On your left! (Washington, D.C.)

[Matilda]

Next stop: Washington, D.C. and the start of our “epic” Greyhound roadtrip! The express bus from New York got off to a rocky start when the bus driver decided not to show up to work. We ended up being delayed by an hour before we finally made it out. I fell asleep almost instantly and woke up in Delaware. We arrived around 3 hours later at Union Station in DC. While trying to figure out how to get to our Airbnb (and probably looking very lost), we were approached by a very nice man heading home from work in the city. He showed us to the DC Streetcar which is free to ride from Union Station down H Street Corridor and Benning Road. We were given lots of information about the area, and advice on what corners to avoid during the night. He then proceeded to walk us to the Airbnb, to make sure we got there safe, and gave us his business card in case we needed any help.

Our Airbnb room was really nice and located not too far from the U.S. capitol. If it weren’t for my inconvenient knee “injury” we could definitely have walked there, but on this occasion we did have to settle for public transport.

On Friday we had a guided tour of the Pentagon booked. It was completely free but subject to application and background checks in advance. As you come out of the metro there is a strict no photography policy around the Pentagon – they mean serious business! We were around 15 minutes early which meant that we weren’t allowed inside and had to take a short walk and come back. We were then subject to airport style security checks before being allowed in the waiting room and eventually invited to a tour group of around 10 people. Our guide was walking backwards while taking us through the history of Pentagon’s different departments and we got to see quite a few areas of the building, including the 9/11 memorial.

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After our guided tour, we got the metro back into the city and visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum which was really cool. They had lots of stuff from NASA, such as satellites, astronaut training facilities, and a piece of the moon! We were very fascinated by the space part of the museum but also enjoyed learning about the history of air travel.

We did become a bit tired of looking at airplanes towards the end and decided it was time to find something to eat. As we walked around the city looking for food, we were struck by how empty it was. There were virtually no people, which in contrast with the wide streets and grand buildings made us feel like we were walking around a model city rather than a real one! It was definitely very different from New York.

 

Our main aim for the Saturday was to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We ended up spending most of the day inside the museum, and there is so much to take in that your brain just starts shutting down after a few hours. We particularly enjoyed the exhibit about human evolution, but the mammal and narwhal rooms were amazing too. The nature photography exhibit on the second floor is also something that you do not want to miss.

After frying our brains with information we spent some time sightseeing. It was a beautiful and sunny afternoon/evening – not as cold and windy as the day before.(Warning: when it’s windy in DC, it’s reeeeally windy! Too many open spaces!) There were a lot more people out and about on the weekend, which made it feel more like an actual real life place.  We started out by Capitol Hill and made our way to the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. Unfortunately we did not manage to find the exact bench that Leslie Knope was sitting on in an episode of Parks and Recreation, but we did get to walk where Captain America and Falcon used to go for daily runs so it’s okay.

 

On Sunday we had arranged to meet up for lunch with my friend Faith, whom I got talking to online through a very dedicated group of Alex Lambert fans a few years back. (Actually, this was back in 2010 so it’s almost a decade ago… what’s up with time, guys?)

Here is a thing that happened while we were waiting for the streetcar in the morning:

Random man: “Are you watching the Superbowl today?”

Us: “No, don’t think so.”

Random man: “What?”

Us: “Well, we’re Swedish so we don’t know much about it.”

Random man: “That’s no excuse.”

MOVING SWIFTLY ON. We had some time to kill before lunch so we popped into the National Archives to take a look at the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States. It was very interesting to see the original documents up close and then to be able to read about how things lead up to each and everyone of them being signed.

 

At 1 PM we headed over to the Hill Country Barbecue Market to meet up with Faith. It was really cool to finally meet face to face after all these years! The restaurant choice was Faith’s idea and it was mine and Moa’s first introduction to a real Texas barbecue. The food was absolutely amazing and we had a very nice time, chatting away. We are hoping to visit California later this year and got some great tips on what to do there.

After lunch we decided to check out the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It was cool to learn about how American culture developed through various different cultures coming together over the centuries. A huge amount of Swedes moved to the USA in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s so it’s not uncommon for us to have American relatives. Two of my great grandmothers popped over to work in the USA in the early 1900’s. One of them was in Chicago for around 12 years before going back to Sweden, but her brothers stayed in the U.S. and had families. A third great grandmother was actually born in New York!

