Tag Archives: adventure

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…

IMG_8798IMG_8799 IMG_8802

…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.


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.


Vlog Update! Travel Preparation: The Good and the Ugly

Hi everyone! Looks like I went and made another Vlog on my channel!

Go check it out if you’re interested in how to prepare of epic travel adventures!

Lots of Love!

-Hailey Jane


Some Writin’ Stuffs: Untitled

Painting by Sir Fredrick William Scarborough 1896-1939

      A man fights his way through the sweat stained crowds on a creaky wooden dock at a London port. It is 1887. He is on his guard, his back is up, and he makes a point not to meet the gaze of any of the individuals in the noisy and malodorous swarm that surrounds him.  He is past the prime of his life, but incapable of behaving in a way that would suggest he was. A strong man, as it were, all of his life, and with the full intention of carrying on that way he hauls his well travelled pack over his shoulders and shoves the lingering and lost pedestrians out of his way. There is a look in his eye of abject determination, but not a soul could tell you the reason for the fire that burns behind his lids.

Yet within the layers of clothing balled up inside his pack, there lies the secret to this man’s purpose. The years that lay behind him are held close to his calloused heart, and a detailed record of events that shaped his future are tightly bound within those layers of fabric upon his shoulders.

About to embark on a long and tedious journey into his past, he is to save what he has left of himself from the darkness that is eternal loneliness. There is always a lingering fear that it is already too late, but there being nothing left for him in London town, only one choice is clear.

Finally the sight of his vessel brings him a small wave of relief coupled with the madness of anticipation. He steps onto the slippery landing board and clamours onto the ship. Not being the most grand or sizeable piece of transport, she is nonetheless, not an amateur.  Our hero offloads his pack to the deck with a quick sigh and a prickle of what feels like electricity runs the length of his spine.  He gently lifts what he has left of his life, cradles it in his arms and descends into the belly of the ship to begin his final preparations for departure.

      What seems like a lifetime away, a marooned lover stares into the face of a traitor and coward. The traitors fair and fine features conceal the depravity of the crime of passion he has committed, but he has eyes that betray his real feelings. What turned out to be a classic case of misunderstanding and sacrifice in the face of love has left our gentle and innocent lover, only half of a whole. The two faces stare down one another in frustration and anger until tears begin to well in the corners of the lover’s eyes, eventually spilling in shame onto the white wooden dressing table. The traitor hangs his head for a brief moment and then reaches out to wipe the tears from the lover’s eyes. As his arm extends towards the adjacent face, and it encounters the truth of our reality. A reflective pane of glass meets his fingertips and reveals the barrier between the forgotten eyes of our marooned lover and the hateful treacheries of the coward who, in the same instance, both saved a life and condemned that same life to the gallows of emotional abandonment.

-Miss Hailey Jane

Some Random Things that Happened in England, Completely Out of Context – Part One

Ahh! David Attenborough! <3

Ahh! David Attenborough! ❤

Rogue Dinosaurs in England! Title of my new book I think? Hell yeah!

Rogue Dinosaurs in England! Title of my new book I think? Hell yeah!

Erotically caressing the Rosetta Stone...Yeah I did that....(it was the touchy replica...keep your pants on)

Erotically caressing the Rosetta Stone…Yeah I did that….(it was the touchy replica…keep your pants on)

Herman Ze German ...what else can I say? AWESOME

Herman Ze German …what else can I say? AWESOME

Buahh! Surprise flash!

Buahh! Surprise flash!

Mr. Bones in a provocative pose, slash unflattering angle.

Mr. Bones in a provocative pose, slash unflattering angle.

Knife juggler in Bath. "Yeah, I juggle knives...no big deal."

Knife juggler in Bath. “Yeah, I juggle knives…no big deal.”



SNOW! It wasn’t really all that much though.

A very suave Mr. Bones in Camden Town

Spontaneous bra shopping! *Intense*

Spontaneous bra shopping! *Intense*

I never thought I'd meet a rock that was as fond of baked goods as this little guy.

I never thought I’d meet a rock that was as fond of baked goods as this little guy.
I dont even....yeah.

I dont even….yeah.

Best antique text book ever!

Best antique text book ever!

Squirrel Jokes

“Just chilling in Hyde Park, and then a squirrel ran up my leg”….
“Hold on….say squirrel again”
“What, ok, squuurl?”..
“Ha! You say it funny!”
Thus the beginning of never ending Squirrel jokes.

Ohh Harrods, You've fallen prey to the inevitable, mullets and handlebars. It's the future!

Ohh Harrods, You’ve fallen prey to the inevitable, mullets and handlebars. It’s the future!

Don't we all love getting fiddled at! A Covent Garden adventure.

Don’t we all love getting fiddled at! A Covent Garden adventure.

And that was some of my random adventures without any context what so ever! Any questions, I will address them in the comments section…maybe.  Only if you’re good.

