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Friday, April 29, 2011

St-Jean Pied de Quoi?

Sitting alone in St Jean Pied de Port, at a small eatery named 'Chez Edouards'; wondering where are my friends?

After I finished packing this morning, had a little stretch, Internet stop on the way to the station. The train was a bit stressful though! Out of the 10 cars, only the first two were going to Bayonne... What? That happens?! I only found that out 3 minutes before go time, so I jogged to the front of the train... This is what my uncle Jacques was talking about! Cars detaching and going different directions... Huh.

I had a 2 hour wait in Bayonne before my connection to St Jean PP, and although the train station was quite cute, the neighborhood was a bit rough. So, without a map (not like me, I know!), I went for a walk. What a charming town. The Nive river passes through downtown and the cathedral is beautiful... Even has a St-James chapel in along the right hand ambulatory.

Not having wifi right now really is the pits.


Tasha and Tatyana were DENIED at the Philly airport!
What does that even mean? Ugh.

All this really means is a lot of inconvenience for them/us, and a delay for the start of the walk. Bummer! Also, no computer at the hostel so I was stressing all night about my missing compadres. Not to worry, they are safe; as safe as one can be in Philly. Hopefully I will see them tonight; if not I will be writing the Philly airport authority a strongly worded message in the near future!

The weather in St-Jean PP was absolutely beautiful today... took advantage of the day by taking some beauty shots around town... Not of myself! Dusted off the PD-170 and shot the citadelle, the St-Jacques doors (recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site), of the old town... it truly is gorgeous here.

Paying for internet, so I must keep it brief...

Paule, I hope you are having a blasty-blast in Bermuda during youer work-related conference! Miss you and love ya girl!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Here!

Thanks to everyone who has been following the blog and spreading the word about the documentary. It is completely humbling to know that people other than myself and my crew care so much about this project.

I cannot believe the Camino has arrived! It's all I've been thinking about for the last few months, and now it's right in front of me... Well almost! Today I am making my way to St Jean Pied de Port by train; there I will meet Tasha and Tatyana... Who I imagine will be exhausted! The took an overnight flight to Madrid, and from there a bus to St Jean.

My challenge last night was to find out my options to return to Paris for June 2. Options are slim... And obviously, pricy. Eek! Bussing is crazy, bus+flight possible, train is really expensive! Ultimately I will have to get to a major city nearby and from there get to Paris. Awesome.

I'm all packed, just a quick Internet stop before going to the train station.

Oh, and I bought the dorkiest hat ever yesterday. I am going to feel so cool while wearing it... plus side is my whole face, the back of my neck, and truly my whole person will be protected from any guys who may find me attractive. Yes, the hat is that great :-P

(place de la Victoire, in Bordeaux. No way I am going to show you my hat right away!)

(girl shopping with her dove... In a hippie store on St-Carherine street... Shocking?!)

(do you see the shell?? They are incorporated into the street signs!)

(Duckie flip flops... The shop keeper didn't like that I took a photo of his shoes!)

Going to catch the bus to the station!

Thanks again to everyone who is following our journey!

Algonquin Doc Fest tomorrow evening at Centrepointe Theatre; great work this year everyone, complete pleasure working and learning with you :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Place de la Victoire,Bordeaux,France

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Living the Nice Life

Immense gratitude from myself and the crew goes out to Paule Marchand and to gdevalerio for funding 'To The End Of The World' documentary! Gros merci! We need more people to know about the indiegogo campaign... You can help out by checking it out yourself at and please send it along to your friends and family!

Spent time in Nice over Easter... My original plan was to stay 2 nights in Nice, chill, then off to Bordeaux on Saturday night. I went to the train station to arrange my ticket, I said to the woman "Ticket Saturday to Bordeaux?", she just looked at me giggled and shook her head NO! What a... Disappointment. Trapped in Nice til Monday evening; on the plus side, had time to see Monaco. Which is breathtaking by the way! I now understand why there are defibrillators on nearly every street corner... My heart was skipping beats at every turns... So beautiful!

(one of the many defibrillators stationed around Monaco)

(inside the mall... Good lord!)

(parked outside the Monte Carlo casino... Tourists were posing with it... Weird?)

(the casino! Pretty!!)

(at the Port of Hercules)

(Monaco oceanographic museum, patron=the Monaco royal family)

(the dock where I ate my lunch!)

(main room as you enter the oceanographic museum... Statue of Albert I, flounder of the museum... Oops I mean founder!)

(the lagoon had a turtle in it! Yay!!)

