Wednesday, 26 December 2012


It has been several weeks since my last post where I said I was going to take a hiatus (which I am), however, I do want to share a few of my photos of my recent trip to Cuba. These are mainly scenery shots or ones where I made an attempt to be 'artsy'. I hope you enjoy them.

Varadero Beach

Seashells littered the beach (but what lovely litter it is)


Tucked away from the main area of our beach...

and leading up to here

Sails on the Atlantic Ocean

A curly-tailed gecko (or lizard) - it's soooo cute!

An evening view of the resort and ocean - one of the clearer days we had

Varadero City market after the rain - I got caught in the downpour sans umbrella and was soaked through but still a great day!

A public beach in Varadero City (after the downpour)

The ocean (smile)

Cathedral in Old Havana

Cathedral detail

Havana's Capitol building

Exquisite and ornate detail inside the National Theatre

The next 5 photos are of the art of Havana's streets - some weathered, all of them an expression (as all art is). I am coming to really enjoy street art and plan to photograph much of it on my future travels and wanderings.

My attempt at art with my camera

Windows and balconies in Havana, they have seen much I imagine


An old fortress

Back at the resort - my toes, poolside

I never did go in that pool

Friday, 7 December 2012

Havana Street Art

Recently I returned from a week`s vacation in Varadero, Cuba. I was there to attend a friend`s wedding that was held at the resort we stayed in. During the week I took a day trip to Cuba`s capital city, Havana.  I visited only Old Havana as it is too large of a city to be seen in a few hours. The little I did see was a mix: the old glory and beauty worn but emanating its own weathered character. Perhaps a reflection of the city`s heart, a beauty of it own kind. 

My favourite piece of street art in Havana. One of the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen.

There was numerous amounts of street art around Havana. I am beginning to appreciate this form of art and expression in the places I visit. People giving a part of themselves to area around them. 

P.S. I would appreciate it, if you use this photo that you give credit to me (as it is owned by me) and link back to my blog. Thank you.

On Hold

Well, as I posted previously, I had suspended the weekly Sunday photo due to a dead computer. After two months I finally bought a new computer (laptop). Although I still am not computer savvy I do feel I have made a tad bit of progress in regards to catching up with the rest of the technological world. Now I just have to get access to my old computer (and soon, as tax time approaches I need info off of it). I`ll get off my bum one day.

So, does that mean the return of the weekly photo? Maybe....maybe not. It might become the sporadic photo post. I do have some great pics from my recent trip to Cuba and can find some others too but..........

Truthfully, I am just not into blogging right now. Actually, I am not into much anything right now. So I will take a hiatus. Not that you should be surprised as I am quite negligent of my blog on good days. Some writer I would make one day....NOT!  

In the meantime, I will try to figure out how to get out of the funk I have been in for quite a few months. Some stuff has improved (work) and others are the same. Just feeling like I am inadequate and don`t measure up. Wondering if I can even do this big trip. I want to but am seriously doubting my capacity to live my dream. Doubting everything I do actually. Everyone is better at things than me - even if they are bad at them. So while I work my way out of this, I will probably not post much or just a photo or two. (That being said, I am posting a pic of my favourite piece of street art I saw in Havana right after this posting.)

So while I try to stop feeling sorry for myself and figure out where my head is at I hope you all do well and enjoy the holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, if at all. As for myself, I will probably do a double feature at the movies on Christmas Day. It`s a tradition I love that I have neglected over the last couple years.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Screams in the Night

A dark industrial area on a gloomy, rainy Vancouver night. Nervous bodies walk down a dimly lit back street. Sounds of screams pierce the dark while creatures of the night sneak about, seeking their next victim. Around the corner you are welcomed to the dankness of "The Daily Grime", a place where souls are lined up to experience blood curdling horror of a wicked, twisted imagination. You are at the Dunbar Haunted House.

The Daily Grime
Dunbar Haunted House has been spooking and scaring Vancouverites since 2004. Family-run and created to celebrate Hallowe'en, Dunbar Haunt has supported BC Professional Fire Fighter's Burn Fund, The Christmas Bureau and the Vancouver Police Union Charity Foundation for several years. Last year to the tune of $67,000. This year will be sure to beat that as the popularity of this annual event is larger than ever.

Dunbar Haunted House
My first visit to Dunbar Haunted House was four years ago at their former location, a residential house on Dunbar Street. With a wait of maybe twenty minutes (on a weeknight) and admission by donation my friends and I entered this small house of horror. It was a thrill for the senses and amusement for my friends as I screamed my head off (not because I was scared...I was just startled by monsters jumping out at me!!) This year's visit and my third one to the haunt over the years was by far the most memorable. The line up at their new location was enormous and we waited almost an hour. Covered tents were set up to keep everyone dry from the rain while costumed volunteers and a band kept spirits light. The theme of "The Daily Grime" was evident outside the warehouse with props, light, actors and signage. The dark and rain naturally created a mildly spooky ambiance. As our group of seven inched closer to the start of the tour we became giddier and wondering who was going to be freaked out the most. We split into two groups so that we could experience the haunting fully. I was, once again, put in the front of the line. It was indeed a scream-fest! More accurately it was a scream-and-laugh-fest. You knew what would be coming but you still screamed, jumped and laughed nonetheless. It was a well spend $10 and having it go for charity was worth it. I highly recommend Dunbar Haunted House to everyone who enjoys a good haunting.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Recently I had a conversation with someone who was on their way to Italy. They were headed to Venice for the first time. I expressed to them how much I enjoyed Venice when I visited there eons ago. We chatted a bit of their plans and what I saw of the city. After the conversation I began to reminisce. I visited Europe during my first backpacking trip in my early 20s. What kept coming back to me about that trip was how, even through one of the most tumultuous times in my life, I was content. That trip was a "breather" from a trying time in my life, one that spanned almost 5 years. It was a small yet significant reprise for me.  I can remember sitting on a train in Germany, listening to music after having had a laughing fit with my traveling companion Izabela. I looked out window at the Bavarian landscape, taking in the dark green of the Black Forest and the weathered castles poking through the trees. I smiled to myself - I could have gone on for ages in that frame of mind and heart.  The word "happy" was insufficient to describe what I felt. I was content, so very content. Having had such emotional chaos I needed to know something else, even for a short time. To experience, to know that I did not need anything else at that time. My problems had not disapeared  when I returned to Canada, however, I did have something to cling to and strive for as I worked through them. Perhaps that is why, to this day, that trip has been the best one in my life. I was content.


