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.

The Adventure begins.

First off, I’d like to apologize for this post taking so long to appear, but getting time combined with a steady Internet connection has been a bit challenging.

It’s been a while now, so I’ll just do a recap of my time spent in London.

The travel: Leaving Canada, everything going according to plan, all my flights are on time. At least, they were until I reached Toronto. After arriving in Toronto, there were planes landed all over the runway and so we had to wait on our plane for over an hour while we waited for the plane currently in our gate to leave.

Once we actually got into the airport, it was a mad rush for me to try and make it to my next gate. But no sweat!, all the planes are being delayed, so there was lots of time. And then the flight was delayed an hour. And another. And another. And another. Finally, for a flight that was supposed to depart around 11pm, at 2:40am we were informed that the flight had been cancelled entirely. What followed in an effort to get a seat on another flight was handled very poorly by Air Canada, but I’ll not take up time with that right now.

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This is the face of someone who has spent 19 hours in an airport.

Eventually, I had a new flight, and after approximately 21 hours in the Toronto airport, I was on my way.

London: First off, let me say that London was great. After I got in, I managed to locate my hostel, and had what was a much needed shower and nap. After two days in airports, I wasn’t up for much exploring, so my first day was pretty much spent catching up on lost sleep, getting past jet lag, and checking out the hostel. It was actually a pretty nice hostel. I’ve been told that its one of the newest YHA hostels in London and I had no issues with it.

My second day in London, I decide to participate in the free walking tour that was offered daily (it showcased the royal attractions, like the palace, and the Trafalgar Square). It was on this excursion that I met Mel (whom also happened to be one of my roommates), and Sam, both of whom are from Australia. It was a decent tour and afterwards, Mel, Sam, and I all went for an authentic British pub lunch. I had bangers and mash for the first time, which was okay, except I discovered that I don’t particularly care for sweet onion chutney.

The following day, the three of us decided to see a performance, and so we set out, going from theatre to theatre, in search of cheap tickets for that night’s show. Our first choice’s were completely sold out of the cheapest seats (The Lion King & Wicked), and so we went with secondary choices. we ended up getting tickets to separate shows, Sam and I went to see The Phantom Of The Opera, while Mel decided on seeing Viva Forever (a musical based around the songs of the Spice Girls).

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The following day was pretty lax. We all went out and did our own things, with plans to meet back at the hostel later that night to participate in a pub crawl, which was really fun. There was a decent group of us by the 2nd bar, and during the crawl, we met another Australian named Isabelle, or Belle (Who happened to be one of Sam’s roomies). It was a lot of fun and we even got to educate one of the bartenders on what a ‘Glitterbomb’ was (Goldschläger and red bull, think jägerbomb).

The next day, after a reviving takeaway breakfast of bacon sandwiches and orange juice from the cafe near our hostel, we set out to see the changing of the guard. This included Mel, Belle, Sam, and myself. After this, Belle and Mel left to do their own things, and Sam and I headed back to the hostel. It had been Mel’s last day, so this was goodbye with her. Sam had moved from Australia and would be working/living in the UK for 12 months, but it was also her last night at the current hostel. I had decided on one more day in London before I continued my adventure in the rest of Europe and as I had not yet reserved a room for that night at the hostel we were at, I left with Sam and we became roomies for a night at another YHA hostel, where we met two of our new roommates, Phoebe and Annabelle. These two were also from Australia. (I have met so many people from Australia, like you have no idea). But they were pretty awesome, and we went out with them for dinner for a last English pub dinner (for me at least).

My last day in London was eventful. Sam and I decided to do some touristy activities and so we set our sights on the London Eye and the Tower of London. At the Tower of London, we saw the Crown Jewels, (lots and lots of sparkle…) Both the tower and the eye were very cool, and the London Eye would be amazing at night.

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After these, it was time for me to depart London and make my way towards the Netherlands. I had decided by this point to actually see Amsterdam on my way back (when it’s warmer!), and so took the ferry only to Holland so that I could catch a train from Rotterdam to Brussels. The ferry was neat, I had booked the night journey, and therefore also had to book a cabin for the journey. This was great because I got a cabin (And a nice shower!!!) all to myself and was able to sleep a little bit before I arrived in the Hook of Holland.

I’ll continue on with the next leg of my journey, (Brussels and then Paris), in a bit, but I think this has been a decent enough post for now. Until next time.