(view of the harbour, facing the casino, from the ramp up to the palace)

Yes, Monaco made the delay to Bordeaux totally worth it. I walked the whole day, starting from the train station to the casino, downhill and around the bay, back up to the palace and oceanographic museum, and up to the palace. I stopped at the cathedral, and saw the tomb of previous royals and the resting place of princess Grace (Kelly). Everything in Monaco is beautiful, and nothing is cheap... So I bought a patch for my bag, and went to the grocery store to pick up lunch at a reasonable price. It was 9 euro for a joint ticket to visit both the prince's palace and tge oceanographic centre... Not bad!

Back to Nice; the old town was cute, but really touristy. Food and trinkets were completely over-priced... Bummer. What is cool is that the beach is composed entirely of smooth rocks and pebbles; meaning free back massage. And of course it's on the Mediterranean, which is a double win!

(trying to tan my legs a bit before the Camino... Result: legs still pale, but my face is one big freckle!)

The hostel where I stayed was really well situated; close enough to the train station for a quick escape, and 10-15 minute walk from the sea (which is turquoise! Amazing!). Lucky again, i had some really great room mates throughout my stay in Nice... 4 american girl, 3 brazilian guys, a polish guy, even a cutie from Quebec! Not all at once, roomies rotated nearly every night.

Getting to old town is such a nice jaunt, you pass all the important stuff... H&M, Virgin Megastore, Gallerie Lafayette! So distracting, but I promise I only looked ;-) after you pass all the stores, you arrive at Place Massena which is decorated with 7 men perched at the top of tall metal posts! Random.., but really cool at night.

(place Massena at night! Cool eh?)

(split an order of white wine mussels with a friend from the hostel, Ninna)

(Ninna from Norway! Passing through place Massena on our way to the pebble beach)

Nice is a neat place to visit, but I'm relieved to be spending s few days in Bordeaux with Laurene. I know this city (we are acquainted, definitely still need a mal to get around) and feel comfortable walking around. No pressure to see certain sights or churches, saw them a few years ago. Relief!

Event on Facebook by the way... Check it out by searching: Hiking the Camino de Santiago

I'm meeting Tasha and Tatyana tomorrow evening in St Jean Pied de Port! It's here! Time to walk... Oh and look what I found on the tourist office here in Bordeaux:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Rue Sainte-Catherine,Bordeaux,France

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Little Illumination

Endless gratitude and deepest thanks to Phil Paling for becoming the latest contributor to 'To The End Of The World' documentary! Also, thank you do much for sending out the link to the indiegogo campaign on twitter!

While visiting Lyon, France i was able to relax a bit and see the city bit by bit. I stayed longer tgan planned, and am so grateful to Laurene's parents, Martine and Jean-Pierre, for having me at their home and showing me around. Merci beaucoup!

(Bonus: Laurene's dog is currently living with her parents... Pet therapy with Ceetee!)

Lyon is the location of the Lumiere Institute and Villa Museum, so naturally I made sure to stop in. Greg, Laurene's friend, and i took in the museum together... We were in awe!

European museums are amazing, much to do with the excellent audio-guides that are provided (usually included in cost of ticket, but not always... *ahem* Vatican *cough cough*). I got to play with zootropes, magic lanterns, Thomas Edison's film viewer, study Muybridge photography. The museum is in the Lumiere home, so as you go around the villa you not only learn about their advances in photography and film, you also experience how they lived. Quite well I might add, their house is massive!

(Auguste Lumiere, the man who started it all!)

(model of the factories where the first film ever was shot... With a mini of the film playing at the site it was filmed! Cool!)

(early film posters... Note the film names are not listed. People would come put to experience motion picture, not a specific title!)

YouTube Video

(Zootrope in action... A bit dark, sorry!)

Anyhow, the museum was great and basically learned that we all need to thank the Lumiere brothers for not only movies, but also instant photography, 360 degree photography, personal use cameras, modern amplified sound, early colour photography, rapid fire photography... So much, and so much I'm forgetting!

(record player with a early amplification device that resembles the inside of modern day speakers)

So much more on Lyon... But for now, thanks goes out to Laurene's friends for being so welcoming and for expanding my cheese resume! Laurence, Greg, Nejla, Jacques!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Lyon, France

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign!

Leading to the cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland:

Pointing the way to the cathedral in downtown Geneva, Switzerland:

Leading to the basilica on top of the hill in Lyon, France (in the second picture, the medallion was pressed into the side walk):

Designs on a religious garment that is on display at the Musee des Tissues et des Arts Decoratif in Lyon:

Board used on a mock-up for a church that Henri Matisse designed, location Nice, France:

In less than a week, The 'To The End Of The World' documentary crew will be taking on the Camino de Santiago Compostela. The signs are everywhere, proof with some of my pictures, and all lead westwards to St-James.

