A Travellerspoint blog

Making my mark... on myself.

It has been my goal for the last few years to go to 100 countries by the time I'm 50. I recently scratched off country in August. One thing that I've been procrastinating about doing is getting a world map tattoo on my back and check off each country as I go. I came up with the idea when I was in New Zealand back in 2007. I always wanted to get it, but like other things in life, life gets in the way. Then all of a sudden, Misty, a friend of mine from highschool opens her own tattoo shop. So I thought it was perfect to get the tattoo I want, and support a friend's business. It took four sessions and I thought I was going to break my own teeth grinding in pain, but it came out perfect.

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That tattoo shop is Punk Ass Piercings Ink. in Scarborough, Ontario.
http://www.punkasspiercingsink.ca/

Posted by AshleyC 17:48 Archived in Canada Tagged tattoo Comments (0)

One night in London

sunny 30 °C

Arriving at London's Stansted Airport exhausted, I go to the bus ticket counter. If I take a bus, I won't get to my hotel near Heathrow until 3am. Which only give me a few hours to sleep before my 9am flight. I just can't wait that long. I go to the ATM and order a taxi. The taxi costs ALOT, but I'll loose my mind if I don't get any sleep soon. And I justify it again that since eastern europe is so cheep, the over all expenses aren't that high. I get into the cab and its about an hour to get to the hotel by Heathrow.

I get to the small, mid-range hotel sweaty, exhausted and ready for another shower and bed. How much water have I gone through on this trip?

A few hours later, I wake up to the alarm that I've set. To early for the good breakfast that the hotel offers, I decide to skip it and eat at the airport. After a bagel and coffee, I board my flight to Detroit. If there is one thing that I'm a stickler for, its always getting the aisle seat. Especially for long flights.

After a long flight with only a few crying babies, I land in Detroit and connect to Buffalo.

The bus ride to Buffalo was longer this time and we had to wait even longer at the boarder for someone to get past customs. Is the savings really worth all of this waiting? I get off near my work and walk the 5 blocks to my house.

Wow, 50? I can't believe I've made it this far. I've travelled more in the last 6 years then many people do in their entire lives. And I still have a long way to go. Where will I end up next time?

AC

Posted by AshleyC 07:30 Archived in England Comments (0)

50 countries and counting!

sunny 30 °C

So here I am in Sofia, Bulgaria. My 50th country! I started this journey to bridge my young adulthood to real adulthood. Before I took off for Jordan in February 2006, I thought I would just travel wander around for a few months, come home and start my life as an adult. I had no idea at the time it was the start of my biggest passion in life.

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At the start of my journey in Jordan, February 2006

Back at the same cafe as I went to for breakfast the day prior, I peruse my lonely planet looking for a few things to do. I have one more nigh in Sofia, then I have a train ride to Plovdiv, a flight to London, spend the night in London before the long ride to Detroit, then one to Buffalo, and a bus ride home.

I see a few things that might be interesting. On my way to the National Palace of Culture, I stop by a souvenir stand in a subway station. I see a drum and a recorder that I think my nephews might like. I try to get them musical instruments whenever possible, its something I know they'll like.

I reach the National Palace of Culture, and a few other things that are kind of cool.

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Its the big night! I have to find a way to commemorate my 50th country! In my travels during the day, I decide to re-pierce one of piercings I got in Sydney. It came out months ago and closed over.

I talk to a girl from Germany. We decide to go out for drinks to celebrate.

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50 and countries and counting!

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My drink, translated means 'Blue Lightening'

No cigar, they didn't sell them at the bar or anywhere nearby. But I'm halfway to my goal, and I'm really happy about that.

I wake up and ask the hostel to call me a cab to take me to the train station. Since Ryanair usually departs from smaller cities, my flight leaves from Plovdiv, not Sofia. The girl who works with the hostel comes with me to the cab. As I put Sapphire in the trunk , the cabby says something to the girl and she laughs. He told her that girls from Bulgaria always expect men to carry their things. I've never even thought of having a man do my job for me.

I arrive at the train station and buy my ticket. I have a woman who looks like she speaks english tell me where the platform is. I go there and plop down Sapphire on the ground as I wait. I'm looking around at the broken down trains and the people getting on and off of them when I hear an announcement on the loud speaker. Its entirely in Bulgarian. I ask a young man what it said. Apparently, this train is delayed. Awesome! Will it will affect me making my flight? I always give myself plenty of time to make a flight, but I don't know how long its going to be delayed. Or how long its going to take me to get from the train station to the airport in Plovdiv.

