Visit Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

There aren’t a lot of erupting volcanoes in the world, at least, ones that you can easily travel to without having to hike through a jungle or sail through an ocean for. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do those things: indeed, I’d jump at the chance to propel a boat around the South Pacific Ocean, or swing Tarzan-style on a vine.

However, this November I found a much easier way to cross this item off my bucket list. I traveled to Costa Rica and saw the Arenal Volcano, which wasn’t erupting plumes of ash or spewing steaming snakes of liquid lava, but was resplendent all the same. The volcano was smoking slightly, but for the time being, geologists are predicting Arenal will not be erupting anytime soon.

Top 10 Things to See in Seattle in the Summer

Seattle has fun things to see and do for everyone in the family!

This summer I had the joy of staying in the eclectic city of Seattle for a week. This is one city that I can really see myself living in. The music scene and art scenes are top-notch: cutting edge and historical all at the same time. The city is safe, clean, friendly, and trendy. How safe you ask? Well, I walked about twenty blocks from the downtown Underground Seattle tour in Pioneer Square at ten at night to my hotel, with shopping bags, and no one bothered to approach me or even give me a second look. I strolled rather than power-walked.

Spot the Difference: 'Spotted Lake' in British Columbia

Eight kilometres out of Osoyoos, British Columbia, there rests a lake on native reserve land. It is a small lake, surrounded by desert scrub and grasses, unsuitable for swimming, boating, or even wading. You aren’t even allowed to walk down to it, currently, because of its location on native land. So what’s the big deal, you say? Well, this lake is Spotted Lake, and it is the only one of its kind in the world.

Road Tripping It: How to Last 11 Hours on the Road with Kids

Today I began my 10-11 day journey from my hometown in Alberta to Vancouver to Seattle to home again. I am travelling with my neighbour friend, Jana, and her two adorable and active kids, P and H. (I'll withhold their names for privacy's sake.)

Driving from my hometown to Kelowna, according to "George" our British GPS dude, was going to take 9 hours. We managed to stretch it out a lot more by hitting nearly (but not all) cheesy tourist attractions along the way, which was a lot of fun when you are traveling with easily excitable little ones.

How to Conquer Rome in 3 Days: Things to See and Do

Ah, Rome! How I miss thee! Rome is such a beautiful city, filled with fashion, fun, excitement, and steeped in history. I have written several times about Rome, Italy, in this blog (see posts on the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, and the Coliseum.) This will be my last post on Rome, unless I have the luck and joy of visiting the city again.

There is so much more to see and do besides the places listed above. Granted, I found that the Coliseum is among one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life, but if you happen to be in Rome, be sure to explore beyond the Coliseum! It's not hard to do - actually, it's literally impossible not to see more sights.

Hiking Johnston's Canyon in Alberta

Every year for our family holiday, my husband and I travel to Radium, British Columbia, where we rent a cabin for a week of fun in the sun with his side of the family. 

We hit the beach at Invermere (which is more of a pebble beach than a sand beach - so bring your water shoes!), go hiking in the mountains, and go sea-dooing and white water rafting. Of course, we have to spend at least one evening soaking in the relaxing and therapeutic hot springs.

10 Places You'll See on a Bus Tour of London

When I organized a Europe Trip with my junior high students two years ago, I had a huge, long list of the places and things I wanted to see in London, which was one of our stops. The travel company that was responsible for taking care of my lovely students and I did their best to accommodate my demands, and I ended up seeing or visiting virtually all of the places on my list.

Tijuana: Not On My List?

Thus far, all of my entries have been about places that I've been to, or that I want to travel to. I haven't really had a lot of "misadventures" that would make me say, "Never go to this place." A typical misadventure for me involves getting a little lost, but finding my way again after meeting new, wonderful people, and discovering new, wonderful places. Then again, I am a bit of a cautious traveler.

