Here I Go!

It’s officially summer holidays for me as of today. So why not pack up and head out on the open road to nowhere and everywhere?

Here’s the plan, which is still in the works and will inevitably change as soon as my boyfriend and I set foot in my car.

Day 1: Leaving this morning and driving to Chicago. (8-9 hours)

Day 2: From Chicago, heading hopefully to either Sioux Falls or even Rapid City (10-12 hours) in South Dakota.

Day 3: South Dakota to Yellowstone or Grand Teton (8-9 hours)

Day 4 – ??: Bear watching, wolf watching, taking a billion photographs around Yellowstone

Then it gets fuzzy from there. Somehow we will end up in Vancouver and hopefully meet up with one of my co-workers who is visiting the city in mid-July.

Back to Toronto by early/mid-August for a wedding and similar events.

Please consider me for a hero award since I will be the only driver. My boyfriend does not possess a license!

Ok, I am getting excited! This summer is shaping into a plan, and will almost certainly guarantee some exciting stories and photographs. My apologies that my blog posts will be a bit delayed, since internet is not in the program for a week or 2. Stay tuned!!!

Hey! Luggage…

I was in Vancouver when I saw THIS:

Gimme gimme! I loved it.

I remember one day, a fellow Geography teacher and I spent about 2 hours of the day searching eBay, Kijiji, Craigslist, etc. for sweaters/tshirts/bags/accessories with a map of the world on it. No luck.

I am almost obsessed with finding these maps made into clothing, accessories, earrings… (wow, if I could ever find earrings outlining a map….).

My friend who travelled to Italy with me gave me a bikini that she had bought and never wore that displayed a map of the world….on the very limited fabric that there was. It is my favorite bikini I have received since that polka dotted red and white one I wore when I was 6 years old.

This latest find is just wonderful. A map on a piece of luggage. Perfect for me! Problem is, my friends and family already know my love for travel, and it seems that every birthday or holiday, they get me something travel related…which ends up being luggage. Which, obviously I LOVE. I use it all the time. I am just not sure I absolutely neeeeeed this piece, from Heys.

But check out what else they have too:

* All pictures from Sears Canada

Wistfully Wandering Wonderful Website – Wanderfly

Check this site out. Very dangerous for myself who is always daydreaming about travelling.

Wanderfly

This site allows you to set your travel budget, select when you want to go, and for how long, and check off whether you are in the mood for adventure, romance, culture, art…the list goes on. It is so addicting! Is it just me?

Here are a few trials resulting from distracting myself from writing report cards.

Choice #1: Eco theme, mid July, budget $2000 for 15 days.

Oakland. Interesting. Love it! And it is $500 below my budget. This site is great, it recommends things to do, such as hmm salsa classes at 580 Grand Ave. #305, Oakland, California. Neat!

Choice #2: Food, mid-July, 8 days, budget $1400

Ahhh! Love love lovvvve it! Can I book this right now? I’m hungry! And I could stay at the Ramada Brasov.

Choice #3: Romance and History, mid-July, 12 days, budget $1600

Hmm…ok, I think I would really love to see this place. This site is getting so entertaining. One more, ok?

Choice #4: Art, Entertainment, and Adventure, mid-July, 14 days, budget $2200

Ok, been here, would do it again in a heartbeat. But check out these other options at the top: Prague, Plymouth, Dever, Puebla, Walla Walla (need to go there NOW!).

So, if you are bored and need some entertainment, OR if you are actually planning a trip and have no idea where your little heart desires where to go…try this site, please. I know you will enjoy it.

Time to get back to report card writing….

Give me a sign, part II

Again with my love of interesting signs. Here are a few I collected when on my weekend trip to Quebec City. AND Happy Father’s Day, dads!

Falling snow chunks and lightning..I mean ice.

Bears love humans, they taste like chicken.

Can they really?!

Caution: Briefcase crossing

Here I am!

