Chronicles of one girl's journey to London - from conception to eventual migration.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

30 BEFORE 30 - NOT QUITE HALFWAY YET!

Julainne, who is currently enjoying her Northern Hemisphere Experience, met a man on her trip to Ireland who challenged himself to see 50 countries before he turned 50 (you can read about this here). As I read through, I thought to myself: I want to do 30 before 30! And, lo and behold, as I got to the end of Julainne's blog post, she had said the same to herself! So now we both have this common goal - and a very exciting one at that!

Eagle-eyed readers will notice I've added a little list to my blog on the right. I'm at 12 countries already - mostly due to my parents being nomads of some sort. I hope to be at 16 by the end of the year. I plan to be in Wales in July, Scotland in August, Germany in October and the Philippines in December.

And, yes, Wales and Scotland count as separate countries. Wikipedia said so here and here respectively and we know Wikipedia is never wrong . . . right?

Monday, May 23, 2011

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME

. . . and Ben and Julainne :)

Last Saturday - May 14th - was my one year anniversary in London (Ben and Julainne's were on the 8th and 11th respectively)!

I can sit here and reflect on the things I've accomplished and all that has happened to me in the last year. But I don't want to - don't get me wrong, I am grateful and proud and happy and nostalgic in every possible way but I also want to look forward! Because this is where the excitement lies. As much as I know I want to stay in London, I am treating this year like it really is my last to live here. I would like to accomplish much more in terms of travel, as well as really enjoy my friends, my boyfriend, my job, my life!

We had a party to celebrate our anniversary this past weekend (May 21st) because we love any excuse to party and it went very well. It made me realize I have a lot to look forward to in 2011/2012 and when I return to Toronto in a year, whether it is temporarily or for good, I can then look back and reflect on what I did!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

GOEIENDAG BRUGGE!

Arpen, Julainne and I joined BritBound's "One Day in Brugge" tour on Sunday May 8th!
The trip was a great idea and one day is just long enough to see the sights in Brugge if you plan it right. However, because we were there on a Sunday, a few attractions closed early with a couple closed completely for the day. We missed out, unfortunately, on the Chocolate Museum and Old-Timey Museum. These were 2 things we were very excited to see but they were closed by the time we got there. So, instead, we got some Belgian chocolate, waffles, beer (they did anyway) and walked around the old town as well as went all the way to the edge of the central bit of Brugge to see some windmills (not that impressive in Brugge, sadly).

Brugge has a LOT of chocolate and candy shops. Julainne, Arpen and I bought some chocolate at The Chocolate Line which was absolutely the prettiest little shop. This one is a bit of a chain - they have another branch in Antwerp but is still strictly Belgian. It has the most interesting products on offer, right down to chocolate lipstick! The city's candy stores are also fun and most of them make their product on site which means most of Brugge smells like sugar and spice and all things nice.

Pink candy shop, smelled delicious!
Brugge is also called the 'Venice of the North', mainly because it is also famous for lace and canals. This is certainly true and the landscape of the city is quite beautiful because of it.


We did get to see where the Holy Blood is stored in Burg as well as climb the Belfry - 366 steps to the top of a bell tower (that we found out the hard way is still in use, my ears are still ringing) where we had a magnificent 360 view of the city.

View of Burg from top of Belfry
We returned to London by about 10.30 pm, tired but very pleased with our trip. Day trips are something I am going to look into more. They're certainly worth it for small cities and cost less than your average night out in London might!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

CIAO VENEZIA!

So, Venice . . . I finally got to visit the city that is second on my list of "go here or else" places to visit (one was Barcelona and I got to do that last summer as some may know). It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in terms of architecture and general feel of the place. No cars, no traffic lights - just footpaths and canals.
Grande Canal at night
We went for 4.5 days (from April 28th - May 2nd) and so took our time to see the sights. We tried to get lost as much as we could to see as many random places as possible but the great thing about Venice is that you can never get lost!
We got there about noon on the Thursday and took a water taxi from the airport (7 kms away from Venice) to our hotel - Hotel Philosophy as it is known in Venice. The water taxi costs 100 euro for up to 5 people. There are water buses available for slightly cheaper but take longer or road taxis that take you to the main train station but you have to find your own way from there! After a nap at the hotel, we had dinner at what would become the only place Qas wanted to eat: Pizzeria La Cote in San Polo. It does have very delicious food and I highly recommend it! After, we walked around to see what Venice was like at night. We saw St. Mark's Basilica, which is the main tourist area in Venice.
The next day was Royal Wedding Day (or Sara's Birthday if you live in Canada). We watched their vows (very sweet and gorgeous dress, non?) and then left to explore Venice. We went to St. Mark's Square again for a daytime view and did some more walking around. One of my highlights was being taken on a gondola ride! They're very expensive (120 euros for 2 people) but I thought it was worth it. A gondola ride in Venice is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as far as I'm concerned!
Best Boyfriend Ever
We took the Saturday off to just sleep and relax indoors, only venturing out for a meal followed by a pre-booked Ghosts & Legends Tour, something that is really interesting because they take you through all the hidden alleyways of the city you may not see as a tourist.
Then, on our last full day we went up the Campanile for a 360 view of Venice and parts of Italy and the Adriatic, then headed into Florian's. It's a world famous cafe, both for its good food and exorbitant prices! Beware, they will charge you an extra 6 euros each if their resident musicians are playing. We had our last dinner at (guess!) La Cote.
We left the next morning at about 11.30 and that was it . . .Ciao Venezia! It's definitely a place I recommend people go - very romantic and very relaxing!