My A to Z On Travelling

Age of 1st International Trip

My first international trip was a school trip to West Germany, Switzerland and Austria. I was 15 and stayed awake all night before I flew. I tried to imagine what cobbled stone streets would look like, what people would be wearing, what food I would be eating and these questions kept me wired until I landed. Once I stepped foot outside the airport, I was hooked!

Best Drink

My younger version would say the beer at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany simply for the fact that I was drinking under age! My older version would say the homemade lemonade in Cuzco that I drank by the gallon last summer.

Cuisine (Favourite and Least Favourite)

My favourite cuisine was in India but even then, at the end of the trip, I was eyeballing the pizzas coming out of Domino’s. Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing! My least favourite was in South Korea. There is only so much red pepper paste and kimchi a person can handle and I had a year of it!

Destination (Favourite and Least Favourite)

This is impossible for favourites. I would go out on the travel limb and say Cambodia, Guatemala, India and Morocco. This will probably change but who knows? My least favourite is South Korea.

Event (most exciting/interesting)

I can’t narrow it down to one so it is a toss-up between the sandstorm in the Sahara desert, the ride through the jungle in Guatemala in the early morning on the way to Tikal listening to the howler monkeys, the first time I laid eyes on animals in the wild in South Africa, cycling down a mountain in Peru or hiking the Inca trail in Peru.

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Favourite Mode of Transportation

My absolute favourite mode of transportation is the back of a motorcycle. My mom and I hired motos in Cambodia and saw the country side with the wind whipping through our hair (or what I had left of it from my bout with malaria). My second favourite is the train which I loved in Vietnam and hope to love really soon, once again, in Sri Lanka.

Greatest Travel Feeling

My greatest travel feeling is when I shared with my family their first experience to travel overseas. There is nothing that beats seeing people you love have their eyes opened to what awaits them via travel.

Hottest Place I Have Lived

I have lived in some hot countries but Suriname takes the hot cake on this one! I would wake up very early in the morning and go to work ( a day care for children with physical and mental challenges) and then by noon, return home to fall asleep stuck to the couch. By 5pm, I would wake up and begin the day all over again. Usually I would go out very late in the evening and stay up most of the night with my friends dancing and partying and then begin it all over again the next day.

Incredible Service

I do not feel comfortable staying in fancy hotels where service is expected nor can I afford to do so! So given that, I would say service in restaurants both in Morocco and in India stand out from the rest.

Journey I Won’t Easily Forget

The ride on the camel in the Sahara Desert hurt the most physically (my butt says never again) and a bus ride in Morocco when my daughter needed to desperately use the bathroom and couldn’t might have been one of the most stressful!

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Keepsake

When we got married in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (Canada) one of our daughters, aged 11 at the time, bought us an ornament of a bride and a groom getting married. It will always be very special.

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Let-Down Sight

Fish River Canyon in Namibia was this for me! After hours and hours of driving with little to see, we got there and I said, “This is it?”

Moment I Fell In Love With Travelling

When my parents returned from Central and South America and my dad showed me his blow dart gun from the jungles of Peru and my mom showed me packages of junk food that were written in Spanish. I knew I needed to travel.

Nicest Hotel Stayed In

Oh boy there are many.. the one in Ubud in Bali, the many in Morocco, but the one that has the most memories is in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala (Posada de Santiago) where we could swim in the pool or soak in the hot tub and look over Lake Atitlan surrounded by volcanoes. Truly gorgeous and breath taking. At night we could step outside our little bungalow and watch it storm over the lake while eating snacks bought in the local town. Perfection.

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Obsession With This

Markets… I just love them. I love to take pics of markets, I love to wander them, and every now and then I even buy something. I enjoy pretending like I live there, imagining my life as a local or at the least, as an expat. I can never have enough markets!

Passport

I have had a lot of them in my life and some have been heavily stamped. I have never lost one or misplaced one… knock on wood!

Quaintest Place

I can’t choose just one. It might be Patzcuaro, Mexico or Bevagna or any town in Umbria in Italy or Ollantaytambo, Peru or Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala or Ubud (a long long time ago) in Bali or Luang Praband (a long long time ago) or Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton

Recommended Country

I highly recommend Guatemala if you live in North America and want an inexpensive shorter distance to travel to and a world of experiences to follow. I highly recommend Morocco if you live in Europe and want an inexpensive and shorter distance to travel to and a world of experiences to follow. And I highly recommend India to anyone who wants to have an experience each and every moment. You will never forget it and you may just fall in love with it!

