Tuesday, April 8, 2014

City of Echoes

The drives through Spain are just breathtaking in the Northern Region. One minute it's the ocean, the next a crystal aqua river ... so clean running along the road, followed by rocky mountains caving in, and suddenly a small village hidden amongst it all.

As I stepped out of the car to Cangas del Narcea, I felt I truly stepped back in time. People here were dressed differently, the buildings were preserved from the ages of my great grandparents. Life was slower here, peaceful. Well at least 90% of the time. I was in for a suprise.

Two days after my arrival, I was announced that the cities festival was taking place for a whole week. " Festival? Great! This work just keeps getting better and better!", I thought. And it was great, it really was, if I was not a light sleeper. The festival was held in tradition of groups of locals who each contributed to the cities life. The families father I stayed with was apart of one of the groups, and therefore I got to experience this wonderful event to the fullest. 

The morning would start of with fireworks. Then life would go on. Night fell, and the groups would each have dinners together, before preparing for the night fireworks.Here was a view from my window:

And, then night:

And then....celebrations!:

Rather then silly little clips, once I have more time I will be compiling my clips into videos with better quality videos. I plan to write less, show more.

Free Wine Parade Truck..ALL LOCAL!

Goats/Sheep...king of cheese.

My favorite group, The 1970's tree huggers.
Set, go!
And I'm off!

So that week was great, but here was the catch. No sleep. Something for something. The celebrations were on 24/7. Morning fireworks, parades, large dinners, endless live music till 5 a.m., and then all over again. It was a mix of WW4, Coachella Concert of Spain, and Santa Clause Parade...yep something like a mixture of all that. The city of Echoes, made it a tad unbearable at points...as everything echoed the winding villages streets, and sadly...my bedroom walls all night. The beauty of the village being nestled with 360 degrees of mountains brings unexpected volume of noise at not such anticipated times. But all in all, I had the best time, though I was looking forward to some peace....little did I know what was waiting for me in about 2 weeks !

[ to be continued...]


Dear Diary,

This past year has been a whirlwind of adventure, and attaining one step closer to what I know is my happy place. I yet again embarked on a scenic, unplanned journey to the Northern Spanish lands. A hidden oasis, attaining just about EVERYTHING I love. EVERYTHING in one small northern region.

Welcome to Asturias.

I did not know what to expect upon my arrival. The family I was teaching English for...I only briefly met a week before VIA Skype. [ Note: This is a trait I am re-known for - the last minute decision] .

The train ride from Madrid to Asturias was quite beautiful - however quite thrilling after I found out the same company train's previous cart ( which I was originally supposed to be on minus my flight delay), had a crash... from speeding. This all made sense...as I sat in the passenger cart wondering to myself why can a small train like this be so speedy, meanwhile a large company such as VIA is a turtle in comparison. I guess the hare sometimes is the better option.

Right so back to the family.

Safely arrived, all sweaty, and non- presentable to the Skype version of myself, I could tell the family was a bit shocked. Not the best ' second' impression, but nothing a quick shower cannot fix.  My first destination was in the old, historic city of Oviedo. There they had a beautifully, crowded, artistic flat I would be visiting every weekend during my free time.

Of course, I was very ill prepared for this destination, and in utter disbelief ...almost crying of joy when I discovered that it's a surf paradise of Europe. I was only a 30 minute ride from Salinas...and to my luck got to meet , and stay with an amazing family of surfers. The VANS contest was also taking place within a week, which was an unreal experience.

So this is how my work looked between the lessons of teaching my chill family some English: 
Surf House
Me after a full day of nature fun

Second Familia ( bottom right: My Robinson Crusoe)

Board, room, and sun. All I need.

My beach house room.

Salinas Surf
After the beach, the new friends and family I met, would all gather up at the village of VW campers nestled on the beachfront, with dinners being prepared by the wives, guitar jamming from the many talented husbands, and games with the children. All accompanied by the crashing of waves, and starry night above us, gleaming like crystals sparkling to the melodies of these Spanish gypsies.  

