Its now been 11 years since I celebrated Valentine’s Day in Kenya, but it’s certainly a day I will NEVER forget. Click here to read the full story!
Where in the World
Turning a year older used to really stress me out. I always felt that with each passing year I was running out of time to accomplish everything I wanted to. While I still feel this way at times and have no idea how so many years have already passed by, I’m realizing that each passing year is a gift and a chance for more adventures.
And besides, how can you be bummed with you are celebrating your birthday on the beach!
So…35 here we go!
While in Lima, we took a free walking tour to explore the Historic Centre of the city. In 1988, this beautiful old part of Lima was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its originality and high concentration of historic monuments constructed during the time the Spanish were present here.
Despite damage caused by several earthquakes over the past century, it’s a great place to see some of Peru’s gorgeous colonial architecture.
Plaza de Armas, Lima’s colourful main square, was considered the foundation for the “City of Kings” in 1535 when it was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro. This public square is also where Peru was declared a Republic in 1821.
The Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno) is located at one end of the square. Every day at noon, you can go and watch the Changing of the Guards, an hour of music and marching (and high kicks!) displayed behind the palace gates. This is where the Peruvian president resides.
It certainly is a beautiful spot to wander around. Below are a few of my favourite sights!
Jumping into freezing, smelly water isn’t something I generally enjoy doing, but that’s exactly what this excursion was…and I LOVED it!!
While travelling in Peru, we opted for a unique excursion in Lima – swimming with sea lions!
We headed to the marina in Callao to meet up with our tour before setting out into the Pacific Ocean. Our guide pointed out the smaller islands we passed en route, as well as different wildlife including pelicans and Humboldt penguins! It was a rough ride out, but as we rounded the bend to Palomino Island, you could already hear the sea lions. There were hundreds of them. They began jumping off the rocks to follow the boat, splashing and barking away. They were ready to play!
We got our wetsuits on and one by one jumped into the chilly water and swam out to them. The curious sea lions would come very close, sometimes even touching your toes, before swimming away again. We spent 20 minutes in the water swimming with them all around us. What an incredible experience!!
- Went with Mar Adentro Excursiones
- Wetsuits are provided
- Bring a camera that can go in the water, towel and warm clothes for the boat ride back…you’ll be cold!
- Hotel pickup is included (be sure to book that option)
Halloween is my favourite time of year. I love all the decorations and costumes and how everything seems just a little spookier as the leaves change colour and the carved pumpkins glow.
It’s also a great time to explore some of the world’s creepier destinations.
Here are a few of my favourite spooky spots to check out this time of year:
“The City of Love” has a darker side waiting 20m below the city streets. Here, in the underground ossuaries lie the remains of more than six million people. The bones are laid in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines.
During the late 1700s, many of the city’s cemeteries had reached capacity. Some, including the Saints-Innocents (Cemetery of the Innocents) had gone beyond capacity. Here, people were buried in mass graves, piled one on top of the other until it became a source of infection for those nearby. In late 1785, the Council of the State closed the cemetery and decided to remove its contents.
This transfer began in 1786 after the blessing and consecration of the site and continued until 1788. The moving of remains took place at nightfall, where a procession of priests sang the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones and covered by a black veil. Until 1814, this site received the remains from all the cemeteries of Paris.
Nowadays, the 2kms of bone-filled tunnels is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours on Halloween!
Better known as the “White Temple,” Wat Rong Khun is one of the most famous temples in Thailand. Located in Chiang Rai, this temple looks like something out of a fairy tale… until you get a closer look.
There are demons and villains popping out of the ground and hanging from trees all around the temple. To enter the main chapel, you cross a narrow bridge over a pool of hands and faces reaching up, trying to claw their way back to the surface, representing suffering souls in Hell.
And they sure are creepy to walk across!
While it may be known as the happiest place on earth, Disney World turns into a spooky night out with Mickey’s Not- So-Scary Halloween Party.
It may not be as creepy as some of the other spots on this list, but with all the Halloween decor, characters like Jack and Sally out for photos and special shows like the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” and the “Boo-to-You” Parade, it’s definitely a fun night out. Plus, it’s the one time of year that as an adult you can dress up as your favourite character at the park – and you get to trick or treat along the way, no matter how old you are!
Disney is truly a place where you never have to grow up, and that makes celebrating Halloween there even more fun!
And then, of course, there is Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is widely known as the site of the witchcraft trials of 1692, and the history and stories surrounding the hysteria of the witchcraft trials is found everywhere here, from museums to historical re-enactments to haunted walking tours.
During the month of October, this small town of 40,000 doubles in size as Halloween enthusiasts make their way here to explore the haunting history
You can visit the memorial dedicated to the 19 innocent people who were killed during the witch trials and you can also check out some of the film locations of my favourite fictional witches, The Sanderson Sisters from “Hocus Pocus ”
Salem has something for everyone and should definitely be on your Halloween travel list!
Next on my list of places to visit for Halloween are New Orleans, and of course, Transylvania!
What’s on your spooky travel list?
One of Peru’s most famous dishes is not exactly a conventional one – at least not by North American standards. Here, though, Cuy (guinea pig) has been a staple in the Andean diet for around 5,000 years. Long before they were considered cute fluffy pets, they were raised in the Andes for food.
While gourmet chefs have spruced up the original recipes and are now adding their own flare to the dish, Cuy is generally roasted whole, with the head, teeth, ears, and other parts left intact. They are doused in salt and garlic to crisp up the skin. You can find them being sold as “street meat” on sticks in areas surrounding the Sacred Valley, but many restaurants in Cusco and a few in Lima also serve the dish. For Peruvians, Cuy is a dish served on special occasions, not part of the everyday menu anymore. But with the influx of tourists over the last decade, many restaurants keep Cuy on the menu for those curious travellers to taste. It’s generally one of the most expensive items on the menu, costing anywhere from 40-70 soles ($15-28 USD).
I like trying local dishes while travelling, but this one was harder than most. Growing up, I had pet guinea pigs named Fuzz and Magic, and seeing the little face still intact on this Cuy dish definitely made me feel guilty for taking a bite. If you can get your head around it and forget what you are eating, the crispy skin tastes a lot like fried chicken.
I certainly won’t be making this dish a regular, but if you are in Peru, it’s definitely a must-try!
I am obsessed with sunsets and love to catch beautiful ones on my travels around the world. While any colourful sunset is beautiful, I especially love watching them set over the ocean, like this one in Negril, Jamaica!
While September 11th always brings back feelings of terror, hate and loss, it was also a day where people came together with love and compassion.
Some of my favourite stories of this come from Gander, Newfoundland. The recent musical ‘Come From Away,’ is based on a collection of true accounts of the days that followed September 11th, when 38 planes were grounded there after the American airspace was closed following the attacks. I’ve seen the musical three times so far, and it continues to hit me just as hard. If you haven’t seen it and it’s playing anywhere near you – GO SEE IT!
There is also a book I just finished re-reading called, “The Day the World Came to Town- 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland”, that shares stories from passengers, crew and the townspeople who generously dropped everything and opened their doors to the “plane people” who arrived in their small town.
These stories make me so proud to be a Canadian and remind me that even in the darkest times, love and kindness will always overpower hate.
Eight years ago, I was making my way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Our days started with a cup of chai tea and ended with group singing and dancing. It was a six day journey and one of the hardest things I have ever done. Long hot days of walking, cold nights in tents on rough ground, holes in the ground for washrooms and no showers. By the end, we were all physically and mentally exhausted. Beginning the last section of the climb at midnight felt almost impossible, but getting to the top, just as the sun was rising over the ‘rooftop of Africa’, is a memory I will never forget!