Mount Cheam

A beginning-of-Fall trek up Mount Cheam in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

One of the most spectacular views in the Fraser Valley, Mount Cheam offers a 360-degree panoramic view from Chilliwack and the communities along the Fraser River, Jones Lake, the surrounding peaks, and Mount Baker to the south.

This is an intermediate hike. It takes between 4.5 and 8 hours to complete, depending on weather & the hiker’s fitness level.

The Forest Service Road is also a very rugged roadway requiring 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Hornby Island Eats

Here are a couple of really great places to eat while you’re on the Island:

Hornby Island Bakery & Pizzeria – super good pizza & baked goods. The owner Jon was super friendly, opening just for us, and chatted with us about his love for his craft. Fresh, thin crust and the toppings were A1.

Isla de Lerena Vineyard – amazing charcuterie, huge platter, and then delicious chicken florentine, trout meunière & slow braised boneless short ribs with a red and white wine. It was great to speak with the chef who clearly enjoys his work.

Trout meunière
Chicken Florentine
Braised short ribs
The girls at the vineyard
Wow. Charcuterie
Red and white wine
Aw hell ya, pizza
Baked goods – brownie, lemon blueberry lavender scone and Greek pizza scone
Fresh, thin crust, delicious
Owner Jon
Menu at Isla de Lerena
Isla de Lerena vineyard
Isla de Lerena vineyard

Throwback: San Francisco Airport Historical Typewriter Display

Now here’s a little throwback & some amazing historical pieces – from the typewriter used by Ernest Hemingway to write A Moveable Feast, to one used by the Beatles to knock out their famous tunes, to Tennessee Williams’ typewriter used to create Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Ray Bradbury’s where he wrote The Martian Chronicles… this display really captured our attention while on standby at the San Francisco Airport back in 2018.

I fell in love with these heavy little beasts back when I was a kid, my grandfather used one for work. I loved the smell, the typetty typetty & how great it was when you didn’t make a mistake & didn’t have to use the corrector tape. Hours of fun!

I loved lining up the carbon paper to make a second copy & coming up with all kinds of stories. I later got to try my Nana’s electric typewriter but somehow the gentler touch it took just wasn’t as satisfying as pounding it out on the older versions.

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research their collection, or for more information, please visit www.flysfo.com/museum.

I never became a famous author but I have been published, so there’s that.

#typewriters @sanfranciscoairport #museum #display #writing #StartThemYoung #TravelWriter myreturnticket.ca ❤️

Guest Interview: Kelsey Forsyth

My Return Ticket:

1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?

Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:

My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.

My Return Ticket:

2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?

Kelsey:

I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.

The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.

My Return Ticket:

3. How do you fund your travelling?

Kelsey:

I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.

My Return Ticket:

4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.

Kelsey:

I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:

• Houston, Texas

• Jamaica

• Cuba

• Cayman Islands

• Mexico

• Ireland

•Iceland

• England

• Scotland

• Wales

• Germany

• The Netherlands

• France

• Spain

• Australia

• New Zealand

and most recently,

• Portugal

My Return Ticket:

5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?

Kelsey:

The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.

I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.

My Return Ticket:

6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?

Kelsey:

The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.

Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.

It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.

My Return Ticket:

7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.

Kelsey:

I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.

Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be

🧳 Italy

🧳 Croatia

🧳 Greece

🧳 Egypt

🧳 Morocco

Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.

My Return Ticket:

8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?

Kelsey:

Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.

My Return Ticket:

9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?

Kelsey:

I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.

It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.

My Return Ticket:

10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!

Kelsey:

My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.

Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.

Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.

We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.

It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.

We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.

We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.

My Return Ticket:

Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!

#travel #portugal #destinations #beaches #BucketList http://myreturnticket.ca

Kelsey Forsyth
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021

The Greenheart of Beautiful British Columbia, Canada – Chilliwack – a photo gallery.

Once again, pictures are worth a thousand words… through the viewfinder: Jessica Peters.

Teapot Hill, Cultus Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Even in rainy weather, this is quite a beautiful hike. It is quite steep & takes a lot of energy so be sure to take water & a snack. It’s called Teapot Hill for a reason… how many spouted vessels will you find?

