I’m finally doing it. I’ve booked my flights, made my reservations, and it’s happening. I’m going backpacking around Europe! I’m going by myself, for 6 weeks- which some people think is too long, and some people think it’s too short, but I think it’s going to be perfect. There are so many firsts here: my first international trip alone, first time BACKPACKING, first time being away from home for so long, and my first time travelling for this long all at once. The only time I’ve travelled for this long has been our family trips to India, but since those are just going from one home to another, it’s not really comparable. I’m beyond excited- I’ve been wanting to do this for as long as I can remember, but I’m also deeply scared. There are a plethora of things that could go wrong: I could get sick, injured, robbed, and even worse. It’s hard not to think of the extreme worst case scenario when the departure date is approaching. But oh my god, I know this trip is going to be amazing. I have so many places to see, foods to try, and new cultures to explore! And I can’t wait to share everything I encounter with you all!
I will be going to England, Portugal, Spain, and France; all in 48 days. I’ll be spending the majority of my time in Portugal, including the islands which I’m really excited about! If you’d like to follow along my adventure, you’ll find regular updates on this blog, as well as on my instagram (@kashishadventures) and my TikTok (@kitkatkash)! I’ll also be posting YouTube videos at some point, but I’ll post an update on this page once that happens. Here’s the channel link if you’d like to subscribe: https://youtube.com/@kashishadventures134
If you’d like to support me, you can purchase some postcards from my shop, or choose the “buy me a coffee” option. ♥️
A little while back, while looking for something completely unrelated, I found an old disposable camera. Excited by the fact that I didn’t need to spend $15 on a new one, I packed it into my backpack to take on my trip to Vancouver. It was still in the packaging, so I figured it would be fine- not even considering the fact that the film may have expired…in 2006. Or that it was a black and white camera. I’ve never really shot in black and white before, because well I was born into the digital and colour age. And since this film had expired 15 years ago, the effects it got were pretty interesting. A couple of the photos were completely blank because the lighting just wasn’t bright enough. However, the photos that I did get had a cool vintage feel to them. Like this photo here, I took it in 2022, but it looks like something straight out of the 1900s.
It very well could be, considering the Vogue Theatre was built in the 1940s. It’s an important part of Vancouver’s historic ‘Theatre Row’ on Granville Street. What is now the Pacific Centre Mall, used to be a few different theatres, including the one that started the whole theatre trend on Granville Street in the 1800s- The Vancouver Opera House. If you look closely, you can see another historic theatre in the photo, the Orpheum, built fourteen years before The Vogue. It was originally known as the ‘New Orpheum’, as the Opera House was renamed ‘The Orpheum’ in 1913.
The Vancouver Opera House was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and opened on February 9th, 1891. It had 1,200 seats originally, but after being renovated a few times, it had over 1,700 seats. After a couple more theatres opened nearby in the late 1890s, Vancouver was gaining a lot of buzz in the United States. By 1908, with so many venue options, Vancouver had become a staple of many North America-wide tours. The theatre changed owners many times and was renamed several times, before being demolished in 1969 to make room for the Pacific Centre mall. The theatre row that got its name for the assortment of movie theatres found on the street doesn’t actually have any more operating cinemas. The last one closed in November of 2012- The Granville 7 Cinemas. However, the history stays alive through theatres like The Vogue and The Orpheum changing to accommodate the present day’s needs on the inside but keeping the historic sentiments on the outside.
I didn’t know most of this before researching the Theatre Row, to get an interesting tidbit for my Instagram caption, but it’s quite fascinating to see how such an important street has had to be rebuilt for every generation, and for the interests they bring. Granville has gone from live theatre to movies, to clubs, and back to theatres all within a hundred years. I hope the city and people can keep preserving the history as they try to make way for whatever the new craze is. I don't think I would have ever found out about all this if it weren’t for the mistake of using an old, expired black and white camera to take a random picture., but sometimes a mistake can give you something more valuable- like learning about a city's history! Also, I don't think I could have gotten a better picture with any digital camera.
