Yah mon! 

I just got back from a week in Jamaica a few days ago! My boyfriend and I went to an all inclusive resort in Montego Bay, and it was great! For the first day or so I was kind of worried it was was a mistake to go, it was soo hot (and with my MS I’ve gotten really sensitive to the heat) and I was struggling a bit getting around the huge resort. But thankfully they moved us a bit closer to everything and I figured out what worked for me. It mostly consisted of getting up and having breakfast then heading right to the pool, and the shade! With the breeze the shade was a nice place to lounge for me, especially after being in the water, or sitting at the swim up bar ;) 

We didn’t do any excursions on this trip, we really wanted a relaxing week so we just took it easy. It was so nice to have “what are we going to have for lunch?” be the biggest decision we had to make during the day! We also were there on my boyfriend’s 30th birthday, and what a way to celebrate! The hotel sent us some champagne and breakfast in the morning, and we spent the day in the water (with the bartender trying to make him do lots of shots!) and we went to their Japanese restaurant for dinner where they cook on the flattop in front of you, which was really fun.

We had such a nice time and didn’t want to come back to reality, or the cold Toronto weather! It’s a different kind of travel than what I usually want to do, more exploring and seeing sites, but this was just what we both needed. And it also made it easier for me to not have to worry about getting around! We also met some nice people, and even got a few of them on Facebook to keep in touch with. It was so nice,  we’re already wanting to plan the next one!

Everyting irie mon! 

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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

 

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

Coming home

Had a bit of an ordeal getting home. My flight from Edinburgh was supposed to leave at 8:20 am local time. I got to the airport at 6am after very little sleep and waited a long time for assistance, and considered just heading up on my own, but I knew I wasn’t doing well, and standing in the lines would not have been possible, so I waited. When they did come I got through security and everything pretty fast. First time they actually gave me a pat down instead of walking through the metal detector thingy. I had some extra time so did some last minute gift buying, and headed to the plane.

When it was time to board, they called for anyone needing extra time to head in, so I started making my way to the plane (hearing some grumbles from other passengers, and comments about being “disabled”) and they then just made me stand there for ten minutes or so, with everyone else behind me waiting to board. But whatever, shit happens, right? I got to my seat, and ended up sitting next to a lovely older Scottish woman who was heading to Canada to meet friends and go on an RVing adventure to the east coast! She was nice and kept giving me little toffee candies. Score.

Unfortunately though, our plane didn’t take off. It started, then stopped. Then started again, then stopped. Then the pilot came on the speaker saying there was a maintenance issue and we had to head back to the gate to check it out. Not something you really want to hear about a plane you’re about to fly in for 7 hours! It ended up being a long three hour process, where we just sat on the plane waiting.. Creepy.

Eventually we took off and made it to Toronto (thankfully!), a few hours behind schedule, but we made it none the less. I then had some issues with the assistance at Pearson airport. I was actually really surprised at how they treated me. First, someone else took the wheelchair assistance that showed up for me, who didn’t ask for it ahead of time, so I waited about ten minutes or so for another to come. It was fine though, I figured if they took it they needed it and that’s fine with me. I also really needed it after the whole ten hours on the plane thing. The issues came when I got in the wheelchair. The first guy dropped me to wait for a golf cart type thing, that drove me just a few minutes to another spot where some Air Canada staff took over. A woman took me in another chair, through the security and to baggage claim. Now this is where things got really weird. At every other airport I’ve been to on this trip, they have helped me get my bag, and dropped me at my final destination in the airport, no questions asked, and have always been very kind about it. I was surprised at how efficient and helpful they were everywhere I went! I was just a bit shocked at how I was treated in my home country in comparison. The woman took me to the baggage belt, and told me that if I was “tired” I could go sit in the chairs near the belt and she would be on her way. Now as I mentioned, I had been sitting on a plane for the past 10+ hours, my legs felt sore and heavy as hell, but yet also like jelly. Real heavy jelly (that’s the best I can describe it!). I was shocked at the ignorance of this woman. She made it seem like I was just getting assistance because I was sleepy, and she was more then happy to leave me to it. I asked if I could just stay in the chair she had parked me in, and for her to clarify how far I would have to go from there to arrivals, and she assured me it was just around the corner, and then she left. I didn’t really know what to do at this point. I was a bit of a mess still from the flight and feeling pretty awful (note: heavy jelly), and was just kind of shocked that this woman, who works in a mobility assistance department, would be so cold. I really think it was because I am young, and not visibly disabled. But I also think that’s not an excuse, and that she should have known better.

