Monday, January 18, 2016

26 mistakes in 14 days in Europe

Mistakes in Europe.

I got cocky. I’ve lived abroad for more than three years so obviously I don’t need to make a list or think this 14 day euro trip through in any detail. I’m not sure when I will learn to make lists, plan for errors and stop problems before they arise. I’d like to say 2016 is that year but it’s not off to the best start. I will rattle a few off and give however much detail I think is necessary. Will rate on a devastation scale on 1-18

turtle riding crocodile1 The Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2015

1-Not bringing two pairs of shoes. 7.7 Need comfortable walking around shoes. I dropped the ball. One of my main thoughts was packing light. I reached that goal but sacrificed some important details.

2-Not bringing sandals. 2.8 Necessary for hostel showers and general walking around inside.

3-Not bringing a towel. 3.1 Need a good, cozy towel but space is a factor. I lost my quick dry towel a few weeks ago at the gym so now I’m a towel-less bachelor. Not looking up.

5-Not bringing soap. 1.9 Luckily they sell soap everywhere.

6-Not bringing a tooth brush. 1.7 Thought I could use a new toothbrush but didn’t think of it until getting ready for bed in Vienna. Not brushing your teeth for 24 hours makes you think crazy.

7-Not bringing tooth paste. 1.3 I don’t understand rules for bringing gels and liquids on planes so I essentially just avoid it altogether.

8-Not leaving enough time to get to the Paris airport on time. 7.9 
This was my second biggest mistake and could have been devastating. Not sure what I was thinking. Took me almost two hours to get from the airport to the Airbnb but for some reason I only gave myself an hour to get back to the airport in the morning before my flight to Barcelona. There goes 30 euro. 

9-Not bringing my laundry bag. 1.0 
Easy way to keep dirty clothes in a contained area and makes bringing laundry to a laundry mat much more convenient.

10-Forgetting my camera one day in Paris. 1.8 
A friend from Thailand has really made me question why people take pictures of most things in tourist centred places. I can find a thousand pictures online of the Louvre or Eiffel Tower but I bring my camera for what reason? I’m not in any of my pictures so I’m leaning towards not bringing my camera more often.

11-Not charging my camera battery one day after using it all day. 1.8 
Went to more places that day than the previous day of forgetting it completely. Love charging things so not sure how that slipped through the cracks.

train going through huge snow wall in canada The Top 50 Pictures of the Day for 2015

12-Not doing laundry until the second last day. 2.6
Clean clothes are almost essential and there’s laundry essentially everywhere you go. Just take the few hours and make it happen.

13-Not having my route planned out once I got to the Paris airport. 2.2 Writing this list is getting exhausting and slightly embarrassing. You need a plan of action once arriving to a new place. Hopefully a bus/train/metro route, some currency in that country and an upbeat attitude in trying to conquer a city in three days. Getting off the plane and thinking “Now what?” and there not being internet is not a place you want to be.

14-Not wearing a jacket/dressing up for the NYE party. 1.8 Bouncer said I wasn’t dressed nicely enough even though he let in people with tank tops later on in the night! Luckily our apartment was close by but wearing a jacket is almost always the right choice. (Actually learned this lesson again last Friday; there might be something wrong with me)

15-Forgetting my Canada t-shirt in Paris. 1.8 Just gives me a reason to visit Lyon and get it back!

16-Not bringing my day backpack. 3.2 Having a small backpack to carry around all day is quite convenient and will cut down on drink/food costs. Was worried about overall amount of size and space I had. Probably could have swung it and put my running shoes in it….

17-Not drinking enough water. 2.0

18-Not getting enough sleep the night before flight to Paris due to beer halls. .9 Worth it

19-Spending more money than my rough budget allowed. 4.0
70-90 euro a day is probably a good budget. I didn’t even do that many things but it adds up. 

20-I broke a glass… 0.4 Glass is fragile.

21-Walking tour in Munich was full so I should have booked free tour online the night before but I went the next day so this is barely a mistake. 0.8 As if you need to book a free tour! Spending twenty minutes researching the morning or night before a day exploring a new city is certainly worth it. Booking as much online and printing at home/hotel is recommended.

22-Not bringing or buying q tips. 2.0

23-A few wrong turns on subway stops but nothing catastrophic. 0.8 I didn’t study G.I.S.