Juniper Beach Provincial Park

JuniperBeachProvincialPark, PoisonIvy, explore, travel, CrazyCreekCampground, Revelstoke, rustic, camping, trailer, vacation, holiday, river, nature, BCParks photos by Deb VanLaerhoven

Wandering… Skihist Provincial Park – Lytton, British Columbia, Canada

If you’re looking to go camping or even just daytripping – British Columbia has many beautiful spots to go. Really, there isn’t much to say when pictures say it all…

Here is a great link for this campground & more:

http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/skihist/

photos by Deb VanLaerhoven

#daytrip #camping #BritishColumbia #Canada #Lytton #Skihist #campground #explore #travel #roadtrip #sunset #trailer #nature #mountains #photography #holiday #vacation #SkihistProvincialPark

Sunday Drive

Sometimes you just need to go for a drive… get out, let the wind blow through your hair.

Sunday, Mother’s Day as it happens, we just got in the vehicle, grabbed a Starbucks & went. We didn’t have to go far from where we live to find some beautiful scenery & nature, even some wildlife… eagles.

And sometimes, pictures speak louder than words… in this case… it’s true… see for yourself!

#Abbotsford #BritishColumbia #Canada #FraserRiver #Hatzic #nature #river #drive #eagle #SundayDrive #tugboat #wildlife

Since we’re grounded…

It’s a very uncertain time right now… we’re all supposed to be in self isolation due to this horrific COVID19 virus. Usually, I work at my day job 6 days a week. I have my co workers counting on me for a place to work as well. Unfortunately, most of our communities’ small & non essential businesses have been been shut down to try to control this thing. It’s the same all over the world.

We’re all afraid of what this will mean to us & our families. We’re being promised monetary aid so we’re really counting on that. Obviously, we won’t be living the same life or travelling for a long time so I was feeling overwhelmed by it all when I happened upon something so beautiful…

I was scrolling along on Facebook, trying to be sure we were keeping as many of our clients informed of the situation at our work as possible, when I discovered this incredible artist. His name is Dermot Brennan. I thought, hey, here’s a way to not only enjoy another country without travelling but maybe it will help him too. I’ll let you just enjoy each piece for what they are. Peaceful. Delicate. Poetic. Here is a little bit about him as an artist:


I’m a professional watercolour artist living & working in Dublin. I’ve painted from childhood & have painted all over the world; my work is exhibited weekly in Dublin’s Merrion Square open air art gallery .

I have had several successful one-man shows & continue to work & exhibit throughout the country .

My work is appearing in the Dublin Art Book in May – a book of paintings depicting Dublin in all its beauty.

I sell all my work online through my FB page – anyone interested just needs to message me about individual pieces for price. (See link below)

I’m now also working in oils. My work is also in the Kildare Gallery Carton House & is also on display in the painters’ gallery which is the gallery run by the magazine of the same name .

https://www.facebook.com/Contejour

Merrion Square, Dublin
Rainy days, Dublin
Stephens Green , Dublin
Father & son, Wicklow
Donegal view

#dublin #ireland #art #covid19 #selfisolation #quarantined #watercolours #artist

Why hello… Winter…

I live in beautiful British Columbia. That’s literally our tagline… no, for real, it’s on our licence plates.

I choose to live here because we have four definite seasons: a lovely, brisk, sunny – (sometimes rainy) Spring, a warm, green, (sometimes rainy) Summer, a brisk, casual, (sometimes rainy) Fall, and a bracing, chilly, (sometimes rainy) Winter.

I do not choose to live where there are below zero temperatures, howling winds for days, blizzards that end in the snow compacting on to thick, slippery ice covered roadways & therefore, having to forgo work. But this is what we have so far, in the first month of 2020.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s not like Alberta or other places where you have to plug in your vehicle so it doesn’t seize up. It’s not like I couldn’t decide to just go to the town where I grew up & where my work is & stay there for the rest of the week’s weather warning. So I do.

Across the street from my work is a Coast Hotel www.coasthotels.com/hotels/bc/chilliwack/coast-chilliwack-hotel/ So in-between the snow flurries, my husband & his 4×4, take me across the frozen tundra that was Highway 1 just two days ago… I’ve booked in for a few days because I have a business to run. I’ve call forwarded the phone to my mobile but there’s so many other things to do. I can easily go back & forth from here. In my snow boots. And mitts.

As I enter the lobby, the warmth rushes out at me through the automatic sliding doors, and I already feel better. It’s a very pretty, spacious lobby.

