(Was) It(’s)Only just a dream….

Exchange, Travel, University

Warsaw, Poland started out rough for me. I arrived late to find out that the hostel I TPQGE0168booked, just did not exist anywhere and when I went back on my Hostelworld.com bookings, the hostel no longer existed either. I tried calling and nobody would pick up. Here I was a 20 something, blonde Canadian girl standing on the streets of Poland feeling defeated. I only had WhatsApp to keep me connected with family, but I managed to call my mom from the streets of Poland, unsure of where to start. I can’t travel alone; but how could I really have these such thoughts. I’d just been to 6 countries before this in Europe itself and at the age of 20 something in my third year of University I flew 7 hours, 4043km from home alone and I managed to find my house with no address, no phone, just me and my 2 suitcases, so why now with a phone and my backpack could I not do it?

At almost 2am, when I felt as if there was nothing to do I stumbled upon Dream Hostel, I went in and asked the receptionist if they had a room for just one night, so I could sleep and regroup myself in the morning. He said yes, and I asked what the chances I could stay until the Monday were, he said of course. I got myself into bed and said I’d figure it all out in the morning. 

.albumtempI passed by reception again on my way out and the girl there told me that public transportation wasn’t going to work as normal because it was a holiday. She gave me all the information I needed to find myself through town and told me to come back if I had any questions.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 2.16.18 PMAfter a day out in the city (it was three kings day – just look that up if you’ve never heard of it) I was exhausted and headed back and up to the 4th floor bar. The girls at the bar were the sweetest, Honka (IG: lichonn) spent a few hours talking with me about my travels and the “hot boy” that she was in dire need to meet. She may be the bartender but we laughed like backpacking friends!

.albumtempMy friend flew in from Iceland the night after me and the hostel was able to accommodate him without a booking as well, in the same room as me for the full duration of the rest of our stay. 

Location:

Warsaw, 55 Krakowskie Przedmieście str.

It was honestly in one of the best locations yet, I’ve travelled to many countries now, and most hostels claim to be 0.3 km from the city centre or relative to that, but in reality they are much further than expected to be. I lucked out at Dream, it was on my main street and only a 3 minute walk to Old/New Town.

Amenities:

Under the bed lockers are a deposit, when I arrived I didn’t have any local currency on me, but I was able to give 10 Euros for the deposit for the key.

All beds have privacy curtains, as well as personal lights and plugs beside the headboard which is a huge plus since you’re sharing a room with 2-8 different people!

If my heart ever takes me back to Poland, it’ll land me here to sleep!

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In safe travels,

 

Meg xx

Is it ‘privilege’ or hard work and determination?

Exchange, Travel, University

I’ve been called out a lot lately on this “white privilege.”

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Trinidad

When I talk to people it’s obvious I’m not from Trinidad, though people, if they were nice will lead with “Where are you from?” and I’ve played it up since I’ve lived here for the last year that I’m from Trinidad, and most will follow it up with “Originally?”.. Okay fine, Canada, but that’s if I’m lucky and they didn’t right off the bat say “oh so you’re american.”IMG_6200

So this white privilege thing comes in once we’ve established where I’m from and exactly why I’m in Trinidad. Many people bring up the aspect of travelling. I’ve done my fair share of that over the last 9.5 months, but in no way did my parents give me a single penny towards my travelling.

First, I pay for my education on my own, and once I finish paying my education the world is my oyster.

This was my year of adventure, following my dreams and finding myself. I funded this myself though. Last summer I worked 6 jobs, deadicately. I think over that time I may have slept only 6 actual hours. I went from job to job to job, some nights working triples without a break.

London Phone BoothSo in the end it’s not about ‘white privilege’ just because of my colour does not make me any more able to travel than the next person or a person of colour. If you want to travel you have to work towards it.

Stop buying the fast food, save the ‘pennies’ or in my case some loonies and toonies. Skip the extravagant lattes and make your coffee at home, or forgo it for a year. Apply for an extra job and create the savings; but just because I’m white and you’re black does not mean it is easier for me to travel. In fact, through travel I see just as much harassment, difficulties and hard times as the next person. I am not given royal treatment at airports, on planes, in hotels or taxis, and the streets are not the safest place for a solo white female, but none of this stops me from .albumtempmaking the travels I have been on safe, fun, enlightening and worth the experiences. None of this to say is that my experiences have been terrible or bad. I’ve only had 3 awful airport encounters, but one person’s travel struggles will always be different from yours; and yes you may share stories along the way and there may be some similar experiences but we can all travel and travel just as much or as little as we want to, but you have to put yourself out there to make it possible for yourself just as I did.

