“Aging is just another word for living.” – Cindy Joseph
I came across this quote recently as I was thinking about the fact that I’m now entering the final year of my 30s and wondering where the time has gone…
I’ve always loved celebrating my birthday (in fact, these days I basically celebrate for the whole month of January), and whenever possible, I try to celebrate it in a different country. However, once I hit about 27, I started stressing about the fact that I was getting older and running out of time for all the things I want to do and places I want to visit in my life and that I seemed to be on such a different path from so many of my peers. It took me years to realize that while growing older was inevitable, the path I took was totally my choice and what a winding path around the world it has been!
So, today, when I look back over the past 38 years and all the beautiful memories, I know how I got here and I’m ready for another year of adventures.
A few years ago, I made a list of all the Halloween inspired places I wanted to visit. Salem was first up and we had a great time exploring the town and learning about the history of the Salem witch trials.
This spooky season, we drove to Sleepy Hollow, NY to explore the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Irving’s short story is a favourite read of mine this time of year, so I was eager to see what the town had to offer.
Halloween decor was everywhere, with houses and businesses here really getting into the spirit of the season.
‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ Must Sees
If, like me, you are mainly visiting Sleepy Hollow in October near Halloween because you love The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (book, movie adaptations and/or shows), then here are the sights you’ll want to see!
Headless Horseman Bridge
“If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” ~The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The famous bridge where Ichabod Crane was unseated by a pumpkin is the most popular destination in Sleepy Hollow that doesn’t exist … at least not in the same location it’s found in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
That simple wooden bridge that spanned the river in the late 1700s has long since rotted away.
This Headless Horseman Bridge is located in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
*Fun Fact: As vehicles cross the bridge at just the right speed, you can hear the hoofbeats of the Headless Horseman’s horse!
The Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground
“Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.”
~The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground was founded around 1685.
The church’s 2.5-acre burying ground is said to be the haunt of the Headless Horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It’s also the resting place of local citizens who are said to have inspired Irving’s characters of Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones, and others.
This small cemetery is found adjacent but separate to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Washington Irving’s grave can be found.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
The 90-acre cemetery has seen over 45,000 interments, including some famous ones like Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Elizabeth Arden, and William Rockefeller.
You can walk or drive the grounds on your own or book one of the various tours offered both during the day and in the evening.
It’s a beautiful spot to wander around and enjoy the beautiful October colour. Just be respectful, and if driving, be sure you aren’t blocking driveways or parking on graves as you make your way around.
The grounds close at 4:30 p.m.
Location: 540 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Headless Horseman Statue
“Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless! – but his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!”
~The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
This 18-foot statue of Ichabod Crane being chased by the Headless Horseman was unveiled on Halloween 2006.
It’s located a few feet from where the Horseman would have hurled his pumpkin head at Ichabod.
It’s a popular photo op and the perfect place for catching up on Irving’s famous legend!
362 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Sculpture
Located across the street from the statue by the entrance to Philipsburg Manor, you’ll find The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Sculpture, which depicts Ichabod Crane fleeing for his life from the Headless Horseman.
The sculpture was presented in 1974 to the village of North Tarrytown.
The village changed its name to Sleepy Hollow in 1997.
Location: Philipsburg Manor, 381 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
October in Sleepy Hollow offers something for everyone, from ghost tours to blazing pumpkins, storytelling, gothic mansions, a Halloween parade and, if you’re lucky, a sighting of the Headless Horseman himself!
Head to Irving’s Sunnyside, the author’s picturesque estate nestled along the Hudson River, where a candlelit path takes you down to see master storyteller Jonathan Kruk perform his rendition of Irving’s Legend, a dramatic performance of the classic tale. Live music and an appearance from the Headless Horseman himself make this a spooky, spectacular experience for all!
The performance lasts about an hour and takes place outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather.
During the day, you can also take a spooky tour here on the grounds of Washington Irving’s estate. A special exhibit highlights how the Legend has lived on in popular culture through the centuries since its publication.