24-Forgot lock. 2.1 Most hostels provide a locker but need your own lock, which I have two. The one I brought was too small so that didn’t even rattle me at all….

25-Not printing/checking in online with Wizz Air. 50+ euro mistake. 12.1 Don’t really want to talk about it other than almost always check in online and see what you need to print/bring/restrictions. I was too busy worrying that my carry-on bag was too small that I neglected that self-online check in.

26-I met a girl at a hostel bar after the beer hall tour and I had the thought in my head that I could marry this person. Would that be enough to ask/remember her name or add her on Facebook? Of course not Bert, of course not.  20?

I am certain I’m forgetting a few mistakes but the ‘Big Idea’ of this post is that planning and thinking ahead even mildly can solve many of your potential travel woes. Don’t get cocky. Be a humble, smart and thoughtful traveller. Almost everything you will do on your next trip, you could do more efficiently and probably for cheaper. Just keep Teacher Bert in mind next time you feel invincible and don't feel that you need that extra hour of prep time.

"Average people learn from their mistakes. Smart people learn from other people's mistakes."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Vienna, Munich, Paris, Barcelona.

Two weeks sure does fly by. Not sure where to start. I finished school on the 22nd, took a train to Austria on the 23rd, spent 3 nights and
Christmas with a couchsurfer in Vienna, train to Munich on the 26th, hostel for three nights then flew to Paris with Nakhon crew in an Airbnb, flew to Barcelona where I met up with Jack in a hostel for a few nights now back in Warsaw. Let’s get to it.

Do you know why there is an enormous amount hype to see the Eiffel tower?  Because it’s breathtakingly unreal. I couldn’t build a tree house so I found it extra impressive. My expectations for the trip were low because that’s where all of our expectations should be but lowest for Paris because I was most excited to see my friends and haven’t heard great things about the French. Do you know what is convenient? Speaking the language of the country you are in. You come here for the hard hitting advice and you get it.

I find the French language quite lovely after having a 10+ year break from it and French people were quite kind. Now being totally upfront, a reason I may love the French is because on New Year’s people would just come up to me and tell me I’m handsome and give me drink tickets but I’m trying for that not to completely cloud my judgement. French food is quite good, Paris has tons to see and beautiful buildings. Metro is a little tough to navigate and humongous but after a few days started to get it. These are some of the things I saw:

Baguettes and coffee shops every 8 steps. Homelessness seems to be an issue and a big police presence throughout the city. French music? Incroyable!!!!


May be a tad on the expensive side but luckily I have a job. (As I’m writing this, I’m on a full train going from Barcelona city to their airport and a man has a stereo and a saxophone that is getting the people going. They do this on the metro and it’s not all bad)

Vienna? Gorgeous. Christmas is apparently a great time to go and see markets, the lights and horses. There wasn’t any snow so it lacked a certain Christmas feel to it but I’m glad I went. You aren’t missing out by never going to Vienna but there is tons of art, outstanding buildings, opera and high end shopping. Here are some of the things I saw:


Munich? Beer, beer and more beer. Went on a beer hall tour the last night I was there and it was the highlight of my trip in Munich. I made like 6 friends! 6! Without even trying even a little bit so I had people to chill with my entire time there. Train stations sure bring out the shadiness of a city. Once outside of the train deception area, you are home free. German people are smart, know tons of languages and are just down right efficient. I would say I prefer Munich to Berlin but Germany is a safe choice if you wanted to move or explore Europe. Here are some of the things I saw:

Barcelona? Dream Team? 1992? Olympics? Hercules? Unnecessary question marks??? Yes to all of those! Great waterfront, perfect weather, rich history and a party every night if you are down. Hype is real for Spain. Lots of parks, surfing, tapas, motorbikes and Spanish people. Took a walking tour with our main man A. J and he made learning fun! Quick story. George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War. He did not use that name because he made it up to sell books. His real name is Eric Blair. I spent my time in Barcelona with Jack and he’s much smarter and a better human than myself. Orwell is his favourite author and has read all of this books. So the guide asks who has read 1984. People lift up their hand. Then asks who has read Animal Farm. Less people lift up their hands. Finally asks who has read Homage to Catalonia, nobody lifts up their hands but Jack had read it but didn’t want to show off how well read he was. Complete opposite of yours truly. While he’s talking about Homage to Catalonia, he mentions Orwell isn’t his original name. I ask Jack what it is. AJ asks the group if anyone knows his original name. I shout Eric Blair! Everyone is super impressed. Except for Jack because he has realized he has a friend who is only into walking tours for the 5 seconds of glory. Sorry Jack.

