Friday, August 30, 2013

All You Need Is Less

I have narrowed down my possessions to these three tupperware, which comprise of all my leftover belongings that I will not be taking with me over my move... (I threw in my Tamaskan, Bourbon, for good measure). I will not be storing these belongings, I will be donating &/or selling them before I go. What I will be taking with my is one backpack & one suitcase. I have to admit that this process has been both liberating as well as terrifying.

Originally I planned on writing this blog post as an advice piece, but I know there are most likely countless others on the subject already out there... & to be quite honest, I don't have specific advice on the subject. I'm unsure as to quite how to describe it, but when you reach that point where you decide that you are tired of your possessions owning you, that alone is enough to make you successful in your purging.

Frankly, I was fed up with the amount of stuff that I owned & it can be quite overwhelming & stressful to have all these items taking up your everyday life. Because if something happened that left you with none of these belongings, can you say that you'd truly be happy? At one point, I would not have been. But with time & energy I can now say that I am happy & proud to say that I am happy with nothing but myself, my friends, my family, my surroundings.

When you decide you want a life of experiences, it really is that simple. I would rather spend a weekend visiting old friends in Paris than buy myself the latest iPhone or that new handbag for Fall. When it comes down to it, I will gladly give up my Lanvin trench coat if it means an extra week backpacking.

Anything you leave behind, 9X out of 10, you will have forgotten about when you return. Take this time to really decide what will compliment your travels & keep those items. Be done with all the rest. If you haven't worn it, used it, seen it in a year, sell it, donate it, or trash it. Simple as that.

I s'pose this post was more of a rambling than anything, but maybe one of you can take inspiration from it. I'd love to know your ideas on the subject as well... & to end, some of my favourite Fight Club quotes. Bisous!

'You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.'

'It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.'

'We’re consumers. We are the byproducts of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra…Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns.'

Monday, August 26, 2013

Before the Adventure!

With my upcoming move to Ireland, you could say I'm overwhelmed to say the least... & somehow when I moved to France 3 years ago I don't ever quite remember feeling this stressed. I s'pose it's because this time I really have no idea if I'll ever be returning to Canada! So I figured I would try to just create a quick (hopefully!) checklist of all the things I need to do & most likely a few of them will apply to others, possibly even helping?! These can of course apply to moves, round the world trips & even just short vacations. Anyway, my list...

Oktoberfest in Canada
1. Passport, Visa, Driver's License, etc.
I'd suggest making sure you have at least 6 months left on your passport after the date you plan on returning home. I actually have a friend who's living in Australia (back in Canada at the moment though!) who planned a trip to Bali with a couple of her friends. Needless to say one of them's passport was to expire in 3 or 4 months & even though their trip was only a week long, they refused her entry into the country... Enough said!

Also with visas, be sure that you have all the requirements before applying, such as support funds, etc. Coming from personal experience, leaving it all to the last minute will have you ripping your hair out before you've even left! & depending on your trip you may not even need a visa, in which case, I hate you. Haha, but no in all honesty, I may do a post on my Au Pair Visa that I obtained in France & I'll definitely do a Youth Mobility Scheme post as well!

Driver's licenses, health cards, etc. are pretty self-explanatory! & be sure to make photocopies, send an e-mail with these copies & even keep them on a usb incase anything should happen during your trip.

2. The Dreaded Appointments
Visit your doctor for a physical & stock up on meds for the duration of your trip or until you can get health insurance sorted in your new home country. Research any vaccinations required & get those as well. Lastly, visit your eye doctor, dentist, dermatologist, gyno & whoever else you may be going to to make sure everything's in line before you leave.

3. Banks, Bills, etc.
Call your credit company, let them know when & where you're going! Call your bank as well if you plan on using your account, or of course there's the option of closing it. If you aren't planning on closing your account & have pre-authorized bill payments that will be coming out, make sure you have enough money in your account! NSF fees can kill you, almost literally.

4. Belongings
Sell EVERYTHING. Yes, I am going to quote Fight Club, but... 'The things you used to own, now they own you.' Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Yard Sale, eBay, there is no excuse to be owning the amount of things that we do in this society. Even have a garage sale! If you really feel the need to, or are returning after a short time (a few months to a year or two), put some items in storage. It can be costly though so I do advise against it of course. Owning as little as possible will make your travels that much better, I can promise you that.

