We asked some of our neighbours to share their winter travel destinations with us and they complied with interesting stories and beautiful photos.
(Above image) Nick and Joan thoroughly enjoyed the farewell dinner on their recent trip to Southeast Asia. They spent six days on land in Vietnam and then took a Mekong Delta river cruise from Vietnam to Cambodia. The dinner and show on the last night was held outside at a 10th century temple near Siem Reap, Cambodia, and the 45 guests from their cruise ship were the only people in attendance. “The evening was wonderful and quite unforgettable,” Joan said.
Andrew and Susan took a “bucket list” trip to India and Nepal where they went on a Best of North India tour that included the cities of New Delhi, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra where they visited the much photographed Taj Mahal. Visiting this beautiful monument to the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, which took 17 years to build, was certainly the highlight of the trip, Andrew and Susan said. “But India is more than this architectural masterpiece; it is a diversity of colours, sounds, smells, customs and delicious food, forts and temples. We rode on an elephant in Jaipur, on a camel through the sand dunes of the Thar desert near Jaisalmer and we sat in a boat on the river Ganges watching a prayer ceremony. We gained an insight into the lives and culture of this part of India. We were glad we had a driver to navigate through the crowded streets where camels, bikes, cars, overloaded trucks, auto rickshaws and cows all share the road!”
Denise and Richard travelled to Cuba in February. This photo shows what is left of a beautiful beach at Iberostar Playa Blanca on Cayo Largo. “The winds, which have changed direction over the last few years, have changed the currents,” Denise said. “So, a once beautiful, 30-metrewide white sand beach has been swallowed up by the sea. This is a reminder of the power of nature!” Cayo Largo has other beautiful beaches where guests enjoy one of the the biggest draws to the country – powdery white sand and clear aqua waters.
On a side trip from Paris, father and son Don and Jeff visited the Normandy coast. The highlight was a stop at Juno Beach where their late father/grandfather landed so many years before with his regiment on D-Day. They arrived at the Caen transit centre and boarded a local bus which they discovered doubled as a school bus — loading and dropping students off along the village route. Once on the beach, Don and Jeff seemed to be the only visitors there on a chilly February day; as the waves rolled in they felt a real generational family connection through time. Shortly thereafter a young man appeared on the beach: a coincidental Canadian (expat) and Singapore airlines pilot on layover, who offered to record their special visit to Juno.
Graham and a group of his Ultimate Frisbee friends headed to Las Vegas in January for the Sin City Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Before the tournament started, six of them went to the Valley of Fire, which is an hour northeast of Vegas, to do some hiking and enjoy the spectacular landscape. “I loved visiting the Valley of Fire,” Graham said, “because not only was it absolutely
beautiful, but there were short 15-minute hikes where you could go around and climb on all the rocks. They were low-incline, too, so you could climb them in your everyday shoes.“ The group also got to explore the Vegas strip, see Celine Dion”s show, and enjoy the sports tournament with a bunch of friends. “It was simply the best,” Graham said. “I would definitely go again!”
Siblings Carolyn, Mark and Krystina, left, and Anne and her son Clark all enjoyed a “staycation” at Brimacombe Ski Resort this winter. Carolyn, Mark and Krystina like Brimacombe, which is located off Highway 115, because it has higher hills, better conditions and shorter line-ups than other ski resorts in the area. Anne prefers it because it’s only about a 40-minute drive from east Scarborough and she and her son can get a few runs in before bedtime.
In November, Nikolas, Rania, Constantina and Rob took a month-long trip to Australia. “We visited family we met for the very first time and attended a wedding,” Rania said. Among the many things they did, the family visited Sydney’s Featherdale Zoo, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the famous Bathing Houses in Melbourne. In this photo they’re at the fabulous Bondi Beach, which is located in a suburb of Sydney. It’s extremely popular with Australians and tourists so it’s often quite crowded. Rob and Nikolas enjoyed surfing here. “My husband has always dreamed of surfing in Australia,” Rania said, “and so they both took lessons and rode the waves on a surfboard.
Kathleen and Doug went to India in January with a group of friends. “We had an Indian guide with us the whole time, which was most helpful as he could help us with money, tipping, food and traditional customs. We would recommend going with a tour group and to try to fly direct to your destination. Lots of walking, steps, noise and constant activity. A very busy two weeks,” Kathleen said. In this photo they are taking an elephant ride up a steep road to the Amber Fort in Jaipur. The view from the fort is spectacular. The elephants walk daily up to the fort and down again. The elephant village where they are raised is like a small, self-sufficient city with schools, hospitals and training facilities for the elephant drivers. Boys begin their training as drivers at age 10.
Jey took a trip to Panama with his wife and daughter this winter. “Since we all love nature, we took a day trip into a part of the rain forest that proved spectacular for the senses,” he said. “The flora and fauna took our breath away.