Category Archives: Travel

Is Traveling For Pleasure Ethical?

When you read this I’ll be in Tanzania spending two weeks with my husband and our friends at a lodge near Mount Kilimanjaro run by former Manitoba residents Darryl and Shirley Peters. 

Before I left someone asked me if I didn’t think it was selfish to travel. They were feeling pressure from their religious community to curtail personal pleasure trips because of their harmful environmental impact. Should responsible world citizens just stay home? 

I thought about that as I packed for Tanzania. Although I knew my trip would contribute to the warming of the planet many things I’d do if I stayed home would be ecologically unfriendly too, like turning up the heat in my condo, driving my car, and eating imported foods. 

Visiting a school for street children in Dehli India

Travel has expanded my worldview and taught me so many important lessons. I can’t imagine giving it up. I know you can read about other countries, and watch films about them, but I’ve discovered those things pale in comparison to the new understandings and insights you gain from actually visiting a place. 

I made friends with this woman on my Yangtze River cruise even though we didn’t speak one another’s languages. We had so much fun together.

I think international travel helps you become more open-minded and progressive. It fosters relationships that can bring about positive change in our world. I was not surprised to learn the American states with the highest percentage of Donald Trump voters were the same states with the lowest percentage of people with passports. 

Visiting Hiroshima gives you a lesson in working for peace you probably couldn’t receive anywhere else

I attended a panel discussion hosted by Canadian Mennonite University after 9/11. One panellist proposed world peace might best be achieved if every eighteen-year-old on the planet was sent to live and travel in a different country for a year. 

I know we all need to make personal sacrifices to aid environmental sustainability but the changes that must happen to really turn things around are huge alterations in infrastructure systems, manufacturing systems and delivery systems. Those require committed governments.

Perhaps far more influential an act on my part than cancelling my Tanzania trip is to cast my vote for political parties that take global warming seriously and are investing in things like cleaner and cheaper methods of transportation. 

For those of us who choose to still travel to international destinations, there are things we can do to mitigate its negative environmental impact. 

Fly economy class. A first-class or business ticket creates four times the amount of carbon emissions. Flying economy is what makes travel affordable for my husband and me.

Reduce your luggage. The heavier it is the more fuel is burned carrying it. Just having carry-on luggage seems the best for us. That way our bags can’t get lost either. 

Spending a whole month in the same neighborhood in Runaway Bay Jamaica helped us build relationships there.

Stay in one place rather than continually travelling. We have discovered that spending longer periods of time in one location is the best way to get to know a country and connect with the people living there. 

Take a close look at the places you will be staying. At Dashir Lodge, where are spending our time in Tanzania they generate 95% of their energy from wind and solar sources.

I am posing with one of the mango trees at Dashir where they grow their own lemons, limes, bananas, strawberries, grapes, papayas, pomegranates, avocados and mangos.

Dashir water is recycled to irrigate their banana plantation. The vegetables and herbs and fruit they serve guests are grown in their own organic gardens.

Dave and I beside the Dashir fish pond
The Dashir chickens that provide eggs for our breakfasts

Dashir provides employment to more than forty local people and they have recently built a medical centre on site to serve the community. The clinic is completely staffed by Tanzanian doctors and nurses.

Dave and I with the lab technician, nurses and doctor at the Dashir Clinic. The staff gave us a tour of the facilities.

It might be best for the planet if I stayed close to home for the rest of my life.  But I’m not prepared to make that choice right now and I’m pretty sure feeling guilty about it is not at all helpful.  

I look forward to the day when we can travel in a way that is less damaging to nature and humanity. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to make my travels as environmentally friendly as possible. 

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Filed under Africa, Travel

Cool Stuff About Tanzania – I’ll Be There in One Week

I will be in Tanzania a week from today staying at the beautiful Dashir Lodge!

Dashir Lodge is run by Manitobans Darryl and Shirley Peters photo from the Dashir website

We will be in Tanzania for 15 days. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the country before I go. Here is some cool stuff I’ve discovered so far!