Stay tuned for Parts Two and Three in the coming weeks.

Miss Hailey Jane

Kissing Ron Howard

Upon returning to Leigh on Sea in the dead of night after my Brighton and London exertions, I met my friends downtown just in time for the Santa Clause Parade. It was a mild November night, and the stars nonchalantly floated in the darkness of a perfectly clear sky, above the sea.

The crowds were swarming, families with children too old to be seated in prams filled the closed streets. I felt like I was in Toronto for the annual parade, except all the order of that event was thrown to the wind, and chaos took precedent. We stood in the cool air and tried to get a glimpse of the festivities, but the crowds lining the main drag were ten to fifteen bodies thick, and we decided to give in before its’ conclusion, and to get a beer at the local Spoons.

Telling my story of the previous days and nights over a pint and some grub was magically relaxing and cathartic, and after finding our way home, I slept like a lumberjack for the first time since my arrival.

I met the next day with a stretch and then some coffee, getting grips with where I was, where I had been, who I had met, and what I could possibly accomplish in the remaining week-and-a-half I had left in this country. Four days here turned out to be more exciting than the better part of a year at home…it’s amazing what one can do when they let their guard down.

The daylight hours were spent winding down, chatting over fancy coffee at an Italian cafe’ that I will always love, and then dinner before getting ready to go out. Again I would be introduced to a handful of new and exciting people, and add another night to the pile of hazy recollections for my future. We got all gussied up in our classiest garb and headed out in the hands of another terribly friendly and polite cabby.

We arrived at a local spot, who’s name I could not remember, but it didn’t have the same comforting atmosphere as the other bars I’d been. People seemed less friendly and I was very uncomfortable in general; most likely because I was convinced to smuggle a mickey of vodka into the bar within the crevice of my slightly ample bosom. Large they may be, I’m sure it wasn’t the best hiding place…It just didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t really in the drinking mood either, feeling like I had left all the fun behind me in Brighton. Cigarette breaks were numerous and I refused to partake until it was too annoying to say no. Shivering outside in my fake leather jacket which did little to keep the November cold out, I checked my borrowed phone frequently with hope of a pleasant word to lift my spirits. Words came and added some colour to a monotonous night but then stopped and I was left with only empty and hungry anticipation.

My friends, Miss Slovakian is on the left

Back inside, a few others arrived, including my friend’s Slovakian roommate’s boyfriend, and his mates. I wasn’t originally enthralled in the slightest. They seemed painfully immature and not at all interested in me, which suited me fine. I got talking to one of them, the older taller fella who looked disturbingly like Ron Howard, between checking the phone compulsively at this point which triggered a jab in the side from my friend, a clear complaint of my antisocial behaviour. I put it away and downed my drink and finished the conversation, only to hear the first interesting thing I’d heard all night.

Ron Howard is on the left…in case for some reason you weren’t sure.

Turns out this tall, fair, Ron Howard impersonator was in school, and had the pleasure of working in his spare time at an operation theatre. I was quite amused as we got to talking about cutting up dead things. I told stories of dead squirrels I took to school on the city bus, and playing with bones in the Osteology lab, and he went on about cadavers. It was turning into a good night after all.

This conversation turned the rest of the group off of us, until boredom and disgust hit them and they decided it was time to move on to the next establishment. Our next stop was a club called Dick DeVignes, we arrived, waited in line (I, with a bottle still in my bosom) and fearfully made it inside. I ditched the bottle in a pile of coats, and headed straight to the bar, desperately in want of a Strongbow, the elixer of life. It very much served its’ purpose that night, bringing me back to my senses, and I began to loosen up and have a decent time. Ron Howard didn’t seem to be much of a dancer which suited me just fine, It was too loud in there to hear him talk anyway.

Wooo! Fun Times!

After several beer, bad 90’s pop songs and a pair of rather painful feet, we decided to call it a night and left Dick DeVignes, heading out onto the cigarette butt covered streets. At this point if my memory serves me at all, the men looked for some form of eastern food, while we sought shelter from the cold inside among the other barely dressed night walkers. We called for a cab to take us the rest of the way, and I had mentally wrapped up the night’s excitement in my mind.  Ron Howard followed us to the pick up area, where his bike was parked and waited with us. When the cab arrived I was taken very much by surprise and felt a pair of cold lips on mine, followed by a tongue that tasted of whisky.  I wasn’t so much appalled, as I was surprised. He smiled and headed off on his bicycle, and we in our cab, into the night towards our beds. I smiled and thought distinctly, I will always remember this as the night I kissed Ron Howard.

Goodnight Ron Howard

-Miss Hailey Jane

Dancing on a Table in Brighton or Bon Jovi: The Enabler

My parents are in Europe for almost two weeks, and with any luck they’ll miss this post. Who am I kidding, it goes to their inbox…but it was worth a shot.

