When I was 17 …

Don’t worry, I’m not about to break into song. You have no idea what I’m talking about, doice-cream you? Frank Sinatra? “It Was A Very Good Year?”  I think it was specially written for him. Well the first line is, “When I was 17 …”

Never mind.

When I was 17 my parents sent me on one of those teen tours. For six weeks we traveled throughout Canada, the U.S. and down into Continue reading

Day 363. Bloody Brilliant

2Are you a woman who loves to travel?  If you are, you should consider subscribing to Journeywoman.com.  It’s a free newsletter for women, ironpacked (no pun intended) with travel tips.  All kinds of travel tips.

From which destinations and hotels and restaurants are single-women-travelling-alone-friendly to  recommendations on the best local guides, to interesting and unique trips you can book, to an idea I read in the latest issue I simply had to share with you.  It’s the reason I’m writing this, particular, blog today.

I don’t know about you, but when I travel outside of North America for any length of time, at some point I crave a taste of home.  Once, on a three-week vacation in Europe, by the last few days all I wanted was a tuna sandwich.  I went to bed craving one.  I woke up wanting one.  And nothing I ate, no matter how delicious, satisfied me.

It was the first thing I had when I got home.  Before I’d even unpacked my bags.  I can still remember how good it Continue reading

Day 273. All Done

That’s it for another year. Marilyn and I saw our final documentary at 8:00 last night. HotDocs 2013 is officially over. Funny, but in the end, I was no longer tired. globeI know I wrote, early in the week, I was weary; and grateful for a couple of days without movies. But I got my mojo back towards the end of the week. I hit my stride. And, now, I’m re-energized.

The movies we saw got much better as the week progressed (until yesterday), which could have something to do with it. Or, I just got into the groove. Doesn’t matter what it was, in the grand scheme of things. I’m just happy we went. And I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing some of the films we missed, during the year.

Here in Toronto we’re very fortunate. We have a theatre, very close to where I live, devoted to showing only documentary films, 365 days a year. We also get non-documentary festival-worthy films at other theatres

Continue reading

Day 244. Nice Day

When I went to bed on Friday night, I had all kinds of plans for Saturday.  I’d heard it was going to be warm, almost 60 degrees warm.  It’s been a long time since we readinghad temperatures so balmy here, in Toronto.  So I had every intention of spending as much of the day as possible, outdoors.

I stayed up too late, though.  It was well after 1:00 a.m. when I finally got into bed.  So I was a bit wrecked when I got up.  I blogged, fed the cats and found myself back in bed, where I promptly fell back asleep.  I’m embarrassed to tell you what time I woke up.

Let’s just say I must have been really tired.

Not quite ready to venture out of bed, I started reading blogs.  One or two in, I found myself at Word by Word, one of my favourites.  I loved the day Claire was writing about.  Although it was raining in Provence, where she lives, she was going to an English book sale.

She talked about how, even though she doesn’t need any more books, it wasn’t stopping her.  I can relate.  I don’t need any more books, either.  I have stacks of them I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.  But I keep buying them.  I just can’t Continue reading

Day 177. The Boomers

Have you noticed?  There seems to be a proliferation of movies about growing old, lately.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Could be, because so many of the screen writers, boomersproducers and directors are, themselves, in their fifties and sixties, and beyond.  Could also be, because so many of the great actors are, as well.  And they need roles they can play.

Robert De Niro.  Al Pacino.  Meryl Streep.  Tommy Lee Jones.  Judi Dench.  Maggie Smith.  Jack Nicholson.  Denzel Washington.  Susan Sarandin.  Jeff Bridges.  Samuel L. Jackson.  Helen Mirren.  Bill Murray.  Christopher Walken.  Bill Nighy.  Ben Kingsley.  Malcolm McDowell.  Diane Keaton.  Steve Martin.  Glenn Close.  Kathy Bates.  Sigourney Weaver.  Geoffrey Rush.  Liam Neesen.  And the list goes on.  And on.

Yeah, they’re boomers.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?

