It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.

Every day on my way in and out of Paris I pass the many homeless people along the streets and I simply pass them by like the many others do. I bypass them all, as if they don’t exist not because they are any less important, but because I hate the realization that there are people out there living in such hard situations. The sad truth is that they’re are people in need and even if I want to pretend there isn’t, nothing will change unless I make the choice to do something about it.

I’ll admit, there’s been plenty of times when I could have given someone change and I didn’t, and I have no excuses as to why I chose not to.

Today I did something that I haven’t done in a long time; too long to be exact. I chose to make a change.

I woke up this morning without a plan for the day which is an uncommon feeling  for me as I`m a constant planner. I did my daily Facebook check and found a notification for an event that I has been invited to a month or so before, but had completely forgot about. I`m not one to make rash decisions, in fact it usually takes me a day or two to make a final choice but this was different. Within 30 minutes of waking I was on my way to the local grocery store to pick up supplies to make as many sandwiches as I could.

I got some pretty strange stares from the family because to them, the best help you can give is money. Money can do a heck of a lot don`t get me wrong but it almost seems like the easy way out.  Anyone can give a few bucks away but not everyone is willing to give time.

Not even a year ago I would have done things the easy way and donated and not thought twice about it. This is where its truly evident how much this year abroad has changed me as a person.

I showed up to the meeting place which ended up being a Swedish church in the north of Paris. I had no idea what to expect , only that I was giving my  Sunday to helping as much as I possibly could.

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I ended up chatting with a few other giilrls while creating sandwiches with baguettes and cheese. Then I heard an Americana accent so I turned around and said my go to phrase “you’re Canadian or american am I right?”

988474_10206255761856188_8985002146296347539_n Sure enough he was from Portland Oregon! We did our introductions and I found out he was on vacation for two weeks visiting the city, enjoying the couch surfing activities and apparently helping out the locals. I was shocked to say the least, that here was someone on vacation in Paris at that, and donating their free time to wander the streets of Paris for hours giving away as much as we could.

I almost felt guilty questioning why this man was spending his time doing what we all should do. Why is it that being a good citizen has become something so uncommon? I’m not going to lie, I feel amazing after once again stepping outside of my comfort zone but it’s almost pathetic that it’s taken me this long of being in Paris to volunteer my time. 10989125_10206254892794462_5182212868713125330_n (1)

This whole experience today was life changing, to be honest. It opened my eyes to a global crisis that I bypass every single day. It’s impossible to help everyone in need, but even just by donating a couple hours of your week, you can make a small change in someones life.

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Reasons I love being an au pair; take three

There’s definitely days when i just want to get up and leave, like any job. Last week, it seemed like every struggling day would drag onto the next day and so on. Fortunately yesterday——>

out came the sun, and dried up all the rain

and the itsy bitsy au pair found the end of the pain

I’m lame I know, but honestly it was like I woke up in a new world this morning. The sun was shining, the mother was smiling, the kid wasn’t crying… it seemed almost too good to be true. OH! and it was Wednesday, and if you don’t already know, in France the kids either have half days or no school, which makes it by far the most dreaded day by au pairs everywhere.

I’m going to give credit to the big sun in the sky for making this day a heck of a lot better. It’s crazy what a little vitamin D can do for people.

As many of you know something else that makes me happier than the birds is cooking so I whipped up this yummy breakfast pizza before starting my day.

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Upon picking P up from school yesterday I was instantly shocked by how talkative she was. Once again, BLESS YOU SUNSHINE.

This girl is smart let me tell you. She can whip out facts about literally anything, that will blow your mind. Today I was told that women will live longer than men because apparently they are healthier. This somehow leaded to her correcting my pronunciation of words that I consistently have trouble with. I was becoming frustrated, as always, because at 21 years old I have trouble communicating with a 6 year old. Unlike how she normally reacts when I’m wrong by saying “I don’t understand” or completely ignoring me, she corrected my sentence. I must admit it felt a little odd but I enjoyed her being my little teacher.

