Moraine Lake, AB

Moraine Lake is a glacier-fed lake located about 14km from world-famous Lake Louise, Alberta.  I had lived in Calgary for most of my life and had never been to this iconic lake, so on my 23rd birthday, I decided to make the trek up and see what all the fuss is about.

Moraine Lake is approximately a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary, but it is a beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains.  Since it is located within Banff National Park, a Park Pass is required if you plan to visit Moraine Lake.  See more info regarding Park Passes here.

We went on the Friday of the August Long Weekend without even thinking, and it was absolutely packed.  There is  a large parking lot near the lodge, which was full, and people were parked on the side of the road for over a Kilometre outside of the lot.  If you can avoid going on a weekend or holiday, I would strongly suggest it.

Moraine Lake Parking Lot

Moraine Lake Parking Lot

Roadside Parking

Roadside Parking

Once we found a place to park, we embarked on what was about an hour long stroll around the lake.  It’s not a hike by any means, more of a nature walk, but it’s amazing how much more peaceful things become when you walk even 250 metres away from the main lodge and “Rock Pile” that everybody climbs on top of to take photos.  (We didn’t.)  There are lots of little spots off the trail to sit and lounge in the sun, read a book, or snap a few photos.  Canoes can also be rented from the lodge, so expect to see lots of people out on the water if you visit during the summer months!

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Beautiful Colours

Beautiful Colours

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Turquoise Waters

Turquoise Waters

If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience, the Walter Wilcox Dining Room located within the lodge looked beautiful.  There is also a smaller area with snack concessions as well as cold drinks and (highly overpriced) local beer by the bottle.  In the lodge you will also find public washrooms and, of course, a gift shop.

The Lodge at Moraine Lake

The Lodge at Moraine Lake

The Dining Room

The Dining Room

Moraine Lake is a beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon in the summertime.  There are several hikes located nearby as well if you’d like to extend your time.  The walking paths around the lake are suitable for adults, children and seniors alike.  Some people even had their strollers on the trails.

For more information, visit morainelake.com

Taking in the Beautiful Surroundings

Taking in the Beautiful Surroundings

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5 Tips for Dealing With Language Barriers while Traveling

Would you like to hear a story about how I ended up on a field trip in rural Quebec with a Peanut Butter and HAM Sandwich for lunch?

I knew you would.  When I was in grade 10, I participated in a French Language Exchange through my high school, which was sponsored by the Government of Canada.  We were matched up with an exchange student, and they spent a week in Kelowna, BC with us and our families, and then we spent a week in Baie Comeau, Quebec with them and their families.  I was picking up on french quickly, but one day, when my exchange mother was making our lunches for a field trip to the aluminum mine, I forgot the word for “jam”.  (It’s ‘confiture’.)  Anyway, I kept saying that I wanted a “Sandwich beurre d’arachide et JAM.”  As it turns out, the french word for ham is “jambon”, so she thought I was trying to ask for a peanut butter and HAM sandwich.  She looked at me like I was an alien as she assembled the grotesque meal, and I didn’t have the heart to stop her.

It can be really difficult to keep your vocabulary straight when you have traveled to several countries that all speak different languages.  Actually, it can be really difficult to travel in countries that speak different languages, period.  If you’re new to the game of language barriers, you’re in for quite the experience.

Smartling is an ingenious product that provides users with the technology to remove these language barriers, specifically in business situations, in order for them to reach their Global Market.  As a part of Smartling’s “Breaking The Barrier” Campaign, I now present to you…

 

 

My top 5 tips, tried, tested and true, for embracing the challenges of multi-lingual adventure.

A selection of my favourite menu translations from Thailand.  They are partial to "Vagtables", and I do NOT want to know what "Mental Cheese" is...

A selection of my favourite menu translations from Thailand. They are partial to “Vagtables”, and I do NOT want to know what “Mental Cheese” is…

1. Memorize Basic Phrases

Before I travel someplace that doesn’t use english as a first language, I try to set aside a few minutes every day leading up to my departure to practice memorizing basic phrases of the country.  Even just being able to say Hello, Please and Thank You in another language can be extremely helpful and will help to gain the respect of the locals.  However, if you want to take it one step further, learn how to say things that you might use frequently, such as “Do you Speak English?”, “I do not speak Spanish”, “Where is the Toilet” and “How much is this?”

 

2. Keep a “Cheat Sheet” on you for emergencies

Once you’ve memorized your basic phrases, you may want to write a few more phrases down on a small piece of paper that you can keep in your wallet just in case.  Things like numbers from 1-10, how to ask for directions, how to explain any special needs or circumstances that you may have or anything related to the travel process itself will be valuable.  I usually carry around a very small notebook and pencil in my bag so that, if worst comes to worst, you can write things down in attempts to communicate with someone.  This can be especially helpful when hiring a taxi in parts of the world where you have to agree on a price before you leave.  That way, the driver cannot claim to have said a different amount.  (ie. fifteen becomes fifty).

Our german home stay dad, Wolfgang - Ellwangen, Germany

Our german home stay dad, Wolfgang – Ellwangen, Germany

 

3. Have a Sense of Humour

I once received a question via email asking “is it awkward when you can’t understand somebody?”  Of course it’s awkward!  But it’s life!  It’s just as much a part of travel as losing your luggage or being taught how to swear in German.  People will laugh at you.  People may even get frustrated or upset with you.  But most people are generally very understanding, and just as confused as you.  Try to keep your heart light and laugh it off when things get uncomfortable.

 

4. Get Comfortable with Charades

You will inevitably have to act out certain things on your travels, so just come to terms with it now.  Here are just a few examples of things I have had to act out for an unfortunate crowd of onlookers; “Where is the toilet”, “May I have a napkin”, “Is there a Bank nearby” and “Do you sell finger condoms” (that last one was super awkward trying to act out in multuple Thai pharmacies in Ao Nang when Sean severely injured his toe!).

Thai Coca Cola…I Hope?

Thai Coca Cola…I Hope?

 

5. Try Not to get Frustrated

It is easy to get overwhelmed when you’re first adjusting to a new place with a new language.  You’re most likely overtired, jet lagged, hungry, and craving something that you can’t get in the country you’re in.  I vividly remember having a full blown meltdown in the middle of a roadside cafeteria-style restaurant somewhere in Germany because I didn’t understand how the lineup for the salad bar worked.  Just try to take some deep breaths, collect your thoughts, and remember that humans are mostly good and willing to help.  And even if you do make a fool of yourself, chances are that you will never, ever see those people again anyway.  And if you do have to see them again, you’ll have made a new friend who speaks another language!

