25 Reasons I Travel

I spent so much time this Sunday window (browser) shopping online. It was very tempting to submit a purchase for a new pair of shoes and a few tops, but then I realized that for the price of that, I might be able to book a flight to NYC, Boston, or Florida to visit some of my friends and family.

That got me thinking…what do I love better? Not really a question, but I wanted to realize why I loved travel so much more than almost anything else.

So…here are my top 25 reasons I travel:

1. Immerse myself in a different culture

Inside an old cinder cone volcano, Hawaii

2. Challenge myself, push my limits, get out of my safety zone

3. Practice my photography

4. View gorgeous scenery

5. Hike beyond the city limits

6. Savor so many different and delicious cuisines

7. Change climates and perspectives

8. Learn about history around the world

9. Meet new people

10. Meet a new personality in an old friend while traveling together

History and culture in Firenze, Italy

11. Inhale the different scents when I step off a plane, or get out of my car

12. Colour in another country on my map

13. Embark on a random adventure, with no plans and no map – get lost!

14. Learn to pack lighter than the trip before

15. Be able to teach Geography more authentically from experience

16. Curb my boredom and keep me entertained

17. Sample the nightlife in different cities and towns

18. Relax

19. Learn. Learn to adapt, learn about history, culture, people, art, museums, food, the physical world. Learn to be more accepting.

20. Occasionally, it saves money – yes….it does. Camp for 2 months in Yellowstone and eat 1 big meal a day + snacks

21. Can’t beat the feeling of freedom

Me in Quebec City, Montreal - in place of a cannon

22. Discover great coffee/cafes and a way of experiencing my morning delight.

23. Practice a new language

24. Sample wine from where it was created

25. Appreciate my home more

You only live once. I kept telling my mother that too, now she travels the world!

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Toronto, Ontario – Canada

I love my city.

Since 2006 I have been roaming, seeking and absorbing myself into (one of) the most multicultural city in the world. (I think it is the top, but cannot be a judge since I have not been to LA or London….I think we beat NYC though).

Before that, I lived about 1.5 hours away from this intriguing destination, and would visit the city at least 5-10 times a year.

Just a thought, but could the city promote this spectacular fact just a bit more?

Here is a screen shot of my Google search: Top Multicultural City in the World

Anyway, I was sidetracked. Over the past few days I discovered a few new and very intriguing things to do in Toronto. Whether a resident or visitor.

Check these out!:

Zip Lining in Earl Bales Park

Might be fun. Might be a warm up for a zip lining adventure I have always dreamed of in Costa Rica.

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Golden Turtle: Reborn

Hah! One of the most popular Pho restaurants in the city was closed for a few months….what a disaster for a few, but I knew where to get the good sh*% still, in their absence! (Pho 88 for delivery and Pho Phuong on Queen or Ossington for sit in).

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Yoga at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)

WOW! Yoga at the Henry Moore Gallery? Think sculptures that show smooth, rounded figures, mostly female in comforting/nuturing poses. OK…yoga poses as I like to think. Peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Could someone go, and let me know how it is? Unfortunately, I have to be at school and ready to teach at the time they will be held. 

If you are heading this way, and are unsure of what to do in this fabulous city, don’t worry, I can help! Or that person walking past you on the street, or the waiter/waitress at the restaurant you just went to, or that person on the subway from Pearson.

We love our city.

Spectacular Toronto


Quote for the Day: Paris

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Savory Saturday – Eating Ethiopian

I’ve tried Tuscany, Italy and Montreal, Canada so far on my new adventure to test out my cooking skills every Saturday.

I really need to start taking more pictures of this process.

BUT it’s very hard for me. I am new to cooking and I am hungry 24/7, so once I start chopping, assembling, baking and timing…I cannot wait any longer.

I need to EAT!

Blue Nile Falls

This weekend, my boyfriend is away and is sometimes a bit shy to warm toward my experiments. So I thought I would start delving into new cuisine realms and try exotic Ethiopian food.

I am not sure if it is as popular in other cities, but for the past 7 years of living in Toronto, I have heard countless time again that the Ethiopian  restaurants in the T.O. have some of the best food around.

So!

