Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Great Times in Guelph

I got back to Guelph a week and a day ago, and I have to say it hasn't been too shabby! I was pretty sad leaving the cabin because I made some great friends at work this summer (who would-a thunk?). I have been told before and am slowly starting to grasp the fact that I tend to have fun no matter where I am or who I'm with, so I need to stop dreading things! To be honest, though, I've been too busy in Guelph to even think that I'm having a bad time.

I went with some friends to Canada's Wonderland on Wednesday (the day after I got in) which was so much fun and soooo hot. I love roller coasters even though they scare the bejeezus out of me. I had recently seen on the news that a mom in the States had fallen out of a roller coaster (and died) while riding it with her family, so that story was in the back of my mind all day...I didn't share this story with my companions until we were safely back in the car. 

This past weekend I went to the Gentlemen of the Road festival with Ilana, her boyfriend Peter, Pete's friend Liam, and Dave. It was such a good weekend full of good music, great friends and couldn't have been any nicer weather wise! Dave lives in Simcoe, where the festival was, so we stayed with him and got to go swimming in his lovely backyard pool both days that we were there. On top of that, I met up with Kelsey who lives in Windsor but I met in Ireland. It was wonderful to see her again! We saw Dan Mangan, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Bear's Den, Hey Rosetta!, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Mumford and Sons. My favourite bands to watch were definitely Edward Sharpe and O.C.M.S. They were such good performers! If either of them are ever in the area again I would not hesitate to see them again (hopefully in a smaller venue). Of course everyone was excited to see Mumford (they were the headliners/organizers of the festival) and they were great as expected, but everyone around me was singing so loud I could hardly hear the music! I had seen Mumford 3 1/2 years ago with Margi and Katie and I liked that show so much more - there were maybe about 200 people there compared to the 15,000 there this weekend. 

Danielle (Kelsey's friend), me, Ilana, Peter and Kelsey

And to top off a great week I got a job! I had been handing out resumes like mad and hadn't really heard anything (because everyone and their brother was handing out resumes at the same time). My roommate, Jamie, mentioned that he knew some people that managed at Fionn MacCool's, so he put in a good word for me and got them to look at my CV. I had an interview on Monday which went really well and the interviewer told me that I could expect to hear back by the end of the week, but he also told me that it was a good sign that I even got an interview. The interview was at 2:30PM; by 6:00PM I had an email in my inbox welcoming me to the Fionn MacCool's team. He was prettttty impressed with my Dublin experience, as it was the first thing he asked me about. I have orientation tomorrow (in the middle of the Central OV training) but I've got it all sorted out. Can't wait, it looks like such a fun place to work!

And lastly, I have my room finally set up just the way I want. I love it; it's so "Jenna"! Here are some photos - how cute is it?!

I just found that perfect frame for my map yesterday - and it's a cork board!
Couldn't be better for my travel dream board :)

The Irish flag that all my friends signed before I left

Look at this wicked dresser I found on Kijiji

My shot glass collection has grown! I'm at 57!

Love you all, hope you're enjoying the last few days of summer wherever you are!
xxxx Jennalyn

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Cabin Livin'

Cabin life has been good to me so far. I have only recently been joined by my mom and dad; it's so nice to have some extra noise within the house.  I've been working pretty non-stop at The White House, and I have to admit that it is nice to get back to work and start earning money again. Canada Day weekend was mental and it was nice putting my feet up after each day!  Other than that it's been a lot of barbecuing, seeing grandparents and other relatives, and lots (and lots) of driving.  Probably my favourite thing about being back in Manitoba (besides seeing family) is the weather. It has been sweltering hot and then thunder-storming at night. There's nothing quite like a prairie thunderstorm!

I'm heading in for an x-ray tomorrow because I've messed up my left knee. I knew I never should have started running, working out is not for me! Hopefully I won't get too terrible of news from the doctor. In any case, I'm sticking to knitting for the time being. As well as that, I've been putting my new camera to work. I'm not quite pro yet, but I'm working on it and learning new things everyday. I hope that by the time I get back out into the big, wide world I am able to document it with some nice photographs.


(I made them extra-large so that you can see how stunning they are and how talented I am.)


xxx Jennalyn

Saturday, 15 June 2013

England & Back in Canada

Sorry for the late post, I tried uploading this in Switzerland, Ottawa and now Guelph and for some reason it doesn't want to cooperate with me. Let's try one more time.