Have three weeks of work then another 2 week break in February so I will be returning to Toronto on January 31st, hopefully an Ottawa trip then back to Warsaw on the 13th of February. I have another post lined up detailing all of the mistakes I made on this trip and will have another one about resolutions for the New Year. Hope your 2016 is off to a tremendous start and if you live in or around Toronto, let’s make a plan.


Never go on trips with anyone you do not love. – Ernest Hemingway


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

So you live in Poland; what’s that like?

What’s a Poland? Good question. Poland is a legit place that I feel very lucky to be a part of. Are the stereotypes of vodka, women, and pierogies true? Why yes it is. Are they also quite serious, a little tough to get to know and not big fans of people with massive cackle laughs? Yes to all three. While Poland might not be on the top of your European hit list, let me try and shed a little light on my home for the past four months.

Let me tell you a quick story about my most recent travel gaffe. The majority of poles are catholic so Christmas and Easter are huge here. We have been practising for our Christmas show for the last two weeks and my grade 5 show happened Monday and my grade 4 show happened on Tuesday. I would say both were successful. For my grade 5’s, I wanted to do something a little less traditional so we rehearsed a Christmas mashup to this video Now listen to it another 80 times and you will be on my level with IM5. After the show, parents brought in food and drinks. My Polish teacher welcomes them in Polish, I say a few things in my broken English and the eating begins. I get passed this:

Great. I’m hungry. Put on some Christmas music, eat my wafer, glad the show is over. Minute or two later, a student comes over, offers me their wafer, wishes me a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. He or she (I forget) tells me that I’m not supposed to eat my wafer but to go around the class, wishing people Merry Christmas and all the best in 2016. My wafer is now about 75% gone. Great. Can someone find me a new wafer? Embarrassing to be sure but I thought it was similar to a catholic communion where you eat what they give you. So this evening, my other Polish teacher asked me if I knew what to do with the wafer. Where was she yesterday? Polish people might find this funnier than you do but the lesson to be learned is if you are unsure about how to act in a new country/situation, give it a minute and act like everyone else. I also like the tradition because it is social and is an easy conversation starter. 

I saw my first wild boar family last week. At first glance I thought it was a bear. I’ve seen bears before in Canada but not wild boars so that was a surprise and a relief. Also had baby boars with it so that spiced up my Tuesday night. Apparently you need to run in a zig zag to elude them. Stupid boars.
Poland is definitely on the cheap side for Europe. Grocery shopping, Uber, alcohol, and most things are cheaper than in Canada. Most young people can speak English but there is a tipping point around 45-50ish and for sure grandparents are no hablo ingles. The amount of students, schools and studying that goes on in Poland is bonkers. Almost everyone who strives for a higher income/lifestyle has a Masters and is probably studying even more. Old or young, education is king. People from abroad and throughout Poland are a big reason I have a job so thanks Poland.

Making friends for me in general is a little tough because I’m not super outgoing and social to new people so by chance, one night we crossed the river into Praga, known as the more dangerous/seedier side of Warsaw to see what’s up. A random Australian and his friends started a conversation with me and another Canadian that I work with and we all hit it off. He works at a hostel in Warsaw so he likes talking to people and a hostel is a good home base to have to try and make new friends so progress is being made in the friend department if anyone out there is worried I’m staying in all weekend catching up on Touched by an Angel.

Two week break coming up next week that I’m greatly anticipating but I have another two week break in February that I’m even more excited for because I will be visiting Toronto, friends and family. Europe and travelling is great but family is what’s up. And snowboarding. And Underground. 
This will be my cheapest Christmas since I’ve been a kid due to lack of family nearby and a wide circle of friends in Poland. Weather has been quite warm which makes my 5 minute bike rides to school even more bearable. I’ve discovered that getting a masseuse to come over and get a hour and a half massage is only about $45ish dollars which I will be maximizing from here on out. Thailand was cheaper but I had to leave my house. Also paid someone under $20 to clean my apartment to a standard way over what I would have for myself and ironed my shirts. It’s the little things that get me about a country.

