• europe,  italy,  travel

    A Road Trip through Tuscany

    Tuscany has always conjured up romantic images of golden-hued landscapes, with its rolling hills and cypress-lined roads. I had a mind to just jump in a car and drive–see what we stumbled across. As a result, I put much less planning into this portion of our Italian adventure than the Dolomites, taking a more on-the-fly sort of approach. As a result, I discovered that things like tours of renowned wineries book up very quickly and needed to have been reserved…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Cinque Terre

    Our final stop in Italy was the famed Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”), part of the Cinque Terre National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), along the northwest coast of Italy. These clusters of brightly-coloured villages, seemingly tumbling down the hillside into the Ligurian Sea, have so captured the imagination of travellers around the world that it should have been no surprise to find these destinations to be extremely busy. Each of the five villages have their own character and unique…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    Venice: City of Canals

    There has always been a kind of magic to Venice, this floating city on the Adriatic Sea, built on over 100 little islands. Its unique appeal, perhaps unsurprisingly, has led to a real overtourism problem–over 20 million people visit every year (half of which are day trippers from cruise ships and the like), and indeed multiple friends warned me off Venice to avoid the throngs of tourists. But ultimately, it was an ideally-located city to fly into before heading north…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Tre Cime di Lavaredo

    Three seems to be a magic number. Three Musketeers. Three Stooges. Three Men and a Baby. So perhaps it is no surprise that this trio of mountain peaks, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, is such a popular spot in the Dolomites. In fact, I seem to have a penchant for triple mountain towers, as hiking to see the Torres del Paine for sunrise was the impetus for my trip to Chile. Tre Cime was my last real stop in the Dolomites–a…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Gran Cir

    One of my bucket list items while in the Dolomites was to hike the Gran Cir Via Ferrata at Passo Gardena. Via ferrata literally translates in Italian as “iron path”, which are protected climbing routes found in the Alps involving steel cables, rungs, or ladders secured to the rock face, to which climbers would typically affix harnesses. The via ferrata portion of this hike was reputed to be quite short and relatively easy, which is why I felt it would…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Val Gardena

    It was only a short drive from the Alpe di Siusi to what would be our base for 3 days, Ortisei, the main village of the Val Gardena. Fun fact for the linguists: the majority language in the area is actually Ladin, a Romance language which is now the officially recognized language in South Tyrol. This charming town of just under 5000 people had everything we needed and was centrally-located, serving as a good jumping-off point for the region. Seceda…

  • europe,  italy,  travel

    The Italian Dolomites: Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)

    Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm, as it’s called in German) is a Dolomite plateau, considered the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe. As part of the Dolomites, it’s been classified as an UNESCO World Heritage site. It was to be our first stop in our tour of the Italian Dolomites. This epic mountain range, which was the impetus for my originally-planned trip to Italy in 2020 (which went awry due to world events), is located in South Tyrol, the…

  • canada,  north america,  travel

    Hiking and road tripping around Western Newfoundland

    After my 2-day sojourn on the eastern coast of Newfoundland, I flew to Gander and rented a car to make the 3.5-hour drive west. I spent one night in Corner Brook, but for the majority of my time, I was based in the small town of Rocky Harbour. In addition to my big hiking day at Western Brook Pond, I was eager to explore the other trails and sights that Gros Morne National Park and the surrounding area had to…

  • canada,  north america,  travel

    Western Brook Pond Hike in Newfoundland

    The entire impetus for my trip to Newfoundland started with Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park, and ultimately that insane view looking down into the gorge. I knew I wanted to experience that for myself and set about finding out how to make that happen. It turns out that the only way to get there is to book a guided hike, which will run you about $300 CAD. This includes the boat ride across the “pond” and taking…

  • canada,  north america,  travel

    St. John’s and Eastern Newfoundland

    As someone who craves travel, with all its trip planning and adventures in discovering new places, being grounded for the last 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, to say the least. With all the uncertainty surrounding the new variants and rising case counts, I had pretty much written off any chance of a real vacation in 2021. But it’s been a long year, personally and professionally, and I was in need of a break to just…