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 ūüôā
  • 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.

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Travel Movies

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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!

Porter Airlines

The aircraft: “Porter Airlines flies Canadian-built Bombardier Aerospace Q400 turboprop aircraft.”

Prop Plane

I was off with three travel partners to Quebec City for a weekend getaway.

We almost missed our plane. I show up  to the airport by 8:05 (across the ferry), plane takes off at 8:30, and my companions all have suitcases to check!!

They were told they had to wait for the next flight in Q-City to pick up their luggage since they checked it in about 5 minutes before the plane was supposed to take off.

It was an entertaining adventure though, I was smiling about the whole mishap, glad it wasn’t myself who was late. I have always wanted to run up the steps on a plane ūüėõ So great that I waited for the rest of my crew, so we could all run up together.

The service was good, no waiting in security for more than 2 minutes. The places where we experienced the longest waits were the check baggage (10 mins) line and the line for the ferry back from Toronto island (10 mins).

Food, good…for airplane food. At least you get hearty snack for a 90 minute flight.

To end the trip, the flight and Quebec City airport were great. Although again there was a wait, this time they were late…

Mr. Tomato

My tomato plant, basil plant, and my dog hanging out on the balcony

I am a little worried that I got a tomato plant to grow happily on my balcony this summer. Where will the travelling bug take me with my 2+ months off? Will my tomato plant wilt away to nothingness when I am away? Probably.

There is something about nuturing a plant to produce something useful (basically any fruit, vegetable, or herb) that I love. Flowers are ok, they are pretty and colourful, but give me a plant with more meaning. I even like Aloe plants better, so I can rub the sweet, sweet goo on my cuts and burns as they come along.

Oh how I wish this tomato plant would start producing already, while I am still giving it my undivided attention. Hopefully my sister will miss visiting my condo, and decide that she wants to come once a week while I am away to water it. It’s possible!

This is what I would do to my tomatoes if they came to life soon:

Homemade Salsa:

1 jalape√Īo diced

3 tomatoes from Mr. Tomato plant chopped

10 basil leaves from my basil plant chopped

1/2 a white onion, chopped

2 tbsp lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

Pair this with my favorite Que Pasa organic chips (thanks S. for these), or toast up some whole wheat pitas, and voila, a great use for my green thumb.

Come on little guy!

Fantasy Friday Part V – Peru

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I would say Peru is in my top 5 places I would love to see most, very close to my ultimate Egyptian fantasy and another Fantasy Friday location, Iceland. All the history and culture of Peru is quite enticing. As I did a bit of research for this post on things to do in Peru, I came upon the Lonely Planet top 15 list of things to do. I couldn’t have added a list more appealing…

1 Lake Titicaca – Home to floating islands and singular cultures, the world’s highest navigable lake is, literally, breathtaking

2 Arequipa – The ‘White City’ is a colonial-era jewel within reach of smoldering volcanoes and deep canyons

3 Lima – Peru’s sprawling capital has expansive museums, thumping nightlife and some of the continent’s most spectacular food

4 R√≠o Amazonas – Isolated villages, remote rainforest and well-equipped wildlife lodges can be found on South America‘s greatest river

5 M√°ncora – Warm water and rippin’ waves attract surfers, kitesurfers and sun worshipers all year long

6 Nazca & Huacachina – Condor’s-eye views of the mysterious Nazca lines, plus giant dunes for sandboarding

7 Machu Picchu – Peru’s legendary ancient Inca citadel clings to the top of a cloudy, forested peak

8 Huancavelica – Well off the tourist trail, this is a charming colonial center bursting with beautiful churches

9 Parque Nacional Manu – High-altitude cloud forest to lowland rainforest – and all the wild animals to go with it

10 Chiclayo – A seaside metropolis surrounded by ancient tombs bearing dazzling gold artifacts

11 Huaraz – High in the Cordillera Blanca, this is a center of inexpensive trekking and mind-boggling mountain views

12 Chachapoyas – Peru’s wildest archaeology: the mountaintop fortress of Ku√©lap and scores of little-known jungle sites

13 Ayacucho – Vivid folklore and a fascinating archaeological museum in a storied highland city

14 Cuzco – The ancient Inca capital’s cobblestone streets house artisan shops, world-class restaurants and raucous discos

15 Trujillo – An attractive colonial city near monumental archaeological sites and famed surf spots

I am starting to think that this is actually officially my #2 fantasy behind Egypt. Wow, it’s so unbelievable how much I would enjoy each number in this list. Ok, this Friday is also officially a write off…time to daydream.

Health on the road

Mmm..scoop of olives in Vieste, Italy

I know its usual to splurge, to go all out, and devour everything in sight when you are travelling. It’s sort of an excuse, and I actually use it all the time. But when I come home, this guilt takes over and I feel like I need to go to the gym for hours just to get back the healthy self that I want to be.

It doesn’t have to be that way though, and I have been feeling less guilty lately about my travel tush.

There are certain tricks you can use to feel less guilty about everything you put into your mouth on a trip.

First – As you are wandering around the place you are visiting, check out the local markets for fresh fruit and veggies. These will keep you satisfied during the day, and you might order less, or eat less when you sit down for a meal.

Second – Exploring a new place means walking. Or even jogging! It was nice, when in Italy, to take in more scenery while jogging around in the early morning. You see much more when you can travel further distances, and it’s sometimes less busy when you go in the early morning. When I was in Quebec City, I burned off all my food calories by walking for hours and hours around the beautiful city.

Third – Hotel gyms. They are amazing, amazingly air conditioned. With great equipment and usually all the water you need. I enjoy the high tech cycle and treadmill. They usually have weights and medicine balls as well! I find now that when I work out, it wakes me up, gives me energy, and am more motivated to go out and explore.

Fourth – Cooking at the hotel room. Sometimes you get lucky and end up with a kitchen in your hotel room. This is when you can put your healthy cooking skills into action. The hotel in Maui that hosted a kitchen was very useful for making my own healthy meals (either breakfast, lunch or dinner) while I could feel better about splurging on the other 1 – 2 meals of the day. If there is no kitchen, I sometimes buy meal bars, or get a few snacks to hold me over until dinner.

Fifth – Start with a salad or soup, or skip dessert when you order a meal. I am usually good with the skipping dessert portion of a restaurant, no sweet tooth here! But adding salad or a nice (non-creamy) soup will help cut down on what you eat for your main meal. This rule is very hard for me, because I love to start with a heavier appetizer and still have the main meal I was attracted to in the first place….and maybe a specialty coffee to end the meal with.

Anyway, when you are travelling to a new place, food is something that should be indulged in. Don’t feel the guilt.

Cappuccino in Quebec City