9:00am. I’m sitting at my computer this gorgeous Monday morning, facing out onto the park, quiet before the school kids from the local primary descend for P.E. and play in the Links. This may be my favourite time of day.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have lived in some of the most amazing places. I was born in Shanghai, lived there for the first couple years of my life before moving to Costa Rica and up through Mexico. My parents and I eventually ended up in Toronto, and I’m forever grateful we did before the influx of immigration from China. I was one of the lucky ones, I learned to speak English and French by the time I hit primary school because I was one of the few immigrée kids in my kindergarten class. I still spoke Shanghainese at home, but at school my friends were ‘Westerners’. By the time I hit junior high, so many Chinese and HK national kids had entered our school that they formed their own, very insular group. They spoke only in Chinese, listened to Canto-pop, and by the time we were in High School they only dated amongst themselves. I was lucky enough to have friends from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds…my closest friends in school were from Lebanon, the Philippines, Scandinavia, and good old school Canucks.
During high school I lived in a small town in Switzerland called St Gallen, a few hours outside Zurich. There I learned to speak German, tasted the best jam doughnuts in the world, and went on weekly ski trips to the alps during the winter with my school. My parents had moved to Luxembourg at this point, so at the weekend they came to collect me and make the 5-hour drive home through 4 countries home. We moved to Montreal for my final year of high school, then it was off to St Andrews for four years of undergrad and some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met…and good friends to this day!
My parents were great believers that travel is good for the soul, and took me on holiday everywhere when I was wee. By the time I was 12 I’d been all over Asia, Europe and Latin America. We did city breaks in Paris, London, Zurich, Milan and Amsterdam, visited art galleries and some of the most beautiful restaurants in the world. We skied in Innsbruck, Chamonix, Banff, Lake Placid and Rusutsu. There were beach holidays in Waikiki and Phuket. I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the most amazing places in the world and meet some fantastic people. Now with a lot of my friends having kids, I realise quite how difficult it must have been for my parents to travel with a wee one and am grateful they did! I think it may have been one of the reasons I decided to go work in Paris for a summer, and move to Scotland for uni instead of staying in Canada.
So what are my travel dreams for the future? I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world I wouldn’t love to go, or even revisit. I know as soon as I post this a hundred other places will come to mind!
One of my closest friends from high school has moved there to work, and I’d love to visit her when I’ve got the cash. Firstly the architecture looks amazing, I adore middle eastern food and I can’t wait to go shopping there! Like I said, I’ll need to save some serious pennies though!
Australia Particularly Brisbane or Sydney, where I have friends from uni and art school. All the Aussies I know are the most chilled folk with a love of partying, good music and are super friendly! I think I’d prefer heading to a city rather than a beachy holiday though…I’m always needing to be doing something on holiday and I don’t find lying on a beach sunbathing particularly relaxing! Oh and I’d love to visit Bill Granger’s restaurant in Sydney!
I’ve been to Paris many times, even lived there for awhile…but it’s one place I always want to go back to time and time again. I still maintain it’s one of the few cities where I understand the metro system (along with Tokyo), I adore walking the Haussmann-boulevards, my daily fresh croissant breakfast and an orange pressé, spending weekends at the vintage market at Clignancourt, shopping and loveburgers at Café Etienne Marcel (64 rue Tiquetonne, Metro Etienne Marcel), the Palais Tokyo where we saw an installation of Darth Vader heads, some of the best Korean BBQ, Colette, Domaine Marie Antoinette at Versailles, cocktails in the Latin Quarter…
I spent quite a few summer holidays in Copenhagen during my high school years, maybe that’s where my fondness for tall, Nordic men came from? Hmm? The Danes are super friendly, I adore Scandinavian design and would love to visit the Radisson SAS for some up close and personal with Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair!
I must be one of the few people who doesn’t visit Amsterdam for the ‘usual’ tourist reason…I am a huge fan of Dutch Realism in the style of Verneer and Jan Steen (though one of my favourite artists of all time is the Danish Wilhelm Hammershoi, who paints in that style), and I am addicted to Old Amsterdam cheese. A beautifully aged Gouda with a distinctive tang that is just incredible.
I spent a week in Tokyo visiting an old friend from uni, shopped til I dropped and had some of the tastiest food…from cheap-as-chips noodle bars where orders are put through a vending machine and made fresh to order, to kaiseki with elaborate flourishes and mysterious ingredients. I even visited the Alice in Wonderland restaurant in Ginza! Aside from foodie adventures, I did some serious shopping along Takeshita Dori in the Harajuku area and a super-funky department store called LeForet catering to a young, club kid aesthetic. And my fascination with swords and samurai drew me to the Japanese Sword Museum, the Edo-Tokyo Museum and a peculiar ‘museum’ called Japan Sword where any of the pieces on display can be purchased.
One of my dreams since I was a wee girl was to watch the F1 in Monaco, still in my opinion one of the most amazing Grand Prix races in the world – and one of the oldest I believe? Well I’m a lucky, lucky girl – I managed to get some very cheap (as in free) tickets to go see the 2013 race! So in just shy of 2 weeks time I shall be in Monaco, watching the race I’ve been watching on telly since I was wee…in person!!!