Saturday, October 30, 2010
Bienvenue à/welcome to the archives of my travel blog! Here you'll find the written account of my travels throughout Europe from August 2007 to June 2008. To make the site navigation a bit easier, here's the breakdown of which cities I explored in which month/year:
August: Berlin, Munich
September: Munich, Paris, London, Leeds, Scarborough, York
November: Barcelona, Edinburgh
January: (pictures only) Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice, Monaco, Toulouse, Paris; (text & pictures) Dublin, Galway, the Aran Islands
February: (video)* Italy & France; Amsterdam, Leeds
March: The Lake District, Harrogate/Ripley
April: Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Bern & Interlaken, Prague, Kraków, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Reykjavik
May: Dublin, Belfast, Paris, Tours, Nice, Pisa, Haworth, Bolton
June: (video)** Eastern Europe
July: central Ontario
I hope you enjoy exploring the archives as much as I enjoyed writing them!
Until next time,
*The video is called Clubbin' Through Europe, and it's in place of longer journal entries for our whirlwind trip through the two countries in December.
**A longer-but-still-short video of our trip through Eastern Europe. It's currently music- and sound-less because of YouTube's copyright policy, but I'll try to fix this ASAP!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Two years ago, I went from being a complacent (it’s true) university student who enjoyed life but needed an extra challenge to a more focused (and hopefully less complacent, but no promises) individual with a set of goals and a passion for travel. That year in Leeds was a game-changer, as they say: an experience that opened up the world to me in every possible way. I made friends, travel plans, academic progress, and crucially, mistakes. I also made various things from raw materials, such as Nanaimo bars and giant foam breadsticks. But that’s less important (unless you’re Bryan).
And now, I’m back! A year or so later, after finishing my degree in MIT and English Lit at Western in April 2009, I’ve arrived back in beautiful Yorkshire to complete a Master of Arts degree in Film & Literature at the University of York. York, as its millions of visitors can attest, is an Olde Englande-type of place: full of ghosts and history and pubs and tea. You half-expect the spectre of Chaucer to stroll around the corner discussing legends of yore with Lord Byron, it’s so completely British. But its untouched architecture and mixed Viking-and-Roman past give York a personality that’s hard to match in the increasingly sped-up and sophisticated United Kingdom. It’s also the perfect place to come if you want to study English Literature and British film, as I do.
The trip from Toronto was a long one, if not exactly arduous. I had to postpone my flight last week due to a wicked bout of the flu, so I was extremely excited to finally get on the plane on Thursday night. After arriving at Gatwick, it took a couple of trains to get to York, but I made it about halfway through Friday, whereupon I collapsed on my bed for some much-needed sleep. However, that didn’t last for long, as I soon met a few of my flatmates (there are six of us who share a kitchen) and their friends, who are all super-friendly and excited to be here studying. My residence is entirely postgraduate, so it’s nice that we’re all in the same boat, so to speak. My flatmates even gave me some dinner when they realized I hadn’t had a chance to buy food yet!
So I’ve spent the majority of my time since then exploring the city centre and the campus, figuring out how things work, meeting new people, and organizing my room. Here’s a picture of my dorm room, semi-clean:
Our residence looks out over the university’s own personal lake (yep, it’s the largest plastic-bottomed lake in Europe. That means one thing: bragging rights) and backs onto acres of farmland. We’re surrounded by waterfowl and cows. Here’s the view from out our front door (that's Wentworth College's main building on the left):
And, to the right, nothing but peaceful nature:
A fair warning:
Cow pasture, I name thee "Walmgate Stray":
It’s wonderful being in such a quiet place (except for the early-morning quacking). It’s definitely going to make the coming months of studying and reading that much easier.
I do intend to update my blog quite often this year! Feel free to comment on posts, because I’d love to hear what everyone is up to, wherever they happen to be in the world. As I write this, of my family alone, four of us are living far from home (in England, St. Lucia and BC. Oh, and Guelph too! ;)). Where are you, and what have you been up to?
Oh, and by the way: it's great to be back :).
Monday, July 21, 2008
This occurred to me this morning as I huddled on my packer and watched my co-workers sadly don ponchos and slowly turn on their wiper blades at the beginning of a sudden downpour. Us road crew were lucky though; Pete told me later that he and the pipe crew shivered all morning in the rain as they shoveled a trench out, fixing a broken pipe down the highway. I at least made the most of my time spent watching the dump trucks get stuck in the mud-- I listened to Sigur Ros, stared forlornly at the surrounding trees, and thought about ways to wear my hair for the upcoming weddings.
Speaking of weddings! It feels like it's wedding season year-round now as Ashley & Richard get ready for their October ceremony and Bryan & Lisa begin the prep for theirs in April. We had Ashley's shower for the Lynch side a week ago (where Aunt Marlene, Aunt Pam, and Nana took up hosting duties) and have her friends' one next weekend, which will be awesome. Lisa continues to tick boxes off her wedding list while Bryan's in BC working, and we take every opportunity to go back to the dress shop to try on wedding and bridesmaid dresses ;).
