Tag: travel tips

Visiting the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall of China

I just knocked a big one off the bucket list. Or should I say a really long one? My tips (and some pics) for conquering the Great Wall!

The 10 Best Turkish Foods according to The Food Girl in Town

The 10 Best Turkish Foods according to The Food Girl in Town

After three seasons working on an archaeological dig, I know my Turkish food. These are my favourite Turkish dishes from grandma’s specialties to street eats: the best Turkish foods according to The Food Girl in Town.

We ate dinner in a Bangkok construction site

We ate dinner in a Bangkok construction site

I was at the back of the bunch, so I couldn’t see where we were going. Our party of 20 or more had disembarked from the hotel in search of dinner. We were a worldly group — Canadians, Americans, South Africans and Ecuadorians — gathered in Bangkok from the far reaches of the world to celebrate the nuptials of our wanderlusting friends Mike and Chelsea. (For honeymooners check out this Bangkok itinerary for great places to eat and see) 

The road from our hotel wasn’t particularly impressive. Frankly, it was the same as any other soi off the Sukhumvit Road. Mid-range hotels and bars abutting shanty-like buildings with a minimum of three bustling 7-Elevens and countless ATMs make up the bustling streets branching off the longest road in Thailand. With the cacophony of Western influence intermingling with the street vendors frying meat at curb level, I barely noticed the constructions site we stopped at. 

Two food carts were stationed on the sidewalk, pumping out food to five tables of people eating inside the entrance to the active construction site. We were looking for a good meal, which honestly isn’t too hard to find in Bangkok — known as the street food capital of the world, mind-blowing cuisine can literally be found in the gutter — but I thought to myself:

“Here? This is where were going to eat a good meal?” 

The cooks/owners didn’t break a sweat (any more sweat, at least) upon the request our table of 20 eat dinner at the epitome of pop-ups. Foldable tables appeared from thin air and just like that, cold Singha beers with koozies materialized and our restaurant was set up for the night. Half-broken plastic chairs teetered on uneven pavement (in this case, on a 45-degree angle) and faded plastic bowls and bent metal spoons served as our dinnerware, accompanied by toilet paper for napkins. The cracked laminated menus were the length of a book (they were at most places we ate), but one learns quickly in Bangkok you can order anything you want if you know how to ask. 

Towering plates of grilled prawns, fatty pork neck, spicy green curries, whole blackened snapper and overflowing dishes of clams with Thai basil and chili arrived when ready. Lofty platters of sloppily seductive pad thai were shared around the table while steaming bowls of sweet, sour, salty and hot that constitute tom yum soup was coveted in corners. Spring rolls were demolished.  

Like most meals we ate as a group in Bangkok, we over-ordered and dishes kept on coming: more massaman curries, more papaya salad, and way too much prawn. It didn’t matter that I saw a rat scale the fence ten feet away, it didn’t matter that bathrooms are not a thing. The food was just too good to care. The heat of the curries, the sweat of the night and beer flowing with friends negated any cognizance for cleanliness. 

Just as the first round of dishes began to disappear from the table, part of the construction site’s giant sign revealed a secret passage from which dozens of workers erupted, donning hard hats and end-of-the-day-get-me-out faces. They wanted to get the hell out of there. Did it matter their motorcycles were parked amidst the tables of the pop-up restaurant? Nope. Tables teeming with dishes were parted by Moses-like vendors, and dinner resumed as normal.

The next morning

After an early morning swim on the rooftop, Adam and I wandered down Sukhumvit 11 in search of our new favourite indiscriminate pop-up. We almost walked right by; all that was left was the motorbikes; our fantastic meal but a memory, until the sun goes down and the food carts show up do it all over again. 

Where to Eat, Sleep and Drink Wine in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Where to Eat, Sleep and Drink Wine in Niagara-on-the-Lake

It’s become tradition to visit a wine region on my birthday. Last year we visited Prince Edward County for the big 3-0, and this year we didn’t have to travel far to visit one of the best wine regions in Canada — Niagara. We stayed in 

Cooking with Poo: A Bangkok Cooking Class

Cooking with Poo: A Bangkok Cooking Class

I learned to cook with poo and I liked it. A Bangkok cooking class not to be missed in the Khlong Toey Slum.

How to pack a carry-on for multi-season trips | Winter/Spring

How to pack a carry-on for multi-season trips | Winter/Spring

I arrived in Ottawa on a Saturday and it was -20C with the windchill. When I left on Tuesday it was 7C and raining. No, this wasn’t atypical for Canadian travel. It was March. During those shoulder season months (travel-industry jargon for March-June and September-November) it’s really hard to know what to pack.The weather can be a traveller’s greatest enemy. The big question is how to pack a carry-on for multi-season trips? What if it’s freezing? What if it’s hot enough to go swimming?

How do I fit all the clothing I need for two seasons in one carry-on? Like this.

