Category Archives: Blogs

Travel Videos

I watch a lot of videos on YouTube about travel. I am getting my inspiration for my future travels from these videos.

I have noticed that some of the channels focus on airlines, some focus on adventures in the countries, and a lot of them talk about how to get cheap meals (go out of the tourist area – I learned that when I first started traveling!).

But what I’ve noticed a lot lately that many of the videos are quite long. I like to watch videos that are maximum 30 minutes – I lose interest after that long. I want to watch the long ones but I don’t want to spend an hour or two watching someone’s in-depth travels. I want to watch the highlights and the suggestions.

Am I the only one who thinks this way? Do you watch any travel videos on YouTube? My favourites are Kara & Nate, The Points Guys UK and Yes Theory. Three great suggestions – the Points Guys actually have races to see what sort of transportation is fastest.

Which channels do you watch? Any suggestions for me?

Did you know on this day…

That in 1875 the electric dental drill is patented by George F Green.
(I do not like this patent! I have a major phobia of dentists)

That in 1887 the ground was broken and construction began on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
(It’s one of my favourite places to see when I was in Paris!)

That in 1905 the world’s largest diamond, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, was found in South Africa.
(how much would that even be worth and what would you do with it??)

That in the 1st Winter Olympics in 1924, American skater Charles Jewtraw claims the first ever Winter Olympic gold medal; wins 500m speed skating event in 44.0s at the Chamonix Games in France.
(the Winter Olympics is my favourite winter time sports event – I love watching every single sport)

That Bill Clinton made his famous speech “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” in 1998.
(How is it possible that this took place 25 years ago! I remember that day.)

I was reading some historical facts and thought it would be interesting to share!

Opportunity is where luck meets preparation

The Collins English Dictionary describes opportunity as “a situation in which it is possible for you to do something that you want to do”.

Some examples of opportunities are getting help on a project, get testers for new ideas or products, create a team to work on an idea you have – of course there are many other examples of opportunity but this is just a short list.

So, can you prepare yourself for an opportunity? Can you foresee the future where the opportunity will arise for you and you are already for it? Some people believe you can. I am trying to make this happen for me.

I know where I want to go, when I want to be there and how long I want to be there. That’s part of the preparation. Am I lucky? I have been in the past. I’d like to believe I still am, I just need to bring it out.

Back in 2011, I made a decision to move out to Calgary, Alberta from southern Ontario. I had no job to go, nowhere to live, but I knew I had to do this. My gut told me to go there. So I prepared. I made phone calls to employment agencies before I left and had an appointment for shortly after I arrived. I scoured the internet for places to live, and one of the lawyers I worked for in Ontario suggested a couple of his friends for me to get in touch with in case they could help me. I sent emails to them before I left as well.

On October 10, 2011, I, along with my son, packed up my car and headed west. We had a couple of bumps on the way out there but we got out there in four days, and three days after we arrived, I had two job interviews and one of them offered me a job to start that following Monday. The day after that, I got a part time with a catering company and found a house to live in the same day. Because of my preparation and a little bit of luck, the opportunities were there and I took the chance and got them.

Calgary was the best move I’d made in my life at that point. I had a great job and met some incredible people who became some of my closest friends. I’m eternally grateful for taking the opportunities given to me.

You have to prepare yourself for opportunities. If the door of opportunity knocks, open it! We have to make our own luck. The difference between lucky and unlucky people is all in our perspective. My perspective is changing and I AM going to be lucky and thrive at this new chapter I’m about to write. I know it!

We are all human beings

There is a fascinating YouTube channel called “Yes Theory” – it’s a group of people who challenge themselves (and others) to step out of their comfort zone and make themselves do something that they never thought they’d ever do.

The most recent episode I watched was when two people switched lives for 72 hours – one from Austin Texas and one from Stockholm Sweden. They each went to the other’s home for 72 hours and immersed themselves into the other’s life, with friends and family.

