It all started back on November 9th. In the heat of passion I declared fiercely that I would not be stepping a toe across the border until America had come back to it's beautiful senses. Until "normality", decency and common sense good was restored. While Trump was in power (which he has clearly misused) I would not spend a dime in the good ole U.S of A. Our yearly hiking trip to the South West or discovering a city for the first or second or third time would not happen again for at least four years.
Two years in, and the travel itch had overwhelmed me. I broke down and started researching states that would not only welcome a Canadian (um guys why aren't you yelling at the top of your lungs to protect a very fair trade deal that we have in place. One that you definitely already have the advantage over.) but allow a weekend where I could leave as much politics at home and not fear certain things, like gun violence, racism and women's rights.
I love the United States, I have met and continue to meet wonderful people, and that brings me hope.
So on to the trip. Vermont kind of crept up on me. The hiking looked great, the scenery and the relative closeness to us made it very appealing. Wood fired everything, and lot of options for Craft Beer and Cider. So when I mentioned it to a long time travel bud, plans started to happen. We packed up our husbands and dogs and hit the road.
The entire trip was wonderful, Our Cabin was literally on a mountain in the forest. The people we interacted with were wonderful (Special shout out to sweet spot owners Jess from Hender's in Waterbury and William from Rainbow Sweets in Marshfield) and the scenery was breathtaking.
I definitely plan on doing multiple follow up trips, and this time add some hiking and big mountain climbs.
Check out the up coming collaboration post, with our Top 5 things to do in Vermont in a weekend.
In the meantime here are some teasers of the trip!!
Originally published November 20, 2014
An apple a day keeps the Doctor away. ~Mom~
This includes cranberry apple pie right? How about a steamy caramel apple latte? For sure it must include honey crisp apples, covered in honey and double cream brie cheese, served panini style? If you have been following along, you should know that I love road trips, and I love travelling around Ontario. I am crazy about food, and I don' t mind heading out solo. So try to imagine my delight when I found out about the Apple Pie Trail. A planned route of destinations around Georgian Bay totally devoted to everything apples.
First point of business. Download the Apple Pie Trail app. (yes we can really say that there is an app for everything). I was able to put a pretty star next to my favourite attractions, have addresses at the ready and a really handy GPS map. (Ill admit later on in the post that I got a bit lost). Oh and a really cute photo feature.
I was really excited for my first stop, not only because I was headed towards highly regarded food, (Espresso Post has been featured in Blog TO and it's not even in Toronto), but because I have never stopped in Collingwood before. I have driven around the perimeter many times on my way to Craigleith or Blue Mountain, but have never had a reason to park myself.
Guys, music was playing as I got out of the car, I did not have to pay for parking and I was already entranced by the picturesque street view. I would have skipped to the Espresso Post if the ground hadn't been snow covered, so, bundled up I strolled. I wanted to try everything, and admittedly I had to allow a couple of people ahead of me in line because I just couldn't decide! I stuck with my apple theme and ordered the Brie and Apple Panini and a caramel apple latte. Oh my goodness. I knew apples and cheese went together but wow.
History has a way of humbling you, and my next stop at the Craigleith Heritage Depot had that exact effect on me. We have a habit of forgetting that life was significantly different than it is today. The strong and resilient people that shaped the country and the way that we live need to be remembered. Housed in an decommissioned rail house (not a replica) are treasures of the surrounding area, with invaluable information and artifacts. No charge to enter, but I strongly encourage leaving a donation.
It was a no-brainer that one of my stops would be The Honey House in Clarksburg. My culinary obsession with honey may rival butter tarts, and I am always looking out for that perfect batch. What was really neat about this place was that I was a novice, people were lined up with empty jars ready to get a refill. I treated myself to a jar of regular honey and another creamed honey and thanked the bees for their hard work.
On route to my last stop, I paused at Almonds Farm Market, this is not on the official itinerary but I still hadn't grabbed a pie. If you want that no fuss home baked goodness this is a great place to stop. I wanted to try something new so I picked up an apple cranberry crumble. It didn't make it past the weekend.
Two questions, have you ever seen a country side road after a snow storm, and do you ever argue with your GPS? My last planned stop was going to be to the Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery for some wine and sparkling apple juice, but because of natural barriers and my stubbornness I threw my hands up in the air and started heading home. I only tell you about this missed connection because sometimes everything doesn't go as planned, but that is part of the adventure! I was so thrilled to see that I could order wine online and wouldn't have to wait until I planned my next trip.
There are 37 stops listed on the Apple Pie Trail, I only made it to 3 and I was gone for about six hours. When I returned home I was rejuvenated, I was excited about my finds, and could barely wait to try my pie and honey. I am looking forward to the day when I get back on the trail. Luv K8e
Originally published October 16, 2014
"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R Tolkien
With a different bed every night, two islands, two cities a ferry and a lot of mileage in our Audi A5 we discovered the diverse landscapes, people and culture of Scotland.
