Category Archives: travel

weekly photo challenge: foreign


dear anderson,
another prompt from wordpress has led to another note from me. this time it’s a photo challenge, which is fun. the theme is “foreign”. i’m sure if you were participating you would have some amazing photos to share. i have some great photos from my travels, i’ve been to lots of countries that would be considered by a canadian to be “foreign” but i don’t think any of my pictures really captured the essence of the word. maybe some photos i have an open air market in the desert in isreal, but still i feel those don’t tell enough of my story in them.

and then i remembered i took this picture in the british virgin islands last year.

this is my teddy bear charlotte. my boyfriend bought her for me about 3 christmases ago. at the time, he worked at the department store, the bay. charlotte is a canadian polar bear with a hand warmer in the classic hudson’s bay colours. when we travel, we like to bring her with us because, as a polar bear, she doesn’t know about much beyond snow and seal meat. so far, she has been to las vegas, jamaica, the bvi and mexico. i do treat her as a member of the family, and i love taking pictures of her. especially in tropical settings because she is so out of her element. at least when she was in the bvi, they are also part of the commonwealth, so she at least had one thing in common with everyone!

for me, the word ‘foreign’ has an element of outsiderness to it, and this picture captures it perfectly!



walking down someone else’s memory lane


living vicariously through my memories


hey anderson,

this time last year i was at the end of a two week vacation in paradise.  this year i am chained to my desk with even more work looming in front of me.  my next vacation is probably months away and this depresses the hell out of me.  so, to help soothe myself i’ve been looking at pictures from last year’s trip. i’m doing this in the hopes that recalling my memories i can experience bit of vicarious relaxation.

i guess i should tell you about my awesome trip last year.  we spent two weeks in the british virgin islands.  it was my parents, my boyfriend, my sister and her friend.  my parents and my sister had been twice before on sailing trips with another family.  i refused to go in the past because i was quite certain being on a boat in the middle of the ocean with family would be a nightmare, and the only way to wake up would be for someone to go overboard in the middle of the night.  so, to ensure i safety, i stayed home.  the second time they went, however, i met them for a second week on land.  and it was heaven.  seriously.  white sandy beaches, crystal blue water and amazing food.  if i could eat crab cakes every day of my life i would be so very happy!

so last christmas we started planning a vacation.  my sister convinced me i would enjoy the sailboat, and we decided to hire a catamaran which meant more space for less potential “accidents”.  and with the bigger boat we could invite other people to serve as buffers.

i cannot stress enough how amazing the bvi are.  they are a real off the beaten track treasure.  and seeing them on a chartered boat is totally the way to go.  the catamaran we were on had 4 rooms, an indoor and outdoor eating area and a front seating area that is mesh and open to the ocean below.  because we don’t sail, and don’t really like working hard, we got a boat with a crew.  a husband and wife team and cooked and sailed and took care of everything.  while they were a tad cranky, and we had to ask to drink the hard liquor, it was great to just relax the whole time.  i finally felt like i was living the life i was meant to life.  my rockstar lifestyle was a reality.  well, if you forget about the seasickness it was a reality.

i love the water.  i’m not an amazing swimmer (i hate putting my head under)  but i could float forever.  and in the bvi the water is like 30 degrees celsius. literally, the water was almost as warm as the air.  it was heaven.  we could just jump off the back of the boat and swim.  i am a huge water person.  if i could float for a living i would.  we bought a waterproof camera which was the smartest thing we did.  the pictures turned out so cool.  everyone else snorkeled a lot, so we got some amazing fish pictures.  i am terrified of snorkeling.  not even all the sea creatures below.  it is wearing the mask that frightens me.  in fact, when we were in the bvi in 2007 i attempted to put on a mask – i freaked out, threw it at my mother and screamed “i hate this, i’m not doing it”.  people stared.  i was 27.  but as you know from when i recently got locked in my car, i do not respond well to feeling trapped.  obviously this is the same for when nothing more than my eyes are enclosed.

this past weekend we had nice weather here.  i sat outside and had a drink and relaxed.  but it just wasn’t the same.  but with the bvi trip more of a distant memory i better get used to what i have. 

hope you’re well anderson.  enjoy some pictures from my trip so you can live vicariously as well!!