Inspired by a few very popular, very delicious sounding restaurants in Toronto (from BlogTO):

1. Nazareth

At Dovercourt and Bloor, Nazareth has a line-up out the door nightly. The small, intimate space has limited seating but the delicious food served in large portions for (surprisingly) low prices make it well worth waiting for a table. It’s a short menu, but most people just order the veggie platter that easily serves two hungry people for only $8. Wander in for a beer on a Saturday night and Nazareth’s regulars might even be having a quiet and charming dance party.

2. Addis Ababa

This staple of Ethiopian cuisine has been in business in the Queen and Dufferin area for 20 some odd years. Between the traditional coffee ceremony, the wide array of hoppy Ethiopian beers, the great dishes and the walls adorned with Ethiopian warriors and kings, Addis Ababa offers the full experience.

3. Lalibela

This popular spot now has two locations, one at Bloor and Ossington and another over near Danforth and Coxwell. They serve up a mean beef tibs and the price is right. With a little more seating than some of the others, this is a great place for bigger groups or those just looking to avoid line-ups at the nearby alternatives.

…..here is my attempt at a delicious meal:

Yataklete Kilkil

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(Ethiopian gingered vegetable stew)

Ingredients

  • New potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks — 6
  • Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds — 4
  • Green beans, trimmed and cut in half — 1/2 pound
  • Onion, chopped — 2
  • Garlic, minced — 2 cloves
  • Gingerroot, peeled and minced — 1 tablespoon
  • Chile pepper, minced — 2 to 3
  • Oil, butter or niter kibbeh — 3 tablespoons
  • Cardamom or nutmeg, ground (optional) — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper — to taste

Method

  1. Place the potatoes, carrots and green beans in a large saucepan, cover them with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the water, and set aside.
  2. Place the onion, garlic, ginger and chile pepper in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil, butter or niter kibbeh in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion puree and sauté until the moisture evaporates and onions lose their rawness, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.
  4. Add cooked vegetables, cardamom or nutmeg, salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the reserved water. Stir well and simmer on low heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Now.

Is this a plus or minus? I have to eat this by myself!

Fantasy Friday – Lost in Laos

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I have heard so many amazing things about Laos in the past few years, ever since the country opened its doors to a large flow of tourists in 1999-2000.

The food, people and culture are all said to be unique and great.

Here’s my fantasy agenda:

1. Attapeu

It has a rich history dating back to the Lane Xang Kingdom in the 16th century, as evidenced by the ancient stupa That Sayasettha, which local people believe to house the remains of King Saysetthathirath.

Ther is an extensive river network which includes th XeKong, Xe Kaman and Xe Xou rivers. One can travel the Xe Kong River along the border of Cambodia and then up in the Xe Pian River with access to Xepian National Protected Area (NPA). so you can accessible by trekking or by boating.

2. Bokeo

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All tourist attractions around Huay Xai can be seen on foot within a day. Observe the view from the top of the Chinese-styled temple, Jom Khao Manilat, the most important local sacred place. It’s not to be missed and why not have a look at the stunning French-built Fort Carnot. Both sitesare located near the ferry crossing pier Huay Xai Chiang Kong.

Besides temples, markets, and other site attractions around the town, Huay Xai offers several interesting villages, where traditional ways of life can be observed and where you can learn how villagers earn their living. Sightseeing through villages in the city should take approximately half a day. Some of the hill-tribe villages can be found within walking distance and others can be reached with an open taxi or ‘songteaow’. Hill-tribe villages in Bokeo are rather traditional and more conservatyive than those found in northern Thailand. Visitors are suggested to see the Village Headman (or phuu nyai baan) before strolling around the villages.

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3. Bolikhamxay

Only an hour-drive from Vientiane, the small and peaceful village of Ban Na on the outside of Phou Khao Khouay offers guided trekking and a great opportunity to watch wild elephants from the safety of an observation tower. Finding numerous tracks and possibly getting a glimpse of these wonderful creatures will be an unforgettable experience!

In the mid nineties, a considerable part of Ban Na’s land has become ‘home’ of anelephant herd of more than 40 heads, victimizing the local farmers by frequently raiding their fields. The shifting of the elephant’s territory from the upper hills to the lowland has probably been caused by the planting of sugarcane or disturbances due to the construction of a reservoir for power generation several kilometres to the north.