Mount Kilimanjaro’s name means mountain of greatness. – photo Wikipedia

Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa is in Tanzania.

And guess what? Every room at Dashir Lodge faces Mount Kilimanjaro, so we will always have it in view during our stay there.

The flag of Tanzania combines the former flags of Tanganyika and Zanzibar

Tanzania used to be Tanganyika and was occupied first by Germany and then Great Britain before it became an independent country.

It was established as a republic in 1962 and merged with Zanzibar in 1964. The merger also led to a name change that combined Tanganyika and Zanzibar- Tanzania.

And guess what? We are going to be spending three days in Zanzibar.

Giraffes in Serengeti National Park – photo from Wikipedia

Serengeti National Park is the oldest park in Tanzania. It is a World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife-over 4000 lions, 1000 leopards, 550 cheetahs and some 500 bird species. There are a great number of hyenas, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, giraffes, cheetahs, baboons, impalas, gazelles, buffalo and crocodiles.

And guess what? We are going on a safari in Serengeti National Park.

The Olduvai Gorge- photo from Wikipedia

The Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important paleoanthropological places in the world. Sites here have provided invaluable information on early human evolution. It was here that Mary and Louis Leaky established their excavation and research program. The first early human species occupied the gorge about 1.9 million years ago and homo sapiens, our species occupied the gorge 17,000 years ago.

And guess what? We are going to drive through the Olduvai Gorge.

Photo from the Dashir website.

About 90% of Tanzanian families live in rural areas and small villages.

And guess what? As part of the experience provided by Dashir, we are invited to the village home of one of their staff members for a meal.

I am looking forward to learning a lot more about Tanzania during our visit there. I hope to share what I learn with you right here on my blog. Stay tuned!!

Other posts………..

Be Old! Be Bold!

Where to Next?

Wisdom from Desmond Tutu

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Filed under Africa, Travel

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

My husband discussing chestnut roasting at a Christmas luncheon

Yesterday during some carol singing at a Christmas luncheon my husband Dave was part of a discussion with a woman at our table about the opening lyrics of The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. You’re probably familiar with them too.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”

Some other people at our table wondered if anyone had ever actually seen chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Turns out my husband Dave and I had.

I photographed this chestnut seller in Hong Kong

We lived in Hong Kong for six years and the short winter season there was ushered in by chestnut vendors who appeared on street corners and roasted chestnuts in big tilted woks in a mixture of glossy black sand and sugar. The vendors were constantly stirring the chestnuts so they didn’t burn. The chestnuts came from China’s Hebei or Shandong province. I loved the smell of them roasting.

The trick to roasting chestnuts is to cut an x into their top before you roast them and then their shells literally ‘pop’ open as they roast and make them easy to peel and eat.

I photographed this chestnut seller in Siena Italy

We also saw chestnuts being roasted on the streets of Siena when we visited one January. Roasting chestnuts is a centuries old tradition in Italy where street vendors roast chestnuts over hot coals in a pan with a perforated bottom. They have a lovely smokey taste. The roasted chestnuts are placed in a large wooden barrel padded with a thick blanket to keep them warm for as long as possible. 

Whenever I hear those lyrics at Christmas about chestnuts roasting on an open fire I think of Hong Kong and Italy and the chestnut roasters I saw there.

Other posts………..

What’s A Chorreador?

A Chocolate Evening with Beatriz

Roasting Bannock- Voyageur Style

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Filed under Food, Hong Kong, Italy

This Woman May Change My Dusting Habits

I hate dusting! If you visit my home you probably won’t have to look too closely to find evidence of that. The other day some guests stopped on their way out our door to admire an art piece in our front hallway.

It is a beautiful painting of my husband’s grandmother done by his cousin Ruth. As I explained why it was in our home to our visitors I noticed the frame and glass was covered in a thin film of dust.

