“Travel to Russia,” he says, “It’ll be fun!” he says.

Nope. Nope. Nopity nope.

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Travel Locations: China

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

In China, this holiday is second to New Year’s in popularity. It has its origins in an ancient legend about a hero shooting nine extra suns with his arrow and being rewarded with an elixir of eternal life by the Queen of Heaven. He refuses to drink it because he loves his wife so much, an evil guy tries to steal it, and the wife drinks the elixir to keep it from the evil guy. The wife, Change E, then flies to the moon and lives the rest of her eternal life there. The holiday begins with the husband leaving special offerings to her, such as holiday favourite “moon cake.”  This holiday is similar to our Canadian Thanksgiving, in that it is a celebration of the harvest, there is a break from work and school, and many people travel to visit family. In fact, this is why I wanted to blog about it! So many people travel at this time that there is a saying to describe it –  人海,人山 – which translates to a literal “sea of people, mountain of people.” Maybe not the best time to travel to China!

sea of people

However, I am interested in trying the special “moon cakes” that are eaten during this holiday. They look delicious! Also, 2017 has a longer holiday as it coincides with the National Day, or the celebration of the founding of the PRC in 1949, as well.

I also wanted to mention that our 11 year-old has stared taking Mandarin lessons online via Lingo Bus. He tried a demo class for free because I work for the sister company VIPKID. He enjoyed the first class so much that we agreed to sign him up for more! I think it will be great as the whole family can begin to learn some Mandarin in preparation for our big trip.

The World Walk

Another great travel adventure, this time from Tom Turcich. He left the United States in 2015 to walk across seven continents over a five year period.  He writes,

The dream of walking around the world formed at seventeen after my friend AnneMarie passed. Since her death I’ve decided to make the most of each day. I walk the world to become immersed in unknown places and be forced into adventure day after day. In Texas I adopted a dog, Savannah, and we’ve crossed every border together ever since. I write and take photos, and am hopefully getting better at both with each passing day.

He has Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as a website called The World Walk with beautiful stories and pictures.  I first heard about him from his Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) titled, “I am Tom Turcich, 687 days, 16 countries and 9600 miles into my dream of walking around the world. AMA!”  The AMA, in particular, has a lot of great discussions that could help others like him begin their own journey.

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Crossing the Pacific by Freighter

Recently, my family had an idea that perhaps we could start our RTW trip by crossing the Pacific on a one way cruise ship (for example, from San Diego to Sydney). Admittedly, we haven’t thought too deeply of all of the challenges with this idea – costs, sea sickness (especially for the kids) and so forth.

While looking into this plan, I came across one of the most interesting travel diaries I’ve ever seen.  The writer (YVR Cockroach) talks about his 17 day voyage across the Pacific on the CMA CGM Libra from Hong Kong to Long Beach.  This definitely does not seem like a good idea for a family with young kids.  At most an adventurous couple could enjoy this trip, though there are doubts since there is practically no conveniences or entertainment to be had (other than what you brought with you).  Having said that, if I were younger, single, had time on my hands, strapped for cash but needed to cross the ocean, I would certainly consider this…

If you want to try it, check out CMA CGM’s website at https://www.cma-cgm.com/products-services/cargo-cruise or their blog at http://www.cma-cgm-blog.com/cargo-cruises-travel-shipping-cargo/.

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Another Family Has Gone RTW

From time to time, I like to look out into the vast arrays of the world wide web (do the kids still call it that?) and see who else might be planning their round the world (RTW) trips.  One family has a blog up at https://roundtheworldwithmyfamily.com where they are cataloging their adventure that has only begun a scant few months ago.  I’m curious as to why they picked the itinerary they did – it appears that they’re going around the world twice – and how that works out for them.  If you’re curious, their first blog post related to their “test” departure is here and it shows that things can get in the way of your best laid plans.

I’ll definitely be keeping up with this blog and watching how their trip unfolds.  Blogs like that one are definitely a great motivator and planning aide for our trip in a few years.

