Last day in Oslo, tourist in hyperdrive

August 2014

Hey there,

There have been hoards of kids flooding the streets of Norweigan cities on any given weekday due to the teachers being on strike. The policeman / wrestling coach that brought me out here, informed me that they are not asking for more money, they are opposing the contract amendment stating their 2 hours of post-classroom lesson planning is now to be conducted at work instead of at home. The teachers have made the stand that this is an unacceptable job expectation. My father has been very involved with fighting the union bosses in Ontario (not the unions themselves, the incontestable power of the bosses, just to be clear). Being outside of the scope of my blog, and the known sensitivity of the subject, I will keep any socio-political opinions out of this post. It was a very interesting conversation nonetheless, mostly because families in Vancouver are currently experiencing the same difficulties of finding alternative educational, social and other supervised activities for their kids while teachers and the government work things out. Either way, the children certainly seem overjoyed that their summer holidays have been extended.

Ankershus Fortress & Castle

Ankershus Fortress & Castle

Back to my little vacation. My last day in Oslo was very productive from a tourist’s perspective. I felt that I had a lot of sites to see in a very short time. I was like a squirrel on a triple espresso. I’m not much one for tour buses or buses in general so I walked everywhere. After approximately 12 kilometers over 6.5 hours I managed to cover the following:

  • Royal palace with flowered grounds open to the public
  • Statue gardens (spent most of my time doing flag stands on the statues)
  • Museum of civilization (I only went to the free stuff, got the gist of their electoral system)
  • Viking ship museum tour (museum houses 3 ships built around 700A.D.)
  • Sea bus through the harbour
  • City hall & the Nobel Peace Centre (a place that could humble anyone)
  • Akershus Fortress & Castle
  • Top of the Opera house for a final sunset (it’s shaped like an ice burg)
Viking Ship Museum

Viking Ship Museum

I really do like making lists and then scratching things off them, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the culture and history more. Reflecting back on the last 10 days, Norway is most certainly a place I would like to return to. I’ve already made another list of the other cities and sites I need to see next time. Flying back to Calgary I feel inspired, refreshed and ready to pursue the stunt industry full force.

Athlete Inspired

Bergen fjords & fish markets

August 2014

Hey there,

I don’t know if it’s just bad luck or the higher powers punishing me, but I tend to find myself with the most unfortunate neighbours when I travel. The overnight train ride out to the west coast city of Bergen was no different. Instead of the “so overweight, the airline should have sold me two seats but didn’t so I’ll just take up half of your seat” character, or the “mysterious body odours from every orifice” character, I got the “exceptionally intoxicated within the last 12 hours” character. He reeked of stale booze and for my listening pleasure, he brought out his drumsticks and proceeded to rat, tat and tap a variety of musical masterpieces on his leg. Did I mention this was an overnight train? As the “musician” had finally emptied his flask and started to pass out around 3am, karma heard my pleas for justice. I’m not sure what this guy was dreaming about but all of a sudden his body violently jerked so extremely, it sent him a**-over-tea kettle into aisle. It was terribly entertaining and gratifying.

Bergen fish market

Bergen fish market

The city of Bergen is nestled between mountains and peninsulas that protect it from the ocean. Oil, textiles and fish being their main industries, I decided to take advantage of the third. The fish market at the harbour houses what I will officially claim to be the best fish ‘n chips I have ever tasted. At a measly 150KON ($25CAN), which is considered standard rate for food in Norway, if not a bargain, I was fully satisfied. The rest of the day I spent walking along the wooden fishing neighbourhood of Bryggen (a UNESCO world heritage site) and climbing to the top of the military fort to take a late afternoon nap on the grassy rooftop.

