Sarasota!

Hello from sunny Sarasota! I’m here on a little vacation with my family, and it’s lovely here. Definitely nice to get away from the cold, rainy Toronto weather! My sister and I got here yesterday afternoon, after a very early morning, and very little sleep (which my body does not enjoy to say the least) but we made it, with some wheelchair assistance to help me get through the airports, I’m just not good with long lines and all that airport walking, so I always ask for the wheelchair ahead of time when I travel now. After we arrived, we met up with the parents, who have already been here for a few days, and here we are, ready to soak it up!

I’ve never been to this part of Florida before so I didn’t really know what to expect, but so far so good! We’re staying in a condo in an area called Siesta Key, and some of our family friends are staying in the same building. Last night we had a build your own pizza night, and even though I had to excuse myself a bit early to head to bed after the long day, it was nice! Today we’ve been spending the day on the beach, which I was a bit worried about, but there’s a little shaded area and a nice breeze so I’m not getting overheated. This seems to be the right time of year for me to be here!

Tonight we’re going to check out the local drum circle on the main beach, apparently hundreds of people show up and dance and drum away! Then  tomorrow we’re off for massages, and more relaxtion, which is never a bad thing. And neither are views like this

Now that, I could get used to.

M

 

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The return of the travelling MSer..À Montréal!



Bonjour blogosphere! 

I’ve just returned home from a few nights away with the boyfriend in Montreal, and it was a great little getaway! It definitely helped scratch that travel itch a little bit. While the weather wasn’t any better than at home (-35 with the windchill when we got there!) it was still good to get out of Toronto for a little while. 

Now the trip didn’t really start off that smoothly due to a silly mistake by me. I got us a great deal on the train… Just in March instead of February.. Oops! Thankfully though they were able to get us on one that day instead, for a hefty fee, but it was worth it! When we got to Montreal, we also ended up having to switch hotels as the first one was really gross, and nothing like it was advertised as. Not much I hate more than a dirty hotel room! But we got it all figured out in the end and started on our mini vacation, with lots of eating, drinking, and relaxing! 

Let’s talk a bit more about the eating.  Montreal is a food city! And being the “foodie” that I am, I was excited to try some new places. I think my favourite was on our first night. We went to an Egyptian restaurant near our hotel called “La Folie du Koshary”. It was great! Really inexpensive little place, with delicious food and friendly staff. Another highlight was of course the smoked meat. We went for a sandwich at Ruebens deli downtown. I was a bit skeptical of going anywhere other than the famous Schwartz’s deli for this but I was happy with it! And it was easier for us to get to as Schwartz’s is a bit out of the way from the downtown core. 

I suppose we also did a couple other activities, other than eating. Since it was so cold, one of my favourite things was the Scandinavian baths at a local spa! They called it the “thermal experience”, where you’re supposed to go from hot to cold, which apparently releases toxins as you do. For me, I mostly just wanted to soak in the warm tubs to get away from the cold and soothe my achey muscles, which it definitely did! We were supposed to sit in the hot tub, or sauna for 15-20 minutes then jump into the cold tub, which was 17 degrees. We didn’t last for that long in the hot tub, and didn’t bother with the sauna, because heat and MS are known to not get along, and it was too hot for both of us! But the hot tub was perfect, we did about five to ten minutes at a time. Even though it did made my legs go to jelly a bit, it was so soothing I didn’t care. I tried the cold tub once, and that was enough for me. My body didn’t like the extreme temperature changes. But I’m glad I tried it! Definitely an interesting experience. 

We also visited the fine arts museum while we were there, which was free to us because we’re both under 30! This was a nice surprise since we started the trip out over budget because of our last minute changes. It was really nice to walk around at our own pace looking at it all, and even though I did need to take plenty of breaks, I still enjoyed it! And they of course had a cafe right in the museum where you can do just that, and incase you wanted to do even more Montreal style eating. 



Some of the museum highlights!



So in the end I had a great trip, hiccups and all. It worked out and I’m really glad we got to do it, and thankful for having such a lovley, understanding man in my life who really doesn’t mind when I just need to sit for a while or take it slow. Montreal can be a hard one to get around sometimes, old buildings that aren’t very accessible, rickety stairs and lots of hills, but we made it work, and really enjoyed it. 

Now on to planning the next one!

M

London road trip!

