A Year Ago

A Year Ago

LondonAs of today, I will have left Canadian soil for a year. Leaving Toronto to fly into London, that’s what I was doing a year ago today. Landing in the airport in London and wondering where three of our suitcases were, only to be told they didn’t make the connecting flight from Dublin to there. But at least we had one suitcase make it through, that was good, right? Wrong. Since we knew we would be coming out for over a year we naturally packed winter clothes that we were going to store for the months we travelled. And for all the suitcases to make it through, it would be the suit case with the winter coats and boots that would be absolutely useless in July weather. No matter, we luckily had a couple of extra shirts in our carry on and our tooth brushes. We could make it through a night. The one night turned out to be several before our bags finally did turn up at the hotel. We got many looks when we claimed them and were automatically asked, how long we were planning to stay? Once it was established we were moving to the UK and not just two high maintenance girls that always travels with four suitcases they were much more keen to talk about how it would be great and how much fun we were going to have.

I remember my first impression of London was a bit of a whirl wind. I remember going to places and trying to take it all in, and my eyes and brain were absorbing so much that I was glad I went back to London several times after that so I could slow things down and just savour it all.

DeventerFrom London came the Netherlands, staying with Dian’s friend Kris, and getting our first taste of life in a European city. Understanding how much this country lived off their train system and how nothing was truly that far away. Amsterdam, a major city- an hour by train. Berlin in Germany another country- five hours. I couldn’t make it to Vancouver in a hour and I could only get to Tofino on our island in five hours. Being told Berlin was in reach was surreal at first, and it was why Dian and I planned immediately to go there and stay several nights.

We also went to France, to Lille and Paris, since it was only a train ride away. Where I got to drive in Europe for the first time, it wasn’t too terrible considering I hadn’t driven in a standard for several years. It all came back fairly naturally. All the round abouts and French drivers, that was all new. This could have played a part in why we only went on two day trips by car while we were staying there.

EdinburghThe UK came next, heading back into London, where now after being more settled after a month we got to really relax and enjoy the sights more. We then took a train up to Scotland, and stayed in Edinburgh. We had heard so many good things about the city. Arriving very late at night we splurged on a cab to take us where we were staying. We crashed into our beds so we could start on a new city all over again. We were there during the internationally acclaimed Fringe Festival which meant the city was packed with people, and had things going on everywhere. At the time, I had no idea this would be the city I would be settling in and calling home for the next eight months. I thought at the time, this was just another city we’d be passing through. But when it came about that there was a flat for us to rent, that already would be furnished and would be right downtown next to everything it seemed like it was all meant, and saying no would just have been crazy. So when we left Edinburgh, it was not the same as leaving other places behind, since we knew without question we’d be back, and with a key in our hand to the door of our flat.

We flew into Northern Ireland from there, landing in another airport, looking for familiar faces we only knew from photos sent to us of our cousins by who we had never met. Being welcomed into their homes and shown around from the cities to the countryside of where our great grand parents came from before moving to Canada was so magical. So Irish. Dian and I loved Northern Ireland, it was so beautiful and so lushly green. The people were lovely there, and it was very sad to say good bye to the family we had just met to make our way down to the Republic of Ireland, where from Dublin we flew off to Italy.

Italy Italy was the first country upon arrival there was an instant love. From starting in Sienna for Kris’s wedding, staying in a villa that looked over the Tuscan Hills and eating pasta and drinking wine. Exploring the old city itself, having ice cream in the main square, and sitting in the sun. Going from one city to the next by bus. Having a room with a view in Montepulciano, or an apartment in Florence, where a friend from Canada joined us to see the rest of Italy. Actually seeing where gladiators fought at the Colosseum and where thousands died at Pompeii. Canals instead of streets in Venice. Italy was just so perfect in all that we saw and did. After being there almost a month it was very sad to let  go. But we made a good choice as to where we went after. We chose Spain because if any place was going to lessen the blow of leaving Italy it would be Barcelona.

I think it says a lot about a place, that you can get bed bugs, be completely covered in bites (over 100) that the closest thing you have come to resemble is the ugly character of Two-Face and yet you still love the place. Barcelona was gorgeous, the beaches amazing with the water so warm, and the late nights of people walking the streets, wearing nothing but shorts and tank tops. Then having the possibility of getting on a flight to Ibiza, where the days were spent swimming, and walking around old town. We arrived after the party season was over and it was just quiet streets and locals. We also took each day in with great pleasure as at this point it was October and we knew that once we left Ibiza we would be leaving the sun and the heat, and it would be greatly missed. Especially since, for the months of July and August, Dian and I had to layer our summer clothes in order to stay warm. We had not hit very much summer weather to the at point. The time was approaching to make our way back to Edinburgh and settle in for the winter months and find work. After we made one more stop into Paris, and London.

ChristmasIt was odd, spending our first Christmas away from home, but Dian and I made it our own. Getting a tree and making a Christmas dinner and doing up stockings for us to unwrap on Christmas morning. We had also made friends by this time, who are still friends now. We eventually found work, and found our way around the city. We have had family and friends stay with us in our lovely little flat. We have special pubs we go to now, and favorite places to spend our time. And favourite folk to spend the time with.

We have started planning on where we will travel next, and who will travel with us. The countdown of leaving Edinburgh has begun when it feels like our time here has just started. But I still can’t believe that a year ago today, I was in the country in which I was born and that only a year has passed. Wonder what will happen in the next year? And where we will be and what we shall have seen in that time?