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5 Reasons You Should Go To Banff

If you haven’t already been to Banff, AB, it is definitely a place to go. From the breathtaking views, to the the cute little town, to the amazing people, it is not a place you want to miss. There are tons of things to do during the day, and a very, very abundant nightlife. I just recently moved back to Toronto, from living in Banff for nine months, and I can say without a doubt, that Banff is hands-down amazing and astonishing in so many ways.

The views

Going to Banff, you will not fall short of their views. It is surrounded by a wide array of mystical mountains and many different species of trees. There are mountains in every direction you look, that have so many vibrant colours, it is hard to look away. From the snow on the peak of the mountains, to the many earthy colours that intertwine and contrast, to the different turquoise lakes that surround some of these mountains. Banff is just full of vital colours-from when the sun and clear blue skies hit the mountains that show the wondrous life that these mountains take on for themselves, to the clouds that seem to sit and form right below the peak of the mountains to set a mysterious tone. Believe me, you will never feel gloomy on a gloomy day in Banff.

The summer especially is full of so many different exciting colours. The wild flowers begin to bloom at the start of the summer, leaving an array of warm colours and the trees come back to life with their lush greens. The glaciers melt and fall into the lakes, giving them many different blues, as well as greens. You will never see a lake that looks the same. Each one has a unique feel and different view.

Winter, on the other hand, is full of magic. It feels like you’re in a winter wonderland, with all the lights in the town of Banff, and the pure white snow that glistens in the sun. If you were never a winter person before, Banff will definitely change your views. The snow is fluffy, and just so white. The mountains are covered in snow, with the showcase of greys that the snow doesn’t cover and the hint of dark green that you see from the trees. It is magnificent and something you cannot miss.

The Activities

Banff is well-known for its hot-springs that are open all year round. Why not enjoy a beautiful view, sitting outside in the warmth of pool? Sounds pretty amazing to me. The Cave and Basin is also a really cool historic site to go to if you want to learn more about the history of Banff National Park, and to see a smaller hot-spring. Depending on which season you go, there are different things to do and see.

If you are going in winter, there are different mountains you can go to to go skiing or snowboarding. Again, every mountain is unique in itself and so the runs are all different, with some mountains having longer and harder runs than others. If you ever want a mountain that has a longer run and a very scenic view, Lake Louise is perfect for that. Mount Norquay also does night-tubing, which is definitely something to check out. Many people like to go snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing, and Banff is really good for that. There are a few places to skate, and if you are looking to do some indoor rock-climbing, Canmore (the town next to Banff) has a really good centre for that. If you are looking to just walk around, the town of Banff has some wicked ice sculptures in January. Just remember to dress warm, as it does get pretty cold around that time.

If you were contemplating on traveling to the Banff in the spring or summer, I would suggest going in the summer, in my opinion. The reason being that hiking can still be dangerous, as all the snow starts to melt and it becomes very slippery. You can still go skiing or snowboarding until mid-May however. Sunshine Ski Resort keeps its resort open and all guests are welcome to go skiing or snowboarding, at their leisure. The cool part about going in the spring though, is that you can go skiing or snowboarding in just a t-shirt as the temperatures start to rise. Just remember to still wear your helmet-that’s pretty important.

Now, summer, my all time favourite is great for so many things. Hiking being number one. There are so many different places to hike, that range in length and difficulty. If you are looking for something relatively easy, that doesn’t take too long, Tunnel Mountain is a good place to start, and has a breath-taking view at the top. For those looking for a challenging hike that takes about 8 hours to get to the top, then Cascade Mountain is the mountain for you. If you don’t feel like doing any hiking at all, Banff gondola will take you to the top of the mountain, and you can still see beautiful views. But…there’s more.

Banff has a wide range of excursions that you can do, which range from going to see beautiful landscapes to extreme sports, depending on your likes. You can also go kayaking on some of lakes in the surrounding areas. A really cool place to go kayaking is the Vermillian lakes. You can rent a kayak there as well, and it is an easy route to take to see the magnificent views of the mountains. If you are looking for a relaxing day, there are a couple of places you can go swimming and just lounge around. Two-Jack lake is a stunner, to say the least, and you can go swimming in it as well.

The town of Banff has a very nice homely feel to it as well. It has many different clothing shops, tourist shops, and crystal shops. There are many different places to eat, which cater to everyone’s likes…and yes, you are surrounded by mountains. My favourite is summer just because of the views and how everything comes to life. There are so many vibrant colours and so many places to see. The options are limitless, really.

