The New Obsession

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Happy Anniversary!

I didn’t know this, but exactly 1 year ago, I started this blog on wordpress. It’s really such a surprising coincidence because I got on wordpress today to write what I expect to be my last post.

Today marks my last day as a “pre-med” student; I’m officially a medical student starting tomorrow!! I’m nervous about starting, and I don’t know if I’m ready, but I’m excited at the same time to finally be doing what I’ve worked for.

I regret not getting around to finish posting my Canada trip, and I regret not crossing off everything on my bucket list, but maybe some day, I’ll return to this blog and feel satisfied with my gap year. And perhaps I’ll find time to write about my adventures in med school; who knows!

Well, without further ado, goodbye for now!

27. Learn how to surf

Living near Va Beach, I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf. So this summer, I finally got the courage to take lessons from a surf school there! Hansol and I took a 3-day camp, which consisted of 3 hours of instructions a day. Throughout the camp, the instructors were pushing us in front of the waves so that we’d have enough momentum to ride them, but by the end of the camp we were starting to catch the waves by ourselves! I never realized how hard this sport is, and I found myself being sore after each day. I wish we took this camp earlier so that we’d have more chances to practice on our own, but I’m finally moving up to Pennsylvania this Saturday (kind of freaking out about this!!!) so we promised we’d go together next year.

I bet I’ve become unrecognizably dark, but wow, what an experience!

 

See the full bucket list here

 

 

7. Donate blood

Finally got to donate after many many years!!

I’ve donated once or twice in high school, but because I went abroad every year throughout college, I wasn’t able to donate blood for 4 years. So I finally made an appointment to give blood today. At first, when the nurse was checking my blood for the iron level, my right middle finger put me under the required level. So she took some blood from my left finger and for some reason the level was higher! Luckily, I was eligible to donate, but at that moment I was pretty nervous haha. THEN they couldn’t find a good vein T_T For some other reason, the really visible vein on my right arm, the one that is always used when I go to the doctors, just decided to go into hiding today :/ But, luckily again, they found one and stuck that needle in there. Woohoo!! Saved up to 3 lives today. Yeahhhh

 

See the full bucket list here

Montreal: May 19-22, 2014

DAY 1: MON. MAY 19TH

On our way to Montreal! We took the Greyhound and it was only about a 2 hr ride. Luckily, our hostel, M Montreal, was only 10 minutes away (walking) from the bus station. We first checked in and decided to check out Chinatown, which was also walking distance from the hostel.

We heard some good things about dimsum in Montreal, so we went to this restaurant called Kam Fung and after being confused with the menu for a good 15 minutes, we just ordered the “dinner for two” deal. The food was alright, very salty at times, but definitely not worth the money. Maybe I just don’t know enough about dimsum to eat it well?

We were so full after dinner that we just wanted to walk around for a bit before heading back to the hostel. Montreal had something called Quartier des spectacles, which is basically a district that had art displays, performances, and various types of entertainment. We found a row of swings that play different notes when you ride them. I think our little section was playing a sad song haha. Definitely in the minor key.

DAY 2: TUE. MAY 21ST

We started the day by heading to Old Montreal and the Old Port. The buildings in Montreal are all so beautiful and historic that although Ottawa didn’t seem any different than the States, Montreal definitely gave off the impression that I was in a different country.

We then went to the Basilique Notre-Dame, which was about 10-15 minutes from the Old Port. There are also Masses held there, but I didn’t get a chance to go :/

One of the highlights of this church is the ceiling covered by golden stars all over. There were thousands of them, and I still can’t believe they were all hand painted!

For lunch, we went to Schwartz’s for some awesome smoked meat sandwiches. It was totally worth the trip; the meat was absolutely delicate and it may be a little weird to describe meat like this but it melts in your mouth hahaha.

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After lunch, we grabbed some coffee from Café Olimpico. Now, I usually don’t like bitter coffee; you won’t find me preferring a cup of black coffee over a cup of latte. BUT the iced americano from this cafe was aMAzing!! If you’re ever in Montreal, make sure to get some coffee from here; you won’t regret it!

