Spiritual Saturday :- Past Lives in Paris Unravels

Where do I begin… In March of 2013, I checked into a hostel at the border town of Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. There in the 4-bed dorm room, I found a book on the shelf of the closet. I picked it up, the title of the book “Sarah’s Key” written by Tatiana de Rosnay. I thought to myself, “Why not give this a read – It’s been ages since you last read a book that’s not a travel guidebook.”

I admit I’m typically a slow reader unless the book intrigues me. This was one of those – I finished the book in 2 days despite the fact that I still found time to visit the Iguazzu falls on the Brazilian side and a local Buddhist Temple. The book tells a story of a Jewish girl who lived in Paris, France. On the 16th of July in 1942, the French police rounded up all the Jews in Paris and sent them to Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vel’ d’Hiv). She had locked her brother inside the secret cupboard in their Parisian apartment to keep him safe, with a promise to return. She became a child of the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup.

No other Holocaust story has struck me like this. I cried painfully as though I was the girl in the story when I finished the book. Even when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2009, I did not react like this. My heart ached. I felt physical pain. I could not understand why the connection. Continue reading

Mon cheri… Paris

Today I heard from a couple of friends who call Paris home – my mind went right to work and a flood of memories streamed through my mind.

L’homme, I met at a yoga/meditation retreat in Kathmandu back in 2011, right after my trip to Bhutan. For a few days, we shared laughs, stories and yoga time with his partner. We even took a day trip to Patan, shopped for Tibetan singing bowls and meditated a bit in the Durbar Square.

La femme, I met just a few months ago in Banff where we shared a 4-bed hostel room in Banff. She was traveling with her partner across Canada and parts of USA, prior to their return to France after living in Toronto for a period of time. We talked about the variety of cuisine Toronto has to offer and they gave me a ride to Lake Louise and saved me a costly bus ticket. Continue reading

My Travel Style… Varies!

To each their Own” is a favourite saying of mine.

Some days I enjoy researching the destination. Some days I enjoy planning and booking the logistics. Other days I don’t want to do anything and just sign up with a low hassle tour group with an itinerary I love. Many other days, I wander the streets of a new place without a map, blend in with the locals even when I don’t speak their language – it’s easy, just smile and nod (the address of my local home in their language in my pocket!).

For me, Home is where the heart is.
Home is where I am that day; physically, mentally, emotionally. Continue reading

She did What!?! ~ with Diane

Single Woman Travels! (SWT) is a place to inspire and motivate women (and men) around the world to travel. She did What?! is a monthly series of Q&A – asking women around the world to share their past travel experience. From this, I hope a few more women who are on the brink of expanding their world will be inspired and motivated to turn their dreams into reality.

Bio…    Diane Chung www.drdianechung.com, Toronto. I’m living in the dream, baby… 😉

SWT:    Where was the destination of your first solo trip?

DC:       Europe (France, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands)

SWT:    How old were you?

DC:       19

SWT:    Were you single or attached at the time?

DC:       Attached

SWT:    What inspired the idea?

DC:       A boy–that’s all I am saying…

SWT:    What was your trip style? (backpack, tour group, comfort, meetup with family/friends)

DC:       Urban backpacker. Wanderer/adventurer. Allergic to tour groups.

SWT:    What type of accommodations? (family owned, B&B, tents, if a hotel, how many stars)

DC:       Combo of backpack/hostel, staying with friends and 3 star hotels.

SWT:    How long was your trip?

DC:       3 weeks

SWT:    Who looked after the logistics?

DC:       I did logistics when alone, friends handled some when staying in their cities.

SWT:    If you planned and/or booked the itinerary, did you enjoy the process?

DC:       Yes… fun and all part of the adventure, journey, experience… though it did take time.

SWT:    If you worked with a travel agent, how was the experience?

DC:       N/A

SWT:    Would you / have you booked subsequent trips yourself?

DC:       Yes

SWT:    What would you do different – in hindsight?

DC:       I wanted to make sure I got the “most” out of my trip and made up an itinerary that covered all the major sites, museums and galleries = tourist fatigue. In hindsight, I would’ve left more times open and fluid for spontaneous detours, surprises and discovery.

SWT:    Did you feel comfortable traveling solo?

DC:       Yes… though homesickness did start to set in after the 2 week mark.

SWT:    How much research did you do in advance?

DC:       The Lonely Planet guidebook was my bible—I poured over it, dog-earred and highlighted it for nearly 2 months. They didn’t have the interwebs back then…

SWT:    What was the biggest surprise on the trip?

DC:       How easy it was to travel on my own, that people tend to be helpful, and that I over-prepared. I realized afterward that I would’ve been fine with less prep, and even potentially could have had more spontaneous fun, had I not planned quite so much. That said, all that prep as a first time, single woman traveling did give me a lot of peace of mind.

SWT:    What did you learn about yourself during the trip that you weren’t totally aware of beforehand?

DC:       My own level of initiative and courage.

