Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I just wanted to let everyone know that I have left this blog behind and moved to a new one. You can follow THIS link to my new blog, WhirlwindTravel. It has some of my old posts from here and will likely have many more to come!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Homeless for a Night, Edmonton, 2011

The rate of homeless youth in Edmonton has been growing over the years and yet it is still an issue that most aren't overly aware of. Alot of people have preconceived notions of the homeless. We will shrug them off as lazy, we label them as drug addicts or abusers of alcohol. Most people rarely let compassion blur their stereotype of these youth. But what about those girls and boys that have lived lives we could barely imagine. What about those that endured years of abuse or neglect, or those abandoned by parents who were in and out of jail, on and off the bottle. Just because that girl has tattered clothes and nothing but a few belongings under the bridge, doesn't mean she is not worth it. Just because that boy has dirt streaking his face, a hood up to hide his greasy hair and a baseball cap held out infront of him, begging for money, doesn't mean he is not worth it. These girls and boys living on the streets are not just objects to pass by and ignore. They are people. They had homes, they once had jobs, and today they still have hearts. Despite everything they have been through, these youth still fight for the lives that they wish to have. Hopes, dreams, and determination still keep them struggling forward. The Youth Emergency Shelter of Edmonton, AB is a place that devotes everything they have to giving homeless youth a place to rest their head, a place to get their lives on track, and most of all a place to call home.

This year, on May 27, 2011, YESS is hosting an event by the name of Homeless for a Night. This event is to raise awareness of Edmonton's homeless youth. In order to participate, you must raise at least $250.00. With that, you get to spend the night outside on a mat with a sleeping bag. With more money, there is the option of a cot to sleep on, or even a tent to protect against the weather. May 27, 2011 will be a night where hundreds of individuals come together to support one cause. It will be a night of barbecues, knowledge, fun and making a difference. This will be my first year participating in YESS's Homeless for a Night event, and it is something I am really looking forward to. A friend and I will be spending the next few weeks doing what we can to raise at least the minimum donation required, though our personal goal is that, donations combined, we can give $1000.00 towards the Youth Emergency Shelter and the inspirational individuals that pass through their doors.

If you would like to make a donation for Edmonton's Homeless for a Night you can CLICK HERE and make a donation online using a credit card. Or, if you know me personally you can make a cash donation by contacting myself and giving in your cash or cheque donation in person! This is an annual event raising money for a great cause and wonderful individuals. Any amount is greatly appreciated!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cava dell Isola Beach, a public beach with gorgeous white sand, cliff jumping, and a reasonably priced restaurant at the entrance.

Everyone has memories of their "first times." There's your first kiss, your first speech, your first time on stage, your first new years, your first taste of freedom. For me, Ischia was an island of many firsts. Ischia is an island located on the western edge of the Gulf of Naples. While prices on the island can be a little steep, I would say that Ischia is a must for any traveler. After spending two weeks travelling down from Northern Italy, stopping in all of the top Italian cities, I was eager to spend some time with nothing but beach, sun, and ocean. On June 27, 2010, I said goodbye to my two friends in Naples and boarded a ferry that would take me away on my own. This was my first venture alone in Italy and though I was beyond excited, I couldn't help but let myself think of all the what if's running through my mind. By the time I stepped onto solid ground, my hands were shaky and all I could think about was that I had no idea what to do next. Backpack strapped to my back, I stood in the middle of the port for a good fifteen minutes before walking.

