When the other day, I had the epiphany that we’re over halfway into 2017, I might have peed a little.
Here’s the thing – I don’t deal well with time passing. It makes me feel old and weirdly vulnerable. I mean, despite my “early 20s status”, there are some days when I feel ready to just procure a rocking chair, learn to knit and call it a day.
That said, after I staved off my existential crisis, I realized how long overdue I was for a monthly update! I have to admit, when I valiantly promised monthly updates back in April, I didn’t expect my plans to unravel so quickly. To be fair though (as will be revealed in this post), May was non-stop go go go and June was packed in a different way. Hence hello, yet another “monthly update” – 2 for the price of one 😉
May was a month spent entirely on the road, which sounds really cool and romantic, but in reality was just a mix of poor nutritional choices (I’m nursing a prominent #BalkanBulge around my midriff as I type), coupled with wearing the same 4 shirts over and over. BUT, if that’s the tradeoff for seeing and doing epic things, I guess I’m okay with that.
Here’s where I went in May!
When I first told people I was visiting Bulgaria, initial reactions consisted mostly of “why” and “where??”.
But guys, I need you to know this: Bulgaria is ridiculously awesome.
I’ll admit, I endured a shaky start travelling solo in a country where I couldn’t even read the alphabet, let alone carry any kind of conversation.
But in spite of initial struggles, Bulgaria amazed me. It is hands down one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited. My two weeks took me through Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Veliko Tarnovo – the unsuspecting city that completely rocked my world. It was here that I met the coolest group of friends who adopted my little scaredy cat self and transformed me into a (slightly more) adventurous badass. With them, I shimmied into abandoned Communist monuments, went night time swimming in waterfalls and hiked trails that would make former-me cringe. It was the best experience ever, and the biggest “eff you” I could have given to my comfort zone.
I plan to write way more in the future about Bulgaria, but here are some photos of the amazing things I saw. If you get the opportunity, please go. I’ll pay you a good chunk of my savings to bring me back some banitsa and tarator soup. *drools*
Waddling into Bucharest, I felt like the chosen one.
Chosen for #ExperienceBucharest that is – the largest ever tourism campaign the city has ever seen, and run entirely by volunteers to boot. It was my first time at an event of this kind, where I got to rub shoulders with over 100 other bloggers and influencers, many of which I have
stalked admired for years. Guys, business cards were exchanged, so you can imagine how important and fully “adult”ed I felt.
But I bet you can also imagine also the 50 shades of awkward I breezed through, because I am me, and cope poorly in social situations.
Here’s an actual photo of me awkwardly sipping wine at a networking event:
Blue wine aside, the main focus of this trip was about discovering Bucharest, and I have to say: this Romanian capital was a wonderfully unexpected surprise. From cool hidden cafes to colourful, secret passages – Bucharest was absolutely nothing like I imagined. If you’re looking for a unique getaway that’s more off the beaten path, book a flight to Bucharest and you will be smacked in the face with awesome. I promise!
Plus, despite initial networking anxiety, I met some really cool blogger friends along the way. Guys, I have real (non-Internet) friends again. #bigstep
Straight after Bucharest, it was onwards to London.
Oh, London… AKA that time I went bankrupt. I can’t lie, my budget had ten heart attacks jumping from Romania to England, but in the spirit of “hey it’s expensive anyway”, I decided to go 1000% wild and treat. mah. self.
I’m talking: fancy brunches with ridiculous views, high teas where the pastries looked like makeup (lol) and all sorts of frolicking around neighbourhoods I couldn’t afford. Here, I met up with some friends from home and just tore through the city’s food scene with Pacman-esque enthusiasm. I have zero #ragrets.
Exploring England by Train
After a few amazing days in London, I spent the next week city hopping around England thanks BritRail. I admit, train travel is not the cheapest option for seeing the country, but I’ll be damned if it ain’t amazing and convenient. Oxford was my first stop, and it was just as gorgeous as I always imagined. I got the chance to tour a few of the colleges and realized, Hogwarts is REAL. (Well, pretty much anyway). The architecture in this city is both droolworthy and photogenic – a must visit when you’re in England.
After that, I caught the train to Liverpool, a place I now affectionately dub as “my spirit city”. I always knew I would love it because my Beatles fanaticism knows no bounds, but beyond that – I discovered a buzzing and vibrant hub for food, culture and entertainment. Plus, it was here that I accidentally went on a date with a 70 year old who grew up in Liverpool during peak Beatlemania. No joke. We met at a hostel, and with so much excitement, he told me what it was like growing up in the city during such a crazy time. I then asked if he’d ever seen the tribute band that plays at the Cavern Club every Thursday (where the Beatles themselves played hundreds of gigs). He paused, then was like “great idea! LET’S GO!!!”