First few weeks went by a bit slowly but things are picking up now and I’m finding my groove. Will try and post a few more before the end of the year. Hope you killed it in 2015 and 2016 surpasses the expectations that you shouldn’t even have had in the first place. Don’t be a stranger.

“Three things cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I'm a 7. What number are you?

The enneagram is essentially a personality type test that might give you some insight into what kind of a human being you are. When I first heard about enneagrams last year, I was skeptical and it sounded far-fetched and fairly lame. I’ve since come around to loving the idea and think it can help us with our everyday life. It seems incredibly accurate and is a bit mind blowing that a test can tell you things about yourself that you may not have noticed. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now but haven’t made time but since being home sick the last two days, it has opened some writing time in my schedule. Let’s dive right in.

 There are 9 types. Everyone is a little bit of each type but we have a dominant type along with a wing (or two). No type is inherently male or female; the higher the number does not mean one is better than the other; at different times you may act like a 3 while in other situations you may act more like a 9; there is no “good” or “bad” number; it is also believed that we are born into our types and that we don’t change types throughout our lifetime.  I’m by no means an expert in the enneagram field but I find it fascinating and will do my best to summarize it. So, what are the types? Great question but raise your hand next time to ask a question. While you read, try to guess which type(s) you (and me!) are and I will put a link to the free test after type 9. After you take the test, go back to your number and click on the link to learn more. There is a video that explains what it is like to be your number, how you do in relationships, an overview of your type and tips to make you a better you.

Some of this info is from their website

Type One—The Reformer: The principled, idealistic type. Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionist. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic. Famous 1's include Plato, Hillary Clinton, Harrison Ford, Martha Stewart. Learn more about 1's
Type Two—The Helper: The caring, interpersonal type. Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others. Famous 2's include Stevie Wonder, Elizabeth Taylor and Kenny G. Learn more about 2's
Type Three—The Achiever: The adaptable, success-oriented type. Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others. Famous 3's include Will Smith, Bill Clinton, Oprah and Kevin Spacey. Learn more about 3's
Type Four—The Individualist: The introspective, romantic type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences. Famous 4's Edgar Allen Poe, Nicolas Cage, Marlon Brandon and Bob Dylan. Learn more about 4's
Type Five—The Investigator: The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way. Learn more about 5's
Type Six—The Loyalist: The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others. Famous 6's David Letterman, Chris Rock, Mark Twain and Prince Harry. Learn more about 6's
Type Seven—The Enthusiast: The busy, productive type. Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied. Famous 7's Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen and Larry King. (Some may say the best type..........) Learn more about the best
Type Eight—The Challenger: The powerful, aggressive type. Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self-mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring. Famous 8's Martin Luther King Jr, Winston Churchill, Picasso and Frank Sinatra. Learn more about 8's
Type Nine—The Peacemaker: The easy-going, self-effacing type. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually grounded, supportive, and often creative, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent and emotionally distant, simplifying problems and ignoring anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts. Famous 9's include Lincoln, Morgan Freeman, Monet and Ringo Starr. Learn more about 9's

All Rights ReservedCopyright 2008 The Enneagram Institute
Link to the free test. Just add your email:
Another interesting part of the enneagram is how it affects us in relationships we have. Certain types mesh well with others. If you and someone you are in a relationship both take the test, you can click here 
and it will tell you how your types interact. That link also explains how different types do in business, parenting, personal growth and what countries have more of which type. Once you know your type and understand them a little more, it’s quite fun to guess what type your friends and family might be. Even guessing new people you meet can become addicting.

After taking the free test, I was a 7 (The Enthusiast) with a 3 (Achiever) and a 9 (Peacemaker) wing. I felt that I was a hard 7. Focuses on fun, avoiding pain, undisciplined and spontaneous. Since taking the test, I see myself as a 7 and tend to seek out 7’s as friends. There is also a $12 test that I always wanted to take but never did that is a more in-depth so just before writing this post, I took it and it was a tie between 7 and 9! A nine! But I’m a 7! 9’s are easy-going, trusting, supportive and stubborn. They can bring people together but avoid conflict. I’m pretty entrenched into my 7 attitude so I haven’t had enough time to explore my 9 habits but I’m still going to call myself a 7 (Stubbornness: such a 9 trait!) Let me know what you think. I’m sorry if this post was even worse than what I usually write but I think learning about ourselves, each other and how we all interact is important. Let me know what number you are and if you think it's accurate or not. Thanks.

