225 Days Until My Trip Begins

Nothing very exciting here, just an update on what has been going on the past few months.

My departure date has been decided (March 6th, 2018), my plane ticket has been bought, and today I purchased my travel insurance. I have the paperwork and will submit my visa application within the next few weeks.

I have been debating on what my plans will be for my time away. I have lengthened and shortened my trip, decided upon and rearranged plans, wondered on how and when I could make certain things work. There are places I’d love to return to, new places I have yet to see, and a large list of things I’d like to manage to do on this trip. I still have months before I leave, and I’m sure plans will change even more before then, but time is already flying by and the day only gets closer.

I originally toyed with the idea being gone for about 14 months, to make more of my time away, but in the end I decided upon only being gone for 12 months in order to keep from having to stretch my funds as far. Another idea was to spend some time travelling near the end of my trip, to visit Japan. I’ve always wanted to go, and I figured there was no better time. Generally I have no problem with travelling alone, but tossed around the idea of using a Contiki or G Adventure tour for this.

As it turns out, a friend (possibly two) were planning on going to Japan later on in 2018! I’d love to be able to travel there with a friend, so this is something that I really hope happens. We’d tackle it on our own, but I’d be much more confident travelling to Japan with someone else.

I don’t really have anything else to include, so until I have a visa and can start applying for jobs, there will be more planning and preparing myself with as much information as possible.

P.S. When purchasing my flight, I made sure to get a ticket going Grande Prairie-Calgary-London, completely bypassing Toronto. Not testing my luck this time!

Until next time!

Shaq

An Update Surfaces

Like many things, I started this blog with the best of intentions. I wanted to use it to document my time spent in Europe, and to keep friends and family back home informed on my travels. With only three posts, the last of which was nearly four years ago, that plan failed spectacularly.

I stack much of the blame on the fact that the only ‘blogging capable’ device I had brought with me was my phone, and I didn’t have the patience to type out posts on the tiny onscreen keyboard. To deal with this, most updates were short blurbs through Facebook. But it can’t all be blamed on that. I have an awful tendency to start things and leave them unfinished. It’s something I need to work on.

But going forward, this IS something I’m trying to change. I want to use this blog to detail my planning over the next year, until my next big adventure, and everything that follows my arrival. I’ve been feeling stagnant, and have made the decision to work towards spending a year in Ireland.

If everything works out, my plan is to live and work in Ireland during my time abroad, and travel out from there throughout the year. I’m still figuring out the details of it, but I’m currently planning to arrive in March of 2018. This is very exciting as the planning process has already been very different from my previous trip, and the time prior seems to by flying by.

As it stands right now, I am looking at flying into London or Dublin, and spending a week or so acclimating myself to being back on that side of the world. I’ll make my way to Dublin, celebrate St. Patrick’s day as it should be celebrated, and then head towards wherever I have decided to start my time in Ireland. I’m currently looking at Galway, and am hoping I can secure a job beforehand. Still tossing around options though, and any advice/tips will be appreciated.

That seems like enough for a new start for this blog, so I’ll end this here. I’ll hopefully be ironing some things out and posting a few new details in the not so far-off future.

Cheers,

Shaq

The lands of waffles and wines.

So, last time I left off after my time in London ended. This was pretty uneventful. I took a ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, and then from there I caught a train to Brussels. This is the part where things started to go a bit wrong. Due to my lack of knowledge of train stations and the Brussels public transit network, I was lost in the city for hours. At the start, I had nails that were in very nice condition, but by the end they were broken, torn stubs. I ruin my nails when I’m stressed.

I think Brussels is the first time I experienced culture shock, but I’ll skip over that part of the journey, as it’s not very interesting.

Eventually, after hours of buses, trains, and walking, I managed to locate my hostel. It was an alright hostel, and it was there that I met one of my roommates, Kate, a women from South Korea. Kate had also arrived that day (after also getting lost), so we bonded and spent the next day together exploring the city. This included a couple of museums, finding the famous “Pissing boy” statue, and getting lured into having lunch at a restaurant that promised us free champagne if we ate there.

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We had both decided to only spend two nights in Brussels, and so, as we were both heading to Paris, caught a train together and eventually made it to France. Kate was only spending a night there before she caught a flight to Spain, and so afterwards, we said our goodbyes.

The following week, I spent a very awesome time seeing the sites, checking out museums, including the Louvre (the Mona Lisa is a lot smaller than I expected), and just generally enjoying the city. During my time in Paris, I got to go to the top of the Effiel tower, explored Notre Dame, went to a couple museums (I can’t remember the name of the one that wasn’t the Louvre…), visited the statue of St. Michel, and walked along the river at night as the entire city was lit up (Gorgeous!). It was also a very tasty place as far as food went. I didn’t venture as far as to try escargot, but a hot crepe, smothered in Nutella, with amaretto ice cream and powdered sugar, utter heaven.

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While in Paris, I took a day trip to Versailles, which was gorgeous. I didn’t get to see the gardens because I had got out there later than I had planned, and the closing times they had posted on their site were different than the ones they had when I got there, but the palace was absolutely stunning.

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It was a really great week, and a great city. By this time it was also easier, because my culture shock was going away, and enough people spoke enough English that I was able to get by. The French I WAS able to use wasn’t too shabby either. It’s something I might seriously take up again when I return.

I saw Kate once more before I left Paris, she was flying home out of Paris and had returned from Spain the night before I left. We had some (really cheap & terrible) champagne that night, and then said a second set of goodbyes. The following morning, I was on a train heading for Madrid.

Hostels I stayed at were:

Brussels – HI (YHA) Generation Europe. Alright hostel. Bit out of the way of a lot of things and Internet was spotty.

Paris – Hostel Arty. Also an alright hostel. No lockers in rooms to actually store your stuff, and this one was a decent metro trip away from the sites. But it was quiet and pleasant. Lack of plugins in the rooms though.

Recommendations: The louvre, of course. I rode to the top of the Effiel tower, which was cool, although maybe not something I’d do again. Do try and see one of the nightly light shows though. They happen after dark, at every hour, for maybe 5-10 minutes. Versailles is something I’d see again, and see it all, not just the palace.