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus Fortress

There’s something about sunsets. My favourite are the ones used to be seen from the beaches of Grand Bend, Ontario. Maybe because I spent many summers there as an adolescent or maybe because it reminds me fondly of my mother and my grandmother, but I can vividly remember some magnificent summer (and autumn) sunsets. I go out of my way to catch a sunset. This night in particular I sat on the rooftop of my hostel in Bergen and patiently watched the sun fall behind the rolling hills that divide the town from the ocean. A town that was bustling with thousands of people not 4 hours ago, is now still. The tranquility of the moment never ceases to rock me to my core. No yoga class can compare to the level of gratitude that is felt during this period of calm. Mushy I know, but there it is.

Sorfjorden fjord

Sorfjorden fjord

The next day I woke up fairly early and went for a long run around the harbour, through the Maritime research centre, around the city centre and back to my hostel. A short cruise through the fjords (huge mountains that drop straight into a narrow waterway with settlements only accessible by boat) and I was back on the train headed to Oslo again. Luckily this train ride was uneventful but picturesque.

Athlete Inspired

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Muddy mountains and chilly lakes

ey there,

The first thing I do when I get into a new city is get a map and circle the key things I might be interested in checking out while I’m in town. The first night in Oslo however, did not include much exploration. Instead, I managed to suffer through a 15minute walk outside, in an attempt to get some fresh air, and then retreated to my bunk for the evening. It ended up being a small case of travel anxiety, which decided to manifest in my stomach. Apparently going from a nice hotel to an 8-person hostel with one shared bathroom the size of an old closet can send one’s digestive system into an uncertain whirl.

Top of Holmenkollen (I stood on the guardrail for this selfie)

Top of Holmenkollen ski jump tower (I stood on the guardrail for this selfie)

Before falling uneasily asleep, I did manage to befriend an American girl who has been traveling parts of the world for the past 8 months. We both wanted to get some hiking in and agreed to depart early the next morning and explore the hillsides just north of the city. Leave it to the Scandinavians to have a subway stop far enough up a mini-mountain that you could literally ski out of it and onto endless trails that wind up and down the countryside. Our first pit stop was at the “Hollemn……” Olympic ski jump tower. You can see all of Oslo from the top of that thing.

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435m above the city. Cute and cozy Frognerseteren Restaurant (built 1865-1891).

Our next stop was at this beautiful ski chalet that was built in 1891 where we stopped for lunch and a coffee. We then hiked through what Google informed us was the quickest route to our next destination. I say through and not along because Google maps leads you along the path that has the shortest distance, regardless if there is an adjacent path which is dry, well-marked, less elevated and without 12” of mud in most spots. So we saved ourselves 0.4km of hiking and got covered in mud. Near the end of our trail was this gorgeous, pristine lake. I blame the picses in me but whenever I am near water, I have to go in. When it’s super cold water, I typically only need to make it in shin deep but this time I decided it was necessary to go all the way. I stripped down to my sports bra and underwear and ran off the dock before anyone could realize what I was doing. I lasted all of 12 seconds and spent the next 20 minutes figuring out how I was going to dry off and exchange my soaked clothes for my muddy, non-soaked ones. I feel that was an appropriate first impression to grant my new travel companion. We’ll see if she responds to my Facebook friend request.

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This was the dry part of the trail…

Eight hours after departing for our excursion, we were back at the hostel. I made dinner (Ichiban and boiled vegetables, a backpackers standard fare) and went down to the lobby to get some much needed work done. Any time in the past where I have found myself all dolled up and looking for some attention…crickets. Nothing. The one time that I am without an aesthetic care and need to get some heavy duty typing done, I find myself 2 beers in with a very handsome Floridian engineer, exchanging travel (and Tinder) tips. I almost missed my train to Bergen, but no man is worth missing the best Fish’n Chips in Norway. Are they?

Athlete Inspired

Heige Norge!

August 2014

Hey there,

So Norway is pretty frickin cool. Their infrastructure is efficient, their water is clean, their people are very nice and their chocolate is delicious. The only two things I would change would be to turn off the rain and to stay longer. Even the rain was completely bearable as it would only last 10-30mins and then the sun would pop out, dry everything up and keep everything ridiculously green.