Sooo, here it is. The tale of the most fantastically excellent and clearly the most misguided and irresponsible decision ever made.

After A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time and immediately after My First London, but months before The Poo!, this happened.  This is a big part of why ‘The POO!’ eventually happened, as well as A Moment in Time and several other stories I haven’t been bothered to tell you all yet.

Date: November 2011

Setting: Brighton, UK. Several places..will go into greater detail later

Context: First time in the UK, Have been there…uhm…two days.  Visiting friends I hadn’t seen in five years. Experimenting with obscene amounts of freedom.

So, I feel the best place to start this story is the morning of the train ride to Brighton from north London. After reuniting, a day of sightseeing things like Harrods, the Palace, Hyde Park, Covent Garden and a delicious dinner of spag bolo, my awesome friend and I took off on what was originally designated as a day trip to the city where she had gone to University.

It was a lovely train ride, I marvelled at the countryside in the fog, and we discussed ethics, morals, and how they related to ‘sleeping’ habits. It was great.  Upon arrival at the train station I excitedly hopped off the train and headed towards an adventure of epic proportions.

Brighton, a popular vacation destination,  is known for it’s off the wall culture, it’s openness to alternate lifestyles, and for strange people doing strange attention seeking things in public. That means, not only is it a great place for people watching, but it has a FANTASTIC shopping area. We first toured the main streets, headed in the direction of the Royal Pavilion, where George IV spent quite a bit of his time.  It was a pretty snazzy place, and you really can’t miss it.

Look it’s me! And the flamboyant building in the background is the Pavilion.

Then we were onto the Lanes, where all the neat shops hid. In tight narrow, windey streets all sorts of magic seemed to happen. They opened up to larger streets with more fantastic shops, including Dirty Harry’s, a place called Vegetarian Shoes which baffled me, and a place where I met a rock who loved cake. I knew I was going to like it here.

After some  my first REAL chips, some vintage shopping where I found a sweet tweed cap and tried on other fantastic hats (see below), we went off in the direction of the water and the Pier.

I know you’re probably sitting there, going “What the hell does any of this have to do with Bon Jovi??…I just want to hear about Bon Jovi damnit!!”. So my advice to you is, either scroll down a bit, or get over it and read on. I’m almost there anyway.

At the Pier, which was essentially a carnival over the English Channel, we plundered our cash on games of chance and then walked back to the stone beach. I was happy. This place was great! (see below) I then got a rock in my shoe.

We went late night bra-shopping, and at a place called Bravissimo and was excited to learn the makes bras in a size that could fit giant fun-bags such as mine. And if you don’t believe me, you can look at this picture. I bought a bra and stuffed it in my purse, then headed for a friends flat for dinner and pre-drinks before going to a bar.

Then all at once, I met a bunch of people who were also awesome, and we played a card matching game that was full of breasts and penises, I kid you not. What a way to meet people…And I’m going to tell you right now, that it’s much more difficult to match a pair of breasts than you would think. It was at this point when I started drinking. What I was drinking I’m still not entirely sure. It might have been sherry, but I know I had never had it before, and have certainly not had it since. I also blame this for the headache I had the following day.

All the breasts were matched and put away, and we made our way to the bar to meet even more people and fill the night with our shenanigans. The bar, or I guess a pub is more like it, is called the Caroline of Brunswick, and the plan was to spend a few hours there and then catch a train back to North London. I figured we had lots of time.

Courtesy of brighton.skepticsinthepub.org

This place was fantastic, there was a giant Cerberus above the bar, and the beer was delicious.  Things were going great, a couple of Strongbow later I have made several new friends and the shell I usually lived in was long gone. There was jewellery shoved in my cleavage, then subsequently fished out by someone other than myself, my new bra was fished out of my purse and passed around, and I could tell at this point it was officially a good night.

Try not to judge too much. 😛

My glass was nearing emptiness, to the point where my wistful optimism could not fill it. So I hopped up off my seat and danced to the bar to grab myself another one. As I’m standing at the bar waiting on another pint, in walks what I would consider the quintessential English 20-something. Tall, dark, cable sweater, black jacket, leather gloves, with the leg-melting accent to boot. Ohh and the shoes! Sorry but the shoes will get me every time. Men of the world! Wear proper shoes! Women will love you more! I promise!

Alright, so I see this wonderfulness walk by, and think in passing that it’s rather lovely. No big deal, loveliness happens all the time. Just let it go. Little did I know at this particular time, he was coming to sit with us, having gone to University and lived with my friend. Aw, that’s just great. Still, I hold my composure, keep drinking, chatting, and eventually get to know this mystery man quite well. Well…as well as you can in 30 minutes.

Turns out, we had a lot of the same interests. And not exactly normal interests either, such as Sir David Attenborough, natural history documentaries and Dinosaurs, which made it even more awesome.  I did not want to leave this brilliant man’s side. It reminded me of the time I met a guy on the first day of University who knew who Chuck Palahniuk was and we subsequently had a sexually tense, off-again/not actual relationship for a year, some may argue more. This should have been a hint, but what the hell. I was on vacation dammit.