This story is not mine to tell. This is my husband's story, which I have entitled "Tijuana: Not On My List?" OR, conversely, "The time I nearly became a widow when my husband was nearly murdered in Mexico". I'll need his help to share it with you, as I was not present for this outlandish, outrageous, and at times comical-in-its-danger story.

Visit Rome and see the Coliseum

It's hard to put into words those moments where, upon encountering something truly magnificent from the past, you feel literally dumbstruck by what you are seeing. You feel small, insignificant, and meekly awed, but at the same, feel energized, powerful, and vibrant. It is a meeting of the past and present, and you are there to witness it.

Go to an All-Inclusive Resort (For at Least One Week of My Life)

When you travel, what type of accommodation is your favourite? Hotel? Hostel? Tent? Holiday trailer? Couch surfing? I myself am quite flexible and have tried nearly everything (except couch surfing, but I'd like to one day...) However, in all my life, I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. Many of my friends had, but not me. And I was curious.

Visit Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica

I will admit it: I'm not a religious person. I am, at times, spiritual. Seeing a gorgeous sunset, viewing the world from a top a mountain, or tasting the salty sea air while lounging on a tropical beach all give me moments where I truly feel spiritual, like I am one with the universe. But I have never been, and most likely never will be, one for organized religion. This is not to say I consider it "bad" - it is just not for me. In fact, there are some things about organized religion that I admire, particularly religion's penchant for aesthetics and beauty. No matter what religion you study, you will always find that it breeds beauty in architecture, art, and music.

Live Through the Rides at the Top of the Stratosphere Casino in Vegas

Life is full of ironies - unexpected contradictions and surprises. For example, I am such a chicken on my rollerblades that I roll to the nearest patch of grass and choose to walk whenever I encounter the slightest incline. I am terrified of going downhill on my rollerblades because I worry I won't be able to stop, and I'll either crash so hard I'll get hurt, or roll straight into a busy intersection and get flattened. (The former scenario I have actually done, and lost a front tooth in doing so, and the latter scenario I nearly did, but ran into a bush at the last minute, in front of a group of very attractive men at that...)

Ride the Chunnel

Tunnels are fun places. Every kid loves to crawl inside them, engineers dream of building the perfect one, treasure hunters covet them and what they may contain. I used to hold my breath every time we drove through one on family vacations, particularly while driving through the Rocky Mountians of British Columbia, where tunnel after tunnel gobble up the highway. If you made it through the entire tunnel without letting go of that breath, well, I'm not sure what you'd get but it was always a challenge.

Visit Windsor Castle and Maybe see the Queen

It's British fever these days, what with the Royal Wedding hot in the news: William and Kate, Pippa and her show-stealing dress, and those oh-so-cute miniature flower girls. So I thought, what better time to talk about visiting Windsor Castle, home of the Queen and her royal family?

View the Amazing Sights of Romantic and Historical Paris

"Sous le ciel de Paris s'envole une chanson!"

This famous song, written by Maurice Chevalier and recently used in the movie "An Education", epitomizes the carefree yet classy feeling one gets from walking along the streets of Paris. The line, roughly translated, means "Under the skies of Paris, a song flies". Or something like that. My French is pretty rusty. But I understand the emotion Chevalier was trying to convey - Paris puts a song in your heart! The blue-roofed buildings, the gold-gilded railings and roofs, the flowered balconies - it all meshes together to create the classic vision of Paris.

Learn to Snorkel in Cancun's Isla Mujeres

Rarely do I have negative travel experiences. Usually I am a perky, positive, and optimistic tourist, willing to try new things and overlook negativity such as rude waiters, overpriced attractions, and days where I find myself hopelessly lost in strange quarters. 

But sadly, my first experience snorkeling was my second-most negative traveling adventure to date (the first being trapped overnight in the Philadelphia airport baggage claim area with no luggage, a laptop for a pillow, and a homeless man snoring in the row of seats next to me - more on that in a later post).