There was something that she said that really stuck with me at the end of our conversation; a life lesson in fact. “You know you don’t have to be perfect at something the first time, and it’s okay to admit that you are having trouble. You just have to keep trying and you’ll succeed”. Following this I got a hug but it didn’t feel like any forced hug that I had received in the past weeks. It was a genuine sisterly hug which I graciously returned back with a bisous of course.

Oh and might I point out how obsessed I am with this families toilet paper. It truly is the little things in life that bring us joy.
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We often take for granted the things that most deserve our gratitude

We as humans complain, its natural.

Au pairs, myself included complain a lot. Once again natural, especially in our circumstances. It could be the smallest thing but yet we still have to let the world know that it’s bothering us. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather bringing me down but lately I’ve noticed a higher level of negativity towards not only my job but life in general. When I sit down and actually lay out exactly what I do have in my life, not only physically but emotionally as well, i’m beyond blessed.

I’ve decided to create a list of the things I take for granted to really show how fortunate I am to be in the situation I am in currently.

1. I have a safe roof over my head which I actually look forward to coming home to.

2. There is always more than enough food to eat and a variety at that.

3. A job that may not be what I want to be doing for the rest of my life but for now this is what I have chosen.

4. A beyond kind and caring host family. I may be 21 but it’s still nice to come home to a family that considers you their daughter and treats you as one of their own.

5. I get paid always on time or in advance which is something that the majority of my fellow Au pairs are having issues with.

6. I wake up in the morning and I’m alive and breathing.

7. Technology. t’s crazy how much I rely on it for the majority of the things I do throughout the day. I can call my family in Canada in the matter of a minute, or message my friends with a few swipes of my finger.

8. I have an abundance of clothes to wear and to keep myself warm. If you’re friends with me you’ll constantly hear me complain that I have too many clothes and I’m not going to be able to take them all back with me to Canada or I will have to take another suitcase. I’ve decided that the clothes that I don’t absolutely need I will donate before I leave instead of creating more stress than I need.

9. I’m not cheap, I’m just frugal. I’m fortunate that this was something that I acquired from my grandmother Cress, who can make a dollar last longer than anyone I know.

10. I have a voice. If you know me well enough I’m not the type that let’s things pass me by and always speak up when I am not happy with something. I know for a fact that my other grandmother Chute gave me this attribute and couldn’t be prouder.

Hearing the stories of my friends and their current situations within their families really makes me appreciate what I have. I’ll admit, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t want to pack my bags and head home but what I’ve learned in the past is that running away from a problem never solves anything. I’m fortunate enough to have a close enough bond with my family here where we can openly discuss issues that come about no matter what problems arise. I’ve come to the conclusion that living a life of perfect happiness may be acquirable but unrealistic, for me anyways.

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I’m in France, essentially living the dream and how many people can say they’ve done that?

The power of friendship & a trip to Versailles

I’m going to be honest and admit that these past couple of months abroad have been tough. The cold temperatures make it hard to find the motivation to even just step outside, let alone do anything. When you’re an Au pair your “free” time consists of during the day when your child is in school and then at night when the parents arrive home from work. Let’s just say there hasn’t been a night during the week I have left since before Christmas. I swear it must be the cold that makes me just want to relax every night with a hot tea and a good book.

Flashback to September and I was finding any excuse possible to leave the house. Having a schedule where your free time is limited to a block of hours a day has been extremely tough to find time to see my friends. We’re all in different french classes, love in towns on the complete opposite side of Paris and end up babysitting on different nights. Of course with technology in today’s age we’re constantly communicating but it’s still not the same as physically being together and spending time together.

This past Sunday all of  my three best friends here in Paris finally found a day where we all were free. It only took a month but better late than never! We all were coming from different directions so we decided on meeting at the entrance but I got lucky and found Katie on my walk from the train to the castle of Versailles!

Katie and I started our tour around the castle with our free audio guides might I add. Thank goodness for them because I learned A LOT, and I mean a lot. When it comes to learning about history typically the information goes over my head but this was short, sweet and fairly interesting.

Courtney and Julie met us in the hall of mirrors until deciding that we all really just wanted food; priorities. 

The day started off beautiful only to turn to rain at the exact time we were heading out to the gardens. Just our luck, but it didn’t stop us from attempting to see as much as we could.

