Montreal Moments

suite88heartmtlThere’s just something about Montreal that captures my heart time and again.  Maybe it’s the je ne sais quoi of the city, and the joie de vivre (count on me for clichés!).  I love visiting my parents’ old haunts, the view from the mountain, the street parties and the discothèques, the cosmopolitan vibe, the established Mtl classics and finding new favourites.mcgillgatesSONY DSCThis weekend we were in Montreal to help move my Vancouverite cousin in at McGill (I’m so excited for her — have fun C!), and though there were some nerves about the big move we had a lot of fun in the city.SONY DSCchihulyMontreal seemed to be bursting with colour — the sun joined us all weekend, and the arts scene was hoppin’! More Montreal…

What We Did in Warsaw….

20130623-204225.jpg20130623-204250.jpgI left Warsaw with a little sparkly stud in my nose.

It’s probably the most impulsive (my parents might say silly) thing I’ve done this year, and seems a little cliché (young girl lives in Europe for the first time, comes home with a tattoo/piercing/handsome foreigner?)– but I think I kind of like it. In any case, it can always come out.20130623-204629.jpgAside from getting our noses pierced, we filled our days exploring Warsaw. Kaitlin was an amazing guide– taking me to places not mentioned in any guidebooks and filling me in on the city’s long, and sometimes tragic, history. We saw art (this being my favourite exhibit), and neon signs, and peacocks.20130623-205035.jpg20130623-205045.jpgWe went rowing, played boules at a French wine bar, drank vodka with herrings, ate at an old Milk Bar, and sat by the river for long chats. We went on the hunt for ancient royal weavings (and found them!), listened to beautiful Chopin piano in the park, and hipster-watched. We learned about the uprising, explored Stare Miasto, the reconstructed old town, and then Praga, the rough, eclectic, up-and-coming side of Warsaw on the other side of the Vistula.20130623-205834.jpg20130623-205817.jpg20130623-205806.jpgI am so glad that I got to see where Kaitlin has been living for the past semester, meet her Polish “grandparents”, and have such a great guide with me! We did all that exploring, but mostly it was great to catch up and just hang out together. And then, just before I rushed off to the train, we got our noses pierced together. Maybe next time we’ll just stick with friendship bracelets?!
Dziękuję, Kaitlin! xox

20130623-210109.jpg

In the Mountains of Montenegro

20130615-103523.jpg20130615-103536.jpgPuppies and kittens were an added bonus (or a nuisance if you didn’t enjoy guarding your plate from jumping kitties– it was kind of like a cute video game) to our two night stay up at Camp Grab in Montenegro.20130615-103803.jpg20130615-103744.jpgTo finish off our week with Adriatic Kayak Tours (check them out, we had a super time!), we drove from Dubrovnik up to the rafting camp by the Tara river. It was a great place to just relax by the river, or the fire, and enjoy the scenery. We went white water rafting (my first time!) through the beautiful canyon, swam in a waterfall in Bosnia (the border between the two countries lies somewhere in that river), and with a “YOLO” mindset (I promise to never say that again!) jumped into the cold cold water to float down in our (fat)wetsuits. It was great.20130618-102012.jpg20130618-102111.jpgThe next day we spent driving through snow banks in Durmitor National Park. Impressive scenery all around, and makes the country’s name (Crna Gora = Black Mountain) seem obvious.20130618-102743.jpg20130618-102927.jpgAfter frolicking through the mountains, we made a quick stop at the Ostrog Monastery ,built almost vertically into the mountain rock (and walked the many many steps up to the monastery). Then it was back into our trusty van for a scenic drive through Bosnia back to Dubrovnik…ending our trip with some Croatian pivo and a beautiful sunset by the old town. (Thanks Mum and Dad!) x20130618-103951.jpg20130618-104014.jpg20130618-104039.jpg

Kayaking in Croatia

20130610-103752.jpg20130610-103852.jpgI arrived in Dubrovnik a day after leaving Huelva (via a London detective agency — thanks, Adam!), and although I already missed my Spanish pueblo, somehow everything in Spain seemed like it was ages ago. (Pero hay partes de mi corazón que estarán siempre en Huelva, claro!)
After saying so many goodbyes in Spain, it was nice to switch to saying hello to my twin brother and parents who were waiting for me in Dubrovnik.20130610-105430.jpg20130610-105010.jpgWe spent the evening in the beautiful old town before heading off to the island of Lopud the next morning. The past four days have been spent kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking and cherry picking around the islands (with the super Adriatic Kayak Tours company). It has been a blast, and the scenery was totally worth the workout my weak arms got on the water.20130610-105218.jpgI could definitely get used to floating in my kayak on the Adriatic (not to mention the amazing sunset dinners that follow)…now off to Montenegro! Besos and kisses! x20130610-105647.jpg20130610-105629.jpg20130610-105901.jpg(Thanks to my twin for the kayaking pictures!)

