A Look Back at 2016 

Another year is coming to the end, I feel like time is going too fast lately, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing. I think we can all agree 2016 was a messy year, a lot has happened in the world that has caused distress. As I look back on 2016, it was definitely a year of lessons. I was faced with challenges and people who tested my patience, but I’m a fighter so raised above the adversity. I learned that risk taking and stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to grow as a person. I learned self-care should not be taken for granted and next year I’ll take better care of myself. In previous blog posts, I’ve written what my goals will be for the following year. This time I want to try something new and talk about what I’ve learned in 2016.

For me personally, 2016 was a tough year, but not as tough as other years. This year was challenging for me because I was faced with the challenge of figuring out my life and how to deal with difficult people. My mentality at the beginning of the year was to have maximum control of how the year would unfold for me and try to prevent anything distressing from happening. Oh, how foolish I was! We do not have power over how life will unfold, things happen to us when we least expect it. However, I have learned you can control your reactions to certain situations. This year I had to deal with a challenging boss, who is not bad person, but she can be condescending. I took on a lot of stress from this and I got sick throughout the year. I had strep throat, ear infection, glands infection, horrible flu with high fever, borderline anemia (I’m cured now) and sinus infection. I would like to point out that I am a teacher at a before and after school program, so that contributed to the sicknesses. On the other hand, the stress from doing a job I do not enjoy and dealing with a difficult boss is definitely another factor to take into consideration.

Let’s take a look at what I’ve learned from 2016.

1. Self-care and Health.

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I have learned that self-care and your heath is the most important thing! Your health should always come first, I had to teach myself to slow down with the daily hustle and tell myself that it’s alright to take a break. I am changing career fields at the moment, switching from youth counseling to work in the arts/culture as marketer or a social media coordinator. I am doing a lot of volunteering, along with working during the week, therefore the exhaustion was building up. Health always comes first, remembered that!

2. March to the beat of your own drum.

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As I mentioned above, I am changing my career path to chase my dream career. I have to start from scratch, learning, gaining experience and networking with others. I have to make up for years I’ve lost, trying to gain knowledge in a very short amount of time. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. I was faced with some obstacles and very opinionated people, who think they know what’s best for and what would make me happy. I appreciate people’s opinions and I hear them out, but when these opinions become forceful, that’s when I have to draw the line. I became swayed from all of these individuals and allowed myself to feel doubtful about my choices. This can be very toxic, that’s why you have to watch out what you say and to whom. Make your own decisions, if you know that’s for sure the best thing for you do not let anyone stop you. Go out there and show them what you are capable of, you are unstoppable. So what I have to say is: just wait and watch me succeed.

3. Control Your Reactions.

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I am prone to anxiety, if something very stressful happens to me I tend to feel so stressed to the point where I make myself feel sick. It’s a very unhealthy habit, you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how your react to it. Going back to my condescending boss I was talking about, I allowed her behavior to affect me emotionally and also affect my work performance. I sat down one day and took long hard look at how I was approaching the situation, I knew I had to change and made it my goal to control my emotions when she was being rude. The moment I began to change my reaction, I noticed I responded to her differently and that made me feel calmer. I am still working on it and reading about how to master this, I guess this hardship was necessary to happen so I can learn how to interact with people who are similar to her.

4. Take Risks.

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If you don’t take risks and step out of your comfort zone, you’ll never move forward. The sense of security and the feeling comfort is great, but it won’t get you anywhere. This year I learned to be spontaneous and face my fears, and you know what it’s not that scary when you take that step forward.

5. Let It Go.

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No, I’m not referring to the song from Frozen (ok, bad joke). Letting go of things from the past or present is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of respect for yourself and your feelings. I have learned that what’s in the past stays there, and I need to focus on the here and now. You never know what will happen in a day, so don’t waste your life living in misery.

6. Forgiveness.

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Pride always gets in the way of forgiving, we think that if we forgive we we lose a battle.

  • Resentment is the poison you feed yourself, hoping someone else will die.
  • Forgiveness is a choice.
  • Refusing to forgive is living in the past.

I couldn’t agree more, I am far from perfect and I’m still having a hard time with forgiveness, but I realized it really is like poison for your mind. When you forgive you begin to feel free.

Even through 2016 was challenging year, I see why I had to go through it because I needed to learn more and grow as a person. My wish for everyone for 2017 is great health, happiness, success and piece of mind! Remember its okay to be kind to yourself and do something that makes you happy, make sure you are healthy and laugh a lot.

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make 2017 a calm and exciting year for us all!

