What I miss about ‘home’

Five weeks.
Wow.
I can hardly believe it’s already been that long! Looking back, the time has flown by! I’ve already visited 4 countries, swam in ocean’s, taken my first over-night train and washed my intimates in a hotel sink.
Five weeks of traveling.
Five weeks worth of new friends.
Five weeks of adjusting to the nomadic life.
So, for those wishing to travel, you may be wondering: is it really as awesome as people say it is? Or, do I secretly hate every moment and just glorify it on my blog because that’s what everyone expects?
Truth: it really is that awesome!
But, to be fair, there are certain things about ‘home’ that I miss. So, for the sake of humor, and also to give you some insight on the realities of traveling, I’ve compiled a list of the things I miss about ‘home’:

1. Grocery shopping.
Pardon moi? Yeah, you’re reading that correctly, I really miss grocery shopping! Okay, if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you have probably noticed that I love food! Grocery shopping is always an adventure! But, here in Europe it’s very different. For instance, here in Spain everything is in, you guessed it, Spanish! Sometimes when I buy something I just assume that it’s edible! Also, I am a creature of habit. I miss my grocery store; you know, the one where you could probably shop with your eyes closed! Yes, grocery shopping at home has to be on this list.
2. Laundry. I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Doing laundry at home is always better!
3. Showering. I am tired of sharing a shower with 10+ other people that sometimes is broken/too hot/too cold/or disgusting because the person before apparently was covered in mud.
4. The local cafe. I miss going to my usual cafe! I knew what I liked and I recognized the people. Yepp, I miss it!
5. Lazy days. Okay, admittedly I have had quite a few lazy days during my travels. For the first 3 weeks I was constantly on the go, and it caught up with me in the form of the sniffles. Now, I take time to rest in between destinations. But, I still feel a bit guilty. I’m in Europe! I should be out exploring, eating tapas and drinking on a terrace with interesting people all of the time! Lazy days abroad just don’t have the same feeling as back home.

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6. Food. Sure, eating another culture’s food is part of the experience. And, to be fair, I love to try new things! But, being a vegetarian it can sometimes be difficult. I miss food! The familiar food that I can only find back home: Veganaise, Daiya, tofu-salad, dill-pickles (a certain kind), among other things.
7. Poutine.
8. Regularity. In everything. While traveling, we expect the unexpected! We revel in the moments of uncertainty. We embrace eating dinner at 10:30 pm like the locals. Yeah, as travelers, we love that our lives have no structure. But, the home-body within me is bidding her time until she can go back to her coffee & smoothie breakfast mornings and soy-chai-latte evenings.
9. Privacy. Want to lie down and have a quiet afternoon? Good-luck! Want to use the bathroom…in peace? Forget it! I still have a hard time giving up all of my privacy, but who knows, maybe in 5 more weeks I’ll be peeing with the door open (doubt it)!
10. My people. Friends, family, Starbucks lady and homeless man at the corner of my block: I miss you all! Sure, I write about how super-awesome my life is and brag about some awesome Aussie I met while getting lost in a foreign city, but, at the end of the day, traveling has made me realize how important you all are.

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11. Street signs! And no, Europe, small plaques on the side of buildings do not count! Sometimes the streets don’t have any signs (that I can see) and this makes navigating city streets (*Seville*) very difficult!

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So there you have it. A list of 11 things I miss about ‘home’. But, stay tuned, and I’ll compile a list of 11 things I will miss about traveling; and the list could be bigger!
Preparing to travel? What are you most nervous about? Traveled in the past? What did/do you miss about home?

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How to make friends while abroad: The art of stalking

Hola!
It’s been 3 weeks since I started my journey in Europe.
Three weeks since I got on a plane to Dublin.
Three weeks since I said goodbye to everyone and everything I knew.
Three weeks since I started my bravest adventure to date.
When I told people I was traveling to Europe for three months, the first question was always ‘with who?’
‘No one,’ I would say and immediately their eyes would widen and they would say ‘you’re brave!’
Sure, I have spent a fair amount of time alone in a foreign country. Sometimes I have to stay in a hotel so meeting people is close to impossible, and no, I’m not brave in those moments. In those moments I am a pathetic, sobbing mess who calls her mom.
But, the majority of my trip I haven’t been alone. As all travelers will tell you: you will make friends!
I’ll admit, thanks to some awesome grandfatherly advice, I’ve always been pretty good at making friends. And no, it’s not because I have some really cool attribute; it’s quite the opposite actually: I am awkward and love to tell my most embarrassing moments to people as a way to break the ice.
But, not everyone is ‘brave’ enough to approach a stranger and propose friendship. And, to be fair, sometimes you just don’t know how to say ‘can we be friends’ without sounding like a crazy person.
But, after awkwardly approaching a group of women on the terrace a couple nights ago and saying ‘oh hey, can I sit here?’ and sitting with them without waiting for a response, I realized that everyone secretly wants to talk to each other while traveling.
So, I did some ‘research’ and talked with my new friends about how they have made travel companions in the past.
How to make friends while abroad
1. Say hello. It really is that simple. Of course, don’t say hello to someone as they’re about to use the toilet; pick the proper moment. The common area in a hostel is ideal, or if you happen to be in the room at the same time, a polite smile and hello can go a long way. It’s not a guarantee, but using the simple hello method at a hostel has worked for me 95% of the time, thwarted only because of a language barrier.
2. Go on a free walking tour. They have these in the majority of major European cities now. It’s perfect because the crowd is generally young (18-26) and they usually offer tickets to a pub crawl that night. I’m not saying that you have to drink to make friends, but bonding while drinking a pint is always easy. You already have something in common: booze!
3. Stalking. Okay, wait, I don’t mean follow someone around while dressed in a black-trench-coat. No, this trick I learned from a frequent traveler (one who I will not name), and her story seemed to resonate with everyone. It goes like this: you’ve arrived at a hostel, are feeling lonely, and 4 hours have passed since you’ve interacted with anyone. You’ve missed the free tour for the day, and the girl you approached in the kitchen didn’t speak a word of English. Damn. You’re lying in your bed, feeling pretty defeated, and thinking of what type of fun you can have alone on a Friday night in Madrid. Then, you hear it. It’s barely audible, but your ears are sure: it’s English. ‘Hey, where can I buy some beer to drink on the terrace?’. This is your moment. You can either remain lying on your uncomfortable bunk-bed or run out there and say hello. But wait, you can’t just sprint out to the reception and blurt hello. No, you’re a normal person who follows acceptable social norms. Okay, solution: walk out to the reception (casually) and ask the reception ‘hey, I was wondering where I may be able to find some beer?’. Now, assuming the English guy standing next to you also follows basic social-norms he should invite you along.
‘We’re looking for the same thing’ he says with a smile. Damn, no invite. Okay, be brave: ‘no way! Is it cool if I tag along with you to grab some?’
‘Sure!’
Bam! This guy thinks it’s all his idea to have you tag along with him and his hot Australian buddies, but you can give yourself an internal high-five for manipulating the situation to your advantage!
And yes, this is a true story.
4. When all else fails, just remind yourself that you’re in Europe. Spending a night alone isn’t a great option every night, but heading to a cafe or a pub solo and grabbing a drink in Europe is a cool story, with or without people. You will remember it fondly and say to people: ‘this one night, while alone in Europe…’ and no matter what you did, it already sounds awesome.