Well, not quite. But I will be in an Indian wedding today…here’s what it will be like. So excited!

Wish me luck with my 2 sari changes!

Fantasy Friday VI – India

This weekend, I have the honour of being the maid-of-honour in an Indian wedding. After 2 sari changes and 3 days of festivities, I really cannot wait to visit India. Filled with so much culture, colour, and cuisine! Here is my fantasy for the week for India:

Culture: I love the henna, the stories about the gods, and the dances, go Bollywood!!

Source

Colour: Wow, the vibrancy. If I could wear a sari every day, I would. But maybe I shouldn’t say that until I actually wear 2 tomorrow. I am not sure how long it will take to put them on!

Source

Cuisine: I love love LOVE Indian food. The spicier the better. One of my favorites is mulligatawny soup. Aroma Restaurant in Toronto helps me out nicely with my cravings.

Source

I am very excited for this celebration tomorrow, and will post a picture of me in my sari, daydreaming about one day travelling to India.

An except, part II

A few weeks ago, I found the journal I used for my trip to Morocco and started posting some of the writing on this blog. It’s quite interesting since it was my first real experience of culture shock. This was new, this travelling thing for me, and Morocco was a world totally different than the one I knew, growing up in a rural community in Ontario.

Monday August 30th

We took a horse and carriage on a tour of the Old Medina. We got to see many of the older buildings and the magnificant wall around the city. There are cats all around, as well as men sitting around under the shade of trees. The women walk around carrying their goods on their head, what talent! The marketplace was very colourful. There was a wide variety of food and crafts to purchase. It was a very busy place!

The people weren’t very surprised to see us walking through. It didn’t smell too great walking past some of the meat and fish places. We came out of the market place into a garbage dump!! They look nothing like the garbage dumps in Canada. There looks to be a lot less garbage here, as people set up a whole business around removing the old items such as mattresses from the dump to recycle them and sell again, so says our guide. Better recycling in this country than ours!

Next stop was the tannery. We were given a mint leaf to hold to our nose. And that mint was the most important article in my possession for the entire tour of this place. There was animal hair all over the ground. There were also large white square holes in the ground where there was dirty water and other substances that were used to make the leather. I was glad to get out of there, even though it was fascinating to see how the leather was made there. All the different processes were amazing to see, but that smell gave me quite a migrane after a few moments.

The rest of the tour consisted of looking at the various shops and entering a baker. The bakery smelled heavenly, after that tannery. But it also was a very dark and dismal place to work.

We visited a pharmacist who told us about various natural products in his store. They he passed out bags to each of us so that we could purchase his goods. Nothing really stood out to me, but the clever way they set it up by announcing each product and how it miraculously cured this or that, somehow made it easier for me to pick up a few things….hmmmm. So $15 later, I have a few souvenirs for home.

Oh boy. I type this except shaking my head as well. I can just picture my eyes, so wide they are almost popping out of their sockets.

Camping gear

This could be me! (Source)

It looks more and more likely that there might be camping involved in my summer plans this year. I really would love to make a trip out to Yellowstone, and instead of putting myself up in expensive hotels, I would rather save the money and give camping a try.

I think the last time I went camping was in Morocco, and I loved it. Although I slept on the pointiest rocks I have ever encountered, and a mouse ran out of my friends sleeping bag in the middle of the night, and I had to go to the washroom behind a rock, it was a wonderful experience and I would love to do it again.

So my mission right now is to track down some (hopefully free) camping equipment. What do I have? What will I need? Where will I get equipment if I cannot borrow it from a friend?

Here is what I have:

  • camping pillow
  • sleeping bag
  • air matress
  • sheets
  • a cooler
  • old magazines and matches for a fire
  • trash bags
  • dish soap
  • containers/pots/utensils/cups/paper towels
  • bug repellant/sunscreen
  • first aid kit
  • flashlight/batteries
  • air pump

What I will need:

  • tent
  • tarp
  • stove/charcoal/bbq grill

Where can I get it?