I check in, the girl at the desk is friendly & efficient. I found a discounted rate online when I booked because I have an Aeroplan card, so that’s impressive. Apparently there is a rewards club where you can also earn a discounted room rate.

I head up to my room, loaded down with my laptop for work, eReader & clothes for a few days. The door opens on the first try, thank you, my hands are very full. Nice room, two beds, and a view of the pretty, semi-frozen duck pond & local library www.fvrl.bc.ca/locations/chilliwack.php There is also a Save on Foods grocery store directly across the street, along with STARBUCKS!! www.starbucks.com Chopped Leaf www.choppedleaf.ca Subway www.subway.com, some other food stores, a clothing store called The Top Shop, a dollar store, liquor store, dentist etc. There are city buses running around this neck of the… uh woods… so it’s not hard to get around. Anyway, back to the hotel.

Loving the nice touch of the paper cranes on the neatly made beds with their crisp linens. I check… yes, extremely clean beds & in the closet ~ extra blanket & pillows. Check.

There’s a good desk & chair where I’ll likely do more writing & work over the next few days.

Decent sized television. Nice spot to sit & read with good lighting.

Very nice, clean bathroom with a BIDET. Wow now this is living.

There are plenty of towels. I’m really liking their implementation of large size shampoo, conditioner, body wash & body lotion instead of all the tiny, less earth friendly ones. There’s never enough shampoo or conditioner in those anyway. I’ve chosen their ‘Go Green’ option, which means they don’t clean your room every day. I have enough towels & I’m not an untidy person so really don’t need to have daily maid service. There’s a good size mini fridge for my lactose free milk. And what do I see here?? The complimentary coffee. Starbucks. Yesssssss. There are plenty of drawers & adequate clothes hanging space plus an iron & board.

I decide to unpack (I use packing cubes so everything goes into the drawers in those), stow my suitcase, charge my mobile, computer, iWatch & eReader (plenty of outlets, yessss) & order the steak bite appetizer I know they serve downstairs in Prestons restaurant. prestonsrestaurant.ca/chilliwack Then I see they also have clam chowder… I’m in. Prestons looks out over the duck pond & I can see the indoor pool from there too. Next door is Prestons lounge, which is also good & a little more casual. Sometimes they have live entertainment, which has been great each time I’ve stumbled upon them after a meeting or function here.

It’s quiet here, which is hard to believe when we’re smack in the middle of Downtown Chilliwack, but it’s a relief. There are plenty of other restaurants in walking distance, plus a hair salon www.michaelsonmainstreet.com with a boutique spa studio70skincare.ca There’s an escape room www.4descape.com and an antique store m.facebook.com/circavintagefinds.darbytrudeau and so many other great stores to get lost in for a few hours.

Let’s recap:

✔️clean rooms & linens

✔️well appointed

✔️quiet

✔️decent price per night

✔️excellent location

✔️indoor pool

✔️restaurant on site

✔️good food

✔️meeting & events rooms

✔️bar & lounge

Note to self: being stuck overnight in your old hometown in the not-so-great weather… not so bad.

More things to do: tourismchilliwack.com

For Info about Chilliwack: www.chilliwack.com

History of Chilliwack: www.chilliwackmuseum.ca

If you’d like to do business in Chilliwack:

www.chilliwackchamber.com

downtownchilliwack.com

I’ve Bean Ambleside

Sometimes when you’re early for an appointment in #Vancouver you have to check out a #local #cafe #SRSLY the best #moist #light #airy #NotTooSweet #CinnamonBun I’ve eaten in a long time … #ApplePieCinnamonBun #vegan #GlutenFree The #traditional #macchiato was #smooth #rich #satisfying & just the thing on a rainy day. I had some work to catch up on with my laptop so settled in.

And sometimes you learn the best things along the way… As I was enjoying my smooth, rich #espresso I was looking around, surreptitiously taking #photos (people are more relaxed & natural if you just quietly catch them doing what they love) I could see this was not just a cute place that looked clean & inviting… it’s a #restaurant #business with a great #message & #philosophy ~

They’re committed to their #coffeefarmers & their families in #FincaElCarrizal #Guatemala. Many coffee #plantations are located in rural areas where #travel to school becomes a barrier to education. So in 2008, they did something about that. They are now able to provide #school for children from kindergarten to grade 7 right on the #farm where their parents work!