Nightlife

Banff is a very touristy town, meaning that a lot of people visiting are looking for a good time. Banff has a very rich night-life. From wine-Wednesdays, to Sunday-Funday, it is an all around good time. They have cheap drinks and good music. They have multiple bars, that are all in close proximity to each other. Their one night club, Dancing Sasquatch, is located near the end of the main strip on Banff Ave. Banff is unique in that the party night for locals is on Sunday night. If you want to see the town come to life at night, Sunday is the night to go out. Afterall, it isn’t called Sunday Funday for no reason. You can grab a couple cheap drinks at Tommy’s before, and then head over to their nightclub Dancing Sasquatch which is right beside it, or you can even go to High Rollers and play some bowling while having drinks. Dancing Sasquatch is known for their $8 dollar time-machine drinks, which…well, you’ll just have to find out what they are when you go there. Like I said, their nightlife is one for the books.

The People

Banff is predominantly Australian, so don’t be shocked when you go there and hear countless Aussie accents. Don’t worry, they are the friendliest people you will ever meet. It is a huge tourist attraction, so people from all over the world come to see Banff. Many people get working visas in Banff, which is why you’ll hear so many different accents. It is a great way to meet people and to form connections. Everyone is super nice and welcoming, and honestly just looking to have a good time. So, make friends, and just have fun.

Wildlife

Last, but not least, Banff has an abundance of wildlife. Just be mindful of that when you go and always keep your ears and eyes open. When hiking, don’t travel alone, and if you do, make sure you take bear spray. And do not, i repeat, DO NOT, spray yourself with bear spray as it is poisonous. It is meant to be sprayed at the animal if it is coming near you and you feel threatened by it.

You will most likely see deer. They tend to roam around the streets, stopping cars in their path. Goats are also pretty known to see in the back roads of Banff. However, they like to hang out in the middle of the road, and they don’t move for no one. Yes, it is possible that you will see a bear, and maybe even some cubs. They are cute, but from a distance. Keep that distance. There are moose as well, and they are massive, and so majestic. Their squirrels look like chipmunks, but on steriods, and they are super sweet. As Banff is trying to preserve their wildlife, they ask that you do not feed the animals. You can be fined a lot of money if they catch you feeding the animals, and that is no joke. So, just be respectful and admire them from a distance.

The end

If you have not been to Banff, I urge you to go and I really hope that this helped convince you. It is honestly a majestic place and something to see. If you liked this post, please leave a comment or subscribe to my email list below so you can read the other content I put up. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!

 

 

10 Self-Care Tips During This Pandemic

Let’s be real. This pandemic sucks, and life has changed as we know it. We are constantly being told what we can’t do, and we are limited to the things we can do. Perhaps life will go back to normal at some point, or maybe it will be changed forever. Everything is uncertain, and we don’t quite know what to expect for the future. The one thing for certain is that we can control the way we feel, even though we are bounded to stricter rules and ways of living. Down below are ten tips in which you can feel better and live better during these trying times.

Feeling Good Starts With You


  1. Start your day off by setting your intent. This allows you to wake up and start your day with meaning. Productivity levels are increased this way.
  2. Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. This allows for your metabolism to reset and helps clear the waste. Lemons have antioxidants in them which helps boost the immune system and fight off sickness. They also aid in digestion and weight loss.
  3. Listen to I am affirmations. This is a good alternative to meditations that require you to sit still, especially if you find it difficult or it just isn’t your thing. You can go about your day while having I am affirmations in the background, as they help in reinforcing positive self-talk.
  4. Limit being on your phone. Notifications stimulate reactions in our body and brain, and they are often distracting. Try not looking at your phone first thing in the morning so you can start your day off with a clear head. Even more so, try to limit your social media use as it can highly influence the way we feel. The goal is to feel good for majority (if not the whole) day.
  5. Take Vitamin D. We lack sunlight in winter, which our bodies need to help with normal immune function. Especially in times like these, our immune systems should be in tip-top condition to be able to fight off diseases and viruses.

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

6. Get fresh air. We are not meant to be cooped up inside. Going outside can be grounding in itself, and can provide clarity and energy.

7. Get moving. Movement is the key to success (at least this is what I believe). It keeps you motivated and gets your blood circulating. Whether it be walking, running, weight training, etc. Exercise releases endorphins which keeps us feeling good.

8. Maintain balance. Too much of anything is never good.

9. Do something a day that makes you happy. Whether you are working or not, we tend to get trapped in routine and forget what we truly need. Doing something a day that makes you happy gives you time to put you first.

10. Pick up a new hobby. If you are still working full-time this may pose as a difficulty, but to those who are not working right now due to the pandemic (or other reasons), now is the perfect time to do so. There are lots of courses on the internet that are free right now. The dollar store also has lots of really cheap/cool supplies to do art or write. Whatever it may be, this is a great time to gain a new skill.


