Category Archives: Worldly Whatnots

Dream Dinner Destination: Hydra, Greece

As a young girl, on an international adventure to the far side of the world, I encountered a choice. I was on an idyllic Greek Island in the Mediterranean, wandering the light cobbled back streets, and was approached by a lovely local and after briefly chatting and getting to know one another was asked to stay for dinner. Being 18 and having a boat and head count to catch up to, I was obliged to decline and forever wonder what might have happened if I stayed that night for a once in a lifetime dinner.

Well, today we’re going to investigate the possibilities, and extrapolate in a fun and exciting way, what might have happened that evening if I had decided to stay. First I’m going to lay down some parameters. For the sake of this thought experiment, we’ll say I am 22 years old. Mostly because I wasn’t really into fancy new exciting food at 18. Secondly, it would arguably seem sorta dodgy, staying with strangers in a foreign country, so one may assume I would make better decisions at 22 than 18 (those who know me are laughing right now). Next, we’ll assume I wasn’t on a High School trip and didn’t have a boat to catch or a schedule to keep.

So let’s get crack-a-lacking shall we!

So I’ve been asked to join a local Greek family (very wholesome of course) for a delightful dinner and not having anywhere to be I agree to the generous invitation.

The first thing that crosses my mind is the realization and horror of a complete unfamiliarity of both language and culture; Particularly in a group social setting. Having only just fumbled though conversational Greek as a wandering tourist in town I have no grasp of how to sustain constant communication with another human being for longer than the thirty seconds it takes to buy some olives or a bottle of Ouzo. What in the lowest level of Hades have I got myself into?

I could solely rely on my handy dandy phrase book that has lots of useful phrases such as “efkharisto yia ti filoksenia sas” which essentially means thanks for putting up with me. But upon further investigation, I fear this book isn’t going to be as useful as previously anticipated…

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…So now that the phrasebook option is completely out the window, I’ll just have to get by with my wits about me!  The family decides it’s their weekly night to go to the local cafe for a meal, let’s say their strange uncle runs the place right on the water just to make it a family affair.

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There is a daughter roughly my age and her English is terrible, but way better than my Greek, so I do most of my communicating through her using my well known over dramatic hand gestures and repetition. Being in the same age bracket and living in the same century makes her surprisingly relateable, considering she lives on an Island that still transports goods by way of donkey. It’s a surreal experience, filled with sounds and smells I never would have dreamed of experiencing all at once. The sea waters are salty and I can smell it on the light breeze. There is spice in the air and a constant bustle as both tourists and locals flit by along the water getting to where they are going. Everyone can feel it, and it helps me take in what it must be like to live here.

At our table, the wind flutters the cream tablecloth and a massive Greek salad is brought to share among everyone. It has large chunks of Feta the size of a deck of cards just waiting to be crumbled into and I may or may not have started to salivate noticeably. A long day of climbing the hills around the town centre will do that to a girl. The tomatoes are ripe and flavourful, and the cucumbers are firm and fresh. As plates are shared, laughter ensues as I try to explain a bit more about myself; why I’ve come to this beautiful place, and where I am off to next. Laughter primarily caused by my misuse of phrases if course. Even in England I found that locals get a serious kick out of one using the wrong words according to the social standard. And that’s even in the same language. I feel like I would do my best in this situation to share in my love of Greek food, family and adventure.

After a lovely dinner I sensed my welcome had expired and with kind regards I thanked them all for their company and was on my merry way, with a few new email addresses to add to my book.

I have always felt a common ground with a certain type of person who is free spirited and open minded, and these people who have on a whim invited a total stranger to dinner are a shining example of the kindness there is out in the world. Where language is not a solid barrier; there are windows through it. All you need to do is draw back the shutters, wipe off the dust and you can see very clearly into a whole other world.

-Hailey Jane

NOTE: If you have a website that you want to easily make accessible to travellers like me I would recommend the use of translation software. It’s bloody amazing how far it’s come in the last few years, and literally translates whole foreign language webpages for them before your very eyes!