Location: 3 W Sunnyside Lane, Irvington, NY 10533
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
The area’s biggest Halloween event features over 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins illuminated against the mysterious backdrop of Van Cortlandt Manor’s 18th-century buildings.
Grab a beer or a hot cider and spend an hour or so making your way through the trail of beautifully carved pumpkins.
Tickets need to be purchased in advance. More info can be found here.
Location: Van Cortlandt Manor, 525 South Riverside Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520
There are lots more tours and events happening throughout the month of October, including the Sleepy Hollow Halloween Parade on the Saturday before Halloween.
A charming tavern with a good selection of beers on tap and some unique food options like the North American Elk Burger, the Chipotle Bison Burger, the Wild Boar Chorizo Burger, and the Disco is Dead Fries (wild boar fries). They also have a beer garden. Menu can be found here.
Location: 226 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow, New York 10591
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
The Hudson Valley’s largest craft brewery hosts a large brew facility, indoor beer hall, and outdoor beer garden. They offer a variety of beers on tap or you can opt for one of the two tasting flights. They also have food, including numerous pizzas to choose from. I recommend the Honeybear Pie!
They now have two locations. More info can be found here.
The best time to go is in October. The closer to Halloween, the better!
You’ll also find the best fall colours during the month of October.
Most events have parking included with your ticket.
While exploring the town, there are municipal lots with parking for $1 per hour.
The town is very walkable, so find a spot to park and set off!
Beware of the Headless Horseman and enjoy your time in Sleepy Hollow!
In traditional Hawaiian culture, the feast and festivities of a Luau were used to celebrate special occasions. So, while in Hawaii to celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday, a Luau was high on our to-do list.
We chose the Smith Family Garden Luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise on the island of Kauai. While sorting out my grandma’s slides from her trip to Hawaii in 1991, I found that this is the luau she attended while on the island, so since we were back in Hawaii with her two daughters and two of her granddaughters, it felt like the perfect place to celebrate!
Smith’s Tropical Paradise was created over sixty years ago by Walter Smith Sr. and his wife Emily along the Wailua River. Today, four generations later, the company has grown as the Smith family continues to welcome guests to explore their beautiful gardens, take a boat ride to the Fern Grotto, and enjoy a feast and show at the Garden Luau.
We started with a two-mile boat ride along the Wailua River with Captain Walter Jr. III sharing stories about the island and his family’s company on our way to visit the Fern Grotto.
Once docked, there’s a short walk through the lush rainforest to the Fern Grotto—a geological wonder of Kauai. Here, the ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago.
When my grandma visited thirty-one years ago, guests were able to walk right into the grotto and be surrounded by the ferns. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option as rocks have begun to fall from the ceiling and the grotto was deemed unsafe for entry.
So, in order to continue tours here, they built a large platform out front. While here, we were treated to several Hawaiian songs performed by one of the crew on ukulele while another showed us some traditional hula dances. More of these were performed on the boat ride back.
From here, we headed over to explore the gardens at Smith’s Tropical Paradise, where we were greeted with a shell lei before boarding a tram for a tour around the thirty-acre botanical garden.
Since I began sorting through Grandma’s travel slides, I’ve enjoyed seeking out places she’s been on my travels and trying to get a similar photo to the ones she took.
The, entrance may have changed a bit in the past 31 years, but I’d say it still looks pretty similar!
Then you were free to wander around the beautiful, lush grounds including a Hibiscus garden, Japanese Garden, Bamboo Rainforest, multiple ponds, and more. The grounds were gorgeous with all the lush green foliage and brightly coloured flowers, with the mountains creating a lovely backdrop!
At 6 p.m., the Imu ceremony begins where they dig the Kalua pig out of the earthen imu oven.
The host explains about the Hawaiian cooking method called Kalua and what food to expect during dinner before sounding the conch shell and giving the food a blessing.
The Smith family entertains during cocktails and dinner with Hawaiian songs, stories, and hula. So we grabbed a Mai Tai and a Blue Hawaiian and enjoyed the music.