  • Hopefully a friend
  • Canadian Tire – Look at this tent on sale!
  • Wholesale Sports – Another good tent on sale here.
  • La Cordee – has just what I need here 🙂
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op – hmm, don’t think I would rent a tent, I could buy one for those prices! But the hammock looks neat here.

I also found this great camping checklist of everything you should prepare for and everything you should  pack here.

Travel Movies

Source

As per usual, about 30% of my day is taken up by my fantasizing about places around the world. It’s worse when I am teaching my Geography classes. Because I get paid to talk about amazing places around the world. I have several ways to escape when I am stuck here in Toronto. One is reading, and I have a few books to recommend. Another is listening to songs inspired by travel, and a third is watching movies inspired by travel and interesting places.

May I recommend a few movies to watch on an evening when you are wistfully dreaming about getting away?

1. Under the Tuscan Sun – I think I would pick the book over the movie, but the visuals are just what I love about this movie. I think I sigh about 15 times throughout the movie. Not because of the romance, because of the scenery. I miss it there!

2. Sahara – Ok, I don’t really remember the plot, but I remember many explosions, a boat chase, Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz and driving around the desert. I love action movies, and that, paired with foreign lands…love it.

3. Indiana Jones – Any of them, my ultimate dream “job”treasure hunting…or more modestly, an archaeologist.

4. Lord of the Rings – Geek alert, geek alert! I watched the trilogy (3 hrs average per movie) maybe a dozen times. I also viewed the behing the scenes special edition/how it was made dvd. New Zealand is absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful. There is nothing I love more than the ocean and mountains paired together.

5. Before Sunrise – Blah, ok romance, it was cute. But the travel part of it! Can I do that? Train to anywhere, no where with a great companion?

6. The Jason Bourne movies – As mentioned above, I love my action movies! Ok, where did he go again? Morocco, Germany, France, Greece, Czech Republic, Italy, Russia, The Netherlands….everytime they displayed the location on the screen, I got so excited!

7. Memoirs of a Geisha – And again, I would recommend the book over the movie, but the vivid cultural and geographical backdrop was quite enjoyable

8. Chocolat – picking up everything and moving to France, attempting to feel comfortable in a new place, yet keeping to your own beliefs. I saw this movie so long ago, but I just loved the idea of opening up shop in a foreign place and making your way with the culture around you…and possibly changing it!

9. Letter’s to Juliet – I went to watch this just before I went on my 3 week trip to Italy, as it came out just in time to catch me before I left. Wonderful scenery, a road trip, wineries… yum!

10. After the Sunset – Mmmmm, azure water, gorgeous flowers, white sand beaches…and some FBI intrigue with a star cast. Fun way to spend an hour and a half!

Savour Savini and Portofino

Two great restaurants in Quebec City to try out. Both Italian! I also ordered pizza at both. Sorry for the lack of variety!

Savini

The cab driver on the way in from the airport recommended this one. We walked by a few times and it always seemed so busy! Reservations were made for that evening and we were not disappointed.

I ordered the Prosciutto melone to begin, trying to take myself back to the first time I tried it in Italy. Good…but not quite the great magnificence I remember. For my pizza, I devoured the Salsiccia. Great, I would try it again! I also tasted the pasta with duck conofite. Very different, and lovely flavours…not a duck person though. The caesar salad is outstanding though, as I also snuck in a forkful of that from my neighbour.

Portofino

Off a side street, a bit lower-key than Savinin, it was recommended by a companion we met that lived near the city. I felt like I was truly in Italy when I visited this place for lunch. PS – They have some of their signature recipes on their website, just in case you try something you love and want to test your cooking expertise among the experts at this restaurant.

For lunch, I ordered Pizza diavolo. Drooooool. Better than Savini, and I watched them make it and place it so lovingly in their fire to cook it. One of my eating partners ordered the calazone and she absolutely loved it!