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I was fortunate enough to be brought out here by the Norwegian women’s wrestling team, to coach their training camp. Crazy right! I was pretty excited when I got invited back in June. I met the organizer last December, in Calgary, at the women’s wrestling tournament I help organize with Christine Nordhagen (multiple-time world champion, all around amazing lady). He brought a small team of girls, mostly Juvenile and Junior age group (15-19 yrs) and was very passionate about further developing women’s wrestling in Norway. So I arrived in Skiel (pronounced “Shale”), laced up my very worn and crusty wrestling boots and ran 8 practice sessions over 4 days for 20 girls.

Small town along the coast. Makes the country's best ice-cream

Small town along the coast. Makes the country’s best ice-cream

I had so much fun working with these girls. I was very impressed with how polite, attentive and focused they all were. As a 15 year old female (as I choose to vaguely remember), attitudes and power struggles are commonplace. Yet these girls continued to be a delight, even as we all became exhausted with each passing training session. I got treated like sport royalty. I stayed in a beautiful hotel by the river in a neighboring town, was fed the best local cousine (fresh fish, gold cheese and a delicious meat and potatoe dish called Lopskaus) and toured around their cottage country coastline (with a quick stop for some of the area’s famous ice cream) on the coach’s family boat.

Said ice-cream... chocolate and one of their local berries which I cannot remember

Said ice-cream… chocolate and one of their local berries which I cannot remember

It sounds like a light and fluffy trip but I am still recovering. One would think that coaching isn’t very physically taxing. One would be wrong. I would lead the tumbling sessions (yes, my sessions all include some sort of gymnastics or parkour…), play most of the games, demonstrate the techniques, jump into the scrimmage (without warming up) and then repeat it all again a few hours later. This on top of battling a very unexpected bout of jet lag (I have never really had it in all my previous travels), which caused me to wake up at 2am and then fall back asleep about 40 minutes before my morning alarm would go off. I was too exhausted most nights to explore the town but I did manage to pack it all into the last day. I also managed to enjoy a beer and a free concert from the patio of the hotel one night. Not before coming within a foot of colliding with the lead singer of the evening’s festivities (Wyclef Jean – who’s CD’s still occupy space on my bookshelves, and have since high school). He was staying at my hotel and I would’ve stopped to get a picture with him but I was too shocked by almost running him over and too embarrassed by the post-wrestling session vagabond look I was sporting.

Anyways, the wrestling camp left me feeling very energized and confident. I couldn’t get enough hugs from all of the girls or stuff enough copies of the local paper, which included an action shot from one of our sessions, into my suitcase. I really hope they want to bring me back again. I would return in a heartbeat. Now I’m off to explore Oslo and Bergen for 4-days before flying back to “reality”.

Athlete Inspired

We made it into the local newspaper (I'm the canadisk)

We made it into the local newspaper (I’m the canadisk)

Friends new and old

August 2014

Hey There,

This past week I got on set again. I was walking out of my rental to grab lunch and my agent called and asked if I could be on set within 45mins. As my weekend commercial gig has just been cancelled, I made 2 quick phone calls to reorganize my training schedule, slapped on some makeup and drove down to the Crew Park to check-in. It was a very easy day of work on the set of the RUSH series and I got some very promising advice from a former casting agent. She has been in the industry for over 2 decades and after going over my resume (which I always have on hand with me) said that I need to be in stunts. She proceeded to give the name of 3 principal agencies (they handle some of the special skills work, which can be stunts or things like riding a bicycle or doing cartwheels in a scene) to contact. I immediately added that to my to-do list.

