The Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Metz, France

While I can’t say that Metz is my favourite city I’ve ever visited, I can say with a huge degree of honesty that it holds my most favourite cathedral, which makes this a travel story that I must tell.

The train to Metz cost more than I thought and seemed to be a little bit longer too, but was made fun by the lovely ladies I was traveling with. It was a dreary, rainy Saturday in February that we decided to go and boy, did we make a mistake in not brining a map. We got off the train, starving and ready to be tourists in France. Only we ended up going the wrong way from the train station and walking about 20 minutes AWAY from the tourist part of town we had wanted to be in. Lost and turned around, sopping wet from the soggy rain, we went walking up and down the same street, trying to figure out which way we had gone wrong. Eventually, after speaking some broken french to a stranger and realizing that he too was directing us in the wrong way, we made it to the part of town we had wanted to be in.

It was adorable, with lots of shopping and places to stop and pick up pastries or meringues.But the absolute best part of the day was the cathedral. Now, before this trip I had never heard of Metz or this cathedral. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

metz1metz2

Nicknamed ‘The Lantern of God’ (and rightly so), Metz Cathedral is known for its ***fantastic*** stain glass windows & gothic architecture. Walking in, I was absolutely amazed. Even on this rainy, ugly day the colour from the windows was glinting everywhere.  The high ceilings and archways are enough to make you feel as big as an ant, but paired with the colourful glass windows and I was speechless.

metz5metz3 If anyone reading this has seen disney’s version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame- I felt like singing ‘God Help the Outcasts’ like Esmerelda in front of the stain glass. (then again, i’ve always wanted to be Esmerelda so maybe thats not such an odd thing for me)

metz4

All in all, if you happen to be in the Lorraine region of France any time soon, it is WELL WORTH the trip to Metz for the cathedral.

It will forever be one of my most favourite churches I’ve ever seen.

Travel Guide: Trier, Germany

Across the Luxembourg border is a town called Trier- the oldest roman city in Germany. I was drawn to going for its easy travel (one hour from Luxembourg by train), history and shopping. I loved it from the moment I arrived- the train station is only 10 minutes away from the centre, making it super easy to walk down. The place I stopped into (as usual) was the info centre. Usually in every town theres an info centre either in the train station or in the city centre. I got a map and a list of tourist activities and I was on my way. trier2

The first place I hit was right beside the info centre and was one of the oldest places in the city. The Porta Nigra is a huge Roman city gate built out of sandstone between 186-200 AD. It was given its’s name ‘Porta Nigra’ (latin for ‘black gate) in the middle ages however the true Roman name for the gate has been lost in time. What I found most amazing was that the gate would have been taken apart stone by stone for building materials in the 11th century if not for a Greek hermit monk named Simeon who lived in the gate. Previous to living in the gate, Simeon had lived in a cave off the shore of the Red Sea, but left because he was he found he was too often disturbed by other people. I loved hearing the bits and pieces of his story and kept imagining him living in the (freezing) cold gate, alone, all day long.

trier3trier1

The rooms were huge and lonely but absolutely beautiful. Graffiti is carved into the stones, a mix of historical carvings and modern swear words. trier4trier5

trier7trier6One of the other things I lvoed about it was the long hallways and winding stairs. Each area had a long hallways connecting it with huge arched open windows, allowing you to take pictures of the town below. All together the experience cost 4 euros and was well worth it to wander around. Plus the view is fantastic.

trier-9

Next, I went and got myself a real german pretzel ( really great choice by the way) and made my way to the cathedral. On the way I stopped around town mostly because it all looked so cool and colourful. This fountain is in the middle of the square making it a beautiful meeting point for people. For a while I ate my pretzel and watched family and friends meet at the fountain, hugging and speaking german or french.

trier-13Finally I got to the cathedral. Inside it was massive- high ceilings and beautiful artwork. What amazed me most was the organ up on the wall. I would’ve loved to hear it played to know what it sounded like. It was so incredibly massive. trier-12trier-10trier-11

After being a tourist for most of the day, I resigned myself to shopping at T.K Max and some other shops. I got myself a Dunkin Donuts coffee and headed home. It was a great day of solo travel and my very first time going to a new country completely alone. I find travel empowering. It confirms that the crazy things I think I can’t do, I can.

