travel

Another Nomadic Month - My Travels Through Spain & Portugal

This past September I took 1 month to travel and work abroad in Spain and Portugal! I'm sharing my favourite aspects of the cities I had the chance to visit as well as some tips and recommendations for your next journey.

How to Make a Working Vacation Work For You

Having a freelance lifestyle is all about freedom; freedom to work whenever and from wherever you want! I've compiled a few tips on how to make a working vacation work for you, when travelling abroad and working nomadically. 

My First Working Holiday - Travels Through Croatia & Eastern Europe

Some of you may have followed along on instagram throughout my month-long journey abroad this past August, where I shared a photo a day (alllllmost, I missed one day here and there from travel or jetlag) #katesaugustadventure ;) Those posts were a brief snapshot of some of the views I was seeing and places I was experiencing but I'm here to provide a more in-depth look for anyone interested in planning a similar trip or just wanting some wanderlust inspiration.

Right off the bat I will say this, travelling for 1 month seems daunting (how am I going to be able to afford taking the time off work? how much should I budget? will I get lonely while travelling solo?) but it was so liberating and worth it! I highly recommend an extended trip to anyone at anytime. I know so many people who travelled right after graduating before settling in and finding a full-time job which is amazing but it's doable at a later stage in your career too! Before making this a goal for 2016, I gave my boss very advanced notice that this was something I wanted to do and made sure to remind the company that I was going away, updating them of the process along the way (confirmed flight bookings, prepared training documents for the coworkers who would be assisting in my absence and so on). The process ended up being quite seamless and although a lot of companies may not openly suggest all of their employees do this, if it is something you're interested in and they value you as an employee, I believe most companies will do what they can do work around your goals so that everyone is happy in their working environment. The moral of the story is, you never know until to ask.

Now for the good bit...

I bookended my trip with time in London, as I was able to find the most affordable flights from Vancouver>London round trip. Once in London, it was much easier and more affordable for me to book flights/ trains/ buses (yes I took them all) to the countries I was planning to visit. With the help of my brother, Jordan Bishop, the founder of flight hacking travel tip website yoreoyster, I booked my flight to London using British Airways points I had saved and my return flight with West Jet, for a total under $650! 

This visit to London was my third time being in lovely city and I have to say, I love it more every time I visit! Luckily I have friends in the city that I was able to stay with which really helps cut down costs because people aren't lying when they say London in expensive. One of my favourite things about London that isn't expensive is that all the museums are free! I went to 3 while I was visiting, the first being the Newport Street Gallery to see a small but impactful exhibit Jeff Koons: Now

The next day I ventured to the Victoria & Albert Museum before meeting a friend for dinner and a show, which I had never done before in London and I don't know why! We attended The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, perfect for anyone whether or not you have read the book. I was honestly so impressed by this show, the actors and the use of the stage and lighting effects was so powerful! I loved it. 

I mention taking time off from work above because on top of my freelance business I do have a job where I work 30 hours/week. The great thing about doing freelance is that I was able to bring my laptop and discover local coffee shops in a few cities when I needed to finish projects for clients. I spent a few hours a day working when needed and the rest of the time was devoted to exploring!

From London I took a flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia. This is where I spent the longest leg of my adventure (8 days) and I designated this week as 100% vacation and left my laptop in it's bag. Side note: having a laptop on this trip was actually very handy because I booked all of my accommodations pretty last minute depending on which cities I really wanted to stay in, I wanted to be flexible if I fell in love with one place to be able to stay longer. 

I spent my first night in the Lapad District of Dubrovnik, a slightly less touristy section of the city (outside of the famous walled Old Town) that consisted of a beautiful boardwalk, beaches, cave bars and my first night in a shared hostel room alone! I was slightly nervous but had a great experience meeting some nice fellow travellers and getting along with the owner of the small boarding room type hostel "mama".

The following day I went to stay in a shared Airbnb closer to the Old Town with my good friend and travelling partner in crime, who flew into the city that day.

Dubrovnik was so unique, I've never been anywhere like it. The city is surrounded by protective walls (which you may recognize from Games of Thrones as this city is the setting of Kings Landing) but the walls protrude out of the rock that was naturally there before they existed creating an organic yet structured barrier that is beautiful. Inside the walls there are churches, restaurants, shops, museums and outside the walls are a few cliff bars like this one where you can grab a drink and take a dip into the sea at the same time.

You can walk along the walls encircling the entire Old Town, which is one of the only really "touristy" things we paid to do and it's sooo worth it. The views are amazing and every angle is so different. Go in the morning so that it's not extremely hot or too busy. Warning: Dubrovnik is full of stairs. Just walking in the heat you feel like you're getting a serious workout carrying your backpack to your hotel let alone walking these walls. Rolling luggage not recommended.

From Dubrovnik we took the bus to a local vacation beach town, Makarska. A beautiful warm beach that was so welcome after a hot morning spent on the bus, one day was enough in this relaxing location as my friend and I are more of the travelling type and less of the relaxing vacation type.

