Over the past 5 years, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to nearly 20 countries and it wasn’t until this year that I learned I got my adventurous gene from my 82 year old Nana. Having come back to Canada in the midst of the pandemic, I started to go on little day trips with my Nana (when it was safe for us to do so). I’ve always recognized her electric energy and willingness to do just about anything but I never slowed down enough to really get into conversations with her about travel. We just spoke a few weeks ago and I asked her some questions, including why travel while you’re young?
So strap in because this interview with Nana is a good one!
A Bit About Nana:
Before I jump right into it, who is Nana? Well, to everyone but her grandchildren, she goes by Janet. She moved from England to Canada when she was in her early 20s with my Pappa (Ian) who is no longer with us. Shortly after, they started a family of three boys – my father being the eldest. My Pappa was an engineer and would travel for work and also for pleasure, as he loved to scuba dive and Nana would always go with him.
Of course, I had already known about some of her travels with my Pappa but what surprised me the most about Nana was she had done some travelling around the UK before she moved to Canada – which we’ll get into shortly.
Interview With Nana:
I’m so excited to be sharing this interview with you all! It also happens to be my Nana’s birthday tomorrow so I couldn’t think of a better time. I asked my followers on Instagram to send their questions for Nana and I’ve featured some of them below.
Q: What countries have you lived in?
I was born and raised in Manchester, England and I moved to Canada in 1963 when I was 22.
Q: Where’s your favourite place you’ve travelled to?
It depends for what reason, you know. I think intellectually, Sicily was very very interesting because my sister had done a tremendous amount of research and had every move planned. She knew about all the historic sites we’d encounter along the way and we saw fantastic buildings and heritage homes. One thing that stands out the most is that it’s a volcanic island that’s tremendously mountainous. We went in October 2019 and it was still warm enough to swim in the water!
With that being said, I think the best trip we ever did was a 16 country cruise in 16 days. It was a Baltic cruise that started in Stockholm – you should go to Stockholm! This is the place for young people. They have a big sailing boat that’s been at the bottom of the ocean for God knows how long and everything was preserved and it was brought up to land. It was interesting.
Although, the most interesting place to me was probably St Petersburg in Russia. It’s all islands and you pretty well view the city from a boat and through canals. Some of the buildings were out of this world, covered in gold and all!
Then of course, one of the nicest places I’ve ever been to is Australia. We should have immigrated there – it’s a great place to live!
*I certainly agree with the above statement Nana ^ 😉
Q: If you had to guess, how many countries do you think you’ve been to?
I don’t know, I’ve never actually counted them but if I had to guess maybe 30 countries. We were going to book a cruise to South America two days before Ian died so I still haven’t made it to that continent.
Q: Do you like to plan travel or be spontaneous?
It depends who I’m with. If I’m with someone who’s working long hours, then it’s good to have it planned. Although I would never go with a group because you don’t have the freedom to do what you want.
When Ian and I travelled together, we didn’t have any of it planned. We usually flew into Amsterdam because it was cheap and easy and then we’d travel to other places in Europe through there. Ian would arrange to have a car so we could avoid group tours and the touristy stuff and have the freedom to do our own thing!
Q: Did you ever travel on your own?
I’ve travelled through Britain on my own. I was always a traveller and belonged to the youth hostel association. It was fabulous but not so fabulous if you snore haha. I would be away every single weekend from about the age of 12 with my brother Bill hiking and always moving around a lot. If I were to travel now I would join elder hostels.
We used to do farm holidays with my family and it was right on the beach in North Wales. My father was always really keen on travelling and actually tried to come to Canada three times but he had an issue with his lungs and couldn’t get in. I suppose it was inevitable in a way that I came to Canada because he always talked about it!
Q: Who do you usually travel with?
I used to always travel with Ian or my sister Penny. I still travel with Penny sometimes.
Q: What was your fave adventure with me in the summer?
Going to a conservation area where there weren’t any people at all! I still don’t know what that lake was all about. There were no other cars parked and no one around and we were able to enjoy a nice picnic lunch together.
Q: What qualities do you think we have in common?
I’d love to have your qualities, I would! I think you remind me of my grandmother – a very gentle, loving person. I actually lived with her for a while and I loved living with her but when thinking about the similarities we share, I think we’re both adventurous.
Q: Mountains or beaches?
I don’t like flat beaches. For example, the Turks and Caicos are just flat sandbanks. I think it’s nice to have coves like in St Martin with mountains in the background.
Q: Do you have a crazy travel story?
There’s always something crazy that happens! The latest one was in Sicily where Penny and I drove for hours and the gate to the b&b was locked, we didn’t speak the language and it was dark. We told the fella riding a bike on the road and he rang the owners of the hotel and so on and so forth and got them to come from some other place to open it for us.
I’ve come to understand that this happens no matter where you go. Wherever you travel, nothing is ever plain sailing. I find it helps if you’re with a man.
Q: Where would you travel to now if you could go anywhere?
I would like to see the Milford Sound in New Zealand.
*I’ve actually been to Milford Sound and told my nana that I thought it was a bit overrated. She was surprised and thought it looked stunning from photos. Little did she know that it rains most days at Milford Sound, taking away from the brightly coloured water.
Q: What lessons have you learned about yourself and life through travel?
Not to wait to travel. Travel is the most important thing in life! No one can take it from you, you can’t lose it and it will be with you forever. You can imagine places you’ve been when you’re sick in bed. You can transport yourself mentally to the beach, for example. I think you need to see as much of the world as you can while you’re young because when you get older, you don’t have the strength or interest to do it. If i didn’t have this house, I’d be off somewhere tomorrow!
You can lose all your money or get sick but you always have the memory of those places you’ve been to, which is why I think it’s very important to travel. How can you judge things if you don’t see other things that are around you? You can’t determine a nice place or culture or have any judgment about things unless you travel and meet new people.
Q: What’s the greatest place you have travelled to within Canada?
Definitely Muskoka. I love Muskoka because of all of the lakes and water – it’s lovely. I did like Vancouver but up north of Lake Louise at Jasper National Park was amazing! If you can ever get up there, go into the lodge that’s there. They have the most incredible log cabin lodge that’s absolutely mind-blowing. We’d get up in the morning and all the deer were around and you felt as if you were sort of living with the wildlife.
Q: Worst place you’ve been?
Paris is a nightmare, although I met a nice man from Cambridge University while I was there which made it a bit better haha. It’s also very expensive!
Q: Where do you want to go over the summer with me?
I’m easy and game for anything! I haven’t been over to Grand Bend or Killarney so maybe we can try that out this summer.
The Moral of the Story …
After chatting away with Nana, the main message I got was to travel while you’re young. I loved hearing about her experiences travelling before coming to Canada and how her entire life changed upon moving here to start a family. I couldn’t be more grateful to have such an amazing role model when it comes to taking risks and doing things outside your comfort zone.
If you’re reading this Nana, happy birthday! Love you lots 💛