Our lovely volunteer coordinators in Bali

Our lovely volunteer coordinators in Bali

 

What are some of the ways that you handle language barriers when you travel?

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Añejo Restaurant – Calgary, AB

It has been 3 days since my exquisite experience at Añejo.  An old friend of mine from high school had recently moved to Calgary, and it was actually her idea to try this place.  My first thought was that I really didn’t feel like going downtown (I am ridiculously suburban and driving downtown gives me bouts of anxiety).  My second thought was that the menu looked a little on the pricy side for someone who is living on a very strict work-to-travel budget.  But my third thought reminded me that I own a website called Adventure To Anywhere, and how adventurous am I if I simply spend yet another night at one of my fail-safe, go-to restaurants in the South?  So, at the risk of having a panic attack whilst stalling my car attempting to parallel park on 4th street, we decided to give Añejo a shot.

I don’t typically write restaurant or food reviews on Adventure To Anywhere unless they’re absolutely phenomenal or extremely unique – an adventure, so to speak!  The only other Restaurant Review on this site so far has been for a restaurant in Bali called Ibu Rai - a place that I still visit in my dreams to this day.  I didn’t go to Añejo with the intention of writing about it.  But dear sweet baby Jesús, what an incredible surprise.

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Añejo is an artistic, multi-level skylit restaurant with an intimate feel.  It is home to a wide array of authentic mexican cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients, over 150 tequilas, and a unique, interactive dining experience.  It was absolutely packed when we arrived, and they unfortunately don’t take reservations on the weekend between 6:30 and 9.  We were told that we’d have to wait about 45 minutes for a table, but received a call 5 minutes later telling us that a table had opened up.

The service was wonderful – although not incredibly quick, but you will see why when you get here.  The servers spend a lot of time interacting with their tables and every single dish is prepared as fresh as possible.  With such a unique environment, though, why would anybody want to be in a hurry?  We were taken care of by a delightful server named Zack.  He had an excellent sense of humour, was attentive but never overbearing, and was very knowledgable about the menu.  He made fabulous recommendations and we were in heaven before we’d even received our entrees.

We started with drinks.  I ordered a corona and, at Zack’s recommendation, Vanessa had one of their famous Chili Coconut margaritas.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous…what an incredible combination of flavours.  If you like spice, you will absolutely love it.  As I said, I still can’t stop thinking about it…and I only had a sip.  Next up was the King of all Guacamole.  The ingredients were brought to our table in a lava rock mortar bowl – whole avocados, serrano chile peppers, tomatoes, onion, fresh cilantro, lime and sea salt, and the guacamole was prepared right in front of us.  It was hands down the most incredible guacamole I’ve ever had…and I am a bit of a self-proclaimed guacamole snob.

The King of Guacamole

The King of Guacamole

To Die For

To Die For

Then came time for the main dishes.  We basically ordered a whole assortment of tacos – crispy snapper, pulled pork, beef short rib, chicken – they have so many different kinds.  All were phenomenal.  The hot mayo they serve on the side is killer, but it’s definitely spicy so tread lightly if you’re not a huge fan of the heat.

Crispy Snapper, Beef Short Rib & Adobo Pork Tacos

Crispy Snapper, Beef Short Rib & Adobo Pork Tacos

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We didn’t have room for dessert, but the menu looked fabulous.  Añejo also does a happy hour from 3pm – 5pm every day with $5 margaritas on special.  Amazing.

Margarita Menu

Margarita Menu

If you’re looking for a unique mexican dining experience that goes above and beyond your basic expectations of tacos, burritos and enchiladas – look no further than Añejo.  An ideal choice for cocktails after work, a girl’s night out, or an intimate dinner date, you will not be disappointed.  I will be back again and again and can’t wait to spread the word about this incredible place.  You can view their website here.

 

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August 2014 Adventure Spotlight with Chad from heyitschad.com – Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming, USA

This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”.  If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.

 

Chad approached me with an idea for an article focusing on a place that I have never been, and, to be honest, until now, I didn’t even really know it existed!  He is so passionate about sharing his experiences and connecting with other adventurous people.  The header on his site reads “Chronicles of a Life Enthusiast”, and I could not agree more.  Check out his personal blog at www.heyitschad.com.

 

The Writer:
Hello there! I’m Chad and I live in the southeastern United States. I love being in the outdoors, camping, backpacking, paddle sports, traveling and exploring new places in pursuit of those hobbies. However, my favorite aspect of travel is meeting people. You know, converse with strangers, learn their stories… what good is travel if you only do so as an observer rather than a participant. I believe leaving our comfort zone is better for us than we realize and, when traveling, it’s rare I leave a flight, cab, restaurant, or local watering without having gained a friend… or at least some good conversation. For me, befriending new people in new places is as big a part of any journey as seeing the mountain, the forest, the city, or the history I came to visit.

 

I’ve gone a few places and seen some great things but I’m far from an adventurer extraordinaire. I’m just a guy seeking to live my short time enthusiastically and not miss out on nor take these opportunities for granted. You don’t have to travel to distant lands or have extreme adventures to fit that mould. My blog, though in only its infancy, is a chronicle of personal experiences set out to show just that.  Although, when the opportunity to explore some far corner does arise, you can bet I’ll be there!

 

The Destination:
Grand Teton National Park – Jackson, Wyoming (United States)

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Why:
I have a love affair with the untamed Western United States. There exists something truly majestic about the Rocky Mountains and the unsettled wilderness surrounding the region that draw so many people westward, myself included. I visited Grand Teton National Park as part of a road trip beginning in Salt Lake City, Utah- traveling northward through Idaho and finally east onward to Wyoming and the Teton Mountain Range.

 

Top 5 experiences:

1) The Teton’s Big Reveal.
Quite possibly one of the U.S.’s most inspiring mountain “reveals”, not viewed from an airplane window, occurs just 5 minutes out of Downtown Jackson. Northbound on US 191, the drive is a slow yet steadily-ascending path out of the city and it will not leave you disappointed. At the peak of this climb, the Teton Range suddenly towers into view in spectacular fashion. Those cloud-catchers demand you pull over immediately if for no other reason than to pick your jaw off the floor, smile, and realize how lucky you are to have seen something so special for the first time. You should snap a few pictures here too.