SWT:    Was there any close calls or run-ins?

DC:       Missed the last train to a relative’s house in the suburbs of Paris because I was out just a little too late. Had the giant Metro gate close right in front of me while I was changing trains somewhere in the outskirts. Had to take an expensive and dodgy cab ride the rest of the way.

SWT:    Where is your next dream destination?

DC:       Iceland…or Peru

Next time, we’ll hear from Bela who chose to travel on her own…

If you’d like to share your story, contact me! 🙂

My Bucket List

This is a work in progress…

(Click on the crossed off items for the story behind the experience of a lifetime!)

  1. Just Be in the Tivoli Gardens in Denmark
  2. Scuba dive at Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  3. Go to Carnival at Rio de Janeiro
  4. Be lost in the Potola Palace, Tibet
  5. See the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an
  6. Speak the truth, from the bottom of my heart – every day
  7. Hike up a volcano in South America (Ecuador, Chile)
  8. Collect some beads at Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  9. Ride the Trans-Siberian express to St. Petersburg from China
  10. Paraglide in Pokara, Nepal
  11. Parasailing in Phuket, Thailand
  12. Full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand
  13. Swim with penguins at Galapagos Islands
  14. See Madonna in Concert
  15. Stare at the Muchas stainglass window in the St. Vitus Cathedral of Prague
  16. Snorkel in the Red Sea
  17. Climb the Eiffel Tower
  18. Take a ride in a gondola in Venice
  19. Shop the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
  20. Hike on the Inka Trails to Machu Picchu, Peru
  21. Find balance in my life – work in progress
  22. Spot a condor in flight in Patagonia
  23. Learn to ballroom dance
  24. Attend a concert at Wembley Stadium
  25. Find a wild Blue poppy in Bhutan
  26. Listen to Tibetan monks chant in Jokhang Temple, Lhasa
  27. Witness turtle hatch at Mon Repos Turtle Rookery, Australia
  28. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
  29. Watch NYE fireworks in Sydney Harbour
  30. Cross the Antarctic Circle
  31. See the Aurora Australis in Antarctica
  32. Spot a whale at Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
  33. See the Aurora Borealis in Norway
  34. Stay in Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany
  35. Visit the Base Camp at Mount Everest
  36. Swim in the Mediterranean
  37. Skydive
  38. Watch the sunset at Pamukkale, Turkey
  39. Learn to cook every dish I love to eat – work in progress
  40. Eat dinner at a Michelin 3 star restaurant
  41. Sponsor an under privileged child
  42. White water rafting in Australia
  43. Visit all 7 continents
  44. Join the Travelers’ Century Club
  45. People watch on Ipanema beach, Brazil
  46. Drink a pint at Oktoberfest in Munich
  47. Watch sunrise at Mount Sinai, Egypt
  48. Watch sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  49. Stand still in the Red Square of Moscow
  50. Honeymoon in the Maldives
  51. Sleep in a Mongolian ger
  52. Sleep in a Salt hotel in Bolivia
  53. Ride a train from Halifax to Vancouver, Canada
  54. Go to Disney World
  55. Catch a squid in the Hong Kong Harbour
  56. Launch a Sky lantern in Pingxi, Taiwan
  57. Design and sell floral arrangements
  58. Enjoy the Daiichi Onsen in Hokkaido, Japan
  59. Drink sake while enjoying the Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita
  60. Learn to tread water
  61. Do nothing on the beaches of Boracay Island, Philippines
  62. Black water rafting in New Zealand
  63. Be mystified at Ephesus, Turkey
  64. Explore the Great Pyramids of Egypt
  65. Witness Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
  66. Check the acoustics in the Coliseum
  67. Discover the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, Egypt
  68. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  69. Find artifacts belonging to the old Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
  70. Sit in silence in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
  71. Try to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  72. Be a hopeless romantic at the Taj Mahal
  73. Imagine war at the Cairo Citadel
  74. Listen to the choir at Ely Cathedral
  75. Visit the Cluny Abbey in France
  76. Make sure the Transformers didn’t destroy Petra
  77. Talk to Extra-terrestrial life forms from the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico
  78. Share a life time of laughter and memories with my amazing friends & family
  79. Admire the original Starry Night by Van Gogh
  80. Rave in Ibiza
  81. Visit the Temple of 10000 Buddhas in Hong Kong
  82. Experience life in the Amazon
  83. Visit all my main projects after construction; (Atlantis DubaiCanary Wharf, Mazagan, Rodney bay)
  84. Be soaked by the mists at Victoria Falls
  85. Be an extra on a movie set or a tv set
  86. Go from Surya namaska – Sun salutation to a hand stand to a full wheel
  87. Find stillness through meditation – every day
  88. Smell exotic, rare orchids in Costa Rica
  89. Learn to speak another language fluently. (Spanish / French / Mandarin)
  90. Dream a dream in Garden of Ninfa, Italy
  91. Smell the Wisteria flowers at Villa Cimbrone, Amalfi Coast