Tag Archives: Europe

The travel bug has struck!

Travelling around the world for the past few years was amazing and I am missing it so much!!!   So much so, that I have been researching where I want to go next in this world, and my decision (and deposit!) has been made.

 

I won’t be travelling solo this time- I am going to take a bus tour with Trafalgar Tours (who I used when I went to Italy in April 2014) through Spain, Morocco and Portugal.  Sadly this trip will not take place until January 2019 but that just means I have MONTHS to research and have the anticipation build until I go!!

 

I am excited to once again travel with Trafalgar Tours – my trip through Italy was absolutely amazing with them, and I have read the reviews of the trip I will be taking and all the reviews are great.

 

Heading back to Europe – a new part of it for me – and into Africa (another continent off my list!) is very exciting.  I am excited to experience the cultures, the scenery and of course the FOOD!!

 

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Bucket list dreams

Growing up in a small Ontario city, one dreams of having the chance to see and maybe even live in exciting cities of the world. But how many of us actually get to do that?  I am sure people would be surprised to hear that many of us do!

I am one of those people. I grew up in Welland, Ontario ~ a small industrial city in Southern Ontario, close to Niagara Falls.  I enjoyed growing up there. I had lots of friends, school was fun for the most part, but then I turned 16 and I started dreaming of moving away. Toronto and New York City were the big cities that I wanted to see and live in! 

I did end up moving to Toronto when I was 19. I stayed a few years, moved to London, Ontario and got married. Yet I still had that itch to see more than Southern Ontario. I just could not see myself being brave enough to get out in the world. 
A few years ( and a divorce) later found me and my daughter heading to New York City. One of my bucket list items came off my list!! 
Single motherhood became my most important job then and so the bucket list had to wait.

A move to Calgary and discovering a new confidence in myself found me looking at European opportunities to work. A trip to Italy in April 2014 took another bucket list item off and added so many more to it!!!  I knew I had the courage to make a move.

In November 2014, after quitting my job, I moved to Prague to start a new life.  Teaching English was never on my bucket list but its enabled me to see London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, and now China. And I have a career now ~ not just a job.

I loved growing up in Welland and I wouldn’t trade my memories of my childhood for anything, but I am so proud of myself to have made it as far in the world as I have.  I can only hope that I inspire my children to live life with all their potential and to see just how far they can go, with hard work and a bucket list!!

Choosing a better life

My life has been anything but easy. I have experienced challenges with every turn in the road of this life. It has only been recently that I have chosen to embrace every challenge and conquer it.

Czech Republic was one of my biggest and most challenging roads to take. Leaving my family, my comfortable job and a steady pay cheque was the scariest thing I have ever done. With a strong desire to succeed and to show everyone, especially myself, that I could do this, I put my nose to the grindstone, worked hard, worked long hours teaching, and succeeded. With the willpower and determination I knew was needed, I gave it all my all and was rewarded with amazing students and great new friends.

While moving to China can be seen as a huge move, and it was, because of the experience I already had moving away from my family, the transition was much easier to cope with.

If you have a strong desire to see the world, if you are willing to sacrifice the comfort of the known, if you want to be challenged, then you can have this life too. You just need to reach out and grab it.

Traveling without credit ~ it is possible!!

Living a credit~free life is liberating but also challenging. In North America, most people live their every day life with at least one credit card in their wallet. For a long time, so did I. It’s been many years since I have given up the credit life. Has it been challenging? I would be lying if I said no. I have become frugal and disciplined in recent years.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of living and traveling with no credit.
One big advantage is you learn to spend only what you have and what you can afford. I do not live above my means. And there is not much impulse shopping!


Another advantage is learning to budget your money. I have become a master at budgeting, and also a little obsessed with Excel spreadsheets. I am very proud of my ability to budget as well as I do!
Many people are surprised that you can travel with no credit card. Europe and China are very willing to take cash as payments for hotels. Airline websites will take debit card payments. Bus and train tickets can be purchased this way too. It’s all about researching and finding the right websites.