This weekend the boyfriend and I headed down to visit on of my very best friends who lives in London (Ontario, not the cool London :p). I went to college there, and hadn’t been back to visit in a few years. It was also the first time my boyfriend and best bud were able to meet, which I was really excited for! We’ve been talking about doing this for a while now, and it finally worked out!

So after a looong car ride, which I never enjoy, we met up with my pal, and her new boyfriend and had a sort of double date dinner and drinks. It was cute, and I’m so happy we all got to meet! It was also nice to be hanging out with people who are understanding of my limitations. Even my bestie’s boyfriend was making sure everyone wasn’t walking too fast so I could keep up, and things like that. She has filled him in on the details of my MS, and it was just comfortable for me. When I had to take a cab to get to the next location no one questioned it, and I didn’t have to feel embarrassed, and explain myself, which can happen sometimes around new people. Also my friend works early most days so was just as tired as I was, so we ended up not staying out too late. We went back to the hotel to relax and tried out the hot tub.. Which ended up being more of a lukewarm tub, that was full of drunk thirty-something’s, one of whom ended up leaving and throwing up red wine on the floor of the pool area. Always something interesting to see in London!

On the way home the next day, the boyfriend and I made a stop in a little nearby town called Woodstock, and visited the slot casino there for a bit (I won a whole 5 dollars!!) and this really cute antique/one of a kind market that had tons of interesting stuff to look through. I even bought a cool wooden owl picture to hang at home, and a salt and pepper set to add to my growing collection. I could have bought more of these, so many to choose from!

2015/01/img_0395.jpgJust one of the stall’s selection of salt and pepper shakers!

The car ride home was a bit difficult for me, I hadn’t slept well at the hotel the night before, and my strange light headed/dazed symptoms seem to get worse when I’m in a car for some reason. Not sure if it’s the motion, or small space, but I feel like I don’t breathe well or something, and I felt like I might pass out for a lot of it. It’s very strange. It was all worth it though, I had a nice time and am really happy that I finally got to introduce two of my favourite people to each other!

So after a great weekend, I’m back home catching up on chores, and then I have choir/singing group practice tonight, but for now I’m off to attempt a trip to the grocery store. It may not sound like much but it takes a lot out of me to walk there, shop and walk back. But today I’m going to try, all in an attempt at keeping busy and doing more in spite of my MS :D

M

Italia!

So yesterday was my final night in Italy with the family. We ended in Florence! Of course today is finally a reasonable temperature, just in time for me to leave lol.  I’m on the plane to Dublin now, and I figured I would use this time to give a bit of a rundown of the different places we visited.

Here we go:

Venice-

First impression of Venice was it was beautiful, and amazing to pull up to it in the water taxi(it is an island after all, with no roads!). It was just a casual 36 degrees celsius when we arrived, which was a good indicator of what we were in for!

As I mentioned, its not the most accessible city, but if you know your way around the back streets (which I don’t) you can avoid most of the stairs.

Overall, Venice felt a bit too touristy for my taste. It’s really something to see, but I think once is enough for me. Best part was the guided tour in a water taxi type boat with a local tour guide explaining what everything was! Really helpful cuz before that it was beautiful, but I didn’t know what anything was!

Forte dei Marmi-

Talk about ritzy! So gorgeous (and expensive) but probably my favorite place that we visited. A smaller town, with lots of beaches, felt like vacation instead of the hurry up and go of Venice. Its a bit of an unknown gem, at least to North American’s, we seemed to be the only one’s there and we were told they don’t get many, but European’s love it! Great place to relax, and take it slow. Also the staff and workers if the town were the friendliest we encountered in Italy for sure!

Florence-

I feel like I didn’t really get to experience all that Florence had to offer. We did a bit of a hop on tour, but it was just so hot, being in the city made it feel even hotter, so I really took it slow. Beautiful view, awesome food market , and great food, so overall its a win in my books either way.

Italy overall was difficult, and frustrating at times, but worth it. It took me a good 4 days to adjust to the time zone, and I really didn’t feel well, which the heat just made worse, but I’m glad we went! We had some great experiences, and some crazy ones too (like cab drivers getting us lost and last minute accommodation changes) and I will never forget any of it!

I’m thankful to my dad and step-mom for taking us on this incredible trip, and for my siblings for trying to better understand my limitations, and embracing the things we had to change around to make it work. I’m also thankful for airport assistance helping me get around, and speeds me right through the lines (that might just be because I’m actually a VIP and they know it though) and styling foldable travel canes ;)

Now onto my next adventure, Dublin here I come!