So before you walk around telling a white person who travels that they have some IMG_4076privilege to be able to travel and you can’t because your black or you have less, think about what you could do to be there, travelling yourself.

 

Until the next one,

 

And in safe travels,

Meg xo

I’ve Never Met a Sunset I Didn’t Like

Exchange, Travel, University

31444727_1032610170226980_7658087088616636416_nLet’s talk my favourite colour here for a minute. Something a little different than what I usually do but nonetheless still very relevant. The thing is, if you asked me my favourite colour I wouldn’t tell you pink or blue or green.. In fact I don’t really think I could describe it. Some people say “cotton candy skies” but even that I don’t think gives it all the credit for what it is worth.

I find clamingness in hiking, and the ability to ground myself and rejuvenate, but I have never set out to find the sunset and NEVER met one that I didn’t like. Sure I’ve gone out looking and they haven’t all been capturable to their fullest through the lens of my smartphone, but the really beauty is just letting go of everything else and being  with myself under the sunset itself.31403909_1032610076893656_3954647921554620416_n

Now really though, in the sunsets I have captured, there isn’t much more to say other than wow (sure I may be biased, but I believe some truth stands behind that)

Before I came abroad I’d head out in my truck and find a field and watch the sunset after a day at work, and then I would go home and feel as if I was centred again. Being on the other side of the world, I found that didn’t work as well – maybe there were evident factors missing (my truck, the fields) but something just felt off, so I took in sunsets in a different form. I embraced the colours of the sunsets around the world, the idea that whatever had happened had ended and a new beginning was happening.

Appreciate small moments of happiness for they are so important

But it was a change in mindset on this adventure that really let me enjoy every single one regardless of them not being from the back of my truck and for that I will never completely be at home again watching the sunset on the other side of the world.

My adventures abroad have been nothing but enlightening, adventurous, fun, but there

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Trinidad

have been the downs involved as well. When you are away from home for such a time, things aren’t going to be the same. I’m not nervous for what the future holds, but I’m at a point in my life where, it doesn’t matter where I am taken, I have established something from home to being away that I can adopt wherever I go.

 

 

 

In none of these (on a different day) is the sky the same. It’s incredible that if you adopt this mentality your life can be this way too. I think this has been largely impactful to my exchange and my time overseas that NO two days are going to be the same, and like that NO two sunsets will ever be the same. So with that, I leave you to think how much time do you spend watching netflix, and how many sunsets do you watch? If your answer is more netflix than sunsets I challenge you to change that.

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Argyle, St Vincent

Every sunset is the opportunity to reset

… and with every opportunity to reset you can set out to do a million things. This life is yours to create it to be exactly what you want it to be.

So get out there, have fun and watch more sunsets than netflix.

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Crown Point, Tobago

 

 

 

 

Until the next one…

And in safe travels,

 

 

 

Meg xo

It’s not goodbye, until next time!

Exchange, Food, Gluten Free, Travel, University

My final night in Europe, I spent it in London again. I was going to head to Colchester to stay with my friend, but decided it was a bit too far and not worth it with how much time I really had, so the good ‘ole Kiwi I met in Poland offered a space in his place for me to crash for the night, quite close to the tube station.

I met him and dropped my bag and then we decided to check for dinner – and this girl was real tired because as we got on the bus, I checked my purse and thought I lost my passport – we had to turn around and go back to his house. As he pushed the button to stop the bus, and we stood up I saw my passport on the ground in front of me, it was really time for bed.

 

 

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We grabbed some pizza for dinner, and than headed back to his place to hangout for the night. There wasn’t much to do it was late and I was heading to the airport pretty early.

 

Europe really was a blast, heading back to reality was certainly not what I wanted to do, but the opportunities to travel and see the world for Christmas was fabulous. There will always be more Christmas’ in Bowmanville, Ontario, this was the Christmas to enjoy being abroad and seeing the world.

 

To finding myself, growing and coming back changed!

