meats, cheeses of all kinds, and fruit. Now that I look at this picture again, I realise that this is dinner, not breakfast. Dinners are good too.

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Cologne has a very famous cathedral, but they aren’t afraid to build big new buildings.

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When Michele told me about the bridge with all the padlocks on it, I was blasée and all like “yeah, I’ve seen that.” But this bridge had a LOT of padlocks. The tradition apparently started in Florence. When students would graduate, they’d put their locker locks on the bridge and throw the key into the river. Somehow this has morphed into lovers locking the padlock to the bridge to represent everlasting being locked together.

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There are many statues of many guys on many horses throughout Europe. This one is in Cologne (here with tram lines in the foreground).

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Wild flowers in Kassel. I don’t think there are many things I love more than wild flowers. In Croatia, there were a couple of small raggedy donkeys in a padlock full of poppies. I loved that the most. But these are pretty stunning.

Many thanks to Soren, Larissa, Eric, Shelley, Art, Patrick, Amy, Sabrina, Johanna, Leo, and Michele for making my German adventures so comfy and fun.

Munich and Heidelberg, I’ll visit next time, promise!

After two weeks at a writing residency on the outskirts of a small town in a sunny Danish building that I later (thankfully later) found out was once an asylum (and now haunted) with a high-security prison for dangerous murderers around the corner (which I passed every day on my forest-walk), I went to Copenhagen to meet up with my Canadian friend Amy who was on her way to swing dance camp in Sweden (I have friends who rock-step their way through the world).

We quickly realised that we could not afford this town, so we spent our days walking and window shopping and wisely spent our budget on coffee in the morning and baguette and strawberries for dinner.

Good thing Copenhagen is beautiful, cool, and very easy to navigate on foot (and by that I mean that it’s a walkable city, not that we didn’t get lost every time we tried to get somewhere specific). I fell in love with every café we passed and decorated my imaginary apartment several times over.

We went on a canal tour (our wonderful AirBnB host was a theatre director with a summer job as a tour guide so we got the must-do cruise for free!) and spent the rest of the time gawking at the beautiful people that exist in Copenhagen (shorthand required as follows). Copenhagen is notable for its high density of H.D.s (Hot Dane), H.D.s with B.s (Hot Dane with Baby), P.D.s on B. (Pregnant Dane on Bike), and C.D.s (Cute Dane (reserved for little kids)).

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There’s something about Danish design. Every café. Every one. Gorgeous.

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Selling peas in pods like fast food in the town square.

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Copenhagen’s weather was predictable only in that it was unpredictable.

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A little boat tour to see Copenhagen by sea.

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Lots of people go look at a little statue of a little mermaid.

It’s a city you immediately feel you could live in were it not for the cost of things and assuming you could cultivate the cool, simple, laid-back attitude, get knocked-up, and acquire a sturdy bicycle and MacBook Air.

Today, I learned from Google, is Antoni Gaudí’s 161st birthday.

Just last week, I was in the Barcelonan sun, discovering this amazing architect’s work in person. The Modernista darling designed some of the most interesting apartments, parks, houses, and Spain’s #1 tourist attraction (which has been under construction for more than 100 years), La Sagrada Família.

I was told they’d tried to develop a film about Gaudí, seeing as he’s such a hot name, but, unlike Dalí or Picasso, Gaudí’s life was not dramatic or romantic enough. That’s what you get for being totally and utterly devoted to your work. Although he did get hit by a tram on June 7th, 1926. Everyone thought he was a tramp, so didn’t bother bringing him to the hospital. People are awful. He died three days later.

Other than that, no romance or raucous adventures for Gaudí! Work and God, that was enough for him. But God, what beautiful work!

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The courtyard of La Pedrera (built 1905-1910)

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On the roof of La Pedrera.

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View of La Sagrada Família from the roof of La Pedrera.

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Imagine living in this apartment… Casa Batlló.

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Detail of La Sagrada Família being constructed.

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Waiting to get into La Sagrada Família. If you want a glimpse of the amazing interior, get there early. Very early. Or get your tickets online.

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The spellbinding ceiling of La Sagrada Família.

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Inspired by nature: trees as columns in La Sagrada Família.

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Stained glass and amazing light, La Sagrada Família.

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Walkway at Parc Güell.

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That famous bench, Parc Güell.

Wandering a city where the façade of a building can have you entranced for many minutes (I was going to say hours, but that’s ridiculous) made me wonder why we are so afraid to inject any kind of originality in our own everyday architecture. It is possible to be beautiful and functional at once.

And I’m sure each city has its own aspiring Gaudí, just waiting for a chance to carve something spectacular into a skyscraper. Obviously, the argument is money, right? No one has any money, so build fast and cheap.

But they charge hundreds of individuals €18 each to go into La Sagrada Família (more if you want to visit the towers, which I was too scared and cheap to do), €16.50 for La Pedrera, €18.15 for Casa Batlló… the park is free (until further notice). So someone is making their money back.

I demand more beauty (and not just the kind that you have to look for through the cracks in the concrete)!

Warning: this post may contain graphic imagery.

I’m in Denmark. I don’t know why, but I never thought I’d end up in Denmark, however much I adore their movies. But here I am, in an ideal situation: 2 weeks’ writing residency at a theatre school/creation space where I have a room of my own writing, writing (checking email), writing (checking Facebook), writing.

After 11 months of travel, I have time and space and silence to get some order in my ideas (except when the actors have their workshops downstairs… then it’s a lot of howling and running around and entertainment all ’round).

The residency is in a big yellow house with beautiful light and cute little lampshades. It’s about a 30-minute walk into town through the woods. When it stopped raining today, I figured it was my chance to go for a walk and go to the store to get some milk.

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A lovely walk. Until…

There I was, following the bicycle path that little red riding hood would take, the sun filtering through the leaves, watching my step to avoid the slugs and snails as best I could…

For all the amazing wildlife I’ve seen this year, the diversity in snails and slugs was quite fascinating.

A little portrait of Nykobing Sjelland fauna:
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First of all, if you’re a slug, maybe a bicycle path is not the best place to be. Squish!

Although that was gross, it wasn’t as spine-numbing as the horrifying discovery I made.

SLUGS ARE CANNIBALS!

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Are these guys gathering to pay their respects to their fallen brother? No. No! They’re eating his corpse! The horror! The horror!

Seriously, there were slugs eating slugs all over the place. All over the place.

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Quick! Look at this beautiful bouquet of 7 different types of wildflowers! Keep looking at it- it’ll help wash away the image of disgusting cannibalistic slugs.