It was around this time that my friend pointed out that we should really get going if we were going to catch the last train out of here. She was eager to get home to her LTR (long term relationship) which was perfectly fine, except that I wasn’t exactly as eager to return as her. So, I made a suggestion. A rather bold, idiotic and risky suggestion that if my mother ever heard she would feel she had failed as a parent, or succeeded (depends on the day I guess). The suggestion was seconded and encouraged across the board of our table, and the issue of where I was going to sleep that night was left up in the air.

Let’s have a moment of context here.

22 year old girl. In a country she just arrived in for the first time, with a friend she hasn’t seen in 5 years, at a table in a city she’s been in for less than 12 hours, with a bunch of people she met less than 4 hours prior. What could possibly go wrong? It was then that I learned a very valuable lesson in friendship:

A good friend will always leave you with a tiny toothbrush and a condom.

Off she went, and I was in a crowd of new people who’s hands held my fate.

I got another round and settled in. We talked more and more about things I cannot remember for the life of me a year and a half later. What I do remember, however, happened next. I was for some reason dared to sing a classic Bon Jovi tune ontop of the table. Off someone went in the direction of the modern equivalent of a jukebox, and up I went. I would never do this at home, and the nature of the situation itself might have provoked this madness. But either way…I was in for it. With the help of another man, who just so happened to be the runner-up UK air guitar champion (real thing! I swear!), we hammered out a very drunken and enthusiastic version of ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’. This was also filmed on Mystery Man’s phone. Thank the Cosmos that I’ve never seen that film.

To this day I am secretly proud of this daring move, and wish that version of myself would come out more often. I have to be careful though, because that particular me tends to scare people sometimes.

There was a bit of bar hopping and to be honest I don’t remember the name of the next pub at all. I stayed with my pack of new people, following a trail that included a mohawk, the lovely man with gorgeous shoes and two men with long blond luscious hair, one the air guitar champ and the other a super-awesome composer of musical masterpieces!

Once we arrived, after some more preliminary drinking the question of my lodging was quickly solved without real words. Let me just say that both of my friends provisions were much appreciated.

Yes, it was very irresponsible of me to do such a thing, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet and get to know a group of such fantastic super-awesome people. And if anything, I’m certainly better for it. A life without calculated risks borders on the mundane, and as Oscar Wilde wrote:

“Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow. If it wasn’t so, life wouldn’t be worth living.”

Stay tuned for the next episodes of Hailey’s English Adventures, including “Throwing Up in London Bridge Train Station” and “Kissing Ron Howard”.

-Miss Hailey Jane

Remember….don’t judge too much!


My First London

After experiencing the tilt-a-whorl of emotions that was A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time, smelling the smells and feeling the feels, and then drinking one of the most necessary coffee’s of my life, I and my companion hopped on a train from Gatwick and headed straight for the heart of London. Being my first time, naturally I sucked up every little new feeling I could, including being wobbled around on a train and track that may or may not have been built before there were strict safety guidelines. It was overcast when we arrived, and as I stepped out of the train station onto the London streets I was engrossed with how different every little thing was, yet fundamentally the same.

The people all had the same basic destinations, the office, work, calling on family or friends, buying groceries and other necessities. It was just they all did it in a rather different way, in much smaller cars, on much bigger buses and on windy-er more complicated streets.  The buildings were significantly shorter but were squished together and arranged with more talent, and everything seemed so much older. There were shiny buildings, but they were not the dominant feature of this iconic city. I was thankful for this.  We walked along the South bank of the Thames, past London Bridge, the new one, and then on towards Tower Bridge, the massive and beautifully designed crossing that defines the beginning of east London. The first thing I thought as I looked at it, was ‘Who the hell decided to paint it that awful blue?’.  Cool bridge, terrible colour, it’s a shame really. And just so you know, I totally felt like Bridget Jones as I  crossed it.

Tower Bridge in London

About crossing it…I had been carrying my luggage along behind me thus far, heading toward Fenchurch Station to continue the rest of our journey to Southend on Sea, and it was at this point when I encountered the most terrifying set of stairs I had ever seen in my life, that led up towards the bridge. OK, maybe they’re not THAT bad, but let’s keep in mind I am thoroughly exhausted. After an 8 hour night flight without sleep, five hour time difference, customs, endless queues, a train ride and then walking across London lugging approximately 20 kilos plus a carry-on full of books, plus a purse, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After slight motivation, I came around, and thought ‘I’m in London, dammit, I should be able to fly up these stairs!’. Well I didn’t quite fly, but after lots of very unfeminine grunts lots of laughter and a lot of “Sorry, pardon me”s I made it to the top, and crossed the Thames for the first time.