See you soon and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

East Coast, Meets West Coast 2016! Part III – Portland, Cannon Beach, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

Welcome back everyone,

We are back with part three of my West coast travel story, sorry to keep you waiting with the next installment of the story.

Where did we leave off from the last post? Ahh, yes it was right at the moment when my friend and I crossed the border. It was a great feeling to know that I am finally in the United States, I didn’t know what to expect so I made sure I enjoyed each moment to the fullest. The first thing we did was to stop by McDonald’s to get something for the road, because we had a long drive ahead of us. We ran into a family that was travelling together, they had a mini van and they made it look so cozy inside for their journey. We chatted with them for a bit, the mother was telling us about their road trip journey and that they are on the road all time. It was cool to see a family that is so adventurous! Afterwards, we got in the car and continued driving to Portland. On our way there, we passed by Seattle, which was our last destination after exploring Portland. The drive was really pleasant, but also very tiring.


We were up all night, so we decided to stop at a McDonald’s parking lot to catch a snooze. The nap didn’t last too long because some questionable individuals started gathering in the parking lot, so we drove off as fast as possible. Before we drove to the hostel, we did some research back in Vancouver and we went to see the Rocky Butte Look Out. It had a beautiful view of Portland, the architecture was also very unique, it had a medieval vibe. We took so many photos and then it was time to go to the hostel.


This little red car took us everywhere this summer! What an adventure.

 We checked in early, but we couldn’t get into our room until 4:00pm and it was only 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning. We checked in and then my friend suggested to go to the beach and grab some of her favorite gluten free pizza from Sizzle Pie.


It was the best pizza I’ve ever had, if you ever come down to Portland make sure you stop by to grab a slice. We drove to the beach and spent a few hours there just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. There were many people coming to enjoy the sunny day we had, I went up to the shore to collect some seashells and there was a playful dog I played with on the beach. After spending a few hours at the beach, we decided to drive back to the hostel and rest. We were both very tired because of the lack of sleep so getting some sleep was essential. I believe the next thing we did that same day was to go out for a walk and have dinner. I saw someone’s Trader Joes shopping bag in the fridge at the hostel, so of course I had to go because I’ve always wanted to. Trader Joes is a grocery with tons of organic and healthy foods! After exploring around the downtown area, my friend and I went out for dinner at Deschutes Brewery. It was a delicious dinner, after eating   we continued walking around.

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The following day was really fun, we had a lot planned and a spontaneous trip to Cannon Beach. We went to Chinatown, my friend took me to see the famous “Keep Portland Weird” sign, and we stopped by Voodoo donuts but the line was took long so we left.

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Afterwards we went down to Steel Bridge, another popular tourist attraction in Portland.

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It was a sunny day, the weather was nice and warm, and there were lots of people exploring. My friend and I decided to rent a bike and bike around the park. It was so much fun and it was also very funny when were struggling to go uphill. We had a fun, but we decided to head back to the area near our hostel. My friend had a suggestion to travel down to Cannon Beach, which was hour and a half away from Portland. Before we drove down to Cannon Beach, we went to Starbucks to cool off from the warm weather and we also went shopping at World Market. I wish we had World Market in Canada, it has great selections of household items and much more.

When we were done, it was time to drive to the best beach I’ve been to. Now we are getting to my favorite part of the trip! I had no idea I was going to fall in love with this beautiful place, it was so picturesque. The drive to Cannon Beach was a lot of fun, it was long but scenic. Rows and rows of trees, stunning views and the anticipation of going somewhere new was exciting. We had some snacks and listened to music. As we were driving, the weather started to change, it went from sunny, to cloudy and foggy. This was slightly disappointing because the reason we drove to Cannon Beach was to take pictures of the sunset. The drive seemed slightly long, but it was enjoyable and super relaxing! I was in love with the scenery and I couldn’t look away.