I hope that this was useful. Stay well beautiful people. If there is anything else that you would like to add to this, let me know in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Relationships and Healing Part III

Top 7 Websites To Ask For Relationship Advice

Good afternoon lovely people. I hope that life is treating you well. I have made three parts to this post. The reason being is that this year has taught me a lot. There have been lots of trials and tribulations I’m sure for everyone. Normal life is no longer existent and we have had to navigate through these changes; much of which have not been easy. My first post was on a past relationship that ended badly at the beginning of the year and what I needed to learn from it in order to better the relationship with myself and others. The second part (post) was how new relationships pose difficulties and new ways of learning about what works for you and your partner. Especially during these times being in a pandemic, mental health has decreased substantially for many. My second post was about how to cope with your mental health while being in a relationship. I believe that the inner work for yourself never changes, and things are put into place for you to learn and grow from them.

This post is going to be on friendships and how to be supportive to your friends who are dealing with mental health. As I mentioned before, mental health is at an all-time high being in these uncertain times. A lot of people are struggling. It is important to understand that everyone deals with things differently, and a lot of people aren’t open to talking about their mental health. I am sincerely grateful to my friends who have continued to support me and be there for me, especially when they themselves are struggling. There are people that are open to talking about their mental health, and then there are people who tend to shut off and try to deal with things on their own. It is important to let those people know that you are there for them regardless. These are some ways in which you can be supportive towards your friends who are struggling with something.

  • Just listen. Sometimes people aren’t looking for a response, they just want to be heard.
  • Remind people that you love them and that they are cared for. You never know what somebody is going through internally, and sometimes people need to hear that. It’s also just nice to know that people are there for you and that they genuinely care about you.
  • Check in on them. Although this is similar to the last post, a simple check in is a reminder that you’re still there. Mental health has a great way of making people feel alone sometimes, and perhaps even unwanted or unloved. So checking in on people can go a lot further than you think.
  • Never point fingers. People can often feel attacked when they feel like they’re being blamed for their behaviour, or the way that they feel. A good way to avoid blame is with “I” statements, like “I feel this way because…”
  • Try to gain a better understanding of how someone is feeling. Often times our perceptions are limited to things that we have experienced and have felt. Everyone experiences emotions and difficulties differently. A great approach is to ask what their difficulties look like and feel like to them, rather than just assuming.
  • Get them out of the house. Often times people shut down. They stop doing things that they enjoyed previously, and their behaviours might change. Every so often for people, it is hard to get out of bed, let alone do a simple task. Asking somebody to go for a coffee means that it’s a “quick getaway” if they don’t feel like leaving their house for long. It allows them to get up and get out, and sometimes people need that extra push. Going for a walk just around the block or in nature is also a great grounding technique. Plus, fresh air is always good.
  • Send them inspiring quotes. As cliché as that sounds, it could easily bring a smile to someone’s face.

If you have anything else to add to this, I would love to hear about it in the comments! Have a wonderful rest of your day!

Relationships and Healing Part II

     Welcome back to my exasperating year of 2020. Oh, how it’s been a year of unexpected events and a very different life (thanks covid). On my previous post, I talked about how an unhealthy relationship of mine ended, and what I learned from it. All in all, the message to take home that I cannot stress enough is know your worth. The only person that defines you is you and if that person isn’t meeting you on that level or trying to at least meet you halfway, it ain’t worth it. Know your limit and stay within it (I believe they say this for gambling, but the message still remains the same).

     Continuing on from where I left off, in a turn of unexpected events, I met someone new. It wasn’t planned, and completely caught me off guard if I’m going to be quite frank. I denied my feelings for a while, until I came back from back-packing in South America for 3 weeks, and finally admitted to myself that the relationship was something that I wanted. Not long after we started the relationship, a one-week quarantine turned into a 3-and-a-half-month lockdown. It was brutal. My mental health was at its worst being stuck in a house with minimal to do. As a person who is used to constantly being on their feet and constantly on the go, it was extremely hard for me. I tried working out at home, reading, finding new material to learn, but everything fell short as my motivation dissipated. Not to mention that I was spending abnormal amounts of time with the person I just began dating and that in itself presented challenges. Being stuck in quarantine together fast-tracked our relationship, but it also showed us how compatible we really were with each other. On the contrary, with nothing but time on my hands, I was stuck in my head being forced to deal with my demons.

     As a person who has struggled with mental health for a vast majority of their life, coping with it is not always easy. I am not very open when it comes to it, however, I have acquired some coping skills for anxiety, especially while being in a relationship.

