It moose be done in Toronto

Moment of awesome

Did you ever end up in a situation where you were going up the tallest structure in North America and ran into a group of people who invite you to go axing? In that case, you must know how awesome my last day in Canada was with this wild bunch! I met this group of girls at the CN tower as we were doing handstands on the glass floor 342 meter above the ground. After we left they asked if I wanted to go axing with them the next day, which happened to be my last day in Canada. I spontaneously said yes and there I was: 10AM, a beer in one hand and an axe in the other. IT WAS AWESOME!

What else did I do in the great white north? Note: the good stuff is at the end. Read More

After a cold and foggy two days in Montreal and one last day in Ottawa, I took the train to Toronto. I spent four days in Toronto pretty low on the radar. A friend of mine toured me around the city for two days. I had to arrange a few things for the coming weeks and I talked to some friends. It was really a chill couple of days. Toronto is North America’s 3rd biggest city (after NYC and LA) and is probably one of the most culturally diverse cities I have every been to. It is home to a large Jamaican, Italian, Asian, African, and Portuguese community. Where this rich mix of cultures often leads to clashes in different parts of the world people here live in perfect harmony. The Canadians struck me as particularly friendly. I recall a situation where I asked the girl behind the counter in a coffee bar if she knew any skating rinks. She gave a couple of suggestions and while she was talking, four people got up from their seats to give their suggestions. It was such a pleasant scene to see how everyone wanted to help. I ended up skating at night with my friend in front of the Toronto sign.

Faith saved the real cracker for the very last second in Canada. I was expecting to get my tourist visa for the US renewed so I could spend time in NYC and do a cross-country road trip with my friend. However, at the airport, I was pulled aside for ‘secondary inspection’, where I was told that I did not make a ‘meaningful exit’ to the US. As a result, I could only stay in the US until the end date of my current visa – 21 December. The moment I got the news, I was in shock. Here I was, having planned for the next eight weeks only to see it shattered a few minutes before departing to NYC. I tried to sleep on the flight, but my mind was going 300 miles an hour. It wasn’t until I talked to a friend that I calmed down. Having just arrived at my hostel, I decided to look for options. That same night, I booked a flight to California. I will be staying in SF for about a week, before flying to Seattle and taking the train north to my beloved Canada. From there, it is a mystery. Will I go to Asia? South America? Curaçao? Who knows. Welcome to my world. 

Favorite landscape picture

This week I continued working on the 2-minute tour. Toronto offered a few hours of sun that I took advantage of:

I spent last weekend in Montreal where, despite the weather, I think I managed to produce an interesting view of the city:

Insight of the week

Normally the next section would be the ‘best meal of the week’. Thinking about this part of the blog, I realized it’s not exactly the most exciting part of my week. I think we can all agree that your local food channel has more to offer than my random splurges into North American cuisine. Instead, I decided to show a brief look inside my head. The insight I share comes straight from my daily journal I’ve kept since the start of my trip. My now 10-week ‘walkabout’ has been geographically explorative, but more so mentally. I hope you will enjoy this new section.

Insight of the week:

— Where one door closes, another opens —

Read the explanation

Being denied a visa renewal for the US at the airport made this insight very apparent. I had planned out my trip for the next 8 weeks, but was told by the border officer I could only stay in the US for another 3 weeks. After a period of shock, I saw the situation for what it was – an opportunity to change my plans. That same night, I had worked out a new itinerary and booked my flights more helpful hints. It was a test of mental flexibility and quick decision-making. A few years ago I would have freaked out, but this time I kept my cool. I’m proud of my mental development!

Whilst traveling, you make decisions frequently, and quickly. You live very much in the moment and the reality of your choices present themselves very bluntly. The results of your decisions offer unique insights into yourself. The beauty of travel is that you gain a lot of experience at an amazingly high pace compared to ‘daily life’. If I were to estimate how many decision I make now compared to when I was a working-life hero, I’d say it’s about 20 times as much. It’s hard to explain if you have not traveled yourself, but I’m sure that those who have recognize the feeling. 

A word of wisdom

“If it’s not a HELLYEAH, it’s a NO.”

– Derek Sivers (1969 – present). American entrepreneur – founder of ‘CD Baby’. When talking about his business Derek described the choices he had to make after an experiment – e.g. launching a new product. He explained that if the results are not completely convincing, the outcome is not groundbreaking enough to continue the work.

Although his comment refers to business, the quote can be applied to every-day life. For example, when I was in Montreal I needed to buy a new coat (surprise, surprise, Canada gets cold in winter). There were several viable options, but I wasn’t feeling it. Although the ones I found were very cheap, I decided not to buy, because it was not a HELLYEAH! I’m happy I didn’t go for it, because the next day I found a coat that wasn’t only warm, it also made me feel good while wearing it. The moral of the story: Don’t settle for anything less than the absolute best!

Favorite gadget / book / app / life hack

10% happierThis book is an hysterical account of a foreign news reporter who gets addicted to Cocaine and finds his way to Zen Buddhism. Being a foreign war correspondent Dan got his daily dose of adrenaline from being in dangerous area. Back in NYC, he was looking for a replacement to get his kick. He found his need in cocaine. After a panic attack on live TV, Dan realized drugs were not a sustainable source of happiness. I have listened to the audio version of 10% happier and cannot recount the number of times I laughed out loud while listening. If you are blanking on what to give to your family-in-law for Christmas, think about this book.


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