Before we knew it, we arrived at Cannon Beach! It was getting dark, but there was some daylight left. As soon as we entered the town, I got an instant feeling of peace. There was something about this place that captured my heart instantly, the cute little houses and overall vibe of a small town appealed to me. I was born in the city and I grew up in the city as well, so I never thought I would like a small town and prefer it more than the city. When we got out of the car and it quite chilly, I believe it was around 14 degrees. My friend rushed off to go see the beach and followed behind her slowly (I was freezing actually). As soon as I stepped foot on the beach, I knew at that moment this will be my favorite part of the trip. I was mesmerized by the beauty of Cannon Beach, it seemed so unique with its iconic Haystack rock. It was also very foggy so we couldn’t take the pictures we wanted, but we sat down by the bonfire to warm up. I looked around at my surroundings and the beautiful hotel resort. My friend jokingly suggested to book a room, but I agreed! I’m rarely a spontaneous person, but for this place I knew I wanted to stay longer. Did I mention that this was my first time seeing the ocean? Yes, it was and it was an amazing feeling. Following our relaxing break on the beach, we decided to stop in the hotel resort to look around and find out the price for one night stay. It turned out it was $250, we told the hotel receptionist we will think about it and call back if we wanted to book a room. We got into the car and drove off to Portland. We sat in silence for a while, both of us contemplating what to do and I finally said, ‘I want to stay there, I want to go back again” and my friend agreed. I didn’t know when I would have the opportunity to go there again and I wanted to make sure I don’t miss out on anything that was within my reach. Eventually, we came to the decision to book a room for one night. I was so excited to leave the hostel and go back to the ocean.

The next morning, we got ready, packed up our bags and checked out of the hostel. Before we began driving down to Cannon Beach, we had a few things that we had to get done 1) buy souvenirs 2) go to an outlet mall to buy some gifts for family and something for myself. For souvenirs we went to Powell’s Books, a very popular book store in Portland. They have used and new books, along with more merchandise. I found some pretty cool stuff there and bought the souvenirs I wanted. Our next stop was Woodburn Premium Outlet Mall.

Guess what, the shopping was tax free and that’s something we don’t have here in Canada so I was excited to buy clothes for a reasonable price. There were so many stores, my friend and I decided to split up for an hour and go get the stuff we needed quickly. I got a purse from a store called Journeys and I also got my first pair of Converse. I had a lot of fun exploring the outlet mall,and I can’t wait to go back again when I go back to Portland.  Then it was time to continue driving to Cannon Beach. The drive to Cannon Beach was quite nice and scenic as I mentioned earlier, there were rows and rows of trees. This was probably the most peaceful I felt in a very long time, getting away from the hustle of every day life is so important and the best way to do it is by travelling. We were lucky this time because the weather was great and sunny, still slightly chilly but not too bad. I got so excited as soon as we drove into the small town, there was such a nice vibe about it and it’s quite charming.

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We went to check into our hotel and as soon as I walked into our hotel room I jumped on the bed, I was so excited. The hotel room had a nice big TV, a king size bed and the the wonderful view from Haystack Rock. We also had a minibar, a sink and all sorts of snacks and treats. The bathroom had a hot tub and it was really nice and spacious.

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When we settled in and we put our stuff away, we stopped by the convenient store near the hotel to get some food and other necessities such as marshmallows to make roasted marshmallows.  After we bought our food we gathered our camera equipment and headed out to the beach to take sunset pictures. It was absolutely perfect, the sunset colours were so nice even though there were some clouds hiding the sun. We took a quick break going back to the hotel room to have some dinner. I loved the hotel room, this was a family resort and it had a very cozy vibe. After we ate and watched some TV, we went out again to the beach to have roasted our marshmallows by the bonfire.. We stayed outside for a while enjoying the evening and then we went back to our room to sleep.

The next day was bitter sweet because we had to depart to Seattle, Washington. We went to the beach one last time before we departed to Seattle, Washington. Before, we drove off, my friend decided to make a final stop at Ecola State Park. The view of the ocean and Cannon Beach was mesmerizing, we were lucky because the weather was lovely. We took a few pictures, enjoyed the scenery and then it was time to say goodbye to Oregon.

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It is such a beautiful state, and the drive to Seattle was so scenic (this is a common word I’ve been using, but that’s the best way to describe Oregon). I can’t recall for how long we drove, but I think it was close to 2-3 hours, but then again I may be wrong. The drive to Seattle felt long, I was tired and I wanted to go back to Canada. However, I knew going to Seattle would be worth it.

After driving for so long, I finally saw Seattle’s skyscrapers. Our stay in Seattle wasn’t very long, we arrive around 7pm and we left Seattle around midnight. We went to see Public Market Center, the original Starbucks cafe, the waterfront, Space Needle and we rode on the ferris wheel. Seattle is a typical city, but it also has the view of the mountains and that’s something Toronto is missing.

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The famous gum wall, really gross but cool at the same time.

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Beautiful view from the waterfront in Seattle.

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The first Starbucks cafe. I’m a huge Starbucks lover, so it was cool to see this in person.
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The view from the Space Needle.
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Space Needle, Seattle.

