Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Plus One in Toronto!!!!

Every year the anesthesia residents in their 5th year go to Toronto for a 'conference' where they spend the weekend practising exams before their final medical licensing exams. B is a part of the examining team so this year I tagged along... never before has "I'm here for the food" been more correct! 
The conference location isn't in the most exciting area, but I did explore a bit, finding a great Chinese Market, I hit the IKEA and enjoyed just chilling at the very nice conference facility!
On Saturday I took the car and found my way to just outside of Oakville, the half way point to my Aunt and Uncle's house in St Catherine's. It worked out perfectly that they could meet me for coffee, and my cousin with her husband and new baby made it as well! I didn't see them much growing up as they always lived in Ontario, but little moments like this are awesome to make happen and I was thankful they were free to make it work! It was so great to reconnect, catch up and meet the adorable little Hannah!
I may have lived in Newfoundland for 10 years where the concept of "traffic" is a couple of people on the road in front of you, but I haven't lost my touch in city traffic! The 401 is ridiculous! It's quite like playing a video game. The exit system is pretty slick but if you miss that one you needed - forget about it! It was probably best I didn't get to those outlets anyway... 
Saturday night B and I hit up the Canucks vs Maple Leafs hockey game! The match up doesn't happen often and we were "lucky" enough to catch it and it was the last one before the Olympians took off for Sochi. Turns out it was one of Luongo's last games too. :( It was lots of fun to be there but pretty painful to watch the Maple Leafs win on home ice! We weren't the only Vancouver fans there though... phew!

Sunday the work was done and we drove back out to Oakville to see more cousins from B's side! We were treated to a crazy big brunch and a great time catching up before we had to head back to the airport. Short and sweet!!!

Girl's Weekend in BC!!!

Thanks to extreme loneliness and extra travel points I was able to head home and spend the weekend with my girls and spend some quality time with my niece! It was short and sweet and we hit Whistler for a couple of nights with a whole lot of ladies and girls!!!!

I barely even took pictures!! I regretted later not taking M since I spent all kinds of time with her friends and cousin! Whoops! I decided I'll take her a bit earlier when we head back the next time.

Volleyball in Halifax

Our grade 12 girls had one last hurrah as a travelling team in their last year of school. They participated in the Dalhousie Classic for the second time and had a blast. We enjoyed a beautiful weekend in Halifax, walking all around the campus area and enjoying the Dalhousie Community. Though the team left Sunday morning, I left late that day so I'd be able to visit a friend in Dartmouth. We had a great day catching up and she showed me around outside of the Halifax area. We visited Peggy's Cove and a beautiful little community called Mahone Bay. It was a stunning day, perfect for the drive.

Plus One in Vegas

I love having loved ones that go to conferences. This November marked two years since a friend and I hit Vegas for her Bday and almost to the day, we were back for her conference and I was lucky enough to tag along! We were hoping for hot weather and it wasn't for the first two days but really, you're on holidays and having a good time - does it matter? Really? While she conferenced I walked and walked, shopped a little, and enjoyed the free drinks and snacks in the VIP lounge with which our travel agent extraordinaire hooked us up. And sometimes I just did nothing.

Outside of conference time we enjoyed hanging out, Cirque du Soleil "O" and "Zarkana" and a show called "Le Reve", which was incredible. We did some serious damage at the outlets and visited the Body Works exhibition with two other residents. I've seen this exhibit before and it is very fascinating. It's not for the faint of heart - but you'll learn a lot if you visit with three doctors!!!

We danced like never before... to the point of bleeding feet...

A short and sweet getaway was just what we needed in November...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Travel Dreams Have Gone Too Far

Happy April Fool's Day! And fools we are... stuck in a snow storm and hunkered down for the day. Nothing like a snow day on April 1!!!

Last night I had the craziest dream. My dream-interpretting son has announced that it is because I have been stressing way too much about our Easter trip and the time I spent looking at flights. With all these storms can you blame me??? We did finally book the trip... and not that we're counting but in exactly 18 days and 23.5 hours we'll be airborne.

Anyway, last night I dreamt that on a month long trip (that took until the end of the dream to figure out) to BC my in-laws took us on a trip to the moon. Yes that's right. THE moon. It started out that we were in this weird area where we had to hop from floating item to floating item without being sucked out into space like George Clooney. Naturally I was quite concerned about Mattea staying put on her pool mat, you know those square things with the layered colours? Obviously THOSE are reliable for space floatation as well. I felt like I couldn't properly open my eyes, so I was always squinting or functioning with my eyes closed. It was so frustrating! But then - RELIEF! I got the call that I was accepted for an interview for law school. (Here, I guess I should admit I watched Legally Blonde until the wee hours of the morning). So I made a plan to go to the interview at noon the next day, well, better make it 1pm in case I don't get back as quickly as I thought. But I was sorry to say that my squash racquet had just drifted off into the great unknown and I would not be able to prove my (non) proficiency with it. "That's okay," he said, "we'll get to that another time."

So, we go for a walk.

