I lost my pen! I knew I should have brought 2 with me. Oh well, now I have a new one anyway; and it says "The British Museum" on it! That’s right, I safely arrived in London and found my way to my hotel (and the museum, which is just down the street), but not without some trouble, of course.
Here's a travelers tip for you: always listen to you mom. Mom told me that once I got my luggage – after having to fill out a form twice because I was overtired and wasn't totally sure what it meant by "Where did you come from?" Sure, it sounds simple now, but if you're jet-legged and exhausted it wasn't very simple at all! – I had to make my way to the London Underground. I was to take a train from Gatwick Airport straight to the Victoria line, and then to Piccadilly Circus and I should be a half block from my hotel. Instead of listening to my mom, however, I asked the Information Booth worker for directions. He told me to take the Belfast train to another train station and it'll get me there in "no time". Well, as you can tell, I forgot what the name of the first stop was and I ended up having a lovely 2-hour tour around London!
Or, it should have been lovely. I believe I went straight through the slums of the city for the majority of the train ride for I have never seen houses in such ruin! The houses all appeared to be collapsing, with slanted foundations and mold covering the rooftops. Many buildings had broken walls, looking as if they had been in disrepair since the Blitz. Tarps covered some of the broken walls like curtains and broken furniture lay sporadically in the yards. Then, the train took a turn and I saw something completely bizarre. I saw a huge clearing with trees on the far side and dozens if not scores of lean-to shelters. Some were made of wood, while others look liked scrap metal. I couldn't believe my eyes! Was this really London – the once grandest city in the world?
Finally, I got out of the subway at a stop I recognized – the Victoria Line. From there I took a quick train to Piccadilly Circus and was just a few blocks away from Russell Square. Of course, throughout this whole train-hopping adventure I didn't have my camera out to record it. I think I have 3 pictures now. And of course, right now while I write this, both my cameras are in my backpack in the basement of the Imperial Hotel while I tour the city until they can let me have access to my room.
I began writing this in the beautiful Russell Square, once torn down and used to transport tanks during World War II, but now I have moved back to the hotel. The weather turned on me and the wind picked up. There is also the smell of rain in the air, which is odd for me; it’s March and I still expect snow. Oh well, I supposed it's time to see if I can get into my room yet. I’ll write later.
PS: I can see how realistic the Orwell’s "1984" is now. The train station had such a cold, mechanical, business drone to it that I swiftly loss my urge to explore. To add to that, there were intercoms in every direction warning people to watch out for "suspicious behavior". There were so many warnings that I was afraid to even think about doing something out of line!
PPS: From my previous entry, the "Romanian" I sat beside was actually from London. I guess I'm not very good at identifying accents yet!
PPPS: This last passage was very miserable. I should lay off Bram Stroker while I’m here. Or maybe get some sleep. To me, it’s 4 in the morning.
I attempted to sleep, but just like over Greenland, sleep eluded me. Also, my mind was telling me to call my parents and tell them I got here safely. I tried a few times but I got no answer. I hope everything is okay with my calling card. I'll try calling my girlfriend in a few hours (if my math is right, she probably just left for school). If she doesn't answer then I know there's something wrong with this calling card.
I also went for a shower. I didn’t realize how badly I needed one! I feel bad for the people who stood beside me on the train. Afterwards, I tried to straighten my hair but after a few short minutes, smoke started emitting from my power converter. Maybe I'll go with curly hair for the remainder of my trip. I don't want to blow my converter and have my camera die again!
Speaking of my camera, it's fully charged now and ready to go for tomorrow. I went for a pre-shoot after my attempts to call home and had a wonderful time! I may have strayed a little into those strange areas I saw earlier, but I tried not to go too far into them.
Besides that, I also found beautiful parks, quaint side-streets and a very awe-inspiring church. I took a few pictures and wrote in a book in the church for blessings. There were people praying inside so I attempted my best to be quiet.
I also bought a few postcards and a T-shirt. London isn't as expensive as I heard it would be!
I should go get something to eat soon. I haven’t had a real meal since A&W at the Calgary airport. I believe there's a pub attached to this hotel – let's start there.
Dinner was alright. I went to the Day and Night pub and had a very nice waitress. Unfortunately, I know nothing about alcohol and when asked what I wanted to drink, I pointed to the only brand I recognized. Guinness. I sat down and took a sip of my "first ever beer" and Oh My God I never want to have beer again!! What a disgusting beverage!
But on the bright side, I got a hold of my parents afterwards. They "didn't hear the phone" when I called before. I'm just glad my calling card works!
Now I’m planning my trip around London tomorrow. Tomorrow should be fun – London, here I come!
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.
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The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.
Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.
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Those who attended my Chernobyl lecture at the Queen City Collective earlier in May would have heard me singing praises about HBO's new miniseries Chernobyl, and for good reason. HBO did a fantastic job on the miniseries by immersing the audience into mid-1980s Soviet Ukraine and by peeling back the layers of the disaster.
With that said, there were some liberties HBO took while making the show. As somebody who spent two days in the Exclusion Zone in 2016, I know a thing or two about how the events unfolded, and a few parts of the miniseries weren't accurate.
Chernobyl began by tackling a nearly impossible task. The miniseries had to break down one of the largest cover-ups in human history. They had to show the devastation of the world's deadliest nuclear disaster and also highlight the many countless heroes who stepped up to make a difference. It's natural to expect HBO to simplify this – and they only had five episodes to do it. I don't blame them for some of these mistakes, but I felt they should be pointed out.
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.