The End. Sort Of.

The End. Sort Of.

Dear readers, it has been 5 months, 1 week and 3 days since my last blog post…

I have been a rubbish blogger this year.  Absolutely terrible. Someone much smarter than me once said ‘never ruin an apology with an excuse’.  Well I’ll be happy to forget the apology as I have a full blog post of excuses waiting (also read: shit I’ve been doing this year).  In fact, my last post was all about the weirdo aspects of Vancouver, which I’ll still stand by, however it does leave the whole thing on a bit of a negative note…which would just be a terrible and completely inaccurate reflection on the past two years.  Also known as The Best Two Years of My Life.  Yup, you read it right.  The Best.

So what exactly has been so important that I spent so long away from the blog that I actually forgot the password?

I’ve always tried really really hard to NOT be one of those travel bloggers who bores poor, uninterested souls with walls of text detailing every second of every trip in dry, I’d-rather-be-having-my-eyeballs-poked-with-hot-needles-right-now detail.  Kind of like a post-social media version of being subject to hours of Auntie Nora and Uncle Alec’s holiday snaps of grass and such.  

So here’s the deal.  A quick (really!) list of where I’ve been/what I’ve been doing this year with a few snaps here and there for that extra dimension of ‘whoa I really feel like I was there!’.  Okay.  Go!

January – March: Lot’s of snowboarding! 

Much in the style of Reservoir Dogs.


April: My friends Sandy and Dan came to visit me in Vancouver.  


And then we went to…


And lastly…Vegas!!


May:  Camping at Cultus Lake.  The kind of camping that involved Domino’s Pizza.  


May/June:  Packing up and saying goodbye to our little Vancouver home.  Far too many goodbyes.  Obviously lots of alcohol was required.



 I should also add if the following photo looks as though it may have been taken at 2am by a homeless man who was paid generously in loose change for his troubles, then that’s about right.  Seemed like a genius idea at the time.


June 12th – June 16th: A final adventure with the crew.  First stop…


And then final call, San Fran.


June 17: Vancouver Airport…bahhhh!


The soppy bit.

So you’re still awake?  Excellent.  If you can last through this next part without dry heaving the you’ve done a stellar job.  What a pro you are.

So yes, as stated, my (almost!) two years in Vancouver have been pretty much the best two years of my life.  So far that is.  Despite what my mum keeps trying to tell me, I believe that I am in fact getting ‘any younger’ and there are still many years of fun and giggles ahead.  Anyway yes, Vancouver.  Wonderful, beautiful, amazing city.  I couldn’t recommend it enough, if you ever get the chance make sure you go.  I’ll be back there soon enough, but more on that later…

Nonetheless Vancouver will always be there.  That is unless the threat of ‘the big one’ that has grown adults sitting under their desks in offices all over the Pacific Northwest for five minutes every year on account of the annual earthquake drill actually comes into fruition.  But all things going well, Vancouver will always be there.  

However the friends that I made and the memories and experiences that I had with them will not.  It’s not like leaving home, when you can usually more or less count on the fact that most people will still be there when you get back, and that things will pretty much be the same.  The transient lifestyle will attract those that are similar, and as a result the majority of my friends in Vancouver were like me, just passing through.  A few are still there and probably will be for a while yet.  But not forever.  And yes it’s wicked to now have friends from all over the world that I know I’ll see again at some point.  But the circumstances that brought us all together for a year or two and created the little life that we loved are no longer there.  It was an existence that’s now a memory.  An awesome memory.  A really, really awesome memory.  

Oh man up woman.  So what now?

Well I’ve been back across the pond for almost a full month now.  Lots of catching up with family and friends, and yet more drinking required.  Good job I’m so bloody good at it!  

I did spend last week in Sorrento, Italy as a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding.  She was beautiful, the day (and week) were gorgeous and the location was stunning.  So all in all I’ve not been fairing too badly. I’ve also had some good news on the job front.  With effect from the 5th of August I will be working for a company called Audley Travel as a Country Specialist for Canada! Two very exciting things I’ll mention about this job (of which there are many).  

1.  They will be sending me back to Canada next month for 3-4 weeks to experience some of their tours and hotels as part of my training.  Not too shabby.

2.  I will be working at their new London office.  So this means a move to London. A whole new city to explore and get excited about!

What about your poor wee blog?

Well you may or may not have noticed that I now have a fancy new domain (aka web address) that does not have ‘wordpress’ or ‘flookr’ (not really sure what I was thinking with that one) in the title.  I’m right here at for now and for always.