We ended the tour with a trip the gift shop for the essential postcards! I’ve sent one home from each new city that I have gone to so far so i’ll be able to see what I’ve seen and done when I get home. Versailles is new city number 3 of the year I’d like to point out, which means another goal crossed off the list for this year! I’m also 1/3 through my first french novel which is another thing I want to accomplish before the year is up!

Should I stay or should i go now?

I think that I think too much.. No, I know that I thin too much. I’ve always had a difficult time making decisions especially with ones that are life impacting. I stress as many do, but gosh does it ever feel overwhelming at times. I wonder if i’ve made the best choice with coming here, or if maybe I had of stayed what the outcome would have been. Would I have a successful career or maybe a new car? Would I still be living at home or maybe my own apartment?

I dwell and I know I shouldn’t because it solves nothing, absolutely nothing. I made my choice and this is what I need to stick with. No matter what I may have been able to do in the past 5 months without travelling abroad I’m more than pleased with what I have done but more what I have learnt about myself.

When will i know when I’ve discovered all there is for me here abroad? and then Where do I go from here?

I swear if you were able to be in my brain to see how often it’s contemplating or questioning decisions you would be tired, no exhausted. I’m a worrywart what can I say, I have a little piece of my grandmother Cress in me which i’m more proud of than anything.

There’s part of me that wants to run home but what will that do? Life will essentially fall back into place as it was before which is not as comforting as you might think , but yet frightening. This me that I’ve found here is someone that I don’t want to lose. I’m adventurous, carefree, less ridged, heck I finally have patience for children again. I can’t pin point why I wasn’t able to find myself in Nova Scotia but it took me a trip across the ocean into a new life in order to break out of my shell. The fact that I am still not 100 percent confident that I have pursued and found what I came here for leads me to believe that my time here is far from over.

Who’s to say if this new found me is here to stay or maybe it’s just the beginning to finding even more about myself and transitioning into someone I enjoy even more. The unknown thought is scary, frightening and leaves me uneasy but this is life. Life is not perfect, nor planned.

There are days when all I want is to go home and leave this life I’m living here. Then there are times when I want this life forever, which I do realize is impossible and unrealistic.

Something I have discovered is that dreams don’t have to be realistic but goals do.

My goal when moving abroad was simply to experience a different way of life before settling into my own. So far after five months I’ve acquired much more than that, leading me to believe that there is more to come with time. What will another season in Europe bring me?

Give me six months and I’ll let you know

10 Reasons why london is better than Paris

I think I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop taking these weekend trips while living in Paris simply because it’s making me become quite negative about the city. Before adventuring to other parts of Europe I thought that Paris was “all that” but sadly in my opinion that’s not been the case. Don’t get me wrong I love Paris without a doubt and am so grateful to be living here for the next 8 months but boy did I ever underestimate the rest of the continent!

In comparison the two cities are pretty similar. They both have well known attractions such as Big Ben the London eye and the tower bridge in London, whereas in Paris there’s the Eiffel tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame. The temperatures are relatively the same with Paris being every so slightly warmer. I’ve put together some of the reasons why I fell in love with London to share with y’all.

1. The people are 110% nicer.
I can’t sit here and sterotype all of the parisians for being rude but i’ve had some pretty unpleasant experiences that have led me to believe so. Upon arriving in London, I didn’t have one person purposly bump into me and if they did ther was a sympathtic sorry to instantly follow. When paying for items at the stores you’re actually greeted with a smile as if they actuall care about their customers; so refreshing from France.

2. There are coffee chains EVERYWHERE.
When I say everywhere, i mean it. I can’t even count the number of pret a manger’s that I passed or the numerious hidden starbucks throughout the city.

3. H&M stores aren’t on every street corner. 
Don’t get me wrong I like a good shopping day at H&M like any other girl but the temptation in Paris is way too much!

4. It doesn’t smell like pee everywhere.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say this scent has something to be desired.

5. It’s clean!
The fact that smoking along the streets just didn’t happen was a blessing let me tell you. I’m not a fan of having people either blow smoke in my face or having a cigarette flung into my face. Another fact was that I didn’t see one person on the streets begging for money, this being said I didn’t experience the metro system so that could be a different story.

