This has been a pretty epic year for traveling and it’s been awesome to be able to spend so much time with friends from away… but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to milk my 40th birthday for anything else. Celebrating in Vegas was a pretty fun way to do it up!
I am an expert in last place. In a small group, I’m pretty much always last. In a really large group, there may be a handful of finishers that come in after me. Some days I can’t run distances I could just days before. Some days I’m so angry at myself for all the bad decisions I made in my adult life – the ones that lead to me being fat and unfit – that I could scream. Sometimes I have to stop and walk. Sometimes I have to walk most of my run. My friends are frequently well on their way back to the finish line before I have hit the half way mark. But I’m not quitting. Continue reading
I’m pretty sure I’ve never titled a blog more accurately. I must have all the adventures!
This time, we took the Med by storm with loads of our awesome friends, including 10 days on the new Carnival Vista. And here we go…
(and if you just want some random tips for travelers, head right to the bottom)
Day 1 – A completely uneventful but incredibly long travel day…
It’s been a few years since our last visit to Europe and I’m always pleasantly reminded how much easier it is to fly from Canada to anywhere in the world but America (not that it’s hard, it’s more just that our main airports are kind chaotic with US customs on our own soil). We left on our midday flight to Toronto and didn’t have to touch any kind of security or customs again until we got to Athens. We had a couple of hours to kill in Toronto, so of course we had to start our holidays off right with a visit to Mill St. for some beer! Continue reading
Last winter we took our first Royal Caribbean cruise. Carnival is starting to run out of Caribbean itineraries that aren’t full of repeats for us and RC had some new ports. If you’ve read the blog or talked to me about it at all, you’ll know it was not my favourite. We had a lot of fun – thanks to great friends and fun ports. But we had a hard time getting most things sorted in advance for our group. I didn’t love the ship, I didn’t love the food, and I wasn’t in a rush to try another one.
And then Greg won a cruise with them… and having paid entirely for all of our travelling ourselves, of course we wanted something free! We thought booking a cruise we were paying for was hard with them. Booking a cruise we won was a lot harder… but you’ll have to skip ahead to the end for that rant.
I love taking holidays after the stress of November/December… and I especially like it when we go somewhere warm… and meet up with friends. So maybe California in January isn’t that warm sometimes, but it was definitely warmer than here and there was definitely friends involved.
Uneventful travels put us in CA before lunch, even though we had been up for about 12 hours by then. Our most excellent friends Alice and Bill picked us up as LAX and we were off to find some lunch and beers. We ended up at the Baja Cantina near Venice Beach. After lunch, since it was nice out and we found easy parking, we explored the pier and some of the canals (admiring their most snazzy Christmas decorations… which even after seeing a lot of them, all look weird to me because they don’t really have winter in my world), found coffee and beer to go, and then hit the road for our hotel in Mission Viejo. Might as well enjoy some LA traffic en route, right? Drive to the hotel took about 2 hours. Continue reading
Today I turn 39.
It’s not a conventional milestone birthday, but my 30s have been amazing and I think I need to show them out with some fanfare! I’ve already achieved my original 40th birthday goal of visiting 40 countries by then (who knew I was such an overachiever?!)…
So here’s my new intention… Over the next year, I plan to try 40 new things. I’m being realistic (shocking, I know) – they don’t all have to be epic, life altering things… I mean like it or not, I do have to work sometimes and my funds are most certainly not unlimited. Just 40 things that are new to me… try a new food, visit a new place, or learn to do something new (banjos and crochet look fun, but I’m not committing on the first day).
I do have a few things in mind already… a 10K, a new tattoo, a new language, and visiting a new country or two. The rest of them I’ll discover along the way.
So here’s my 40 new things:
- Disneyland. Honestly, I’ve never really had any desire to visit anything Disney. We don’t have kids, I’m not big on standing in line for things, and it’s expensive… but when in Rome, right? We visited California again to celebrate the wedding of some friends, so we decided to check it out. It was actually a lot of fun spending the day there with Alice and Bill… (but still really expensive).
- Big ball bowling. Where we live in Canada, big ball bowling is just not a thing. So we’ve never tried it before. Putting your fingers in holes in the balls is totally weird, but we got the hang of it and maybe even rocked it.
- Pop culturing. I’m not obsessed with any actor, band, or general “celebrity”… but I did love the show Ace of Cakes when it was on, and it was the reason why I decided to try cake decorating. So I was pretty stoked to have awesome friends come with me to decorate some cupcakes (with very, very limited tools) and peek through the windows at Charm City Cakes West in LA.
