The Fitz Hostel set to launch

28 03 2016

Hello friends,

As many of you know, I’ve spent the last two years thinking about and the last four months steadily planning and preparing to open a hostel in Lion’s Head. At last, it’s becoming a reality!

tfh_logo_cropThe Fitz Hostel is a small hostel opening on the Bruce Peninsula this May! The Fitz offers both private and dorm room options – one private double room and two 4-bed dorms. There will be shared bathroom facilities, a fully-equipped guest kitchen, spacious common areas and backyard. It is centrally located in the village of  Lion’s Head – steps away from the beach, amenities, and right along the Bruce Trail!

Like Captain Fitzwilliam Owen, the first explorer to chart Georgian Bay, The Fitz Hostel is charting new territory as the first hostel on the Bruce Peninsula. We, too, are explorers and travellers, and look forward to helping you make the most of your adventure – whether it be an action-packed week of as many outdoor activities you can fit in, or a relaxing weekend outstretched along Georgian Bay’s rocky shores. We hope you’ll fall in love with the Bruce Peninsula as much as we have! Whatever your adventure, start it at The Fitz!

For more information, visit www.thefitzhostel.com or drop a line to info@thefitzhostel.com! And of course you can find us on Facebook and Instagram (@thefitzhostel).

In the meantime, I need your help getting the word out to those who love the Bruce Peninsula! Also, a huge thank you to all of you who have encouraged and supported me thus far, and thank you in advance for spreading the word! Stay tuned for more details about our official launch and hope you’ll stop in and check it out for yourself!

See ya at The Fitz,

Megan





What is a dromedary anyway?

2 09 2015

I arrived in Fes, Morocco about three weeks ago. Dropped into what one guidebook described as an “assault on the senses” – brightly coloured textiles, ceramics and leather wares, often indistinguishable food smells, sometimes the smell of urine from the tanneries, horns honking and people yelling in an indiscernible language, or worse, calling out to you in hopes of luring you into their shop. At first glance, it looks dirty and chaotic. My stomach remained unsettled for the first week, and three weeks later, it still gets unsettled from time to time, like today. Fes, in particular, is notorious for its confusing, disorientating medina – the old city which consists of a network of narrow, winding streets and alleyways. The culture shock arrived in full force, then gradually dissipated as I eased into the discomfort of this unfamiliar place and way of life. In Fes, I enjoyed having my skin being scrubbed like a dirty floor in a public hammam, learning about leather tanning with a visit to the tanneries, getting lost in the medina, learning to eat Moroccan style – with my hands, learning how to properly brew a pot of mint tea and cook couscous, and enjoying panoramic views of the city from the Merenid Tombs.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods - a familiar sight.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods – a familiar sight.


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Off on two wheels

6 03 2015

After spending the better part of two months in beautiful and bustling Barcelona, I finally made my escape (although maybe temporary). I packed my panniers and and headed for Tarragona, where I had arranged a HelpX at another hostel. I had originally planned to cycle right from Barcelona, but following the advice of a Catalan friend who was more familiar with the roads than I was, I took the train to Sitges, a costal town 40 km south of Barcelona. Spent the afternoon and night in Sitges, staying at a nice hostel with a beachy vibe, and appropriately called Utopia Beach House. Great staff, clean, colourful and lots of outdoor areas to chill. 



As recommended, I went to Big Al´s burger joint (probably my first burger since arriving in Catalonia as it’s not the typical local cuisine), after all they had Edge beers on tap. Biked around quite a bit, then had my afternoon vermouth at a tapas place beside the sea. Since been told that the appropriate hour for vermouth (which is quite popular here, served with a orange slice and a couple olives) is actually before lunch, but I´ve come to quite enjoy this refreshing drink, so I´m likely to break this custom again in the future. 

 The next day I got a later than expected start after waiting for the bike shop to open, having my morning cafe con leche and croissant, and packing up, but I got off eventually. My first cycling adventure! I was excited but also a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect (i.e. how good of shape I was in or what the road ahead was like – what if it was one big, long uphill!?!)

My first break was Cubelles, 15 km down the road. The croissant had long disappeared, so I replenished the tank with a bocadillo con jamon and queso, and of course, a caña to rehydrate and olives. Normally, I haven´t been a huge olive fan, but here, I have developed quite a taste for them, especially when they automatically come with your drink. When I got back on my bike I realised that I might have overindulged all at once, and in the future I would eat more moderately to make it easier to start cycling again.

I had identified a route of regional roads, staying off the main highways (which I’m quite sure don´t allow bikes anyway). But even this road sometimes had a speed limit of up to 100 kph and plenty of trucks. Not exactly the idyllic cycling trip I had envisioned. I made a few different attempts to get off this busy road, which resulted in longer than anticipated “detours”, some of them quite scenic and lovely, others on little more than a dirt path, and others that had me thinking, “What the heck am I doing?”

At one point, I stopped for a much-needed rest at the unfortunate location of Burger King in Sant Vincenç de Calders. I had just done a particularly sweaty 15 km on a busy road, so here, I contemplated, researched and finally decided to head towards the sea and try to find some better way. I did…eventually, and the trail I found (after carrying my bike up a dirt path and a set of stairs) was very rewarding. A walking path right along the sea, where bikes were usually prohibited, but as an older man assured me, I could ride on since it was supposedly winter (even through it was over 20C and I had been cycling in shorts and a tank top).