These learned mechanisms include:

  • Being open. While mental health can be really difficult and even debilitating at times, letting your partner know that you’re having a rough time can be beneficial. You don’t have to give details about it if you aren’t comfortable, but by letting your partner know that you’re struggling allows them to gain a better understanding of where you’re at and builds respect and trust.
  • When anger arises, it most likely means that there is a hidden underlying fear. Anger can be a cause of supressed emotions, and looking into it further can provide a better understanding. Relationships can be scary and we are all to some degree scared of being hurt, so we tend to guard ourselves. Being angry at a person or ourselves lets us know that there is something within ourselves that requires healing.
  • Know that you are good enough. Mental health has a strong way of making us feel weak and sometimes even unloved. Know that that is just your mental health talking, and that those thoughts will pass. Our mental health does not define who we are.
  • Practice gratitude. Gratitude helps ground us and reminds us that what we have isn’t all that bad. It could be much worse. I am immensely grateful for the moments that I am calm, and it allows me to remind myself that calmness is attainable. It’s about the small victories.
  • Think of all the positives in your relationship. Remind yourself of why you’re with that person and how they make you feel. How has this relationship added to your life and what has it taught you?
  • Journal. Journaling is a great way to make sense of our emotions and to let them out in a healthy manner.
  • Take time for yourself. Whether you are a person who devotes all of your time into the relationship (I like being smothered with love too, don’t worry) or somebody who likes to only see their partner a couple times a week (as it adds to the excitement), time to yourself is extremely important. We have to remember who we are without our significant others. It’s important to keep our sense of self.

Being in a new relationship provides its challenges. You are learning about what works and what doesn’t. I have learned that I need to be more open and trusting. Being hurt sucks and as humans, we try to avoid getting hurt. After coming out of an unhealthy relationship, trust was definitely a hard one. I am just learning about my blocks and how I can foster a healthy relationship with myself and my significant other. It is important that the respect and love is reciprocated on both ends. What is not okay is when somebody takes advantage of your kindness. It is okay to say no. Setting boundaries is what is going to allow you to preserve your energy and your happiness. Patience and open communication is also key, but it does take time. We are all here to learn and grow.

     If you have anything else to add to help cope with mental health while being in a relationship, I would love to hear all about it. Please let me know in the comments below!

Relationships and Healing

To begin with, I would like to apologize for my absence. This year has been a journey of healing and processing life as it currently is. It has not been an easy year for any of us, I’m sure. Some people enjoyed quarantine, while others (like myself) really struggled. Not only has it been a scary time, but it has been unpredictable. The uncertainty of things, on top of the financial and health worries that this pandemic has caused has left us all feeling a little more anxious than usual. With that being said, this has been an immense time of self-reflection and healing for myself. Friendships and relationships have played an important role during this time, and I have learned many lessons, of which I would like to share today.

     Having ended a bad relationship, the beginning of this year left me feeling less than worthy. Feelings of betrayal an upset curled up into my being, leaving my soul feeling weak. I had been with someone who treated me less than equal and who left me feeling unheard and alone. The warning signs had been there for months, but I continued to stay with the hopes of change occurring. When the relationship finally ended, I was angrier at myself than anything else. I was mad at the fact that I had allowed someone to treat me like that, and that I stayed for as long as I did. I was disappointed in myself for being weak. I let someone else determine my worth, knowing that I deserved so much better. It makes it really hard when somebody isn’t blatantly abusive (verbally, emotionally, physically, etc), and it’s more a lack of attentiveness-which makes you feel like you’re asking for too much or just being needy. I was simply just asking to be included in his life, so that I felt like I was important and loved. The longer I stayed, the less secure I felt and it definitely took it’s toll until enough was enough. It took some time to heal, but every experience is a lesson. Looking back on it now, I am thankful that I experienced what I did, because it allowed me to grow and led me to a healthier relationship with myself and others.

