Whirlwind

Well, I think I owe all my dear readers an apology for my absence the last few months. I have been struggling to keep up with everything going on in my world, and unfortunately my writing was one of the things I had to put on tthe backburner for the time being. I had just finished up my first year of college and was thrown right into working full time, trying to manage my son, my home and my finances all on my own. I was working on getting re-enrolled for my second year of college at a different school, trying to build up my clientelle, start up my own business and try not to kill my relationship. My housework, my writing and my sanity have all suffered in my pursuit to stay afloat. 

So, amidst the chaos I have felt terribly about setting down my writing. I have several unpublished posts that never quite got their finishing touches added on, so hopefully life settles down a tad so I can write more. This little corner of the universe is the place I find most comforting. In the words that somehow escape me during conversation, the stories and dreams I long for, and the peace to express myself without fear of judgement. Because really, if you follow me or are reading this, you are obviously interested in what I have to say. And i appreciate every single person who takes the time to liste  to what i have to say.

In a world where the loudest people are paid the most attention, i am glad I have my few who notice quiet little me.
While I’ve got you here, I’d like to say Happy Thanksgiving. Canadian thanksgiving of course, but still giving thanks nonetheless. Even if my day has been less than fantastic, my family has left all the housework for me and I’m really incredibly irritated because I’m pregnant… yes, you read that right. I still have a lot to be thankful for this year. A family to make the house messy, another addition on the way and a fantastic job… life is good. No matter how annoyed I may be.

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Around the World in 26 Days: Day 3

Today’s country is the little island of Cyprus!

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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

So, where to begin… Ah yes.

The Republic of Cyprus (or just Cyprus for short) is a small island only 9,251 square kilometres, located in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Turkey. The total population is estimated to be around 1,150,000 people to which 77% are said to be Greek, and 18% Turkish. Both Greek and Turkish are official languages, though many do know English due to the high tourism numbers coming from English speaking countries. The religions that dominate the country are Greek orthodox at 78% and Muslim at 18%. Being part of the European Union, the country adopted the Euro as their currency in 2008. With an overall GDP of 23.23 billion (statistic as of 2014 fromTrading Economics) , the county is in good economic standing considering the total collapse of its financial system in 2013, sending the country into a recession.

Cyprus has 6 regions with self titled cities, including Nicosia (Capitol city with population of 313,400), Famagusta, Kyrenia, Lamaca, Limassol and Paphos. This small island also is home to the Troodos Mountains that dominate the southern and western sides of the island, and the Kyrenia Mountains located across the northern coast of the country. Located in the centre of the Troodos is Mount Olympus with a high point of 6,401 feet, it is an infamous landmark in ancient Greek mythology. While the main water feature of the country is the expansive Mediterranean Sea that surrounds the island, another water feature worth mentioning is the Pedieos river. The Pedieos is a seasonal river that is the product of heavy rainfall in the fall and winter months. The river is said to be the largest river in the country at 100 kilometres long, rising in the north east section of the Troodos mountains, flowing through the capital city of Nicosia, and draining into the Famagusta Bay located on the west side of the island. The island is home to a plethora of unique wildlife, including its own species of indigenous cow, the cyprus hedgehog, wild donkeys that roam the island and the endangered cyprus moufflon sheep, an ancestor to the modern day sheep. From reptiles to birds and so on, there is always some new interesting creature around every turn. Watch out for the snakes though, as the island has a few venomous species like the Montpelier and the blunt-nosed viper.

