Worst Washroom of the Week

How to go the bathroom while blindfolded or drunk:

Bloor Subway Station, Toronto

By |July 30th, 2010 |Categories: Toronto |24 Comments

Gypsy Wednesday – Cycling to the Ashes

Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday!  Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.

Sometimes a regular person is seized by an idea, a strong desire to accept a challenge.  Could have been a tragedy or special dream that won’t stop whispering to you, even in sleep.

I use to be a skeptical person, scoffing at the ability to effect change.  Meet this fella and watch me switch that negative tape to a rock anthem.

Q: Tell us who you are and what you are doing?

A: I am Oli Broom, a 30 year old Englishman from London.  In October 2009, having barely cycled beyond the end of my road before, I left London on my bike with seventeen friends and cycled down to the south coast of England. When we reached the sea, all my friends turned around, I bid them a tearful farewell before jumping on a boat to France. I was at the beginning of a 14 month, 20,000 km cycle ride to Brisbane, Australia towatch a series of cricket matches between England and Australia.  Along the way I have gone out of my way to play cricket in as many places as possible, and have given talks to a number of schools and youth projects on my route.  I am aiming to raise £100,000 for charity during and after the ride.

So far I have cycled through Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, Africa as far as the Sudanese capital Khartoum, across India and Bangladesh, and I am pedaling through Thailand.  The cricket series starts on November 25, 2010 and I have 6,000 km to cycle before then!

My website

Where Am I? Toronto!

What a month!

After laying low in Calgary, Toronto was strictly about urban vibe.

A 20 hour endurance test in bus travel deposited me at the Yorkdale Mall which runs along the northwest subway line.  What I had landed in was a steam bath. Precious minutes during bus stops outside small town Ontario hinted at a heat wave, but actual Toronto soil pounded my frame, sweat soaking through my T-shirt dress.  Snow storm or tropical rain?  I’ll happily squeak and slosh in flip flops, not Sorels.

But damn, I was baking.  It felt like Bangkok all over again.

TO skyline

Right now travel is a freshly cut lawn, unblemished from tramping feet or a jaded attitude.  There will be many favorite lists, but number one is how a new city smells or sounds.  That will always be pure in my mind.

I hopped off the bus despite creaky bones and bounced up the escalator towards the subway platform. Toronto crackled before me.

This city has a guttural scent, not necessarily pleasant, a mingling of sewage, sweaty humans, and car exhaust.  What’s a stunner are the visual cues, this city is bursting with multi-cultural goodness, over 100 languages and dialects are spoken in wondrous chorus.

Bustling Chinatown

As a result, take a turn on Yonge, Queen Street or Bloor and at every corner a distinct neighborhood forms.  Ripened fruit and bargains are laid to bare in Chinatown.  The messy, glorious chaos of Kensington Market or the cool, crisp lines of Yorkville won’t disappoint.

My first week I attended a travel blogger picnic with Alicia Taggio of Life

By |July 27th, 2010 |Categories: Toronto |22 Comments

Worst Washroom of the Week

This week:

Calgary, Alberta – Esso gas station

Isn’t it illegal to poke fun at a handicap stall?  Haha, poke!  I made a pun.

By |July 23rd, 2010 |Categories: Calgary |19 Comments

Gypsy Wednesday – Why Travel and Being a Girl Rocks

Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday!  Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.

Travel and womanhood use to be a difficult task.  Not only were women having babies during the pioneering days, but carrying rucksacks and cooking for the entire family in the sparse outdoors was commonplace.  By the 1960′s, air travel for the post-war business man exploded.  Women of wealth could partake in this luxury as well.  Fashion and grooming solely occupied our sisters.  Then the feminist movement sprung from the radical 60′s and 70′s, but so did commercial passenger travel, economy and business were spoken in tandem at an airline booking desk.

The post-modern woman travels for varied reasons.  To remold societal roles, reinvent ourselves, or simply relax and enjoy.  Our questions aren’t strictly gender or status oriented, but practicalities.  How to deal with our cycles?  What’s the best shampoo to bring?  Birth control?

You could chop off all your hair like Kelsey Freeman or find yourself très unchic in Europe like Diana Edelman.

As for me?  I’m somewhat of a hedonist and believe it’s more than acceptable to pack a few items that bring enjoyment.  So, fair readers, I am opening up my toiletry bag.

1. Long or Short?

The debate rages on whether to go long or short on your round the world trip.  I’m most happy with long hair.  Can’t help it.  It’s me.  The solution? Lush shampoo bars.

I started using these shampoo bars prior to traveling.  You can buy a durable tin to hold them in and Lush

By |July 21st, 2010 |Categories: Travel Tips |54 Comments

Maxville

“Oh, we won’t even see it.”

“Maxviille?”

“No, a small town of probably 1,500.  We just pass by.”

I sat mute, wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Trish, a volunteer with Child Haven offered to pick me up and deposit me at the front door.

Giving time overseas is one of my goals, but to be led to a possibly creepy farmhouse in butthole, Ontario?

My mind swimmed with exhaustion.  I hauled my pack through buttery heat at 5:30 am to board yet another Greyhound.

These buses are all beginning to look the same.  Semi-stiff airplane seating and the familiar sounds of snoring from a passenger lulled by the motions of the bus.  Budget travel is never boring, that much I can attest to.

5 hours later I stood outside the Ottawa Greyhound Station, noticing the heat had followed me.  I wasn’t given a picture of Trish, so wandered aimlessly lingering on someone’s face a bit too long.  They returned a quizzical expression.  Shove off, you are weird.

From behind I heard a woman say to a passenger, “Are you Jeannie?”

She, too, was doing the blind date ritual, which was grossly out of place for a volunteer pick-up/drop-off scenario.  I turned and began following her like a lost puppy.  Finally our eyes met.

“Are you Trish?”

“Yes, you must be Jeannie.”  Jackpot.

Trish looked about sixty, but exuded a youthful energy in ivory shorts and flip-flops.  She greeted me warmly, admitting she was slightly flustered due to car problems.  A sleek, white vehicle had easily replaced any car issues and off we went.

Maxville is about 1 hour from Ottawa.  I felt slightly chipped on what Ottawa had to offer as the main landscape zipping by were freeways and other cars.

I had done some paltry