Sherrydayne Abroad: The unbelievable kindness of strangers

Hello fellow travelers! I’m not traveling myself, but my good friend Sherry (who I have mentioned a million times), was just on a short 3 week trip to Europe. She wrote this beautiful post about the kindness of strangers that … Continue reading

Next travel destination? You decide!

Hey followers! In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, head over to Tay at Home and take a read! Or, just look above! Yeah, I’ve scored myself an Intern position at an Ad Agency in Toronto! SUPER EXCITING! … Continue reading

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

20121026-093318.jpg

Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

20121027-110236.jpg
Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

20121027-110957.jpg

20121027-111011.jpg
We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

20121027-111224.jpg

20121027-111154.jpg

20121027-111237.jpg

20121027-111257.jpg

20121027-111310.jpg
We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

20121027-111502.jpg
Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

20121027-111812.jpg

20121027-111853.jpg
Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

20121027-112412.jpg
Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Hola Lisbon, Portugal

This gallery contains 16 photos.

First impression of Lisbon (Lisboa): just another big city. BUT, after less than 24 hours in the city I realized that Lisbon is described as one of the best cities in Europe for several reasons. My hope is that by … Continue reading

Eating Abroad

Hola!
So, as much as I would like to tell you that I’ve been out exploring Seville, taking awesome pictures and eating delicious food, the truth is, I’ve been doing the opposite.
1. I’m sick. And no, not because of crazy partying (I wish), I think it’s because I’ve been going almost non-stop for 3 weeks. It’s tiring and I haven’t been eating really well…
2. I cannot stress enough how important it is to buy groceries! It’s way less expensive and, just like at home, food at a restaurant isn’t good for you!
3. It’s raining today! I can’t complain since it’s the first cloudy day I’ve seen in 3 weeks.
So, today I’ve been lounging around the hostel. The Garden Backpacker hostel is amazing! I can’t wait to write about it later–rooftop terrace, private court-yard, a bar, free sangria and a massive living room area with a flat-screen. So, staying in the hostel all day wasn’t actually too bad. Read my book (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry–so good!) and socialized.
Anyways, what this post is really about is FOOD!
When I first arrived in Spain, I was so excited for tapas! Yummy tostadas with cheese and fruit and veggies and calamari…sounds delicious, eh?
Confession: I am unimpressed with the food here. And yes, I realize I don’t eat ‘jamon’, so my opinion is tainted, but seriously I’m over it!

20120926-164008.jpg
Above: this was my favourite tapas: Goats cheese with caramelized onion on a tostada — it was really yummy, but just like anything this rich, it’s not something I could eat everyday.
So yes, being a vegetarian, or vegan, in Spain would be difficult!
My second favourite item:

20120926-164448.jpg
Churro’s with hot chocolate. I literally thought I had gone to heaven. So delicious!
But, other than that, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of money on bland food. So, to the grocery store I go!
But wait, what do I make?
Sandwiches are always a good place to start.
Hostels will sometimes have mayonnaise, mustard or other dressings available, which is awesome! If you’re a meat-eater, sliced ham/chorizo/jamon is readily available and cheap! Canned fish is also inexpensive. Then grab some veggies and some avocado. Simple, and you can feed yourself sandwiches for 3/4 days for under 12 euro!
Pasta is also a good option. Simply throw in some fresh veggies and a sauce of your choice and voila! I’ve seen people making simple tomato sauce pasta (canned sauce) or a simple olive oil/salt and pepper dressing.
Soup. Making soup from scratch won’t be worth it, but you can always purchase canned/boxed soups for under 1 or 2 euro. It’s not a super healthy option, but it’s filling and quick!
Salads are a bit more tricky. Only because making an elaborate salad that tastes yummy takes time and effort. But, if you have the patience, salad is always a good choice!
Fresh fruit is a quick and healthy snack, and way better for you then a chocolate bar when you’re on the run. I’ve been putting an apple or a nectarine in my bag to stop myself from spending 5 euro on a croissant for a sugar fix.
Yogurt is an awesome choice for a snack or for breakfast (especially if not provided by your hostel).
Some issues I’ve had are reading the labels. I’ve been relying heavily on pictures on the box/can to help me out. Also, some ‘common’ items I find at home aren’t as readily available here, especially for vegetarians.
– Tofu I still haven’t stumbled upon
– Quinoa is something I eat all of the time back home, but cannot find here!