On the other side there was another terrifying set of stairs, very much exactly similar to the set I had just conquered. Of course there was, why wouldn’t there be. All of my pride and self praise for making it up the other stairs vanished instantly.  I eventually conjured some extra gumption after huffing and puffing a bit, and made the decent, only slipping and nearly falling to my death once….maybe twice. I swore to myself to pack lighter next time, but we all know that was a big lie.

We stopped for a well deserved break in front of the Tower of London. We had a quick drink and cigarette and talked a bit more in depth about what the two of us had been up to over the past four years. It felt like we hadn’t been apart that long, but the amount of things we needed to tell each other was a good indication that there was a lot of time between us. It would take nearly the entire two weeks to relay all the necessary information. It would have taken less if several existential life altering crisis’ hadn’t occurred in the meantime. But more on those later.

The November air was crisp and cool, and we loaded up again and trudged along in front of the Tower, snapped a few photos and then wandered around to the train station. On the train, after very embarrassingly fumbling with my change for fare, because I had never seen any of it before, there were more “I can’t believe you’re really here”s and “I can’t believe I’m really here either”s. Even though I was completely exhausted I was perfectly happy, and knew I was going to really like it here.

The Tower

As we arrived at Chalkwell station, the cabby was just about the most upfront and personal stranger I’d ever met in my life. I was a little nervous about how nice he was being, and when I say nice, I don’t mean polite and courteous like the average Canadian, I mean complimentary and in your face about it. The first thing he did was grab my bags and say “A beautiful girl like you shouldn’t have to carry your own bags” loaded them, and then when we got in (as I quickly got over the steering wheel being on the wrong side) he asked where we “lovely ladies” would like to go. When he found out I was visiting from Canada, he was full of praise for us Canadians, and continued being just as friendly all the way to the house. He unloaded my bags for me and walked them to the door. I could really get used to this!  My friend told me that was perfectly normal behaviour and that I really should get used to it, and also learn to take a bloody compliment without turning beet red.

Once inside I explored the tiny kitchen, funny light switches (that to this day make me happy), the funny faced outlets and the strange toilets. Everything was completely recognizable, just a little different. It was like I was in some strange parallel Universe, but I liked it. I then half unpacked my suitcase and had the most fantastic shower pretty much ever. It was absolutely glorious to be able to wash the ‘airplane’ and ‘streets of London’ grime off of me, I swear that stuff is like a film on your skin. After I was done and had dressed in a clean set of clothes, we sat down and had a delicious cup of coffee, and for the first time in about 24 hours, I relaxed, and it felt like home.

-Miss Hailey Jane

A Considerably More Pleasant, Moment in Time

It was not my first time across the Atlantic, but it was my first important trip out into the world all on my own. I had been through University, supposedly gained a new understanding of life the universe and all that, but as it turns out I really felt just as vulnerable and alone as I had stepping out the doors of my High School the last time. I tried the “working for a living” thing, and nothing stuck for longer than a few months, so with the small wad of cash I had collected, I made the most brilliant and irrational decision I could think of.

I was in the shower one day, where all the best decisions happen, and it came to me alongside an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. It felt like this was the right thing to do, and the only possible thing I could do at the particular juncture in my life. I would buy a ticket to England with the money I had made digging holes over the past few months, and I would visit my friends whom I hadn’t seen for over four years. I was free to do as I chose, and freedom was what I wanted. So away I went!

When my Mother left me all alone in the airport (or plane station as I have come to call it) in Toronto after check-in to fend for myself it finally hit me. I was going to cross the ocean all by myself and the feeling was exhilarating. The last time I crossed the sea I was escorted by several teachers as well as 12 of my fellow classmates, which changes the feeling of it altogether. This was a whole different world, and I couldn’t wait for it. As my Mother retreated towards the door and headed back to her life, I thought about how the next person I would see that I knew or could recognize would be my best friend who I hadn’t seen for four years. Then, obviously, I panicked worried what I would do if she wasn’t there at the terminal on the other end to pick me up. I quickly got over this rather unpleasant thought and moved on.

I wandered around the main area of the airport for a while, having a look at some of the shops that sold overpriced Canadian garb like maple syrup and soapstone carvings, and then headed through security into the heart of the terminal. Passport clenched tightly to me, I was mentally going over anything that was in my bags hoping I hadn’t forgot any offensive materials, like hand cream or nail clippers. Heaven forbid I upset an airport security guard…

I made it through with ease and was free to explore the inner bustling confines of  this strange place. People were absolutely everywhere, like ants in a freshly smooshed ant hill. I stop and look at as many of them as I could, and wonder intently where they’re all going and if it was anywhere near as exciting as my current adventure. Like that man hidden underneath his backpack, is he off to India? South America? To live in the jungles for a few months? I hope he doesn’t get malaria…Oh, or one of the many families from what appears to be the Middle East, are they going back home for fun or moving somewhere else because Canada just didn’t cut it for them? There is also that old woman over there that keeps glancing at me. She and her husband are apparently moving back home to England on the same flight as me, which I learn after a brief chat.  His accent makes me happy. They miss it terribly, which makes me even more excited.