The shell is the logo for the Way, and trail blazes for the hike bear it. Some logos are more recent, with the abstract shell, and others more antique. The shell is a symbol of wonder(comes from the ocean) and beauty(associated with the goddess Venus). It can also be a sign that something strange is going to happen to you...

Hmm.. Interesting......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Avenue Nicéphore Nièpce,Chalon-sur-Saône,France

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hello Lover! (Brief)

Called Tasha last night to discuss our plan to meet up for the Camino. We meet in St. Jean Pied de Port on April 28th, sleep-over, and begins hiking the following day! The Way is so close I can almost taste it...

Took the train all afternoon to get to Nice, France. I fell in love with the mountains in Switzerland, and now I have fallen in love with the Mediterranean.

Staying here in Nice for two nights; spending the day at the beach tomorrow if the sun allows it! Post on Lyon in the works...

Goodnight... Bonne nuit!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Surfing Couch.

I've been feeling the financial crunch as of late, so I resolved to couch surf in the next city... Which turned out to be Geneva! I went on and asked a few members if they had space for me for a few nights. I struck gold! A member named Loris wrote back saying canadians are always welcome at his place... Yes!

I accepted to stay at his apartment, named 'Barboa'. I grabbed the train from Venice at 9 a.m., layover in Milan, and arrived in Geneva around 4:30 p.m. Meeting up with my host was easy, he works next to the station. Perfect! I wandered around, found a laundromat (across the street from the cabaret) grabbed a sandwich... And once Loris finished work we headed over to his place. There are 4 room mates at Barboa and they are all so awesome! I really was extremely lucky to have stayed with them... Thank you so much Loris, Damien, Jorge and Simon for making me feel so welcome in Geneva :-)

I only stayed 2 nights in Geneva; wish it could have been more! The first night I stayed was just chill, watched a movie, slept. The whole next day I visited Geneva... I began with a tram ride to the United Nations! Of course, there was a demonstration happening across the street; megaphones, flags and all.

(view of the 3-legged chair that lives across the street from the UN, and the mini demonstration occurring around it)

(out front at the United Nations!)

Continued up the road to check put the Ariana museum. This is a pottery and glass museum with all kinds of elaborate figurines, cups, plates, urns, bananas...

(walkway leading to the entrance of the Ariana)

(inside the museum... Marble pillars 360 around the room)

(and the glass banana bouquet in the lobby!)

Post Ariana visit, back on the tram and off to explore downtown Geneva. I admit, my day involved a few visits to small chocolate shops to nibble the local delicacies... I only thought to take one picture of chocolate because the others I ate quick! Oops!

(coconut macaroon, and Swiss chocolate truffle... In heaven!)

From there I wandered around the ancient part of town, stopping and looking in boutiques for unique clothing and trinkets. Turns out old town is really expensive and completely beyond my budget; however, I still found something awesome... Another Camino trail blaze! Leading through old town and to the cathedral. Too cool!

That night, well it was Friday, the Barboa guys and I went to a pub and had beers with like 12 of their friends. Flo, Jessica, David, Sydney, Ben... And a ton more, but I can't remember all the names! We had a great time socializing, being silly, telling bad jokes. We got to the pub around 6:30 p.m., and left just after 1:30 a.m. A few of us were then supposed to go out to a night club (bars and pubs close at 2 a.m., night clubs are open until 6 a.m.! Ah!), but both Loris and I were dead tired. We headed back and immediately went to sleep. Phew!

Needless to say, Saturday didn't officially begin for me until the early afternoon. I am so not used to staying out late, particularly after 3 weeks of hosteling and sharing a room with strangers. Strangers who wake up early to pack their noisy stuff into their too small suitcases. Ya, I tend to go to bed early these days...

(in the train, on my way to Lyon. You can't really tell in this photo; however, I've got a mini sun burn on my cheeks and nose... And I also have a bit of a headache from the night before!)

Joining Laurene in Lyon for a while! Too excited to see France's second largest city.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Geneva, Switzerland

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cruisin' On A Vaporetto

Venice is a wonder. Canals, jewelry, Murano glass, carnivale masks, no cars, water bus, tourists... A cruise ship drove by my window last night!

(found one of my favourite masks in a shop window on my way to my Venice office, the McDonald's!)

My room mate from Rome had given me a Venice public transit pass, and some pointers about how to use it. The Hostel was on Giudecca Island, so I made good use of the pass. Thanks Milka for your wisdom! I am the Vaporetto (water bus) queen! Out of at least a dozen rides, my credentials were only checked once by transit officials... And my card checked out! Yes! No fine :-)

Thus far, this is the most barrack style hostel I've experienced. The rooms have sliding doors that don't lock, and there is approximately 18 beds per room. You do get sheets, a wool blanket and a large locker to store you luggage. No kitchen access, however inexpensive home-made pizza and pasta dinners are available all night.

