Category Archives: Canada

Weed, Running, and Boating in Toronto

Four months ago, I had a crazy idea. I emailed two of my favorite people in the world and wrote: “Let’s sign up for the Nike 15K race in Toronto.” To my pleasant surprise, they agreed.

Lucky for us Americans, one of those people – my good friend Daveeda – lives in Toronto. Rachel and I had instant accommodations. Too bad, the weather wasn’t quite as accommodating.

We flew into Toronto Friday morning at the crack of dawn and spent some time soaking up the important sites in between the rain. For Rachel, this meant sampling poutine. For me, this meant taking pictures everywhere.

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Posing in front of our course map

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Rachel sampling sunglasses for the meager price of $178. A steal!

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Apparently, we are a big deal in Canada.

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After picking up our race packets, we made our way to Kensington Market which is a hispster’s dream neighborhood. Think graffiti, overpriced trinkets, dilapidated storefronts, and trendy restaurants. Oh, and lots and lots of weed.

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Hehehe…

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Kensington Market

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Just considering my career options…

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Dear Toronto, I LOVE this. Sincerely, me.

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Pretty graffiti in Kensington Market

After a lazy Saturday, race day arrived. I checked the weather for the fifteenth time, and the weather gods promised us no rain until the afternoon. Shockingly, the weather gods were wrong.

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Getting on the ferry for the Toronto Islands

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Daveeda and Rachel

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Me pretending not to be exhausted

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The stunning Toronto skyline from our ferry

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Getting ready…

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In case you’re curious, I could not find the clothing optional beach

The course was beautiful. I wish I had more pictures, but since I’m pretty slow as it is, I refused to drag my time down further by stopping to take pictures. We traversed pavement, grass, gravel, and even a stunning boardwalk along the water. I managed to take this picture while running, as we made our way through Billy Bishop Airport and Toronto’s skyline came into view.

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I am happy to report that I finished the race, and I am the proud owner of my second Nike Tiffany necklace. I am also very proud of my friends who made excellent time. Daveeda and Rachel – you are legit runners.

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By the time we finished, however, it had started raining. I was wet, freezing, and just a little bit grumpy – a terrible combination. The euphoria of running 9.3 miles was quickly washed away by the urgent desire to take the longest and hottest shower known to mankind.

That was not an option – at least not yet. First, we had to get back to the mainland. Instead of waiting three hours for the communal ferry, we hopped a ride on a private boat owned by Daveeda’s friend, Addler. This was a brilliant move on our part, except for the minor fact that it was still raining, and we were still cold and wet. As we squeezed ourselves into the boat, (including Daveeda’s husband and four kids) and zipped along Lake Ontario, the wind slapped our faces, and the water seeped into my bones. I didn’t know it was possible to be so miserably cold and deliriously happy at the same time.

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Our brilliant/disastrous boat ride

Daveeda’s seven-year-old daughter, not the least bit pleased with the prospect of a rainy boat ride, summed up the entire experience best: “Mommy, why did you run this race???”

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Glutton for Punishment

As many of you know, I do not like running. Not even a little bit. But I love the idea of being a runner. I love the idea of being in shape and conquering the miles one by one. Of course, I have never quite become the glorified runner of my imagination. Instead, I hobble along, complaining about each mile and wondering why I put myself through this. Why? Because, clearly, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Nike Confirmation

That must be why I signed up for the Nike 15K race in Toronto in June. Fortunately, I have two good friends who agreed to participate in this torturous journey with me. I’m super excited to see my friend Daveeda in Toronto even if I need a 9.3 mile excuse to make the trip. So now the training – and the complaining – begins in earnest!

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Oh Canada

I haven’t been doing much traveling lately since we are in the height of election season, but last week I stole away to spend the Jewish holidays with friends in Toronto. Dan and Daveeda are some of my favorite people in the world and I wish I could pack them up and take them with me wherever I live. But until they agree to that arrangement or I figure out how to teleport, I’ll have to settle for trekking to Canada every once in a while.

We spent most of the holiday doing what we Jews do best: Praying, eating, and sleeping — and then eating again. But we spent one day taking the kids to Edwards Gardens, a beautiful botanical garden in eastern Toronto.

It was a beautiful fall day and it was just nice to be outdoors and explore the gardens.

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And then the kids decided to take a bath in the river, which was a lot of fun for them and a little less fun for the adults.

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SURPRISE

This week’s photo challenge is surprise. How’s this for unexpected?

Yes. That is a rhino peeing.

Yes. That is a rhino peeing.

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ANOTHER AWESOME HOTEL

Ice hotels are not new. There are a bunch in Scandinavia, but Scandinavia is far, and if I’m making the trek to Sweden or Norway, I want to go when it’s summer and the day lasts longer than half-a-second. Good news! I discovered an ice hotel in Quebec City, a short plane ride away from Washington, DC.