I had a few cringes and eyebrow raises when I told people that I would be traveling with my in-laws, especially on a journey that had us confined to a car for hours at a time. Seasoned travelers themselves, I was more interested in what they would offer and contribute to my experience (ha selfish me), than the possibility of a National Lampoon style vacation. I give them huge props for going in blindly and trusting me with the itinerary.
We arrived in Glasgow via Reykjavik, Iceland. If you have not had an opportunity to fly with Icelandair, next one you get, take it. I have flown with them a handful of times and they always manage to exceed my expectations. They are quirky and unpretentious, but offer genuine feel good service. Plus if you have an extra day or two, you are able to stop in Iceland, at no extra charge.
In Glasgow, we were privy to the hot political scene and the leftovers of the 2014 Commonwealth games. The city immediately gives off the aura of a being built around the working class, a charm and delight for anyone wanting to experience Scotland without the bells and whistles that adorn many tourist cities. My hiking boots had their inaugural trek up to the Glasgow Necropolis where I was treated to a view of the city and the cathedral. We walked side by side through the sea of passionate Glaswegians as they rallied for the upcoming referendum vote. And it was here that I was introduced to Marks and Spencer's Percy the Pig.
Heading north, we made a detour from my original itinerary to stop at Stirling Castle, which was highly recommended by the customs agent as something we couldn't miss. On reflection we could have bypassed it, my schedule already had us seeing half a dozen castles, and I personally felt that Stirling was a great example of gaudy over-priced tourism. If your starting point is Glasgow head to Edinburgh Castle instead (20 minutes extra to your drive) the prison alone will make up for what you think you will be missing at Stirling. Up for a drive? Surrounded by mountains and three converging lochs, Eileen Donan Castle, is Scotland's most photographed and for good reason. Even if you don't have time to visit inside, the spectacular vista will be sufficient. Duvegan castle on the Isle of Skye is currently still a residence and is fully furnished, a living museum and has been home to the Chief's of Macleod of the MacLeod clan for over 800 years.
Have I mentioned that we had really great weather yet? Uncharacteristically sunny and warm, which made for great outdoor excursions. The Nevis Glen gorge is conveniently situated only a short drive outside of Fort William. With Ben Nevis in the foreground we hiked our way along a steep, rocky trail towards Scotland's second highest waterfall, Steall Falls. A few days later on the Isle of Skye we embarked on a little known (not found in our travel guide books) but incredible trek where we were led past a succession of crystal clear pools and waterfalls, known as the Fairy Pools. I may have been dehydrated but the landscape felt enchanted and mystical.
Everything was running so smoothly. We were now in the middle of our trip and as we drove alongside Loch Ness I refrained from blinking, hoping to share a moment with the famous resident Nessie. She was asleep, but instead of a sighting we were offered a fairy tale sunset, everything was perfect. We entered Inverness with hopes of rest. Unfortunately everything was booked; hotels, motels, B&B's, for no apparent reason Inverness was full. As our hopes and patience were diminishing, we were rescued not only by a beautiful guest house outside of the city but also a handful of really nice locals (seriously, one actually led us to the location in there car).
Do you have a travel wish list? I have one, but it is extensive; to be able to visit all of the UNESCO world heritage sites. A visit to the Orkney's, (a cluster of islands just north of the mainland) allowed me to check off a few. Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness make for a mind blowing experience. Skara Brae (a neolithic village) is older than the Giza pyramids and the Great Wall of China, and was discovered by fluke quite recently. I was humbled by time. This was possibly my favourite part of our trip.
The conclusion of our trip found us in Leith, a suburb of Edinburgh along the waterfront, which was an ideal spot for us to plant ourselves. A quick bus ride to the Old City and a fantastic selection of restaurants nearby on a strip dubbed The Shore we were more than delighted to be a bit of distance away from the more touristy areas. A couple of my favourite meals on this trip were eaten in Edinburgh, a piping hot shepherd's pie at The Doric (with claims to being the oldest gastro pub in Edinburgh) and a hog roast roll with crispy crackling and apple sauce straight from the farm at Oink, a simple restaurant serving up a roast of pork, with different dressings. Visiting the Old City is easy, starting off early (avoid the lines) at Edinburgh castle and continue down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace. At dark we joined a haunted tour (City of the DeadTours, The Double Dead walking tour), that led into underground vaults where we were regaled with stories of ghosts and poltergeists. The tour concluded in the Covenanter's prison, a concentration camp of sorts with it's history of hauntings.
