Tag Archives: travel

On the wonder of Big Glace Bay Lake


There’s plenty to see and do in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, including exploring the coast. One of the best parts of that coast is Big Glace Bay Lake and the area around it. When I was younger I’d walk down to that beach and swim or or skip rocks or just sit and watch the ocean. It’s still one of my favorite things in life.

One of my favorites is now getting greater recognition. The government of Canada has designated Big Glace Bay Lake its newest National Wildlife Area. That’s great news! To see why they did, read this on canada.ca.

If you are thinking of paying a visit but need tourist help, TripAdvisor has some good information.

I love Glace Bay, but it’s not for everyone. But anyone and everyone should love Glace Bay Lake. It’s a wonder.

(Image from canada.ca)

 

A very fine travel guide to Charleston, SC…


Can be found here: Out of Office: Charleston at Uncrate.

I’ve been to Charleston a few times recently and all those places are very nice indeed. You should go.

 

An office with a view. Or maybe it’s time to pack it in and go work from Italy….


What’s that you say…work from Italy? Well according to lonelyplanet.com

If you’re a remote worker looking for a change of scene, consider the possibility that before long you could be working from the sunny terrace of a hilltop town or beachside city in Italy. Italy’s government is planning to launch a new “digital nomad” visa to encourage foreigners to spend a year working there remotely. According to The Local, a government decree was first introduced in January and voted into law on March 28.

The idea of a digital nomad visa is a great one. And there are lots of great companies that are embracing full remote. If you can handle the difficulties of the time zones and you have some Italian in you, then maybe Florence is in your Future. Andiamo!

Your next piece of luggage could be your next piece of furniture too

If you are in the market for luggage, I recommend you consider this sturdy luggage that morphs into an attractive trolley for dual functionality when not traveling.

It’s great for several reasons besides the obvious:

  • when you aren’t travelling, you don’t have to store/hide it anywhere. Great for places with little or no storage space
  • when you are travelling, it is an additional piece of furniture for your room. Again, you don’t have to store it: just set it up near a desk and use it to hold stationery, snacks, and other temporary items.

Lots of reasons to make this your next piece of luggage.

In praise of non-fancy French restaurants

When I used to think of French restaurants, I used to think “fancy”. Restaurants  with nice table cloths, great lighting, complex dishes, and high prices. Places like  Le Bernardin, Bouillon Bilk, Place Carmen, Maison (S.C.) and more. All fancy, all great and I love them.

While fancy French restaurants are good, I am here to praise non-fancy French restaurants. Restaurants  with basic settings, everyday lighting, simple dishes (often bistro style), and relatively low prices. Sure, the cooking might not be as fancy, but it is still good and it satisfies the need I have for steak frites, moules, pate, croque monsieur, duck confit and inexpensive French wines.

I’ve been fortunate to go to many such places and have loved them. In London last week, I had charcuterie (shown above) at Le Beaujolais. A few weeks earlier I devoured a fine lunch at Fast and French in Charleston. Whenever I am in  Montreal I try and dine at the justifiably famous L’Express. Closer to home, I’m a decade long diner of  Le Paradis and for good reason. Finally, one of my all time favorite places to dine in Toronto is Cote du Boeuf. I was delighted this weekend to savour their oysters, pate, steak frites and duck confit. Fantastic.

There are lots of inexpensive restaurants that serve great Italian and Indian and Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. I love them. I wish there were as many places as those serving everyday French cooking. That would be heaven for me.

Let me know your favorite non-fancy French restaurants. I will add them to my list.

P.S. If you go to Le Beaujolais, get that charcuterie. You will need at least 3 hungry diners. At Fast and French, get the soup and sandwich and wine combo: it’s incredible value. L’express has too many good dishes to mention, but I love the ravioli, though many are big fans of the bone marrow. Le Paradis has great shellfish. Also cheap cocktails: I love their sazerac. The meat at Cote du Boeuf is incredibly good. I try to order many things there, but the steak frites is irresistable.

 

 

And now for something completely different: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

If you are looking for a chance to see Europe in the grandest of style, I’d like to recommend this: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Is Launching a Trip Through France and Italy for Champagne Lovers 

It’s been a tough pandemic: you deserve it. 😊

For more details on the train, see their website, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Vintage Train.

(Image from this: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Venice | Holidays 2022/2023 | Luxury & Tailor-Made with Wexas Travel.)

P.S. To see much more on the train, search for “Venice Simplon-Orient-Express” on your favorite search engine.