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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

Alright, now for the sights. Cyprus is famous for its stunning views and beaches, it’s regional vinyards, and it’s rich Greek history. If archeological sites are your thing, there are countless to choose from being that this island has been home to ancient civilization for centuries. From tombs to ruins, cyprus will not dissapoint Greek mythology lovers. Some places worth mentioning are Nissi beach, Fig Tree Bay, the Kato Paphos Archeological site, the church of St. Lazarus, Kolossi Castle, Kykkos Monastery, Tombs of the Kings and even the Fasouri Watermania Waterpark. Diving is also a very popular attraction, with various underwater shipwrecks and sea life to explore, as well as hiking! SO if you like nature, there’s plenty to explore. Cyprus also has some very delicious food! Consisting of a meat (lamb, pork, chicken or fish) and potatoes, pasta, rice or pulses, they draw mainly from Greek cuisine to which I am a huge fan of. A popular dish worth mentioning is Fassoulia Yiahni. Check out this recipe from Olive Tomato or this list from Escape Here

Traveling
Visas are required after 90 days for u.s. citizens and transit visas may be needed if you have a stop at one of the Cyprus international airports on your way somewhere else. Tourists are allowed to stay for no more than 3 out of 6 months after date of first entry. If you want more info or details on visas for your country of origin, please visit http://www.cyprusvisa.eu

The weather in Cyprus is pretty favorable year round with summer Monty temperatures ranging from 30+ degrees Celsius during the day to 20 degrees or lower during the night. Rain tends to stick to fall and winter months.

Busiest times in Cyprus are generally from June to September with August being the busiest, leaving the low season from October to May.

Safety Factor: you’re pretty safe here. Crime rates are low are the citizens are very friendly! As with anywhere, take steps to protect yourself and you’ll end up having a safe visit

For more information on cyprus, things to do, places to stay and all other things cyprus, check out the following links!

http://www.nicosia.org/en-GB/home/

http://www.cyprus-archeology.org.uk

http://www.agrotourism.com.cy

http://www.windowoncyprus.com/cyprus_dive_sites.htm

http://www.cypus.com/index.html

http://www.cypruswalksetc.com

http://www.skicyprus.com

Around the World in 26 Days: Day 2

Today’s country is the African nation of Burundi.

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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

This country is located in eastren Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. The country has an approximate size of 27,830 square kilometers with an environment ranging from mountainous forests to low savanna plains. With a estimated population of 10,888,321 (2013) and their GDP of close to 3.094 billion (2014 statistic from World Bank), it is widely known for its overwhelming majority of citizens living in poverty. It is currently the second poorest country in the world based on its GDP per capita which comes in at a shocking $286 U.S. (2014 statistic from World Bank). Coffee farming makes up 95% of the country’s exports, and any other main exports are primarily in the agriculture sector. The currency used is the Burundi Franc, and while most places you’d imagine you come across while traveling there are atm’s to pull money from, this is not one of those places. International ATM’S or banking machines are not common in Burundi and credit cards are not widely accepted throughout the country. So be prepared to take travelers cheques with you, NOT cards or money. They have two official languages; Kirundi and French, but Swahili is also very common. The name Burundi is said to mean ‘land of the Rundi speakers’ and the country’s motto is ‘Ubumne, Ibikorwa, Iterambere’ which translates to ‘ Unity, Work, Progress’.
A major contributing factor as to why the country is so poor is due to its history with war. Civil war was a huge problem between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes that reside in the region. While it is not as well known for the genocides as Rwanda was, it was still heavily effected by the fighting. The country’s history is a very messy, long history with war and changing hands. Some worth mentioning include: 1962 when the country gained it’s freedom from Europe. Two genocides one in 1972 where the Tutsi’s were killing the Hutu’s and the other in 1993 where the Hutu ‘s were killing the Tutsi’s. In 2006 there was a cease fire signed by the last rebel group, now whether that lasts is yet to be seen. Most of the more recent fights have been fought on the political front, using words not weapons.

