Staycation: That Hometown Advantage

IMG_20150404_114743I spent the last few months wondering where I wanted to go for a vacation this year.  Spending May in France and Greece last year was one of my best vacation experiences.  I loved the scenery, the food, the sea, the warm weather and the new experiences.  I also loved visiting with great friends that made me feel wanted and welcomed….best feeling EVER!!!  So how do I match that?  Go back…do it again….maybe explore new areas.  Should I go somewhere where the weather will be hot and spend my days swimming by the sea like Cuba or Mexico? I even considered a summer holiday in the Atlantic provinces where I grew up.  I haven’t been back in the summer for over 15 years but I remember the beautiful beaches…Parlee Beach especially and the wharf at ……fried clams and juicy lobsters eaten at a picnic table on newspapers…..endless walking along the seashore, bonfires on the sand………..delicious memories but I want to share these with my daughters so I am going to postpone my walk down Memory Lane for at least another year.

I am a traveller and I believe that every trip adds to who we are and changes us (me) in some way.  I was a Travel Agent and actually taught Travel and Tourism for many years  in colleges.  I travelled as an agent, as a tour guide, as an activist, and as a tourist.  I have been to many Caribbean Islands….Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Johns, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico and to the Bahamas.  I have taken several cruises (actually managed a cruising agency in the 80’s).  I lived for two years in Haifa and spent much time in my beloved Palestine with 2 trips to Gaza.  I have visited Jordan and Egypt, Turkey, Greece, The Netherlands, France, Portugal and England.  I am sooooooooo lucky!!

And then I started to think about Ontario….maybe a cottage by a small, warm lake? Hmmmmm, or maybe Toronto, my hometown.  I live near a large and fabulous lake that looks like an ocean.  I have only a 15 minute walk to the boardwalk and let’s face it…I live in an awesome city with countless opportunities that I just never seem to get around to enjoying.   I do walk along the beach often and last summer really took advantage of the olympic sized pool that is practically in my backyard.  Last summer I walked a different route there and back each day…enjoying all the little streets and alleyways that make up this Toronto neighbourhood we call The Beach.  Yup…I want a staycation and I want to spend it with friends and family.  To start I have been making lists of places, of activities and of friends and as that list grew longer and longer, I realized it is more than a 2 week vacation but also countless weekends that can and should start today.

I intend to take lots of photos and share this world class city that I live and work in and I think it will be as incredible as any “away” destination.  I can tell you about great food that I discover in restaurants, specialty shops and markets.  I hope that you will share your own experiences and add to my list of possibilities.

So here is my “wanna do” list………….some things I have done and want to experience again…..

  • Turkish experience day – all things Turkey – coffee, shops, and pide for lunch and kebobs for dinner
  • French Day – Cafe au lait with croissants in a French cafe, picnic of cheeses, bread and sausage with a red checkered table cloth
  • Pig Roast at Bairrada Churrasqueira in Little Portugal
  • All you can eat grilled fish ($24.95) at Lisbon by Night
  • Greektown for an afternoon stroll eating spanikopita and a cold drink with appetizers on a patio.
  • Toronto Island for a day or an overnight.  The Bed and Breakfasts look spectacular and can be booked on AirBnB or Torontoisland.org
  • Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)  – best value is on Fridays after 4:30pm for only $10
  • Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) – Wednesday evenings from 6pm – 830pm are Free
  • Rouge Park – Hiking, Camping and a Sandy Beach and close to the city.
  • Rent a car for the day and just drive – Zipcar gives a free membership for use Monday to Friday.  Cars2Go gives out free memberships at many events around the city.
  • Wing joint for wings and beer on a patio
  • St. Lawrence Market any and everyday of the week but it is recommended to go early on Saturday morning
  • Allen Gardens – botanical garden in the heart of the city and open every day of the week and it is free

Outside the city

  • Theatre in Stratford on the Avon River, Ontario
  • Sunfest, London, Ontario, July 9-12, 2015  ( 20 years of amazing world music and I have rarely missed a year)
  • A wine tour or theatre in Niagara on the Lake
  • Wasaga Beach – never been but everyone talks about it…..should I go?
  • Port Stanley, Ontario – this is a beach on Lake Erie – so close to London and I spent many a summer day there
  • Sparta, Ontario – a Quaker town that was established in the early 1800’s.
  • Grand Bend in Ontario on Lake Huron
  • Goderich, Ontario

Now all we need is some warm weather, bright sunny skies…………..looking forward to hearing more ideas and places that you love.

happy summering,

Sandra

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