This goes with cars & homes as well... I recently sold my baby (the Speed Demon), but I have to say I have zero regrets. If you have a lease, find someone to take it over for you & if you're a homeowner & are serious about long-term travel, I'd just suggest selling. There will always be cars & homes when you return, do not forget that.

5. Quit Your Job
Leave on good terms if at all possible & give as much notice as you can (or want to)!

& just a few other quick suggestions...
❤ Plan your trip, but don't overplan.
❤ Look into travel insurance.
❤ Bring makeup, clothing items, even food that you know you will not find in your destination...
❤ Start a travel blog to document your trip. It's also a great way of keeping your friends & fam up to date!
❤ Stop stressing! Drink a glass (or bottle) of wine while you're planning, save your money, but don't make yourself miserable by not going out with friends before leaving & let go of any worries!

Friday, August 23, 2013

15 Photos: Describing My Love of Ireland

As you know (or don't!), I'm off to Ireland once again come September... Now the last time I visited I only had a chance to visit for two weeks, but that time alone was enough for me to absolutely fall in love with the country. These are 15 of my favourites, some repeating. Also back from when I did not have an SLR, so no judging on quality please! & of course there will be plenty more to come in the upcoming year.

One word: Wexford...


The streets...

Wild sheep along the side of every road made for multiple stops along the way.

The water!

Colourful buildings make for charming towns, not surprisingly I have about 50 other photos resembling this exact one but in different locations.

The castles, everywhere & anywhere! Some available for tours & some just random in the countryside.

As I said! More green & castles...

The beaches, this was a particularily foggy day making for the most perfect weather (according to me at least!)

The graveyards... Such beautiful tombstones no matter how small the yard.
Had to add yet another castle, of course...

The Blarney Castle Grounds

One of my favourite castles yet, on the Blarney grounds.

 Just more wild sheep, this time I've taken over the shot, typical.
Guinness... Possibly my favourite beer, although I'm quite sure I gained 5 pounds along the way just purely from Guinness. Was not a meal had in which I didn't have a Guinness alongside.

I s'pose that's all for now! Most of these photos I've even forgotten where they've actually been taken because over our two weeks we basically just rented a car & drove all of Ireland (excluding Northern). But if you're really curious I'm sure I can pin down the locations! Also, I can guarantee more posts on Ireland, so hoping no-one minds.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Paris at Night

Needless to say, living in Paris for a year I definitely got to know my way around the nightlife, learning quite a few things along the way. The other au pairs I met & the French friends I made would usually spend our weekends relaxing Friday nights (after a day at school & looking after the kids), sightseeing Saturday & staying out until 6am the next morning, when the first train came back to Versailles. Some Sunday mornings I would arrive home as late as 9 or 10am & let's just say it was rare that I would spend my Sundays sightseeing. By Sunday night the hangover would finally wear off & we'd usually just try out a new restaurant or see a show.

I can't say that I regret the amount of time I spent in pubs, bars & clubs (or the money I spent!) because the people I met along the way & the experiences I had really let me get to know the true Paris at night. I have to admit I became quite the wino as well, which is a plus in my eyes. I thought I'd just write about some of our favourite places & throw in a few tips along the way, as I can't even count the amount of Facebook messages I've gotten from friends asking where to go for drinks during their stays in Paris. I've narrowed my list of about 25 down to 6, and of course these are personal preferences! If you're planning a trip to Paris & want some more ideas don't hesitate to contact me, as I can definitely go into more detail depending on your nightlife style!

P.S. Excuse the photos, most of them were taken in a drunken blur
(no judging!)

Fête de la Musique

Essential to a night out in Paris, basically the only way I ever afforded my nights every weekend. Decent wine is fairly cheap, visit Monoprix for a bottle & enjoy. Basically anywhere in Paris is game for pre-drinking, laws never seemed to be too strict & there were always other young people roaming around to drink with... (I promise you it's not as sketchy as it sounds).

Depending on where you go, casual is fine, but one thing I definitely learned about Parisian dressing is to cover up more than you normally would. Back home in Canada I would go out in a tight strapless dress & 6 inch stilettos (yes classy I know), but in Paris I would add say a tailored blazer & possibly even tights to this look. Trust me ladies, this isn't just to blend in with the Parisian fashion crowd, it's also for your own safety! Countless times my friends & I have been put into less than welcome situations due to own sheer lack of knowledge. Also, there are quite a few places in Paris (mostly just clubs), where you are expected to dress your best, or be faced with rejection at the door. Do not take this personally! It literally can just depend on the bouncer's mood that night.

