Lifestyle

Alone No More

Today is my last Sunday living alone – hopefully for a very long time.

For the past six years I’ve lived by myself in Montreal. This week, I’m finally moving in with Xavier.

It’s a big chapter of my life coming to an end, and as much as I’m happy I had the opportunity to live my young adult life on my own, I am even more happy it’s over.

Living by myself was positive for so many reasons.

I gained maturity a lot faster having to figure things out on my own and being by myself often (thus facing my thoughts), and this helped me to discover my personality, what I like and dislike, what annoys me, what makes me happy, the kind of life I want to live.

Living alone gave me confidence and pushed me to question myself and to face life in a way I could have avoided if I had stayed in the comfort of my parents’ home. For instance, when I lived with my parents as a teenager, I always thought I would like to go into the communication and marketing field. I didn’t want to go into too much of a “hard” program because I didn’t think I could handle it, and I thought communication would be appropriate since I liked talking. However, living by myself not only showed me that life is expensive and that if I wanted to live the kind of life I was aiming for, I’d better roll up my sleeves and get serious about school and jobs, but it also gave me a newfound confidence that proved to be crucial. Having to figure out everything on my own, I proved to myself that I’m strong and I can handle anything. It’s that confidence that pushed me to aim high, switch schools and programs, get out of a bad relationship and go get the job I wanted. One should never underestimate confidence.

Of course, living alone gave me so much freedom. I could do anything I wanted, every day. Go out to a cool new restaurant? Sure, any day. Go out to a bar with friends? Yes, any day. Eat a whole pizza by myself? No worries, any time. Go out on a date on a week night? No problem! That’s the part I loved the most about those years. The independence. I’ve always been a responsible person, so it was easy for me to balance the fun with the school and the work. It was so much fun to live it all, on my own, with no authority.

That said, living alone was not always easy.

There are many times where I wish someone would have been there to listen to me, to comfort me, to have a great conversation with and to share laughs. I ate almost every dinner alone with Netflix for the past 6 years. I had a lot of alone time, and it was difficult at times. I had to go through a sickness on my own. I had to take care of myself each day, because no one else would do it for me. If I could point to one thing that didn’t make me so happy, it was this. Relationships and human contacts are so important, and I sometimes felt I was lacking that.

That’s why I’m so happy to move in with Xavier. He’ll finally be that person I can make jokes with, have dinner with, or have impromptu dance parties with. He’ll be the shoulder I can cry on and the person I can surprise with a cool new recipe. I won’t be alone anymore, I’ll take care of someone, and someone will be taking care of me. That feels amazing.

I can’t wait to start this new chapter of my life.

Bring it on, adult life!

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A Week in Cartagena & Tierra Bomba

Xavier and I spent a week in Colombia early April to get away from the winter and to celebrate the end of my semester. We wanted to do something completely different from Iceland – go somewhere warm and where we wouldn’t have to do any camping!

In the end, we went with Cartagena in Colombia. It’s Xavier’s mom who suggested it. When we looked it up and saw how beautiful the old town was, we booked it the same week and we were at the airport three weeks later! I had never planned a trip so quickly and it felt good. I didn’t know what to expect and so it was really fun to discover it on the spot.

Fun fact, Cartagena is the only walled city in America aside from Quebec City. Since I’m from Quebec City, it was cool to visit the only other city of its kind on the entire continent.

The hotel we stayed at in Cartagena was the Bastion Luxury Hotel. We quickly learnt that Colombians are very nice and helpful. The service at the hotel was excellent and the hotel itself was beautiful. We spent a lot of time by the pool on the roof, reading books and sipping on drinks. The breakfast served each morning was exceptional – a massive buffet of fruits, bread, smoothies, eggs, cheese, olives, and I could go on and on 🙂 Let’s just say it gave us the needed motivation to get out of bed each morning!

We wanted to go try at least one restaurant with a tasting menu in Cartagena, and after reading reviews online, we went with Carmen. We were  very happy with our choice! The restaurant was absolutely stunning with such a romantic atmosphere. In fact, throughout our trip, we were very impressed by the quality of restaurants in Cartagena. As foodies, we really enjoyed it.

For the second part of the week, we took a boat and went on the Tierra Bomba Island at the Blue Apple Beach House. After spending a few days in the busy city of Cartagena, we were looking forward to a few days of relaxation on a quiet island. When we got to the beach club, we were welcomed by a beautiful beach with only a few people swimming, a pool area with a DJ where people were hanging out, and a beautiful terrace with tables looking out to the pool. There was also a volleyball court, a massage area and lots of relaxing spots all around the property. Immediately, we felt on vacation!

The best part of this hotel is that when I booked the room, there was only one left so I didn’t pay too much attention as to what I was booking since we had no other option. Therefore, when the receptionist lead us to the cabana on the side of the property, I couldn’t believe that’s what I had booked – and neither could Xavier! The room was simply stunning. We had our own private balcony and outdoor bathroom (the shower under the stars thing is pretty awesome). It quickly became my favorite room I had ever stayed in!

