Thoughts

Florence

October 22 – 23, 2015

 

October 22

As we drove to Florence I wish my camera could’ve captured what my eyes could see. The Tuscan hills, although dark, were still gorgeous from the bus window.

On the bus ride there we watched a documentary explaining the life and creative processes Michaelangelo went through. I never realized that the statue of David was ONE piece of marble, carved straight from the mind of Michaelangelo. Michaelangelo believed each piece of stone, marble, etc. contained a figure that he just had to carve out. He could picture a statue just by looking at his canvas. I can barely draw an arm on a cartoon person…

IMG_3935

IMG_3948

We arrived at our Florence hotel and walked right next door to have real Italian pizza for dinner. The restaurant was home to the world’s cheesiest spaghetti and these awesome squares of ice cream (similar to a DQ dilly bar, just rectangular). The first menu we saw didn’t say pizza at all and we were disappointed until we realized there was an entirely separate pizza menu…

All of the hotels and restaurants seem to blend together after a while, I’m glad I managed to capture a picture of what meal we had each day for memory purposes.

October 23

Again, travelling with Trafalgar gave us amazing opportunities. We were one of the first tour groups into the museum, home to David. We had a solid 20 minutes to listen to our Florence tour guide (honestly, I don’t remember her name…) share the details of David with a full view of the statue before the crowds showed up.

The museum housed artwork from students. All of the statues sculpted by these students contained what appeared to be bullet holes – turns out, they were pegs used to hold the statues together. David has absolutely none of these. It’s only until you learn the little details that you really understand why David is so spectacular.

IMG_1642-2

Michaelangelo’s self portrait.

One of the things I’ll remember most is the anticipation to see David. The museum wasn’t very big, and the tour guide had lots of information and facts to share with us. After the first room, we entered another where David was at the end of the hall. The tour guide made us walk one by one to each statue leading up to David before we could see the masterpiece.

IMG_1659-2

After the museum and a quick walking tour of the city we were given free time to explore and shop…

IMG_1728-2

Fake David.

Meet Fake David. This is the place where the original David used to stand. Given its location, the statue was getting ruined and moved inside the museum.

IMG_1708-2

IMG_1704-2

IMG_1711-2

IMG_1743-2

The bridge at the end of this canal is one of the last standing bridges during the reign of Hitler. Now, home to the more expensive jewellery stands in Florence.

IMG_3955-2.jpg

To be honest my mom and I spent most of the time shopping, looking for sinus medication and eating gelato, and I was too busy to take videos and photos. Similar to Venice, the shops and stalls along the streets were all the same. Leather purses. Scarves. Souvenior shirts. Magnets. I was having what was the beginning of a sinus infection and we stopped by a local pharmacy to find something that would help me. Unlike Switzerland, this pharmacist knew what drug allergies I was talking about. After thorough research we came to the conclusion that her purse was cheaper in Venice and mine was cheaper in Florence… you can’t win them all right? Being in Italy, my mom and I’s goal was to find Prada – it took us a while but we found it only to go into the store for 5 minutes. You know, when in Rome… or I guess in this case, when in Florence.

For snack my mom and I stopped at a cafe and I chose a delcious caprese salad. I like cheese.

IMG_3957 (1)

On the way back to our group meeting spot my mom and I got lost (I’ll admit, it was partly my fault. I thought I knew exactly where I was going because I’m usually really good at directions…).

And just like that, it was time to leave for the last city… Rome.

Standard
Travel

Venice

October 21-22, 2015

 

October 21

The coolest part about the day was waking up to the Swiss Alps at sunrise and being on a gondola around sunset.

IMG_1300

The ride to Italy was way shorter than our Paris-Switzerland adventure. As usual we stopped at truck stops and gas stations along the way and I had my very first taste of real Italian pasta. Again, Brendon had an interesting way of describing the Italian restaurant process and the best way to order. I think his stories and descriptions were the funniest part of the trip.

12463999_10153141102477493_1228358653_n.jpg

After heading on a water taxi to the main area in Venice, the first thing Ginnie and I did was get gelato (obviously). My backpack is in front of me because we were warned of pickpockets. It’s a shame that such a beautiful place that attracts thousands of tourists lead to such crime.