Splurge

We splurged when we visited Niagara Falls in Ontario and took a helicopter ride over the falls. Best money spent. We also splurged in Morocco on nicer accommodations as the country is known for its beautiful older residences (riads) and this was money well worth spent. We don’t do it often but when we do, it is meaningful.

Touristy

Touristy places can be ruined if “tacky” prevails but sometimes touristy spots are eye-opening such as Alcatraz in San Francisco, Times Square in NYC, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Colosseum in Rome… just to name a few of my personal favourites.

Unforgettable

I will probably never forget my most miserable experiences (malaria, dengue fever, being robbed, Delhi belly, field hospitals, cockroaches) but it is the most exciting ones that keep me researching where to go next. Travel for me is an addiction…but I choose to see it as a healthy one…I never forget that feeling of a new place and am always looking to replicate it elsewhere.

Visa

Visas are a pain. A royal pain in the backpack! So many countries (particularly in Africa) are requiring visas to be obtained ahead of time. If a visa is needed, those given upon arrival at the airport are my favourites. Unfortunately they are becoming fewer and fewer. 😦

Winning At Travel

I used to think the perfect job was to be a professional travel blogger. Having joined a few FB groups, I have learned that this too has its stresses. Competition can creep into anything… even into travel blogging. I am happy to win at travel by doing what I want to do and not having to research constantly 20 Ways You Too Can Get Off The Beaten Path. Or maybe I am just trying to convince myself….

eXcellent View

I have been blessed to have experienced many views over the years but recently seeing Machu Picchu with my family from Sun Gate stands out as one of the great ones.

Years Of Travel 

Uhhmmm….nope not going to go there but I have had my share of years of travel but more importantly, hopefully, many more to come.

Zillion More Places To See

Well, there is maybe not a zillion more to see but at least a lot! As I get ready to move to Cairo, my travel wish list is becoming more of a reality. Sri Lanka, one destination that has been on the list forever, is soon to be checked off in September! I can’t wait 🙂

Anything you would like to share about my A to Z? I would love to hear from you 🙂

Canada Day: Toronto Style

One word for Canada Day.

WOW.

Toronto has a way of doing that.

On the way to the baseball game, these are the Canadian moments we saw.

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And what brought tears to my eyes, was a parade we stumbled upon put on by immigrants and refugees to Canada. People who have chosen to make Canada their home.

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And then a baseball game that was so much more than a baseball game. A place to celebrate Canadian heroes as they unfolded our flag. It was one of those I won’t forget moments.

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And even the moon was celebrating in all its light.

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Happy belated Canada Day to all. And for those of you who haven’t visited, do come. It is worth the trip.

Reflecting on the A to Z Journey

A to Z took the

Best out of

Cheryl and the Family C who were

Determined that

Every post be obsessed with travel and

Finished oh so timely.

Grateful to

Hear from you who were so very

Inquisitive, interesting,

Joyful and

Kind.

Loved

Meeting

New

Other

People who were

Quick to

Relate and respond with a clever dash of a

Sense of humour.

Though A to Z is

Unfortunately

Verboten as of now,

We can hope to

Xtend our blogging friendships until next

Year!

Zee ya later and all the best 🙂

From Cheryl and The Family C who enjoyed travelling from A to Z.

Z is for Zillion

I love to ask questions.

Just ask my family… or maybe don’t…I already do that a lot and that drives them crazy.

I have been known to ask a zillion questions about everything and anything; a trip, about what happened in school, about how that spoon ended up in the sink instead of the dishwasher for the zillionth time, and a zillion more etc.

But my all-time favourite question to ask is:

If you had all the money needed and the time to travel, where would you travel to first? And of course, why?

And surprisingly for a question that I ask so frequently, I don’t have a definitive answer myself.

I tend to waiver between an African country such as Zambia or Botswana (for the animals) and India, usually. But then, I get indecisive and want to put all of Europe on the list (because Europe gobbles up a lot of money). OH and then there is Antarctica and The Galapagos Islands too!

So since I love to ask questions, I will repeat myself (not that I ever do that of course) and ask you, my reader:

If you had all the money needed and the time to travel, where would you travel to first and why?

