Quote: Autumn is in full blast!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
George Eliot 

Paris, Ontario

Top 5: Things to do in Paris

Nope, I haven’t been here YET – but I can dream of my top 5 things to do in this city of romance, right?

5. A walk along the Siene River

In the city of romance, the Seine River is its lifeblood. Formerly a major trade route, today the river’s islands, bridges and quays evoke the most romantic visions of Paris. This nostalgia is heightened after dark when the Seine shimmers with the watery reflections of floodlit monuments and bridges. C’est magnifique!

4. Le Jardin du Luxembourg

When the weather is fine, Parisians of all ages come flocking to the formal terraces and chestnut groves of the 23-hectare Jardin du Luxembourg to read, relax and sunbathe. There are a number of activities for children here, and in the southern part of the garden you’ll find urban orchards as well as the honey-producing Rucher du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Apiary).

3. Notre Dame Cathedral

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris is the true heart of Paris; in fact, distances from Paris to all parts of metropolitan France are measured from place du Parvis Notre Dame, the square in front of Notre Dame. A bronze star, set in the pavement across from the main entrance, marks the exact location of point zéro des routes de France (point zero of French roads).

2. The Louvre

The vast Palais du Louvre was constructed as a fortress by Philippe-Auguste in the early 13th century and rebuilt in the mid-16th century for use as a royal residence. In 1793 the Revolutionary Convention turned it into the nation’s first national museum.

The paintings, sculptures and artefacts on display in the Louvre Museum have been assembled by French governments over the past five centuries. Among them are works of art and artisanship from all over Europe and important collections of Assyrian, Etruscan, Greek, Coptic and Islamic art and antiquities. Traditionally the Louvre’s raison d’être is to present Western art from the Middle Ages to about the year 1848 (at which point the Musée d’Orsay takes over), as well as the works of ancient civilisations that informed Western art.

The Louvre may be the most actively avoided museum in the world. Daunted by the richness and sheer size of the place (the side facing the Seine is some 700m long, and it is said that it would take nine months just to glance at every piece of art here), both local people and visitors often find the prospect of an afternoon at a smaller museum far more inviting. Eventually, most people do their duty and come, but many leave overwhelmed, unfulfilled, exhausted and frustrated at having got lost on their way to da Vinci’s La Joconde, better known as Mona Lisa (room 6, 1st floor, Salle de la Joconde, Denon Wing). Your best bet – after checking out a few works you really want to see – is to choose a particular period or section of the Louvre and pretend that the rest is in another museum somewhere across town.

1.  The Eiffel Tower (was that too obvious?!)

When it was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World Fair), marking the centenary of the Revolution, the Tour Eiffel faced massive opposition from Paris’ artistic and literary elite. The ‘metal asparagus’, as some Parisians snidely called it, was almost torn down in 1909 but was spared because it proved an ideal platform for the transmitting antennas needed for the new science of radiotelegraphy. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the tower is 324m high, including the TV antenna at the tip. This figure can vary by as much as 15cm, however, as the tower’s 7300 tonnes of iron, held together by 2.5 million rivets, expand in warm weather and contract when it’s cold.

* Thanks Lonely Planet for helping me daydream!

Sail Away with Six Unique Cruises

If I were to go on a cruise, I would prefer something a bit more intimate and more interesting than one of those mass market, gigantic Caribbean style set-ups.

This article from Huff Post Canada left me drooling from the right side of my mouth…

The Dahabia Nile Cruise

You’ll feel like a pharaoh as you cruise down the Nile on this traditional Egyptian style boat, the Royal Cleopatra. Some of the sights you’ll see will include the markets of Esna, the Temple of Khnom, a horse drawn carriage ride to the Temple of Horus in Edfu, the ancient sandstone quarries at Gabal Elsisilah, Kom Ombo, Aswan and more.

Explore ancient ruins and tombs. Your private Egyptologist will be available to guide you and answer questions. During the day, as you are sailing to another port down this exalted river, you can relax in your swim suit and enjoy the warm, sunny, blue sky as you watch the scenery and all of the history roll past. Your boat accommodates up to 8 people in triple or double cabins with private baths. This is a casual cruise with a small crew to meet all of your needs – a tour guide, captain, sailor, cook and housekeeper. Many of your meals will be eaten on board, but you’ll also have the opportunity to dine in local restaurants, luxury hotels and have a barbeque on an island in the Nile. What a way to experience this magical country.