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We then headed to Jean-Talon Market, which was just really colorful with all kinds of flowers and produce. I would love to live near a market like this and buy all of my fruits and veggies fresh.

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At the core of the market, there was a juice bar that made really fresh smoothies. Interestingly, the entire menu was in French and we had to guess the fruits that were written there haha.

For dinner, we tried poutine again at a different restaurant. I still don’t know… It’s just not my taste I guess.

All day, we traveled by bikes through a company called BIXI. I think there are similar companies in bigger cities in the States like New York, but experiencing them for the first time, I thought it was such a neat idea. There are BIXI stations all throughout Montreal, and for about $7 a day, you can rent bikes at any station and return them at any station, as many times as you want! The only thing is you have to return the bike within 30 minutes, which wasn’t a problem because both of us aren’t fit enough to ride the bike for more than 30 minutes straight anyway lol.

By using a debit/credit card as reference, you can get a ticket with a code of 5 numbers to punch into a dock to unlock your bike. The BIXI stations have everything in French as the primary language, but you can change the language on the menu, which we didn’t know until the 2nd or 3rd time that we used the station. Just imagine how much we were struggling lol.

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The neat thing about riding bikes in Montreal is that the bike lanes are really well established. A lot of the streets have separate bike lanes so that the bikers don’t have to worry about dodging cars every second. These are labeled with green dotted lines on a typical Montreal map.

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DAY 3: WED. MAY 22ND

We started the day by getting some famous Montreal bagels from this restaurant called St. Viateur Bagel. We got them to go so that we can eat them at Mont Royal with great scenery.

Montreal bagels are quite different than Bodo’s. They’re firmer and denser than the ones that I’m used to, but they’re not as tough (질겨)? I’d say that they’re easier on the jaws to eat and very flavorful too.

Here is front view of St. Joseph’s Oratory! It’s a beautiful building, isn’t it? It’s located near Mont Royal, and according to wikipedia, it’s the largest church in Canada, which I didn’t know at the time (oops).

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And after walking up the stairs, after stairs, and even more stairs…

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You are rewarded with the breathtaking view of the entire city.

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Not to mention the inside too.

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When you walk down the street for a little bit and walk around the Mont Royal Cemetery, you reach Beaver Lake.

We stopped to have our macarons, which we got from a store called Point G (very close to St. Viateur Bagel shop), and let me say that these were the best macarons I’ve ever tasted (not that I’ve tasted very many though). BTW, we ate our lunch on the way to this lake because it was a very long walk and a very hot day so we needed the energy haha.

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We saw lots of joggers, bikers, and walkers on the trail down from the lake. There wasn’t much to see on the trail, but it was really cool to see such a huge park in the middle of a city like Montreal. Now when you walk down the trail on the southeast side of the park, you can head southeast a little more to reach the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This was by far my favorite museum in Canada.

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The BIXI bike dock was displayed for some reason. We both thought it was funny haha.

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Montreal is where McGill College is. I couldn’t find the main building, but it reminded me of Prof. Connelly!

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DAY 4: THU. MAY 23RD

This concluded our stay in Montreal. Day 4 consisted of 8 hours on bus to go to Toronto. I really liked Montreal, much more than Ottawa for sure. The only regret is that I didn’t speak French. I hope I can return to Montreal and maybe even explore Quebec City after learning some French!

Ottawa: May 17-19, 2014

DAY 1: SAT. MAY 17TH

With our flight being cancelled on the 16th, we had to shorten our stay in Ottawa, our first destination here in Canada. We arrived at the international airport at 10:20PM so we were busy trying to find a way to our hostel, and the taxi fare came out to be $33 CAD + tip. We chose The Barefoot Hostel based on the reviews on I believe… hostels.com? It was a small, but very nice hostel. Here are two photos of our room and bathroom.