I mean I knew I would find a way ONE DAY to live this life, I just was not aware it was so soon and so unexpectedly. It's true about great things coming when not planned. Works in my favor.

During the day, we'd have siestas daily with ridiculously beautiful, homemade, buffets. This is almost a daily thing...imagine that.Then running around with the childish 'adults' who never lost their sense of fun, skateboarding with their children...sometimes I would mistake the fathers for the children's older brothers. 

If the sun was too hot, I'd hit the shade on a walk along the coast, with the cliffs providing me enough darkness till the evening hit. I'd catch up on some great novels, write in my journal, or meditate. It was a divine opportunity for all these downtime activities, given the countless nooks of caves and rocks I found to perch on,  with the ocean just a few inches from my toes.  Everything was great in Salinas, even the otherwise downsides such as the ruthless drowning story.

[ I was so excited to hit the waves the first day of arrival, without asking about the currents. Still jet lagged, I splashed, and dove my way through waves, until I turned around to take a peek at friends on the shore...looking like ants. I floated on my back, staring at the beautiful sky, enjoying this peace far from the shore. Once I was ready to come back...that's when trouble hit. Without a board..the waves crashed me, pulling me under, with only seconds of breath between each crash. It took me a great amount of luck and no-panick methods to flop myself back to shore. Here is the funny part, as this was happening, a group of slightly older American boys were jumping in the waves, photographing their joy. Seeing me, flopping in the waves , hair covering the front of my face, bikini in some position that was not wearable, thought I was just some crazy girl, having the time of my life...little did they know I was au contraire trying to save my life.

" Hey, hey you! You speak English? Could you take a photo?!", one asked. " What?...*SPLASH*...Yes...*SPLASH*... Please pull me out!...*SPLASH*...I'll take the photo...", I managed to get out.

And the rest was history.  Though history manages to repeat itself many times in my future. Lesson NOT learned.

Right, so after Salinas, I took adventure in Oviedo. The city was beautiful, the architecture all influenced from the Cuban settlers- take Hemingways home in Florida...and multiply it times thousands...that is Oviedo.

The streets were spotless. I mean Toronto and New York....and well anywhere was a dirtbag to this place. 5 A.M., and the daily road cleaning began. Trucks could be seen mopping, brushing and dusting the streets, alley after alley. By the time the city awoke, everything looked like it's been washed by a great rainfall the night before, sparkling in the morning sun.

 One well rested morning I woke up to hit the city, and take a walk on the outskirts greenery. Old men were already sitting in their local favorite cafes, espresso in one hand, gazette in the other, and company around. I found my way to one of the metro's and made my way past the city, up to San Miguel De Lillo. 

Sitting in a hidden hut, snapping the view.

The under-estimated beauty held within.

Selfie time.

Beautiful route down.
Coming up , the Chapel was nested among small mountains surrounding Oviedo. After admiring the beauty and surroundings, of course I decided to skip the metro at any given opportunity, and use my legs to learn the life of the locals.  The route back from the the hills to the city provided endless scenery of tunneled tree route ( as above), old stone farm houses, and as I was approaching the city, countless mosaic exterior homes. It was a feast for my eyes. 

As I got into the city, I took a few days to tour the little things: 

Equivalent to Central Park, but more lush and beautiful.

One of my favorite producers in one of my favorite countries[ Woody Allen].

1744...so old.

 Right, so I could talk endlessly of some things that happened, but that's for my personal diary, and sweet memories of secrets. Next destination- the majestic village of Cangas.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The lost page.

Ever get so into a book that you are reading....and suddenly the next page is gone. How are you to know what happens next?! Everything is wrong. All wrong.

That is my life.

I graduated with great marks. Had a mix plan. Went to school to pursue it. Hated it. Dropped out. Traveled. Interned. Went to school again. Dropped out.  Now trying to chase a small dream. Questioning if this dream is what I am meant to do.

You see, most of you will say I know I was meant to do something great.  Well, I know I am meant to do something great ...It is not just a lingering thought. Its a FACT- the question is what.

This is my relation of the book and missing page. I really wish I could just find my call instead of sitting within my tiny 1 bdrm apartment which I currently share with my mother, and type it out. Useless time management.

