This is part 1 of a two-part series outlining my travels since the beginning of (my) time.
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I grew up in a Canadian city while most family vacations were to isolated locations lacking TV, a phone or radio. Ma and pa instilled a love of hiking by pushing me up steep mountains while bribing me with treats and ignoring my whining.
I escaped my parents by taking a bus trip alone to visit my grandparents when I didn’t know that I was too young to take buses alone. My most vivid memory is the free cookies on the bus.
North America and me
I have a strange relationship with North America. I have tended towards leaving more than exploring it. One dream is to drive across Canada.
As for the U.S. of A., the bit that I have seen has pleased me greatly! Chicago overwhelmed with goodness and wind. Enormous cedar trees and hills filled Bellingham, Washington. Seattle was wet (thank you Pike Pub for keeping us dry and amused while everything else was closed). Montana had just introduced speed limits. Hawaii is still heaven.
Europe entered my life after grade 9 with a trip to England with a youth organization. I tried cheesecake for the first time, marveled at Starlight Express and fell in crush with Jason Donovan.
In high school, I got to live history in Germany! The Berlin Wall had come down 16 months earlier and German Reunification was not even six months old. Both currencies were still in use and the subway cost ten times more to go back to our hostel in East Berlin than to leave it for West Berlin. Our trip was only weeks after the Gulf War and I’m still amazed we were allowed to go.
In university, I moved to Finland for an exchange and fulfilled a childhood dream to visit Russia. Crossings to Sweden, Estonia and the Åland Islands were survived by curling up in the fetal position. (Please share your seasickness cures.) I didn’t want to come home so I spent a month in England and attended a conference where Anita Roddick was a keynote speaker. Wow! I have forgiven my mother for not wiring me money so I wouldn’t have to come home at all.
After university, I stayed closer to home for a while but turned things around in 2004 with a return to Finland and a trip through England, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Wales was unappreciated. We arrived on a day when museums and art galleries were closed. The highlight, if you can call it that, was spending ten hours at an isolated gas station on the fridge of Cardiff waiting for a bus to Ireland. We passed the time chatting with the friendly gas station guy who “treated” us to freshly expired pastries.
A few months later, on another vacation, I experienced something that dramatically impacted me and my travels followed suit.