30 Apr

Monday Moment: Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

This isn’t the craziest road we drove on.

I think the road from Kathmandu to Pokhara in Nepal was crazier but I think that was because the vehicles were older and the drivers cared less (I’m afraid I have no pictures as I was terrified and clinging onto whatever I could find that was solid).

This one did cause me plenty of stress though. As the only route between Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina I knew we had to traverse it but doing so in winter seemed asinine to me! I prayed for good weather and obsessively checked the weather and road reports to see if it was open and what the conditions were like.

Thankfully the day dawned clear and we were on our way. Twenty nine switchbacks later we reached the 3200 metre peak and the border of Chile and Argentina.

Quite the ride.

26 Apr

I’m So Proud Of You

Five small words that, aside from the big three (I love you), are some of the most powerful words we can put together.

I was reminded of this recently as I chatted with a friend who is experiencing what she says is ‘the universe finally shining down on her’ and offering some great opportunities but that I amount to her vision, hard work and determination; not to good luck. We talked about all the work she had done to afford these opportunities and I told her how proud I was of her; for the expansion of her thought processes, for taking the risk to step out of her comfort zone, and for the courage she had to open the door when she heard the knocking on the other side.

She lit up like a beacon and positively glowed. Five small words.

My parents supported our plans when we first stepped out, sold our house, and started our traveling lives. I knew they were proud but I vividly remember the time my dad wrote the words on my blog and how my heart swelled as he told the world. Five small words.

I watch as my brother and sister shower praise on their kids telling them how proud they are of them. Each one of them then gets a little flush, flashes a beaming smile, and stands a little straighter. Five small words.

It’s a rush to realize that someone you care about, someone you love, someone you respect is paying attention to what you do. It shouldn’t be the sole driver for doing something or to stepping out but it sure feels nice when what you’re doing is noticed and appreciated.

Five small words. I think we should use them more often.

Photo Credit: Nicolas_gent


23 Apr

Monday Moment: Feeding The Birds, Vancouver BC

Feeding The Birds, English Bay, Vancouver BCI love Vancouver.

I love that I can walk the entire downtown area and pop out at the end of Denman Street right onto English Bay.

It’s a quintessential Vancouverite thing to do; grab a coffee, hit the beach and head towards the Stanley Park Seawall.

Rain or shine you’ll have plenty of company.

19 Apr

Creating An Itinerary For Japan

I opened the guidebook excited that I had set aside the rainy afternoon to plan out the itinerary for our upcoming trip to Japan.

I closed it about 10 minutes later completely overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start. I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for years and, reading the book, it all sounded so amazing that I wanted to do it all.

Yes! Let’s hike Mt Fuji. Yes! We should head to the north and visit a remote onsen. Yes! We’ll stay in a capsule hotel in the heart of Tokyo. Yes! Walking along an ancient pilgrimage route sounds perfectly zen-like. Yes! We can pay tribute to the victims of the Hiroshima bombing. Yes! We’ll visit temple after temple after temple in Kyoto. Yes! We’ll gorge on sushi and ramen and okonomiyaki until we burst. Yes! Let’s head to the south and see the beaches there. Yes! We’ll stay in a temple and wake to the chanting of monks. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Ahhh, but we’ve done that before. Run from place to place feeling like we need to experience EVERYTHING and staying only a day or two in a place before moving on.

This trip is to be a study in traveling slower. Less places, more experiences. More settling in and getting to know a place, less running around wondering if this temple or castle is really that much different than the twelve other ones we saw last week.

It’s about remembering what worked and what didn’t in the past and using those lessons to guide our planning this time. It’s about distilling that great must-do list into a concise list of experiences and focusing the planning on those experiences rather than on places. It means understanding how we want to feel on this trip and passing up on the ‘shiny things’ that don’t contribute to that feeling.

Easier said than done.

I want to feel that I’m learning. That I’m starting to understand how things work; how to order sake, whether to slurp or not, temple etiquette, how to open those sliding paper doors.