Another bus ride brought us to Split the following day, another city along the Dalmatian Coast with a small fortresslike inner city, Diocletian's Palace, that was built by the Roman's hundreds of years ago. Now partially in ruins, this inner city is complete with cathedral, bars and restaurants that are all quite small and unique and the outer city is full of culture, yummy food, parks and offers easy access to the islands by yacht. 

Leaving the coast and travelling to the center of Croatia we were able to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. It's a tough place to get to (well the buses go right there) but accommodations are another story. There are a few expensive hotels in the park that heads up, you should really book in advance. There are cheaper hotels and Airbnbs located about 25-40km outside of the park but that makes getting into the park more difficult having to take cabs there and back. We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast type place that was about a 20 minute cab ride from where the bus dropped us off but luckily it was within close walking distance to the parks third entrance which is secluded and much less busy than entrance 1 and 2. The slightly splurge on accommodation ended up working on our benefit as we avoided long lines to get into the park at the busier entrances. 

This beautiful park is comprised of many upper lakes, large and small, that drain into a series of lower lakes in the most magical way. The turquoise water softly cascades from lake to lake in many small waterfall clusters that are breathtaking. It's like nothing I've seen before. These pictures don't do it justice but I tried. 

You can walk, hike and take trolleys and boats to make sure you get to see all the lakes, but by foot is definitely the most enjoyable. The colours were really this bright and beautiful. 

Our final stop in Croatia was the Northern inland city of Zagreb. Knowing next to nothing about this city (other than we could catch flights and trains out of here to our next destinations) Zagreb really surprised me. It was quiet with many locals being on vacation but there was so much to do in the city. We stumbled upon an outdoor dance festival, markets, busy bar-filled streets, exercise and art themed parks and one of my favourite museums, the Museum of Broken Relationships. 

This museum was so interesting! Full of artifacts and objects that people has sent in remembering lost relationships whether romantic, family-based, friendships and so on. The objects were all accompanied by a story about the meaning of it in the relationship and they ranged from a toaster to letters like the one above (a boy listing reasons his short-term love should stay in the UK...she didn't), pictures, art and so much more. Zagreb is where I said goodbye to my friend and continued onto the Eastern European leg of my trip solo! 

Budapest was an enjoyable 6 hour train ride from Zagreb and upon arrival I took the metro to meet my brother who was staying in the inner city for a few weeks.

A sunset walk along the river on my first night in the city was the perfect way to get acquainted with some landmarks that would help me get my bearings for the rest of my time there. 

My brother was in Budapest for the sziget festival which I decided to attend with him and his friends. It was perfect timing for me to go to the final day of the festival where I got to see some artists I love that I had never seen before including Aurora and The Lumineers. We took a public transit boat to get to the festival (sziget means island in Hungarian) and it was a pretty unique experience. One thing I really appreciated was the festival drinks and food were actually affordable! None of the overpriced $8 for a beer and $12 for a burger, I had really good food and quite a few drinks because it was actually affordable. So much more enjoyable than what I was used to at North American festivals I've been to. 

Post-festival day involved a lot of sleeping and relaxing in the thermal baths that are so popular in Budapest. 

My remaining two days in Budapest were spent touristing around and taking in everything I could! I really loved this city and I think the main reason was there was a real mix of architecture, history and modern culture and even though I didn't speak a lick of Hungarian (it is NOT easy to pick up at all) I felt really comfortable here. I would love to go back someday for an even longer stay.

The other reason I loved it here - there were so many cute coffee shops to work in it was freelancer heaven! (See above delicious coconut iced coffee that I still dream about). Budapest was full of delicious and cheap food which is hard to beat.

The next stop on my trip was Vienna. About a 4 hour train ride from Budapest I decided to spend a weekend here before heading on to Prague. Statues of Men on Horses is what I nicknamed this trip. I probably have about 5 pictures from each city of different (yet very similar) statues and monuments like this. 

Vienna was quite different from the other cities I had been to on this trip. It was very clean and beautiful, full of baroque and renaissance architecture and a lot of great museums. The museumsquartier is a cultural centre of the city, this lovely courtyard is surrounded by museums, exhibitions and art installations. 

Vienna had so many cathedrals and basilicas from different time periods which made every walk around the city really interesting! Vienna was the only stop where I was travelling completely solo. I stayed in a Airbnb private room which did make it more difficult to meet people. Staying in a hostel makes meeting fellow travellers pretty easy but it's not always the most comfortable of situations, sleeping in a room with 3-5 other people. I decided to go with Airbnb to be able to have a weekend to myself.

Following Vienna I ventured to Prague where another friend of mine was meeting me for a few days there! I had mixed expectations about Prague being told by some that it was overcrowded with summer tourists and others that it was a must-see European city. My verdict: Prague was lovely!

The city was easy to get around both walking and with public transit, the views were beautiful and it was easy to avoid the overly touristy locations. Walking across the bridges and taking in views of the city from the Letna beer garden was such a nice way to spend my first day in the city.

Most of my time in Prague involved visits to cute coffee shops, breweries and delicious restaurants. Eska was our "splurge" meal, which thanks to affordable prices in Prague was barely a splurge, with drinks and 2 courses costing under 30 euro. All their food was fermented to encourage healthy digestion and this amazing food on top of the beautiful atmosphere of the restaurant was a perfect way to end our time there.

