Monday, June 23, 2014

Cows > People

I've been to some pretty small and sparsely inhabited towns/hamlets/communes/villages during my travels: Tierra Nueva, El Salvador; Asserargh, Morocco; La-Roque-sur-Pernes, France; Suchy Dul, Czech Republic; Watsvay, Cambodia... to name a few.


Czech Republic


While all of these places could very accurately be described as 'small', an adorable village my family and I visited in Staffordshire, England gave the word a whole new meaning. Welcome to Hollinsclough, where there are more cows (at least 50) than people (just six - we know this because we asked a local, who counted the villagers one by one on her fingers). 

Aside from being smaller than I thought possible, it was everything I pictured a rural English village to be: vastly picturesque, unimagineably quaint and full (well, as full as a tiny place like this can be) of warm and welcoming locals. My family and I couldn't have picked a better spot to end our holiday together.

Even the sign for the town was cute

The 'town square' (the house we stayed in is there on the left!)

The town phone booth

Afternoon rush hour

Some curious sheep on a nearby hill

Ben & I

The fam :)

Mom enjoying the view/sheep

Beautiful countryside

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pride & Prejudice

Although I'm guilty of never having read the book, Pride & Prejudice is one of my favourite films of all time. English accents, forbidden love and arguably one of the most best male protagonists of all time - what's not to love? 

When my mom learned that you can visit Pemberley, Mr Darcy's residence in the film (known in real life as Chatsworth House, located in the Peak District) she decided we (as in the females in my family - my dad, like most men, could care less) had to visit it. I even wore a skirt in an attempt to pretend like I was living in 1800 and Mr Darcy was in the next room.

The heartthrob of so many - Mr Darcy

Sculpture room from the movie!

Absolutely stunning sculpture, also in the movie

Chatsworth House

Does it get any more charming?

My best girls

Getting to explore a magnificent estate in the English countryside with my mom and sister made for a wonderfully memorable day, one that I will remember for a long, long time. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Inside The Comfort Zone

One of the best things about traveling is the rush you feel when you step outside your comfort zone and visit a new place. Everything from the streets to the people who walk on them is totally unfamiliar. You don’t yet know what you’ll make of this new destination or what kinds of experiences await you there, and you cannot wait to find out.

That rush is a big part of what I love about traveling. However, that doesn't mean the fun is over once a place has been discovered. Returning to a city you've been to before might not give you a 'rush' but it's special in a totally different way. To me, there's something kind of cool about finding your surroundings familiar when you're on the other side of the world. Perhaps you know your way around without the help of a map, maybe you know the best place to get tasty street food or a particular street corner might evoke a fond memory. It's not as familiar as home but it's not completely foreign either.

I had the pleasure of re-acquainting myself with Edinburgh this past week, a place I've been extremely fond of since my first visit there four years ago. I was delighted to see that I remembered so much of it! I knew my way around (okay, it's not a big city, but still) and was able to point my family in the right direction as well. Many of the city's landmarks, and the stories behind them, came rushing back to me. I wasn't full of the anticipation I normally feel when I arrive in a brand new city; instead I felt reassured, at ease and comfortable. I generally try to step outside of my comfort zone as much as I can while traveling but sometimes it's nice to spend a little time inside of it too.

A few shots of Edinburgh from my first visit back in 2010

The Royal Mile (main street in the old part of town)

A second hand shop

The view from Arthur's Seat

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Here Comes The Sun

While I think the West Coast (also known as the Wet Coast) of British Columbia is one of the greatest places in the world, its climate has never exactly been my cup of tea. Some quick stats:

- The annual average temperature in Vancouver is 11°C
- Vancouver is Canada's third most rainy city
- Vancouver gets 161 rainy days per year
- Vancouver receives 1153.1 mm of rain per year
- From November to February, on average more than 70% of the already short daytime is completely cloudy
(Source: Wikipedia)

Like I said, it's an amazing place but the weather is less than stellar. There is, however, a silver lining on the many clouds that cover Vancouver's grey skies: when the sun finally does make an appearance, people get actively excited about it. Sunglasses and flip-flops are fished out from the back of drawers and closets. Patios of restaurants and bars that have been empty and puddle-ridden for months are suddenly filled with umbrellas and cold beers. Hoards of pasty people rush to the beach in hopes of getting something ressembling a tan (although it's been so long since their skin saw sunlight that most will settle for a burn). Like a rich dessert that you only order on special occasions, every minute of a sunny day in Vancouver is to be savoured.

I've been away from home for over a year and a half now, and I've spent the majority of that time in hot countries where the sun coming out isn't something people get excited about; on the contrary, its constant presence makes many people groan. And although I love sunny weather, even I found myself complaining about it on a number of occasions. It became something I took for granted, and sometimes I would miss how waking up to a sunny day back home felt like being a kid on Christmas morning - it's literally that exciting.

Gloomy weather is something Vancouver and Glasgow seem to have in common; much like Vancouver, Glasgow gets its fair share of rain (167 rainy days per year, according to Wikipedia). As our waiter told us the other day, a sunny day in Glasgow is something special. Well, we were lucky enough to experience one such day during our time here, and it reminded me so much of being back home. The streets were filled with people. Patios were packed and cold drinks were flowing. There was just a buzz about the city. Being a rainy-city-kindred-spirit with these people, it was all I could do to stop myself from yelling, 'I know how you feel!'

While it was by no means unpleasant, I found Glasgow to be a rather un-extraordinary city. I liked it well enough but it just didn't impress me the way other European cities have. That being said, I'm grateful to Glasgow for letting the sun shine and reminding me a little of home.

One of the busy patios

Here comes the sun

Thanks, Glasgow