 

2) Fly fishing the Snake River
A legendary river winding along the Teton Range, the Snake River is well-known as a can’t-miss destination for fishermen and tourists alike. Though it was my first time with a fly rod, I had a great time learning the basics and eventually hooking some trout. I recommend researching and utilizing a guided float trip from a local outfitter because you really will get your money’s worth in both good fishing and interesting history along the river. Not to mention a spectacular shot of the Grand Teton during one particular section of river. Even on the cloudy day I ventured down, it was pretty awesome.

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3) Jackson, WY- Proper: Exploring the shops and streets.
There is another reason this part of the world is so well-known. Jackson (the closest city) is as popular a North American ski destination as it gets. When celebrities like Harrison Ford have a personal hangar at the local airport, you know the town is unique. And although it is a booming tourist destination, downtown Jackson has retained a “village” charm with its shops and side streets all comprised of uniquely Western-Americana architecture. There are several unique restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, outfitters, and hundreds of other businesses that are worth window shopping at a minimum. If in town for lunch and its warm enough, I suggest a stroll along the town square then grabbing a bite to eat and a cold beer on the porch of Mile High Pizza Pie.

 

4) Cowboy Bar- Good food, good atmosphere
Speaking of a cold beer, visit Cowboy Bar in the evening – a uniquely Jackson saloon. There is dining downstairs and on this particular visit my crew and I hilariously found ourselves sharing both our meal and drinks in the same room as a celebrating wedding party- with which we had no prior affiliation and obviously no objection to dining… Hey, when in Jackson! Haha!

 

You can also slip upstairs for drinks and live music. You’ll likely find yourself stomping your feet to a local music act and the place will quickly be packed with an eclectic mix of people. I met a couple en route from the oil fields of Texas, moving to Montana to begin a new life and later two school teachers from Arizona teaching in Jackson on a government assignment. From cowboys, doctors, and school teachers to locals, tourists, and wandering travel bums – This place caters to everyone and all were having a great time.

So let your hair down, toss back a couple of local-brewed Snake River Ales, dosey-doe a cowgirl (or boy), and make some new friends at Cowboy Bar.

 

5) Camping (Gros Ventre campground)
Camping is my preferred method of overnighting anyway and – let’s be honest – if you’re going to visit the Tetons, why would you ever consider NOT camping? This is the “Wild West” after all and part of what makes a visit like this complete is tenting beneath the stars, laying down for the night smelling of campfire, and taking that first breath of chill mountain air upon waking. The Gros Ventre Campground is located approximately 9 miles Northeast of Jackson just inside Grand Teton National Park. Its sites are within short walking distance to the Gros Ventre River which provides ample opportunity for spying wildlife. It’s serene. It’s clean. And the staff were friendly. If you’ll be camping between May and October in the area, you should definitely give Gros Ventre Campground a look.

 

Something I wish I’d known: 
My visit was only part of a short road trip and I had no idea of the other things I would find myself wishing I had more time for while there. From wildlife tours, to snowmobile trails, to hiking, biking, rafting, and much more – Grand Teton National Park is a wild and magnificent place. I should have known these things before of course, but wish I’d taken a little time to research the various ways to explore the area and made time for a few more.

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What is your number one tip for other people planning to visit this particular destination?

Talk to people. The historical American West is full of tales of travellers, vagabonds, adventurers, and even folks escaping their past. The modern West may be a little less legendary but it’s no less interesting. Ask your waiter where he’s from, your rafting guide what brought her here, or the barkeep some local history. From those stricken by wanderlust, ski-junkies, nomads and free spirits, to those who simply visited and never wanted to leave, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of transplants to the area and it seemed like everyone had a good story to tell of what drove them to call this place home. So talk to the locals. You’ll likely discover a hidden gem to scope out before leaving the Tetons.

 

Then again, you may decide to stick around yourself.

 

Thanks so much for sharing, Chad!

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3 Days Hiking & Camping in the Waterton Backcountry

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into approximately 8 months ago when I proposed the idea of a Backcountry Hiking Trip to Sean and his dad, Gord.  Gord is a well-seasoned outdoorsman and has been hiking and camping in the backcountry for about 13 years, and Sean would oftentimes accompany him.  The two have tackled major famous Canadian trails like the West Coast Trail, the Mantario Trail, the Chilkoot Trail, the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail, and countless other hikes and outdoor activities.  I think the boys may have been being extra-polite when they didn’t burst out laughing at my suggestion of the three of us taking a trip together.

I’m not exactly a rookie to the outdoors – if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve done my fair share of hiking and camping around the Rocky Mountains in the past few years.  But I’d only done one backcountry trip before, and it was when I was 17 years old.  It was a school trip, guided and organized by teachers and chaperones, and even though it was an awesome introductory experience, I basically just had to show up with my clothes, food and gear and follow the leader for a week through Yoho National Park.  This trip was going to be different.

We decided that 3 days, 2 nights, and approximately 30 kilometres of hiking would be a good start. Gord took the reins on trip planning – he decided where we would go, which I was more than okay with.  He also did the meal planning, which was incredible, by the way…he had us eating butter chicken and pasta with meat sauce and breakfast wraps.  We definitely weren’t “roughing it” when it came to food!

 

Day One – Drive Calgary to Waterton, Hike Red Rock Canyon to Goat Lake

We were well prepared and had everything packed and ready to go the night before departure, so we were on the road at around 7:30am on Day One to make the three hour drive from Calgary to Waterton Lakes National Park.  By the time we had picked up our permits, made it to the Red Rock Canyon parking lot and got all geared up, we hit the trails just before noon.  The hike from Red Rock Canyon to Goat Lake is about 7 km, and the first half is more of a nature walk.  It didn’t really get difficult until we began our ascent to Goat Lake…prepare to get your heart pumping.  It’s only 2.5 km but it took almost the same amount of time as the previous 4.5, especially with full packs.  You’ll know you’re almost at Goat Lake when you pass one of the most beautiful little waterfalls you have ever seen.

Day One - Ascent to Goat Lake

Day One – Ascent to Goat Lake

 

Day One - Ascent to Goat Lake

Day One – Ascent to Goat Lake

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The Falls – This Means You’re Getting Close!

