Bye Bye Ottawa, GP Toronto and Deer

My time in Ottawa is unfortunately coming to an end. I’ve had some amazing times here, met some great people and hope that I get to return soon. I’m incredibly grateful for all the friends who have made this an unforgettable experience.

Getting to go to another GP with Dem Boyz was just a treat. Jan even made it to day two while I ended up missing it by one game.

Ottawa in Winter was the real deal. Incredibly cold but also beautiful. Still, it’s best enjoyed inside.

And for the ultimate Canadian Experience: Petting deer in Omega Park. I did not even know this was possible!

I will be leaving Ottawa next week to meet up with my dad in Montreal and go explore the east coast from there. πŸ™‚

Christmas LAN, back to Ottawa and New Year’s

I had some good times in BC and met some amazing people but some things just didn’t work out the way I had planned them. Nevertheless the last week was definitely an experience with Brandon coming through for me and inviting me not only to some much needed family time but also to his Christmas LAN. Playing games, eating, drinking and staying up until seven in the morning at which point literally everything becomes hilarious.

  • LAN food
  • LAN drinks
  • LAN games
  • more games
  • and Mocca
  • athletic boi
  • (some of) the LAN boys
  • Christmas morning
  • Goodbye BC

Since I still really want to see the east coast before I head back to Germany, I decided to go back to Ottawa. I made some really good friends there and I even managed to get my job at Room Escape Ottawa back. I spent the days between the holidays at Jan’s place. We played games, ate some amazing food and I also got to hang out with his mom while he was busy. She is an amazing lady who absolutely spoiled me and I really enjoyed talking, cooking and baking “The Romanian Cake” with her.

Jan also invited me to a New Years Eve party with some of his polish friends. Again, there was amazing food, good people and lots of drinks. Also, I think it was the coldest NYE I have ever experienced: -25C!


Grad Photos and Victoria

I feel like I’ve pretty much settled into living in Maple Ridge. My job has changed a little bit over the last couple of weeks. School photo days are pretty much done and Eric’s company is mostly doing photo sessions for (soon to be) high school graduates now. Since training me as a grad photographer doesn’t really make sense for only one season, Eric has me working as his customer service representative now. That means I greet the students that come for their shooting, collect their money and assist the photographers.

The days are getting colder and more rainy now. Last weekend I took the ferry to Victoria to see Heather and pick up my winter tires that she kindly moved here from Ottawa. She took me down to the military harbor and gave me a tour of the HMCS Calgary, the ship that she is working on. A very unique experience. The ride on the ferry was quite an experience as well. With fall dressing the islands in the most beautiful colors.

Living in Maple Ridge

I’ve almost been living in BC for four weeks now and I have to say that it feels good to be back. Living with the Arksey family is a blast, the lower mainland is still as beautiful as I remember and my job as a school photographer is treating me well. After I arrived there was a week of training during which I got to know the team and was taught how to set up the equipment, posing as well as communicating with the clients. On the final day of training we had a barbecue and the week after we started. I usually work around four hours every day and during that time take around 350 photos.

  • training in the garage

But what I definitely enjoy the most is catching up with friends that I met in my exchange year over a decade ago. It’s just amazing to continue our friendship from so many years back as if nothing ever changed. πŸ™‚

  • Bonus: former room mate visiting Vancouver

Big Canadian Road Trip: Day 9

Day 7: Regina: The city that rhymes with fun! When I first got to the capital of Saskatchewan I was pretty disappointed. The drive there was not very exciting since the Canadian prairies while having a certain charm get repetitive pretty quickly. Regina sits in the middle of what Wikipedia describes as “broad, flat, treeless and largely waterless plain” and driving into the city the first thing I saw were big chemical plants. Not the most inviting vista. But, as per usual, the people make all the difference and wow did I meet a cool dude here. My host Tim was pretty much the perfect couch surfing host and just generally awesome person. After working different jobs that he was never quite satisfied with, he one day decided to fully embrace his love for food and cooking and bought a food truck. In the morning of the day of my arrival he went to the farmers market and we ended up cooking a fantastic vegetarian meal together. Note: Tim is not a vegetarian, he bought fresh produce just to fit my eating habits. What an amazing guy. While Regina might not be the prettiest city, they do know how to do a certain thing close to my heart: brew beer. Tim took me to two local breweries. I ended up drinking a little too much and had an intense roller coaster ride on the couch after we got home, but the experience was definitely worth it.