Of course there are disadvantages. A huge disadvantage is not being able to get air mile rewards and bonus points. Many travellers I know have talked about the perks they receive from air lines ~ seat upgrades, even free flights. It’s not possible without a credit card, at least I have not discovered any yet.
Another disadvantage is in North America and traveling. Hotels want credit card information to reserve a room. Car rental companies won’t even consider renting a car without a credit card. While I understand the reasoning, I think it’s unfair to the people who travel on a cash~only basis.
Living and traveling in Europe and China has been quite simple as almost every place willingly takes cash for payment ~ including hotels. I am unaware if there are debt problems here in China as there are in North America, but it has been very nice living in a country that is so accepting of cash.


So don’t tell yourself that you can’t travel because you have no credit card ~ it’s definitely possible! It’s just a matter of discipline, budgeting and a lot of research. If I can do it, anyone can!

Czech Republic ~ my top 10 places to see

​I lived in the Czech Republic for almost two years before moving to China. It is my second hone, after Canada, so I thought I would share my top 10 places to see there.

1.  Cesky Krumlov ~ without a doubt, this is the most beautiful, quaintest, peaceful town I have ever encountered. The history, the magnificent castle and its grounds, the food. Many people will visit only for a day but to get a real feel of the town, you need to take your time, walk through the alleys, visit the shops and imagine you are there back in the medieval era. Spend a weekend at one of the quaint bed and breakfasts. It is worth it! 

2. Konopiste ~ again it is a castle town. This country has so many castles to see but this should be near the top of your list. Set away from town, surrounded by trees and the prettiest lake, is a castle out of a story book. I spent about 5 hours wandering through the grounds, having a picnic by the lake, and people watching. A stunning site to see.

3.  Karlstejn ~ another castle but so much more. This castle is built above a town, and the town is a site to see on its own! The many shops selling uniquely Czech goods, the aroma of the food (sausages ~ oh the sausages!) ~ its a short train ride away from Prague and a wonderful place to spend a day.

4. Prague Castle ~ my friends will be shocked to see this is number 4 on my list! This Castle has my soul ~ it is a magnificent place. The gardens, St. Vitus Cathedral, the quiet alleys, the incredible views of Prague.  There is one special spot in my heart for this Castle. Its amazing to see anytime, but at night, when most of the tourists are in a pub drinking pivo (beer), this place is magical. Serene. Take the time to go at night and you will understand.

5.  Charles Bridge ~ you simply cannot visit this medieval city and not walk on the famous bridge!  There is much to see ~ statues, the Vltava River, the buskers, the people. It is very busy on weekends so try to go on a weekday. 

6.  Divoka Sarka ~ at the end of one of the tram lines is what looks like a big forest area. But once you wander down the hill and are enveloped with the trees and the cliffs and the bubbling creek, you will know why this is on my list. It was my place to escape. Its quiet with an occasional group of people biking, or walking, or having a picnic. Whenever I was having a stressful day, I would get on the tram and walk. You can walk for hours and I did many times.  It had an interesting history as well. Many battles happened here and you will see signs throughout the park but not in English.  

7.  Kutna Hora ~ the town with a church of bones!  I am not kidding ~ there is a bone church in this town!  It is fascinating and quite spooky at the same time. It will chill you!  The town also has a beautiful square and incredible views.

8.  Old Town Square in Prague and the Astronomical Clock ~ one of the main attractions of Prague is the Astronomical clock. Definitely stay and watch the hour chime in and watch the clock’s animation. Then go and enjoy the square. Jan Hus Statue, the horse and carriages, the aroma of food ~ try trdelnik (a pastry) or langos (its like fried bread with sauce ~ its different and popular).  Wander through the narrow cobblestone roads and turn a corner and you will find even more sites and pubs!

9.  Wenceslas Square ~ so many shops!! And this is where you will find the best sausages. Well all of Prague has amazing sausages but you will find a lot here. Oh how I miss the sausages.  

10.  Letna Park ~ in case you couldn’t tell, I love walking. And this park is the best for that because it not only has wonderfully wide paths, and parks for kids, but at the end ~ you will come to the Letna Beer Garden. I could not end my list without including this place, and Czech beer. The views of the city are absolutely the most incredible, and the beer is cold. And yes you can get sausages here too!  Try Kozel, or Gambrinus ~ its a favourite place for many people to go to in the summer.

I could go on and make this a top 100 list ~ I have such incredible memories of this amazing country.  It is not a country to miss if you are in Central Europe.