Also, this week the Vogue turns 81! It’s still as fabulous as I imagine it once was, at its peak. If you’re ever in Vancouver, I highly recommend coming down to the brightest part of the city- you can’t possibly miss the neon signs- and catching a concert or show. It’s bound to be an entertaining night in the entertainment district.
Top left (black and white): Michael Kluckner, 1940s
Middle left (colour): City of Vancouver, 1967
Bottom left (colour): City of Vancouver, 1891
Right (black and white): Kashish Vij, 2022
Living in Calgary, you get to experience a few thunderstorms almost every summer. Some people hate them, and for good reason, because they often bring flash floods along with them. I, however, have always loved the roar of thunder, and the fantastic flashing in the sky that occurs because of a lightning bolt.
When I was younger, my family and I used to live in an apartment in downtown Calgary, and in one of the rooms, there were windows almost from the floor to the ceiling. During one summer night, it started thundering, and the light show I saw that night was something out of a movie. It was incredible to see the sky come alive, and shoot electricity to the earth. It was a moment where you really realised that the world is so much bigger than you think, and your problems are quite minuscule in the grand scale of things. Anyways, after that night, I fell in love with watching lightning.
So after years and years of living in a city that put on a lightning show every year, I realised this year that... I had never even tried to capture it in a photo. As a long-time photographer, this was so odd. Why had I never even tried? Yes it would be terribly difficult (lightning flashes so quickly), but I had to try this year.
After doing some research on how to photograph lightning, and really just skimming some articles, I got out my camera and started playing around with the settings. I was using a Sony ZV-1, a great beginner camera, but one with limited settings. As a photographer with limited manual mode experience, I didn't think I would be able to get even one shot of a lightning bolt. But after 45 minutes of standing painfully still in my living room window, trying not to miss a single flash, I clicked through my camera roll and was surprised to find more than a few decent shots! They were far from professional of course, but I had CAPTURED LIGHTNING. It felt amazing. My mom and sister who had been walking by every few minutes, asking "Are you still taking pictures?" came by to ask once again, and this time I had something to show for my time.
Here are a few of the photos I got. If you have any advice on how to take pictures of lightning, I’d appreciate it!
For as long as I can remember, I have been wanting to go to the Taj Mahal. And it has nothing to do with the fact that it is a wonder of the world, and has a really fascinating history. Although all of that is really cool too. It was the fact that it was only a three-hour drive away from Delhi, where I was born, had lived for many years in, and visited quite frequently, yet still had never made it to the Taj. That's it. And so many of my friends, many of whom had never even been to India, much less lived there, had seen this beautiful piece of Indian history before me. It wasn't fair, as childish as that sounds. But- Finally! I got the chance to see the place I had been dreaming about. And it was epic. It definitely lives up to the hype. The weather in Agra was horrible though, and I feel like I need to talk about this. So, here goes. It was so humid! It felt like we were walking around in a closed metal box, with the temp turned up to 50 degrees (Celsius). And there was so much walking involved, it just made us so sweaty. Also the crazy humidity and weather made my hair go completely insane. Consequently, I did not get any instagram-worthy photos of me. Oh! And we had no water with us. So smart, eh? So not only were we dying of heat and humidity, we were also severely dehydrated. What a day.
Even through all of this, it was an amazing trip and I wouldn't have changed anything. I finally saw the Taj!
"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life"
Okay, I'm just going to say this first: I have always been in love with London. In fifth grade, I decorated my notebook covers in pictures of London and the nearby castles. I knew I would like London. But I think that this expectation, a standard set superbly high, kind of actually ruined my trip.
Now I am definitely not saying that the trip was bad. It was great. I just was expecting...more. Especially after going to Denmark. Denmark was amazing, even though I felt a bit lonely going to a new country by myself (without my family). With friends, the trip became a lot more fun, and that's something that was missing in London. Since I went with family, it was a totally different experience. And don't get me wrong, it wasn't like I didn't have a ton of fun- because I did! I took a gazillion pictures, enjoyed every tourist site we visited, and was psyched to experience the British culture that I had been fascinated by for so long.
So instead of me just rambling, let me summarize the trip!