After a week of driving around in the States, we finally made it back on Canadian soil. I like the States, but I love Canada more 🙂

With this, I conclude the United States road trip chapter of my story! The next part of my West Coast story will be the final one. Stay tuned!

As usual, thank you all for reading and see you soon!



  
  

  


  

Struggles of Blogging

How many times have you sat down in front of your computer to write a post, but suddenly your posts didn’t seem that original?

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That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, blogging can be difficult especially when you are taking it seriously. Having a original and creative ideas can be difficult because you feel as if every topic has been used already by a blogger or a YouTuber. Let’s face it, there are a ton of bloggers and you have to try very hard to be unique, original and stay true to yourself. Throughout my journey as a blogger, I’ve noticed that I pay close attention to other bloggers and try to be like them. That being said, I don’t mean copying their content because that’s plagiarism. It means, I like the way they blog and what they blog about so a thought goes through mind mind that I should probably write about fashion or beauty or any other topic. I like both of these subjects, however I don’t consider myself a fashionista and I love beauty products but I am not an expert. I also do not enjoy writting about theser things. We may have the tendency to compare ourselves to other fellow bloggers and that’s when blogging becomes like a chore.

When I first started blogging, I wanted to write about things that I’m interested in for fun, but along the way I started to take seriously and treat my blog as a growing business. I am still learning a lot about blogging every day, marketing strategies change thanks to the expanding social media world. My biggest struggle lately has been to go back to doing blogging for fun, and my blog does get recognized, that would be great. But it is no longer an aspiration of mine because I just want to have fun with it. It doesn’t have to be about competition or anything else, it is simply a platform to express myself. That being said, other people use blogging for business purposes and that’s great. For example. I have an Instagram photography page and I want to flourish as a photographer, so one day I can turn it into a business. I have taken many photos of my friends, I was asked to be their wedding/engagement photographer and I want to continue doing that. But for this blog, it is meant as a hobby.

Another struggle some bloggers may relate to is narrowing down your blog to one or two specific topics. In the past, my other WordPress blog (jadoremusic), was about a variety of topics such as TV shows, books, food, beauty, travel and etc. A while back I read a post about blogging and the author of that post said that it is better to narrow down the category of your blog to one or two things. When I read that, I felt a bit discouraged because it meant that I had to change my style of blogging . I took two months to revamp my other blog and now it is solely about music and photography. However, after I did this I felt the need to write about other subjects such as cooking, travelling, and pretty much everyday life things. I am excluding fashion and beauty from this blog, sometimes I may post something related to it but don’t expect fashion look-books or makeup tutorials! My blog title is Daily Talk, I liked the name because it incorporates talking about anything and feeling as if you are talking to a friend over coffee. That is the meaning and purpose  behind my blog! I want readers to come here and just chat in the comments with one another about a particular topic I’m discussing.

In conclusion, I have learned that writing is not a smooth process and inspiration is vital. It is okay to have those day when you feel like writing is not going your way, don’t force it, leave it and come back to it another day. It shows in your writing that it feels forced, because it may sound like you are rambling. I have also learned that as long as you stay true to yourself, that originality will come and show on your blog. Be unique, express yourself and talk about what you want. Come up with a realistic schedule when you know for sure you can post, even if it is once a week, it is enough for now. Have fun with it, isn’t that what blogging and Youtube-ing is all about.

 

Thanks for reading, if you have ever felt this way please share your experience in the comments and tells us how you have overcome it.

See you soon!

 

 

 

Embrace Your Natural Beauty!

A while back Alicia Keys made an announcement that she will stop wearing makeup as a journey to empower herself. I wasn’t sure whether or not she was seriously going to commit to this, but she did! At the the 2016 VMAs, Alicia Keys appeared with makeup free  and received quite the backlash about it from the media.

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Alicia Keys, with husband Swizz Beats!

Following the VMAs, the following day her husband, Swizz Beats took it to twitter to defend his wife from these ridiculous attacks. Here is what he had to say:

“Y’all gotta think about that. This is deep,” he says at the opening of his emotional video. “Somebody’s sitting at home mad, because somebody didn’t wear makeup on their face… not your face, but they didn’t put makeup on their face, because they just didn’t feel like wearing makeup.”

He adds, “But you’re mad because that person didn’t put makeup to please you? What sh*t is this?” he continued. “Because you can do whatever you want to do. Think about it… this is deep.”

Alicia Keys did not stay silent and she also expressed her opinion after posting a barefaced selfie, with the caption “Y’all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!”