It’s always hard to lock down a price on a Nile cruise, but these are competitive and tend to be fairly cheap.

Vietnam Explorer Cruise

On this small ship cruise you’ll sail out of Ho Chi Minh to explore Vietnam and the area around it for 11 sensational days. You’ll have a team of experts on board with you explaining everything from botany to marine biology and history. You can listen to their talks in the theatre or lounge, and you may even find them accompanying you on some of the sightseeing excursions.

In Vietnam, your ship will stop in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Vung Tau, before sailing on to Cambodia, Thailand and finally Singapore. Your ship, the Orion, has 53 staterooms and suites and is a 5-star luxury ship. Just because you’re looking for adventure doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the good life. There is a crew of 75 people to take care of all your needs. You’ll enjoy meals that reflect the flavors of the areas you are visiting. You’ll discover the other passengers on board, like you, are not just tourists but curious about the places you are visiting. While you relax, you’ll enjoy discussions of the countries you’ll sail past, and the fertile, green scenery of the coastline.

This kind of luxury never comes cheap. The 11-night cruises start at around US$6,000 per person.

Flavors of Burgundy & Provence Cruise

If you’ve been to Europe, you have probably noticed the smaller flat ships that move leisurely up and down some of the rivers. On this particular cruise you’ll spend 11 days moving along the Saone and Rhone rivers through France. You’ll begin your cruise in the enchanting city of Paris. After breakfast on board the ship each morning you’ll dock in various villages including Beaune, Tournus, Macon, Lyon, Avignon, and Nice. In each of these cities you’ll have time to wander the streets or a guide will take you on a sightseeing walk.

In Beaune you’ll enjoy a tasting of delicious Burgundy wines. Your vessel, named the Avalon Scenery, holds just 138 passengers and is one of the smallest ships in Avalon Waterways fleet. The ship may be small, but details have not been overlooked. The staterooms are generously sized, with individual climate control, large closets, private baths and beds that are covered with luxurious cotton sheets and European duvets. You’ll enjoy fine foods and wines from the region you are sailing through. This is an easy, leisurely way to visit some special cities of France.

Prices for the 12-day trips start around US$2,200 per person.

Maine Sailboat Cruise

What a great adventure this would be! You can sail on the Schooner Timberwind on your choice of a 3, 4 or 6-day cruise. Sail out of Rockport Harbor through Penobscot Bay with the winds rustling the sails and the fresh smell of salt water soothing your senses. The Timberwind specializes in family vacations and you can take children as young as 5 on this adventure. On this all-inclusive vacation, you’ll enjoy large, delicious meals cooked on the wood-burning stove, including scrumptious chowders and a traditional Maine lobster bake. Perfect, since you’ll be hungry after breathing in all of that fresh sea air.

The schooner is family owned and operated, making it a pleasant, safe, comfortable adventure. The owners are eager to share the splendid sights of nature and the history of the area and their boat with you. The schooner has 2 triple cabins and 7 double cabins on board, all with plenty of space to store your belongings and large opening windows. Bring along a pair of binoculars to watch the sea birds and other sights as you sail by.  There are many types of trips available for you to choose from, including specialty trips like the Schooner Gam, which kicks off the summer season with the entire fleet; the Marine Windjammer Parade in July; or a Perfect Health Cruise. You can choose the trip that best fits your personal desires.

The 3-day trips on this 20-passenger vessel start at $495.

M/C Galapagos Journey

The Galapagos Islands have been called “the last wildlife sanctuary.” You can enjoy a cruise through this incredible part of the world on a luxury class motor catamaran that sleeps 16 passengers. Sign up for a 4, 5 or 8-day cruise which will take you to some remote excursion sights, research centers and tortoise breeding projects. You’ll walk by nests of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds; see giant sea turtles; swim with penguins and snorkel close to sea lions and manta rays. Marine iguanas will wander past and flocks of seabirds will fly overhead.

