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Articles Archive 2013

December 2013
BIG WHITE CATERS TO BIG FAMILIES
by Jane Cassie

"Are we there yet?" This commonly-heard kid quip pops into my mind, a memory from days gone by when we travelled with our five children via minivan. Was that really two decades ago? Although I love the empty nest thing, I'm hoping that, one day, I'll hear those inquisitive words again -from a few grandkids. Who knows when that'll happen-our next generation seems to be super slow in coming! read more »


HUMPBACKS IN OUR CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS
by Irene Butler

What would be a perfect ending to our week of surf, sand and sun with eighteen family members in Puerto Vallarta? The "eighteen" is no exaggeration - my husband Rick and I rounded up our five sons and their families for a Mexican Christmas. With ages ranging from our youngest grandchild at 7 to "me" at 68, we puzzle over a grand finale to suit all. read more »


CELEBRATING ICEWINE - ONE VERY COOL FESTIVAL
by James Ross

The snow and chilly temperatures set a perfect winter scene in beautiful Niagara-on-the Lake, as my wife and I bundle ourselves in parkas, mitts and wool hats. We set off from our Bed and Breakfast towards Queen Street, wandering past snow-draped vineyards, the region's famous grapes seemingly asleep under a white shroud. We trek into the town's historic downtown. Our plan is to sample the best offerings from the region's 28 wineries, to enjoy the wine, food and live entertainment and to learn more about Niagara's liquid gold. read more »


GOING LOCAL - THE INSIDER'S SCOOP ON PUERTO ESCONDIDO
by Colleen Friesen

Wouldn't it be great to travel like a local?

Even on a supposedly stressless beach holiday, some serious decisions are required. On a recent trip to the tropical town of Puerto Escondido, my husband Kevin and I struggled with some big questions. read more »


November 2013
ANTWERP: BELGIUM
Sweetly and Colorfully Historic

by Rick Millikan

A major historic seaport, Antwerp today ranks Europe's second busiest. Surprisingly after centuries of wars, Belgium's Antwerp retains its rich and fascinating heritage, a bonus for history buffs like us. read more »


SKIING EAST:
Find Some New England Charm Skiing New Hampshire's White Mountains

by Jamie Ross

"Let's ski the Whites," my friend says every year when a family March break trip is being discussed. After finally agreeing to his suggestion, I was forced to admit that I didn't even know where "The Whites" were - I had assumed they were big and white and in British Columbia. (New England … really?) In retrospect, I'm not surprised by my friend's choice, he still likes to call things "groovy," talks about shredding corn dogs (groomed runs), and loves those circa 70's juicy fruit commercials-so his desire to want to ski in a funky, frozen-in-time New Hampshire valley is easily explained. read more »


PUT YOUR BOOTS ON IN TUCSON
Story by Karoline Cullen, Photography by Cullen Photos

"Do you have a comb?" Patrick asks as he shows me the cactus cluster stabbing his finger. "It's the best way to pull the spines out. Better yet, don't get too close to a jumping cholla!" read more »


DINE OUT VANCOUVER FESTIVAL
A Total Palate Pleaser

By Jane Cassie

I confess. I'm a foodie. And it's no secret that Metro Vancouver is a globally-acclaimed cuisine machine. So, every January, when Dine Out Vancouver Festival comes to town, you can count me in-along with my husband. He's a big fan of this palate pleaser too! read more »


October 2013
CRUISING THE AMAZON ON THE CHEAP
By Chris McBeath

Chickens and bananas are also on board, so "cruise" might be a misnomer for this meander up an Amazon tributary in northern Peru, but for adventurers, it doesn't get much better - or cheaper. read more »


AN OASIS OF LUXURY IN THE ARABIAN DESERT
By Hans Tammemagi

A week immersed in super-sized Dubai city-the world's tallest building, an indoor ski hill (in simmering desert heat!), artificial islands, a seven-star hotel-was exhilarating, but also exhausting. Needing to recover, I headed along a modern highway into an empty expanse of beige sand dunes. Then a narrow sand-blown road led deep into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Finally a clump of trees with tents scattered among them like a Bedouin encampment appeared like a mirage. I had arrived at the Al Maha Resort & Spa deep in the Arabian desert. read more »


GHOSTS THAT DWELL ON THE GULF ISLANDS
By Cherie Thiessen

October is a haunted month. Gulf Islanders know that ghosts are drawn to their shores, so when the nights close in and the fogs and mists and drizzle wrap themselves around the coast, you'll find most islanders indoors after dusk. read more »


