I woke up at 4 AM today and was brushing my teeth around 4:30 when my hotel phone started to ring. It was my mom! She was calling to make sure I was awake. It was really nice of her to call, even though it was an ungodly hour. I think she really misses me.
I checked out of the hotel and went down the Russell Station. The station wasn't open yet so I had to wait for about 10 minutes for it to open up. It was then I realized that this was the same station where the 2005 London subway bombings took place.
There were a bunch of us waiting for the station to open and there was a group of people from America there, that wouldn't stop talking about how they "couldn't wait to get back to good ol' America". I wonder what it's like to travel across Europe with a group of friends...
I caught the Piccadilly Express and did my transfer at Green Park. I then rode the train to Victoria Station, and after a bit of searching, I found and got onto the Gatwick Express. While looking for it, I thought maybe the 2 hour-long train ride I took around London almost 3 weeks ago was the Express, but no. The Express was a beautiful train with soft cushioned chairs, which sold snacks and beverages.
I got to the Gatwick airport safely and checked into Thomas Cook Airlines. Then I went through security. The guy in front of me "won a free bag search", said the security guy. I'm glad he won it because I'm the one that normally does!
After security I found my Gate and waited for 2-and-a-half hours. Right before they opened my Gate, a Gatwick survey lady asked me to complete a survey for her, so I was was the last to get onto the plane. The whole journey from Imperial Hotel and onto the plane to Calgary was easy and thankfully, uneventful.
Right now we are flying over the Davis Strait between Greenland and Baffin Island. The screen on the back of the chair in front of me says we should get to Calgary in 4-and-a-half hours.
This time around, I'm sitting beside a British couple. The girl offered me some candy before we took off, as silly as that sounds. They're nice people but I'm so tired that I really don't want to talk. I bet they think of me the same as I thought of the Romanian when I first came to London.
I'm going to go back to my book some more. I'll write later. There really isn't anything to report except that I finally mastered the London Underground.
Now I'm in the Calgary airport. I forgot it was Saturday and that it was the beginning of Spring Break, and the airport is crazy!
The plane ride here was nice, though. I sat with two English people -- a woman from London and a man from Wales. The man had a very thick accent, but the woman didn't. They said they were going to Calgary to go skiing and next month they are leaving to Mexico -- both to go for a wedding, and to stay away from the Royal Wedding. The man said, I believe, that to accommodate the city for the vast amount of tourists that week, they city of London plans to start canal trips down the Thames, as well as opening the ancient canals throughout the city that have been closed for over 100 years.
Security went well in Calgary and I got a warm "Welcome home." from Immigration. However, one thing that security did confused me. They asked me if I had any sharp or fragile thing in my luggage and I said, "Just a mini-Eiffel Tower and two coffee-mugs." but all security wanted to see were the coffee-mugs. If anything, the mini-Eiffel Tower was the dangerous thing! The only damage a coffee-mug can do is break in my luggage. And even then, only my ego will be hurt.
I'll write when I get home for my final entry. Goodbye until then.
I got home safely. My mom, dad and my girlfriend all met me at the airport. They had all these questions to ask me and we talked until almost 1 in the morning about it.
How can I ever describe what I saw and experienced in Europe? How can I describe my life for the past 18 days? I'll tell them to read this, I guess.
Thank you all for reading this. I hope my story was worth the read. I hope I inspired and educated, or at least entertained you.
Take care, until next time.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
150 years ago, Canada became a country, albeit a much smaller one. Since then, Canada has grown much in size, reputation and as a favorite for travellers from around the world. Lonely Planet recognized these accomplishments last year and ranked Canada as the #1 travel destination in 2017. With the addition of free National Parks all year long, 2017 is the perfect time to visit the Great White North!
I am always interested in Canadian adventures, so I thought I'd check out G Adventure's website to see what tours they have planned this year. Since G Adventures is a Canadian based travel company, I figured they would have something going on this year to celebrate our sesquicentennial. Instead, all I saw were the same eight tours as last year, and the year before. Thinking maybe there was some big announcement coming for 2017, I emailed G Adventures asking about it, hoping, praying, that maybe there was something, something, anything at all… but I received no response.
Now, don't get me wrong. G Adventures has eight great Canadian tours, and they all look really awesome, but they only show off a small sliver of what Canada has to offer. In fact, four of the tours are almost exactly the same:
Last year I put together 50 Images That Showcase Regina, and it was very successful. However, I did that article early into the year and missed out on some pictures I would take later, so I decided to do it again this year. These pictures were all taken either in late 2015 or in 2016.
If you guys enjoy this article as much as you liked the last one, I might start making this an annual thing.
Some of you may recognize a few of these pictures from earlier in the year, but there should be a few here that none of you have ever seen before.