While Ischia will always be one of my favorite adventures, it was an adventure that started off pretty overwhelming. Finding the hostel was an experience in itself. After getting lost trying to find the bus stop, completely forgetting to buy a bus ticket resulting in the bus driver yelling at me in angry Italian in front of the other fifty bodies squished in amongst me, and spending another hour wandering through back alleys in search of The Ring Hostel, I finally arrived. I was greeted before I even stepped through the doors by a young, charming Italian man who goes by the name Lorenzo. His firm handshake, comforting smile and laid back persona made me feel instantly relieved and put me in a much better mood. The Ring Hostel, in Forio, is one of the best hostels I've been to. Run by Lorenzo and his two brothers, the hostel is geared toward young budget travellers and is within walking distance to beaches, restaurants and bus stops. Every evening, Lorenzo or one of his brothers would pick up those of us staying in the hostel and drive us to their family's restaurant. Be warned if you do accept a ride: you will want to close your eyes and hang on for dear life, but it's an exhilerating ride none the less! If you are someone looking for interactive hosts, clean and comfortable budget accomodation, and a place that simply feels like home in a foreign country, I would highly recommend The Ring Hostel.

As I was walking up the stairs to my room, something written on the wall caught my eye. This is what it read:

To whoever you are,
When you first arrive in this place, take a moment to read what was written
by those before you, as you will soon relate to them. Put away your watches
 and alarm clocks, time here is as irrational as the sky above you. Nationality,
 political affiliation and religious bias are insignificant here, but open your ears
 and listen to what those you meet have to say. Drink the wine, if you can
 count the bottles you haven't had enough. Gain courage by cliff diving and
submitting to Lorenzo's driving, but become humble enough to accept that a
 scooter ride is a bad idea. You are in a unique place, so take it in with a clear
 mind and open arms while this place is still here, unchanged.

Those words embody everything that Ischia is. It was on this island that I had many of my own "firsts". My first time swimming in the ocean, my first time being passenger in a small, overcrowded car speeding down the narrow alleys, my first time drinking red wine, my first experience in a volcanic hot spring(Sorgeto Hot Springs in Forio), my first beach bonfire. The list goes on. Although many young travelers come here because Ischia is so eloquently nicknamed the "Party Island," there is so much more to it than that. People of all ages could find something of interest here. Unfortunately, everything exciting costs money, and money was not something I had at the time, but there are endless possibilities. Renting boats, sailing, exploring gardens and mountains and beaches. The locals are friendly and inviting, willing to help you the best they can with the language barrier. The men, for example, are much more polite than the ones I experienced in the big cities.

The Sorgeto Hot Springs are a must if you are thinking of travelling to Ischia. After a huge Italian meal with new friends, seven of us made our way down the many stone steps to the hot springs. At 2AM, the water is still comfortingly warm, with the odd areas of cold and scorchingly hot. During the day, some areas of the spring are unaccessible due to the overwhelming temperatures. With six bottles of wine floating amongst us, the hot springs were a wonderful way to spend the late hours of the night! Best of all, access to Sorgeto Springs is free! I will always have the fondest memories of Ischia. It's an island that makes one rethink their plans, their life, their priorities and importances. For me, Ischia was a life changing place filled with great food, delicious wine, and wonderful people. It's a special piece of the world that welcomes you with open arms and changes lives one traveler at a time.

Beach in Forio full of locals!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring break used to be a time of friends, excitement, gatherings and, of course, NO SCHOOL! Two years have passed since those fun, carefree days, and now the always looked forward to week of Spring Break is nothing more than yet another week of work. Well, I'm not in school, so that fun fact means nothing as well. Of course, I will do my best to have as much fun as I can on the time off that I do have. To cheer myself up, a friend and I went shopping to the biggest mall in North America and, at one time, the world. West Edmonton Mall. It was a wonderful day and we both bought great pieces to add to our closets! For myself, I purchased a leapord-print H&M scarf, a grey H&M spring jacket, a floral dress, a turquoise v-neck top with some cream detailing, and a fun pink dress for this Saturday night! So, to all those who have the luxury of not having to work and getting the week off school, HAVE FUN! And to those of us who do have to work or go to school, find something during this week to make you happy and give yourself some special "me" time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The link above is an article written by Elisabeth Eaves and an article that I personally love every time I read it. It describes the feeling of wanderlust in an intimate yet understandable way. It seems like every author and travel writer who has chosen to base their lives upon their desires to travel are in agreement. To travel, one must sacrifice. What that sacrifice might be can be different for everyone. For Elisabeth Eaves it was a steady relationship, a certain home. Author Laura Fraser, who wrote All Over The Map, it was a family. For many, it is a combination of those two things, or simply the ability to hold a nine to five job. But, you simply can't have everything.
"Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing
to pay the price to make them come true."