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The best part about friends abroad is learning about their culture, a few words in their native language and you may increase the amount of Facebook friends you have. And, if you really hit-it-off you may get yourself an invite to their home. So, even after your adventure you have the opportunity to visit France, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Spain, the UK and maybe Australia. You may even host someone yourself.
So, what are you waiting for!? Go say hello!

Being Alone and Instagram Moments

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I leave for my trip in exactly a month. Nervous? Honestly, not overly. There are moments when I get a rush of anxiety at the thought of being on a plane for 8.5 hours (GASP), but it quickly passes when … Continue reading

Pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan or Paleolithic?

I recently read (and posted) articles from Thought Catalog that discussed the attitudes of individuals who eat a primarily plant-based diet. The initial article, “Oh, You Don’t Eat Meat? Do Tell Me More” by Chelsea Fagan begins by stating that she is writing her article based on the views of “militant” vegans. However, after reading the entire piece, it’s hard not to feel as though she is venting about all individuals who choose to eat healthy.

Samantha Moore responds to Ms. Fagan with “Oh, You Eat Meat? Please, Feel Free to Berate Me”, and she does an excellent job of pointing out the (many) logical fallacies with Fagan’s arguments.

Chelsea Fagan’s article irritates me because she accuses vegetarians of being judgmental against meat-eaters. Yet, the entire time she uses flawed and un-found arguments that cast judgments on those she accuses.

I would just like to point out that there are MANY papers, articles and news reports that prove a vegetarian diet is better not only for your heath but for the environment as well. It’s not judgmental, it’s fact.

I am a pescetarian; therefore my diet is mainly plant-based but I still consume dairy, eggs and seafood. I initially became a vegetarian, and then about 6 months later I introduced fish back into my diet because I enjoy the taste and it was easier for me to attend family events (oh, you don’t eat meat? What do you eat?).

I love food. My diet used to consist of McDonald’s “chicken” nuggets, steak sandwiches and a chicken breast at lunch and dinner. When I began introducing more vegetarian type meals into my diet, I discovered that there was so much more variety beyond my daily chicken breast meal.

I now eat avocado, lentils, hummus, tofu, seitan, kale, chia seeds, hemp hearts, mangos and quinoa.

I am not saying that individuals who eat meat don’t eat these things, I am just saying that since giving up meat I have discovered that I actually enjoy eating food that I would have previously turned my nose up at. And yes Ms. Fagan, I do pin pictures on my Pinterest account of these things.

I, like Moore, do not judge my friends if they eat meat. An individual’s diet is a choice, and although I may have an opinion of what is best, I keep it to myself. Yes, I do think that mass-slaughter is similar to the holocaust, but please don’t get angry at me for thinking this. Yes, I have seen many videos of animal cruelty and factory farming, and therefore I cannot stomach the thought of ever eating meat again, but why am I an asshole for feeling this way?

I choose to eat a pescetarian diet because it makes me feel better. Plain and simple. I don’t want to argue with anyone about it. However, if you choose to attack me and my eating habits, don’t expect me to back down. Plain and simple.

Herbivore vs Carnivore on Thought Catalog

I recently read two articles on Thought Catalog:

Oh, You Don’t Eat Meat? Do Tell Me More.

Oh, You Eat Meat? Please, Feel Free To Berate Me.

Please take the time to read these two articles. I am going to write a post in response to this argument (hopefully) tonight.

Also, would like to let my fellow Edmontonians know that Filthy McNasty’s is awesome. I’ve been there before, but never really appreciated it until last night. Metal Monday’s also feature $3.75 hi-balls and cheap Jager!

@Cvlieg and @tpawsey at Filthy McNasty’s on Whyte Ave