After I’d gotten home & had time to check them out more I realized there are tons of locations of these kind-hearted coffee shops – 27 to be exact & I’d had no idea. They also have lots of loyal coffee subscribers who get their beans by #delivery. I suggest looking them up at http://www.batwcoffee.com for more of their story. A portion of every purchase goes toward the #education of a child in #Guatemala #ethical @beanambleside

LAX – Los Angeles Airport

Wow. I mean just W.O.W… so we had been in San Diego & Los Angeles for about 6 days & were heading home. We were to leave from LAX. A pretty big, busy place, right? First of all, the bus driver nearly drove past our terminal. She caught herself just in time & off we leapt with our luggage. We got inside departures, the check in went well & the polite staff member said to us “Just head back to your left to Gate G. Have a safe flight” He even pointed in that direction. We about face-d, walked back toward where he gestured to & came upon… a wall. We looked around. Nowhere to go but outdoors. Literally everything else was blocked off. I discovered a small sign that kinnnnnnnd of points in the direction of where we had just been dropped off… do we actually go outside? Sure enough, as we ventured out, we saw a sidewalk & more construction barricades so we cautiously walked that way… behind us were other travellers doing the same thing. There really was only two choices: we go back to where we checked in and say “Ummm where do we go again?” or we continue on. We continued on. Sure enough, a ways down the sidewalk, we spotted some more somewhat useful signage that pointed to the gates.

That’s when we could not believe our eyes. Now, don’t get us wrong, we understand that as more people travel & airports etc are being used way more often by tons more people – improvements must be made, renovations have to be done & there will be a little confusion. We’ve been in airports during renos before. (London, Heathrow… the long, painful night of the ongoing clanging security alarms & jack hammers…) There really is no good time to do construction in such a busy place. The thing is: signage would clear up the majority of issues. As would strategically placed staff. We found ourselves being herded like confused cattle into what can only be described as a holding pen. There were about 80 chairs & eleventy-billion people. Ok so not quite that many, but you get the point. We decided to eat something, since we had arrived three hours ahead of our flight (as you’re supposed to do) & you’re never sure if there’s food served on board or not. We hauled ourselves into the Starbucks lineup. That was about 45 minutes. Now they were hustling & getting orders in but with only two machines – you can only make what you can make… Having ranted about that I will also say that I was thrilled to see more healthy food options & also some for dairy free, gluten free, vegan diners. There was a Shake Shack nearby as well, but not as healthy and just as packed full. We managed to score two seats as someone left to line up to board their flight. I needed to wash my hands & go to the loo so spent an hour in that lineup too. We thought we’d wander about & see some shops. There were kiosks. With bug spray, ear plugs, Tylenol & water. That’s. It. No windows or stores to peruse. Not even one. I swear I saw a fist fight brewing over an outlet with a USB port since quite a few that were in the seats weren’t working.

It would have been good to have some signs or staff to let you know, once you’re through security – There. Is. NOTHING. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Nowhere to sit. Travellers can then make the choice to spend maybe just one more hour wandering & looking around prior to checking in. Upon reflection, there seemed to be a shortage of staff in general… garbage containers were overflowing everywhere, there was no one to ask for directions or advice. There was one very determined woman who worked in the loo, making sure everything was clean & kept in order, so kudos to her.

We’ve learned that you have to expect just about anything when travelling. You have to roll with it. (Speaking of roll with it: For the love of God, get a good suitcase with decent spinner wheels… just spend the money, get the warranty & for a few years – travel much easier.) Always, always have something to read with you. Also, enjoying who you are travelling with is a major plus 😉

Barely Here an Afternoon and…

357B9F33-94DE-47A3-B224-3D7605562B94

We only arrived at @Maya.losangeles #hotel about 2 pm or so & we’ve been treated so well already!  Our #room is spacious, clean & bright with an amazing #view of the #harbour – we even have a little #patio with chairs & a table. We were taken on a mini #tour by a staff member who happened to see us wandering along, he set us up with #margaritas at the #bar & then we spent a few happy hours at the #pool. There was LIVE #Caribbean – type #music & the perfect weather – #sunshine! We #swam for a bit then #CaughtSomeRays Once the sun started to go down we went back to our room to change for #dinner & heard a #KnockAtTheDoor … it was #champagne #compliments of the #hotel for our #anniversary! What a way to #TreatGuests – #5StarTreatment Now we can’t wait to see #WhatsForDinner in the #WaterfrontRestaurant

 

Sally in the Woods, near Bath, England

The drive to #Bath, #Somerset in #England is normally quite pleasant, with the gorgeous rolling fields, somewhat crumbling old stone fences & the narrow, winding roads. I love to watch for sheep & to see how green the fields are. But there’s one spot I’ve been made aware of that I’d rather not travel under cover of darkness… #SallyintheWood – that cuts through Brown’s Folly. This is where most locals agree that the woodland is #haunted by the #ghost of a young #murdered girl.