The dinner was delicious and included many traditional Hawaiian dishes like Kalua pig, beef teriyaki, sweet ‘n’ sour mahi mahi, lomi salmon, fresh poi, Hawaiian sweet potato, various salads, and dessert including tropical fruit, coconut cake, and rice pudding.
The Rhythm of Aloha show began at 8 p.m. in the outdoor Lagoon Theatre, complete with an erupting volcano!
The show was great—full of music and dance with some history of the island woven in. There were traditional hula dances from Hawaii and Tahiti, Samoan fire dances, and traditional dances from New Zealand, Japan, and the Philippines.
It was a fun show and made me want to learn to hula! (Pre-Covid, guests were invited up to participate, so hopefully that will open again soon!)
It was a wonderful way to experience some Hawaiian culture with my Ohana, made even more special as we shared the same experience as my grandma!
The entire Fern Grotto tour takes about one hour and twenty minutes. Tickets are best purchased online ahead of time. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children. Tours currently run Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
*If you are going to the luau after the boat tour, select the 3:30 p.m. time.
The Smith’s Family Garden Luau dates vary based on time of year. Check the website for more details. Adult $125.00, Jr. (7-13) $35.00 & Child (3-6) $25.00. The luau includes entrance to the gardens, dinner, drinks, and the show.
If you just want to tour Smith’s Tropical Paradise gardens, you can Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 8:30–4 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at the entrance.
Santorini has been at the top of my travel wish list for years and the main reason I’ve always wanted to visit Greece. Flipping through travel magazines and seeing those white churches with the bright blue domes sitting high up on the Caldera made me want to book a plane ticket there immediately, and yet, somehow it’s taken me years to finally do it. Thankfully, when I first saw Oia, it was everything I imagined and more!
Walking along the cobblestone streets was like stepping into the photos of the travel magazines that made me dream of coming here. The contrast between the white cliff of Cycladic houses perched 300+ metres up at the top of the Caldera and the beautiful deep turquoise Aegean Sea shining below was breathtaking. I was immediately in love with all the blue doors and shutters and colourful flowers, such a striking contrast against all the white.
The island of Santorini surrounds the vast crater left by one of history’s largest volcanic eruptions, with smaller islands found around the western edge. The sunsets hitting the snow-white buildings give the whole place an orange-red glow and are definitely not to be missed!
We spent five days in Santorini, the first three at an Airbnb just outside Oia, in Finikia, and the last two in Fira.
Oia, located on the northern tip of the island, is a must-see when visiting Santorini. Restoration work after the earthquake in 1956 has turned this spot into one of the most stunning places in the Cyclades. Built at the top of the steep Caldera, bright white buildings are nestled into the dark volcanic rock and the contrast is stunning. Today, the often-narrow streets are lined with shops and restaurants. Boutique hotels and Airbnbs can be found built into the sides of the Caldera. Spend your time exploring the labyrinth of streets here, finding the iconic blue domes and numerous churches.
While not much remains of Oia Castle after the earthquake, the ruins of the Venetian Castle of Agios Nikolaos is worth a visit for the views alone. This is also one of the most popular places to watch the sunset.
Over 250 steps below Oia, you’ll find Ammoudi Bay. The walk down is full of beautiful views of the dark-red Caldera with its snow-white peaks looming above.
Several fish tavernas are found down here, making it a perfect spot to enjoy fresh fish for lunch or dinner. To get back to the top, you can take a taxi or ride a donkey … or just hike it like we did and get your steps in!
Another must-do in Oia is a sunset cruise. There are many tour options ranging in size, price, and number of participants. We went with Barbarossa Sailing, and are so glad we did. We sailed out from Ammoudi Bay and went snorkelling in the Caldera and spotted the tiny church built in the rocks at sea level and saw the boats hidden in caves for protection, sailed around Santorini, checking out the various rock formations and the old port of Fira.