Do you have a nickname? Something someones calls you affectionately? Un-affectionately? Something that has stuck with you since you were a kid? A shortened version of your name? Something you're known for? Many of us do, myself included. And so do cities. Some of them so famous that you know exactly which city is being referred to by its famous moniker. I have decided to compile a list of city nicknames that I know of (and plenty I've taken from Wikipedia and online searches). The ones I am familar with are listed first and then are the ones I have looked up:

Vancouver, Canada - No Fun City, Lotus Land, Van City
Toronto, Canada - T.O., Tronna, T. Dot
Winnipeg, Canada - Winter-peg, The Peg
Thunder Bay, Canada - The Lakehead, T Bay, Tunder Bay (w/ a Finnish accent!)
Sault Ste Marie, Canada - The Soo
Chilliwack, Canada - The Wack
Fort McMurray, Canada - Fort Mack
New York City, USA - The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, Empire City
New Orleans, USA - The Big Easy
Philadelphia, USA - The City of Brotherly Love
Reno, USA - The Biggest Little City in the World
Los Angeles, USA - The City of Angels
San Fransisco, USA - The City by the Bay
Detroit, USA - Motor City
Chicago, USA- The Windy City
Boston, USA - Beantown
Hollywood, USA - Tinsel Town
Las Vegas, USA - Sin City
Paris, France - The City of Lights & Bridges, The City if Love
Beijing, China - The Forbidden City
Rome, Italy - The Eternal City, The City of Seven Hills
Jerusalem, Israel - The Holy City

Nairobi, Kenya - Green City in the Sun
Havana, Cuba - City of Columbus
Venice, Italy -  City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - The Wonderful City
Lima, Peru - The City of Kings
Mumbai, India - The City of Gold, Bollywood
Hong Kong, China - Pearl of the Orient
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam - Pearl of the Orient -yep, same as HKG
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Paris of Latin America (only in early 1900's), The Port City
Seattle, USA - The Emerald City
Adelaide, Australia - The City of Churches
Sydney, Australia - The Harbour City
London, England - The Square Mile
Budapest, Hungary - The Pearl of the Danube
Prague, Czech Republic - The Golden City
Saint Petersburg, Russia - The City of White Nights

Now by all means this list is not extensive - it would be too long to post. Of course locals have their names too, as you may have guessed from some of the Canadian cities I listed. If you have any city nicknames to add, please do so in the comments section!

Cheers! Eeva

P.s.  Over the years I have had about 7 nicknames....some I don't like & some I love! Eval Kneval signing off (hated that one when I was a kid cuz it was based on a mispronounciation if my name). :-p

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meaningful Travel

The first time I heard about volunteer vacations was when I was a studying massage therapy. The student clinic's part-time receptionist had gone to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean to volunteer with a group that was working with sea turtles. She spent mornings and part of the afternoon with the sea turtles and the remaining time was hers. It was obvious when she described her experience that she had a great time. Soon thereafter, I saw books and came across websites about "volunteer vacations". I started thinking that it would be a great way to see some areas and to give back. A good friend also pointed out that it would be very rewarding for me as well. Giving even more meaning to my travels :-) So I have decided that I will do that.

Now comes the research into organizations that: 1) I want to give my time to and  2) those that would have me! I have looked into some sites, though the planning of this is still in its infancy. I need to learn more about quality organizations, where to volunteer, types of volunteering I would like to do/be qualified for, etc.  Below are some sites that I have learned a bit about. The one place that I really really really really want to volunteer at is the N/a'an ku se Foundation in Namibia, Africa  I first read about it in a edition of Outpost magazine and I was immediately intrigued. They have wildlife and medical volunteer positions. No experience is necessary and you can volunteer anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Their website has complete information about the foundation, volunteering and what to expect. I am wanting to go for the complete 3 months. I am so drawn to this place. Who wouldn't be? They work with both people and animals. Although I don't have an extensive medical background I do have a good understanding. Furthermore, I can get all my First Aid training while completing my continuing education for my work. Having that training would not hurt. So this is on my itinerary (pending they will take me). Wohoo!

Now I need to learn more about other volunteer opportunities. There are plenty out there along with websites/communities that show multiple organizations. Plenty offer room and board in exchange for working on (organic) farms, teaching, etc. Those are all great but I would like to work with girls and women. We are the greatest resource in the world but in many places, sadly, we are not treated equally or with the respect that every person deserves. Education is lacking in more than one sense of the word. Girls are not allowed to go to school or must stay home to care for others. Societally, many people think that girls/women do not need education. How much that needs to change. I would like to be able to volunteer so that I can learn more about life: my life, their life, the life of the world. I do not know what to expect and that is probably a good thing. Nothing like being taken by surprise I suppose. I recently learned about the Half the Sky Movement and I am intrigued. It is a book and now a foundation. I am trying to get a copy of the book from the public library so that I can read a bit more about them in addition to the webpage. If I like what I learn about them I will consider volunteering with them. I want to work with quality organizations and ones that resonate with me.