6. The museums are FREE.
Oh the magical 4 letter that makes me happier than the bees. One of the main reasons I haven’t made more of an effort to go to ones in Paris yet is because they cost money unless I want to attempt to enter on the first Sunday of the month.

7. The men on the streets selling chestnuts in Paris? Yeah I didn’t see any in London.
I’m sorry, but I really don’t enjoy men trying to pressure me into buying their hot chestnuts that they cook in a shopping cart. It’s dirty, annoying and plain weird.

8. People speak English, my mother tongue.
This is completely biased towards any English speaking people but it was refreshing to be able to understand everything.

9. There are free WiFi phone booths throughout the city.
These converted telephone booths saved my but a couple of times when I needed to connect to WiFi and better yet they were free!

10. I’ll take fish and chips over foie gras any day

The negative?
It’s god awfully expensive that’s for sure. Currently with the conversion rate between CAD and GDP is doubled.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the two cities!

So this is what growing up feels like

it’s Friday night and i want nothing more than to stay at home with my host family enjoying unlimited glasses of wine and talking the night away about nothing in particular.

I feel old. 

Not even 2 months ago I would have wanted nothing less than to jet out of this house as soon as the parents got home from work, and now everything has changed. This is not to say I don’t love a good night out with friends but I’ve learned to appreciate other things in life that are also important to me.

This family has not only accepted me into their house but has taken me in as one of their own children. I finally feel like a part of this family and not just their employee.

I look forward to nightly routines of setting the table together while enjoying champagne then diving into the red wine when supper is ready. I must admit the conversations we come up with are often bizarre and random but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. For me, I need balance in life in order to be happy. Balance having a safe and secure home setting while also having the ability to be sociable with friends and enjoy what this year has to offer.

As many young people (and older, who am I kidding) I love going out and having a few drinks with my friends.. okay, when we go out there’s usually more alcohol involved than a few but hey, I’m 21 that’s what i’m suppose to do. That maybe happens once every two weeks if i’m lucky which is fine by me.

So you may think why wouldn’t you go out on your nights off, right. I could sit here and write plenty of “excuses” as to why I’m not partying this year away but I don’t feel an explanation is needed. We cannot be defined by certain actions that we portray in our life as we’re always changing whether be for better or worse. Before coming to France I always felt that I had to be involved in everything that me peers were doing even if it wasn’t something that appealed to me. Let’s say I was to miss out on a night out during the weekend because of prior commitments, it would’ve just killed me knowing that my friends were there having fun and I was missing out, therefore creating a tension towards what I was actually doing instead.

Than it finally clicked in this little brain of mine that

First, One night is not going to change my life significantly Secondly, I'[m going to feel a heck of a lot better than they will tomorrow morning. Thirdly and foremost, I’ve learned that being happy relies on how you interpret what you’re doing.

Once I focused on what I wanted to do myself and accepted my decisions I’ve become a completely different person. When I say completely, I seriously mean my demeanor has shifted from negative to positive. Okay, i’m not happy go lucky 24/7 but I truly believe that I’ve finally found a sense of satisfaction in my life where i’m able to be at ease with any decision I make.

I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps; oh wait, i did.

You may think why is someone from Eastern Canada currently living in Paris jetting off to New york for 3 days. Yeah, I guess when you logically lay it out like that, it sounds a bit odd. When faced with opportunities , i grab them. I’ve been extremely lucky to meet an amazing guy and had the opportunity to see him for the weekend, which i’m so thankful for. I don’t even think that the term amazing guy is sufficient enough especially for someone who can make me feel on top of the world as frequently as he does, but anyways you get the drift; I’m a lucky lady.

I got up early Friday morning because like the start to everyday I get to take Perrine to school and figured I would just head tot he airport form there. This was my first time fling out of ORLY and I really had no clue how to even get there from the metro, but thankfully my French skills allowed me to ask for help and within 35 minutes I was there safe and sound. I was told this airport was the “small” one compared to Charles de Gaulle so when I felt instantly lost upon going through the doors, my confidence went soaring down. I asked for help once again and found my way to the check in station.

