28 Jan

#FollowFriday 28Jan2011

Happy #FollowFriday!!

It’s all travel bloggers this week. The Twitter travel community is amazing; in fact, it produces so many new blogs and posts to read that it’s easy to get lost for hours and days at a time. Be careful as you peruse the writings of these fellow travelers.

Ali Garland www.AliAdventures.com @aliadventures7

One of my favorite Twitter stories ever broke this week. It turns out that Ali from AliAdventures.com is head over heels in love with Andy from GroundedTraveler.com…and they met on Twitter! It’s a fabulous story of two, like-minded, travel focused people finding each other through what I think is one of the best ways of connecting ever. Congratulations to both of them!

Adam Seper  www.WorldTravelForCouples.com @aseper

Adam and his wife, Megan, are experienced travelers having completed an RTW of their own in 2009.  His comment on my Responsibly Irresponsible post touched me and made me realize how difficult it is for many who return from long term travel. He includes all kinds of tips and tricks on his site. I particularly liked his recent post; You’re Married. Why Would You Stay In A Hostel?

Andi Perullo  www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com @andiperullo

Andi is a fellow SpunkyGirl, and one of the sweetest Tweeters out there I’m sure; always sharing and so thankful and kind when RT’d. She travels in style to beautiful places; her recent series on Chile, Argentina and Uruguay will make you want to go and her pictures from Easter Island are stunning!

What about you? Who are you following this week?

Oh, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ my new OneGiantStep FaceBook Page!!

25 Jan

Remember That Time…We Visited The Dead?

Now that we’ve returned home and have settled back into our routine lives again we find it funny how our travel stories keep coming up. Invariably one of us will look at the other and say ‘Remember That Time…’ I thought it would make a good series; a way to tell these small stories that take us back in the blink of an eye.

I’m not one to believe in ghost stories, or think that my ancestors are looking down on me. I have a pretty pragmatic view of death and will be utterly surprised if I ‘wake up’ on the other side. I am fascinated, though, by cemeteries and the lengths to which people will go to honor and remember their loved ones.

La Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires is a grand display of love, and worship, and wealth.

Ensconced within the tony Recoleta neighborhood, hidden behind high walls, it is a city within the city. City blocks, stone streets, narrow alleys and plazas mark the landscape and live up to the name City of the Dead.

In this city the streets are not lined with houses, and driveways, and green lawns; but with mausoleums, and tombstones, and statues honoring those that rest here.

It is truly a sight to behold. We wandered for hours, checking out all the nooks and crannies, reading the inscriptions and poking our heads into open mausoleums to see stacks of coffins inside! It was, at times, a little creepy but more-so it was fascinating to think of the time, and energy, and money that went into these final resting places.

There is a reminder of this grand cemetery here at home. From the window near the front door of our apartment I can look out to the biggest cemetery here in Victoria, the Ross Bay Cemetery. It is a beautiful, parkland-like setting on the edge of the ocean; in fact, local lore says that high tides and storms have been responsible for sucking caskets out to sea…that was until they shored it all up a few years ago and wrecked the ghost story-telling potential.

Housing many local founding fathers (such as Sir James Douglas and John Dunsmuir), Canadian icons (Emily Carr and Billy Barker) and historical figures (Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie and Nellie Chapman), it is the perfect place to take a walk..and we do often as we cut through on our way to the grocery store.

It is old; just as old as La Cementerio de la Recoleta; opened in 1873, and is showing it’s age with many of the tombs covered in moss, or caved in but it is no match for the grandest cemetery in Argentina. Don’t tell those resting there though…they have an ocean view and are proud of it!

21 Jan

#FollowFriday 21Jan2011

It’s #FollowFriday again.

A chance for Twitter folk to share interesting friends to follow and get to know. I have met many interesting people through Twitter and encourage you to jump in and get your feet wet. I agree it’s a little daunting at first but come on in and find me at @OneGiantStep…I’ll introduce you around.

Here are the Tweeps I’m highlighting this week.

Chris Guillebeau www.ChrisGuillebeau.com/3×5 @chrisguillebeau

I’ve been following Chris since just before we returned from our trip and am hooked on his message and his style. He falls somewhere in between travel blogger (with a goal to visit every UN recognized country in the world by age 35!) and lifestyle redesign writer. I like his unassuming delivery and the walk-the-talk example he sets. He recently wrote a book, The Art Of NonConformity, and I include him this week to mark my visit to Vancouver this weekend to meet him and have him sign my book.

