Archive for the ‘Destinations’ Category

Mark and I got married! Although Mark and I need pots and pans, dishes and duvets, we decided not to register for all that stuff. It’s just stuff – where’s the fun in that? Instead we asked for contributions towards our Moroccan honeymoon. And that’s just what we got! This post is to take us back to our good ol’ blogging/wandering days and to say thank you to everyone who supported our Moroccan honeymoon. It was unforgettable.

Morocco Take II did not disappoint. We weren’t sure how it would hold up. Our memories held up Morocco as a magical place, filled with wonder and adventure. Would it still be the same after all the other wondrous places we visited post-Morocco? Would Marrakech still be our number one destination? Well I’m here to tell you it did not disappoint. It was as good as we remembered it. It made for our idea of a perfect honeymoon. Here, let me tell you about it:
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Almost home

asleep at the airport

Looks as though our travels aren’t done with us yet. We are stuck at the Edmonton airport for the night. We were booked to fly standby on the red-eye back to Ottawa via Toronto. (My lil’ sister Lindsay works for Canadian airline Westjet and gave us discounted passes which require you fly standby). However, upon arriving at the airport and checking in, we were informed that the flight was fully booked. That is why we will be spending the night at the airport and why I am finally finding some time to write again. Hopefully, if all goes to plan, we’ll be on a plane at 6:30 tomorrow morning making our way back to Ottawa where we will be home, at last.

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Home sweet home

Our ship docked at the Sydney harbour on the 7th of October. We could hardly sleep the night before, anxious with nervous excitement. We were up at the crack of dawn and went for one last meal on board the ship. We weren’t feeling all that hungry due to the butterflies so instead we made little sandwiches and stocked up on snacks for our journey that would take us from Sydney, Nova Scotia back home to Ottawa, Ontario. Finally we got the go ahead from the captain to disembark and our feet touched Canadian soil once again. We had a rental car waiting for us in Sydney to take us home.

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Reykjavik’s Golden Circle

Hot and cold pools

We rented a car in Reykjavik in order to make the most of our day. We found a local company called Route1 that had decent rates and met us at the port with our car, and we were off. Our mission was to drive the Golden Circle, Reykjavik’s most popular day trip, which would take us to some of Iceland’s most spectacular sights. After tucking some pastries from the buffet on board into our pockets, we hopped in our Yaris and headed out.

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Akureyri

cabbage patch kids

Our boat stopped in Akureyri, Iceland, for just one day. Plenty of time to walk through town, but nowhere near enough time to get out and see the countryside. Cruising is the fastfood of travel, but sometimes fastfood is all you can afford. It still beats flying over it and missing it altogether. I have wanted to visit Iceland for a long time, ever since I heard Damon Albarn gush about it in an interview back in my BritPop days. It had mystical allure to me as a volatile land of volcanoes, elves and beautiful people. I was so excited to find myself in Iceland with this cruiseship, even if it would just be a little teaser.

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Torshavn

Street in Torshavn

The Faroe Islands are a small collection of islands way out in the middle of nowhere. By nowhere, I mean in the middle of the North Atlantic, but “nowhere” is sure what it feels like while you are sailing across it. As we approached Torshavn, which is the capital town of the islands, we expected to find a rustic little community huddled tenuously in the midst of a barren, harsh landscape. We expected to find wind-beaten old buildings and salt-eroded stone quays. We expected the people to have webbed fingers and few teeth, if any. But we failed to take something significant into account: the Faroe Islands belong to Denmark. And I have to say that based on what we discovered in Torshavn, those Scandinavians could teach us all a thing or two. The last thing we expected from Torshavn was Torshavn itself, a town where grass-roofed cabins and modern architecture live side by side, where streets are clean and engaging, and where wifi comes “free” with your eight-dollar coffee.

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Lerwick, Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are in-the-middle-of-nowhere North Atlantic, placing them directly along the ol’ viking trail. These days the Shetland Islands belong to a different set of barbarians — the Scottish. Even though the islands lie several hundred kilometers north of mainland Scotland, they felt distinctly Scottish. Rugged hills topped with long windswept grasses dropping off into a rocky, often sheer, and intricate coastline, hammered by relentless angry seas. Tiny stone houses dotting the hills, standing stubbornly against the forces of nature. Friendly people wrapped in layers of warm woolen knits. Cozy pubs with scotch and ale. We were immediately reminded of why we loved Scotland so much the first time ’round.

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Bergen, Norway

Bergen waterfront

The first stop our ship made was in Bergen, Norway. It took a day and a half to get there from Southampton, sailing through the North Sea, which can be quite rough at this time of year. Even though our ship is 17 decks tall and looks more like a floating office building than a ship, we could feel the effects of the wind and the waves much more than on our previous two cruises. The Grand Princess doesn’t quite have the aggressive ocean-liner profile of the Queen Mary 2, the ship on which we crossed the Atlantic in the other direction. It still amazes me that a ship as large as this, regardless of profile, can be moved so much by mere water. Still, it’s a far cry from the sickness-inducing bouncing and swaying of our ferry crossing to Zanzibar.

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Sisters sisters

sisters sisters lovely dovely sister

We began our travels last July as we boarded the Queen Mary II in New York and headed across the Atlantic to London. Things kicked off with my sister’s wedding. Fourteen months, 75,477 kilometres, and a beard (followed by a shave, followed by a beard again) and we were back in London again with my sister.

We often wonder what has changed on the homefront while we’ve been away. So much has happened to us; what has happened to the people we left behind? Turns out a lot. My big sis is pregnant and I’m going to be an auntie!!!!!!!!!! She is due at the end of January which means I probably won’t be staying home for long. We’re so excited for Jess and Tim.

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Paris part deux

Back in beautiful Paris

After a very uncomfortable 11-hour train ride from Munich, we alighted in Paris with 8 hours to kill before our Eurostar train left for London. After checking our journals, we realised that we’d actually been in Paris one year earlier, hanging out with our friends Carl and Brigitte and still breaking ourselves in to our travels. It was surreal to be back in a city we recognized, and it began to inspire a feeling of nostalgia as we reflected that so much of our journey was already behind us. We revisted a couple of our favourite spots, including a park near Les Halles, and Notre Dame Cathedral. It was fun to point down streets and say “hey, remember that from last year?” or “remember how you almost broke your shin that time?”

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