Travel TopOfBlogs Past and future wanderings of a travel bug . . .: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dreams of my Nation

One goal in a hockey game made the dreams of my nation come true.

One medal made Olympic history for us. And we as a nation are changed forever.

When these games began over two weeks ago the focus was on the Own the Podium program, and the medal count. When they ended tonight however the focus had changed. The program was a success but not in the way we had planned. While Canada did not lead the medal count in the end they triumphed in other ways. The performance of our athletes and Vancouver as the host city for these games did our country proud. I cannot express what these games have made me feel but in many ways it was not an experience I was prepared for. I did however read a blog today that said what I would like to be able to say entitled, "The Games That Changed A Nation." I couldn't say it any better. Dreams are not realized without some loss and some heartache and our athletes won a hard fought contest. They have proven both to us and the rest of the world that they can stand among giants on the world stage and not only compete, but win.

Some of you may be wondering why I am writing about the Olympics since this is in fact meant to be a travel blog. This is why. Every two years the world comes together in a new place in the world to experience the games. Competitors from all over come for the games as well as the party. But friends and family and other supporters who might never travel to some of the places the games are being held travel for that reason. And I am sure many of them are inspired. They visit one city in a country they never planned to travel to and catch that travel bug. And left behind after the games is each city's Olympic legacy. Just another reason to visit. So wherever you are, whoever you are, I hope you are inspired to share a little piece of your nation with the world. I am proud of my nation--I hope that you are too. So catch that travel bug and get out and explore the world!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm not much of a sports fan but . . .

I'll be the first to admit I am not much of a sports fan. And I'd be willing to bet that there are many more Canadians just like me that are finding themselves caught up in the Olympic Machine. As a young country and a premiere travel destination for those who love winter sports Canada has a lot to prove. The host country for this Olympic games wants to "Own the Podium" by winning more medals than any other country at their own games. In the first ten days of competition we have yet to do so but can now boast winning Olympic gold on home soil and a total of eight medals that are mostly silver and gold. The program to support our athletes has been called un-Canadian by detractors but it's aim to allow our athletes to be able to do their very best by supporting their efforts. While as a nation we are apologetic and self-effacing (and often known best for what we are not, that is to say American) we are also a country of pioneers whose initial race was for the ultimate prize--survival. The stakes may no longer be as high but to win is an integral part of the indomitable Canadian spirit.

Our athletes, like everyone else want to win. And when our hopes are pinned on them they carry the heavy burden gracefully. And perhaps we are becoming more like our cousins to the south--when they win there is certainly more flag waving than most of us have ever seen (and even a little exuberant jumping up and down) but when they lose, many are doing so tearfully and giving apologies to a country they feel they have let down. To all our athletes, if you have represented Canada fairly and with good sportsmanship and given it your all, guess what? We love you! Whether you come in first or last it does not matter because you are still our best and brightest when it comes to your sport. No apology is required. I am only one person and I was not born an athlete but I believe in YOU.

Like I said before I am not much of a sports fan. Most of the time my attention would diverted to books, art, or anything else. But the Olympics make everything different. They allow us to become caught up in sports we barely understand and dreams we never before shared. And I know I am not alone in this. Canadians around the country and around the world are being unified through these games. And we are pulling together to stand behind our athletes. I know the national pride in Vancouver is electric right now. I hear tell though the news of people breaking into spontaneous renditions of O Canada, and playing hockey in the streets and see everyone wearing our national colours on TV. The streets are full of my proud countrymen (and women). I wish I were there but since I can't be I will cheer on our athletes from afar and keep myself and those around me posted through the Olympic coverage on TV and the internet. Tonight our team plays Canada's game. And tonight I will be watching! And hoping, and wishing and dreaming that we might just own the podium! Go Canada!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We are more. Canada welcomes the world!

I unexpectedly found myself watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics Games in Vancouver last night. What an amazing spectacle! We sure put on a show. It certainly made my heart swell with a bit of national pride. While I can't say I loved all of the artistic elements overall I thought this was very well done and the VANOC did a very good job of representing Canada and Canadians. The participants in the ceremony read like a laundry list of who's who in Canadian athletes and artists. We were treated to appearances and performances by Bryan Adams, Donald Sutherland, K.D. Lang, Rick Hansen and Wayne Gretzky just to name a few. It is easy to forget that we have so much homegrown talent in this country when like the rest of the world we are so overwhelmed by the American media. But talent we have in spades.

As Canadians we are often asked what defines Canada. The poet Shane Coyczan couldn't have said it better than in his poem "We are More." He shared his poem by performing it at the ceremony last night. For me, this expression of Canada was the highlight of the ceremony. If you want to read the poem you can do so here. The event concluded with our own "Great One", Wayne Gretzky, lighting the Olympic Cauldron. Sadly the festivities were overshadowed by the death of a young luger from Georgia earlier in the day. Tribute was paid to him during the ceremony was done with grace in several ways including a minute of silence in his memory. His team stays on carrying his Olympic dream with them. I salute them for this.

It's been several years since I have had the pleasure to visit Vancouver. It's a vibrant city with much to see and do. But for the next twelve days or so it is the Olympic city that welcomes the world! So welcome, enjoy and if you have never visited I hope that seeing these games will inspire you to visit!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feeding the bug without leaving home

I've only been back in Canada for a few months and I am ready to go again. There is just so much of the world still to see! Right now though, I am not in any position to do any globe trotting. I need to stay in one place for a while. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't rather be traveling--given the option I wouldn't stop. Once I find a way to travel more than I am at home and still have a steady income I will be doing just that. In the meantime however I have to find other ways to feed my travel bug. This is what I am doing to keep it happy:

1. talk to everyone and anyone about travel, where they have been, where you have been, what they loved and hated about being away, sometimes living vicariously through others is the best way to deal
2. research and plan for the next trip (or trips)-this means there is still light at the end of the tunnel, it is a goal you are working towards
3. be an armchair traveler by reading books-those about travel and even fiction set in the exotic or even familiar locales that you would like to be in
4. watch a movie or three set somewhere you see yourself visiting in the future
5. visit your favorite ethnic restaurant and explore the food of somewhere you have visited or hope to, Greek food anyone?
6. go exploring in your own backyard--you would visit museums and markets and other new places when you visit a new city, so why do not do the same at home
7. writing about your experiences, both the ones you've had and the one's you hope to have, hopefully you will inspire someone else to do the same!
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