M

Just say no to bikes.

So today as I mentioned we went to the beach. Our hotel offers bikes to use so I thought id see if that was any easier than walking, turns out it’s much more difficult. Being unsteady to start with probably didn’t help the situation. I wanted to at least try it though. Had to walk it back after, real slowly, because my legs are very angry these days. They feel about a hundred pounds each, and sore as if I’ve been running a half marathon or something! I mean I guess I don’t really know what that feels like, but I’m sure it’s pretty bad, so it makes sense to me ;)

So apparently beaching isn’t as easy as it once was for me. I stayed in the shade and cooled off in the water but my body just wasn’t as into it as my mind was. And the bike on top of that was just a silly idea I think.

I also just generally feel judged for not being able to do these types of things. It’s not like I don’t want to. Unfortunately it’s just a bit harder for me now with the addition of that little jerk we call MS. I’m trying my best, and that’s all anyone can really do.

Looks like I’ll be using the cane I brought tonight, dirty looks and all. Not sure what that’s about, but I’ve gotten a few stare downs lol.

Alright that’s all for now, needed a little vent, and I did warn you I was going to be honest! ;)

M

Florence..ish

So we made it to Florence. We took a train from Venice, the fastest train I’ve ever been on, it got up to 300 km/h at one point! Look, I have proof!

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The speedster train dropped us at the central station in Florence and we made our way to the apartment we were going to rent from air bnb. It ended up not working out though. The guy told us it was “just a few” steps leading up to the place, which turned out to be two flights. Let’s just say my legs and stairs are not friends. I could manage it once or twice a day but I really would’ve just been tiring my legs out before even getting into town! Also it was about 37 degrees there, I think we’ve come during a bit of a heat wave, so we decided to head to a beachy type town on the Tuscan coast called Forte dei Marmi for a few days. A flight attendant told us about it on the way over from Toronto saying it was beautiful and he was so right! Here’s our view from the beach today:

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The train over from Florence was… Interesting.. Not at all like our first speedy train, super hot and packed with people, but beautiful scenery to look at on the way!

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So it all worked out in the end. The heat here is much more tolerable, I’ve found it’s really been affecting me these days, but it’s better being near the water, and no one can say no to a dip in the Mediterranean! Slowly starting to adjust to the time zone, and make the best of it. Started to worry I might have been a bit too ambitious with my big travel plans, but going to take it one day at a time, and stay positive about it!

We’ll head back to Florence after here (but stay somewhere else) and see the sights before I head off to Dublin!

Heading to a nice dinner tonight at a place recommended by our new friend Sara, who works at the hotel. Ready for some (more) pasta!

Ciao for now!

M

Venezia!

So we finally made it to Venice. It was a bit of a long journey, 8 1/2 hour flight, then a quick drive to the water and a water taxi into Venice. No sleep for 24 hours makes Melissa a grumpy girl. Finding our hotel from the dock was a bit difficult also because all the streets look so similar! It’s beautiful here though, so much character and even the old brick walls are nice to look at. A bit too touristy for my liking, but definitely needs to be seen if coming to Italy!

Staying with the family at a little b&b in the middle of the city, which by the way is very easy to get lost in, but there are worse places to be lost! There’s something delicious to eat at every corner, and lots of cute little shops to browse.

One negative thing I have to say though, is that the city doesn’t seem very accessible, lots of stairs and bumpy roads make things difficult. I think a lot of planning would be needed for anyone in a wheel chair, but I’ve seen a few people here making it work. And seeing Venice is worth it! It’s also crazy hot here right now, which isn’t helping my situation I’m sure. We’ve been making it work by taking lots of breaks, mostly to eat and drink, which is always good anyways. Gimme that gelato!

We went on a tour on the water in the evening, and during the day were just browsing around the city. We went to Piazza San Marco (St. Marks square) where the bell tower and big church are, though we didn’t go in anywhere as the line ups were crazy long. Really nice to see it all, though good ol’ MS fatigue seems to be kicking my ass a bit here so far. I think it’s a combination of that, the heat I mentioned, and just regular old jet lag, but I’m trying my best to ignore it. It’ll be an early night for me tonight and then we’re off to florence tomorrow!

M

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Rialto bridge^