We found a little corner at the museum about Swedish immigration to Chicago and a note recommending a visit to the Swedish American Museum there, which we immediately wrote down. (More about that will come when we tell you about our Chicago visit…) When we left the museum we were absolutely drenched by heavy rain. What better way is there to end a day, really?

That’s a wrap on our Washington, D.C. tourist adventures! I bet you can’t wait to hear about our next stop. You are going to be SO jealous… but I won’t spoil too much. I’m sure Moa will have some fantastic things to say about it.

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Moa, thinking about that next blog post… probably
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22 Hours in Montréal

[Matilda]

Yesterday, the time had sadly come for us to leave the cozy farm life in Kenmore and start our 22 day travel run, beginning in Montréal and ending in Calgary before our next Work Away stop in Golden. It was a bittersweet feeling as we were sad to say goodbye but also excited (and nervous) to head out. Our first, and shortest, stop was Montréal. The train ride between Ottawa and Montréal was only 2 hours which is pretty comfortable. We had booked a cheap hotel for the night which wasn’t too far from the train station.

Upon arriving, we made the poor and very regrettable decision to walk the 26 minute distance between the station and the hotel. The temperatures around Ottawa and Montréal have been very weird lately, going above 0 and raining, only to fall back down to -15 or lower. There is now a pretty decent layer of shiny ice on everything. It can even be hard to tell if you are going past a field or a lake. Why am I telling you this? Well, because of the ice being literally everywhere, I guess the city of Montréal had to prioritise where to salt and sand. Unfortunately for us, this meant most of our walk went over uneven ice and slush. Now, imagine that I was carrying a backpack + a guitar in a hard case whilst dragging a fully packed, medium sized suitcase along. Are you feeling the regret? I am feeling the regret.

That’s not the end of it, by the way. When we arrived at the hotel, we realised it had a long and narrow staircase up to the reception. No elevator. We were then shown to our room which was *drum roll* on the upper floor! Another narrow staircase! What joy.

After this, we were both pretty sweaty and exhausted so we relaxed in the room for a bit before heading out again. We got the metro to downtown and went looking for a nice place to eat poutine. It is apparently very important to have poutine when visiting Canada, especially if you are in the Québec province. We found a great place called Frites Alors. Moa went for a coleslaw poutine and I got the pulled pork. YUM. We both think poutine would do great in Sweden. It has all the things us Swedes enjoy the most – fries, cheese and sauce. Future business idea?

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My pulled pork poutine. In the background you can see Moa thanking the food gods for this gift (that we had to pay for).

Post poutine, we were on the lookout for a pair of gloves for Moa. She really wanted a thinner pair with the Canadian flag on them, so we went through a few souvenir shops before finally finding some that she liked.

We continued our icy adventures by foot and found some really beautiful sights. I have no idea what these buildings are called, but if you’re ever in Montréal on a winter night, you should definitely seek them out.

We spent the rest of the night in the hotel, snacking and watching Saturday Night Live clips before going to bed. Our wake up call was at 7 AM to prepare for the next stop on our trip… New York City! We are still on the train from Montréal to NYC as I’m writing this post. It’s a 10 hour train ride but that’s fine as there are some really nice views and trains in Canada and the US have been very comfortable so far. Thank you, VIA Rail and Amtrak!

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Somewhere between the states of New York and Vermont.

You always hear about the US border being intimidating and I’ve never been outside the EU before this trip, so it’s still a little nerve wracking going through border control. It was all fine though. The US border officials were strict but friendly as it was clear we weren’t up to anything sneaky. Moa and I both agreed that if music doesn’t work out, we might look into border control. After 3 years in customer service, we have learned a great deal about sniffing out BS. Working in a call centre is totally the same thing as policing a country’s border, right?

We are now pulling into Schenectady, a place I did not know existed until just now. Below is a picture of Moa enjoying her time in Schenectady.

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Over and out!

