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We have been in Portugal for almost three and a half weeks now which means we have a week and a half left. It is crazy how quickly time has gone by but also, looking back at pictures from our first few days here it seems like a million years ago. We have done and seen so much in such a short span of time that our perception of time has been totally skewed.

One of the things we have been doing here in Portugal is called workaway. http://www.Workaway.info is a website that connects travelers who are willing to do some light work for room and board and hosts who are willing to offer rooms and food for people willing to do light work.  So, we set up two of these in Portugal. One of them was for just over a week, the other for just under two weeks. It makes traveling to a different country much more affordable and also offers the traveler a chance to see aspects of local life they would never otherwise get to experience.

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We learned how to do Portuguese tiling

It is important to note before I go any further that we have not stayed with any Portuguese people during this experience. In fact, both of our hosts have been Dutch. They have however been living in Portugal for numerous years and have a good understanding of the culture. It has also led us to learn much more about Dutch culture. One interesting fact about the Dutch, their word for corn sounds like mice. So, when a Dutch person tells you they are “boiling the mice for dinner” don’t panic like we might have.

Staying with people who know the area, as I said, has afforded us the chance to do things tourists simply don’t get to do. One of these things was a Sardinia. The Sardinia was part of a week long festival celebrating the harvest and a saint who’s name I am not sure of. Every night for a week, in the center of this very small village everyone gathers and feasts on the nights food for the cost of a donation of your choosing. They also serve free wine out of pop bottles. The night we went the food being served was grilled sardines, bread, tomato salad, and boiled potatoes; it was delicious. The way in which the sardines were grilled was very interesting to me as the volunteers had lit a large fire in the middle of the town, which happened to be a round-about. Once the fire has died down they placed over the coals large racks full of sardines. After flipping them once they were stored in Styrofoam containers until it was time to eat. Once the food and wine began to flow it was a mad rush for food. Everyone was pushing in tighter and honestly it felt like you were in…well it felt like you were in a can of sardines. I think it is important to note that this festival has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years in the same way it is done today.

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There have been many other incredible things that we have been able to do since we have been here but I think for now I will leave it at the Sardinia.
Until next time.

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Okay so, it has been awhile. There is much that has happened since I stopped posting but where do I begin? Well, I’m in Portugal, that’s kind of a big deal. Suze is with me and we are engaged now. I have had two different head chef jobs. We are leaving Nova Scotia when we get back to Canada. That is all just the tip of the iceberg and they are all stories on their own. I think, as I am still in Portugal that that is a good place to start.

So, I am, or rather we are in Portugal. What the hell are we doing in Portugal? Enjoying life. That’s what. Suze and I, as any loyal follower knows moved back to Nova Scotia in December. We had some very good times there but overall felt like we chose the wrong time to move back. While we were away we found ourselves longing for a home that no longer existed. We were unhappy and needed a change. The lease on our apartment was up at the end of August and a friend of ours is getting married in Nova Scotia mid October so we knew we had to be back for that. In our minds it made no sense to sign a new lease on an apartment we didn’t want, in a city we didn’t want to be in only so we could attend our friends wedding. Another option was to move away at the end of August and come back for the wedding but that would mean asking for time off a new job only weeks after we would have begun. The third option and the most obvious to us was to go to Europe for five weeks to kill time between when our lease was up and the wedding. So, after a few short weeks of planning we quit our jobs, put all of our things in storage once more and hopped on an airplane headed for Portugal. The reason we chose Portugal was not based on any childhood dreams of one day visiting a once great empire or anything like that. The choice was simply based on the results of a google search asking about the cheapest places in Europe. So, here we are.

I knew I nothing about Portugal before we decided to come here. Turns out it is a very interesting place with a lot of amazing history. I’m not going to give you the whole history of a nation that has had people in it since Neanderthals first began to roam. But, here is a link that will explain everything…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Portugal
What I will say is that children here play on Roman ruins, drink from Roman fountains and wells, run by ancient Moorish temples and spare no thoughts for the brilliance all around them. That is how abundant history is here, how far back it goes. The ancient monuments here are simply things that have always been and always will be. Generations have drank from the same well, played amongst the same ruins; future generations will continue to do so. There is so much more to say about our trip here and I will. For now I will leave you with some pictures from the earlier parts of our trip.