- Snowshoeing. I’ve lived in a country with significant winter my whole life, but it wasn’t until this year that we finally bought snowshoes. And that, of course, meant we got a winter with not that much snow. But that’s OK, we made good use of them when we could and enjoyed not having to dig out our cars as much.
- Crocheting. I attempted to teach myself how to crochet from YouTube… and that totally wasn’t for me. So a friend showed me some tricks and I crocheted an entire blanket. Greg is an excellent blanket model 🙂
- Creating. If you read this blog or know me at all, it’s no surprise that travel is my thing. I am also totally a creative type and have been combining art and my love of travel for years. But I haven’t sketched in a very long time, and have gotten back into it with collection of travel sketches drawn on old maps.
- Hibachi. I’ve never been to a hibachi restaurant and have always thought that they look like a lot of fun. We also don’t have one where we live. So on a recent trip, we visited one at sea with friends. Yum!
- Haiti. In April we spent a day relaxing on the beach and floating in the ocean in Haiti – visited country number 44 on my list.
- Farming. I love being outside, and in my odds and sods of jobs so far this year, I’ve gotten to trim apple trees and feed a baby lamb (though I wasn’t really in a position to take pictures of either).
- Freelancing. I’m determined to not have to return to a full time IT office job. I don’t get our strange North American theories that working all the time and being crazy busy is the way life should be lived. So I’ve been freelancing outside my normal IT knowledge, recently working on interesting projects like data mining for a 3D furniture imaging app, transcribing letters from the late 1880s by English missionaries in China, and transcribing interviews for someone’s thesis on how clothing relates to gender identity.
- Tempeh. I’ve been in varying stages of vegetarianism or veganism since high school, but I had never tried tempeh… so after I managed to find some locally, we decided to give it a go in taco form. It was delicious (though a lot of that credit has to go to my amazing cook of a husband).
- 10K. We signed up for the 10K of the Fredericton Marathon last year, and I had the best of intentions of training properly for it. But I have a super hard time staying motivated in winter and I didn’t. So I completed my first 10K, but I did have to walk some of it. I’ll get it next time.
- Hays Falls. There’s a lot of great outdoors to explore where we live (a benefit of having only a few small cities and a small population) and I haven’t been to nearly enough of them. So we took advantage of a beautiful, sunny afternoon in May to hike in to Hays Falls and climb around for a while. Cause waterfalls are awesome.
- Beach trekking. I grew up in Saint John and I’ve spent a fair amount of time at both McLaren’s Beach and Bay Shore. But, I’ve never been there when the tide was low enough to walk (and rock climb) between them. So we spent this morning (our 12th anniversary) doing just that and it was awesome. I do really miss living close to the ocean.
15. New food – bibimbap. We were watching Masterchef and they made this. Neither of us had had it before, and both immediately knew we needed to. So we made it. It might not have been totally authentic, but it was delicious. 16. Away 10K. When our fall race was moved to a date that didn’t work for us, we decided to try Saint John’s Marathon by the Sea races. And this equals more new things – running on the Harbour Bridge (which is totally closed to pedestrian traffic always), running a 10K in another city, a new 10K personal best, finishing a race before my husband (ok, well, he did run over double my distance), and cheering for my husband at his first half marathon.17. New food – Ntakos. It’s a tradional Greek salad of bread covered in tomatoes, feta, and herbs and I decided to give it a try in Athens – it’s delish (minus the olives, because olives are poison).18. Beer sampling. Wait, read the whole thing! The Carnival Vista has a brewery on it, and we sampled all of their beer and took a peek at the operations. Their IPA is quite delish.20. Sky Ride. Another fun feature on our latest cruise was the Sky Ride – a pedal bike type thinger hanging from a track on the top deck of the ship, with great views of the ocean. Super fun!
21. Malta. We only spent one day in the stunningly beautiful city of Valletta, but I would definitely return to explore the rest of this country – number 45 on my list.22. IMAX at Sea. We don’t have IMAX where we live, so it’s not something we do… but I’ve never been to one in the middle of the ocean before. Had a lovely date with my friend Melissa to see Suicide Squad.
23. New food – pasta. I’ve had lots of different kinds of pasta, but never cheese and pear with pistachio sauce like we had in Tuscany at Castello di Monteriggioni. Amazing!
24. France. After a previous failed attempt, I have now finally set foot on France (country number 46). We spent a great day in Marseille exploring Notre Dame de la Garde, Chateau d’If, and other sites with friends.