IMG_1385.jpg

IMG_1384.jpg

After a quick tour of the Piazza San Marco, it was time for our lovely gondola ride. My co-worker described it the best. Gondolas are supposed to be one of the most romantic things in the world. Sitting next to your loved ones, kissing under every bridge, with men serenading you with their beautiful voices. Except everyone forgets to mention the smell of the water.

Ciao Venice 🇮🇹 | #Venice #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

IMG_1453

Regardless of the water, the gondola ride was the best way to view Venice. Navigating through the Grand Canal, we had views of Venice just as the sun was going down.

My favourite food in the entire world is spaghetti and on this specific night, I finally got to taste it true Italian style.

IMG_3909

October 22

The cool thing about Venice is that the only real form of transportation is boat. It was like a whole other world and experience for me. The thing about the streets of Venice is that they’re very tricky. But it doesn’t matter where you turn because you’ll run into either a gelato shop, leather store, Murano glass store or souvenir shop. I myself contributed to the economy of Venice in the form of two leather purses…

IMG_1512

IMG_1523

If you ever have the chance to tour Burano Island, do it. Burano is more beautiful than Venice. With its brightly coloured houses, Burano Island is a lot less crowded than Venice itself. The tour was not included in our package but it was most definitely worth it.

IMG_1600

Anybody who knows me knows that I am not a big eater – so when I sat down for a 7-course meal I was physically in pain. The food was delicious but I LITERALLY couldn’t eat fast enough. The first course was so delicious I kept eating and soon regret it… As I was putting dressing on my salad the waiter was trying to shove calamari down my throat. It was probably the funniest dining experience ever. The walls were covered with decorations, absolutely plastered with them, Brendon taught us all how to “properly” finish our mini bottles of amaretto (as seen in the video) and I’ve never eaten so much food in my life before. I also had my first Italian pizza!

12468106_10153141061322493_194956957_n (1)

IMG_1621

After we said goodbye to Burano we headed to Florence for the world’s most cheesiest spaghetti and the home of naked David…

Standard
Thoughts

New Year’s Eve is just another day.

10…

There are so many expectations for New Year’s Eve. As the clock strikes midnight it’s like all of life’s problems are supposed to magically disappear…

9…

But they won’t. Because you’ll wake up the next morning (perhaps with a hangover) and it’ll be just another day…

8…

I’m not saying don’t plan anything, don’t enjoy your night, stay home and be miserable…

7…

Just remember that how you spend New Year’s Eve doesn’t determine how your year will go…

6…

If your night doesn’t go as planned don’t be disappointed.

Everyone’s chasing a good time and it’s always a disappointment. I plan on doing nothing and then if something lands in my lap…but I always end up drunk and disappointed. – Jennifer Lawrence

5…

Don’t lay all of your hopes and dreams on one night of the year.

4…

Some of the best nights and memories are the ones that are unplanned and spontaneous…

3…

Don’t expect things… just enjoy whatever you’re doing and try and have some fun…

2…

So if you don’t get to the bar on time, the perfect outfit, or your midnight kiss just remember…

1…

It’ll be okay ♥

This may sound super cynical and bitter but all I’m saying is don’t place so many expectations on one night of the year. I’ve had so many thoughts, dreams and hopes for New Year’s Eve in the past when really one of my best nights consisted of me watching half of the Lord of the Ring trilogy in my friend’s basement and passing out at 12:20… So please, if you’re going downtown or having a house party have fun. Have fun while you’re waiting for that cab to show up, cleaning up drinks off your floor or clinking glasses with your parents at midnight. Enjoy your night and Happy New Year friends. Here’s to 2016 and hoping that this’ll be the year someone invents the flux capacitor…

Standard
Thoughts

2015.

I struggled real hard to find the right words to say to recap one of the most adventurous years I’ve had. Yet every time I wrote a sentence, re-organized it, tried to pick the perfect pictures, captions, etc. nothing seemed to do it justice. There are so many things I would like to say and write about this year, some that I’ve already written about, so excuse the word vomit you are about to read.