Hasta luego, Huelva [Muchas gracias]

20130605-172512.jpgAnd so, just like that, eight months flew by. 20130605-172831.jpgI’m having a hard time avoiding clichés to describe how much I loved this past year (“time flies/it was the experience of a lifetime/unforgettable!”); the little adventure I wanted abroad surpassed all my expectations.20130605-173127.jpgThe last week or so was filled with despedidas, farewells and parties with my students, colleagues and friends. Every time we went somewhere we were aware that it was our last time (at least for now!). (Sidenote! one of the great things about living in Huelva is that it is actually financially feasible to eat lovely tapas on lovely terraces with lovely drinks everyday for a week…) Days at the beach, cocktails at sunset, dancing til sunrise; it was crazy, sleep deprived, and a perfect series of fiestas to say goodbye (for now!).20130605-222909.jpg20130605-222600.jpgHuelva quickly became a second home, and it was sad to leave. My wonderful amigos woke up early with me to have one last café con leche together and see me off (I almost made it onto the bus without any tears!). Like anything, the people make all the difference, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have met the friends I did.20130605-223334.jpgSigh. So this year saw me grow up a whole lot (I think!), and I’m leaving Huelva a little wiser, a little more confident in my adventurer abilities, with so many great friends, memories, muchísimas ganas to come back to España, a perma-smile and a happy heart.
20130605-223845.jpg20130605-223824.jpgAnd so, eight months flew by, and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Muchas gracias to all my guiri friends and la buena gente española in Huelva for the chulo-est time, to all my friends and family back home for the love and support I could always count on across the ocean, everyone I traveled with along the way, and to you for following along. Now, I’m taking a scenic route back to Canada…the European fun isn’t quite over!
Hasta la próxima! Un beso!20130605-230159.jpg20130605-230206.jpg

The Malta Experience

20130520-154551.jpgOur wishes came true and the sun shone down on us for our last two days in Malta.20130520-155031.jpg20130520-154958.jpgWe ate traditional Maltese rabbit dishes by the bay in Saint-Julian, and had a couple ridiculous nights in Paceville, followed by ridiculously cheap after-bar food (which was so delicious, and is non-existent in Huelva!), and spent our last two days by the water; first on the sand at Golden Bay, and to end our trip, a day by the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino.20130520-155436.jpg20130520-155649.jpgThe Blue Lagoon was my favourite part. We hiked away from the main beach where the boats docked and over some rocky terrain (not made for our sandals) to find a secluded little cove. We swam through caves and re-applied sunscreen about every 15 minutes. The water was cold and crystal clear– the colours looked photoshopped. One of our more adventurous friends cliff jumped… The rest of us cheered him on. 20130520-155828.jpgAll in all, it was a great getaway to the Cisk drinking, left-side of the road driving, culturally ambiguous (Maltese? British? Italian? All good!) island of Malta. The joys of travel!20130520-160315.jpg20130520-160258.jpg20130520-160228.jpg

Miércoles en Malta

20130515-231319.jpg20130515-230610.jpg20130515-230539.jpgTaking a little vacation from this working vacation in Malta this week! It was a little too windy (sadly and surprisingly!) for any beach time today, so we took the time to explore some of the islands sights; the ancient and silent town of Mdina, the capital city of Valleta, and the Blue Grotto.20130515-230623.jpg20130515-230640.jpg20130515-230701.jpg20130515-230555.jpgWe’re off to explore the (in)famous Paceville…Hoping for sunshine and island breezes tomorrow! Happy Wednesday to all of you!

On the Road — Mañana

ontheroad

I read On the Road in high school, but I don’t think I really got into it, and I had picked it up mostly because my favourite English teacher always raved about it and didn’t we all “dig the beat generation?!”. So when I saw a cheap paperback copy of it at home before I left for Spain I figured it was a perfect read for a my year abroad. And this quote…man. I love it. I know Kerouac wasn’t writing about Spain, but that’s what it will always make me think of — seems like one of the most fitting quotes for Andalucia, anyway.

“It was always mañana . For the next week that was all I heard– mañana , a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.”

-Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)

20130320-021257.jpgAs for my mañana…I’m off to meet my parents in Turkey for the Easter Break! I’m recovering from a bout of conjunctivitis (ew– don’t worry, no eye pictures!), but am so happy to be on the road.

Cheeseheads and Jenever [A Taste of Amsterdam]

adam
absintheOne of the great things about traveling with my old friend Kaitlin through Amsterdam (aside from the fact that I love her, obviously), is that she understands hangry (hungry + angry, totally a real thing and I’m not pleasant to be around if I’m in such a state).  So we happily snacked on nuts and fruit as we wandered around the city and saved our pennies for a few quality meals, a cheese tasting and several Dutch drinks… Here are a few places that we were big fans of — I’m no Amsterdam expert, but if you’re in town I think it is worth checking these ones out!  Continue reading