Out on the Tundra in Churchill

November 06, 2018 | Lois Farley

“Sssshhhh, turn around quietly and look out the window.” Those were the words said in hushed tones by our tour host as we were happily sitting in the lounge car of the Tundra Buggy Lodge™, having a wee drink before dinner. We turned and looked in awe, as right outside the windows, casually strolling by in the tell-tale pigeon-toed gait, was a big, beautiful polar bear. You could hear the intake of breath as we all marvelled at the incredible wonder of nature walking right by us. “That’s a young male, about 3 years old” our guide informed us. His powerful muscles rippled underneath his fur telling us that he is a force of nature, a natural hunter and predator. But the round, black eyes and black nose set in that white face offered all of us that unmistakable sense of “Oh, you look cute enough to cuddle”. A feeling best kept as thought and not action! These are not cute and cuddly toys! Read More >

Attending Sporting Events While Travelling

October 25, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Attending a sporting event can be an exciting time. Especially when you get to see a team or athlete you really like, in their home country while you are there.  This happened to me when I was in Iceland recently.  I really enjoy watching the Icelandic Football team play and following their careers.  I had a trip to Iceland planned for several months, and about 2 weeks before I was set to leave, it was announced that the Icelandic team would be playing in Reykjavik on the only night I was booked to stay in Reykjavik!  It couldn’t have worked out better! Read More >

Copenhagen – Last Day of Adventure

October 04, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with help from Shauna Cook

Our last day. It’s been a two week tour spending no more than two nights in each country: Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and Denmark. We have had a few rain showers here and there. Today’s rain shower somehow feels different. The rain today seems like Europe is mourning its loss, the loss of us going back to North America. In no other place on our trip have I felt more welcomed, no where else have I been asked more questions by tourists. Perhaps I look Danish, or I look at home here. There is no question, I am leaving a changed man. Read More >

Helsinki and a Finnish Sauna

October 04, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with the help of Shauna Cook

The hotel is bustling with people. The lobby has groups of people with laptops open, discussing subjects that elude context and understanding. We make our way to the breakfast bar which is just off of the lobby. A lovely mix of old brickwork and contemporary furniture gives a lovely vibe of traditions held, living alongside new. The smell of breakfast offerings dances in the air, a greeting for our senses. I find the usual fair of cheese, crackers, bacon and eggs, as well as the object of my desire, local delicacies. I try a pastry with rice in the middle which is traditionally served with butter mixed with eggs. They have ginger snap type biscuits, and an Oreo type cookie that contains a minty filling. The last local offering was a candy that had a fox on the label, it was a gummy candy that was given out by grandmas, information that I garner from local sources. We leave the hotel, making our way down the cobblestones to Senate Square to join our free walking tour. We are greeted by Sara, a young history student passionate about her city and its history. We walk the streets learning about Finland’s Germanic influenced buildings, the religion, political, and social struggles, and successes of its people. One building stands out to me on the tour, The Think Company. It’s a public space like a library, it has a cafe, bookstore, and free wifi. This place is free to go into, and you can take in a lecture, or discuss ideas for social change. This is why I love the Nordic countries, they inspire creative thinking; Ideas surrounding use of taxes, social programs, and the general health of the country are discussed and debated. Read More >

Helsinki – A City of Romance and Steam

September 26, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with the help of Shauna Cook

Arriving at the airport, we head down the gangway. We are surrounded by light coloured woods and open windows that let daylight in. As we pass by these portals into the outside world, the landscape has changed since Iceland. The stark black rocks, lichen hung cliffs, moss and sub-Tundra plants of Iceland are replaced with trees as far as the eye can see. We blearily wander to the baggage pick up. Standing there, we watch people move to and fro in a chaotic choreographed dance, dodging and weaving between each other. The language is foreign, as Icelandic is to me; though far enough removed from influence by its neighbours to baffle me. Spending much of my time referencing Icelandic names and places, it shares a common root. Finnish is just beyond comprehension to my ears in theory and practise. Read More >

Day two Iceland: Avian Cliffs to Black Sand Beaches

September 21, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Blog written by Martyn Cook with the assistance and photography skills of Shauna Cook

Traffic is amassing already; with our hiking boots donned, backpacks loaded with provisions, the day begins. All roads lead to adventure; terra incognito awaits. Driving down the south coast’s single-lane highway reveals a different side to the country; one of a lifestyle of working people living off the land that tried once to reject them. Now communally they thrive, working with nature. Sheep farms line the sides of the road. Icelandic horses, barely tamed, roam the pastures of this wild country. The sub-tundra foliage now gives way to grasses. Read More >

Iceland Sucks… by Exceeding Expectations

September 17, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook on his adventures with Shauna

Iceland sucks in so many ways. First, it sucks at meeting your expectations; it exceeds them. Iceland also sucks at embracing your idea of beauty, for it shatters it, instantly replacing it with a new meaning for the word. It also sucks at allowing you to maintain your own self image; the blossoming idea of beauty makes you examine what is important to you.

The instant you break through the clouds it’s almost like entering the wardrobe to Narnia. You are about to enter a beautiful new world. You are to be born again, as you will leave the old person you once knew and meet a new version of yourself. The runway rushes up to meet you; the journey begins. Tires hit tarmac. Smoke rises up cleansing you for the experience that awaits. You are filled with a sense of adventure. Leaving that sense of longing to find what you miss in your day-to-day life, having it fill your spirit with that missing piece. Like the last puzzle piece, it will fit right in. Iceland takes the familiar and replaces it with a sort of ‘through the looking glass’ idea of a world. The volcanic rock looks like giants took a roll of moss and sub-tundra plants and covered the landscape. Clouds play hide and go seek amongst the peaks as the rain washes away your misconception of a world you once knew and replaces them with a raw truth. Contrast dominates the landscape, everyday. It really is the land of fire and ice. Black sand beaches, lined with white caps riding upon waves crashing amongst the beaches. The world changes from moment to moment in an intoxicating wonderful way. Our senses are alive. Read More >

Peru – A Foodie Destination

September 13, 2018 | Karen Pearson

My Spanish teacher Renato, who is originally from Peru, has been telling me for four years how great the food is in his home country. After my recent trip, I can confirm that’s true.

There are some dishes specific to certain regions but many that are widely available in most restaurants throughout Peru. Each time I encountered a dish that Renato had mentioned, I was excited to try it. Read More >

Summer at Great Wolf Lodge, MN

September 05, 2018 | Lindsay R

Great Wolf Lodge is a fantastic resort destination.  It’s 100% geared towards families.  You don’t even have to leave your resort, as everything you need is right there, from food to accommodations, to entertainment, you can simply spend your entire trip at the resort. Read More >

Take A Closer Look – Polar Bears in Churchill

July 19, 2018 | Andrea Rempel

Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, is a town located on the edge of the Arctic that has a distinctive frontier town feel. It comes alive every time a new group of tourists comes to visit. The people are friendly, and the scenery is spectacular. The northern point of the Canadian Shield as the boreal forest ends and the Taiga begins is where this magical place resides, complete with snowshoe hares, ptarmigans, arctic foxes, snowy owls, and the majestic polar bear. Read More >