On the Today Show, she inspired Tamron Hall, Billy Bush and Al Roker to follow suit and removed their makeup. Keys helped them removed their makeup, and they had a positive response to what the singer inspired them to do.

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Alicia Keys removing Tamron Hall’s makeup on the Today Show!

Alicia Keys is not the only individual who has done something like this, there are many online personalities who try to inspire young girls to embrace their true self. A few of them are beauty-guru, Kandee Johnson and Ingrid Nilsen. As a teacher, my goal is to make sure my students see their worth and show them they are great just the way they are! However, in this day and age this is very hard to accomplish. Social media and sharing photos has become all about the vanity of it, if you scroll through Instagram you will find people having thousands of followers and all they post are selfies. That’s not the only problem, people use ‘beauty’ apps to airbrush their faces and hide any imperfections. This gives the younger generation the idea that imperfections are a flaw. The media is famous for this notion with their airbrushing and Photoshop techniques, to achieve that unrealistic hourglass shape on a celebrity and perfect skin. According to an article in The Telegraph, over 40 per cent said the advertising made them feel self-conscious about their appearance, 28 per cent said they were left feeling inadequate and 20 per cent said they were less confident in their daily lives as a result of such images. This is definitely a problem because these images are not reality, every human being has imperfections.

Let me tell you a quick story, so in 2014 I got my free gym membership for the YMCA because I’m an employee. I realized I was struck with a silly dilemma, should I wear makeup to the gym, meaning foundation, or not. Prior to that moment, a few years ago I felt so self-conscious about my blemishes that I couldn’t go for a five minute run to the bakery without makeup. So when the time came to make a decision of whether or not I should wear makeup to the gym, I decided not to. No one there is going inspect my face and tell me to go wear makeup because I have some blemishes. I’ll also be sweating so there is  no point to wear any makeup. The moment is started to go against this insecurity, I felt like I was winning and it felt good. I started going for a walks around the neighborhood without makeup and even lipstick, lipstick is usually a must for me. Once I even posted a group picture of me and my friends, when we just woke up, with no makeup and dark under eye circles. At first I had the urge to delete it but then I told myself, “If anyone has a problem with it, it’s their problem, not mine”. Confidence comes through when you start to accept yourself for who you are, the right people will love your true self.

That’s how it works, you have to go against your insecurities, otherwise they will not go away. It starts with small steps, we tend to be our worst critic more than other people! I think what Alicia Keys is doing is great, it brought people’s attention to a very important matter that could be the start of something positive! So I want to hear from you lovely readers, what is one thing that makes you feel confident about yourself. To name a few qualities and features I like about myself are my eye color, my gap teeth smile, I’m a a very giving person, I’m creative and more. Make a list of the positives each day, they will overweight the negatives.

Thank you for reading and see you soon!

 

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Summer Tag! 

I can’t believe summer is coming to end, it always feels like it goes by too fast. 

This summer has been very adventurous one for me, and I’m looking forward to what Fall has in store for me. However, today I want to take my time to talk about summer. I thought the perfect way to do that is by answering some questions from the Summer tag. Tag posts/videos are very popular on social media and I enjoy them quite a bit. 

Now it’s time to sit down and tell you what I like about summer.

Enjoy.

1. Your dream summer vacation.

My dream summer vacation would definitely be somewhere tropical. Being on the beach and going swimming is a perfect summer activity for me. This summer I had the chance to visit the beautiful Cannon Beach. I haven’t been to the beach in a long time, and I loved it.  

2. Favorite summer drink.  

I typically get a lemonade from Starbucks. For example, I like the Iced Passion Tea Lemonade. It’s delicious and refreshing.

3. S’mores or ice cream?

Why not, two in one!
 

That’s a very hard choice, especially for a summer treat. I prefer s’mores if I’m in the outdoors, camping and enjoying nature. Icecream is perfect on a hot summer day, and let’s face it, no one can say no to icecream. I have to choose both 🙂

4. Pool or Beach?  

Definitely the beach. I dislike swimming in a pool because of the chlorine, so the sea or ocean is the best option.

5. Would you rather spend a summer day outside in the pool or inside watching Netflix?  

Definitely outside in the pool, it would be a wasted day if I was inside. I leave Netflix for the winter, when I’m hibernating.

6. Your most fun summer memory?

Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
 

It has to be when I went to the seaside in Bulgaria. Every summer I went with my family and I swam in the Black Sea. I guess that’s why I love the beach.

7. Favorite summer nail polish?  

I like pastel colours for the summer, but I typically like to wear dark colours.