The interesting thing about this hostel is that you have to take your shoes off at the door. “Barefoot” get it? It almost felt like home but with other people residing there. The beds were comfortable with thick comforters, which I really appreciated. The upstairs was reserved for 4 separate bedrooms and the downstairs had the kitchen, extra bathrooms, and a lounge area. We didn’t get to hold conversations with other travelers because for some reason, everyone was so quiet in the lounge area haha. We did have 2 roommates, who were out longer than we were. I don’t know where they get the stamina. My sister and I were pooped after 9-10 hours of sightseeing.

DAY 2: SUN. MAY 18TH

Since we had to squeeze everything that we wanted to do in just 1 day, we tried to schedule it as best as we can. We started out at a brunch restaurant called “Tutti Frutti.”

It had a long waiting line so we went in with high expectations, but it wasn’t as great as I thought. The food took a very long time to come out and I thought it was a little overpriced. :/

Next, we went on an adventure to buy “day passes” for the buses. It took us 3 separate stores and 1 OC Transpo representative to learn that we can buy them on the bus lol. A day pass for OC Transpo costs $7.95 (need exact change), it’s good for 2 people if traveling together, and good for the weekend, which is an awesome deal.

From all of the bus rides from this day, I’ve noticed that Ottawa is really good at accommodating to the people who need handicap assistance. The front boarding floor actually makes a 180 to make a smooth incline for wheelchair riders and passengers are really considerate to them. Ottawa being the Canadian capital, it definitely made a good impression in this sense.

We took the bus to get to Dow’s Lake for the biggest exhibition of the Tulip Festival. I think it’s comparable to the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC although I’ve never been to the one in DC. The 18th was the last day of the festival as well as Victoria Day, so there were tons of people. There were also tons of tulips. Lots and lots of them!!

Dow’s lake itself was also very beautiful!

We then went to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, but neither one of us had interest in the theme… but we did get to see an amazing view of the Parliament Hill from across the Ottawa River. It actually reminded me of Hogwarts!

On the bus ride back across the river, it started to rain so we were trying to see where we can eat dinner and just head back to the hostel, but while we were looking for a burger shop nearby, the rain stopped and we got lost and ended up at Parliament Hill.

The sun was on the back side of the building 😦 Someone teach me photoshop!!!

All of the buildings looked very historical and they had this majesty to them. This was also another one of our photoshoot spots. Unfortunately (fortunately for my sister), we weren’t able to go inside for a tour, but I bet it would have been really interesting.

We then headed toward our hostel to grab dinner and call it a day. On the way, we got to see the Rideau Canal, which is a canal across Ottawa that is more than 100 miles long. In the winter, the water freezes and everyone gathers to ice skate on it. I hope I get to come back in the winter to see Canada’s beauty then.

We also stumbled upon Byward Market, which is an area sort of like downtown Charlottesville. It had a lot of restaurants and there was actually a street show called “The Engagement Ring Show,” where the performers spin and rotate on a giant wheel with a love backstory.

Byward is where they have the famous Canadian cookie that Obama bought for his daughters. I hear it’s not that great so we just took pictures of it lol.

We went to Smoke’s Poutinerie for dinner to try the signature Canadian food: french fries with gravy and cheese. These were a bit too salty and too heavy for my taste. Eating it actually made me crave a salad or a veggie tray haha. But everyone seems to love it here. Maybe I’ll learn to like it after a few more tries?

For dessert, we went to BeaverTails and tried the original flavor of cinnamon and sugar. It was delish! Soft on the edges, crispy on the center… I want one right now as I write this.

DAY 3: MON. MAY 19TH

With only 1 full day in Ottawa, we had to leave to go to Montreal. Not much to say about the last day in Ottawa, except that the bus ride to the Greyhound Station wasn’t bad at all. There is a starbucks only a few blocks away from the station and we camped there for a few hours before our bus ride. Starbucks was… exactly the same as those in the States. There was this one lady who looked at our green tea frapp and asked the barista if those were new because they’re not on the menu haha.

Montreal post hopefully coming soon! Btw Greyhound buses have wifi, but they’re not very fast. This post took hours! :O