The gentleman who came from Sweden and went to Texas is a motivational speaker – Steffan Taylor. One of his dreams was to come to America and speak to youth. This group of people gave him that chance, and during his speech, he talked about what we do. He said – you are not a teacher, you are a human being. You are working in business, that’s what you do, but that’s not necessarily what you are. You are not defined by your job, you are defined by who you are. Another thing he said was, you can fail at your job and even lose your job, but you can never fail with you are. Wise words.

It was so emotional and amazing to watch. He was touched just as much as the young people he spoke to. It was a dream come true for him, and he was so inspirational that it got me thinking of my situation. I’m not a babysitter or a nannie, I am me, and I am simply here for a short time helping with my grandson. Doing this does not define me. Being me defines me.

It was a very transforming YouTube video to watch. Take a few minutes and watch it. It’s pretty amazing.

Lotteries

Here in Canada, we have provincial lotteries, and national lotteries. Our lottery winners get their money tax-free. If you win $1 million, you get $1 million. It’s a great thing about Canada, if you happen to be lucky enough to actually win the lottery!

But, is it worth the money for the off-chance you win? Our national lottery is $5 a ticket, and our provincial lottery is $3. There are 2 draws a week for each of them, and a lot of people buy multiple tickets for each draw every week. Some spend $100s on the off-chance to win the lottery.

A lot of people buy tickets even when they can’t afford it. I was one of those for a long time. I still buy an occasional ticket here or there but I have made myself stop buying them as frequently as I use to. I have so many things I want to do in my life and wasting even $10 a week on tickets could go to my savings.

If the jackpot is quite high, there are so many people who buy tickets that it’s harder to win. My odds for winning are better if I buy tickets for the lower jackpots. At least that’s how I think!

Where you live, do you have lotteries? And do you buy tickets regularly?

Fort Langley, BC

Fort Langley is one of my favourite places to go to that is close to me. Even when it’s dreary out, I like to go. It’s a quaint little village with a lot of great places to eat, and unique stores to wander through.

I happened to go there the other night, looking to finally go to the bookstore and cafe that I enjoy wandering through. Every time I go, it’s quite busy and there aren’t usually any seats available (there are only 6 or 7 tables), but I lucked out that there were a few tables free and I decided to have my dinner there.

I ordered a mocha, the blackened wild salmon burger, and the carrot cake to finish the meal.

The mocha was lovely and hot, sweet but not too sweet, and just enough coffee to give me a lift.

The blackened wild salmon burger was chosen on impulse. I really wanted salmon and it was the one that popped out to me. The bun was lovely and soft, the salmon was cooked perfectly and it was topped with avocado and greens and a touch of mayo. Utterly delicious! I was very pleased with my choice.

The carrot cake was divine. It was a huge slice – it could have been a meal on it’s own – but I ate all of it. It was moist, nutty with a lovely cream cheese icing. It was the perfect end to my meal.

If you are ever in the Vancouver area, head out to Fort Langley and go to Wendel’s Book Shop and Cafe. You will not be disappointed!

Decisions, decisions…

I am planning an extended holiday for 2023 and as I try to decide how to get to my destination, many factors are coming to mind. Do I fly direct and pay more, or do I get a deal, fly to a city that is distant from my destination, requiring me to either take a bus or train (or combination of both), making stops along the way?

I love taking the train in Europe. It’s scenic, comfortable, you can get up and comfortably walk around to stretch your legs. You have lots of legroom at the seat. It’s usually either cool or warm, depending on the time of year. I took the train numerous times and always enjoyed myself.

I also took the bus (Student Agency) many times around Europe, including to Paris and London. The Student Agency bus was comfortable, but not as flexible with getting up and moving around. It’s a good bus to take on a 2 or 3 hour trip, but my trip to Paris was quite nice because I had two seats to myself and was able to stretch out. But do I want to take a bus for over 2 days?

The decision is all about cost and comfort. The bus is cheaper, the train is more comfortable, but I could also fly. Flying is okay but I would miss seeing the beautiful countryside and have the possibility of stopping in places I’ve not been before. And I’m not in such a rush that I need to get there quickly.

I have a few months to make a decision but it’s becoming stressful doing all the research!

1,000

Well, here it is. 1,000. Blogs that is. My goal back in 2021 was to reach 1,000 blogs but life got in the way and it’s taken me a bit longer than I expected. But I have made it.