25. Singing in public. On more than one occasion on our latest cruise, I sang in public (for a chance at winning beer). I’m a total team player 🙂
26. Writing something different. I write a lot, but I rarely share anything that isn’t about traveling, beer, or a shameless self promotion of one of my (or a family member/friend’s) business ventures. You can read about my adventures in running here.
27. Pursuing a goal. For quite a long time, I’ve wanted to find something in the travel industry that I would enjoy and could actually get paid for. Travel is my thing. I love everything about it. And now it’s part of the master plan. Check out my travel agency – Those Who Wander by Go Travel.
28. New restaurant: A Taste of Egypt. Had been trying to find time to have supper with my good friend Sue… so I decided to combine it with a new thing (getting down to the wire with 11 more new things required in the next week)… so we checked out A Taste of Egypt in Saint John. Not too shabby!
29. Winning something. In my new adventures as a travel agent, there’s so many learning opportunities… including lots of webinars. And apparently some of them give away prizes. And I won a Visa gift card learning about a cruise supplier. Yay me! (This is new because I NEVER win stuff)
30. Valley of Fire State Park. Spending the day here was AMAZING! Can’t go wrong spending the day climbing and hiking around somewhere beautiful with great friends and great weather. 31. Love. Adding a new Cirque du Soleil show to my list – checked out Love (based on the music of the Beatles) while we were in Vegas.
32. Celebrity chefs. We had decided that while we were in Vegas, we would at least check out one celebrity chef restaurant… but we ended up with four. Border Grill (Top Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger), Buddy V’s Ristorante (Cake Boss Buddy Valastro – hate his show, but my pizza was good), Burgr (Gordon Ramsay), and Sprinkles Cupcakes (Candace Nelson).
33. Away 5K. While I have now run numerous 5K races, this was the first one in Las Vegas at night with 9000 of my closest friends!
34. Rock ‘N’ Noodles. This place was my favourite place we ate at in Vegas… we showed up 10 minutes before close and their chef David welcomed us in and fed us delicious food and beer. Highly recommend.
35. Hip-hop concert. I’m not a hip-hop fan, but this was the included concert for our Rock N Roll Half (and neither rock nor roll in my world)… but I went. I still don’t like Snoop.36. Sports book gambling. I am admittedly not a huge gambler because I work too hard for my moolah to be OK with just throwing it away. I do normally bet small amounts on football though, so on my birthday I thought I would give sports book gambling a try instead of Fanduel. And with Greg’s help, I even won!
37. Birthday party away. For at least the last decade, I’ve barely had time to even acknowledge my birthday, let alone go away for it. But being in Vegas for my 40th birthday was pretty damn fun… and having awesome friends and my awesome husband surprise me with cake and prezzies and beer and dinner and brunch and decorations was amazing! Thank you all!
38. Vegan ice cream. I’ve had vegan ice cream before – because I make it and sell it in my bakery. But I’ve never been able to go out somewhere and try it. So when we walked by a Ben & Jerry’s in Vegas that had it, it had to be tried… even though I was already dying of full. It was good (but mine is better).
39. High roller. Great way to get a view of the strip from up high… so we gave it a try (this actually happened 2 days after my birthday, but I’m counting it because it was planned in advance and part of my birthday trip :))
40. Half marathon! It’s been my intention to finish my list off with this for a very long time… and I did it. On the evening of my 40th birthday, I ran my first half marathon, on the Las Vegas strip, with many thousands of other people. And it was hard. And awesome. And I did it.
And so, 40 new things were achieved this year, and a lot of fun was had achieving them. What to do next?
More super fun hijinks in the Caribbean with friends on board the Carnival Breeze.
Day 1 – Heading south and breaking cameras…
Adventure time! And I can even omit the part where I whine about how we have to drive for ages to be able to get to flights with a reasonable cost associated with them… we flew from home for a price we could live with. We this time is Greg and I, and our friends Nicole and Lloyd. Arrived in Florida by noon, straight to the hotel by way of a shuttle service that looped around a bit because we were nice enough to let them wait for the other group of people (who were trashed already and obnoxious… of course.. not that we haven’t also been that group at some time or another). We stayed in downtown Miami (Courtyard Downtown), went and found some cheap eats, got some beer to have our own tasting at the hotel, and mostly chilled out for a bit. Then we walked around some, headed to the Beer and Burger joint for the obvious choices in a restaurant with this name (I may have also found cupcakes and Starbucks), and then back to the hotel for the night. Crazy party animals. We were tired (we had to be at the airport for our first flight at a time you should only ever reach by staying up all night) and it was humid as fuck! About 2 minutes before we got back to the hotel, I stopped to take a picture and my camera died. Like unfixable died. Not no more battery died. Hooray!