During our time in Prague we hopped on a bus for a day trip to UNESCO World Heritage site Cesky Krumlov. Cesky Krumlov is a tiny fairtytale town crowned with a gothic castle that overlooks the picturesque homes along the Vltava river.

My next and final stop before returning to London for the last few days of my trip was to Berlin. I had been t Germany before, visiting friends in Dusseldorf and Colonge but didn't get a chance to make it to Berlin so this time it was a must. Lucky for me I was with friends who had been here before and new all of the best shops and cafes to stop at. Berlin involved a lot of eating.

Berlin was also completely different than any other city I had been to on this trip. It's much more urban and affected more by it's recent history than anything from over 200 years ago like the other locations I had visited. Taking time to go to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was really powerful and overwhelming. 

I also went to the Jewish Museum which was amazing on the outside and the inside. The sharp architectural design was so impactful. From the outside it looks like shards of metal haphazardly placed together with small window slits which creates a beautiful and modern exterior. This was also effective on the interior architecture. All the hallways within the museum were of varying sizes and odd directions, the floor rising and falling to give you a feeling of uneasiness. 

This art installation was one of the most impactful of all. I learned about this installation in one of my university art classes and it was really amazing to see it in person. These metal disks are piled in a dark, quadrilateral space within the museum and as you walk over the faces, a screeching loud clatter echoes through the space that reaches into your soul. It's powerful and insightful and important and I recommend everyone should spend some time here if you get the chance to visit Berlin.

After a weekend in Berlin it was already time to head back to London for the final days of my trip! After experiencing so many new things over the course of 4 weeks I was feeling ready to stop living out of a suitcase and moving from place to place. But then I got off my plane in London and went out to grab a coffee and visit my favourite museum, the Tate Modern and I realized I was not ready to leave. Travelling can be overwhelming and exhausting but the wonder that comes from seeing new things, meeting new people and even becoming accustomed to a city you've only been in for a few days makes it all worth it. 

The month went by faster than I would have liked but the most important thing I learned was that I want to be able to make these kinds of trips happen. Frequently if possible. This experience solidified my assumptions that I would enjoy travelling and working abroad, so if I can continue to make that happen I'm going to try my best to do it. 

Sorry for the long post! I was excited to share :)

Pre-Travel Plans

Hi friends. It's been awhile. I know. But that is because I've been working on A LOT of new projects big and small. From a 250 page business plan to direct mailers for a local Vancouver company I've been expanding my client base and working on some intricate and fun things. Get ready to see some new work up on the site soon (finally!).

travel-passport-canada.jpg

I set some goals for myself this year, as you can see in my previous post (previous post was form January, ugh sad). Anyway, one of those goals was to take a month off to travel and guess what? It's happening! And it's happening soon. I'm leaving Vancouver on August 2nd and not coming back until September 1st! What I'm hoping you may be able to help me out with, is a few suggestions. If you've been to any of the following countries/cities and have 1 thing that was just the best or stayed at a really great place, I'd love to hear about it!

Destination List:

London (the only place out of the following where I have been before)
Croatia
Budapest
Vienna
Prague
Berlin

Of course I'll explore myself and come back with suggestions to share with you then. Get ready for alllll the instagrams and I'll definitely be sharing the story of where my travels take me when I return. I will be working abroad a bit, so this will be my first trip combining work and pleasure but I'm looking forward to seeing how I find working abroad. Speaking of working abroad I will be crossing paths with my brother, Jordan, while in Europe. He's been living the digital nomad lifestyle and I hope to take a few pages from his book along this trip. Looking forward to seeing him in Budapest and again in Berlin!

Until next time... (which will be sooner than the last I promise!)

Short Summer Getaways to Satisfy Wanderlust

One of my goals this year was to travel more locally, explore areas close to home in order to help the budget but still get out and discover new places! Goal achieved and original hypothesis proven: it is worth it!

Being a newbie on the West Coast (it's almost been 1 year since I moved here so I guess soon I won't be able to call myself that) is amazing because there is so much awesomeness and variation in location close by, I still have so many weekend getaways ahead of me. A few vacays I've taken this summer are briefly photo documented (for your enjoyment, I hope) below.

Weekend #1: WASHINGTON
I went on a ladies weekend to a trailer park in Washington to stay at my friend's family trailer and it was conveniently close to Mount Baker so we took a lovely drive up the mountain one day, exploring waterfalls, rivers, winding roads and mountain tops.

Mount Baker is a huge mountain and living in Vancouver we can see it from many locations around the city including other mountain tops I've climbed and being so close by I had to take a drive up the massive mountain. The lake above (aptly called Picture Lake) was on top of the mountain (or what seemed like the top). The clouds are touching the peaks around us and this was May but there was a lot of snow. It was a different climate than the one we can driven from 1 hour earlier.

There was a lot of snow and A LOT of fog, or maybe it was clouds? Probably clouds because one minute it was extremely thick fog and then next it was bright and sunny. It's a weird feeling when a cloud passes through where you are. This was at the very top of the mountain, and we pretty much couldn't see a thing. Except this.

