A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

Empty YVR

The trip so far has been incredibly quiet and uneventful. Ferry was easy, bus ride was easy, though I'm quite back-heavy with my pack and still need time to get used to it.

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Skytrain was essentially empty. Then our check in with Air Canada was very smooth and we didn't have to pay for any bags. #winning. Monday evening seems to be the time to travel!

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The vegan food quest is already in full effect and Josh sacrificed his hunger so I could eat at the food court, where they had vegan options, before we sat down to a meal at a non-vegan-friendly place. Hubby gets his first medal of the trip!

We sat down to eat at Monk's Grill and the alcohol prices were shocking, plus their craft draught beer was out. Josh's food was ok but we quickly paid so we could seek out a cheaper drink spot.

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The food court serves booze and Josh knew his way around it from travelling so often (you have to sit in a designated drinking area). Our "downgrade" to cheaper drinks turned into a 5oz glass of Copper Moon in a plastic cup! I thought... there's probably going to be much, much worse ahead so I will take that plastic glasses of wine and I will enjoy it.

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Our first flight takes off in an hour and a half, and we're excited but it really hasn't sunk in yet that we'll be in Africa in like.. just over a day. Josh keeps reminding me that I'm in for a rude awakening, and that I should enjoy the population of Canada while I can. I think I'll soon find out what that means!

Posted by kmcveggie 21:29 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Essentials

7 °C

As I close out on my second to last work week before we fly out I find myself reading every article I can about backpacking must-brings, wondering how many different outfits I can make using the clothes I'm planning on packing, and hoping I won't forget to pack those essentials. I think hindsight will be best for this trip and I'll probably post a whole other "essentials" list once we're home, but for now, here's a small portion of what's going in the pack.

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Among those essentials are wet wipes, super sudsy all purpose liquid soap, sunscreen and of course bug spray (not pictured). I'm fairly happy with my wardrobe so far, and it includes a few print dresses that won't wrinkle, a casual, could-also-pass-for-dressy black cardigan, a few bright bikinis, and those Levi's shorts I made from a pair of mens jeans found in a local thrift shop ($6). Oh, and those billowy pants that everyone seems to wear while travelling - I've totally jumped on that bandwagon. We'll likely bring Josh's Swahili phrase book, and also my travel journal that includes our full itinerary and my own hand made guidebook.

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Ya, ya, I make my own guidebook. This stems from the days I travelled Europe in 2009 where wifi didn't really exist on cell phones. So to avoid busting out my laptop every two seconds I had cut out maps and made my own guidebook from all the great sites I referenced in my planning. I still have my Europe one and it brings me right back to my trip when I take it out today. So while we likely won't get to half of the restaurants and attractions I've noted in there, the planner in me is satisfied knowing all of my hard work researching will be at the ready in my cute little travel journal.

Counting down, 10 sleeps until takeoff, it can't come fast enough.

Posted by kmcveggie 23:58 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Africa 2017

It's been a little while but... I've finally found the time/money/opportunity to travel again! And this time my husband and I will be wandering together!

I finally pulled the plug and booked our first flight into Kenya, so I figured there's no better time to publish my first post back on the blog. The flight moved around significantly since I had last looked, so I took the plunge and booked.

We're off to Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and Israel April 10th - May 11th. From there Josh will head home and I will head to New York to meet up with two friends for a few more days. I can't wait to share our advenutres with you as often as possible!

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Posted by kmcveggie 22:40 Archived in Canada Tagged planning trip_planning Comments (0)

The Finale!

rain 10 °C

I left Europe a few days ago, taking a metro, 3 flights, a taxi, and a ferry, all totaling 31 hours of travel. It still hasn't set in that I really left, or better, that I won't have to look up hostels, worry about getting a map of a new city, or finding a decent grocery store for dinner stuff. It feels like I'll wake up and walk out the door and I'll be back in Madrid! Europe has been my whole life for the last 4 months, and now it's over! Like the end of an era. I can't wait to stay put for a while and be around my friends and family again, but I'll definitely miss backpacking. Won't miss living out of a pack though! I was actually parted from it for 2 days; United forgot to put in on my plane in Chicago, and then my pack missed it's next flight to YVR, so they had to put it on a later one. I was like, um, no, my pack didn't miss the flight, you guys forgot to put it on! My pack does no have a brain, or legs lol. Anyways, I've got it back now, and it's already sitting in my garage empty. It was actually a blessing in disguise though, because I didn't have to carry it onto the ferry!

