• London
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    London 2012

    Sitting on a little patch of grass, surrounded by tall office towers in the centre of London, I am ready to watch the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies. As we get closer to the 9pm start time, the crowds gather and soon there are hundreds of us sitting around the square eagerly anticipating the show. Even the short spurt of rain can’t dampen our spirits. At 9pm, we chant down the last 10 seconds and kick start over three hours of a tremendous show. My favourite is watching and listening as individuals and small groups within the large crowd stand up to cheer their own country’s athletes on when their national…

  • Globe theatre
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    Shakespeare’s Globe

    There are hollywood actors — pretty faces and gorgeous bodies, and then there are real actors — talented individuals who can memorize and execute hundreds of lines of script, on cue, with passion and conviction.  The latter are the truly talented ones, but little recognised thanks to our modern society’s obsession with glamour and celebrity. In London, I had a chance to watch at play at the Globe Theatre in London’s Southbank recently.  Along with three other friends, we stood amongst dozens of others in the centre of the traditional round theatre and watched a group of actors perform Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, a comedy about a wild and fiery…

  • Brussels
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    24 hours in Brussels

    Enroute to London, I spend a day in Brussels, capital of moule & frites, beer, and the European Union. At an internet cafe, I check my emails and Facebook and hear some shocking news that an acquaintance has died.  C was actually my first scuba diving instructor, taking me through my intro to Padi course on the Perehentian Islands in 2008.  I had an instant crush on him (what is it with scuba diving instructors?!) and feel like he played a role in my love for scuba diving. Such a tragedy, so young and alive, and the type of person to befriend everybody.  I’m in shock and saddened.  Life can…

  • Amsterdam
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    Never Never Dam

    It strikes me that Amsterdam is like a modern day fairy tale city, a mini utopian world. Granted, I am a tourist, visiting for only a few days, so naturally I only see the shiny, beautiful, and pretty parts of the city. But having visited many cities, Amsterdam is the closest thing to that fairy tale picture perfect town we dream of. The canals and roads ring around the central area, forming picturesque streets lined with slightly leaning heritage houses in a multitude of colours. Each house comes with a little hook at the top, a feature carried through from the days when all these houses were merchant houses and…

  • 'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    International Reunions

    I was lucky to catch up with two friends during the time I was in the Netherlands.  Wouter is a friend I met seven years ago while studying in Milan. We met up for the day in Amsterdam and played tourist, visiting a cheese tasting shop and doing a canal cruise, wrapping up the day with a few beers by a canal. Though it’s been 7 years, both of us apparently look the same and we both feel it’s only been a few years…time flies!     Mijiza, a friend I met through a fellow Canadian while in Sydney, lives in Rotterdam. She invited me to stay with her for…

  • Amsterdam sign
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    Walking tour of Amsterdam

    I thought our guide was North American — he sure sounded like it. But he introduced himself as “Geert”, a very Dutch name and announced that he grew up in Portugal. Interesting… So our tour guide for our free three hour guided walking tour through Amsterdam’s historic centre is a Portugese-Dutch guy with a very American accent, a booming voice, and a witty sarcastic sense of humour. I like it already. Geert is essentially a “freelancer”, working for tips. The tours are free and organised by a group called the Sandeman tours. If you are happy with the tour, you can tip as much or as little as you want…

  • Caprese Salad
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    “We are against war, and tourist menus”

    That was the slogan written on the chalk board outside a restaurant in Trastevere, a once working class but now trendy neighbourhood in Rome, West of the Tiber river. Oh how I can sympathise with that! It’s not something you think about when living in your own city — you go to restaurants you like for specific foods or try new ones based on reviews or recommendations from friends. In Sydney, I know where to go for the best laksa, I have my preferred coffee shops, and I have a long list of restaurants and bars I have yet to check out. It’s much the same for Vancouver.  But when…

  • At the vatican
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    Roman Holiday

    The first time I went to Rome, I didn’t actually like it all that much.  I was with my boyfriend at the time, it was autumn & raining, we stayed at a terrible hotel near the Termini train station, and we had gotten into a stupid argument. Fast forward to August, with Carter, as part of our Southern Italy tour, and OH EM GEE, how my attitude has changed.  I LOVED Rome this time around.  It was hot (too hot!), blue skies, historic, cultural, and there was so much to see. Sharing with you my favourite photos from this trip to Rome 🙂

  • 'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    The road to Amalfi

    The South of Italy is one part I never made it to, when I was living in Milano as an exchange student.  This time, we are using Pompeii as our base for exploring Napoli and the infamous Amalfi Coast. The Circumvesuvius train line takes us to Sorrento, and from there we can catch a bus which will take us to Positano and Amalfi. It’s peak summer season and there is a long queue for the bus. In front of us are the two girls we spotted on the train earlier. They are from Montreal, on a 2.5 month Euro adventure, down to their last 6 days. Both have massive packs…

  • Ice cold Peronis
    'Round the world 2012,  Travels

    Pepe’s

    We heard about Giuseppe’s place from Michael, a traveller we met in Zadar. He raved about his stay with Giuseppe’s (Pepe) family, in particular about the pool in the back yard and the amazing Italian food he had there. Pepe operates a B&B in Pompeii and Michael’s experience there convinced us to give it a try. I first booked for only two nights, but once we were there, we liked it so much we decided to stay for another three and use it as our base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Naples, and of course the Pompeii ruins. The B&B has several types of rooms, including hostel like dorm rooms…