That’s it for the Europe segment, but until the next adventure!

 

In safe travels,

 

Meg XX

Prague was Czech(ing) me out

Exchange, Travel, University

This is a wrap everyone…  Well okay almost, I did go from Prague to to UK (London) for one night and then back to Barbados for a few hours before officially landing back in Trinidad, but Prague was the last place that I spent more than 24 hours in.

I had a pretty early trip to the airport but with everything factored into accounts, I wound up in Prague around dinner time, and this was the first time that the hostel I was staying at served Gluten free anything so dinner and a cider from the comfort of my slippers (o.k. not quite, I don’t even have slippers in Trinidad with me, but I didn’t have to bundle up to go find something to eat).

Much to my surprise though, this hostel was well booked with people, and they even upgraded my room (woo!). There was a large group of students there, young ones at that, but hey a way to make friends… Or not, later turned out they were kind of young..

My first day started out like any other in any other country, and I joined the free tour. Lucie from Good Prague Tours ran my tour, and it was fantastic! They ran a promotion for the Prague castle, and since I was living the Disney Princess life, and didn’t have any other plans and it was the end of my time in Europe, I went ahead and spent the money for the tour and it was 1000% worth it, read my review on trip advisor here.

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Just a few things from Lucie

  1. If you need to find a house in Prague, someone will tell you to look for the “house with two armadillos” so for my Canadian friends, it’s not like at home where when you ask where you live, you’ll be told 123 Street Drive, it really is about as good as the directions I get in Trinidad… Cue directions from I guy I met just before Christmas – the Green house with Loud music…. and when I showed up, there was no green house (it was blue) and it was silent…
  2. If you don’t drink Beer, Prague or the Czech is not for you
  3. See number 2
  4. See number 3
  5. Continue to see the number above until you reach number 2….

She wasn’t wrong about number 2 though, Prague is supposed to be known for it’s beer, and she was shocked about my inability to drink it.

After lunch we headed up the castle. Honestly this whole trip really opened me up to the history of different countries and the interesting stories that these tour guides really can tell just to gain the interest of “tourists” to get them to want to continue to explore the world that is out there

Lucie timed our castle tour just right and we were up front and centre for Prague’s changing of the guards, which was neat because I had seen it during my 12 hours in London, but I actually couldn’t see anything, so being so close was rather cool!

The final stop was the John Lennon wall and the Charles Bridge, Lucie went above and beyond and brought spray paint for us to put something on the wall that would add to the graffiti already there.

I spent my next day on my own, I went back to the Charles bridge, I wandered around the square again, collected souvenirs, tried Czech poutine (unfortunately would not recommend) and took a leap of faith, and visited for a little something that will keep the travel inspiration with me while I continue on my journey to find myself.

Iceland was my bucket list country, but Prague you were supposed to be where I did my exchange, I’m beyond happy I still made it, I’m beyond happy it was you who was Czech(ing) me out at the end of my trip and that I ended my travels here, I left some of my heart here, though I know I could have left more. This is another place I will be back to one day.

My travels officially wrapped up in London and Barbados, until then…

In safe travels,

 

Meg XX

Study Abroad they Said….

Exchange, Travel, University

I’ve written about Iceland before, heck it was my bucket list country, so really there isn’t much more to write about now. So let’s take a slightly different route here and let me tell you a few things. Being abroad or out of your own country will bring about some of the most roller coaster emotions, but they are emotions you won’t ever turn on. It will be liberating, and worth it, exciting and some days you will miss home, but take the experiences as they come. If you have things on your bucket list cross them off.

I’ve taken my year abroad to start crossing things off my bucket list, Iceland being one of them, and I really haven’t stopped. I said before I left that I may not return from Iceland, heck I’m born Canadian, I have a love for the snow, but this year abroad is about finding me, taking chances and discovering where I want to go.

When I left Canada, I was in a committed relationship – I had been with a guy for 3 years, we talked about things more seriously, we wanted a family, to be together and to build our relationship, but after 4 weeks away out of the blue he ended it. I wanted to pick up and go back to Canada, there was nothing I could do from so far away and I wanted to be home to change things and work them out, this isn’t what I wanted…. and then I thought, our relationship had been built on long distance, so what changed, yes more miles between us, yes, we couldn’t see each other every 6-8 weeks, but if we truly meant the things that we said, it shouldn’t have mattered. So though I was absolutely devastated, I changed my mindset and I decided I was going to discover myself and that’s what I’ve done.

