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Italy Travel Journal: Vernazza – Picking a Favourite Cinque Terre Village

Italy Travel Journal: Vernazza – Picking a Favourite Cinque Terre Village


I spent a glorious five days on Italy’s Mediterranean Coast among the mind-meltingly beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre. The...

Italy Travel Journal: Hiking Through Cinque Terre’s Grape Harvest

Italy Travel Journal: Hiking Through Cinque Terre’s Grape Harvest


If you enjoyed last week’s visit to the wine harvest in Tuscany, my wine adventures in Italy continue with my...

Blog Highlights

How To Save Money On Food When you Travel

Generally when people create a travel budget they do not take into consideration the fact that food is also expensive and cost you more than a few bucks. If you are on a budget and are willing to save money for your other plans.

Split each course

When you are travel eating can cost a lot of money where you can easily loose the budget but one way you can keep all the expenses in your budget while dining out. You can get your friend with you where you can buy a course for one person and can split it into two. This way you can stay healthy as well as save some money.

Bring snacks

There are many times that you might feel hungry and it is safe that you bring snack with you as the cafe near tourist locations have hiked prices which can easily lead you out of your budget. Try to bring in tiny little pouches of healthy snacks on which you can munch on when you are on a strict budget.

Avoid eating breakfast around town

Most hotels that you are staying in offer free breakfast, Take advantage of the situation and learn to save. As when you are travel there are many opportunities that might come your way which can cost you plenty of money.

Dine like a local

One way you can save a lot of money is when you dine like a local. Instead of going to a huge five star restaurant. Visit the local and taste the authentic taste of local food. Eating like a local can make for some of the most unforgettable memories.

Avoid food from home

When you are going out try to avoid any food that is taken from your country. Try out food which you wont get an opportunity to taste in your country. You might be surprised at how you might find a new favourite. Look for a street stand where there are a lot of customers and If not there the food is probably isn’t good.

Shop in local markets

One way to save a from the first day of your visit is shop from the local markets. The food you find there is incredibly authentic. You can also find and try some of the weird food you have never tried before. There are many popular markets all around the city all you have to do is have an open eye. If you can it is better you befriend a local who can help you in the journey of discovery the city and learning more. This can help you stay upto date with the prices as well as the food.

The Packing List #3 – Monty Python’s Travel Wisdom

Hello and Happy Easter!

This week, I was struck down by the plague. You would think this would have some productivity benefits for home-based activities, but you would be wrong. Huzzah! Over on Bite-sized Travel, I wrote about my adventure exploring the caves of Grotte Marie-Jeanne in Port-à-Piment in southwest Haiti. Thanks for reading The Packing List!

Travel news you can use
British travel booking site is offering a “Trump the Trump” guarantee. Travelers finding themselves booked into the same hotel the same night as the Zombie Cheeto running for President of the United States will be provided with alternative accommodations at no extra cost.

I know this is just a PR stunt and it is a very good one.

Americans are starting to rethink their summer European travel plans. Eesh. There’s no funny take on this, so, buy good travel insurance, or say goodbye to your good buy. At least you didn’t pay for your trip in Canadian dollars?
You may not of heard of the Union Pearson Express, Toronto’s glorious failure of an express train between Pearson International Airport and downtown.

Few have, it seems, since it was originally priced at CAD$27.50 one-way and enjoyed daily ridership of less than 10% of its capacity. Good news! Fares have been dramatically reduced – starting at $9 for electronic fare card holders – in a bid to increase ridership from nothing to anything, please God, anything.

#viajosola (“I travel alone” in Spanish) blew up on Twitter after the murders of two Argentinian women backpacking in Ecuador drew the usual round of BS questions like, “Why were they traveling alone?” (Spoiler: they weren’t alone, they were together) I travel solo regularly and any time I encounter this kind of BS in the form of “safety tips” I want to respond with: “Thanks, but you should definitely focus on telling people not to murder women travelers.” I could go on, but read this more eloquent, similarly-themed response instead.

Oh good, hotels are cravenly angling for that sweet, sweet lady business by throwing pink over everything and telling guests where to find the spa. Ladies gotta go to spa before all of that shopping, amirite?

Lufthansa is introducing new electronic baggage tags, which will be trackable through the airline’s app. When fully implemented, it will provide luggage delivery info, or if your bag goes off on a separate adventure, tracking, reporting, and scheduling for delivery.

Roll-out begins now-ish at Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, and Milan. Canada’s largest airline will continue to laugh and laugh and laugh when they send your bag to Hamilton instead of Halifax.

Setting aside The Daily Mail‘s reputation, I love the shade they throw at British Prime Minister David Cameron for his choice of vacation destination, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Fancy some ointment for that burn, Mr. Cameron?

Nifty finds
If you can’t get to South Africa for safari this year, Google’s growing world of immersive experiences can take you there. South Africa: The Mzansi Experience takes you along on a virtual safari in Kruger National Park thanks to Street View. Stay inside your vehicle and prepare for elephant sightings!

Settle in for a travel-themed Q&A with Michael Palin. In addition to being a founding and current member of Monty Python, Palin has had a remarkable second career as a travel writer and presenter. Even after 25 years, he finds wonder in every part of the world.

