All posts filed under: Travel

Sunny in San Antonio

For The Spaniard’s 30th birthday I wanted to do something special – I wanted to take him to his first NBA game. Unfortunately, preseason was still going on during his actual birthday, so I couldn’t deliver on my gift until two weeks later. Thanks to the city suggestion from my old roomie Marc, we decided on San Antonio so we could catch the Spurs. We had an early morning flight with two connections, so by the time we arrived in San Antonio we were exhausted. Our hotel was conveniently located along the river walk, a world-renowned urban waterway below street level, which allowed us to orient ourselves with the downtown just 15 minutes away. On our first morning we set out along the river heading north towards the Pearl Brewery district, a very cool area that mixes residential, restaurants, shops, a hotel, and a branch of the Culinary Institute of America into refurbished (and a few new) buildings from the old Pearl Brewery. Saturday happened to be market day so we grabbed a gluten free banana …

Taste Lacombe, Alberta: Sweet Capone’s, Rangeland Meat Shop, and S4 Greenhouses

When Liane Faulder included Lacombe, Alberta in her list of great day trip ideas from Edmonton in her Edmonton Journal post back in June I felt like the cool kid – because I’ve been day-tripping it to Lacombe, Alberta for years. I was introduced to the central Alberta city when my sister built a cottage at Gull Lake a few years ago. I make a habit of stopping in for bread and treats at the Totally Gluten Free Bakery, digging through the antique shops, and love searching for fashion gems in the not one but two thrift shops in Lacombe. The Spaniard is always a good sport when it comes to exploring Alberta and I had a special treat in mind for his first visit to Lacombe. This summer Sweet Capone’s, an Italian bakery and cannoli shop, opened up to rave reviews and daily sellouts. My sister had been lucky enough to score cannolis on a couple of occasions, and warned me that if we wanted to buy anything to get there early. Well, leaving from Edmonton on …

A Gili reunion in the south of France

It was December 2006 on a minibus in Bali when I first met Tine & Joe from Belgium. We spent the whole day traveling to Gili Trawangan, (bus, boat, bus, boat) where we spent the next week together and even celebrated Christmas along with a rag-tag group of travellers. Five years later I visited them in their home of Antwerp, meeting their then two-year-old son Jack. When I let Tine know I was coming to Europe this summer she said I could come visit them at their place in the south of France. Since I have never been to the south of France before – how could I say no? I took a train from Barcelona to Carcassonne in the region of Languedoc-Roussillion. Tine met me at the station, pointing out the medieval fortress the town is famous for, but stressing she would not be taking me to the touristy site (they have been too many times).  We travelled 25 km to the quant town of Montlaur where I spent the next three days chilling at …

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 …