Although my lack of output may have led you to believe otherwise in the past few months, I really enjoy writing this blog and I’ve been thinking of taking it up a notch for a while now.  The only issue was I had no idea what direction to take it in.  I knew I was leaving Canada, so there was no point in keeping the current title and I had a few ideas about future travels but nothing solid.  But now that my actual job title is about to be ‘Canada Specialist’ then I think that the current title is more than apt.

So my plan now is to draw a line under this old basic, yet effective format and relaunch the blog under the same title but with a shiny new face lift and a little more focus and direction.  

So thank you very much for reading/following/commenting.  If you are about to embark on a working holiday visa in Canada, then please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.  I have plans for a ‘FAQ’ for the new website, so this would help me and hopefully be of benefit to you.

Well that’s all for now.  It’s been a blast!  I’ll see you on the other side folks!

Lots and lots of love,

Caroline x


Going solo!

Having recently found myself pining for that adventurous feeling of arriving in a new city, knowing nothing and no one, I realised that it may actually be worth sharing my thoughts on this subject.  It’s the ultimate adventure, but at the same time solo travel can seem pretty scary.  It was something that I had always wanted to do, disappear into the horizon on my way to meet some great adventure (in a very poetic manner of course!).  But when my plane landed in Toronto with no one to meet me at the other side of immigration, shit got real!  What if I don’t meet anyone?  How will have fun at night?  I can’t go to a bar on my own, can I? What if I leave my passport somewhere and there is no one by my side to run through the obligatory what-has-Caroline-forgotten check list?  And the ultimate scary scenario, what if I have to dine alone??

Thankfully my experience was completely positive and I have now found myself planning some more solo trips.  I have a sketched out plan of traveling back to Glasgow in May for a visit, but passing through Banff, Edmonton and Calgary on the way.  I’m also keen to spend a couple of months in South and Central America at the end of 2013 when my visa expires, nip home for Christmas, and then come back into Canada in January 2014 to activate my new visa. All just plans in my head for now, who knows where life will take me in the next few months, but there are definitely some more adventures on the cards!

Of course my solo traveling experience so far has been limited to the relatively safe towns and cities of the USA and Canada, so I can’t offer much advice on the likes of trekking alone through the Amazon, the Nepalese mountains or surviving Mexico City (yet!), nevertheless I will share some nuggets of advice I found to be useful along the way:

  • Hostels:  Use hostels and make the most of them!  They are the perfect environment for meeting new people just like you – regardless of who ‘you’ are.  During my time hosteling I met a girl and her mum who were backpacking together, a 30-something year old local woman who wanted to see what hostel life was like, a guy on release from the army, a 72 year old political activist, a French guy who only started learning English two weeks before, a girl who was a performer for Disney, a 22 year old who was traveling on her own for six months and lots of other fun and interesting people in between.  You get the idea.  Hosteling isn’t just 18-30 year olds looking for a party (that scene is there though, worry not!) or pretentious Rastafarian wannabes looking to compare travel resumes.
  • Tours and Activities:  This ties in with the hostel thing…get out there…participate!  You are traveling alone to push yourself out of your comfort zone, no?  Well that’s not going to happen if you spend every night in your hostel watching Netflix (I’ve seen in done!).  Most hostels will run tours and activities around the local area, Hosteling International Hostels are pretty good for it.  Daytime tours are a good way of meeting people as you immediately have something to talk about.  On the Freedom Trail tour in Boston, I met a group of people who by later that night, I felt like I had known forever!  If you are in a hostel over the weekend, it is very likely that there will be a bar crawl..and there is no social lubricant quite like alcohol!  Just don’t get too carried away, remember that you are in a strange city with people you don’t know, keep your wits about you.
  • Dorm Living:  If you have some extra travel money, it may be tempting to book a private room at your hostels.  I would recommend against it.  I almost did it for my Seattle stay, as I thought that after sharing for so long (only child here!) and traveling across the US I would want some private space.  When I went to book, the price was more than expected so I just went for a smaller dorm.  I’m so glad I did, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have met, Claire, my travel buddy for the next few days!  General dorm etiquette is to introduce yourself when you arrive in a new dorm, or someone new arrives in yours.  You will no doubt get chatting about your travels, it’s a very easy way to meet people.
  • Find a more confident you:  If you are an introvert (and let’s face it, no matter how confident we are able to act, most of us are), then striking up a conversation with a stranger can seem intimidating.  You just need to bite the bullet, and once you have done it once, it becomes much easier.  If you see a group of people chatting over lunch/dinner at the hostel, ask if you can join them.  If you are cooking in the hostel kitchen, rather than squishing past everyone awkwardly, start a conversation about food, cooking, whatever.
  • Social meetup websites:  Since being in Vancouver, I have used the website a couple of times, and I have met some great people.  It is very popular here for reasons detailed in this post.  It’s basically groups of people with similar interests, or who just want to meet new people, who arrange it through the website.  Also, although I haven’t used it, I have heard good things about arranged meetups on the Couchsurfing website – usually this is where you would find yourself a couch to crash on for the  night but they also have a massive international community of travelers just looking to meet new people.
  • Eating alone:  The situation will probably crop up when it’s time for food, but you haven’t met anyone yet to grab something with.  There are a few options to get around this if you’re not so comfortable with ‘table for one, please!’.  Most hostels will have a food prep area where you can cook your own food and just hang out in the hostel.  However if you’re not hanging around for very long this may not be so cost effective, you don’t want to be buying a full bag of pasta just for one or two nights.  Also, when you’re in a new place, part of the adventure is sampling the local cuisine!  When I was on my own, I would usually just make do with casual dining i.e. coffee shops, cafes, street food etc.  This way you can sample some local food, get out of the hostel and just take a book or something to keep you entertained.  Or just people watch, which is always fun when you’re somewhere new.  One girl I met in Seattle was perfectly happy dining in the city’s finest restaurants on her own, which is great, and if you’re happy doing that then you’re onto a winner!  However you will probably find that most of the time you wont have the option, as you’ll be inundated with people to share a meal with!