At almost 20,  life is slipping by quickly. People are in school, people are performing, people are creating. Sure they don't have it easy...but at least they are doing something they ( at least 50% of them) somewhat love. Me on the other hand... juggling min. wage positions and just day dreaming of a life I wish I had.

"SITTING AROUND GETS YOU NOWHERE YA BUM! " ....  trust me I know that.  Though it may seem as though I am doing the exact statement I can assure you I have a small plan.

This plan I hope will fill a drop of 1 % 'on the path' in my empty jar of life.

I am not very pretty , or super bright but I am rather strong and rather persistent on not giving up.

I want to do what I love so when I die I can honestly smile and be proud of myself- even if its in the next year.

Here is to my first step of taking the hard route tomorrow May 21 2013.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012



I truly believe that a happy mind is a drug curing the world of sadness. 
Helping others, laughing, uplifting thoughts, courage, action, and curiosity are all the things I never get enough of. It what makes me continue to live and seek out the best of tomorrow everyday. 

Do not let sadness or anger enter your life: Stop, breath, and always remember that it's just a moment. If you choose to flick it off and continue life, you will only be happier. 
Let that bad situation suck you in, and your in trouble . You just wasted seconds of your life that you will never get back doing nothing, instead of enjoying it. 


Monday, December 10, 2012

This time..calls for HAPPINESS!

What happened to the " most wonderful time of the year" concept?

Everywhere I have been going or anyone I spoke to only complains about winter....I get it: more rainy/snowy/slushy/cold/ dark days vs. warm/sunny/ flower filled air days.

It's just weather, in the end its what YOU make out of the day. I want to share some of my tips to not feel ' under the weather' during this beautiful season- I am not saying this just because I am a December baby, I actually love it because of the endless memories and things it brings.

Things I do to stay cheery during the icy season: 

  1.  Wake up and do a few 'good morning' stretches. [ reach as high to the sky as you can on your tippie-toes, and bend from side to side. ] 
  2.  Start the morning with a warm cup of tea or warm water with lemon & honey. 
  3.  Make sure to eat lots of veggies ( variety of colours everyday)  & stay hydrated even if you don't feel like it in the cold. Your body & skin will thank you later !
  4.  Listen to my favourite playlists on 8tracks.com [ recently discovered this...my holy grail to put me in a cheery mood even during exam week] 
  5.  Get moving...outside! With the lack of sunshine ( I know its hiding behind the clouds & UV rays are still something to consider), it's important to not lock yourself in your home even if its cold. We are lucky enough to have discovered waterproof boots/ mittens/ hats/ scarves & puffy coats - so no excuses.  
  6.  Watch some holiday movies ( I will later post my favourites...!!) 
  7.  Go to a local christmas tree farm [ no need to buy a tree] to hang out & smell the pine trees ( Hey we all do it...and love it!) , grab some fresh apple cider, and perhaps they even have tobogganing hills & horse rides at your local farm. 
  8.  Christmas markets...more and more towns have them & they are a free, fun way to put you in a happy mood!
  9.  Get enough sleep of course! I hate sleeping and wasting my day but I know running on 4 hours is bad in the long run for my skin, health, and productivity in anything. Get in the habit to sleep at least 7-8 hours of sleep.  
  10.  Indulge in the holiday hot cocoa & sugar cookies ( REMEMBER: moderation is key to a happy life) . 
  11. Volunteer...it's the season of giving and you most likely have some free time...so why not do something good for others. I love doing things for others and only expect happiness in return...that is the best gift I can get any day. 
  12. Try a new sport  ( okay this is a tip for # 5 ) : I love to ski downhill & cross country but have always wanted to snowboard so will try it out this year. I love challenges and I am sure you will too! 
  13. Or relive your old childhood memories: make snow forts with friends & have a fight, snow angels are never boring, skating/ learning to skate,  or snow cones...snow is so versatile- use it while its here. 