My last few days of real life have hugely sucked. My car needs a new alternator, and I was stuck at home yesterday because it wouldn't start. Luckily, dad got a used one for cheap, so problem's solved already. Also, getting work isn't going quite as simply as I thought it would, but I'm hoping to hear back from a branch in Nanaimo in a few days. My friends are coming over from school today and tomorrow, so hopefully the weekend brightens up a bit! Oh, did I mention I went from 26 in Madrid to cold and rainy in Parksville?

So I read a blog before I left that outlined the highs and lows, the goods and bads at the end of it, so I figured it would be the best way to end. Hey, if it helps one person out with their trip then I've done what I meant to do with this blog! Here goes:

Best Hostel: Room Hostel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Every room had a separate theme, all were clean and comfortable, good directions, super friendly staff, good kitchen, good location, free internet, and they had a great breakfast including vegan nutella! Perfect! Close seconds: Bulmers, Interlaken; Rituals, Lisbon; and all of the St. Christopher's Hostels, minus the fact that they have no kitchen.

Worst Hostel: This is a clear winner: Boomerang in Antwerp, Belgium. First off, the owner wanted to be conspicuous, so there was no sign on the door (and bad directions), then, it's six flights up the stairs with a heavy pack on, a horrible smell constantly, the owners sit and smoke in the common room all day, the kitchen was DISGUSTING, and everyone in my room got bed bug bites. I still have the scars. Enough said!

Best Directions: Rituals Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal. As well as giving directions on Hostelworld, they send out a personal e-mail welcoming you, including an aerial-view map with dots leading you from the metro station to the hostel.

Worst Directions: Center Hostel, Prague. The directions seemed good online, but once you got into the city, they were completely wrong. For example, they said, “Go down street A and turn left onto street B,” when street A and B were completely separate from each other! You had to go down street C and D before you got to B! I had to call the non-English speaking owner from 2 different stores, and then finally have a cop escort me there. And I didn't even end up staying after that!

Favorite Country: I always go back to saying Ireland. It was beautiful, friendly and fun. Easy to get around, and lots to see and do. Oh, and the cute Irish boys with their accents help too! The perfect place to start my trip, and I'll definitely be back.

Best Toilets: Galway, Ireland. Any club there had beautiful toilets, including hair straighteners for 1 euro. That'll do it for me!

Worst Toilets:
Heraklion, Greece. You had to walk down these dodgy steps, pass the old woman who wants your change, and then you're greeted by no toilet paper, hand dryers, paper towel, or toilet seats. Dirty!

Best Public Transport: Madrid, Spain. Even though we had a horrible taxi ride, the metro takes you anywhere and everywhere, even to the airport. And, it's all colour coordinated, and every line has maps of all the other lines on it too. Only saw that in Madrid!

Worst Public Transport: Antwerp, Belgium! The metro/tram system is so confusing, it must take the locals years to learn it!

Best Tour: This one's a three-way-tie: I loved the Cliffs of Moher tour in Galway, the Giant's Causeway tour in Belfast, and the volcano/Oia sunset tour in Santorini. They were all terrific, completely worth the money, and all fun!

Worst Tour: Our walking tour of Luzern, Switzerland. The lady was nice enough, even if she thought she was a little too good and funny, but the tour was done in English and German at the same time, with a huge bias on the latter. And it didn't help that it was cold and raining. We jumped ship on that one!

Best Local Beer: Mythos from Greece, or Superbock from Portugal.

Best Wine: The white Riesling sample we got at a Santorini winery was delicious. Oh, and the 1.49 bottle we found at a grocery store in Valencia was awesome. Sorry, no actual label names!

Cleanest City: Valencia. We were pleasantly surprised at this, especially after Barcelona!

Dirtiest City: Barcelona!

Most Fun City: Galway, Ireland.

Most Boring City: Probably Bruges, Belgium, but in such a good, quiet, quaint way!

Friendliest Country: England! Everyone was really nice. And for a non-English speaking country, The Netherlands.

Rudest Country: France, though I only went to Paris, so I can't really judge the whole country!

Most Vegan-Friendly: Glasgow, Scotland. Tons of veggie restaurant, and even a veggie pub! And you can get veggie haggis from the street venders! And they have Boots, a pharmacy selling 3 types of vegan sandwhiches, and tons of fruit and veg to go. Nice!

