Congrats to you for reading my (officially) 50th post!!!! Please see below for my list of my 8 favourite places to visit.
My family is addicted to travelling. Seriously.
There’s usually at least one of us on a plane or in a foreign place at any point in time – this year in particular they’re flying all over the place – we’re truly addicts….they’ve been traveling so much this year that I’m jealous of them flying all over the place because I’m stuck here in my everyday apartment in my everyday job living my everyday life.
This is not to say I haven’t contributed to the number of miles traveled by my family this year – I have.
I was in Jamaica over the Christmas holiday (2010) and for the first two weeks of January, and then in April I went on a Western Caribbean cruise with my hubby where we went to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. They were awesome.
With all the travelling I’ve done in my life, I do have my favourites …and here’s my list of my favourite destinations (in no particular order) and why they are/have become my favourite.
|photo from Pinterest|
I’ve loved Miami since I was a child. My Dad used to leave us home and go for business when we were small but we knew he’d always have “treats” in his suitcase for us when he got back. We often forgot to even hug him hello and went straight for his bags opening them up on the kitchen floor and trying to discover what he had picked up for us.
The other times, when we accompanied him, it always meant an exciting trip to TOYS ‘R US. We LOVED Toys ‘R Us – there wasn’t any (and isn’t any) in Trinidad, so when we got to go, we made the most of it. I do admit we are a bit spoilt (to say the least) – we used to leave with about 2 carts of toys….just me and my older sister. That was the highlight of our Miami trips… okay, ONE of the highlights – if we were in Miami, we usually spent some time in Orlando and at Disney.
Nowadays, Miami means something different to me. I met some cousins who live in Miami when they came to visit Trinidad. I was a teenager then, and their easy, loving way made me completely fall in love with them (in a COUSIN way people). So when we were going to visit them, I was so excited. That was an awesome trip and after that trip there was no turning back. They are easily ranked among my favourite cousins to this day -they treat me like gold without asking for anything except love back. They were some of the only family members who I visit and who I make the effort to keep in touch with. They weren’t nervous or scared or ashamed to introduce me, their young little girl cousin from Trinidad, to their friends like some of the “first world cousins” seemed to be. They made me feel as if I were equal with them and even seemed proud to be hanging out with their little cousins!
To this day, I treasure these cousins and their families like no one else. That is what now makes Miami special to me and is why whenever I have the chance, Miami is where I suggest we visit.
2) SOUTHERN SPAIN
When my sister graduated from medical school a few years ago, the entire family went to the graduation. We decided to go on a family bus tour around Southern Spain since we were already on that side of the Atlantic and since it had been years since we had done a full blown family trip to that extent.
That was an awesome trip – Spain has amazing historical architecture, interesting characters, fabulous food and drink and a culture that you can easily get lost in. This bus trip took us all over Southern Spain, from Madrid to Valencia, Barcelona, Peniscola, Seville, Toledo and eventually back to Madrid (I think I forgot one or two cities?)…..
We did a river boat ride on which they taught us to make REAL sangria (and to drink it ). It’s amazing how many different alcohols truly go into it….and how it doesn’t taste like that much alcohol at all. Needless to say we were a little wobbly after that one!
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We also went to a Flamenco show, tried serrano ham and authentic tapas, visited a gazillion cathedrals and mosques and took a walking tour of the Alhambra (which when I get rich I will buy and reside in )
We also met so many characters on the bus tour – there were people from all over the world – a family from Thailand who gave me my first taste of endive; the Australian ladies – best friends on a trip….but as fascinated as we were with the people on our bus tour, they seemed even more fascinated with us!
We area apparently an original concept of a family, according to them – my mother, Jamaican of Chinese descent, my father Trinidadian of Indian descent. Two of us were studying in Canada, one had just finished in Ireland. One born in Scotland, one in England, one in Trinidad. What seemed perfectly normal and everyday-ish (my word) to us, was so fascinating to them. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
I really want to return with my husband – my life is now with him and I desperately want him to like it – perhaps he’ll want to live there at some point too (cross fingers)!!
3) VIRGINIA BEACH
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When my hubby and I first met we were both students and absolutely broke…..so when we first started working and got a little money in, my husband wanted to take me on a trip – so we went to VA Beach.
It was before the strip got all commercialized, so all the small hotels, inns and motels were lining the boardwalk. It was so romantic – we hadn’t even made reservations, we just drove down to VA beach, found a little hotel and slept with the door open listening to the waves crash on the beach. It was just after the annual sandcastle competition at VA beach, so the remnants of the awesome sculpture were still visible….some of those people are truly, truly talented! I’d like to go back to see one of the competitions, but I suspect it’s a lot more expensive now to go on that trip, and that it would be ridiculously crowded.