God knows they don’t want to be forced into retirement.  And we don’t want them to retire, either.  They’re way too Continue reading

Day 102. Be Ruthless

Today has brought with it an over-abundance of choices.  And, as a result, I find myself in a quandary.  There are so many “P”-words I could have chosen to write about this morning.  Passion.  Persuasion.  Paris.  Pashminas.  Parrots.  Photography.  And that’s just for starters.

But, in the end, I’ve decided to talk about packing.  At first blush, not nearly as sexy a topic as the others.  But I think I’ve got a serious case of wanderlust going on; and that’s probably why I’ve got luggage on my mind.

Over the years I’ve become quite good at editing out the things I know I really don’t need to take.  I’ve learned how to be brutal.  Why not share, then, I thought to myself.

So packing it is.

I wasn’t always a good packer.  When I first started travelling (as an adult), I essentially didn’t want to leave anything at Continue reading

Day 93. Wish List

There’s one destination I never seem to talk about, but have always been interested in visiting.  The Galapagos Islands.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, they’re a group of nineteen volcanic islands around the equator, in the Pacific Ocean, near Ecuador.  Home to both a national park (97.5% of the land area) and a biological marine reserve (27,000 square miles), the Galapagos are considered a living museum and a showcase of evolution.

What they’re famous for, is their vast number of native species, which were studied by the young naturalist, Charles Darwin, during the voyage of the Beagle.  And what he learned ultimately led to his theory of evolution, by natural selection.

The Galapagos were discovered in 1535, when the Spaniard, Fray Tomas de Berlanga, who was the fourth Bishop of Panama, sailed to Peru to settle a dispute and his ship drifted off course.  The islands first appeared on maps around 1570.  And the first English captain to Continue reading

Day 68. Alllll Aboard!

I love trains.  I’m on one, right now.  Just a short trip to Kingston, Ontario for a family event.  The other option is to drive, but this is so much easier.  Plus, if I was driving I couldn’t be blogging, could I?  Yep, free WiFi; and you can use a cell phone.  I always take the train when I go to Montreal.  It is so much more relaxing than flying.  Much less hassle.  More civilized, I think.

Especially if you go First Class, which I usually do.  We have a beautiful, new First Class lounge in Toronto.  It’s huge.  You can work, watch TV or just relax.  Snacks, drinks, whatever you want.  And once onboard, you’re treated royally.  Cocktails, snacks, wine with your meal which, incidentally, is actually edible (unlike on airlines), coffee, tea, after meal drinks and even little bonbons.  The service is non-stop.

Today I’m travelling economy, though.  It’s not a very long trip, just slightly over two Continue reading

Day 17. Good Intentions

In a previous post I wrote about how much I loved India.  That trip has left an indelible impression on me for many, many reasons.  First, the extremes:

The vastness of the country and the staggering number of people who live there.  The over-the-top opulence and the abject poverty.   The sight of some people driving BMWs, while others are riding camels, on the same street.  Sophisticated cities like Mumbai, with its glass and steel towers, compared to the backward villages in Rajasthan, where the tools and implements residents use every day look like they’ve come from an archaeological dig.

The overwhelming noise — an absolute cacophony of different sounds.  Horns, voices, vendors hawking their wares, music, traffic, screaming, laughing, dogs barking.  The mind blowing colour, everywhere you turn.  Prints, stripes, checks, plaids in combinations you cannot believe.  Bolts of fabric, saris, flowers, painted buildings, displays of every kind, stacked floor to ceiling.  The smell of curry, mingling with the scent of flowers, mingling with the odour of cooking food, mingling with the stench of dung.

What most impressed me, though, what I will never forget, are the people.  Whether they are wealthy or live in tents on the street, they are kind, generous, compassionate, sincere, warm, grateful, welcoming, inquisitive, understanding, wise, calm, well intentioned and very, very spiritual.

I was there for a month.  We spent part of an afternoon (completely by chance) and then had drinks with two brothers, princes, whose family not only owned the heritage palace hotel where we were staying, but most of the town.  They made us feel as if we were old family friends, they were so pleased to see.  The wealthy owners of a company that manufactures carpets and pashminas and clothing for export all over the world, and who also have a store where we shopped, invited us to their family home for dinner.  There must have been twenty-five or thirty members of their family there — the Continue reading