Our Travel Itinerary (so far)

[Moa]

Hi everyone, hope you’ve liked our recent updates about the so called farm life we’re currently trying! I thought I would get you all up to speed with not only what we have done, but what our plans are for the next month or so. Our time here at the farm is coming to an end which feels very bittersweet as we’ve had an amazing time. Hans has been a wonderful host and we’ve also gotten to know Harley from Australia and Nicki from Germany, two other helpers who’s been staying here with us. But every ending is the start of something new right? 

So, on Wednesday we are packing our bags and are taking the train to Montréal where we will be staying for just one night before we get on a train to… NEW YORK CITY!
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Yes, we are finally making our way over to the US and I am so, so excited – I’ve always wanted to go and over the next few weeks I’m gonna be able to tick off several things on my travel bucket list. The train from Montréal to New York takes approximately 10 hours and is supposedly one of the “Most Beautiful In North America“. 

We are staying in New York for a week, to give us as much time as possible to explore the city. So far we don’t have much planned except to try to go to a stand-up comedy show and catch some live music somewhere for a night! On Saturday we are also attempting to get tickets to one of mine and Matilda’s favorite shows – Saturday Night Live. More on that if we succeed… 

After New York we are getting a Greyhound bus to the capital of the United States of America – Washington D.C!
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We thought we’d give Trump a hand now that the government apparently has shut down… hehe. Again, Washington DC has for some reason always kind of fascinated me and I really can’t wait to explore it. Apparently all the museums there are free so we will be going to a lot of those, as they’re supposed to be very good. That is of course, if the government isn’t still shut down… C’mon guys! We’ve also applied to go on a guided tour at the Pentagon which would be AMAZING, but we won’t know for sure until a few days before as they have to do a background check – which I guess is pretty fair considering it’s the Pentagon after all. Hopefully it should be fine though, as I’d like to think we’re not too shady. 

After DC is where our journey gets a little weird. We had planned to go to Chicago to visit a good friend of mine for a long weekend, but we realised after we had booked accommodation in DC that;

  1. We have to leave DC on a Monday but are not going to be in Chicago until Thursday
  2. There’s no easy way to get from DC to Chicago
  3. It’s really far to Chicago!!! 

After some searching, comparing and staring at Google Maps we found a route that seemed easy and cheap – So that is why we are going to Cleveland, Ohio, for 3 days.
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All I’ve ever heard about Cleveland are jokes and one-liners in tv-shows and movies always saying that Cleveland is the most boring place in the US… After some research I have found out that in 2010 Cleveland was deemed the “most miserable city in the US” according to a poll – so let’s see if it lives up to the hype! Worst case I’m sure they have cinemas in Cleveland and you can’t go wrong with going to the cinema. 

After Cleveland we are taking another Greyhound bus to Chicago where we are staying with my awesome friend Jared.

We met in Paris a couple of years ago when we were both travelling there and he and his friend Kevin were exchange students in London. Jared is gonna show us the best of Chicago and is so nice that he lets us stay on his sofa for 3 whole nights – we promise to not be too annoying. 

After Chicago our little US trip is coming to an end as we will make our way back to Canada for the next big adventure, which somehow seems to be even more incredibly awesome. From Chicago we will fly to Calgary, Alberta where we then will make our way to a small city in The Rocky Mountains called Golden. In Golden we are getting picked up by our next WorkAway host called Leo who will drive us to his – wait for it – BUFFALO RANCH. Yes, we are going to be living and working on the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in the middle of The Rockies surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature and scenery in the world. Banff National Park for example will only be about an hour away, which is a place I’ve always dreamed of going to. 

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Our future host Leo and his buffalos – take a look at his website leodowney.com to read more about the ranch we’re going to be working at as well as check out his music!
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Banff National Park, just an hour’s drive away
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Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch

I can’t describe how excited I am for this next chapter. It’s always been a dream of mine to go to The Rocky Mountains and explore the nature there. It seems like one of those truly magical places that are still left untouched and I don’t think pictures can do it justice.  To then add buffalos to this mix is just too good to be true. What’s also going to be incredibly exciting is that Leo is a musician as well, so I’m sure we are going to all get along wonderfully and create some beautiful tunes together. So that’s it!

