Ode to a Vagabond’s Boots
Ashleigh and I were only a few days into our trip when we embarrassingly discovered certain visa regulations that forced us to almost completely alter our original plan for travelling through Europe.
We’ve gotten our travel gear together and I think we’re finally ready to embark on our incredibly long journey. All I have left for possessions are carefully rolled up, folded, and stuffed into my hiking backpack. Everything else has been sold, given away, or left behind. No more Xbox. There goes my sword collection. I’m sure Ashleigh’s going to miss all her dresses and shoes. But what a pain it would be if we had to lug wheeled suitcases across, say, the Scottish Highlands; it’s just not sensible. So, trying to be as minimalist as possible, we’ve carefully selected practical articles of clothing and a few personal items. We also have our camping gear: our tent, sleeping bags, tarps, etc. as camping will be a major part of our trip, and even though it may weigh us down I think it will get a lot of use.
If anybody is interested in ever going on an extended backpacking/hiking trip, we’ve spread out all of our gear and written a list for you to look at to perhaps give you some ideas. Continue reading
This will be a quick post about something that I got recently… New perfume! If you haven’t heard about the link between scent and memory, you can check out some spiffy science here. Several years ago I went to Mexico with my family and I decided to bring this perfume that had been a gift and I hadn’t worn yet. I wore it throughout my time in Mexico, but switched back to my usual perfume when I got home. A couple months later I tried wearing the Mexico perfume again, and I was overwhelmed by all these memories and thoughts about our trip to Mexico! And that is how it has been, every time I smell that perfume I think of Mexico.
I thought I’d write a little about how I’m feeling looking at the clock ticking down toward the start of our adventure. The best way to start is maybe by detailing what we have been up to the past couple of weeks.
About two weeks ago, we started seriously packing up our apartment and putting our furniture up for sale. I knew I would have a hard time with it, there were too many factors working against a girl who is sentimental about literally everything (I actually had a huge struggle about whether to keep a single broken earring that I got for super cheap in a place I can’t remember any details about, but was somewhere in Japan and therefore might make it worth holding onto). Since we’re leaving for an extended period, it made sense to minimize what we were keeping in long-term storage (aka, my parents house :)) so I’m doing my best to only hold onto things I know I’d regret letting go. So, after I’d packed up about two boxes of “Donates” and a box of “Keeps” I slumped on the floor super bummed out and took, like, three days to recover. I’m such a delicate flower, I know.
We’ve signed away to the Help Exchange website, opening the way to a colourful list of organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats looking for volunteer helpers to stay with them in exchange for room and board. In my mind it’s a pretty good deal, a damn good deal… yes I am a thrifty man, and the idea of not having to spend money on food and accommodation appeals to me, but of course there’s a whole lot more to this work exchange thing that I am looking forward too. You’ve got to take a look at some of these places! Here are a couple examples of HelpX spots we’re looking to volunteer on in Norway:
So due to Nat and I being crazy excited for our trip, we’ve been talking to our friends and family about it for months. Okay, maybe a year… and a half. Maybe two years. Anyway, since we’ve been talking about it for so long, we’ve been slowly collecting travel-related gifts as birthday and Christmas presents. Amongst them, we’ve collected a beautiful collection of travel journals to bring with us to help document our journey.
So now we are left wondering, what are we going to write about?? As you can see above, we can choose plenty to write about and we can easily devote an entire journal to each aspect we pick. I’ve already managed to pick a couple of things that I’m really excited about.
Free Opportunities to Travel
So a friend of mine recently showed me some great websites for free tours, and it got me thinking about how many cheap touring opportunities are out there, even in our home towns, that we never know about until someone points it out…
So unfortunately, it looks as though travel around Iceland is going to be too difficult during the winter months as none of the bus lines operate to the areas we would like to visit, especially the west fjords. We haven’t given up hope on seeing Iceland, but we have decided that starting in Norway is our best move. Scandinavians are very active in the outdoors during the winter, so going to the Nordic countries in the winter will show us a side of their culture and traditions that tourists miss out on while visiting in the summer.
Icelandair offers some affordable flights from Canada to Norway, so we have decided to fly straight from Canada (likely Vancouver) to Bergen, Norway. Looking through some workaway websites we’ve found some great opportunities, including: a farm which raises sled dogs, a couple wanting help building a sailboat to sail the world (not kidding), spiritual/religious centers, and animal husbandry work. It looks like we have a solid chance of finding plenty of interesting volunteering experiences living on some of the most beautiful properties.
Besides working, we’re hoping to do a fair amount of hiking in the parks and fjords. In particular, we would really like to explore the Sognefjord area, which is conveniently near Bergen, and the Jotunheimen Mountains. Otherwise, we’re hoping to see the northern lights and explore Bergen, Oslo, and a few smaller communities.
We’ll let you know details when we get it all together,
So as Nathanael and I start making our preparations to get going, we’ve had some changes of plans. We’ve bumped back our departure date from July to November since Nathanael’s sister is getting married and we wouldn’t dream of missing out on such a beautiful day! Unfortunately, this means we hit a few snags in our previous plans.
We’re now going to be venturing into Iceland and Scandinavia in winter, an intimidating thought! We’re preparing and researching, however, so we’re hoping weather conditions won’t be an issue for us as hardy Canadians. The main problem we’ve come across is that the ferry line we were hoping to take between Iceland, the Faroes, and Denmark will not be running in the winter. This is pretty disappointing; we were both very much looking forward to a true sea voyage! That’s how things go in the off-season though. So we have devised a new plan which we think in the end will actually save us some time and money, and will still include a ferry ride. What we are now hoping to do is adventure around the western coast of Iceland, hiking through the fjords and whatnot, before returning to Reykjavik. From Reykjavik, we will fly to Bergen, Norway. Originally we had planned to visit Norway after Sweden, but now we will be exploring Norway before ferrying over to Denmark. Making our way through Denmark, we will eventually make our way to Sweden and then to Finland. This plan won’t include as many epic train or ferry rides, but it should be a bit more time and cost efficient. We will be updating our country pages once we have finished sorting everything out.
Wish us luck finding warm jackets!
These are the words from the journal of Jon the Weir:
“I, Jon the Weir, descended into a crack in the earth. I climbed precariously for many fathoms in the evening heat when suddenly I came upon a chamber and the temperature suddenly dropped. Beyond a still pool of ice filled water, there lay a portal of darkness. Four feet high, two feet across, filled with a void of black as dark as the heart of Death. A soft and quiet wave of the coldest breath reached out to me from the doorway, beckoning me to venture further down its throat. But I, being unequipped, stowed my pride and returned to the sun, as the beats of my heart echoed downward forever into the void and to whatever was there to hear them.”