England was very jolly indeed. It was a bit of a rough start as I missed my flight on Saturday morning (note to self: don't go to a party, get home at 5AM and try to have a cat nap before you leave, because 15 minutes can easily turn into 3 1/2 hours). In any case, I made it to Brighton thanks to my dear friend Soph going out of her way to pick me up at Heathrow. We got there at 4PM and went straight to the Ladyboys of Bangkok. The show was hilarious; Jess and I even got pulled up on stage to do the YMCA! I had been to a Ladyboy show in Thailand when I lived there in was a bit different seeing it when you're 21 versus when you're 8, though. We were lucky that the Brighton Fringe Festival was on, and we spent the night dancing in a tent that was playing some pretty deadly swing music with the other Fringers.

Unfortunately Soph had to drive back to Cambridge the next day, so Kate, Jess and I wandered around The Lanes in Brighton. The Lanes are the bohemian shopping streets, full of really eclectic things and people. We sat on the rocky beach for a long time, went to the famous Brighton Pier, had some Vietnamese food, etc. Really lovely day! Afterwards we went to a comedy show (for only £5...steal of a deal) - again, hilarious! - and then stumbled upon a tent set up for the festival with a great atmosphere. It was very hippy-ish with more interesting people, music, drink, and a street vendor that I had seen on The Food Network. It was so bizarre, but of course I took a picture with him and tried his PHENOMENAL Indian street food - I have no idea what it was but it was gooooooooooooood. We spent the rest of the night talking to the other Fringers and making tonnes of cool friends.

Beautiful Saturday in Brighton
Enjoying some fresh seafood at the sea 
Angus (the Indian streetfood guru) and I
I'm getting my rabies shot next week, don't worry
Kate and I trained up to London Victoria Station the next day, where we parted ways. I made my way to my hostel and got ahold of my friend John, who I know from high school. I spent most of my time in London with him and his friends. If I wasn't with him, I was with my friends Desiree and Kyle from Dublin. On my last day, Desiree took me to Greenwich Park for a breathtaking view of the city, and to feed some very brave squirrels.

I spent a few days in Ottawa with my grandparents, dad and brother. Murray received his Bachelor of Computer Science last Tuesday, and we're all very proud of him. I trained up to Guelph on Wednesday and moved everything into my new house. I'm still in the process of decorating, so I'll get some pics up when it's all finished. It's been great being in Guelph, even though I was a little unsure of how I would feel. I love seeing my friends again and revisiting all of my old stompin' grounds - I think I might be getting on their nerves, considering how much I reminisce. I'm just sentimental, I can't help it!

So I've had my last day in Europe for about a year and a half. It was bitter-sweet (mostly bitter), because I have grown to love the continent and all the amazing people I have met there. It makes me sad to say that I probably won't get to travel much within the next two years, but after that I have all the time in the world to see other wonderful places that I have missed this time around.

Until later,
xoxox Jennalyn, no longer abroad

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Der Berliner Fernsehturm und Norwegen

I went up the Fernsehturm (TV Tower auf Englisch) a week ago with some of my peers from the Goethe-Institut. We had phenomenal weather for it, and had hands-down the best view of the city. It reminded me a lot of the CN Tower, which I guess is to be expected, but it was smaller and didn't have one of those wicked glass floors. It was another way for me to get my bearings in the ever-confusing Berlin, and was really cool seeing the famous sights from another perspective. 

Pretty wicked photo, if I do say so myself
The photo below is of Unter den Linden, which is a boulevard in Berlin. You can see the Berliner Dom (the big green domed church), which is on Museumsinsel (Museum Island); further on you can see the Brandenburger Tor just before the big park begins; the big park is called Tiergarten; and then in the middle of the Tiergarten you can see the Siegessäule. It doesn't really look like much if you don't know what you're looking at, but I think it's pretty neat-o! (Click the links if you want to see what you're looking for).

After class on Friday I caught a flight to Oslo for my first trip to Scandinavia.  I was only there for about 48 hours, which seems a little ridiculous now that I think of it, but it was a great (and expensive) trip. I got there on May 17th, which happens to be their National Day, so I was greeted by a lot of drunk Norwegians wearing suits and traditional dresses. In any case, it was a great atmosphere! I spent the weekend with Zenon, who (whom?) I hadn't seen in 9 months. I didn't do too much in terms of touristy things, but it was a relaxing weekend in the sunshine. On Saturday I mostly walked around the city looking at buildings and stopping every once in a while to read on a bench. I went for a lovely lunch near the cathedral, and only when the bill came did I realize that I needed to cough up €20 for a salad (to be fair, it was a damn good salad). Zen and I went to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park and saw lots of naked people in compromising positions, but it was unlike any park I'd ever been in. 

