I think this is going to be a very important year for me. The project I’ve been working on for a 3rd year now is (hopefully) about to come to an end. In less than 2 months we can talk about things other than the project which I know everyone in my company is looking forward to.
It’s been 6 years since I studied and I’m going to change that this year. I’ve spent the last year being not only a Business Analyst, but a Developer, Architect, Team Leader, and Project Manager as well. There were days where I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, but somehow I managed to pull it off. Fake it till you make it, they say, although it was more of a do-or-die situation. I’m not planning on doing anything major, but the fact that I’ll be studying (since I’ll finally have the time and mental energy to once this project ends) is a big thing for me. It’s always nice to have a formal certification to prove your abilities.
If you’ve read my blog posts before, you’d know that there is almost nothing more important to me than travelling. Last year I was so confused where I wanted to go next, and I had pretty much made up my mind that it was going to be Norway. However, after checking what it was actually going to cost me, I immediately switched over to the second option: Canada.
You might be wondering how bad the cost of going to Norway must have been for me to turn it down. Well, I wanted to do a cruise with Hurtigruten, a proper one where I’d have my own decent cabin and bathroom facilities. It turned out that the price I initially thought I was going to pay was for one of the smallest ships on the fleet that had shared bathroom facilities. Call me spoiled if you want, I don’t care, but I refuse to share a bathroom with strangers. In order to get what I wanted, I’d have to pay for one of the proper cruise liners whose price soared to over €3000 for the 12 day round-trip. I was simply not prepared to pay that on top of my flights, visas, and transfers to and from Oslo, not to mention accommodation in Oslo. I’ve spent less than that touring several countries for almost double the time. So sorry, Norway, but you’re going to have to wait.
For decades my relatives in Canada have been nagging my mom and I to visit, and the time has come to do it. Unfortunately my mom isn’t physically able to do the journey comfortably, so I am going alone. Of course, this isn’t going to be my first solo trip.
I’ve never been to North America before, so I’m very excited about it. Canada is somewhere I’m considering relocating to in the not too distant future, so this trip is not only to see family, but to also scout around to see whether or not I like it enough to see myself actually living there. And yes, I know it’s cold, but the only way I’ll know how cold it really is is to go there myself. I’m expecting summer to be like a winter in Johannesburg, so I’m quite looking forward to seeing if that is really the case.
So where exactly am I going? San Francisco, Calgary, and Toronto. In that order. I’m lucky enough to have a good friend in San Francisco with whom I’m going to stay, and God knows what shenanigans we’re going to get up to for a whole week. We’ve only met twice (at my cousin’s wedding) but we literally talk everyday. Even though there’s a 10-hour time difference, we speak just as often (if not more) than the friends I actually see everyday. It’s insane that I found a twin sister across the Atlantic; who would have thought?
Why San Francisco?
Ok so this is definitely going to sound cheesy (and probably really dumb) but here goes: not only did I grow up hearing about Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge, I also spent over a decade of my life watching Charmed and Full House. Several movies that I like to re-watch were also set there. It’s only recently that I joined the dots and realized that all these things I’ve been watching for so many years had one thing in common: San Francisco. It’s also the home of Silicon Valley – every IT person’s ultimate place to work. So it’s an obvious choice, don’t you think?
One reason: the Banff National Park. I mean, just look at it.
It’s also a happy coincidence that the Calgary Stampede falls in the week that I will be in Calgary. So I guess it’s fate, right?
Family, duh. I can never remember exactly how we’re related, but it’s through my late grandmother on my mom’s side. They’ve lived in Canada for around 30 years. I remember first meeting my niece and nephew (who are actually older than me by about 10 years) at my grandmother’s house when I was 4 or 5 years old. We were playing in her garden. It was so long ago, it feels like a dream. I can’t wait to see them again.
Then there’s also Niagara Falls, of course, and the Great Lakes – yet another piece of my world map puzzle that always piqued my curiosity. Hopefully I can also spend a night or 2 in Montreal, but I’ll see how I can work that out.
Right now I’m going through the visa process before I can book my flights. Had I known I had to get the US visa before booking flights, I would have done it last year. Now I can only hope it processes quick enough so that the flight prices don’t soar too high by the time I have to book. I’m so used to the European visa process that I took it for granted that you book your flights before applying for the visa so that you can prove when you’re entering and leaving the country. Oh well, I guess you learn something everyday.
Throughout my life, every single trip I’ve been on has something to do with that world map puzzle I used to build when I was little. There were particular labels on that map, be it countries, cities, rivers, or even lakes, that made me excited every time I picked up that particular piece to fit it in to where it belonged. Physically going to those places now is like picking up that piece of myself and fitting it in that puzzle.
It’s time for another adventure.