It’s definitely harder than I expected it would be. Topics to talk about, pictures to include, thoughts to go through. But I have done it, and I feel so accomplished! This is a success to me – blogging has helped me become more confident with my writing, which lead me to start and finish my first draft of my first book.

I’m so grateful to all of those bloggers there who have followed me and replied to my blogs. Thank you for all who have stuck around and kept me encouraged to keep doing this.

And now here’s to the next 1,000!

Top 5 – Europe (Part 2)

In 2019, I headed to Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a bus tour. It was an amazing trip and here are my top 5 for each of the countries.

Spain

  1. Seville/Flamenco Dancing

You cannot go to Seville without taking in a performance of the flamenco dancing. It is exhilarating and will take your breath away. It is 90 minutes of music, singing, and of course dancing. They will twirl and stomp their way into your heart and soul. An unforgettable evening!

  • Costa del Sol

I am not normally a beach person, but I do love to walk along a beach and listen to the waves crash. Costa del Sol was the most enchanting beach boulevard I’ve seen yet in this world.

The Mediterranean waves lapping on the beach, the gentle winds, the smell of the sea in the air, it was all mesmerizing. If I could have stayed there forever, I would have.

  • Madrid

Spain was a surprise to me. I had not done much research about the places we were going to see and so I went with low expectations. I did not want to set myself up for disappointment.

The first stop was in Madrid and disappointed I was not. The city is vibrant, beautiful, historical, and full of life. I enjoyed just driving through the city and looking around without even getting off the bus to take in the beautiful sites. You need to see everything you can in Madrid!

  • Segovia

On one of the excursions we took from Madrid, we headed to Segovia. The aqueducts were amazing to see and to find out they were hundreds of years old was astonishing. The entire city was lovely. And I had the best slice of pizza in Spain there! A true gem to visit.

  • The countryside

As we drove from Madrid down to the coast, I enjoyed looking out the window and seeing the beautiful countryside of Spain. The rolling hills, the greenery, even the highways were not that busy. It was tranquil and beautiful. A country is not just made of historical sites, cities, and beaches. It’s also a place to enjoy a pleasant drive to see the countryside.

Morocco

  1. Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar

Wanting to go to Africa has been a bucket list of mine for many years. To have the chance to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and land in Morocco was very exciting. Taking the ferry was a great time. The beautiful, albeit windy, weather was perfect for the crossing. We were able to catch a glimpse of the Rock of Gibraltar off in the distance. The entire trip was met with anticipation not only by me but by my fellow travel companions on the tour.

  • Marrakesh

Marrakesh and its medinas were scary, but exhilarating. I kept close to everyone around me so I wouldn’t get lost or go the wrong way. The medinas are very narrow alleyways with little stores crammed in beside each other, each offering a different ware for sale. The smells that came from the stores were intoxicating, both of perfume and of food. It was definitely a bucket item list checked off.

  • The Kasbah

One of our stops in Marrakesh was to see the Kasbah. Being an 80s girl, my immediate thought as we arrived was the song Rock the Kasbah by The Clash. I could not get that song out of my head the entire time!

Despite the mental distraction, the Kasbah was a very interesting place to visit. Again, a lot of history, but also learning that these were the stables that we saw. Stone stables. It was very interesting!

  • Casablanca

On our way back to Tangier from Marrakesh, a brief stop was made in Casablanca. We were able to visit the synagogue and also take a short walk along the boardwalk, and grab something to eat. While the visit was short, it was an intriguing place to see. The boardwalk was more of a sidewalk up on a hill, looking down at the ocean. But they called it a boardwalk. We were very lucky to have so many beautiful weather days, and the day in Casablanca was just right weather-wise. A lovely ocean breeze as we walked along the ocean.

  • Fes

We were able to travel to the Berber area in Fes and have a visit with a local family. We toured their home and were offered tea and a snack. It was very educational and beautiful. It is definitely a must do thing if you are in the Fes area of Morocco.

Portugal

  1. Cascais

This beautiful town on the coast was beautiful. A huge ferris wheel is right at the beach. A great way to be greeted. The town is walkable and has lovely restaurants and cafes to stop in at. We had a short visit there, but it was lovely. A nice stop for a walk.