*Note – Do NOT be afraid to ask for help. You will save yourself much more than time, also a headache.

Being typical me I was there 4 hours before my flight was to take off. Now before you laugh, let me say thank god I was. Apparently my flight for 1:40pm had been cancelled BUT there was a flight leaving in an hour that I was able to catch. Pure luck right?

Wrong, the flight was delayed 3 times and I didn’t end up leaving until 2pm; after my original scheduled flight. I had the pleasure of being chosen to get patted down and my bags completely torn through. Thankfully nothing got confiscated or thrown out which leads me to believe I’m I’m getting the hang of travelling with only a carry on bag.

Thank the lord I had an aisle seat is all I can say or my neighbors would not have been happy with me during those 8 hours. I swear I have acquired the bladder of a pregnant lady.

I went through customs with no problems and even made my way into a taxi within 20 minutes of landing. I think I’m getting the hang of this travelling thing. My driver ended up telling me his whole life story which actually was super depressing and I really hope his life improves. I think he just needed someone to express his problems too so I was his girl, at least that night anyways.

I received a huge hug from a pretty amazing guy as soon as I was at my destination in what is apparently NOHO. At this point the fact that it’s like 12am in paris wasn’t even a problem because I was memorized with the city, and I mean being with that someone special definitely adds to the excitement. The night started off with dinner at a cute little cafe and wine; always wine first.

Then we both experienced the Empire State Building at its highest point of 102 floors for the first time. Let’s just say this was probably one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. Now that i’m the big 2-1 I put that fact to use and experienced a night out in New york followed by a slice of the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. When they say new york is known for is pizza, they’re not kidding.

The next morning we had a lovely Brunch together before heading off to our fun filled day of being the ultimate tourists. First stop: Central Park which I must say gives the parisia parks a good run for their money. The size for one thing was incredible, but I loved there were so many different things to do and see.

Of course we went to Times square which was a tad overwhelming BUT with the help of my handsome tour guide I got a good old tim hortons coffee which i haven’t’ had in over 3 months. Back home I used to have at least 2 coffees from here a day, so this was literally heaven, even though its actually “bad” coffee considering what I have been indulging in. The temptation of cold stone ice cream got to us and we indulged in mint chocolate chip ice cream with reeses cups. Yep, that combo was delish!

We found our way to the Highline and walked along the old train tracks. It was starting to get cold, so we found our way to no other place than the good old liquor store. It was weird to actually have to go to a specific store to buy alcohol again because in France you find everything at the grocery store.

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After finding a couple bottles of alcohol – i swear mom only a couple, we headed back to his apartment to snooze before getting ready for another night of cocktails and an abundance of new friends. We successfully made a delicious hot cider which received great reviews (good job team!). Somehow I had an enormous amount of energy for being in a completely difference time zone and didn’t really sleep well that night. I guess it is the city that really never sleeps.

I didn’t want the next morning to come because that meant leaving new york and flying back to Paris, but it was inevitable for the time being anyways. We went to brunch again which is something I am defiantly not used to, BUT am starting to love quite a bit to be honest.

We said our sad goodbyes and i headed in my way to the jfk airport in an uber once again. I swear I have the best luck when it comes to getting good drivers. I ended up getting to the airport in a third of the time i expected and had a wonderful conversation with the driver who now follows me on Instagram ( what is this world coming to)

Went through security like a breeze for once; no pat downs this time baby.
Unfortunatly this airport didn’t have wifi , which seems extremely odd considering the world we’re currently living in, but i wasn’t completely lost not knowing what to do with myself for three hours. I was in heaven with all of the english book and magazine selection and of course had to make some purchases. Enjoyed my last tub of greek yogurt for a while before saying bonjour to fromage blanc again. I now realize that they really aren’t that similar at all.. I miss my greek yogurt.

I am here writing this on day two of no sleep, which means it’s probably a good time for this chick to get a bit of rest before waking up and doing it all over again tomorrow… actually wait! Good news, no school!