Another highlight for me this past week was going to the Vancouver Canadians baseball game. My friend is a baseball memorabilia fan who also attended some of the ’92, ’93 Toronto Blue Jays games when they were world series champions. I remember going to the SkyDome with my dad and sister, watching the roof close when it started to rain and hoping desperately we would catch a fly ball. The pitcher for the Blue Jays in the early ‘90s was Tom Henke and he just happened to be signing autographs at the Vancouver game when we went. Meeting him sent me on a quick trip down memory lane and before I knew it I was eating a foot long hot dog and singing and dancing during the seventh inning stretch ritual, “Take me out to the ball game”. So cool. Kind of dorky but so cool.

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I spent the weekend in Seattle visiting a friend of mine and his wife. They served as excellent tour guides and we maneuvered through the many hot spots of Seattle. In less than 48 hours I managed to:

  • Go for a boat ride past the Univeristy of Washington stadium
  • Eat at the restaurant featured in the movie Sleepless and Seattle
  • Brunch down in the Ballard district
  • Buy fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market
  • Watch the boats pass through the locks
  • Enjoy fish’n chips from the Fish Market
  • A quick microbrewery tasting at the Fremont Brewing Co
  • Go for a run around Green Lake

The most interesting part of the trip was the company. I met this friend of mine while I was traveling in New Zealand. I had just finished my last exam of university and he had just written his bar exam. We bonded over a fellow roommate in our hostel who suffered (well we were actually the ones who suffered) from very loud and disturbing sleep tremors. We toured the city of Taupo for 2 days and then went our separate ways. Since 2008 I have only seen him one other time and we would go months upon months without any communication. But for some reason, when I showed up at his house this past Saturday morning, there was not one odd feeling about it. It was as if we were old high school pals who never missed a beat. His wife is lovely, fun and easy to get along with. I enjoyed getting to know her almost as much as I enjoyed catching up with him. I guess it just goes to show that friendship comes in many shapes and formats and can be just as valuable and rewarding when it’s unconventional.

Speaking of friends, my next journey takes me all the way to Norway where I will be running a 4-day wrestling training camp for their national team. Yay to new friends in new places!

Athlete Inspired

Lines, lines and more lines

Hey there,

Last week continued on the good news wagon. The circus troupe that I train with have given me a routine to learn and eventually perform. It is an aerial silks (the tissue hanging from the ceiling) routine with another performer. I’ve entitled the routine “2 girls, 1 silk”, but that’s just for sake of some extra hype. I assure you (to some of yours’ disappointment) that it is a family friendly routine. I am very excited to learn this routine because, once my partner and I have mastered it, the troupe will sell the act to corporate shows (special events, Christmas parties, because they can…). In this routine I am called the ‘porter’, better known as the girl who is super strong but can’t dance worth a crap. I basically catch, toss and hold onto the ‘flyer’ as she makes beautiful, artsy lines while we hang 20 feet from the ground.

This exciting news came just in time for my brother’s arrival in Vancouver. Every year, for the past 4 years, we have managed to rendezvous in a different city and attend a music festival. We share an extremely similar taste in indie-rock-alternative music so these weekends tend to be action packed. This year we got tickets to the Squamish Valley Music festival. We crammed in over 10 concerts in 3 days. Our accommodations were a little different than we have previously been accustomed to. Due to price and location, we resorted to literally setting up camp in this massive communal campground (aka Squamish Valley Secondary School’s football field). We were surrounded by hundreds of 20-year old music goers who seemed to be there more the plethora of drugs, booze and loud sex in the tiny tents than the music. Not saying that there wasn’t I time that I wouldn’t have minded the latter two but I feel like old lady waving my *tisk *tisk finger at the idea.

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My brother and I much prefer to maximize our music festival time with a balance of music, tourism and physical activity. This is where we are very thankful for our Ross genetics. After an evening of enjoying ourselves (a lot), we wake up early the next day and tour the town. This year the town on the first day consisted of the top of mountain peak. We hiked our hungover butts up 650m of elevation over 2.5km of trail to the very top of the Chief for a breathtaking view of Squamish. The second day after a brilliant set of concerts we headed up to ski (and the summer time, mountain bike) central and took the gondola Peak2Peak between Whistler-Blackcomb. Did you know that those 2 mountains house 60 of Canada’s black bears? Just saying. Didn’t see any bears, but the view from the top was breath taking.