S'mores too! We were "camping" after all :)

Weekend #2: GARIBALDI LAKE
Ever since moving to Van, people have talked about Garibaldi Lake in passing, how they hiked to it and camped overnight to continue on to hike Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk. I'd seen pictures and was blown away by it's beauty. I had to experience it for myself.

Without proper camp gear, I managed to convince an out of province friend to do the day hike only with me to the lake. After underselling the difficulty, 18km later, she was somehow still my friend and we were both glad we pushed ourselves to go the distance. The forest was mystical on this cloudy day.

Arriving at the lake after a 9k hike was breathtaking (in all possible ways). The water was so turquoise I shrieked with delight I thought it was so beautiful, I'm cool like that.

Yeah that's a glacier. 

So the verdict is: GO. Even if you can only do the day hike like we did (make sure you leave yourself lots of time, it takes at least 5 hours plus you want to chill at the lake) it is worth it. Next time I go back, I want to camp.

The drive up to Garibaldi Lake is one the of my favourites. 

Weekend #3: VANCOUVER ISLAND
Vancouver Island feels like a whole different world to me. It is much bigger than it seems (I don't look at it on a map very often but I'm always surprised how large it is!) and I've only explored a small portion. So much to see!

I will never be tired of a ferry with views like this. The wind was fun too.

The last time I came to Victoria it was for a total of about 3 hours so this time I spent a whole day exploring downtown and the harbour.

Fan Tan Alley and it's tiny shops. I loved window shopping in Victoria, there are a lot of great boutiques all located close together.

I even went full tourist and took a free tour of the parliament buildings (I've never done that in Ottawa so why not?!)

The following day we took a drive up the coast and went past Nanaimo to Cathedral Grove, a small destination that has been on my list for the past year. It's an easy 15-20 minute pit stop on the highway if you're going towards Tofino. For us it was a small detour past our destination. You walk through a path in an ancient forest with trees over 100 years old that are gigantic and majestic. I was loving it.

We passed through Coombs, a touristy town with a marketplace that houses goats on the roof and other quirky fun things like that, then headed to Rathtrevor Beach. This beach was huge. The tide was out so low. So low. We walked on wet sand for like 20 minutes before we reached the water. 

Weekend #4: MONTREAL
Now I know this is not a close by location, but since I used to live here, to me it's visiting home and not a new destination so it's like a weekend getaway- plus I was only there for 3 days! A must do- Tam Tams on Sunday, the perfect place for all the visitors to gather.

And have the best spread I've ever seen at Tams before. This was only half of it.

After Tams, climbing to the look out at Mont Royal is always worth it. A much smaller hike ;) (20 min max) and you can see everything and it's romantic and picture perfect, especially at dawn or dusk. Friends can have romantic times too.

My final destination this summer was Toronto. Another "visit home" since I used to live here as well. A quick 2 day visit meant sticking to my downtown locale and visiting City Hall for some PanAm action.

I love a quintessential city shot like this one. What's wrong with being a tourist in your own cities- nothing I say! Nothing at all.

Flying back to the west coast in these beautiful clouds *sigh*.

I'm already planning my next cross continental trip (super early since I won't be going anywhere until next Spring) but just having the possibility in the back of my mind keeps me excited for the future and inspired and energized! For others consumed by their travel addiction like myself who are always craving there next destination (but don't always have the funds to make it happen) take time to explore what's around you, it's not so bad ;)

Travel Bug: Oahu, Hawaii

After moving to Vancouver, my eyes opened up to the different travel possibilities (and cheaper flight patterns) that are available from the west coast! Even though flights to Hawaii are still about 6 hours- or more if you have a layover in San Francisco like I did- the prices were so reasonable I had to jump on board. Decided to travel to Honolulu, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii!

I arrived first and went to Waikiki beach to explore, this is the view of Diamond Head from Waikiki. 

I arrived first and went to Waikiki beach to explore, this is the view of Diamond Head from Waikiki. 

My friend Dana (shout out- our first big trip together!) and I flew into Honolulu, the capital of Oahu, but stayed in Waikiki Beach. 

We spent the first evening and next day at the beach and getting acquainted with Waikiki.

We spent the first evening and next day at the beach and getting acquainted with Waikiki.

Our 2nd full day on the island we decided to make the hike up to the top of Diamond Head,  a large mountainous crater like form that was made from volcanic eruptions long ago. It was also used as a military fort throughout World War I because of it's great vantage point. 

Our 2nd full day on the island we decided to make the hike up to the top of Diamond Head, a large mountainous crater like form that was made from volcanic eruptions long ago. It was also used as a military fort throughout World War I because of it's great vantage point. 

The switchbacks we hiked up to reach the summit. Mules used to carry supplies up these paths. 

The switchbacks we hiked up to reach the summit. Mules used to carry supplies up these paths. 

Dana and I at one of the midway points.

Dana and I at one of the midway points.

At the summit we had to climb a very steep staircase and crawl through a small concrete opening to get to the look out, all there from the army fort setup in the past. 

At the summit we had to climb a very steep staircase and crawl through a small concrete opening to get to the look out, all there from the army fort setup in the past. 