(as I was backing up to take this picture, I kept having to check how close I was getting to the water's edge!)

So yesterday I had the full day to discover Venice. Grabbed the Vaporetto to cross the canal grande to San Marco square. Went into the basilica... Breathtaking. The entire inside of the edifice is completely done in gold hued mosaic. Images of the apostles, Jesus, angels, some Celtic symbols; the outside of the building is also adorned with mosaic, and encased in marble. Ah! All for the glory... Aaah!

(carvings of the apostles and of Christ, facing the altar)

(one of the ceiling domes.)

(space off to the left side of the basilica allotted for silent prayer... I love the hanging candles!)

There are signs all over town directing tourists to the major spots and attractions. Good thing because maps aren't free, and if you buy the cheap one (0.50 euro, instead of larger and more detailed map for 2.50 euro) like I did, there are no street names on it! Anyhow, signs all over directing to San Marco square and the Rialto bridge. The bridge is too cool... Walked on it, next to it, and water bus under it. There is the Rialto market at the far end which of course caters to tourists looking for shirts, pins, key chains, gondola costumes, masks and capes, Murano glass... The usual.

(the Rialto bridge, view from the Vaporetto)

Venice is so cool, and beautiful. I love that there are no cars at all! I didn't see any bicycles either... Understandable as the streets are completely overrun with pedestrians. You get everywhere on foot and/or with water transit... Totally unique... It would be so cool to be here in February for carnivale!

Oh, and free wifi basically doesn't exist here in Venice. My hostel's wifi was down my entire stay, so my mission was to find a McDonald's... Of which there is only 1! And the menu serves breaded shrimp, and salami parm sandwiches.

It's been around 2.5 weeks since I left home, and slightly longer since I went swimming. That is too long... So I found a nearby pool and spent an hour doing laps. Best 6 euros spent that day.

(oh hello Switzerland! I'm back! View from the train)

Next stop, Geneva. Followed closely by Lyon, Nice, and Bordeaux.

In desperate need of a laundromat!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Train to Milan

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Slice of Life

Endless appreciation and gratitude to Mark Demme for becoming the latest to support the 'To The End Of The World' documentary! The crew and I are immensely grateful for your involvement.... You can be involved too... It's easy!

Although Saturday had it's ups and downs, something really positive happened... Meeting Antonio and Matteo at the battle of the bands. We got to chatting about whatever, and I told them I was into wine, blah blah. They then invited me to their home; a vineyard named la Chiara de Prumiano (it can be found at We exchanged info, and I was to give them a call on Monday so we could get together.

So, I definitely called them! Matteo came to pick me up... Where they live is out of this world. Olive grove, vineyard, a stable with horses, dogs, cats, wooded property... I was in awe.

(what a poser... Photogenic horse in the stable)

(part of the vineyard... Obviously an iPod picture doesn't do it justice...)

(the main house...aaaaah so pretty!)

They showed me a genre of music they identified as electro-swing. I cannot wait to get some for le iPod! They are so fun... A few of their friends arrived for dinner, and we all chatted in a mix of English and Italian, mostly Italian... Whatever, it was great :-)

Oh, and I drank wines that were from 1986, 1996, 1999... We went through quite a few bottles; four before the other guests arrived!

One of the friends that I met, Tommy, is really keen on someday studying at UBC. He has a canadian quiz app on his phone, and I discovered that I'm garbage at Canada trivia. Oops!

Great news mom and dad! Antonio says I'm welcome to come stay with him anytime, particularly during September-October... The grape harvest! He says I have a job waiting for me in the fall for those months. Excellent :-)

A million thanks to Matteo and Antonio for inviting me to their beautiful home. We will discuss, and I will be back, promise!

(at the Florence train station the morning after the dinner party with Antonio and Matteo... Started the day at 5:50, too early!)

Booked a morning train to Venice, next time perhaps a later one, eh!

Chianti was amazing, so much to see... What I learned/was reminded while staying there is that you need to ensure you stick to your own agenda. Do what you want to do, when you want so you can feel completely satisfied with your experience in that town or area.

I don't feel I missed out, in fact I think I did really well in Chianti, and met some amazing locals!

Now, 1.5 days in Venice before going to Geneva... Must make most of it! Will try to fit in an afternoon swim into the program; not in the canal! Eww!

(Venice! Aaah!)

(St. Marco Basilica)

(elaborate carnivale masks)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Location:Venice, Italy