"Travel, Eh?" milliturtle's Profile
I think the travel bug runs in my family. I'm not sure what it is about travelling that appeals to me - the whole lugging around your suitcase; wearing the same 4 t-shirts for 2 weeks; or spending hours on the planes, trains, and automobiles really isn't that relaxing. But nothing beats that adrenaline rush (mixed with jet lag) of setting foot on foreign soil. If there's good food and shopping - even better!
I love living in Toronto though - clean air, lots of space, urban atmosphere yet close to nature as well. Maybe i should just take a week off one of these days to chill in town.
- Photography - architecture, landscape, people, nature, anything
- Food - Street foods mainly, wine, and an unhealthy obsession with Fanta Orange, since it's not available in Canada
- Shopping for knick knacks and generally useless souvenirs
- Attempting to learn Spanish (ongoing)
Favourite travel TV show:
- Departures seasons 1 to 3
Favourite word used in hotel and restaurant reviews:
- Good / Bad
- Awesome / Awful
- Amazing / Disappointing
(No wonder my reviews are not that entertaining to read! Must use thesaurus more...)
Having missed the window of opportunity between university and work to do some serious travel, I have to make do with my annual vacations. In these days and ages, many jobs (at least in my field) will let you take 2 weeks max, unless you're getting married. So it is always challenge to try and fit in as much as possible without being a slave to the itinerary.
(I may have used the flowchart once or twice in my early days. Even now, my itineraries tend to scare people - I have to keep reminding them that we don't have to do everything!)
Things to remember when planning a 2 week vacation:
- You won't be able to adequately "cover" the country, so don't. Just accept that you may have to go back again to explore other parts.
- It will be difficult for you to immerse / experience the culture, whatever that may mean to you. It is however possible to do little things - try some local food, make conversations, share about your own country with the locals. Learn some local words. It may even earn you a double-cheek kiss or two.
- You won't see all the sites, so prioritize and know that you'll have to change things on the fly. This comes from someone who used to flowchart the itinerary in the early years.
- Study the maps and group things according to area. It is much easier to shift a blocks of time (assuming you are in a place for more than one day). Say you are jet lagged, you may rather go to the beach than see the Vatican immediately.
- You can say no. Just because someone said something (say a museum) is a must see doesn't mean it's your cup of tea. It is OK to be "uncultured".
- Leave free time each day. Nothing ever go as planned and it's usually much more expensive trying to get to the next point if you didn't budget for contingencies.
- On a related note, you may or may not want to reserve ahead of time. Some places, like the Last Supper, is very popular and can sold out a month in advance.
- Don't discount organized tour. It's nice to have someone take care of the travel arrangements for you especially when you have time constraints. Just make sure you research to see if they give you enough freedom to explore and not take you to shops after shops.
I have lived in Toronto for most of my life, yet I don't really know that much about the city other than the downtown core area. If you ask me what there is to see for a first time visitor, I'd probably say CN Tower and Niagara Falls. And yes, I've been to both locations more than enough times because that's where we take our visiting friends and family.
Toronto is probably not known for its sights but more for its multiculturalism. In a way, you really get to know Toronto by visiting its diverse neighbourhoods. One fun way to do that is to go to one of the many festivals in the summer. You can see the people, taste the food, and learn about the culture all by taking public transport.
A little transportation tip - On weekends, the TTC day pass can be shared between 2 adults and up to 4 children, so if you are traveling as a pair of adults, you break even with 2 rides.
It seems like my friends and I've been searching for more off-the-beaten track activities lately. Maybe not seriously off-track like camel trekking for a week, but just a little out of the ordinary and hopefully accessible by public transportation.
When reading other traveler's blogs, it seems that most people find these activities through talking with the locals. But for us, it is almost impossible to follow whims and tips because we are constrained by our transportation / accommodations. So, thanks VT and Tripadvisor!
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