We stopped for another swim in the hot springs by the newest island (still over 500 years old) before having a delicious dinner made by the crew onboard and then sailing back out into the water to watch the sunset, which was amazing over the water. (Have I mentioned that the sunsets here are not to be missed??) The cruise ended back in Ammoudi Bay, which all lit up at night is also a must see!
From Oia, we moved to Fira, Santorini’s largest town. Views from here are amazing as you’re in the middle of the island and able to see both edges of the island’s moon shape.
Much like in Oia, the Caldera’s edge is filled with layers of hotels, restaurants, and cave apartments. The narrow cobblestone streets twist and turn as you make your way up and downhill.
The old port of Santorini is 587 steps down from Fira. Here, along with walking or taking a donkey, you can also ride the cable car and enjoy the view.
Following the Caldera’s edge, you can walk to the neighbouring town of Firostefani, filled with more beautiful views and great restaurants to catch the sunset from. Anywhere along the edge here offers beautiful views of the island, the sea sparkling below and, of course, the sunset!
Also be sure to stop by The Church of the Three Bells of Fira, one of the most photographed Greek Catholic churches on the island, also known as the Church of the Ascension of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While it can be a bit tricky to figure out how to get up, the view from the top is a must-see.
As one of Greece’s most important producers of wine, no trip to Santorini is complete without touring one of its wineries. Here, they are known for fresh dry white wine made mainly from the assyrtiko grapes of the region, and I couldn’t wait to try some.
We headed to Santo Wines for a tasting with a view. They have several different tasting options available. I opted for the 7 Premium wines and was quite happy with my decision! Our server gave us a brief history of the winery and some info about each of the wines we would be tasting, but if you are looking for something more in depth, tours are also available.
And of course, the food here is amazing. If you want a sunset view along with your dinner, be sure to arrive early or make a reservation. A few of our favourites were Piatsa Souvlaki Grill House, a cheap, delicious spot near the Oia bus stop with gyros, souvlaki, tzatziki and pita and more; Terpsi N Oia, a fancier spot where we enjoyed a great breakfast with a gorgeous view over the Caldera and the 3 blue domes in Oia; and in Firostefani, we had an amazing meal with a sunset view at Vanilia Mediterranean Cuisine.
Tips and Info
Santorini is a popular cruise ship stop, especially in Oia and Fira. To help avoid the huge crush of cruise ship passengers that flock here starting mid-morning, head out early in the day and then back out in the evenings. This is also a great way to beat the heat, as shade is almost non-existent here. Plus, if you’re looking to get great photos before both the crowds and the sun hit, 7 a.m. is a great time to be out exploring!
A cheap and easy way to travel both around the island and to and from the airport is by bus. Most rides cost less than €2 and buses run on a fairly regular schedule during the high and shoulder seasons. Buses all have luggage areas too, making it a much cheaper alternative to taxis. More info can be found here.
Ditch the heels as the cobblestone is very uneven and you are constantly walking up and down stairs and hills.
If possible, avoid high season, when crowds and prices are both at their peak.
Oia is a must, but accommodation prices here are definitely at the higher end, especially during the high season. So, while I would have LOVED to have a place right on the side of the Caldera facing the gorgeous sunset, based on booking last minute and the $500 a night and up price tag, we opted to stay just outside of Oia in Finikia, in our own Cycladic-style house. Then we’d walk about 20 minutes into Oia each day. This is a great option if you are unable to book well in advance or are looking for cheaper accommodations.
I can easily spend hours going down a rabbit hole on Airbnb looking at listings and planning ‘someday trips.’ One of my favourite features on this site is being able to select ‘Unique Stays,’ which includes listings for treehouses, tiny houses, yurts, castles, lighthouses, houseboats, and more. While searching under this for getaways close to home, I stumbled upon an option to stay in “An Authentic Romani Caravan in Swaying Cedars.” The title immediately grabbed my attention and the colourful photos of the caravan quickly made this a place I definitely wanted to check out.
The caravan is located on an 18-acre farm near Orono, Ontario. We were greeted by the couple who owns the property and got checked into our stay.