The inside of the Diamond Head crater

The inside of the Diamond Head crater

View of the coast from the top of Diamond Head

View of the coast from the top of Diamond Head

Later the same day we took a 2.5 hour bus ride/ waiting for the bus journey, to get to a less crowded, beautiful beach called Sandy Beach. The waves were really big for swimming and we now know why it is called sandy beach. Never had so much sand in my bathing suit ever. EVER.

Later the same day we took a 2.5 hour bus ride/ waiting for the bus journey, to get to a less crowded, beautiful beach called Sandy Beach. The waves were really big for swimming and we now know why it is called sandy beach. Never had so much sand in my bathing suit ever. EVER.

You can't tell but we are covered. in. sand. 

You can't tell but we are covered. in. sand. 

We found some amazing cheap eats just off the main strip in Waikiki, our favourite taco place Surf n' Turf tacos which we frequented many times and a great udon and tempura Japanese restaurant that had fried chicken tempura! 

We found some amazing cheap eats just off the main strip in Waikiki, our favourite taco place Surf n' Turf tacos which we frequented many times and a great udon and tempura Japanese restaurant that had fried chicken tempura! 

We decided to visit Pearl Harbour as we had a free day during our trip. The USS Arizona Memorial was a really beautiful piece of architecture, set out on the water above where the ship sank and still remains to this day. 

We decided to visit Pearl Harbour as we had a free day during our trip. The USS Arizona Memorial was a really beautiful piece of architecture, set out on the water above where the ship sank and still remains to this day. 

The remains of the ship still in the water today. It has become a tomb for the people who went down with the ship years ago, very eery but also so calm in the harbour. 

The remains of the ship still in the water today. It has become a tomb for the people who went down with the ship years ago, very eery but also so calm in the harbour. 

After our Pearl Harbour excursion, we had a road trip planning session for our road trip around the coast the next day!

After our Pearl Harbour excursion, we had a road trip planning session for our road trip around the coast the next day!

First stop on the road trip, the Poly look out for this beautiful view. Something about the ridges in these mountains and how green everything is, I found really breathtaking. 

First stop on the road trip, the Poly look out for this beautiful view. Something about the ridges in these mountains and how green everything is, I found really breathtaking. 

Next stop- Kailua beach park! We got here before 9am and almost had the beach to ourselves. Us and a cute old Italian man who vacations there for 3 months each year.

Next stop- Kailua beach park! We got here before 9am and almost had the beach to ourselves. Us and a cute old Italian man who vacations there for 3 months each year.

Then we had a very short highway drive and a confusing off ramp, non-virtual map navigational system, in order to find the Golf Course where the path for our hike began. Also please note our hilarious attempt at using a selfie stick. My timer wasn't long enough to get this shot set up properly. I have others that turned out better but this really made me laugh. #newbieswithaselfiestick

Then we had a very short highway drive and a confusing off ramp, non-virtual map navigational system, in order to find the Golf Course where the path for our hike began. Also please note our hilarious attempt at using a selfie stick. My timer wasn't long enough to get this shot set up properly. I have others that turned out better but this really made me laugh. #newbieswithaselfiestick

The hike was really nice and the forest was so luscious! There was a cool tangle of huge low hanging branches so we had to "sloth" on them, obviously. 

The hike was really nice and the forest was so luscious! There was a cool tangle of huge low hanging branches so we had to "sloth" on them, obviously. 

After a few more stops, one at a temple and one at a local macadamia nut farm (best coffee!) we took a quick stop at Kualoa Ranch- a beautiful ranch tucked right next to the mountains along the North Shore where you can take horseback or four-wheeler tours throughout some famous filming grounds (cough Jurrasic Park, cough Lost). 

After a few more stops, one at a temple and one at a local macadamia nut farm (best coffee!) we took a quick stop at Kualoa Ranch- a beautiful ranch tucked right next to the mountains along the North Shore where you can take horseback or four-wheeler tours throughout some famous filming grounds (cough Jurrasic Park, cough Lost). 

Dinner Time at Giovani's shrimp truck!

Dinner Time at Giovani's shrimp truck!

Our last stop before the sunset on our road trip was Sunset Beach- a beach along the North Shore famous for it's big surf waves. Sat and watched the surfers here for an hour. 

Our last stop before the sunset on our road trip was Sunset Beach- a beach along the North Shore famous for it's big surf waves. Sat and watched the surfers here for an hour. 

And what better way to end the day than by watching the sunset at Sunset Beach. 

And what better way to end the day than by watching the sunset at Sunset Beach. 

The next day we caught a last minute whale watching boat! It only took about 10-15 minutes out from shore until we saw our first pod of whales! I tried to enjoy the whale action and not take too many pictures (also it was SOO rough out on the boat) but I had to take one for proof for some specific friends who don't trust my word-of-mouth. 

The next day we caught a last minute whale watching boat! It only took about 10-15 minutes out from shore until we saw our first pod of whales! I tried to enjoy the whale action and not take too many pictures (also it was SOO rough out on the boat) but I had to take one for proof for some specific friends who don't trust my word-of-mouth. 

Didn't get sea sick and saw a lot of whales (even breaching whales!) so the trip was a success!

Didn't get sea sick and saw a lot of whales (even breaching whales!) so the trip was a success!

While the boat was coming into shore we made our own Hawaiian leis. I was pretty happy about it.  