Now I am going to be honest. We all know volunteering is a great thing to and for a cause. I, however, had selfish reasons for wanting to volunteer.  I though that I could do something helpful like picking produce on farms so that I could save money. place to stay and some food in exchange for work. I am also sure that there are others out there with the same idea. It may not be a noble reason but the end result is the same, right? I still may try to do somethings like that with Help Exchange or WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). We'll see. Though, I can say this for sure. Volunteering with organizations that resonate with me more (like N/a'an Ku se and/or similar to Half the Sky) my desire would be to help, learn and grow.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

20 minutes to midnight

This evening I went out to a belated birthday celebration. Jena had organized her group at The Tap & Barrel, a restaurant/bar in the Athletes Village area of False Creek. It was a nice time to celebrate Jena, reconnect with a couple of old acquaintances and make some new ones.

At the end of the evening I headed out the way I came, alone, in the direction of the Skytrain at Main Street. I decided to walk along the "seawall", past the moorage of the Dragon Boats with Science World twinkling blue and red lights behind it. I paused and leaned against the post rained-on rail, taking in the reflection of lights of BC Place and the intermittent lights of traffic on the Cambie Bridge. I took in the calm on the waters of False Creek, the clearing sky and a quietness that is uncommon in a city centre, even with the blanket of night.  Soon, though, I began to hear more. The traffic din grew a decibel louder. The chatter of voices arose. The hum around me ensued. I began to notice movement around me. The couple on a nearby dock, kissing and laughing as they were caught up in love, or simply lust. The barely noticeable body taking their black and white dog out for a long awaited rain break. The group of friends laughing at a new found memory. I looked to the time on my phone. It was twenty to midnight. A Skytrain shuttled past. Again my eyes looked towards Science World and the movement on the nearby roads. Behind me I heard the not-so-distant sound of police sirens wailing. A thought flitted through my mind: "Someone's life is about to change." I thought of how our lives move. How standing there; everything, everyone was inert in regards to my life and me to theirs.  Much was happening around me but nothing dissected my life. Or did it? It made me wonder for a moment of the mechanics of chance; of how life goes. Or does not go. I looked up and saw the that the clouds were lessening from earlier in the day. I saw a few stars but did not feel like observing. I pulled out my phone once again. It is one minute to midnight. I tried to take a picture of Science World but the battery was so low it did not  allow it. I headed to Main Street Station and caught a train downtown and subsequent bus home. 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Time to turn this around

So I had a meltdown. After feeling sorry for myself for the past several months I have decided I need to turn this around. I need to stay positive - something I often need to work on. On an aside, why is that we frequently need to work on our "positive" traits but are very skilled at our "negative" traits?? Really, my "negative" traits I have down to an art form!!

What I have done is change my work schedule a bit. I'm actually working slightly less than usual but that is actually a savings for me. I could go into a big spiel about how that works but it really is not that interesting. I am trying it to see how it will play out and take it month by month. I hope it will be as I envision. And I get a couple Mondays off too. My BFF also suggested I do some free advertising - make up a flyer post them at various community centres and businesses in the Steveston area. She actually had a good list. Thanks Trina :-)

Another thing I need to do is rework my budget based on what I am currently making and cut some corners. Some will be easier to do and others not so much. I often have a tough time saying no when it comes to social activities.  See, I often plan to do only so much and then end up going out more....movies, plays, drinks, coffee/tea, dinner, shopping. They are my "squirrels". (If you have seen the animated movie "Up" then you will know how the dogs are distracted by squirrels). Socializing distracts me. I do not intend to be a hermit, though at times that is just what I need, but I do need to live within a reasonable budget and still have fun (squirrel!!). Anyone know of fun free things to do in Van and who wants to join me?? 

I am a planner so this really should not be that hard for me. I still do not know why I am struggling with this whole trip. Yes, I am slow at doing pretty much most things in my life so I am not different with this situation. But my frustration with myself grows and this scenario of less work and things breaking around me. Well I guess I can just do what I can, make some better choices, remain focused and try not to let these setbacks take too much space in my mind. Okay, let's get on with it.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

WTF? (Or why I am banging my head against a wall)

Grrrrr. I am so frustrated and annoyed. I've had a few changes in my life recently, as I have blogged about. Significant changes in my opinion: moving and the "dream" work schedule. Significant in that I can save and earn $$$ for my big trip. So why is that not happening? WHY??! In fact it's the opposite. My work is not that busy (the more I work, the more I earn) and I've had unexpected expenses...actually I can't even replace what needs to be replaced unless I dip into my RTW savings or wait til I actually make some more money. So many people have told me to "pick a date and then it's a goal", to "put it out there and it'll happen", etc. Well I did that and I get squat! I'm so pissed off and confused. Things just don't work out that way it would appear. I have a goal that, if things continue at this pace, will be delayed for who knows how long. As for "putting it out there"-fat lot of good it's done me! Starting to think it's a load if crap. WTF is going on?? What is the point? I'm going to go cry now.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Delay on Sunday's Special Spot

Hi everyone. I want to apologize for not posting yesterday's Sunday's Special Spot photo. I actually will not be able to post a photo for the next several weeks. This is due to technical difficulties. Once I am up and running online again at home the weekly photos will return. In regards to other posts, they will happen but will be sans photos for a short while. Thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday's Special Spot - Credo of the Peaceful Traveller

This week's photo is not a literal place but more of a figurative one. My computer is on the verge of death and I am unable to log on. So I have picked a photo I have on my phone instead of one from the Internet. This photo is of a plaque I once saw that describes a way of travel...a place to be in a manner of speaking:

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Why I LOVE airports!

