Saturday, August 30, 2014

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Whenever I write a post after neglecting my blog for a while, I always like to start it off with some type of greeting. So, a big 'hello!' to anyone still interested enough to be reading my blog nearly two years after I started it (time flies doesn't it?!)

After another nine month stint abroad (mostly spent working in Australia and doing a bit of traveling around Europe) I'm back at home once again. Much to my parents' dismay however, I'm still not home for good; I'm here to apply for a British Working Holiday Visa, which would allow me to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

The idea of living in the UK first appealed to me years ago while studying abroad in France. I traveled to many countries that year and while I absolutely loved places like Italy, Greece and Morocco, I couldn't really picture myself living in any of them long-term. Cultural differences and language barriers are a fun challenge while you're traveling but (as I discovered while living in France) can be slightly more frustrating if you're trying to pay your rent, see a doctor or open a bank account. In the UK, however, I realized that although the cultural differences and language barriers weren't entirely non-existent (That couch you sit on? Brits sit on 'settees'. Pleased about something? A Brit would say they're 'chuffed'. Toilet paper = bog roll. I could go on and on...) they were far less of an issue for me being a Canadian. It was a lovely place, different enough to still be exciting but similar enough that I never encountered any major difficulties and I remember thinking to myself, I can imagine myself living here some day.

Although the idea of moving there has been in the back of my mind for some time, the main reason I'm (hopefully) going there now is Ben. Luckily he absolutely loves Vancouver and is not opposed to moving here BUT we want to try living in the UK to see how we like it. (I don't know exactly where yet, we'll see what happens!)

Luckily the visa process wasn't too difficult, just tedious. My application package (along with all of my current/expired passports) has been sent away for processing and I'm now waiting to hear if I've got it!

 My passport collection - guess the Brits want to see where in the world I've been!

Like the last time I was home for a visit, I'm trying to cram a bunch of visiting/activities/errands into a very short amount of time and have been pretty busy, hence the lack of blogging. But I'll be updating the blog again soon with what I've been up to. Until then, fingers crossed I get this visa!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aix Marks the Spot

As I've mentioned a few times on this blog, I was lucky enough to have the chance to spend my third year of university studying in Aix  (pronounced ex) en Provence, a charming town in the South of France.    

To this day, it remains one of the best experiences of my life: I was living in a gorgeous city where I got to speak French everyday, I got to meet like-minded students from all around the world, I spent far more time galavanting and cafe hopping than I ever did studying and I had Europe at my fingertips. It was an almost entirely carefree time, a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will surely never experience again.

With so many fond memories of that year, the city of Aix held a very special place in my heart. Four years down the line I found myself on holiday with Ben's family in the French Alps, with Aix just a five hour drive away. I wanted so badly to re-visit the place I'd once called home but was also apprehensive; Would it still seem as magical as it once had? Would returning spoil the near-perfect image I had of the city, and of that year as a whole?

I decided to chance it, and so Ben and I made the five hour drive south. I was anything but disappointed. The city was every bit as wonderful and special as I remembered (and Ben enjoyed it too, which was a plus!) Some things had changed (like the addition of several bagel shops - four years ago bagels were nonexistent in Aix!) but for the most part it was just as it was when I left.

Pavillon Vendome

Place d'Albertas

Sunflowers at the market

Bagels are coming!

Whether it's sharing street food with locals in Myanmar or spotting wild cassowaries in Australia, travel experiences can rarely be replicated or recreated. They're unique, one of a kind, and my year studying abroad was no exception. Be that as it may, visiting Aix this time around was a beautiful walk down memory lane, one that I got to share with Ben. And I can't ask for much more than that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Wonderful Beaches of Oz

There are many things I miss about Australia (the high wages, awesome wildlife and Vegemite, to name a few) but none more so than its glorious shores. With 25,760 kilometres of coastline, this country-island-continent has no shortage of beautiful beaches perfect for swimming, snorkelling and watching the sun go down. I'm still amazed by just how many exquisite beaches I came across during my time down under, especially since I only made it to four out of Australia's eight states!

These were some of my favourite beaches around New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland:

Bondi Beach, NSW

Ventnor Beach, VIC

Killarney Beach, VIC

Adder Rock, QLD

Manly Beach, NSW

12 Apostles, VIC

Cowes Beach, VIC

Freshwater Beach, NSW

Wineglass Bay, TAS

Shelley Beach, NSW

Myall Beach, QLD

Albert Park Beach, VIC

Friday, August 1, 2014


One of the main reasons I love traveling so much is that you're constantly pushed outside of your comfort zone and given the chance to try things that, oftentimes, scare the crap out of you.

Speaking of said guy (whose name is Ben, for anyone who doesn’t know) one of his favourite sports (and something that scares the bejesus out of me) is mountain biking. I didn't know too much about it before I met him but I’ve since learned it's not so much rolling lazily down a hill as it is racing down bumpy, narrow and steep dirt paths at breakneck speeds (mostly while standing up on the bike; there's not too much actual sitting involved). Since it's something that borderline terrifies me, plus is a big part of Ben's life, I knew I had to give it a go here in the French Alps (where is it called 'VTT', or 'velo tout terrain').

So much harder than it looks!

Ben in his element

Great views from the chairlift

Me giving it my all

Exhausted by the end of the day

It was definitely strenuous, I fell more than once (or twice...) and was absolutely caked in mud by the end of the day but it was also exhilarating and challenging in the best way possible. I was well outside of my comfort zone but, as is usually the case when I find myself there, I enjoyed every minute.