O'Sullivans Rebel Bar... A bartender/former boyfriend 

O'Sullivans Rebel: Pub
Prices: **
10 Rue des Lombards
My favourite O'Sullivans in Paris, this one has a grungy vibe & is home to some of the coolest bartenders & most laid back people. They also have badass live bands usually once every or every other weekend, with fair prices for cover. You have the option of sitting upstairs at the bar or downstairs amongst solid oak tables, service is great either way. If you ever stop in here please say hello for me, the owner is a total sweetheart!


The Highlander: Pub
Prices: **
8 Rue de Nevers
Scottish pub great for relaxing & having a chat over pints. Drinks are moderately priced & great deals are to be found at happy hour. If you're looking to meet a lad from the U.K. this is the pub to drink at. Also very easy to navigate to from the Saint-Michel metro, even though it's semi-hidden in a side street.

Showcase: Club
Prices: ***
Port des Champs Elysées
Possibly our most frequented location, right on our RER C line located underneath a bridge, great house electro music with some well-known djs making appearances pretty often. Great for a night of dancing in your indie getup, though the prices can be steep! There is a guest list you can be put on for free cover if you call ahead, or know the right Frenchies. Dress to impress, bouncers can have off nights.

Café Oz: Bar
Prices: **
18 Rue Saint-Denis
Awesome Australian bar, also some really chill bartenders here, half of them being Australian themselves. Depending on the night, different drinks are on for cheap & shooters are always on for a good deal. During the week it's more of a pub & expect lots of dancing on weekends. I've danced on tables here many a time throughout my year, also the people are very friendly!

Canada Day @ The Great Canadian, of course!

The Great Canadian: Pub
Prices: **
25 Quai des Grands Augustins
Of course, I have to list my favourite Canadian pub. Half the bartenders are Canadian & some of the nicest people ever (though I'm probably biased). You can even find Canadian beer here! Have had way too many great times here & just to mention, if ever hungover in Paris, come here for the Canadian breakfast & see how us Canadians cure our hangovers. Probably the most real, heartiest food you can find in Paris, especially for breaky!... (Sorry Parisians, but I love my country's food & your baguettes just don't cut it when it comes to a hangover).

La Fée Verte: Absinthe Bar
Prices: ***
108 Rue de la Roquette
Unlike North American absinthe, this is the real stuff. Watch your absinthe being poured over sugar cubes into your glass & enjoy, but be careful this is much, much stronger than any absinthe you've had back home so please do not be that girl falling down the stairs in the metro on your way home... & yes, that was me. Somewhat of a ritzy crowd depending on the night, but there's always a good chance that there are good looking indie boys to be found at this bar.

New Years, Pre Les Grands Boulevards

Other Mentions:
❤  Les Grands Boulevards, can be pricey but a couple places worth taking a look at if you love crowds are Corcoran's & Le Rex.
❤  Fête de la Musique, along the Seine outdoors, great night out but only once a year!
❤  Les Furieux, another great bar offering absinthe & a punk/grunge scene, but do not let that intimidate you from going, some of the coolest people can be found here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Infamous Bucket List...

I have to admit that although I tend not to take bucket lists too seriously, I genuinely still love reading others'. Most of the items on my list I actually found in one of my old sketchbooks from high school, so you can imagine how old they are. What's cool is that I've accomplished some of them without even realizing it! I've also added a few new additions... Enjoy!

The List:

  • Study abroad (France)
  • Learn multiple languages (English & French, Spanish next!)
  • Fall in love while travelling
  • Ride a mechanical bull
  • Own an exotic animal (my wolf hybrid pup)
  • Snowboard in the Alps (French), Sweden, British Columbia & New Zealand
  • Drink Guinness in an Irish pub
  • Get more tattoos & piercings
  • Go whale watching (Hawaii)
  • Drive the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
  • Smoke a cigar in Cuba 
  • See a play on Broadway (New York City)
  • Sit in the box of a Calgary Flames hockey game
  • Have afternoon high tea in London 
  • Place a lock on the love bridge in Paris
  • Spend St. Paddy's Day in Ireland (Dublin)
  • Smoke in a café (Amsterdam)
  • Take a course in Makeup Artistry
  • Volunteer overseas
  • Go skydiving, white water rafting, bungee & base jumping
  • Drive a race car 
  • Adopt a child
  • Swim with sharks
  • Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Be my own boss
  • Learn how to surf
  • Trek through the Amazon Rainforest
  • Go wake boarding in a foreign country
  • Climb a mountain
  • Complete the colour run
  • Hike the Inca Trail (Machu Picchu)  
  • Become certified to teach yoga & diving
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Travel to each continent
  • Attend Oktoberfest in Germany
  • Spend a weekend in Las Vegas
  • Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Float in the Dead Sea
  • Tour Iceland
  • Visit an Australian vineyard
  • Teach English in Asia
  • Visit Finland in the Winter
  • See every province & territory in Canada (only 3 to go!)
  • Sail in the Greek Islands
  • Burning Man, Nevada
  • Attend the Holi festival & celebrations in India
  • Brew my own beer
  • Attend a music festival in Europe
  • Visit every state in America