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Do not expect to find coffee in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam

I was beyond excited for this part of my trip especially because I would be meeting up with my friend Courtney so I would no longer be the lonely Canadian. Her bus from Paris picked me up in Brussels and then we were off for what we thought would be a quick drive but the traffic was horrible so we ended up over an hour later than expected. Thank god I’m still able to borrow ebooks from my home library, that’s all I can say.

Once we were off the bus we found a taxi to take us to the hostel area and of course like every other taxi in Europe we’ve found they don’t take cards. Advice to anyone travelling in Europe; always make sure you have at least 20 euros in cash to be safe in situations like this one.

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First thing after we dropped our bags off was to find our way to the bar, pretty self explanIMG_6071atory i think. We were approached by some people to go on a pub crawl but we were “too tired” to go out or so we thought. Fast forward a few drinks and we were apart of the crawl after following the crowd to a couple bars in the red light district. We ended up meeting a lot of people and I snagged a free t-shirt somehow; can’t beat that.

Day 2

Our plan for the second day was to wake up around 8:30 and discuss our plans over breakfast. After we ate we weren’t any further ahead with making any specific plans than before so we set out to wander the streets with our snazzy old school paper maps. Looking through the papers we had found earlier in the lobby we came across the Sandmans Walking Tours flyer and the free tour was going to be starting within the hour so that’s exactly what we did.

Advice to anyone going to Amsterdam for the first time. Do the Sandmans free walking tour. We ended up finding a flyer for the tour at our hostel and figured it could be an informative thing to start our weekend off with especially because we had no idea where or what to do.

Check out there tours HERE

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Our tour guide Lars was honestly one of the best guides, and the fact that I could actually understand what he was saying was defiantly a plus. He included so much humor throughout the whole tour. I swear he could turn anything into a reference to a song. I’m going to be completely honest and say that before doing this tour thoughts on Amsterdam was just that it was known for prostitutes and marijuana. Needless to say, there’s so much history that made this amazing city what it is today.

Fun Facts:
Apparently the first stock exchange in the world was the one in Amsterdam, who knew. I studied finance at college and I sure didn’t which actually is quite surprising.

The term “going dutch” at a restaurant was actually derived from the Netherlands because of how frugal and profitable they are. I swear I must have some sort of Dutch in my blood. If you know me well enough I am all about getting the best deal for my money, that’s not saying always the cheapest but saving the most money possible.

Half way through the tour we stopped for a coffee break and no, not at a coffeeshop because as we learned you will not find coffee in Amsterdam at one. I’m a huge foodie and seek out the best places to eat wherever I go and this place is one of my favorites I have been to in Europe so far. So good we ended up going back the next day. It’s called La Place and it located along the canal near Dam Square so very central. Basically it’s a 3 story restaurant/cafe with the main floor filled with stations from all types of cuisine and the upstairs having seating and even private rooms. The food was all so fresh and they literally cut up the veggies/fruit/bread/meat up in front of you so you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a fairly large area so it didn’t take long at all, to be honest we didn’t have to wait at all. Okay I’ll stop my food talk now and just end with if you’re in Amsterdam and love a good meal, go here and you won’t be disappointed.IMG_6059

Since we loved the free tour so much we decided to buy tickets for the Red Light Chilled and met Sam in our hostel room who ended up being a freelancer from California.

We went on our second Sandeman tour of the day which was the Red Light District tour.We didn’t have any specific plans and for the small price of 10 euros it seemed like a good deal. I don’t know how we got so lucky but this tour guide was even more hilarious than the first. If you’re in Amsterdam I hope y’all get Kendra from Alaska as your tour guide. First things first we were given low down on the rules of the town.
*Do not take pictures of the prostitutes in the windows

Interesting Facts

– There’s a kindergarten located in the red light district, literally next door to where women have windows
– The oldest prostitute just retired this year at the young age of 74

Day 3 – Happy Halloween

Today marked a pretty special day of accomplishments, or at least I can say I checked something off of my bucketlist I’m going to be honest and yes I am one of those people who wants to do all of those typical touristy things possible, so of course when in Holland I had to attempt to ride bikes throughout Amsterdam. Somehow we Rode bikes successfully from the red light district to the I AMSTERDAM sign and back without:

1. Running over someone or getting run into
2. Getting lost without the use of technology, boo yeah!

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When I booked this trip I was petrified knowing the fact that I couldn’t use my google maps every time that I didn’t know where I was, especially in an unknown city full of tourists. I was forced to revert back to ancient times and use a paper map, weird eh?
Actually, I’ve realized that this way of travelling is 100 times better. Not only did I get the satisfaction of finding my way around a city but I found so many interesting things that I know I would never have been able to see. Google Maps is great don’t get me wrong, without it I wouldn’t have seen half of the things I have in Paris but being away from having technology at the swipe of my finger was refreshing.IMG_6094

Being as touristy as possible and bought some Amsterdam hats

When we got back to our hostel room we found everyone else there as well and did the good old introductions and quickly made plans for the evening. Sam and I headed to the grocery store a couple streets over for some good old wine for some Pre drinks and games before hitting the town. The town being the bar attached to our hostel, great coincidence. Belushis was doing make up for free which worked out perfect for us, so my nerd costume ended up turning a bit more on the deadly side.

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Let’s just say by the looks of the streets the next morning it looked like Amsterdam had a pretty good Halloween.

The best thing about this trip was that we didn’t have any set plans so we just went with the flow; my new preferred way to travel.

Let’s go to Brussels

It’s crazy to think that while living in such a central location in Europe I’m able to hop on a bus for 3 hours an be in another country; 4 hours past that I could be in another. When I eventually decided to Au Pair in Paris I knew that throughout the year my plan would be to see as many places as I could whether it be on the weekends or on my weeks off when the french children have their vacation. I started planning this trip a month or so ago and chose Brussels and Amsterdam because since it was going to be my first (or so I thought before i spontaneously went to Rome a couple weeks ago) trip outside of France and I wanted to go somewhere close.

When I booked my bus tickets to Brussels, picking the earliest 8:30 bus seemed like a great option at the time… until i had to wake up at 6. I had packed m small suitcase the night before so it wasn’t a huge task this morning to get ready to go. I’m using this trip as a experiment to see how well it goes with a wheeled suitcase. I really didn’t want to bring it but my north face bag just wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to take. That’s one of the worst parts of travelling when the weather gets cold is the amount of clothing you need seems to double in size.

While I was getting dressed I got a surprise good morning kiss from my little girl this morning which made the fact that I was up so early so much better. Every morning when she wakes up she yells for her mother and father to come down to get her out of bed (why she can’t get out of it herself, beats me) so when she came into my room this morning I was shocked but so pleased.

IDBUS

I found this company actually just by googling the cheapest ways to get from Paris to Brussels and when I saw the price I wasn’t really sure what to expect considering it was only 19 euros for a one way ticket. 19 euros to travel to another country sounds a bit too cheap especially since the bus included free wifi aboard and plug ins for electronics, but I figured I would give it a shot. First task was to find the bus Which ended up being really easy considering it’s bright blue and the meeting point was in a pretty central location (Bercy station).

Upon boarding the bus I was surprised that it was a very newly designed and clean bus with spacious seats. I found my seat quite quickly considering I was number 5 and thankfully no one ended up being beside me so I had lots of room.

We were approaching Brussels and already I could see comparisons to Canada. There were actual fields of grass and i even saw a tractor, what do you know. We were just about to the station when the bus stopped abruptly and of course i didn’t’ have my seat belt on because I was putting my jacket on. Let’s just say I had quite the close interaction with the seat ahead of me. Turns out we hit a guy on a motorcycle in front of us. I’m not sure what words were exchanged between he driver and the poor guy but they didn’t seem too happy. We just continued on after that as if nothing had happened which seems completely odd to me but I got to Brussels alive so I guess that’s all that matters.