The colourful caravan is located amongst the cedar trees with a screened-in parlour next door. A fire pit is situated between the two and an outhouse with a chemical toilet is located nearby. There’s no electricity, but the caravan does have solar power for lights and an indoor washbasin.
The space was magical—so quiet and peaceful, with only the sound of the wind rustling through the forest of cedar trees. It was almost like stepping back in time as we sipped our coffee and read, enjoying the quiet.
In the evening, we made a fire and roasted marshmallows, which were set up by the owners for us to enjoy.
The stay comes with a delicious breakfast served on the back porch of the farmhouse. There are also trails cut around the property to wander, an orchard, gardens, a pet cemetery, and a pond with turtles to explore.
Definitely a perfect spot for a romantic little getaway!
Want to check it out yourself? You can find the Airbnb listing here
Sunflower farms seem to be popping up all over the place lately and I am here for it! As a sucker for a giant sunflower patch (especially if it has fun photo stations), I recently checked another local one off my list.
The Sunflower Experience at Pingle’s Farm Market near Oshawa has over 100,000 blooms in their 6.5-acre sunflower field!
Here, you’ll find classic yellow sunflowers, but also giants over 10 feet tall, small dwarf teddies, beautiful red and yellow-hued ‘Ring of Fire’ sunflowers, crimson-coloured ones, and some so dark they almost look black!
Trails are cut throughout the sunflowers and there are 12 photo stops along the way, including a swing!
They also have a stand in the middle of the field with clippers, mason jars, and buckets. Your entrance ticket comes with one pick-your-own sunflower, but you can pay for more here as you pick up your clippers to go hunting for the perfect sunflowers to bring home.
When you’re ready for a break, you can head up to the food and entertainment area where you’ll find tasty treats like chicken and waffles and top off your day with a delicious jumbo macaron ice cream sandwich (it’s delicious…seriously don’t miss this!) while listening to live music.
Today is my Travelling Grandma’s birthday and to celebrate I’m continuing to work my way through her massive collection of slides from her travels.
As as kid, I always loved seeing all the photos from her latest travels and hoping one day I would be able to see all the same places that she had.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to go through her slides and pick out photos of her in iconic and interesting places around the world with the hopes of being able to take photos of myself in those same places as I continue my travels.
I didn’t know at the time, what a huge undertaking this little project of mine would become. When I received boxes of her slides from my uncle, some were sorted into slide carousels…but many were just left in boxes with elastics that have long since rotted away, leaving thousands of slides in unmarked piles and turning this project into a huge game of ‘Where in the World is Grandma?’
What I’ve found as I’ve been sorting through the thousands of slides, is that we have a very similar way of taking photos on our trips. We are always marking where we are by taking photos of airports, ‘Welcome’ signs, destination markers, hotels we stay at, info plaques at places we visit etc. As most of the slides aren’t labeled, besides perhaps a country and date on the box, this has made this scavenger hunt a little easier to figure out where she is in the world.
I’ve also realized that we already have some very similar photos of us on our travels. It’s been interesting to see how places have changed over the years and fun to think of us visiting the same spots.
While I was never able to go on a big trip with my grandma, seeing photos of us in the same places almost makes it feel like we were travelling together!
It’s been 9 years since my ‘Travelling Grandma’ left us. Over the past year, I’ve been slowly working my way through the thousands and thousands of slides she took on her trips. I never got the chance to travel with her…but during this year of no travel, her and I have been around the world together. ❤
Nearly a decade ago, I began collecting ornaments for my Christmas tree as I found ones I liked along my travels. It started out as a fairly sporadic collection, but over time has turned into something I seek out in every new country, adding a few new ones to hang on my tree each year.
For the first time in years, I didn’t have a new one to add to my tree, but I still got to enjoy all the memories of my past travels as I hung these beautiful ornaments on my ‘Travel Tree’.
There’s really no better sight then a colourful sunset over a still body of water. I’m obsessed with sunsets in general, but there’s something magical about the mirror image reflected back off the water, like this one I took last week on the South Muskoka River. Magic Hour at it’s finest!