All in all, traveling solo is a great experience and if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do…but..forget the ‘but’.  You wont regret it!

Beautiful British Columbia

You can’t really argue with a province whose tagline is ‘The best place in the world’, now can you?


‘Those Americans will give you a tough time at the border’ they said.  ‘The Canadians are great, you’ll have no problem going the other way’ they said.  They said wrong.  I was supposed to cross the border back into Canada on the train, but there was some sort of problem so they put us on a bus (I still need to complain about that…), and I was the only one who had my bag emptied and swabbed for narcotics.  If it had been anyone but an armed immigration officer with my passport and visa in his hand, I would have told him to bugger off and did he realise how bloody difficult it is to pack a rucksack?  But I didn’t.  Because he was.

It turns out that the day before, an immigration officer had been shot at that exact same border crossing, so I forgave his paranoia a little.

People told me that it rained a lot in Vancouver.  “Puh, I’m from Glasgow”, I scoffed. “You don’t know rain until you’ve been there for a summer”.  It turns out that they do.  In fact if Vancouverites were to compete against Glaswegians in a rain-athon, my money would be on Vancouver.

This view may be slightly tainted by the fact that it rained for 24 solid hours when I arrived here, thus dashing all of my hopes that this talk of rain was just a vicious rumour.  I has booked into the Hosteling International Downtown hostel – I had realised a few hostels ago that the Planet Traveler in Toronto was a gem unto its own and so had stopped expecting such a standard, but even with this in mind, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed by the retro-but-not-in-a-cool-way feel of the place.  Regardless of this, I was happy with my room and new roommates – Sinead and Ursula.  The girls were from Ireland and had arrived in Vancouver on a working visa ten days before me, it was a reminder that the care free traveler part of my adventure was over, and it was time to start looking for gainful employment…and a fixed address.

Well rested in Seattle!

I arrived in sunny (yes, sunny!) Seattle on the only dry day they had had that week – score!  You can definitely see the difference between the west coast and east coast landscape…the east coast is all beautiful fall colours at the moment; reds, pinks, oranges, yellows.  The west coast is all lush evergreens and crystal clear lakes.


Checked into the hostel, dumped my bag and did my usual survey of the area.  I found the space needle pretty quickly, however the lady at the hostel told me to look out for a pie shop nearby which sells the best savory and sweet pies in Washington State.  Dinner sorted, I thought – but I couldn’t find it and ended up getting an amazing avacado salad from a little deli.  Back to the hostel, caught up with some laundry and met my roommate, Clare.