Arriving in Brussels

The bus dropped us off on the side of the road in front of one of the biggest stations in Brussels so here I am thinking i’m going to spend all day just trying to find the metro to where I need to go. I was actually pretty proud of my sign following skills and within 20 mins I had purchased a ticket and was standing on a much cleaner and nicer smelling metro than in Paris.
I got off the stop that I had been told the hostel and walked out into none other than a shopping mall. I knew I was a couple hours early for check in so I roamed around the shops to see how different they were or actually weren’t. Once I realized that lugging a rolling suitcase into tiny shops wasn’t all that much fun I left to find the hostel the next street over and checked in but left my luggage in the luggage room.
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During the day I just roamed the cobblestone streets and did probably too much window shopping considering i knew I couldn’t buy anything.. That night I knew that I wanted to drink a beer somewheres in belgium so I figured I would head to the bar with the cheapest happy hour.
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1 euro per stella and 2 euro for the rest of the beer on tap, oh and come o find out the bar is owned by a canadian! I went alone to the bar but ended up chatting with the bartender for a while until I met a group of students who invited me to go to supper with them. Little did I know where or what I would be eating… It was an all you can eat sushi buffet and I’m not a huge sushi fan but it was 30 euros a person… (wasn’t too impressed about this but I couldn’t turn around after I sat down).. so I ended up stuffing myself full of food I didn’t like but it was eventful to say the least.
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I actually slept amazingly well for being in a room with 5 other girls. I was the first to wake up, or at least move in the room so I tried to be quiet and not wake them up, but than I gave up. I headed downstairs for the free breakfast that the hostel offers not really knowing what to expect but to hopefully fill my stomach. Let’s just say if you like bread this is the place for you. I eat baguette too often in Paris to really want to stuff myself with that here but hey, it was free and I was hungry. After asking for 3 coffees because the cups were the size of a shot glass I headed out for the day to get a start on some sightseeing.
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 One thing that I am loving about this trip is that I have no access to any sort of internet while i’m roaming the streets so i’ve had to resort back to the past and use a good old paper map that I was given at my hostel. 
It was beginning to get darker and I had already ate supper so I was actually debating on just heading to my hostel room for the evening until I walked into the lobby and heard some guys speaking English. Me being myself I said “you speak English?!” ( my go to conversation starter)
Turns out two of the guys were from Belgium and one of them was an up and coming artist. After seeing his work I was literally amazed by how great he was and it was all self taught. Check out his Facebook page here and you’ll see the crazy artwork he does, including customized shoes! The other guy was from the german university group that was staying in the hostel and invited me to go out to a couple bars with them that evening. Considering i was the only english speaker apart from him I was apprehensive but figured it could make an interesting story.
The group was very standoffish but I ended up talking to one girl on our way there until we got to the bar. Oh the bar… Imagine a halloween themed room supposedly considered a bar. It was the creepiest place I had ever been but it was an experience thats for sure. I started to feel extremely tired and out of place so I headed back to the hostel which some how took a good 20 mins to get back to.
I couldn’t pass up seeing the Grand Place at night time.
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Day 3 
My sleep the second night didn’t even compare to the first night. I was awoken by another girl who had to leave at 4:30 and then again at 7:30 by someone s alarm clock that was blaring classical music. I figured I would get a start on the day so I headed downstairs for some breakfast and chose to make a typical Parisian sandwich this morning consisting of cheese, ham and none other than baguette. I thought it would be a good idea to shower considering no one was left in the room so I paid 1 euro for a towel and cleaned myself up.
I left around 10 for the 45 minute walk to the train station where the bus was picking me up. I quickly realized that I left way too early and ended up coffee hopping between the cafes in the station which all seemed to not have wifi.. Come on it’s almost 2015 wifi should be accessible everywhere!
Oh and I may have found a shop that sold questbars and if any of you know me well enough im addicted to these bars even though I don’t work out at all which is what they are intended for haha. Pin france they don’t carry them anywheres so I’ve been getting them shipped in but I came across a nutrition store here that sold them for a steep price of 3,20 euros each bar but once again I had to buy at least a couple; as in 6
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I went into multiple beer shops to look around but didn’t plan on  buying any because I would have to bring it back with me but of course I came across this one. It was named La Cress, and I couldn’t leave without it.
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A must see cafe in Brussels carrying over 3000 different beers.
IMG_0190 If you’re in brussels in don’t try a waffle, than you’re not doing it right. Only one euro for one of these delicious creations!
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So many choices.