30 May

And We’re Off…To Brockville ON???

Leaving Victoria, BC, CanadaAn early lesson in being flexible and ‘going with the flow’ has us visiting lovely Brockville Ontario for a couple of weeks before we head out on the world tour. We learned last week that J’s dad is having some surgery and so decided to head out east for a few weeks to see him through it and help J’s mom get him back on his feet.

It adds another stop onto our tour, gives us a chance to visit with family and friends we weren’t going to see, and teaches us early on to not be married to plans and itineraries – everything can change.

Consequently, this stepped up our departure date by five days so this last week was a whirlwind of finishing work, packing up, visiting, partying and saying good-bye. It went by quickly, which is good…I’m a rip the bandaid of fast kind of girl.

The parties were amazing – I was overwhelmed by how many people came to see us. And all the nice things people have to say. It is a great feeling to be leaving and know how many people are proud of us, and support us, and love us, and will miss us.

We will miss you all too and will think of you all often as we travel. We’re excited to be on our way, anxious to see what the future holds, and lucky to be able to find out.

23 May

Japan Itinerary

map_of_japanJapan is the last place to visit in our current itinerary. I say current itinerary because, although we have a plan as to where we want to go, the itinerary is certainly subject to change. A plan is only necessary to know what we are deviating from should we change our mind. 

Japan is expensive. Certainly far more expensive than any of the other countries that we’ll be visiting so, I imagine, that it will take some serious planning to be able to afford it. So this is just a loose idea of where we would like to go – in the end we’ll see what the budget allows.

Japan is also one of the countries that I am most interested in visiting. It offers such a dichotomy of technological advancement and ancient tradition. I think our route will show us both.

We’ll start with the technologically advanced portion of the tour…in Tokyo. Here, Shinjuku Station is the electronically-jazzed, neon over-loaded, crazy-busy Japanese version of Times Square. Two million people a day pass through this square – and they all seem to know where they are going!

Not that Tokyo doesn’t have its share of tradition too. The Tokyo National Museum is here and offers a budget friendly free guided tour. There is also the Imperial Palace to learn more about the Royal Family and plenty of temples and toriis to visit too.

Two food favourites will be visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market early in the wee hours of the morning and then one of the many yakitori-ya’s late in the evening for a bbq snack and a beer (Anthony Bourdain loves these back alley watering holes!).

And we haven’t even touched on sumo, Harajuku, Kabuki theatre, shopping, and baseball…all that only if we could possibly navigate Tokyo’s extensive subway system…wish us luck!

We’ll leave Tokyo (maybe by bullet train?) and head into the countryside to see the other side of Japan. The goal is Kyoto, but first we’ll head to Fuji-Hakon-Izu National Park where Mt Fuji looms in the horizon. It is possible to climb Mt Fuji!! I’m not sure the weather will be permitting in May but maybe we can get part way up anyway. The park itself is beautiful, complete with hot springs, lakes and plenty of hiking paths.

Kyoto is the old capital of Japan (and was the capital for more than 1000 years). It shows the more traditional side of Japanese life with traditional architecture, temples, shrines and palaces. Here, it is possible to visit the Gion District to see geishas on their way between teahouses and stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan inn with shoji screens and futons.

As I said at the beginning, Japan is expensive. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, hints, tips or tricks as to how to visit on a backpackers budget, please let us know.

16 May

Who Inspires You?

inspirationI used to think that everyone that came into my life was there to teach me something. I still think that…kind of, but have refined the theory a little.

Now, I think that it’s parts of people that teach, or inspire me.

I believe that there are pieces of people that we emulate. There is no one person that I want to be like, but there are pieces of many people that I want to take in and be part of who I am.