I love airports. Always have. When I was a child, during the summer months, my dad would pile the family into the car, buy dinner from an A & W Drive-In and head out to the airport for us to view the air traffic from the parking lot. I'd scarf down my hamburger and fries while staring at those big metal birds taking flight and touching down. 

When I am on the airport track of the Canada Line monorail in Vancouver (which overlaps with part of the downtown area) I smile inside at all those with their luggage. They are en route or returned from a journey full of stories. I wish it was me on that train, full of anticipation and wonder of what my next travel journey will bring. 

When I am the one traveling I have a sense of excitement and contentment. That this is where I should be, taking in the world while I wander. Airports represent part of the journey. Of getting to where you want to go. Yes, airports can be crowded, cold and expensive but I overlook that (unless I am dead tired) and look to what they mean to me in my quest to see the world. I sometimes arrive a bit earlier to just take it all in. I know it may sound crazy to some but I do really love airports. 

In honour of my dream-inducing love of airports, here are some tidbits of information:

Airport and City Codes: Have you ever wondered what those 3 letters on your luggage tag mean? They are airport codes determined by IATA (International Air Traffic Association). They are a location identifier for specific airports. Some codes are similar to the name of the city where the airport services: SFO for San Francisco/Oakland or SYD for Sydney. A city with more than one airport, the codes are often based on the airport name: CDG for Charles De Gaulle Airport and ORY for Orly Airport, both in Paris. Then you have Canada, where the majority of airport codes start with the letter "Y". For example: YVR for Vancouver International Airport and YYZ for Toronto's Lester B. Pearson Airport. Odd eh?  I don't know why either. For more info on how they are determined, click here for the Wikipedia link.

World's 5 Busiest Airports 2011 (based on passenger traffic):

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  2. Beijing Capital International Airport
  3. London Heathrow International Airport
  4. O'Hare International Airport (Chicago)
  5. Tokyo International Airport
World's Best Airports 2012 (as chosen by Skytraxx World Airport Awards):
  1. Incheon International Airport (South Korea)
  2. Singapore Changi Airport
  3. Hong Kong International Airport
  4. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
  5. Beijing Capital International Airport
Sleeping in Airports: No I don't mean the hotels that are located at airport terminals. I mean, literally, sleeping in airports. I have mentioned this before. You can sleep in airports and there is even a website to give you the lowdown. Kinda cool!

The next time you are headed to the airport, either to pick up/drop off someone or heading on an adventure yourself, think of me and how glad I am that we live in a time where we can easily experience the big blue marble we live on and how airports are a part of it.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Why do I do that??

Have you ever scratched your head at some of the things you've done? Say one thing and then do another? Hell, think you will do one thing and then do another. I have. And then I wonder "Why do I do that??". Case in point: I made a decision to save all my money, picked a date to start my RTW trip and then.........I went out a blew a whack of money (I really did not need all that new makeup, extra clothes, movie nights etc) Why??? I dunno. I think I had a momentary lapse and freaked out. It's still kinda weirding me out that I can actually do this. Perhaps having too tight of purse-strings made me feel I should "rebel" - though I only hurt myself. I'm not entirely certain why I made these decisions. Now, let me clarify. I did not go out and blow all my savings or anything like that but I did spend a nice chunk of change that I now wish I had in my savings account instead. I also know that there is not much I can do now (items are non-returnable) so I should not fret. I will just re-adjust my budget for a bit so I can, in a manner of speaking, re-coup those monies. What is at the heart of my concern is WHY I chose to impulsively make non-necessary purchases. I am learning to budget and have been very good lately. I even had a stash set aside for planned clothing purchases for work since many of my clothes were wearing out. Even saved for an out of town wedding I was invited to. I was doing so well. I was proud of myself. And then.....

Am I making a bigger deal of this than I should? Not sure, however, it is on my mind. I do know myself in that I do want to be able to enjoy some things while saving. I want to hang with my friends over a beer, have a lunch out occasionally, etc. Generally enjoy my time. So I allot for it. Not as much as before but some. I know that unexpected things happen as well (like 3 of your work pants having the zipper break - clothes and dieting is in the future). I get that.   I am prepared. So why do I use some my ear-marked savings for things I do not need when I have an amazing adventure to prepare for??? My guess is FEAR! Yes, the "F" word strikes again!! Stupid fear.  It sends me cowering to the dark recesses of the local mall or movie theatre or local pub (shots on me!). 

So this is really about fear. Fear has been something I have dealt with time and again in my life.  When I was younger I was afraid that if I did not behave the way others expected me to that I would not be liked or accepted. So for a long time I did as others expected me to (or what I thought they expected of me). This lead to a very unhappy time in my life. And a long road to becoming who I really am and want to be. In relationships I have been so afraid of being dumped and rejected that it silently took its toll on me. In the end, I learned that I would survive  breakups, as painful as they were. I have been afraid of change. Even when I wanted to make change I was afraid of failing. Or worse, being stuck and not being able to make the change. In the end the Universe stepped in, kicked me in the butt and gave me a door to walk through, should I want it. So I walked through the door, faced enough obstacles that when I was ready to make another life decision it went so smoothly that I did not question it at all.

