Travel as Pure Rebellion?

The folks at One World 365 tweeted this the other day. Most of these statements really resonated with me. And it made me think: Does travel really represent rebellion to me?

I’ve never been much of a rebel. I don’t think I could find a single person who would call me rebellious.

But if travel is rebellion, it’s only against my own complacency, my own simple comforts. Travel is often difficult, challenging. I tend to pay more attention to my surroundings. To people. To food. To vistas. To all the little things – both the beautiful and the tremendously frustrating. When I’m travelling, I learn. I get out of my easy routines, and have to solve problems and fly by the seat of my pants. That’s that whole “lose control willingly” item on that list.

I guess travel is what I do to rebel, just a little bit, against the regular routines of my own life.

But it’s the last sentence – “We, sometimes, choose never to come back” – that the one that doesn’t make any sense to me. I love the coming home part. Taking a fresh look and rediscovering my own city after being away (imagine how fun it was to come back to Toronto after living abroad for 4 years!). I like coming home to the people I love.

I truly think I wouldn’t appreciate my home half as much if I didn’t venture forth in my travels to learn something about the world. I don’t think I’ll ever choose never to come back.


Booked! Looking forward to New Orleans

Is there anything more exciting than booking a trip?

Two months ago I received an invitation from a friend who is temporarily living in New Orleans. (Have I mentioned that I love my friends for strategically placing themselves all over the globe so I may visit them?) She’s clearly a glutton for punishment, since I’ve stayed in her home numerous times in the past in other locations. But invited me, she did. And who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Bourbon Street, New Orleans

I’ve been to New Orleans before. Three times, in fact, beginning in my third year of university. But I haven’t been since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005. And in past, I’ve always driven down south, but this time, I’m heading to Louisiana in an airplane. I won’t be in a hotel this time, but a house. So, new experiences all around.

I am SO looking forward to it!

I hum and haw about travel all the time. I plan. I plot. I research. But until I make that no-going-back move of booking my travel transportation, it’s not real. As soon as my credit card gets involved, however, I have something real to look forward to. It never gets old.

I remember prepping for trips during my early years (when the only travel we did were cross-Canada treks to see the relatives in Alberta), which consisted of me and my sister writing down lists of outfits and what we needed to remember to pack. It was so much fun. It fed our anticipation. It didn’t matter that we would be spending five damn long days being bored and scrunched up in a car, and camping with thousands of mosquitos every night. Decades have passed since those family drives to Alberta, but I’m still anticipating trips with the same enthusiasm, the same excitement.

For me, a purchased plane ticket, and a trip to look forward to, is the best feeling in the world.

Niagara Part II – Still Beautiful in Winter

I promised to share photographs from my recent trip to Niagara, so here they are. Sadly, all I had was my phone with me, and we were hampered by wind and cold and mist. However, they still manage to show the beauty and majesty the Falls.

Even though it was only mid-November, it was unseasonably cold. Poor Buffalo had several feet of snow (unlike Niagara, which probably had a few centemetres). But the cold just made all the surrounding vegetation a kind of icy white – it’s the mist from the Falls that does it. So pretty. It was worth walking against the bracing wind to get down to that railing.

We also indulged in a quick restorative at Jackson Triggs winery, where we sampled some reds before they closed down for the evening. I’m not a huge fan of ice wine, but a touch of Cabernet Franc ice wine with a splash of bubbly is an absolute delight. Naturally, I had to purchase a small bottle…

I’ll say it again: I love Niagara in every season. Even without leaves and grapes, the vines of Jackson Triggs look rather stunning in the golden light of twilight. More pretty:

Jackson Triggs vines

Jackson Triggs vines


Niagara: Beautiful and Tacky, all at the same time.

I grew up in the suburbs west of Toronto, so the Niagara region has always been just a hop, skip and a jump away. My extended family lived far away in Alberta, and whenever they visited us, we would invariably head down to Niagara Falls to take in the sights.

The Falls are truly beautiful to behold. It doesn’t matter that Niagara Falls (the city) is tarted up, the streets lined with strange, carnivalesque attractions. It doesn’t matter that the area is a mecca for cross-border shoppers, or that casinos on both sides of the border cart in gamblers by the busload. It doesn’t matter that it looks like it’s trying to be a little Las Vegas North (at which it fails dismally).

Because no matter what you do to the city, you can’t wreck the Falls. To wit:

Niagara Fall, Canada

Niagara Fall, Canada – on a visit with my friend Liz in 2012

Beautiful! It’s loud and powerful. The mist makes it sort of mysterious (and provides the perfect atmosphere for rainbows). It’s stunning in every season, and even at night, when they bathe the Falls in light. Even with all the thousands of tourists that come to see the Falls daily (12 million people per year, apparently).

Photographs, frankly, hardly do it justice. It’s just so big and vast and loud and misty. I’ve been many, many times. And though my extended family members have all seen it by now, I have visitors come from abroad, and I love to have the excuse to visit again.

It also helps that Niagara Falls is about a half hour drive away from the much more picturesque city of Nigara-on-the-Lake. It has a lovely historic main street, beautiful gardens, the fabulous Shaw Festival theatres, and wineries. Lots of wineries.

And I’m happy to report that I have yet another excuse to visit the Falls next week. My cousin is coming into town on a 24-hour stopover with his wife (who has never seen the Falls) – and we’re going to watch waterfalls and drink wine. Perfect!

...with the grandparents.

…with the grandparents.

I’ll share pics from that trip in the next week or so. But until then, you can amuse yourself with photos from the late 1970s when we took my grandparents. I love my dad’s cool suede coat. I’m the one in bright yellow.