Thanks for travelling with me and the Family C from A to Z this month. Oh no! I can feel alphabet withdrawal coming on. 🙂

Y is for Yellow

When I was in law school, I made a few mistakes.

The first – going to law school!

The second – staying in law school (although the jury is out as it did lead to interesting jobs).

The third – living on Diet Coke and chocolate to stay awake and NeoCitran to go to sleep.

After law school, I gave up the law but remained devoted to my Diet Coke. I loved my Diet Coke. We had a long and unhealthy relationship. When we finally broke up, I couldn’t understand what I had ever been drinking or thinking. It had lost its hold on me and I could finally move on.

I am proud of myself as I have stayed faithful to our break up, at least in Canada. But what happens overseas, stays overseas, right?  When I travel, I get weak and that dusty bottle of Diet Coke on that shelf begins to beckon me. Before I can say Diet Coke, I am drinking one. Don’t ask me how that happens. It just does.

So when we were travelling in Peru, I noticed the pride Peruvians shared in their bottles of yellow Inca Kola.

Not normally being adventurous with drinks when I travel, I tend to resort to mainstream pop. But this is Cola right? How bad could it be?

Well, the colour yellow should have been a good indicator.

One bottle between 4 people and we still couldn’t finish it. Inca Kola is the new invention of liquid bubble gum. And even though I also love bubble gum, I will kindly say, I don’t enjoy drinking it. It is most definitely not my cup of Coke.

My husband, Chris, coming from a long line of Pepsi drinkers, didn’t imbibe. Always the smart one, despite his affinity for Pepsi that is.

Thanks for stopping by to see the Family C as we drink and travel through A to Z.

What is the worst tasting drink you have ever had?

X is for Xenial

What?

You know, xenial, which means hospitable, especially to strangers and foreigners. Xenial, a word I have never said aloud nor written. Until now.

So here’s the thing. I love both big cities and small towns. I don’t discriminate. But some do. If you have lived or studied in Toronto, you may be hesitant to admit so if you move to eastern Canada. I was told, true story, to remove the fact that I had studied in Toronto from my resume when I first moved to Nova Scotia and then to Prince Edward Island. I don’t know if this is a David vs. Goliath thing but the sentiment did appear at times in my years residing there.

Recently having moved to a small town, an hour outside of Toronto, I have been reminded how friendly this part of the world is. Whenever we need a dose of the big city, we head to Toronto for some delicious ethnic food, hair dying (yes, my daughter did dye her hair a vibrant purple) and overall great wandering.

In doing so, we have found a chain restaurant in one of the Toronto suburbs with the name of Fat *astard Burrito. Not only do they make vegan/vegetarian burritos that are delicious and not a “rip-off”, but they have this staff that makes me want to be 20 again and work in the fast food business. They literally are that song, “Happy” come to life.

This is not unique in Toronto. Everywhere we go from drive thrus, to shopping malls, to markets, to the Gay Pride Parade to the parks, people are incredibly friendly. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world which I, of course, love. Riding the subway in Toronto, one could be anywhere in the world.

The list of things to do and see are endless and as a family, we have only hit a few so far. Our one top family favourite is to take the ferry to Toronto Island for the day. Whether you want to walk, explore, bike, swim, suntan, picnic, or go on a few rides, Toronto Island and its beaches are a “hit” for families who wish to spend time together without breaking the bank. And if you are like us, you may even meet a family who offers to feed you, just because.

Thanks for being so hospitable by dropping by today to see the Family C as they travel from A to Z.

What is a xenial place you have lived in or visited? Are you a big city or a small town kind of person?

W is for Wary

What had the latest higher up in some office, far away from reality, dreamed up this time?

Wary, I took a look at the freshly arrived load off the boat from the Mekong.

Radios, used radios from God knows what era. As I sifted through them, I found one reminiscent from my teen years, a yellow banana shaped radio that you could carry on your wrist on the way to the beach. I had used it for a summer or two and then discarded it along the way. Still useful but no longer cool, it met its demise. Or so I had thought.

Where had the United Nations found all these old radios? Had they gone from thrift store to thrift store or put out some UN announcement that Cambodia was in desperate need for radios?

Wary, but not worried, I told the workers to store them in my house until we decided what we were going to do with them. Swamped with our work as we prepared the local population for the imminent election, we returned to our office. The radios, out of sight, out of mind, or so we mistakenly thought.