It’s time to travel again. It’s also time to ditch Airbnb and get a hotel instead

Why is that? Well according to Reddit (fwiw), the fees are making Airbnb unattractive: Why Airbnb Isn’t Worth All Those Fees, According to Reddit

If you are convinced and need a hotel to stay in NYC, I recommend this: Best hotels in New York | Telegraph Travel.

Lots of information on hotels over at The Telegraph. Well worth a look. You can find places at all different price points, at all different parts of the city.

Cecil Court: a book lover’s delight

What is Cecil Court, you might ask? According to the website, Secret London it is…

packed with twenty-odd secondhand bookshops and antiquarian booksellers, it truly is a paradise for literature lovers. Just moments away from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square, you’ll be surprised to stumble across such a peaceful gem. The shop fronts haven’t changed for over a century, so a walk through Cecil Court is like a trip back in time

When I can travel again and go to London, I think I will make a beeline to here.

For more information on it, click on the Secret London link, or visit their web site here.

I hope Americans still on the fence about travelling for Thanksgiving read this


I understand the importance of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a big deal, and a big part of that is coming together. But coming together might mean spreading COVID-19, not just with the people you visit, but others after the visit.

Because of that, I hope you will stay in your respective dwellings and take advantage of this offer from Zoom: Thanksgiving on Zoom: Your family get-together can surpass 40 minutes.

Normally if you have a free Zoom account, you are limited to how long your online session can last. Happily, Zoom is waiving that for this year. It’s a great offer: you should jump on it.

I hope people will meet up virtually in the US this Thanksgiving. It will make a world of difference.

Virtual travelling: hotels in New York for people who love design

Assuming these will still be around post pandemic, here’s 12 beautiful hotels to consider staying at in New York, starting with the TWA hotel which has been wonderfully remade. I have seen a number of New Yorkers staying there and posting pictures on social media because….why not. While the other hotels don’t have the benefit of being put in a  building designed by Eero Saarinen, they are still great. You can see them all here.

Virtual Travelling: Sinner hotel, in Paris

I won’t be going anywhere any time soon, but if I could, I might go and stay at this boutique hotel in Paris, just to stay in that bed.

The hotel, in the Marais district of Paris, is a stunner. You can find out more about it, here, or by visiting their website, here.

Once the pandemic is over, I think there will be an orgy of travel. And what better place to stay than a place called Sinner? 🙂

P.S. This suite is nice, too.

What’s this? Just some beautiful cabins to imagine escaping too

Like many of us, the people at Dwell have been thinking of escaping as a form of dealing with the pandemic. They have gone from fantasing about it to compiling this amazing list of cabins for us to drool over. The above is just one of thirty five amazing places, all of which you can see, here: 35 Magical Tiny Cabins to Pin to Your Mood Board Immediately – Dwell

On that London coffee shop charging $64 for its premium coffee

Kudos to Queen’s of Mayfair for getting CNN to write up the $64 “cup” of coffee they are serving.

You might think it is the most posh and ridiculously expensive place in the world to visit. Well it is posh, but as this blog post shows, it’s also charming and affordable.

I won’t be travelling soon, but when I do, I’d like to go there. But not for the $64 coffee. Anything else on their menu, though.

(Image is a link to the blog post).

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How the hotel industry is changing in light of the pandemic

The hotel business is changing in order to survive the pandemic. If you haven’t been to a hotel recently but plan to be, you should read this: What to expect from a hotel stay this summer – The Globe and Mail.

It says “summer” but really I expect this to be going on for some time to come.

(Image by Marten Bjork)

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Tourism posters in the pandemic era


It’s not a fun time, and it’s not an era for travel, but if you want a souvenir of your non-travels from the pandemic, head on over to Colossal and check out:  Witty ‘Coronavirus Tourism’ Posters Advertise the Thrilling Adventures of Staying Home

Better still, if you like the one above, or any of the other ones, visit the artist’s commercial site and buy one!

Hey, what’s the point of (non) travel if you don’t get a souvenir or two.

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This Is How You Live on Swiss Time, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

This article,  This Is How You Live on Swiss Time, is a great piece for two reasons:

  1. You get a wonderful appreciation of Switzerland and the Swiss
  2. You get to read the fine writing of Brodesser-Akner

This article was published in 2015. In 2019 her book, Fleishman Is in Trouble, was a big hit that was talked about everywhere. If you haven’t read her before, read this travel article, and you will get a sense for what a fine writer she is. Then get her book. 🙂

P.S. This was published in afar.com. If you like to travel, or like to dream about travelling, it’s a great site.

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How Toronto looks from the City of Buffalo

Torontoians will find this interesting: Toronto’s astonishing growth: Will it matter to Buffalo? – The Buffalo News.