There you have my list of things I do to keep me happy during this cold/ dark season ( in my opinion one of the most beautiful seasons apart form Fall. ) 

What do you enjoy during winter?  Any tips to add to the list - I'd love to hear! 

- Nicole 

Sunday, December 9, 2012



It's been a while since I last spoke. I will try to make a habit of posting more often. 

Much has happened since my NYC internship: I began school ( I will talk about this later), spent the whole summer in Europe ( show some pictures soon!) , had several jobs & learnt about my food allergies ( slowly).

But most importantly: began to learn who I am & embracing it.

I used to think life was all about clothes, fashion, money - never popularity surprisingly. Of course I loved other things such as the outdoors and living an active lifestyle...but growing up I think all of us had that guilty phase we surpassed [ read: hopefully] through our teen years.

I have.

Sure there are still times I look in the mirror and hate what I see...but have learnt to get over it a few minutes later and move on with my life. THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST THING TO HAVE HAPPENED TO ME!

I honestly stopped caring what people think about me. I realized finally that I will NEVER please everyone. I can only please myself and hey, if I'm happy that is what counts at the end of the day.

I also took an approach on a simpler lifestyle...referring to a non-consumer driven lifestyle:

  1.  Gave away almost all my new clothes I worked my butt off to buy for my new school year to my younger sister. 
  2. Gave away my new Iphone in exchange for a " ancient" Blackberry ( I don't want a cell in general- but I guess it's a safety device to have for late night walks in the big city). 
  3.  Threw away almost all my things in the bedroom ( apart from a mattress, blankets, computer, mirror, books and hygienic utensils. 
They may not seem drastic, but it's small things like these that give me a happier life.  Of course I still love music and movies and dressing up for a party- but if I had to, I could live out of a suitcase for the rest of my life ( not as a dirty hippie, but as a casual/ non- fancy looking girl) . I guess you sort of have to learn to if you love to travel like me- on a tight budget where your suitcase/backpack is your hotel and your legs are your car.  What I am saying is that of course I love THINGS that life gives, but I prefer a life where THINGS don't define my happiness. It is my MINDSET and OUTLOOK on life that defines it. 

        "you can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one"

With my previous years I have been through lots of tough situations from divorce to sickness to depression. I have seen it all and it pushed me more then ever to be the change  in my life. I did not have to let these things bring my life down, nor will I let them or anyone or anything anymore. This is my promise to myself - for the best. 

And with my allergies ( not diagnosed by doctors but by myself) I am following a Gluten Free diet and somewhat Dairy Free ( I know I have lactose intolerance but believe eggs/lactose-free milk still cause problems and maybe even cheese...I am working on finding out).  I will talk about this soon too- so keep up to date ! 

Anyways I am so excited to be back to the blogging community & to enjoy my holidays!

What are your opinions of living a simple life? Can you live one....what can you not live without? 

- Nicole

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sweet Sweet Sex & The City

Good food, good movies and loved ones is what makes a perfect weeknight ( well weekday in my books). 

In celebration of my current Francais obsession, I have embraced the French simplicity of life in the form of deserts: Tart Tartin anyone? 

It was my first time making it, with the use of pre-made philly-dough ( note to self: Never go for pre-made...fresh is always best). Although the recipe specifically called for proper pans, I opted for the low-end oven dish I had left ( that I have yet to burn) which resulted in caramel-free apples. All turned out well except my naked apples left their friend 'mr.caramel' stuck to the pan.

All in all my simple French desert was no disappointment for my mother and I, as we sat on the cold, windy evening in her bed cuddled watching Pride & Prejudice, followed by another night of Carrie Bradshaw.

While enjoying our fresh treat with a scoop of double chocolate fudge ( note to self: Mr.Ice Cream is your enemy) and Pecan ice cream and the perfect flicks I realized that simplicity is what makes life enjoyable. When you can just get away from the hectic driven world and live in the moment. No wonder the French follow by the " Joie de vivre"....as do the Spanish "Viva la Vida"....and Italians "La Dolce Vita"...hmm this has got me wondering what do the Euro's have that us Canadians are missing? I believe that is one of my next goals in life to one day discover...hopefully in the not to far future.