  • Sintra

Sintra was our second stop after Cascais. It’s a beautiful town set up on a hill with beautiful views. The must do thing here is definitely a tour of Pena Castle. It is a gorgeous castle and worth the tour.

  • Lisbon

Lisbon was more beautiful than I imagined it would be. One of the most captivating sights I saw was the Padrão dos Descobrimentos along the Tagus River. It is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus river. It is located along the river and the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or “Age of Exploration”) during the 15th and 16th centuries.   It is quite an amazing structure to see.

  • Fado music

On one of our evenings out in Lisbon, we attended a restaurant that was a place that had a Fado band playing. The music was truly mesmerizing and while we were served our dinner, we were all silent and in awe of the beautiful sound of the guitar and singing. It’s definitely worth it to find a restaurant that plays this music.

  • Streets of Lisbon

While we didn’t have a lot of time to wander around Lisbon, the time I did spend was like being back in Prague. The wonderful little stores and cafes with the feel of an old European city has such an appeal to me. I loved just walking around, enjoying window shopping, and listening to the people talk. I miss living in Europe – it’s definitely a better way of life in my opinion.

Top 5 – Canada

I’ve travelled across Canada twice now since 2011, and both times I found something new and exciting to see. The Trans-Canada Highway is a fantastic way to get across Canada and there are many stops you can take along the way.

My Top 5 recommendations for travelling in Canada:

  1. Banff/Lake Louise

You can’t travel to Alberta and not stop to see the most beautiful place on earth – Lake Louise. It is a short drive from Calgary and well worth the time to go and see the magnificent lake and the view. From there, head to Banff. There are amazing restaurants to go to, fun little local shops to meander into, and of course the gondola ride up to the top of the mountain for even more amazing views. The Rockies do not disappoint for stunning pictures and beautiful landscapes.

  • Vermillion Bay, Northern Ontario

Vermillion Bay is approximately 30 minutes west of Dresden, on the Trans-Canada Highway. There aren’t any real tourist stops there, but it’s important to take a side trip off the highway to the lake. The sunrise on a summer morning by the lake is miraculous, stunning, breathtaking. Words and pictures cannot really describe the beauty of this area in Canada. Take a moment, put away your phone, sit down on the dock, and take it all in. Don’t rush to leave, just let yourself watch the sun come up and produce beautiful colours on the lake. You will not be disappointed.

  • Gaspe Peninsula

As a child, I spent most summers going to the city of Gaspe as both sets of grandparents lived there and we would visit them once a year. As a child, it was boring as there was not a lot to do, or so we thought.

As an adult, I went to visit my grandmother. What a difference it makes going as an adult. The beautiful nature, the city itself had grown from when I’d last been, and we headed to Perce for a day, which was a beautiful place to see after many years. It’s a place to get back to nature in. Hiking, skiing in the winter, snowmobiling, any outdoor activity can be done in this area. There are also historical sights to see in the area. Definitely a place to see on the east coast of this beautiful country.

  • Victoria, British Columbia

The island is my favourite place in all of BC. I’ve only been twice but both times were amazing.

The first time took me to Sidney. It’s a small town but with a number of lovely little stores, quaint cafes, delicious fish and chips, and lots of places to walk around and see the ocean. I spent a lovely day there and it just made me want to get back to see more.

The second time I took three days to go to Victoria at Christmas time. It was magnificent! The parliament buildings lit up at night were stunning. The people were friendly, the restaurants were plentiful, and the atmosphere was very relaxed. There are lots of hotels in the centre, as well as Airbnbs. There are boat tours you can take, city tours, and so many historical places to visit. It’s definitely worth the trip across on the ferry to visit Victoria.

  • Algonquin Park, Ontario

Algonquin Park is a must-see place to go in the autumn. It is alive with colours, wildlife is abundant, the air is crisp, and it is stunning.

It is a couple of hours north of Toronto, and you can find lovely hotels along the way to stay in. Quaint cafes await you. The colours are enough to make your trip up north worthwhile.