After our guests had left I cleaned it and then started wondering when was the last time I’d dusted any of the artwork in our home? Could it have been years?

Perhaps that incident was why my attention was drawn to an article in The New York Times about the woman whose job it is to dust Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. Now there’s a dusting job I wouldn’t mind doing!

I’ve heard it can get very busy at the Accademia in high tourist season and you have to sometimes wait in line for hours for just a passing glimpse of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. We were extremely lucky because when we visited on a cold rainy day one January we could walk right in and spend as long as we liked examining David, a Biblical character with whom my husband shares a name.

My Dave was particularly impressed with King David’s big hands! He thought the Biblical giant slayer would have made a great basketball player with those impressive long large fingers. I admired the details in David’s face and how Michelangelo had captured his determination.

Eleonora Pucci is the woman in charge of cleaning David. Photo by Chiara Negrello for The New York Times

According to The New York Times article the woman who climbs a scaffold to regularly dust David’s hands and face is Eleonora Pucci. She uses a small brush with synthetic bristles and works on cleaning up David on Mondays when the gallery is closed. She says she considers her job an honour, because she plays a small but important role in keeping Michelangelo’s work at its best for others to view.

Maybe if I adopted a little of Eleonora’s attitude I’d change my own attitude about dusting our artwork too. Much of the artwork in our home is by people we know or is a reminder of a place we have visited somewhere in the world. I should honour those people and experiences by getting out my dust rag just a little more often.

Here I am with an outdoor version of the famous statue in Florence

Other posts……….

The Hands of A Basketball Player

Housework

My Husband’s Christmas Present

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Filed under Art, Italy

A Video From My Brother

My brother and his husband travel a great deal. One of the things I really appreciate about my brother is that he makes these neat little videos when he comes across something on his travels he thinks I would like or would connect with me.

Currently, he is spending a couple of months in Sicily and yesterday I got a video from a place called Siragusa on the island of Ortigia.

It looks like a lovely destination in the video.

My brother was walking along the ocean there and came upon a restaurant that had a quote on a poster board outside by Canadian author Lucy Maude Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame in both English and Italian.

It said, “Twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star.”

My brother knows I am a big Anne of Green Gables fan. I have many copies of the novel but my favourite one was printed in 1942 and was a gift from my aunt. It has been well read.

I have also made a pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island to see Lucy Maude Montgomery’s home.

The quote my brother saw is from a chapter of Anne of Green Gables where Anne has been separated from her best friend Diana. A classmate named Julie seeking to console Anne gives her the following words of solace on a piece of pink lacy paper.

When twilight drops her curtain down

And pins it with a star

Remember that you have a friend

Though she may wander far.

Other posts…………..

Celebrating My Siblings

Anne of Green Gables A Faith Perspective

Anne of Green Gables Still Popular

A Miriam Toews Sighting in Costa Rica

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Filed under Family, Travel

Back to Pelee Island

On Saturday we took the ferry from Kingsville, Ontario out to Pelee Island. Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and the southernmost populated point in Canada. 

The other two couples traveling with us were making their first visit to the island but Dave and I had been there many times.

Dave’s brother John and his wife Linda lived in this house on Pelee Island

In 1979 Dave’s brother John moved to Pelee Island and lived there with his family for many years. Each summer when we would visit Dave’s parents in Leamington we took the ferry across the lake to the island. John was a farmer and a customs agent on Pelee island.

A big group of family members waiting at the dock to take the ferry out to Pelee Island in 1992
With our younger son on the ferry boat to Pelee Island in 1989
Our boys with their Dad in the back of Uncle John’s truck on Pelee Island heading off for a swim in Lake Erie

Dave’s family’s connection to the island goes back even further than that though. In the late 1920s after immigrating to Canada from Ukraine Dave’s father’s family moved to Pelee Island to be sharecroppers. They lived there for nearly a decade. Dave’s grandmother was a mid wife for the Mennonite families on the island.

Dave’s Dad the tall young man in the last row of this photo lived with his family on Pelee Island in the 1930s.