In the spirit of these nuptial plans, Mom and I went to see marriage-themed Mamma Mia! on Sunday, along with a few other mother and daughter pairs, some scattered couples, and a quintet of white-haired ladies in the second row. In essence, it was the crowd that The Dark Knight isn't quite aimed at; but as Mom whispered to me right before the glittery opening scene rolled: "People just want to be happy!" So true. And in this tough choice, it's kind of win-win. Either you get to see a harrowing performance by Heath Ledger in an instant classic, or you get to see Pierce Brosnan self-consciously talk-singing "S.O.S.".
Ribbing aside though: I loved MM in all its sugary glory. And Colin Firth's reliable turn as the Embarrassed-But-Still-Charmingly-Handsome-Englishman simply means that we get to see more of Colin Firth, a chance for which I'd gladly pay seven dollars at a matinee. Always.
I love you, Mr. Darcy.
On another, more interesting note, my cousin Gerard is currently working in Shanghai and experiencing a huge range of new sights, sounds, and most intriguingly, tastes. Here's a link to his awesome blog, Feed Them On Peaches... it sounds like a crazy, fun, taxing experience, and his writings are well worth a read :).
Talk to you all soon! xx
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Why have I been away for about three weeks? I have a good excuse, really! See, I've been working pretty much non-stop since I got back. It's like I've slid back to a year ago, to that sunny day in June 2007 when a fresh-faced me, directly out of my second year of university, hesitantly climbed onto a Bomag packer for the first time on a Norwich, Ontario construction site. The rest, as they say, is history.
I'm now a verifiable packer expert (with experience on THREE different packers) with a minor in traffic control management (or, as the plebes call it, flagging). Pete and I have been working in Minesing, close to Barrie, for about three weeks now, and staying at Georgian College. Every day we work for about 11 hours and then head back home for the weekends. It makes for a simple existence, wherein the highlights are showering, eating, and sleeping. But I really am grateful for the job (thanks Greg!) and am saving up for next year at UWO, which promises to be an insane cycle of MIT and English courses mixed with part-time work and some squished-in extracurriculars. It's about a 180 from my cycle of just three courses a semester, pub visits, and travelling on the weekends in Europe. That goes without saying, I guess. But that's fourth year for ya: no jokers allowed.
I see my friends preparing grad school applications and (gasp!) career plans, and it's intimidating. I'm about a year behind academically in MIT (though ahead of the game in English Lit), so I'll be playing catch-up all year in that department. But in other ways, I think I'm doing alright :).
Thanks to everyone who came out for Richard and Ashley's Buck and Doe on June 14th! It was a fantastic time, and a great way to celebrate their engagement!
Also, CONGRATS to my next-biggest brother Bryan and my lovely friend Lisa, who announced their engagement almost two weeks ago. I'm so happy for you two :). I'm glad we got to celebrate with both of you for a few days before Bryan headed to BC and his brand-new job in the north. It's really a time of exciting change... can't wait for the crazy year that's in store!
p.s. Anyone else pick up the new Coldplay album? LOVE IT. Classy and at times heart-in-throat, as always. Their 2006 show at the ACC is still one of the best nights I've ever had.
Monday, June 2, 2008
That is how I can describe my reaction to being back in the ol' S-burg after nine months. Well, five, if you count coming home for Christmas for two weeks. As I expected, nothing has changed, though I do have a new apartment that I'm pumped about (which I saw on Saturday) and my family has ripped our basement apart in a serious renovation-y burst of inspiration. So, I guess change is afoot in our lives at the moment, though it mostly consists of tearing down drywall and adjusting to our ever-revolving lineup of Fords.
In other, much-delayed news, I am proud to present the second of a pair of travel videos that began with the freespirited "Clubbin' Through Europe" feature and continues to a more sombre piece: without further (or any) ado, here's my Windows MovieMaker masterpiece, "9 Countries, 21 Days: A Short Film".*
*Dedicated to my three travel mates, Jean, Johanna, and Francesca :).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I then met up with Francesca and a few of her friends for her birthday at a club called Oceana to dance away on the light-up dance floor, disco-style. Good times were had.
And, just because I feel like it, here's that classic alternative Canadian anthem that we all know and love... makes me want to jump on a plane today instead!
Monday, May 26, 2008
The organizer in me is elated at the prospect of cleaning house, but it's a bit daunting, so to take off some of the pressure induced by the official confirmation that I'm flying home this Friday (the 30th), Tasha, Anna-Mari, Silke and I made a quick trip to the green fields of Bolton Abbey in Skipton, West Yorkshire yesterday.
Bolton's been a functioning Christian worshiping place for 850 continuous years. You couldn't ask for a more peaceful (and pastoral) setting, either: sheep and cows roam freely around the abbey's boundaries and the land connects to a picturesque stream. Combine that with the children and their parents spending the morning outside on the walking trails, and it's classic Yorkshire: quiet and home-y. We enjoyed having some tea, seeing the abbey ruins and walking the farmer's fields just behind them before heading home to Bodington for a quiet Sunday night. Ah... serenity.
Tonight is Francesca's 21st birthday, so we're heading out to celebrate with her. Before that though, Christian and I are checking out a Guillemots show at Leeds Met University... I have a link on the righthand side of the blog page to Guillemots' MySpace-- the band's incredibly talented, and I'm SO excited to see them live. I waffled a bit over buying the tickets this close before going home, but decided I couldn't miss the opportunity... I have no idea when they're coming to Canada! I'll have an update soon to let you know what I thought :).
I'm so happy to be coming home so much earlier than expected... four days! xx