Least Vegan-Friendly: Paris. The only thing I could eat there was McDonald's side salads and Subway. Remember the veggie burger with the fried egg fiasco? Yep, that was Paris.

Best Vegan Restaurant: Mono, in Glasgow. Best veggie burger ever, as well as a completely vegan menu to choose from. Runner up: Napfenyes Etterem in Hungary, where they served pizza with melted vegan cheese. Mmm!

First Place I'd Go Back: Anywhere in the UK. Great shopping, great people, great food and bars, and great accents. It's like heaven, except for how much the pound kills you!

Last Place I'd Go Back: If I have to pick a whole country? Probably Spain. It didn't quite live up to my expectations. But it's hard to say because I still had fun there!

Best Market: The Sunday market in Galway was full of goodies! Cute jewelry and bags, and yummy homemade hummus, bagels, and olives, and a veggie fast-food stand.

Cheapest Place: Valencia. Cheap dinners, markets, and booze. 27 cents for a beer from the grocery store, and 80 cents for a 2 litre of sangria. Did I mention 1.49 for a great bottle of wine?

Most Expensive Place: Dublin. The cheapest beer you could find out was 5.50 euro. That's like $8. Scary!

Favourite Single Moment: Getting to watch the Backstreet Boys in Lisbon, and for only 34 euro! No, wait, the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. It was everything I thought it would be and more!

Least Favourite Single Moment: When, after having bad experiences with meeting people (and creepy guys in my hostel), it poured down rain so hard in Edinburgh that you couldn't even see outside. And, it was 3 weeks in so I was majorly homesick! A few calls to some friends and family and I was a little better!

Prettiest Square: Oh, I don't know! I adored all of the squares in Europe, all pedestrianized, and cute and old, full of fountains and statues and monuments and flowers... I think I have to pick the Old Town Square in Prague. Google it, it's just beautiful. So colourful, open, and it has that amazing astronomical clock! But every square in Europe was cool. Vancouver/Victoria needs those!

Hottest Men: Must I pick? The boys from the UK were nice, sweet, and a GREAT time to listen to :)

Best Accent: Scotland. I'd find myself listening and not even hearing the words! It was just so beautiful...

Worst Accent: Italian, but only because of the Chianti girl. (“Andah the winah is ah goodah with the breadah, ah?”)

Best Dressed: Ireland. Both the guys and girls always looked their best here, it seemed. And all I had were my backpacking clothes! That's what started the shopping crazy...

Worst Dressed Country: They were pretty slack in Portugal... but they also didn't have the best shopping there, so maybe that explains it?

Best Airport: YVW by far! It is abolutely stunning, and so full of nature!

Best Thing I Packed: Other than the obvious' (rain coat, lap top, camera, travel towel, etc.), I think this goes to my ski/cable lock. It came in handy a ton, and should be on any backpacker's list!

Something I Wish I Packed: My dog! Especially in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, where all the dogs go EVERYWHERE with their owners!

I accomplished a lot on this trip, and I figured out a lot of things I didn't expect to. I met amazing people: a priest and his wife, a group of med students, a brother and sister from Canada, a cute, funny Welsh guy who let me make fun of his accent, two sweet girls from Victoria, a Californian couple, an Aussie I could talk to for the whole night, a Seattleite turn Parisian political queen, a Kiwi who's still pen pals, a veggie from the states, an Italian army boy, and so, so many more! These people I will probably remember forever. Some people I will forget, but everyone I came in contact with had an effect on my trip, whether good- playing rocks with Chris is Brighton, or shopping in Paris with Tierney- or bad- anybody remember those 40+ English ladies who kept me up all night in Amsterdam? Ya, I'm trying to forget too. I am now a professional map reader, and a pro at getting around on public transportation. I can start a conversation with a stranger. I can communicate with someone who doesn't speak my language. I have learned incredible patience and understanding. Every day had it's own moments, struggles, and highlights, and I am proud to say that I dealt with it all! I've learned that I only have to do what makes me happy, and not what I'm supposed to be doing. And I've learned that life's too short to live it any other way, and that life is your own, and nobody else's. I've also learned that family and friends are amazing things; they can help you through anything, even when you're halfway around the world. And there's no place like home; my country is beautiful, and I'll never take that for granted again. Hopefully soon I'll get to explore Canada more.

I just want to thank everyone who read this blog while I was away! I had such a good time writing it, and I'm honestly quite sad it's over! It's something I hope to have forever, and I thank you for being a part of it with me.

