Blog Courtesy of Joanne Dowds MISCP
For a few weeks earlier this month I spent some time with my very nicest friend and her lovely family in Toronto before a short hop down the coast to Boston meandering around for a couple of days with another lovely pal. Dropping into somewhere I don’t know and trying to find my way around, identifying places to eat, art galleries, cool spots to hang out and just exploring is one of life’s joys. I think we nearly have an obligation to fill ourselves up with new places, new things, learn where the limits of our comfort levels are and then maybe try to push back on them a little bit. On this trip I learnt a few things.
Travelling across time zones is a killer- I have nothing but respect for those that regularly jet set across the globe for work or pleasure. My flights weren’t horrendous in length but I crossed 5 time zones and for someone who appreciates my bed while needing a solid 8 hours, it was a serious struggle. The first day either side of my big flights I felt like I was wadding through mud. Science tells me that any more than 4 time zones require 3 days to adapt, that is worse going east, early adaption to the destination time zone is key, avoiding caffeine and alcohol is important and gentle exercise can help particularly outside where you have exposure to midday sunlight. I wandered the highways and byways clocking up thousands of steps but I didn’t see much of the sun. It was cold, v cold! Canadians I met were so thoughtful, concerned that I wasn’t enjoying my trip apologised for the long winter and extreme cold. However I found it impossible to function in the extreme cold without the appropriate gear and I didn’t pack for every eventually. I did not bring footwear to navigate the icy slush. I got lost on the way to a specific shop and ended up in an ice storm, different from a blizzard, in that it is pellets of frozen rain aka ice chips, falling rapidly from the sky. Also they hurt. It was -11C. I didn’t have gloves and in the fumbling to get my bearing on Google maps (data limits be damned) my hands got frozen. I couldn’t think. I did loops of the block in each direction. Eventually I took refuge in a coffee shop and when my brain thawed a little I realised my destination was next door. Right next door. If I had been warm, I would have been properly annoyed.
I always knew kids were great company but my friend’s kept me very entertained, her 5 year old told the best jokes. She also told me she loved me within 24 hours of meeting me for the first time, not the fastest declaration I have ever been lucky enough to hear but definitely the sweetest. Being deeply cynical, her level of affection was probably proportional to the likelihood of me supplying her with chocolate and ice cream. Words express emotions; actions show it. She showered me with gifts; little notes, pictures, morning hugs, lots of attention and smiles. I felt loved, so despite the horrendous weather, I caved, we went for chocolate covered ice cream (@ladiperie) and it was good!
The extreme weather seemed to follow me down the coast ,I landed into Boston in a storm -you know it is going to be bumpy when the air hostess stay strapped in for the duration. I tried to read but my choice of book wasn’t helpful (Being Mortal Atul Gawande). Ankle pumps and mindful breathing got me through but I am nowhere near as comfortable flying as have been in the past. Years ago I hopped on planes without a thought, my trips were possibly more regularly but the sense of delight I have when landing safely is definitely new. The ground feels good.
The other thing that struck me was the range of options. Practically limitless options. Food wise I was a veggie for years until I was enticed back by the smell of frying bacon. When I spent some time traveling in the noughties it was a luxury to have a choice between a cheese or egg sandwich. Now on the other side of the Atlantic there are vegan/vegetarian restaurant on every corner, supermarkets where you can crush your own nut mixture into a butter and coffee houses at every crosswalk. I drank so much I am surprised I slept at all. Options are good, great even, but eventually you have to choose. And that can take a while.
Exercise wise there were 6 yoga studios within spitting distance of where I stayed in Toronto. In Boston there was a Soul Cycle studio on the next block. I wasn’t in the zone for scheduling in exercise; it would have bled into my afternoon wine drinking and art appreciation time. In retrospect I would have loved to given it a go. You live, you learn. In a few weeks I am travelling in Europe for work this time. I have a plan, a goal to achieve, gear ready to pack, there is a gym on site and there are yoga studios that offer classes in English I should be set. It is work; it will be easier to have a routine to my day where I fit in some scheduled exercise. Fingers crossed I don’t get too distracted by the Scandi style.
Finally the joke ….What is a burp’s favourite colour?……..Burple!! A little star!