So my advice: immediately find your closest market and stock up on fresh veg/easy meals. If you’re in town for an extended time (more than 4 days), look up a place to buy tofu etc. and go get some!
Stay-tuned for a post about my adventures in Seville and then in Lisbon to find tofu (I wish they had daiya here). Also, I’ve heard rumors of a vegan bakery which I may bike to tomorrow.
Anyways, just wanted to update you with my food struggles. I love food, and I miss GOOD, TASTY, HEALTHY meals. Anyone been to Seville that can help me? Or any advice for when I go to Lisbon and Barcelona?

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.

20120923-202351.jpg

20120923-202412.jpg
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!

Skinny-dipping in the Irish Sea

20120917-235606.jpg

Intrigued?
How did I make the decision to do this? Well, I didn’t really have a choice. I have my American friends, Chris and Cree, as well as Will, to thank for this amazing memory.
Chris and Cree love adventure. I wish i had the ‘just do it’ mentality that they both have. Luckily, after a week with them, I feel like I have inherited it a little bit.
We travelled from Galway to a small town called Gorey on the bus, then walked 1.5 hours down a country road (scary!), eating wild blackberries, to Courtown. We booked a hostel that we thought was in Wexford, then realized on our way that it was actually an hour outside. What!? But, we luckily were able to get off the bus in Gorey and walk the rest of the way.
Beaches Youth Hostel is more like a bed and breakfast than a hostel. It was like a cozy cottage. We immediately walked the 5 minutes to the private beach. It was down an almost hidden sand-path, under a tunnel of bushes, and then a steep decent to the beach. It was gorgeous. The water was freezing. I had already agreed during the bus ride to go skinny dipping that night but the minute my feet were in the water I started running through excuses to not go in. The boys skipped rocks along the water and I took pictures and videos of the frolicking around.
After about 45 minutes we headed into town to grab some food from the market and then made a delicious one-pan concoction of potatoes, bell peppers, egg and cheese. The boys kindly made a vegetarian dinner so I could partake, and it was so yummy! Then we drank some strong Irish cider: it comes in 2 liter pop bottles! It was delicious. Then, as an extra blanket of warmth, we added some whiskey to the mixture.
Chris had a headlamp and we all trekked to the beah, Will leading the way, and then we striped (sorry family haha) and ran into the water!
And you know what, it wasn’t that cold. Then, we ran out, and as we were drying off we all said “again?” and ran in one more time; it was considerably colder that time.
So, when someone asks you to go skinny-dipping, don’t think about an excuse, just do it! Now I have an amazing memory and I can say: “This one time, in Ireland, I went skinny-dipping in the Irish Sea”.

20120917-235635.jpg

Cheese, bread and wine in Paris, France

Oh hey there!
I am so sorry I’ve been MIA! I only have my phone as a way to write my posts and post my photos…and sometimes the Internet isn’t very reliable!
Wow…I don’t even know where to begin! Instead of starting from the beginning, I’ll write about my night in Paris, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

20120916-222203.jpg

I travelled to the Eiffel Tower solo my first full-day in Paris. It’s big. Really big.
And it’s crowded. Very crowded. I have a hard time appreciating a place when it’s crawling with people. But, amazing none the less.

20120916-222407.jpg

Then I got lost. Well, not literally. I knew what tram station my hostel was at so if I really did get lost I could just go to any tram station (they’re everywhere) and head back.

I stumbled on an outdoor market on Rue Cler. There was fresh produce, fresh croissants, buskers, cafes over-flowing with people and tents with antiques and furniture and random trinkets.

20120916-222854.jpg

It was an awesome discovery! I wanted to go to Luxembourg park, but somehow I kept getting turned around and ended up walking in the wrong direction, north instead of south, and ended up on the Seine!

20120916-223120.jpg

There was a fence with ‘Locks of Love’ (I don’t know what it’s actually called), but it was the perfect photo opportunity, and I’m certain I’ve seen photos of it before. Then I walked across to The Islands and explored the boardwalks along the Seine.

I had been walking for 3 or so hours by this point, and as if someone heard my prayer I stumbled on Luxembourg!

