Travel to Edmonton

Posted in Featured on November 8th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

Edmonton is located in the province of Alberta, Canada and the second largest city in the area. Now don’t be put off by cities. This one is great. I recommend staying a few days and exploring all this city has to offer. But, before you can do that comfortably you need a place to stay.  If you are looking for houses for rent in Edmonton there are plenty available.

After your housing is sorted out, you set out exploring Edmonton. It is a vast cultural and educational center with world class festivals year round, North America’s largest mall (West Edmonton Mall) if shopping is your thing, and home to Canada’s largest living history museum (Fort Edmonton Park).

The city is broken up into districts that boast art centers, the government and commercial area and the warehouse district with old brick warehouses that have been turned into condos but the architecture is worth a look. So go and enjoy. The climate is mild in winter and dry in the summer.

 

 

Calgary is the Place to Be

Posted in Featured on October 20th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

Where else would you go for winter sports and skiing but Calgary? I love the snow and I love the mountains so this is where I head to rid myself of the winter blahs. There is one site that I always use to find the best places to stay in Canada and that is this: http://www.rentcalgary.com/. They have a long list of houses and Calgary apartments complete with comprehensive descriptions and pictures so there are no surprises when you get there. The prices fit everyone’s price range as well.

They are always happy to help out US only travelers. In fact their Target audience are people looking to rent an apartment in Calgary, Alberta. So pack your bags, put on your snow shoes, grab your skis and head north to Canada for some great fun without the worry of where to stay.

 

Getting hooked on the new teenage witch show

Posted in Featured on October 18th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

Guest post written by Tara Milton

I remember watching reruns when I was in elementary school of the show Sabrina the Teenage Witch and absolutely loving it. I’ve been a fan of Melissa Joan Hart ever since then. I was a little skeptical when I heard that the CW was doing a new show about teenage witches, but I’ve liked what they’ve done with the show Vampire Diaries so I thought that it would end up being at least decent.

I looked up about all that I could about the show when I was online with my CLEAR WIRELESS INTERNET SERVICE. Then right after that I decided to set my DVR to record the show.

I’ll admit that I feel a little bit silly DVR-ing a show about teenage witches and being a twenty something. But my DVR list is full of all kinds of guilty pleasures I’d rather strangers not know about, most reality TV. I actually really like the new Secret Circle show. It has so much potential to be really great. I’m sure it’s going to be the next Vampire Diaries.

Underwater Cameras & Photography

Posted in Featured on September 15th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

In addition to being a photographer and world traveler, I am also a certified SCUBA diver.  Whenever possible I like to travel to the great dive and snorkeling sites of the world. With the reefs dying off so fast from pollution and human disturbance it is more timely then ever to check out the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or the underwater preserves of St John’s in the Virgin Islands, or the Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean.

I like to practice my underwater photography with my underwater camera and assorted gear. I am able to get completely outfitted online at my favorite Canadian shop. They have everything I need like waterproof cameras and cases, housings for a variety of cameras, masks, hard shell backpacks in which to carry your gear and basically everything you need in a one stop shop. And who wants to spend time shopping when you can be out diving and snorkeling and taking pictures!

 

Helping my daughter with the latest school fashion trends

Posted in Featured on August 16th, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

Helping my daughter with the latest school fashion trends

Guest post written by Patty Saunders

One of the hardest things about having a daughter that’s in middle school is that I have a really hard time simply buying her clothes. I know that I should be able to pick out clothes for her, but her tastes are not at all like mine. Plus, she has much better fashion sense than I do now, much less than when I was her age.

So I try to get approval on anything and everything that I buy for her when it comes to clothing. While I was online looking up some good back to school sales, I ran across the website http://Www.WirelessInternet.Net. After I looked through it a little bit, I decided to change over our home internet service to one of the plans that I found on there.

I did find some pretty good deals for some school fashion trends that she really seemed to like. So we ordered a few pieces that were to her measurements and I think that she’s going to be glad that we got them once school starts back up.

The Art of Picnics

Posted in Featured on August 3rd, 2011 by Caryn B. Davis

In addition to my world travels, when I am at home, I like to go hiking, camping, to outdoor concerts and boating particularly around my native state of Connecticut. When engaging in these activities, I always pack a picnic lunch or dinner depending upon the occasion. It used to be that I carried the bowls, cups, napkins, plates and cutlery in a very cumbersome recycled shopping bag, and my food in yet another very unattractive reusable shopping bag with a cooler. Not only was this impractical, cumbersome and heavy, having carry all three, but I was always digging inside the bags looking for this because they were so untidy, until I discovered these amazing picnic baskets at Picnic World.

The picnic baskets come in every shapes, sizes and colors, and neatly organize everything you could possible want and need. The designs are unique, each to fill a particular niche. They have backpack baskets, collapsible baskets, tote baskets, festival baskets, black tie baskets, baskets with BBQ tools, insulated cooler baskets, a coffee set with blanket, wood baskets, bamboo baskets, wine and cheese baskets, romantic baskets and empty baskets if a personalized touch is preferred.

I use them all the time and the only problem I have ever had was in deciding which one to get!

Demand Studios

Posted in Featured on December 31st, 2010 by Caryn B. Davis
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Dover Calais Ferry

Posted in Featured on December 15th, 2010 by Caryn B. Davis

On another note, consider the Dover Calais Ferries:

One of the easiest and most pleasant ways to get from southeast England to northern France is via the Dover Calais Ferries. It’s a relaxing, picturesque 75-minute ride past the infamous White Cliffs of Dover. It is here that the English Channel is at its narrowest point.

