This was a new discovery. I had no idea that fleas could live between sheets of plastic. Don’t they thrive on animal hosts, chew on the flesh of humans, but this? Oh, how life throws in surprises. Before we address fleas, let’s return to the beginning. I’m a single female traveler. I had two beautiful cats, one passed away, the other one I tearfully let go to live on an urban farm in exchange for this rich, exciting thing called travel. I’ve also cared for numerous dogs in my time. I rented apartments for years (also co-owned a condo with my sister and brother, though they lived here, I didn’t). I can clean, moderately cook and maintain a household. This is beginning to sound like my dating profile, but anyway… Now that I live this unusual, but sexy existence (have to keep up that illusion) I am always hunting for ways to travel creatively.
A trip to Europe can be punctuated by a few things — deeply rooted culture, rich and tasty food, and architecture only found in a builder’s dreams. The other consistent aspect that stands out to me are the trains. They are enduring as they are romantic. Sometimes a tad frustrating (Bulgaria), yet often times a smooth (France’s SNCF) experience. The Glacier Express in Switzerland is marketed as a luxury train line through the Swiss Alps that connects the two mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz The cars are wide, with broad windows on the roofs and along the sides to give the train rider a sensory experience. This stretch of train track was ceremoniously crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Since the Rhaetian Railway sells the Glacier Express trip and several other tailored train journeys, the two rail sections you want to pay attention to is the Bernina Railway and the Albula Railway. Both these tracks are composed of some of the most stunning scenes of the Swiss Alps and make up the majority of the UNESCO designation. These tracks combined traverse through tunnels, viaducts, bridges and galleries, doing so in unity with the surrounding landscape. Unbelievable.
My time in Europe has wound down and part of me is sad, but relieved. I know, a strange feeling to court, but this past summer was filled with back room dramas that I’m too exhausted to get into here. Two consistent things occur to me when ever I’m in Europe — how beautiful it is and how much bad karma it brings me. The other consistent thing is that no matter how foul my mood is, I always return to the beauty. I promise to provide some evidence of this beauty at a later date. I just finished a weekend at Blogstock. You might have read I was going and speaking about how to market a creative brand (oh, and make money on it). These things are always a whirlwind, but overall it was a great experience. I enjoyed the mix of bloggers from different sectors, whether fashion or food, and the overall community atmosphere. I’d much rather work with people, instead of against them. I also promise to publish my slides and the talk on Slideshare at a later date. Tonight is about preparation. I’m packing my bags once more, sweeping away the metaphorical cobwebs and tomorrow I will be flying across bodies of water again, this time my destination is Costa Rica.
Alberta is called the Land of the Endless Horizon and it’s supremely true. I grew up in Alberta and often caught myself staring at the sky as it melted into the earth, so long and so hard that my eyes watered. My thoughts at the time were of staring into a void — at essentially nothing. Living there made me restless, because seeing nothing disturbed me. I wanted to see something, or at least experience whatever my greedy hands could grab. I never appreciated what I saw everyday and when my Via Rail trek across Canada finally made it over the Alberta border, it became clear those endless skies were a summation of everything. Love, loss, joy, the sureness that we are tiny dots in a whirling universe. It was there — in front of me — for the entire span of my childhood. I just had to stop staring and actually see.
Where I Slept Alone. I sleep alone right now and it’s best that way. I snort loudly sometimes, often hogging the covers. My left hand has the tendency to curl up into a ball and stay in that state until I rouse. Weird, I know. In case you were thinking of dating me, isn’t it best to be honest now? When it came to sleeping in Brussels the emergence of theme hotels is at an all time high. I certainly don’t mean a gaudy, monstrous slab of architecture à la Las Vegas style, but something inherently European. Eating was another matter, I ate food interlaced with a strong history. Some of it wild and wholly unexpected, others a pure pleasure to familiarize myself with.
Brussels is kind of dingy. That’s what a few people told me before I went. This happens to me frequently. People find out what I do and then insert (sometimes without me even asking) their point of view about a city or country. I’ve become a pregnant woman. Pregnant women are often given unsolicited advice on what they should or shouldn’t do with their fetus and this continues well after the child is born. It must be worse with the onset of social media. A well meaning baby photo posted on Facebook becomes an advice column for the mommy critics. Travelers love to talk about their travels with others, which is cool. They also become heady with tips. Do this. Go here. I hated that. What people constantly forget is a destination is very much opinion. It depends on who you were with. How long you stayed. What you chose to see. Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, has three official languages — Dutch, German and French, and is home to the waffle. But it’s so much more than that. Belguim marked a return to Europe since my running with the bulls experience in 2012. It’s been 2 years since I’ve seen medieval or gothic buildings, tasted cuisine that didn’t have chillies or loads of garlic, had to make sure my right ankle didn’t wrench on a cobblestoned street. Travel is both personal and mainstream. I say mainstream because inevitably, we all gravitate to famous landmarks that teem with crowds and touts, but how we process them is intimate. Why we go is sometimes private. Often my travels revolve around people and Brussels was about connecting with my friend Alison Cornford-Matheson, […]