Also, the phrasebook that was handy on occasion is called The Lonely Planet Phrasebooks: Greek. 3rd Edition. It was gifted to me by my boyfriend and I will always appreciate it, even if it’s advice may lead me to do terrible terrible things.

xx

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Christmas in London

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London at Christmas is, by far, the most magical place on the planet. Since visiting I have developed a deep and unwavering love of how the English flawlessly pull off this widespread holiday. I’m nearly convinced there is no actual North Pole, but instead Santa holds up in a little shop on a side street of London. Between the lights along Regent Street, The Eye, the Museums lit up at night and every single square inch of Harrods there is really no comparison to anything I’ve ever seen before; Or smelled for that matter. On Westminster Bridge there is always someone selling roast chestnuts and the moment I laid nostrils on them I would have sworn I’d never smelled anything so scrumptious.

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In North America, Christmas seems to be ALL about the commercialism, the shopping, the spending, the economy boosting power of women with credit cards and men with no time so will essentially buy anything. We just survived Black Friday and here in Canada, and although it’s not the crowd control nightmare that it is in America, I still don’t like going within a mile of any major shopping centre. I won’t dwell on the details of this strange and unnecessary tradition because frankly, it’s stressing me out. Bottom line is the ‘Holidays’  here are not so much about giving people time off to spend with their family and loved ones. They’re about long hours, out-doing both yourself and others around you, and stress in general.

While in London and its’ surrounding boroughs during the weeks leading up to Christmas, I felt a certain magical charm that came from somewhere in this city. Whether it was the meat pies in shop windows, Christmas puddings on display, a light and magical snowfall, subtle twinkling lights on everything or just the general cheeriness of everyone about, it was so lovely I swear my heart grew three sizes and I genuinely felt the true meaning of Christmas.

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So now, every year I scramble around, desperately trying to find that feeling again. I walk the streets at night, I peer into all the shop windows, I brew all the mulled wine, cider and hot chocolate I can get my hands on, but something about it all is missing. There is a London factor that’s been absent from my Christmas’s for the past few years, and no matter how hard I try to infuse it into this culture, I am simply unable to recreate it.

 

It may just be magic after all.

– Hailey Jane


How to NOT Look Like a Tourist in London

And how I failed miserably in this respect…DSC03418

Hello friends! And welcome back to another instalment of Hailey’s travel tips. Today I have a simple life lesson that stands no real purpose other than perhaps making you feel slightly better about yourself, but in actual fact, will have little difference and no one will really notice. Because let’s face it…it’s a crazy, complicated, ever-changing world, and no one really knows what the fuck they’re doing.

I’ll also have you know, I am basically an expert in what NOT to do…as every single one of these things…I have done. Perhaps repeatedly.

Let’s get started shall we!

-Avoid taking pictures of literally everything…tube stations…street signs…pigeons….bits of writing on the ground.  It can get out of control pretty quickly. Next thing you know you’ll be snapping photo’s of empty restaurant tables and what’s on the television. Then eventually wondering why you did so several years later while trying to write a blog post about it.

-Also avoid selfies in front of national monuments and playing in red phone booths. The local consensus is to just use them for public lavatory’s.

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-Ordering a white tea, will get you a black tea with milk in it…for some reason.

-A tartan scarf and Chelsea boots isn’t enough to mask your thick Canadian accent; which until recently you didn’t realize you had.

-Stand on the right for christ sakes….escalators are your friend, but if you stand on the left, you’re going to get bowled over by am unapologetic solicitor on his way to work.

-Don’t try to pull a suitcase through the paddles at tube stations. You  may think you’re quick enough, and that your luggage is small enough…but it WILL get stuck, and a scary security guard will have to free a very embarrassed you who holds up the line, while strictly instructing that in future use the doors designed for prams and wheelchairs.

-Don’t deliberately try to speak with an accent. Nine times out of ten you come out sounding like an Australian. Dead giveaway.

-Dress in layers, sensible footwear and have an umbrella with you at all times. Tourists are generally wetter than locals.

