My Travels (Near and Afar) from A to Z

2 Jan

Ah, Internet Memes. It’s like playing “Tag, you’re it!” online. I got tagged by Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic so I thought I’d give this a go. At least this means people are reading my blog?

This is Tav. I met him in 1996 at a Scout camp and reunited with him 10 years later in Dublin. Amazeballs.

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

If international does not include the U.S., the answer would be at 16 to England for a camping trip. We were in London for two days, then headed to Essex for about another 7 days (and yes, it’s so pitiful you can’t even find it on a map). We then went to Glasgow.  That said, we fundraised our way to go so I’m pretty proud of that. I also met a friend there from Ireland that I reunited with 10 years later in Dublin. All because of that camping trip! Yet I still have to step inside a monument in London. It seems they’re always closed when I go. (I’m looking at you, St. Paul’s Cathedral.)

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Currently, it’s Tecate from Mexico and I had it in Toronto of all places. Light, fresh and goes so well with tacos. From my travel memories, Barcelona has a bar where there is a screen tallying how much each table has drank. We had quite the competition with other tables in the restaurant. One of the most unique bars I have ever been to.

C: Cuisine (favourite): 

Italian. But the best pizza I have had was at John’s on Bleeker Street in New York City. I like it greasy! (and with pepperoni). You’ll see the majority of my favourite restaurants in Toronto are Italian. That said, I really really like Mexican food too. And Greek.

My favourite city is Paris. And always will be. First love.

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Faves: Paris. Anytime, anywhere. Always and forever. Close seconds: New York City (never bored), Barcelona (architecture; food), Slovenia (new; adventure)  and Berlin (hauntingly beautiful).

Least favorite?  Brussels. BORING. Yawn. Zzzzzzzzzzz. And I got catcalled here more than I did in Italy. WTF?!

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Nuit Blanche in Paris. I had no idea it was “Nuit Blanche” so we were unexpectedly admist all of these revellers celebrating art. It was pretty cool.

I love walking but taking a bike tour is the next best thing. I highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours. This is in Barcelona.

F: Favorite mode of transportation:

Train. I love looking out the window. Plus, it enables me stop and think for a bit (and comfortably).  Being on a boat doesn’t hurt either (unless you are on a four hour ferry and the man beside you is being obnoxious. Then it sucks).  Oh and walking/bike.  Actually, out of all of them walking is my favourite. This is where you find the best discoveries.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

Freedom. The freedom enables me to learn whether it’s planned (I’m going to learn about the world’s greatest artists today because I’m in Paris or Barcelona, for example) or unplanned (Crap, I missed my flight twice. How do I deal with this situation?)

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:


I like a good tourist site. This is the John Lennon Imagine memorial (changes every day) in Central Park, New York City.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

In Montreal, yonder ago there was a tucked away bistro called Brunoise on a side street. It was one of those bistros that always had a wait. We came without a reservation in the rain and though we had to wait for our table for a bit, the manager gave us a drink on the house while we waited and made sure we were served within a half hour.  It was one of my favourite meals.

J: Journey that took the longest:

Overnight train ride from Berlin to Paris. Or the flight from Toronto to Greece with an eight hour stopover at Gatwick. I’ll get more far flung in the future. Promise!

One of my favourite things to take pictures of is landscapes. This is the view of the Dingle Peninsula, my favourite site in Ireland.

K: Keepsake from your travels:

Photos Photos Photos. And a spoon for my mother where-ever I go (in a place that she doesn’t have a spoon). She’s quite the collector.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

Mannequin Pis in Brussels. Really? Meh. It’s this tiny little boy peeing in a fountain. This says a lot about the city.

The most underrated sight I went to was the SF MOMA. Highly impressed and you can go for free once a month too (check their calendar).

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time while watching Fashion Television at home at age 7. It was then that getting to Paris was a life mission.

The living room in my suite at the Ocean Club Resorts in the Turks and Caicos.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Having my own suite at the Ocean Club Resorts in the Turks and Caicos wasn’t bad. The Hazelton in Toronto was pretty swank as well and check out at 2 p.m. is one of the best indulgences you can ask for. The Gladstone is fun too. It’s one of those places where you can order in pizza and jump on the bed (which I did).  The Planet Hollywood in Vegas was cool because we got a view of the Bellagio Fountains.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Architecture. Food. Landscapes. Candids. It’s so hard to choose! You can see more shots on my Facebook Page as well (shameless self promotion!).

