Canada of my Heart

I just discovered this cute little poster/card.

http://lostbumblebee.blogspot.ca
http://lostbumblebee.blogspot.ca

 

Nova Scotia, “Canada’s Ocean Playground”, is about 3000km away from its once homeland Scotland with nothing but the Atlantic inbetween. Geographically, it looks as if they’d fit into each other perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle of lochs and bens, if you’d try to merge them. It’s not just that Nova Scotia looks like a version of Scotland, it also maintains similar traditions like Highland Games, folk music (bagpipes of course) and men in kilts.

Canada is the perfect mix of European heritage and modern America

Traveling from Ontario to Québec (the new old France) and through New Brunswick (from German “Neu Braunschweig”) onto Nova Scotia (New Scotland) feels like traveling Europe with a Tim Horton’s coffee cup in your left and a hockey fan glove on your right.

Cape Breton Highlands Nationalpark, Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
Cape Breton Highlands Nationalpark, Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
En route, Cape Breton Highlands Nationalpark, Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
En route, Cape Breton Highlands Nationalpark, Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
Nova Scotia, Canada ©fairlytales
Traditional Nova Scotia, Citadell Hill, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Traditional Nova Scotia, Citadell Hill, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Bookstore, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Bookstore, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Farmer's market, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Farmer’s market, Halifax, Canada ©fairlytales
Ville de Quebec, Canada ©fairlytales
Ville de Quebec, Canada ©fairlytales
Cafe, Ville de Quebec, Canada ©fairlytales
Cafe, Ville de Quebec, Canada ©fairlytales
Hotel Place d'Armes, Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales
Hotel Place d’Armes, Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales
Evening romance in Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales
Evening romance in Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales
Rue D'Artist, Montreal, Canada - ©fairlytales
Rue D’Artist, Montreal, Canada – ©fairlytales
Bonsecours, Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales
Bonsecours, Montreal, Canada ©fairlytales

The Italy Crush

Italy

Why you shouldn’t believe anything that is being said about Italy and everything people say about Italy.

Machos with too much hair gel, ferrari drivers with false self-esteem, corrupt politicians that hook up with under age prostitutes, mafia dudes with poker faces and generally people that speak too much and too loud.

There are many prejudices I had before going to Italy the second time in my life. The first time I was 11 and had not even passed Lago di Garda in the country’s north, a number one German tourist destination and therefore as much of an authentic experience as a club resort in Egypt. No offense.

“I want to go home”, I had said, looking at the ferrari drivers and posh women in bewildered fear. And my Dad and I who did their “boys away” trip (I have no brothers just one sister, so I was the boy), returned to Germany, checking into a little Bavarian hotel and spending the remaining holidays exploring caves and building mountain river dams. Much more what I liked. I grew up in the country and cities scared me.

Fast forward to when I was 24.

In what I call the summer of a lifetime I suddenly saw myself confronted with the choice of continuing my job in a bar and hostel in Central London; meaning scrubbing toilets and showers, lifting dirty glasses into a piping hot washer and folding sheets in a hot and humid basement at minimum wage or ditching it and going to Italy – for romance.

Within a week I found myself at Stansted Airport after a long night dozing on my backpack and waiting to board the low fare jumbo at 6 am.

The moment I reached the plane seat, I fell asleep and only awoke when the plane landed hard on Venetian ground.

Just four hours later I wondered along Venetian canals, slightly tipsy, after a snack of deep red tomatoes and roasted peppers on crusty bread and a small bottle of Birra Moretti, which felt so much bigger in 30 degrees celsius and bright sun light.

Much has been said about Venice. Therefore, I would just like to say two things.

1. It does not stink.

2. It was love at first sight.

From Venice it took us to Bologna (it was plural now given the purpose of the journey) to Florence to the Tuscany countryside and over to Pisa. It was a week of silly laughs, olive trees, moonlight walks, too much wine, hotel rooms, grand plazas, guitar plays, gelato, gnocchi, other g-things, shouting Italian Mamas, Leonardo Da Vinci works and wooden window shutters. From Pisa I made my way up to Genova and Milan via Lucca, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre alone.

Even the names sound like sweet liquor and raspberry gelato.