best of my trip to new orleans


dear anderson,

as i mentioned in my letter about the “joys” of travel, i was recently in new orleans. i went for a work conference, and decided that because it’s so far away and such a cool place, i should stay for a few extra days.  i brought my mom with me and we stayed for a week in the french quarter.  i know you’ve been there, and had planned on being there for mardi gras this year, so i’m sure nothing i tell you will be a revelation, but nevertheless i wanted to tell you about the highlights of my trip.

best food – oysters

i started eating oysters a few years ago but dipping a toe in and eating deep fried ones.  you can’t go wrong with deep fried food, so it was a nice way to introduce me to a food that previously grossed me out.  i still don’t quite get how a slimy food you don’t really even chew is such a delicacy, but it is, and i’m ok with that.  before i even knew i was going to new orleans i saw a show on the food network that talked about charbroiled oysters in new orleans – they cover them in butter, garlic and parmesan cheese and cook them on a grill.  i totally drooled just thinking about them.  so the first thing i looked up when i started planning my trip was these oysters at drago’s.  and wow, they did not disappoint. i think in total i ate about 60 oysters on this trip; some charbroiled, some raw and even deep fried with hot sauce in a po’ boy.  i would go back for the oysters alone.

best picture – st. louis cemetery #1

my mom loves a good cemetery.  i don’t think it’s because she is overly morbid or enjoys literally dancing on people’s graves, i just think she likes the symbols of remembrance.  i hope that’s the case anyay…we went to one that was just outside the french quarter, and it was a really cool place.  the tombs were mostly about 200 years old, though obviously with more recent additions to them.  the cemetery definitely was hit by hurricane katrina, so many bricks and pieces of marble had fallen off.  we ran into a tour there (pretty sure it was legit!) that was run by a group hoping to restore and preserve the tombs that no longer have living caretakers.  i love this picture; it’s just what a picture taken in a cemetery should be.

best tour – laura, a creole plantation

mom and i took a couple tours.  one was a hurricane katrina tour to help get to know more of the city than just the french quarter and to wrap our heads around what actually happened.  i have to admit that i was shocked to still see how much clean up is needed.  we saw houses and neighbourhoods that looked like the waters just receded yesterday.  the tour guide didn’t hold back at all and really gave everyone the chance to take a good hard look at insurance, government, race and capitalism. but the tour that was most refreshing was the laura plantation tour.  we actually visited two plantations that day, oak alley and laura, which was a really good idea because the two were vastly different.  oak alley was all about the lives and lifestyle of the plantation owners – the furniture, the view, the construction and the family members.  the plantation itself was beautiful; no wonder so many movies have been filmed there.  the grounds, the house and the alley of 28 oak trees were exactly how i pictured them to be – just like scarlett o’hara! but it wasn’t until we got to laura for their tour, did we notice a glaring omission.  yes, there were references to where the slave quarters would have been and where the bell was to call everyone in from the fields, but that was it. the tour at laura is build around the autobiography of one of its last slave owners who read ‘gone with the wind’ and thought it was glossing over a lot of what life on a plantation was really like.  so this tour put it all out there, at one point when we were all out on the back porch the tour guide told a passionate story about a slave who was going to be sold and separated from his family.  i have been on a lot of tours in my lifetime, and this one was really great.  full of detail and anecdotes and truth.

best southern hospitality – anne at ida manheim antiques

this one was a bit of a tossup between a fellow convention attendee who called my mom “mam” with no hint of irony and nothing but respect and anne. anne won because she was the definition of a genteel southern woman.  i’m pretty sure she was wearing a chanel suit and pearls, actually she reminded me of your mom anderson! anyway, my mom and i went into this antique shop just to see what a quality shop was like.  we inadvertently stepped into another world.  the antiques we have here are like 1920s frying pans, or if you’re lucky some depression era glass.  this place had louis xv writing desks, chinese armoires, chippendale tables and more.  it was pretty clear we were not quite in our element, but anne never once made that judgment.  she showed us all three floors and described countless items, always acting as if we were about to drop 40k on a lamp.  she did almost convince me to get a writing set with her 20% offer, then it would have only been 5,000$.  when we left mom and i said how refreshing it was to not have someone turn their nose up and not give the time of day to us in a higher end store. thanks for being such a cool lady anne.