Although Dave’s brother John moved off the island in the 1990s we made one more trip there in 2017 for a big family reunion. Our children and their partners and our grandchildren were there and we were joined by Dave’s three brothers and their children and grandchildren and their partners. We had rented two large houses and had a wonderful time together.

Dave with our grandson just after getting off the ferry boat on Pelee Island in 2017.
Our sons and some of their cousins gathered on the shore of Lake Erie on Pelee Island at sunset in 2017

Our current trip to Pelee Island was not for family reasons but still was somewhat nostalgic for us.

We stayed at one of the Barefoot Cottages

Our home was called The Barefoot Bungalow and used to be a bunk house for a church camp that was located on the island.

It might have been neat to stay in the Barefoot Stone House next door since it was built in 1843 and has retained much of its original interior materials and design, but it wasn’t quite big enough for our group. 

We went swimming in the lovely warm water of Lake Erie. Although my brother-in-law braved the huge rocks on the shoreline by our cottage for his swim I wasn’t quite as courageous.

I opted for a nearby sandy beach where the smooth lake bottom and sloping shore made swimming a more carefree experience.

There were bright red chairs down by the lake across from the cottage perfect for sitting and relaxing which is what we did our first day on the island. 

Books were read, tennis was watched on television and a jigsaw puzzle was started. 

On Sunday we would begin a cycling tour of the island so it was nice to take it easy on our first day there. 

Other posts…………

He Would Have Been 100

Getting Nostalgic and Just a Little Sad

Dave’s Christmas Present

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Filed under Cycling Trip- Ontario, Family, Travel

A New Muscedere Memory

One of the stops on our winery/cycling tour yesterday was the Muscedere Vineyards.

 We were warmly welcomed by Melissa Muscedere the assistant winemaker.

Muscedere is a family business with Melissa’s brothers, sisters-in-law and parents all involved.

We were interested in an unique flower we had seen as we drove on the yard and Melissa told us it was called Celosia Cristata also known as Rooster’s Comb and that her mother had brought the seeds to Canada from Italy.

The vines at Muscedere were heavy with grapes and we learned that the netting around them was to protect the grapes from crawling insects and birds. We could hear the recorded sounds of gunshots and shrieking hawks being broadcast out over the vineyard to chase away birds that might prey on the grapes.

We started our time at Muscedere with some wine tasting and I tried a flight of white wines. I liked the Sauvignon blanc the best.

Later we enjoyed some of Muscedere’s wood- fired pizzas.

This is the third time Dave and I have been to the Muscedere Winery. The first time was in 2011 when our family attended our niece’s wedding there. It was while we were taking this family photo in the vineyard that our older son and daughter-in-law informed us we were going to become grandparents for the first time.

The second time we went to Muscedere was in July of 2018 when a whole bunch of family members met there for the afternoon. We were making a special visit to Ontario to see Dave’s brother John who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Dave drove a rented van that would accommodate John’s wheelchair out to the Muscedere Winery. We would return to Ontario in October for John’s funeral.

It was good to visit again yesterday and create a third Muscedere memory.

Other posts………..

Good-Bye John

Making Memories

Be Old! Be Bold!

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Filed under Cycling Trip- Ontario, Food, Travel

Cycling and Sipping

For many years my husband Dave has dreamed of doing a cycling adventure in Essex County the beautiful area of southern Ontario where he grew up. In the decades since Dave was a kid the area has become home to eighteen different wineries.

Dave figured a combination wine tasting and cycling tour would be fun. We started the tour yesterday and were joined by two other couples.

We passed many vineyards as we cycled. Because Essex county is located on the 42 parallel, grapes grow in a climate similar to Bordeaux, France and the wine regions of California.

We headed out yesterday morning on the old Highway 18 now Highway 50 along Lake Erie. After a 25 kilometre ride we arrived at the Viewpointe Winery.