I want to feel that I’m taking my time. That I’m giving a place it’s due, not just rushing through.

I want to feel that I’m not missing out on anything. It’s the missing out feeling that drives me to travel too quickly. I want to prove to myself that slow travel is more rewarding.

I want to really experience food and drink. I think we are too timid sometimes and I don’t want to be scared by what looks weird in Japan. I want to try all the different kinds and styles of tofu and understand how they are different. I want to visit sake breweries and taste the difference in region and style. I want to slurp noodles in back alley ramen shops, drink in izakayas, and eat yakatori by the stickful afterwards. Of course I want sushi but also okonomiyaki, tempura and bubble tea. I want to spend the money on a Kobe steak and enjoy a multi course meal at a ryokan. This will be the highlight of every day in Japan.

I want to experience culture and history but I don’t want to roam around in museums. I find them overwhelming. I prefer to take small scale city or site tours and have a guide weave history and culture into the stories they tell of a place. I want to visit temples, take in some Kabuki theater, and stay in a traditional Japanese inn.

I want to have urban experiences – I love cities and the thought of Tokyo and all it’s districts and people is exciting. But I also love the outdoors and want to do some hiking and see what rural Japan is like.

I want to feel quiet. I know that might be difficult in a country of 127 million people but I want that zen feeling of content. I think that will come from traveling slowly, listening to how we’re feeling and ensuring that everything we choose fits the criteria.

An itinerary is emerging.

Photo Credit: BilabialBoxer

16 Apr

Monday Moment: Hanover, Germany


Like much of Hanover the Aegidien Church was destroyed during World War II. Most of the city was rebuilt and it remains one of the more modern cities in the country. The church, however, was never rebuilt but stays in ruin as a memorial to the ravages as war.


12 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To London!!

You know how sometimes when you’re traveling there just isn’t enough time to fit everything in? You feel like you are rushing, maybe your plane is leaving a day earlier than you had thought? Ya, that’s where I’m at with London.

Oh, how I want to do it justice; really tour around and give it its due but, truth be told, the Go With Oh competition is closing a day earlier than I had thought…my plane is leaving and so I must rush so let’s make the most of it and see what we can.

London, for me, is a tourist city. Unlike some of the other cities I’m hoping to visit I have no need to pretend I’m a Londoner so I’ll be spending my time seeing all the tourist clogged, cliched, seen-in-all-the-glossy-magazines sights.

Buckingham Palace. I don’t think I could visit London without visiting the Palace. If I could see the Changing Of The Guard it would be even better.

Buckingham Palace, London

Photo Credit: Clarissa~

The London Eye. As the largest ferris wheel in Europe it must command some amazing views from the top. Sign me up!

London Eye Ferris Wheel

Photo Credit: KevGibbo

Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster. Who could visit London and not see Big Ben?

Big Ben, London

Photo Credit: trodel

Tower Bridge. Another iconic landmark that deserves a visit.

Tower Bridge, London

Photo Credit: StewartMorris

Camden Lock. It would be fun to watch the locks in action. See that patio up above? That’s where you’ll find us enjoying a pint and watching the action.

Camden Lock

Photo Credit: NickMillerUK

I know it’s been a quick tour, and I know that London has so much more to offer (I mean, really, what about all the pub stops I failed to mention? Have no fear I would sample my fair share of lagers and ales!) but they’re calling my flight and I really must get on the plane.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see London yourself (and maybe even take your time)!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**




12 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Florence!

Florence (or Firenze as it’s called in Italian, which sounds so much better don’t you think?) is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany conjures up images of complete relaxation for me. Great architecture surrounded by great landscapes within which I will enjoy great food and wine. I imagine it to be a fantastic place to complete a European tour -relaxed and worry-free before heading back to the real world.

