Shauna Cook – The Great Canadian Travel Co.

STAFF PICKS

July 8, 2020 | Lois Farley

Travel is not just about people going somewhere. It is about inspiration, opportunity, dreams, ambitions and about building lifelong connections. COVID-19 has not made any of these things disappear. In many ways the desire for real connectivity is being increased. Travel has changed forever. One major change may be seen …

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July 6, 2020 | Arnie Hydamaka

The more special your travel dream, the more we can help you get there! That was the motto of the Great Canadian Travel Company when it began in 1980 and was when I became associated with the company. I had a dream travel destination – Africa, and more specifically the …

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June 30, 2020 | GCT Bear

My hometown of Churchill, Manitoba is a Canadian town located on the edge of the Arctic. It still has a distinctive frontier town feel about it and comes to life whenever a new group of visitors arrive. The people that live here are friendly, proud of their hometown and the …

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Ballet in Russia

May 24, 2020 | Shauna Cook

When I found out I was going to Russia, the first thing I thought of – I need to see a ballet!  That is one of the things you always hear about  – the ballet.

The most famous is of course the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.  This is almost impossible to get tickets to, especially if you are outside of Europe.  Sure enough, the dates I was in Moscow – completely sold out!

My only other stop in Russia was in St Petersburg.  There are many theatres there that have ballets, but the most famous are the Mariinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre and the historical theatre at the Hermitage.

Once I had sorted out that I would need to find SOMETHING in St Petersburg, the next task was to pick a show!  There are the traditional shows such as Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.  I knew I wanted tradition, and I really wanted Swan Lake – a Russian ballet, in a Russian theatre, with Russian dancers – in Russia!

As luck would have it, Swan Lake was showing at the Mikhailovsky Theatre on a date that worked for me.

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Shauna’s Best Days Ever!

April 27, 2020 | Shauna Cook

My best day ever started as one of the final days of an Iceland Circumnavigation cruise.  We were set to arrive into Heimaey, Westman Islands for a full day port stop.  The crew made sure to tell us what time to be on deck as pulling into the harbor is one of the highlights of this stop.  They were not wrong.  On approach we see green and rock, and hundreds, possibly thousands of seabirds using the rock for nesting.  An overwhelming feeling of familiarity came over me, and I felt very calm.

      

Prior to this, I had never visited the Westman Islands, however I felt like I was being welcomed home.  Walking around the village felt comfortable and familiar, it was like my feet and my memory knew exactly where to take me. Read More >

Northern Lights in Iceland

January 09, 2020 | Shauna Cook

pc Arctic Adventures

I was recently in Iceland, and since I was only there for a few nights, I hadn’t planned on doing a northern lights tour.  However, when I arrived, I keep on hearing the buzz in Reykjavik that the lights were going to AMAZING that night, so I couldn’t resist! I booked onto a Northern Lights Superjeep tour with Arctic Adventures and I don’t regret it for a second!!

I have been lucky to see the northern lights before in Canada, Greenland and on previous trips to Iceland, however I have never seen them like this night! Read More >

Shauna Saw a Finnish Sauna

January 08, 2019 | Shauna Cook

I was told by many people before travelling to Finland – you can’t visit Finland and not visit a sauna!  There are approximately 5.6 million people in Finland, and around 3.2 million saunas!  The Finns take this very seriously! Here in North America, saunas are sometimes considered a luxury, but in Finland, they are considered a necessity! Read More >

Iceland Summerhouse

November 16, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Summerhouses are a great way for a couple, a family or a group of people to enjoy a unique experience in Iceland.  They are fully equipped houses with anywhere from 1 – 4 or even 5 bedrooms.  Bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens with everything you need and lots of your own space!  Towels and bed linen are also included or can be for a small fee. All you need to do is show up, bring your own food, and the space is yours to enjoy! 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 >

Adventures in Tallinn, Estonia

October 18, 2018 | Shauna Cook

Written by Martyn Cook with the help of Shauna Cook

Tallinn in Estonia. What is there to say about it, that’s not already been said a million times. Oh you have never heard of it? Don’t worry, I had not either. At this juncture in time you need to make me a promise. Promise that you will go there, share no photos, and tell no one. Let’s keep this beauty to ourselves, it will be our little secret. So we can keep going back over and over again maintain its splendour, without our fellow compatriots overcrowding it. 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 >

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