Trier may not be the world’s hottest city to visit but I do recommend if you are in the Luxembourg area or even Germany, that you take a stop, even for a few hours and visit the Porta Nigra & Cathedral. They have beautiful stories attached to their history waiting to be explored.

xx

signature

Living in Luxembourg So Far

luxtitle.jpgIts been exactly one week since I’ve moved to Luxembourg and its been a crazy busy week at that. Between doctors appointments, TB tests, immigration papers, driving in a new country and sorting through 3 different languages here- its been hectic. Yesterday, I was finally able to get out and explore a little bit and I’m very happy for it! This country so far is beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of it.

lux2I took the bus into the city centre not exactly knowing where I would end up. After walking a bit from the bus stop I came to the WW2 monument- something I had only seen while driving by. The first thing I was amazed at was the view. The 3 plateaus with valleys in between make for awesome sights in Luxembourg and really show the age of the country. While it is winter here there was still lots of green moss and ivy to brighten things up (unlike in Canada where all you can see is snow!). As it was Sunday, church bells seemed to be ringing all around making it even more spectacular.
lux3lux1.jpg

I then crossed the street to find the Cathedral Notre Dame & the National Library. Just inside the cathedral doors is a history of Luxembourg in french, german and (thank goodness) english! I found it very helpful. After reading I went to walk into the cathedral to wander around only to find that mass was still going on at 1 in the afternoon! Whoops. Sundays are taken quite strictly here and select shops only open 2-6.lux4

Finally, I was able to find the main centre square. This is where I would recommend you start because its where the tourist office is! After loading myself up with maps and guides I was able to continue on my way knowing where I was going. I ended up headed to the Palais Grand Ducal – which is where the Grand Duke lives. Its right in the middle of town and surprisingly open for the public to walk around it. It is only open for tours July-September but still a wonderful site to see with its grand doors and rapunzel-esque towers.lux6lux7After the palace, I made my way onto a tiny ally, lit with paper lanterns. In front of me was a couple that were clearly entirely infatuated with each other, kissing and groping and laughing big, full laughs. It was nice to walk under the lanterns on the cobblestone path and be reminded that there is more love than hate in the world. Originally I had doubted whether I should take the ally, being a lone female tourist, but fear lost and fought through the doubt. Trusting will lead you where you need to be and if my gut had screamed louder I would have trusted that too. Popular media teaches us to be very wary- especially in Europe- however theres a difference between fear and caution, i’m learning.lux11.jpg

Suddenly I found myself at a lookout over the most beautiful little town I have ever seen. There was snow covering the roofs of the houses with chimneys puffing steam into the air. There was a yellow chapel looking building with a tall point reaching into the sky and it was all set against the mossy rock from the plateau above. It was like out of a story book. I only stayed briefly because my hands were starting to **freeze** but it somewhere I will most certainly be returning to.lux5.jpg

After wandering around as a tourist, the shops began to open up. There were a few I had never heard of (Pull & Bear?) and some I was very familiar with (Esprit, my mamas favourite when I was younger). I wandered into an H&M not thinking i’d find anything but ended up realizing that they sold home goods. Perfect timing for me to start making my little apartment space more mine. I bought some things that were all on sale (great sales) and am feeling more at home now.

All in all, its been an exhausting first week of firsts- first time driving in a (completely) different country, first time having a TB test, first time being somewhere that english isn’t the base language… its all coming together very slowly. I had a massive break down mid week because of a spider incident. It was a big one and right beside my bed. With that, everything came crashing in. The fact that i’d come so far from home and wasn’t sure what for. The fact that I left behind those I love in search of some sort of early 20’s wanderlust fulfillment. I doubted it all. I fell apart. But my touring around has helped me see that the firsts & the falling aparts are good. We adapt. We learn. We grow. I’ve see two other spiders since and I’ve handled them accordingly, with no tears, no fast breathing. More importantly, I haven’t fallen apart, and I know if I do that I can put my pieces back together again.

After all, ruin is the road to transformation.

