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.
A few months ago I entered a contest for a trip for two to visit Philadelphia on Two Bad Tourists. Normally contests like this are limited to United States residents so when I saw this one was open to Canadians I jumped at the chance. I've never won something like this before, so I actually forgot about it until I got the emailing saying I had won. Two Bad Tourists then worked alongside Visit Philly to organise the trip for me and my mother to explore Philadelphia for three days. Visit Philly paid for our flights, hotels and gave us a VIP Pass to experience the city to our heart's content. It is thanks to them that this trip is possible.
Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States.
One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
December has finally arrived, and with it is the season of gift giving. Personally, I always find Christmas shopping – or shopping for any reason – very difficult and very frustrating. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but there just seems to be so many stores and so many sales that I always get pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to shopping for children. In an attempt to ease the pain of holiday shopping, I have reached out to three local businesses around Regina to tell me a little about who they are and what they have going on this holiday season. Have you ever visited these locations? Let me know about it in the comments below!
Located in the south end of Regina, Kids Trading Company has been a part of the Regina community for the past 15 years. Here you can find a mixture of new and gently used children's clothing, shoes, toys and accessories.
Enjoy shopping in a local store where the friendly staff knows the products and can help you find what you need, like warm winter boots from Kamik or waterproof mittens and fleecy hats. Brands like Desigual, Hatley, Yogini, Billabong and Mexx will give you lots of options for great quality clothes in the latest styles. Need a baby gift? Shop their baby section for the cutest sleepers and practical accessories like Amber teething necklaces and muslin blankets.