Sunshine, bacon and Whac-a-Mole: the Canadian National Exhibition

In every town and city across the world, there are little rituals that mark the passing of the seasons. Here in Toronto, one of our yearly rituals is the Canadian National Exhibition, also known as the CNE – or to those of us who live here, the Ex. When I was a kid, the Ex was bittersweet pleasure. You looked forward to it all summer, with a mixture of anticipation and dread. For one or maybe two golden days, you could delight Continue Reading ››

Livin’ like a rock star at the Hard Rock Hotel

Most of us who travel spend a lot of time in decent, affordable three-star hotels and resorts, sampling the delights of luxury living only on big occasions — like when our lottery tickets come in. But every once in a while, even budget travellers get to live like a rock star. That’s what happened to me last year on a travel assignment in Panama. My trip was partly sponsored, and Decameron Hotels agreed to provide accommodation once I got to Panama. We agreed to four nights Continue Reading ››

Literary trips: five books that brought travel to life

Seeing new places is always fun, but let’s face it, just looking at the monuments and cathedrals of yet another city can be a shallow experience if you don’t have a real understanding of what you’re seeing. The  best way to get that understanding is by doing some reading before you go, and not just blogs and guidebooks — reading novels set in the country you’re headed for. Blogs and guidebooks can give you lots of good information on what to Continue Reading ››

All-inclusive cruising — is it a good deal?

One of the great things about cruising is that you get a lot for one price: a room, transportation, unlimited food, and free entertainment. But nothing’s perfect, and the fly in the ointment is what’s not included in the price you see: things like  liquor, soft drinks, gratuities, internet access and meals at specialty restaurants. They can add a hefty chunk to your bill by the time the cruise is done. Luxury cruise lines have been moving to combat this Continue Reading ››

Visiting Canada: 10 fun facts

Every year, about 16 million visitors come to Canada for business and pleasure. And since the number keeps growing, I guess they enjoy themselves. But Canada doesn’t get much press around the world compared with the United States, so it’s not surprising a lot of the visitors arrive here not knowing much about us. That might explain the skis on top of the car in July. To help those visitors who want to learn the secrets of this great and mysterious country, Continue Reading ››

Confessions of a Travelling boomer

It’s not often that The Travelling Boomer gets an award, but this week I’m the recipient of the Liebster Award, a kind of mutual respect emblem that bloggers give other relatively new bloggers they consider lovely and talented — or at least interesting and readable. The award comes courtesy of fellow Toronto travel blogger Marie-France Roy, who writes an entertaining blog called Big Travel Nut and has the audacity to have visited more countries than I have. However, we have the Continue Reading ››

Where to go in Mexico — five “other” destinations

As I’ve written here more than once, Mexico is one of my favourite destinations, a great place to leave winter behind for some great weather, great culture and great food. But most of the northerners who visit the country end up in the same big-name beach destinations, and while they’re nice, they’re just a fraction of what Mexico has to offer. If you’re visiting Mexico this year, it’s worth considering some places other than the well-known spots that dominate the travel Continue Reading ››

The Baby Boomer travel advantage

When you ask people what they want to do when they retire,  most of them say “travel”. And no wonder: people love to travel, no matter what age they are. But there’s a second reason travel is a favourite for people in their retirement and pre-retirement years: call it the Baby Boomer advantage. Sure, people in their 20s have the world on a string, free to go exploring with nothing but a little money and a backpack. But those on Continue Reading ››

Cruising the Antarctic — the other way

Whenever I tell people I’ve seen the Antarctic, they get a faraway look in their eyes. “I’d love to go,” they say, “but I can’t afford it.” The truth is, my cruise to the Antarctic didn’t cost the earth, because I used a lower-cost option most people don’t think of. I cruised the Antarctic a few years ago on the Star Princess, one of Princess Cruise Line’s largest ships. While I would have preferred to do it the “right” way, on a small ship Continue Reading ››

Take my picture — please!

When you travel the world with a camera in hand, you spend a lot of time trying to take pictures of people. But sometimes the tables are reversed: people see you with the camera, approach you and boldly ask you to take their picture. It doesn’t happen that often, but I’ve had it happen several times, everywhere from Europe to the South Pacific. Mostly it’s happened in Latin America, where people seem to like having their picture taken. And if Continue Reading ››