     Growth is a continuous journey in life and certain emotions should be left behind (as hard as it may be). Animosity is one of them. It is an emotion that does not foster healing, so it is imperative that you let it go. I have no animosity towards the things that occurred as I believe that a lack of understanding played a significant factor in why the relationship did not work and that is okay, because it led me to better things. That is why some things are meant to be left in the past. Bringing up the past keeps you in the past and prevents you from moving forward. Saying less IS saying more and you get to keep your peace at the same time. Explaining things to a person that does not understand your emotional language is a waste of time. If you have to try and convince somebody of your worth, they ain’t for you, sis (or bro). Emotions are how you express the way you feel, and if they degrade you for that, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the relationship. I constantly had to explain why I felt the way I did, and then made to feel like I was just overreacting. If you have to question your self-worth and ask yourself what you have done wrong then do yourself a favour and walk away. Anybody that makes you feel less than equal or not respected does not have your best interests at heart. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is bad, you both are just on different frequencies. Actions are way more concrete than words, and if their actions do not watch what they are saying to you-believe their actions. Convincing yourself that things are going to change when they haven’t already is only lowering your standards. Walking away is hard, however, your heart will thank you for it later. It took me countless sleepless nights and crying over someone before I mustered up the courage to finally leave for good. Yes, it took time to get over it, and truthfully, a lot of my insecurities in my relationship after that were because of what I had experienced, but I am jumping ahead of myself.

     I will leave this post at that for now. I hope that if you are going through a similar experience, this will help give you that extra nudge to set healthy boundaries. I plan on continuing this in my next blog, where I will go into detail about quarantine and my new relationship and what it has taught me, and continuing friendships that helped me get through a not-so-pleasant 3 and a half month quarantine. Health, love and happiness to you all.  

Pandemic

Plagued by a pandemic, but maybe its always been systemic.

A deeply routed cause, with no time to pause.

Ignited by fear, with it’s effects being, oh so, near.

With it being so scary, we are left feeling a bit weary.

But given this dissever, we are compelled to come together.

Forced to face our own apprehensions, in which we aversively do not mention.

Internally seeking, with everything that has been fleeting.

Building ourselves from the inside, to better combat the tide.

The grass is greener and the Earth is cleaner.

Together we stand, as our health is what we command.

Strong-willed and ready to fight, we will come out of this alright.

Beautiful Bolivia: Part II

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The altitude sickness had finally hit me the following morning. As I woke up at 5 am, the mild headache was there, only to progressively worsen. I had been warned about the altitude sickness, as air becomes much thinner at a higher altitude, but I thought that I had surpassed it, as the first day in Bolivia I had felt fine. As La Paz is the world’s highest capitol (sitting at 3650 m), it makes sense that it could have a nauseating or dizzying effect-and did it ever.

As we made our way to the airport, I tried my best to hold off on taking anything for the headache. However, it was the nausea that started to get me. As we hopped on the plane to make our way to Uyuni, I took an advil and was able to drift off for the majority of the flight. The flight was only about an hour and when I awoke, I was feeling much better. Just a tip if you are ever travelling to a place with a higher altitude-drink lots of water, it truly does help.

As we arrived in Uyuni, it too had a very shocking effect. The contrast to La Paz was splitting. As La Paz had an overwhelming amount of people and many fascinating, divergent multi-coloured buildings, Uyuni had quite the opposite. We had now entered the desert, where there were white dirt roads and way less buildings with softer colours. On our way to Uyuni, it was almost like we had entered a ghost town, where many of the buildings looked abandoned, surrounded by white brick walls, and just open white space that drifted off into the distance.

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Our drive to the hotel

When we arrived in the town of Salar de Uyuni, there was a greater vibrancy to it. It was small, with a strip of buildings down the centre. There were islands in the middle of the road that held statues and bus stops that separated the right side of the road from the left. In the far distance of the altiplano, you could see the mountains. With the brightness of the white roads and bright blue sky, it was definitely a sight to see. It was a very small town with a couple of connecting streets that held shops, some markets and food places.

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Uyuni

Our hotel was located right beside a military base, which was kind of cool as we could see all of the military officers walking around in their uniforms. Can’t say that I have seen that too often. Our hotel itself was beautiful. It was painted in a bright red with an opening glass ceiling, which allowed for the light to shine down on the golden rails of the staircase that went up and split into two ways. As you walked down the hotel, there was a small restaurant and a hallway that had glass windows so you could see the leisurely space they had outside. At the end of the building was where our rooms were. You walked in and the inside was built of brown brick walls with vibrant yellows, reds and blues. The room was built like a square with all the rooms around the perimeter, with the center of it being open and the glass ceilings at the top of it, so the room opened up. It was quite unique.

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The military base located by our hotel
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The hotel

 

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More of the hotel

The rest of the day comprised of walking around and checking out the places. We had lunch at a really cute cafe and the food was decent. One thing that I noticed was they have very minimal people working, so maybe only one or two chefs in the back. Food took a bit longer, but being on vacation mode, it didn’t bother me, especially since I was with good company.

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The little cafe we stopped in at

Later in the evening, we went to a deserted train cemetery. It was in the middle of the desert, with mountains surrounded by it. The trains had been left there for decades, as faster methods of transporting goods had been put into place. However, as the trains were just abondoned there, it had become one of their tourist attractions. It was very enticing-almost like an old playground that you just wanted to explore and climb around in. The blue skies just enhanced the surroundings and it was so breathtaking.