When I got home, I decided to email Air Canada customer service about it. I just feel like if this happened to me, it could happen to again to someone else, and there needs to be something done so that it doesn’t. It’s hurtful, and embarrassing, and if another passenger didn’t help me to get my bag I might not have made it to where I had arranged to be picked up (which was a whole other ordeal, why do people push past someone who is obviously struggling?!).

I actually heard back from Air Canada today, which I didn’t expect, and they were very apologetic and agreed that it was not standard procedure and that it would be looked into. They also offered me a $100 credit to a future Air Canada flight. I wasn’t looking for that, but it was a nice gesture. I more so hope it helps to better the assistance offered for others travelling alone through Pearson airport.

Not a very pleasant experience, but I’m glad to be home after all that!
And, I’ve since had both Swiss Chalet and crispy bacon (though not at the same time, that would be too much awesome to handle).

Oh Canada.

M

Edinburgh

I made it to Edinburgh! I seriously considered changing my flight and heading home straight from Dublin since I’ve been feeling so awful, but I pushed myself to just go for it. I was already so close and Scotland was my number 1 spot of places I wanted to see on this trip! I’m really glad I did, because it’s amazing here. The flight was kind of awful, on a noisy tiny plane, but I again got assistance and was able to get through it. My taxi driver asked me on the way to the hotel what I had done to myself, thinking I was injured because I had to use my cane. I told him I had MS and I think he felt bad, but it doesn’t really bother me. I get why people would assume that. He was really nice and helped me bring my luggage right into the hotel. Turns out it was actually the wrong hotel, but the right one was only a 30 second walk down the street so no big deal.

After checking in I decided to take a little walk around. This picture below is the first place I went as it’s pretty close to my hotel, one of the main areas called the Royal Mile. I grabbed dinner near by (hugest fish and chips ever seen) and just wandered around for a little while. It’s awesome and they have a lot of street preformers (yay!).

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Since I’m not feeling great I’ve been trying to take it kinda slow. Not sure what’s going on but just feeling overall crappy, and my MS symptoms aren’t doing so well (legs, fatigue, etc.). Last night I really just wanted to lay in bed, but I sort of forced myself to go out for a bit, and decided to ignore how I was feeling because it was the only Saturday night I’d get here and I wanted to check it out! I actually met a couple of girls who live nearby and we became friends because they were drinking a bottle of prosecco in a little hostely bar type place and I just had to inquire what they were celebrating. Turns out one of them had just gotten a new teaching job, but really they just like prosecco. I feel that.

They were both really sweet and we ended up hanging out till pretty late, and they dragged me out to a local night club type place where there were a million sweaty, young people dancing to techno music and drinking in mass quantities. Not really my scene but it was fun..for a bit.

Slept in kinda late today since I got to bed late, so just got some lunch and did a bit of shopping, and some of a bus tour. It was only a short one, and I’ll probably do the rest tomorrow as there’s I think four different lines that you get access to when you buy a ticket here.

After the little bus tour I decided to grab some lunch (at Marks&Spencer’s which, if you don’t know, has the best prepared foods!) and sat under the Scot Monument, just because I could.

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Then I wandered around for a bit before heading back to the hotel. This is probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, it’s Edinburgh castle, which sits on top of Castle rock, which formed from an erupting volcano. So nothing special really. ;)

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Overall, I’m glad I sort of forced myself into sticking with the plan and coming here, I think I really would’ve regretted not doing it. Also, the hotel here is the first one in a while that’s actually had a comfortable bed, which is funny because it’s really a budget hotel type place. It also has a really strange sort of bathroom nook type thing, where the shower and toilet and sink are in this sort of pod, and it makes me feel like I’m on Star Trek.

Just gonna take it easy tonight, possibly go for Indian food at a place my new friends told me to try, and I’ll try to get in some more sight seeing tomorrow!

M

Galway pt 1

So I got the train into Galway yesterday, holy beautiful! Great view on the way in, sheep and all.
Also this was the first thing I saw when pulling into the station, so off to a pretty good start ;)

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Was really excited to get here, and had a pretty good first night. I of course was right to be worried about the accommodations I had booked, it was kind of awful, with a dirty bathroom and probably the worst bed I’ve ever slept in, and that’s saying a lot, I mean it was ‘I’d rather sleep in a hospital bed’ bad. Woke up in a lot of pain around 3 am and booked a last minute hotel. Bit over the budget but there was no way I could stay there, and it’s all I could find. Honestly, I could handle the gross bathroom if I had to, but if I don’t sleep I can’t function. So I was willing to do whatever it took to get out of there! Just waiting to get my room now and stopped for some breakfast at a cute little outdoor cafe called the jungle, where they’re playing reggae music and serve crepes and sandwiches.

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I’m also loving all of the tea. So much tea.

