Things I take for granted at home

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When I headed for Europe, I was in for a surprise. There were things I knew before hand like in Germany they drink bubble water. Everyone asks do you want still or gas water in the restaurants. But there were a few thinks I could not get use to and miss very dearly about BC and Vancouver.

1. Being helped.
If I’m lost on a street in Vancouver, or better yet even just walking alone, people approach you. Not in a creepy way, but to start a conversation. If they see you pull out a map they’ll come over and point you in the right direction. That is something I really could’ve used in London where all the streets head off in random directions and it’s a game to try and find where they’ve posted the street sign.

2. Free water.
When I go to a restaurant, I always order water. I may order water and a pop but always water. Water is free. Tap water with ice, it tastes better then bottled water to me. And it’s always free. In a club in Prague we had to ask for a glass of ice and fill it in the bathroom to avoid paying 3€ for a bottle. Water is a necessity of life, especially in a club you should not be denying drunk humans water.

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3. Good Food
No offense Europe, but I was extremely disappointed in traditional foods. Yeah schnitzel is the best thing ever but other than that nothing impressed me. Cucumber salad in Denmark, roast dinner in England, goulash in every single eastern country. It wasn’t exciting. There was never any spices or flavors, it was all bland. I felt like I should’ve carried hot sauce in my purse. I honestly reached the point where I ate because it’s necessary to function, not because I wanted too. I missed my Tim’s for breakfast, sushi dates for lunch and Chinese all you can eat for dinner.

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4. Mountains.
This isn’t so much a Canadian thing as a BC thing but I missed mountains. Sure Austria, parts of Italy and Slovenia had some alps but other than that, nothing. Just hills, which are really knock off mountains. There’s something calming about the waterfalls and hidden lakes and being surrounded by nature that is so calming. I could never live somewhere that I couldn’t escape into the mountains in a few hours.

5. Smiling and all around politeness.
I went hiking this weekend and if you move aside on the trail to let others pass, every one in the group says thank you. If you’re approaching others on the sidewalk you make eye contact and smile, sometimes say hello. It’s humbling that if I fell everyone would stop and ask if I’m okay. Where in other countries they’ll just skirt around you.

6. Garbage and Recycling cans
Something that always kills me is to throw a recyclable in the trash. But some countries just don’t recycle. Or some have people who separate it later. Which is insane in my mind. But sometimes I would walk around with wrappers in my bag because there just wasn’t any garbage cans. In Athens I had trouble because the ones you did find were so overflowing the trash was all over the ground around it. If you want to prevent littering and keep your city clean, you need to provide the necessities.

I’m not saying everyone is terrible and Canadians are the nicest people in the world. Apparently Australia and New Zealand beat us on that list. But these are things I grew up with being normal. Imagine walking the streets in London and making eye contact with someone. They either think you’re flirting or will cross the street because they think you’re crazy.

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The Actual Hard Part to Traveling

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There’s been a blog post circulating on Facebook about how coming home is the hardest part of traveling. And while I don’t disagree that coming to those last few weeks or days is unsettling it’s not the worst. Sure I’ve loved not having to wake up at a certain time and go to work, not having to pay for gas and car insurance or deal with all the drama that happens in summer. But that doesn’t make having to go back unbearable. The worst is the thought of having to find a job since I quit everything to leave. But I’ve done it before and this time probably won’t be the last.

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I’m actually quite excited to return. Even though I know I love Europe with all my heart and Canada will not be my final resting place, it’s still home for now. I want to see my best friends and grandparents. I want to share my stories of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. I can write about it all I want on here, but it’s not the same as having a friend in front of you asking you questions. I even read a blog post on why returning is someone’s favorite part if traveling. They talked about Love Actually and how wonderful it is to walk out of the airport and see your loved one/s.

No the part I hate about backpacking has been the goodbyes. You meet all these wonderful people who change a part of you, but you’re only together for so long. And sure I could change my plans and follow these new friends but this trip is for what I want to see. I’ll miss them but I don’t want to restrict myself to someone else’s schedule. Otherwise I would’ve brought a friend with me.

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There’s been 3 different times in my 2 months that I’ve wanted to change everything and follow, the first was in Belgium. I met 3 boys from Winnipeg, poor boys. But I ended up spending the day talking away with them. We did a walking tour, lunch then a beer tour. Followed by birthday drinks for me with an absinthe shot thrown in there. 2 am Greek food was for sure the highlight of the night. Just hanging out and eating bad food 4 hours before I had to leave for a train. But while they went south, I went north east. I at least can hope to see them again if I ever decide I want to see Winnipeg, or they come to Vancouver. Vancouver is the more likely choice.

The second time was my friend Max, I’ve mentioned him before in my post about Brno. We ended up meeting up again in Budapest for a night of jazz, karaoke and drinking. The next day we did the Turkish baths to help cure our hangovers and aching bodies. We almost met up in Bled when Max went to Zagreb but I told him Slovenia was more his alley with all the hiking possibilities. Max has for sure become a good friend to me and I hope he moves back to Portland after living in the UK, because I will for sure be visiting Portland in the future.

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Last, but not least, were the girls I left last night. 3 girls from Norwich, England. It’s on the bump in England, I didn’t even know England had a bump. I met them my first morning in Bled and spent the next three days adventuring around the area. They were definitely much needed friends as I was facing quite the heartbreak at the time. Being with these 3 got me out of bed every morning and usually into the mountains. Fortunately our nights in Graz over crossed and we caught up over dinner and cards for one night. This is another situation where I’m hopeful to see them again because I’ve told them Vancouver’s the only part of Canada worth seeing and I would also like to do a UK tour one day. I’ve been to Wales and England but not over to Ireland or Scotland yet. Plus I’m told I’ll fit right in in Brighton.

Yes going home is scary and wonderful. But saying goodbye to all these amazing people every few days can really get you down. Never knowing if you’ll ever see someone again as you hug goodbye and say you will, it pulls at the heart strings.

I’m Coming Home

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I’m having extremely mixed feelings on heading home. This trip made me realize what I wanted in life was happiness over anything else. I don’t care about having a wedding for all to see or having a mansion for people to ogle. But with 9 days to go before home coming I had my heart broken and all my plans for the future come to a halt.

Now my future is looking pretty bleak. I can’t decide on what I want, I can’t think of anything past arriving at the airport, going home and curling into a ball. Thankfully I have extremely supportive friends who are all welcoming me to their places with open arms. But they’re not the arms I want to be in and nothing seems to make this feeling of utter lose lessen.
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Now I don’t regret my trip, it was amazing. I made some life long friends, saw places I’d only dreamed of, drank more alcohol than should be humanly possible but I should’ve waited. I was too blind with excitement to consider that the life I put on hold in Canada wasn’t as stable as I’d thought. I didn’t think so much could change in one summer, that I’d come home to everything being completely different. I feel I was incredibly selfish and only thought of myself and because of that I have nothing left.

Now I’m contemplating Ireland, Quebec or England. The job I decided I want doesn’t matter anymore because I can’t handle the idea of being in Vancouver. A cruise ship would be nice, maybe I’ll apply to move to any of the major ski resorts in the interior. I can’t handle facing my family and the questions of what happened, the thought of seeing the girl who’s now my replacement with the boy I thought I was spending my life with. I always tell people Vancouver’s a pretty small city, but now it seems suffocating. I need to get out. And soon.

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