Visit Il Duomo. One of the oldest brick dome structures in the world and a UNESCO Heritage Site, it is worth seeing just from the outside but the inside is even more stunning.

Il Duomo, Florence Italy

Photo Credit: Cleavers

Eat My Way Through San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. I might have to give up my ‘no organs, no bugs’ rule here as non-traditional (at least in my tradition) meats are quite regular here. Lampredotto sandwiches are common; yep, cow’s stomach…but, so are prosciutto and fish and cheese and all kinds of yummy delicacies. Something tells me we’ll be spending a lot of time here.

San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale

Photo Credit: Yannick Carer

Drive Through The Chianti Region. I’ve heard it’s crazy to rent a car and drive in Italy but, really, could it be any crazier than renting a motorbike in Vietnam? I want to drive the winding roads, stopping by wineries whenever I feel like it and enjoying the scenery at my own pace. Maybe we’ll bring some of that prosciutto with us.

Chianti Region, Italy

Photo Credit: RickC

Passeggiata. The quintessential Italian ritual; an evening walk but not like any evening walk I’ve known. Dress up. Take your time. Enjoy some gelato. Gossip. I can do this.

Day Trip To Lucca. In 2009 while we were tramping around the dusty backroads, mountains, and valleys of Peru my very good friends were wining, dining and looking fabulous in Lucca. My pictures all show me sweaty and eating god-knows-what, while dressed in the finest backpacker wear;  her pictures show her looking fresh and happy, dining on pasta and prosciutto, while dressed in cute summer dresses and sandals. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world but now I want a just little bit of what she had!

Lucca, Italy

Photo Credit: Context Tours

See? Relaxed. Just what you want after a long holiday. Perfecto.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Florence yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**


12 Apr

Wide Open Spaces

I love wide open spaces.

Although I grew up on the coast, where big mountains and big trees dominate,  I have always loved staring out over the ocean. I like being able to see forever over the water.

Looking Over Johnstone Straight, Vancouver Island

Looking Over Johnstone Straight, Vancouver Island

I realized, as we traveled, that one of my favorite things to do was to just stare out over the landscape – the farther I could see the better. Most of this was done while traveling by bus…many, many, many, many hours on buses, starting out and just watching the scenery go by. I miss it and it just doesn’t seem the same sitting on my couch for hours, and hours, and hours, and hours especially when I can only stare at the apartment block across the street.

Here are some of my favorite stare-out-over-the-lanscape views.

Bali Road Trip

Rice Fields in Bali


Inca Trail Trek

In The Valley During The Inca Trail Trek, Peru

Dana Canyon, Jordan

Dana Canyon Along The Kings Highway in Jordan

Mountain View, Poon Hill Trek

Through The Valleys on the Poon Hill Trek, Nepal

Misti Volcano, Arequipa

Driving Through The Arequipa Desert, Peru

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan (Can You Spot The Truck?)

Thar Desert, India

The Great Thar Desert, India

You can see why I love getting out onto the prairie in our new home. There aren’t many high points but, once you find one, you can see forever!

Alberta Prairie
Our New Prairie Home, Alberta



10 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Paris!!

I’ve found the perfect apartment in Paris. An apartment in Paris!! To think I could even consider such a thing but, really, I think an apartment is the only way to go in this city-that-exists-to-be-a-city-not-to-be-your-playground.

Come on in. I thought for this episode of ‘Go With Oh and Gillian’ we could find five things to do in my new neighbourhood. Even if it is only for a week. Even if it is imaginary. For now.

An apartment means not having to deal with cafes and patisseries that cater to tourists only. We love to lounge in the morning enjoying coffee and catching up with the interwebs so it means a quick jaunt to the corner to get a croissant au beurre to accompany our house made coffee and hours of hanging out waiting for the city to wake up.

