The Big Move …. HOME! This time when my visa was coming to expiration I made the executive decision it was time to move back home regardless of the amazing sponsorship offers I received through my employers. I didn’t make this decision because I didn’t love living abroad and that I didn’t appreciate the life I had worked so hard to create with my new London family but because I wanted to be closer to my immediate family and to start building a true home base (not quite sure what that means yet, but stay tuned while I figure it out). I also absolutely LOVE and missed Canada. This is and will always be HOME <3
It was quite a daunting decision to move back home, my anxiety was through the roof and my mind was on overdrive. You might be asking how could it be when I was moving back to familiarity, I was moving home, I would be surrounded by loved ones. You are absolutely right, it would be familiar, but so much has changed within myself and the life I left behind four years ago. Everyones lives continued on, I missed out on a lot of crazy life events. Friends got married, some relationships ended, triumphs, deaths, careers changing, children were blessing many of their lives and sadly many friendships were lost through the distance. One of my biggest worries was where would I fit back into the puzzle? What would I do for a career? Where would I live? What would my life be like? I was so comfortable with the life I had created in London that now I was anxious about life I would have to recreate in Canada. This is a completely natural feeling, these were the same worries I had before moving to Australia and England but this time it would be that much easier because I already had the hardest part of moving somewhere figured out. Gosh isn’t the mind so powerful when it over thinks and wants to create havoc in our lives. I have never been able to predict what the future would be like (I don’t think anyone is) because lets be honest it hasn’t even happened yet. I just needed to trust in my decision that is was the right one, to give it time, to be patient, to breathe and to just let life unfold how it was going to. And today that is exactly what I am doing. I have been teaching overseas for 3 years and although it is quite easy to find work around the world I have heard it is quite difficult to get on the supply list in Ontario let alone a permanent position so for the time being my old employer has graciously offered me my old position back, which was a lifesaver. I spent a little more than expected on my 3 month travel on my way home so I needed to get that bank account back up as soon as I could. Thankfully my parents have welcomed me back into their home with open arms until I get my feet back on the ground and I can honestly say I am happily settling back into a normal routine day by day. It is amazing what happens when you just take a step back, trust your gut, breathe, have patience and let life refold into something amazing. As humans we have the ability to create the lives we deserve and make us truly happy. This time around I don’t have an entirely blank life canvas, it already has so many great things painted on it and for that I am so grateful and so excited to keep creating the best life for me in Canada. There truly is no place like home <3
O’Canada … last night a group of us went to the Paternoster pub in London for our first Canadians in London Experience. It’s inevitable that you crave things from home when they are no longer at your convenience. Mark, the organizer, worked closely with the head chef to create an authentic Canadian menu. We shared a few plates of pierogies with smoked bacon & sour cream, a poutine with real cheese curds and ended with a scrumptious beavertail covered in cinnamon. We washed it down with a caesar, which I have been craving since the summer, although at a whopping 9 pounds each, which was a little steep, they hit the spot nicely along side some delicious craft London beers. Mark also organized a live musician named Charley, who is currently a contender on BBCs The Voice, who was incredible and sang us some Canadian gems from Alanis Morissette to Justin Bieber. All in all it was an amazing night enjoying a little taste of home alongside great company.
Getting up at 3:30am is all worth it when you’re going to visit another wanderlust city, or is it?
One of the cheapest airports to fly out of in London is Stansted Airport, however the downside is that it’s situated over 2 hours away from our home in Clapham. The last time Stephanie and I caught a night bus/coach combo to Stansted, we landed in Marrakesh. We were able to recover from the “travellag” (yes that totally is a thing!) poolside in 30-degree sunshine before starting to explore the beauty of Morroco.