I’m a 23 year old who loves her job (so far anyway *insert wink face here*). I travelled to 7 countries this year. I started my year in Malaysia and went back there again. I had the extreme pleasure of travelling to Thailand with two of my best friends. I fell in love with the mountains in Alberta. My parents took me on the European trip of a lifetime. I saw the Bills beat the Dolphins in Buffalo. I attended more concerts than I can count and even secured a job that pays me to run them. I met my favourite band and I discovered so many more. I had my heart broken. I finally learned how to use eyeshadow. I moved in with my best friend and we got matching tattoos. I lived my grade 7 dream of living with Jen and Kelly (even if it was for just one night). I took Uber for the first time. I made it to the aquarium downtown. I finally started volunteering with War Child. I made friends and I lost friends. I threw Debchella 2k15 (yes, that’s what we’re calling it…). I FINALLY saw (and will be old enough to remember) the Toronto Blue Jays making the playoffs. I checked numerous things off my bucket list including: attend an NFL game; attend a Toronto Maple Leafs game; meet Taking Back Sunday (in it’s entirety); and play an open mic night. I severely scraped up my knee…

The list is endless.

I learned many things about myself, life and relationships. I’ve learned that you can’t make someone love you if they don’t. I’ve learned not to chase people. The people who want to stay in your life will always find a way. I’ve learned I have the best friends in the world who always have my back and I’ve learned that I have the best parents in the world. This year I learned that you have to spend as much time with your loved ones when possible. I chose to travel to Malaysia instead of Cambodia to visit my relatives and I do not regret it for a single second. I had the amazing opportunity to spend one last trip with aunt who recently lost her battle with cancer.

I also caught a major travel bug.

So thank you – if you’ve shaped my year in any way, good or bad, thank you for the part you played in this adventurous year. Even though I didn’t get to see a flux capacitor this year it was still spectacular.

Here’s to the year that lies ahead.

“Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

12463900_10153134422862493_1197612582_n

Peace out 2015, it’s been a slice.

Standard
Travel

Lucerne

October 20-21, 2015

October 20

The bus ride to Switzerland took all day. The trip was a total of 667.3 km (according to Google Maps). Travelling on The Love Bus, we made a couple stops along the way.

On the ride into the city Brendon described to us more about The Swiss. According to him, every single man is required to train for the Swiss Guard. The country is known as ‘neutral’ and must have the man-power to defend itself. He also described the country as meticulous – especially when it comes to portion control. We were told our meals would be carefully measured to ensure each portion was perfect and equal. The soap was to be measured for “one shower portion” and would disintegrate after we were finished. I wish I could describe it as well and comical as Brendon did. I assure you it was funnier than I’m describing now…

The area where we were dropped off was full of shops, tourists and chocolate. I’m 100% sure we were in tourist central because the shopkeepers spoke more Mandarin than English…and tried to talk to me in Mandarin… The shopkeepers seemed overwhelmed yet prepared for the crowds.

After losing both of my parents I roamed around the streets of Lucerne and found some cute unique vintage stores. As I’ve said in past posts and will continue to say, I wish I had more time to explore.

On our walking tour of the town we saw The Lion Monument. The dying lion commemorates the Swiss Guard who were killed during the French Revolution, however, if you look carefully you can see a pig surrounding the statue – apparently the sculptor was underpaid and sculpted a pig around the lion in revenge. Mark Twain has described the status as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”

IMG_1153

Lion of Lucerne

I expected our hotel room to be super tiny and only full of necessities (thanks to Brendon), however, our room was decently large. A double bed and a single for our family was perfect for one night’s sleep.

Back at home in Canada, Justin Trudeau was voted Prime Minister and all that BBC News could play was Justin Trudeau vs. Justin Bieber … so strange.

1960308_10153116304992493_2365537_n

IMG_3847

Our perfectly portioned and delicious meal.

October 21

Back to the Future Day. I obviously brought my shirt to wear.

Our ride up to the Swiss Alps was on the world’s first open-air cable car, Cabrio. Because the mountains are so high, we had to take a train to get to the cable car. It was really surreal to see all of Lucerne slowly disappear into the clouds as we got closer and closer to the top.