"SIMLA" THEN AND "SHIMLA" NOW:
Revisiting the British Raj's Himalayan Summer Capital

By Margaret Deefholts

The driver of our car swings around a series of dizzying hairpin bends. Off the edge of the road are valleys that lie hundreds of feet below us, their toy-sized village houses clinging to the slopes, their pathways threading along the folds of the hills. And rearing against the horizon are the mighty Himalayas-range upon range of gigantic snow covered peaks-one of the most magnificent panoramas in the world. read more »


STARDOM ON SALT SPRING
By Jane Cassie

My stories have always unfolded in privacy-plunked on my duff in front of a computer, and usually sporting my red housecoat (a.k.a. Santa suit to family members). So when the TV show, Senior Living On Location, asks if they can film a few segments of this Salt Spring women's retreat, I think about the uncertain variables-facing that omnipresent lens, camouflaging those ten extra camera-loving pounds, having enough time to include all the things that there are to do. Yet surprisingly, once poised and wired for sound, my two gal pals and I take on the challenge and leap into the spotlight. read more »


September 2013
INTIMATELY WILD IN THE GALAPAGOS
By Chris McBeath

A UNESCO protected eco reserve and outside of the poppy seed, probably Ecuador's most lucrative treasures, The Galapagos Islands Park offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. read more »


GOBSMACKED BY THE GRAND CANYON
By Julie H. Ferguson

I drop off the rim of the world.

The helicopter bounces in updrafts as it dives into a different planet ablaze with yellow ochres, rose madders, and burnt siennas. read more »


A WORLD APART -ST JACOBS FARMERS' MARKET
RURAL SOUTHERN ONTARIO:

By Margaret Deefholts

From a distance, and in the heat shimmer of a July day, the family alighting from a horse-drawn black buggy look like apparitions from Little House on the Prairie. As I draw closer the figures take on substance: a woman wearing a small bonnet smoothes her apron over a full-skirted calf-length dress, while her husband, a burly man in black pants, white shirt-sleeves and suspenders, tilts his wide-brimmed hat back as he tethers the horse and carriage to a post. The children, three little girls in braids, all wearing identical cotton pinafores, make up the group... read more »


CATCHING TIGERS BY THE 'TALE'
By Margaret Deefholts

"Roko! Roko!" (Stop! Stop!) our guide hisses urgently to the driver of our Jeep. Moving shadowlike through a bamboo thicket by the forest road is the animal I've traveled half way around the globe to see: a magnificent tigress. She is trailed by four half-grown cubs... read more »


August 2013
BELIZE: RICH IN BIRDLIFE & HOWLER MONKEYS
By Lauren Kramer

"If you want to avoid monkey poop, don't stand under this strangler fig," cautions Geraldine Fermin. My daughters and I are standing in a forest clearing 90 minutes north of Belize City, gazing at a troop of eight black howler monkeys that stretch lazily in the branches of the tree directly above us. The 20 square miles they share with some 3,500 other monkeys is loosely known as the Community Baboon Sanctuary, an area comprising seven villages in which more than 200 villagers own land. ... read more »


TYING AND FLY-ING ON NEW BRUNSWICK'S MIRAMICHI RIVER
By John Geary

If Hollywood ever decides to film a remake of "A River Runs Through It," I certainly will not audition for a role.

However, after getting my feet wet on New Brunswick's Miramichi River, I can at least tell stories about "the one that got away."... read more »


ROYAL TREATMENT IN THE MAASAI MARA!
By Andrew Renton

My sister is a traveller and lives in England. I am a travel writer based in Vancouver. We are to cross paths in Nairobi, Kenya. She is attractive, charming and firmly parsimonious. Ideal attributes for organising our adventure!... read more »


DISCOVERING THE REAL BAHAMAS ON LONG ISLAND
By Donna Yuen

What comes to mind when you think of the Bahamas? Luxurious resorts? Stunning white beaches? Tropical drinks dressed with cute little umbrellas? Me too! Not sure about you, but I'm long overdue for this kind of pampering. And in embracing the philosophy that self-care rejuvenates the soul, I'm in search of the perfect place that will replenish mine!... read more »


DALLYING THROUGH THE DALES
Yorkshire, England.

