Ottawa, Canada- they call me mister mellow

Before I got to Canada’s capital I was told it was a boring place, in fact one Canadian described it as “twattawa.” However Ottawa is one of the most unique Capitals I have been to because its so chilled/mellow. In today’s never stopping life the value of this in a city let alone a Capital cannot be underestimated.

Two more reasons that make Ottawa unique for a capital. First some background from a Canadian friend. Ottawa came about as a compromise of English and French Canada joining together, with each side wanting the Capital on their side. Ottawa strides both French and English former territories.

Reason One– So ignoring it ripping off of my own English Parliament- I have never been to one so accessible to its people. Despite Mr. Trump’s views, London is guarded and seeing how accessible this parliament is sums perfectly one of the reasons I love Canada. As a side note they have a free light show on Parliament Hill which is awesome.

Reason two– Ottawa represents a modern Capital. No matter where you are in Ottawa there is green space. This city encapsulates city life blending with nature. Another representation of Canada’s great ability for compromise and inclusion.

Friendship-whats it good for?

So this post is very different from my usual articles but felt it was worth a post. For all my life I have lived with the concept of quality over quantity. This extended to having a few good friends rather than lots of more shallow relationships.

I  have been recently let down by some of said friends and although I brushed it off as I do most things, secretly I was very let down.

One definition of friendship is mutual affection between people. Which made me think can you expect anything beyond this from a friend?

I think of the amazing people while travelling and have been reflecting on some personal characteristics. Do I get too emotionally attached to my friends? Am I too hard on people? In our busy mobile society are deep friendships worthwhile? Is my energy better spent on continually meeting new exciting people?

I think these questions beyond everything else I am learning will be the essential ones when rebuilding the life I want to live. Think of your own relationships, do they make you happy? do they add value? do you still want to be friends with this person?

 

4 months on….some useful travel tips

So I have been travelling for four months now…shit when did that happen!

I was considering doing a look back of my top moments but decided that’s a 6 month goal. I thought back to 4 months ago how excited I was but also scared, so I thought I would try and give some tips to would be travellers.

  1. Spend some time in the hostel– its tempting when in a new place to just get out and go, however invest some time in the people.  Its amazing what you can find out about a place and find travel companions.
  2. Couchsurfer– if your on a serious budget you maybe able to get a place to stay from fellow like minded thinkers. However the reason I mention this app is because it has a massive social element to meet up with travellers and locals to explore.
  3. Leave time to be spontaneous– as a previous hyper organiser I know how hard this can be but its worth it. Being able to live in the moment makes a big difference when travelling.
  4. Learn to love Apps– there are so many apps to help with travel. You can find a few of my suggestions here

Lust in the city-a travellers dilemma

So a holiday and especially travelling can be a very freeing experience. When travelling for a long time the emotional guards that were carefully constructed crumble (or at least in my case). So what happens when you add to the mix a lot of young (or my case youngish) travellers??? Lust lust lust.

After 4 months there has been a few lustful exchanges, however a recent one for the first time has dampen my travellers curiosity and made me want to stop in one place.

So the big question is why. This person isn’t a fellow traveller so maybe its their grounding I’m craving? Maybe I am truly into them, but what would be point with a clear expiration date? Maybe I’m just lonely and they represent companionship I desire? Maybe its just the excitement and I should go with it?

Have you had a holiday/travel experience like this, if so please tell me your story and what you did?

Toronto, Canada-the city I loved

So in theory Toronto is nothing special comparatively speaking. It isn’t especially green, it doesn’t have an interesting history like European cities, its got things to do but nothing truly special. ETC etc.

So I didn’t understand why I loved, yes loved Toronto so much. As I got to Toronto I felt an instant calm. It took me a while to work it out but I think I have narrowed it down to a few reasons.

  • The people are lovely- I knew Canadians were suppose to be nice, but they truly are good people. They are polite, considerate and it can make a real difference when a stranger simply says good morning.
  • The city is chilled– unlike New York or London or most cities,  Toronto doesn’t feel rushed, as if by committing to one activity you miss out on everything else.
  • Toronto is incredibly multi-cultural. My first night I got there I ended up going for a drink with people who now live in Toronto but were from five different continents. In a time of my home country isolating themselves seeing multi-culturalism work so well gives me continued hope.

A traveller’s observation of the USA

So I recently travelled around the USA and had a great time, but found a few unexpected observations that I wanted to share.

