All posts filed under: Travel

A Bavarian Invasion

The Spaniard planned his return visit home this summer around his friend Paula’s wedding near Munich. Paula had married her German sweetheart Christoph at an intimate ceremony in Santander back in May, so the festivities in Bavaria were to let both their German and Spanish friends get together and celebrate. I flew in a couple of days early to meet up with Alex, who I first met volunteering in Swaziland over five years earlier. After over a decade abroad, Alex has returned home to Germany to start a travel business offering designer trips to Africa. I had a chance to hear all about Wanderlust Africa as we walked around Munich, and Alex helped me pick out a traditional dirndl in anticipation of the wedding.  After two days with Alex I went back to the airport to pick up the rental car, The Spaniard, and our new friend Pilar who was flying in at the same time. We navigated our way to Munich to pick up Adrian & Keesha – who we stuffed in the back along with all the …

An Isle of Wight Wedding

It was October 2009 on the rooftop of a hostel in Banos, Ecuador when I first met Eng – my British little buddy. We spent the next couple of weeks traveling together south to Peru – bonding over a love of food, people watching, and adventure. I’ve met up with her in her hometown of London – where we later travelled to Albania, Macedonia, and on to Turkey (where Eng took photos of me being attacked by a turkey). We have some pretty funny memories together. So when the invite for her wedding came, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I pulled out one of my hand-made fascinators and packed my bag – I was ready to attend my first English wedding. Last Friday I went to Waterloo train station where I met up with Kate and Helen – two lovely London girls that Eng and I met in Olympus in Turkey. A train, ferry, a winding cab ride later, we arrived at the East Dene, Bonchurch, Ventnor – one of the Isle of Wight’s premier outdoor …

A birthday weekend in the windy city

My birthday plans last year were a bust. So, this year, I told The Spaniard two months in advance that I wanted to go away for my birthday; he chose Chicago. I warned him that Chicago was cold in the winter, but he brushed aside my warning. Silly boy – we froze our asses off. On Saturday (which was my actual birthday) we had a walking tour booked through the Chicago Greeter program. The free service matches visitors with enthusiastic, city-wide volunteers – thankfully our Greeter Susan had a series of places to warm up in during our 3.5 hour tour.                 Susan was amazing! We started with a tour of the loop – getting a dose of Chicago’s history and stops a number of architectural and historical landmarks. We also learned fabulous facts like name Chicago is the French version of Native American Algonquion word shikaakwa, meaning stinky onion. I would have taken more photos but my fingers lost motor skills every time I took my mittens off. Susan finished our …

Day tripping in Asturias

While most of my Canadian friends who have been to Spain have either been to Madrid or Barcelona – I have been to neither. My time last summer was spent exclusively in The Spaniard’s province of Cantabria; however, over the recent holiday season I had a chance to head west and do some day tripping in Asturias. Asturias is known for it’s rugged coastline and mountains, which made for a beautiful drive. Our first stop in the morning was to Gijón, the largest city in the province. The unseasonably warm weather made for a lovely walk along the water and around town. Asturias is known for growing apples which are turned into cider (sidra), which is famously poured from above the head. Bottled without gas, Asturian sidra is served using this long vertical pour to help it aerate when it splashes into the glass. When we sat down to try a bottle – they offered us the ‘foreigner friendly’ table-top version. While pressing the button on the back of the figurine’s back was entertaining, The Spaniard …

Navidad en Santander

This past holiday season I traveled to Santander, which is straight north of Madrid on the north coast of Spain, to spend Christmas with The Spaniard and his family. The trip involved lots of family meals (with loads of seafood), and time for aperitivo’s and small bites with friends. It certainly did not look like the Spanish recession had hit Santander – the streets were packed with people drinking, eating and shopping. Our first full day in Santander was on December 24, and we met up with The Spaniard’s school friends at noon. We bar-hopped along with the masses for almost nine hours before making our way home for dinner. Back at The Spaniard’s parents place we had a Christmas Eve dinner with his two sisters, brother-in-law, and two nephews. We brought the Spaniard’s father a bottle of Crown Royal Northern Harvest – which had just been named 2016’s #1 whiskey in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.  Like The Spaniard’s nephew Dani I couldn’t wait for a bite of jamon. (I still don’t understand why I look like …

Take me out to the ball game… and then up the CN Tower.