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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

The country has 16 provinces: Bubanza, Bujumbura, Baruri, Canzkuzo, Cibitoke, Gitega, Karuzi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Makamba, Muramvya, Muyingo, Mwaro, Ngozi, Rutana and Ruyigi. The province of Bujumbura also is home to its self titled capitol city that has an estimated population of 800,000; here you will find the most things to do. There is the Gishora Drum Sanctuary, Musee Vivant (zoo with some less than stellar reviews towards the conditions the animals are kept in), the Regina Munoli Cathedral, Reptile park, Geological Museum of Burundi, Monument de l’Unite, and the livingstone-stanley monument. The Rusizi National Park is said to be a great place to check out as well if you are interested in the local wildlife. Burundi is home to all the wildlife you would associate with traditional African plains, from hippos to lions, and hundreds of species of birds. Burundi is home to some of the best inland beaches in Africa (most of which are located in the Bujumbura province), the heavily wooded Mitumba Mountains, various rivers and a few major lakes. The largest lake that has regions that belong to several countries is lake Tanganyika which happens to be the world’s second largest by volume and drains into the Atlantic Ocean several countries over. Lake Tanganyika is also the country’s lowest point at 2,532ft above sea level, where as the highest point is Mount Heha at 8,759ft.
The country’s religous front is comprised of 67% Christians, 23% indigenous beleifs, and 10% Muslim. Signature dishes from this region as said to ‘represent African culinary culture’ with the heavy use of regional vegetation. Bananas, also known as plantains are often used in the way western cultures use the potato.

TIPS FOR TRAVEL
Visas are needed, as well as a passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after arrival. The maximum stay allowed in Burundi is 60 days on a single visit. A certificate for immunization for yellow fever is also required to enter the country, so don’t forget! It is also advised that you have all your shots up to Date including but not limited to, rabies and typhoid. Malaria is a real issue here as well, so protect yourself by sleeping with mosquito nets to protect you from being bitten.
Weather generally sticks around 25 degrees Celsius with the rainy season from February to May and the dry season from June to September.

SAFETY FACTOR
I’m going to say this right now, if you don’t have to go… don’t go. Atleast not right now. There are travel advisories in place to deter travelers due to current terrorism threats, and civil unrest within the country. A travel warning was issued as recently as March 11, 2016. If you’ve ignored my advice, or have business to attend to, use precautionary measures to protect yourself. Meaning, don’t leave valuables in hotel rooms, don’t go out after dark, do not leave the Bujumbura province as you are more likely to be assaulted, robbed or otherwise. Always keep in mind that due to the economical conditions present and the severe poverty, crime rates are VERY high. Generally speaking, this isn’t a very active country for travelers due to ongoing civil disputes, lack of attractions and high crime rates. The fact that you can be arrested for taking pictures of airports and government buildings is also something to remember.

But hey, if you still want to go feel free to check out the following links!

Enjoy Burundi for a brief history of the country and details on where to stay and what to do.

Burundi Safaris

http://www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/burundi.html for info on immunizations, laws and current travel advisories.

Around The World in 26 Days: Day 1

Our first country is Andorra!
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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

Andorra is a small country approximately 468 square kilometres, located in the Pyrenesse mountains that create a natural border between France and Spain. Considering that this country is primarily mountains and valleys, they have only 320 kilometres of highways and only two highways that leave the country; one to France and the other to Spain. This small nation has no railways, no airports and is landlocked. So if this tiny chunk of Europe strikes your fancy, you’ll have to travel by bus or rent a car! The highest point of Andorra is the mountain Pic de Coma Pedrosa at an altitude of 9,665 feet above sea level! The lowest point throughout the country is said to be the Riu River and still comes in at 2,755 feet above sea level. The primary language is Catalan (official), but spanish, french and Portuguese are also common. Traditions and the culture of Andorra draw from the French, Spanish and Portuguese culture aswell, with Christianity and Roman Catholic being the two main religions in Andorra. And the currency is the Euro, so no need to worry about switching currencies for your trip!