Oh my, I could keep going. With the small town hospitality of Fort William, Portree, and Kirkwall, to the landscapes, the food and the mythology, Scotland really has something for everyone. If you have any questions or would like more details, comment below. If you have been, what was your favourite part?
A huge, huge thank you to my in laws, you make wonderful travel companions. I will treasure this adventure for the rest of my life. And may you never have to drive 1000 plus miles on the left hand side again. Cheers to Scotland, you surprised me, you taught me and most importantly you welcomed me. I will visit again. Luv K8e
Originally published June 11th 2014
It was nearly four months ago, when I was strolling down Avenida De Mayo, with my back against the Casa Rosada, and the faint sounds of chants and drums from the peaceful protesters. We were heading towards food, which isn't exactly surprising. It was food in the present that triggered this memory, a conversation about empanadas that got me thinking of Buenos Aires and all of its culinary delights.
We were on what I like to call a "foot to food" adventure, because we were on our feet from early morning, to late evening, and any guilt that could have accompanied the many meals was almost non-existent. The first night was the exception as we had been sitting in a plane for 13 hours, and almost immediately after arriving I was introduced to the emperor of pizzas the fugazzetta rellena, an insane version of Chicago's deep dish pizza. This deep pan, double crusted pie oozed with cheese, ham and onions. Sharing in Buenos Aires is typical but we had not clued in right away and had ordered three separate pizzas. A slow walk back to the hotel was the only option.
Every morning, in a state of lifelessness we ate our breakfast quietly in the hotel. The Savoy Hotel which is situated in the best possible location for our main mode of transportation, our feet, is a nod to a bygone era. You instantly feel a little glamorous walking into this architectural beauty, it's grand elegant lobby bar is fit for the graces of guests such as Albert Einstein and Eva Peron (Evita). The rooms were clean and comfortable, and the staff were very helpful. Just as time is predictable so were my movements in the early mornings. Like a zombie I would grab my coffee, non-decaf (which was a treat), a plate of cheese and meats and a danish. Just enough to energize me for our first stretch of walking.
The first culinary highlight of the day was lunch, and by that time the scents of barbecue had started to filter onto the streets. Our lunch picks were always random, and aside from Cafe Tortoni never researched beforehand. A childlike giddiness overcame me as I would stir my piece of chocolate into my glass of steaming hot milk, the submarino, had become my new best friend. My eyes would widen in search of empanadas only to discover that sorrentinos were on the same menu. Defeated, sometimes I would have to get both. Almost always lunch would take place on a patio. And almost always we would over eat.
Now dinner was an event of its own. Be prepared to eat late, (if you show up at a restaurant at 8:00 pm you are probably going to be the first ones there), and be prepared to eat. Hold the table for support as your server brings you piles of different grilled meats. Hiding any pleasure will be hard as you cut into the warm provoleta and start dishing out the rosti (potato pancake). You can not escape the feeling of sitting at a large family table during the holidays, the atmosphere is very celebratory. And when you start to wrap up you realize it is almost midnight.
Heads up. no surprises, servers are great but very laid back and you will almost never be offered the bill, you must ask. If you are not travelling within a few blocks, once dusk hits taking a taxi cab is highly recommended for tourists, as it is almost unavoidable to cross certain parts of the city that are less desirable.
I could not possibly convey our entire trip in one post, I do try to keep my word count at just enough so I can keep your attention. That being said, if you are heading that way let me know and I would be more than delighted to share. Need a link for a restaurant, comment below. Luv K8e. Thank you Michael Bacinello for your exceptional photographs (above in slide show) .
Have you ever stared at the world map for so long all the countries start to blend and lose their borders? Have you imagined landing in the remotest desert, or floating down canopied rivers being supported by only an inner tube? What about packing a small bag, jumping in the car, no destination planned, just the thrill of the journey in your back pocket?
I am a traveler, I enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the experience; being immersed in a land with new cultures and languages. City scapes and redwoods exhilarate me, I am drawn to the surf board and the reef. The smell of Pad Thai on the busy streets of Bangkok, the smooth texture of smoked swordfish in Cinque Terra, dining under the stars in the Outback. Iconic street signs and back alley graffiti ignite curiosity. Armories and castles are lessons in history.
This is your introduction to my obsession.
As a young adult the idea of regret was terrifying to me, the question "what if?" induced immediate nausea. One of the items on my wish list back then was to learn how to surf. Blue Crush had just opened in the theaters and I had rushed back to see it for a second time. The combination of the power of the waves, tranquility of the sea and effort of the body had me hooked. Being landlocked was proving to be my only obstacle. So I decided that if I was going to learn, I would learn with the best. To avoid bailing out and high costs I booked my flight a year in advance to the surfing capital of the universe, Australia.