Many have blamed multiple fatal, otherwise unexplained, car crashes on the spooky sightings of a young girl running into the road & childlike screams from the darkness have been heard. Some say the birds don’t sing along this spooky stretch of roadway…

There are a couple of different versions of the tale (another involving a woman who lived in a hut in the woods that local children insisted was a witch) but the most discussed in neighbourhood pubs amongst the locals has been that Sally was a young gypsy girl held prisoner in a tower without food & water and left to die.

Travelling down that particular stretch of countryside (in full daylight I might add, thankyouverymuch) I noted a huge, steep drop off on one side of the road… this holiday we noted many permanent cement barricades (or bollards) being put in, which I applaud, since the combination of a narrow, winding road and a sharp plunge has certainly meant disaster in the past.

Apparently, a number of ghost hunting websites have tried to discover more but most are too afraid to venture down into the area since it’s the blackest black at night… so it seems though young Sally may be long dead, her chilling tale remains… watch this video below…

https://www.facebook.com/223915807945847/posts/806142939723128/

The Globe Inn, Bath England

Sometimes the best ideas come from the mouths of babes… our young grandson, Jack, is often quite wise beyond his years… an old soul in a 6 year old’s body. An innocent #dinner-out- together suggestion has become, in MY opinion anyway, a new favourite #dining #destination… The Globe Inn in Bath.

There were five adults & 2 children in all and each of us was quite satisfied with our evening and our meals.

Belly up to the bar, mate!

There was definitely lots to choose from – a full choice #menu or a #prixfixe menu that looked quite good too. We started with lager or cider, both deemed #delicious, then ordered things like #fishandchips #gammonsteak #lobsterfishcakes #burgerandfries and even #sausages Each one tasty & filling… so much so that #pudding was only ordered by the children There was #orangejelly & #fudgebrownie with #vanillaicecream

The #children’smenu was quite good for choices & provided some puzzles & jokes while we waited.

The meal didn’t take long to arrive & we had a lovely time in the cozy, #familyfriendly #pub style atmosphere.

The staff were polite, also efficient & the #restaurant was very clean, warm & comfortable since it was a freezing -2 outside.

A definite place to return to in the warmer weather as there is also an #outdoorpatio that looked nice.

Thanks for a great evening!

https://www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/south-west/theglobenewtonsaintloe/restaurantsfood#

Berlin, Germany 🇩🇪

When my husband, my travel partner, said this year when we go to see our family in England for New Year’s we will also be making a 3 day stop in Berlin… I thought, Berlin? Where on earth did that come from? We hadn’t talked about going there before but we do try to add on a little side trip somewhere along the way as it’s often much cheaper to do so once we’re already in England (rather than flying direct from Canada). He’s much more adventurous than I & sometimes I wonder if he feels he’s dragging me along in his fast paced wake… but he’s always well prepared & really, a joy to be with so hey… let’s do this!

We flew in to London, Heathrow & raced to find what gate we needed to be at after leaving our large luggage at the airport.

**PRO TIP HERE: Since we’re often bringing gifts for family & clothing for approximately a 10 day trip overall, we have learned it’s much easier to pay to have our large luggage stored at the airport & take only a carry on with the personal items we need for the 2 – 3 day trip… it’s not a lot of money to do this but it makes such a difference to be able to just hop on your connecting flight with a little carry on and take off. We only really need a few changes of clothes, our laptops, phones & ID so why drag everything else?

