Here we are, at the end of another year, and I have to say – i’m not where I thought I would be.
I mean that in a entirely geographical sense because, spiritually, i’m better than ever. One year ago I was kicking around the idea of leaving my life in Toronto; fleshing out exactly what it was going to take to get rid of my stuff, my apartment, and take off on adventure. I had money saved up for this inevitability, but could I actually pry myself away from the life I spent seven years cultivating?
Apparently I could, and I regret nothing.
My last day of work at Warner Music was February 28th. From there, I flew to Saskatchewan to spend three weeks with my family before I caught that big ol jet airliner to Europe on March 24th. Which brings us to…
Spain. I had my first moment of “holy shit, i really did this” on my Alsa bus from Madrid to Granada. I was sitting in my assigned front seat taking in all the white houses, cacti, and dry earth spread out as far as the eye could see while listening to a seemingly looped “Despacito” on the radio. Of course I wouldn’t find out that the Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee creation was a worldwide hit until many months later; at the time I was just like, “SPAIN.”
But we all know how my Spanish story ends. I didn’t stay in Granada even a quarter of the time I thought I would, instead moving on through Portugal, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Croatia before returning to Canada for a summer in Toronto and Saskatchewan.
I wasn’t prepared for that trip around Europe, as I made up my schedule totally on the fly – living off a prayer and a rapidly depleting bank account. And yet, although I have yet to write about the second half of that particular trip on this blog, I think I healed myself on that trip. When I got to Spain, I was tiptoeing out of a couple of years of discontent, but by the time I got to Croatia, I could feel a certain spark in me returning, even if I was totally exhausted.
By the time I got to Toronto, although I felt more like myself than I had in years, my body was ready to pack ‘er in. I had stress-fractured my left foot in Prague, I had developed the freaking plague when I hit Slovakia (weird, itchy, unsightly welts kept inexplicably showing up all over my body – I have some theories), I had a nasty sty in my eye due to not properly taking my make-up off at night, and due to the Toronto humidity, I had a painful bout of dehydration. All I needed at that point was get myself to Saskatchewan and take a load off.
My initial plan was to stay in Saskatchewan until my friend’s wedding at the beginning of September, and yet, leaving seemed harder than anticipated. Despite treks to Winnipeg and Vancouver Island, I still find myself without my next step hashed out. I can feel Taylor circa 2010 freaking out about my lack of direction right now, but 2017 Taylor? She’s cool with not knowing what’s in store for the next year. There are just so many options, guys!
If you travel right, you’ll come out of the experience with a boatload of stories. Some being stories you didn’t even think would be noteworthy as they were unfolding real-time. It’s all about going with the flow and living like Jim Carrey in Yes Man, but without the crash and burn at the end.
And picking just five stories is so. freaking. hard. Why did I start this tradition two years ago with such a small number? Ugh. Anyway, to all the stories that I didn’t include on this list, don’t worry, mommy still loves you.
Here are my favourite travel moments from 2017
Stumbling Upon Semana Santa – Seville, Spain
My first stop after I left Granada was Seville, and the entire decision to go there was based on needing to find a place in Spain that I could get to via a short train ride. That said, I’m so, so, so glad I chose this incredible city, because what I found there will forever be burned into my memory.
Semana Santa. Holy Week. The time of year right before Easter when thousands of young Spaniards dress up in pointy hats and participate in festivities honouring the Christian resurrection. The whole city was teeming with people, incense, exquisite statues, and drummers. I knew Andalusia was famous for its Semana Santa festivals, but I had no idea the scope.
A Lesson in Life, Love, and Happiness – Brussels, Belgium
In my mind, I divide my 2017 Europe adventure into before Brussels and after Brussels. Not only because what happened to me there not only made me see myself a little clearer, but it changed my whole travel outlook.
You can read the whole story here, but as a quick recap: While out for dinner with a fellow traveller, I met some local Brussels’ men on acid that had some pretty deep philosophies about happiness, owning your personal space, stopping being relentlessly apologetic, and defining your life based on love.
Getting day drunk and visiting castles – Prague, Czechia
I hadn’t even been in Prague a couple hours before I checked Facebook and saw that one of my friends from college, Dezmond, would be solo-travelling there the very same day. Serendipity? I’ll let you be the judge.
I’ve yet to write about this adventure, but Dezmond and I spent two days exploring the city together. In our travels, we visited an Absinthe Bar, a vineyard, the John Lennon Wall, and wandered around the old town while eating ice-cream filled chimneys and stew, among so much else.
It was a blast sharing my time in Prague with an adventurous, laid back, like-minded spirit!
A Sunset Parasail- Cavtat, Croatia
On first arriving in Croatia, my friend Cailee and I knew we wanted to try some kind of slightly-scary activity that would get us out on the water. So, while out for a stroll our first day we stumbled upon the company Parasailing Cavtat, and not only would they take us up in the air, they would also gift us the difference on their sunset time slot so that they could use photos of us in new ads.
So, with champagne glasses in hand and the sun casting gorgeous colors every which way, Cailee and I went up, up, up in the air.
Swimming into Odysseus Cave – Mljet Island, Croatia
The island of Mljet is probably my favorite place in all of Croatia. The island is breathtakingly quaint, scenic, and way more off the tourist trail than anywhere else we travelled.
Wanting to explore more of the island than we would be able to otherwise, Cailee and I rented a cute little orange car for a day (which we nicknamed “Babino”, after the Mljet town of Babino Polje). With it, we circled the island, knowing that one of the most amazing sites was just under a 45 minute drive away from our digs in Polace.
The caves name was Odysseus and, to get to it, we would have to park our car on the side of the highway next to a non-descript path, hike about an hour to the coast, ditch our belongings, and jump uninhibited off the rocks into the salty blue water. From there we swam, not knowing how deep the water would be, what the current was like, or what we would find in the cave.
Spoiler alert: we lived, found a pink and blue cave complete with bats circling overhead, and had one of the best adventures ever. More to come on this story in the near future.
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What were your favorite travel adventures of 2017?