Later that evening, resting at home sweet home, I heard loud pounding at my door. No way to check who it was, I opened it up to find two men in military gear (very common in my Cambodian district – soldiers? police? renegades?) with AK-47s. Sensibly, I let them in. As an objective party in the midst of an election, this wasn’t too unusual. However, I was alone and unable to communicate with them. And then it began…

Whipping their guns around and yelling at me in Khmer, I went to get my cook who looked terrified. Through sign and gun language, I deciphered that they wanted the radios in my living room. Now the fun starts. In Khmer, I try to get my point across (please leave and come back later…much later) but they see this as a sign to start opening boxes and check out the radios. I call for back up on my radio and thankfully, one of my interpreters comes.

Deciding that correct protocol is not worth our lives, I cave and hand over 2 radios. Within minutes, I have a hoard of anxious radio protesters on our porch. Word is out and we are being bombarded. My interpreter tries to negotiate but fails. The porch frenzy quickly turns into a living room frenzy and officially, Radio Hell, has begun. Radios are flying as people push and shove to get into the boxes. More back up arrives, this time armed, and we finally succeed in quashing the thirst for radios… temporarily.

A quick solution is needed. In a Buddhist country such as Cambodia, monks are revered so off to the Wat we go. Radios in hand (well… actually under cover) we happily pass them over for them to decide their fate. Seeing the prized merchandise, the monks decide to keep all the radios for themselves. We then knew that the monks would be well-informed of the upcoming election and our district would, at least, have a good monk/voter turn out rate!

NO, it wasn’t the Khmer Rouge death threat letters, NO, it wasn’t malaria, it was those frigging old radios that almost killed me!

Cheryl from the Family C travelling from A to Z.

Have you ever felt fearful when you were living or travelling somewhere?

V is for Verboten

The only thing that is certain in life is change. My father used to say that.

This is true in travel as well.

Verboten by law, one can no longer ride on top of the train through the Devil’s Nose in Ecuador. That may have been a sound decision but there is no denying riding on top of a train through the Andes Mountains was a “high” to say the least.

That is me, in my favourite red jacket, riding on top of the train in Ecuador.

That is me, in my favourite red jacket, riding on top of the train in Ecuador.

Verboten by “new understandings and animal ethics”, riding on top of elephants is now controversial. Research this before you decide. (Our excuse was that the Internet did not exist and we simply did not know of any negative side effects to the elephants. Sorry to our elephants! )

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Verboten by fashion standards, I should have known that purple and red don’t go well together. If I had been blogging in my travel past, I would have been sure to be better colour coordinated.

Unfortunately, I am the one in red and purple!

Unfortunately, I am the one in red and purple!

Thanks for dropping by. It is most definitely not verboten.

The Family C from A to Z.

Have you travelled and done something that was permitted in the past but is now verboten?

U is for Used

Dear RJ,

I feel so torn when I think back to that day. I often think of you, leaning against that fence watching me go down that river. Me, in the boat, wondering if I had made the right decision.

It all began so long ago. When we first met, I was shy and hesitant, unsure if you were the right one for me. You weren’t quite the right fit, you felt a little different from my others but I took a leap of faith and hoped.

As time went on, we grew to love each other; maybe out of routine but I prefer to think we put our differences aside and focused on our positive attributes instead. I kept you close to me; cherishing you when I had little else around me. In return, you comforted me, always.

When that day came, you were at the end. So tired, worn out, and heavily used, you didn’t complain. You let me go as I let you go. I miss you so.

Fondly yours,

Me

(I had a very large (too large) red jacket that I have travelled with for years. The lining was so ripped and torn that only the surface of the jacket remained and any rain would leak through. Its last days in the jungle of Guatemala were met by the invasion of red ants. Taking one last look at it, my family convinced me to leave it behind. I set it on a fence and turned away. Sadly… Since then I haven’t been able to find another that is even half the jacket my red one was. I am still searching….)

Me and my red jacket sharing happy moments travelling.

Me and my red jacket sharing happy moments travelling.

Have you ever had something that you so adored that you didn’t want to throw it out or give it away?

See you tomorrow.

The Family C from A to Z

T is for Two

When it comes to travel, I prefer two to one.

Solo travel and me are like oil and vinegar. Ok but not the perfect blend.

Travelling together is like salt and vinegar. Great and the perfect blend, especially for potato chips, that is.

It Takes Two To Travel 

Travelling together from A to Z.

Do you prefer to travel alone or with someone else?