For the September long weekend the Spaniard and I flew to Toronto so that I could visit with my best buddy Jen, and well, so well he could see the centre of the universe. I think the Spaniard was expecting me to show him around Toronto, but even though I have been there multiple times, I have never been in charge of what is going on. I’ve always had friends to chill, explore, or just hang with. I picked up a Toronto travel guide from the library for some walking tour tips, and thankfully Jen took charge and sorted out a few restaurants for us to try in between our site seeing. To make The Spaniard feel right at home, we had drinks and pinxtos at Bar Raval, a newer Spanish restaurant on College st. Toronto is a great walking city and we managed to work up an appetite as we pounded the pavement from the lake front to downtown. At the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal I was excited to jump on a bicycle built for …

Road Trippin through Southern Alberta

When The Spaniard received a letter saying he had been approved for his permanent residency in Canada he was informed he had to leave the country to officially ‘land’ as part of the process. Since you need to stay in the country once you land until your card arrives in the mail, he wanted to get the process taken care of immediately so he could get home in time for Christmas. But, with the Canadian dollar in the tank and flight prices high, I voted against flying to the US for a weekend and instead convinced him of  a good old-fashioned road trip to the Montana border and back. After spending the night in Calgary on the Friday, where we took advantage of a free room at my sister’s place, we set off west of the city in search of highway 22 – also known as The Cowboy Trail. First up on our scenic drives was Turner Valley where we stopped for lunch at the Chuckwagon Cafe and Cattle Co. – as seen on an episode of  ‘You Gotta …

Pitstop in Torrington, Alberta? Gopher it!

For years, when I spotted the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum sign as I drove between Edmonton and Calgary on the QE2, I always wondered the same thing. Who would want to go to a gopher hole museum? Eventually, someone let me in on the fact that the museum wasn’t exactly about gopher holes. Instead – it was magical place where gophers are stuffed, dressed, and set into diorama displays (or holes) going about their daily activities. Thanks to google image I found some photos; I wanted to see it immediately. Unfortunately, I could never find the right time to go, or find a willing party on the drive back from Calgary to make the 30 km side trip. But ever since I started dating a foreigner, I’ve started to become a tourist in my own province. I often find myself checking out the Travel Alberta website. I was planning back in May when The Spaniard went to Drumheller, but the museum is only open from June 1 – September 30. Well, I am proud to say, I finally made it. …

My First Spanish Wedding

My first trip to Spain was booked in time to take in the nuptials of The Spaniard’s two friends from university – Soledad and Javier. I had the pleasure of meeting the happy couple for drinks a few days in advance of the wedding. The bride sounded busy with details leading up to the event. The Spaniard tried to joke that he was planning on wearing shorts to the wedding, which got a smile from the groom, but a desperate ‘Please, just wear a suit,” response from Sole. The Spaniard delivered – even putting in hair product for Sole’s and Javi’s big day. I think he cleans up rather nice. On the day of the big event we walked down to the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Santander, a beautiful cathedral in the centre of the city. Immediately The Spaniard was greeted by friends and classmates from his university days; I was lost in a sea of introductory kisses, names, and quick-talking Castilian Spanish. Outside the church the women were dressed in an array …

London Calling

When I was booking an upcoming trip to Spain I couldn’t help but schedule in a four-day layover in London. When I pass through the security check point my answer is always the same. ‘I’m visiting friends in London.” April 2007 I met a crew from London who were spending a week at the beach in Goa India. I was backpacking at the time and was traveling solo – they adopted me and my week with them is one of the best memories I have from that seven month long adventure. Later that year I flew to London for the first time for a week of sightseeing by day and socialized to the max in the evening. On that trip I met their friend Laurie who has become my go-to friend to crash with when I’m in London. On previous trips I watched him blow up an air mattress for me to sleep on in his flat in Brixton, but he recently purchased a house in the neighbourhood with his boyfriend so this time I was …