The most asked question of me lately has been “Are you getting excited?”. Natural question to ask. The answer is, of course, yes I am excited. However I am also a jumble of other emotions. I suppose it is fitting that my desire to go ‘all over the map’ also coincides with me feelings. I am up, down, sideways and various degrees of spirals when it comes to my emotions regarding my RTW trip. I sometimes wonder if I am bit cuckoo! What I mean is that I have known a number of people who have picked up and gone on their world adventures with what appears to me to be ease and finesse. They pack up and bid adieu with a that spark of adventure in their eyes. Meanwhile my knees are knocking, hands are shaking and inside my head I am screaming how are you going to do this Eeva?! Round the corner and I am jumping for joy and doing a happy dance. Then contentment walks in. Next thing I know I am overwhelmed with what I need to do and want to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich. I wish for that ease that I see in so many of the travelers I know. Now don’t get me wrong – I am thrilled for this incredible trip. It’s just that I have never done anything like this before, being on the move for an extended period of time. It is an intrepid thing to do yet at times overwhelming in its newness. It is not a wonder that I am ‘all over the map’. Oh then add the downright ridiculous thoughts that meander in and out of my brain. Ya know, the ones where you logically know are untrue but you entertain them for a moment or two. Things such as “you’re way too old to backpack” and “OMG! I’m too fat and outta shape for this!” or what if, what if, what if…even when I know these ideas are of no consequence. Silly really.
There you have it, my flurry of emotions. Excitement and contentment are my favs. I’m sure they will become prominent as the day of my departure nears. Perhaps all this is natural for one’s first extended solo trip. I hope it is. Someone please tell me it is. :-)
***ANNOUNCEMENT: Sunday’s Special Spot will be have its final posting at the end of October 2014. As my departure day approaches I aim to write about my plans and after that I will post of where in the world I am***
Today’s destination is the second stop on my RTW trip. I will depart my home town of Thunder Bay to Ontario’s capital city of Toronto. It has been years since I have been to Canada’s largest city. My only touchdowns there as of late have been stopovers at Pearson International Airport. This time I will return to visit friends in the area and re-acquaint myself with this thriving metropolis (led by its infamous mayor, Rob Ford).
Toronto has much to offer – major league sports, first class shopping, mouthwatering dining options, arts and culture – well, the list goes on and on. My past travels have taken me to the top of the CN Tower (at one time it was the world’s tallest freestanding structure), watching a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game at The Skydome (now know as Rogers Centre) to shopping and mouthwatering dining experiences. My next sojourn to this fun city will be mainly to catch up with some old friends, though I do hope I can take in some fun activities. Perhaps going to the Toronto Islands or checking the Bata Shoe Museum or the Hockey Hall of Fame. Maybe I will check out the extensive music scene while enjoying a craft beer. How about theatre productions? Or visit North America’s only Castle, Casa Loma. And then there is the food – Korean, Italian, Japanese, Indian, Fusion, BBQ, Spanish, Food Truck specialties, Vegetarian delights….okay now I’m hungry! Regardless of what I do, I know I will have fun and enjoy this very cool Canadian city!
Aerial view of Toronto, Canada
Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons
– User/Owner – Taxiarchos228
Historic, gothic and the resting place of royals, Portugal’s Alcobaça Monastery is found 121 km/75 mi north of Lisbon. It is the earliest example of gothic style churches in the country. King Afonso Henríques (first king of Portugal) established it 1153 C.E. to honour the victory of Santarem during the Crusades and presented it to Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, a staunch supporter of the Crusades. Construction began years later in 1178 and became the home of this order of Cistercian monks. With close ties to the Portuguese monarchy it houses numerous tombs of past kings. In 1989 UNESCO recognized Alcobaça Monastery as a world heritage site.
Personally I find this building very beautiful and admire the gothic style, so I chose two photos to showcase it.
Cloister at Alcobaca Monastery
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – By Flávio de Souza (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Interior of Cloister of Alcobaca Monastery
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – By Waugsberg (Deutsch: eigene Aufnahme English: own photograph) via Wikimedia Commons
I have only mentioned Couchsurfing (CS) on this blog in passing even though it is a large part of my social life. I guess that is because I feel that I am not a true couchsurfer as I have never ‘surfed’ and my hosting opportunities were mainly for people I had met previously, even if for a short time. I often think that I can not really claim the title of a ‘real couchsurfer’ if I have not even used the website for one of its intended purposes. Yet I do use it to connect with other people in the Vancouver area. I plan a number of social events (weekly meetings, festival outings, etc). I answer questions about Vancouver on the webpage. I am even administrator for the related Facebook page for Vancouver CS. I do this because I love the CS idea of community (knowing an area from the locals and in some cases forging new friendships). In fact, several of my closest friends I met in this city’s thriving CS community. I do it because it gives me an opportunity to give do social activities I might otherwise have overlooked. I also do it because I want to give back since I do not host. I hope it has helped balance the scales, so to speak.
Now even though I do plan a fair bit, there others in the community who do just as much, if not more than I do. In fact, many of them are more organized and less stressed than I can be at times (I do appreciate them for that). So this weekend I was quite surprised by a small but very thoughtful gesture by those crazy Vancouver CSers. We were at the final stop of a pub crawl and out comes one of the members with a small cake covered in sparklers. It was for me and all my efforts. In all honesty, I was so very touched. Especially since my reasons for planning all these things is for fun, friendship and giving back in a way that I know how since I do not host – not for accolades. So THANK YOU VANCOUVER COUCHSURFERS! I really am lucky and blessed to be part of such an amazing community. And the spice cake with cinnamon icing was so very delicious.
We dug into the cake before I could snap the picture. So Yummy.
Photo owned by Eeva Valiharju/Wanders The World.