This time we weren’t as lucky. Being the middle of winter in Sweden, regardless if they are having a mild one or not, temperatures were still well below five degrees. Therefore there wouldn’t be any basking in the sun to recover from the travellag, so we hunkered down in our 8-dorm hostel room and slept it off instead. This is where I ask myself the question is it actually worth catching an early flight? I think next time we book a later flight and then attack the new city with full force already rested. Something to test in the near future!
We were going to be in Stockholm for three days so we both decided that this was going to be a more relaxed holiday. It is always nice to know someone living in the country you visit and luckily Steph’s friend came to meet us. He took us to have possible the best hamburger I have ever had washed down with some delicious Swedish beers. He then took us on a little bar hop before we retired back to our hostel for the night.
The next day we had the whole day to explore so we put on our four layers, top and bottom (I swear we are still Canadian, just a little acclimatized) and headed out to wander around Stockholm. We had a few general areas we wanted to explore but for the most part we just literally wandered the streets. We made our way through Gamla Stan (Old Town), which is another well preserved medieval town in Europe, with its gorgeous architecture, tiny alleyways all lined with cobble stone roads. Thomas recommended a look out spot over looking Gamla Stan and Stockholm. While we were up there we decided to make a snowman, it was the perfect packing snow, and also our first time seeing snow in over a year! Hey you can never take the kid out of us! To warm up after our adventure we found a cute little café were we drank lots of coffee and ate traditional Swedish sweets. I highly recommend having a Semla when you are there. It is a small wheat flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream! Delicious! Apparently it is only out around this time of year so plan accordingly! That night we headed out to the free skating rink in the city center with our free skates from the hostel, thanks city backpackers! It was a little different experience from skating in London, which is a ticketed event costing about 20 pounds. It was the perfect ending to a relaxing few days in Stockholm. There is still a lot more to see in Sweden so it hasn’t been crossed completely off the list just yet!
From the moment we arrived in Bruges, we were blown away from its beauty, kind people and relaxed lifestyle. Coming from the hustle and bustle of London it was just what we needed for a quiet weekend getaway! All the streets were lined with cobblestone, the town surrounded by calm canals and filled with medieval architecture. Our initial insight into Bruges was from our taxi driver who gave us a mini tour on our way to the hotel. He told us all about how to date the city from the architecture. For example when you see the double lines around the windows on buildings it was built in the 17th century. They were very elegant and were my favourite from all the rest. He mentioned that the people of Bruges became very poor while other Belgium cities prospered and they were unable to rebuild but now because they were becoming rich again the city can restore and rebuild.
We stayed in the Dukes’ Palace hotel, which was breathtaking. It was quite a nice change from all the hostels and air bnb’s I’ve been staying in lately. The staff, the service, the food and the view were all impeccable and to top it off it was only a few hundred meters to the center of town. Although Bruges isn’t very big, which we realized when we walked the whole thing in a few hours on our last day, it was a bonus to be so close to the Markt.
The weather held off for us with only occasionally spitting during the course of the day and temperatures above 0. Highlights of the trip were when we went up the 13– century belfry tower that has panoramic views of the city. You could see the colour of red clay for miles that blanketed the city from the rooftops. I highly recommend being at the top for the ringing of the bells. It may be difficult to time perfectly as only 70 people are able to be within the tower at one time, understandably because it does get quite steep towards the top of the 366 stairs you have to climb, so there is a wait to go in. But just hang around once inside, a few pit stops on the way up will do the heart some good, especially if you have been indulging in the many delicious beers and sweets Belgium has to offer.
For Valentines Day we took a horse drawn carriage around the old part of Bruges and that was the moment Percival, our horse, replaced me as Nick’s Valentine. We tried to pose with Percival for a picture but he was having nothing of it, he just wanted a cuddle and kiss from Nick; it was adorable! Needless to say a very romantic city.
After countless taste testing of chocolate and beers and long walks along the canal it was time to say good-bye to another incredible fairy tale city. Well maybe not “good-bye” because three days was truly not enough but a “see you soon”. Bruges you have exceeded every expectation I had of you. X