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Where to begin?

Posted: September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Okay so, it has been awhile. There is much that has happened since I stopped posting but where do I begin? Well, I’m in Portugal, that’s kind of a big deal. Suze is with me and we are engaged now. I have had two different head chef jobs. We are leaving Nova Scotia when we get back to Canada. That is all just the tip of the iceberg and they are all stories on their own. I think, as I am still in Portugal that that is a good place to start.

So, I am, or rather we are in Portugal. What the hell are we doing in Portugal? Enjoying life. That’s what. Suze and I, as any loyal follower knows moved back to Nova Scotia in December. We had some very good times there but overall felt like we chose the wrong time to move back. While we were away we found ourselves longing for a home that no longer existed. We were unhappy and needed a change. The lease on our apartment was up at the end of August and a friend of ours is getting married in Nova Scotia mid October so we knew we had to be back for that. In our minds it made no sense to sign a new lease on an apartment we didn’t want, in a city we didn’t want to be in only so we could attend our friends wedding. Another option was to move away at the end of August and come back for the wedding but that would mean asking for time off a new job only weeks after we would have begun. The third option and the most obvious to us was to go to Europe for five weeks to kill time between when our lease was up and the wedding. So, after a few short weeks of planning we quit our jobs, put all of our things in storage once more and hopped on an airplane headed for Portugal. The reason we chose Portugal was not based on any childhood dreams of one day visiting a once great empire or anything like that. The choice was simply based on the results of a google search asking about the cheapest places in Europe. So, here we are.

I knew I nothing about Portugal before we decided to come here. Turns out it is a very interesting place with a lot of amazing history. I’m not going to give you the whole history of a nation that has had people in it since Neanderthals first began to roam. But, here is a link that will explain everything…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Portugal
What I will say is that children here play on Roman ruins, drink from Roman fountains and wells, run by ancient Moorish temples and spare no thoughts for the brilliance all around them. That is how abundant history is here, how far back it goes. The ancient monuments here are simply things that have always been and always will be. Generations have drank from the same well, played amongst the same ruins; future generations will continue to do so. There is so much more to say about our trip here and I will. For now I will leave you with some pictures from the earlier parts of our trip.

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It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post, but you know this. What you don’t know is all that has happened in the time since I last wrote. So, where to begin. The start would be the most logical place I think. But, as I often do I will shy away from logic and start closer to the end…well, not the end. Closer to where I am now. This also brings up an important question, two in fact. Where am I now? Why am I writing again? Let us begin…

I, dear reader am in Portugal. Yeah, it’s pretty bad ass. In all honesty it is incredible beautiful and ancient here. Words can not describe this place, though it is my job to try and use words to do just that.

Why am I writing again? Well, because the adventure has begun again. Yeah, life is an adventure and so the adventure never really stopped. I know this but the real adventure has begun again.

Now, I’m not going to crazy and write a book on my first post back. I just wanted to let you all know to expect some stories and some pictures, some laughs, and some beers…or tears, either way.
Stay tuned for all the awesomely wonderful details!
Until next time!

I have been absent from this blog for sometime now. In fact, I wasn’t even going to write this post. At the insistence of my sister Cassie, and her boyfriend Chris, I am writing what maybe my last post on this blog. Why stop? Well, I’m home. I am back in Nova Scotia. “But wait?” you say. “Your last post was all about you moving to Vancouver and now you are living back in Nova Scotia. How did that happen?” Well, I’m going to tell you. As well, I am going to review my 2013 with all it’s up and downs.