I researched the east coast from Bondi Beach to Byron Bay, the alligator infested waters of Cairns and the diverse ecosystem of Fraser Island. I mapped out budget friendly hostels and transportation. A copy of Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country and new bathing suit in tow I was ready to become the surfer Kate Bosworth would be proud of.
My pilgrimage had come to an end, and after three flights and twenty two hours of being in the air I had arrived at my surfing headquarters. Throwing on my bathing suit I hurried down to the ocean in a Utopian high, making me oblivious to my surroundings, that is, until I was jolted back to reality when I confidently strutted into the water. The unthinkable had happened, I had not planned for this, it had not even crossed my mind for a moment. I was actually terrified of the water, ankle deep in sea foam I scouted the shark nets in the distance, the jelly fish stranded on the shore, and the large waves crashing down. Anxiety quickly set into grief as I realized in the land down under I would be learning how to not fear the ocean.
I did not surf. I went sea kayaking with turtles and dolphins on the East Australian Current, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, and white water rafted through an ancient rain forest on the Tully River. I ate kangaroo, held a Koala and avoided Huntsman spiders. I met up with one of my best friends and saw a movie in the night market in Brisbane, then ate Yum Cha in Chinatown. I walked the entire circumference of Uluru and listened to Bone Man under the night sky. I fell in love with Gloria Jean's and Lamingtons, and I still have not come across a meat pie quite like the one I had on the way to Caloundra.
I did not surf, on this journey, but I sure did discover a passion that only continues to intensify with time. I signed my sister and myself up for surf camp in Costa Rica a couple of years later and not only did I stand up on the board, I got to share that experience with my sister, at the time it was meant to happen.
2014 is just beginning and destinations are already lining up, stay tuned. Share with me your travel stories and where you want to go! Luv K8eG
Originally published January 21 2014
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I have had this on my Ontario to do bucket list for a couple years now, river tubing through the Elora Gorge, on the Grand River. I have strolled alongside this spectacle a handful of times whilst stopping for lunch in this picturesque town. When I found out this was actually a thing, I had to do this. A couple years went by though, and even a couple visits to the town (mostly off season in the fall), and I still hadn't braved the river.
Now that I have a job, my days are limited. I am not sure when I will get vacation time and how I should even plan for it. So when I finally had the chance and a willing companion I dove in head first. Not exactly, but you get the idea.
Our early morning exit out of the city was slow, one hour of crawling through traffic added onto the already hour and 20 minute drive to Grand River Conservation Authority. The weather was surprisingly chilly considering it was mid-August and there were clouds in the sky. What good timing. Not to be deterred we continued on our journey down the highway. Once arriving at the park ($12.00 admission for a vehicle) we snaked our way down the road to the tubing rental center.
They had everything that we needed: a permit to float on the river, a tube, and a life jacket and helmet. The entire package was only $25.00 plus a refundable deposit of $75.00 for the equipment. We finished signing waivers (eek), and collected all of our gear. The process was really well organized and seamless, and they even offered a complimentary shuttle to the river launch site, (we chose to walk the fifteen minutes). Once at the river our brave demeanor faded and second-guessing came into play, the launch site was a mini waterfall, well not really, but for first time tubers it might as well have been. We opted to walk a little further down so that we could gently enter the thankfully warmer-than-the-air water. What a trip! A couple white water rapids that had us clenching our bodies to the tubes, followed by lazy floating while surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. We even spotted a regal looking heron on the shore. It was both the longest and shortest hour I have every experienced. Relaxing and thrilling all in one.
After changing and drying ourselves off in the very clean on site washrooms, and returning all of our equipment, we said good bye to the park and headed into town for a well deserved meal. River tubing is a lot more work than I thought it would be!
I immediately feel relaxed in small towns. You can tell who the locals are, and I always envy the relaxed manner they have about them. Elora has one of the prettiest main streets in southern Ontario, and a lot of different shops and eateries to choose from. We made a quick stop at Sweet Distractions a candy emporium where I purchased the freshest Turkish delight ever. And a delightful lunch at The Cat's Meow Cafe where we both had the Alley Cat, a delicious open face tuna melt (how come I can't figure out tuna like this). I also may have left with a peanut butter marshmallow square.
Elora and it's surrounding area is a wonderful place to wind down and take in the ambiance of a small town life. With unique boutique shops, cutesy cafe's, and variety of dining options it caters to the discerning city day tripper.
I am looking forward to my return trip.
I am always looking for small unique towns to explore, is your's one of the? Leave a comment below!
Another quick link, I fell in LOVE with this shop and made a quick purchase while there and placed an online order when I returned home. Ephiphany!
Originally published September 2nd 2015