So hear I am again. I put it out to the Universe (and the blog-o-sphere) that I will leave on my adventure on July 1, 2013. Wouldn't ya know it...stuff starts happening!! I expected it, just not so quickly. Within a month I had to put my cat to sleep. I could not have left on my trip with my cat still alive. He had been with me too long for anybody else to care for him. In his old age he was not good with change and leaving him with someone else would have been too hard on me. Very unexpectedly he became ill and I had to put him down in July. He had a good long, life though (19+ years). Then, my landlady asked if I was still interested in moving into a bachelor suite in the building. I had asked her over a year ago to let me know when one opened. That way I could save more money. Not only will I save money in rent ($143/month) I will not have to fork over money to movers if I left the building. MORE SAVINGS!! I also get a jump start on downsizing my belongings. After all, I am getting rid of my stuff. So now I have no excuse. All this in one month of declaring my intentions. Not to mention that 2 months ago I started my dream schedule at work, which in the end allows me to work more and save money. Yes, I am happy. At the same time I am freaking out inside!! THINGS ARE HAPPENING!! This is real. This is exciting. This is scary.  I panic and think I can not handle the change so I sabotage myself. I've done it often enough. I've begun my usual dance with I an going to change the dance moves. Fear will still be dancing with me, but this time courage, confidence and excitement are my partners as well. I want them to be leading me. I want fear to only dance when there is real danger, to help me avert it and make the smartest choices. Courage, confidence and excitement will lead the way. They have to. They will.  I will still stumble and freak out. Now I am more aware of the why and can make better choices. If I don't, you will know about it. I will ask for input. So here goes...bring on the world!!

Let's BElieve in Our Dreams's post was timely yet again!

Sunday, 19 August 2012


I just returned from an extended weekend trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. I stopped in Kelowna and Penticton, 2 cities in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. An area known for it's wineries, fruit orchards and hot, dry summers it's easy to see how one can be taken in by the natural beauty that surrounds it.

View of Okanagan Lake from Therapy Vineyards. It is located on the Naramata Bench in Penticton, BC, Canada

I took this picture at Therapy Vineyards, which was one of 7 vineyards that I visited with friends. This was the 4th one on our "tour". We visited 3 in Kelowna area and 4 on the Naramata Bench in Penticton, BC. Well worth it!

Sunday, 12 August 2012



Banyan trees, Oahu, Hawaii

I love the flora and vegetation on Oahu, Hawaii. I was especially mesmorized by the banyan trees that were in every place. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012


After reading an article in my most recent copy of Outpost Magazine, I decided that  when I visit this country, this is one area I can not miss. It's limestone cliffs tower majestically above the boats that  dot it's bay. Boats float by full of locals selling their wares to tourists and travelers coming to see the beauty before their eyes. This week we're in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

The stunning beauty of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is located off northeastern Vietnam, near the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea. One can see these amazing karsts (cliffs) by water on popular Junk boats or kayak tours.

This photo is from the Travel to Vietnam webpage and belongs to them.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Visiting Family and Friends

When I was enrolled in the Travel and Tourism Administration program at Confederation College many, many years ago I learned that VFF travel (Visiting Family and Friends) is one of the main reasons people take to the skies (or the road). And that is what I recently did - I visited my big sis up in Terrace, BC. It was also a timely visit.

Some of you know that I recently had to put my beloved cat of over 19 years to sleep. I have had him since he was a kitten and he was my "fur baby" - a constant, loving companion all those years. It was his time - he was old and he had stopped eating and drinking and was in pain. It was a sad day for me and those who knew and loved his zany yet sweet personality. So I was grateful that I had a getaway and be away from my apartment where I still expect to find Cairo. It was not only great to see my sister and her friends but also the 5 pets that inhabit her home. Yep 5!! 2 dogs (Takla and Copper, both Labs) and 3 cats (1 timid black/white cat named Echo and 2 long-haired orange tabbies named Coho and Trout). So I saw friendly faces, both in people and animals and it helped me to deal with my loss.

Found in Northern British Columbia, Terrace is located approximately 1.5 hours east of Prince Rupert by car and 45 min north of Kitimat, BC (final spot of the proposed controversial Enbridge Pipeline). It is nestled in the snow-capped Coast Mountains with the Skeena River running nearby. For a northern city, it actually has some great summer weather. This year was no exception. It was sunny and around 25 - 27C with little humidity. My sister had told me to expect to get my heart pumping and my muscles moving. No lie there. We hiked Terrace Mountain twice, walked the dogs at Ferry Island and out behind the airport. We also did some shopping and had her friends over for a BBQ and bonfire. That kept me busy. I also got some sun onto my shoulders, which, thankfully evened out my golfers/farmers tan! In addition to walking the dogs I also groomed them and the cats, gave them treats and basically got some good pet love! All in all, it was a great trip seeing my sister, being active, eating good food and getting that unconditional affection that pets give without reservation. 

Below are some pictures from my trip...mainly of the pets. I did not bring my camera with on the hikes. Even if I had I was too busy looking at the winding, rocky, root-lined trail and wiping the sweat off my face to even bother with pictures!! LOL!

Walking the dogs, behind the airport
View of the mountains (airport behind me)

Takla & Copper sniffing everything!

Trout a.k.a "Trouble"

Ferry Island trail
One of many carvings on Ferry Island trail

Monday, 30 July 2012


If you recall, in my post "A History and A Future" I talked about hope spurring me onward to fulfill my dream. It is hope that keeps me going. Though at times I falter a little (or a lot). It's at those times that positive reminders help me come back to where I need to be and remind me that I can do this. I CAN DO THIS!! I WILL DO THIS!!