This was a key passage:

For Buffalo, the question now is whether Toronto’s “reimagining” might seep south of the border, as well. Smaller cities in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe are booming, too, thanks in part to Toronto’s spillover. And Toronto and Buffalo, incorporated two years and 100 miles apart, kept pace with each other until the 1950s, said the University of Toronto’s Bourne, who used to assign a project comparing the cities’ trajectories to his undergraduate students.

That history is interesting, Bourne said, because while Buffalo and Toronto share important characteristics, they suffered opposite fates: Buffalo shrinking with the sunset of the Erie Canal and Rust Belt manufacturing, and Toronto swelling when the Quebec separatist movement made it the favored home for Canada’s banks.

As late as the 1970s, Torontonians considered Buffalo a nightlife destination. Many of their restaurants still closed on Sundays and maintained separate male and female entrances.

Torontonians “would come to shop, they would come for jazz – Buffalo was the hive,” said UB’s Foster, who lived in Toronto for more than three decades. “But then people started going the other way, and that hasn’t changed.”

Years ago going to Buffalo for shopping was still a thing in Toronto: not sure it is now. Perhaps some people still go to watch the Buffalo Sabers play hockey. Perhaps the linkages between the two cities will become stronger over time and there will be a good proportion of Torontoians making Buffalo a destination again.

For Torontoians considering going to Buffalo, I recommend this piece in the New York Times.

(Image linked to the New York Times piece)

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If you fantasize about getting away, here’s one option: the 50 hour Trans-Siberian Railway trip

Sure there are shorter and sweeter train trips, but the  legendary Trans-Siberian Railway is a trip like no other, and Business Insider has a run down of what is like. I was surprised how relatively low key it was. It seems doable, which is something for a train ride that takes over 2 days. If you ever fantasized about going on such an adventure, the article is made for you. As for me, the longest I’ve ever been on a trip was from Sydney, N.S. to Toronto and that was around 36 hours. By the time it was done I was glad to be off the train.

(Image: link from article)

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An innovative IOT device from WestJet


Is this: Flight Light.

You can use it to track night flights of the ones you love. I don’t know how much traction it will get, but I personally find it appealing.

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On the ridiculousness of airplane boarding


If you are travelling soon and you are sitting in the boarding area wondering why the whole process is ridiculous / dumb / insane, then you should read this Here’s Why Airplane Boarding Got So Ridiculous. It may not change your mind, but at least you will get a better understanding behind the rationale for it.

Also, don’t expect it to change soon.

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The Grand Canyon is now a Dark Sky Park

Here’s something to add to your bucket list: visit a Dark Sky Park. This is about how the Grand Canyon has become one: The Grand Canyon is now a Dark Sky Park.

In the article is a good slideshow with a list of other such parks. Well worth visiting.

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A beautiful photo essay of Venice at night

That photo above is just one of the many photos over at Via Colossal of Venice at night. Far removed from the tourist busy city of day. Well worth visiting Colossal to see the rest.

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Where to See Basquiat Around the World

A good item to add to your bucket list, if you are a fan of Basquiat: travel the world and see all the places where his works are displayed. To do that, you will need this list: Where to See Basquiat Around the World – Barron’s. And money. And time.

After you do that, you can go see all the Vermeers in the world!

(Image: Wikiart.org)

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Yes, there are budget restaurants in Venice

It seems hard to believe that the words “budget” and “Venice” can go together, but as this Guardian article shows, it is possible to enjoy Venice and still do it somewhat economically. Now hotels are another story. But every bit helps.

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Stunning Photographs of European Libraries

The photographs of European libraries at this link really are stunning! I’d love to take a tour of Europe that went to each one of them.

Lovers of libraries and books will want to check out Fubiz for more images. The above image is just one of many great photos.

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Are Paris bistros dying? Some thoughts…

bistro
According to this piece, they are. A key indicator/quote pulled from it:

Around 30 years ago, bistros represented about half of all restaurants in Paris…Today…that figure has dropped to 14%.

Bistros are challenged because the cost of providing that type of establishment in Paris is limited by such things as rent — a problem not limited to Paris — as well as international threats like fast food joints.

At one time bistros were fast food joints. But there’s more to bistros than fast food. I agree with that article that says a good bistro should be

open continuously morning to night, serves French comfort foods at moderate prices, and houses an active bar where locals can gather for a drink and some lively conversation

That seems right to me. McDonald’s in Paris will never be a bistro, no matter how fast the food or how French they make the decor.

Paris will always have low cost places to eat (e.g. cafes), but it would be a shame if they lost their bistros. (It would also be a shame if the ones that remain are expensive museum pieces and less casual places to dine.) Best to get yourself to them now while you still can.