This past year has been one with many good times and bad. At the beginning of this year I was living in Montreal and really quite enjoying myself. I was Sous Chef at a restaurant I loved, and everything was still very new to me. But, as we all know, things change. This year, more so than any other year in my life, has brought so much change. Some good, some bad.

On this day, one year ago I met Suzanne. She has been such a big part of my life since that day. I can’t even imagine how different this year would have been without her. Yes, as in any relationship we have had our problems, but the good very much outweigh the bad. We have had the opportunity to do and see some incredible things together, and there is no one I would rather have had by my side for all those adventures. Be it, The Paddle Boat Saga, The Dawson City Salmon Crisis , or any number of other adventures we embarked on, we were together and to me, that is what truly made those times memorable. Now, we again are on a new adventure. Living, or at least trying to live in Nova Scotia together.

In the last 365 days, I have moved from Montreal to Whitehorse, Whitehorse to Vancouver, and after being unable to find work, Vancouver to Halifax. I have lost my mother, and tried to work through the pain and sense of loss that comes with that. I have cooked for the governor general of Canada, and the future prime minister. I have been to Alaska, and seen some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever had the privilege of seeing. I was attacked by a bird that looked like a cross between a pigeon and a seagull. I saw wild horses, bears, herds of Elk, more bald eagles than I can count, midnight sun, and northern lights. I have been to places I only read about and dreamed about as a child, holding on to a hope that I would someday go there, but believing deep down that I never would. I have fallen in love over and over again with the same person, and made some truly great friends. I got my Red Seal! I have felt more pain than I hope to ever feel again, but also more joy than I ever have before.

So, why am I home? Why am I back in Nova Scotia? Well, there are a few answers to that question. First off, I had a really hard time finding work in Vancouver, and because of that started applying in other places, one of them being Halifax. Oddly enough, Halifax was the first place I got a job. The second reason being that Suze and I both really missed Nova Scotia, we both wanted to come home. The third and final reason, and one of the most important, is that I wanted to spend my first Christmas without my mother with my family. It wasn’t practical for me to come home for Christmas and then go back to BC where I didn’t have a job. My choices were to stay there and keep trying, or come home where I had a job if I wanted it, and spend Christmas with my family. Obviously, I chose to come home. I say I chose, but Suze and I chose together. It wasn’t any easy decision, in fact there was even a cancelled flight involved, but in the end we both decided that coming home was what we wanted. So, here we are.

As for the future of this blog, I don’t know if I will continue writing or not. I am home now. The whole point of this blog was to keep my friends and family informed of what was going on in my life and to tell them stories of the things I had been doing while I was away. I guess I will leave the
future of this blog in you, my readers hands. Let me know, either through the comments on here, or on facebook if you think I should continue. I honestly don’t know if I should or not, so that is why I leave it up to you.

I have been writing this blog for almost a year and a half. A look through the posts brings back so many memories. I am truly honored that so many people have read, enjoyed, and shared in my experiences. If this is to be my last post, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading and being there as an outlet. Thank you for your support. Thank you for letting me share with all of you. I truly appreciate all of you. This blog has meant more to me than I think any of you know. I have neglected it at times, but it has always been there. Thank you.

Well, I guess that’s it. My future, the future of this blog, as all of your futures, are yet to be determined. No one knows what the future has in store, and the pages and posts of this blog prove that. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Thanks again, and let me know if you think I should keep going.

In the words of fatboy slim; “We’ve come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should.”

Happy New Year!

Benjamin Kelly.

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It has been seven months that I have been in the Yukon. Tomorrow I will board a plane and fly 2400 km south to Vancouver where I will spend the next five or six months. It is exciting to start again in a new city, figuring out how to get around, where things are, the little things that make a place what it is. Although, I am very excited to begin a new adventure, and to see Suze, I can’t help but think back on my time here. I have had the opportunity to see and do so many amazing things, which if not for coming here, I would never have had. This post, being my last one from the Yukon, is all about my time here. Here we go!