After three days of pure relaxation at Blue Apple Beach House, we went back to Cartagena for the last night. To finish the trip on a good note, we went to the Sofitel hotel for a romantic dinner at Restaurante 1621. The service was amazing and the food delicious. I wish I could go back!

Now that Colombia is in the past, I’m already looking forward to our next adventure!

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Iceland Trip: Westfjords, Snaefellsnes and the Golden Circle

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Finally, here’s the third part of our Iceland trip! I’ve really changed my mindset about this blog. I now use it as a journal rather than a blog so I feel absolutely no pressure to write articles and I only do so when I feel like it. The past few months have been super busy – in a good way! – so I haven’t really been thinking about Candidly Julie. However, today I was feeling this urge to write about our trip, so I decided to (finally) post the third part of our trip in Iceland. We’re actually starting to think about the next trip we’re going to do, but we have no idea where we’ll go yet. One thing for sure, we want to do something adventurous again!

This third part of our trip covers the Westfjords, Sneafellsnes and the Golden Circle, three very different but equally beautiful parts of Iceland.

First off, after Lake Myvatn, we headed for the Westfjords. We were very excited about this part of the trip since most people don’t adventure into the Westfjords – I think only 4% or so of visitors do. The drive to Isafjordur, the Northern capital of Iceland, was very lengthy since there are no bridges/tunnels or in-land roads in the fjords (it’s too mountainous) and therefore we had to drive around the each fjord which takes a few hours. However, Isafjordur is stunning and worth the drive.

I have a funny story about this town – in fact we still laugh about it! I was the one driving when we got into Isafjordur and I had written down the name of a well-rated restaurant, Tjoruhusid, where I wanted us to go to. We didn’t have wifi at that point, so we were trying to figure out where the restaurant was with the map. I drove to the tip of the town near the water (it seemed like the restaurant was in that area), but I ended up driving the car into the marina. We both looked at each other like “oh boy, it clearly isn’t here”. However, instead of doing the smart thing, which was to head back to where we came from, I decided to continue on the road, thinking that we could go around the marina and back on the road. I ended up at a dead-end, but I could see an opening that looked like a an alley big enough for cars that went back into the town, so I started driving through it. However, we quickly realized that I had driven right onto the restaurant’s front lawn!!!! They had this cute path set up for their clients in between the two buildings of the property and I was right on it with the car!!! The server came out of the restaurant, looked right at me, and I could see he was like “what are they doing??” I felt awful, but we were so tired of the drive that we just started laughing and we couldn’t stop. Once again, instead of driving back, I just continued, drove up onto the sidewalk, and back into the parking lot where I parked the car. We stepped out, still laughing hysterically, walked to the restaurant, went inside, looked at the server: “table for two please”. He looked at us and said “this is a five stars restaurant – I don’t think you’re at the right place”. Oooops! I guess we didn’t make a great first impression hahah. That said, the restaurant was amazing – next time I go though, I’ll make sure not to drive on their front lawn before I park the car.

After the restaurant, we walked a little bit around town. We were the only ones in the streets since it was late. At some point, I look up to the sky and here it was; the northern lights. That evening couldn’t have been more perfect. So perfect that I don’t have any pictures of our stay in Isafjordur except of the drive on the way there as well as one of the restaurant. Speaking of the drive, we saw a seal!! I was so excited. I immediately had to stop on the side of the road and we ran to the water. He/she was so cute!

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After Isafjordur, we headed to the Latrabjarg cliffs. Apparently, on a clear day, you can even see Greenland from there! We felt so remote from the rest of the world, which was pretty cool. It was so pretty that I didn’t want to leave. Xavier had to pretend he would throw my selfie stick in the water if I didn’t start walking back to the car.

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After the cliffs, we headed out of the Westfjords to go to the Hotel Husafell to celebrate my 24th birthday. The hotel was breathtaking – I would definitely go back. The restaurant had amazing food and we finally ate lamb! There was also an outdoor spa with heated pools where we relaxed before dinner.

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On my birthday, we headed to Snaefellsnes where we finally saw the Kirkjufell mountain! I was so excited about it since it was my computer wallpaper all summer at work. As a little surprise, Xavier got me a lamb (no, not a real one) since I kept talking about how cute they were for the entire trip 🙂 I couldn’t resist taking a picture with them in front of Kirkjufell! Later that day, we also visited a glacier. However, we couldn’t adventure that far since we didn’t have a guide and obviously we didn’t want to fall down a crevasse.

Since we were there on my birthday night, we decided to go to a hostel in the town near by to hang out, which turned out to be such a good idea! We met Europeans, other Montrealers as well as people from Bangladesh and India. They were all hilarious! We spent the evening making fun of each other (cause why not), cooking food, playing music and talking.

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Finally, we ended this incredible trip with the Golden Circle. This was by far the most touristy area of Iceland since it’s close to Reykjavik. However, it’s still very much worth it, especially for the Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfall.

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This trip was simply incredible and I can’t wait for us to travel again 🙂

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