The best part of VA beach for me, was the midnight strolls along the boardwalk. It was quiet but I didn’t feel threatened, I felt completely safe. It was romantic, the sky was so clear I could see every single star….a sight I’ve missed dearly since moving to Toronto. We even went to the little fair at the end of the boardwalk and bought a small bag of shells and starfish thinking we’d make a coffee table with a resin top and sink these into them as memoirs (something we never ended up doing…). Then we found a discount book and had one of the best (cheap) lobster dinners we’ve ever had.
That trip was so romantic and simple that VA beach has an extra special place in my heart.
4) MONTREAL, CANADA
|Montreal Olympic Stadium (my photo)|
I just adore Montreal. The first time I was there I fell in love with it – the European style of living, the famous Montreal staircases and the quirky little row houses that line the city streets. The amazing waterfront and marketplaces. Old Montreal…..I was and am in love with this city.
I could walk its streets for days and days and not be bored – there’s so much history, so much romance, so much culture (and yes so many parties but believe it or not I’ve not been to any Montreal parties!). The famous Montreal bagels that are supposed to be the best in the world – I’m not that fond of – but I apparently don’t like “authentic Jewish” bagels (according to a former boss of mine).
My husband and I went to Montreal for our 2 year anniversary last year – and stayed at Le Saint Sulpice Hotel right next to the Cathedral (which we never did tour…but there is a tour) in Old Montreal. The hotel is made up of a few old buildings that were converted into the boutique hotel while retaining some of the original historical feel and even some of the historical architectural elements of the space – such service, such beautiful rooms….and they have an amazing patio where they serve the most divine breakfasts. I fell in love with bain marie at that place…I drool thinking about it.
We also found a series of restaurants (e.g. Le Jardin Nelson among others) that we truly enjoyed for both ambiance and taste. Le Jardin Nelson had live music at the time and we sat outside in their courtyard that’s sorta indoors….you HAVE to go see it to understand what I mean…such a unique restaurant. We were sent there by the curator at a nearby art gallery, Galerie D’Art Emeraude where we invested in our first original artpiece which now hangs on the wall above my bed. I’m still in love with it. My husband said it’s an investment piece, but I cannot imagine ever selling it!
Montreal just holds so many memories for my husband and I that it HAS to be on my list.
|photo from Pinterest|
My wedding was at the Hilton Hotel in Trinidad. So I made a trip a few months before to expedite the organization, meet with vendors etc. My older sister came down from Ireland to help me with the organization. My mother and younger sister were still in Canada, so it was just the three of us. My Dad decided to take us for a trip to Barbados – and we accepted because it was a nice break from wedding planning.
Despite his shortcomings, my father has always been a very generous man in this way. We stayed at an amazing hotel, had a great relaxing time. We grew up hardly seeing my father at times because his career kept (and keeps) him quite busy. My mother was the main caregiver, but there are two vacations where it was just me and my Dad and my older sister. The first was to Clown World in Orlando when we were just five and six . The second was this one.
It was really nice just spending a vacation with no schedule, just with the three of us – we swam in the pool, we toured the island, tried different restaurants and slept in with no particular schedule. It was just a really enjoyable trip……….I think just having the time to spend with them, and having them all to myself was really what made this trip special – it could have been anywhere but this was amazing.
We went on a tour of the country, we went shopping for car parts (my Dad always does this) and to dinner at several restaurants. We were on the beach and in the pool every day – and my sister even went jet skiing with her (then) boyfriend who joined us for a day.
There was also a craft fair at our hotel while we were there – I got some nice copper jewellery – which in retrospect I’ve never worn but I still think they’re gorgeous….
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A few years ago, the AIAS Ryerson Chapter did a trip to Chicago. I was extremely excited to visit this city – so many architectural wonders here! You have so many great architects that worked in Chicago from Louis Sullivan to Frank Lloyd Wright to the modern day Frank Gehry (who is Canadian btw!). Elevators were invented in Chicago and the world’s first skyscraper was built there. How could an architectural geek not be excited?!
Its reputation preceded it, but the river boat architectural tour that we did and the fascination with the city while we were running wild for three days made me I fall in love with it on a completely different level! I have nothing but respect and admiration – and if I were to choose a city in the US to live in – it’s pretty obvious which one I’d choose. Unfortunately the hubby hates Chicago – but I insist he goes back with me because he had a completely different experience and he wasn’t in Chicago proper!
The Sears tower is overrated – but shopping on Millenium Mile is an experience like none other. The huge Victoria Secrets and the Macy’s were some of my favourites (and the Coach store but that’s a given!). Millenium Park with sculptures and the architecture of Frank Gehry (Torontonian btw) was just an amazing thing to experience. It truly describes what architecture is truly about – not just the visual or physical. Architecture is about all our senses. In the case of Millenium Park he incorporated sound. And then there’s the famous “cloud” which we had great fun lying under and taking photos of.