While the boat was coming into shore we made our own Hawaiian leis. I was pretty happy about it.  

And then we wore them for the rest of the night

And then we wore them for the rest of the night

Our last day in Waikiki! Just taking in the markets, the beach and the surfboards. 

Our last day in Waikiki! Just taking in the markets, the beach and the surfboards. 

Hopefully I'll be back again to explore the rest of the island! Until next time...Aloha

Hopefully I'll be back again to explore the rest of the island! Until next time...Aloha

Katelyn

A Farewell to Montreal

So instead of just doing a post about what I've been up to for the last few months, I wanted to slightly alter the layout of this and focus on what I did before I left Montreal. As most of you know, I've now moved out of Montreal and am on my way to Vancouver (on Friday! AH!). But this doesn't mean that I don't seriously love and miss Montreal already, because I do. It's a great city full of amazing places and people (esp people) that I will be missing all the time! So I'd like to share with you a few of my favourite things to do and places to go in Montreal.

On the infamous moving weekend in Montreal (July 1st each year the city is mayhem with movers) I decided to walk up to the lookout on Mont Royal (the mountain) with some friends to watch the sunrise and drink champagne in paper cups. It was the most beautiful morning with soft warm light from the sun as s slowly rose over the city and I couldn't have asked for a better way to say goodbye than that. I may have been extremely tired while attempting to pack my life away, but it was worth it. I seriously recommend this to Montrealers who have a sunday morning to spare.

"Stella" - The apartment that was shared by many and a hub for guests and visitors. It was inhabited for 5 years by a different combination of roommates and friends and one of my favourite apartments in the city. 

"Stella" - The apartment that was shared by many and a hub for guests and visitors. It was inhabited for 5 years by a different combination of roommates and friends and one of my favourite apartments in the city. 

I spent a lot of time in my last month or two in Montreal preparing for my new summer job - full time freelance! Had to finish up work for current clients, as well as complete my last few weeks working my then full time job as Assistant Merchandiser and Graphic Designer at TÉLIO and start preparing for the new clients and jobs I was receiving. 

I probably spent the most amount of free time biking around the Lachine Canal and to the West Island in order to train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer that I participated in with my colleagues in July! It was a 235km bike ride from Montreal to Quebec City and as a non-biker with a 15 year old mountain bike, I had some preparation I needed to do. 

These are a few of my favourite things...

1. Walk
There is so much to see in Montreal and the best way to see it is on foot. With a downtown core that is relatively compact, you can see a lot in a 1 hour walk. Whether it's to the Atwater Market to get fresh flower arrangements for $5 or 3 different delicious cheeses for $12, up the mountain to the look out or beaver lake for a picnic, around the plateau for brunch followed by coffee in a hipster cafe or along the canal to the Old Port to see some beautiful architecture and chill by the water.

Lilac's from the Atwater Market that I was lucky enough to live so close to!

Lilac's from the Atwater Market that I was lucky enough to live so close to!

The Mont Royal lookout during the day, took a walk Thanksgiving weekend with my mom and brother.

The Mont Royal lookout during the day, took a walk Thanksgiving weekend with my mom and brother.

Walking along the canal to the Old Port you pass the iconic (for Montreal) Farine Five Roses old factory building.

Walking along the canal to the Old Port you pass the iconic (for Montreal) Farine Five Roses old factory building.

2. Eat and Drink
Now I don't have a beautiful magazine worthy photo of everyplace that I like to eat or drink in in Montreal but I will list some of my favourites here for you- if you ever take a trip, consider going to some of these places! I tried to go to many of them again before leaving but I wasn't able to cross them all off my list!
-Ice House: yummy fusion tacos, bourbon ice tea and lemonade, amazing nacos and fried chicken that you eat off a brown paper covered table.
-SuWu: right at the corner of St Laurent and Prince Arthur, Suwu has amazing brunch and dinner foods that will make you question your choices once you see what everyone else around you orders because you'll want it all. The grilled cheese mac and cheese (it's exactly what you think it is) is one of the best, most cheesiest things I've had in a long time.
-Kazu: Japanese fusion food in a tiny 5 table restaurant that you WILL have to wait in line for outside, so be prepared if it's winter, but it's worth it. 48 hour pork and a shrimp burger with sauce that's to die for.
-Cacao 70: Dessert and chocolate forever on everything. Go here to treat your sweet tooth for any meal of the day but be prepared for that meal to be accompanied by chocolate in some way. When is that ever a problem?
-Picks: a tiny family run burger joint that has specialty toppings like a deep-fried onion ring and kimchi, it's a delicious burger and one that I find myself craving often. A great price for take out too!
-Velo Burrito: this is a delivery burrito service by bicycle so not so much for visitors as it is for the residents of Montreal. They post specials on their facebook page weekly along with their standard menu and when you get a burrito it is a giant burrito the size of a football so be prepared to eat!