One of the more famous statues in the sculpture park of a very angry baby 
Tower of people in the sculpture park

On Sunday I went with Zen, Ian (from Guelph, doing a semester abroad in Norway) and Zen's friend Andreas (Norwegian) to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, where we got some great views of the Norwegian country side. 
At the ski jump
Bearded & dreaded Zenon and I in Norway...he looks thrilled to be with me, as always
After such a short while, it was time for me to catch the flight back home (or rather, to Berlin).

I'll leave you with this photo of these happy trolls.
xoxoxox Jennalyn

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Too Few Photos of Berlin

I admit it,  I have been terrible at taking photos of my time in Berlin. To be fair, what it has mostly consisted of is taking the S-Bahn to school, doing homework, admiring the Sehenswürdigkeiten from the S-Bahn on the way home, and sleeping. I have been hanging out with my friend Ben (from high school) who has lived here for a year and a half, but (unfortunately?) the only photos I have with him are on my disposable camera.  

That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Berlin thus far. I have done a walking tour, which was for me to learn the history of the city as well as get my bearings; I have done a German tour of Mitte (which is the area my school can be found in); I have gone to a club in the middle of the day (full on techno music, dancing, drinking at 3PM on a Sunday); I have gone to a yoga class (like I said I would); I have shown my parents around KaDeWe (aka Kaufhaus des Westes)... and I have so much more on the to-do list.  

Here are a few photos that I have taken of things that I have done. Expect more later on! This week I am going to the top of the Fernsehturm, which I'm sure has the best view of Berlin. I am also going to Oslo this weekend because...why not? It's a long weekend (again) so I am going to make advantage of being in Europe until I-don't-know-when by seeing somewhere new. Zenon is going to be in Oslo with his Norwegian friend that weekend, and it'll be good to see him/celebrate his 21st with him :)

Saying goodbye to mom and dad at the Basel Airport once again -
I was only with them for 1 1/2 days before I was off again!
Soviet Socialist mural in East Berlin, depicting everyone happy and working together 
This was my favourite part of the walking tour - there are tonnes of beanbags, hammocks and book shelves full of books. This square is where the books were burned by the Nazis on May 10th, 1933, so around the anniversary they set up this "Stadt Lesen" centre as a reminder that now we are free to read what we want.  
Check out this wonderful weather we had! This is the Berliner Dom or the Berlin Cathedral
Mom and dad visiting me for the past weekend. This was our German breakfast on the first morning
Quite literally the best Thai food I have had outside of Thailand - come visit me and
I will take you here! I was almost licking the plate at the end of the meal

I'll see you in Norway!
xoxox Jennalyn

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Berlin: Day 1

So far, I am loving Berlin! I have been here for exactly 24 hours, but so far I can tell that this month is going to be a lot of fun and too short. I got to "my" home, which is a really nice apartment in the Charlottenburg part of Berlin. I have a room that's about 2.5 times the size of my and Rochelle's room in Dublin (with German TV), my own washroom and use of the kitchen and living room. My host's name is Marina, and she seems really friendly and is adamant that we will only speak German - while it's tough, I appreciate it!

Today I woke up with a can-do attitude :) I took the S-Bahn to the Goethe-Institut (where I'm going to be studying 20 hours a week for the next month). I knew it was an up-and-coming area of Berlin (or so I read), but I was shocked by all the different types of shops and the masses of restaurants/cafés in the area - I'll never run out of stores to explore! What I was most excited about was a Bikram Yoga studio literally next door to the institute, which I will have to try. 

Instead of heading back home, I decided to explore around the area. With the help of my map, I found my way to Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm. I bought a sim card for my phone (with international calls to landlines costing only ¢1 per minute!) and pretty much just walked for 2 hours. I didn't realize that where I was headed would take me two hours to get to - I'm so used to Dublin where you can walk from one end of the city centre to the other in half an hour. 

Things I Like About Berlin (so far):
  • Tonnes of green space (I got lost in the Tiergarten for about 15 minutes today; I found it so bizarre that I was still in the city centre) 
  • Everyone's pretty tall (I fit in!) 
  • Awesome transportation system
  • So much history everywhere! I'm going to do the free walking tour on Saturday, so I'll understand what I'm looking at, but right now everything is just huge, old and decorative to me.
  • You can find pretty much anything you need (perks of a big city)
If you want to get in touch with me, my German number is +49 1578 0319970, give me a call!