The campground only has 4 tent sites, one outhouse, and campfires are prohibited.  We made our cook site by the lake, and there is a bear-proof food hanger well away from the tent sites.  The lake is full of fish (National Park fishing license required) and crystal clear.  It was extremely cold when we visited in Mid-July but we were so hot and sweaty by the time we arrived that we couldn’t help but go for a frigid (4.2 second) swim.  We were lucky enough to be the only people camping on the night that we were at Goat Lake, however the area was busy with day hikers during the afternoon.

Our Tent Site at Goat Lake

Our Tent Site at Goat Lake

Gord making sure we stay Hydrated

Gord making sure we stay Hydrated

Our Backcountry Birthday Celebration

Our Backcountry Birthday Celebration

Skipping Rocks on Goat Lake at Sunset

Skipping Rocks on Goat Lake at Sunset

 

Day Two – Hike Goat Lake to Twin Lakes

We woke up around 8 on the second day and took our time with coffee, breakfast, and packing up camp.  We probably weren’t on the trail until close to 11 for the 4 hour, 8km hike to Twin Lakes.  The hike down from Goat Lake was as difficult as the hike up, and it was HOT.  The hike to Twin Lakes was a bit of a challenge, but not quite as tough as what we had faced on day one.  What was nice, though, is that it was a lot more forested and therefore shady and cool.  We arrived at our site around 3:00 and ate an early dinner, but not before hiking down to Lower Twin Lake (much prettier than Upper Twin Lake) through the SNOW (yes, snow) for an extremely refreshing swim.  The water wasn’t quite as cold as Goat Lake, but it was still a challenge to stay in it for more than 10 seconds at a time.  I was so exhausted from the action-packed day…I think I retired to my tent by 7.

Day Two - Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two – Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two - Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two – Descent from Goat Lake

Hiking down through the snow (in pink crocs!) to Lower Twin Lake

Hiking down through the snow (in pink crocs!) to Lower Twin Lake

Swimming in Lower Twin Lakes

Swimming in Lower Twin Lakes

 

Day Three – Hike Twin Lakes to Red Rock Canyon

We got an earlier start on day three after a really rough sleep.  We were fed, coffee’d, and packed up and on the trail by 9:30, as we knew we had a 14 km hike ahead.  This long day of hiking had a pretty challenging start as we had to hike straight uphill for about a kilometre, and then through avalanche zones for about 2 hours, which meant deep, slippery snow, broken trees, tons of debris, and losing our trail a couple of times.  It slowed us down but it was nothing we couldn’t handle…I was very grateful to have brought hiking poles though for stability, balance, and confidence crossing the snow.  After we made it through the tough stuff, it was just a lot of slight decline, which we were all very grateful for.

Hiking through the Avalanche Zone

Hiking through the Avalanche Zone

Some of the Avalanche Damage…trees bent in half, others snapped clean off, others uprooted…so crazy

Some of the Avalanche Damage…trees bent in half, others snapped clean off, others uprooted…so crazy

Sean and I

Sean and I

Creek Crossing

Creek Crossing

We were following a bear down the mountain part of the way…we saw fresh scat and lots of overturned rocks.  I entertained myself by yelling “beep beep beep” and singing with Sean for hours on end so as not to startle whatever was lurking in the woods.  Luckily, we never actually saw the bear.  The last part of our hike was through the stunning Red Rock Canyon, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  Red Rock Canyon is also easily accessible (less than 1km) from the parking lot, so it would make for a super easy quarter-day hike / nature walk.  That last kilometre was the longest of my life, but it felt pretty amazing to turn a corner of the trail after 3 days in the backcountry and see a parking lot full of cars. Cars meant air conditioning and transport to a restaurant in town for burgers and beer.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

After a wet-wipe sponge bath in the public washroom and changing into the clean clothes I had left in the car (highly recommended), we drove into the town of Waterton for a late lunch at Trapper’s Mountain Grill.  I out-ate both of the men and wasn’t even upset about it.  The avalanche burger (topped with onions, cheddar, bacon and a fried egg) is awesome if you’re starving.  We then treated ourselves to way too much ice cream at Big Scoop and then piled in the car for a food-coma drive back to Calgary.  It was glorious.

The 3 days we spent in Waterton were absolutely incredible.  I learned so much and I was so grateful to have two knowledgable, patient and supportive men to help make this idea a reality.  I’ll definitely be doing another Backcountry trip soon.

Have you ever been to Waterton?  Did you spend any time in the Backcountry or mostly just stick around the townsite?

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6 Ways To Live an Adventurous Life When You Can’t Travel

Those of us with a hunger for adventure often find ourselves limited by things like time, money, and the ability to drop everything and travel.  While a life of constant travel would undoubtedly provide an ideal canvas for many adventurous experiences, most of us find that, unfortunately, that sort of a lifestyle is a little unrealistic.  So how else can adventure-seekers and wanderlusters quench their thirst for exploration?

This challenge is something that I am faced with all the time.  While I have been fortunate enough to do a fair bit of traveling throughout my short 22 years, I now find myself in a place where I have (ridiculous amounts of) bills to pay, important commitments, and a full-time career, that I actually take seriously, which requires me to stay in one place.

Here are a few ways that I have adjusted my day-to-day routine to incorporate a little more spark to my life and to satisfy my hunger for adventure when I can’t actually get on a plane.

 

1. Make the Most of your Days Off

This one may seem obvious, but I can think back to several occasions where I have let my precious 48 hours away from work come and go with no real reward, and instead spent them doing laundry, cleaning my apartment, running errands and doing other things that are less than exciting.  In my experience, I have found that, by committing to a plan for at least one of your days off, whether that means a day drive, a hike, or an afternoon spent exploring a new neighbourhood – I am persuaded to get the cumbersome “chores” finished up on the days that I’m already working anyway.  It may add to an already hectic workweek, but when the weekend finally comes around and you realize that you have nothing to do but get out and enjoy it, it will all be worth it.

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

2. Be a Tourist in your own Backyard

If you’ve done any amount of traveling, then you’ve probably met somebody along the way who asked you tons of questions about your home country, or maybe even your home city.  They may have asked you what it was like to live in New York City, or if you’ve been to Niagara Falls.  More often than not, the people I meet abroad would give anything to visit North America to see all of the spectacular things that this part of the world has to offer.  Be careful not to overlook all of the beauty and adventure that awaits you right within your own country, state, city, or even your neighbourhood.  If you’ve never checked out your city or town’s official website, or searched your own area on TripAdvisor, I strongly suggest that you do.  You will probably discover tons of attractions and experiences that you didn’t even realize existed, like the time I planned a Stay-Cation here in Calgary and ended up spending the most incredible day out at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.  Life is all about perspective, and just because you can’t go far, does not mean that you can’t still experience amazing new things.