Ottawa ➞ Montréal ➞ New York City ➞ Washington D.C ➞ Cleveland ➞ Chicago ➞ Calgary ➞ Golden

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The travel route between January 24th – February 14th

8 cities, 3 Canadian provinces, 9 US states, 2 train rides, 4 bus rides, 2 flights, 22 days. 

What do you think? Any suggestions on what we should do in all of these places? We welcome any and all and hope that you will stick with us and keep on reading this blog throughout our journey! 

The Travel Day

[Moa]

Our journey to Canada started bright and early in my hometown Helsingborg at 8.30am with loading in our 2 bags and guitars into my dad’s car. Matilda had stayed the night so that we the could drive together to the airport in the morning. Our flight didn’t leave until 12.55 but we wanted to be at the airport in good time, just in case anything were to go wrong.Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAfter checking in our bags and mixing up the tags (oops) we headed into the departure area to find some food. If you haven’t been to Kastrup before you should know that it’s crazy expensive and the only cheap food you can find is hot dogs, and bland sandwiches. We settled for the latter and then headed to our gate to board our first flight of the day to Iceland where we had a connecting flight to our final destination; Toronto, Canada. Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe Journey Plan:
Copenhagen → Reykjavik, Iceland (3 hrs 15 min)
Iceland → Toronto, Canada (6 hrs) 

The flight to Iceland was smooth – They had a big selection of movies and tv shows on the plane (Norwegian & SAS, please learn from Icelandair thank you) and we watched Everything, Everything which was amazing, and ended just in time for Iceland to appear outside the airplane windows. Talk about a breathtaking view!

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Landing in Iceland

Once we had landed in Reykjavik we had some more food (burger & pizza – we’re classy) and were also slightly mindf***ed by the Icelandic currency. The pizza cost 2000 Icelandic Kronor! We then headed to our gate to board the connecting flight to Toronto. On this plane we didn’t have seats together so Matilda headed to her window seat at the front (I’m not bitter) and I to my middle seat towards the back of the plane like the peasant I am.

Although the plane ride was 6 hours long, the time passed quite quickly. I spent it watching another movie (The Guest, meh) and chatting to my seat pal next to me, a lovely lady from Bellville outside of Toronto who was travelling back from Norway. She told me how she had almost missed the connecting flight because she had waited for her luggage and didn’t know she didn’t need to, and then had to sprint across the airport in 10 minutes to make it! I’m glad that wasn’t me…

The whole journey from Iceland to Canada the sky was the most amazing color as we were flying “with” the sunset, meaning the sun never went down. We flew over Newfoundland & Labrador, one of Canada’s more northern provinces, and got to see breathtaking views of the arctic scenery below.

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Somewhere above Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

We arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport at 18.00 local time.  and then it was time for the thing we had both worried about for so long – the border control and activating our Working Visas! We had both read stories online of how strict they could be and on top of that Matilda also watches a LOT of Border Control. Yeah we were VERY nervous. 

Getting Through Border Control
The process of getting a working visa in Canada is quite long and I won’t go over all the boring details, but to enter the country you need to have the following things;

  • Your passport (duh) 
  • Travel insurance for your full stay, in our case 1 year
  • Bank Statement showing that you have at least $2500 Canadian Dollars + money for a return flight
  • A printed copy of a letter they send you when your visa is accepted

On the plane we also had to fill in a declaration form to say what you are bringing into the country. Matilda advised me, based on her vast Border Control knowledge, that if I was unsure of something, I should always say yes. Since I was bringing one of those small Swiss Army Multi-Tool knives, I checked “yes” on bringing a weapon into the country which later on gave me some funny looks from the staff at the border…

Them, judging me: “YOU have a weapon?” 
Me: “err… I thought I did?”

We arrived at the desks where they were going to look through our documents and we were both incredibly nervous; for no reason at all. 5 minutes later after briefly reading through our acceptance letters, we were approved to work in Canada. The guy who I had didn’t even look at either my bank statement or my insurance papers!

Fun fact: It’s stated officially on our visas that we’re not allowed to work as strippers. Dammit. 

They then sent us straight to a Service Canada department where we were given our SIN numbers, which is the equivalent of NI numbers in the UK and personnummer in Sweden. We were then sent on our way to collect our luggage and suddenly before we knew it – We had officially arrived in Canada! 

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