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Catch the Travel Bug!

From one throw-away remark, this Warners Bay massage therapist went from never travelling overseas to being a globe trotter. As an armchair traveller, Christine Stewart was captivated by Canada with its glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains.

Being single, she never thought of going by herself. That was until her daughter Samantha mentioned she was off to Vancouver to catch up with school friends. As a joke, Christine said can I come too? The unexpected reply was yes.

“It started from there. It was to be my once in a lifetime trip. Canada, especially the Rocky Mountains, and Stonehenge were the only places I wanted to go.”

On 30 June 2005, Christine left Australia for a six-week trip. For the first part, Canada and New York, she would travel with Samantha, then by herself to London and Singapore.

“I decided to go and visit other places as I never thought there would be another chance to travel overseas again,” said Christine.

She was not disappointed by Canada – the lakes and mountains were picture-postcard perfect. Stonehenge was mystical; however, Christine was disappointed as she wanted to be close to the sacred site and feel its energy, which wasn’t possible. During the trip, there were a few surprises.

North of Vancouver in the mountain resort of Whistler, Christine had her first hot stone massage; the treatment included hot stones being massaged over her body.

Top: Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island

Below: Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

“It was a great sensation — very soothing. It inspired me to learn this technique for my clients. Though I have never had another hot stone massage quite like it,” she said.

With a love of gardens, Christine was enthralled by the Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, and its initiator Jenny Butchart’s passion to turn her backyard, a former limestone quarry, into a sunken garden. “She had the vision and created it. They were magnificent — colourful, vibrant, and peaceful, all in one place.”

While the Rocky Mountains were high on Christine’s must-see list, the 14-day tour of the region – Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper – took her breath away.

“My favourite moment was on Lake Louise. Samantha and I decided to see the lake by canoe. We ended up paddling to the middle of the lake to eat our lunch. It was the most wonderful experience surrounded by the mountains, the glacier cascading into the lake, the icy cold water, and crisp, clean air. It was so peaceful and beautiful.”

On the east coast, the highlight was Niagara Falls and the full experience via the Maid of the Mist boat trip, the tunnel tour, and last but not least the viewing platform.

“It was such a glorious day; the falls were wonderous and splendid. The spray soaked us, and at times the mist was so strong we could not see. The roar was deafening, and I loved having the water drops on me. It was so beautiful to see, feel, smell, and hear. The water’s power was magnificent.”

For Christine, the biggest surprise was that she caught the travel bug!

“The one thing on my bucket list was to travel to Canada and Stonehenge. It gave me the taste of worldly experiences, and I started to think of other places I might want to visit.“

In 2017, she met her husband Garth, and they started travelling together. Christine’s favourite places to date have been Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil, Egypt, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos Islands.

“Oh, and India, I loved it — the people and feel of it. I never wanted to go there and ended up going twice in a year.”

The next places on her list are Ireland, southern England, Hawaii, New Zealand and Tasmania. “We had planned to go to Uluru this year. However, with COVID, our trip was cancelled – so maybe next year.”

Words: Kim-Cherie Davidson | Live Your Bucket List

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