Riding through Fish Creek Park in Calgary - literally my back yard

Riding through Fish Creek Park in Calgary – literally my back yard

 

3. Take Advantage of Business Travel

Going on a week-long trip to a conference somewhere you’ve never been before?  Why not extend your trip by a day or two in order to explore the area a little more?  This works especially well if your company is footing the bill for your flights…it most likely won’t make a difference in the cost if you choose to stay a few extra days.  So take a few vacation days or stay in town for your days off and see some of the local sights!  This is something I am planning on doing to my upcoming trip to California for a business-related class.

 

4. Connect with Like-Minded People

Surround yourself with positive, life-loving people who also want to fill their spare time full of adventures and awesome experiences.  Not only will this provide you with a kickass group of friends who will most likely be great human beings, but it will also open up a bunch of new opportunities to try things you may have not otherwise thought of.

 

5. Try New Things Constantly

Step out of your comfort zone whenever you can, whether that means hitting a new restaurant on a Saturday night, taking an outdoor climbing class, or booking that overseas tour of your dreams.  Shake up your routine and try something different.  You won’t regret it.

 

Spending the day exploring Elbow Falls, only a 40 minute drive from my front door

Spending the day exploring Elbow Falls, only a 40 minute drive from my front door

6. Start an Adventure Fund

Contributing to an “Adventure Fund” is something I have been doing for a few years now. Every time I stop myself from spending money on something that I really don’t need, I try to make a mental note of it and transfer the amount of money that I would have wasted on silly things into my Adventure Fund instead.  Those $5 a day lattes, shoes you will only wear once, and mediocre nights out on the town can really add up over time…maybe they will even add up to going towards paying for your next vacation.

 

What are some of the ways that you incorporate adventure and exploration into your everyday life when you aren’t able to travel?

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Energy Trail Bars

Quick and easy, full of nutrition, easily packable and totally versatile, these Energy Trail Bars are a personal favourite for hiking, biking, backpacking and even road trips.

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Ingredients: 

1 Cup Peanut Butter (I like to use natural PB)

1 Egg

1/3 Cup Margarine or Butter

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 Cup Corn Syrup (Can also use honey as an alternative)

1/2 Cup Raisins

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup Wheat Germ

3 Cups Rolled Oats

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Coconut

 

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream peanut butter and margarine, beat in corn syrup, brown sugar, egg and vanilla.  Stir in other ingredients.  Place in a greased 9×13″ pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares (approx 12) while still moderately warm.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper.  Store in fridge or freezer until your next adventure!

 

Last time I made these bars, I subbed in Natural Peanut Butter and Honey instead of Corn Syrup.  I also added Hemp Hearts and Chia Seeds for an extra health kick!

 

Taking a snack break on the trails in Waterton, Alberta

Taking a snack break on the trails in Waterton, Alberta

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10 Ways that Wanderlust will Break your Heart

Wanderlust makes us long for places we’ve never been, fall in love with people we’ve never met, feel connected to cultures we know nothing about, and lust after sights we haven’t yet seen.  If you consider yourself a victim of Wanderlust, Fernweh, The Travel Bug, or Itchy Feet, then you already know all of the ways that travel will fill your heart with unspeakable joy and gratitude.  But what about the way it makes you feel when you’re not actually traveling?  My guess is that you’ll be able to relate to all of these things.

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Places I’d Rather Be – Ixtapa Island, Mexico

  1. You will inevitably, at some point, realize all of the shortcomings of your home country.  While no place is perfect, travel will make you fall in love with different places for different reasons, and you will see and experience things that you will never be able to experience at home.

Pretty sure places like this don't exist anywhere in Canada.

Pretty sure places like this don’t exist anywhere in Canada.

  2. “Settling Down” will no longer appeal to you.  Until you’re good and ready, getting married, buying a house, and having a couple of kids will seem like a really good way to destroy your hopes of ever living a nomadic lifestyle, unless you’re super creative like Caz and Craig from YTravelBlog.

Trading sunsets like these for a desk job?  No thank you.

Trading sunsets like these for a desk job? No thank you.

  3. You’ll develop favourite treats in the countries you visit, and when you wake up at 2am at home realizing that you can’t get your favourite Matcha Candies / Cendana Incense / Schnitzel Sandwich / Mango and Sticky Rice without traveling thousands of miles, you will be very, very sad.  

Nothing beats street food in Thailand.

Nothing beats street food in Thailand.

4. You will find yourself in a constant battle with your money.  Especially if you’ve traveled somewhere super cheap like Chiang Mai, paying $16 for a drink at the bar when you return home will send you into fits of fiery rage knowing that you could have instead used that money to fund an entire day of sightseeing in Thailand.

This little jungle hut in Koh Lanta, Thailand could be yours for about $25/night.

This little jungle hut in Koh Lanta, Thailand could be yours for about $25/night.

  5. You will never stop planning (or fantasizing about) new trips.  Once wanderlust is in you, it never leaves.  Chances are that you were planning your next adventure before your last one even ended.  

Trekking through the hills of Bali

Trekking through the hills of Bali

6. Certain songs, scents, foods and people will remind you of your favourite places around the globe.  This will either send you into a state of complete memorable bliss, or throw you into a downward spiral of nostalgia that ends with you sitting on your apartment floor sobbing into a box of takeout Pad Thai.  

Dancing in the Balinese Rain

Dancing in the Balinese Rain

7. ‘First World Problems’ are a real thing, and they will break your heart, especially after you first return from a developing country.  Nothing compares to seeing true poverty and suffering firsthand, and some travellers say that they have even felt angry for a while after returning to their privileged home country.  

One of the many street children in Havana, Cuba

One of the many street children in Havana, Cuba

8. When you find a place that you truly love, it will crawl under your skin and into your bones and you may find it difficult to find true peace in your heart until you return someday.  I can’t count how many nights I have spent looking through photos of my trip to Bali and feeling actual heartache.  

Magnificent Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Magnificent Prague Castle, Czech Republic

9. You will turn green with envy when your friends are traveling, and you are not.  Or maybe you’ll be happy for them, which is a nice thought.  This would make you a far better person than me.

