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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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.


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!


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!


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 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.


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.


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 🙂

To Zoo or Not to Zoo? That is the Question.

I wish parenting came with a book; one that was always right or one that at least, always agreed with me!

Early on, before kids, I came across the most sad forlorn elephant in a Vietnamese zoo. Chained, on a cement platform, I took one look and vowed I would never reenter a zoo again.

Soon after, I had the luxury of watching wildlife in Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Etosha National Park (Namibia). To say the experience was amazing and eye-opening is an animal understatement. I proclaimed that this was the only way my kids would ever see wildlife.

That is until I had a child and then 3 more, thanks to our blended family. That is 4 kids, 2 adults, which equals 6 tickets to Africa which amounts to one big financial headache. At least for us it did.

So then I research. Surely not all zoos are as bad as that one in Vietnam. Right? Couldn’t there be one or two that are safe, healthy and protective of the animals and their well-being; somewhere where our kids could see animals and not be breaking any animal taboos?

I tell myself that the research points to yes. Not all zoos are equal. So we go to New York City and of course, fall in love with the animals in the Bronz Zoo. I look around. It looks like they have covered all the angles. They must have. Right? This is the States, after all. And those baboons are so darn cute. We can’t even bring ourselves to leave.

Despite the fact we visited, my zoo quandary remains. And I worry that I could slide down that slippery slope right into one ugly unethical animal mess. Maybe I already have. I simply don’t know what and whom to believe.

As travellers become more wary of participating in tours that feel like “human zoos” in areas such as Thailand, I wonder this. If a “human zoo” seems inappropriate than is an animal zoo any better?

Faced with summer, looming on the horizon and billboards of cute pandas at the Toronto Zoo everywhere I turn, I ask myself: to zoo or not to zoo?

In the meantime, I will check to see if there are any cheap deals to Africa.

What are your thoughts on zoos? 

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Basket

The strangest thing happened the other day.

I went to the travel clinic in Cobourg, Ontario. Bored, I gazed at the photos of South America when something caught my eye. There sitting on the floor of the clinic was our basket from South Africa; wobbly, worn and faded just as I remembered. It was most definitely ours. Sitting there proudly holding slippers for travel patients waiting to get needles to go overseas. A fine life for our basket.

I thought to myself ,”How did it end up here?” I don’t know this clinic; in fact I hardly know anyone in this town.

Then I remembered… the desperate search for something for Jade to sell so she could participate in a fundraiser for her school trip to Europe. Having sold most of our stuff in PEI, there weren’t too many extras left over so I guess this basket had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now Jade and I just returned to the travel clinic and I excitedly pointed out our old basket. The basket from Africa that moved to Canada to helped Jade fund raise to travel to Europe was now sitting in its new home as we waited for needles to return to Africa. The travelling basket had come full circle. Who knows what its future has in store for it?

The Super Model of Swimming Pools Goes to South Africa

Seriously, would you ever return to a country for a swimming pool? Especially when swimming is not really your thing?

Well… some swimming pools are so beautifully situated such as the one shown above in Graskop, South Africa (Panorama Chalets) that yes.. I would consider dragging my family to South Africa to experience this pool, situated on the edge of a cliff over looking the Graskop gorge. I have been twice and this pool, stands out as one of my top memories of South Africa and that is competing with charging elephants in Kruger Park, Table Mountain in Cape Town and the oh so cute penguins on Boulder’s Beach outside Simon’s Town. That says a lot for a simple swimming pool.

When we were on our honeymoon, it was a pool at IL Poggio dei Pettirossi, on a hill overlooking the valley of Bevagna in Italy that made us miss our kids the most. We couldn’t even enjoy it knowing that they would have died and gone to heaven if they were swimming in it overlooking the Umbrian valley and all its sparkling lights at night. Chris honestly said we had to go back to Italy so they could swim in it… and yes, see Rome and Venice and a million other sights but that pool… again stands out.

We didn’t have Abby with us in Guatemala and we missed her the most at the Jungle Lodge in Tikal National Park when we floated in the pool watching and listening to the spider monkeys above in the trees.

So seriously… a pool can definitely play a part in a family’s travel experience when backpacking. I know of some “beyond brilliant ones” in Bali too… another reason to return there as well 🙂

A South African Sight I Will Never Forget

Simply put, one of my top 3 days work wise ever. Waking up (or did I even sleep that night?) I headed to my townships east of Joburg. It was April 27, 1994, the morning of South Africa’s first election open to all citizens of South Africa. The people were waiting but this was no ordinary line. This was the most amazing heart warming line I have ever witnessed. The smiles, the joy, the excitement were overwhelming.

I enter the voting station and begin to observe. However, for many people, secret ballot or not, there was no secret; they wanted Mandela! As some required assistance and reassurance, they would gesture me over and sing something that sounded like Votela Mandela and I would show them the spot to mark. I can still hear those words today.

The Jury is Out on Joburg

3 months in Joburg provided enough stuff to last 3 years.

A typical day long ago looked like this:

1 Wake up cold (yes, cold)

2 Slip on ice outside the gated fortress (or otherwise known as my rental house)

3 Decide whether it is safe to walk outside fortress alone to actually try to get some exercise

4 Decide not to and return to house for freezing swim in backyard (need exercise that badly)

5 Read paper (oh, more tourists eaten by lions in Joburg’s lion park…no you can’t just get out of your car to touch)

6 Drive to work on left side of road and park car in scary underground garage; check surroundings and quickly vacate area

7 Go up elevator in office building as business women pull out their guns from their purses to apply lipstick

8 Go to food court in shopping mall with many others; safety in numbers

9 Run and hide behind counter in store when a protest enters the shopping mall; stay there long time

10 Visit my electoral area with the South African defence force in hard vehicle (yes very hard… think tank)

11 Quickly enter local school in my townships to check locations for election – my favourite part of the day 🙂

12 Leave work and drive through red lights on the way home; don’t stop vehicle ever

13 Go grocery shopping with others; like many others; don’t think about going to the public washroom alone; drag friends

14 Invite friends over; check to see they are your friends through the camera security screen; open outside gate to fortress from inside house button

15 Cook braai (SA barbeque) and drink – another personal favourite 🙂

Repeat the next day except for the one time that the bomb went off in my office building and then that day I spent wandering the streets 😦