Pam MacNaughtan www.SpunkyGirlMonologues.com @spunkygirlogue

Pam is chief SpunkyGirl and has recently re-aligned her site to be more inclusive of many voices. Me (yay!) and four others, plus Pam of course, offer up stories about all things travel including tips and tricks, do’s and don’ts, and general how to’s. She kicked of January with a bang and a flurry of girl guest posts; including mine about covering up in Turkey. Each month will have theme (February is all about health) and you’ll have a chance to hear different points of view. An excellent resource!

Andrew Couch www.GroundedTraveler.com @groundedtravelr

Andrew is interesting to me because he lives an expat life in Germany and, as I revealed the other day, my Responsibly Irresponsible plan will one day take us to Europe (and I do love Germany)!! Andrew writes about  living an expat life in Germany, all things travel (not just in Germany), and is an excellent photographer.

Check them all out and tell them I sent you!!

Oh, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ my new OneGiantStep FaceBook Page!!

18 Jan

Responsibly Irresponsible

How do you define irresponsible?

We’ve been back for almost eight months now…and we’re more than ready to leave again. We came back knowing we weren’t going to settle back into our old lives. It’s next to impossible, really. I don’t know how I could return and sit at my desk day after day after day after day, knowing that this time last year, or two years ago, or five years ago, I was in Chile, or Nepal, or Turkey, or Vietnam. I know it seems as though some people step out like this and then return to normal, but they must be plotting in some way. Maybe they are going to step out and start a family, or try out a new facet in their career, or quietly plan further travel…but I’m sure they are plotting!

We knew that travel was going to be a spring board for us; the whole plan stemmed from the idea of moving abroad but not knowing how to do that. And we realized as we traveled that, what seems so huge and incomprehensible at first, was more than manageable once it was broken down into digestible pieces.

And so we are going to move forward with our original idea of moving abroad. But it seems irresponsible to up and move to Europe after gallivanting around the world for a year. What about working and saving….and retirement? After all, we’re not getting any younger! It would be irresponsible to not think about our future and plan accordingly. I don’t need a lot to be happy but I would rather not be living in a cardboard box in the park when I’m really old.

Well, we’ve come up with a plan. I call it being responsibly irresponsible. We will move to Europe…but not quite yet. However, we also will not stay here and settle in again; there is too much of a risk of losing momentum and never leaving.

Operation Responsibly Irresponsible involves moving elsewhere in Canada, saving money and researching how to make the big move. Moving away from Victoria will keep us challenged and still give us a chance to save the money we feel we need to continue. We’ll use the time also to figure out where in Europe we can emigrate to and what we’ll need to do to get there. A roundabout way to get to Europe perhaps…but our way none-the-less.

Where in Canada would we move? Well…anywhere. We’ve been job searching across the country; the first place that offers us a (comparable) job will be our new home. Yep, that open. We may end up in a large city or a small town; in the mountains or on the prairies; near east coast ocean or mid country lake. Wherever it is, it will not be here and therefore will be a challenge. We won’t know anyone; the weather will be different; the jobs new.

It’s exciting and we’re looking forward to it.

Remember, OneGiantStep is often made up of many small steps. What are you doing to take a small step towards a big dream?

13 Jan

#FollowFriday 14Jan2011

I’ve been part of the Twitter community now for a few months. It’s an amazing community and I can easily say that, had I known more about it when we were traveling, it would have changed our travels…but more on that another time.

#FollowFriday is a time for us Tweeps (how cute is that?!) to introduce to our Twiends (okay, I just made that one up!) to other Twitteri (nope, that one is real.). Anyway, I thought I would bring it to OneGiantStep so that  you, too, could meet the Tweeps I call Twiends in the Twitterverse.

Christy Smith www.ThinkBlotCommunications.com @thinkblotcom

I met Christy through Twitter and have become a fan of her blog although it is not travel related at all. She writes about writing, and inspiration, and fear, and customers, and change…and I always find something relevant in all of her posts! My recent favorite is Fear Of The Jump

Matt Koenig www.OneYearSabbatical.com @1yearsabbatical

I love Matt’s story. He met, and fell in love with, his wife via the internet…and then traveled halfway around the world to meet and marry her! Love Conquers Fear he entitled the post…and I agree! Now they are planning on packing up their lives, and their two children, to return to her homeland for a OneYearSabbatical and, even though he married into the culture and has inside information, he sounds just as tentative and excited as any soon-to-be world traveler.

Kim And Brian www.So-Many-Places.com @RTWSoManyPlaces

Oh, how I have a soft spot in my heart for Kim! She is me circa Aug2008 when I took my first, tentative steps into blogging and tipped our hand about our grandiose plans. Reading her post announcing their RTW plans made me remember “that heady mix of excitement and anxiety that can see you one minute smiling and laughing like a goon, and the next minute balling your eyes out feeling like your going to puke”. (I quote b/c I made this comment on her post) I am more than excited to watch them step out and see their dream come true!!