Elephant Baths in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephant Baths in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  10. There may be times when you feel like you may never truly be happy where you are.  After witnessing so many wonders of the world, returning home to a landlocked city and a 9 to 5 routine will suck every ounce of your soul right out of you.  Even if you move to an exciting new place, the shine will eventually fade as you realize that there is so much left in this world to see.  Being happy in one place may seem impossible.  Some people may say that we always seem to be running from something, but as travellers we know that we are actually always running towards something.  

Tirta Empul, Ubud

Tirta Empul, Ubud

Wanderlusters are a different breed.  We sacrifice things like our free time, our money, our fashion sense, our comfort and our stability in exchange for an experience that makes us feel foreign, alive, uncomfortable, free, at home and out of place all at the same time.  We travel to learn, to love, to experience, and to immerse ourselves in the unknown.  We travel to tell stories, to share photos, to invoke the curiosity of our peers, and to awaken the curiosity of our own.  We travel to see, to touch, to feel.  We travel because we refuse to accept a life that is anything but extraordinary.

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Walk Away from What No Longer Serves You and Find Gratitude Instead

I grew up lucky.  I was born into a stable family in a safe, developed country with two loving parents who both worked to provide a comfortable life for me and my younger sister.  We lived in nice houses, drove decent cars, went on amazing vacations and created beautiful memories together.  I always had friends, I got good grades, I had many talents and I always felt loved.  My mother and father had a strong, loving relationship that seemed nearly perfect at times.  They did a commendable job at shielding me from many of the world’s harsh realities – from the terrors of war, poverty and corruption all the way down to the realities I would face when I left home to start my own life.

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A Family Photo Taken on my 16th Birthday

Shortly after my 22nd Birthday, this beautiful family of mine suddenly fell apart into thousands of tiny, shattered, devastating pieces.  Everybody got hurt.  The months that followed were the darkest of my entire life.  Between watching my parents’ marriage end, discovering some heartbreaking facts about my family, dealing with intensely personal betrayal, trying to stay on my shaky legs financially, losing many beautiful friendships, dealing with deteriorating health and failing a major exam that prevented me from moving forward in my career, I was in rough shape.  I watched someone I love struggle through rehab twice, which unfortunately only worsened the addiction.  The only two things that remained constant in my life were my passion for adventure and travel, which served as a convenient distraction, and my relationship with Sean, who deserves more than I could ever possibly give him for supporting me through all of this.

My life was filled with so much toxicity – unhealthy habits, volatile relationships, upsetting experiences, abuse, unease and anxiety.  While I understood that most of these things are to be expected at some point as I made my way through “figuring it all out” in my early twenties, it was all too much, too fast, in a period of only a few turbulent months.  Things felt hopeless and scary.  I had been so proud of the life I had built for myself since setting out on my own, and to feel it all crumbling beneath my feet was terrifying.  To top it all off, I lost a major support system through the deterioration of my parents’ relationship, and I had never felt more alone.

I spent 5 weeks in the spring of 2014 traveling through Bali and Thailand with my boyfriend, in the midst of all that was happening.  Disconnecting for a month gave me a lot of time to sort through the rubble that was my current life situation, and while I can’t say that I “found myself” while I was traveling, or even that I came to any major revelations until a few months after I had returned to Canada, I can say that if it hadn’t been for that trip, I may have never dug myself out of the rut I was in.

While Cleansing in Tirta Empul in Bali, I was crying.  It was the first time I had truly surrendered control over the circumstances in my life.

While Cleansing in Tirta Empul in Bali, I started crying. It was the first time I had truly surrendered control over the circumstances in my life in a very long time.

I wanted to write about a few of the most helpful and effective ways that I have learned to walk away from the things that no longer serve me, and seek happiness and gratitude elsewhere.  While I’m sure not all of them will resonate with you, I truly hope that at least one does, because I know how scary it can be to feel like you are completely powerless over the events occurring in your life.

And I believe that we are powerless.  We have absolutely no control over anything that happens to us.  The only thing that we are able to control in this lifetime are the ways that we choose to react and feel when these crazy, beautiful, devastating, miraculous, scary things happen to us.  Here is what helps me to feel peace when things are out of control…

 

1. Learn to Enjoy your Own Company.

For the majority of my life, I have been terrified of being alone.  While I do enjoy my alone time, this generally consists of watching movies, going shopping, texting a friend, or participating in some other distracting activity.  But just spending time alone, with yourself, and getting to know who you are?  It sounds a little daunting, doesn’t it?  What do you even like to do?  What kinds of things do you like to occupy your thoughts with?  Who the heck are you?  While many of us may live 80 years and still be trying to figure out who we are, I do know that we can definitely learn to feel a lot more comfortable in our own skin if we spend some quality time with ourselves.  Shut your phone off and go for a walk or a drive.  Where will you end up?  Learning to enjoy your own company with no distractions is more difficult than you may think if you’ve never done it before, but I promise that it’s worth it.  YOU have to hang out with YOU for YOUR entire life, so YOU had might as well learn to like YOU.

 

2. Do something that makes you feel Fiercely Independent.

Proving to myself that I could research, plan, reserve, pay for and execute an entire 5 week adventure through Asia that included 4 different countries, 9 different flights, endless tours, buses, boats, activities and accommodations and a volunteer experience for myself and my boyfriend entirely on my own made me feel pretty freaking fantastic.  I also felt pretty proud of myself when I financed my own education, or when I successfully survived my first year living on my own without burning my entire apartment building down.  Even my first road trip from Kelowna to Calgary on my own felt like an accomplishment, especially since my old Dodge Neon didn’t explode on the Trans Canada Highway.  Whether it’s buying your first home or paying your own phone bill for the first time, it feels good to be self-sufficient.  Realizing that you don’t need to rely on other people to keep your head above water will not only make you want to dance around to Destiny’s Child “Independent Women” in your kitchen (or whatever men do when they feel accomplished?) but it will also teach you a lot about responsibility and growth.

 

3. Find Your Happy Place…

…and learn to go there in your mind when you can’t actually be there in person.  Hiking to a tranquil mountain lake or sitting in a meditation garden in Japan would definitely chill a person out, but when we’re knee deep in the muck of our everyday routine and the stress comes on, we can’t exactly drop everything and teleport to somewhere peaceful.  Train yourself to stop, clear your thoughts, focus on the sound of your own breath, and envision this place where you feel at peace.  Whether you do this for 5 seconds in the middle of a stressful work situation or for an entire hour before you fall asleep, I speak from experience when I say that it works wonders.  It won’t make the stressful situations go away, but it may help you to refocus before you make an impulsive decision like screaming at your boss, picking a fight with your wife, or having a full blown anxiety attack.