Catch flights not feelings

So if you want to read about Iceland, click here, and if you are thinking about studying abroad or going abroad, read what I’ve written about that here.

Go, get out there, have fun.. Real experiences begin at the end of your comfort zone!IMG_6089

Stay Determined, Okay?

Exchange, Travel, University

Wow it’s been two and a half months since I was in Spain, and I have been slacking on keeping up with my travels because in less than a week I’m heading out on another trip to Guyana and I have a few more trips book after that. Europe didn’t end in Spain either, the best was yet to come after Spain in fact. Iceland and the Czech Republic came after and well those were two of my bucket list Countries that I saved for the end because well I was most excited to get to those. I spent 5 days in Iceland and 4 in Prague, but I’ll get to those so just wait.

So Spain. I arrived in Spain pretty late, which was typical with a lot of my flights for a number fo reasons, they were first of all cheaper, and two, it gave me more time in the cities because I slept on the plane and arrived ready to “party” that night or just hangout and the ready to go the next morning. When we got off the plane, some how EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WHOLE PLANE GOT OFF AT THE WRONG TERMINAL AND HAD TO GO FIND THEIR LUGGAGE IN ANOTHER AREA OF THE AIRPORT… To which we snuck back through the exit of a terminal to the baggage carousel to grab out bags and well on I went.

The first taxi driver tried to charge me a million dollars, literally to get to my place, and the next one was a million dollars cheaper.. Yes, I may be foreign but no I am not falling for your trap, I will just keep looking “GOOD BYE”

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My first night was nothing as exciting as the rest of my trip had been. By the time I got to my hostel, I honestly crashed for the night. There weren’t really any people hanging out in the bar area, so I didn’t make an effort, but sometimes everyone just needs that alone time. I got up the next morning and joined the walking tour and THIS TIME IT LEFT FROM THE HOSTEL. 

This free walking tour was quite interesting. It took us through the gothic quarter which had some very interesting history.

Santa Eulalia- a 13 year old Roman girl suffered 13 different tortures including being put into a barrel with knives and glissando rolled down a street, which has now been named after her, to which we walked down on this tour. 26733364_971949482959716_1590380429879736468_n

Following the walk, I took off with a group of Canadians from Newfoundland, and had lunch and then continued to tour Spain. Our first stop was the Arc De Triomf, where I sent snaps to my friends and told them I was back in Trinidad and they just laughed at me and told me to stop lying.

Meg you’re not funny

Is what most would say, probably because they frequently got messages like this from me on this trip.

But common, it was sunny, and hot and well just pretty. I couldn’t help it.

Next up we visited Sagrada Familia, and yes we paid full price, well the student full price, but apparently if you go after 5pm there’s an additional discount. So there’s you Spain tip my friends.

The most beautiful building in Barcelona, still being built after 600 years because there were many different contractors working on it and many of them have passed away while building it, so estimated to be finished in a few years. Worth the money so attend.

Finally, the Balearic Sea. Yes my crazy ass went in the Balearic sea on January 11th in Barcelona Spain. Just as crazy and going in the Mediterranean Sea on January 3rd, so what’s the difference.

Honestly January 12th, was a complete upset. I went out and was expecting more and was just disappointed, but my night was better. I decided to put myself out there and hung out around the bar and a group of guys were playing pool, so we decided to talk to each other like normal humans should. Making friends while travelling is what we should be doing. This is how you make life long friends.

They tried to get me to play pool with them and I wasn’t about to show them up ;). I played beer pong with a guy from who knows where now at this point, I think we’d all had a few drinks. We started out awful, but managed to pull up our socks and come out on top! And when the guys form the USA came back, they some how managed to convince me to play a game of pool (you go Glenn Coco)… I certainly let him win though, wasn’t going to force him to lose to a girl. The final great decision of the night was to go to the bar so none of us slept through our flights, because who doesn’t want to leave from the bar to head to the airport, so off we went. To the bar we went and we didn’t comeback until it was time to catch my flight to the country that was going to make me the happiest… and the coldest.

 

If we were meant to stay in one place we would have roots instead of feet

I’ve already written about Iceland, but I’ll add something a little more.