Friday, August 9, 2013

Au Pairing, We Meet Again

As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I already have my next adventure planned & in the making... Now, if you read that post, you'll already know that I have already been an au pair before, in Paris, France to be exact. Through all of the ups & downs during that year in Europe, I can already think of a few people who think I am utterly crazy for deciding to au pair again. But what can I say really, I s'pose I'm probably already on the downward spiral to becoming mentally insane.

In all seriousness though, what better way to kickstart my journey into full-time nomad than by au pairing? I have a job lined up in a country I am already familiar with & a lovely family willing to take me in. Not to mention the visa is probably one of the easiest to possibly obtain with the Youth Mobility Scheme (more on that later) & the fact that I love kids helps, obviously!... It almost seems like a no brainer to me, after already having attempted the settle down at home & go to college route I decided that that will definitely not be the path I take in life.

I guess I should probably tell you where I am au pairing then? Well, Belfast, Northern Ireland to be exact! I was lucky enough to be able to spend 2 weeks of Spring whilst in Paris touring the whole of Ireland & I absolutely fell in love... I am probably most stoked on the fact that I never actually went to Northern Ireland (technically part of the U.K.), so I'm incredibly excited to find out what the city has to offer! I will be leaving in mid September, 6 weeks from Monday actually.

 Cliffs of Moher

So if you've been to Belfast (or any of Northern Ireland), I'd love to hear your input! Also any other fellow au pairs out there, would be brilliant to hear from you. In the upcoming weeks I'm thinking I'll probably do a couple photo essays, some how tos that I wish I had had my first time leaving & maybe a few story tellings? We shall see anyway. Until then... Bisous.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How It All Began...

Heyaaa! So not exactly sure where to start, but I'll give it a go with how my passion for travelling came about.

You could say I've always been a traveller, spending Summers in B.C. & flying to Ontario alone at the age of 8 & upwards, but my love really grew at the first few opportunities I had as a teenager to leave the country with friends. Now before this I had been to Hawaii & travelled various places as I mentioned, but all had been with family.

When the opportunity for Cuba arose, I took it & spontaneously 2 weeks later I found myself on a flight being fed coconut concoctions at the age of 16. My adventures in Cuba that holiday I will leave for another post, but if I had to pin point how it all began, it would be there.

Varadero, Cuba

Well, there & my first school trip to New York City, also at the age of 16 & shockingly allowed much independence! But again, I shall save that for later.

So growing up in Alberta & moving to Ontario for middle school, I found myself the happiest whilst exploring. Instead of being upset about leaving my hometown, I was craving the adventure. Finishing high school here, I took the first opportunity I could & moved abroad to au pair just 3 months after graduating.

I found myself in Paris, France for a year, having weekends & extensive holidays soley for travelling. At the age of 18, you could say I was in heaven. I had the chance to visit much of Europe, my favourites being the U.K. (in particular Ireland), the Alps (I'm an avid snowboarder) & Germany to name a few.

The Swiss Alps

Of course I will be going into detail about my travels in the upcoming posts, but as a quick intro, I'm hoping this will do! I have since moved back to Canada & am planning my next expat journey for this Autumn (of 2013), only this time I plan on staying abroad, actually terribly excited at the chance of professional nomad status, much to my Mum's dismay. I have to say, as cheesy as this may be, the passion I have for travel, I have yet to experience in any other aspect of my life thusfar (yes, including relationships ladies!)... & at the age of 21, in my eyes I have nothing to lose & everything to gain.

So basically, I'd love for you all to come along with me during my good & bad times of this next adventure (believe me there will be plenty bad), my only hope being to inspire & maybe even help out a few of you in following your own travel dreams! Enough cheese though & on with the blogging...