 

4. Set Boundaries in Challenging Relationships

While it is easy for some people to walk away from negative relationships, there are certain relationships which cannot ever be completely severed, even if they are challenging.  An example of this would be an ex-spouse with whom you share the custody of your children.  Because you still have to maintain communication with this less-than-desirable human, it is crucial to set boundaries for the sake of your own sanity.  Maybe you say that you only want to see this person on absolutely necessary occasions, whenever those may be, or maybe you ask that they only contact you if it is an emergency.  Whatever you decide, it is important to make the other person aware of your boundaries, and stick to them wholly so that they are able to take you seriously.

 

5. Learn To Say No

How many times have you agreed to a commitment, that you never really wanted to commit to in the first place, and then you spend the days leading up to said commitment dreading the event, which inevitably leads to either a last-minute cancellation (often including a white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings), or a begrudging experience which feels like an unfulfilling waste of time?  Why is it so incredibly difficult for us to just say no?  I once asked a friend if she was interested in participating in an endurance race with me, and she simply replied that she would absolutely never, in a million years, want to do something like that.  It was hilarious, and I was so grateful for her honesty, because why would I even want to experience something like that, which I was really excited about, with someone who was totally dreading it?  Plus, I saw it as a sign of strength in our relationship because she wasn’t afraid of hurting my feelings (which weren’t hurt anyway).  Stop agreeing to do things that you don’t want to do, especially in your precious free time, and you’ll have all of these extra hours to fill with really awesome things that you actually want to do.

 

6. Walk Away From Shitty People

Pardon my french, but “negative people” or “unfulfilling relationships” didn’t quite have the same zest as downright, draining, soul-sucking, Shitty People.  It may be a person whose company you used to enjoy, or it may be someone who came into your life some other way, but if you find yourself constantly feeling like they are bringing you down, making you feel bad, stressing you out, or doing anything else that is less than being a positive, loving, inspiring, constructive part of your life, let them go.  There is no sense in dragging out tired relationships that no longer serve you, and chances are that it’s affecting the other person negatively, too, whether they realize it or not.  You are responsible for your own satisfaction in your relationships, whether romantic, professional, or friendship.  I once read a quote that went something like, “Before you diagnose yourself with Depression, first make sure that you are not just simply surrounded by assholes”.  I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.

 

Building a positive life that you are happy to live takes some serious work.  It sounds like something that should happen naturally, but in our wound-up, stressed out, overworked, sensory overload of a world, it can be ridiculously difficult to figure out what you even want your life to look like.  And, unfortunately, we sometimes go through really awful, painful things.  Life is a constant struggle, but instead of taking that as a negative thing, we have a beautiful opportunity to choose to learn from our challenges, mistakes and hard times.

Feel your pain.  Take time to feel sad.  Take time to mourn losses.  Take time to be upset.  But don’t unpack your belongings and live in that awful place forever.  You’re just passing through.  Find peace in the knowledge that every dark night has a dawn and every storm ends.  You will feel happy again.

Remember that life is a gift.  All we can take with us when we go are our memories, and all we can leave behind us is our legacy.  Be Kind To Each Other.  Be Kind To Yourselves.  Build A Beautiful Life.

xo – Ashley

 

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July 2014 Adventure Spotlight with Connie from The Adventures Of My Feet – London, England

This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”.  If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.
Connie and I came into contact while I was doing some travel research for my trip to Asia this past March, specifically Thailand.  I found her blog while searching for other writers who had visited the places that were on my itinerary.  She was so kind and helpful in answering all of my questions, and we easily became friends.  Visit her blog at www.theadventuresofmyfeet.wordpress.com to read all about her wanderings!

 

The Writer

Hi guys!  My name is Connie and I am somewhat of a Nomad…and very proud of that fact, I have travel in my heart and soul.

I wasn’t always this way, when I was a kid I hated anything involved with change, it was so bad I would even stop eating my favourite foods if the packaging changed!

Then one day when I was 13 my parents sold our home and moved us 60 miles away from everything I had ever known, this changed my way of thinking completely.

I guess I realised that sometimes you have no control over what changes in your life, no matter how much you fight it, it will happen anyway…so I decided to make changes I could control.

When I was 17 I moved out of my parents house and went my own way, 60 miles my own way.

I’ve lost count of how many houses and towns I’ve lived in since then but I still have the memories and they’re what matter. :)

That’s what travelling and adventures are all about, making memories that will forever make you smile.

I recently went on a big adventure to Thailand, which is where I started my blog – The Adventures Of My Feet – and I had the most amazing time! I’ve been back for 3 months now but I still don’t feel settled.  I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve almost booked a one-way ticket out of here.

I guess that’s what can be viewed as the bad side of Wanderlust; once you catch it you can never lose it.

I don’t feel truly happy unless I’m moving, whether that’s on a huge adventure or just a random car journey to some place I’ve never been before.

If a love of travel is my only problem in life, then I’m happy, the world has so much beauty to offer, it would be a shame to miss it.

 

Where

London, England

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Why

London is such a beautiful city, the capital of England and my home town.

Being one of the most interesting and vibrant cities I have ever visited, it is hard not to fall in love. Unfortunately because this is my home town, I tend to take it for granted, so I have decided to write this blog to remind myself why I always end up coming back here to set up camp.

Hopefully I can encourage you to visit, while also temporarily stopping myself from leaving!

 

Top 5 experiences

London has so many amazing experiences to offer.  I’m sure you have all heard of the main tourist attractions, The London Eye, Big Ben, The London Dungeons…they are all well worth a visit but as they are so highly advertised I wanted to talk about some of my personal favourites that you may not have heard so much about.

So in no particular order here are my top 5 experiences in London;

 

1. Camden Town

For me Camden is one of the best places to visit in London. It’s a vibrant, buzzing, beautiful town full of eclectic shops and market stalls. I first came here when I was 18 and it instantly became my happy place. It is just a short tube ride from the centre of London, but it feels as though you are in a whole different world.

Whether you want expensive fancy restaurants and bars or cheap but very tasty street food, Camden is the place to go.