This charming tale about learning how to pour cider in the Asturias region in Spain reminded me of when I learned to do the same in an Asturian bar in Madrid. Impress your friends and amaze the Asturians when you go to Spain by learning how to do it.

If you’re visiting the San Francisco Bay area, maybe you want to stay at this USD$10,000/night AirBNB which previously hosted Beyoncé (#blessed) and, more recently, Justin Bieber (#antibiotics). Also, you’re poor.
Like riding a bike or plotting revenge, travel is a set of skills that can be developed. Master these 20 things, then these 18 more, and then go make your next destination your own.

Chatty Maps is a social media + geography project that shows the noise composition in 12 American and global cities.I tested it with my last London flat and it showed 33% “human” noise, which is accurate, because we stayed on the path of many Jack the Ripper walking tours which were educational (from what we could hear on the second floor).

If you’re fighting the good fight to travel carry-on only, one of most vexing questions you’ll ask is: “How long do these wee travel toiletries last?” Her Packing List has done the science for you and reports back. FWIW, I’ve done the “track toiletry usage before you go” method and found a small bottle of contact lens solution lasts me about 10 days.
This is not only art, it’s a one-way ticket to a lifetime of “random screenings.” Maybe don’t pack it in your luggage at all.

The recent Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas offered up these eight ways to throw money at your packing problems.

Zipping the suitcase
An early draft of this week’s newsletter featured a sarcastic bit about how a controversial political leader got “randomly selected” for ultra-security screening on a recent flight. I scapped all of my jokes about ineffective airport security in light of this week’s terrible events at the Brussels Airport. Instead, I’d like to state the best way to learn the world is a fundamentally good place is to continue exploring it. Wherever you are in the world, including your hometown, exercise an appropriate amount of caution, but don’t be afraid, we’re all in this together.


My apologies for ending this week’s Packing List on a down note. Tell me what you think about this week’s newsletter or any other travel-related topic by sending a message directly to [email protected] Find out more about where I travel right here on See you next week!

Italy Travel Journal: Vernazza – Picking a Favourite Cinque Terre Village

I spent a glorious five days on Italy’s Mediterranean Coast among the mind-meltingly beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre. The “Five Lands” – Riommagiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare – each have something special to offer. You will definitely find your favourite, and wonder why it took so long for you visit. I’ve already talked about the amazing hike through the villages during the wine harvest, now it’s time to see the best of the rest, my favourite village, Vernazza.

Vernazza Cinque Terre

Travel among the villages: train and ferry
The villages of the Cinque Terre are located within a national park, the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, a protected area. Visitors are required to buy a Cinque Terre Card, providing access to the park and the hiking trails between villages (1 day € 6.00/2 days € 9.70). The passes can be upgraded to include unlimited train travel among the villages, which I had and can recommend without reservation for the simple convenience of it all.

Cinque Terre train
I had a two-day train pass, and for my third day, I mixed it up with a one-day ferry card (€ 15.00 in September 2013). Again, this is highly recommended because you simply cannot beat the view of the villages from the sea.

Cinque Terre Vernazza

The ferry trip also affords visitors a view of the Via dell’Amore, which was damaged and closed to the public during my visit.

Cinque Terre Via dell’Amore

Picking a favourite village: Vernazza
It may seem like an impossible feat, but I knew Vernazza (population: 500) was my favourite as I hiked down the seaside path leading into town. It was just as charming as the other villages, but had a nice, compact layout, an easily climbable castle with a 360-degree view of the village, plus some pretty remarkable gelato (among a lot of remarkable gelato spots). For the best view, start your visit at Castello Doria, pay a small fee (€1.50 in September 2013), then climb to the top for this unbeatable view of the village.

Vernazza panorama from Castello Doria
Vernazza from the top of Castello Doria. The village in the distance on the left is Monterosso al Mare. On the right, Corniglia, Manarola and, eventually, Riomaggiore.

When you’re in Vernazza, make some time to visit my favourite shop, Bottega d’Arte, whether you’re looking for unique gifts for the unfortunate people who can’t join you on the Cinque Terre, or a little custom jewelry treat for yourself from Storie in Italie. I visited Bottega d’Arte every day I was there, and managed to pick up some lovely art for my flat, as well as a custom piece of jewelry to remember my time there. We got chatting with the owner one day and she spent quite a bit of time telling us about Vernazza’s recent struggles. A devastating flood in 2011 left the village submerged in several metres of thick, muddy water. To walk through the streets today, the extent of the recovery is nothing short of amazing.

Italy Travel Journal: Hiking Through Cinque Terre’s Grape Harvest

If you enjoyed last week’s visit to the wine harvest in Tuscany, my wine adventures in Italy continue with my visit to the Cinque Terre. This part of the trip involves even more grapes and wine, with the added benefit of hiking straight uphill for many hours and kilometres. I joke because I love.

Hiking through the villages of the Cinque Terre has been something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years. While I am definitely a walker, I wouldn’t call myself a “hiker.” When I found the dreamy sounding Cinque Terre Coastal Walk through G Adventures, I knew right away I found what I was looking for. “What could be more lovely than a leisurely walk among brightly-coloured villages next to the Mediterranean?” Ha!