best waiter – commander’s palace

i wanted to eat at commander’s palace because once again i saw something on the food network.  a chef who grew up in new orleans talked about her fond childhood memories of eating bread pudding there, and i just had to have some.  also, it seemed like such a refined place to go in for lunch in the garden district.  when we got there, they tried to seat us upstairs with the riff raff, but mom wasn’t having any of that and used her weak knees to their fullest to get us a table in the main room.  the meal was great, the 25 cent martinis were the perfect touch and the bread pudding was phenomenal.  but what made us patently aware that we were somewhere fancy was after we finished our appetizers and the waiter came by to give us new water glasses.  not refill them, no, he had a silver tray on which he placed our semi-used glasses and replaced them with fresh glasses.  a totally unnecessary waste, but i loved it!!

best art gallery – the shop

mom and i spent some time on royal street shopping and browsing galleries.  we saw some really great art.  there was even a gallery that had some pieces by miro and picasso.  very cool.  the one place that i felt a connection to was the shop.  it was this cool gallery with some of the neatest contemporary art i’ve ever seen.  i still can’t stop thinking about the work of fleetwood covington – drawings on scrap metal.  very powerful and different stuff.  The Shop’s website.

well anderson, i hope to get back to that city again and learn even more about it.

have a great day,


Travel brings out the worst in me!


Oh anderson, forgive me for my ranting. Sometimes i just can’t help it. I do try really hard to be a forgiving and non-judgemental person. But sometimes i just can’t. And when i travel, i lose all ability to be patient and accepting. I’m headed to new orleans for a conference and vacation with my mom. As a good daughter i flew west to meet her so we could fly east together. Of course my flight was delayed and i had the stress of racing through the airport to get through customs to make my short connection time. I did, with time to spare which was a relief. One flight down, two more to go.

On the next flight i sat across the aisle from what can only be described as a man-child. He was that little bit too loud, too uncultured and too annoying. Throughout the 3 hour flight i tried very hard not to hate him. I suffered through his inane questions about my ipad and the unnecssarily loud music coming from his earphones. After we landed, my mom said “wasn’t that a nice guy sitting beside you?” I could only roll my eyes and descibe him as dumb as dirt. Yet i couldn’t put my finger on what irked me, and more importantly why. I know that i have a terrible habit of being hard on myself, and that tendancy seems to expect the same from others. I do not suffer fools gladly, and i’m not sure i would want to!! But, to that guy, sorry if you’re not as bad as i assumed you are.

For my next rant, i will not be quite so unapologetic. I just don’t think that people with kids should be allowed to do as they please. On my second flight, a couple rows in front is a family of 4 and 2 grandparents. Occupying 1 and a half rows, but disrupting half the plane (or maybe just me?) I was well aware of them straight away as the kids watched a movie at full volume. Just because the plane is loud, does not mean i can’t hear that racket. So i was forced to watch the remake of footloose (not as bad as i feared, but the original was far better and will live on in my heart forever.) But i digress. The parents are not even sitting with the kids, instrwd of have heard them yell across the aisle. And even worse, which is currently making my blood boil, they have occupied the aisle between the rows for the past hour. The mom is watching a movie and the dad is letting the three year old just hang out in the aisle. Not even remotely ackonowledging all of the people who are constantly waiting to get by. Seriosuly, they have 6 seats. Sit the fuck down. Also, the kid has a dirty diaper. I understand travelling with kids isn’t easy, i remember cross-atlantic flights with my younger sister. But i certainly don’t remember being oblivous to the other passengers. I do not think your kid grabbing on to me while he walks by is cute so don’t look at me to indulge them. And sit the fuck down. I honestly wouldn’t have a problem if both kids were screaming their heads off if the parents were sitting with them and actively engaging the kids. But this isn’t fair. I’ve been travelling for 10 hours and i respect my fellow passengers, so why can’t everyone do the same??

Ok, enough of that. I need to cool down. I can feel the heat of anger on my face. Luckily i can also feel the plane starting its descent. Now i just need to focus on what i’m sure will be an awesome trip. I’ll be thinking about you and your outstanding coverage of hurricane katrina while i’m there. You’re the best anderson!


Ps. father is now reading a book about bach to the 3 year old. Draw your own conclusions…

Pps. I got a free glass of red wine and now my face is red for another reason. Thank you altitude!! Now tina turner is on the in-flight music channel. Things are looking up!