I recently was awoken by two little brown striped birds atop my boyfriend’s terrace wall, chirping and singing merrily while I wondered what the heck they were. I thought they might be sparrows since they looked like a “regular bird” and didn’t really know many others that looked the same. I became curious though, when their calls were all wacky and my rudimentary search online for even song sparrow calls were all repetitive and not at all the same as what I’d heard.
I posted my quest on Facebook to identify the calls, asking for any links people had. My friend Laura L. sent me this link. Well, it didn’t take very long before I discovered what I’d seen were Pine Siskins. Here is a sample of what they sound like from that link. Here is what they look like. I don’t remember seeing any yellow though, so they might have been females or young males. Still, they were very cute and happy-sounding! I might see if we’re allowed to put up thistle bird feeders…… 😉
Today’s travel post is about a place I’ve never been: Newfoundland and Labrador! I know Gander is in there somewhere, and has an airport because one of my best friends works there 😉
What is nice to see in Newfoundland and Labrador? What do you suggest I do when I hopefully visit one day? Let me know in the comments section.
Okay I just had to post this. I hope it works. [Ed: It doesn’t. But click on the link to watch the full version on YouTube!]
I love my Blue Jays!
This is my interpretation of Seasons in Ontario:
February: cold, few days of Spring, cold.
March: cold, week of Spring, cold.
April: cold, week of Spring, cool.
May: cool, warm, cool.
June: hot, warm, hot.
September: hot, warm.
October: warm, cool, warm, cold.
November: cold, cool, cold.
Today’s Ideal Vacation location is my own dear province: Ontario! Since I have visited a few places around this province, I’ll start by introducing the one I know best:
Where to visit:
What to do:
- Butterfly Conservatory (as long as you’re okay with butterflies maybe landing on you!): It’s a lovely slice of enclosed rainforest with a vast selection of colourful butterflies to stalk. It’s hard to go and not leave a happier person!
- Journey Behind the Falls: Here, you really get a sense of how powerful the Niagara Falls Horseshoe waterfall is, as well as the tremendous speed with which all that water falls every second.
- Maid of the Mist: Although locals tend to roll their eyes at this one for its “hokeyness”, you really get different perspective from a boat about these falls. I lived near Niagara Falls all my life and only truly understood the immensity of them when I went on the Maid of the Mist when I was about 16. You won’t believe the wind!
- The “old casino” (Casino Niagara): More unique and pretty than the new casino on Murray Hill, Casino Niagara at 5705 Falls Avenue still houses many slot machines (the only thing I’ve ever dared to play), as well as some tables for that other gambling stuff. It also has an interesting and functional art display of different-sized flat screen TVs so you can keep up-to-date with your favourite sports teams. Plus, it’s just a few steps away from…..
- The Hershey Store: While everything is expensive here, if you have a few extra bucks to splurge in the summer, try one of their chocolate-dipped strawberries (ask for it *freshly* dipped, trust me!) and/or a chocolate milkshake. No matter your chocolate tolerance, you will get a sugar overload! It’s an awesome place to take a date, hint hint.
- Go up to the Observation Deck at the Skylon Tower: Sure, it gives you an amazing view of Niagara Falls, but what people often forget is that the viewing deck is all around the tower, so you can see far into the distance in all directions and can admire all the local landscape. This used to be the tallest building at Niagara Falls, and is starting to be dwarfed by the (kinda ridiculous, if you ask me) massive hotels….. so if you’re one to appreciate history and architecture, this is the place you want to support! If you’re feeling like an unforgettable meal, make sure to go to the restaurant up top too; they have incredible food!
- Margaritaville: This restaurant is new as of last summer, but had my attention from the beginning. One of the famous international chain of Caribbean-themed restaurants created by everyone’s favourite beach bum, Jimmy Buffett, has opened across the street from the new casino on Murray Hill. Everything I have ever tried on this song-inspired menu has been sensational, and served in the most amusing atmosphere you can imagine. Pirates on stilts making balloon animal hats? Sure! Giant tequila bottle pouring into a monster-sized blender? Of course! Every restaurant is themed uniquely for its location, so there’s even a shout out to Niagara Falls by way of enormous large screen waterfall projections. I believe they have live music every night, and Jimmy himself has been known to show up and play a spontaneous set! (Just don’t expect it — that’s only happened once so far!)
