champlainI’ve always liked my home town, but after spending a summer as a tour guide on Parliament Hill a few years ago, I think I truly fell in love with Ottawa. I spent my days trying to show off the city to visitors from near and far — how could I not be smitten with the capital as well?

I was thrilled last summer when I had the opportunity to take over Ottawa Tourism’s Instagram account for a weekend, and I was thrilled again when they asked if I’d like to be their first “local expert” featured in their new #OttawaInsider series. Click to continue reading…

Time Flies In An Instagram

Although a resolution of mine for the new year is to be less attached to my phone, I still love the little moments Instagram allows me to capture and share. 2013 was certainly a big year for me, and I’m so grateful for the adventure that was peppered throughout. Here’s to more years like these and wishing you a happy and healthy 2014, friends. Happy New Year!

Stamp Your Passion Passport [Barcelona a Year Ago]

barcelona2güellJust over a year ago I was on my first budget airline flight ever, heading from Sevilla up to Barcelona. And thus began my great love for Ryanair….Just kidding. I have a love/hate relationship with that (sometimes) crazy cheap airline.guell2The ceiling could almost steal the show at the Palau de musica The ceiling could almost steal the show at the Palau de musica[/caption]flamencoIn any case, Barcelona was a blast. And one of the great things about my weekend in Catalonia is that I got to spend it with Zach. I had met Zach a few weeks earlier in Madrid through my twin brother. Zach mentioned that he was planning to head to Barcelona the next month and invited me to tag along. I was thrilled: Barcelona was high on my travel wish list, and now I had a cool travel buddy.fcbarcelonagoal!Zach at work. Zach at work

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Capital Staycation: Ottawa, je t’aime

Mosaika on the Hill; Friday fun at Sidedoor; Maman; Notre Dame

Mosaika on the Hill; Friday fun at Sidedoor; Maman; Notre Dame

We’ve been called coma city and the town that fun forgot; a dull government town, and we won an award for Canada’s most boring city (from a Toronto group, duh). All that, of course, is silly and way off. We Ottawans might have a little chip on our shoulder when it comes to our city’s reputation, but we know how vibrant the capital is.
View from the Peace Tower; the beautiful Library of Parliament; under the tower's clock; the locks at the Rideau Canal

View from the Peace Tower; the beautiful Library of Parliament; under the tower’s clock; the locks at the Rideau Canal

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“Gin-stagrams” [G&T sorbet]

Spotty lens, Seattle scene

Spotty lens, Seattle scene

So one day, I’m strolling through a surprisingly balmy Seattle park, and the next I’m running back inside for an extra layer as I rush off to my first day of school. One day I’m sipping on cool, boozy sorbet, and the next I’m craving the cozy familiarity of a pumpkin spice latte. Excuse my Ottawa Valley girl talk, but like, woah. …Where was the transition between seasons? Not that I’m relegating G&T slushies/sorbet to the summer months, but for now they will probably be saved for rare, special homework-free weekend celebrations. G&T It feels like I’ve been (happily) on the go since I returned from Spain, and I was tiring myself out (happily) traveling before that. So I really cannot complain, but as I start getting lost in readings, labs, and field work things might start slowing down and you might see a little less of me around here as I try to focus on that school work. However before I go, I’m excited to tell you guys that I’m the “official instagrammer” for Ottawa Tourism this weekend! You can follow along on my staycation adventures in the capital at @kshap17 and @ottawatourism. Are there any Ottawa moments you think I should share with the social media world??G&T slushieAnd lastly, of course, this awesome gin & tonic sorbet. A fool proof recipe that can be found over at The Boys Club. If you’re a fan of the classic cocktail, then this is for you. Enjoy the taste of summer a little longer. Cheers, and happy weekends. xo
(This one is dedicated to my girl, Dylan– happy belated birthday!)20130905-221529.jpg

Missing Planes and Trains [Berlinstagrams]

After one wildcat airport security strike, several hours of waiting in Berlin, one missed connecting flight to Madrid, several more hours of waiting (with fingers crossed) on standby in Frankfurt, one missed train from Madrid (another expensive ticket purchased), and one piece of lost luggage (thanks, Lufthansa!), I am finally on my way back to Huelva. I contemplated trying to spend the night in the train station in Madrid last night, but it turns out they really don’t want you to do that — waiting areas and bathrooms were all locked, and the only semi-comfortable place I could find seemed to already be a favourite of older homeless men. So after a friend (very nicely and helpfully) texted me the address of the nearest hostel, I gave up on trying to rough it, gave up my bench and a chocolate bar to one of the guys, and headed out of the station. I’m definitely glad I ‘splurged’ for a bed, even though I was silly and threw all my toiletries in my (lost) checked bag…now, after what’s been about 30 hours of travel/waiting around I am very excited to get out of my grimy clothes and buy a new toothbrush. The joys of traveling!


Mum and I were on the same flight to Frankfurt together before going our separate ways, and despite these travel hiccups that make the process way less fun and a little more stressful, we reminded ourselves of the wonderful time we had just spent together in wintery Berlin — no point in focusing on how I might miss work the next day (I did), or when I’d be rebooked, because there was nothing I could do about it, just go with the flow and be grateful for such a lovely trip. (Besides, she has the time change to deal with that comes with crossing the ocean, I just had to get to Madrid!). When we hugged goodbye hastily as we got off the plane in Frankfurt and she ran through the terminal with other travellers bound for Ottawa I got a little lump in my throat. “Stop it!” I told myself. “You’re 21, have been through many an airport, and you’ll be home for Christmas soon!” So as I waited anxiously at the gate on standby for the fight to Madrid, I took deep breaths and flicked through the pictures of our trip on my camera. We look cold and happy, and the city sparkles with an impressive amount of Christmas lights. I’m so glad that my mum was able to come out and meet me for this little holiday — it was a real treat and I loved all the time I got to spend with her (thanks, mama!).




These are just a few shots from my Instagram account (@kshap17 if you were wondering). I’ve always found that photos are the best souvenirs from any trip, which I guess is a good thing, seeing as all our other souvenirs were packed in my luggage. So I’ll remind myself of these little wunderbar moments with my mum as I now anxiously await my suitcase; there’s a lot of German chocolate in there…