  • yum!
  • many good beers
  • notice the lights?
  • even German named ones
  • Tanooki - funny name for a dog
  • doggos are friends
  • trusty car

Day 8: Feeling a little queasy, I set out on my trip to Calgary. The landscape was still a little boring but some hills started to appear here and there. My host in Calgary was Lauren, a doctor working on her specialization for public health. For some reason I forgot to take any photos of her beautiful apartment, but she made a killer sushi bowl for me and I made some soup from dried ingredients that I bought in St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. We spent a very relaxed evening and got up early. At that point I did not know how long the trip would be…

Day 9: Initially I set out to drive to Kamloops. It was definitely the most beautiful part of the drive landscape wise. The photos probably speak for themselves. I took a short break in Banff and had lunch at the Wild Flour Bakery (thanks Lauren for the suggestion!). On the way through the mountains traffic got stuck twice. Once because of a tipped truck and once because of a rock slide. I used both times to ride my penny board on the shoulder of the road. πŸ˜€
When I came to Kamloops at 20:00 I had not found a host for the night. I looked at my phone and noticed that it would be around 4 more hours to get to Maple Ridge. Since I didn’t feel like sleeping in my car, I decided to get another red bull and drive all the way. I unfortunately missed all of the scenery, but it did feel good to arrive and have Eric wait for me in the kitchen with a cold beer in the fridge. πŸ™‚

Big Canadian Road Trip: Day 6

Day 4: The next stop on my trip was Thunder Bay which almost ended up being a disaster. The drive around lake superior was amazing and I had some really nice views. But the person I had contacted to couch surf with turned out not to be a very good host, so I instead stayed withΒ Annie. We took her bikes to get Gelato (Strawberry Balsamic and Mango) and then sat at the marina talking and looking at the pretty lights of the city. πŸ™‚

  • Lake Superior
  • Gelato
  • Marina
  • Annie's porch
  • Annie's backyard

Day 5/6: Winnipeg was absolutely amazing. Mostly because of my awesome couch surfing host. Dylan greeted me with a big welcoming smile and I instantly felt at home. His ex had recently moved out and he was eager to go out and do something. So we took his long boards and a couple of beers and went out to see the city by night. I had an absolute blast. The air was still warm and it felt good to be moving after spending the whole day in the car. We came by an open mic stage and sat down to listen to some genuine Winnipeg music and poetry. I had such a good time with Dylan that I decided to stay another day. I got to hang out with his dog Lulu, an absolut beauty, young and full of energy, and his son Ryder, pro at catching and tossing beach balls. Dylan and I decided that we would meet again for surfing in Tofino in December.

  • Dylan playing my 12-string
  • beers and long boards
  • at the skate park
  • Lulu the dog
  • Dylan and his son Ryder

Big Canadian Road Trip: Day 3

I’m sitting in a camping chair with my phone in my hand and a beer next to me in lot 6 of the rabbit blanket campground.
I can hardly believe that it has only been three days. Ottawa already seems so far away (1336km to be exact).

Day 1: I went from Ottawa to Toronto. I underestimated the time it would take to pack all of my things and so I arrived in Toronto around 21:30. Luckily my couchsurfing host Jonas was still up working on a business proposal and welcomed me into his apartment with a big smile. He was an amazingly friendy person who suggested I enjoy the view from his balcony while he was finishing up. He lives in a high rise appartement very close to downtown and the view at the illuminated skyscrapers against the by then pitch black sky was simply breathtaking. A little later I got to meet Mary and Steven, a young couple from the states who celebrated their 3 month anniversary with a trip to Montreal and then Toronto where they saw one of their favorite bands. We all stayed up until two in the morning drinking wine and talking.


