Mahone Bay to Lunenburg on the Bay to Bay Trail

As part of our efforts to get lots and lots of kilometres on our legs and be Camino-ready by September, my friend Lori and I are quickly burning though our 20-kilometre walking route options in Halifax and Dartmouth. So, we started looking for new trail ideas a short drive from Halifax in the 10-kilometre range or a 20-kilometre loop/return. One that jumped out connects two of my favourite spots on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, the Bay to Bay Trail connecting the towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg on an abandoned rail line.

Bay to Bay Trail Lunenburg Mahone Bay

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Camino de Santiago planning: Getting my pilgrim credential

As planning for my September Camino de Santiago progresses, I’m ticking off the to-do items on my ever-shortening packing list.*

In addition to a government-issued passport to enter Spain, pilgrims require a credencial that gets stamped at every stop on their Camino with sellos and serves as proof they walked, cycled or rode the required distances to earn the compostela upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela. There are lots of ways to obtain one, with many pilgrims purchasing their credencial in Spain when they are setting off on their journey.  Continue reading

Cape Town to Cape Point, Part 1: the train down to Simons Town

An essential part of any trip to Cape Town is a trip down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. The trip is full of historical significance – and charming African penguins. For most people, this trip also constitutes going to the end of the world or the southermost point in Africa, but that’s not exactly accurate (that would be Cape Agulhas), it is, however, the southwesternmost point on the African continent, and is a noteworthy destination on its own.

Cape Town to Simons Town by train

There are plenty of ways from Cape Town to Simons Town to Cape Point through organized day tours departing Cape Town. Generally, I favour independent travel using public transportation over bus tours, which can be challenging since Cape Town’s public transit is very different, and somewhat limited, compared to other cities as prominent and enthusiastically-visited as Cape Town.

Around Cape Town, commuter rail service is provided by Metrorail Western Cape, and it covers an extensive area of suburbs and townships. There are two classes of travel, and it is generally recommended for tourists to use the “Metro Plus” cars for safer journeys. Despite the warnings, I found the train service to be very, very safe, and my car was full of tourists both ways. All the same, heed safety warnings: travel with others if possible, don’t carry a lot of cash and valuables, and don’t take the train after dark. Also, don’t wear headphones or earbuds. This probably merits a post of its own, but I quickly discovered no one in Cape Town wears headphones when walking around. It’s an easy way to remain alert and aware of what’s going on around you, and an extra bit of attention doesn’t hurt.

The main Metrorail station is found on the edge of the Central Business District (or CBD), at the corner of Adderley and Strand streets. Inside the terminal, look around for ticketing machines, or ask someone at the information desk. It was a fairly easy transaction and before long, my friend and I were on our train in a Metroplus card and on our way south.  

Depart Cape Town train station

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Valentine’s Day Favourite Photos: Love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

To quote Australian disco singer John Paul Young, love is in the air and there’s no better place to get romantic than on a bridge, overlooking something remarkable. The more I travel, the more love locks seem to attach themselves to structures around the world and this past year is no different.

For the first time in my many trips to New York, I noticed piles of love locks have found their way onto the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a lovely sight, and one I hope you get to enjoy in the near future.

Here you go, you earned it:

Camino de Santiago planning: trains, planes and routes galore

Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I’m trying to contain my planning for my upcoming Camino de Santiago in September. Before stepping foot on the path, though, there’s a lot of planning that can go into such a trip.

For my brain, this is exactly the kind of thing it loves. Research, planning, analysis, spreadsheets. It’s completely why I do what I do in my non-travel life.

Getting from Halifax to Spain and back

Given the time I’ve already spent in the area, I have a pretty good handle on the geography of Spain and the options for getting in and out of the country. For our inbound journey, we know we want to start from Madrid. It’s a nice, central entry point, and there are easy connections to Leon. On paper, it looks to be the most efficient route into our Camino adventure. However, it’s always fun to see if there are other options.

Route brainstorming

In the past, I’ve done a lot of route brainstorming. I look at a map, find the major towns and cities between my destinations and start plugging options into airfare aggregators and national train system websites. That’s how I discovered you could take a combo ferry-rail trip between Dublin and London instead of flying (but that’s a whole other trip). Continue reading

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