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Photo courtesy of World Atlas

With an estimated populous of 71,000 it has fewer people than most westerrn urban centres. Small town feel always makes it easier to mingle with the citizens I’ve found. They have one main city called Andorra la Vella, and have a handful of smaller centres scattered throughout the country side. Les Escaldes has the next largest population followed by the town of Encamp. The country has a small river system that runs through the country and meets near the middle of the country before heading towards Spain. The national dish is Escudella which is akin to a stew; for a recipie, head over to Roasted Montreal

Tourism is said to accumulate 80% of the country’s GDP, but they only have around 10 million tourists annuallly. Their primary attractions are centred around the winter sports that take in their majestic mountains. Skiing, tubbing, snowboarding and various other winter activties can occupy your time here. Other sights can include the Pyrenees mountains themself, various musems including but not limited to the tobacco museum, the motorcycle museum, the perfume museum, and even a minature museum (which is describing the content of the museum, not the museum itself). The main historical attraction is the church of St. Stephen in Sant Esteve d’Andorra la Vella. Hiking is a very popular activity during the summer months for those interested in getting out to explore the wilderness of Andorra. And hey, if outdoorsy stuff isnt your thing, there are also plenty of spas to put you into full relaxation mode.

The country boasts similar wildlife as Canada, with bears, wolves, rabbits and an assortment of other small mammals. Meanwhile, the rivers are home to fish such as pike and trout that attract predators like eagles and vultures; Ducks are also very common in this area.

Just a few highlights to hit for those wanting to stay here

Visas: Citizens of the United States require no visa for their stay up to 90 days, as for other nationalities i am not sure. Always worth looking into before you book your flights (and busses because of the whole no airport thing).

Weather: Andorra has heavy snowfall in the winter months that facilitate the alpine acttivities. Precipitation averages 42.2″ annually with May, June and November getting the brunt of it. Temperatures in the winter tend to fall below freezing at night, but average 5-6 degrees Celsius during the daylight hours. Summer months average 12-13 degrees Celsius at night, and 26 degrees duuring tthe day! Perfect Weather for either seeasons activities.

Best Time to Travel: This one really depends on what you are going for. If you are seeking the rush of fresh powder on the mountain, your best bet is to plan a trip between December and April. For the latter, may to september boast the best weather for hiking and other aimless wandering (to which i am completely guilty of)

Saftey Factor: Andorra is pretty safe, the smaller number of tourist coming and going no doubt factors into less instances of theft. As with everywhere though, protect yourself! Dont get caught off guard by an opportunistic pick pocket. Quite honestly though you’re like, 10 times more likely to have an accident on the mountains than having your pocket picked.

For more info on resorts, prices of ttours, and day excurrsions check out the following
http://www.andorraportal.com
http://www.skiandoorra.ad/en/

And for bus tickket prices, routtes and times check out
http://wwww.interrurbbana.ad under fees & subscrriptions
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Photo courtesy of Holidays Andorra

Thanks for reading! feel free to share your own stories with Andorra in the comments!

Creative blockage

My mind is stuck lately… cant help but feel like there is something blocking my words. Blocking my creative essence. I’m struggling to get this much down.

I guess I should let you all know that I am looking into writing courses at the moment. As much as I love massage therapy, writing relaxes me. In my down time, writing helps fill the silence. Since my brain won’t work I will throw some photos at you all.

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Brussels, Belguim. First leg of my euro trip 2015. What you don’t see in this picture is the young lady 10 feet to the left of me, who took literally 50+ selfish of herself with the cathedral… I smiled and laughed inside while she looked hilarious taking all the pictures. She asked me if I would take a few of her and I complied. Still makes me laugh.

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This incredibly handsome little man hiding under my scarf in Amsterdam, Netherlands. While not all of you may understand my need to squeeze those cheeks, I desperately want to.  Gloomy day, but was one of the brightest memories of my trip. Sitting there waiting for the water bus, not a care in the world. Such a perfect day.

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This friendly guy at the Berlin Zoo. Berlin, Germany. Spent the whole day wandering around the zoo which was conveniently located near the hotel/hostel we were staying at.

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City view from the Letenské Sady hilltop park in Prague, Czech Republic. I’ll tell ya right now, it was an uphill battle. Literally. Trails went damn dear straight up the hill at a 45 degree angle. Nearly wrecked me pushing a stroller up those paths. Spent a whole lot of time up there to make that hike worth it. Breath taking views.