Day 2: Initially I wanted to get back on the road the next morning but after the beautiful scenery, I changed my mind and decided to stay in Toronto for half a day until I eventually moved on to Sudbury. I could not find a couch surfing host there unfortunately and when I came up to the camp ground where I wanted to spend the night it was pouring. The grounds keeper actually advised me not to set up tent since they expected a thunderstorm at night and instead suggested that I should get a motel room which I ended up doing.

Day 3: One of the couch surfers I contacted to host me in Sudbury gave me the number of one of her friends. She wouldn’t be able to host me but she would show me around the city the next day. So at 11:00 I got to meet Pritha. She took me on a walk around Ramsey Lake and showed me some of her favorite spots and even a little rock she found that had a very simple yet beautiful message. When it started to rain, we went to a beautifully quirky restaurant with the name The Laughing Buddha. After that I went on to Lake Superior Provincial Park and the camp grounds I am now staying at. Oh, I did have a little stop at the Canadian Carver where I received my first full service gas fill up and took some snaps of some of the funny signs they sold there.

Goodbye Ottawa

My time in Ottawa is coming to a close. Since my photography job in Vancouver starts training on August 28th, I will have to get going.
Fortunately, I still got to take part in Room Escape Ottawa’s staff outing on August 15th. The management had invited all employees to a match of lawn bowling where we would face off in teams of two. Even with an overcast sky, the sun was pretty intense and I managed to get a sunburn within a few hours. Oh yeah, and we did team costumes. πŸ˜€

After that I spent my last night with dem boyz at carta magica and at my place for magic and drinking after that. They had all put their money together and one of them pulled a few strings so they could give me my own custom dem boyz playmat. Everyone signed it. I was so happy. πŸ™‚

I am really grateful that my first month’s in Ottawa were so enjoyable for me. I met so many amazing people and made so many awesome memories. Thank you Ottawa for welcoming me with such open arms.

Canoeing Video

Bluesfest, GP Toronto and First Tattoo

Ottawa has an outdoor music festival every summer. Heather suggested I should volunteer there because it’s fun and you get to see the shows for free, so that’s what I did. Most volunteers return every year so a lot of them already knew each other. I did five shifts in total for about three hours each night. The last night was a special treat because it was a very slow night for me and I got to enjoy the Muse concert. πŸ™‚

  • no parking spots
  • sexy shirts
  • The best job: bar keeper
  • my team
  • MUSE!

July 21-23 was GP weekend in Toronto. I had already planned to go there even before I arrived in Canada. Sinan, a friend from Switzerland asked me if I wanted to go there since his wife was going to visit relatives in the summer anyway. I drove there with my dem boyz friends and met up with Sinan at the event. I unfortunately didn’t have a lot of time to explore Toronto since I spent most of the time at the event center playing magic. But Sinan, Samar and I went out for dinner on Saturday night and had an epic battle after the meal. I think the photo makes it pretty clear who won. Sinan and Samar would end up staying a little longer while dem boyz and I drove back to Ottawa on Sunday night. I got home at 4:30 am. I was lucky to have a late shift that day. πŸ˜€

  • Roadtrip!
  • spin break
  • This guy was judging GP Madrid too!
  • Joel after the ride home

I have been taking antidepressants since the beginning of 2017. While it was definitely not as bad as my first episode in 2012 I still struggled quite a bit. On some days I had to call in sick at work because I couldn’t even bring myself to get up out of bed. Two weeks ago I have taken my last pill. I took the opportunity to commemorate this day with my first tattoo: a semicolon. Over the last couple of years, the semicolon had established itself as a symbol for mental health. It has a simple but powerful message: A semicolon is used when the author could have ended the sentence but decided to keep going. The sentence is our life. And the author is us.