Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley of the Incas

Our third day in the Cusco region was amazing. We traveled through the sprawling mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visited Ollantaytambo (a small town at the base of an old military stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance), and we watched a wonderful demonstration of the colour dying process for Alpaca sweaters in Chinchero.  This shot was taken in Ollantaytambo.

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Off to Peru

So tomorrow I embark on another adventure, this time with my parents and my long-lost travelling sister! I couldn’t be more excited to go out into the world again after a relatively dull winter. Dust has been accumulating on my camera for a few months now and it’s about time I had some amazing experiences to document with it, and share with you here! We’ll be visiting Cusco and Lima, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. I can only hope that I’ll get some breathtaking photos of the landscapes, history and culture there : ) Stay tuned for pictures!

My Top 5 European Food Adventures

Pesto Pasta in Venice
This pasta blew my actual mind. We like to think our American-style Italian food is pretty spot-on, but not one Italian that I met on my travels knew what “Alfredo” pasta was.  So I tried an authentic Italian dish, cooked with the absolute minimum ingredients; just oils, pesto and spices. Simple and delicious. Tip: Even better with an italian Bellini, a drink based with Prosecco sparkling wine and peach nectar, which originated in Venice as well!

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Magnum Ice Cream Bar in Holland
Magnum Ice Cream is available at any convenience store in Canada, with a big price tag. The price tag isn’t any smaller in Holland, but the options are infinite! You pick your ice cream, you pick your coating, you pick your toppings! Whole strawberries, fudge drizzle, peanut butter. Anything!  It’s the magnum version of make-your-own fro yo. An amazing treat that you will definitely regret passing up.

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A Florentine Museum

My neck was sore from walking around, gawking at the ceiling art. And my eyes were tired from squinting and adjusting to the tiny intricate details and then huge murals stretching from floor to ceiling. Everywhere that you look, the art, history and beauty fills your head. I only wish I could have stayed in Italy for a while longer to let it all sink in.Ren-museum-florence-2

Snapshots from Prague, Czech Republic

Prague took me by surprise, it was stunning and old and filled with lovely architecture and statues and churches. I did enjoy my evening in Prague, and it may have been one of my favourite nights! We stopped in first at this stunning church (cathedral? basillica? I’m not sure.) But I do know that it was gorgeous. The stain glass windows alone were taller than my church at home. They stretched in themed colors from the floor to the ceiling. During our visit, the sun cut perfectly through a pink and purple window on the right of the church, casting these amazing little light shows on the right wall of the building. It was breathtaking.Germany-Czech-19

Then we had a little walking tour down around towards ‘old town’ and stopped at the John Lennon wall, I made sure to draw a little heart and peace sign on the way by. In old town, I got a tattoo (eep!) and that’s probably about when I fell in love with the city. On my way home from the tattoo parlour, I stopped with a traditional Czech crepe and watched a talented street performing group called the “streetles” play for a few hours on the cobblestone square. It was like a dream.

The rest of the time in Prague was really nice and relaxing. I met many people from all over the world here, and definitely took advantage of the cheap spending here. I definitely suggest you stop by if you’re on your way through Europe. Prague is a magical place!

Snapshots from Germany

I’m taking my time with the real photography, but I’ll start posting the good stuff soon. 
Berlin was a beautiful clash between new and old, since the city was basically flattened at one point, many things were rebuilt to look old, and some things were rebuilt to look modern and funky. The constant contrast was actually really nice, save the fact that there is still  so much construction that you can’t get a photo without a crane or construction worker in the frame.

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Snapshots from Holland (Edam & Amsterdam)

When we first arrived in Amsterdam, we jumped on a coach and headed for Edam, and adorable little town dotted with cheese shops and bakeries. The views were stunning, flat landscapes, blue skies and green meadows galore. The air even tasted fresher here : ) As a group, we all took a bike ride around the town, stopped to photograph a windmill and then headed back towards Amsterdam. On our way back, we stopped at clog-making shop and watched a demonstration. I had no idea a clog could be made in less than 10 minutes, but it can! Then we tasted some cheese (accompanied by some sips of wine) before heading back to the city.

In the city, we visited the “I amsterdam” sign, which was literally crawling with tourists. I ate the best waffle of my entire life just beyond the sign, it’s on my top-five European foods list. Me and a fellow Canadian traveler, Stella, went for a stroll through the streets of the Red Light District and then settled in to a cafe for some beers and “treats” for the evening. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I’ll definitely be back!

ADHD and anxiety: you are perfect

Warning, we’re going to get real deep here, lol!

I have been traveling Europe on my own for a while. I think I was hoping to find a little independence, that maybe I would overcome some of my anxieties and fears, and learn about myself; but instead I learned about the way of the world around me. The ebb and flow of fortune and misfortune, and the absolute randomness of life events and the absence of any control we have over them.

 

I will always have a difficult time with faces and names. I’ll never have a truly good memory. I will always be inattentive and disorganized. I will lose my things. But after all, they are just things. I will miss trains and get lost in unfamiliar places. But I will always find my way again. 

I will probably be ashamed from time to time. I will be a burden to others on occasion. But I have learned that everyone has traits that others will find difficult. No one is perfect in any sense. People who don’t enjoy my company do not deserve it after all. 