SO that’s how I spent the entire evening at a (pretty convincing) Beatles tribute concert, while this crazy 70 year old jammed out and relived his youth next to me. He knew every lyric to every song, and kept saying “I’m so glad you dragged me to this!!”
Well, I didn’t, but okay.
My little England tour was capped off with my greatest travel fail to date – or rather, my boyfriend’s (FYI, my actual boyfriend, not the 70 year old Liverpool guy). He was joining me for the weekend and had literally one job: book a hotel.
He ended up booking a hotel in the wrong city.
(And people wonder why I swim in trust issues).
Ending up in Eastbourne rather than Brighton, I soaked in the serendipity of this booking gone wrong. Though my time in the city was brief, I got to enjoy a cotton candy sunset, a pretty walk along the water and a rather unexpected tribute concert for one of my favourite bands, the Killers. Random, but very wonderful.
We did end up in Brighton the next day, where I ate my weight in sweets at Choccywoccydoodah and soaked in the buzzing atmosphere of the seaside, crowded despite the cloudy skies. I’ve always admired the Brits for their optimistic weather outlooks! Brighton was a really cool city – I mean, it was no Eastbourne, but I liked it alright. 😉
[FYI – that was a joke. Both cities were great. You can put those tomatoes away.]
Before flying home, I returned to London for one last nerdy hurrah.
… at a fan convention!
Yes, I’m a geek and I refuse to apologize for it. I mean, a chance to breathe the same air as some of my favourite TV stars? *swoon*
Wrapping up my London celebrity bingefest, I caught John Bodega in Woyzeck, an amazingly powerful play where as a bonus, I had Steven Ogg from the Walking Dead sitting at the end of my row, much to the gleeful joy of my TWD fan-boyfriend. He never mustered up the courage to talk to him, a fact that I am confident will haunt him until the end of days.
A Month Back Home
In June, I returned to my hometown of Vancouver with a sole purpose: vengeance.
No just joking, I really just needed to graduate and get my degree. Or, you know, the pricey piece of paper that tells the world I’m apparently worth something. I officially walked the stage on June 9th, after a week of rejuvenating naps and eating all the sushi within eyesight. Without a doubt, Vancouver sushi joints have learned the wrath of Guan.
Fun story about my graduation: after years of buildup and moral support, my parents somehow managed to miss the crucial moment they’ve waited so long for – me crossing the stage. They heard the announcement of my faculty “Communication, Art and Technology”, heard only the “technology” part, thought: “oh she’s not studying that” and decided on that exact moment to take a washroom break and not pay attention. Oops. I also managed to be the only girl out of the hundreds of grads to receive the wrong hood pinned on her by accident. We were all properly lined up, ready to walk out when another girl noticed my hood was a different colour. They had (obviously foreseen my genius) and decided to give me a Master’s hood. I had to waddle in heels to get a repin, but made it out just in time. Only me, am I right?
After my grad fiasco, June was mostly a homebody month, apart from…
A Road Trip to Alberta
Father’s Day weekend was a really special one for me. It was the first time in over ten years, I went on a vacation with my dad… and I got to make it ridiculously special by surprising him with his dream hotel, a promise I made when I was a silly nine year old girl. His reaction was priceless. You can watch it here:
Having neglected my blog all throughout May, I locked myself away in June in an attempt to conquer my to-do list. One of the projects I took on (to fill the travel void in my life) was a social media series called #SlaySocial. The response so far has been unreal, and has reaffirmed why I love writing about blogging – to fill the gaps and provide quality, thought-provoking resources for my community. Nothing makes my heart sing more ☺
If you’re a blogger interested in some refreshing, no BS advice on social media, check out Part 1 of #SlaySocial here.
And now, as I type this, I’m on a shaky Canadian train eastbound to Saskatoon, where I have literally no idea what awaits me. This month, I’ll be crossing Canada by train (a dream of mine for ages) so I’ll be on the road, being ‘interesting’ again. Then, at the end of the month, I’m jetting off to a mystery destination… and I can’t wait to tell you where. HINT: it’s a country I’ve never been to before… and it’s in ASIA!
I can’t wait to submerge myself in noodles.
Talk to you all soon,