20120916-223657.jpg
It was so gorgeous! There were people sitting on chairs all around the gardens, and I did the same. I had my book with me so I put my feet up and read in the sun for an hour. Ah, now it feels like a vacation!
Around 5 I headed back to my hostel (20 minute walk), and then I met my roomies: 2 very friendly Brazilian women! Immediately they invited me out with their friends and that’s what this post is really about.
When you go to Paris (because you will go), don’t waste your money in a crowded cafe. Around 7 head to the Eiffel tower with friends and bring fresh baguettes, French artisan cheeses, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the cork-screw!) and sit on the grass and just enjoy the tower at night. They also do a 5 minute light-show at 9pm! There were tons of people doing the same thing as us, and it was exactly how I imagined Paris would be. And, since wine only costs 4 euro a bottle (a good bottle, you can get a bottle for as low as 2 euro!), and cheese and bread are also inexpensive, you get an authentic Paris experience without spending crazy amounts of money!

20120916-224259.jpg

I promise I’ll write more posts about Ireland (Guinness and skinny-dipping) and Morlaix, France once I’m settled in Madrid! Next stop: Madrid! I met a friend, Pablo, while I was in Dublin so he is going to take me around Madrid while I’m there for a week 🙂

Packing for 3 months in Europe

So I spent the better part of the past two-days either packing or visiting. Packing isn’t difficult, it’s just draining.

When I looked down at the pile of clothes I made, it just didn’t seem like enough. I found myself thinking “Hm, well I guess I could pack one more shirt just in case…” but then the traveller inside me would scream “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”.

I’ve never really been known as a light packer. Don’t get me wrong, after all the cross-country moves I’ve done I’ve gotten better, but this was a challenge. I used to pack a 50 pound bag for a one-week trip to see my Dad. He would always look at me like I was crazy, and he was right: I barely touched more than half the things in my suit case.

Anyways, I’m just estimating, but I am 95% certain the bag weighs less than 25 pounds. Is that good in “backpacker-travel” standards? I don’t really know–but I can pick my bag up with one arm no-problem, so I think that’s a good sign!

What I Packed

Clothing:

  • 4 tank tops (1 “dressier”)
  • 3 T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 summer-dress
  • 2 Merino Wool sweaters
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 light, 1 dark)
  • 1 zip-away type pants
  • 1 pair of lu lu lemons (guilty pleasure)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 “nice” sweater
  • 2 bras
  • underwear/socks (obviously!)
  • PJs (shorts and a long t-shirt)
  • 1 bathing suit

Tioletries:

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • DRY conditioner/shampoo (Lush Cosmetics)
  • Small bottle Body-wash
  • 1 bottle spray leave-in-conditioner (I NEED IT!)
  • bandaids/polysporine (I’m really clumsy)
  • Hair elastics/bobby-pins
  • Make-up  Absolutely NOT!
  • baby-wipes (in a baggy–great for washing your face)
  • Vanilla spray (I have to smell good if I’m going to make friends)
  • Deodorant
  • Lady-stuff
  • Q-tips (a few in a baggy)
  • Vitamins/meds

Other Stuff:

  • Fluff-book (Thanks Heather for the Harlequin Romance)
  • iPod/iPhone and ear-phones (and charger)
  • ear-plugs
  • Towel/blanket
  • Flip-flops (for the showers)
  • Pillow-case (recommended by Heather-It’s always a comfort knowing what your head is laying on)
  • Sandals (small, cheap ones, for going out)
  • Walking shoes (wearing on the plane)
  • Camera and charger
  • Adaptor
  • Journal/pen
  • Spork
  • Bounce dryer sheets (make my smelly-stuff smell good)
  • Lock
  • Plastic bags (put away dirty-laundry/anything wet)
  • Sandwich bags (so many uses)
  • 1 water-bottle (the deflatable kind)

The obvious essentials:

  • Passport
  • photo-copies of my documents (a couple hidden in my carry-on and my bag as well as one I left at home)
  • Eurail Pass
  • Confirmation numbers
  • Address for my hostel

I’m pretty sure that’s it. The list may seem long, but once it’s all compacted in your bag, it’s not. I put a lot of my things in small plastic-bags (sandwich bags) and then put them all in one large zip-loc bag so it’s easy to dig out every night at the hostel.

Of the above items I packed the following in my carry-on:

  • 1 pair of underwear
  • iPhone/iPod/chargers/adaptor
  • The obvious essentials
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 flannel blanket (not in my list of things, only because it was given to me by a very friendly west-jet employee my last flight home, so I plan on only keeping it for the flight).
  • My book

And there you have it! I think it’s a fairly good list of things, and if I arrive and go “Sh*t, I should have packed _____” or “Fack, I wish I didn’t even bother packing _____”, I’ll let you know!

P.S. I AM SO EXCITED!