Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Upcoming Travels!...

Inspired by a travel planning post on From There To Here, I've decided to get my s!@# together (for lack of better words) & set up at least some sort of schedule for my travels this upcoming year. This will  a) keep me stoked, b) keep me organized & c) keep me accountable. I imagine it could eliminate some stress as well, although I wouldn't know because I've never been much of a planner with regards to... Anything in life. I've always been the laid back, plan as I go type of traveller but I think I may actually find planning fun. Well at least that's what I'm told! So I'm giving it a try & I've also categorized my adventures (quite proud of that) so here goes... & of course plans are always changing, but wish me luck!

Side note: During most of my European travels I'll be staying with friends who I met during my year in Paris, otherwise I'm sure this list would be quite a bit smaller... & some of these destinations I will be re-visiting for the 2nd or 3rd time as well!

Living in Ireland, weekend trips to Scotland will be quite convenient. I have family living here, as well as one of my best friends who I met in Paris, who will (hopefully) be here at some point during my two years! She's in Australia at the moment, so if I don't see her in Scotland I will be seeing her in Australia for sure.

Likewise, England will be easy for weekenders. I have plenty of family here too & so far Brighton & Oxford are top on my list of destinations. I imagine I will be taking many trips to London too, being one of my favourite cities!

Abbey Road, London, England

Week or Two Longs
Next Autumn (of 2014) I'll be taking a trip back home (Canada) to visit friends & family, possibly even trekking out West to see my hometown girls. Anyway, on the way over I will taking advantage of Iceland Air's stopovers, spending a week here... Although I would love to make it into my plans to somehow stay longer. I have a slight obsession with Iceland, although I've never been. Iceland is probably the first country that actually made me want to start planning & that's saying something!
Finland, Sweden & Norway
Over the Christmas holidays I'll be going to see my friend Heidi who currently lives in Helsinki. During my trip I'll also be making my way to Oslo to visit another Scandinavian friend who I met in Paris... & of course, being a snowboarder I cannot pass up the back country riding in Sweden! Actually I'd like to snowboard in each of these countries during my stay, as the snowboarding in Ireland will be... Well, non-existant! But we will see if I actually get to. I haven't made an itinerary yet (like I said I'm terrible with planning), but have a few adventures that come to mind... Seeing the Northern lights, Lapland & Stockholm to name a few.

Snowboarding in The Alps

I have a friend who lives in The Hague who will be taking me to lesser known parts of Holland & of course one or two days will be spent in Amsterdam... I'm excited to see more of Holland though (or the Netherlands, whichever you prefer), as I have Dutch heritage. I also am a firm believer in the fact that there is much more to Holland than Amsterdam, so absolutely stoked to discover the other side!

I know I say I have family everywhere, but I genuinely do! I have family still living in Germany & will definitely be seeing them this 'round. I've only had the chance to take weekend trips over from France thus far, so am making it a priority to spend at least a week exploring Germany... & if I am in Europe at the time, I WILL be attending Oktoberfest, no doubt about that!

Pre-Oktoberfest in Canada, yes we have our own.

Spain, Italy & Greece
I've categorized these as one, but haven't decided yet whether I'll be making one two week trip or a couple of shorter trips, it'll all depend on timing! I'm trying to plan Greece with one of my Canadian friends who will either be coming over from Canada or Australia, depending where she will be at the time, so I'm hoping that will pull through! Other than that Florence is huge on my list of destinations & the rest will just be decided as I go.

Month Longs
Australia & New Zealand
I'm determined to make Australia & New Zealand happen, as I have a ridiculous amount of friends & family who have moved here yet I've still not made the trip! Also of course, I am a wino & will be eating up the vineyards (or should I say drinking?)... I'm hoping to do more diving here too because I'm making it a goal of mine to complete my Divemaster. This trip will be taken after my return from Iceland/Canada in Autumn 2014 & before my Southeast Asia trek. I haven't decided the time limits as of yet because I'm looking into actual visas so that I can possibly participate in WOOF. If I obtain a visa I'll be staying the full year.