By Margaret Deefholts

There is something about desolate landscapes that inspires awe. Standing at the crest of a pass between Wensleydale and Swaledale, I look out across the fells of Yorkshire, at the scudding clouds throwing patterns of light and shadow over the purple heather and bracken covered hills and I'm silenced by their stark beauty. ... read more »


July 2013
GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK:
Alaska's Primeval Wilderness

By Margaret Deefholts

A ripping sound, followed by a crackle-and the crowd holds its breath. A thick chunk crumbles and falls off the crenellated wall of ice with a thunderous roar, raising a spume of gray and brown flecked spray. A moment later, another whip-crack reverberates on the afternoon air, and further along the glacier front a second sliver breaks free and disappears into a foam of churning green water. A collective "Aaah" shudders along the ship's rails. ... read more »


HEIDELBERG, GERMANY:
City of Beauty and Romance

By Chris Millikan

The Scenic Emerald carries us down the Rhine River on a leisurely fifteen-day itinerary. Sightseeing in old Heidelberg on day three introduces us to one of Germany's most beautiful cities. ... read more »


SITES AND SUMMITS IN BC AND BANFF (PART 5 OF 5)
Sunshine With and Without the Canine

By Jane Cassie

There are fringe benefits for being a dog owner. As well as free kisses and pampering you get more exercise, especially when hiking the trails in Banff's Sunshine Village.

"Sorry, there's no exception to the pet rule," the straight-faced ticket seller says from behind the counter. "None are allowed onboard." ... read more »


TEN FREE FAMILY THINGS TO DO IN VANCOUVER
By John Harris

I like free stuff: fresh air, mountain views, river walks and bike rides. Everybody loves freebies, too so here are ten things to do this summer with your loved ones, or on your own, that won't cost you a cent. ... read more »


June 2013
SITES AND SUMMITS IN BC AND BANFF (PART 4 OF 5)
The Steeps of Lake Louise

By Jane Cassie

Banff National Park - Lake Louise Area
The majestic Rockies lovingly embrace Lake Louise. Steeped with height and beauty, they tower above the quaint village, cocoon our cozy campground and set the scenic stage for our hikes in Banff National Park. After a short 25 kms (16miles) drive from our last stop at Yoho National, we've been able to de-hitch our home, lace up our boots and hit the trail ... read more »


SOFT ADVENTURE IN COLORADO
By Lauren Kramer

We'd come to Colorado looking for some soft adventure - the kind that everyone in the family could enjoy with minimal risk of injury. We found it just two hours from Denver in Cañon City and Colorado Springs, two towns that contain a playground of canyons, mountains and rivers nestled in the embrace of the magnificent Rockies. With its craggy mountains and gently undulating hills, the state offers lots of opportunity for visitors to explore its nooks and crevices on land, on water and by bike. Here's our top picks for a getaway in Denver's 'back yard.'... read more »


"LAND OF THE DEAD" FLOURISHES WITH LIFE
Australia's Answer to the Galapagos

by Chris McBeath

Why the indigenous people called this island Karta, or Land of the Dead, remains a mystery because Kangaroo Island, located south west of Adelaide, is one of Australia's hottest destinations for scenic and wildlife encounters... read more »


ALASKA: NO POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE KLONDIKE TRAIL
Story and photos by Margaret Deefholts

Just beyond the dock in Skagway, Alaska, I look at a display of photographs taken just over a century ago. One of them, is a shot of the harbour. The shoreline, seen through the cameraman's lens, is a quagmire of mud. There is no landing dock, not even a pier. Horses, dogs, bundles of clothing, cooking utensils, camping gear and cardboard boxes containing provisions lie strewn above the high-water mark. The year is 1897... read more »


May 2013
SITES AND SUMMITS IN BC AND BANFF (PART 3 OF 5)
Yohoho, Great Hikes, Hikes, Hikes

by Jane Cassie

It's 10 am and I'm chilling out in a camp chair. Although my eyes are at half mast, I hear the roar of nearby rapids and smell bacon that sizzles on someone else's grill.

We've just driven Roger's Pass, the jaw-dropping 2 hour route, hemmed in by snow-cloaked mountains, that links Glacier National to Golden. And from our Kicking Horse campsite in Yoho National Park, while lap-loved by Kalli, my pup, I haven't a care in the world.... read more »


BAJA IS BEST FOR FOODIES
by Colleen Friesen

It's an easy mistake to make.