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

Mainly from the USA and Canada in the past few years. In November, I got my passport renewed so my first stamp on there is from Turks and Caicos. The goal is to get to another continent. I need to go somewhere exotic!

This is where Michael Jackson dangled his baby off the balcony in Berlin. BOOM!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

I went on a tour in Berlin and we got near the Brandenberg gate. The tour leader said, “This is the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby.” Well, of course I took a picture! Runner up: the red light district in Berlin (yes, on a tour). Those girls are so bundled up that you’d think you were in Canada!

Atlantic Canada does not get enough attention. Peggy's Cove is an incredible sight/site. Oh,and lobster!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Montreal in July for the sheer number of festivals they have; Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, which is a great place for people watching, photography and reflection; walking around the Lower East Side in New York (and for that matter, the High Line. LOVE!).

In Paris: Musee D’orsay is my favourite musuem. But a lesser known museum in Paris is the Musee de Marmatton, especially if you are a Monet fan because it was curated by his family.

On top of that, I’m a market girl. La Boqueira in Barcelona was one of my favourites. For off the beaten Europe, canyoning in Bled, Slovenia is one experience I will never forget.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

As part of my meme on my 7 Travel Truths, I said food and experiences trump accommodation (I usually stay in cheaper lodging or with friends if I can).  Having a meal and bonding over a cultural dish is something I will gladly pay for.

It's really fun to call your mom and tell her the first thing you saw on your trip was the Acropolis. Le Sigh.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

I try to do them all! Highlights: Eiffel Tower in Paris; the Berlin Wall in Berlin; Times Square and Broadway shows in New York City and Venice. Love Love Love Venice.  The Acropolis in Athens was the first major thing I saw on my solo trip, so that will always have a place in my heart.  That said, these places are fun to people watch, another way you can get excitement out of something that is well known.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Walking out of the Metro into Paris for the first time at 9 a.m. and seeing the statue of Bastille and being in the midst of a morning market. Fantastique!

V: Visas, how many and for where?


W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

Chablis in Paris from the convenience store. When you’re in a hostel with 50 17 year olds, there’s only one thing to do. And that is to drink. We quickly darted out of that hostel to experience the nightlife. One of my favourite nights!

Favourite thing to do: walk around and find a candid scene. Soho, New York.

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

NEAR: In Toronto, experiencing the Edgewalk on the outer rim of the CN Tower is one of the best views I’ve ever had of our metropolis. Not brave? Toula in the Westin Harbour Castle for a view of the Toronto islands. In New York: Top of the Rock to see the Empire State Building; the Highline for a view of the Meat Packing District.

AFAR: In Paris, this was a mission of mine. There are a few: on top of the department store, Les Printemps is one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower; Place de Concorde also offers an excellent view of the Tower and of Champs Elysses. And if you want to get off the beaten path, go to Le Grand Arche for a huge city view.

And the smaller towns in Europe like Cesky Krumlov offer views from the towers that feel like they have come straight out of a fairy tale.

In San Francisco: Coit Tower. There’s a reason “The Bachelor” is shooting the dinner dates there. The view from the de Young is also spectacular and free.

Y: Years spent traveling?:

On and off for the past 6 years.

Canadians love their hockey. Exhibit A.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

I learned this the easy way in Vancouver during the Stanley Cup Finals. Luckily, I got out before the riots started but hockey fans know how to party. Exhibit B: when Canada won the Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey. Enough said! That said, I was quite terrified going to Scotland for the first time. If you wear a certain colour that signifies an opponent’s team in soccer you could be in trouble.

I challenge: 
Alicia Taggio of My Life Untethered 
Mike Corey of Kick the Grind 
Bethany and Randy of Beers and Beans 
Yvonne  Zaggermann of Just Travelous 
Jen Pollack Bianco of My Life’s A Trip 

3 Responses to “My Travels (Near and Afar) from A to Z”

  1. Ayngelina January 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I knew you would post a good one! Love the photo of you on the bike, so cute.

  2. Valerie January 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Great article: full of informations and easy to read. Cheers for the mention of the Westin Harbour Castle! All the best for 2012 and more travels to come

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