Tag Archives: travel

travelling solo…in your own city!

Until last week, I  believed that my transformation into a true-blue Toronto gal was marked by the accumulation of $7.40 worth of fines on my three-month old library card.  Officially a fine-paying resident! Yusss! Then last Wednesday, as I dashed downtown after a 10-hour work day to catch a show solo, I realized: this is it.


It was beautiful—-the action, that is. The action of being independent. The action of being free. The action of being bold. And another thought occurred to me then: this feeling of being surrounded by beauty is the same feeling, the same delight, I get when I travel solo. The excitement; the uncertainty; the adventure… I was solo backpacking in my own city. 

If you’ve never been to the Dakota Tavern, you should go. It’s a small, intimate bar with a wicked atmosphere grown from it’s natural charm and its patron’s enthusiasm and energy. I visited the Dakota Tavern for the first time last year, and the intention of going back has never left my mind. Now that I live in the city instead of the 905 suburbs, that intention was much closer to reality than a wish. When I began looking into going again last month, I noticed that they feature country, folk and bluegrass music (you’d think the country feel of the place should have tipped me off!).  I was seeing someone at the time who enjoys folk music, and I thought it would be wonderful to go back to the Dakota Tavern with him to see a show together. So I skimmed the events page and I couldn’t recognize any of the upcoming bands–except for The Strumbellas which at least rang a faint bell. I decided to stream their music to check them out first. When the first song, Sailing, played on this soundcloud playlist, I couldn’t help it; was in love!  As soon as I found at least one source calling them folk (although there seems to be a handful of labels they fall under), I messaged my date to go out for The Strumbellas’ first of four Wednesday shows in Toronto. This was three weeks in advance, but you don’t put off a good thing! I spent the next few weeks singing to The Strumbellas while I cooked, dancing while wrapped in a towel after a shower, and once I got their first album from the library, I was jamming in traffic jams along the 401! Then…

 …two things happened:

1. The tickets were sold out. That itself was not entirely devastating since I decided I could go to the show the night-of and try and get two tickets at the door. Plus, it was kind of my fault for waiting until 3 days prior to their opening show.

2. Plans with my “date” fell through, primarily because he had to work last minute, but also because we were now going to be “just friends”.

I did not want to miss out on seeing The Strumbellas after falling in love with them, so I made plans to see the show with a friend who was able to come with me for their last show in Toronto. And then…

  …two more things happened:

1. The tickets for the final show were SOLD OUT – and this time, I DID try to get tickets over a week in advance!

2. My friend had a lot of work to do, and although she would be willing to come if we had tickets, it didn’t make sense for her to stand outside a sold out show only to be turned away, when she has so many other priorities.

The idea of sitting at home and giving up seemed to go contray to a rule I have been trying to live by: do something everyday that scares you. Was I really going to go out by myself, into the city to stand outside a bar in this frigid February weather ticketless? Hell yes! Armed with a book and mittens, I made my way to the Dakota Tavern. I knew things were grim: Kijiji had 5 postings besides mine looking to buy tickets for this show. But I as a drove down Dundas and watch the city grow closer, I couldn’t help but feel excited. No matter what the outcome would be.

I explained my situation to security outside the Dakota (although I asked twice, I can’t remember his name – was it Brad?), and he was honest about my  (slim) chances of getting in, but he suggested I go wait in the Lakeview until 9 when people with extra tickets usually start coming by. I sat there for 40 mins sipping green tea and reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma – it felt kind of awkward at first, but was it any different than sitting down in a common area at hostel? You’re on your own, but the potential for meeting people is there. Or is it that different than ordering a small snack from a restaurant while you’re travelling just because  you need a place to sit down? Suddenly, I knew I could do this. Why did I not realize that if I could traipse across Europe by myself, I could do the same in Toronto? At 9:00pm sharp, I raced back to Ossington where *Brad*waved me in. She’s selling a ticket, he said, pointing to my now-saviour, Megan.

When The Strumbellas started playing, I knew for certain that happiness doesn’t rely on where in the world you are or who you are with, so much as your state of mind.  I let myself relax and enjoy the show the best way possible: dancing. I also have never stared so hard at a bunch of strangers before in my life; but I was so happy I couldn’t help but ogle at the band members who were an arms length away from me, and absolutely enchanting for the whole night!! The banter with the audience was just right, but their music… this is why I listen to music. To reflect and let go all at once. How can you listen to The Strumbellas and not want to simultaneously dance laps around the room and  consider who you are, what has been, and what will be?

I drove home playing their newest album that I purchased after they finished their encore. I know I will not wait until I go on the next road trip, book the next flight or take my next vacation to travel. Nor do I need to wait for someone to travel with me. Now that I have discovered travelling solo in my own backyard, I can’t wait for my next adventure.


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make-it-yourself postcard sling

Preparing for a garage sale a couple of weeks ago I stumbled across my mom’s old postcards – some dating from 30 years ago! I never knew my mom had a collection or that her friends had traveled so far around the world! Even though they weren’t my mom’s own travel memories, I still appreciated this glimpse into her life when she was younger. It seemed like such a shame that they were boxed up – and then I realized my postcards were probably doomed for the same fate: to lie around in a box until my future progeny stumble across them and depending on how sentimental they are, they will either love ’em or chuck ’em.

I’d rather enjoy my postcards while I have them – just in case my children don’t turn out to be romantics like me! Each card is a reminder of what the world holds, my friends’ adventures, and really, they are also tokens of kindness. After all, someone took the time to write, stamp, and mail. If you’re a serial postcard sender like me, you know tracking down a post office on vacation isn’t always as easy as it sounds…

Now, to the postcard collectors among us, what do you do with these memories?

Up until two weeks ago, I had no answer. At first I thought about framing them – but that would mean I couldn’t read the messages on the reverse! Taping them on a wall or pinning them to a cork board would give me easy access to the messages, but the thought of holes and peeled paper from tape on my memories horrified me! I want to preserve them, not slaughter them!

Then I thought of creating a sling for them: they could be hung for display, but be taken out of the sling easily for reading – brilliant!

Here is how to do it:

1. Depending on how many postcards you have (or how many you think you’ll eventually display), get anywhere from 1m to 1.5m of two strips of ribbon. For aesthetic purposes, I chose contrasting colours and two different width sizes. The larger ribbon measures 3.5cm in width and the smaller, 2.5cm.

2. Put the ribbons on top of each other and using pins mark where you will be making a horizontal stitch (this will also keep the ribbon in place while you work). Give yourself at least 1cm more than the length of a postcard for each slot – this way it will be easier to slip the card in and out (don’t give the card too much extra space or it might fall out easily!). The extra spacing will also reveal the colour of your wider ribbon if you chose a different colour and size.


3. By hand or with a sewing machine, stitch across the ribbons. Cut extra thread. If you make a mistake (i.e. make a slot that’s too small or large), just unstitch and start over, but also double check on the sizes of your postcards – most of them are the same, but they do come in different sizes so you may find one that fits before you do the work of unstitching!

4. Once you are done, you have a few options for hanging. I sewed a little pice of ribbon to the back to create a hook – but you can also hammer it straight into the wall if you like!

I am in love with my new postcard slings and they add a lot of character to my room besides the happiness it brings me to see them there!

I’m not normally a “crafty” person, but I think I’ve caught the bug…

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