To Europe: You were amazing! Even the worst of days were pretty perfect in hindsight, and I hope to see you again soon!

Au revoir, ciao, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, sbohem, viszontlátásra, αντίο, adeus, tot ziens, slán leat, adiós, goodbye...

Kelsey.
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Posted by kmcveggie 08:14 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

YVR is buzzing...

At 2:30 am the noise in this airport is unreal! So much beeping and humming.. oh well only 3 1/2 more hours until I can check in and start going through customs! The trip has officially begun people! :)

Posted by kmcveggie 02:22 Archived in Canada Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Hopefully It's Not This Hard!

overcast 14 °C

Last night I said goodbye to (almost) everyone I met in Revy. It an awesome night with awesome friends but it ended in a LOT of tears!
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I was all packed and ready so I left pretty well on time this morning. The beginning of my drive went well, until I got to Kamloops and couldn’t find the mall for the LIFE of me. I somehow ended up on the North Shore and stopped for directions. Even after the clerk at the gas station literally marked out my route on a map, I still got lost, so after 45 minutes of driving around Kamloops (the time I’d allotted for shopping) I gave up and tried to find my way out. I stopped to ask how to get out of town, and wouldn’t you know it, I get lost again. I see highway west signs so I followed those thinking I would hook up with highway 5, there were a lot of farms and 20 minutes later when I passed a town called Cherryville or something, I started to freak out so I called my mother crying my eyes out wondering where the hell I was, I was seeing signs for Cache Creek and Ashcroft and I was so confused and angry! Turns out I’m on highway 1.. Mom said I could of turned around but I really didn’t want to backtrack so I kept going. She’s like “You’re on holidays, enjoy the drive!“
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Right…The scenery was different than the Coquihalla so that was good, but I followed a lot of motor homes from the States in parts I couldn’t pass going 40-50 km in 90-100 zones which definitely slowed me down! Once I got to Hope and saw the familiar roads I felt a lot better. Made it in plenty of time for the five ferry despite my little side-trip, but it was booked full! That really put me over the edge! Anyways I’m on the seven ferry now and on my way home for a week of relaxation. Only 9 days to go!!

Posted by kmcveggie 22:39 Archived in Canada Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Is This Really Happening?

sunny 12 °C

HOLY freaking crap! In 19 days I will be flying out of the country! It's hard to believe how long I've been working and saving and planning and dreaming about this trip, and now it's so close! It feels like the closer the date comes, the more I'm not actually going. Which, I am going, so this is just a really weird feeling. Anyways a little update before I head to work: Train tickets are here, documents are photocopied, got plenty of butterflies, and I have everything I need to backpack around the world. Life is good!
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My next post will be from the Vancouver International Airport in 18 days!

Posted by kmcveggie 07:37 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

50 days and counting...

overcast 9 °C

Today is officially 50 days until liftoff! And I also found out that I won't be travelling with anybody, so it's officially a solo trip! Which is exciting, but also really intimidating. The closer July comes, the more nervous I'm getting! I can't believe that in 7 weeks today I'll be all geared up and taking the ferry over to Vancouver to start my big adventure. I'm off to Kelowna next Wednesday to do a little pre-trip shopping, then I'll head out to the island for 5 days to watch my brother's prom and see my friends and family. Then back to work for a month, back to the island for the little brother's grad, and then jetting off!

Posted by kmcveggie 10:37 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

It all begins...

rain 7 °C

I've been planning my trip to Europe for some time now, and I've been working like crazy to save up for it. It's now 76 days away, so the countdown begins! A few weeks ago I booked my flight from Vancouver to Dublin, with stop-overs in Chicago and Newark, and at $630 CAD it was a steal. I'll arrive in Dublin at 9:30am which gives me plenty of time to regroup, relax, and sightsee the first day. It also leaves me lots of time to find my hostel so I think it'll be a great way to start my journey. About a week ago my vegan passport arrived at my parent's house, and just yesterday my ticket for the tattoo came in the mail.
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It's all starting! I bought my membership to Hostelling International today (after getting some advice from Matt, a friend I've met in Revy who did the same thing I'm going to do 3 years ago) and pretty soon I'll be booking my hostels for the summer, buying travel insurance, and getting any last minute items I may need! Next thing I know it'll be July 1st and I'll be having a sleepover in YVR to prepare for my trip! Can't wait!

Posted by kmcveggie 06:50 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (4)

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