Ever the tourist, aren't we? I see you've decided to take the international route and explore the locales where I have ventured in the past. Sometimes, I need to remind myself that there's a whole world out there beyond the microcosm of Winnipeg, so I try to go on at least one trip every calendar year. For quite a few years now, I've been able to achieve this, for which I am grateful.
Please make sure your tray tables and seat backs are in their fully locked and upright positions, and that your seat belts are securely fastened. Should you need it, an emergency exit is located at the bottom of this page. In the event of a loss of cabin pressure...umm, I'm afraid you're out of luck. I just live here.
Now cleared for departure....
This was my only trip to the land of my heritage as a teenager...some member of my immediate family tends to go there every year, but my next "turn" didn't come up for quite a while.
The highlight of the trip for me personally was the nice tan I acquired during my two-week stay in Nazaré, a beautiful beach resort town. I'm still not quite sure how, but my relatives managed to get this room right on the boardwalk. At night, I would fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves outside my window...it was great.
I took this photo myself at sunset, and it's representative of what one can find all along the coastline. The beach itself is great, and the town is very accommodating. I also found out quickly that Portuguese teenagers are fascinated with the American way of life, and I felt sorry (for once) that I had to say I was actually Canadian, since saying so caused them to quickly lose interest.
Nevertheless, the entire town is filled in the summer with visitors from around the world. You never know where someone is from until you've talked to them, and the waiters can often take your order in six different languages. Every language in Europe can easily be heard if you walk around long enough.
This spot was less than a block away from where I was staying. In the morning, I could get up, change into my beachwear, and be on the sand within minutes. The rows of huts are rented out to tourists; they're used for getting changed and for keeping all your things, both of which I found quite convenient.
I also had the opportunity during my trip to visit Fátima, the famous Catholic holy site. It happens to be only fourteen kilometers from my mother's hometown of Minde, where my extended family plays host to us during our visits.
Fátima is quite the tourist trap. The main shrine is very elegant, but the surrounding area is crowded with shops overflowing with tacky Catholic iconography. As a child, I bought a glow-in-the-dark green rosary there, and several years after this visit, my sister brought me back a glowing Virgin Mary figurine...
I went on a week-long foray through seven states--North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota, if you're really curious--as part of an IB trip to a twin school, Lindbergh High School in Saint Louis. A lot of it was somewhat boring and pointless, but I did make a good friend there, Nancy Kolocotronis, and we as a class had a few hours to spend at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
The main reason this trip garnered a measure of infamy amongst my graduating class was a seven-hour videotape of the journey that many of us were looking forward to--made by future Fringe playwright and screen actor Mike Realba--but which (for reasons still unknown) was never copied, distributed, or even shown.
This trip lasted a mere three days, for the purposes of attending the Reach for the Top National Tournament. (Our former team captain actually bothered to put our team stats online, and he happens to have his own homepage, but his attitude problems have led me to take down those links.) It had three main advantages: I didn't have to pay to go there, or to lodge in Margaret Addison Hall at the University of Toronto; I packed a lot of activities into a short period of time; and best of all by far, I met a close friend of mine there.
One of my lifelong dreams, to visit Australia, was realised much sooner than I thought it would. I never imagined I'd get there before completing my BA, but an unexpected opportunity came along and changed all my plans. In April of '96, I saw a notice at my university for the Australasian Model United Nations Conference, and I presumed that when I emailed them about registration, I would be told there were no more positions available. Surprisingly enough, that was not the case.
I represented Iran as part of the Commission on the Status of Women. (Ironic, isn't it? Marjane Satrapi would be proud...) During the Conference itself, I was staying in St Hilda's College at the University of Melbourne. The AMUNC was tremendously fun--playing "the bad guy" has its perks--and I learned a lot about the reality of how decisions are made at the United Nations.
This is Larina Alick. She's very cool. She represented Côte D'Ivoire on the Commission on Human Rights, so I only had the opportunity to get to know her towards the end of the Conference. She became a good friend of mine over time...so much so that I eventually went to visit her whilst she was initially living in London.
Needless to say, I could go into a lot more detail about this trip. It was truly a life-changing experience for me. Maybe someday I will...I owe as much, on a personal level, to myself and to the other delegates, like Sari Galapo and Jennifer Single, with whom I also hit it off.
I was definitely planning a return visit in the summer of 1997, and then 1998, but unfortunately, I was simply unable to afford it either year. This trip did foreshadow my future involvement with more local Model UN events, and I did eventually return to Australia, but it doesn't seem as if I'll ever attend another AMUNC specifically. At least I continued to get their invitations...
My first journey to Québec was basically an act of complete selfishness. I really wanted to visit a very good friend of mine there, whom I hadn't spent any time with since I first met her in Toronto, so I took the (now defunct) Canadian Plus points from my Australian sojourn and spent my week off school on a rather inexpensive trip to see her. Conveniently, I stayed with one of her floorfellows at McGill University--which was very kind of him, since he didn't know me at the time. (Yet another residence hall...a pattern was emerging.)
Montréal is a fascinating city, full of culture, and my friend did her best to offer me a broad cross-section of that culture in the nine days I was there. She was somewhat preoccupied, however, by a combination of mid-term exams and the two other people visiting her at the same time, one from Toronto and another from her hometown in Alberta.
The main impression I received of the people I got to know in Gardner Hall was a strong sense of community. Although they had known each other less than six months, and they came from diverse cities and backgrounds, they were already very close-knit. Perhaps this warm fuzzy element is common to all residence halls--I don't know, I never lived in one. I just know that it always felt really good to be around them.
My return to Toronto was also to visit a friend. This time, it was Robin Grainer (aka Shadow Virus, now Mrs Frolic), who never seems to take a bad picture, was the first-ever visitor to my timeline website, and perhaps most importantly, had recently moved there from Los Angeles to live with her beau, noted Happy Hardcore rave DJ Chris Samojlenko (aka Anabolic Frolic), organiser of the well-known Hullabaloo! raves in the area. For the first time in a long time, I actually went somewhere without staying in a residence hall...
This trip gave me more of a chance to explore Toronto than my first trip did, and I quickly realised that it's really just a larger version of Winnipeg...the urban culture of the city as a whole seemed extremely similar, and I never felt any sense of being lost or even really being in a different place than I do when I'm home.
I visited a number of notable sites, including the CN Tower and the CityTV building (where I did indeed take advantage of Speaker's Corner), but perhaps the proudest moment of my trip was when I went to visit the real De Grassi Street--inspiration for the iconically Canadian Degrassi series, including the newer Degrassi: The Next Generation. This last stop was literally hours before my departure time, but I was very glad I got the chance to squeeze it in. (For one thing, I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate picture...who knew there'd be a school crossing sign there?)
Although I've had numerous layovers in Pearson International Airport since this trip, it would be several years before I had the chance to visit Toronto itself for a third time. Knowing its central role in this country, however, I'm sure I'll be there again before too long...
'Cause everyone's your friend in New York City, and everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty. The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see, but the best thing about New York City is...
Even more chronicles await you, as a new decade can only mean new travel possibilities...
Continue to explore through The Continuing Voyages.Smack Dab in the Middle of the Blue