My Top 3 Packing "Must Haves"

Underwear and socks... check. Deodorant... check. Pair of versatile jeans... check. Purse with wallet... check. Now, why do I have the feeling I forgot something?

Everyone goes through this process while packing for a trip, whether near or far. The basic essentials typically include clothing, toiletries, money, and electronics (cell phone, laptops, iPads, etc.) Depending on your style, you could pack a lot or a little. I myself am an over-packer. I admit it.

Ride the London Eye

Photo: Nico Trinkhaus London Eye and Westminster, England -CC-BY-NC

I spy with my little eye... something ginormous! That would be the London Eye, a giant sightseeing Ferris wheel-type contraption on the south bank of the River Thames in London, England. This machine looms over the river and offers a wonderful view of London by lifting its passengers 135 meters into the sky, slo-o-o-wly, then lowers them back down again. Passengers sit or stand comfortably inside the Eye's giant pods, which can hold up to 28 people. Distant photographs show the London Eye as being deceptively small - the wheel itself is huge and the pods spacious and restful.

Spend a Day at a Spa (in New York City!)

This one is a rather funny story... and it all began while exploring the streets of New York with my friend Teresa. We were visiting New York for a quick three day getaway, and were trying to check items off our list of things to see and do. Sightseeing and shopping around Soho was one of those things, as well as exploring the cobble-stoned streets of Greenwich Village.

Throw a Coin Into the Trevi Fountain and Make a Wish

This item on the bucket list I have already done twice. I am one lucky lady! The first time I visited the Trevi Fountain was in January of 2010, when I won a free trip to Rome through a travel company called Explorica. I had booked a school trip through this company, and as I was a first-time group leader, was put into a draw to win a trip for myself and one other person. Hurrah! Me, who can’t even win a free coffee with Tim Horton’s “Roll Up the Rim to Win”, was selected as one of the lucky free travelers and given three options: Rome, Paris, or London.

Swim with a Dolphin in Cancun

There are probably a lot of people out there that may disagree with this entry on my travel bucket list: to swim with a dolphin. After the saddest documentary EVER came out on the dolphin hunt and dolphin capture, "The Cove", I now know that I probably wouldn't do this again.  But what's done is done, and despite some of the horror stories involving dolphin capture, I really did enjoy my time swimming with dolphins.

Go to Paris and ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is symbol of romance and beauty to most who picture it, perched proudly in the middle of Paris' urban sprawl. Sunset proposals, glorified by Hollywood pictures, are always made better by being presented at the tippy-top of the Eiffel Tower.

In reality, getting up to the top of the tower is a bit of a process, and once you are there, it isn't really all that romantic. Granted, I visited on a day when the wind threatened to push everyone right off the edge, so that kind of took away any romanticism that may have been present. Also, I was with approximately 20 junior high students, and that also tends to dampen any whimsical architectural romance for a person! Ha ha!

Visit Mexico and see Chichen Itza

A coveted time of the year for teachers: Spring Break! A chance to rest, rejuvenate, and hopefully have some well-deserved downtime. In my family, however, Spring Break usually means spending time on my own, as my husband is in the thick of tax season (he is an accountant) and rarely has time for R'n'R at the end of March. Rather than spend Spring Break alone in the spring of 2011, I decided to be brave and venture to sunny Cancun, Mexico on my own for a short but exciting holiday.

New Years Eve in Las Vegas

As a surprise for my husband, who works entirely too hard, I arranged for us to visit Las Vegas for New Years of 2008. I bought plane tickets last minute, which provided us with a really good deal, and booked us rooms off the strip, in a little condo unit just a block away from the Rio hotel. From the Rio, we were assured free shuttle rides down to the strip. (I am a really cheap traveler, and there are always ways to save money if you look hard enough!)

My husband actually had to work on December 31st until about noon, so the moment he got home, we jumped in the car, drove to the airport, caught our flight, and were in Vegas by 8 p.m. Just in the nick of time! We checked into our room, got dressed up, and grabbed a cab to get down to the strip quickly.