My Year of Buying Nothing: Winter

My Year of Buying Nothing: Winter

My first "year of buying nothing" started the second day of January in 2010. I was back in southern Ontario after two years in South Korea, and I was working part-time at a local Chapters bookstore. I got the idea from a radio story about a family who had challenged themselves to go a year without buying anything. I was driving home when I heard this on the radio, and I realized Christmas had just passed the week before: I had everything I needed. And more. 

So in 2017, after taking a look at my apartment and everything that's in it, I've decided to give it another shot.

A Surfing Lesson at Ikaria Surf School, Greece

A Surfing Lesson at Ikaria Surf School, Greece

We sat on foam surfboards under a tree on the beach, waiting for our surf instructor to start our afternoon lesson. My board was yellow; Joel, my British, pre-teen surfing companion, had a blue one. While we waited, I asked him about his surfing know-how. He and I both had limited experience (I downplayed my surfing trip to Hawaii and ignored my surfing lesson in Tofino), so I would feel more comfortable. I really am not that good. There was a chalkboard nearby with the name Nikolas written on it, along with a few surfing diagrams, so I figured that was our instructor and his handiwork. (It wasn't.)

Becoming Canadian

Becoming Canadian

"Any day is a good day to become a Canadian citizen," the judge told the crowd of future Canadians, including my Serbian friend, "but this ceremony is occurring during a very special week." I turned to meet the eyes of my friend beside me, my friend's Canadian wife. She and I both thought he was referring to the contentious American election happening that very day, just south of the border. As it turns out, he was referring to Veteran's Week, celebrated around Remembrance Day on November 11. 

It was weird to think of someone becoming Canadian. For most of my life I had taken it for granted, having been privileged with the honour the day I was born.

A Drive Around Chios Island

A Drive Around Chios Island

As Greece's fifth-largest island, it's necessary to rent a car to see all of Chios. Of course, I didn't know this until I got there. I had spent all my research time (which was admittedly not much) on finding a surf spot in Greece, neglecting to really look into what to do on Chios. Other than spending time with the refugees there (and a visit with a friend who was spending her summer across the water in Izmir, Turkey), I had no other plans for my time on the island. 

Upon arrival, I got bored quickly. The port city of Chios is quite small, and beyond cafe-hopping, there wasn't much to do. So I took notes from the in-flight magazine I stole from my flight from Belgrade. They had a feature on Chios, so I made a list of all the highlights and turned that into a road map for a day trip around the island. 

My 2017 Travel Resolutions

I resolve to learn French…again. A few summers ago, I spent five weeks immersing myself in French while living in a small Quebec town. In the mornings, I took French...I resolve to learn French…again. A few summers ago, I spent five weeks immersing myself in French while living in a small Quebec town. In the mornings, I took French classes at the local high school. In the afternoons, I went to workshops and learned more about Québécois culture. In the evenings, I hung out with my homestay family and watched TV and movies en français. And I got pretty good by the end of the summer! 

Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Museum

Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Museum

According to legend, explorer Christopher Columbus could make an egg stand on its end. (If you're curious and near a fridge, try it now before you read on.) Columbus demonstrated this in defence of his discovery of the New World. Surely if he hadn't found it, he was told, someone else would have. Historian Girolamo Benzoni wrote the tale in 1565:

Columbus was dining with many Spanish nobles when one of them said: 'Sir Christopher, even if your lordship had not discovered the Indies, there would have been, here in Spain, which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result.' Columbus did not respond to these words but asked for a whole egg to be brought to him. He placed it on the table and said: 'My lords, I will lay a wager with any of you that you are unable to make this egg stand on its end like I will do without any kind of help or aid.'

Postcards: Favourite Instagrams of 2016

Postcards: Favourite Instagrams of 2016

In January, I returned back to Vancouver after an amazing family Christmas/New Year's trip to Oahu. I was craving a bit of winter to contrast the Hawaiian sun and surf, and had to go up in the mountains to find it. I feel #blessed to have this as my backyard. 

A typical February in Vancouver. 

In March, the world was hurting from recent terrorist attacks (it still is). I love the beauty and symbolism of cherry blossoms, which seemed to bloom at just the right time. 

A Serbian Wedding

A Serbian Wedding

On a small boat on the Danube and Sava rivers, on a warm July evening in front of a small audience of about twenty friends and family, my friends got married. We were docked for the short ceremony, which took place in both Serbian and English (required by law, as my friend suggested, so that foreigners wouldn't get duped into marrying a Serb). 

As kuma (Maid of Honour) I should have helped with a bit of the planning, like booking a band. But I was relinquished of those duties immediately after accepting the position, as it was clear I had no idea how I was supposed to do that from Canada. The groom put together a beautiful ceremony and reception that combined Canadian and Serbian wedding traditions.

A Long Layover in London

A Long Layover in London

I like to think of myself as a well-seasoned traveller who can handle all the chaos and confusion of international travel. But when I arrive at the airport to start a six-week adventure and am greeted with "Oh, did you know that your flight is delayed?", I too get frustrated. No, I did not know that. Despite downloading your app and checking my emails, there was no message from your airline, thank you very much.

Prohibition City: A Walk Through Vancouver's Dry Past

Prohibition City: A Walk Through Vancouver's Dry Past

“Friends, gather ‘round,” he says. He’s got a story to tell us. On this dark and drizzly October evening, Will Woods, of Forbidden Vancouver’s walking tours, was guiding our group through downtown Vancouver and a gloomy era of Vancouver’s past: Prohibition.

We had gathered at the Holy Rosary Cathedral—where “they served more than Holy Communion” during Prohibition, he said—and made our way to Victory Square. Woods, dressed for the part in a long beige trench coat and dark grey fedora, looks like he might have stepped out of the early twentieth century to tell us about how British Columbians actually voted for Prohibition in October of 1916, exactly one hundred years ago.