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-When walking, if you’re very serious about blending in, walk briskly and look where you are going. Gentle saunterers who are staring at the sky are nearly always mocked by passers by…not necessarily for being a visitor, but more likely because the lack of attention paid to the walkway caused them saunter right into a post.

-Standing and looking in a confused manner at the wall-mounted spaghetti factory that is the Tube Map, is a beacon of your touristy origins.

-The NUMBER ONE way to let the world know that you’re just here to visit, is after you’ve mastered the ‘queue’ and patiently waited your turn, bought your train ticket to the destination station of your choice, and are asked by the attendant for..say… 6 pound 40, you fail in all entirety to sort through your change to find the correct denomination. A pocket full of strangely heavy, oddly shaped currency baffles you and you eventually just throw it all on the counter and hope it’s enough to cover the fare and escape the judgemental eyes of the Londoners behind you. Unless of course you were smart enough to get an oyster card…But you weren’t.

Seriously though…what on earth is the point of a tuppence! And why is it so huge if it’s not worth anything!  In a world where 5p look like dimes, 10p look like quarters and a pound is smaller than 50p, I seem to have no idea which way is up anymore.

Don’t even get me started on the inappropriately sized paper money.

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Do I blend in yet??

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you all enjoyed my rendition of how to avoid looking touristy in such a fabulous place.

xx

-Hailey Jane

(Who misses London terribly and would really like to go back again…)


Mexico 2014: Marietas Islands

I did promise a whack of Mexico stories a while ago…So I should probably deliver at least one of them seeing as it’s been approximately four months since I returned. Just a heads up, this is heavily photo laden.

In February, myself, my sisters and my Mom hopped on a flight to Puerto Vallarta for a week. We stayed at a Riu Jalisco and did the sorts of things that an all inclusive vacation provides. It’s very low maintenance travelling. And a lot of the time a nice relaxing vacation where not much preparation is necessary, is just what you need. Because of this freedom to lounge and do as we saw fit the whole week, we were free to book external tours at our leisure. The first of which was an Island adventure in the Bahia de Banderas out of Pureto Vallarta.

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This was the best thing basically ever!

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We woke up at five or six am to get ready and catch a taxi into Pureto Vallarta proper. Once we got the the tour companies location, we were treated to breakfast, got ourselves organized and loaded a boat that headed out into the bay. The sun was low in the sky and the air on the bay was still very cool. As we got further out into open water the resident humpback whales could be seen coming up for air, and diving back down into the bay.

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This was more than awesome. I’ve always wanted to see whales, and when I was able to experience these mammals living in their natural habitat I was as excited as a four year old on Christmas.

We slowed and quieted our boat to encourage them and their habits of curiosity towards us, and waited for more displays, jumps and spins from some of the largest animals in the world. It was so great! I would have been happy waiting around all day on that boat playing with the whales. But alas, there was much more to be done!

We sped off eventually towards the Marietas Islands, an island chain in the north west corner of the Bahia de Banderas. The next leg of our tour may have been even more magical than the former.

When we arrived there we hopped in the water and swam towards one of the islands, in search of what we were told was a secret beach! After about ten or fifteen minutes of swimming we were guided under what looked like a rock wall, through a cave and into one of the most stunningly magical places in the world.  A secret beach indeed.

 

I’ve read that it could have been a site for Mexican artillery testing, but the more likely explanation I think is that the underlying rock of the island was ‘softer’ and more easily eroded by the pounding waves of the ocean, and the hard rock became thin enough and eventually broke causing this ring or hole in the covering rock. It was absolutely beautiful! A once in a lifetime opportunity. Except that I could fly back and do it again tomorrow if I really wanted to.  We were on a schedule determined by the tide so we had to get going or else we would have been trapped in this hole of rising water as the tide came in, so we took some pictures and were on our way swimming under the rock cave and back to the boat.