And all of a sudden we're walking down a lovely rocky area.  I can still see it so vividly that I just wish I was an artist! Somewhat like I picture Albuquerque, but a bit more mountainous. There was a fun water park, and oh the pictures I took!!! People were everywhere and low and behold - I bumped into a high school friend! But I was starting to feel slightly anxious about my trip home for my law school interview and a little claustrophobic and 'stuck'. I headed off to ask about leaving early. I was told we were meant to stay 3 more days and the only flights out left once a day at 4am. I wasn't sure about the time change, so I figured it'd be best to just stay up all night. Tomorrow's transportation was on a helicopter. "How long would that take?" I wondered. More anxiety (sense a theme?) about being "stuck" on the moon for a few more days. What on earth would we do??? Well, I could leave tomorrow morning, but I would have to pay $1000... for the cups... naturally. I went to the calendar and realized that we would still have 2.5 weeks in BC if we stayed the extra 3 days. But how would I contact the law school without REALLY racking up the phone bill? Yikes. I was looking at pictures on my phone and really concerned about using 3G. When I looked, it wasn't 3G it was simply just "L".

That's gonna cost a fortune.

And then I opened my eyes and couldn't see out the window. Everything was pure white. But try as I might I couldn't close my eyes and get back to the moon.

(PS - The moon doesn't look like the photo I've used - conspiracy theory?)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cole's Notes version of Scotland

Our train ride to Edinburgh was glorious! Barton surprised us with First Class tickets and train travel is the way to go! The kids, who thought we’d be chugga-chugga-ing all the way to Scotland were mind blown; food, tables for games, free wifi and castles soaring past.

Our trip from the train station to our hotel was the moment we realized we’d packed improperly! When we travel we waffle between a few large bags, and everyone having their own bag. This would have been where each person having one backpack would have been perfect. If you haven’t been there - Edinburgh is steep. VERY steep. We lugged and dragged our heavy luggage through narrow passages and steep stairways. Our first impression is that Edinburgh is quite beautiful despite the sweat pouring down our faces. So old and quaint. We dropped our stuff in our AirBnB-rented apartment and hit the town. We walked and walked and walked - the theme of our trip! 

In Edinburgh we toured the Queen’s Scottish home, The Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, which was amazing and we visited the Surgeon’s Museum, obviously the highlight of the kid’s trip. ;) We went into the Scottish parliament and hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat for a stunning view!

We also visited the National Museum of Scotland, which was quite amazing... until the alarms went off and the huge steel doors dropped. Just like in a movie but we were split up!!! Once again we were part of an evacuation. Luckily I had just met up with two kids on their own. We all met at the front and carried on with our walk. 

Barely 48 hours after arriving we were back on the train to Glasgow for our flight home! 

And that was it! Another quick stop in Reykjavik, Iceland and we were back on Canadian soil. What a life changing experience - can I possibly say enough?  There are no words to describe how lucky and blessed we were to be able to travel to these incredible countries. 

Cole's Notes version of London, England

Hi! It’s been ages - whoops!!! I’m behind on this trip blog and still have so much to share!

After our relaxing trip to Diani Beach we took the Kenyan Air flight back to Nairobi, all 37 minutes of it! We had just a day to get our stuff packed back up and get ready to leave the beautiful continent that we had all fallen in love with. Our flight back to London was via Dubai again but the late night departure and super early arrival had us sleeping across the seats and floor of the airport. Our last stretch to London back in the glorious Emirates Air flight was long but enjoyable. 

We arrived in London just after lunch and hired a car to take us to the hotel. We had the interesting experience of a cab driver falling asleep at every red light. At first we thought he just was a little slow to start on the greens. Then when the snoring began we realized we had to jolt him awake each time. Barton tried valiantly to keep him in conversation while he drove. Nikolai matched his snores in the back seat while I tried to mask my giggles at the ridiculous situation. 

We did eventually reach our hotel safely. It was a beautiful spot overlooking the Thames and we got an upgrade to a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment. We took about an hour to rest and then hit the river walk. 

I’ve wanted to visit London for ages and ages. We walked the river and found some food. I was able to meet up with a friend I’d known for years online but had never met. We visited and walked and ate. 

In the late afternoon Riley and I went on an adventure! First time in London - we hit the tube all the way up to Stratford where we found our way to the Olympic Stadium, newly minted the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. With about a million other people we wandered our way in to watch an incredible performance by Justin Timberlake. As you might imagine the adrenaline stopped around 1am on the tube back! Haha. We did however make it, and thoroughly enjoyed how safe and busy the city was even at that time of the night. 

Day Two in London was the Coles Notes version as our train to Scotland departed the next day! We walked everywhere, we saw Buckingham Palace and happened to get there just in time for the Changing of the Guard. We saw St Mary’s, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, the parliament, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square etc etc etc!!!! We happened to be in London on the hottest and busiest day of the summer! There were more people in these places than we’ve probably encountered in our lives all together. But it was pretty awesome to soak it all in. Barton took off a bit early with Mattea to play in a park and the rest of us wandered through a bit more. We encountered a fire evacuation in a coffee shop (which would be the first of two in our trip!) and walked until our feet were numb and black with dirt! 

We crashed again that night and the next day with our bags packed we headed for King’s Cross Station. Yes THE King’s Cross Station. We might be Harry Potter geeks. Yet we avoided the tourist line to take a picture next to the cart in the wall - no where near platform 9&3/4.