Past year’s travels and the look ahead

The cat is out of the bag!

There comes a time for everyone, or at least I would hope for many people, when it dawns on them what their number one passion (at least for the moment being) is. Mine has been sitting and fermenting under my nose for so long that I did not notice it until its aroma turned particularly pungent. No matter. Last week I realized that it was high time to take said passion by the horns and do something more productive with it besides an exemplary Instagram, tweets and status updates. Channel that shit, baby! So here we go. I’m doing this for myself and my own memory more than anything else, but also to maybe help inspire others to make the plunge and to explore with no fear. 

Let’s first look over the shoulder. Where did I go in 2012?

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Around Villa de Leyva, Colombia. #nofilter

  • Toronto, Canada – starting point. This is where I lived at the beginning of last year. 
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Villa de Leyva, Colombia
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • New York, NY, USA
  • …moved to London, UK and then went to:
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Brighton, UK
  • Whitstable, UK
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Manchester, UK
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Lisbon, Portugal

I have more than enough content to write a little travel book about these places. Which is what I will do. I’ve had a really great year for travel last year, and I am thankful for every moment.

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Brussels, Belgium. Happy to be here, of course. First Eurostar experience.

What is currently planned for 2013? I hope to take the following trips. What will actually happen? I suppose I’ll find out by the end of this year.

  • Budapest, Hungary (done)
  • Hamburg, Germany (surprise,for work)
  • Bath, England
  • Brussels, Belgium (tentative)
  • Brighton, England (tentative)
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bristol, England
  • Copenhagen, Denmark (tentative, still debating)
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Vancouver, Canada (home!)
  • Vancouver Islands, particularly Cortez Island, to visit a friend’s farm
  • Seattle, USA (not far from home)
  • Portland, USA (if some friends join me)
  • Bologna and Parma, Italy
  • Bratislava, Slovakia (for a “goose party”)
  • Vienna, Austria (apparently it’s only a 30 minute drive from Bratislava)
  • Istanbul, Turkey

I also really want to go to Krakow, Poland, and Ljubljana, Slovenie, but that’s a bit up in the air. Dubai, UAE would be great to visit a couple of friends who relocated there recently. I want to go to Madrid, Spain as I have never been. 

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That’s the plan anyway. 

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A trip to Vancouver in December

I’m taking a trip to Vancouver between December 24th and January 2nd 2011.

Decided that it would be a good time to spend some time with close friends and family this year. It’s been a great year so far, and who knows if I’m going to be able to fly to Vancouver next year.

Which is why I hope to do something special for New Year’s Eve with friends. Not talking about having a party to end all parties – one can do that any weekend wherever one lives. I’d rather spend quality time with good people, and make memories for a long time to come.

I’m already thinking about the Christmas day menu. Which will probably feature fish or some kind of seafood. We are also going to be hosting my parents’ friends on Boxing Day. I can probably “get away” with cooking my master roast beef. Costco has the right sizes for 6-8 people.

I’ll check out the Aquarium again, and this time definitely go to the Charcoal grill and a couple of other Izakaya places. Oh yes, and as usual, have one ridiculous night with old friends and eat all the sashimi I can. And read a lot. And Bugs Tomato. And doing nothing all day, wearing pyjamas and watching Soviet cartoons. Yep, that’s holidays.

Longing for Weekend Visits

Last weekend my roommate went to Oakville to stay with her parents. She visits them every almost every weekend, and I admit I am wee bit jealous, because I wish I had the opportunity to see my family as frequently. Of course, if we all lived in the same city, I probably wouldn’t be able to see them absolutely every weekend. But I would appreciate the opportunity itself.

I imagine heading their way straight from work, and making it in time for dinner. Upon seeing me, the ever excited Bugs Tomato would leap to me, and then actively jump trying to lick my face once I kneel down. Seconds later, this affectionate little animal would experience problems breathing – chihuahuas are known to have respiratory problemsб – because he gets so excited. After I massage his throat for a bit and wonder how he can be so ecstatically excited to see me, he’s back to normal. I wish I could tell him to take it easy at times.

I would go on dropping my bags and situating myself in the kitchen, either helping mom to prepare dinner (something Russian that I asked for), or more likely, making the whole dinner myself. I love cooking for the family.

In the sunlit dining room (or the balcony, rain permitting) we’d share the food, laughter and recent news. Later we would most likely watch old Soviet movies, or 90’s Russian films. Sometimes mom and I itch for animated shorts of the olden days. Whatever we watch, we enjoy the time spent together.

For the rest of the weekend I would most likely preoccupy myself with either making food for the family, walking on the Promenade along the shore, or gearing up to take my mountain bike for a ride. Last time, instead of biking, I opted out for a hike in the neighboring forest. I definitely appreciate the West coast flora, especially the trees.

Really, I wouldn’t do much while visiting the parents. I always try to be in the present moment, to be calm (doesn’t work, I’m too excitable!), and patient. After the first few days I start to experience a sharp sense of melancholy, because these beautiful days will have to come to an end. I play with Bugs Tomato – he’s oblivious to my upcoming expiry – and I randomly hug either mom or dad. I desperately want the clock to slow down, but it is ruthless.

On the day of my scheduled flight to my other home, I mean it when I say “I don’t want to go”, and already foresee the blue week ahead. Upon the arrival, en route to my bed, I already long for my warm family home, laughing together and the ever ebullient Bugs Tomato.

Big City Small City

We were talking about there perceived friendliness of people in various cities that we have both been to. And I often try to notice patterns in systems or in modes of human interaction; I’m interested in how people form clusters and what makes them tick, what makes some people enter the hubs/communities, what makes them leave and the like. I guess It seems that the smaller a city is, the less likely the people are to connect with outsiders, or welcome a newbie into their clique.

My friend moved to Vancouver ages ago, and spent over a year there. He noted that despite having no problem finding one-time hookups, real friendships didn’t really blossom. Another friend went west recently and had East coast-hating vitriol spit on him by those who never even visited Toronto. I return now and, besides enjoying and nurturing my established circle of old friends, have not a single time even had an opportunity to randomly meet a person. These days here I/we meet a new person almost every night. Or I have no problem talking to people, and they’re friendly. Bigger cities with their bigger ponds possibly mean that there is always more fish out there? Or you will never see that person again, why not try your best now? Or practice makes better, especially when you’re in a megalopolis?

In New York I have strangers come up and talk to me a lot. Montreal are a brave folk, except when they start addressing me in French which I speak 0 of, at which point I think they become turned off. Whatever the case, it got me thinking about the super small community, for example, Tiny, Ontario where I spent few nights at a friend’s cottage. Well, there was nobody to meet and socialize with in the first place 🙂 Small (and I mean 1-2 million residents in a greater area is still small) communities, in my experience, tend to stay more centered on their own groups and are less open to newbies. Maybe it’s just the elitist West coast communities, I don’t know. Need to explore Europe more for a better understanding.

PS. No hate, please, these are just my opinions.