A few weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook that I literally have no idea what to write about these days because 90% of my free time (outside festival work) is spent on completing big ass freelance assignments. It’s a beautiful blessing and also a curse, because HELLO blogging.
So as a sort of cop out, I asked my Facebook followers to ask me any questions they have. It actually turned out to be a whole lot of fun.
“How do you sleep on red eyes? How do you get comfortable?”
Oh boy, if I weren’t armed with an arsenal of Ativan every time I stepped on a flight, I’d be SCREWED. I’m notorious for my sleeping issues, so you can’t imagine how nerve-wracking it is for me to get comfortable in a tiny metal tube in the sky (never mind the fact I’m irrationally afraid of plummeting to earth as a giant fireball).
I have three necessities: 1) anxiety medication 2) window seat 3) comfy pillow.
I’ll take a pill as I’m getting settled into my seat. I don’t really worry about becoming dependent on the drugs or anything, considering I don’t fly all that often and I’ve had the same bottle of pills for about two years now.
My Sleeper Scarf has been enormously helpful in aiding sleep (although I’m not sure it exists anymore?). It ain’t perfect, and my muscles always seize up, but hey.
It’s pretty easy to get an Ativan prescription. I also have sleeping pills for when I’m completely out of control.
“How do you feel about people who ask the difference between Newfoundland and the Atlantic provinces?”
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had anyone ask me that specifically, but nothing grinds my gears like someone saying they’ve “travelled all across Canada” when they don’t actually mean Newfoundland. Like, come on. There’s life beyond Nova Scotia.
I think Newfoundland’s unique history and longevity as a British colony (“country”) has really shaped our current culture. I love that we have a quirky language full of diverse accents and expressions. Newfoundland’s climate and landscape is also incredibly severe – I have a theory that such isolation breeds a certain type of people. All you’ve gotta do is spend some time at a small rural town Legion on a Saturday night to see what I mean.
“Where do you see yourself 30 years from now?”
I honestly don’t see myself living the nomadic lifestyle forever…as evidenced by my current state of stillness. My ultimate dream would be to run a guesthouse/hostel in Newfoundland somewhere, and making the province more accessible to backpackers and budget travellers.
But I love working in communications, and the arts. And ultimately, I always imagined I’d be an author. I’m not so much a fan of this hyper-shallow social media world we live in anymore. I want to keep travelling and not be so constrained to limited vacation time, but I’m finding so many rewards in the work I’m currently doing, it’s hard to know what’s next.
So basically I have zero idea! Haha.
“What kind of place do you prefer to visit? Big cities or sprawling country sides?”
I always thought I was more of a small town gal, but now that I’ve started discovering cities I really love, it’s hard to say. When I first started travelling I hit up all the big players, like London, Dublin, Paris, Toronto, etc. And I never felt any connection with those pristine, sterile places. But cities like Berlin, Athens, Rome, Montreal, and Prague…those feel more real and exciting to me.
But also I can’t imagine ever NOT living by the sea, and all my genuine happy moments are when I’m surrounded by nature. That’s why I keep coming back to St. John’s, largely – I can’t think of too many cities in the world where you can hang out at hip cafes all day and then access some unbelievably stunning hiking trails straight from the downtown core.
“What was the worst place you visited?”
There’s nowhere I HATE, but I don’t care if I ever see Dublin or London again. Dublin is so overpriced and ugly compared to the rest of Ireland, in my opinion. Plus I always felt on edge there. The rest of Ireland I absolutely love to pieces!
“Is there a place that made you feel completely liberated?”
Berlin, definitely. I’d never lived in a huge city before, so the anonymity was liberating. You could be the freakiest person on the planet there and nobody bats an eyelash at it. I loved the nightlife there, and the history, and the incredible friends I made. Other than that, the Camino de Santiago in Spain was one of the most important experiences of my life – at some point, I realized I didn’t want to live my life behind a computer screen (hilariously, it’s exactly what I’m doing…).
“Cities that make it easy to fall in love?”
Prague (you’d have to be pretty jaded to not be bowled over by the beauty of Prague), Berlin (everyone fits in!), and Rome (because every corner turned is a jaw dropping surprise). If I were going to pick another Canadian city though, it’d be Montreal. It feels the most like Europe to me, and there’s a certain freedom that comes with living there. It’s cheaper, it’s a giant city, and their summers don’t suck.
“Which destinations that you’ve visited are worth going to for the food alone?”
Oh my god, Italy. So much Italy. What I love the most about Italian food is how everything is actually quite simple, but the food is ridiculously fresh and wonderful. I had some incredible experiences in Rome and Florence, especially.
I also really loved Berlin, because of its diverse restaurant scene. You could probably eat your way around the world there. I suspect Asia will be another highlight for me!
“What are your fears?”
I often worry about time slipping away from me, and not getting to do everything I want to do. Also, airplanes. I hate ‘em. So much.
Oh and spiders. Fuck those guys.
“What was the last experience that left you speechless?”
Oh god, hard to say. I get really overwhelmed by feelings when I’m on the Mediterranean. There’s something about that sea and that part of the world that really pulls me in. I’m obsessed with ancient history, so maybe I was a Roman in a past life or something. Hiking in the Cinque Terre was really wonderful. One evening I met a random girl at my hostel and we just enjoyed a bottle of wine together overlooking the sea, watching the sunset. It was wonderful.
Other than that, there were a few times on the Camino where I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. When your head isn’t cluttered with the stress of the day-to-day, it’s easy to really think. That day I was walking along an open plain surrounded by hills in the Spanish countryside, I was just overcome with amazement over my ability to pull off such a pilgrimage…I cried like a baby.
“When are you coming back to Berlin?”
Ha! Not soon enough! Seriously though. Berlin feels like home to me.
“Which non-English places are easiest for English speakers to find their way around? Which are the hardest?”
I think you can do pretty much anywhere in Europe (except maybe the Balkans) with relative ease as an English speaker. Northern Europe, especially. I suppose when you’re surrounded by a million different languages, you kinda have to learn. All my Berliner friends made me jealous with their multiple language knowledge.
Hardest — Central and South America was hard on my own, but since it’s a pretty heavy tourist area there’s almost always someone around who’s bilingual (or can speak passable Spanish). Jordan was hard, although I did meet a bedouin who spoke better English than I do. Ha.
“Packing tips to ease your travel pains?”
Stupid, silly adage but “pack everything you need, then divide in half!” If I can travel for 30 days with only three changes of clothes, you can get by with a carry-on and just a few outfits. I also LOVE packing cubes. I’m so messy, but the cubes help keep me organized.
“How about hot springs in Canada?”
I actually have NO idea! The only hot springs in Canada I’m even remotely familiar with are at Banff Springs. Sorry!
Thanks for indulging my whims, friends! I’ve been tackling some really awesome freelance projects lately — writing for CBC Arts, CBC NL, Canadian Traveller magazine, and managing some social media for a local theatre group. So once things settle down, I’ll be back in a more regular routine.