I pace back and forth and periodically look down the track to see if there is a train coming. Eventually the train does come and I get on. I find a seat. Its really hot inside, so I bring down the window as low as it will go and try to have the wind blow in my face. After several hours, I get into the city and take the first taxi I see. I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I check in and unfortunately, my check in bag is too heavy. I take Sapphire to a bench near a garbage can. I look in and see what I can part with. I take my lonely planet, my towel, my knock-off Fendi purse and put them all in the garbage. I go back to the check in and I just barely make it. I go through security and make my way to the gate. I already reserved my seat, so I can go in first.

Its off to London for one night then back to Canada.

AC

Posted by AshleyC 07:22 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

And Bulgaria makes 50!

I wake up somewhat early. I only have one day in Belgrade before my train leaves late tonight for Sofia, Bulgaria. I have breakfast at a nearby hotel and develop a route to a neighbourhood I'd like to check out. It has a fortress that is supposed to be kind of cool. I make my way over and quickly get lost. I circle the same streets over and over in the baking heat before I find a way there. I wander a around a bit. Its kind of cool, and there is plenty of shade which is nice in the surrounding park, which is a high commodity for someone with skin as fair as mine.

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Because every fortress needs a tennis court.
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There are pedestrians streets on the next block. I look around and see what's going on around town. There are some souvenir stands on a bridge connecting the street to the park. I try to get something special every so often. So far on this trip I got a fabergé looking egg in Kiev, a clock in Brasov, and I see a few things at the stands. I buy a ceramic tea light holder in the shape of a house. I still don't see anything for Carter and Cash.

After dinner at the same restaurant I went to the night before, I go back to my hostel and get ready to go back to the train station. There are tons of people there as I get ready have another second shower. I pack Sapphire and head to the station. Again, I have a hard time understanding the ticket. I eventually find the correct train and get on board. This train as rooms with 6 seats each. I find one with an elderly couple inside. At first I thought they were kind of aloof, but even with the language barrier, they were quite nice. Offering me snacks and juice throughout the ride. After a few hours, we all try to get to sleep.

I wake up in Sofia, Bulgaria. I take a tram several blocks to the hostel. I read the directions the sent me and I can't find it anywhere. I walk in circles several times before I take out my cell phone and call them. They inform me that they moved recently and I have the wrong address! I have a hard time understanding him, so I quickly get a taxi and hand my phone to the driver. He drives down the busy streets. I find the small door with the hostel sign and go in. Its too early to check in but I can use the showers. I have to start travelling in the spring again. I didn't sweat nearly this much on other trips. I store Sapphire with the front desk and read the map that they give me to see where I can have breakfast.

I have find cafe and have some eggs and super fancy coffee. I read my lonely planet to see what there is to do. There are a few things that might be interesting. I was looking for something special to commemorate my 50th country. We'll see.

AC

Posted by AshleyC 18:44 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

Belgrade Next

sunny 30 °C

I original plan was to take a train from Bucharest to Belgrade. But wouldn't you know it, for whatever reason, that train is cancelled. The bus is 13 hour ride. Heeellllsss No! Looks like its a plane ride for me. The cost is more then I'd like to spend given that everything else is so cheap in eastern europe, its not so bad that I have to splurge with this. I buy the ticket for later that day. I spend the next day seeing a few sights, markets and museums. Typical stuff. I feel kind of sad for the city of Bucharest. Half of the buildings are in shambles, there are tons of failed construction projects everywhere and the whole city is covered in graffiti. I don't know why people don't treat their city better. Or why the city doesn't enforce laws against it.

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A few hours before my flight is set to leave I head back to my hostel. The last two days have been significantly warmer then when I first arrived. In packing Sapphire again, I decide to have another shower. In leaving for the airport, I through caution to the wind and hire a taxi, against the Lonely planets advice.

The flight to Belgrade was pretty uneventful, but one thing that always catches be by surprise are smoking rooms. In Canada, smoking really only permitted outdoors, and event that can be limited to certain places. So to see a smoking room in an airport is very odd to me.

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Airport Smoking Lounge

I land after a short flight in Belgrade. I have to try a few more ATMs this time as well, but one in the airport does give me some money. I head to the taxi stand hire one. I wish I had asked where his cab was upfront, because I end up following him for a while before we reach it. He drives me to my hostel. I walk up several flights of stairs, with Sapphire, only getting heavier before I reach it. Why are so many hostels so high up? I arrive to the colourful hostel pretty tired and parched. The people running it are very welcoming. They take Sapphire and give me a 'welcome beer'. I down it pretty quickly. I head out to see if there is a restaurant nearby for dinner. I find a small Italian restaurant nearby. Its starting to get dark outside and the area doesn't look too safe, so I head back to the hostel. After the long day I've had, it doesn't take long before I'm fast asleep.

AC

Posted by AshleyC 09:13 Archived in Serbia Comments (0)

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