For book lovers, here are some of London’s most attractive bookshops

Book store

John Sandoe Books Ltd is just one of the shops shown here:
London’s prettiest and most Instagrammable bookshops | London Evening Standard.

If you love books, this piece in the Standard will have you planning / dreaming of going to London and spending quality time (and money) there.

Enjoy.

Why you should visit NYC in winter

If you ever though of visiting New York City in winter, then I recommend this:
A Winter Guide to NYC | A Cup of Jo. After you read it, you’ll want to head there before Spring.

I have been to NYC many different times of the year, and I found being there in December to be one of the best times to visit. In addition, going in January and February would be among the least expensive times to go. If you had planned to go mainly to see museums and shows and do indoor activities, then it could be the perfect time to visit. Of course you don’t just have to do indoor activities, as that lovely photo of people walking in Central Park in winter shows.

New York is great any time of year, but it can be especially so in winter.  You should go.

The locked away beauty of the City Hall subway station in New York

The site Hyperallegic has a great piece on the abandoned City Hall subway station in NYC that is worth visiting. Beautiful stuff.

While no longer in use, there seems to be a chance you can tour the station from time to time. Read the piece, then make your plans to see the actual station.

(Images linked to from the piece. Many more great images in the piece you’ll want to see).

Dreading going to work tomorrow? Maybe you should take a trip to Europe instead.

Why? Because October can be one of the best times to go to Europe. Perfect  weather, no crowds, great festivals…and cheaper. Don’t believe me? See this piece, which makes a strong case to pack your bags this very minute and head on out: The Best Time to Go to Europe | Kitchn

If you go, send me a postcard.

Paris travel tips from the New York Times, if you have no time and no money

Paris Hotel
If you want to go to Paris and have little money or little time, then the New York Times has two pages of information that might help:

  1. 36 Hours on the Left Bank, Paris – The New York Times
  2. Hotels in Paris for Under $150 – The New York Times

If you go after reading this, send me a postcard. 🙂

P.S. If you are in the mood for dreaming about going to France, here’s a bonus link from Decanter magazine: Château accommodation in Bordeaux: Living the dream

(Photo, by Ed Alcock, via a link to the page of The New York Times)

12 Cafés Every History Buff Needs to Visit (a great list)

Cafe Central
If you like cafes, coffee and travelling, then this link is for you: 12 Cafés Every History Buff Needs to Visit | Travel | Smithsonian. Of the places in the article, I’ve only been to Cafe Central in Vienna and it is great. (In truth, Vienna has many great cafes. I went there years ago and enjoyed many of them. Cafe Central was one of the highlights.)

As far as bucket lists go, you could do worse than making it your aim to visit all the places listed here. 🙂

(Hat tip to @candicewalsh on twitter for sharing this link originally, and who also has a great travel blog.)

 

More thoughts on Waze

I have thought a lot about Waze since I started using it. Without a doubt, it has improved my life substantially. Here are some other thoughts I had as I used it.

  1. Waze is an example of how software will eat the world. In this case, the world of gPS devices. Waze is a GPS on steroids. Not only will Waze do all the things that a GPS will do, but it does so much more, as you can see from this other Waze post I wrote. If you have a GPS, after you use Waze for a bit, you’ll likely stop using it.
  2. Waze will change the way cities work. Cities are inefficient when it comes to transportation. Our work habits contribute to that, in that so many people commute at the same time, in the same direction, on the same routes, each work day. Waze and other new forms of adding intelligence to commuting will shape our work habits over time. Drivers being able to take advantage of unbusy streets to reduce congestion on major thoroughfares is just the start. City planners could work with Waze to better understand travel patterns and travel behaviour and incorporate changes into the city  so that traffic flows better. It’s not that city planners don’t have such data, it’s that Waze likely has more data and better data than they currently have.
  3. Waze is a great example of how A.I. could work. I have no idea how much A.I. is built into Waze. It could be none, it could be alot. It does make intelligent recommendations to me, and that is all I care about. How it makes those intelligent recommendations is a black box. Developers of A.I. technologies should look at Waze as an example of how best to deploy A.I. Those A.I. developers should look at how best A.I. can solve a problem for the user and spend less time trying to make the A.I. seem human or overly intelligent. People don’t care about that. They care about practical applications of A.I. that make their lives better. Waze does that.

It’s Monday. You are stuck on conference calls. Here’s some Paris hotels to fantasize about


For people who love Paris and fine hotels, NOW Toronto Magazine offers up 5 Paris hotels for design junkies you want to see. Perfect if you are needing a break from work, real or imaginary. After you read the article and gaze over the photos, your next tab on your browser may be linking to google.com/hotels or google.com/flights. Bon voyage!