In other news, I realised that today marks the 1 year anniversary of me moving to Dublin! Maybe I should make this tradition, moving to a different city every year... I learnt a lot and definitely grew up during my year there - if it wasn't for that experience, I would never be in Berlin now. I miss Dublin already, but I'm eager to start my new adventure in beautiful Berlin :) 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Quick Stop in die Schweiz

I left Dublin on the early flight this morning, and I don't think that it has hit me yet.  In fact, I think I'm too tired to fully comprehend that my life has been completely uprooted...I haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in the past week, mainly because I didn't want to go home to my ever-emptying apartment.  I had a fantastic leaving party on Saturday night, but of course I couldn't say goodbye to everyone then (too sad). A couple people came out to The Ginger Man pub for my final pint of the black stuff last night.

I just got back to Arisdorf about an hour ago after plane-ing/training/bussing so I'm going to hit the hay until mom and dad get back from work. Tomorrow night Jess, Leann and Jasper are coming over for dinner (very excited about that!) and I'm training to Berlin early Wednesday morning. I have had no time to breathe, let alone sleep! 

Tschüss xxxx

Saturday, 27 April 2013


I got back from my Shamrocker tour of southern Ireland yesterday; what an amazing 5 days! I was really looking forward to it, but I had no idea that the tour would be as much fun as it was. There were about 25 of us on the tour (mostly Aussies, Americans and Canadians) and everyone was a lot of fun to travel with. We were really lucky with the weather (never truly got rained on, so un-Irish), saw heaps of beautiful sights and drank plenty of Guinness.

Day 1: Met in Temple Bar, drove to the Rock of Cashel (disappointing), then to the Blarney Castle. We had phenomenal weather at the Blarney Castle and were more than happy to roam around the plentiful gardens.  We then went to Killarney (our stop for the night) and explored the Killarney Provincial Park while the weather was still warm. We had a good night at a pub watching the storytelling theatrics of Pa (a man who yelled a lot) and then headed over to The Grand for dancing, music and drinks.

About to kiss the Blarney Stone 

The crazy Pa and I

Day 2: The weather of the second day was disappointing at all the wrong times. We drove the Slea Head drive, which was named the most scenic drive in the universe, but unfortunately we could hardly see in front of the bus it was so misty.  We did stop at a beach where we dipped our feet in the water. Legend has it that when you get your feet wet at this beach, a piece of your soul goes with it and you have 20 years to come back and retrieve it. The drive is on the Dingle Peninsula, and once we got back to the town of Dingle the weather was, once again, glorious.  For the rest of the day we had beautiful weather for the sights of Co. Kerry as we made our way to Ennis. In Ennis we had a lovely family dinner and then some of us went to watch some Irish music. It was a fairly tame night for me, but I heard that people were out until 3AM again that morning - those Irish know how to party!

Leaving some of our souls in Ireland
Beautiful Dingle 
Admiring the scenery in Kerry
Day 3: We didn't have far to drive on this day, but we made plenty of pit stops and saw the sights as we drove to Galway. My favourite was the Fairy Ring that we saw. Belief of fairies is well and alive in Ireland (especially in Co. Clare, the most superstitious county) and we were warned plenty of times by our guide, Dave, that we were not to mess with the fairies and enter the ring. There was a stump where the fairy tree used to be, and we heard a couple of stories about the misfortune of people that had messed with it. One man on a tour thought it would be funny to pee on the fairy tree stump, and when the group got back to the bus the bus refused to start. They had to wait for a couple of hours for another bus to arrive. Once they had loaded the new bus, that one wouldn't start either. Apparently the group went through 5 buses that trip, all unable to start! Another story was about a person that entered the ring and kicked the fairy tree, and when walking about he fell and broke his leg. Lucky for us, everyone on our trip was well behaved and nothing bad happened.

We then went to the Cliffs of Moher, which was realllllly cool. I was sort of nervous because we were warned that every once in a while an unfortunate tourist falls off the edge, so I went nowhere near the edge (I'm not that stupid) but we got some good photos. It was more of a photo op than anything else, but it was still cool to see. While it was misty, we were lucky that we could see the cliffs. That night was spent in Galway listening to Irish music and talking to the locals - probably my favourite night of the trip! The craic was ninety-one!

At the magical fairy ring - doesn't look like much! 
Staying far from the edge at the Cliffs of Moher
Trad music in Galway

Day 4: Another beautiful day! We woke up early to catch the bus and boat to Inis Mór (the largest of the Aren Islands). Most of us rented some bikes and biked up a path until it got too rocky, then we got off and walked to the scenic cliffs of the island. It was incredibly gorgeous! We explored about the cliffs and the old fort there, then all went to have lunch at one of the three pubs. If the weather were bad that day, I would say that we wouldn't have even made the effort to go out to the island and would've stayed at a pub in Galway. I was so happy that we got warmth and sunshine! It was a relaxing day and nice to not be on a bus all day. We spent the night at the same pub as the night before (The Front Door) and had another great night - our last night all together.  

