Brick heart

I’m fine, thanks.

Two years ago today I watched a documentary, a collection of stories about life, the choices we all make, and the paths we ultimately decide to follow. “I’m Fine, Thanks” is about the moment people realize the life they’re living is not the life that’s true to their heart… and, as a result, what they decide to do about it! I had that moment in January 2013 on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, just after catching my first surf and seeing my first sea turtle – he was also riding a wave, naturally. I decided to travel around the world for a year to discover new places, see all the wonders of the world and meet its amazing people from all walks of life, like my incredible surf instructor “Sunset Suzy”. Suzy is an incredibly strong and charismatic woman who was the first and only woman in history to be a lifeguard on the powerful, collossal wave-ridden North Shore in Hawaii. Never mind the fact that she has taught a handful of celebs how to surf including Owen Wilson, James Franco, Helen Hunt, Eddie Vetter and Val Kilmer. Yes, she taught batman how to surf. Oh and she’s buddies with Jack. Jack Johnson.

If you want to learn how to surf from Hawaii’s best surf instructor, book a week with Sunset Suzy Stewart:

http://www.sunsetsuzy.com/

And if you’re really itching to change things up, watch this…

 

 

Driving into the sunset

If you’re looking for sunshine, stand here.

I lucked out in London four weeks ago. It was pure, blissful sunshine for five days straight. Then I went to Dublin. Surely it was going to rain in Ireland, so I bought a rain coat. A week in Dublin, a couple days in Kilkenny, then Killarney, then Dingle, Doolin, Galway… it didn’t matter where I looked, I couldn’t find rain. So I went to Scotland. I flew from Dublin to Glasgow and spent three dry days there, then I went to Edinburgh, and still, I couldn’t catch a drop. I got pretty close – the ground was wet in Edinburgh when I arrived, but I’d just missed it. Three days later, I took a bus to London and the sun found me there too. I’m just about to embark on day two in London and it appears it may have rained this morning, but now that I’m going out and about, the sun is beaming!

If you’re looking for sunshine, stand next to me. My shadow’s always dry.

 

 

DSCF4365

Oops, wrong side. Driving in Ireland…

The Irish call it the right side; I call it the wrong side. Truly, it’s the left side. It took me two hours to drive from the west coast of Ireland to the east, Galway to Dublin. I did a quick test drive through a small neighbourhood, swiping just one tree against the left side of the car. Ready, confident, and not a wee bit weary I headed for the real roads. Contrary to my Canadian heritage, I stuck to the speed limit. (In Canada they’re more like minimums. You won’t even get a ticket unless you’re +10 over). But this is Ireland, and my driver’s license card is somewhere in Thailand. So I stuck to the limit, 120km/h.

The only mishap was when I was approaching a toll station on the highway. I naturally reached my hand out to downshift and almost shifted the door handle. Wrong side, we shift with the left hand in Ireland.

 

 

A freight train whizzes by as commuters wait on a bench.

Plane, train, or automobile? Or something else?

You’ve got options. Should you fly, take the train, or catch the bus? Or should you consider some other means of transportation? If you’re wondering which option you should choose to travel from A to B and C to D, just pick the happy path.

As I sat in the ferry terminal in Holyhead, Wales, I looked around and laughed thinking “this place is like a homeless shelter…” To my left was someone’s plastic-wrapped, duct-taped luggage and tattered gym bag. To my right was a person laying on the floor in a sleeping bag. The 7 other travellers in sight looked pale and depressed, but I sat happily against a wall with my legs stretched out, laptop on top, with my colourful new suitcase to my side. So, why the dichotomy? Why were they all so miserable-looking while I was laughing and loving life? Besides the obvious difference that I’m probably the only person travelling around the world at the moment, I actually wanted to take the evening bus and 2am ferry. I enjoy the late night quiet time to read, write, and manage my latest photos. It’s peaceful. I embrace having 7.5 hours on a bus, 2 hours at the ferry dock, and 3.5 hours crossing the ocean. That’s a total of 13 distraction-free hours to be really productive, and a 6am arrival time. Sounds horrible, right? I actually like it. I even prefer it. And I like the savings too.

Making your own “happy path” is actually quite simple. Figure out what your comforts and boundaries are, then spend less on the things that don’t matter to you (like getting from A to B at a normal hour) and more on the things that make you happy – maybe a Michelin meal, a boutique hotel, or in my case, a new Patagonia rain coat to kick off a week in Ireland.

