There’s No Place Like Home

DSCF0178“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

My friend Grace shared this quote with me on a card before I left for my work term 8 months ago, and at the time I didn’t realize how true these words were to describing my feelings about coming home. 
Before flying home for vacation, I thought about all the things that could’ve changed since I left. How different my parents could’ve looked, how my friends could’ve changed, and even how Highway 7 might finally be finished construction… but once I got home, everyone and everything was pretty much unchanged. Parents looked the same, friends were not one bit different, and freaking Highway 7 was still under construction (Seriously?It’s been like 2 years…). But I couldn’t shake the feeling that things have changed. Didn’t realize until I looked up at Grace’s card pinned on my bulletin that I’m the one who’s gone through changes over the time I’ve been away. 
Living alone and away from home has changed me quite a bit. 8 months of solitude in a small town has allowed me to enjoy my alone time and meditate on all the thoughts I neglected when I was back home and preoccupied with the busy city-life. With all this time to yourself, you realize a lot of things about yourself; all the good and the bad. Certainly didn’t realize all the ugliness and bitterness I held onto until I had all this time to reflect, but also didn’t realize all the happiness and opportunities I’m blessed with every single day. I’m 21 now and I think this experience living away from home has definitely helped me finally grow up and realize that I’m not a kid anymore. It seriously still freaks me out to think that I’m an adult now…
It’s funny, isn’t it? How all the years up until19-21 you wish to be older and all grown up and once you reach that age, all you wish is to be a kid again and reminisce on the old days? Well, regardless of wherever I end up in the future, Toronto will always be home and the place that’ll always have my heart.
Okay, no more sentiment! Let me share with you of the highlights of my week back home:
DSCF0147JaBistro Modern Japanese
This was probably the best sushi I’ve ever had and coming from a sushi-crazed girl, that really means something! The fish was so fresh and the presentation of each dish was immaculate.
 Each dish was crafted so beautifully and every bite was bursting with flavour. Their modern twist on traditional Japanese cuisine is really unique and refreshing in this city filled with so many Japanese restaurants. 
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Grace and I shared the sushi bowl and platter and it was more than enough to fill the both of us. The sushi bowl was the chef’s choice of sashimi served over sushi rice and oh my goodness, it was the most mouth-watering, delicious thing ever! The chef selected a gorgeous variety of sashimi that was fresh, vibrant, sweet and succulent. Everything was served in little portions, so there wasn’t anything too overwhelming- all the bits just complimented one another and created a perfect medley of deliciousness in my mouth 🙂
Their soy sauce and all other sauces was also house made! How great is that? If you are ever in downtown Toronto and are looking for some Japanese cuisine that’ll blow your mind, check out JaBistro. 
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5 Seconds of Summer at The Sound Academy 
Never did I think I’d enjoy listening to music from a teenage boy band from Australia, but I was proven wrong when I found 5SOS on Youtube last year. I can see how they draw inspiration from bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte (who I use to be OBSESSED with in the 5th grade), but yet have still developed their own unique sound and style. These 4 lads are tremendously talented and it’s incredible how popular their music has gotten and how ridiculous their fan base has grown over the past 2 years! 
Though as much as I enjoy their catchy tunes and cheeky tweets on Twitter, attending their show made me feel like an old lady in the midst of a sea of 13 year old fan girls. I was definitely in that 1% of people at the show that were over the age of 18. I was looking forward to going to a show to dance and sing along to, but what I really got was trampled over by teeny boppers that revealed far too much skin. Seriously, these girls were so vicious! But I mean, what teenager wouldn’t be crazy obsessed over a group of 4 very attractive boys with cute accents playing in a band together? Then again, I don’t think I was ever as crazy over any band when I was younger as these girls. But hey, music influences everyone differently. 
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Regardless of all the pushing and caddy attitudes, the boys played a great show and made many, many girls very happy. With so much talent and many more opportunities ahead, I’m excited to see 5SOS progress musically and develop into fine young men 🙂
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I also had the amazing opportunity to watch game 2 between the Raptors and Nets. And oh man, it was so crazy! It was my first time ever watching a live NBA basketball game, and to have it be a playoff game was unforgettable. The ambience of being in a stadium filled with thousands cheering my city sent me chills! I watch basketball here and there but when it’s playoff season, I get hooked! Sadly, we lost the series today and I was for sure heartbroken because we were so close!!! In the end it was a one point game, and watching Pierce block Lowry was so crushing. But you know what, we had a great series and the Raptors gave it their all, so that’s what we should be celebrating. Raptors have all of Toronto’s support and we will be ready for next season! 
PS: That final series game between Houston and Portland? Bowing down to Damian Lillard. What a boss!
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The rest of my week at home consisted of lots of brunch/lunch/dinner dates with friends and family to catch each other up with our lives which I am very thankful for. But I wish I made more time for my parents… it was so hard to organize time to see everyone because of everyone’s work schedules. Nonetheless, my week home was spectacular and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. 
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Now back to the frigid north! Did some grocery shopping yesterday and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the beautiful produce. After all the eating out I did on vacation, it’s time to get back on track, eat right, and train hard to be summer body ready!
DSCF0381I hope you all have a delightful week! I’m going to brace myself for the spring allergies that are inevitably going to hit me any second now. Cheers to you, and I’ll talk to you soon.
Love,
Amy 