Judging by the typical Tex-Mex fare delivered by most restaurants, you might believe that Mexican food is comprised of tortillas, tomatoes and cilantro. Perhaps you'd go so far as to include guacamole, blobs of melty cheese and some lime-tarted margaritas on that list. ... read more »


THE HARRISON RIVER: UNSPOILED AND UNKOWN
by Julie H. Ferguson

The Mighty Fraser and the Thompson Rivers are among the natural wonders that define British Columbians. They weave through our memories of geography lessons and vacations. But I yearned to explore another river-a shorter, less-storied river, with none of the drama of discovery that singles out the others, but which carries more than its share of BC history between its banks. I had my chance in May 2012 and toured the Harrison River by water with a private guide. ... read more »


OXFORD: CITY OF SPIRES
by Chris Millikan

An esteemed university town since the mid-13th century, Oxford recently 'educates' us with some remarkable sights, starting with renowned Oxford University itself.

At first visitors like us are surprised to find no single campus and we soon realize that its 38 distinguished colleges are scattered throughout this walkable historic town. Too daunting a task to see them all, we concentrate on locating the earliest. ... read more »


EMBATTLED IN QUEBEC The Plains of Abraham
by Margaret Deefholts

The date is September 13th 2012, and had I been in this spot exactly 253 years ago I'd have probably been a corpse. ... read more »


April 2013
BANGKOK'S TOP EXPERIENCES
by Lauren Kramer

The city of Bangkok teems with relentless activity, from traffic jams that make the Lower Mainland's rush-hour roads look like a breeze, to street vendors making dentures and repairing clothing. Feel like having a fried pomfret fish or a plate of pad thai? The street is the place to find it, for next to nothing in price. On every corner Thai culture is palpable - you see it, inhale it and feel its frenetic activity all around you. It can get overwhelming - so here's our list of top activities in the city. ... read more »


PIER 21, HALIFAX-THE MEMORIES LIVE ON
Story and photos by Margaret Deefholts

The faces stare back at me-old black and white photographs of men, women and children. A young man wears his cap set at a jaunty angle, but his eyes are apprehensive. A family huddles together as if for protection, the mother wearing a scarf, her overcoat neat, if shabby. A child clings to her skirts. In another shot, a teenager looks directly at the camera, her smile both tremulous and eager. ... read more »


CREATING PARIS: ONE STEP AT A TIME
by Colleen Friesen

Paris, that iconic city of movies and dreams, doesn't truly exist. Instead, we each create our own Paris; a place, both real and illusory. ... read more »


SITES AND SUMMITS IN BC AND BANFF (PART 2 OF 5)

Glacier Gazing
by Jane Cassie

Glacier National Park
"C'mon, you can do it," my husband coaxes. "If Evelyn Berens could summit Mt. Sir Donald in 1901 you can get to one of these four hundred glaciers." ... read more »


March 2013
SITES AND SUMMITS IN BC AND BANFF (PART 1 OF 5)
Reveling in Mount Revelstoke

by Jane Cassie

Spring is almost here and my hiking boots are getting antsy. It's time to re-stock the RV, check out a few campsites and climb a few summits. During the next five stories (one/month) you can follow our tire and boot treads as we scoot along one highway that links together two provinces, four national parks and tons of trails. Mammoth mountains, unspoiled beauty, epic terrain -it's a trip that's steeped with splendor, adventure and awe. And from the comfort of your armchair you'll be able to sit back and enjoy it all, while barely moving a muscle ... read more »


FEELS LIKE WE'RE AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
by Karoline Cullen

"Why do you want to go there?" The ranger asks. "It looks like a bigger town, where we might find a place to stay tonight." I reply. She glances at my map and with a shake of her head, says "No, you don't want to go there." ... read more »


THE SWISS ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
by James Ross

I stand atop Reichenbach Falls and watch the raging waters tumble 120 metres into the black-rock chasm below. I listen to the booming roar of the water and feel the fresh spay on my face. My wife and I were touring Switzerland, passing by car from Interlaken to Lucerne, when I had insisted on a little detour near Meiringen to the site of the spectacular falls, the place where Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had tried to kill off his fictitious super-sleuth in the story "The Adventure of the Final Problem." ... read more »


LE P'TIT TRAIN DU NORD - A CYCLIST'S NIRVANA
by Cherie Thiessen

The cycle trail, fringed with wildflowers, licked by lakes and crossed by languid rivers, dawdles in Quebec's Laurentians under sun-speckled sylvan canopies and lakes. Although there's one stretch that climbs 221 metres, we hardly notice. Once a humming railway line, the route, fondly named after its moniker, Le P'tit Train du Nord, is the longest linear park in Canada at just over 200 km. ... read more »