Well, I’ve got a list started anyway. I do love playing Tour Guide for friends who’ve never been, so expect to see more updates to this list in the future. Feel free to add your own as well!
As this was only about Niagara Falls, I will try to get to other cities in the coming days, but I’ll need your help too! Tell me which cities in Ontario you love to visit and why!
I’m taking a break from the Ideal Vacation series to bring you a new challenge: I’d like to create a series of entries that’ll serve as a resource to find awesome home-cooking restaurants in Toronto, Ontario. To start off, I’ll pick an area of the GTA, and let you know where my favourite place to eat is, and why. You can tell me if I’m nuts, or if you know of a better place.
Toronto sometimes gets a reputation for being a bit uptight, and it’s not hard to understand why: costs are sky-high for real estate in this busy city, so you gotta be good to make it.
However, you don’t have to be expensive, posh, or even that great of an atmosphere to have really good home-cooked food. Although it’s sometimes nice to have a fancy meal out, with so many of us 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-generation Canadians living here, there’s something to be said for having a meal that reminds us of chowing down at the family dining table growing up.
I have explored some areas more than others, so if your fave spot doesn’t make it here, I might not even know about it! If you have a suggestion of a place, tell me here and I’ll make sure to try it in the next few weeks. Also be sure to include your favourite dish, so I can know what to order!
Today’s Ideal Vacation province is Manitoba. If you’re new to my blog, the idea is to dedicate an entry to each Canadian province and ask anyone who stumbles across it for suggestions on what to see or do if I were to travel there. I’ve been to Manitoba, so I can tell you what I liked when I went:
- There’s a place called “The Forks” in Winnipeg that has a lot of touristy stuff to see….. but what I remember most were the tiny freshly-made donuts they sold in the food court there. I don’t remember the name of the donut-erie, but they were deeelicious! (Let me know if you know the name of the place!)
- There are sand dunes near Brandon, including the “Devil’s Punchbowl”, which are really neat to see, especially if the only sand you’ve ever seen has been on beaches (like me). The desert-like landscape makes it hard to believe you’re not somewhere more exotic than….. well, Manitoba (forgive me, Manitobans!).
- Any road going into or out of Winnipeg. It’s amazing how quickly the landscape goes from prairie flatness to cityscape. It’s as if someone were playing a huge-scaled game of Monopoly and plunked a city down in the middle of nowhere. Just ‘cuz.
It’s been a long time since I went, so by all means, tell me what you like or recommend seeing. If I were to go again, what would you recommend I see or do?
Hello reader friends!
It’s time for another province in our little travel project: Saskatchewan!
What do I know about Saskatchewan? Well, Saskatoon is not the capital….. Regina is. Okay, so I kinda looked that one up. I really don’t know much about this rectangular province. I know how to spell it. That’s gotta be worth something. I do know they’re very agricultural. But then again, they’re part of the prairies, so I guess that’s not particularly surprising information. I’m trying here! I guess it’s clear I’ll really need your help on this one.
If you have ever lived, or travelled in Saskatchewan, and have a good suggestion for places to go, or things to do, let’s hear ’em!
Following the raging success of my first Ideal Vacation submission (okay, so it got some pageviews, I’m still waiting on some actual comments!), I’m on to my next province.
What I know about Alberta: it has oil sands and processes that messy stuff in a relatively clean way, from what I’ve heard. Also, they are responsible for Clippers. I think there is also a big mall.
Now that my ignorance is there for all to see, it’s your turn to step up and tell me what the best things are to see and do in Alberta!
Today I was thinking about travel again (big surprise!), and came up with an idea.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was somewhere you could go online to find the best recommended things to see and do, as recommended by people who have lived or travelled there? Okay, probably there is a site like that, but I wanna make one for me!
Every few days, I’ll start a post indicating a new place. Then, if you’ve been there and did/saw something interesting, tell me what you liked about it in the comments section. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a list of must-dos for each province. I’m starting in Canada, since I haven’t really visited many provinces other than my own, and would like to ask you, my dear readers, to help me choose what I should visit when I eventually make that cross-country trip!
Ideally, this will be a way to learn more about my country from those who have experienced it first-hand, not from over-hyped travel brochures.
Today I will start with a province I know nearly nothing about, except that it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. So, tell me: what are the must-sees and must-dos in the beautiful province of British Columbia?