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Train cemetery

The rest of the night was just relaxing and hanging out with the tour group. The next couple of days were going to be compact with lots of travelling and sight-seeing. I was extremely excited to see the famous salt flats of Bolivia-the largest salt desert in the world. Never have I gone to bed so early. I knew that the sights would be beautiful, but I was not prepared for how captivating they actually were. So, stay tuned for my next post on my last couple days in Bolivia and how astonishing it actually was!

 

 

Beautiful Bolivia

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Travelling to South America has always been on my bucket list. I was supposed to go to Australia, but as the wildfires were getting progressively worse, I thought that it probably wasn’t the best idea to go. Long story short, I decided to do South America on a whim-by myself. I started looking on the internet of travel groups that did tours around South America. Chile has always been top on my list, as it has very diverse regions and climates.

I ended up finding this travel group called Tucan where they did multiple countries in South America and you could choose where you wanted to join the group and how many countries you wanted to do. It was a relatively good price and it included all the accommodations, flights, means of travel and daily activities. The only additional costs were food and free days where you could choose to do whatever you wanted to, including tours and what not.

I decided, at the time, that I was going to do Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. I really wanted to do Brazil as well, but, financially, I couldn’t fathom paying another couple grand just for a few extra days. However, moving forward, as I booked my trip on a whim, I left an extra week for myself in case I changed my mind on going to Brazil. My work was also super generous with giving me time off, so that surely helped.

I booked the trip two weeks prior to my departure date, which allotted me enough time to mentally prepare myself, along with get all the necessities. As I was going by myself, I had some reservations, but for the most part, I was just excited. I have travelled by myself before, but this was going to be my first time going to different places for an extended period of time. I had an amazing time, by the way, but we will get into that as I further explain my trip. So let’s get started.

First stop…Bolivia

Bolivia

I thought that 24 hours of travel would be a lot worse than it actually was, but turned out to be not that bad. Took about 8 hours to get to Peru, and then had a five hour layover, where I slept in the airport. That was a big surprise that I slept, since I was by myself, with all my stuff. The one barrier that I noticed right away was that no one spoke English and everything was written in Spanish. I had a bit of a hard time trying to figure out where to go, as I can only speak very broken, basic Spanish.

My last flight wasn’t too bad, and before I knew it, I was in Bolivia. As I just brought a carry-on, I was able to walk straight off the plane to where the buses were outside and hoped that somebody would understand what I was trying to say. As I am not a planner, I just figured that I could find a bus at the airport that would be bring me to my hotel. One thing I did read though, was to be careful on taking taxis in Bolivia, as some cars look like taxis, but they rip you off and can be dangerous. I decided that taking a bus would be a cheaper option anyway, so I just stuck to that.

Walked over to the buses and asked with my very broken Spanish if they were going to Hotel Sagarnaga, and they replied with yes, and then started speaking very fast in Spanish in which I could no longer understand, so I just nodded, walked to the bus and hopped in. It was a very small bus with people very tightly squeezed in. Shortly after that, we headed out. As we passed the airport gates, it was like a totally different world that I had entered. To my right hand side, passed the guard rail, I could just see the Earth that had eroded in the centre, surrounded by its remains. Formed by rocks and dirt, with little greenery. Having never seen a canyon before, it was absolutely fascinating. On the left, there were rows of houses that were built on these hills. It seemed very fitting for being at 3,500 m above sea level

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The views going into La Paz
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Busy is the best word I would describe La Paz. Lots of people, lots of buildings, and lots of traffic. What I found to be most culturally shocking were people getting off the bus and just walking through oncoming traffic. The bus just stopped in the middle of the road and people would get off. I also had no idea where my hotel was and how long it would take. I know I know-I like to live life on the edge, what can I say. With that being said, I definitely was super anxious about if the bus was going to stop for me and how I would manage to walk through oncoming traffic on a busy street. It took about 40 minutes to get to my stop. As the bus driver stopped and let me know that this was my stop, I paid him 5 US dollars (which was much cheaper than the 60 dollar pick up that my tour group offered) and started heading up the way that he pointed for my hotel. As I could barely understand what the bus driver was saying, I was steadily just counting on the point of his finger to lead me in the right direction. Oh, and yes…I survived walking through the oncoming traffic, in case you were wondering.