Happy travels!

 

 

An officer put his hat on me and jumped in my photo along the Thames outside the Tate Modern.

5 days in London, an absurd itinerary.

Am I f’ing lucky, or is this a normal itinerary in London?…

Day 1 – Stay with awesome, fun, generous friends in their beautiful home, complete with the most adorable golden retriever puppy that’s ever walked the earth. Go out on the town with extended colleagues and step inside Japan at Koya, home of incredible udon.

Day 2 – Get your run on and discover Wandsworth Common, a beautiful local park full of puppies, ponds and swans. Then hire a Barclays citybike and ride down to the Natural History Museum. Learn about fascinating things like earthquakes, volcanoes and a billion different species, for free. Stumble upon Afterhours, a jazzy cocktail event at the museum, make friends with a cool group of big kids like yourself and share a drink before watching the animatronic dinosaurs come to life. Then head out for food with your new friends and wait so long for a table that you get complimentary pizza-bread and a bottle of wine for the trouble.

Day 3 – Get photo-bombed by a police officer beside the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. Discover an amazing singer/songwriter busking along the Thames. Buy his CD and learn that he’s Mark Wilkinson, the Australian sensation who just concluded his European tour with a sold-out performance night before. Follow that up by meeting last night’s new museum friend at the Tate Modern art gallery, and score free tickets from random passers-by to the very cool Matisse exhibit. Finish the night with a jagerbomb and dancing on the bar at Covent Garden Cocktail Club with more new friends, a byproduct of your previous night out in London during the world cup finals. Take a double-decker bus home but get kicked off when the driver decides his shift is over, and hire a convenient Barclays bike to cycle the rest of the way, docking in the last available spot in the closest station to home.

Day 4 – Have some tasty street food, witness an odd public wedding in a blow-up church along Southbank, get serenaded on the lawn by an odd busker and receive an exit applause from the large audience for the song material. For dinner, relive your time in Thailand with none other that your Thailand chef mate, a fellow foodie and co-student from Cooking Love Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai. Talk the night away with stories of gay stags in Soho and Sex And The City.

Day 5 – Put your personal chef to the test with ricotta pancakes and maple bacon for breakfast (Big win!) Catch up with another lovely Chiang Mai mate for a 2-pint liquid dinner and write a list of very important questions one should ask on a date, like “how do you feel about pineapple?” Attempt to test said new questions and wander the empty downtown streets until 1am. Catch the closest night bus and walk the last 30 mins, meeting a family of foxes on the way.

Departure day – Enjoy the sunny morning with a 5 mile run through the park, a nice prep for the afternoon’s 13-hour overnight bus/ferry to Dublin.

London, you’re absolutely lovely. Thank you Lui, Trent, Cooper, Jeff, Ruaridh, Elliott, Pranav, Mark, Busker Koldewey and everyone else who’s been a part of this unusually awesome itinerary.

This adventure’s pictures are on Flickr:
Amyleajacobs in London

 

 

Travel

Je suis vivant!

I’m alive!

How did two months fly by since my last post? I guess I’ve been busy. I’m living, loving, learning and occasionally day dreaming. Less macbook, more world, more social, more sunshine. The last two months went a little like this…

  • 2 refreshing weeks working in Turkey
  • 3 evening walks to Pop Eye’s Turtle-side Balik Ekmek (fish sandwiches) Boat
  • 4 nights on a gullet cruise through turquoise waters in the Mediterranean Sea
  • 1 anxious week awaiting Serena’s recovery following a rocky fall, involving brain surgery, and a praying family making their way from 16,835 kilometers away.
  • 3-4ish nights in London. (A late last night at Zoo Bar watching the World Cup finals in a bar of Argentinians, followed by a 4am taxi to Gatwick Airport)
  • 2 long, peaceful runs in Regent’s Park
  • 9 intensive days of French immersion in Antibes, France. Oui oui!
  • 2 1/2 sunny days lazing on rocky beaches in the French Riviera, dipping in the bluest water in the world, la Cote d’Azur.
  • 3 evenings of brilliant music-synched, choreographed fireworks in Antibes and Cannes
  • 7 days in Nice with my high school bestie Lillian, staying with an ex ad-woman now bookstore owner in a beautiful baroque flat.
  • 1 hilarious night of bad luck.
  • 11 chocolatey days in Brussels, Brugge, Ghent, Klaaswaal, Leiden and Amsterdam with my Uni flat mate Marilee, 10 years after we met.
  • A solid 2 months tasting local cuisines, 1 mini mousse cake, 2 packs of Tutku cookies, 3 crepes, 4 Liege waffles, 5 gelatos, 6 Belgian beers (in one day), 7 stroopwaffles, 8 dozen chocolates, and 9 macarons…
  • 1452 photos, which I’m eager to share!.. As soon as I’ve straightened, touched-up, titled and captioned each one… (thank you OCD)