Check these Tweeps out and I promise, next time, to keep the silly speak to a minimum…tweet, tweet!

Oh, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ my new OneGiantStep FaceBook Page!!

11 Jan

Three Reasons To Keep Blogging

In my mind, there are three (3) reasons to keep blogging now that I’ve returned home from our year away.

1. The Joy of Writing.

I’m loving the writing. I’m loving coming up with stuff to write; I’m loving crafting my writing; I’m loving reading my writing; I’m love-love-loving that other people read my writing!!

And now, I have another outlet for my writing. I’m now a monthly contributor to the SpunkyGirlMonologues!! Let’s see, a group of successful women travelers writers telling about their experiences, sharing their passion and offering advice? A recipe for success, for sure! I’m excited to be keeping such good company and to have an opportunity to connect with more readers and hopefully see more visitors here at OneGiantStep.

2. Connecting With Readers.

I’m finding that I’m really enjoying connecting with people who read OneGiantStep.

I started up on Twitter a couple of months ago…and I can’t help but wonder what a difference it would have made to our trip had I figured it out while we were away! There is a tremendous travel community out there who do nothing but help and support each other along the way. Stay tuned for more posts on how and why Twitter is indispensable for travelers. In the meantime you can connect up with me at @OneGiantStep

I also set up a new OneGiantStep Facebook Fan Page. I’m hoping it will be a way to stay more connected off the blog. Facebook allows more two (or three, or four or…) way conversations so I’ll be able to hear more about you and what you’re doing to step out. Come on over and check it out…introduce yourself!

3. Make Some Money (?)

I’m hoping, if I write well enough and try hard enough, that maybe I can make a little coin at this blogging game. Oh sure, I have pie-in-the-sky goals and dollar signs twinking in my eyes…but, really, even if I only make enough to take a visiting traveler out for a beer I will be a success!

To that end I’ve signed up for the 1000 x 1000 Blog Challenge. The goal? One thousand visitors per day and $1000 per month. Lofty goals on both counts let me tell you! Currently OneGiantStep sees about 120 visitors per day (that’s about 880 shy of the goal) and makes (last month) -$259.60 Yes, the number is in red because it’s negative! The blog cost me money last month so there’s a long way to go on that goal also!

So, come and see me and my new friends at SpunkyGirlMonologues, or visit me on Facebook and, if you’re ever in town let me treat you to a beer…it would be my pleasure!

04 Jan

Prost! Here’s To Schnaps!

Without doubt one of my favourite traditions in Germany is the welcoming of guests with schnapps and, as we were guests with family during our time there, we were welcomed with open arms…and bottles.

Schnapps, as we know it in North America, doesn’t hold a candle to the real deal. Here it is syrupy and sweet – more like a liqueur and definitely not my style. But German schnapps is all smooth and flavorful; more like what a flavored vodka is today only more flavorful; packing a punch but convincing you it’s your friend all the same.

It is brought out immediately and often, with great fanfare and pride for it is often homemade and has a story behind it. This, really, is the best part; who made it and how…where the recipe came from…how the ingredients were procured.

Cousin Frank and his wife, Heike shared a Hagebutten (Rosehip) schnapps that their good friends had made, alongside commercial peach and raspberry options and one that I remember tasting somewhat like Jaggermeister. All were delicious and sampled more than once!

Cousin Hanno told a grand tale of travelling to Italy on his motorbike and returning with jugs of 200 proof alcohol on the back of his bike; smuggling the goods across the border to have the best ingredients possible available for his homemade schnapps. I love this story and imagine him on some vintage motorcycle wearing goggles and a leather jacket with his scarf flapping in the breeze as he meanders across country with jugs of alcohol strapped on like paniers…of course it wasn’t like this at all…but a few schnapps in and you’ll believe me!

Enjoying schnapps is a large part of my memories of visiting Germany in 1986 with my family. Again lucky enough to be visiting friends, we were welcomed into their Kleingartensparte (allotment garden) complete with the cutest garden house ever, and toasted the evening away with peach schnapps. Hearing the ‘pop’ of the cork and the rousing ‘Prost’ cheer is a warm memory for me.

We don’t seem to have the same affinity for this type of drinking here in North America. Bringing out a bottle of this sort of liquor brings to mind doing ‘shots’ as a young drinker and seems much more vulgar than the civilized notion of schnapps.

I think I’m going to start a one woman campaign to change this. So, if you find yourself invited to my home in the future, you can expect a warm welcome and an offer of shnapps – hopefully complete with the story of how I made it myself.