Italy is like the guy at school I never liked but actually totally had a crush on.

Scooters honked and hummed, the coffee was strong, the people chatty and warm, the sun was shining, the sky deep blue, the ocean shimmering and nothing but nothing could bother me. Looking back, I am not sure if I ever had such a crush again – on a country!

Much has been said about Italy and many people love Italy. And perhaps that’s why I was trying to love places like Norway and Ireland instead.

But Italy defeated me.

You can believe what people say about Italy, it really is Bella.

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Study of Contrasts

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A series of recent photographies (October 2013) in Scotland – from remote countryside to buzzing street life.

Landscape: A Study of Sheep

Scottish Highlands near Ullapool.

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Study of Boats

Ullapool Harbour, Scottish Highlands.

copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmanncopyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann

copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann

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Indoors: Study of an Edinburgh Townhouse

Edinburgh, Broughton Place.

copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmanncopyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmanncopyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann
copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann

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Study of an Edinburgh Street

Edinburgh, Broughton Street.

copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann copyright: FairlyTales - J Buschmann

Of Horses and Men

Of Horses and Men

El Llano de Colombia – the flat land of Colombia stretches over many kilometers of  great open plains that greet the visitor from Bogotá with its seemingly endless horizon. The great creator has run out of material to make mountains it seems. Leaving the high Andes mountain range behind like a giant shadow of a far away country that does not belong to El Llano, a land that is so flat that one can see who’s coming for lunch in the early morning hours when the mist is still crawling over its yellow and pale green fields, through its dense tropical forests and over its roaring rivers.

Casanare showcases a different sight of Colombia: The land of the “Llaneros”, brave cowboys, men with hats, ponchos, guitars, leather boots, strong hands, wrinkled faces and dusty jeans. This is the country, and idleness is scorned – except for the after lunch hour when the workers have a rest in the “quiosque”, a sheltered pavilion.

We travelled to my husband’s native Yopal in December 2012 to celebrate our marriage with his extended family. To feed around 40 people a young cow was caught with a lasso, killed and prepared by the fire place behind the house in the traditional Llanero way along with plantains, potatoes and casaba roots. Food was then served on large palm leaves.

The cow was killed gently. The way it should be if at all. “Too many stress hormones spoil the meat’s taste”, said the men. And then they compassionately sighed: “Pobrecita” (poor thing).

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Winter Wonderland

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On Easter Monday we decided to cycle out of town, leaving Edinburgh behind and below. Just a 40 minutes ride from our home in Gorgie, we found ourselves in the magical and snowy Pentland Hills. The Pentland Hills are a nature reserve – just outside of Edinburgh and within easy reach by bus or cycle.

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A wonderful day, although our feet were dreadfully frozen. An overdose of Vitamin D from the sunny day out and a hot chocolate afterwards made up for any pains.

A Thin Place

by Julia Buschmann

How a detour from work lead to communing with the sun from the top of an extinct volcano

It may have been the bubbly after work that had put me in an elated and buoyant state, but it certainly also was the glistening sun light (after weeks of rainy grey) which flooded Edinburgh’s impressive streets and buildings with rich gold and orange.

As I cycled upwards from the office in quirky Leith towards Princes Street I felt a sudden urge to climb up high and see Edinburgh from above. As if in trance, I cycled to Holyrood area and locked my bicycle at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. Inspired I began climbing the mountain, an extinct volcano. My heart was pounding. The cold winter wind and glistening sun poured small tideways from the corners of my eyes and down my cheeks.

by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann

From above I could see the sea all around Edinburgh, the Fort of Firth, the islands off the coast. I admired the snowy Pentland Hills to the south of the city. The city’s evening traffic was softly humming from below.

by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann

Tourists and locals alike climbed with me. We were all communing with the sun, holding silent dialogue with the moment it seemed. That moment when the sun dips into the world – with all its warmth and wisdom. When all sorrows shrink a bit and we do, too. And so we climb towards the sky to feel a little bigger and a little better.

by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann
by Julia Buschmann

*Arthur’s Seat is one of the extinct volcanos that draw through Edinburgh’s city center. Enthroned on another extinct volcano sits Edinburgh Castle.