I then wonder where it is I should be going. I glance up at the monitor and see that they haven’t assigned a gate to my flight yet, so I make myself comfortable with a hot cup of caffeine and get used to my new and overstimulating surroundings. With nearly two hours to kill I start to get terribly antsy. Thinking what it could possibly be like over there, in England. A whole country full of people living their lives in a completely different way than I do. Coming from a small country town out in the boons, this will be the most novelty I would have had to deal with all at once. I hope I can handle it.

It’s time to head to my gate, number 39. Ughhh why is it so far away, I feel like I’m speed walking a gauntlet. I eventually reach it with the help of super-fast floors, and settle in to wait for my plane to be ready. After far too long they announce boarding and away I go, heart in mouth, ticket and passport in hand, feet on plane, butt in window seat.

As the plane takes off I’m smiling so big I’m nearly giggling, and with no one around to giggle at I’m sure the others on the plane thought I was a bit off.  The clouds fall below me and the sky opens up to a highway with absolutely no traffic. Nothing is stopping me now! Wahoo!

The tiny food on the flight makes me smile even more, and the courteous attendants are well received. Especially when they bring me a tiny ice cream cone that looks to be the right size for a cat. It’s precious!  Not to mention delicious. After lots of hours, lots of bad music I will not admit to, and the novelty nearly wearing off, we begin to descend on London. My sleepy eyes become fully alert, I am sitting straight up, sucking on that mint like it’s the last mint on earth. As I see the patchwork land below me, I feel a strange feeling of relief wash over me, like I am back where I am supposed to be, yet have never been here before.

The tiny wheels touch down and we skid to a halt. No one claps…this is good. I hate it when people clap on planes…way to not have confidence in your pilot…

Anyway…I sit and wait until most people have de-planed and take my time collecting all of my things and then mentally prepare myself for setting foot on a new continent once again. The first thing I notice is how it smells different. Not different enough to really notice, but it’s a new and exciting smell and it seems to be everywhere. After a bit of analysis, I decide it’s a warm, old and comforting smell that I assume comes from a place that has been populated for many centuries longer than…say…my ‘native land’.

I wander along another long hallway of windows and find myself in another long line at customs. The nerves come back, and I fear that if they don’t like the look of me they have the power to turn me right around and send me packing on another flight in the direction of home again, just after I’ve come all this way to get here. Turns out it was not that difficult and before I knew it was free to collect my luggage and meet my friend on…the other side…dum dum dum..

I was worried I wouldn’t recognize her after not seeing her for so long, but again I overanalysed it and in reality had noticed her instantly as I walked through the doors and gave her the biggest hug I could muster. I was finally here, in England, free to lark about as I thought fit, for two whole weeks. It was right then, from that moment of arrival and onwards, that my life would begin and I would have meaning and purpose back again. It was sensational.

-Miss Hailey Jane

Hilarious Things That Happen in Greece

In 2006, while I was young and very much impressionable, I went on my first international adventure! It was the beginning of a life-long, obsession with world travel and the exhilaration of worldly cultural experiences. And it started in Greece. 

As an introduction, and in no particular order, here is a brief taste of the hilarity I encountered on my first adventure. Enjoy!

1. Our tour guide at the Acropolis in Athens was Edna from Disney’s ‘The Incredibles’. Voice and all! 

2. Wandering around in the shops surrounding The Plaka, or the “Neighbourhood of the Gods”, a jewellery shop owner took too much of a liking to my friend and I as we shopped for Grecian jewellery. So much so, he gave me his business card with a written personal phone number on it, asked me to come back and go on a date, while verbally expressing his admiration for the shape of my friends butt. 

3. Two of my friends decided to have an epic ‘beard-off’.  A challenge of manliness and pure testosterone, to see who could grow the best beard over the course of the trip…We were 17. The results were less than ‘epic’.

4. On the Island of Hydra, my companion and I wandered off like we do…and decided to climb up the side streets of the beautiful, picturesque U-shaped port. We went up, and up and up. Past the squished plaster homes with terracotta roofs and blue painted shutters. I was filming on my handi-cam at the time, through the cobbled paths behind the houses and looking out over the sea. All of a sudden, coming full speed up behind us was a frantic donkey with a load on it’s back  and no owner in sight. The animal was reeling towards us at full bore and with determination and a vendetta in its eyes. We did all we could to escape certain doom on the narrow streets of this not-so-innocent island and leapt into action, turned and ran. We jogged in a frenzy up tiny uneven stairs, fumbled around bricked corners and tripped over tiny white fences until we were sure we had lost this demonic donkey who was clearly out to get us.  Once we were completely sure we were alone, we took a moment to breathe and look around. We found ourselves at the top of the hill, overlooking the port in all of its’ Saronic splendour. Success! I felt an overpowering sense of personal achievement at that moment in time; as well as a stomach cramp. 