I had to have a photo at the winery entrance. I have written a regular column for The Carillon a regional newspaper for the last 35 years. My column is called Viewpoint. It shares a name (minus the e) with the winery.

I think the winery is called Viewpointe because its grounds provide a spectacular point from which to view Lake Erie. Here Dave points out some of the large ships plying the lake waters.

Interestingly three of the wines we tasted at the Viewpointe winery had labels featuring scenes from the highway we had just cycled down as we made our way to the winery.

As we drove I collected mental photos of the memorable things we saw- grand colonial style homes, family graveyards with tilted tombstones, old barns decorated with painted images of Amish quilt designs, speed limit signs crawling with vines, fields of rustling corn stalks, colourful flower and fruit farms and ancient trees with huge trunks.

At Viewpointe we picked out tasting flights that included four different kinds of wines they make on the premises and ordered some lunch. We enjoyed our wine and food while watching the sunshine dance on the waves of Lake Erie .

One of the wines several of us tried in our flights was called The Real McCoy. The story associated with it was so interesting.

The wine is named after Elijah McCoy. His parents were fugitive slaves from Kentucky who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. McCoy was born in Colchester county and went to Scotland at age 15 to study engineering.

He invented a new product for lubricating steam engines. Train engineers found it so effective they were known to ask for ‘the real McCoy’ to prevent being disappointed by inferior copies. I had heard the idiom ‘the real McCoy’ many times before but never knew its origins.

The design of the Viewpointe Winery was inspired by Mettawas a luxury hotel and casino built in the late 1800s in Kingsville by Hiram Walker the creator and founder of Canadian Club Whiskey.

The original Mettawas Hotel built in 1889
Trying some breezy summer wines at North 42.

After a second stop to do some sipping at the North 42 winery we cycled home down the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

You can see the greenway cycling path behind me.

The greenway is this lovely cycling path created along an old railroad line built by Hiram Walker in the 1880s to transport whiskey for his distillery in Windsor down to Kingsville and Leamington.

In the 1980s the then abandoned rail line was give to the Essex Region Conservation Authority and Chrysler Canada made a substantial donation to turn the railroad line into a bicycle path. It goes by fields and farms and through forests.

We stopped by an apple orchard and tried out some of the apples that had fallen from the trees.

It was a perfect day for cycling, warm and breezy with a beautiful blue sky.

We followed the greenway back to The Grove the cute little boutique hotel where we are staying in Kingsville.

Later in the evening we went to a restaurant called Mettawas for dinner. It is right along the Chrysler Canada Greenway where we cycled. It used to be a train station and was built by Hiram Walker. Guests coming to Walker’s casino and hotel called Mettawas alighted from the train at this station in Kingsville.

Hiram Walker who founded The Hiram Walker and Sons Distillery in Windsor Ontario in 1858. It became famous for its Canadian Club Whiskey.

I realized later we’d had a bit of a Hiram Walker day. We visited a winery designed to look like the casino and hotel he built, cycled along the bed of a railroad he built, and had dinner in a train station he built.

The food at Mettawas was delicious as you can see from our clean plates.

After supper we were ready to head to bed after a 50 km cycle, some great wine, great conversation and great food.

Other posts……….

A Fascinating Conversation in A Tiny Wine Shop in Lisbon

Biking in Bali

I Drank a Beer in Austria

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Filed under Canada, Cycling Trip- Ontario, Sports, Travel

An Art Gallery Between Two Cities

My husband Dave walks along the riverfront in Windsor Ontario. The buildings of downtown Detroit are in the background.

Yesterday we went for a lovely breezy walk along the riverfront in Windsor Ontario. As you stroll on the Canadian side of the Detroit River you can look across its waters and see the skyline of the city of Detroit, Michigan. The riverwalk in Windsor features all this amazing public art

Chicken and the Egg by Morton Katz

The classic riddle about what comes first the chicken or the egg is the inspiration for this funky sculpture. Morton Katz created the outline of the bird using some five hundred sprocket links to make a gigantic bicycle chain. The egg is made of marble.