 

Travel Books & Games

Who would have guessed it? Tell your family and friends that you will be traveling around the world and they will gift you with some great travel-themed stuff over the Christmas holidays! Here is a round-up of our lovely new books and games:

The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World (2016)

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Crocodile Creek Discover World Animals Puzzle

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Atlas of Adventures: A Collection of Natural Wonders, Exciting Experiences and Fun Festivities From the Four Corners of the Globe

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The Great Journey by Agathe Demois

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My Favourite Things To Do In Ottawa

I was watching this clip (from “Every Frame a Painting”) the other day about how great Memories of Murder is and I was reminded of the amazing video store in Ottawa where JBot and I first rented it.  Invisible Cinema in downtown Ottawa was the gateway drug for so many fantastic new films. Wyatt was only too happy to recommend new things to us. You know the place is great when they organize films by director!

Just looked it up and it has been shuttered. Dang!

And now with friends about to depart for a holiday in Ottawa, let’s continue down nostalgia lane and share some of our favourite places in Ottawa:

Chez Lucien in the Byward Market (137 Murray Street). Where art is worshipped along with the baseball game. The burger named after Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is so good. Try it with the side salad and french fries. Their free jukebox is stellar. As is the romantic chocolate fondue.

This is a great spot to visit after the National Gallery.

I was obsessed with Hintonburger when I was pregnant with G-Man. Oh man, nothing better than a big greasy delicious local homemade burger with bacon…. <queue Homer Simpson drool sounds> When we first started going there they ran out of a little trailer. Now they have taken over the old KFC so they have a much bigger space. I’ll admit, I loved the lop-sided tables. And the burgers. Still worship those burgers.

Beau's

Craft beer has really gained popularity in Ontario but, for me, it all began with Beau’s. Not in Ottawa proper but outside of town in the small village of Vankleek Hill, Beau’s has grown into a top-notch brewer and a role model for keeping businesses local and independent. Their Oktoberfest is a blast if you are visiting  the Ottawa area in the fall. They have a new patio to tempt travellers to stay and eat and drink after a tour.

There is a lot of great hiking trails in and around Ottawa. The Trans-Canada Trail that runs along the Ottawa River and next to Parliament and the canal is very popular, of course. When we lived in Ottawa Mer Bleue was our favourite hiking spot. It is an easy looped trail through a bog. Bog ecology is really fascinating. Which reminds me of Beau’s fantastic seasonal beer called Bog Water. It is made with myrtle! So good!! Pretty sure that beer is inspired by the Alfred Bog though…

Another place in Ottawa that has a special place in our hearts is the residence of the Governor General. It is called Rideau Hall. The building itself is gorgeous, the history is interesting, but it is the site itself that is worth a visit. The gardens and arbour are lovely. Plus, we also had a regular meeting of families at the sweet playground there. Best in town!

Scone-Witch

Rideau Hall is also close to the Scone Witch on Beechwood. They have more than one location. Their scone sandwich with turkey and Stilton cheese is the stuff of dreams. And their lemon curd. It is also next door to Books on Beechwood.

We used to live close to the Glebe neighbourhood. It has a nice vibe. We loved their annual yard sales.

If you are visiting Ottawa, definitely check out the schedules for the Bytowne Theatre or the Mayfair. Great movie theatres!

And if you are looking for coffee check out Bridgehead! They have a few different locations throughout town.

I am sad to say that our favourite Jamaican place is no more. We will miss Frederick, his crazy spicy jerk, and his crazy strong homemade ginger beer! The same has to be said for Zen Kitchen as well. We had the best food and drink pairing EVER at this vegan restaurant. But, that is the fate of restaurants I suppose. It can be a hard business…

Ottawa has a bad reputation for being boring, “the town fun forgot” gets flung around a lot. But really, it just inevitably looks bad in comparison to Montreal or Toronto. That and the large number of civil servants who don’t really cut loose amirite?  ^_^