I spent the May long weekend in Victoria, BC. The city is significant for one reason, one of my closest friends moved there over a year ago. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to her as Jabba. The move proved difficult for her, Vancouver held a sacred place in her heart and to leave it was devastating. The power of a place and its memories can stay with you.
Crowned the capital of British Columbia in 1871, Victoria is Western Canada’s oldest city. In recent years, British Columbians flocked there for the mild weather, affordable retirement housing, and government jobs.
Tourists also come in droves, attracted to the historic downtown, with a tour typically ending at the Inner Harbour to catch stunning vistas of the famous Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.
Until last year, I wedged a sleepy reputation of Victoria in my mind, but Jabba showed me a different side. Beyond the retirement jokes and staid government image, Victoria is littered with intimate boutique shops, accessible local restaurants, and fabulous outdoor parks minutes away from one’s residence, instead of miles. Ocean views are free.
Even though Jabba questions her decision, Victoria is the cooler, laid back cousin to Vancouver’s craziness.
A myth about Victoria is the dearth of kicking summer festivals. A few of my picks for summer 2010.
JazzFest International (June 25-July 4)
Location: Royal Theatre, Centennial Square, Alix Goolden Performance Hall, Open Space Gallery, Victoria Event Centre, and numerous other downtown venues
“Ten hot days and nights of the coolest music in town.” Enjoy over 90 high calibre individual jazz performances taking place in numerous indoor and outdoor venues/stages with over 400 musicians. A series of free admission performances in Centennial Square will also
Today’s guest post is by Gray Cargill of Solo Friendly. As an outgoing solo traveler, it never occurred to me that there are different kinds of solo travelers. Isn’t there only one type? Nor that I had something to learn about going it alone. Gray reminded me, there’s always something new to learn.
So you’ve finally decided to fulfill your lifelong dream of traveling around the world, even though you have to go solo. While you’re busy handling the logistics of your trip–saving money, booking travel arrangements, getting vaccinations, and learning basic phrases in several languages–don’t forget there’s another aspect of your trip you should be preparing for ahead of time: Being alone. Sure, you’ll meet people and make friends on your journey, so you won’t be alone the entire time, but there will be days when you are. Are you ready for them?
The issues you have regarding your solitude will depend on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. How do you know which one you are? Imagine you run on a battery that is fully charged at the beginning of each day. An introvert’s battery is drained when she is around other people (especially strangers); it is recharged when she alone with her thoughts. An extrovert’s battery is drained when she is alone, but recharged when she is around other people. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy, and both can get lonely. But there are some things you can do prior to your trip to prepare yourself for those long, solo days of round-the-world (RTW) travel. Here are a few tips.
1. Talking to Strangers is
My body weight buckled under the pressure. Was it wise to buy such a large pack? Which my readers now dub the “Chanel” of backpacks. How can 35 liters feel like 100? It was a sweltering Sunday, having just left my best friend’s 18th floor apartment. The previous night was a series of errors. My first day of nomad existence was supposed to begin at my sister’s, but a dramatic argument with her boyfriend, and then with me ended in an agreement to cool off. I would stay at Sheri’s. Sis would go home to deal with the boyfriend situation.
An hour later, post 2 Hefferveisen beers and a piece of chocolate cake, I tossed and turned next to Sheri. Her hubby, Pete lay sprawled on the couch. God, I was warm. Feverish. This feeling reminded me of the time I downed açaí in Rio prior to my flight home. We were on the cusp of take-off when my stomach boiled over and the sweats broke out. The flight attendants fluttered around me in moth to light formation. Rio was gripped in a dengue fever outbreak, and the suspicion was that I was a carrier.
Off the plane I went, into the bowels of the airport medical clinic. Out came açaí from the bottom of my stomach. Thank heavens Rio has wastebaskets. Back to Sheri’s, I pushed myself up to beetle to the bathroom, sensing something was happening internally, oh my. Brazil berries all over again.
Then it burst forth – vomitus shot from my mouth seemingly with no control towards a hallway closet, the carpet, and the worst - Sheri’s precious pillow of the UK flag.
1. Cooking rocks. I use to detest wasting 1 or 2 precious hours preparing meals. So I instituted the proportionate school of cooking. Take Sunday to make a load of food, dole portions into Tupperware – hallelujah! Good for the work week. Lately I’ve rediscovered culinary delights – spices, unusual ingredients, exotic recipes. Take today’s breakfast: flax pancakes topped with a honey infused strawberry sauce.
2. Trees are green. What was blatantly obvious never registered with me. My new favorite ritual in the mornings is grabbing a breakfast seat outside to watch trees sway in the breeze. Did you know there are over 100,000 species of trees scattered across the world? That’s a lot of tree watching. Can’t wait.
3. I can type anywhere. With a steady wi-fi signal, naturally. The concept of not being chained to my desk or the printer for 9+ hours is surreal. Nowadays you’ll find me on a patio, a coffee shop or my sister’s living room, pounding away productively on the keyboard.
4. I can take baths. Because of my previous insane schedule/life, I haven’t had a bath since the Bush years. That is not a joke. A couple of days ago, I eased my battered body into a sumptuous vanilla scented bubble bath. Ohhh yeah.
5. I remember lyrics. Music was background noise for workouts or ignoring my office mates. Slightly weird behavior for someone who use to scribe music reviews. I’m now hooked
Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday! Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.
In Zoe Zolbrod’s first novel, Currency money equates to a sexual balance of power between main characters, Piv and Robin – a Thai man earning a wage from the foreign dwellers of Khao San Road, and a roaming American backpacker running out of funds and time. The unlikely pair join in a physical and financial union mired in a downward spiral of reluctant love and illegal smuggling. Against the sweltering backdrop of Thailand, Currency quenches a reader’s thirst for suspense, adventure – even complicated cross-cultural romance. As a traveler, aren’t these aspects what we sign up for?
I had the opportunity to pin down Zoe on the writing process, Currency’s roots, and why you should read her book.
Q: How did the idea for Currency germinate?
A: In the 90s, I went on a solo backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, and it blew my mind. You know how it is when you’re in the serious travel zone: every day, every image, was seared into my brain for eternity. Thailand was my base, and I had a friend living in Bangkok. She showed me the city in a way I could have never managed on my own as a tourist. Also, I had short but intense relationships with several Thai guys. At the end of my trip, a credit card snafu left