  • Passion. Man, I love passion. Whether I agree with their cause or not, I admire people who believe vehemently. Recently someone told me that they wish they were not so emotionally involved in everything and I replied that I wish that I was. It seems that even in this, the grass is greener on the other side.
  • Confidence. I believe that confidence can take a person a long way. I admire people who are confident in themselves, their abilities and their possibilities. If you don’t think you can do something then why would anyone else think you can?
  • Willingness. A willingness to try new things is another trait that I admire. Sure, I may not like every new food or new experience, but  I want to try new things all the time. People who are not willing to try, or who make up their mind before trying, test my patience. But someone who is up for anything is an inspiration in my book.
  • Peace. I admire people who are at peace. And no, I don’t mean dead. People who are at peace with themselves, who aren’t in turmoil, who are calm and settled with who they are. They have reached a place where they aren’t searching and reaching but just are.

What does this have to do with a travel blog?

Well, specifically, it’s about the people I have know that have traveled, and how they have inspired me to travel. Well, really I don’t know how they have inspired me, I just know that there is something about those people that made me want to be like them.

I think it’s because they have ‘stepped out’ and visited unusual places, made themselves uncomfortable and yet still seem so…like me. They make me believe that I can do it.

Quietly, without knowing it, they have inspired me.

09 May

Indonesia Itinerary

map_of_indonesiaIndonesia is a country of 17,000 islands! Of which we plan on visiting 5…maybe.

Bali is the main reason for visiting Indonesia. A small island that, although it has grown in popularity, is still laid back and relaxed.

There is Kuta in the south leading to the Bukit Peninsula which houses the luxurious tourist resorts in a manic whirl of activity. It is unlikely we will see much of this part of the island as it will be out of reach of our backpacker budget – but maybe a visit just to see how the other half lives.

Lovina is likely more our style. A string of villages along the nothern coast that are laid back, relaxed and low budget. Gazing out to the Indian Ocean from our classic ‘hut on the beach’ with barely a care in the world.

Ubud is the artsy, crafty, hippie heart of Bali. I think I will love it as I like it when there is plenty to see and do, but also lots of places to relax and just take it all in. There is also plenty of hiking around Ubud – out into the countryside to see the spectacular views of the rice paddies  and temples.

And then there is Gunung Batur. A volcano in the center of Bali that must be climbed to catch the first glimpe of the sun at sunrise. I love volcanoes, and the thought of being able to trek around it, and climb up it is exciting – apparently there are even heat vents!

Lombok is just to the east of Bali. It is, apparently, even more relaxed and laid back than Bali. There are more volcanoes here to explore, but likely we’ll stay on the western side of the island and primarily use it as a jumping of point to the Gili’s.

Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan are a trio of idyllic islands of the north western coast of Lombok. I think this will really be the ‘getting away from it all’ locale. White sand beaches leading to snorkelling off the coral reefs and swimming in the crystal clear water…really, does it get any better than this?

Visiting 5 islands out of the 17,000 hardly allows us to say we’ve visited Indonesia at all. But these 5 will offer all that we are looking for…and may entice us to come back one day and visit more.

02 May

Ok, Can We Just Go Now?

p1010788I’m done. I’m ready already. I’m prepared. I’m excited. I’m anxious.

We have been planning for the better part of a year now and I think we have it all covered. I have lists, and lists of lists. I’ve ticked off almost every item on every list – not bad considering I am usually a serious procrastinator – but, for this, I wanted to be ready.

We’ve told all our friends and family. We secured LOA’s from our jobs. We’ve put together the itineraries. The house is sold and the car is on the market. We researched travel insurance and got vaccinations. The packing list is ready (okay, it might need a revision) and most items are purchased. We’ve read countless books and can speak a wee bit of Spanish. We’re ready.

There are a few things left on the to-do list but I find myself procrastinating and not doing them because then we really will be done, and there will be nothing left to do…but wait.

We’re getting down to all the ‘official lasts’. You know, the ‘official last’ time we’ll visit the local pub, the ‘official last’ time we’ll visit with this or that friend, the ‘official last’ time we’ll drive our car, the ‘official last’ time we’ll go for a ride.

Of course, that will quickly be replaced by the ‘official firsts’. The ‘official first’ time we’ll pack our packs, the ‘official first’ time we’ll set off on an around the world adventure, the ‘official first’ time we’ll stay in a hostel, the ‘official first’ time…well, there will be lots and lots of those.

But yeah, I’m ready. Can we just go now? 30 more days…