Don’t you just love the way a building in the city of Detroit across the river from Windsor is framed by the bird?

Eve’s Apple by Edwina Sandys

Some Canada geese were checking out this steel sculpture at the same time as I was. The artist says it represents the moment in the Biblical story about Eve when she has just taken a bite from the apple, a turning point where Eve gains knowledge but loses her innocence. Eve holds the bitten apple with a sense of pride.

Morning Flight by Gerald Gladstone

I liked the way all these unique birds were interconnected to create a diverse and colourful flock. From this angle you can see the Detroit Skyline.

Photographing Morning Flight from this angle showcases The Ambassador Bridge which we crossed as we made our way from Michigan to southern Ontario.

Flying Men by Elisabeth Frink

Who am I holding hands with? It’s one of the people freely flying down a hill along the Windsor Riverwalk.

Are they chasing after something or someone?

Tohawah by Anne Harris

I admired the sleek elegance of this pair of swans. Tohawah is the word for swan in an Alaskan Indigenous language.

Tembo by Derrick Hudson

I marvelled at the wonderfully wrinkled skin of this elephant. Tembo is the Swahili word for the African elephant whose ears are sometimes said to resemble the shape of the continent of Africa. Note again the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit and Windsor in the background.

Consolation by Joe Rosenthal

This sculpture of someone being comforted warmed my heart. One person whispers words of consolation into the ear of the other, their hand resting reassuringly on the grieving person’s shoulder.

Pray for Peace

I really liked the idea I saw expressed in this sculpture called Pray for Peace which was located in amongst many memorials to military men and women who had died in various wars.

The way the family is juxtapositioned with the globe reminded me of how peace begins in each of our hearts, then it spreads to our families and finally the world. Peace begins at home.

We only saw a small portion of the many wonderful works of art located along the Windsor waterfront. In all of our years traveling to southern Ontario to visit family we had somehow never done this walk before. It is good to remember that there are always new things to discover in Canada’s cities even ones we have visited many times before.

Other posts………….

Living in an Art Gallery

The Heidelberg Project

The Poignancy of Art

Cool Stuff Outside an Art Gallery

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Filed under Art, Canada, Travel

Strolling Through Stratford

We spent a couple of days in Stratford Ontario. It is a lovely little city and we enjoyed walking its streets.

It is named after Stratford on Avon in England which was William Shakespeare’s home so there are plenty of reminders of the bard everywhere.

Falstaff is a character in four of Shakespeare’s plays so it wasn’t surprising to find a street named after him.

The impressive Stratford City Hall was constructed in 1900 after the former city hall building burned down. It was named a national historic site in 1976.

The downtown area of Stratford is decorated with these huge petunia planters that were almost as tall as my husband Dave.

The residential streets of the city are lined with lovely old homes many dating to the mid 1800s.

One evening we stopped at one of the many ice cream parlours in Stratford. It was called Scoopers.

I will let this photo of my husband act as a review for how good the ice cream was.

Stratford is famous for its annual Stratford Festival where plays by William Shakespeare as well as more modern theatre productions are staged each summer in four different venues.

So it isn’t surprising that they have a walk of stars for people who have performed or been associated with the festival as directors or writers or in some other way.

This is the star for the Academy Award winning actor Christopher Plummer perhaps best known for his leading roles in movies like The Sound of Music and The Man Who Would Be King. At age 88 Christopher Plummer gave an astounding performance as J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World.

Christopher Plummer in the Stratford production of King Lear in 2002

Christopher Plummer was part of the Stratford Festival theatre troupe for eleven seasons.

As a former high school English teacher who taught Shakespeare’s plays to many students I thought I’d better stop for a photo holding hands with the great man whose birthplace in England inspired the name of a beautiful Canadian city.

Other posts……….

Eating Our Way Through Scottsdale

Porto With Pedro

Not the Harlem I Expected

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Filed under Canada, Travel