2011 was a crazy year. Where did it go?! I had a few monumental trips this year, so here are a few photos. As for people I met this year, I think I’ll keep that a separate post, as there were so many wonderful people that I got to meet this year.
My 2011 started off great because I won a trip to San Francisco! Long story short: back in the fall of 2010, my site got hacked because I was trying to enter a contest to SF. It was one of those “Like” contests and I ended up not winning.
I was bummed as SF has always been on my list, I figured it would be one of those destinations I’d make “someday.” Fast forward to February and all I had to do was sign up to a mailing list to win a contest. That weekend, I got an email saying I had won a trip. So naturally since I was over there I got an open jaw (flying into one city and flying out of another) from YYZ-SFO-LAX-YYZ on Virgin America. Unfortunately, there is no longer service from Toronto on Virgin which is a shame because it’s a great airline.
Two days was the perfect amount of time to be in LA. I was a bit intimidated by the city and quickly headed over to Santa Monica. The beach; the shopping; the laid back attitude. Santa Monica is my kind of place. That said, heading up to the Hollywood sign was a cool “check mark” point. Next time, I’ll probably head to West Hollywood just because. But I would definitely like to go back to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and head up to Maui. Oh, and meet Mark Ballas but that’s a side point.
Thanks to VISA I was able to rack up some points and get myself to Vancouver to network with other travel bloggers at TBEX. Luckily, the conference coincided with the Stanley Cup Finals and the Vancouver Canucks were in it. No need to reiterate the final game (I’m sure you all heard what happened there. Shame.) but I will say being thrust into the hype of a major sporting event while traveling is mega fun. You get to see things that you normally wouldn’t like this awesome sign on the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Visiting Vancouver, during the Stanley cup finals no less, made me really proud to be Canadian. The first thing I noticed while getting out of the airport was the fresh air. Everyone is so active here and it’s probably because of the amazing parks they have here. As above, Stanley Park was an incredible sight and quite a fun bike ride. I just wish I had more time!
Vancouver is also a place for water babies. Getting out on the harbour via water taxi obviously makes me happy. This was quite a happy accident and I’m glad I made it over to Kitsilano which is where the locals are (with their kids and dogs natch). My favourite secret that I found was the Spanish Banks. I went at night but to see the city skyline at night on a deserted beach will remain one of my favourite memories of Vancouver. It’s quite special.
Kitsilano (or Kits as the locals call it) is one of the best beaches for people watching. Everyone is playing volleyball, out with the guitar or having a romantic moment (or a break up) on these ginormous logs that are scattered across the beach. You’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Of course, one of my bucket list items was to fly in a seaplane and I was able to scratch that off en route to Victoria, BC for some R&R.
Victoria was the perfect place to escape the hoopla surrounding the Stanley Cup finals and decompress from TBEX mania. I wanted to be on my own and explore a little bit.
To describe Victoria as “quaint” is an understatement. This is where Bed and Breakfasts go to die. That said, it’s not just all retired old folk here. There’s a lot of young, active people who thrive on adventure here.
After biking around Beacon Hill Park, I stumbled upon this beach where there were a bunch of kite surfers. It was the perfect place to relax and people watch. I found this guy who looked like a biker and was happily sitting by a log that said “I love my mom.” You really can’t make stories like this up!
I also found this little guy hanging around a bunch of kite surfers on the beach. Easy Breezy.
In the fall, I pitched a story to Ontario Tourism and they comped a big part of our trip and gave us a private guided tour around the many lakes of Algonquin Park. Algonquin Park is one of the most magnificent parks I’ve travelled to and as with Vancouver, makes me so proud to be Canadian. You can see my photo essay here. We were lucky to have some very populated lakes to ourselves. You can’t dream up colours like this. I’m truly blessed.
My travelling partner Corbin and I got up early on a Sunday morning and unexpectedly witnessed this fog in the park. It made for some incredible pictures like this one. There is no feeling like being on a lake in the morning fog while the leaves are changing colours. You can feel the stillness.
I then went from Canadian wilderness to Caribbean beach.
As part of my column for Sympatico.ca, I got invited to go to the Turks and Caicos. Not a bad way to end the year! It’s a pretty dreamy destination.
I’m not sure what my travels will entail in 2012, but if they were anything like 2011 I’ll be equally excited. Here’s to Country 20 and beyond!