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netherlands

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in need of a sabbatical

amsterdam
two jobs for two years. the burnout is real and i’m in need of a much needed sabbatical. so next month i’ll be jetting off to europe for an extended holiday.

a 6 week extended holiday.

i’ve never been away from home for that long – not counting living in new york for a couple of years. i think the longest i’ve been on vacation for is 3 weeks? so, this is going to be as fun, as it will be a challenge.

i’ll be hitting up central europe, visiting netherlands, switzerland, austria, czech republic, and many points in germany. sean will be joining me for the first 10 days and then i’ll be on my own. five weeks without the fella! that is going to feel all sorts of strange. can i do it? will i stop my trip and come home early? what about my kitty? it’s almost enough to give me pause about taking this extend-o holiday.

we’ll kick it all off with one of my favourite cities in the world, amsterdam.  i haven’t been to since 2010 and i’m excited to show sean why i love it so much. and since i had such a good time in berlin last year, and it was one of the trips sean and i always wanted to do together, so we’ll head there after amsterdam.

then he’ll head home because of work, and i’ll journey on because, sabbatical. this is going to be fun. stay tuned.

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i’ll always have pictures

can’t believe it’s been a week since i came back from my trip. time flies when you’re battling jetlag and going back to work.

i’ve plowed through 750 pictures and videos and finally decided which ones to post to flickr and which ones to post on my blog. (all blog entries have now been updated with pictures. woot!)

and as i’ve gone through my images, i’m reminded of a really wonderful trip. it is my hope that it won’t be another 15 or so years til i go back to amsterdam. and that i must go back to explore more of belgium. so much to see, so little time.

press play on the amsterdam slideshow or click here to go to flickr.

press play for the belgium slideshow or click here to go to flickr.

my dear europe…until we meet again.

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the little differences

i had to giggle, sigh or shake my head at some of the things i saw on my trip. it’s the little things that makes us oh so different than our european counterparts. here are some things you may not find in your tourist guide:


for lovely boobies, try this lovely jubblies cream from lush. i wonder if we have this particular product in canada?


no surprise i found these items in the red light district. left: the piggy salt and pepper shakers are sure to stir up conversation at the breakfast table. right: oh bunny, what have they done to you? also available as a brown teddy bear.


cannabis lollipops and mushroom tea sold at the waterlooplein flea market. a little pick me up.


oh. yes. they. did. of all the names for all cafes, in all of the world.


i hadn’t seen cherry coke in forever! canada stopped selling it years ago so this sent waves of nostalgia over me. not that i was a big cherry coke drinker. but still.


you can find lots of automats in amsterdam with food for € 1.


the king of all lowriders. i can’t imagine someone riding this on the streets of amsterdam. it was selling for like, a ka-jillion euros at the quicksilver store in the kalvertoren mall on kalverstraat.


brilliant. if ever you get homesick while in amsterdam and get that craving for US/UK items such as tang, chips ahoy cookies or walkers chips, the eichholtz deli certainly provides.


service with a smile in zaans schans. the staff looked quite serious about it too.


marketing win! those belgians got me. you should always be able to see the fruit in the bottle of yoghurt. stir and enjoy.


chocolate needn’t be boring. these were sold in a bruges chocolate shop, alongside chocolate duckies for kids


everyone’s seen condom machines in washrooms. yawn. but have you seen condom machines in the middle of a busy street? good for those spontaneous sexy times. i also spied outdoor tampon machines in brussels too.


at first glance i thought this was an ATM inside of a brussels mcdonalds (like they have in NYC) but nope, it’s touch-screen ordering where you select your meal, pay by debit/cc and walk over to the counter to collect your food. who knew mcdonalds was so tech-savvy? how long before this shows up over here?

some people might look at europeans as same, but different. some may even call culture shock and not be able to speak the same language. but i like to think of europeans like quirky family members who make me laugh. or roll my eyes. we need more quirky on this side of the pond.

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canada day flail

and how did i spend canada day?

waking up at 6am to make my 930 flight. sitting on a plane for 9 hours 55 minutes. and now battling jetlag.

i was so afraid that i would miss my flight but i made it. i got to schipol airport almost 2.5 hours before the flight and even then i found out that all the window seats were gone. there was no online check in for this flight so it was first come, first served at the airport. i did get an aisle seat. upon boarding the plane, i asked the flight attendant if there were any window seats, if i could get one once we are at cruising altitude. with 80 empty seats on the flight, she said she’d find me one.

unfortch, it was like musical chairs after we reached 38,000 ft. people were grabbing better seats and claiming rows. without consulting the flight attendants on their changes. utter chaos.

since the flight attendant had promised me a window seat only to find an old man pretending he was deaf and not willing to give up his new find, i settled for a whole middle row all to myself. not too shabby. the tv monitor was just 2 rows in front of me. i could stretch out and curl up in my comfort kit blanket.

being able to lie down made a world of difference! although i slept in spurts, at least i got a wee bit of sleep. i think that helped immensely when i landed in vancouver. i was not as loopy when sean came to pick me up at the airport.


air transat rocks. they feed us twice. first pasta lunch with rice salad, a dinner roll and two-bite brownies. hours later, i got a slice of pizza. yup, a carbophobe’s worst nightmare.

by the time i got home, the jetlag “spins” started to set in. i felt myself flailing so i confined myself to the bed watching dvds. so tired that i couldn’t fall asleep as it was so light out. i conked out somewhere around 7pm and woke up after midnight, hungry and a bit out of sorts. so exhausted that the canada day fireworks didn’t even wake me up. i slept through it all the noise-making.

yeehaw.