“Travelling — it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” When I started this blog way back when, my goal was for it to force me to write more often, become more comfortable with writing and hopefully help me become a better writer over time.
Through the years I’ve found the easiest stories to write about are my travels. It’s not hard to tell a story about your day when you’re experiencing something cool in a place that is new to you. There’s a sweet giddiness that washes over you when sharing stories about exciting moments, the writing then becomes easy and the words start to fly.
Here are some of my favourite travel experiences that left me speechless before turning me into a storyteller…
Lobster fishing in PEI
To this day, this is still the travel experience Chuck and I talk about the most. We just glow when we mention the experience AND the meal. Gawd, get me back there, stat!
“After haulin’ traps it was time to be haulin’ lobster… right into our bellies! Our dining spot was situated between two lighthouses with PEI’s signature red cliffs all around. It was breathtaking. We started with a couple of cold local brews in big bottles. Perfect.” Read more in Seafood, sea breezes and sunshine.
Strolling through Claude Monet’s garden
On my way to Claude Monet’s garden I was told he loved living in Giverny because the light was different, soft. I’m not sure how true that story is, but when I was strolling through his garden, looking out at those famous lily ponds or being towered over by rows of sunflowers, I felt it. Seeing many of Monet’s paintings stretched out in front of you, in real-life, in focus, that’s a moment in time that will never leave you.
“I can see why Monet loved this place. You gasp when you see the way the morning light hits everything.” Read more in Two tours, two days, too much!
Driving the road to Hana
The Road to Hana, a drive so nice, we did it twice! (And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.) There are so many stops and things to do along this 64 mile road that boasts over 600 curves and more than 50 bridges. The drive is no joke! It’s an all-day adventure you’ll never forget. Especially when traveling with the best people. Read more in Oh Hana — Part II.
Encountering wildlife galore in Jasper
Me: Hey Chuck, wouldn’t it be cool to see a bear?
Jasper Critter Corps: Cue all the bears! ? ? ?
Chuck: I loves me some mountain goats.
Jasper Critter Corps: Send out the goats! And a baby. ? ?
Me: Wow, this burnt forest is really beautiful.
Jasper Critter Corps: Tell Eddie to stay perched for at least 10 more minutes! ?
Chuck and I have never encountered so much wildlife in one place before. Jasper was ridiculously beautiful and ridiculously full of critters. Read more in High altitude and high spirits in Alberta.
Walking over rubble (pretty historic rubble) at the Roman Forum
The Colosseum! Palatine Hill! Circus Maximus! I was dying. It’s amazing to me that the Roman Forum still exists and still contains all those important ancient structures of the Roman Empire.
“After breakfast this morn, I walked back to the ancient ruins. I couldn’t resist, it’s the coolest place. I started at Circus Maximus. It’s really just a gigantic hole. But an awesome hole. That’s where the chariot races were held and the stands could hold up to 250,000. That’s crazy.” Read more in That’s how you end on a high note.
Geeking out at Harry Potter World
Seriously, apologies to my friend Jen for making her suffer through my extreme kid-in-a-candy-shop geek-out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Pretty sure I kept us there hours longer than any normal person would.
“As I have told many friends and family, ‘I’m going to totally freak out when I get to Hogwarts!’ I’m a huge, huge, huge Potter fan. Have I read all the books? Of course. More than once? Yep, not ashamed to admit it. Did I go to the final book launch in Assiniboine Park and get my Potter geek on? You betcha! Did I read that last book in less than a day? Of course, silly.” Read more in I don’t wanna grow up.
Spying swans as they casually swim down a stream in the Cotswolds
That time I went touring the English countryside and found myself in a scene from a Jane Austin novel.
“As I was enjoying the view and noshing on my lunch, what do I see gliding towards me down that stream? Two white swans. Are you kidding me? It was like they were on cue. I could have sat there all day.” Read more in Cottage country.
Gazing up at lofty peaks and down at delicate poppies in Banff
Lake Moraine and Lake Louise are absolute must-sees. They are overly saturated, in-your-face, kind of places. Put them on any and every travel list you have. See more in Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
Eating in New York City
There was so much to love about NYC, but the food, oh the glorious food was spectacular. One night saw us sneaking through the pawn shop to get to the trendiest tapas spot in town, on another night we found ourselves being the only women in one helluva loud steakhouse, which was full of big money making big deals. Read more in Cheers to food, glorious food.