February 2013
PENANG: BETEL NUT, BUTTERFLIES AND BIRD'S-EYE VIEWS
by Margaret Deefholts

"Do you know how Pinang got its name? Our tour guide Tan asks. He is a bespectacled young man with a flair for the dramatic. The group are silent. "Look at this!" he says, pointing with a flourish to cluster of brown nuts hanging from an areca palm tree. "These are betel nuts. Very important in Malaysian culture and tradition. Just like in the western world you offer drinks to your visitors, we offer our guests betel nuts wrapped in betel leaves. It is also served on ceremonial occasions like weddings." He pauses. "We have many areca palms here on this island, so can you guess what the word for betel nut is in Malay?" "Pinang?" I venture. He beams. "Yessss!" ... read more »


LITERARY-SOAKED EDINBURGH
by Hans Tammemagi

Sipping a latté in Elephant House, the coffee shop where a destitute J.K. Rowling penned her first Harry Potter novel, I realized I had gone astray. Scotch whisky had lured me to Edinburgh, but instead I found myself immersed in literature. I was moved by Rowling's perseverance, and while wiping away a moustache of cream, silently vowed to tackle my secret goal of writing a book....read more »


STEPPING OUT ONTO THE MONGOLIAN STEPPES
by Irene Butler

Chinggis Khaan sits astride his powerful stead clutching a golden whip in his right hand. This behemoth statue of the legendary 13th century Golden Horde leader (who we know as Genghis Khan) rises 40m from on top of the 10m visitors centre and is fashioned from 250 tonne of stainless steel....read more »


ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK
CANADA'S PORT EXTRAORDINAIRE

by Rick Millikan

When a hurricane forced a cruise liner to seek refuge at the mouth of the St. John River, halfway up the Bay of Fundy, St. John first appeared on tourists' radar. While stranded there, passengers and cruise line operators discovered this New Brunswick port's extraordinary history, nature and warm hospitality. To thoroughly investigate this intriguing port-of-call, we board hop-on, hop-off buses offering three narrated routes. Painted pink, these double-deckers raise funds for cancer research. ...read more »


January 2013
BIG FAMILY, BIG WHITE, BIG SAVINGS
by Jane Cassie

When our five children were young, choosing the perfect holiday was a challenge and, with an age span of eleven years, reaching consensus was not an easy task. But because they had grown up close to ski lifts and had all made the successful transition from baby booties to ski boots, whenever a mountain getaway was suggested, we'd inevitably get a ten-thumbs up approval ...read more »


BERMUDA THROUGH THE EYES OF MARK TWAIN
by James Ross

Mark Twain, the ever articulate, globe-trotting American humourist once remarked, "Bermuda is the right country for a jaded man to loaf in." ...read more »


DETOUR TO COLMAR
by Chris McBeath

A tiny gem in the heart of the Alsace region, Colmar is too easily bypassed but with its unique medieval charm, cobblestone streets, and vibrant culinary scene, the rewards of what you'll discover make the detour worthwhile. ...read more »


LAKE BAIKAL, SIBERIA - LIKE NO PLACE ELSE ON EARTH
by Irene Butler

Our boat jostles against strong biting winds. We leave Listvyanka, the small shoreline town wrapped in taiga (boreal forest). A backdrop of mountains appears phantom-like on the horizon. Snuggled in wool blankets, my husband Rick and I look out at the seemingly endless steel blue waters of Lake Baikal. We are awed knowing we are on the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, formed as an ancient rift valley 25 million years ago. Its crescent shape is about the size of Belgium or Holland BUT Baikal's claim to fame is its astounding depth -1642 metres! It contains 20% of the world's fresh water. This computes into more volume than the five Great Lakes of North America combined! ...read more »


TAKING TO THE HILLS IN A "TOY" TRAIN
Traveling to Matheran from Mumbai

Story and Photos by Margaret Deefholts

"Aaay, col' drrrinks, fofcorn, chiffsss..." A vendor grins at me through the window bars of our "toy" train as it pants resolutely over a winding narrow-gauge track. Snack tray slung over his neck, he is swinging adroitly from one carriage to the next along the foot-boards. ...read more »


BECOMING A SUPERHERO IN PUERTO RICO
by Donna Yuen

"You are going to fly." the park guide says with a grin.

I enthusiastically raise one arm high in the air. "Yes! Like Superman!"

"No. More like Ironman-arms by your side, head first like a human missile at 120 kilometers per hour!" ...read more »


 

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