We boarded our flight & arrived in Berlin where it was fairly cold & as it was evening, we couldn’t see a lot but managed to find our way to the taxi stand so we could get to our hotel. We know that we’re pretty much at the mercy of any cabbie in the country we’ve chosen to visit but you always hope that they’re not going to take advantage of you… well he did and we ended up taking a fairly convoluted route to get to our hotel & charging way too much to do so. (We discovered this the next day when we rented a car & found the airport within minutes of our hotel… sigh) Regardless, we arrived at the Titanic Chaussee Berlin & immediately we’re impressed with how it looked.

https://www.titanic.com.tr/titanicchausseeberlin/default-en.html

It’s very classy & modern but has touches of history in the art that is everywhere, including Brandenburg Gate shown on the desk top in our room. The Charlotte Lounge is the first thing you see as you enter from the street, it’s across from the front desk & is pretty cool.

We dropped our bags in the room & then went down for a drink & a little something to eat at the Lounge. It was a nice place to sit & chat, the food was good once I finally got it. It did take awhile as somehow between writing down the meatballs with mashed potatoe I ordered (I even pointed it out to the waiter on the menu in case he couldn’t understand me), he’d forgotten it.

We decided to make it a fairly early evening, there’s at least an 8 hour time difference between home & Germany. The lobby was still decorated for the holidays, but even without that you can see it’s very lovely. There is a restaurant on the main floor & apparently another on the first floor for breakfast only.

Of course we did nose around to see the pool and spa area but were extremely disappointed in the fact that despite being hotel guests (& this is not a cheap hotel) that it would be a further 20 Euros per person per day to use the pool! That was not made clear on the hotel website or we may have decided not to stay here. We do enjoy a good swim, especially after a long flight spent sitting. Needless to say, we did not swim.

Our room was really nice, clean & a good size. The bathroom did not have a bathtub but did have a large shower. The beds were comfortable & when we asked for extra pillows they were brought right away. There is a safe & mini fridge but you’d need to ask for an iron & ironing board.

In the morning we headed out quite early as we had pre-booked a Cold War Walking Tour. We were to meet in town at a McDonald’s, so in true Franklin Fashion, we arrived about an hour and a half early 😉 We can’t stand being late or rushed & since we had to navigate the underground in a completely different language, we thought we’d just get ourselves there & then have a wander about until the tour meetup. We actually found our way fairly quickly, really only stopping to ask a couple of questions… of course we did discover that many locals over the age of 55 refused to speak English to us, despite our efforts to speak German, so we found it best to ask younger people. They often spoke excellent English & smilingly corrected our attempts at their language. We saw an outdoor Christmas Market that was still running (but not open until late afternoon) & found an amazing old church, Gedenkhalle, but could see it had been damaged in the war. Massive beautiful round windows, that probably had held stained glass at one time, stood empty with dark, scorch marks all around them. It was still very beautiful, a work of art.

Of course we had to have a #Starbucks because well, we just did. It was cold & damp & hit the spot. You always know what you’re getting with Starbucks.

We met up with our guide & fellow tourists for our walking tour & set out after getting underground day passes (don’t forget to validate them!). It was pretty cold & damp but really only added to the feel of the whole history of the tour.

https://www.insidertour.com/tours.php/cat/27/id/42/title/Cold-War-Berlin

Sometimes, I suppose, as much as I like to think we’re open minded… I guess we can be quick to judge. We quietly said to each other how it was very drab & dull in Berlin… the weather certainly didn’t help much but it was just so… dismal. After having been on the Cold War tour with our excellent guide Rachel, we realized just exactly why it appears so sullen here… Berlin had just been through an awful war, its people poor & their homes & communities ravaged… only to have the Berlin Wall erected in less than four hours one evening, while most people slept. They woke to discover they had been divided in half, East & West, leaving many families torn apart, some could no longer get to their jobs & some, who had been at work that evening, would not be able to get back home. Berliners, who had already suffered so much, now had lost family members, jobs & their pensions etc overnight… due to the Wall. Our initial impression of a bleak Berlin was suddenly shown to be hasty & short sighted. As we shivered in the cold, we could sense the hopelessness, as Rachel described the years of struggle & sadness and we could only imagine the despair these people must have lived with. So many attempts to escape were made & thwarted. So many lives ruined. I felt guilty to know I could easily walk in to a cafe or restaurant to escape the cold & I could afford to buy something warm to fill my tummy when they must have wondered where their next meal would even come from… a very sobering day, for certain.