It is not karma or bad luck or some silly curse of misfortune, it is an imbalance in my mind, therefore I am the way I am.  I will always be this way. And so I am forced to accept this. And I am certain that confidence and independence will follow shortly after. 

If you live with memory loss, an inattentive disorder, social anxiety, or adhd, know that you are not alone. The world will not end by your mistakes, you will continue on, and you mustn’t linger on your misfortunes once they have occurred. Nothing good will ever come of it. You can cry. You can break down, but then you gather yourself and stand up again, for no one can change the past. Sometimes people will not understand why you are the way that you are, and that is ok. You do not always understand others either. But you do not need approval from anyone. 

Do what makes you as happy as you can be. If that requires taking medication, or learning to cope in your own ways, then that is what you should do. Do not let others tell you otherwise. but do not seek a cure. For none exist. You are perfect the way you are. You don’t require validation from others, your own happiness is what defines you. Speak to someone, share your feelings. Find someone who understands you and can remind you that you will be alright. 

Smile everyday, sing even if you don’t know the words, dance, laugh at yourself, tell yourself you are beautiful everyday, you will believe it eventually, travel, try new things, fall in love, do things that scare you. Be true to yourself, and be kind to everyone you meet, as everyone has their own story. Remember that your fear is full of shit. You are stronger and braver than you could ever know. Accept who you are, you are the only you, amongst billions. You will always find your way.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars. No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” – desiderata

10 countries later and I’m feeling blessed

I was pretty silly to think I’d be finding time to edit photos and post on my blog while traveling. I lost my camera adapter on the first day, and have barely had enough wifi to send a few emails, let alone update on WordPress. But here I am, sitting on a bus to Cashel, Ireland, with a quick update.

It’s been 22 days on the road now. I’ve hit 10 countries throughout Europe and I’m feeling truly blessed to have taken in all of these experiences, sights and history along the way. It feels as though I’ve shot through most of my bucket list, without having time to take a breath.

I indulged in the lovely Amsterdam cafes, walked above the bunker where Hitler died, touched the remains of the Berlin Wall, I sat on the streets of old town Prague listening to street performers while eating a proper Czech crepe. I got a tattoo across the world, I drank a stein at a four-hundred-year-old beer garden at Haufbrauhaus in Munich. I ate a mouthwatering pesto pasta in Venice while watching the gondolas float through the canals. I walked through the coliseum, the pantheon and visited a stunning Renaissance gallery in the old Medici house in Rome. Felt small beneath the Sistine chapel. Saw the pieta and the David. Walked the churches and gawked at art in the Vatican City. I ate proper Italian pizza on the streets of Florence, whilst being serenaded by talented Italian musicians. I took my shirt off at the top of one of the tallest mountains in the Swiss alps. Drank a beer under a waterfall above our Swiss chalet. Drank a bottle of (illegal) champaign under the Eiffel Tower light show in Paris. Kissed an Aussie. Visited the louvre. Conversed with locals in real authentic French. Drank a (few) Guinness in Dublin. Saw the great giants causeway, walked the carrek-a-rede rope bridge, and took in the beauty of Dunluce castle of Northern Ireland. Made new friends in each city. Got lost in each city. Found my way again. I cried at the beauty of it all, and laughed at my own misfortune. I found out more about myself, the world, and others, than I knew was possible.

And it’s not done yet : )

Wickham, New Brunswick

My parents have a beautiful river-side camp in a Wickham, NB. I haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time there this summer, so I’m glad I got to squeeze in one more night before I leave for Europe! I brought my camera along for fun, here are a few snapshots from the day. I’m still adjusting to the dslr editing process on my iPad, so don’t judge me for the color balance in that last one 🙂 These came out sort of faded and offset, like authentic vintage film photography. I don’t hate it!

How to edit SLR photos on an iPad

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I’ve been looking into possible ways that I can edit (and share) some photography during my upcoming trip. I have found that the hard part is unloading, editing and storing the photos on the go. People want to keep their valuables to a minimum when backpacking, so it’s unlikely you’ll be bringing a computer along. I have been gearing up and attempting to plan my workflow ahead of time. I’ve come to find a near perfect solution  – iPad mini!

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A day at Gibson Falls

Some of the most beautiful places in the world are right outside your front door. Just 30 minutes down the Salisbury Back Road (very close to my home), you’ll find this hidden gem. Some people are brave enough to slide down the smooth rock chutes or jump from the 70-foot cliffs into cool swimming holes. I decided to take photos instead 🙂 If you’re ever in New Brunswick, make sure you check out this secret spot (and get at me for directions) !

Artist turned traveler

I’ve been using this URL off and on for about 4 years to post my art. Many of you started following me when I was just a photography blog, and thanks for sticking it out while I discovered other passions like music and design.

Next month, I’ll be traveling 7 countries in Europe with a guided backpack tour through Contiki, then I’ll wander off on my own to explore Ireland and England. So I’ve cleaned up the blog and I’m going to be posting all things Shannon: music, travels, photos and ramblings.

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If you run a travel blog or have any advice on traveling Europe, let me know so I can follow your journeys as well 🙂 I’ll be visiting Belgium (in transit), Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France , Ireland and England. If you are from these countries, or have traveled through them, get at me with your stories!

This photo does not belong to me, it was taken by John Ferreira of http://cargocollective.com.