My impression of a person, place or thing depends on how they present themselves in the moment. I agree first impressions count, but to me they aren’t the be all and end all. They are often tainted by other issues more pressing at the time. This means I am always ready to change my view should different circumstances prevail.

After consideration, I realise my impression is unconsciously judged and can be explained by the following acrostic poem:











When these values can be seen in a person, place or thing, I leave the experience feeling good and wanting more. The more of these values missing, the poorer my experience. Do you know what drives your impressions?

Quebec’s Holy Door

On our recent trip to Canada I passed through Quebec’s Holy Door at the Bascillica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. The Holy Door was granted  to the people of Quebec by the Pope to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first Catholic parish in Northern America (Canada and USA)—at one time the largest Catholic parish in the world.  The Holy Door opened on the 8th December 2013 and closed on the 28th December 2014.

It is one of only seven Holy Doors  and the first Holy Door opened outside of Europe—four in the Vatican, one in France and one in Spain. The door itself is made of bronze and weighs about half a tonne. The external side of the door has Christ on the front and the internal door has Mary sculptured into it. Upon entering should you choose you place your hand in the hands of Christ and pause mindfully for a moment.

The Holy Door must be entered from the outside in and leads into the small chapel at the side of the Bascillica. After its closure on the 28th December 2104 the Holy Door was sealed to be opened again in 2025 when the next Holy Year was expected. However on 17th March 2015, Pope Francis announced that a Holy Year of Mercy will begin on 8th December 2015 that will close on the 20th November 2016. During this Jubilee all seven Holy Doors around the world will be opened.

The brochure stated “this door is open to all persons of good will. For Catholics it is a pilgrimage, a sign, a passage, a kind of spiritual preparation.”

Despite not being Catholic I found passing through Quebec’s Holy Door quite a spiritual experience. Although it was not the purpose of my trip to Quebec City—it was one of my highlights. The fact that I entered on Boxing Day—the day after Christmas Day made it more special for me. If you are traveling in an area next year that has a Holy Door consider adding it to your travel plans. Once closed the Holy Doors will all be sealed again until the next Jubilee Year possibly 2025 as originally expected.


Will I Go?

Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

I love to travel.

If money were no object I would travel to more countries across the world. From my experience, more can be learnt about different cultures by getting off the usual tourist path—we have traveled recently to regional China and Canada in winter.  Learning about a country through its history joins the dots on why things developed and are the way they are.

When my husband and I are considering traveling to a new destination, I ask myself the following questions to discover if it is a place we can visit now. Even if the answer is no, it doesn’t mean it is a place I never want to visit. Everywhere has something new to offer.

  1. Will we be safe? This is particularly important as we like to get ourselves around places not go on tours where you may have a built-in safeguard.
  2. Will we be able to stay healthy? Is the food and water safe?
  3. What , how and where will we eat? What is it advisable not to eat?
  4. How will we get around the city? Will this be possible? In Nanjing we thought we would catch a train however when we arrived at the train station it was literally packed with people. There no signs were in English, we felt claustrophobic so we quickly left and made other plans.
  5. Where do we plan to stay?
  6. What local rules or customs do we need to follow? Can we live with them for a couple of days?
  7. What is the reason we want to visit the country or area? If this is strong enough it can change some of the other answers.
  8. How do we get from the airport to our accommodation? Once we needed to pre-book a private car for a two-hour trip across provinces in China.
  9. Are injections required to protect us from disease?
  10. All things considered is the risk too great for us to travel to this part if the world at this time? YES or NO.

If the answer is yes, we reconsider visiting if the situation changes. In the meantime we will go somewhere else. We will never stop traveling—meeting new people and learning new things as it takes us out of our comfort zone and allows us to grow in ways we couldn’t imagine. Bring on our next adventure.