Home for a wedding!

Brothers and sister together again!

Wow, how life changes when you get back home! There were days on the road where I thought it was hard to keep a website up-to-date, but it seems to be exponentially harder now that we’re back in Canada. It’s funny how life conspires against your aims sometimes, even when you’re enjoying it.

It’s about time that I wrote about the big event that brought us home in the first place. About a week and a half ago, my little sister Melanie got married. I know she’s not so little anymore, but of course she’ll always seem that way to her big brother. Before we left on our wanderings, I remember Melanie calling me up and asking “sooooo, when will you be back? I kind of got engaged!” I wasn’t going to miss her wedding for the world, even if that was literally the case! And what a great event to come home to, with all of my family together in one place for one happy reason.

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Are we lost?

Life has been a whirlwind since coming back home. Our travels already feel so long ago. Since coming home, it has been Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in Ottawa followed by a sister’s wedding in Canmore. We have good intentions to write about all of it. Our wanderings have not ended yet! We still have loads to still write about, including our time in Canada plus reviews and reflections on our world travels.

We’ve been asked a lot about what our plans are now that we’re home. The plan is to stay in the rocky mountains for a few more weeks. We’re housesitting and dogsitting while Mark’s sis is on her honeymoon. Not a bad place to be. The Canadian Rockies are absolutely stunning. With more certainty than ever, I can now say that Canmore is one of the most beautiful towns in the World. Mid-November we’ll be heading back to Ottawa for a dose of reality. We’ll be living at my parent’s house and working — trying to get ourselves back onto financially stable ground. Ottawa certainly ain’t so bad either. After traveling far and wide, there is no place like home. This is our turf, it’s where our lives are and, most importantly, where our friends are. We hope to have things sorted out by the summertime. We’ll have either (1) found our dreamjobs and relocate to wherever in the world they may be, (2) have decided that Ottawa is where we want to call home, or (3) we’ll set off traveling again. So you see, we’re still wandering.

The blog will continue so we hope you’ll keep checking in.

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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