Big in Japan Bar

Big in Japan Bar

Drink
I don't drink at too many different places, my friends and I are people of habit and when we find places we like, we pretty much go there all the time. Here are a few favs of mine.
-Big in Japan Bar: Here they have strong delicious cocktails and you can buy a bottle of whiskey, write your name on it and come back for it later, stored along the ceiling as you see above (that's not something I'm likely to ever do but the idea is nice). The atmosphere is lovely and the crooner music is a nice change from other bars in town. My advice- sit at the bar at the back. It might not look as fancy or cool but there may be other perks.
-Dominion Square Tavern: Another bar in the same price category as Big in Japan Bar, Dominion has a copper topped bar with high shelves lining the walls with bottles and an old school shelf ladder thing (like the one in the beauty and the beast library- I mean, where else do they really exist?) Great place for a drink or two to catch up with a old friend.
-Le Sainte-Elizabeth: This place is always packed on their outdoor patio and it's no wonder. Enclosed with high stone walls covered with green ivy it's a great change from a lot of back alley patios that we already know and love in the city. 
-Grumpy's Bar: A go to place for friends of mine during their school years because it's downtown, the beer is cheap and the bartenders are great, so we stuck to it. For a cheap drink in a chill atmosphere with live music, it's a great bar.

3. Summer!
Summer in Montreal is full of festivals and outdoor activities that outdo a lot of other cities that don't suffer as much in the winter time. When you're covered in snow for what feels like 7 months of the year, the people of Montreal celebrate in summer. Osheaga music festival is a favourite for many people across the country and when living in Montreal it's hard to resist - and why should you? I had to take advantage while I lived close by- so much fun on a hot summers day listening to as many of your favourites artists that you can squeeze into your schedule. This easily tops the summer favourites list for sure. 

Along with Osheaga, Jazzfest, Montreal Fringe and Just for Laughs are also all summer festivals with so much to see, including a lot of free stuff through the Jazz festival (I always appreciate a free show). A few other awesome outdoor summer activities include Montreal Pride, Sundays at Tam Tams and relaxing by the secret pool which *tear* is closed down now! But constellation prize- there is a beach on Parc Jean Drapeau that's really fun as well. 

Osheaga 2013

Osheaga 2013

Jazzfest outdoors in Place-des-arts

Jazzfest outdoors in Place-des-arts

St Catherine street closed down in the village the whole summer long perfect for Pride

St Catherine street closed down in the village the whole summer long perfect for Pride

The secret pool that was on the mountain behind McGill was a nice quiet public pool to escape to. Sadly it's closed now- I'll miss you.

The secret pool that was on the mountain behind McGill was a nice quiet public pool to escape to. Sadly it's closed now- I'll miss you.

Last but not least I highly recommend taking a few hours and going to the spa on a boat in the Old Port, Bota Bota. I've never done the water circuit before but boy was it relaxing and worth every penny! The view of the city is gorgeous and going in the evening was a great way to watch the sun set over the city.

The view of Montreal from Bota Bota spa sur l'eau.

The view of Montreal from Bota Bota spa sur l'eau.

That pretty much sums up what I feel like saying for now. I think everyone should go spend some time in Montreal. Especially if you're from Toronto and have never been, the city has a completely different vibe and it's so affordable and easy to travel to it's worth it to experience a totally different city life from the one you are used to. I'll be back for visits soon I hope! 

Cheers Montreal!

enjoying a sunday at tam tams

enjoying a sunday at tam tams

Travel Bug: Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Wales & London!

My annual goal is to take a trip, whether it be within Canada (since it's just so huge!) or internationally! Of course funds play a part but I always try to make sure to keep aside a travel fund because I think travel is the best way to grow and gather inspiration! Here are some snapshots from my semi-recent trip overseas this May, beginning in Amsterdam, then off to Dusseldorf to stay with a friend from Montreal, and finally Newport Wales to witness one of my best Uni friends getting married!

My first weekend away was exploring Amsterdam, so many canals, bikes, flower markets and amazing architecture.

My first weekend away was exploring Amsterdam, so many canals, bikes, flower markets and amazing architecture.

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chilly evening walks with lights along the canal, provide a very scenic backdrop

chilly evening walks with lights along the canal, provide a very scenic backdrop

Day 2 led us to the Stedelijk Museum of modern art

Day 2 led us to the Stedelijk Museum of modern art

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I was taken with all the amazing typography and poster designs

I was taken with all the amazing typography and poster designs

Right next door was the I Amsterdam sign infront of the   Rijksmuseum

Right next door was the I Amsterdam sign infront of the Rijksmuseum

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When in Amsterdam...chill at the park

When in Amsterdam...chill at the park

oh and the food was gooooood. Loved the pancakes, My favourite was the kaas pancakes (aka with delicious melted cheese on top!). This dessert pancake was pretty good too.

oh and the food was gooooood. Loved the pancakes, My favourite was the kaas pancakes (aka with delicious melted cheese on top!). This dessert pancake was pretty good too.

Oh if only you could bring cheese on the plane...

Oh if only you could bring cheese on the plane...

And of course the trip was even better that I go to go with my travel companion, Kansas! We've known each other for over 15 years and have been travelling internationally together for 4!

And of course the trip was even better that I go to go with my travel companion, Kansas! We've known each other for over 15 years and have been travelling internationally together for 4!

Next Stop- Dusseldorf! Kansas and I went to stay with my good friend Alix, a Montrealer living and going to school in Dusseldorf, Germany!