Firstly, we went to our relatives' house in a suburb an hour away from central London. When we got there I was pleasantly surprised by how classically 'British Suburban' it looked. Just like Privet Drive in Harry Potter! (You should know, I'm a HUGE fan of HP and am going to be making a lot of references. If you haven't read the books or watched the movies, you should do that before reading this blog :) Or just be prepared to be confused. The books/movies are one of the main reasons I've dreamt of travelling London for so long.)
Staying in a town that wasn't quite in the big city, but still had the elements of British life, was an interesting experience. As soon as we we dropped off our luggage, my dad and I set off to explore the nearby surroundings. Since we had just gotten off a very long flight, my whole family was starving. We looked up nearby places and discovered a TESCO within walking distance. TESCO's are one of the chain supermarkets in England like Superstore or Walmart. As soon as I walked in this store though, I was amazed. It was so...cool. Not just because the AC was running, but because it had all the basic things you would find in a grocery department store, but the layout and the products were so different that it made the entire experience different.
Now, it might sound strange, but one of my favourite things in London were the super markets (and the mini ones!). TESCO and M&S to be specific. I found it refreshing how good the food quality was, and how many different types of products there were. The variety! It was very cool. So anyways, after wandering the store for about an hour (it was a Super TESCO, okay!), we finally bought some food to take home for my mom and sister. We got some microwavable chicken rice and pudding cups. The rice was pretty bad, which was pretty much expected, but wow, the pudding cups were amazing. I think what I realised through all of this, is, that in Canada we've become used to a lower standard of quality because of a smaller population and less diversity. Now that I have discussed the groceries, let's talk about some actually interesting stuff: London Town!
We surprisingly visited at the perfect time; we didn't see a drop of rain (insanity), and there were barely any tourists around. We were there from around the end of august to the first couple days of September. If you're visiting London, I would highly recommend that window, because the weather is still really nice, and most of the tourists have left for the season.
After the first couple days in the subrubs, we moved to an AirBnB in actual London, near Hyde Park. It was a second floor walk-up, which was interesting. Possibly the most surprisng thing in this AirBnB was how narrow the stairs were! In North America, we're so used to wide open spaces, Europe always surprised you with how little space you actually need. This location was really nice though, because the underground (metro) was pretty close by, and there were a ton of things to do nearby.
Quickly, everything I saw:
Even though this was one trip where I can say I saw enough that I don't need to return to finish the sights, I can't wait to go back to London! It was such a lovely city and had a great vibe to it. Cheerio!
So I've been pretty busy lately. I've been meaning to write more, I have, but I never finish the posts! I have a very long post from Mexico but it's incomplete and one from the hiking day in Barrier lake. So I have decided I'm just doing to leave the half done ones for now. I'll post some pictures in the gallery so check those out! I'll just summarize the two trips really quickly here.
Mexico was awesome. It was really relaxing and I didn't really do much, just lazed around on the beach. One day I did go explore the city, Zihuatanejo, which was beautiful! The colourful buildings were amazingly photogenic and half of my camera roll is just random buildings and sunset pics. Pretty great food too! Great trip in general.
Hiking day was...tiring. My ankle was being insufferable on the hike up and it was horrible. Especially since the climb up Barrier Lake is quite steep. And the group was moving so fast! The view was absolutely breathtaking. I unfortunately didn't get a picture at the top, with being so tired from the walk up. I need to go back and take some good pictures. I did take a picture on the halfway mark, because I was still reasonably energetic. The descent was fun, especially since I could keep up with my friend who is a lot better at hiding than I am. It was a lot quicker too. The uphill was approximately...3 hours? I'm not sure. But the downhill was half that. It was an interesting day because I was with all my buddies from school and got to hang with people outside of school that I wouldn't normally hang out with.
So that's all for the summary. Check out the pictures section!
Also I'm going to start adding little maps of where I go, just to make it little more interesting. I need to figure out a way to put a map that shows where all I've been, but until then, this will work.
