2018 has been an incredibly busy year. I have had a lot of amazing adventures and met some really fabulous people. I dropped a few balls as I picked up others and have had time in December to reflect and decide what all I want to accomplish in 2019!
The beginning of 2018 was filled with planning and preparation for the Blind Bucket List – an ongoing project. I managed to go to Vancouver and talk with Dr. Weidong Yu of Wellsprings Clinic about his treatment protocol. At that time I started forming an idea about perhaps doing a documentary about someone trying various types of alternative treatments for R.P. – a project I may attempt in 2019. The idea is to prove one way or another if any of these “treatments” actually help. There are a lot of details to work out, but I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
Then I was off to Ireland and the UK to visit family and learn so much more. This is of course where the wheels kind of fell of my bus. Adjusting to new places and new ways of doing things was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I’ve always been a laidback person, but living out of a backpack and constantly moving…it was a huge adjustment and one I’m just starting to get used to now. At least, I have come to understand myself and my own needs well enough that I now know what I require to keep myself healthy, happy and able to work in the most chaotic of lifestyles.+
In August I was back home to help look after my Dad after major surgery. It was very strange being home – it just didn’t feel the same. I also started vlogging about my political concerns and about my travels. You can check out my YouTube channel if your interested in my many random thoughts on the world today.
In October I was back on the road, this time off to Poland with an eye on the rest of the continent. I absolutely love Poland and have only spent a couple of weeks outside of the country since I arrived. I spent approximately two weeks in Kosice, Slovakia, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.
Kosice, Slovakia – Hlavna Street and the market square:
Wow!! This place is magical. I had been told to go to Kosice by my friend Katarina who is from the area. She told me it is the most beautiful place in all of Europe, and so far, I believe her. The place I was staying wasn’t the nicest, but it was comfortable, and the neighbourhood provided everything I needed. Another acquaintance, Adam Daniel Mezei, well versed in Eastern and Central Europe told me that I had to go and have a look at Hlavna Street.
I used advice from one of my roommates and google maps to help me find my way. As I walked down the street, I was at first impressed by the communist built buildings. They are so efficient looking, austere but tidy. Perfect clean lines, no embellishments, and solid, heavy colours.
Getting closer to the town square the buildings began to change and I was captivated by their beauty. Wrought iron decoration, columns, ornate windows and fine details announced the architectural personality of the region before communism. I also heard music drifting down the street. People were busy doing living their daily routines and the air was cool but pleasant.
As the music grew louder I began to recognize that it was a mix of Christmas carols and hymns. I couldn’t help but smile, after all it was December and until this point, I had barely realized that the season was upon us. As I walked into the square, seeing the massive, ancient church perched over the street like a watchful grandfather, I was in awe.
Little market stalls lined the street with the scent of some kind of delicious seasonal treats wafting from several of them. Children ran around with their parents laughing and singing little songs to themselves. It was like stepping back in time to a simpler, happier period.
I walked almost to the end of the street and decided it was time to make my way back home, as dark comes early, and as an Rp’er, we all know what that means – the witching hour. I turned and began heading back the same way I had come and as I looked up the most amazing sight caught my eye. The tops of some of the buildings and other ornate features seemed to glow with a golden light! I was almost in tears as I watched this phenomenon appear before me. I know that it was an illusion created by the sun hitting some reflective pieces, but to me in that moment – it was like a Christmas miracle. Yeah, I’m a sucker for these magical moments.
Poland has been different, but just as impactful. I could easily live in Poland and many of my new friends here have encouraged me to do so. Every corner of Poland carries so much history and wisdom. The people are so kind and the environment so easy to get around in. You can walk almost anywhere you want to go in the cities, as long as your willing to spend an hour or two on your feet. Along the way you see so many beautiful buildings, parks, and trees everywhere.
The best part of Poland is that most people speak some English and even those who don’t try their best to communicate and help where they can. The craziest part is that when someone, usually men, ask if I need help as I stand there looking lost, they don’t just tell me where I need to go, but they walk me to the place or very close to it. This is above and beyond what I would ever expect.
I have learned so much about the history of Poland and the concerns of the present and future. It really is an amazing country that I just can’t seem to get enough of. Of course I do have an excuse – the book I’m writing is based primarily in Poland and the more time I spend here the more material I have for the book. That is as good an excuse as any to keep coming back to this incredible place.
I have started 2019 in Krakow. I have succumbed to the cold that everyone in the house has come down with and haven’t been able to get out for a couple of days. The weather is still pleasant and I’m hoping that it holds until I leave the end of January. I still have to make it out to Auschwitz, spend a little more time in Nowa Huta, and wander around Kazimierz, and maybe Wawel Castle as well. Some of these sites are just out of interest, some are research, but all are fascinating and lead me down the path of further curiosity.
I’m not sure where I’m going to head to next. I know that I plan to be in North Wales by the end of March for a yoga and walking retreat up Snowden. Before that I want to tour a bit more of the Island of Ireland, see family again and then maybe actually get into the writer’s museum in Edinburgh seeing how it was closed the last time I was there.
I would love to go to Bucharest and visit Transylvania. I have been obsessed with vampire stories since I was a little girl. It would be nice to knock that off the bucket list and I hear the area is just as magical as Kosice.
Then, there’s Italy. I really want to sit and sip Chianti where it is made. I have noticed that the flavours in Europe are so much richer than they are in Canada. The Polish bread….let’s just say I will miss it when I go back home, and I have never been a big bread lover. Of course Italy isn’t just about the wine, the country is rich in history and I would love to walk the streets where all this history took place. Seeing it with my own eyes, smelling the scents, touching the stones… is what brings stories alive for me, and I want that.
In April I will be returning to Canada. I plan to climb the CN Tower in Toronto, go to a jazz concert and do some research in that city because that is the other place my book is set. I’ve never actually been to Toronto before, but I have read so much about it over the years, heard stories from friends and again, I would like to get a feel for the place.
I will also be heading to Montreal for the Easter/Passover long weekend and then up to Quebec City for a few days. I’m hoping that while I am in the eastern part of Canada, I can see some more service providers and report back about all the new tech that is being developed, maybe some new programs and perhaps have a tour of the CNIB library so that I can see how it’s all done. It should be a very busy period with lots of information to share.
The last half of the year is still up in the air. It all depends on the progress I make in the next few months. Who knows? Maybe I’ll give up the vagabond lifestyle and settle down somewhere that feels like home? Only time will tell.
I sincerely hope that 2019 brings you great peace and joy wherever you are in the world. All the best for an amazing New Year!!