4 1/2. On that same island on the way down from our existential precipice, we were asked by a lovely blue man cleaning someone’s pool, if we would do him the honour of to staying for dinner. With a powerful sense of impending regret, we gracefully declined, as we had a boat to catch. The Fates disliked this decision, and decided to punish us later on that same day (see 5.). 

5. Visiting the Island of Aegina, with only a few hours to enjoy the delicious pistachios and olives from the market before we had to make it back to the ship, my friend and I wandered into a church courtyard and parked our appealing butts on a park bench. While getting sideways looks from an old man in religious garb we could hear the bellowing of a boat horn. I check my watch, and firmly believe we have lots of time. We meander along, munching on our snacks and then to our surprise, hear it again. After checking the clock tower we realize in a moment of fierce panic that my watch was, in fact, not at all correct. We leap into action, pistachio shells flying in the air behind us, as everything seems to go by in slow motion.

We run in the direction of the booming noise coming from the awaiting ship, with nothing but the fear of being left on a foreign island in the middle of the Mediterranean with only our filled pockets and  ugly orange and blue tourist backpacks to sustain us. We run through the tiny winding streets until we reach the main drag. We can see the giant boat, we’re yelling, moving as fast as our feet can take us, whizzing past tourists, locals, donkeys, bikes, carts and other things we don’t take time to notice. With little breath left in our lungs, we reach the boat in the nick of time, before it departed. We fly up the ramp and find the rest of our tour group and classmates who were even more afraid for our well being than we were. Lesson learned. I adjusted my watch. In hindsight though, there are much worse places to be abandoned than on a Grecian island in the Mediterranean. 

6. While wandering through the Plaka on a cool breezy afternoon, our group passes the aforementioned jewellery shop, and the man shouts out the front door at the top of his Grecian lungs “I LOVE YOU!!”.

7. One evening in Patras, a town on the Peloponesian border next to Western Greece, we wandered off to explore once again, causing distress to our tour group. On the other hand, the two typical Grecian men in the red sportscar that kept stopping and asking us to join them for the night, didn’t seem to mind at all that we weren’t where we were supposed to be.

8. Throughout the trip, street vendors in Athens constantly approached us with fake Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci sunglasses and shabby roses in the hopes they would make that fabled sale. They are also about the pushiest people I’ve ever met, keeping in mind I deal with North American telemarketers on a regular basis.  One night, while sitting at an outdoor cafe’ having a drink, a rose vendor walked up next to my friend, said nothing (assuming he didn’t speak a word of English) and held the rose up to my friend’s face. After saying no sheepishly several times, we all had to chime in and shoo the persistent vendor to greener pastures. Needless to say, the following nights at dinner were used to poke fun at this rather embarrassing public incident. 

9. At the Theater at Epidavros which had some of the best natural acoustics in the world, we took turns singing in front of a large crowd of tourists. Personal renditions of of The Beastie Boys, Sinatra and ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ by four of my friends was a particular treat. As well as the ‘Braveheart’ William Wallace Speech by “Hot Dave” from New Jersey (Who, after a few years of ageing on my part, seems no longer that hot…).  

10. Keeping to the musical theme, on the night of our departure, on the bus ride to the airport at 4 in the morning while everyone else was fast asleep, myself and the two beard-y boys decided it was a good time to practice our vocal talents by singing several Bryan Adams songs. Riddled with drowsiness and sleep deprived inhibition, it was the most enthusiastic and acoustically pleasing performance I’ve ever done! Now that’s a way to make friends! (Not so much…)

11. There was an innocent competition between us girls and a few of the guys on the trip, as to who could “pick-up” the most. It was an overwhelming win for the women.  The score was as follows:

Girls: Jewellery store man with phone number and date proposal and an over-enthusiastic, very public “I LOVE YOU”, Blue man from Hydra asking us to dinner, Sports car men attempting to steal us, and finally a “You have beautiful eyes” from the Greek Christian Bale doppelgänger working at a cafe’ in Athens.

Boys: One less than successful ‘get laid’ attempt by a local man at a night club in Tolon called “The Gorilla” which, much to everyone’s surprise, turned out to be a gay bar. If only we had learned this before my friend climbed up on the scaffolding inside and took his shirt off in an “I’m too sexy for it” sort of way.  Or maybe it was better he didn’t know…

So that was the humourous aspect of my Grecian Adventure, filled with life, learning and unending hilarity. With any luck I’ll be able to go back again to re-live the experience, and with a bit more freedom perhaps say yes to an invitation to dinner…ahh screw it…I’m going to watch Mamma Mia.