I spent a whole week in Mexico, but there was only one day that was truly worth blogging about. The other 6 days I just lazed around the hotel, and had fun doing nothing. But one day, I went to the nearby city, Zihuatanejo, and explored the urban beauty of it. I don't want to write too much about it, because there was not much that was noteworthy. All I will say is, wow this city is photogenic. I din't really expect that for some reason. So enjoy the photos, and I would recommend this city for a relaxing vacation! And great food, of course!
Today was cold!!!! I only wore a sweatshirt since it wasn't supposed to be that cold but oh my gosh, it was. First, we walked the trail to Elbow falls. This first part wasn't too hard, except we all had the constant fear of slipping on the ice-the whole trail was ice. When we finally reached reached falls, for a little while we just stared in awe at the frozen masterpiece. It was beautiful. Then, I decided I was going to go to waterfall and touch it. Of course, me being me, I didn't take the easy route. No, I took the really slippery, really scary, and really hard route. So I climbed up the ice and reached waterfall. BUT! I was still a bit aways from the actual waterfall, but this part is where it got tricky. The ice was especially slippery right next to the waterfall, and if I made one wrong move I could slip and fall. Probably not die but something close to it. So I carefully walked/crawled up the slope to reach the inside of the waterfall. When I finally got there, I felt so achieved, I just stood/squated there. Then I realized, I actually had to go back down. Everyone always thinks the hardest part is going up, but for me going down is a lot scarier. Maybe it's because when you're going up, you can't see what's behind you if you make a mistake, and if you're going down it's right in front of you, waiting for you to slip. Whatever it was, made it wait there like an idiot for a full two minutes (which seemed like an hour in my head). Then I decided, what the heck, I'm just going to slide down on my bum. And I did. The whole while, I was praying to every possible god to not make me fall and look like a total idiot. Yes, that's what I was worried about. Not that I would get hurt, but how I would look. I realize that's irrational but our family friends were there too and if they were to witness my utter humiliation, it would not be good. It would be the joke brought up at every dinner party. Anyways, I get down without a scratch, only really wet leggings. After that, the hike back feels short and we reach Banff quickly. When we get to Banff, I decide I earned a Beavertail, and after eating a sandwich we head on to Beavertail's. i've never had a Beavertail before, and the first bite I eat is so good I quickly gobble the rest up, this time not caring how I look. The rest of this is boring so I will not write out all the minutia, but it was a good day. (except for the part where it was freezing the whole time and really icy)
School in Denmark was very different from school in Canada. If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say it had more...freedom. One thing that was very interesting was how each class had it's own culture (along with their own couch). Since everyone in the class has known each other for many years, they're totally comfortable in their group. This made it a little more uncomfortable for us, foreigners, to fit in as we did not share the same bonds with these people. It was surprising for me to find out how many authors I've read that were Danish. I never really pay attention to where authors are from, but now I realize how much their own background history can impact a story. One of the most famous Danish authors is Hans Christian Andersen. He wrote The Little Mermaid. I probably should have connected the dots here, since the Little Mermaid is one of the main tourist attractions in Denmark...but oh well. My host family's culture is very different from my own family's, but it's easy to get used to. They don't that much in front me, I think the language difference is definitely a barrier in this case, but otherwise it doesn't make too much of a difference. There haven't been too many cultural misunderstandings because the Danish students know a lot about our culture, presumably from TV, movies, and other medias. They did have some stereotypes of us though, they talked a lot about comparing us to high school musical and that was funny and not really offensive. Everyone is quite shut off here, detached in a way that north americans rarely are. I think Canadians especially can just start talking to anyone and a in a few minutes it's not even awkward. We also talk all the time, and the Danish just don't appreciate the art of small talk. This is good in a way, since this eliminates conversation about nothings like weather and such but it bad because it makes it hard to approach them and strike up a conversation. A thing that I found extremely fascinating was when we actually went to one of their classes. The whole set up was so casual, it was amazing. The students called their teachers by their first names and they openly swore in class. Our classes would never allow that! Also their projects were a lot different than what we did. They were watching a movie, Frankenstein, and since I had never watched, the class was pretty engaging. The project they did was "to build a frankenstein out of celebrities." Pretty weird, right? They had to choose qualities of different people, like David Beckham's foot and Ed Sheeran's voice. It was surprising how all their favourite celebrities were also our favourite celebrities. I would have thought there would have been more differences. I think that class was probably the best part of the school day. Otherwise, today was pretty boring even though it was nothing like regular school, it was just another day at school. That's all for today.