Berlin takes you back in time

rs6.JPGThe Reichstag witnessed a turbulent history of Berlin and is one of the city’s most significant historical buildings. You can feel the it as you walk to the front of this magnificent structure. The Reichstag is an internationally recognized symbol of democracy and the current home of the German parliament. The dome: it’s not often that you can enjoy such an amazing panorama while, just beneath your feet, the political decisions of tomorrow are being made inside of this architectural wonder.

 

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Desert Adventures – Kayaking the Colorado River

If there is one thing you must do when in #LasVegas it’s go on a trip with these guys! We chose to go on a half day trip because despite being busy as HECK all week long with our day jobs, they’re really ‘at our desk, to our car, to our client’s desk, to our car, to back to the office’ jobs which is not a lot of physical exercise overall. We have taken a #canoe trip before & that was a lot of fun so we signed up for this one.

Our #tourguide was Dani Larget and she was awesome! From the first minute we met her she was energetic, informative & full of life. It was only my husband & I plus Dani so we got all her attention & could ask ask much as we wanted about the local #history & where we were going. Don’t let her slight build fool you, this girl can load up a van full of supplies, emergency gear & 2 #kayaks in the blink of an eye! We took off through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area where we learned a ton of the history of the area including Boulder City. This community was built in 1931 to house the workers building the Hoover Dam. It’s still a quaint town that looks a bit old fashioned & would be fun to check out if you have time, but since the Colorado River awaited us, we sped on through.

We arrived at Willow Beach where we would launch our kayaks & where the view was stunning! It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, for the sun was up, there was a really nice breeze & the water wasn’t too fast. Dani took us through a few safety rules & we loaded lunches, water, first aid gear & ourselves onto the kayaks and set off. #BlackCanyon is really beautiful – very craggy, very sheer & you can see where the water has left its imprint over the years – showing how the water level has dropped quite drastically.

There is a fascinating little “tram” that the gauger would take to pull himself across the river when he would go to work monitoring the levels of the #ColoradoRiver to aid the building of the #HooverDam. There is a small building perched precariously on the side of the canyon where he would go to do this & an even more precarious catwalk he took along the canyon wall. We hiked to the spot where his home once stood along the river, you can still see the foundation, and imagine him sitting at the end of a long day enjoying his peaceful, beautiful view.

There is a really cool little cave called #EmeraldCove that you can go into. You back up into the cave so that you’re looking out and the water there is green yet crystal clear. There was a little beach spot where we stopped for lunch (which was SO GOOD) & were joined by a drake & mallard duck. It was so beautiful there & even though the water is quite cold, it felt good to dip our feet & hands in after the heat of the sun. We refilled our water bottles, doubled up on the sunscreen & started off again back to Willow Beach.

We did see some other #animals, such as turkey vultures, a few cute, spike haired ducks, a mama Bighorn sheep & her little one wayyyyy up in the canyon but luckily NOT the swimming rattlesnake nor the scorpions that Dani mentioned to us are native to the area. On our way back to the office to leave our gear, before returning to our hotel, we make a quick stop at #HemenwayPark where there are a herd of Bighorn sheep were in the field of a recreation park… yes, right next to the picnic tables & slide! It was pretty neat to see them so up close & fairly tame but we still gave them plenty of space as there were at least three males & we didn’t want them to feel threatened at all.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better trip. When we travel, we always want to learn the #history of the area, we want to see the #landscape, the architecture… we definitely learned a lot about the many trips & #trails we could take if we wanted to go back and learning more of the history of the builders of the Hoover Dam was neat since we were fascinated by our tour at the Dam a few years ago.

I would give this tour 5 tickets out of five for sure. Dani, of Desert Adventures was knowledgeable, safety conscious & fun. The trip was well worth the money & we would go again. See, it must have been good because we bought T shirts & have already talked about what type of kayak we now need to get for ourselves!

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Believe In Magic or Not… Illusionist David Copperfield Stuns!

Out of the blue, Mr. My Return Ticket (my husband) decided we should go to see #DavidCopperfield on a recent anniversary trip we took to #LasVegas. I thought hey, why not? Famous guy, been doing it for years, probably a good night out. We weren’t allowed cameras for obvious reasons, so you’ll have to take our word for it.. this show was bananas!

