Meet my go-to adventure pal! This week’s featured traveler is Brooke Henry.
Brooke and I have been friends since high school. More than 50% of my stories start with “Brooke and I did…” We instantly hit it off and have been adventuring ever since!
She’s my go-to girl when something cool is happening in Hamilton and some of my most exciting memories are with her! For a while, we lived together and she helped me immensely get my house in order! I have always admired Brooke’s fearlessness, and how (seemingly) effortless she floats through life. She has an amazingly chill vibe that just exudes cool, calm, and collected. Here are some of her travel stories.
What city do you call home?
What was a defining situation that made you decide to be adventurous?
I would say that it was not one moment specifically that made me want to travel but a combination of childhood experiences. For starters, I was never one to get homesick as I grew up with two homes in different parts on Ontario. Also, as a kid, my good friend Brianna was often allowed to bring a friend with her on family vacations. Since I was 11, I have traveled with her family to Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Florida; Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., and to New York City. My own family liked to travel a lot as well. Growing up, my grandparents lived in Alaska, North Carolina, Michigan and Alberta so we were often going on adventures to visit them. I never got to go to Alaska though so it is still on my bucket list.
Where have you been/lived?
As an adult, I have done a lot of traveling. In third year university, I had the opportunity to go on an exchange in Lille, France. While living in France it was very easy to travel around to other countries so I went to Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, England, Scotland, and Italy. I was in Europe for about 6 months straight. With a case of the travel bug, I went back a year later to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Budapest. Then, after I went to teacher’s college at Western University, I applied to be a supply teacher in London, England. In September of 2014, I moved there to live and work for almost a year. While living in England, I traveled around the country as well as to Scotland, France, Austria, Wales and Malta. Since moving back from England, I have been to Newfoundland, New York City, and Florida.
Can you share a memorable/funny travel story?
One of the most memorable trips I was on was to Malta in February of 2015. Malta is one of the most gorgeous countries I have been to. While there, we got hop-on- hop-off bus passes because it was the cheapest way to get around and one day, we took the bus across Gozo, an island off the coast of the main island. One of the stops on Gozo was the Azure Window, a massive rock formation like an arch that went out into the Mediterranean. The arch was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. For some reason, I was determined to be able to say that I swam there, so, even though it was February, I stripped down to my bathers and got in the little bay. All of the Europeans there were bundled up in scarves watching as the crazy Canadian got in the water. After my first dip, we got even closer to the arch and found these amazing pools to swim in with a fantastic view. It was so cool that my travel pals Dayna and Alex also got in the water. Eventually, we had to catch the bus back and thought it was a great idea to sit on the upper deck of the bus for the views, then proceeded to freeze our wet butts off in the wind. We sang Miley Cyrus to keep ourselves warm. We broke down laughing when, while we were shivering and singing The Climb, the bus struggled to make it up the hill while we were on a cliff edge. I love this memory even more now because, just a couple of months ago, the Azure Window broke off and fell into the sea. I am so glad I got to see it.
Share a story when something did not work out as planned while traveling
I have told this story a million times but it is the definition of something not going as planned while traveling. When I was in Madrid, I was robbed twice in 3 days. It was as bad as it sounds. The first time, I stepped right off the plane and onto a very crowded metro. It was shoulder to shoulder crowded at one point. I had a backpack and another bag that were being jostled by people the whole time and, as much as I tried to protect them, someone managed to pickpocket me and stole my passport, debit, and credit cards. As soon as I got off the metro and saw that my zipper was open, I knew what had happened. I felt like an idiot. I had lived in France for 3 months at this point and I thought I was smarter than that. The people running the hostel did make me feel better by saying that they see this every day and that these pick-pocketers are professionals but it was still the biggest headache of my life. I was lucky in a way because I was with friends who were able to lend me money until we got back to France and because we were in the city where the Canadian embassy was located… but still. When you lose a passport in another country, you have to get a police report, which means finding the police station. I got lost for a long time and when I did find it, the police were quite rude which was not what I needed in this stressful situation. After that, I had to make my way to the embassy across town. There, they had to call 4 people who had known me for more than 2 years back in Canada to confirm who I was while I had to run 4 blocks through Madrid to get a passport photo taken. The next day I had to go back to the embassy to pick up my temporary passport, which I guarded with my life for the rest of the trip. That night, we went out on a pub-crawl. The night ended as many nights out do: eating a slice of pizza. As we were walking home, a man came up behind me and ripped the clutch I had right off my arm and ran. My first instinct was to chase him but then he went down an alley and I thought better of it. My friend just looked at me and said, “I can’t believe that just happened to you.” And I broke down laughing. All that had been in that bag was a lip chap and hostel keys. I had just spent my last euro on my pizza.
What has traveling taught you about the world or your life/ or changed your perspective on something?
Travel has taught me to really go with the flow. There are very few problems that cannot be fixed, so don’t panic.Also, living and traveling in other countries where I didn’t speak the language taught me to be more tolerant and more empathetic towards people in Canada who are newcomers or trying to get by without speaking English. Learning a new language is hard and I think sometimes we forget that.
How do you balance travel with work/relationships/family etc.
In the past, I have balanced work and travel by traveling for work. Moving to England to work let me kill two birds with one stone. It is a different mentality, as you still have bills like rent to pay, but it let me really experience the culture. In addition, going on exchange for school meant I did not have to put life on hold to travel. I was still productive and got the credits I needed but I was able to make it back to Canada to work for the summer. I would recommend a semester abroad to everyone.