  • Its impossible to know how much anything costs!- different states have different tax on different items, if there taxed at all. So good luck budgeting.
  • American’s are lovely- I found American’s surprisingly friendly (with the exemption of New Yorkers on the subway).
  • ID- so everyone gets ID’d at bars, even if you are an old man like me. Also some states don’t accept foreign drivers licences, so you have to bring your passport.
  • Bag searches- the amount of security in museums is insane, so get ready to have your bag searched, all your jewellery removed and scanned to an inch of your life.

Washington DC, USA-a cheap date

Just as expected Washington was going to be a very interesting city as a Capital that grew from a swamp. However I wasn’t expecting it being such a cheap visit. With reasonable accommodation options, free sights/ museums and good food at cheap prices.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable producing a guide as there is such great information online. However I picked up a few tips that I wanted to share.

Avoid the Crowd-all the main sights e.g. Lincoln statute, White House etc are along a L strip called the National Mall. However they get seriously crowded. So visit around 6:30pm, the crowds are gone and the buildings look even better at dusk.

Be forever moved by the Holocaust Museum– as you would expect the holocaust is going to be a moving experience, however this museum truly helps you understand the horrors, and personally made me think about today’s society. I would suggest are leaders should go and then take a hard look at national policy. However setting aside the politics you need a ticket (free) for the main exhibits so make sure to go early.

Cheap eats-need filling food at a great price then check out ‘we the pizza’- a massive slize of fresh homemade pizza for 3 dollars. It is so good I went three days in a row.

Take your time– planning to do Washington in a day or two then think again. I spent four days here and still could spend another three just seeing the main sights.

Being homesick…

So travelling for an extended period has been a truly blessed experience, however I found myself home sick for a couple of days last week.

I have meet fellow travellers in person and online who have been very homesick especially when solo travelling. I got though it and am having an amazing fulfilling experience again. So I wanted to share some simple tips that helped me.

Structure– as a traveller I personally try to be in the moment. However the constant unknown can add to homesickness. So spend some time getting organised, even if its just planning one day; not only will the planning make you think of something else, but will also give you some much needed certainity going forward.

A taste of home– do something that you would have done at home. For me its was spending a little extra and having my own room for a day. But it could be a favourite food, gossip with a friend, a movie etc

Don’t isolate yourself– its tempting to crawl into your shell when your feeling low, but do the opposite. Meet other travellers if your at a hostel, or use meet ups on couchsurfing. Other travellers will help reinforce the reason you are doing what your doing.

Atlanta, USA- the pleasant surprise

I got to Atlanta and thought what a shit hole. Its grey with concrete everywhere. However the quote don’t judge a book by its cover should be the motto of this city. In short I loved Atlanta, its has some amazing gems and lovely people.

Must do’s in Atlanta

Civil and Human Rights Centre– without doubt this is the most interesting museum. Its thought provoking, has activities to let you experience protests during the black civil rights movement and combines learning styles to make a truly unique experience.

Atlanta Historic Centre– this centre is very interesting as it has houses/farms in different time periods to let you devolve into periods of Atlanta history.

Martin Luther King JR Centre– for anyone interested in history, civil rights or generally what makes USA what it is today, then this Centre is for you.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room-want southern food that sticks to the ribs look no further. This places combines the best of southern hospitality, carby delicious dishes and great prices. Make sure to try the peanut butter pie with oreo crust its soooo good.

In conclusion if you are thinking of skipping Atlanta think again.

New Orleans-living up to expectations

I had high hopes for New Orleans as my first mainland USA experience and it sure lived up to expectations. For a city its a real beauty, from the stunning French style mansions, glorious Jackson Square to the sound of jazz in the background.

As there is so much information on New Orleans I am not going to do a long guide but point out four essentials: food, culture, tour and most interesting street.

Coops Place-to experience New Orleans it has to be done via food and Coops is the place for a true experience. Order Coops special to try five Southern specialties.

Cabildo-a truly interesting musuem to understand the history of New Orleans. It really helps to set the story of how this truly multi-cultural city blends so beautiful…and maybe why its so sinful.

Ghost tour by free foot tours– New Orleans has some very shady history and if you are an American Horror Story Fan you are going to love, yes love this tour.

St Charles St through the Garden District– for some of the best architecture in new Orleans travel along this beautiful St.