Vancouver Island – a west coast beauty thriving abundantly with lush greenery and flowers blooming effortlessly. An oceanic coastal scene mingled beautifully with deep forests and soaring mountains. I visited for my first time last year for my best friend Amelia’s wedding. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I landed in Nanaimo, but I did not expect to be as overwhelmed and taken aback by its tucked away charm as I was. Growing up on the Manitoba prairies and never really travelling to any of my neighbouring provinces did leave me wondering. and unaware, of the vast diversity of our country from one province to the next.
I returned to Nanaimo again this May for another visit. I am going to highlight just one day I spent on the island. We started off by picking up a coffee in Nanaimo and sitting by Departure Bay, where we watched the ferries coming and going from the port. Once we were caffeine infused we headed out on the road, passing by town after town down the coastal highway. I remember staring out the window as we drove down the winding highway, passing towering trees that went on for miles and, when there was a break in the trees, ocean and mountains. It was completely serene and peaceful.
One of the moments that stood out the most was visiting Cathedral Grove, an old forest in MacMillan Provincial Park with towering ancient Douglas fir trees. Some of the trees are over 800 years old – their trunks are broad and thick, they almost looked wise with their weathered and strong bodies upholding for so many years. It was one of those rare moments where I felt truly small, surrounded by these giant trees that towered overhead, with their branches creating a blanket of leaves high above.
There was bright green moss that grew freely over branches and broken down logs, the sun light filtered through the leaves and the spaces between the trees, washing over every surface. The forest had a very mysterious and whimsical feel, you cold easily get lost in your thoughts wandering and admiring its magnificence and raw beauty.
After, we stopped at a farmer’s market where we bought fresh produce and sipped on iced coffee from a hole in the wall coffee shop by the side of the road. We hit two different beaches and ending up in several towns. We took time to explore and embrace the fresh air by the water and watch the mountains in the distance. We wearily made the drive back to Nanaimo and ended the day with a glass of wine.
My experience of Vancouver Island was one of wonder, fascination, and happiness. I am always looking for an adventure and a new place to discover. The island gave me all of this and more which is why I can say this was one of my best days ever.
My “Best days ever” started was when I was 18. It was the year 2000. I was fresh out of high school and ready to conquer adult life, move out of province and go to law school. My Church had opened registrations to join the St-Boniface Diocese to send 75 youth to Italy for the World Youth Days and lucky me, I was chosen from my community.
Close your eyes and picture yourselves among a few million people in St. Peter’s Square. You’re squished, you’re holding your travel partner’s hand and back pack very tightly so as not to get separated and your eyes are locked on the flag overhead held by your flag bearer, a.k.a “group master”. Do this successfully and you won’t get lost.
So, there we all are, in the middle of chaos and Pope John Paul II is miles away, like a little dot you can kind of see, waaayyy over there. Suddenly, the crowd parts just like Moses parting The Red Sea and our group is standing there in the middle, on the cobblestone pathways to the Vatican. The guards are yelling at us and they take our group master’s flag pole away! OMG, what is happening? The guards start to move us and, just like that, we are ushered on stage to sit with Pope John Paul II. Thus was the start of the World Youth Days opening ceremonies and my travel career!
I never went to law school…I became a travel agent!
By the way – the flag pole that was stolen from us, well Sister Norma dared me to jump the iron gate to retrieve it, which I did. I saved the day, something I always seem to end up doing when I travel (see other blogs).
We were four sharing that tiny room together in Rome: Sister Norma, Monique, Mariève and I. For the past 19 years we’ve been getting together every few months for lunch. We lost Monique a few years ago to a long battle with MS and other health issues, but when I close my eyes, I see the four of us right there in the middle of all the chaos, and I am filled with so much peace, love, and desire for my next adventure!
What comes to mind when you think of your Best Day Ever? Achieving a lifelong goal? Your wedding, or the birth of your children? A once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity?
When it comes to travel, my list of best days ever includes my honeymoon. Following a fabulous wedding with family and friends, my new husband and I flew off to spend a week at the romantic El Dorado Resort on stunning Maroma Beach. This charming property caters to couples and was the perfect getaway for us after a busy time. The best way to unwind? A couple’s massage in a palapa on the beach, where the sound of the water heightens the sense of relaxation.
A favourite activity for us was enjoying the gourmet offerings at the resort. From an outdoor feast of freshly-prepared paella to the delightful variety of international cuisine, there was no end to the culinary delights. A highlight and our best evening ever included a private candlelight dinner on the beach.
A vacation on the Mayan Riviera offers a dizzying array of activities, from nature parks to ATV adventures; camel rides to shopping. We chose to tour the magnificent Tulum ruins, perched atop a cliff on the Caribbean Sea. Our guide wisely planned a morning visit to beat the full heat of the day, but we were still grateful our time ended with a refreshing dip in the cool waters of a cenote.
The Mayan Riviera, and specifically the El Dorado Maroma, holds a special place in my heart where I have spent some of my best days ever.
Travel With a Purpose is the new trend in travel that is changing the industry and bringing people together. Besides a holiday or a well-deserved rest, when was the last time you traveled and asked yourself why? Why that destination, why that route, why those activities on the road?