I remember when I first got here. Getting off the plane at somewhat uncertain times in my life. I had just lost my mother, I had no job, and I was heading to a place I had only read about in old poems. It was romance that brought me here. Not just romance as in my love life, but the romance of the place itself. The call of the north. A call for something completely different than anything I had ever experienced. Having just gone through some truly difficult and trying times, something completely out of my comfort zone seemed like the best idea. So, on a plane I got, and then, after a brief visit with my grandmother in Victoria, I was here.

As I stepped out of the airport on that first night I remember the blast of cold air that hit me. It was -35 outside and I had just left 18 degree weather, shocking does not describe it. I remember feeling nervous and uncertain about my decision. My relationship with Suze was still very new, and my life had just undergone some very difficult changes. Suze, to her credit, made me feel comfortable and as though I was meant to be here. We stayed in a hotel downtown that first night and I can still remember how foreign and different everything that is so familiar to me now seemed then.

From that first night I knew I had come some place different and special. That thought would stay with me throughout my time here and would prove true time and time again. I will not go so far as to say that this place is without its frustrations. Being so isolated has its downside, but the good outweighs the bad ten to one. Any place where in one day you can see a heard of wild horses, wild elk, shooting stars, and northern lights is absolutely special. I am excited to move on, to do something new, and to get out of the cold, but I will always value my time here. Be it going south to Skagway, Alaska, or north to Dawson City. Going to museums, or finding remnants of a long forgotten town. There is magic in the air here, there truly is something special about this place, it is like no where else.

I have met some great people here, people who I am thankful to call my friends. Some of them I have worked side by side with, be it cooking for the governor general, the future prime minister, or just a regular night at the restaurant. Some of them I have met through Suze and am glad I did. From these people, and this place, I have learned a lot. A lot about life, love, cooking, and myself. I believe that every person is a student and a teacher and hope that I have given as much as I have taken.

I have discovered over the last year and a half since I first left Halifax that every place has unique characteristics that make it what it is. The people always have there own way of doing things, but have more in common than anyone would care to admit. Every place has its own special things to offer if you are open and willing. It is with this in mind that I look and move forward. There will be new experiences, new people, new friends, new difficulties, new solutions, new everything. With that, let the adventure begin.

Thank you for joining me on my Yukon adventure. Being able to share my experiences make them all that more worthwhile.

Until Next Time.

The snow has come down from the mountains, covering the city in a thick, dense white blanket. Everywhere you look it is painfully obvious that winter is here. Even the turbulent waters of the mighty Yukon river have begun to yield to the cold, as ice fingers reach out from the shore line taking the last reminder of the world beyond winter in it’s frigid grasp. The air is bitter, freezing and biting at your skin. There is no reprise, there is no solace. The temperature is minus twenty-five degrees celsius and dropping like a lead weight. This, is winter in the Yukon.

At first glance it appears that we are surrounded by a desolate wasteland. The snow and the cold accompanied by an eerie silence. The truth is though, that despite first appearances, the frozen world, is not dead, it is very much alive. Herds of bison and elk roam the frozen valleys. Sheep scale the jagged cliffs and mountains. The people, the people like the animals, continue to go about their business. The people of the Yukon, just like the animals of the Yukon are rugged and prepared for the long cold winter. I, I am not.

In the cold of the seemingly perpetual night it is hard not to think of the early settlers that came here in search of gold and pelts. How fierce these people must have been in those early days. I cannot imagine spending a winter here in an un-insulated shack with only a small fire to keep you warm and a bottle of whiskey to keep you sane. Or, to think of the natives who have been here for thousands of years. How they survived I will never know.

My time here is drawing to close for which I am thankful. Not because I don’t like it up here, I do. It is a beautiful place with many hidden wonders. I am thankful however, because I do not have to stay here through the worst of it. I will not be here for the minus forty temperatures and the twenty-two hours of darkness. As you can only imagine it eventually gets slightly depressing.

I am going to leave on that note. Sometimes it is best just to keep it short and I feel like this is one of those times. Thanks, as always for reading.

Until Next Time.