The streets were packed with tons of people. There must have been a protest going on because there were copious amounts of people gathered around a government building shouting things I could not understand. As I made my way past them, I began to notice my surroundings. The streets were quite narrow, with cobble stone roads-some of which was eroding. The buildings were all tightly squeezed together, some of which looked like they had been abandoned for years, and all the buildings had different colours. It took me about ten minutes to walk up to my hotel. The hotel was compact, with glass sliding doors and a very small lobby.

I had no idea what to expect. I walked into the hotel and told the front desk that I was with Tucan and they gave me the key to my room and off I went. Bringing only a carry-on backpack was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. It would have been so difficult carrying luggage up a steep hill. Not to mention that its very convenient to just walk off a plane and not have to wait for your luggage. The most difficult thing was trying to narrow down what I could bring on my trip, but once you learn how to pack light-trust me, you’ll never pack heavy again.

As I opened the door to my room, my roommates stuff was already in the room, but she wasn’t in there. Having lived in Banff before in a shared room, sharing a room with somebody I have never met has never been an issue. I have also never had a bad experience- my roommates have always turned out to be fantastic. As I was quite exhausted from travelling, I decided to take a nap. Before I could even shut my eyes, I began to hear noises that sounded like fireworks, or maybe gun shots, which was a little alarming. I still don’t really know to this day what those noises were, but eventually I drifted off into a heavy sleep, and when I awoke, the noises were gone.

At 6 pm, I met my tour guide for the first time and some of the people in my travel group. Everyone seemed so nice and welcoming. Most of the people in the group had already been travelling together for over a week, so bonds had already been formed. It was a little awkward at first coming into a group that already knew each other, but that didn’t last very long.

As I had a bit of free time after my meeting with my tour group, I decided to take a little walk outside to explore my surroundings. There were lots of little huts of people selling fresh fruits and veggies, and little vendors selling just about anything that you needed. It was breathtaking to be able to see the mountains in the background and all the houses set on it to create lots of colours and shapes. It wasn’t too hot either, which helped with adjusting to a different climate. However, altitude sickness is a real thing and doesn’t always set in right away…but, I’m getting ahead of myself. As I kept walking up the street, looking back, I could see how steep and compact the streets were. That’s when it kicked in that I was on vacation, by myself, in a foreign country and I couldn’t have been happier.

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The views from my walk

After my walk, I met up with my tour group and we went to a local pub to grab dinner. When I say that no one spoke English-I really wasn’t exaggerating. Thank god for our tour guide that could translate everything for us, otherwise there would have been a major language barrier, especially because no one in the group could speak Spanish.

The group is well-balanced, with there being half older people and half younger people. The funny part is that most of them are Aussies (there is also a couple from the UK) and I just cant seem to get away from them. I mean that in the most sincere way, as people from Australia are amazing and really fun to be around. Banff (where I lived before in Canada) is predominantly Australian, and so again, just can’t get away from them.I also just really like their accents and hilarious humour. They’re just different breeds of people…and I totally dig it.

As we finished dinner, I just remember taking in how multicoloured all the buildings were and how there was graffiti, and paintings on buildings. To some at a first glance, it may seem run-down, but if you really take it in, the city has a lot of heart and you can see that through the colours and paintings, and historic buildings.

I would have liked to explore La Paz more than I did, however, with time being limited, I was only really able to walk nearby my hotel. The next morning we were leaving for Uyuni, and had to be up at 5 am. But it was a great start to my vacation, and somewhat culturally shocking, but I really enjoyed myself. Uyuni, on the other hand, was very, very different from La Paz, and equally just as shocking, but in a different way. The views for the next couple of days were unreal and will forever be ingrained in my brain. But, that is for my next post. So stay tuned!

To be continued….

The Benefits of Travelling

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I have numerous people tell me that they would love to travel, but don’t have the time nor funds to do so. One thing that I have learned in life is that you can never get back time, and you can always make back money. There is never enough time and well… truth is, sometimes money is hard to come by. However, life is lived through the lens of experience and time, nor money can ever top that. If travelling is something that you want to do, then just do it. Stop making excuses. I can tell you from experience that travelling changes you and opens your eyes to so many things that you cannot gain from your day-to-day life. There are countless places to see around the world and only you can make that happen.

Travelling has so many benefits, and in this blog, I will tell you how it has helped me and hopefully it will show you how great it can be for you as well.

1. Travelling brings a sense of fulfillment

Nothing beats going to magical places that you only thought you would see in pictures. It makes you feel accomplished because you did it for yourself and you allowed yourself to witness something new. Not to mention that there are just so many beautiful things to see, that your heart will literally burst of joy. (At least mine does-every time.)