Even Longer Longs

I want to say this is Limerick (Ireland), but honestly it could be anywhere. Yes I lost track during our road trip, my bad!

I'll be living here come October for the next two years! In the heart of Dublin city to be exact. Of course I will be travelling all over Ireland during my time here, scattered about whenever possible. The family I will be working for has a Summer home in Wexford & I also have Irish family I will be seeing! (I know, I know, I have family everywhere it seems...) Belfast is technically Northern Ireland, but I will also definitely be making my way there at some point, though still unplanned. I've seen quite a bit of Ireland already, but I'd love to spend more time in each town this go, seeing as how I'll obviously have the time!

Southeast Asia
This has been on my list for far too long... & every other traveller's list if they haven't already been! I've always spent my time travelling while still working, but would like to do Southeast Asia with no commitments. I'll be taking this trip after Australia, so the Winter of 2014 & plan on travelling for 3-4 months. Of course, if I obtain an Australian visa, Southeast Asia will be postponed! I'd really like to take my time here though & am looking into doing my Divemaster during these travels. On my list of destinations (quite obvious choices)... Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia & The Phillipines.

Fingers crossed my diving photography improves during these travels...

So there's my list, which will occupy most of my time for the next 1-2, even 3 years. Needless to say it's not looking like there will time for school anytime soon (if ever haha... Sorry Mum!). There are of course other places in Europe I will be seeing during my time living here, but these were just the ones I know for sure will be happening. Writing this list has actually made me realize just how unorganized I actually am... Haha, which will probably never change, let's be honest. I love not having set destinations, times, or activities planned, whether that's to my advantage I'm not quite sure.

Also on my list but yet to be planned:
❤ South Africa
❤ India
❤ China, South Korea & Japan (ESL opportunity here?!)
❤ More American States (namely Alaska, Texas & New Mexico to visit friends)
❤ South America (Peru & Brazil at the top)
❤ Egypt, Israel & Jordan
❤ The Eastern Coast of Canada!
❤ A trip back to the Alps, French or Swiss for more boarding
❤  Weekend trips to Paris & the South of France to see all of my loves! (Loves being both places & people)...
So what about you guys?! Do you have any travels planned, even just weekender trips near your hometown? Vacations, move abroads, backpacking treks, I'd love to hear! & as usual, thank you for reading. Bisous!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Travel Mistake I Made in Paris (Cringe Worthy)...

I'm just going to go ahead & state the fact that I seem to make quite a few more mistakes than the average traveller... Or at least it often feels that way. I'll just dive right in to one of the last memories I will always have of Paris. Word of warning, be prepared for sarcasm.

One of multiple shopping trips I took that year, this one in Saint-Michel.
So let's start the day before my flight home... I'm in my guest house, frantically trying to (last minute) pack up my year's worth of shopping, refusing to let go of even the silliest of things. To give you more of an idea, I was packing items such as three different types of bar soap from the South of France, multiple 'shades' of nude lipsticks, Winter coats that I had purchased (because every girl definitely needs multiple wool coats in varying lengths & colours) & about 5 or 6 pairs of high heels alone. These were just a few of the ridiculous items I managed to pack into my suitcase. Of course, the suitcase was literally bursting at the seams, but I still absolutely refused to leave anything behind.  
As far as carry ons, I was using my weekender bag & a giant handbag, stuffing both to the brim, to the point where I had to carry my laptop in my hands, without a case I might add. On top of this, I also had a snowboard, complete with boots, helmet, jacket & pants. Oh & without a case also. Yes, at the age of 18 I would rather spend my money on an oversized ostrich skin, ridiculous looking handbag than cases for my laptop & snowboard. So what did I do? What would any other Canadian do... I duct taped (or as close as I could find to duct tape in France) my snowboard to my suitcase, I even have photo proof. Priorities ladies, make yours smarter than mine.
No words...

