Archive for category Canada
Up until this past weekend, I knew little about kimchi, except that it makes a tasty, spicy little side dish whenever I go for Korean barbecue. But a few days ago, I learned more than I ever thought I could know about this delicacy of pickled cabbage. Like, that it goes really well with cheese. And bacon. And that the older it is, the better it tastes. And that there are so many flavours than just spice to it, such as sweet and tangy and savoury and, yes, burn-your-mouth-right-off spicy.
Okay, let me explain. I am not guzzling wine in some sort of pity party, lamenting my singleness and crying while watching Nicholas Sparks movies. No, far from mourning the romance of Valentine’s Day, I’m celebrating it. Or, more specifically, I’m celebrating the month of February. Because February means it’s time for the Niagara region’s annual Days of Wine and Chocolate festival. Wine. Chocolate. I can think of no combination that could make me happier on a cold February afternoon.
I love my country. Like, a lot. I’ve been known to cry at tourism commercials for Newfoundland and Labrador (honestly, have you seen those ads?), and any time our national anthem plays at public events (especially medal ceremonies during the Olympics, especially when the Olympics are in Canada—for the two weeks of the Vancouver games, I was a blubbering disaster). I have been so overwhelmed by the mountains out west and Canadian Shield up north that I couldn’t even speak, and my heart goes all pitter-patter when I’m on a flight coming home and descending into Toronto. I love my country.
So when I heard that Pamela MacNaughtan of Spunkygirl Monologues was launching a Canadian blogger roulette series, in which each of us were to write a post listing what we think visitors should experience in Canada, of course I was in. And when she tagged me to follow up, my mind set to coming up with the things that truly define Canada for me. Picking enough wasn’t the problem—it was narrowing down the list that proved to be the real challenge.
But I did it, and so here they are: The 5 things that say to me, This Is My Canada.
It’s impossible to capture the beauty of British Columbia on camera. You could have the widest angle lens available and the best camera money can buy, and you still won’t grab the immensity of what it feels like to fly over The Rockies, to descend into the valleys and to wind your way along the twisting roads and through the charming towns that make up Canada’s western province. But dammit, I certainly tried when I was in the Kootenays a couple of weeks ago.
I knew something was amiss when my Kit Kat—my favourite of all the chocolate bars (okay, second favourite, after peanut butter cups)—tasted… wrong. Too sweet. Too fake. Too I don’t know what, but not good. Could it be true? Did I really change my tastebuds and cure my daily 3pm addiction to sugar in one week? Looks like it. And I blame Mountain Trek Resort.
I have a love/hate relationship with horror. As a kid, I used to devour books by R.L. Stein and Christopher Pike, graduating to Stephen King as a teenager, when my mother and I would swap books, then commiserate over our insomnia or nightmares. Like my mother, I love a good ghost story—tales of the mysterious, of the macabre, of things that go bump in the night, thrill me as much as they terrify me.
It all started 10 years ago. I was going through a rough time, a period of intense stress that had left me with a severe case of insomnia and—when I could finally sleep—nightmares.
My long-time friend and eternal voice of reason (and fellow mojito hunter) came to the rescue. Erika showed up at my house in downtown Toronto and told me and my roommate Shanna that she was whisking us away to her family’s cottage for the weekend, to kill off the negativity that had consumed us. We were to pack our bags with no worries for what awaited us back home, and head three hours north, to a patch of water near Pointe au Baril known as Harris Lake.
Two weeks ago, I was startled to receive an email from an associate producer at CBC Radio. She had read an article I wrote for TravelandEscape.ca, about getting lost in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, and wanted me to appear on CBC’s morning program in Thunder Bay, Ontario, to talk about it.
Radio has never been a medium that I would have considered for myself. I’m a fast talker and occasional mumbler, especially when I’m nervous. Thoughts of public speaking bring me back to the horrors of giving speeches or presentations in school. And while being broadcast in any way is scary enough for me, the thought of doing it live is absolute torture.
So of course I agreed.
As a travel writer, I get to visit some pretty cool places. And last week, I was fortunate to spend some time in a place that’s recognized worldwide for sustainable travel and has been voted by National Geographic Traveler as one of the world’s Top 10 geotourism destinations.
Was I in Costa Rica? The Galapagos?
No, I was in my hometown of Toronto.
I know. Who knew?
What a difference two months makes. Back in April, I participated in the WordPress Worldwide 5k event, where bloggers and runners around the world shared their local runs with the global blogging community. At the time, it was barely springtime in Toronto, which meant the ground was brown, the trees were bare, snow still littered the path, and a chill lingered in the air. This morning, on the other hand, as I headed out for my usual weekend run, the sun felt boiling on my skin and the trail was showing the true first signs of summer: brilliant green trees and lovely blossoming flowers. That chilly run I did in April felt long ago.
It’s that drastic change in scenery that is one of my favourite things about living at this latitude. Although I fantasize about living somewhere that’s warm and breezy year round, I also can’t imagine giving up the four seasons that bring us such a different landscape every few weeks. (Although, I admit that winter in Toronto has one unfortunate landscape – slush. Lots and lots of slush. And it seems to last longer than all the other seasons combined.)
But oh, even with our miserable winters, there’s still something exciting about the first snowfall every year, and there’s something even more exciting about the first hot, sunny days after a long winter. (Just check out the patios in Toronto on the first warm day of the year. You can practically feel the happiness in the air.)
So, even though sometimes I want to run away, sometimes I can’t imagine living anywhere else.