2. New circuits in your brain are formed

Travelling creates novel experiences. This means that it breaks you out of your daily habits, which generate the same neurochemistry within your brain and body. To further that, this means that our bodies become accustomed to producing the same hormones and patterns of thinking when we continually do the same things. When you do something new, and especially exciting, you create different emotions. When you repeatedly do new things, you create new concepts in your brain and break yourself out of daily habits and ways of thinking. This is a sure way to bring happiness and a new sense of self into your being.

3. You make lifelong friendships

Not only is travelling super exciting and fun in itself, but you also meet so many people. Forming new bonds can make your trip even better. Sometimes it is because of people that make your travels so much more interesting and lively. You never know who you’re going to meet, and they could end up being your forever-friend. Plus, it’s a good excuse to further travel to see those friends that you made.

4. You experience different cultures

Experiencing different cultures is imperative to learning about various ways of living. It helps expand our views and open our minds. When you submerge yourself into a new culture, you allow yourself to see through a different lens, other than your own. This can help break barriers and limited ways of thinking. It also allows you to become grateful for what you have and can help change certain perspectives.

5. You get to eat lots of food

Probably one of my favourite things about going to new places is trying new food. You can’t say that you’ve tried something until well…you’ve tried it. I love love love food (even though sometimes it doesn’t love me) and travelling is a great way to try new cuisines. I mean, its just a good excuse to eat lots in general, if you love food, like me.

6. You get to see shtufffffff

Yes yes, the BEST part. Oh my…the world is filled with wondrous places. Places that you thought could never exist in your wildest dreams…and you could be seeing them with your own eyes. Even the trek to get to those places could make you feel accomplished that you actually got yourself there in the first place. New adventures are always fun.

7. Improves social skills

Travel has this great way of taking you out of your comfort zone. It forces you to interact with other people-people from all over the world. Sometimes there are language barriers and it makes you have to get creative on how to communicate. Styles of communication and interaction are different across the world, and this helps familiarize you with these various styles. Even the way in which people talk and joke around are unique, and it allows you to learn different ways of communicating and relating to people.

8. Helps alleviate stress

This goes back to my point of changed behaviour. Travelling can aid in relaxation, as it helps take you off of your every day stresses. It brings a sense of contentment and allows you to look at things from a more relaxed perspective.

9. Brings more gratitude

Travelling allows you to be thankful for what you have and for what you have allowed yourself to do. It’s not always easy putting yourself in vulnerable positions, especially when travelling to foreign places can be scary. But you did it anyway, and you faced that fear. It made you a stronger person and that is something to be grateful for.

10. Travelling changes you

This compiles all of my previous points. Travelling expands your mind, and allows you to experience strange and unfamiliar things. Whether you are travelling by yourself or with people, your experiences will always be unique to that specific time. It helps boost your confidence and creates expanded patterns of thinking. Travelling helps you face your fears, which ultimately allow you to further relax and become your best self. Travelling is so beneficial in so many ways, and if you want to do it, you should just do it.

 

Thank you for reading my post! Leave some comments below and let me know what you think. Or, if you can think of any other benefits of travel, I would love to hear about them!

 

 

Webs

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Carefully threaded

Strategic by nature.

Intrinsically beautiful, but deadly to a fault.

Woven together to create a masterpiece-a work of art.

The centre, the foundation, the base of it all, neatly formed in its entirety.

Destructive to some, and innately necessary to others.

The radial lines furthering the web and its natural beauty-the necessity of life.

Each thread strengthening the web, securing its future.

Working hard to protect its being, ingrained in the centre. The centre in which holds its survival.

The orb threads, therefor finishing the web, carefully securing the last touches.

As nature fulfills its prophecy, the spider is forced to build and build again.

As each web breaks and falls apart, the spider instinctively rebuilds its web.

Inherently so, its centre constantly changing and being reconstructed.

Survival and beauty all intertwined into its nature.

Its future being transcended by its centre.

Clarity

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Clarity is so hard to find, sometimes I

feel like I am losing my mind.

As I stare and stare, blankness just

seems to fill the air.

Want. What do I want, I ask myself.

Because I am the only one that can

set me free.

Who am I? As I am the only one that

can be me.

Me…tell me, what do I need to see?

All I want is the freedom to be me.

 

Clarity, clarity, clarity.

Tell me, what do I need to see.

Is it right in front of me?

My mind is going haywire, as I try

to ignite its fire.

Angry, sad, mad…wait, is that excitement

to add?

My heart is racing, what am I really chasing?

 

Clarity, clarity, clarity.

Oh, you seem so distant at times.

So instead, I will sit here and make rhymes,

to fill up my mind.

I know that you will come to me, and

it will be oh, so suddenly.

But until then, clarity, I will try and find

something rare in me.