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Wandering at home….

Published February 3, 2016 by jillamatt

You know that old saying “there’s no place like home”?  Well, I can surely attest to the fact that there really is no place like home for me. I happen to live in such a spectacular corner of the world, that quite often after I get back from my journeys, I sometimes wonder why the need to leave at all?

However, travel does something to me that is really impossible to explain. Putting my feet down on another countries soil, can sometimes feel like entering another planet. The feeling of not knowing what is around every corner, is thrilling and exciting to me. 

This past trip, it was pointed out to me by a friend back home, that travelling is the ultimate way to be constantly in the present. And it’s true!  I have thought about this statement a lot (thanks Susan B), since hearing it.  Maybe that is why I love travelling so much. Because I am constantly alert, and aware of my surroundings at all times. Of course, it’s great to find those spots where you can just relax and unwind, but I find as I explore unfamiliar territory, my senses just want more. I yearn to look around the next corner, see what’s just over that hill, taste the sizzling food on the street corners, smell the culinary delights wafting from homes and restaurants, hear the strange calls of foreign birds, and touch and feel plants, fabrics, or whatever there is around me. 

It is in these moments, where we feel the most alive!  Where life takes a detour from the mundane day to day routine, and allows you to experience the world like we are meant to.  Fully aware, fully present, fully engaged. 

Now that I’m back home, I’m getting back to the business of being a tourist at home. I started a blog about this a few years ago, and although there aren’t that many posts, I will be sure to keep my writing rolling, and update it as much as possible. 

Somewhere New-a tourist at home

If you read my first post, you will understand my intentions behind starting this process and blog. I realized that we spend so much time going to such great distances to see new things, when what is right around us can be interesting as well. 

And, as stated above, I really do love where I live! I appreciate the spectacularness of the beauty and nature that surrounds me. There is so much to see nearby, that it would take me a lifetime to just explore that!

Don’t get me wrong, however, there are more travel plans on the horizon. It’s that sight, smell, taste, touch, hear thing that will get me back out into the world. But, for now, right now, I will take in whatever I can that is right near my front door. 

Follow me as I wander at home……….

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Reflections

Published February 1, 2016 by jillamatt

Our last few days in Bulgaria were bitter sweet indeed.  We both felt ready to get back home, get back to our lives, check in on the house, the garden, the cats.  But we also felt like our business in Bulgaria was unfinished.  Like somehow we owed it to ourselves, to come back, explore more, maybe stay for a while.  We had many discussions about different possibilities to make a longer trip a reality.

While traveling in Bulgaria, we always felt like there was some overarching being, that was taking care of us.  We would arrive at the bus stations, generally with no idea of the schedule, and the next bus would be there within 40 minutes.  Likewise when we had to make connections to adjoining towns, there was always either a bus waiting to leave for the next destination, or one would be along shortly.  Never did we have any angst over how we were going to get from one place to another, or pull our hair out because of weird schedules, like we experienced in Greece.  It just felt like the whole country was just somehow free flowing, like we were a gentle breeze rolling across the landscape, flitting from place to place, with no barriers in our way.  We also never felt like we were in any sort of danger, or threatened in any way.  In short, it felt peaceful.

It’s hard to explain this to the locals.  After all, Bulgaria is touted as “one of the most miserable countries in the EU.”  (I’m sorry, I don’t exactly recall where I read this, but it was unfortunately on at least 2 occasions, and had it told to me as well.)  It always came as a surprise to me when I would read this or hear this from the young locals that we would meet.  It wasn’t until our return to Canada, and we were regaling our traveling tales to a friend, that we both realized that we literally saw no conflict, of any kind, while we were traveling there.  No people arguing in the streets.  No people yelling outside a bar.  No children screaming their heads off in public.  Like I said, it was peaceful.  Sometimes, I guess, it’s just hard to see the good bits, amongst the other distractions that we bring into our lives.

Arriving at the bus station in Bansko, with no real idea of the schedule, we were thrilled (again) to learn that the next bus was in 15 minutes.

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Leaving the mountains, bound for Sofia. 

We were headed back to Sofia, and to the place where our journey in Europe really began, the Art Hostel.  We were actually looking forward to participating in the fun vibe that would take place in the Art Hostel bar most nights of the week.  Upon our arrival at the beginning of December, we were jet lagged beyond belief (10 hours time difference from our home in Canada,) and didn’t have the capacity to stay up past 7pm, to participate in any sort of evening socializing.  But this time, we were ready.  We were ready to meet other travelers and get to know the locals that frequented the hopping bar that was 3 floors below our room.

Here are some images of the artwork at the hostel.  This is just a SMALL sample…….If you click on an image, it will take you to a larger slideshow. 

Although there was definitely a strong local clique, and we sometimes would sit in the corner chatting amongst ourselves, more often than not, a young Bulgarian would ask us where we were from.  When we would say Canada, it was almost always met with complete astonishment, followed by: “Wow! Canada!  What the heck are you doing here?”  We would laugh and explain our reasons for coming, of which I have recalled in previous posts.  They were always so INTERESTED in us.  Like as if we were aliens from another planet.  They wanted to know as much as they possibly could know, in the short time we would spend together.  Our favourite question, or challenge, however, was; “Tell me 3 reasons why Canadians are ANY different than Americans.”  (By the way, we have come to learn that much of Europe has decided that ‘Americans’ are North Americans, and ‘they’, Canadians and Americans, are all the same.)  Yikes!!

No offense, of course to many of our Southern Neighbours, but…… YIKES!  I have many American friends, and have been to many places in the U.S., but I also realize that there are a startling MANY reasons of why we are different (and so do most of my American friends.)

Upon hearing this, it would be my utmost mission of the rest of the evening, to make sure they understood as many reasons as possible, as to why we are different than Americans, and it was definitely MORE than 3!

We spent some time wandering around the city, checking out places we hadn’t seen before.  But mostly, we kept a low profile, and felt like we just needed to rest for a few days more, before heading back to our comparably, hectic lives.

Here are a few images from the local market.  Please click on the arrangement to see a larger slideshow of the images. 

We flew out of Sofia, (much too early I might add,) with feelings of sadness for leaving such a great place, but also with hopeful plans in the future of returning to this wonderful country.  We really only scratched the surface of what is available to see and do in Bulgaria, and we can’t wait to get back to scratch some more!

Thank you to all of you who have  been following my posts.  For the record, this is the first post that I have done on my laptop, all the others were done from my iPhone.  As challenging as that was, and I now realize not as effective with photo placement, it was a convenient device to share our traveling stories with you all.  As I am now back home, and obviously not traveling as much (it’s time to pay some bills!), I want to attempt to pull up my old travel journals, and recall stories of traveling from my teens and twenties.  I’ve already found a couple good stories, so I will attempt to keep up with my writing and share those for people to enjoy.  I also have another blog “Somewhere New” where I am experimenting with being a tourist at home.  I am blessed to live in a spectacular corner of the world, and I really take great pleasure in letting as many people that I know of, all about it.  Join me there as I explore new and old places, mostly just minutes from my front door.

I’ll leave you with one last image…………an image that says “Yes, we are almost home.”

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The low sun in the Arctic, reflecting off the pack ice above Hudson’s Bay.

Happy traveling to you all!  I hope that if nothing else, I have inspired even a teeny, tiny bit of a need for you to do your own wandering, even if it is just around the corner!    xo

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