Much love,

signature

2017 Intention Setting: Printable Guides & Strategies for Your Next Wonderful Year

quotecardThe new year is a time for dreamers & do-ers. Beginnings are hopeful and full of possibility making it easy for folks to look ahead and map out their every wish and desire. However, it can be hard to keep focus and not get lost in the many ways to ‘improve’. We tend to resort to dreams as ‘fixes’ to our lives. Before I set out on describing my method of intention setting, I’d like to say that you yourself are wholly enough just the way you are, right now in this very year on this very day! There is no diet, workout, yoga sequence, travel guide, class or job that is going to make that truth any more true or false. That being said, humans are a result of process, not perfection, and this is a time for you to set out new habits and goals for your very human process of self. 

As I said, I love reflection- perhaps it’s that I’m an english major, perhaps that I’m a teacher, perhaps that I’m a yogi- either way, reflection very well may be my favourite part of the practice of process. Which is why it makes sense to start with reflection when setting new intentions. Below, is a free printable reflection guide that you can use to write in your moments from this year ( click here for the PDF download). It is important to get a sense of where you are personally after all these 12 months have passed before moving on to setting new goals and intentions.

2016reflection

Looking forward, this new year is full of unbound possibility for changing old habits and creating new ones. By placing your attention onto certain areas of your life, you can start to round out an intention for the direction you would like them to go in. Looking at your 2016 what feelings do you want to carry forward…which ones will you work on letting go of? Was you focus or focuses accomplished? Did they change as the year moved on? What did you accomplish this year that you are proud of (no self deprecation here, be your own best cheerleader)? Most importantly, what/who were you grateful for? All of these aspects of life have ties to different areas, different parts of what makes you, you. By looking at these parts of yourself, I encourage you to find 5 aspects of your life that you would like to shed more attention & awareness on. Thats all- you may not even want them to change all that much- just looking for more attention & awareness in that part of your heart. I did this on a separate sheet of paper in bubbles, with aspects you’ve done well, some you wish to progress, some you think are pipe dreams that may never come true and so on. I ended up with 5 areas- you may have more, you may have less. 

Now that you have your 5 areas of your life with all the aspects within those areas, you can start to create you intention.

An intention is a clear and concise ‘I will’ statement. It is your shout into the universe of what your heart desires. The moment you find your ‘I will…’, the intention begins to manifest itself into your life.

Here is another free printable sheet (click here for pdf) to write out your intentions. What is most important is how you know you will have reached it. How will you feel??Be quite clear on what it is you wish to manifest in your life! This is a sample of a few of mine:

2017REFLECTIONSsample.jpg

Of course there are MANY ways you can ring-in this new year with new goals and dreams. Some are more visual and will choose to create a vision board while some are so pragmatic that they set out a plan on a calendar down to the dates. Which ever way you are setting resolutions, intentions, dreams or goals this new years, I hope you remember that life is all simply a process. We are never done- when we reach a peak there will inevitably be a valley near by- but we can learn how to continually set these intentions and keep on keeping on!

Have a wonderful new years!!!

signature

Columbia Road Flowers

**WARNING: excessive amounts of flower photos ahead!**

As a former garden centre worker of 3 years, I have a serious love for flowers and dirt. So when my mom mentioned that she wanted to go to the Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday, I happily agreed. We woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning so we could be there early as she was told that it tends to get crazy later on in the day. We got on the tube at 7:30 and arrived at the market around 9am! It was already bustling and busy after only being open for about an hour. cfm_9cfm_1

Being from Canada, I’m not used to seeing flowers this time of year. Usually, its purely white snow and pine. Here in the UK however, theres flowers all year round!! Despite the cold, the flowers were absolutely beautiful. HUGE blossoms and so fresh. Christmas wasn’t missing from the flower market either. Christmas trees lined the paths before the market and over the bustle you could hear “2 for five pound poinsettias!” being shouted. Real mistletoe (which I had never seen before!) and gorgeous large sprigs of holly were also big hits. Even cactuses in Santa outfits! cfm_2cfm_4cfm_3

Some of my favourites were the iris’ and roses which were so vibrantly coloured it was hard to believe. I found myself wondering how beautiful it would be in the summer months-how the flowers must look then?  On our way to the flower market I even saw rainbow coloured roses and was in awe. Rainbow!cfm_7cfm_8cfm_5There were also plenty of succulents for the forgetful gardener. cfm_6

We didn’t end up buying any flowers but just looking at them filled my garden spirits…hopefully until spring!

cfm_11