 

Until the next adventure,

 

and in safe travels. Spain was a blast, but Iceland will forever hold my heart.

 

Meg xx

#Hello(Iam)Hungary

Exchange, Travel, University

One stays up all night, and gets onto the flight after a night of drinking and no sleep, arrives in Hungary, exactly that… Hungry…

Hungary

This appeared to be a very good representation of exactly my mood on the very first day (mind you I didn’t take this until my last day, but funny nonetheless, and yes I am sitting on top of this sign eating a cake; Classic)

Hungary was really my first shot a travelling solo, minus my experiences in Trinidad – I arrived there alone, lost and new to everything around me, and it was the exact same in Hungary… Except in Trinidad I was staying for months, this let me foster friendships that I could build over time, I only had 3 days in Hungary.

After I caught some Zzzz’s I made my way to the dining area because there were social events going on, I joined in on a game of King’s cup and met some people, though I promise you I remember only 3 of their names.

Sarah, who happened to be from the same town as my home school and I made plans to go on the free walking tour that supposedly left from the hostel in the morning, so we figured that would be a good way to start our day… Little did we know it actually didn’t

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leave from the hostel lobby and our day would begin some other way. When we got up and found out that we couldn’t actually go on the tour from the hostel we changed our minds and visited the Buda castle first thing instead, talk about living a Disney Princess life (and it didn’t end in Hungary either).

We rode up in a golf cart and saw the Charles bridge from the top of the Castle before heading back down to grab lunch because there was a second free walking tour that left in the afternoon – and it was still worth doing because this one took us on the Buda side and the Pest side and showed the divide between the City.

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Our tour guide spoke amazing Hungarian aka Sarcasm, and was fantastic on the tour.

Both of the above statues are said to give good luck, the little boy to the left if you rub his knee and the officer if you rub his belly, but

don’t rub under the belt because that could land you in jail – tour guide

We like our Hungarian men “fatter” because that shows that they are dedicated to their women, it means they spend their time in the home rather than out in the gym or off with another women… So boys I’m sorry to tell you but put on the extra pounds because that’s what your girl is going to like – Tour Guide

She ended our tour having us walk the side of the castle (why didn’t Sarah and I think of that earlier), just 300 steps she says, but the view of the bridge in the darkness was phenomenal and worth the 600 stairs we had to take!

The next day consisted of tourist pictures and the thermal baths, what trip to Hungary is complete without either of those.. At least this time it wasn’t an all night trip at the bar before my flight, rather a relaxing time at the spas before I jetted off again to hit the beaches in Spain!

Thats it for this one.. Until the next adventure.

 

In safe travels,

 

Meg XX

Those who fly solo have the strongest wings

Exchange, Travel, University

Another super late arrival, this time, my Uber driver dropped me off on the side of the road to a hostel that no longer existed. I spent 40 minutes walking the street searching for where I was supposed to be staying. Luckily I purchased a SIM card with data in Amsterdam, or I really would have been stranded. I called 4 times and each time it rang and rang and rang and nobody ever picked up. I googled the place and nothing came up. It was nearly 2 am and I just wanted to put my bag down and not be on the streets.

I looked up something on Hostelworld, and the closest hostel was 30 minutes away, so I started to walk. I finally found Dream Hostel and prayed that I would go in and they would have a bed, at least for the night… I could sort out the rest of my stay in the morning, I lucked out though and was able to have the room until my next flight.

Finally, I could go to bed and just relax.

My first full day in Poland was January 6th, which I found out in the evening holds great significance. Epiphany, street parades, carolling, and the reenactment of the nativity scenes. I walked out onto the street and towards old town, and if you’ve ever been to Burger King in Canada and received one of the Cardboard crowns that they hand out, well that should give you a great picture as to what the hats looked like that everyone here was wearing. Confused and lost and unable to understand anything, I continued to walk, right into the viewing of the procession of 3 wise men who were handing out candy.

Why Epiphany?

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The Christian feast that commemorates both the three wise kings visit to baby Jesus and well as Jesus’ baptism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I finally made it through the crowds of people gathered for the public holiday, I

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finally found the divide between old town and new town, just what I was looking for. The Polish castle. During the Invasion, old Town was destroyed, but was later rebuilt and therefore parts of Old Town are actually “newer” than New Town. This was only the start of the castle going, and it only got better from here, let the Princess life begin.

