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Pamela

When in Rome

Do as the Romans do. Adapt to local customs. Emulate the culture. Drink ridiculously expensive cocktails in a luxury hotel until the lounge singers hand you a mic. A saying based in antiquity, uniquely applied to modern day travel. Bora Bora. It’s home to some of the largest overwater bungalows in the region and impossibly beautiful. I could feel the ka-ching in the air. If a cloud of thousand dollar bills floated by on the breeze, I would not have been the least bit surprised.  We’d never ...

Havana, Ooh Na-Na

We landed late, touching down well after dark. Sleep deprived and probably a little bar cart(ed), it was a slow roll through customs and then outside onto the curb where we caught something resembling a cab. It wasn’t. The streets were silent. Few lights. No people. A saw tooth skyline both colourful and crumbling. This is Havana. I’d made arrangements to spend our first two days in the city with a total stranger. We met him outside the tourist district, a house with a shop around back. We ...

Big Fish

I have a super power. At least that’s what I tell myself.  It revealed itself a few years back on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. We’d been at sea for days and were making a crossing. It was a long one. There’d be no land in sight for hours. Just blue on blue, a thin line separating sea from sky. I’d had breakfast, cracked the spine of a new book and dozed for an hour in the midday sun. Now bored, I sat watching Jimmi bait a hook.  As he let out the line, a thought entered my ...

Out of Africa

Imagine this. You’ve just spent five days driving through deep sand and dry grass in search of elephants. Scratch that. In Botswana, you’ll find them around every bend in the road. The country is home to more than 130,000. So, you’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, and as you make your way by car to the next destination, the driver says…’an elephant has been killed in a nearby village, do you want to go see?’ I didn’t.  The elephant in question had become a nuisance, rampaging through ...

O Canada

Canadians. We’re best known for poutine, hockey, saying sorry and Ryan Reynolds. At least on the west coast. If I lived in Ontario, I would have gone with Ryan Gosling. Whatever. It’s the small things that make us who we are. We’re understated about our nationalism. Canada is already great.  So, when our token Australian mentioned that he was working on his citizenship application, I was (very humbly) proud. It takes some time. You have to learn history, politics and culture. There’s a ...

Chicken Parts

One of the best things about travelling is the food. It’s the thing people most often ask about when you get home.  How was the food? Did you go to local places? What was the weirdest thing you ate? When we decided to book a trip to Cuba last year, it was the first thing people pounced on. The. Food. Is. Awful. They went on and on about it. It’s tasteless. It’s boring. The country is beautiful, unless you’re a foodie. We had a different experience, but this isn’t that story. I’ll talk about ...

I Was Here

“What is sought for in a holiday is a set of photography images, which have already been seen in tour company brochures or on TV programmes.” – John Urry from his 2002 book, The Tourist Gaze. It’s how we prove we were there, and the growth of online platforms has made these images into the social currency that we use to validate our lives. Each photo says, I was here. I’ve seen it. Hell, I live it. And it most definitely altered the way I experienced Japan. I’d been told that Tokyo ...

Hey Siri…

I have a shelf full of Lonely Planet books. I buy one about six months before each trip and flip through it, folding page corners for coffee shops, quirky hotels and the like. I also hoard travel magazines. I have my favourites – Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, Airbnb. They’re stacked together in white mesh racks. Oh, and Pinterest. I do that too. Gorgeous images. Well researched articles. Insider tips. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I do research. I have a pretty good idea ...

No Trespassing

We arrived in Tokyo on a Friday afternoon. Picked up the bags, bought a SIM card and booked seats on the train that would take us into the city. Ordinarily, I’d grab a cab to the hotel after a long flight. In Japan, that would cost more than $300. And if you read my first post, nope. The high-speed train that runs the length of the country is called the Shinkansen – and it moves fast. I watched the scenery glide by. The city seemed muted. Square windows, flat walls, soft colours. ...

False Start

If you’re like me there’s a feeling of dread that comes with walking up to a check in counter at the airport. Did I remember my passport? Did I get the aisle seat? Did my booking even go through? But it’s always ok. It always works out just fine. Until it doesn’t. We arrived at the airport early. Really early. There was no line. We walked up to the counter and handed over our passports. She checked our tickets. Good. Our seats. Also good. But as she flipped back and forth through our ...