8. Sunglasses or hats?

Both! I have very sensitive eyes so sunglasses are a must. As for hats, I must wear one to protect my head from the heat of the sun. If I don’t wear a hat, I begin to feel sick.

9. Favorite summer scent?

Nothing in particular, but if I had to choose it would be a floral scent.

10. Favorite BBQ food?

I’m a Pescitarian so I would pick veggie dogs aka the fake meat. I also like eating potato salad and corn on a cob.

11. Bikinis, tankinis, or one pieces?

Bikinis, I also like the bottoms that look like shorts.

12. Summertime Book recommendations.

I don’t have anything in particular right now because I’m in the middle of trying to finish five books. I don’t know which one to finish first, but I like the Game of Thrones of books.

I hope you guys enjoyed this fun little post! Tell me what’s your favourite summer memory in the comments box 🙂 

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

East Coast, Meets West Coast 2016! Part II – Granville Island & Gastown.

Welcome back everyone,

Today it’s time for part two of my travelling story! I will be telling you a little bit about Vancouver and the beginning of our road trip to Portland, Oregon.

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, it was the end of our crazy, but fun hiking day. After my intense hike, I remember waking up and feeling really sore. Hiking is the best workout you can get! Even though I was sore, I was happy because I was improving my stamina and getting back into shape. I woke up around noon, my friend slept in a little bit longer so I took advantage of my free time and edited some pictures from the hike. After my friend woke up and we got ready, we went out to grab some sushi. Apparently, sushi in Vancouver is cheaper than in Toronto. That’s actually, for seven bucks we got a nice meal and it was very filling.

Simply delicious

Before my friend went off to work, we drove down to Granville Island by the Harbourfront. 

The scenery of the boats, and the mountains in the distance was lovely.

The mountain is hiding behind the bridge

Granville Island is a shopping district located at the end of Granville Street Bridge. My friend and I hung out near the water for a bit before she went off to work. I decided to go and explore on my own, I walked around taking pictures of the scenery and recording videos for my video montage I’m working on as we speak. When I was done, I decided to put away my camera so I can enjoy my time without feeling the need of documenting every little detail. I decided to go inside the Granville Market and look around for any souvenirs (I used this word a lot on my trip, haha). You could find everything there, meats, pastries, more delicious food and unique homemade products. I bought a Granville Island coaster, I wanted to take a little piece of Granville Island with me to Toronto.

IMG_7340  After I finished browsing around the market, I decided to go and take the bus to Gastown. Gastown is a historic part of Vancouver and a place I’ve always wanted to see in person, it is beautiful part of downtown with an European vibe. I am proud of myself because I managed well on my own with the bus and directions. I always get nervous navigating through a unknown city because I have a poor sense of direction, but I did well. The bus ride was pleasant, I talked to some tourists as well and it was fun to find out from where people are coming from to visit. As soon as I got to Gastown, I was super excited to go and see the famous steam clock in person.

 

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Arrival in GasTown

Before that, I came across a souvenir shop and of course, I had to go inside and buy some gifts for my friends and family. When I was done, I went to take pictures of the clock tower and then I went on a short walk.

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I decided to head back to my friend’s place because I had to finish packing for our U.S. road trip. I went to catch the SkyTrain, but I was slightly confused of the transit system. For example, they didn’t have a ticket booth to buy tickets or ask questions, while in Toronto there is one at every station. I almost took the wrong train for the the wrong travel zone, but my intuition guided me to ask a couple how to get to my destination. They guided me and I took the train to my stop. I like the transit system in Vancouver because 1) it’s cheaper 2) we travel above ground and there is actual cellular service. Hallelujah!

Skytrain Station


Inside the Skytrain

 When I arrived at my stop, I hopped on the bus and went home. My friend’s roommate was already at home, so we ended up cooking a delicious healthy dinner, chatting and going for an evening walk to the park. It was probably one of  the most relaxing and enjoyable evenings I’ve had in a long time.

Craving this delicious dinner again


Pleasant walk in the park

 After we got back, I started packing and waiting for my friend come home from work, because we were planning to start driving to Portland, Oregon in the middle of the night. Yes, I am serious! The reason why my friend wanted to leave so early was because of the traffic, we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic for a long time and waste the day. My friend got home a little bit after 12:30am and we were on the road around 2ish ( I can’t remember the exact time). I was super excited to finally go to the States, it was a very exciting moment for me. I’ve never had such a spontaneous trip in the middle of the night, and in general I always plan things ahead of time.  I’ve learned that the best things in life happen, when you are spontaneous and go with the flow. Now back to the story! Soon we arrived at the border, when all the technicalities were taken care of and we showed our passports, we were on our way again. As soon I knew we were on U.S. grounds, I squalled so loud that my friend thought something bad happened. I grew up watching American movies with my family back in Bulgaria and to us the States were a big deal and I was happy to finally see what the fuss is about.