So I’m actually not as upset by the whole accommodation situation this time, I feel like I’m getting used to it really, and I acted pretty quickly so was able to get it sorted. But hopefully this is the last time it will happen! I feel confident in my next two places so I think it’ll be fine.

The town is really cute, and small, which is a nice change from the big city. Went into the main shopping/pub area last night and watched some buskers (or street preformers) which if you know me, you know I love. There were some really talented musicians, and a random unicycle/fire juggling guy. Here he is escaping a straight jacket on his 7 foot unicycle.

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He also swallowed a long skinny balloon. I don’t know why. But it was really strange, and interesting to watch, and the funny part is, right after he was done his show, another guy came and did the exact same one. I think it might have been his protégée or something. He used the same jokes and everything. I didn’t watch that one. Once is enough. Also I wonder what’s happening to that first guy’s intestines with that balloon….

After I watched a bit of the preformers and wandered around a bit, I went to a local pub that had live music, and I met some really interesting people! I was again worried I’d feel like a loser going to a pub alone, but I’m actually really starting to enjoy it! Sitting at the bar makes it easier to talk to people. I spoke with an older Irish woman for a while, who was awesome and said things like “feckin” and “slancha”. (My first real Irish cheers!) She was hilarious and complained a lot. She also gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek when she left and kept telling me to be sure and mind myself, as she was a granny and worried about me travelling alone. She was sweet and we drank cider together.

Right after she left, a younger American mom and daughter duo came and sat next to me at the bar, they were from Portland and on a trip to celebrate the daughters high school graduation. Cute! We actually got talking about my MS which I hadn’t planned on but they were really great and were talking about the woman’s father who was with them on the trip who has Parkinson’s, and his difficulties with the travelling. Even though MS and Parkinson’s are two different things, they are both neurological diseases, and I felt like I could relate on some level to some of the things they mentioned he was struggling with while travelling, and I felt comfortable talking about it with them!

Not sure what I’ll get up to today yet, it’s a beautiful day, so I’ll probably go sit and read in the main square to start with. After I shower off the nasty last place I stayed at ;) and rest a bit since I’ve barely slept. And then later I think the girl I met in Dublin might be coming to Galway and we were taking about meeting up! So we’ll see where the day takes me, and I will of course report back ;)

M

Oh, P.S.

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#ireland. Lol

Dublin

Alright. So I made it to Dublin yesterday, and got off to a bit of a rocky start to be honest. The place I was supposed to stay ended up not being what it showed on the website etc. It was a hostel type place so I wasn’t expecting it to be amazing, but I booked a private room with a double bed, mostly just to have a hostel type experience and meet other people, but it was going to cost about as much as a hotel anyways so when I showed up and they had me in a room with two bunk beds and a twin, with ripped up floors and a gaggle of american preteens taking over the place, I decided to go elsewhere. Found a little b&b in the last minute, and I mean I booked it online and showed up 20 minutes later. The guy didn’t even know I was coming and I had to call him on a number that was posted on the door to come and let me in!

Now the place isn’t perfect, and a bit lonelier feeling then the busy hostel, but the room is better here at least, more private, and slightly less expensive for a normal size bed. It has an unfortunate amount of stairs and is above a pretty loud road, but it’s for two nights and I’ll make it work. May or may not have called my mom in tears before coming to that conclusion, and also one of my best friends (thank god for skype credits!) but I got there in the end. Bit of drama feeling like I’ve made a horrible mistake taking a trip on my own, but trying to now just stay positive that it will all work out for the best!

Saw some cool stuff today and yesterday on the hop on hop off bus, and most people have been really friendly so far. My favorite being the mobility assistance guy at the airport who helped me get my bag and took me right to the bus I needed! He was also kind of cute which didn’t hurt ;)

This is a shot of Grafton Street which is a big pedestrian shopping area, with some cool buskers and restaurants too

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And these are some freaky old guys who sit perfectly still like statues and move when people pay. I have a feeling this baby didn’t tip very well though. Also, on closer inspection, I think the one standing on the left is a fake!

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I also stopped in a little museum (actually called the little museum of Dublin) mostly because it was free with my bus tour ticket, but I showed up just in time for a little tour and learned a bit of Dublin history which was cool!

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Just back in my room now for a bit of a lie down (that’s how I speak now that I’m so Irish) and I think I’m gonna head down to the popular Temple Bar area later tonight for a wander and a cider and just check out what’s going on! It’s apparently “Bloomsday” which celebrates the life of the author James Joyce (born in Dublin!) and people dress up for it all around the city in Victorian garb, though I haven’t seen many. Maybe tonight there will be some events for it!

Off to Galway for a few nights tomorrow afternoon, looking forward to it (and also crossing my fingers the accommodations I have booked aren’t awful).

That’s all for now!

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

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^