Interestingly enough, I get some great reminders from a page on Facebook. Facebook is used for so many things (business, socializing, events, info, games, time wasted, staying in contact, etc). And one of those things is a page created by a fellow Couch Surfer and friend of mine. She created a page where she (and those who "like" it) can view and post positive affirmations and quotes. I enjoy reading them on my FB page and often, they are very timely. Please take a moment to look at this page: Let's BElieve in our Dreams. I also encourage you to "like" it and "share" it as well. We all can use more positivity in our lives!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday's Special Spot - Helsinki

This week's picture takes us to a special monument in Helsinki, Finland. For those of you who don't know, I am of Finnish ethnicity. I'm a first generation Canadian - yes, I am the daughter of immigrants. I am proud of my background almost as much as I am proud to be a Canadian. So here we go, a great photo of the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki:

Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland (designed by Eila Hiltunen)

Born in 1865, Jean Sibelius was a talented and celebrated composer and musician and one of Finland's greatest talents. He is credited with affecting the National Identity of Finland and having a strong influence on symphony and sound. He lived to a ripe old age of 91. 

Photo courtesy of Photo is owned and copyrighted by them.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday's Special Spot:

This photo is from from website. I don't know who actually snapped the photo but it is of a place I'd like to visit: Bolivia's Salt Flats

Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia's Salt Flats

Located in the southwest of Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes Mountain Range lies the world's largest salt flats: Salar de Uyuni. It covers an area of over 10, 000 square kilometers and is exceptionally flat. When I first heard and saw pictures of Uyani I was mesmerized. When I learned that you can visit it, it immediately went on my RTW destination list.  

Sunday, 15 July 2012


"British Columbia: The Best Place On Earth"

I snapped this photo several years ago whilst driving from Terrace to Prince Rupert, BC in the spring. I have seen this view several times and it always amazes me. It looks like an asteroid fell here and all that remained was this spectacular crater.  Or perhaps a glacier carved this bowl into mountain over thousand of years. Regardless, I am in awe of it every time I lay my eyes upon it. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A History and the Future

The first time I thought it would be amazing to backpack around the world was back when I was 21. I had spent 7 weeks in the UK and Europe and thought it would be amazing to do that for a full year around the entire globe. Then I wondered how I could do that, ya know, afford to do it for a year. I could not fathom it so I put the idea on the back burner and just traveled to destinations that I received discounts on through the travel agency I worked at. It sufficed and once in awhile I would have the RTW dream filter in. I put it out of my head as quickly as it came, because in reality I could not do it. I had only heard of a few people, those wild adventurers, that could make it happen. Those people who, I thought, had a nice chunk of money and no commitments. Not me...someone who hasn't even been camping (which apparently is a sacrilege for a Canadian) let alone traverse the world alone and not too wise about saving money. It just wasn't going to happen. Though I still liked the idea and dreamed of it happening.

Years passed and I went on with my life, as it goes for everyone. Soon, especially with the Internet I began to learn that it is possible to travel around the world, be safe and do it on a shoestring budget. Others have done before me and many will continue after me. So I began to think that perhaps, one day, I could do this trip. But again, I wondered "how can I afford it?"  I wasn't the smartest with money and still spent my money on those discount tourist trips that were presented to me at work. "I guess that will do and maybe one day I can live my dream." It just wasn't practical now, I mean who leaves their job for a year?

Then something unexpected happened....I was laid off. Yep, laid off after 10 + years. It was a shock but something that, in the end, was what I needed. The Universe gave me a swift kick in the pants after I decided I wanted to move to Vancouver but did not want to move until I had a job (I like security). So off I went to Vancouver in hopes of finding a great travel job. Or an office assistant job. Or retail. Or a life of crime....wait, can't do that cause I'd have problems traveling. Needless to say I was an unemployed bum for about an year. Actually, an underemployed bum as I did have a part time job (15 hours/week) in the afternoons but nothing that could support me living in Vancouver. Moving back to Thunder Bay was not an option. I loved Vancouver too much (even though I was losing money and getting into debt). Travelling was now definitely out of the picture.

One day my sister send me an email saying she was coming to visit (YAY!!) and did I want to look online for a massage school, as she had heard that they offer discounted massages. WHAT?!?! Massage schools??? In Vancouver?? Why had nobody told me this?? Had I not said years before that if I was to switch professions that I wanted to become an RMT?! It was like the Universe dropped a gift right in my lap. So I did a search, found a school, booked us an appointment and also requested a student information packet. The wheels were turning in my brain and I seriously considered going back to school. After careful consideration, talking with my family and close friends and going to meet the school admins, I applied. And I was accepted!! Now this is where it gets a bit more relevant to my RTW dream.

So there I am, sitting in class, about two thirds through the program. We are learning more a bit about the business end of massage and types of clinics and jobs available. And here comes the best part: "If you'd like to take time off you can hire a locum that pays your rent, treats your patients and when you return it's right where you left off." WHAT?! I can take time off and not mess up my career? Yes you can. It happens all the time (mainly with maternity leaves) but it's possible. OMG!!!! My dream can come true!!! I can actually take a year off. WOOOOOOOOO!!

And that is about as far as I've come. I know it's a very real REAL possibility. I've been shown I can do this. So why haven't I?

Why haven't I? Well there are some practical, real reasons. Or are they excuses?

Well here comes the part that I don't like talking about: MONEY. Now, I am of the mind that my money and earnings are my business (and Revenue Canada's) just as your money and earnings are your business. I do not like to discuss what I earn/have etc with anyone. Yes, we all have money conversations and stuff. I get that. What I do not like is specifics. I had a fellow RMT once ask me what I earned a year and I flat out told her I was not comfortable telling her (or anyone) that. It's not her concern and vice versa. So that is why I am finding writing this part a bit difficult, even if I am not going too much into it. But it's plays into my future so I'm mentioning it. I also want to put any reasons/excuses out there and let them go so I can see how the Universe will help in achieving my dream.