The main attraction is Camden Lock, a giant street market full of everything you could ever want and surrounded by a river which is great for relaxing.  You could go on a crazy shopping spree and fill your wardrobe with unique, one off fashions and be safe in the knowledge that you will look totally different from most people you meet back home.

If you wanted to make an evening of it there are nightclubs and bars dotted around the market too…I recommend Koko for a good night out.

Camden really is the heart of London’s creativity and, for a little added bonus…it’s just a short walk from London Zoo :)

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2. Hamleys

Everyone that knows me will not be surprised to find this on my top 5 list….Hamleys is one of London’s biggest toy shops :)

Located on Oxford street, you can always pretend you were doing some ‘grown-up’ shopping and accidentally stumbled through the doors, or if you’re like me and don’t care who knows what a big kid you are you can just spend an entire day here.
Each floor is home to a different group of toys, preschool, girls, boys, cars etc., Hamleys has absolutely everything you could possibly want from a toyshop.

The staff are what really make it special though, as it is clear that each and every one of them love their job, and why wouldn’t they when they get to give toy demonstrations all day!  Of course if you come to London with children then they will love you that little bit more after a visit here.

 

3. Winter Wonderland

If you are lucky enough to visit London around Christmas time then you absolutely have to take a trip to Winter Wonderland!  Set up in Hyde Park every year is a giant festive heaven that any Elf would be proud to claim as their own.

If you are looking for last minute stocking fillers or cheeky little treats to reward all your hard work then the market stalls here will be paradise.  For the adrenaline junky (or child) inside you there are plenty of amusement rides to test out, including a mini version of the London Eye.

The adults among your group can enjoy that warm, cosy Christmassy feeling from drinking mulled, spiced ciders and enjoying other little treats. Of course with every great market come even greater food stalls, you can get everything from doughnuts to weird and wonderful meats from around the world…last year I tried an Ostrich burger!

You can spend an hour or two gliding around the ice rink, or if you’re anything like me you will spend most of your time picking yourself up from the floor of the ice rink!

There’s plenty for the kids too, you can meet Santa, win lots of goodies on the game stalls and visit the circus tent which is home to the famous Zippo’s Circus.

I love Christmas so this is the perfect place for me, but even the Grinch would find it difficult to be miserable here!

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4. Royal Observatory Greenwich

If you are a star gazing geek like me then you cannot miss a trip to the Royal Observatory. There are so many amazing things to see and to learn at London’s only Planetarium.  The views from the outside are breathtaking and throughout the day they put on a ‘sky at night’ experience that will give you goosebumps.  This is a great one for the kids too as they can learn so much with all the exhibitions and it really captures your imagination…the best part is it’s FREE to enter! :)

5. Exploring what London has to offer

If you are on a tight budget then I suggest spending a day exploring with your camera. There is so much to see and so many things that you can attend for free, too. London is full of museums, art galleries, beautiful parks and scenery. My favourite museum is the Natural History Museum, full of dinosaurs and other fascinating things.

If it’s a picnic in the park you fancy then I would recommend Green Park as it is huge so there is lots of space to find the perfect spot and the whole park is stunning.  The amount of street artists and buskers on London streets is a bit overwhelming at times but on the plus side, you can have a free concert in the tube station!

I could sit here and recommend things for you to do all day long but the best thing to do is just go and get lost in the wonder of it all. With one of the biggest transport systems I’ve ever seen, you won’t be lost for long.

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Something I wish I had known

London is one of the most expensive cities I have visited and the first few times I ventured into the heart of the tourist area I spent far too much money. I have since figured out a few tips for saving money and still having the same amount of fun…

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Oyster cards

If you visit London more than once then I suggest investing in an Oyster card, not very expensive to buy and it cuts the cost of transport in London…also as of the 6th of July London buses will not accept cash so an Oyster is almost a necessity.

Travel Cards

If only visiting once then buy an all zones travel card from the station instead of paying separately.  This allows you on buses, trams, trains and tubes all day long, all over London and costs under £10.

Walking

A lot of places are just as easily accessible by foot and walking is much cheaper and better for you. So if you aren’t in a rush then walk in between tubes or trains, you will get to see more sights this way and may even stumble upon a hidden gem.

Obviously grab yourself a map from the station so you don’t get too lost and avoid walking alone at night as it may not be very safe.

2for1

Most of the year you will find a 2for1 booklet at all train stations in and around London. This little beauty gives you amazing discounts at top London attractions, bars and restaurants, all you need is a pen and a valid train ticket.

Kids travel for £1

If you happen to be travelling into London from another English city/town then most of the time you will find that kids can travel to and from London for just £1…amazing right!?

Museums and Art Galleries

As I already mentioned in my top 5 experiences you can gain access to most museums and art galleries absolutely free and they make for a fantastic day out!

 

Best piece of advice

My advice for visiting London is this…Be patient, be aware, be open-minded and BE HAPPY.

London is one of the most multicultural cities in England, it’s as if you have a whole world in 1 city and it’s the main reason I love it so much. You can walk down the street and have every kind of food available and see so many different faces.

It does, however, mean that London is one of the busiest cities in England also.

Central London is a constant wall of human and mechanical traffic so just be patient with everyone and everything, take this time to appreciate all the people and things you will see throughout the day.

To go along with London’s bustly vibe comes a little bit of danger. As beautiful as the city is you must always be aware and keep an eye on your belongings and remember that there are hundreds of tourists here so it’s a bit of a pickpocket heaven…don’t let that scare you though,  just keep it in mind when travelling.

You will see many different and strange sights here so come with an open mind and just chalk everything up as a great experience.

Sadly there can be quite a few miserable people in London, especially the office commuters (booooo) so to combat their negativity I would suggest to just be extra happy and as polite as you can be, smile at strangers, say please and thank you – you may not get these same courtesies returned but I can promise you will feel better and you never know – you may just brighten up someone’s day :)

 

Well that’s my view of London, I hope I made it sound as wonderful as it feels to me.

I can definitely say that writing this has renewed my excitement for my home and I’m actually sitting here now itching to get on a train and spend a day wandering the streets, witnessing the beauty, breathing in the smells and letting the sounds dance through my ears…maybe I will meet one of you somewhere along my journey.

 

Thanks for sharing, Connie!  It is always nice to hear about such an amazing destination from a local.

Have you ever been to London?  What were your experiences like?

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