Nostalgia of London, UK

IMG_9804-2When I think back to backpacking across Europe last summer, one thing that always comes to mind was how unprepared I was for the London weather. I mean, I’ve heard people talk about the constant rain and cloudy skies, but I guess I refused to believe that London was anything less than a perfect city filled with wizardry & witchcraft, high fashion, and sexy British men with compelling accents and intense quiffs.

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Travelling to London was very special for me. It was the first stop on our backpacking adventure and my first time ever being in Europe, so I was a little overwhelmed with excitement to say the least. Like I said, I was not prepared for the weather at all. I was expecting light showers for a portion of the day, but it was more like drizzling for half the day, heavy rain for a few hours, and a peak of clear skies for 3 seconds. But despite the rain, this beautiful city filled with art, impeccable architecture and rich history, was absolutely magical.

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The five days I spent in London consisted of endless hours of walking, tube-riding, tourist photo-taking, museum visiting, and architecture appreciating. We tried our best to cover all the major attractions/landmarks, but we only scratched the surface within our stay. There’s just so much to see, it was impossible to get to everything! But that’s what I loved about this city- every corner you turned, you’d discover something magnificent. There was always an awesome bridge, a rad local market, a classic red telephone booth (which might not excite some, but I still love them!), or a strikingly beautiful building within my view and I can still remember that exhilarating thrill I had taking it all in.

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My favourite museum was definitely the British Museum (Photo above!). Not only was the historical content rich and beautifully displayed, but walking through the doors and seeing the grand Round Reading Room attached to the unique and stunning glass roof was breathtaking. Everything about this museum was grand and elegant and I couldn’t help but stand there for a good 15 minutes admiring the construction of it all. We ended up spending about 2-3 hours roaming through the rooms since we were short on time, but I would love to go back one day and just spend days here. I just love museums- so much learning within these walls, it’s ridiculous!

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St. Paul’s Cathedral was such a beautiful sanctuary. It’s probably the second grandest Church we visited on our entire trip, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Take a look at the dome of the church in the photo above; all of the art was painted to look 3-dimensional! If the audio guide didn’t tell me so, I would’ve thought those were sculptures on the dome, not a painting! All of the illustrations on the arches and pillars told stories of saints and angels and their spiritual encounters, which all came together so harmoniously. The top of the dome also had a great panoramic view of the city (photos below!), so if you’re ever in London, I highly recommend visiting St. Paul’s. Also, it’s where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married- wouldn’t you want to step foot into the place where there was a royal wedding?!

IMG_9490IMG_9486(View atop St. Paul’s Cathedral)

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Look! It’s the bridge the death eaters destroyed in the Half Blood Prince! Except, it’s still fully intact and very pretty, haha. The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses River Thames. I really love how its modern and innovative design contrasts the classic architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral behind it. The mix between contemporary and classic architecture throughout this city is a perfect balance. Seriously, writing this makes me want to go back to London right now!

IMG_9822-2(No tourist trip to London is complete without a photo of Big Ben! I was lucky enough to snap a shot of this beauty in clear skies!) 

IMG_9681-2(‘At your service, your Majesty!’ Unfortunately I didn’t see anything exciting whilst at Buckingham Palace. Why didn’t you come and greet me Queen Elizabeth, why!!!)

I have no idea what compelled me to write about this adventure that happened last summer, but there’s so much more that I want share with you about London! Though if I wanted to say it all, I’d be coming close to writing a novel. So let’s just end this off by saying I seriously recommend you taking a trip to London. The copious amounts of history and art to take in is incredibly remarkable and an experience you cannot mimic anywhere else. I hope to be back some day soon! And next time, I’ll definitely remember to bring my Hunter boots and a sturdy umbrella.

Love,

Amy