For a claustrophobic person like me, the concrete jungle was sometimes unnerving when I was unable to see the horizon or orientate myself amongst all the similar buildings.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. - Mae West
It is impossible to resist its Andalusian charm, the flamenco, tapas, wine and sun. I love it! Maybe I’ll never return home.
I’ve never really told my family about my passion for travel as I don’t think they would understand. My parents still see me as a little girl, not as a grown woman.
But it turned out that she sent me far enough away and often enough that I became aware of what the vast world had to offer me even if my immediate world seemed so small.
Not only does it bring you out of your comfort zone, but it challenges you in a way that will make you stronger, wiser, and more understanding of the world and other people.
If we tried to do everything our way, we wouldn’t be doing much here, so we are embracing it as much as possible.
At this point, I was desperate for money, so I started working in the hostel for free accommodation and took on any other jobs I could get.
Jess holidayed for two weeks without taking a single photo (the above image is from a previous trip!). Here's what she learned.
I had never visited a communist country before Cuba, and the reality check was unavoidable.
Despite the incessant homesickness and the daily challenges, I was happy. I could feel my brain expanding by the minute. Everything was new and interesting and I knew I was going to be forever changed – and that in itself felt strangely exhilarating.
It wasn’t until the trip got closer and people starting telling me stories of others failing to reach the summit (including professional athletes) that I began to get concerned about the physicality of it.
We were kids for a day at Universal Studios, gambled in Vegas, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, went to the San Diego Zoo and ticked off landmarks in New York City and Washington DC.
A faint glow emerged on the horizon, a welcome change from the blackness of the night. Slowly, the landscape lit up. Never had I been happier to see the sunrise. Tears pricked my eyes and a warm glow flooded my body. I was so proud of myself for making it this far. But I still had a long way to go.
The sun rose beautifully but we had only sailed a mere 3-5 km towards land all night! We were a little closer and I thought to myself, “Ahhh it’s going to be a good day”. It’s hard not to think that way when you have such beautiful scenery. I made Franco and I our usual stronger-than-crack type coffee and some breakfast, feeling elated. Then I walked up on deck, all smiles. But Franco had an air of sorrow and melancholy about him. The wind was dying again…
The biomes are impressive displays of scientific prowess and artistic beauty. But what impressed me most about this tourist attraction - often referred to as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ - was the spirit in which it was created.
This cyclone of self-guilt leads me down all of the other times I’ve made similar decisions; charging into environments without maybe fully appreciating the circumstances until completely immersed without any way to back out. The first thing that jumps out at me is something that has shadowed my life over the past 7 years.
As you watch the donkeys carry on their way, all you really want to do is follow them to where they are going.
Penguins?” she looks at us incredulously. “You went to see the penguins?” (kind of a mix between ‘why would you do that?’ and ‘is that a thing?’)
Wiping my eyes, I made a promise to myself that I would use all the information and education I have been lucky enough to receive to educate, advocate and spread the message of conservation, animal protection and education to as many people as I could.
With my suitcase rumbling against the cobblestones behind me, we darted through the darkness of hidden alleyways, crossed time-worn bridges and passed glittering canals. Little did I know that Venice already had me under its spell.
I’m not sure if it was the alcohol or the fact that we were all a little emotional about returning back home the next day, but when Vincento explained to us that to him, Palermo, his home town, is 'magic', something clicked in me.
As we arrived at the resort from our homes across Canada, there was something so magical hearing your name screamed out in excitement across the lobby, arms open in true embrace, laughter and yes, some tears, as we finally were brought together from the cold north to the tropical heat. How cool is that? Being so far away from home yet feeling so at home? Bliss.
Mel and I lay on the beach and talked about life, swam and surfed constantly, met new friends and generally made the most of living in such a magical spot for a short moment in time.
The course weaved around the city, and gave me outstanding views of the Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Grand Palace, Chateau de Vincennes, and of course I could see the Eiffel Tower in the background at many different points. It was a bit surreal, seeing all of these iconic landmarks that I had only ever seen in books and movies. Sort of like running through a fairy tale…