Qeue that night, before the flight, with me frantically calling my Mum back home to transfer money over to my account so that I could actually afford a taxi to the airport. I had blew my last week's pocket money on a night out to say my goodbyes to all my expat girls. In terms of my savings you're thinking? I'm not even sure if I knew what that word meant... Needless to say my Mum was NOT too impressed, but had not seen me for months & just wanted me home so thankfully agreed. Did I mention I was an over dramatic 18 year old & I was in tears this entire day/night?

So... Booking the taxi. You'd think after a year of living in France & speaking French everyday, I'd be able to do this no problem? Well, I did. Except the company I called, never came. Turns out they didn't feel like driving out to Versailles at 3am but failed to mention that to me over the phone. The first train didn't leave the terminal until 6am & my flight departed at 9am. The train ride alone was an hour & a half... & if you've ever flown international, you'll know that that's cutting it extremely close to check-in time. Actually my check-in time was supposed to BE at 6am, so during this train ride I did not even know if I would be seeing Canada that day.

Champs-Élysées, I blame you for my overpacking.
The journey was the worst, due to my overpacking naturally. I walked a half hour to the station & being the 100 pound girl I am had a pretty tough time heaving my luggage behind me. No gym membership & wine apparently make for weak muscles, who knew? When I got to the station, of course the booth was closed (being 5 in the morning), leaving me without a way to purchase a ticket having no cash, which... Resulted in me being forced to jump over the barriers & find some nice, young gentlemen to lift my luggage over after me.

Luckily there was only one connection during the train ride, in which I actually did not make, because the doors decided to close on my suitcase with my laptop & handbag still remaining on the platform. Of course, this tacked on an extra 20 minutes to my trip, having to wait for the next connection to arrive. The next connection I was slightly smarter & enticed a few Frenchies to help me haul my luggage, at least I knew how to do that right? Haha...

When I got to the airport & finally found the correct terminal (my luck it was the furthest away), it was already nearing 8am & to my dismay my luggage was 30 pounds overweight, due to my utter ignorance. At this point the frustration was getting the better of me & I just wanted to get the f!@# back to my English speaking, hearty food eating, heavy whiskey drinking home country.

Seriously though!

So I opened my suitcase in the middle of Charles de Gaulle & proceeded to pick up heap after heap of miscellaneous items (clothing, makeup, shoes, books, you name it!), dumping it on the counter as I went. The nice young lady serving me was a tad baffled/in complete shock & I had my fair share of stares from onlookers, which to be honest I was used to anyway for half of the questionable things I did that year.
Without waiting, I picked up what was left of my belongings & walked through security, only to make last call for my flight. They were calling my name over the intercom. Story of my life, but seriously, I am that annoying person, my apologies if you're ever on a flight with me. I didn't sleep a wink on the flight home, even with the few glasses of Shiraz I slugged back. I say few meaning about 10. Au rev(f!@#ing)oir Paris!
If you've managed to read this far, I first applaud you. I second apologize, I'm fully aware my story telling needs some work. Though, I sincerely hope at least one person finds enjoyment out of my story. Personally, I find this hilarious now, which is more than I could say at the time. Also highly embarassing how inexperienced of a traveller I was, oh to be 18 again. Next... I have just a few key pieces of (slightly obvious) advice, so keep reading please!

Versailles in Winter, my home for the year.
The Advice:

1. You do not need to bring home 10 magazines. Or 3 pairs of yoga pants. Or the pillow that you bought at Ikea... In fact do not bring these items with you & please do not purchase them on your travels either, with the exception of magazines, but discard, discard, discard.

2. You will regret bringing a weekender bag as your carry on. You will also regret carrying an oversized handbag on your shoulder. Opt for a backpack & a crossbody purse at most. Trust me.

3. Have a backup plan if your way to the airport fails. Even if this means calling 3 cab companies & turning down 2 of them if they all arrive. This is a piece of advice I am swearing to from now on, due to sheer paranoia.