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4. Champasak

One of the most visited provinces of Laos; Chamapsak has a population of around 50,000 and is formed by Pakse, the Bolaven Plateau, Paksong, Champasak and Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands). Bordering Thailand and Cambodia, Pakse sits at the confluence of the Mekong and is the province’s capital, as a result of the Lao-Japanese Bridge spanning the Mekong, the town has quickly grown as an area of trading importance and is a popular tourist destination.

The Mekong River flows past the ancient Khmer religious compound at Wat Phu Champsak, before dispersing at Four Thousand Islands, an area of utter tranquility. The Bolaven Plateau is renowned for its production of coffee, rattan, fruit and cardamom, while the vast number of wats (temples) across the terrain make for interesting viewing.

The Champasak cultural landscape, including the Wat Phu Temple compound, is a well-preserved planned landscape more than 1,000 years old. It was shaped to express the Hindu belief of the relationship between nature and humanity, using an axis from mountain top to river bank to lay out a geometric pattern of temples, shrines and waterworks extending over some 10 km.

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5. Luang Namtha

Famous for trekking and ecotourism opportunities in the Nam Ha National Protected Area and home to over 30 distinct ethnic groups, Luang Namtha is perhaps the most diverse province in the entire country. If you are interested in Trekking, forest camps, home-stay, hiking, kayaking, rafting, biking, mountain biking, boat tours through the villages of Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Vieng Phoukha and Long makes you a partner in improving people’s lives and in preserving the wonders of the Nam Ha NPA.

6. Vientiane

The landscape in Vientiane Province varies from the flat, fertile alluvial plains of the Mekong River Valley to rugged limestone mountains in the northern and western part of the province. Outside of the main provincial towns the countryside is a beautiful, lush green mosaic of rice paddies, tropical fruit trees, and jungle vegetation dotted with quaint villages where traditional architecture and lifestyles can be seen.

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7. Vientiane Capital

That Luang, or the Great Stupa, in Vientiane is a national symbol (its image is on Laos’ official seal) and also the most sacred monument in the country. From the outside That Luang looks more like a fortress surrounded by high walls an it features two temples with the main stupa, the top of which is covered with gold leaf, standing 148 feet tall.

The beautiful architecture is in Lao style, influenced by Buddhist beliefs-these include finely-gilded, red-lacquer doors, pointed lesser stupas, many Buddha images and beautiful flower and animal images.

Thanks to the novel The Lost Girls and my friend Katie for inspiring this weeks Fantasy Friday. Come to think of it, Katie has been my inspiration two Friday’s in a row!

Conclusion: The Lost Girls

Last week, I mentioned that I was currently reading a travel novel called The Lost Girls. It was a great break from all the murder mysteries I have been reading lately, that’s for sure!

Overall, it was such an entertaining book. It left me giggling, reflecting, jealous, but mostly, it left me drooling.

Three good friends quit their jobs and spend an entire year traveling around the globe. They completed, “60,000 miles around the world, from the mountains and jungles of South America to the beaches of Australia, passing through Kenya, India, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand”.

Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner

The book was able to keep my interest and actually make me laugh out loud, which is a hard thing to do when by myself. It was divided into different sections for each lag of their trip, and by chapter, with the three girls rotating writing tasks.

My favorite of the three, or should I say – most relatable, was Holly. She always found a way to analyze her surroundings and get a real feel for the culture. Holly really seemed to appreciate each person she encountered and tried her best to enjoy every experience. I cannot believe she made it through a month at a somewhat suspect ashram in India. Really, I have never heard anything that great about these places. Her patience and peace-keeping personality very much sounded like myself.

Not to take away anything from the other girls. They both had unique personalities on their travels. Jen (adventure/thrill-seeking) and Amanda (dedicated/out-going/fun-loving) would be people I would love to travel with. They were full of energy and loved to dance. I must say, as I mentioned above about being jealous…it was mostly due to their night of dancing to reggaeton music in South America.

The danger with reading this book, the only negative aspect, one warning for anyone reading……

You will have the strongest desire to pick up everything and LEAVE to your nearest airport.

Photo for today: My puppy Peabody!

I took this the first day I got my (used) digital SLR Canon:

Peabody the model

I attribute the shiny coat to the treat of peanut butter he is allowed once a week. What a good boy 🙂