We visited also Navy Pier and it just was amazing to be standing in living history. Did you know there’s a whole floor of tropical atrium in there?! And the fountain just outside is just oh so much fun!!!
We also visited the Cheesecake factory at the base of the John Hancock Center…..do I need to say any more?!
It was a friend’s birthday during the trip, so we went to a Morton’s steakhouse to celebrate (we didn’t mean to we just found it and thought it looked good….we ended up being in Morton’s in old T-shirts and jeans – kudos to them that they still served us!) and then took a tour of the city in a horse driven carriage….the driver was near our age so he gave us extra time and took us into the residential areas to show us all there was to see about Chicago!
We did plan to have Chicago style pizza but we were sooooooo fullllll that we didn’t. That’s the one regret I have – and the one reason I REALLY have to get back to Chicago. Chicago style pizza outside of Chicago is just not the same. I’ve never gotten a chance to re-visit Chicago, but if anyone wants to sponsor me I’m definitely up for another trip (I also hear my roomie from boarding school now lives there – would be awesome to see her again). I’d love to treat you to a pizza.
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I know I live here now, but I haven’t always. When I was younger, Toronto was a vacation spot – and we used to come to visit my mother’s sisters that lived here. I remember the first time I came up. We had come to visit my Aunt because she had just had my cousin. We were most amazed by the cold water coming out of the taps. It was like ICE water! In Trinidad it was nowhere near as cold!
We imitated and adored the Canadian accent and their friendly attitudes. We loved Canada’s Wonderland, Ontario Place and the CNE. We would absolutely die to go to the Ontario Science Centre at Eglinton and Don Mills (which at the time was so far away!). Toronto was just so fresh, so new, so clean – even the highway system from the airport to Scarborough where my aunts were was just so amazing – we’d never seen so many cars in our lives!
Oh, and my aunt had bunk beds! Oh happy day! To this day I remember those, and I remember seeing my Aunt’s neighbour through a window up at 5 am (I got up to get a glass of water) cleaning chicken at her kitchen sink – I still think she’s crazy.
I remember my grandma from Jamaica (Mom’s mother) met us – and gave us these gorgeous porcelain music boxes – mine was a ballerina – I still have her and she still works. I also remember seeing an earwig for the first time in my aunt’s jacuzzi in the basement….and the fact that my sister knocked out my cousin’s front tooth (by accident). He’s still a bit sore about that one (2 decades later!).
Toronto was just a city of possibilities for us – and now that I’ve settled here and married a Torontonian (okay originally Mississaugian)…..I can truly say that I’ve experienced most of my life in the city – yet there’s still so much to experience here. Toronto is truly somewhere you’d want to visit if just to see how multi-cultural it is and to walk through the different neighbourhoods (my favourites – Old University of Toronto, the Annex, the Distillery district, Harbourfront, St. Lawrence Market, Chinatown, Little Italy, Yorkville, The Fashion District, The Entertainment district…among others). Also try to come during summer when there are all the street festivals on – its just a plethora of choices of things to do – all free!.
8) TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (specifically Trinidad)
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One simple reason – Trinidad will always have a place in my heart as home. I still have some of my best friends there, I still have close family there. Although the country itself and the attitude of the people as a whole have changed so much that sometimes it’s unrecognizable, Trinidad still houses my main support system. My best friends in the world are there, the people who know my heart and soul inside out – and yes, I miss them everyday of my life.
Trinidad and Tobago offers a lot to a tourist. Tobago can offer you the ‘typical tropical paradise’ beach holiday – Trinidad offers eco-tourism – rainforests and nesting leatherback turtles, the Caroni swamp, Asa Wright nature center and the Wild Fowl Trust (the only place in the world to breed Scarlet Ibis in captivity!). They offer all sorts of cultural events and sights – from Carnival in February, to Phagwa, Eid and Divali…..and then Christmas in Trinidad is like none other. The food in Trinidad too, is just unique…and yes, lots of partying if that floats your boat….and partying on the seafront at that (some of the clubs are on the piers).
If you ever have a chance, visit the countries and take part in the cultural celebrations. Play mas in Carnival, throw abeer on someone at Phagwa, light a deya for Divali…..eat coo coo and callaloo, curry goat and roti, coubles, aloo pie, pelau, pone, coconut cake, red mango and if it’s Christmas time pastelles and ponche de creme….I’m getting myself hungry just thinking about it. I think I know what’s for dinner tomorrow…..pelau here I come
I hope you enjoyed my trip back through memory lane – are there any places that you remember fondly?