It turns out Claire was flying solo too, so we chummed up for the day and went off on the ferry to Bainbridge island.  It’s only a 10 minute ferry ride from Seattle, but it’s a stunning little place.  We had a wander around the shops and had some lunch at a great little seafood pub.  I then went off my own to explore Pike Place market, the famous Seattle fish market.  I also got to see the first ever Starbucks, but refused to queue 30 minutes for a latte I could by in 2 minutes around the corner!  I had arranged to meet Claire, and our other roommate, Min, at the Columbus building which offers amazing views of the city without the hefty price tag of the Space Needle.  After this we went to see the space needle lights, and were further amazed by the number of products that could be turned into souvenir tack…Space Needle Soap anyone??  This was followed up by dinner at an amazing restaurant, Local 360.  Their policy is that all ingredients have to be sourced within a 100 mile radius, or maybe 200 mile, I can’t remember!  Anyway, the food was fantastic and I can now also say the same for Washington wine 😉

Again I don’t feel like I spent enough time in Seattle, but as I’ll be spending the next few months in Vancouver, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to return.


It’s up to you…New York, New York!

Got the bus through to New York City and met my friend and host for the next few days, David at the bus station.  New York is amazing!!  Although I don’t see how you could live there and not be obese and/or very poor as there is awesome food and just general stuff everywhere!  First we went to the Carnegie Deli, which is apparently quite a famous Jewish New York Deli…well Celine Dion and Ricki Lake have been there so it must be!  I ordered a sandwich which was slightly larger than average, and then we had a ‘slice’ of cheesecake between us which probably weighed more than a full cheesecake from Asda!  We then went on an open top bus tour and saw all of the usual sights i.e. Empire State Building, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Bridge, Trump Towers, Rockefeller Centre etc.  Then we got the subway back to David’s.  It’s in Queens so about a 30 minute subway journey.  We had some drinks in the apartment with his roommates then went out in Manhattan – good day!
David had to study for an exam this day so I went into the city on my own and met my friend Andy (who had recently moved to New York with work) and his roommate.  We took a ‘Circle Line’ cruise which is basically a 3 hour boat trip around Manhattan Island.  Just to clarify (as I was unsure of this), Manhattan island is basically what we would think of as New York and when we think of the New York City skyline.  But actually, New York City is made up of 5 boroughs and Manhattan is just one of them.  Anyway, we saw some cool stuff on that including the Statue of Liberty and the place where that plane landed in the Hudson River.  After we went for pizza, New York style.  You order by the slice, but each slice is probably the size of a dinner plate, if not bigger!  Then it was back to Queens.
David had his exam this morning so I hit the city on my own.  First thing, I was very touristy and went up the Empire State Building.  Really great views, but so over priced and they make you queue, go through security etc for like 40 minutes for a view that takes about 5 minutes to look at.  After that I walked up 5th Avenue (the famous shopping street) and then through Central Park, which is beautiful and  massive!  I was thinking of going to the American Museum of Natural History, but only had an hour before I met David and didn’t want to pay admission only for an hour.  It’s a really cool building though, and I met David on the steps late afternoon.  We went for a couple of drinks then for a New York burger…oh my god…best burger in the whole world, it was amazing!  We finished off by going catching Looper at the cinema, then went home.
Okay so New York is now my favourite city of all time, sorry Barcelona and Dubrovnik, you have both been downgraded!  Definitely coming back here 🙂Image

Boston (Tea Optional) Party!

Loooved Boston, again I really need to spend more time here.  Damn my whistle-stop tour of North America!


Hello America!  I found my way fairly easily from the bus station to the hostel, which is in Chinatown, so loads of great food around! And the USA immigration officers weren’t as scary as I thought they would be! Funny thing about my hostel room…I went in to dump my bag and there was a walking stick hanging up! I thought it was maybe someone under the age of 60 with a bad leg, so I went back to the room a few hours later and there’s an old lady staying there! I don’t mean ‘old’ like I would make fun of my parents for being old, I mean like Grandma/Great Grandma old, she must have been at least 75! Turns out she was from San Diego and just traveling around like the rest of us, good on her! So I just got some Chinatown food, booked onto the Freedom Trail Tour and went to bed with some Breaking Bad.


I didn’t know it was possible to pack so much into a day!  Freedom Trail in the morning, in the rain, where I met Jess, Liz, Eric and Sophie.  Great tour and then onto some Boston seafood at an awesome place called The Daily Catch.  Then off for a wander around the Boston market, almost caught a Halloween flash mob and then off to s swish hotel for some Boston Cream Pie and Irish Coffee.  A slice of pizza for dinner (the size of your head!) and then on with the hostel bar crawl.  Turns out that the bar crawl was really badly organised and no bar would accept the large group, so a few of us broke off onto our own bar crawl and had a great night playing ‘have you ever’ with a group of people I only met that day.

Best day of the trip yet, favourite city of the tour so far…but of course next we have…New York!!