-Miss Hailey Jane

World Travel Without a Passport

Hello and welcome to Monday, Hailey here with some fantastic news for those of us with a weighty dream and a light wallet! For everyone who dreams of the freedom and adventure of international travel, never fear! For there is absolutely no reason why you cannot explore and discover all corners of the globe from the comfort of the glorified cardboard box that you call home! With the level and accessibly of modern technology, everyone can get to know all of the wonders of the world.

Why, just last week I travelled to Tunisia, Libya and Zanzibar within days of one another!

Come on people! Let’s not discriminate towards the otherwise-located!

For the meek and unsure, I suggest starting with thinking about where you have always wanted to go. Form a strong mental picture of your schema, or basic understanding of the country, and then forcefully defenestrate it! Meaning to throw most of it out the window. Open minds are always the best way to start an adventure!

You can go anywhere!

Next, if you haven’t already, make sure you download Google Earth and fly yourself to your destination of choice. Familiarize yourself with it’s major cities, streets, population, major landmarks, boarders, and explore the photo’s people have posted. If it is a very major city, turn on 3D buildings and get a real sense of what the city is like to stroll through. If you want to really get to know where you are, search it online. I suggest starting with Wikipedia and going from there. Learn about the food, the local religion, fashion, the infrastructure, imports, exports and the history. Have a go at the language, learn a few phrases and sound absolutely ridiculous shouting German poetry at your computer screen. I did it once. It was worth it.  Also, to get a really good look at what Google Earth can do, have a look at Mt. Everest, the CN Tower, Paris, London, The Grand Canyon and Rio De Janeiro.

Street View Icon

Then to take it to the next level, Google Streetview is the direction you want to go. With this handy tool you can literally walk down the streets, turn and look at shops and the people who happened to get in the way of the vans. There’s also all sorts of quirky interesting things you can see happening on Google Earth and street view. I have a link at the bottom for those interested. To enhance your experience, If you see a shop you like it wouldn’t hurt to see if they have a website, or online store, and if you’re lucky you can even do some international shopping!

When you get hungry, like we all do when we’re on vacation, get creative and look up a recipe from your country or region. If you live in a city, have a look and see if there are any local food establishments boasting your international fare of choice. Then you can get the real taste and smell of the place you’re visiting, and don’t be afraid to try something new! What a country smells like has a lot to do with the impression it leaves on you, so suck up as much of it as you can. What I’m saying is, If you’re experiencing India, please don’t just get Samosas, Butter Chicken and Naan.

So now that you’ve toured, shopped and eaten, all that’s left is to kick back and relax international style. This may be trickier than the other aspects of your at-home travel experience, but can be done with a bit of forethought and planning.  You may or may not agree with my method of choice, but it always worked for my group of crazy companions in University. Have yourself a themed party! “WOO PARTY”!  Collect yourself a large group of friends (hopefully you know them already, and didn’t just scoop them off the street) and theme it up! With decorations, costumes. cuisine and music it’s easy to create an international atmosphere! It’s also not difficult to look up videos of traditional dance, and music styles, and you may even want to learn some of them yourself. Heck, even an “American” themed party could end in all sorts of hilarity. And you have all the freedom to take it as far as you’d like. If the cast of The Office can bring Morocco to them, so can you!

Sitar Solo Anyone?

There are also other simple and less labour intensive methods of at home world exploration. The travel channel on TV is a good start and a personal favourite of mine. It’s rather exciting having travel experts take you along with them to all sorts of places, and let you in on local secrets as well as valuable travel tips. That’s how I went to Tunisia, Libya and Zanzibar! You avoid all the dangers of travelling in the African desert, but unfortunately miss out on a lot of the other sensory experiences. To help with this, It’s also a good idea to supplement with the occasional food network show, to learn how to cook all sorts of food, from your basic Italian, Polish and Mexican to exotics like Caribbean, Japanese and South African  “rainbow cuisine”. And just as a word of caution, it may just make you want to actually travel there even more.

So I hope I’ve given you the inspiration and tools to start your understanding of the people and places on our planet. Everyone should know something about a country outside their own, culture is the most important thing about being human (aside from all the other basic biological importances of course). So teach yourself what we are all capable of, and most importantly have fun and keep learning!

"The World According To America" Don't be like this please.

Links to handy learning and exploring tools.

Google Earth:  http://www.google.com/earth/index.html

Google Streetview:  http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/

Google Earth interesting finds:  http://www.pagog.com/2007/08/03/interesting-google-earth-finds/

TV Channel:  http://www.travelandescape.ca/

TV Channel:  http://www.travelchannel.com/

International Cooking:  http://recipes.wuzzle.org/

Shopping, not all that out there, but you get the idea:  http://www.ebay.co.uk/

Shopping if you’re feeling rich:  http://www.harrods.com/

Language and Basic Phrases (German in this case):  http://www.speakgerman.co.uk/phrases/basic_phrases

So explore and enjoy!

Till next time!

-Miss Hailey Jane