My brother is visiting me in Montréal for ten days. He had told me beforehand that I shouldn’t plan any activities on the Friday, as he had a surprise in mind. Turns out, he had arranged that we could go bungee jumping and zip lining! This was his birthday present to me, as it has sort of become a tradition for us to do something for our birthdays that we can tick off of our bucket list. In the past we’ve been skydiving, go-karting and water-skiing, but this has been by far the scariest activity yet!
The first morning waking up in Canada, we were told by our park guards that there were seven ‘active’ bears on site. This meant that we had to be extra careful with hiding all of our food in a bear proof manner. Storing your food ‘bear proof’ is done by placing all of your food in a cool box, covering the cool box with a jacket and storing the cool box with the jacket in a car. This is necessary because bears are clever enough to recognize a cool box and break into the car to get to the food. Surprisingly, we were also told to hide all of our cosmetics such as shampoo, because the bears are attracted to the smells. Cheyen heard about this right after he had put on his perfume and feared he would be the first to be caught by a bear…
“This was indeed an extraordinary and bizarre day!”, I wrote in my diary on the 8th of August. Diane, a half-native Canadian woman we befriended four years ago, had taken us to our first ever Pow Wow. A Pow Wow is a ceremony of North America’s Native people to repeat the traditional rituals of their ancestors, and is a festivity to celebrate their liberty to do so. The fact that this ceremony was taking place was not indicated in any of the touristic booklets, and without Diane we would never have had the opportunity to experience this unique and incredibly interesting happening.
‘Just because you can put something in your mouth, chew it, swallow it, and then poop it out doesn’t mean it’s food. It just means you can chew it, swallow it, and poop it out.’ (Cameron Diaz, 2013)
Today, I would like to introduce to you: the Body Book. My new bible when it comes to health and nutrition. I know that this blog is supposed to be a ‘travel tribute’, and that discussing fitness doesn’t really fall into that category… However, I have an absolute need to share and recommend this book to you, so I’ll make an exception here. Also, to be able to enjoy travelling and discovering more and more about the world, we need energy to do so. Energy, which we obtain through good nutrition. (Hope I can get away with that!)
To be honest, this summer has been the worst for me when it comes to healthy foods and exercise, with lots and lots of cheat days. Greece introduced me to Souvlaki, in Brussels I couldn’t resist the famous Belgian waffles, and in England I had scones almost every other day. Moreover, I didn’t move my butt at all.
Even though I had an amazing time in every single one of these places, something was off. I didn’t feel connected to my body. I felt worn down, tired, and the days at home in between those trips I was just lying down, feeling unmotivated to do anything. Moreover, feeling unable to physically move influenced my overall mood and happiness.
I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. After all, only a month ago I felt on top of my game, despite the stress about my final year exams and dissertation.
Why was I feeling this way in summertime? Free, sunny, relaxing summer? Continue reading “An ode to healthy living: the Body Book.”
During a spontaneous last-minute holiday to Nice, France, my boyfriend and I came across an advertisement of ‘Marine-land’, which pictured the image of a giant Orca. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt about seeing real-life ‘Killer Whales’. From watching the movie Free Willy for the first time, I was sold: I considered these predators to be the most beautiful creatures on earth.
I did then, as I do now. And so it was that when we drove past the poster, I quickly turned to my boyfriend: “Did you see that?!”.
We couldn’t believe that there might be actual orcas in water parks in Europe. I am extremely sea-sick, so if this turned out to be true, it would put an end to all the failed attempts of spotting them in America or Canada, during which I would just see the inside of a plastic bag…
Thus, when we got back to our holiday home, we checked it out immediately and indeed, orca-shows were held just 20 minutes away from our place! And even better, there was a deal on sale, 2 parks for the price of one: Marine-land and Aquasplash.
On the 31st of August, 1885, the Dutch celebrated their first ‘princess day’, in honour of the birthday of the young princes Wilhelmina. This was organized with the aim of national unity. When Wilhelmina’s father William III of the Netherlands passed away, princess-day became Queensday. Wilhelmina was only 5 years of age when she became queen, but her mother Emma was regent of the Kingdom until Wilhelmina turned 18. Queensday has been celebrated every year since, but with the inauguration of our new king the name changed to ‘Kingsday’.