How to spend a day of your vacation/staycation in a Toronto neighborhood

One way to enjoy a staycation is to visit neighborhoods you normally don’t go to and treat them like you would any neighborhood in a city you are visiting. If you are from Toronto and think this is a good idea, then BlogTO has a number of pages devoted to what you can do in many of this city’s neighborhoods . Here’s a list of some of them I put together:

This list is also great if you are a tourist and want to see what the various neighborhoods of Toronto offer. Toronto has more great neighborhoods not on this list, ones you have likely heard of, like West / Queen West, the Beach/Beaches, and Harbourfront. Add some of these neighborhoods listed above to round out your trip to this city.

 

Travel posters! To Mars! From SpaceX, of course.

Travel Poster: Phobos and Deimos

 

It’s great that SpaceX has put travel posters to Mars among their other photos on flickr (SpaceX Photos | Flickr). Of the three I saw, the one above was the one I liked the best. Head over to Flickr and check out the others.

It’s fun now, but perhaps such advertisements will be less fantastical before the 22nd century.

The best restaurant in NYC and how to eat there cheaply and without a reservation

Is Eleven Madison Park the best restaurant in NYC? If you read this, Restaurant Review: Eleven Madison Park in Midtown South – NYTimes.com, you’d be inclined to think so. Regardless, it is excellent and worthy of considering a visit.

But what if you want to experience the place without having to go through the tasting menu? Worse, what if you don’t have a reservation. Well then, you need this: How to Eat at Eleven Madison Park With No Reservation and No Tasting Menu — Grub Street.

I can’t promise that will work, but it is worth considering if you want to casually experience some of the best Manhattan has to offer.

 

Periscope, Meerkat, and the future of virtual tourism

If you haven’t heard, Meerkat and Periscope are two apps that allow one person to stream an event and have others watch it. For example, here is an artist streaming her work on a painting while others watch and  interact: Wendy MacNaughton paints live on Periscope My… – Austin Kleon.

It’s an interesting idea. Once people get creative, there will be all types of events that people stream, from the obvious (porn, music concerts) to things no one thought of before.

I think one of these not so obvious ones will be virtual tourism. Essentially someone will visit a place like Japan and stream the cherry blossom festival or go to Pamplona for the running of the bulls and others will watch in real time. Maybe people will sponsor the person ahead of time, or the person will wear a shirt with ads on it, or find some way to make revenue. In return, lots of people can see something they might not be able to see otherwise.

People will use Periscope and Meerkat in all kinds of ways. Expect this to be one of them.

(Image via techcrunch)

Are you travelling for work? Listen to Austin Kleon and travel smart

You may not being going on a book tour, but if you are travelling for work, you can steal these ideas from Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon : 10 Things I Learned On Book Tour) and have a much better trip.

Ideas I stole on a recent trip:

  1. Invest in good gear. I had my carry on well packed, and it fit nicely above my head. It made my 2.5 hour flight a breeze to get through. Plus I had everything I need, meaning no need to scramble at my destination looking for things (time you usually won’t have, anyway).
  2. Wear a uniform. I do this now on all trips. You look presentable, you look good in photos (if you take selfies), and you don’t have to pack as much.
  3. When in doubt, go to an art museum. I was in Tampa, and I found out where their museum was and visited. Not only is it a great museum, but they had on two good shows. Bonus: the area around the museum was excellent in itself.

His entire list is worthwhile. If you are travelling soon on business, you will benefit from reading him first.

P.S. Photo from a link to his blog. Go read his blog. Better still, buy his books.

Some of the best things in Paris are free


And the Guardian has a list of them.  If you are going to Paris, take a quick peek and take notes. Yes, many you may have heard of, as I had. One I hadn’t is pictured above and is relatively new:

Opened in 1993, six years before New York’s similar High Line project, La Promenade Plantee is a tree-lined walkway on an old elevated railway line in east Paris. The 4.5km trail is a wonderful way to explore the city, taking you up and down staircases, across viaducts, above the streets and offering the occasional chance to wave back at the lucky Parisians whose apartments overlook it. The walkway also runs over the Viaduc des Arts, a bridge in which the arches are now occupied by galleries.

• 12th arrondissemen, promenade-plantee.org

For more from the list, see 10 best free things to do in Paris | Travel | theguardian.com.

Bonus: here’s a piece from the Globe and Mail how to eat like a Parisian. Since you’ll be enjoying all these free things in Paris, you’ll have more money for food.