View from the top of the Chief (Squamish, BC)...upside down

View from the top of the Chief (Squamish, BC)…upside down

Now that my brother and I are veterans of the music festival scene, we showed up fairly prepared for the inevitable…lines. At music festivals, you spend the majority of your time waiting in some sort of line. Lines for your accommodation, for your security check, for your beer tickets, for your beer, for the food trucks and lines and lines for the porta-potties. We typically reserve this time for road-pops, selfies and logistical analyses. We abide by one rule when it comes to porta-pottie lines: Go when you pass by a short line even if you don’t have to go. It’s a lifesaving rule.

Between all of this line maneuvering, there are some extraordinary performances. This year, we thoroughly enjoyed July Talks, Head & the Heart, Serena Ryder, CHVRCHES, Arcade Fire, Temper Trap, The Arctic Monkeys and Eminen. The biggest surprise, hands down, was Bruno Mars. That man knows how to put on a concert. With or without the copious amounts of Somersby Cider we had, both of us were dancing and singing the entire set. Bruno Mars, “you are beautiful, just the way you are”. Can’t wait to see what next year’s festival will hold for us.

Athlete Inspired

Beaches, commercials and firemen

August 2014

Hey there,

Last week proved to be extremely exciting and productive. My first long weekend in Vancouver did not disappoint. To avoid watching the fireworks on the beach solo, the lovely couple that I am currently living lent me their friends for the evening. It was sort of like a blind date but with 6 strangers instead of 1. The sangria was tasty, the conversation was lively and the fireworks were amazing. So glad I went.

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On the Sunday I went for a nice 40 minute run along the sea wall and then met up with two of my circus training partners at Kitsilano beach. Leave it to circus gals to only sit and sunbath for 15 minutes before needing to do something active. We started balancing each other on our hands and our feet (it’s a practice called acro yoga). Before long there were groups of people taking pictures of us and cheering us on as we hit a pose or collapsed into the sand when our balance was just a bit off. This is when things got good. Ladies, you don’t need to put your cat up in a tree to get the attention of firemen. You just need to do a little acro yoga. Our session wrangled the attention of 3 of North Vancouver’s wonderfully buff firemen. Their im-“pec”-able strength allowed for them to pick up the moves quite quickly. There was no greater feeling than that of being hoisted in the air by such a physical specimen. So easy on the eyes too…just saying. A few cold beers at the local pub wrapped up a solid day. Namaste!

This fireman hails all the way from London, ON as well (went to South Secondary)

This fireman hails all the way from London, ON as well (went to South Secondary)

Tuesday brought some great news – my first commercial! My agents booked me for a background role in commercial being filmed in downtown Vancouver. Sounds glamorous, it’s really not. But I loved it! The night before you find out when / where you’ll be, you pack a bag with 3-4 wardrobe options that match their general description and you make sure that you are on time to check-in. Seems easy enough, but when you’re habitually 5-10mins late for everything (seriously everything), it is the hardest part of the whole gig. And when you forget to set your alarm for AM (and set it for PM instead), you wake up in a panic. I managed to get there on time, although I had sweated out my make-up, perfume and freshly straightened hair on the frantic bike ride to set. For the next 10-hours we sat and read, ate glorious amounts of catered food and repeated facial / body reactions take after take. A few wardrobe and scene changes later, I was signing out and biking home. Obviously I will post the commercial when it’s finally out (and be getting a copies for my dad, aunts, uncles, friends, acquaintances, etc so they can watch my blurred out figure walk across the screen).

It felt so good to get that first job. Now I just need another, and another, and another. The ball has officially started rolling.

Athlete Inspired