The hike was glorious, but challenging (in a good way). Textbook-perfect weather with lots of bright sun and blue skies. The views were beyond spectacular, with each of the Cinque Terre’s villages revealing themselves to be unique in character, but unified in charm. We covered a lot of ground, much of which seemed to be uphill.

Cinque Terre Coastal Walk hiking route

Several of the trails on the actual coastline are closed presently due to floods and landslides, but that meant we got to hike on the higher trails, giving us the opportunity to wander through the Cinque Terre’s vineyards. The trails go right through piles upon piles of grape vines and olive trees and, to me, it felt quintessentially Mediterranean.

Cinque Terre hike hiking trails grapes

Since were in the right place at the right time, that meant we got to witness the Cinque Terre grape harvest firsthand. Since the hills are so steep, there are two ways to get grapes up the hill: in a basket hoisted up on your shoulder and on what I called the “Grape Train,” a rickety single-rail line that ran up and down the mountain. It was a delight to see it in action, though it also guaranteed I would never risk a trip.

Cinque Terre hike hiking trails grapesCinque Terre hike hiking trails grapesCinque Terre hike hiking trails grapes
And what about the wine? In this particular area, there was an abundance of Cinque Terre Denominazione di origine controllata (fancy Italian wine-talk), a crisp white produced from up to three varieties of grapes grown in the region: Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino. I sampled a fair amount during my time there, it pairs beautifully with the abundant local seafood options. There was a lot of harvesting on the trail from Manarola to Volastra to Corniglia. Now, more than a month after my trip, I’m seeing flashes of these images in my mind and fondly recalling the experience that helped me graduate from walker to hiker.

Valentine’s Day Favourite Photos: Love locks in Paris

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

‘Tis the season for love and romance, and there is no place more romantic than Paris. If you can’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day in Paris, take a moment to enjoy the view from the Pont des Arts.

Paris Pont des Arts locks love

Whether you’re visiting with your amour or flying solo, take time to look closely at the locks on the bridge. They tell the love stories of couples from around the world. If you’re adding your own, be sure to look before you toss the key into the Seine. You don’t want to hit any boaters below!

Hometown Travel: Cat Person at Argyle Fine Art

Everyone knows cats are responsible for the popularity of “the internet.” They’re pretty wonderful creatures, known for their charming indifference and steady companionship. Our ongoing fascination with cats serves as the inspiration for Cat Person: An Art Show all about Cats, showing at Halifax’s Argyle Fine Art.

I spent some time recently with Adriana and Crystal, the friendly folks at Argyle Fine Art, to learn more about Cat Person. The short version: the show is a fun tribute to our feline friends, in many cases, inspired by the pets of the artists themselves. Like the felted Voodoo by Angela Penton, who is the spitting image of my late, great cat, Newman. Right down to the fierce demeanour.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art

The offerings at Cat Person are as diverse as the artists themselves: painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, papercraft, even Lego make the cut. It’s a treat to see the many unexpected and unusual ways cats are given their due. For example, in this image, Nick Brunt shares “Henry Gets So Tired Sometimes” (left) while Westcote Bell Pottery offers “Crazy” (top right) and “In the Garden” (bottom right).

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art Halifax

If you are as charmed by Cat Person as I am, head over to Argyle Fine Art’s blog and check out some of the interviews with the inspiration for some of the pieces on display. They’re all pretty great, but you can start with Henry, who talks about his life with his human, Nick Brunt.

For me, one piece in particular spoke to the perils and humour of cat ownership. This photo collage by Halifax artist Rita Van Tassel really made an impression on me. If you’ve had cats in your life, you know. They are forever finding new places to claim as their own, and as soon as one is settled, the other one is up to something new. Read more about how she worked with her muses.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art
Photo collage of Alley and Gonzo by Rita Van Tassel. Image provided by Argyle Fine Art

I was pleasantly surprised to see another favourite artist of mine from the local scene, Isabelle Pineau, who I’ve seen at lots of Halifax Crafters events over the years. She gave us “Sir Solomon,” a nattily-dressed gentlemen.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art

The equally charming Queenie got the triptych treatment from her human, Lindsay Hicks.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art Lindsay Hicks

Browsing the show is free, but there’s plenty of art to buy, pieces large and small, and even a fun selection of jewelry, like these cat necklaces made with Lego by young artists Em-Li Designs.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art

I couldn’t help helping myself to some Cat Person treats, these buttons, which capture the fun of the show, with none of the cat hair left behind on my clothes.

Cat Person buttons Argyle Fine Art

If you’re allergic, these cats are easy to adopt and care for, and even easier to clean up after.

Cat Person Argyle Fine Art

Cat Person is terrific fun and will help you shake off the last little bit of winter blues as we head into spring. If you’re going to be anywhere near Halifax between now and March 12, be sure to make some time to stop in and look. If you can’t make it to Halifax before the show closes, you can still make a new cat friend on Argyle Fine Art’s flickr photoset.