^This was taken a bit earlier. I love it because it captures pretty much the full gradient of the sky from top to bottom.
I was so excited to be crossing the Atlantic again. I’d only been once before – in 2007 when I spent three weeks in wonderful San Francisco. Really I was just so RELIEVED that I was actually ON that flight at all, having received my visa only 12 hours prior… so much drama.
You see, the reason I even knew about the comp was because of a bouncy, happy, pink-loving, jetsetting girl called LOLA. We’d been internet-friends (is that a term) since earlier in the year – drawn together by our similar personalities: positive, optimistic, and FUN-LOVING. She encouraged me to enter the comp so we might have a chance to meet in Toronto.
“I’m gonna enter it, win it, and see you there!”
And I did! I couldn’t wait to meet her!
One of the first things I did upon arriving in Toronto was get a cheap eat from a hot dog stand.. I love that shit. ‘Street meat’, they call it.. hmm. Totally unglam. But for $1.50, fine. Haha! (Thank you Karla)
As soon as Lola heard I was coming, she arranged a place for me to stay: a room in an awesome four-storey townhouse on Bleecker Street (somewhere north-east of downtown Toronto). With a bunch of other travel bloggers. We nicknamed it the ‘Real World TBEX’ house, complete with our own hashtag (#RWTBEX). Social media geeks….. …
^Left: Outside of the house / Right: Bleecker Street
^Bay window in the top floor room, where I slept. It was a massive room that took up the whole floor. It had two queen beds and its own toilet.
The house was organised and provided by Flipkey, a holiday rental service not unlike Airbnb (the one I use most). I’ve been discovering more and more of such websites lately.. I should make a list soon as it’s such a fantastic alternative to hotels! And then there are higher-end options as well, such as renting luxury villas, amongst others.. these I’ll save for when I make more money 🙂
^Crossroads and tram tracks at the south end of Bleecker Street.
I sent Lola a link to the Build A Dream ‘Snack Shack’ a couple of weeks before the trip. Of course, that crazy mofo (I mean that in the most lovable, endearing sense) only went and BOUGHT IT. I think it was the knowledge of this fact that fuelled my determination in getting that visa and making sure I got my ass over there..
I mean.. A CARDBOARD PLAYHOUSE WHAT MORE COULD I WANT REALLY??
This woman KNEW ME before she even MET ME!
It wasn’t long before it was set up.. do you see all the bottles on the countertop? That’s how sturdy that thing was. Build A Dream Playhouses – not just for kids for sure! We turned ours into a bar, pretty much. And named it The Confessional (it wasn’t me – I just provided the toys and props, obviously).
Above pic is of Chris of Captain and Clark, and me in clearly the best hat ever.
The following pics are an accumulation of about three occasions of mucking around the house/’snack shack’:
^Left: Chris and Gerard / Right: Craig, Tawny, & Erin
^Sharpies! Needless to say, I did the majority of the doodling..
^Love my little drawing of Chris? Hahaha
^Right: Ted on the guitar. I decided to give him a kind of mohawk..
Ted was so drunk when he brought his guitar out and attempted to serenade us. I don’t even know WHAT he played.. or if it was even anything that was really music at all. Poor him, he kept saying that he didn’t normally sound like that. The next morning when he was sober, he sported the guitar again to show us that he REALLY COULD play and sing. Awh, it’s not like we didn’t believe you the first time! Haha 😉
^With Lola! She came bursting through the front door fashionably late. As you can see, I’d already changed into my sleeping t-shirt..
^I brought face paint, too!
^Lola of course brought moustaches.. or should I say ‘mustaches’.. / Erin appreciating the floor.
^Lola, Erin, & Ted. Ted can play guitar, don’t forget!
Now THAT is a moustache.. I have a particular friend in London *ahem* who keeps pointing out the tiny little baby hairs on my upper lip and making me conscious about it. So conscious that I actually looked up and considered laser hair removal (see, I even found a clinic near me!) for a while.
These stick-on moustaches were rather reassuring.
^Craig.. (whose hat was that?!), and Erin pouting probably cos she was craving poutine. Pouting for Poutine!
^Moustaches are not limited to silly humans!
Lola brought a bunch of merit badges for us to assign to each other. We had a ballot box and everything! I can’t remember which one I got.. but I know I swapped it for one that depicted a shoe with a piece of gum stuck to it. It just looked funny and I felt it represented me rather well.. haha.