Nearly one year ago, at the age of eighteen, I surprised my friends, family and myself by hopping on a plane to Dublin, Ireland, completely alone. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to spend the year after my high school graduation in Europe, but something not many people believed I would do. One year ago, I wouldn't get groceries by myself, wouldn't stop to rent a movie alone, and certainly wouldn't be seen shopping in a mall without a friend. I had this ever constant voice in the back of my head that refused to let me be free and independent. I was shy, overly self-conscious and horrified that people might think I had no friends if I was ever alone. So when I finally mentioned to my family that I was going away for four months to backpack through Europe, their reaction wasn't what I had hoped. Unlike my friends, some of whom had already been on trips alone and were one hundred percent supportive, my family didn't hold quite the same level of excitement. While I know that their reactions were mostly out or worry for me, I couldn't help but be disappointed that they weren't even a bit more encouraging. To be honest, neither my parents nor my brother thought I would actually go through with it, and knowing that only made me more determined to prove them wrong. A few months later, plans being made and re-made, they finally gave up the grudge of refusing to help me and decided to lend a hand.

Now, almost one year later, I am a completely different person. I have no doubt in my mind that those four months abroad was the best thing I could have done for myself. As an eighteen year old girl I had been confused, stressed out about my future, and unsure of who I really was. For anyone else with the same issues, I highly recommend jetting off to an unfamiliar continent with nobody but yourself. Travelling alone forced me to step out of my box, gave me the chance to let go of being what everyone back home expected me to be, and allowed me to figure out what I truly enjoyed, what I wasn't so fond of, and what I was doing at home just because it was what other people liked. From Ireland to England, Paris to Amsterdam to Prague, Wales to Scotland to Italy and then back to England once again, I saw some of the most beautiful sights and countrysides and met many fellow wanderers such as myself. People and the dynamics of friendships and relationships overseas are entirely different than the ones we are all used to in our local communities. Hostels, tour groups, cafes, popular attractions. Within five minutes you can have a new best friend. You can spend an entire day with someone and completely forget to ask for their name. It's these people, those fast new friends from around the globe, the individuals that you may only spend a day with in your entire lifetime, that will likely remain in your memories forever. They are the people that you share your most incredible experiences with, and that tend to keep you closely connected forever, whether through social networking or just your memories.

These days, I am nearly twenty years old. For the past eight months I have lived a normal life back in my hometown. Despite all of the positives that came out of my European trip, there has been one huge downfall. It was realizing that this kind of lifestyle: normal, routine, familiar, is not at all what I am meant to be doing. Applying to universities, finding new jobs, living at home in the town I have spent my entire life in, surrounded by my amazing family and friends, is not exciting. As much as I adore my family and treasure my friends, there is something huge missing not only in my life but in my heart. I am constantly dreaming of new places, new faces and new cultures. I spend my time reading travel blogs, travel books, looking through my old travel photos. I look at airline websites at least once a week, just to see where I could be going for cheap. At night I dream of the places I have already seen and long to return to and in the day I plan trips that I may or may not ever take. For now, I'll live day to day. I will make as much money as I can, get the education I need, relish in the company of my family and friends, and continue to wait until the day I can go back to a continent I have only known for a short time, but one that already feels like home.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Yay! Check out my blog post Beautiful Trearddur Bay(posted a few entries below) as a guest post on the wonderful travel blog Travelettes, Backpacking in Heels. Travelettes is a travel blog run by young female travellers to encourage and inspire other young girls to just put on their backpacks, grab their lipstick and take the leap to explore the world. Click HERE to go to my post and to check out all the other amazing posts on Travelettes!