Like most people, I have debt. And a fairly big amount of it. And not good debt. Yuck! Furthermore, I am not one who wants to incur further debt or get into trouble by avoiding payments while a I traipse around the world.  So I figure that I not only have to save enough money to go around the world but also have enough to make my debt payments. On top of that, I have to make mandatory tax installments even though I won't be working for a year (a requirement of me being self-employed). So, needless to say, I am daunted by how much money I need to save before I leave. I fear that I won't be able to do it or that by the time I do it I'll be an old fart.

Another reason/excuse is I'm freaked out by this lifelong dream. More precisely, what if I can't do it? What if all my talk is just that...just talk? Somehow I think that once I get close to saving enough, having the gear and cleared out the stuff I own that I will freeze and not do a thing. So perhaps I sabotage myself or make excuses because I don't have faith in myself. Think about it. I intend to leave work for a year, sell most of my possessions, bid goodbye to my family and friends and go off into the unknown. Every other trip I've ever taken I've always come back to everything: A job, a home, a routine, friends and family. Once this trip is done I will have to find a job, a home, furniture, a routine (at least family and friends will still be there). What about when I'm on the road. What if I have problems crossing a border? What if I get sick? Will I be too tired from it all to really enjoy myself? I hear so much about how so many others have had great times traveling but I think perhaps that won't happen to me. Again, not too much faith in myself. So I distract myself - with all the social invites and engagements. Things to do, people to see and money to spend. It's like I've created a cycle.

So that is the "negative" excuses side. Honestly, it has a huge effect on me. Otherwise I'd of gone and returned by now. There is another part that has a huge effect as well. One that I want to nuture and over take the fear and excuses. It's the one thing that I believe keeps people going: HOPE. The hope of fufilling my life's dream. The hope that I can save enough money. The hope of leaving work for a year, selling most of my possessions, bidding goodbye to my family and friends and going off into the unknown. The longing and desire to give up my life and "see the world" is there and has been for a long time. It gives ME hope. Perhaps it's this hope that now has me realizing that I have to set a date. I don't know why I am focusing on this now more than before but I am. I have been in the same spot for some time now and need to move ahead. Some events have happened recently that got me thinking. I do not want to regret NOT going. Maybe that is why I am focusing more now than previously.

So that brings me to my future, which has me tearing up as I write this. Probably because I am both afraid of failing and succeeding. I am probably tearing up to because I am hopeful that this will all come to fruition. I am going to do my part best I can and leave the rest up to the Universe. So, what is the future? It's picking the date. I have been told more than once in the last several months to "Pick a date because then it's a goal. If you don't, it just a dream."

So I have picked my date. When it rolls around and if I'm not quite where I need to be I will make a new date but only a few months ahead. Yeah I know. It sounds like I'm giving myself an out. It's not that. It is because part of me does believe things happen when they should (and for a reason). So should I not make it for my date then I will adjust and keep going. As Confucius says "It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop." 
So here it is:  I will start my RTW trip on July 1, 2013. That's just under a year. A year to plan for a year way. It's also my favourite holiday (Canada Day). A great day to start living my dream. I will do my part, the Universe will do its and you get to hold me to it.

Sunday, 8 July 2012



I was hoping to use one of my older photos for today's inspiration, however, they are in an old format - an actual photograph (as opposed to a digital one). Not generally a problem but my printer/copier/scanner has bit the biscuit. I will be investing in a new one but probably in the next few weeks. Until then, I will be using some photos that are for locales that you have read about on this blog. 

Marais district, Paris, France 2009

I took this picture at ??????? Sorry, I can't remember the exact building name but it was in the Marais district and possibly on Rue de Rosier. I liked the gardens.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Announcing the weekly photo!

It's coming!! A weekly photo of some place in the world. I was inspired from 2 travel blogs I follow that are/were doing this: Nomadic Matt and So Many Places. So I figured, so will I. I will use my photos and if I haven't used mine I will post where I got the photo from (eg Flickr).

It will be called "Sunday's Special Spot" and I'll post weekly on Sundays. The first one goes up tomorrow!


Friday, 6 July 2012

Packing List

When one travels 'round the world there are certain things that MUST be brought along -- at least this is what I have read. I have perused dozens of blogs and indie travel sites and have come across as many packing lists.  A few things appear to be standard requirements. Some make sense to me and others not so much. That is why it would be safe to assume it depends on which types of activities one intends to participate in during this time. Doing overnight treks and hiking snowpeaks would call for tents, cold weather gear and special climbing equipment. Spending days lazying on beaches, checking out museums and wandering city streets calls for swimwear, camera and good shoes. That is why, in my opinion, it is smart to see what the recommendations are and THEN tailor it to your particular needs and style of travel. No, I have not yet done this trip but to me, that is the common sense approach.

Another thing to consider is weather. So if you are up in Iceland during an frosty February then having thermal underclothes, toques and Northface or Columbia jackets is a consideration. Planning to be at your destination during summer months can avoid the toting of excess winter clothes. And remember to pack your hat and sunscreen. Regardless of winter or summer you do need to pack for....wait for it....RAIN!! Yes rain, something that I am all too familiar with (but don't really mind). BC is often know as the "wet coast" as opposed to the "west coast". Although some places do not get as much rain as BC, other places get more. Tropical climates have rainy seasons (often that is their winter). Spring in temperate climates may experience showers. Short of being in a dessert, expect rain at some point. So a rain cover for your backpack and one for yourself is a good idea.

So, what will I pack you ask? I do have a list. It is typed up in point form and as I acquire items I mark them "off" with the red strikethrough feature. I have posted it below. Now, keep in mind, that this is my list now, before I have even purchased an airline ticket or saved enough money to fufill my life's dream. As the time comes close it may change. Even as I travel it will change. I don't doubt that I will discover what I need more of and what I can toss/donate/swap. Of course, it is reassuring that in our modern world I can most likely buy anything that I do need while on the road.