Wine touring post Hurricane Arthur in the Annapolis Valley
I fricken love taking photos of cows. Everyone has a thing, right? On road trips, I’m always on the lookout for a sweet pastural scene, and when we were wine touring the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia (a day after a hurricane swept through), the most stunning one presented itself to us. “STOP THE CAR!!!” That led to one of my favourite photos. I will never forget singing to those cows as I snapped their pics. Oh, and the rest of the day was amazing, because, you know, wine.
“Our first stop was Luckett Vineyards. Unfortunately their power was out due to Hurricane Arthur. Fortunately, you don’t need to chill red wine. We came, we drank, we pretended to talk on the vineyards authentic red telephone box, which usually works, but again, hurricane. This region so reminded me of Tuscany with its gently rolling hills and colourful patches of farmland.” Read more in Uncorked in the valley.
Snorkeling in Turks & Caicos
Going clear in Turks. I’ve never seen prettier water. On our tour, we saw sharks, gigantic rays and dolphins from the boat, then we snorkelled and dove for conch shells. We ended the day eating barbecue on a small deserted island. Read more in Christmas in paradise.
Staying in Vancouver’s English Bay district
We stayed in the Sylvia, a historic building covered in vines with a fantastic view of the bay. The rooms were a little dated, but the location couldn’t have been better. Each evening saw us holding hands as we strolled along the the seawall watching the ocean and the city’s citizens move and sway. Oh, Vancouver, even in the rain you’re pretty sweet. See more in Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
Buying art in Montparnasse
My nana went to Paris in the 60s and came back with three watercolours that I have with me to this day. They are my favourite pieces. When I arrived in Paris in 2010, I had a goal to find at least two works to bring home and hang up as a reminder of my time in the City of Art. Unfortunately, finding original pieces is not as easy as it looks — all the usual places seemed to have fakes galore. So I did a little Googling and found an authentic art market, Le Marché de la création, in Montparnasse. It was exactly what I was looking for! Real art by real artists. I left the market lighter in pocket, but in the richest of spirits.
“I then found an oil painting by a gentle older man. He was like a sweet grandpa. He had oils of nudes. I was struck by one that reminded me of a Degas I saw the day before. Not that it is even close to a Degas, but that was the first thought that jumped in my head.” Read more in Another beautiful day in Paris.
Garden views in Montreal
Garden + Art = ? ? ? Yeah, it was that bloody good.
“Just when we thought we couldn’t be more amazed, we came across the Tree of Hope. HOLY “56-birds-species-in-one-gigantic-tree” MOLY! The piece was so big that the people working in it looked minuscule and were using mountain climbing gear to scale it.” Read more in A natural beauty.
Listening to monks chant in Firenze
That time I went to Florence to get my art on, didn’t want to wait in a four hour line to see a Botticelli, so walked up a hill instead and found myself weeping in a Monastery.
“Just as I entered the monks started their prayer time. I sat on some steps and watched and listened to them as they chanted and prayed. It was beautiful and so peaceful. It brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t the only one though. I noticed a young man wiping his eyes too.” Read more in Sometimes no plans are the best plans.
Drinking copious amounts of wine in Napa
We started the day respectfully sipping wine, we ended it raucously singing Shake it Off in the back of the limo. We all were in bed by 7:30 p.m. Good times. Read more in An intoxicating journey through Napa.
Seeking orcas around the San Juan Islands
This is the one experience we debate about the most. I loved it, Chuck absolutely did not. It could have something to do with us setting off during a torrential rainstorm at a fast clip on a small boat while being surrounded by those gigantic ocean rigs. I admit, it was not a fun start to the day. But once we hit the San Juan Islands, the waters became calm and quiet enough that you could hear that distinct gasping sound orcas make as they surface. See more in Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
Dancing, crying and watching baby whales breach on an Island Rhythms cruise with Marty Dread
Oh, and Mercury was in retrograde. Need I say more?
“But it was when Denise dragged Diana and me to the front of the boat to dance–and sway–that the amazingness happened. We were enjoying some spazy dancing when all of the sudden a baby humpback breached right in front of us. The whole boat was left gasping and pointing.” Read more in Rhythms and retrograde.