4. Buy cases for your expensive items. This is one area not to be frugal in & although you would think this one's common sense, obviously it was not for me. My $800 snowboard took a pretty good bang up job on the way home, all my fault... & in terms of my laptop, how did I not get robbed?!

& lastly...

5. Do not blow all your money while travelling. Have at least an emergency fund for unplanned transportation, food & even a night or two stay incase you miss your bus, train or plane.

I like to think my boy Nelson knows my struggles.

I'd love to hear any of your travel mistakes, big or small?! Send me a blog post you've wrote or comment below! (Seriously, it will make me feel better about sharing my own humiliating story...) Or if you don't have a story, maybe just some obvious tips you've neglected to follow over your years of travelling? I know I can't be the only one.

* Disclaimer: I am thankful to say I am a much more experienced & mature traveller at this time, though I hate to say I'm positive many more mistakes are sure to follow... Also please note that this is written in a dramatic fashion, I'm aware. Please give me some grief, I know that there are much, much worse things that could've happened to me throughout this journey. I'm merely sharing for entertainment purposes!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Capture the Colour: Canada Eh

I've loved seeing everyone's capture the colours, there are definitely some talented travel bloggers out there. So thank you for the tag Alex! This entry is purely for fun, so I decided to add in the colour orange because I'm awful with decisions. I figured what better travels of mine to represent than my own country?! Anyway, if you aren't sick of sunsets yet, you'll enjoy!

Yellow: One of my favourite places to wakeboard!... West Lake, Ontario (Sandbanks Provincial Park).

Blue: A beach in Wellington, Ontario I tend to frequent.

Green: One of the million fields in the countryside near my home (& my dog, Bourbon)!

Red: One of my favourite hobbies, fishing! In Stirling, Ontario (a.k.a. Hicktown).

White: A lily in my own backyard!
Orange: Pumpkin patches surround the area I live in during Autumn; this was taken at one of my favourite places to stop at on my way to work.
I would love to see Andrea, Katherine, Kelsey, Brooke & Claire do this. I think you'd all rock this! Until next time...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Views from Up Top: Eiffel Tower Edition

Looking through my photo collection I noticed I have quite a few photos from 'up top'... So I thought I should probably start a little series of sorts & with that I bring you the first post, eiffel tower edition! These will just be short refreshing posts. I also narrowed it down to 8 photos for everyone's sake. Enjoy!


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Cost of Au Pairing

Getting closer & closer to the date of my departure, I'm kind of curious (& scared) to figure out the actual cost of my decision to au pair once again, this time in Ireland. I'll compare the cost with that of when I au paired in France, but to be honest my memory is pretty horrid & it will more or less just be educated guesses. This will hopefully help some of you who are thinking about au pairing yourselves! Especially because when I googled the subject, it was incredibly difficult to find any sort of information on the topic.

Visa: $425 + $2,500 in Support Funds
Flight: Originally $600 one way, but I had to change the date so ended up being closer to $900.
Essentials: Unfortunately I destroyed my laptop, so I will be buying a new one, as well as a backpack for travelling within Europe & new travel adapters. Say $1000.
Savings: Will be bringing around $3,000 (which includes my Support Funds).
Total: $5,325

Visa: I believe it was around $200.
Flight: $700 (2-Way, family reimbursed me)
Essentials: I probably spent around $300, but on new clothing rather than actual essentials.
Savings: Maybe $500
Total: $1,000

Pretty massive different between countries, but then again the Ireland Working Holiday Visa does require Support Funds, which the Au Pair Visa for France did not. Also I will be buying practical equipment this round as well as of course bringing more in savings. I will definitely be more prepared this trip, happy to say!

Also, bare in mind that although this does seem pricey, just think of the cost of moving abroad without a job lined up, having to pay first & last month's rent right off the bat, putting down deposits on utilities, worrying about your spending until you actually can find a job, etc...

In all, au pairing is a great way to move abroad for those with less funds or with the urge to leave NOW. I will also be finding myself a weekend job to fund my travels even further, which will ultimately allow me to live on my own! Any au pairs out there?! Would love to hear your thoughts.