Next Stop- Dusseldorf! Kansas and I went to stay with my good friend Alix, a Montrealer living and going to school in Dusseldorf, Germany!

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long walks around the city

long walks around the city

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we took a day trip on the train to the city of Cologne. this cathedral is just breathtaking. and huge.

we took a day trip on the train to the city of Cologne. this cathedral is just breathtaking. and huge.

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love locks

love locks

lovely colours in Cologne

lovely colours in Cologne

back to dusseldorf for a visit at Schloos Benrath

back to dusseldorf for a visit at Schloos Benrath

took transit to a German beer garden for dinner and on the way found these old ruins!

took transit to a German beer garden for dinner and on the way found these old ruins!

nice way to end the Germany leg of my trip, beer garden at sunset

nice way to end the Germany leg of my trip, beer garden at sunset

onto my next stop- Newport Wales!

onto my next stop- Newport Wales!

the lovely cottage we stayed at during our weekend stay in Wales. couldn't ask for a better place.

the lovely cottage we stayed at during our weekend stay in Wales. couldn't ask for a better place.

fresh bread and eggs from the cottage farm

fresh bread and eggs from the cottage farm

the whole weekend rained but the countryside was lush and calming, I loved it here!

the whole weekend rained but the countryside was lush and calming, I loved it here!

onto the whole reason this trip was scheduled- the wedding of my dear friend Belinda! 

onto the whole reason this trip was scheduled- the wedding of my dear friend Belinda! 

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the bride has lovely handwriting! Belinda is an extremely talented graphic designer, check out her website  here .

the bride has lovely handwriting! Belinda is an extremely talented graphic designer, check out her website here.

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Another University friend of mine, Kitty N. Wong, was my travel companion for our Wales and London trip. Hadn't seen each other since we graduated 4 years ago! Check out her illustration website  here .

Another University friend of mine, Kitty N. Wong, was my travel companion for our Wales and London trip. Hadn't seen each other since we graduated 4 years ago! Check out her illustration website here.

Ryerson girls reunited :)

Ryerson girls reunited :)

After the wonderful wedding weekend Kitty and I went to London where I spent a quick few days before heading home.

After the wonderful wedding weekend Kitty and I went to London where I spent a quick few days before heading home.

my first time having high tea

my first time having high tea

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Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

and so completes an amazing trip! Excited to see where my travels will take me next.

and so completes an amazing trip! Excited to see where my travels will take me next.

Month of April

Alright...only 2 months late here for my recap of April instagrams and happenings. My bad. Like I've said, full time job and taking off 2 weeks for a vacation in May (woe is me) really takes up a lot of your free time. Prepping and packing and all that jazz.

I spent the long weekend in April (Easter that is) visiting my best friend in New York City. It's my 8th time visiting the big apple which is a great number. I've been enough times that I don't need to focus on doing touristy things and now that my friends live there, that's an asset which allows me to spend time with them and explore their neighbourhood in Bushwick.  

Waiting for the bus to head to NYC! I <3 NY

Waiting for the bus to head to NYC! I <3 NY

Day 1- Central Park (and maybe some shopping...) Every time I go to New York I make a point of walking through Central Park. It's my favourite place in the city and 8 trips down I haven't missed a visit. Even my 2 day work trip I managed to walk through the park early in the morning before my day at Javits Center. 

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park over Easter Weekend. Can't complain! Spring comes earlier in NYC that it does in Montreal.&nbsp;

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park over Easter Weekend. Can't complain! Spring comes earlier in NYC that it does in Montreal. 

Cool spring day with row boats in Central Park. So many weeping willows.

Cool spring day with row boats in Central Park. So many weeping willows.

Having drinks with my friends at The Rookery in Bushwick.&nbsp;

Having drinks with my friends at The Rookery in Bushwick. 

Day 2 was spent eating! We hit up Smorgasburg in Williamsburg followed (only 2 hours later) by going to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for the 1st time! Had to try a few new things  on this trip and it was ALL food.

Hot day in the city for April and everyone was out at Smorgasburg. I mean everyone.

Hot day in the city for April and everyone was out at Smorgasburg. I mean everyone.

My meal of choice at Smorgasburg, Korean BBQ Sliders. So delicious and I may have eaten a giant ice cream cookie sandwich following this...

My meal of choice at Smorgasburg, Korean BBQ Sliders. So delicious and I may have eaten a giant ice cream cookie sandwich following this...

Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. I think this day was a little too glutenous.

Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. I think this day was a little too glutenous.

So all in all the trip was a success! My belly was full and my wallet less so. Following this I went on a 'buying strike' to prepare for my next trip- 2 weeks in Europe and the UK! Coming soon :)

So it's been awhile...

I know I haven't written a post in so long! It's hard to manage my time with my day job and freelance to include time for fun blog posts! But a fun thing is- I'm currently on vacation! Another reason why I haven't posted. 

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That's a sweet selfie of me today walking the shopping streets in Dusseldorf! I already spent a weekend in Amsterdam and tomorrow I'm off to Wales for a good friends wedding- pretty excited for an international wedding I must say! Stay tuned for posts about my travels- I have some pretty awesome pics so far ;) 

Until next time,