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The next activity we were to enjoy was our choice of snorkeling around the islands, swimming, paddleboarding and then lunch. We all snorkeled and saw all sorts of fishies, eels, and tiny jellies that were more annoying than anything else really. One zapped my on my upper lip, hurt like a mother, but I carried on. They weren’t dangerous. Just painful. Mosquitoes of the sea…lol

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A delicious lunch was served and we all sat back and enjoyed our fresh salsa, salads and sandwiches. The boat headed back and we were followed by a pack of dolphins, a playful seal and a sea turtle!  The crew entertained us with their bang on impression of Mexican ‘Kiss’ and our delightful bartender kept the beverages coming. Perhaps a bit too easily. I could still walk though. 😀

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A big thank you to Vallarta Adventures for such a wonderful day at sea and all of the tour guides who were friendly, helpful and genuinely loved what they did.  It was a very reasonable price (Approx $100 USD plus tip) for pretty much a full day of experience and two meals.

Don’t hesitate to visit Puerto Vallarta. It’s a wonderful city, in a wonderful country, and as long as you’re not a complete idoit its as safe as any other place Down South.

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Thanks for coming along with me, and check back for more Mexican Adventures soon!

xx

Hailey Jane


Mexico Tidbits and Rapid-Fire Beach Read Reviews!

Hellooo friends!

Darn this Hot Chocolate! My teeth are getting angry at me, whitened them last night and everything I try to eat hurts me. Blast!

Anywhoodle, I’ve been up to some trouble as of late gallivanting around the world in search of fun and exciting adventures. I was alarmingly successful in my exploration of Mexico with my family, we certainly got the most out of our trip to Puerto Vallarta. Here’s a sneak peak! Details and hilarious stories to follow!

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Rapid Fire Book Reviews

Beach Read Edition!

Here are the novels I managed to finish reading while I was away on holiday.  In all honesty I started to have a bit of a personal emotional crisis while lying on the beach, reading away. I was overcome by crashing wave of feeling as if I was wasting my precious time in another country lumping about in an uncomfortable green beach chair instead of exploring and enjoying everything this magical place had to offer. But upon further reflection the down time was necessary and I believe I made up for the lack of activity during the days larking about at night.

The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

This lovely book was an impulse grab at my local charity bookshop back home. It was three dollars and I dare say it was three dollars well bloody spent! I’ve heard mixed reviews of this book, saying it’s novelization of real life events and characters didn’t translate well, but I liked it. I think they (she…Paula McLain) may have made Hadley seem more endearing and attractive for the purpose of the novel, but that aside it was a fun look at life in the 20’s, not just in Paris, but all over Europe and North America briefly as well. Mr. Hemingway makes a very interesting character and you love him as much as you hate how he lives and treats others around him. It is easy to identify with Hadley in this respect. Darn him and his all encompassing talent!!

One Day – David Nicholls

I cheated, I’ve seen the film already. It was a lovely film and I had hopes that the novel would be even better. Alarmingly, they were strikingly similar. Both good, both detailed and clever. I don’t know if I could chose between them if it came down to it. There were occasional characters and events omitted from the film for the sake of time, but I feel they weren’t terribly central to the story. Emma and Dex are a very unlucky couple, but 90% of that is all their own fault. At times you want it to work for them, others you get frustrated and think they deserve every second of this torture and overwhelming sexual tension. It’s the entirety of two separate lives tangled together in 400 pages, and it’s done beautifully. Being written by a male, I thought the female perspective was lacking a bit of relatability, and the little things that women do when secretly in love with someone their entire life, but overall it was charming, well written and temporally accurate as the story effortless glides through the decades. Yay England! I am also extremely biased when it comes to stories set in the UK, just a heads up. 😀

So this has been another long awaited instalment of Coffee and Turtlenecks. Thanks for joining me, follow and like if that’s your cup of tea. It would make me wonderfully happy.

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-Hailey Jane


Michigan Renaissance Festival: Any Excuse To Be a Pirate

Breaking News!

I have discovered the most magical place ever. It has prompted me to wonder why the whole of the world is not completely covered with lewd beard-y men selling pickles. I am baffled.