One however cannot be in Poland for any length of time and not have Pirogies, so let me assure you that I did not skip out on this one, and in fact I had Pirogies for breakfast and then again for dinner on my second day, absolutely worth it. Even more worth it with good company, so when the guy from Christmas in Trinidad says he’s coming to meet me in Poland, I certainly agree to see all I’ve already seen all over again with him.

If I did Poland over again, I’d keep the same friends you see there, welcome to the start of my official solo travels, until the next adventure.

Though, you never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you.

I honestly can’t begin to tell you how true those 18 words really are. Yes I got on every plane by myself and checked into every hostel by myself for the next 17 days, but there were people in every hostel like minded to me, waiting for other travellers to show up, looking for other people to meet and create adventures and memories with. So to those I met in Poland, thank you to being the first solo friends I made on my Europe adventure, you weren’t the last, but you officially lit the fire to keep me going. I never really was nerve to travel alone. I left Canada by myself 7 months earlier and moved abroad by myself, but you just added to where I was going, so thank you.

 

In safe travels,

Meg XX

You Crazy sun of a beach

Exchange, Food, Gluten Free, Travel, University

That’s right, next stop, the beach, the Mediterranean Sea, the French Riviera… Nice, France. An afternoon flight landed us in France in the early evening with time to find our way to our hostel, get acquainted and grab some Nachos and a drink with the guy on the lower bunk next to us.

France also reminded me that just because I’m a born and raised Canadian, there’s a part of me the enjoys the warm weather, found when I moved to the island, and has grown on me since living in the Caribbean for 7 months so far. French weather meant no jackets for a few days and I was ready to not be so bundled up.

France was also the end of Pey’s travels and the beginning of my solo travels, so on the first day we fit the best of Nice into one day, but I revisited the sites that I wanted to spend more time at and others after she left. First stop, Crepes and thank you France for gluten free Crepes. Honestly the lady who served us, served us 2 more times after and would have known our order if we didn’t change our mind every time we went in.

Next stop beach, and I’m positive the locals though we were crazy because 2 Canadians and a Colombian put on bathing suits and swam in the Mediterranean sea on January 3rd 2018, to us it was warm and the water wasn’t that cold, but to the locals, it was still winter.

Not at

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all disappointed by the view or the warmth of the weather, we headed to the castle, and took it upon ourselves to walk our way there because nobody pays for what you can get for free. We intended to see the waterfall, but little did we know it had started to dry up. So after all we had to find another picture perfect spot, which involved scaling the side of the restaurant deck because it was under construction to the ledge with nothing to hold onto except each other with every gush of wind hoping nobody fell over the edge. Worth it for the photos, and added to the stories we get to tell when we return to Ontario..albumtemp

Our next stop was down to the light house that you can see at the end of

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the road pictured above…. We got all the way down there to barriers in front of it, but that hasn’t stopped us yet, so naturally we climbed over and under and got as close as we could because every picture speaks 1000 words, and the story to get to it speaks even more. We started to make our way back towards the beach and found the #ILOVENICE sign, and unlike in Amsterdam, you want a picture with the sign here, you have full rights to tell anyone near the sign to remove

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themselves from your picture as the kind lady who was also taking pictures did to us, so we patiently waited and then told the guy who tried to sneak in to get out of ours. It seemed to be a common theme here and everyone took their turn at the sign instead of cramming in and having thousands of people in your picture. We spent time walking the streets before heading back to the beach to watch the sunset, and that was absolutely worth the stroll back down the rocky, sandy beach, “it is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream.”

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My favourite colour is sunset, and I have never met a sunset I didn’t like

There’s something about starting everyday on holidays with good food, so Crepes for breakfast every day just seemed right, I was now alone, excited to start my adventure in a new country by myself, sad that my Canadian best friend was leaving but looking forward to the Countries I had left to see.

My last day was spent at the marina, and wandering the streets looking at the Nice statues, nothing like those of Belgium, iconically peeing in the streets, but still naked.

My Next adventure involved cardboard crowns, a lot of polish, Pirogies, and a boy from Trinidad.

Until the next one, stay tuned and in safe travels,

 

Meg XX