Out he came, still a nice looking guy, appearing as if by … wait… alright fine, as if by #magic! Inside a giant box that WAS empty…  it was! I saw it was empty & I was looking underneath & everything! Yet, there he appeared, David on an awesome Harley Davidson motorcycle!  Nice start! He then is casually doing slow, easy little slight of hand tricks… cracking some jokes, talking with the audience… then SHAZAM!! There’s a spaceship in the room?! He does a full bit with a little robotic alien (long story – go see the show) where he lets the audience in on some emotion regarding his own parents, who have since passed away.

Another cool section of the show was when he talked about his favourite toy as a boy… a skeleton of a T Rex named Frank, who’s been missing for many years. The end trick is so unreal as a MASSIVE T Rex appears in front of our eyes! It’s so hard to figure out because it’s just so huge you can’t figure out how it is suddenly there while we watched so carefully??

There is a lot of audience participation which makes you realize that the results are very unpredictable, David even relied on tossing frisbees out into the crowd to choose people (or their answers) for him to have predicted before the show even started. He had emailed one of his #predictions out to everyone before the show ended (of course we didn’t know this since our phones were put into wooden privacy boxes) so this was even harder to explain – – how could he possibly have known what random results he would get beforehand? Mind. Blown.

Worth every penny, lots of fun & definitely makes you question what you think you know about magic & #illusions… he doesn’t take himself too seriously, despite having been famous for so so long & having travelled the world. A really great evening at the #MGMGrand  For more info or to see a show schedule David CopperfieldIMG_E6545

Celine Dion – That’s the Way It Is ;)

You know, I have always liked #CelineDion & thought her vocal rage is quite unreal but after seeing her concert in #LasVegas this week… I have a whole new appreciation for her. She was lovely & engaging from the moment she stepped out on the stage but once she started to sing… that was it… we were enraptured! You realize with every song she sings, that her #talent is ridiculous, she makes it look absolutely effortless, but also that each song must be hard for her to get through now that the love of her life (& her manager throughout her career) is now gone… Celine’s husband Renee passed away in 2016, which she does make mention of, but you feel it in her emotional performance anyway.

One thing I did not realize, is that Celine is quite funny! She made a lot of jokes while speaking to us, the audience & when chatting with her band & back up singers. She came out once wearing the #LasVegasKnights hockey team jersey! Despite her & I both being #Canadian girls, we obviously still have a healthy respect for the brand new team that has risen to the top of the NHL to be in the Stanley Cup Finals.

One thing we loved was that she happily allowed photos (no flash). She sang some of her original songs, even a little piano bar number… and who knew Celine could scat?! But scat she did & it was fantastic. She sang a duet with her back up singer of ‘Beauty & the Beast’ – excellent pairing of voices there! She was gracious to her band & they were spotlighted as well with some instrumentals. I did get emotional for her when it came to ‘All By Myself’ because again, you could only imagine the heartache she & her children feel since Renee has been gone. I think most of us are suckers for a true love story, non?

Of course, the highlight of it all was the encore… nothing other than spectacular… the #Titanic theme – My Heart Will Go On… not a dry eye in the place! Celine was featured inside of an actual cascading, spinning waterfall right onstage! She was amazing, a true show woman & I would absolutely go to see her again. Despite having has some recent health issues… her performance… flawless. IMG_E6607

To Plan or Not to Plan… Whichever, it’s Going to Require Coffee!

So we’re trying to decide where to go next… we’ve bounced a few ideas around… Tried to figure out timing… checked on pricing… I think it’s time we get serious & getting serious requires a serious beverage & a great little place to enjoy it.

Not far from where we live is a really quaint little place called Cafe Amarti www.cafeamarti.com It’s got a casual, comfortable atmosphere, they’ve got fresh healthy food, fresh maybe-not-so-healthy-but-oh-so-delish-desserts, they serve all kinds of loose teas, some wine & beer & best of all… 49th Parallel Coffee that is from Vancouver. It’s a great place to go with a friend or two, I’ve met clients there & a lot of students go there to study. There’s a dance studio & a martial arts business next door so I’ll bet it’s where the Mommies love to go wait while their kids plié or break boards. There is even a long community table to sit at if you have a crowd. The staff are quick to serve & friendly and made delicious sandwiches for us. It was the perfect place to start planning our next travel adventure. What’s cool is the owners are a brother & sister who love to travel & have used their experiences visiting different cafes & wine bars around the world to develop their own unique menu & feel. They have excellent hours: 8 am – 10 pm, so can accommodate the breakfast bunch or the after dinner crowd.