The boys on the boat 
Beautiful day in the Aren Islands! 
Enjoying the scenery. Don't worry, it was safe to go to the edge here!

Day 5: The people on the 7 day tour left in the morning, so I woke up to say goodbye to them. The day was our own, as we had to catch the bus back to Dublin at 2PM, so I wandered about by myself. I had been to Galway before, so I knew my way around. I went to the free Galway museum, which was interesting, but I went just to find a way to kill an hour.  Then I wrote some postcards in the cutest little teahouse I have ever seen; I want to go back to Galway just to try everything on the menu! 

At the Galway Museum
How cute is this?!
I'm having my leaving party tonight (sniff sniff) and it'll be sad to say goodbye to everyone. I cannot believe that my year in Ireland has come to an end! It went by much too quickly, but I know I will be back to visit some day. It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people, and I am lucky to have lived here for a year of my life.  

Next stop: Berlin!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Greece and Final Days of Work

Sorry it's been so long since I last blogged - can't exactly say I've been busy, but anyways...

This past March I was lucky enough to go to my #1 travel destination - Greece! I met mom and dad in Athens (after what seemed like a very long flight). Their hotel was literally across from the airport so we went and dropped all my stuff off then went to central Athens in search of a Greek meal. We ended up eating in a covered terrace where a man was playing guitar and later on a typical Greek string instrument. Everyone in the restaurant was getting a little more drunk and singing along with the songs, and eventually one of the men doing traditional dances. The night ended with our waiter doing a shot with us. Very fun night!

First sightings of the island
We flew the 35 minutes to Santorini the next day. Very rough landing - I don't usually get nervous on flights because I've flown so much, but my palms were extremely sweaty for that one. I think it was also a combination of not being able to see any land (felt like we were just headed straight into the Aegean Sea). Our hotel was nice, but unfortunately since it wasn't quite tourist season yet the pool wasn't open. It was actually nice being there off-season; I can't imagine what the little, winding streets of Santorini would be like on a hot, busy day! Shoulder-to-shoulder, no doubt. 

During our time on the island we did a hike from Fira (where we were staying) to Oia. The hike was fairly tame and paved for the first half, but I'm certain that we got extremely lost for the second half. We ended up hiking to the very top of one of the hills so that we could look down to find the easiest path. And believe me, at the very top of these hills it was very windy! Once we got to Oia we had a well-deserved Mythos. It was a fun day; no matter how lost we got we were never actually lost because you could usually see both sides of the island. 

The easy part of the hike (the city in the background is Oia)

Finally in Oia

Oia was absolutely beautiful. It is supposed to have the best sunsets on Santorini, and we were there for two of them but unfortunately the two we saw were disappointing. Still a quaint town - pretty much exactly what I pictured when I pictured Santorini.

We also went on a tour of a volcanic island and the "hot springs". Wasn't exactly a tour, but it was still pretty fun. We boated to the volcanic island and hiked for a couple of hours looking at the sights and the boulders - very different from any landscape I'd seen before.  Then we were boated to the hot springs, which were...a tad different to what we had expected. I guess we had expected it to be a full-blown tourist trap hot springs. What happened was that they boated us near enough to the "hot springs" so that people were having to jump off the pirate ship into the freezing water to swim to the hot springs. We didn't end up doing it (the water was absolutely freezing) and I think it was a good idea that we didn't - the people that came back said it was really muddy and not very warm at all; and having to swim back to the boat in the freezing water was the icing on the cake...

Other than that, Greece was relaxing. We did some more sightseeing and a lot of Greek eating. 

Now it's April 17th, I have been finished work for three days. I wasn't expecting last Saturday to be my last day in The Merrion, but turns out it was. It felt like I didn't have time to mentally prepare myself, and I don't think it's fully hit me yet anyways. I have my exit interview tomorrow, and I think when I leave then it'll finally hit home.  I hope to still hang out with work friends for the next couple of weeks - unfortunately I've been pretty sick with some sort of throat infection for the past couple of days which has bedridden me. I'm feeling a lot better today though, so I'm going to go for a walk in the sunshine and get some errands done. 

Only 12 more days in Ireland! Less than two weeks...don't know how I feel about that...
xoxox Jennalyn

(Here are some more photos to tide you over)

That's our town, Fira, in the background
Dad and I having little fishies eat dead skin off of our feet
Enjoying my first Greek salad in Greece
A wicked sunburn, the result from the lunch in the picture above 
Dad being brave! Riding a donkey up to the town 
Dad and I in front of the Parthenon
Red Beach with the famjam