Traveling is representative of life. If you listen to your inner voice and follow your heart, you will find the places that speak out to you, that reach out and touch you, and which make you feel like you’re “home”. Find something meaningful to you that can motivate you to book a ticket and take that trip. There are so many ways you can travel with a purpose. The important thing is that it has purpose for YOU. If it’s enjoyable or brings meaning to you, it will be a good motivation to travel.
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I took a day trip from Cape Town down the Peninsula to Cape Point. Along the way I stopped at many spectacular viewpoints. I even saw some penguins – they were white and round, kind of like me. But, even though Coke commercials might convince you otherwise, penguins and polar bears live at opposite ends of the globe! I would highly recommend getting out of the city and enjoying the beauty of the countryside. As we drove ever turn offered breathtaking views and vistas.
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The serenity of standing on the bow of the small expedition ship, watching the Southern fulmars fly back and forth over the wake of the vessel. Enjoying a morning yoga class where the gentle rocking of the ship puts you deeper into the stretch, followed by the silence of meditation. Snowshoeing among hundreds of wandering penguins, as they examine us with curiosity. Standing on the sea ice at the Floe Edge and staring out at the open ocean, hoping for a glimpse of marine life. Just a few of my ‘best vacation days ever experiences.’
Twenty-two years in travel has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people, and travel to some exciting and remote destinations. For fifteen years I have been specializing in polar destinations such as Arctic Canada and Antarctica, Iceland and Greenland.
From my first visit, my passion exploded and it’s exciting to plan a complicated itinerary for clients who are more invested in the culture and activities than how strong the WiFi signal will be.
I have been practicing Yoga for over thirteen years, which has tied in quite nicely with travel. From some of my early travels, I would return home with thousands of images, however, lacking the connection with the destination. I now return home with fewer photos but more satisfied with the experiences. Yoga has taught me to slow down, take a breath and absorb our surroundings.
I believe that the combination of travel and yoga have made me into the person I am today. Our world is extremely hectic and bombarded with technology. I find myself more at peace when I am traveling and try to bring this tranquility into everyday life.
Take a look at the piece I wrote for Wander Magazine about how I feel that yoga has enhanced my travel experiences from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic!
Every time I am wandering through the airport, the world seems massive! So many people; where are they going, and where have they been?
One of the highlights when travelling, is the people that you meet.
Whether it’s the person you chat with while waiting to board the plane, the couple you enjoy a cup of coffee with after your horse back riding tour or the person sitting next to you on a zodiac excursion; these are the relationships that are built while exploring and then sharing the memories afterwards.
I still keep in touch with people who I met in Australia 22 years ago, in the Arctic 7 years ago and in Antarctica 2 years ago. This is definitely a positive when travelling alone.
One of my fellow travellers during an Antarctic expedition will be travelling from Australia to Canada next month. I’m very excited to spend a few days with her before she heads north to Churchill for a Polar Bear excursion. And, you never know who you may meet again one day during your travels!
I am an all-inclusive addict, I confess! I tried an all-inclusive for the first time in 2014 and I have not been able to quit. What makes it even worse is that I am a travel consultant and I keep receiving news almost every day about new resorts opening, new locations, more Islands and beaches and properties to add to my bucket list. It almost makes me sad that I don’t think I’ll live enough to visit all the ones I want to visit. I am so addicted that when asked a suggestion for this week’s newsletter I immediately responded I wanted an all-inclusive themed one, so that’s why you’re reading this (and thank you for reading it, by the way).
“Why all-inclusive?”, is usually the question people pose to me.
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Have you ever wondered how those bright dancing lights are created? They are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. In the northern hemisphere, they are called Aurora borealis; in the southern half, Aurora australis.
The colours can appear as green or pink, but have also appeared as shades of red, yellow, green, blue and violet. They can look like patches in the sky, scattered clouds, light streamers, arcs and rippling curtains. But I’m sure we can all agree, that no matter what colour they are and what they look like, they will always be a magical sight. Read More >
“Delta, Charlie, Echo – we have a runner!”
Do you think 35 minutes is enough time to connect in Minneapolis from Atlanta? Well, let me tell you, that it is a true, valid connection time sold by Delta. I know now it’s enough time, as I did it in 13 minutes flat, from Terminal G to F.
On my past business trip to Puerto Vallarta (yes – it was business!), the only option to come home was with Delta via Atlanta and Minneapolis. A long travel day, but it would get me home at 11.50pm and in bed by 1.30am (I live 45 minutes east of Winnipeg). All systems go, until my Atlanta departure is delayed by 40 minutes and I start to question if I’ll make my Minneapolis departure. I’m doubtful. I email my travel agent (yes, I have one too) and tell her to protect me on tomorrow’s morning flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, disrupting her dinner party. But, I get the confirmation before I get on my delayed flight in Atlanta – at least I have a Plan b.
We arrive in Minneapolis, and the pilot gets on the intercom “Folks, we have some runners on this flight. If you’re not having to connect within the next 30 minutes please let them pass”. My first glimpse of hope! Of course, I’m praying they can get the door open, as when I landed in Puerto Vallarta there was some malfunction. The door opens, I make it out of the airplane and start on a mad dash in what I hope is the right direction. The mechanical walkways are broken, could have saved me a breath or two, but I’m doing OK and my roller bag keeps up.
“Hebert?” – says the gate agent, with a question mark, in the middle of the very empty terminal. I can stop running, the door hasn’t closed yet and I’m on my flight. There’s even room in the overhead for my bag.
I send a quick email to my agent, “Abort, I made it!”