IMG_1159

IMG_1162

I'm in love with the mountains. | #Switzerland #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

IMG_1240

Happy Back to the Future Day

The view was absolutely spectacular and reminded me of my trip up Sulfur Mountain in Banff. Our tour group was the first up the mountain and just like Banff, after arriving at the top, there was an option to climb even higher up the mountain. I was the first one up the mountain and had the view all to myself for a couple of minutes. Top 5 favourite moment of the trip.

Climbing up the mountain was difficult not only because I’m severely out of shape, but also the air pressure and cold weather. It was definitely worth the snot.

At the top of the mountain everything seems like a painting. Nothing seems real and your problems seem insignificant.

IMG_1206

IMG_1253

IMG_1261

Literally in the clouds.

I bought Swiss Toblerone bar at the gift shop of Mount Stanserhorn and it definitely seemed to taste better.

IMG_3891

IMG_3890

The way down was just as breathtaking but sad because I was leaving the mountains. It also seemed a lot faster than the ride up (as every journey is).

It was time for a quick pee and then another long, long journey as we made our way to Venice…

Standard
Travel

Paris

October 18-20, 2015

 

October 18

It’s an extremely humbling experience to be on an expensive trip and pass by Syrian refugees. This was my first experience in Paris, France. Although it shouldn’t have to be, it’s a good reminder, that I am an extremely privileged person living in Canada. I’m a very lucky girl and I have my parents to thank for that.

One of the coolest but shortest experiences we had on the trip was passing by Vimy Ridge. I would’ve liked to have visited the actual monument but even catching a glimpse of it from the highway was surreal.

On a lighter note – we arrived in Paris and immediately headed for our welcome dinner and visit to the Arc de Triomphe. The last time I was in Paris I definitely didn’t appreciate the city as much as I should of. We were given hours to spend on the Champs-Élysées and we spent most of it shopping. That’s partly why I was so excited to go back to Europe. It was kind of a do-over for me to experience the city as an adult (well, young adult).

I swear the restaurant we went to thought we weren’t going to eat for days. Each of us were LITERALLY given French Onion Soup (side note: is it just called onion soup in France…?), half a chicken with veggies, mashed potatoes, and probably THE BEST CREME BRULEE I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. Paris is also known for it’s famous wine, mmmmmm.

12309331_10153078302597493_274126647_n.jpg

Our tour director, Brendon, was absolutely spectacular. I could go on for days about how great he is and how he always went out of his way to give us the best experience. For example, making sure we have a chance to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night. It only happens in the first 5 minutes of every hour.

October 19

Travelling with Trafalgar is probably the best way to see every major tourist attraction if you can afford it. We were only in Paris for a day and we got to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Basilica, The Louvre and Moulin Rouge.

What we learned from Brendon was that in Europe, time means nothing. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to open at 9:30am, it did not. However, being in a group tour meant we were given the chance to skip the line and be the first group up the tower (except this time I wasn’t going to wear a tutu… things have changed a lot since the last time I was in Paris).

1934301_17700852492_681_n

#embarassing

IMG_0937

IMG_0946

It’s pretty crazy to think that I was just in Paris. That we just experienced all of the beauty of the city and missed the terrible terrorist attacks. Hearing about the attacks was scary for that reason, and the fact that The Eagles of Death Metal show is a type of concert I typically attend.

Given recent events I was given the honour of representing Roots Canada on Instagram to pay respects to the attacks. A bittersweet moment but I was incredibly honoured to have been chosen.

Canada's thoughts and prayers are with you. #PrayForParis

A post shared by Roots Canada (@rootscanada) on

IMG_1038

Notre-Dame was just as pretty as it was last time – except this time, without rain. The line to get in however was ridiculous. Luckily we got there early enough to avoid a major line-up (more Trafalgar secrets wooo!). I tried to find the same crepe place Alex, Alex, Jenn and I escaped the rain to but we were short on time so we settled for 1 of 16 crepe restaurants.