Needless to say, some kilometres were better than others.

All and all, my jaunt was just a mere 62 km (according to Google Maps, but more likely a few more including the detours). By most cyclists´ standards a short day, but for me and my 12 o’clock start, it was enough. 

Here in Tarragona for a few more days. I’m enjoying the small town vibe of the old city. However, I’m planning to head back to Barcelona for a beer festival this weekend. Then, vamos a ver, but hopefully it won’t be too long before I can put my two wheels back in the open road. 







A Catalunya

13 01 2015

After a nice ten months on the Bruce Peninsula, I’m on the road again. This time, I’ve come to Spain on a working holiday visa, which means I can live and work in Spain for one year, and move freely throughout the EU during this time.

I hope this next chapter is full of both learning and adventure! My main goal is to work in different hostels in hopes of figuring out if this type of work is for me, and gathering ideas about what makes a successful hostel. For the first couple months or so, I will be helping a friend who is taking over ownership and management of a hostel in Barcelona.

Some of my secondary goals are:

  • To learn Spanish and about different cultural perspectives
  • To explore the rural landscape of Spain (and possibly beyond) by bicycle
  • To do some climbing (a skill I’ve wanted to develop for some time)
  • To visit organic farms, social enterprises and other innovative businesses working towards sustainable development
  • To explore some other nearby countries, such as Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey
  • To work as necessary (in other words, maintain sufficient funds to have food to eat, a bed to sleep, and to continue traveling for as long as I want)

But enough talk about future plans and ideals, and more talk about the here and now. Some highlights so far…

  • An unexpected tire change in Toronto led to an hour delay in arriving to Montreal. On one hand, I missed my trans-Atlantic connection. On the other hand, Air Canada paid for my hotel and I was able to squeeze in a visit with some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while.
  • And because I was so highly inconvenienced by the extra 24 hours in Montreal, I was upgraded to business class for the 7-hour flight to Brussels. This upgrade meant sparkling wine upon boarding, my own individual pod where I could lay down, pillow and duvet, two relatively good meals served on real dinnerware with a white tablecloth, warm, moist towels for freshening up, and more.

    Business class on Air Canada Flight 9552

    Business class on Air Canada Flight 9552

  • Bringing in the new year with a international group of strangers who soon became friends in Placa Catalunya, amidst thousands of people from all over the world, Cava (Catalan sparkling wine) being sprayed into the crowd, and not arriving back to the hostel until the time when I would normally wake up (and I’m not a particularly early riser).
    Our NYE feast - Melba toast with creme de brie, hummus, some type of canned fish and Catalan red wine

    Our NYE feast – Melba toast with creme de brie, hummus, some type of canned fish and Catalan red wine

    Sharing Placa Catalunya with thousands at the stroke of midnight

    Sharing Placa Catalunya with thousands at the stroke of midnight

  • Visiting some nearby towns about an hour or so northeast of Barcelona – Amer, Banyoles, Castellfollit, Besalu, learning some basic Catalan & much about Catalan culture

    The 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvia river in the historic town of Besalú

    The 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvia river in the historic town of Besalú

  • In Spain, the main Christmas celebration and biggest gift giving day is on Jan. 6, and not Dec. 25. Rather than having Santa Claus as we do in North America, Spanish children receive gifts from the three kings on their return journey from Bethlehem. So, on the evening of Jan. 5, there is the Cavalcada de Reis, or the Three Kings Parade – the biggest and most spectacular parade that I’ve ever seen! In Barcelona, about 500,000 people attend, it includes 12 floats or “carrozas” and it stretches over 1 km! It is designed and performed by professional artists of theatre, music, dance and circus, and includes 1200 costume participants and 26 dance routines! And the final float in the end of the parade had a canon shooting out candy into the crowd. Although I didn’t see this first hand, I was even told that some serious parade-goers bring a step ladder and an umbrella to catch the candy! Here is a glimpse of the extravagant floats… (Note that these photos definitely do not do them justice!)

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  • So far, I have done two walking tours (one of the Barri Gotic and the other an alternative tour of street art and squats) and a tour of Santa Maria del Mar (led by my friend Ignasi who works there), slowing learning more and more about Barceona
  • After quite a few flavourless cans of Estrellas and a few more slightly better bottles of Moritz (the Epidor, a stronger version is yet another step up), I found craft beer in Barcelona – Edge Brewing! Unfortunately, at 20 euros, as of yet, the growler is out of my budget.

    The facilities at Edge Brewing. Small by many standards, but quite large and advanced compared to our manual techniques at the Firehall Brewing

    The facilities at Edge Brewing. Small by many standards, but quite large and advanced compared to our manual techniques at the Firehall Brewing

  • And this past Saturday, running to La Barceloneta, going for a swim and basking in the sunshine

    A sunny, warm winter day at Barceloneta, just a 20-minute run (my speed!) from the hostel

    A sunny, warm winter day at Barceloneta, just a 20-minute run (my speed!) from the hostel