I love Google Street View! Look there’s a patissier right downstairs…

Paris Pattisier

With its narrow streets and parks dotted throughout, the Montmartre district is perfect for walking which is my favorite way to see a city (seconded only by hop on hop off bus Paris tours that run nearby!) Our apartment is only a 10 minute walk from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (or Sacré-Cœur Basilica if you want to get all French sounding). This Basilica tops the Montmarte Butte and is not only a fabulous building to explore but also offers great views of the city.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris

Photo Credit: http2007

If it’s Saturday or Sunday we’ll stop at the bottom of the hill and spend a few hours bargain hunting at the Paris Flea Market. Don’t you just want to know what types of things Parisians are trying to get rid of? I imagine we’ll think it’s not junk at all but filled with beautiful treasures as we try to figure out the baggage limit of our return flight!

Paris Flea Market

Photo Credit: Julie70

I love urban cemeteries. Typically urban cemeteries are the oldest as it’s likely they were once on the edge of town and the city has grown around them. In fact, the Montmartre Cemetery replaced an inner city cemetery early in the 19th century after cemeteries were banned in the city proper due to health concerns. Of course now this once-on-the-edge-of-town burial site is once again in the center of the city. It’s these older cemeteries that have the most amazing tombs and gravestones. It’ll be interesting to wander around and see who is buried here.

Montmartre Cemetery, Paris

Photo Credit: SNappa2006

It’ll be a slow walk ‘home’ as we stop along the way for a glass of wine and to people watch. I think we’ll stop at the Brasserie right around the corner from the patissier from this morning. Great food, great wine…and a short walk home.

Paris Brasserie

Maybe we’ll never get to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre…our new neighbourhood has so much to explore.

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Paris yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**

09 Apr

Monday Moment: Delhi, India

Autoreckshaw, Delhi IndiaUsually in cities we like to either walk or take public transit to where we want to go. Niether was possible in Delhi.

Walking anywhere was next to impossible with the pollution and crowds and dirt and smells…believe me we tried. With no public transit available we took to using autorickshaws to get everywhere.

Yes, the traffic is crazy but the speeds are relatively low and besides no one wants to hit the autorickshaw with the foreigners in it so we were pretty safe.

07 Apr

I Want To ‘Go With Oh’ To Vienna!

Vienna makes me think of old world romance. Gilded chandeliers, lavish dinners, plenty of wine and luxuriating in our Oh-Vienna apartment.

Here’s our five point plan to making the most of a stay in the Austrian capital:

1. Coffee and Strudel. We’ll sleep late, lounge around and then step outside our apartment and stumble to the nearest cafe where we’ll slowly rouse ourselves while enjoying some of the best coffee and apple strudel on the planet.

Viennese Coffee and Strudel

Photo Credit: csaavedra

2. The Vienna Naschtmarkt. Once we’re thoroughly caffeinated we’ll make our way to the market where we can wander through sampling as much as we can before the coffee haze wears off.

Vienna Naschmarkt

Photo Credit: caramdir

3. Giant Ferris Wheel. The 100 year old Vienna Ferris Wheel is a perfect romantic icon of the city. We’ll cuddle up inside one of the restored cabins, take a spin and get some of the best views around.Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel

Photo Credit: MaximeF

4. Viennese Waltz. How could we come to the birthplace of the waltz and not catch some of the action? Although I would love, love, love to wheel and turn my way around the dance floor I will have to admit to my complete lack of grace and timing and sit patiently on the sidelines. Besides I have absolutely nothing to wear. Viennese Waltz

Photo Credit: Jeff Tabaco

5. Blue Danube Dinner Cruise. We’ll finish off the evening with dinner and a romantic cruise on the river. We’ll sip wine and enjoy fine Viennese cuisine while listening to the classical music born in the region and watch the sites as we float by. A perfect end to the day.Danube Cruise

Photo Credit: roger4336

**You could win 500 Euros of accommodation with Go With Oh to see Vienna yourself!! They’re also giving a way an iPad, a Panasonic Lumix Camera, and 500 Euro of Samsonite Luggage.**