 

 

Hot air balloons in Capadocia, Turkey

Floating, again.

Paragliding over the Blue Lagoon was incredible, but I need a better word to describe the feeling you get when you’re floating in a hot air balloon at 5am, watching the sunrise glow across fairy chimneys in Capadocia.

As my basketful of co-passengers silently stared in awe at our surroundings, the perfect soundtrack queued. I was honoured to hear a famous Canadian artist’s voice emerge from the balloon’s cockpit. Not Bieber, nor Shania. It was Celine. My Heart Will Go On. The pilot introduced himself as Leonardo DiCaprio and asked “where is my Rose?”

After an hour of floating, rising and falling, we landed precisely on a trailer that’s as wide as the basket and just a foot longer.  Then we partied! There was music, champagne, cake, and a group photo.

If you can’t decide which of the 28 hot air balloon agencies to use when you’re in Capadocia, Turkey, I highly recommend Atmosfer! They provide a perfectly orchestrated customer experience from pickup to party, and you’ll be back in bed at 7am, dreaming of fairy chimneys.

This adventure’s pics are on Flickr:
Amyleajacobs’ Capadocia Photos on Flickr

 

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/amyleajacobs/14292662017

I threw my camera…

I was on a horse, holding my camera up in one hand, waiting for the perfect frame to capture the magnificent Ghost Town near Oludeniz in southern Turkey. Then a big green bug started gnawing on my ankle. I screamed and tried to “brush” it off, but instead I accidentally threw my camera over my head as if I was luring the bug away with bait. My horse kept walking like nothing happened and the bug didn’t take the bait, it just kept biting me. With my newly free hand I brushed the bug off – for real this time – then I looked back for my camera. It landed 15 feet away in the middle of the road, in direct line of an approaching car…

I’d like to endorse the durability of the Panasonic ZS30. With it’s 20x zoom fully extended, this camera remarkably survived a tumble across pavement, and dodged a car.

This adventure’s pictures are on Flickr:
Amyleajacobs’ Fethiye Photos on Flickr

 

 

Iconic Dubai – fancy cars, construction, futuristic architecture and highrises.

Aiyaiyai Dubai!

Look up! Look back! Look again! it’s…

  • The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Picture the CN Tower, now picture its observatory deck reaching only half-way up the Burj Khalifa.
  • The largest water fountain show, the fountains at the Mall of Dubai. Imagine Bellagio, but bigger, and better.
  • Sharks, stingrays, and all that cool aquatic life in a HUGE indoor aquarium, across from an enormous candy store, in a giant mall.
  • A ski hill, in the mall. At the Mall of Emirates.
  • A man-made palm-shaped island with tunnels, trains, bridges and huge luxury hotels.
  • A dozen Maseratis, a couple Rolls-Royces, hundreds of Porches, a bunch of Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and thousands of Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs.  Every day.
  • Tim Hortons! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Tim Hortons is in Dubai!

I quickly noticed a trend in Dubai… there wasn’t just Canada’s favourite coffee shop in the mall, there were the world’s favourite restaurants and stores from all around the world. There’s no need to go anywhere else in the world if you want the best food and clothing, cause they all party together in Dubai! On my last day I indulged in a New York Shake Shack Burger, and shopped at my favourite European retailers, Zara and BCBG.

So that’s Dubai! Like a modern art museum, it’s a skillfully curated and carefully laid-out collection of modern architecture, fast cars, and fresh & famous food.

I also had the privilege of staying with Sachin, an incredibly nice local who showed me around town and treated me like family.  Thank you!

This adventure’s pics are on Flickr:
Amyleajacobs’ Dubai photos on Flickr.

 

 

World Traveller. UX Designer.