Leadership Quote 11

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Dr. Dyer

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Thursdays are our gateway to the weekend. What better way to start off the weekend than a wrap up post? The answer is no other way. But first:

Yeah right eh? Stayed up till 2am watching it with a fellow Canadian while another Canadian decided sleep was a better option. We are deciding what to do with her passport. I don’t normally miss being at home too often but right now I’m very envious of anyone in the GTA. These late night games are going to be cutting into my sleep and productivity with my classes. I hope they understand it’s part of my culture. They need to learn about cultural sensitivity in my opinion and I’m their teacher so I obviously know best.

Quick thoughts on Krakow:
I dig it. I don’t take tons of pictures because my phone has a scratched lens and I’m not a big real camera person, making people wait around so I can take a few pictures of some chapels. Here’s what I would have taken pictures of:

Just a reminder, when you are in a new country, understand the exchange rate and decimal numbers on atm/card machines. Just a reminder. I'd tell you it was my friend but you wouldn't believe me.

Nothing crazy happened in Krakow but it was my first train ride in Europe that was cheap and an enjoyable time with a few other teachers from my school. Also hit up my first brewery which was a win, laughed a few times and ate a cinnabon. Only a three hour train ride so I anticipate returning once or twice in the near future.

Also a good spot. Shocking? Aren’t you glad you tune into for this wise and sage like advice? Want another shocker? It was expensive! Gasp! I went to meet up with a friend from university and it was definitely worth it. Obviously we saw a Berlin polar bear hockey game. Saw a little thing called the Berlin wall; maybe you’ve heard about it. It’s quite the wall. Did my first bike tour of a city that covered a lot of ground which is great because of my Bertness, I got lost twice (twice) on the Sunday for a walking tour so I didn’t see a few famous places, most notably checkpoint Charlie. I had a few hours but it would have cost me a few euros to get there and I don’t like gambling with flight times however I do love gambling in almost any other scenario. Instead of the walking tour, I took part in my first boat tour that was beautiful and informational. If I took pictures, this is what they would sort of look like:

While I was poorly navigating Berlin’s complex metro system, I started wondering why I wanted to see these landmarks on that walking tour and if I didn’t, would my trip have been a waste? Did I really care or did I just not want to tell people that I went to Berlin and I didn’t see ________. How often have I or yourself seen a sight or taken part in an activity that you weren’t 100% jacked up about but did it in large part to say that you did it? I’m guessing more than I imagine. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Oh, I think so.
I feel like before going to a new place, researching it a bit, talking with people who have been and coming up with a rough idea of how I want to spend my days/hours in that particular spot will give me an outline of the things that catch my interest but if I go to Moscow and don’t see the Kremlin or visit Nigeria and don’t see Zuma rock, is that a big deal? I feel like it isn’t. I go to a new place to chill out, not be rushed and just see what happens. One reason I’m not super down to visit India any time soon is because I hear that even though it’s wild, different and unlike any other place on the planet, going there doesn’t seem like it would help me unwind. I need to unwind from a class filled with students who thinks that me showing them pictures of a forest being destroyed to make products is fake. “Teacher! Not real! From a computer!” Sigh.

So if you go somewhere new or old, don’t let people bully you into doing must see things. Take a random bus somewhere with a new friend, grab a beer and wander around, sleep in your air bnb all day, do whatever that is you want to do at that time. You do you.
Thanksgiving was great. I’m quite thankful for many things. Being Canadian, having a crazy, great amount of friends and family that I love very much, being able to travel, having luscious long eyelashes and being able to go to work and instantly be put into a better mood by a student saying that a tomato and a potato are the same thing or asking me if I have a girlfriend, me asking her what she thinks and her reply is “of courrrrse not”. She knows. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursdays. Are. Sexy. Sexy Thursday.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” 

John D. Rockefeller