When you see my list, it is very specific and quite long. I am wondering how I can manage it all into my 60L Asolo women's backpack. It has plenty of pockets and compartments but I still am having a hard time believing I will be able to fit my life into that bag!! My whole life for a year!! Mindboggling! That is why I am convinced that packing well and as lightly as possible needs the utmost of attention.

Here are the few things that I have deemed essential and that I must not leave without*:

  • Valid passport and any Visa requirements and accompanying (ugly) photos
  • Documents (travel tickets, insurance, etc)
  • Backpack
  • First-Aid kit including prescriptions and copies of prescriptions
  • Rain cover for self and pack
  • non-breakable water bottle
  • toothbrush and toothpaste (I CANNOT travel without these)
  • Immunizations and records (if required)
  • Silk sleeping bag liner - even if I don't bring a sleeping bag this will be good in a pinch, adds a bit of luxury and bugs can't get through the silk
  • my iPod and charger. Even if it's just my little iPod Shuffle....I need that iPod!!!
*If that changes I will update it

 (Items in red I now have)

  • Backpack w/ day pack (I have a women's Asolo Travel Pack that my awesome sister gave me for christmas!!!) 
  • Compression sack
    • 15L sack
    • 12L sack
  • Documents
    • passport (with extra pages cause I'm traveling to plenty of places)
    • Visa's, if required (*some you must apply for before leaving, others you can get at border)
    • Certificate of Immunizations
    • Extra passport pictures (for Visa applicatons)
    • ATM card and credit card - check with banks re: foreign usage fees
    • Hostel Membership Card
      • Hostelling International
    • Travel Insurance (I hope I never have to use these)
      • Out of country medical and trip cancellation/interuption
      • check for backpacker specific insurance
      • check for evacuation insurance (for medical reasons)
    • List of (emergency) contact
      • Canadian Embassies
      • Family and friends
      • Addresses and phone numbers of friends in different countries
      • Travel Agent contact
      • Flight Itineraries (if pre-booked)
      • copies for family member contact at home
  • First Aid Kit
    • First Aid pouch (soft sided w/ compartments)
      • Tensor
      • Gauze roll
      • Sterile gauze pads
      • Band-Aids and triangular banadge
      • Rubbing alchohol or hydrogen peroxide (small bottle)
      • Polysporin
      • pair of vinyl or latex gloves
      • adhesive tap
      • cotton pads and Q-tips
      • small folding scissors
      • sling
      • tweezers
      • water purification tablets - update: my sister gave me a handy gadget for purifying water, just like the one she uses camping)
      • oral re-hydration salts
      • bug repellent w/ DEET
      • Aspirin
      • Malaria pills
      • Allergy pills
      • Solarcaine (for sunburns)
  • Toiletries (have some with me but can buy more as needed)
    • Contact lenses and solution
      • include a travel size for carry-on flights
    • eye glasses and hard-sided case
      • copy of eye glass prescription
    • eye glass cleaner (good for camera lens too)
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss
    • deodorant
    • Nail clippers w/ file
    • Disposable razor(s)
    • soap & travel soap dish
    • shampoo and conditioner (mid-size bottles)
    • moisturizer (same for face and body)
    • sunscreen
    • hair elastics, clips, brush/comb
    • feminine products or invest in a Diva Cup
    • Mininal makeup (for those days I want to feel pretty)
        • pressed powder
        • chapstick and a lipgloss
        • tinted moisturizer
        • small mascara
        • neutral eyeshadow
    • Ultra absorbent towel
      • full size
      • hand towel
  • Clothing (to buy closer to departure date)
    • Undies
      • 2 travel undies (quick drying, wicks away moisture, odor repelling)
      • 2 regular undies
    • Socks x 4
      • at least 1 pair Merino wool socks
    • Bra and sports bra
    • Shorts x 2
    • T-shirts x 3
      • 1 by Icebreaker - keeps cool and warm
    • Tank tops x 2
    • Pants x 3
      • 1 pair of yoga pants/leggings
    • Sweater/sweatshirt (Merino wool)
    • PJ's
    • Light jacket - water resistant
    • swimsuit
    • Hiking boots or running shoes (not sure yet)
    • flip flops or Keen's sandals for use in hostel showers and beach
    • Pashmina (in case I'm in a country where head/shoulders need to be covered)
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat with brim or one of those multiuse bandana things (can't remember the name)
  • Electronics
    • iPod or iPod shuffle and charger
    • camera, charger and memory cards (lots)
    • Voltage converter and adaptor
    • Tablet and USB stick - not sure on these yet
    • Cell phone (unlocked and buy SIM cards as needed)
  • Rain/Cold Weather Gear
    • Rain cover for backpack    (my pack came with one!)
    • Long underwear (Merino wool)
    • Rain cover for me
    • winter gloves, hat
  • Miscelleaneous
    • Mosquito netting
    • sleep sheets in silk (keeps out bed bugs)
    • Canada patch(es) for backpack
    • Utility knife
    • Deck of cards
    • Some duct tape
    • Carabineers
    • Luggage lock
    • Small notepad/journal and pen
    • Small sewing kit
    • Small flashlight and batteries
    • Ziploc bags - various sizes
    • Some twine and small bungee cords
    • Water bottle
    • Backpack lock - for the entire backpack
    • Superglue
So that is my list. What's that saying? Ah yes: "Pack twice as much money and half the clothes." I just may need to do that. How I will fit all that in my pack seems daunting. And this will be a lesson in living with less. Exciting though! I will continue to buy my supplies and if anyone is so inclined to point me in the direction fo great sales for these remaining items I would appreciate it. As well I'm open to donations too! seriously. Just kiddin'. But really....