“A thin place” is what the Old Kelts called a place where it seemed to be less of a barrier between earth and heaven.

Fairly Tales goes to where tales happen…

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Having been voted as the city with the highest quality of life in the UK and having the highest satisfaction rate among its residents (92%), it isn’t hard to see why. We are in Scotland’s capital city: Edinburgh. 

From cobblestone streets to stunning architecture, every stroll around town feels like going back in time. History seems to be in every stone with nothing having changed since 1700 it seems and it would hardly surprise if a horse carriage was turning around the next corner.

The city has inspired authors, film makers, musicians, painters, architects and designers. It hosts around 25 festivals each year from science to arts and literature.

It is ranged by mountains, extinct volcanos and unfolds along the sea shore, which turns any slightly higher situated location into a stunning view point.

We have just moved here. But it was love at first sight.

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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann
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© Julia Buschmann

As soon as my camera arrives here, too, I want to establish a series of “Hidden Edinburgh”, capturing areas, sights, momentums off the beaten track.

Edinburgh has various neighboorhouds from classy and posh where ladies in trench coats and pearls walk their dalmatians to studenty and artistic areas where hipsters sip their flat whites and type on their macs, from lush green residential areas with gardens and parks by the canal and mothers pushing their offspring along the water to colorful communities where an African grocery is next to a Halal food store.

We live in the latter one by the way. The guy from the Halal Food Store around the corner has introduced himself as “Nightmare”. I think he is rather lovely.

Street Views

New Brunswick, Canada © Julia Buschmann

Road trips are all about the same things: Heading towards the horizon, food on the go, singing along the radio as loud as you can and feeling the closest thing to freedom you’ve felt in a long time.

Road trips are the most healing thing in the world. Just leaving everything behind for some time. Getting into a vehicle and feeling the speed rise. Road markings dotting, becoming one trembling stripe. Sceneries, houses, cars, trees rushing past. Music accentuating the scenery, your own movie. You are the director: turn left, turn right, go slow, go fast. The clouds’ shadows floating across the fields. Everything is possible. Now. Forever.

There is nothing to worry about. You got your little vehicle there. It’s your roof for the night, if you need one. It is your mobile home. For now. Nothing else matters but the moment, the day. And days go by. Just driving. With your thoughts airing in the wind.

© Julia Buschmann
Western Ireland © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
Western Ireland © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
Western Ireland © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
East Canada © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
East Canada © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
Western Scotland © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
Western Scotland © Julia Buschmann
© Julia Buschmann
Western Scotland © Julia Buschmann
Yorkshire, England © Julia Buschmann
Yorkshire, England © Julia Buschmann
New Brunswick, Canada © Julia Buschmann
New Brunswick, Canada © Julia Buschmann
Central Australia © Julia Buschmann
Central Australia © Julia Buschmann

Road trips are for everyone. I will never forgot D’Aine, a charming 67 year old American who was exploring most of North America in her little van. I was at a hostel in Quebec City, had just grabbed some breakfast and was looking for a free seat on the hostel terrace. I had the choice between sitting with a group of 20-something year old backpackers laughing out loudly or 67 year old D’Aine sitting there in a corner by herself.

It is not often that you meet people over 50 – even over 40 – in a hostel and I was keen to find out what she was all about. She had to be special.

And she was. She was traveling by herself and she had been on the road for many weeks. Her van was packed with books, a mattress, souvenirs from the road and a camping tent. This lady was prepared! On the passenger seat sat a huge buddha, her travel mate, and dangling from the mirror was a dream catcher.

She gave me a ride and on the way stopped a couple of times to investigate herbs and plants by the road. “Look at these. These are very good for your bones! And those ones there for your skin… with these you can…”

She told me that she used to work in advertising and is divorced. Her husband cheated on her. She doesn’t look back. She was the smartest, prettiest, most self-sufficient and adventurous 67-year old I had ever met. And she was on the road alone (I think she still is) – to break it down to the most essential things: nature, freedom, the moment and some good books.

Before she dropped me off by the bus stop in Riviere du Loup, I had already decided that she was my hero.

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Where was your last road trip?

What’s your favourite route?