Brendon once again went out of his way to organize Louvre tickets ahead of time so that we had minimal waiting time. As long as the line was, and as small as the Mona Lisa is, my parents needed to see the famous Da Vinci painting. It took me a while but I finally made it to the front of the crowd.

IMG_3728

One of the things I liked to do was look at the crowds of people look at paintings like the Mona Lisa. In the past year I’ve tried to stop the attempt to capture the perfect moment and instead, to try and stop to enjoy the view. The last time we were at the Louvre I think we spent more time trying to mimic statues and less time looking at paintings – oh high school.

IMG_3834Just in case you’re wondering the Moulin Rouge is nothing like the movie. There’s a lot more boobs and a lot less room to move around. At one point – I kid you not – the stage opened up and turned into a water pit, and then one of the half naked girls jumped into the tank of water and swam with boa constrictors. The French are interesting.

The theatre is packed with around 1,000 people and 2 exits. My mom and I had discussed what would happen if there was a fire in that building, such a scary thought. It’s evIMG_3785en scarier to think what would’ve happened if the attacks happened there.

Along with a theatre ticket came a 3-course meal and lots of alcohol. Being the only one to drink red wine at my table, I was given my own personal tiny bottle which I gladly finished. Because of bronchitis I didn’t get to fully experience French wine last time and I was more than happy to make up for it.

You’re not allowed to take photos in the venue so excuse the poor quality ones that I managed to capture.

The Moulin Rouge puts on 2 shows twice a day, 7 times a week and they always sell out. Given those statistics and the opportunity to go my mom and I were definitely not going to pass up the chance… shows aren’t really my dad’s thing.

IMG_3787

IMG_3836

October 20

I think this was the second earliest day we had to wake up the entire trip. We were to travel from Paris to Switzerland by bus and I’m so grateful I can pass out in a moving vehicle. My bus buddy, Leanne, can attest to that. As soon as we leaned back in our seats we were out cold – something about the air pressure I guess.

We stopped at a French bus/truck stop where I proceeded to eat the biggest lasagna I’ve ever had in my entire life.

 

Standard
Travel

London

October 14-18, 2015

October 14

Saying goodbye to my family was bittersweet – I was saying goodbye but also saying hello to a new adventure. It was exciting to be in London because we had extra time to ourselves.

I’ve been to London before but I had missed some of the little things I’d wanted to see like Platform 9 and ¾ and Abbey Road.

Heads up for all of the Harry Potter fans – Platform 9 and ¾ is not actually on the platform. Like every other tourist trap there’s a line, with a gift shop. There’s a man who gets paid to stand there and when you get to the front he’ll ask you what house you’re in (just in case you were wondering why every single person who posts a picture magically has a scarf with them). There’s also a camera-man who tells the first man “SCARF” and it magically looks like it’s flying. Tourist attraction #1 complete.

Next stop, Hogwarts. | #Platform934 #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

Finding our way to our hotel was simple – but my parents didn’t seem to think so. The Tube is super easy to navigate in London, and even more simple when Google Maps tells you exactly which stations to take. It’s not so easy if your mom accidentally grabs a bus map of the system and starts to second guess every move you choose to make. If we were a married couple we’d be in trouble.

The timing of my trip was bittersweet. Sweet – Eurotrip. Bitter – Jays made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Luckily my neighbour from Mississauga, Asma, is studying in London and we met up with her at the Canadian bar, “The Maple Leaf.” The bartender almost didn’t let me in because I look like I’m 16… The bar is completely adorned with Canadian sports’ team memorabilia and typically Canadian items. There are twonies and loonies taped to the wall and the bar serves Molson Canadian. On the menu are “traditional Canadian dishes” like poutine (no complaints). To be honest, Europe was amazing, but this night was one of my favourites out of the whole trip. Words can’t describe the feeling you get being in a foreign country surrounded by fellow Canadians all cheering as Bautista hits a home run during Game 5.

IMG_3453

October 15

Our first mission as tourists in London was obviously to eat at the canteen at the Malaysian Consulate across the street. (My parents are Malaysian and we coincidentally booked a hotel across the street – my dad was super happy).