On board you’ll find a 9-person crew to take care of all your needs, plus a bilingual nature guide who has gone through extensive training, and a cruise director. There are 8 air-conditioned cabins with private bath and picture windows. In the evenings, you will have the chance to learn more about the sights you are visiting at the evening nature lectures. Then dine with a choice of delicious meat, poultry and seafood, along with fresh salads and fruits and wonderful wines from around the world. If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary restrictions, your needs will be met. Your yacht comes equipped with snorkel gear, wetsuits and sea kayaks for your use and enjoyment. What a way to spend time in these spectacular islands.

There are many ways to travel and see the world. If you are looking for something new and exciting, with a hint of adventure, a small ship cruise may be just what you need.

The company doesn’t seem to like to quote prices on its site, but you’d have to expect this one to cost quite a bit, so it’s probably not an option for most backpackers.

Caribbean Classic Sailing Cruise

The Sea Cloud II will be your home away from home on this fantastic 8-day sailing cruise through the Caribbean. You’ll sail out of Barbados, stopping to port in several bays like Terre-de-Haut on Iles de Saintes and Port Elizabeth on Bequia, before returning back to Barbados. The beauty of sailing on a ship like this is that the itinerary, like the winds, can be flexible and you’ll find yourself exploring unexpected beaches that can only be reached by boat.

You’ll have time to visit historical sights, take walks along the white beaches and meander through quaint towns. While on board the Sea Cloud II, there will be a lot of opportunity to swim and snorkel in the pristine turquoise waters or sip champagne as the warm trade winds carry you to your next destination. Your magnificent sailing yacht holds only 86 people in beautifully adorned staterooms with private bathrooms, some with fireplaces. On board you’ll discover a library full of travel guides and art books where you can relax and enjoy the view through the large windows, a gym, a lounge and a dining room where you’ll savor fine wines and tempting meals all at unassigned tables. You’ll truly enjoy this informal, relaxed sailing experience.

This cruise isn’t cheap. Prices start at almost $11,000 for the 15-day trip, but at least they pay carbon offsets as part of that total.

May I try all of the above?! But if I had to chose one it would be the Nile cruise! My #1 dream is to go to Egypt, so of course I would like to arrive in style on the Royal Cleopatra. Again, may I borrow some moola?

“The Future”: Predicting what 1950 would be like – in 1925

Congestion has long been a problem. Here’s how, in 1925, Popular Science envisioned the solution to congested roadways:


I love that the aircraft of the future are blimps!

The modern ‘green roof’ or rooftop gardens began in the 1960s – so Popular Science was close on this front.

What is weird is that if we have a series of skyscrapers with a level for restaurants/grocery stores, then your work, then the schools for your children, and finally – your home. Why is there all this traffic?

This looks like a cool concept for sustainable living. People must have been super lazy, or still entertained by the idea of Sunday driving, with all these layers of traffic and no where to go!

PS – The street decorations look like Paris, don’t they? Take me!

Quote for a Sunday

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark


This weekend was quite a busy time, filled with many friends, (not family – they happened to be in Paris!) and a TON of food.

I discovered a new recipe that I will try again next year for Thanksgiving:

Pumpkin-spice biscotti (taken from Chatelaine Magazine)


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir flour with sugar, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with pumpkin purée, butter and vanilla extract. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Shape into 2 long, flat logs, about 2 in. wide and 1/2 in. thick. (Dough will rise as it bakes.) Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of logs, pressing gently so it adheres. Bake for 30 min, until centres are firm to the touch.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool 5 min. Reduce oven temperature to 275F. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-in. pieces. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet and bake an additional 35 min. Cool completely on a rack.

I am not a big dessert fan, but geez, I love my biscotti! Time to get out my jogging pants!!

Fantasy Friday

Welcome to….

I mean, bienvenue vers Paris!

That’s where my family is this lovely Thanksgiving weekend. I believe they are doing a number of these activities as well!:

1. Eiffel Tower

2. Champs-Elysées

3. Arc de Triomphe

4. Louvre

5. Quartier Latin

6. Saint-Germain-des-Pré

7. Notre-Dame Cathedral

Ohhhh, and I would go to a cafe every morning for a delicious croissant and cafe au lait in which this city is famous for. And read a book sitting in the Parc du Champ de Mars on a sunny day. Mmmm…..