The times spent in a world away from May 4, 2007 to June 29, 2007. Nepal is a place beyond words and my life will forever be intertwined with the lives of the people I worked with. I volunteered at a women's wellness clinic called NAHUDA; the sisterhood there touched my heart and I know that I will return one day. These words were written almost eight years ago when I had just returned from a volunteer trip to Nepal. It's one of the places in the world that really became like home to me. The Nepalese people are simply some of the kindest and happiest you will ever meet, I consider it a true privilege to have met some of the people I did and I am sending out my prayers to Nepal today.
If you've ever met me, you'd know within five minutes that I'm a sucker for sappy anything, so the Tiffany & Co. ads always get me. I guess this must have been from their Valentine's Day campaign. So watch it and feel cheery and warm and fuzzy on your weekend!
A story from Canada has got Canadians around the world grinning from ear to ear again and I wanted to share it here- basically a store in Toronto forgot to turn on the alarm system after closing, even leaving the door open. Security cameras then recorded people entering the store, realizing not a soul was around, and leaving without touching a single thing. As the writer of the article below wrote: Only in Canada folks. Only in Canada. That's something I miss but there's not just one word to describe it...Integrity? Honesty? Canadian-ness?
Happy Monday! Monday is intense cleaning day here in our Italian abode. Before I get my hands dirty, I wanted to write a quick post from the weekend. Saturday we went to Verona to look at furniture for the house and ended up getting our Valentine's Day gift to ourselves- a coat hanger and a little table for the living room (will photograph for a later post). Valentine's Day, as cheesy as it is, will always hold a special place in our hearts; the photograph above is from February 14th on my first visit to Italy and five years later on the same day, we got engaged. Massi cooked his usual annual Valentine's meal, one of my favorite pasta dishes- Spaghetti allo Scoglio. It was his first re-attempt at cooking since coming home to Italy six months ago and we both agreed he lost his culinary touch just like he's losing some English and says things like 'Puffo is pulling out the wires of the duvet cover' (=Puffo is pulling out the threads of the duvet cover). I think one of the best things about being a mixed couple is that we get to have all these hilarious language slip-up moments together in English and Italian. It's a good lesson in learning to laugh at yourself.
I was eighteen when I packed my first backpack and bought my first Eurail pass. I had to choose three bordering countries and I had gone with France, Switzerland, and Germany. I would be volunteering in Nepal for about two months beforehand before making my way to Europe and it was there that I first heard about couchsurfing. I had met one of those wonderful, hippie couples who had spent the last few years flitting from one country to the next whilst working on farms and rice fields, or something of the like. They spoke so highly of it that I was hooked. I immediately signed-up, sent out requests, and within a week, I had couches in Paris, Berlin, and a couchsurfing event to attend in Zurich. My first couch was with a girl (I did this on purpose as I was still skeptical) who turned out to be French-Chinese (= instant Asian connection) and to my surprise, she ended up giving me a set of keys to the apartment and told me to come and go as I pleased. It was unbelievable, like having my own free Parisian apartment for a few days. I remember she also let me eat whatever she had in her fridge as long as I replenished some stock before leaving and to this day I'm still trying to find the chocolate malt soy milk she always had- I swear I drank an entire litre of that stuff.
Berlin and Zurich were equally wonderful and I ended up making friends who I would go back to visit more than once over the next few years. When I returned home to Canada, to my parent's dismay, I insisted on hosting people on our family room couch to pay back the global hospitality I had received. And we did host, quite a few young travellers who were making their way through Western Canada. I revelled in hearing their stories and I even once hosted an Australian who had to come Edmonton in hopes of wooing back a girl he had met a couple months before. I loved being a part of the story, even though if I remember correctly, it didn't end with happily ever after. After Europe's couchsurfing experience, I moved on to Asia and my girlfriend (Autumn) and I had arguably some of our most memorable travel moments ever in Beijing- our hosts were home-grown Americans who spoke perfect Mandarin. Because of them (they were rather stylish and in-the-know), we hung out at some of the most amazing bars and lounges on that side of the world like Philippe Starck-designed eatery and lounge, LAN. I still can't forget the bathrooms there, I remember velvet walls and chaise lounges. It was with these hosts that Autumn was nearly knocked into a concussion by a pole-dancing Chinese cross-dresser, luckily she narrowly escaped, but couchsurfing experiences like these gave us the kind of travel stories that most people only dream about (and they afforded us prime seating at any hostel table...!).
It's so unfortunate to see stories like the article above where a few bad people are ruining such a beautiful concept for others and causing people to be fearful of couchsurfing. Any idea like this (take Uber for example) that is based on trust and the goodness of others, will always have the potential to be taken advantage of. Couchsurfing does offer a variety of security measures such as name and address verification and linking to Facebook accounts. In my opinion, the greatest security measure is the ability of members to review a host.
Here are some of my tips for staying safe while couchsurfing:
The backstory on this is that my mom was extremely, extremely concerned that I wouldn't be able to find suitable tampons in Italy and she ended up stashing a supply in my luggage. But lo' and behold, it's a miracle...turns out Italy has Tampax. Alleluia!
Wanted to share this photo of Massi's mistress, he's been spending alot of time on her (hehe) since he's been back in Italy. She is quite fun-loving though and perfectly color-coordinated to our casa (in the background), so I will let her stick around as long as she takes me to Bellagio every now and then.
Nothing beats Halloween in Canada and it was the perfect "last" Halloween with good friends, new and old. I really cannot think of something more definitively Alberta than Fireball whiskey shots at a country club, with me dressed as Wonder Woman, screaming the lyrics to Long, Hot, Summer by Keith Urban on the first day of November. Thanks for a great night friends.
To boudoir or not to boudoir, that is the question. And the answer is absolutely! As many of my girlfriends are getting hitched this upcoming year, I thought I would post about getting boudoir photos done for a groom's gift. I was initially extremely nervous because who really wants to stand around in lingerie in front of a stranger for an hour? Especially when standing around really means posing awkwardly for what you hope will miraculously produce a Victoria's Secret print ad. And I have to say, miracles do happen. I was so happy with the experience, even more so than with the photographs (which turned out jaw-dropping gorgeous, my friends could not believe it was me!). Interestingly, one of the first questions the photographers asked me was whether this was for myself or for someone else and I was rather inclined to say myself. The way I approached the boudoir experience was actually in regarding it as an end goal. After I purchased the package, I immediately signed-up for personal training with Infinite Fitness. That was five months and eight pounds ago and it is thanks to them that I got these photos taken. I think every woman should consider doing a boudoir session, it turned out to be a great self-motivator for me. As Samantha Jones said- you'll be able to look back at them when you're eighty and think, damn I was hot!
And of course, they make a great groom's gift...you're welcome Massi.
Today marks the turning of seasons for many people. What a melancholy feeling I get from feeling the crisp air in the evenings. While I love autumn, there is nothing quite like summer. Oggi è il primo giorno di una stagione nuova per tanta gente. Che malinconia sentire l'aria fresca durante le sere. Anche se mi piace l'autunno, non c'è paragone con l'estate vero? It is now the season of fashion weeks, September issue Vogue, pumpkin spice lattes, post-pumpkin spice latte guilt, knits, and stacked heeled boots. Before the oranges and reds take over in Canada, here is one last photograph of beautiful green all the way from Italy. Photographed by Massi.
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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