The event itself has changed a bit over the years. Wilhelmina never personally took part in the festivities, whereas her successor Juliana invited ordinary citizens to visit her in the palace gardens. Beatrix, our queen until last year, did things differently and personally went to visit a different municipality each year, as does our king today.
This year, on the 26th of April 2014, our ever first Kingsday was celebrated, which I obviously couldn’t miss. I stayed in Holland specifically to be able to attend these festivities.
Continue reading “Holland’s first ever Kingsday!”
As promised, this is a sequel to my story about camping in Canada. During our second week in Canada we moved to another campsite in Alconquin Park, where we’d meet a Canadian family we would spent most of our final week with. In general, I find that Canadian people are probably thé nicest people. Very open, very welcoming, enthusiastic to have a chat. One evening, a couple was sitting by a campfire when they invited us over. They gave us some corncobs which we’d heat above the fire, and talked to us all about Canada and their adventures whilst camping. It turned dark and the lady even started singing a few songs for us.
Not long afterwards we met the Green family. My mum and I were swimming in the lake, wondering out loud if there were many leeches and what we would have to do if one would bite us, when Bill came swimming by us. He had been camping for many years and knew all about the animals around. His son was fascinated by the local wildlife and could spot animals from a remarkable distance.
So it was that one day, his son spotted a moose on the other side of the lake, that to us looked like perhaps little rocks. Bill invited us to join him in his canoe to go see the animal from up close. It was indescribably beautiful to be on the lake and to have the impressive animal so nearby and silence all around. We stayed on the lake till sunset, the nature shone bright green and the sky was coloured red. Otters sometimes appeared to show their little heads, after which they would dive under water again. Bill told us that if we wanted to, we could borrow his canoe any time and for example make a fishing trip. Continue reading “Adventures in Canada”
My obsession for Canada started every since I was a little girl. For unexplained reasons, I dreamt about going there someday. In primary school, my presentations would either be about Canada or Killer Whales, and all my friends would know “one day I will move and live in Canada.”
When I turned 18, and received my high school diploma, the day had come: my mum and I would visit Canada. Perhaps unbelievable, but the trip exceeded my expectations. Perhaps not unsurprising, I could go on and on about our time there. So much has happened, and so many wonderful people (and bears) have crossed our paths… that’s why I will probably write this story in two parts. Continue reading “Camping in Canada: sleeping with bears.”
On the 16th of April, my boyfriend and I will be together for 3 years. To celebrate this, we decided to go to a wellness-resort called ‘de Zwaluwhoeve’, in the Veluwe region. I had never been to this resort before and was surprised by how massive it was. The spa was divided into two ‘squares’ with all different types of saunas and herbal baths. What was specifically great about the place was the impressive gardens outside. We weren’t particularly lucky with the weather, but I could only imagine what it would be like in summer. However, the swimming pool outside was heated, and because it was a colder day, the steam rose from the water, which created a very romantic image, especially when it got dark and the stars and the moon appeared.
Continue reading “Celebrating our anniversary at wellnessresort ‘de Zwaluwhoeve’”
Last month, my mum and I decided to meet each other in Edinburgh for a couple of days. She flew in from Amsterdam, and I travelled by train from York, where I study. Edinburgh quite reminded me of York, the old historic buildings, the ‘mystical’ feel about it, all just a bit bigger. Just like in York – which is called ‘the most haunted town of England’ – Edinburgh was full of posters advertising Ghost walks.
My mum and I thought this would be an entertaining way of exploring Edinburgh by night, so we decided to take part in a Murder mystery tour. At 8 o’clock we were at the spot the tour was supposed to start at. However, no one else except a curious looking man with a tall black hat, was waiting there. This man, not surprisingly, turned out to be our tour guide. We waited for a few more minutes, but no one else showed up. The man said he was happy to just take the two of us, he seemed quite excited and said that this way he could tell even more stories.
One of the first things he asked us was ‘Would you rather be beheaded or hung?’ I chose to be hung, and my mum to be beheaded. The tour guide agreed with me. ‘Imagine’, he told my mum, ‘the person who’s responsible for beheading you had one glass too many, and hits you a couple of times in the shoulder blades beforehand…’It wasn’t long before my mum agreed ‘Okay, I’m convinced’. ‘Nu uh,’ the man said, ‘It’s too late to change now’ I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this… Continue reading “A Murder Mystery Tour in Edinburgh”