Craighs of rocks among groves of moss-covered trees, valleys of apple green grass with hints of golden yellow, burnt umber, and rusty orange, dark shimmering lochs, mountains that are ten times larger than they appear, and centuries old castles. Scotland is full of beauty (and a rather brutal history which I’ll write about another time), and has been the backdrop for many movie and television scripts and books – Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series being the latest television series to join the ranks.
It’s 5:00 p.m. and I’m alone on Île Quarry in the Mingan Archipelago. I’m not referring to the fact that I’m travelling (and sleeping in an oTENTik tent) alone, I’m referring to the fact that I’m the only human being on this island. All night!
Many cities seem to have double standards when it comes to locals and tourists. One group is often treated differently than the other, sometimes out of prejudice, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes—in the case of scammers—out of greed.
I didn’t grow up thinking, ‘I’m going to be a solo female traveller’, it’s something that happened purely out of circumstance. While my friends were in school, working, getting married, and having children, I craved freedom, independence, adventure. Sure the whole marriage and kids thing has popped into my brain a few times over the years, but I have a hard time justifying a need to stay in one place, working a job I don’t really enjoy, all in the hope that at some point marriage and kids will magically happen.
I will be the first to admit that my language learning has been slow. I do okay when I visit a restaurant or shop, but whenever someone engages me in a conversation I panic. I hear maybe two or three words, and I have absolutely no idea how to respond. If I’m eating out, I say ‘Oui’ in hopes that I have been asked a yes or no type question. While this most times, this is often a dead giveaway that I am anglo and the person I’m interacting with will either switch to English, or look confused and speak more French.
It’s 4:00am and I throw back the curtains in my hotel room, hoping to see clear skies after a rainy and grey arrival the day before.
I was greeted with a wall of fog so thick that I couldn’t see anything beyond my balcony railing. “NO!”, I groaned, shaking my fist weakly before shutting the curtains and crawling back into bed. Maybe if I pretend to go back to sleep Mother Nature will curb her diva act and bring on the sunshine.
I look out my window and breathe deeply, taking in the view in front of me. For the last two months my view has been that of the parking lot, and the building beside mine – which was in such close proximity that anyone could see down into my apartment. But now, now is different. I’ve moved from the ground floor, to the fifth floor, and when I look out my window I can Château Frontenac to my left, and the steeples of Chalmers-Wesley United Church. I can see the curved tin and metal rooftops of buildings in my neighbourhood, tall wooden staircases, and one small patch of snow that refuses to accept that it is spring.
Mexico is one of those countries where street food is a mandatory experience. It’s home cooking at its very best, and the only way to truly discover the delights of traditional Mexican food. In other words, Mexican street food is the epitome of comfort food. And when I am not in Mexico, I find myself craving some of these foods – like I am right now!
Sukhothai is not a Thai restaurant in Toronto (although a Google search may tell you otherwise). It’s the former capital of the ﬁrst Kingdom of Siam.
Located five hours (by bus) northwest of Bangkok, Sukhothai is home to some of the most beautiful 12th and 13th-century ruins in Thailand—and it should be on everyone’s travel itinerary.