It’s called Hotel de Glace, and they have a fun 360 degree virtual tour on their website you should check out. The rooms seem to be exorbitantly expensive (my  quick search showed me rooms for $799 – uh, no thanks), but they do host tours of the hotel for cheapskates and people who hate winter like me. The hotel is only open from January – March, so we won’t be able tour the hotel if we end up in Montreal for Thanksgiving, but we can drive by and take goofy pictures which should count for something. It looks pretty awesome.

Hotel de Glace

 

MY INAUGURAL ATTEMPT AT INSTAGRAM

I am a little late to the Instagram party. I know, I know, 80 gashmillion people are registered Instagram users, and it’s the greatest thing since the Chia Pet — how could I have missed that train? Well, I am happy to announce I am no longer an uneducated philistine. I had a little time on my hands this weekend so I decided to give it a whirl.

I’ll admit it. Instagram is fun. In less than five minutes, my mediocre photograph of a peacock looks hip and artsy.

But there is an old-fashioned part of me that feels like I’m cheating. It doesn’t feel like photography. I love capturing the world as I see and experience it – and that’s not what Instagram does. Instagram feels like a cheap and easy version of Photoshop.

Sigh. Maybe, I’m too much of a stick in the mud. Maybe I’m just not COOL enough TO get it. Truth be told, I’m okay with all that. I may play around with Instagram in the future, but it will not be replacing my DSLR anytime soon.

Peacock - Instagram

Peacock - Instagram

Bird - Instagram

Road - Instagram

Highline - Instagram

Lion - Instagram

Giraffes - Instagram

Cheetah - Instagram

Are Canadians Friendlier than Americans?

Here is my anecdotal observation from my weekend in Waterloo, Ontario: Canadians are super friendly.

I wandered into the Canadian version of Barnes and Noble (called Chapters) and sat down in Starbucks with my typical pile of travel books. The guy sitting next to me peeked at my random array of travel books (Mexico, Spain, New Orleans, New Mexico, Iceland) and struck up a conversation. After he left, a woman sat down across from me. She too eyeballed my books, and we chatted for a while about our respective travel experiences, our families, our day jobs…etc. The whole time, I was thinking: This never happens to me in Washington DC.

So I started to wonder: Are Canadians friendlier than Americans? When in doubt, I turn to How I Met Your Mother to answer life’s all-important questions. Canadian Barney says yes. What says you?

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My Signature Move

Many of my fellow travel bloggers take “jumping” pictures in front of famous landmarks. I always thought this was awesome, and now that I have my own blog, I shamelessly tried to steal the idea this weekend at Niagara Falls.

#FAIL.

First, I don’t know what to do with my hands when I jump. Second, I look like an uncoordinated buffoon. Third, I was extremely sore due to a perfunctory workout Saturday night (I guess I’m not in as good shape as I like to pretend) and it is really hard to jump when any movement in the leg region results in an internal R-rated diatribe.

So… you will not be seeing any jumping pictures in front of Niagara Falls. Instead, I took ridiculous pictures of myself pretending to be a rather obvious CIA agent, even though The Boyfriend/Temporary Photographer Under Duress quickly declared, “You look stupid. Why would you have a gun at Niagara Falls?”

Answer: Because it’s easier than jumping. And thus, my signature move was born.

My Signature Move At Niagara Falls

My Signature Move At Niagara Falls

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Niagara Falls – In 12 Pictures

What an amazing feat of nature. Next up: Iguazu Falls… one day.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

My 15 Favorite Safari Pictures And A Healthy Obsession With My Telephoto Lens

I’m pretty sure the safari in Hamilton, Ontario is meant for kids. What gave it away? Possibly the fact that I was the only person without a little kid or gaggle of kids in tow. That didn’t stop me. No siree. I had my newly fixed camera and my telephoto lens, and that’s all a travel-obsessed girl needs. Truth be told, I was a little giddy. The telephoto lens has that effect on me.

I have never been to a safari park before, not even one aimed at ages 2 – 10. I would love to go to Africa to see the Great Migration one day, but until then, I’m pretty good at pretending. Here are some of my favorite shots.

Elephants

The elephants go crazy when a dog jumps into the water.

Elephants

Amazing. The elephants are trained to walk in formation.

Elephants

He makes my big mouth look small.

Parrot

These colors are amazing.

Parrot kissing

Oh yeah… you know you want it…

Elephant painting

Geez, these guys make me look bad.

peacock

I have nothing witty to say.

Dangerous animals...

These signs were everywhere. Sometimes I listened. Sometimes I didn’t.

Lion

This is one of the times I listened.

rear view mirror

My attempt at an artsy mirror shot.

zebra

I really like zebras.

Safari

I think this elk got lost.

Birds

Pretty.

Elk

Aw, isn’t this sweet?

birds

More birds.

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