Flatlay of shoulder season travel
*For a more secrets of carry-on travel, you can have a look at the inaugural post of this series: How to Pack a Carry-on for a 10-day Trip Home for Christmas.

How to pack a carry-on for multi-season trips

Layers, layers, layers

Having layers for shoulder season travel is essential. It’s important that the pieces you pack can do double duty. Light t-shirts for warmer weather make great undershirts for hiking during a snowstorm. When travelling in colder climates, a warm waterproof jacket is a necessity. I have a Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket that is super warm, and packs up very small. Perfect for carry-on travel in the late Fall or early Spring.

A match made in suitcase heaven

Everything in your suitcase needs to match. I’m serious. The flatlay below doesn’t look matchy because I wanted it to look nice on camera, it’s because it’s practical. While it may feel boring to have everything match, it’s easy to make outfits! Every top can go with every pant and vice versa.

One statement piece

Along with the matchy-matchy majority, having one or two standout pieces will help spice up the suitcase. I like to bring a sparkly top, dress, or something in a bright colour I can wear several ways throughout my trip. Keep in mind it’s important to consider how many times you’ll wear this statement piece. If you can only think about one occasion to wear it, leave it at home.

Outfit by number

One of the biggest not-so-secret-secrets about packing for a carry-on is very rational. Pack outfits appropriate for your activities. I wasn’t planning on doing any hiking while in the Ottawa area, so I didn’t have to bring any snow clothing. But I did plan on a couple nights out, so dressier tops and shoes were a necessity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but actually planning what you’re gonna wear before you go can help a lot when you’re on the road.

Here are some examples from my suitcase to show you how to pack carry-on for multi-season trips.

Shoulder Season Flatlay w/Numbers
*Disclaimer about the number of Uniqlo top in this flatlay: I have no affiliation with Uniqlo other than the fact that I’m obsessed with their stylish basics that make me feel like a sophisticated French woman.

Visiting the National Gallery of Canada

Art galleries tend to be a little drafty in the winter months and inexplicably warm during the summer, so layers are key here. I wore my Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo blue blouse underneath, a striped long-sleeved-shirt from Uniqlo (12) Rag & Bone jeans (4), and my Bass blue suede Oxfords (6).

Shopping in Byward Market

Shopping at this landmark market involves a lot of going in and out of stores, so I wore a breathable wool sweater from Winners (2) and black leggings (5) so I didn’t get too overheated.

Drinks & Pork Buns at Datsun

Drinks require a little flare: I wore my green bling-y jacket from H&M (1) along with my black textured leggings (5), black sleeveless top from Winners (11) and of course, a statement necklace (13).

Shivering along the Rideau Canal

Even though it closed for skating, we wandered along the Rideau Canada and it was freaking cold. I wore my Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket (3) underneath my more stylish navy dress coat for extra warmth, along with my vintage purse (8) which is the perfect size to hold both my camera and my wallet.

Late Dinner at Bar Laurel

Time to splash out with my statement jacket again (1). This time I wore it with a simple black dress and tights.

Creeping on Justin during Question Period

We took a tour of the Parliament buildings, so had to look prim and proper if we ran into JT. My Uniqlo blue blouse (9) and Rag & Bone skinnies (4) were up to the challenge.

Eating for 72 Hours in Chicago (in the winter)

Eating for 72 Hours in Chicago (in the winter)

For our first trip to Chicago, my list of ‘must-eat’ restaurants was a mile long. From cheeseburgers at Au Cheval to cocktails at Longman & Eagle, I had a hundred recommendations. How was I going to choose what to eat in only 72 hours in Chicago? Trying 

How to find good restaurants while travelling (without doing any research)

How to find good restaurants while travelling (without doing any research)

Eating is the best part about exploring a new place, but figuring out how to find good restaurants while travelling can be tricky. Even defining what a ‘good’ restaurant means to you is tough. Throughout your trip, you’ll have moments when it means something different: 

How to Pack a Carry-on for a 10-day Trip Home for Christmas

How to Pack a Carry-on for a 10-day Trip Home for Christmas

I’m always surprised when people tell me they are still checking bags when they fly. First of all, it costs at least $25 these days to check a bag on an economy ticket, and come on, who wants to wait in those lines? Especially during the holiday season when lines are full of families weighed down by gifts. I always go for the carry-on option, check-in online and avoid as many lineups as I can.

Disclaimer: I am by no definition of the word a fashion blogger.  In fact, most of my wardrobe is the same colour, but I can brag about my carry-on skills. In the past few years I’ve been on several lengthy trips where I used only a carry-on, including two months on an archaeological dig in Turkey. The key is prioritizing and minimizing what you bring.

To help you out, I created a list of must-haves for your carry-on, and laid out what I’m taking on my trip home to St. John’s for the holidays. Which, by the way, includes a weekend stopover in Halifax to see friends. Continue reading How to Pack a Carry-on for a 10-day Trip Home for Christmas