I am going to end this story here and continue with my U.S. road trip story in another post because there is so much to talk about! What I want to know from you guys is, what was your most memorable road trip you’ve had? Share your story below, I would love to read it.

Thanks for reading and see you soon 🙂

 

East Coast, Meets West Coast 2016! Part I – Stawamus Chief Hike.

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog, my apologies for that but I recently came back from a vacation. After 15 years of living in Canada, I finally went on my first big vacation. I know, what have I been doing all this time? Well, not too much but the top two reasons why I haven’t traveled anywhere is because of 1) financial reasons 2) busy with other daily life demands. I did travel to Montreal three times and to Niagara Falls once, but I don’t count these locations as big travel trips.

In Fall 2015, my friend moved from Toronto to Vancouver City, if you are from Canada then you know BC is popular for its beautiful nature and scenery. When my friend moved away, she kept asking me to come for a visit, but always said ” I don’t know, should I splurge money like that” and in that moment I decided, “Yes, now is the time and if not now then when?” I began to save money and in March I purchased my flight ticket, which was relatively cheap for what you usually get. When I say cheap, I meant from the $400 dollar range and that’s pretty good. The countdown began and the excitement started to build up as the departure date arrived closer and closer. I even downloaded a countdown app on my phone and I checked it everyday.

July 23, 2016 finally arrived and I was so excited I’m finally going somewhere different, and being stuck in one place all the time is very dull. My plane departure was slightly late but my overall my flight experience was enjoyable. I made sure I had items to entertain me for 5 hours such as a book, my music and one of those adult coloring books.

 

Life worries seem so trivial when you have a bird’s eye view of the world

Cotton candy clouds!

My flight going to Vancouver felt longer, but the minute we landed I was overwhelmed with excitement.

 

Arrival at Vancouver Airport

From the airport I took a cab to my friends place, I wasn’t planning on taking the SkyTrain when I had so much luggage and the transit system would be confusing for a first timer in VanCity. The car ride was nice, the first thing I noticed was the clear sky and how well the moon was seen. In Toronto you can’t see the moon very well and it appears very tiny, in VanCity it appears larger and closer to Earth. It was cool to witness that and I could also see the stars in the sky, in Toronto you have to go to cottage country to get that view. That’s what impressed me the most on my first night in Vancouver.

 

Bright big moon over Vancouver harbourfront 

I arrived at the house in 20-25 min, and surprisingly I didn’t feel jetlagged at all. That was good because the next morning we had to be up early to go on a six hour hike. Yes, six hours but it turned out to be a bit longer. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in Vancouver was to go hiking and I was thrilled I got the chance to do that. We went to Squamish which is an hour away from Vancouver, where the Stawamus Chief hike is located. It offers a beautiful scenic view of Howe Sound and several mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The views were incredible, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before and I was in awe of the British Columbia’s beauty.

Before you enter and begin the to hike up to the top of the Chief, near the parking lot you will find Shannon Falls. Shannon Falls is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by trees and there were a ton of tourists taking pictures and simply enjoying each others company.

Shannon Falls


After we finished admiring the Falls, we started walking through a short trail to enter the Chief.

Our view before entering the Chief
The hiking trail that led us to the Chief

 The estimated time of the hike is six hours, the level of hiking is considered intermediate but it didn’t feel that way to me. There are three peaks and to get to the first peak, we had to climb steep wooden stairs that slowly transitioned into rock stairs. At first I was fine, but then it started to hit me, my heartbeat was off the charts and my face was almost as red as a tomato. Oh and of course, I was sweating profusely. I stopped many times while I was climbing the stairs, but luckily I wasn’t the only one in the group who did that. I was starting to feel nauseous too, it wasn’t a good feeling but I knew I felt that way because I didn’t enough hiking experience. Halfway through the hike to peak one, we stumbled across a “lemonade stand”. There was a couple waiting for hikers and giving out lemonade to them! I thought that was the most thoughtful thing I’ve seen, it is special because they they were regular people who only wanted to help out make the hiking experience a little bit more manageable. It wasn’t free, but there wasn’t a particular price you had to pay, you payed what you could. While I was enjoying my lemonade, I sat down to admire the scenery in front of me. All you could see was trees everywhere and I loved it.