Second, sign up for the Big Bus to take us all over London. Traffic in London is crazy. Especially with hundreds of Big Buses travelling across the city. The tour took us 3 hours and we hadn’t fully finished the trip. It’s crazy that such a small city can have so many landmarks and history to see and learn about. One of the cool and nerdy things I got to experience was seeing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery. Most of our day was spent on the bus because we were still jet lagged and exhausted.

Hi Ben! 🙋🏻🇬🇧 | #BigBen #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

October 16

Day 3 in London was exciting because I got to meet another aunt! My dad’s cousin, Michelle, met up with us and spent the day doing touristy things with us. I feel like people in general don’t really go to tourist attractions unless family comes to town – I can’t remember the last time I went up the CN Tower. We finally made it to Abbey Road – what would we do without Google Maps… It’s so weird to think that to tourists Abbey Road is this amazing place where we all cross and try and take a photo with, but to residents it’s a nuisance because it’s too difficult to drive in the area. It was really surreal to see Abbey Road Studios where some of the best songs were recorded.

All you need is love. | #AbbeyRoad #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

The day was a little bit of a flashback – we went to the Tower of London like I did in high school, ate at the same restaurant, Wagamama – except I was missing all of my friends. Mom and I also went to Kensington Palace where we had tea just to say we had tea in a palace.

IMG_0435

In London I passed as a 15-year-old at several tourist attractions. In London, 15-year-olds are considered a child and get free admission. Sometimes it benefits me that I look young.

October 17

Our last full day in London was the start of our trip with Trafalgar. The first thing we did in the morning was get on a bus at the crack of dawn to have a walking tour around London. Our guide, Michael, was well versed in his history and tidbits he’d learned throughout the years as a tour guide. He knew exactly where to stand to watch the Changing of the Guards and where they were going to trample us. I also couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of people fencing near Buckingham Palace placed there for the Prime Minster of China (I don’t like people fencing…) Michael sent us to a quaint little pub to get our London-fix of fish and chips.

IMG_3630

Having some ale at an English pub.

IMG_3631

IMG_0615

The bane of my existence…

Mom and I headed to the London Eye. Sorry, the COCA-COLA London Eye. Normally I’m a fan of Coca-Cola’s marketing but it was overkill at the Eye.

IMG_0683

“How many Coca-Cola cans does it take to get to the top of the London Eye?” “This moment brought to you by Coke.” “Happiness starts here…COKE COKE COKE.” The London Eye has a pretty view from the top, but to be honest it’s just another tourist attraction. (I sound super ungrateful but I swear I’m not.)

London Eye see you! | #LondonEye #RootsIsCanada #wanDEBlust

A post shared by Deb Lam (@adventurelam) on

After the tourist trap I got to meet my cousin, Oscar. It’s amazing the things kid are curious about. I think the very first question Oscar asked me was “so what do you guys eat around here?” I wish I could’ve spent more time with him and my aunt. My aunt is one of the nicest ladies and Oscar is just plain adorable. Living halfway across the world from your family really sucks sometimes. But it’s also a great excuse to travel.

My aunt’s partner, Nigel, gave us a real tour of the wharf. We walked along the River, had hot chocolate and rum at a cute little rooftop patio and headed towards the Tate Modern where I got to see some of Andy Warhol’s works and some of Lichtenstein. The World of Pop exhibit was going on as well – an exhibit primarily focused on feminism, consumerism and racism so you can imagine how interesting that is through modern art (lots of boobs).

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

Being my dad and craving Chinese food, we went to Chinatown to find some grub. But first, we had to cross the Millenium Bridge (aka, the bridge in Harry Potter).

IMG_0736

Again, in preparation for the Chinese Prime Minister, Chinatown was decked out to the nines. The last time I was there I don’t ever remember it being that fancy.

October 18

4:30am wake up. At least I get to sleep on the way to Paris…

We made it to the White Cliffs of Dover only to get on a ferry to travel to Paris. I never get sea-sick but for some reason I could not stay horizontal until I found some meds. The duty free shop on board also provided me with my brand new FauxPro (it’s actually called a KitVision but I like my term better). I was excited to use it for the remainder of my Eurotrip…

IMG_0794

Standard