Not only do I have a MAJOR soft spot for men in kilts, there is enough jingly, sparkly, shiny caboodle to keep my inner pirate reeling from the treasure equivalent of snow blindness.

It was the Michigan Renaissance Festival, and I swear I could have lived out the rest of my life there in complete happiness.

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IMG_2947There were tree people (pictured above…look closely, because he looks like a tree) and human statues that were incredibly freaky and reminded me a little bit too much of weeping angles.

IMG_2949There were pony rides, camel rides, and I’m sure if I had’ve turned up the charm I could have been privy to a Knight ride as well. The place was absolutely huge and I was blissfully lost basically the entire time.

IMG_2951My backup career has always been piracy, and this gave me a great opportunity to not only practice, but fraternize with other sea faring scallywags.  Yarrr.

IMG_2956Aye! Avast! There be mermaids too!

IMG_2958And shiny ladies!

IMG_2959And sharp pointy things!

IMG_2963We broke for a feast of drumsticks and ale,

IMG_2966And I tried not to completely cover myself in it.

IMG_2978A Highland Tournament was run throughout the day, cabers were tossed, stones were thrown and kilts were bloody everywhere!

IMG_2980There was something happening in every direction you turned!

IMG_2988Oh look! It’s the Queen! Her Majesty Elizabeth the First! What a ruff she’s got going on there!

IMG_2992And the parade continues…

IMG_2996The jousting arena is full and ready to host the day’s prime spectacle!

IMG_3002The Queen says her piece

IMG_3007And in ride the day’s Knights

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IMG_3024To Victory!

IMG_3031What a fantastic way to spend a day! I’m so glad I got to go and am already making grand plans for next summer!

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Huzzah!

-Miss Hailey Jane

 


“You’re Leaving Again?” And Other Adventurous Updates

Some may call me frivolous, impatient, chronically unsatisfied, but I just call me spectacular!

See...SPECTACULAR!

See…SPECTACULAR!

I know I haven’t even got to telling you all about my last adventure in any detail whatsoever, but look at me, I’m planning another trip just like that! This one is smaller and bigger at the same time for reasons I will divulge shortly. The destination is going to be none other than one of the most famous cities in the world, New York, New York baby!

It is a small trip because we’re only going for four days, and one and a half of those days will be driving. There are four of us going…and here’s the big part….CHRIS IS COMING!  Yep…that’s right….you heard me correctly, he’s going to vacation!  With me!  He even booked time off work so we could all go together!

Now, he may just be doing it because all the cool kids are, or because he’s been watching too much Doctor Who with me lately, but that’s besides the point. This is the first serious trip that we’re going on together and I’m hoping it’ll be the spark that leads to so  many more trips in the near and distant future!

Within our short time frame we’ll see the sights and do all we can possibly do before it’s time to turn back. It’s certainly a place you need to say you’ve seein, and it’s not the sort of place I think I’d enjoy for the first time when I’m seventy, so off we go.  My comrades are not huge museum fans, so unfortunately I think the natural history museum will be out of bounds, which is almost the end of the world because I know it’s a pretty snazzy operation (and everyone knows how much I love dead things). But It’ll be a reason to return one day though, if the rest of the place grows on me.

Any other sight recommendations and “must do’s” while in the Big Apple?

As for my England excursion, I’ll let you know that I did choose Oxford over Cambridge, and it was a good choice. Details and photo’s of that trip to come, as well as a lovely and eye poppingly exciting encounter in London to top it all off.

Thanks everyone for being wonderful, and fellow Ontarians, enjoy the springie sunshine! Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in my down time lately, which include pretty trees, new hair, and lunch at a cute place in Walkerville called The Twisted Apron which does a mean Pulled Pork sandwich.

 

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Lunch

 

Yum this thing is good....

Yum this thing is good….

 

-Miss Hailey Jane

P.S. Mom, I know you’re both jealous and impressed at the same time, but we won’t be renting a red convertible, and there will be boys, but us girls are running the show for sure.  😀