Well, that is pretty much it for the first leg. I call it that because I really struggled through this first part. It was the part where I didn’t know what I was doing, I kept wanting to turn around and go home, but I convinced myself that if I made it to prague, that I could do anything. Such a difficult start to a journey that changed my life. Prague changed my life. I will return, maybe even live there again one day.

Our First Real Easter

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This my first easter with silas, in a home of our own. Three easters so far: first he was just tiny and couldn’t partake in any festivities (egg hunt, chocolate, egg dying), his second easter we were in Rome, and this year we are home. And I’ve gotta say, I’d rather be in Rome. I want to be exploring the easter markets in Prague, or Goodness knows where exploring. I have made the decision to devote Half my life to my writing and half to my massage therapy business, as both are things I enjoy greatly. While things are slow at work during the days I shall write till my hearts content.

Starting on April first I will be writing ‘Around the World in 26 Days’ to which I profile a new country every day, following the letters of the alphabet. It will be a way to explore and learn about new possibilities on the travel front, and share some ideas as to what to do on such a trip. In addition to that, I will also have reviews and travel tips posted weekly, a page from my own personal bucket list posted twice a month, and hopefully even more good stuff! And that’s only on the travel side of things. The Homefront will be updated with new happenings and other content twice a week. I am hoping to get a Book of the month started to share with you all the great things I’ve been reading lately.

But wait, there’s more!

You can now follow me on Instagram and Facebook at (TheLovelyWanderlust) and Twitter at (Wanderlust148) to keep up to date on all the new and exciting things that are happening!

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A Weekend Away: Part 1

So, where to start…

Ah yes.
Edmonton.

This easter long weekend we have taken up residence in my mother’s apartment in downtown Edmonton. While we are only here for a few days, there is a lot to be said for this city. Located 2.5 hours from my home in Lloydminster, Edmonton is the closest larger city center (as Lloyd has a mere 30,000 people last time I checked.)

The list of things to do, places to eat, stuff to see is never ending in this metropolis. The city is most famous for the West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest mall in North America. It has a hotel, a MASSIVE waterpark, a theme park and so much more. It is even host to a skating rink in the winter months! Hundreds of popular stores, restaurants and a pirate ship for parties. The ship resides in an ‘ocean’ that has water bumper cars, submarines, sea life caverns and sea lion rock where you can take in an aquatic show. While they no longer have the submarines in working order, you use to be able to tour around the ship underwater. For a list of stores, some more info about the unique attractions and the hours of operation check out http://www.wem.ca

Another notable attraction is the Telus Science Centre. I do not know very much about this one as I have yet to see it.. but maybe this weekend. We will see. I do know that every couple years they have the Body World exhibit that showcases the inner workings of bodies! It is currently on display at the Telus Science Centre in Calgary, and I WILL be going to see it in the following weeks. They have also had a star wars exhibit and many other exciting displays. To check out what they have got going on currently, head over to http://telusworldofscienceedmonton.com

Other fun things to do can include the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Fort Edmonton Park and The Muttart Conservatory that consists of four glass pyramids (one of which features an exhibit that changes frequently).
The city is host to countless parks, picnic areas and walking trails all of which can be located by going to the city of edmonton website http://www.edmonton.ca

A couple more interesting attractions lie just beyond the city borders, but are well worth the drive. The Jurassic Forest is exactly what it sounds like, and is located northeast of the city, near Gibbons, Alberta. For more info including prices, hours and directions of course, you can find it all here http://www.jurassicforest.com
Another worth mentioning is Elk Island National Park which is located along highway 16 east of Edmonton. You can spot elk and other wildlife occasionally, but the park is also home to a ‘Ukrainian Village’. I don’t know much about the village aside from the fact that it is a historical site and I’m pretty sure is still a museum. They have all sorts of activities and events going on year round so take a look and see what is going on http://http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/elkisland/ne.aspx

While I have yet to get to any restaurant recommendations, I will get there. In part 2. Because I can guarantee you, it’s going to be a lengthy one.
But to hold you all over until the next post, here’s a couple shots of the city

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