Copenhagen is absolutely beautiful. We stayed in a downtown hotel, so we were right in the middle of everything. I think the best weather to visit Denmark is probably October, when it's not too cold but still cold enough to wear a thin layer. The thing about Denmark though, is that the cold is chilling to the bone, because it's a wet cold, not dry like Calgary. But wearing sweaters is so much fun it was worth being a little chilly. And the photos just come out a little better in colder weather I think. So let's get to the actual post now, no more babble...
The hotel was nice, even if it was tiny, with 4 people cramped in a room more fit for 2 people. The bathroom! It was minuscule! The whole room got soaked after the first person showered! I do think the hotel was better than the home-stay though. I generally feel pretty awkward around new people and felt really pressured to act 'normal' to their expectations. Basically just trying not to make any mistakes. And that's pretty tough for 6 whole days! At the hotel, there were people I knew better, because they were from the same place and I didn't have to work to talk with them. Anyways, I did really enjoy the home-stay, with the experiencing a new culture and all. It was fun to see how they lived. Also their food was a 1000x better than the hotel food. The breakfasts at the hotel were awful. But Copenhagen street food is so good! It's pretty expensive, and probably where all my money went, but it was worth it. The roasted sugared almonds from the street vendors...I would go back just for those. Also the churros we found at this little churro shop a few blocks from the hotel! The Scandinavians do food quite well. And desserts and chocolate! I brought back so many marzipan chocolate bars for my family! (Not really, they were mostly for me, ha-ha.) The first full day of the home-stay my host family took me to this cheese and cake place, and it was fabulous. The cake was made perfectly, with just the right amount of sponginess, the cheese was great, and the coffee was just so good. It rained that day and it was probably my favourite home-stay day. I found this special type of danish cake crumble thing and it was amazing, with a coconut flavour, but I haven't been able to find out what it was called. Sad. That day had all the elements of European life that I love and wish we had in Canada.
In Copenhagen, we saw tons of castles. Or was that during homestay? It's all such a blur. No, pretty sure it was Copenhagen. We got on a coach bus and went to one castle after another. I don't really understand why we had to see so many castles- they all looked pretty much the same- but they were beautiful nonetheless. One thing I really regret from the castles is not getting a crown from the gift shop. They were selling them at every castle and I had so many opportunities to buy one! I also regret not writing down everything that happened every single day but oh well. It's in my memory and that's all that really matters.
Copenhagen is often called 'the city of bikes' and it actually lives up to the name. There were bikes EVERYWHERE. There were even special bike lanes on all of the pathways, although some places it was hard to distinguish where the bike lane ended and pathway started. I almost got run over by a bike like five times!
Downtown was probably my favourite thing to see in Copenhagen. I was really looking forward to the Tivoli Gardens, but unfortunately we weren't able to go. We saw a movie in a danish cinema instead, and that was pretty cool. I really liked how everything was walking distance from where we were staying, so we didn't have to keep getting on and off the bus.
The Viking Museum was pretty cool, I liked dressing up as a Viking and imagining living in those times. The maritime museum was a similar experience. I really liked the freedom we got here, we could just wander wherever.
The canal tour and downtown are tied for favourite places, I think. It was really cool to experience the city sitting in a boat. I also got some cool pictures, so that was an added bonus.
This wasn't one of the big things, but I really enjoyed the street food market we went to for lunch, I believe it was on an island called Paper Island (Papirøen). It was very interesting to see how Danish people had interpreted different cuisines from all over the world. Admittedly, the butter chicken was horrible. But the desserts were to die for. I was feeling a little homesick so I got the butter chicken. I should have sprung for something a little more classic Danish, I realize that now. Some of my buddies got the duck and waffle combo and that was apparently very good! So next time, definitely getting some duck and waffle. So that is all for now. Check out the photo album page!