Our view when we made a pit stop to enjoy some lemonade

We took a little bit of breather before we continued climbing up to the first peak, that’s when it got a little bit tricky. We reached a steep area where we had to use chains to climb up, it was challenging but I decided to push through. Even though this hike was difficult and we stopped many times on the way to peak one, I decided to keep going. I didn’t want to give up, I may be a less experienced hiker, but my willpower is stronger. My friends were impressed that on my first day in VanCity, I completed such a difficult hike. I gotta admit, I was quite proud of myself and it showed me I can accomplish anything I wanted. That’s not the end, when we reached peak one it was the most beautiful sight. We took time to rest, take lots of photos and eat to increase our energy for the second peak.

Peak 1


Breathtaking view from peak 1

After a much needed rest, we started again! It was fun to do this hike a lot of people, we were chatting and enjoying this experience to the fullest. The hike up to the second peak was not so bad, instead of stairs, now we had lots of rocks. We took our time climbing, but then for the first time during the hike I got scared. There were some elevated rock we had to jump on while using chains to bring ourselves upwards. For one of the rocks, I had lift my leg high up in the air and jump up to grab onto the chains. I was suddenly terrified, I have a fear of heights that subsided two years ago but I’m not completely over it yet. So when I looked behind and saw what would happen if I didn’t jumped properly, I simply panicked. Embarrassingly, I screamed out loud during my first try! The scream was a genuine feeling of fear, but one of my friends stayed with me and encouraged me that I can do it. So my willpower kicked in again and I build up the courage to jump up and grab onto these chains. I pulled myself up and I climbed onto the hill, I am lucky to have such supportive friends who encouraged me and helped me get over my fear. We had to climb a little bit further to get to the second peak which was more uphill, but eventually we made it to the top.

Peak 2


In the distance you will see the Garibaldi Provincial Park

 At that point, I was absolutely exhausted and I rested for a while. We completed our usual routine of taking pictures, we were lucky enough to have some people at the second peak who offered to take a few group shots of us. I was dreading the next moment because that meant we had to continue climbing to the final peak, and I didn’t want to. My friends were contemplating a bit and the person who was taking our pictures told us it’ll take a long time to get there. I was hoping that would be convincing enough to change their minds and go back, but some of us were determined to complete the full hike. My friends knew I didn’t want to, but they told me it would be worth it in the end. It was worth it, I would do it again if I had to. I can’t remember exactly, but it took us an hour and half to get to the third peak. The hike to the third peak was not that bad, it was actually easier than the other ones. Once we got the final peak, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I completed such a difficult hike with minimum hiking experience. I was so proud of myself and my friends were too!

Peak 3, just in time for the sunset


On our way down we decided to take a short cut, we were led by our friend who knows the way and if we didn’t have him, we would be lost. The short cut was not that easy, there were lots of rocks and steep hills, therefore going down was not easy. My pace was slow because I didn’t want to fall down and hurt myself, it took while to get down and our goal was to get back to those stairs we climbed earlier. Because we were in the forest, it was starting to get dark, not too much but we had to hurry to get down. Me and two of my friends were ahead, and I was on the lookout to find these stairs and also to the hear the waterfall. If I heard the waterfall, that meant we close to exiting the Chief in a hour. Luckily, I am very observant so as soon I heard the waterfall I told my two other friends who were behind us. We started climbing down the stairs, but it was getting even darker. I got a little bit nervous, but I knew we were going the right way so the feeling quickly went away. We were way ahead of our two friends, so as soon we made it down, we sat down to rest and wait for them. Shortly after that they showed up and we were all reunited. We started walking back to the parking lot, we walked by a camp site near the entrance of the Chief, one day I’ll go back and camp out there.

We got onto the trail we used to enter the Chief and night view of the mountains was stunning! Of course, we stopped and took a few photos!

Photo credit goes out to my friend! Stunning view of the mountain at night, after we left the Chief

Soon we got into the car, and drove to Boston Pizza to eat dinner because we were starving. After dinner, my friend dropped off the others and we went back home. I slept like a baby that night, and the next morning I was very sore haha, but it was worth. I am so glad I spend time with these amazing people, for nine hours we got to know each other a little bit and I’ll never forget that amazing day!

As you can tell from the title of this post, this is part one of my story. There is so much to share about this trip, so I’ll be splitting up the story into parts. The next part of my story will take place in the United States and the awesome road trip we had.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post, let me know if you go hiking and if you do share with us what’s the toughest hike you’ve ever done.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for part two of my 2016 travelling story!

See you soon.