As you can see, The Confessional never stopped evolving! More and more dumb doodles started to adorn its exterior… (by yours truly..), and it even boasted a bed sheet roof. It was a bar. It was a glowstick-shop. It also smelt of Chris after a while cos he just WOULD NOT GET OUT OF IT.
^Tawny, Me, & Kieu
^With the most beautiful (not just on the outside!) Alex, who bunked with me on the top floor.
^Left: CALAN and one of my new toys! / Ted: Supposedly, he’s playing guitar.. you just can’t see it, ok?
Here’s a video I put together – it’s basically just all the Vines I took at the house..
From the video, you’ll notice a couple of things:
1. Flat Deej
I was confused about what ‘Flat Deej’ was at first. Let me explain to you my non-American readers.. First of all, Deej is actually a blogger. He was meant to come to TBEX but for some reason couldn’t, and was really bummed about it. So Lola created Flat Deej to make him feel like he was there. It’s based on the award-winning Flat Stanley Project, in which school children are encouraged to write letters to their friends documenting the whereabouts/activities of a cut-out paper character called Stanley (from a storybook called Flat Stanley).
Actually I just wanted to explain Flat Deej and nothing else.
^Our one group photo! Thanks Alex for this 🙂
I admit I hardly attended any sessions at the conference due to late nights etc – because this bunch were so much FUN to hang out with. It was the first time meeting each other for most of us. In fact I hadn’t even heard of half these people before I got there. But it was the best thing ever..
There’s something so amazing about meeting people who also LOVE to travel! I’d never met so many people who were entirely immersed and so passionate about exploring the world before. It was like MAGIC! Kinda like a special, natural connection. Everyone was so POSITIVE, receptive, EXPRESSIVE, encouraging, and socially adventurous. It was super awesome that I didn’t need to explain (unlike when I meet erm, ‘normal’ people.. for lack of a better word, please, it’s 2am..) my desire to travel and and make it my life’s priority – cos everyone shared that same desire. AUTOMATIC FRIENDS.
SO, at the house, there was:
Craig of StayAdventurous
Craig loves being on the road and his favourite country appears to be Mexico! He’s full of shit and will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. See the world! STAY ADVENTUROUS! And maybe you’ll end up in his imaginary (but one day hopefully real) Hall of Fame..
Erin of The World Wanderer
Erin is a sweetie who has an immense love for the Vine app, and poutine. She’s a teacher and travels as much as she can during the school holidays. Really she’s just so lovely that I can’t even call her a ***** for having so many days off in a year.
Chris & Tawny of Captain and Clark
Erm, only the most awesome couple ever! ‘Met on Kilimanjaro; Engaged at the Taj Mahal’. They’re both hilarious and witty and make fab videos. Why can’t I speak as naturally and smoothly as them on camera? Ugh anyway. Adventurous, energetic, and fun.. if we lived in the same country they’d be my best friends for sure!
Alex of CrazySexyFunTraveler
I truly admire Alex for her dedication and commitment to her cause. She’s been travelling full time for a few years now and she looks like she should be on a magazine cover! She’s so down-to-earth, helpful, and I love her honesty. She’s outgoing and adventurous.. and of course, a little crazy. My kinda friend!
Gerard & Kieu of GQTrippin
Why are some couples just so cute? WHY? Recently (or not so recently) back from a year-long round-the-world trip, G & Q are now settling back to life in California.. or trying to I suppose. Haha. They are both SO NICE I wish I could shrink and squash them into a little ball, which I then toss to the ground, releasing them into full-sized human existence….. yes like Pokemon..
Ted of Traveling Ted
Ted’s passion is everything outdoors and adventure travel. He’s a camping expert (who packed some sort of miniature/foldable SHOVEL in his backpack.. haha) and of course, he plays the guitar. I would LOVE to go on a trip with him and do some crazy stuff! TED let’s go sea kayaking! Caving! Skiing! Snowboarding! Canyoning! Everything!
Carolyn of The Lazy Travelers
There’s only ONE pic of this girl in this post.. and it’s of the back of her head. Other times she was probably passed out somewhere whilst the rest of us smiled for the camera! She’s one-half of The Lazy Travelers.. ‘The Wino’
Then of course there’s Lola.. I love her. That is all.
THANKS FLIPKEY for housing us!