Onboard you will find a bar with a jukebox and wide array of drinks. There is a Food Court boasting different restaurants with delicious cuisine from around the world, or coffee and snacks for a lighter fare. There is also complimentary Heinz baby food available for the wee ones, and shopping to keep you entertained, or you can take in the sights with a stroll on deck. For folks traveling with children, there are play areas, video games and fun activities that are supervised like painting and drawing to give parents a break.

For those who wish to enjoy a more luxurious experience, there is the option to upgrade for priority boarding and for access to the Club Lounge where a complimentary glass of champagne awaits you to start your trip off right. You can also dine at the Langans Brasserie where you will be served in style.

So instead of taking the train or a plane, sit back and relax onboard the Dover Calais Ferries.

ferry to Calais

Finding the Real Bequia

Posted in Featured on November 25th, 2010 by Caryn B. Davis

The last time I was in the Caribbean Islands, I was sequestered on a resort so I had forgotten that most of the people living well on these islands are foreigners. I noted the sharp contrast on our taxi ride from the airport to our rented bungalow in Bequia’s capital, Port Elizabeth. On one side of the road there are dilapidated shacks precariously positioned upon dirt foundations and without indoor plumbing. Across the street are large, well-manicured homes with green lawns and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

My fiancé Leif and I chose Bequia because we heard it was one of last Caribbean islands whose culture was still intact with the maritime trades being practiced regularly. And unlike most of the Caribbean, Bequia has not yet succumbed to over development. There are no fast food chains or imposing multi-storied hotels to obstruct anyone’s view or wreak havoc on the environment.

The first thing we notice when we enter our rental house is that the photographs we saw online have little resemblance. There is no stove, only a hot plate that takes its time to boil water or cook eggs. There is no coffeemaker, only a chipped carafe. The bathroom is on the first floor and the master bedroom is on the third.

Our driver advises us to lock the doors and windows, so we are unable to catch any breeze coming off Admiralty Bay that our rickety balcony overlooks. The view is breathtaking. The surrounding neighborhood is not. There is garbage strewn about, packs of dogs barking till sunup, roosters crowing at dawn, and an angry evangelist screaming the word of God through a loud speaker during cocktail hour and into the night.

In the morning we set out on foot in search of groceries. We find a market bursting with colorful, ripe produce under a crude wooden structure. We are immediately accosted by a smooth talking merchant who beckons me to try his fruit; slicing it open and offering a taste. He puts more in our bags than we want or need and insists we pay for it. Later we discover the fruit is rotten. We feel ripped off. (A few days later, we find a woman selling vegetables from a cart under a tree. She is peaceful and uses a calculator and a scale. I like her.)

On our way to yet another grocery store to purchase the basics, we hear a conch shell blown like a horn. We know from what we read it brings the promise of fresh fish. Today’s catch is snapper and more snapper, whatever the sea has to offer. We buy four. It costs the same as the overpriced fruit.

I watch a cluster of schoolgirls swish by in their stockless, uniformed skirts. I learn later that the uniforms serve to separate the girls from the ladies; the ladies of the night that is. Now inside the store, I fill my basket with rice and cheap wine. There are items without prices, but an apathetic attendant ignores my inquiry. A wordless woman takes my money.

I have dubbed this place the “Dreamless Land”. I try to imagine what being born here would be like with its poverty, limited occupations, and lack of education beyond grade 12 that ultimately affects the choices one has. This is a place where the luxury of dreams cannot co-exist. There is an undercurrent of anger and boredom permeating this lost culture that once consisted of great boat builders, whalers and explorers. People now rely mostly on tourism and of late, there haven’t been that many travelers.

After breakfast we take the dollar van to Lower Bay Beach and find our paradise. Swimming in the clear, clean, turquoise water instantly adjusts my attitude. We meander up the white sand to an open-air bar called Da Reef where we order fried chicken, beer and pina coladas. There, we meet Karla and Ron from New York and Lenny, their local cab driver. Like many people in Lower Bay, they have been coming here for 20 years. It’s a special place they tell. But I have yet to understand what they mean.

Lenny takes us back to our hovel and much to our dismay; the church below is in full swing. It is so loud the house feels like it’s shaking. Obviously we can’t stay here. Additionally, I have resolved myself to peeing in a bucket each night instead of risking the spiral staircase down 2 flights. I am grossed out as I empty it each morning. I want a practical bathroom.

We call the owner, explain the situation, and offer to pay him half to let us out of our lease. He won’t budge. We decide to move anyway. Lenny finds us a beautiful, clean apartment with a well-equipped kitchen for $200 less per week, and it’s right on Lower Bay Beach. The toilet is next to the bedroom and flushes. We have access to beach chairs and towels, maid service, and 4 open-air restaurants within walking distance. Across the road I buy organic greens from a lovely lady who offers me aloe to soothe the heat rash under my arms. It is safe here, and at night we sleep with the windows wide open.

Today we meet Boscoe, a fisherman we have been watching the past few mornings. He rows so far out to sea that eventually we can no longer see his dark, black skin against his white, hand built, plywood boat. He is a hard workingman from Trinidad who came to Bequia to escape the violence in his own country. We buy 4 butterfish from him for the equivalent of $3.50US. He sells his bounty to boaters in the harbor and to tourists like us. He also uses the fish to feed his wife Shanti and two small children. The sales from the fish are his only source of income. If nothing sells, he has no money.

Boscoe fishes with a line on a reel, as he cannot afford a rod. He dives for whelks, which are sweeter than conch, negotiating poisonous sea urchins buried in the same reefs. He fends off barracuda whose favorite food are the whelks. It is a hard way to make living. His boat, he tells us, he built himself from a design that was in his head. He is trying to save money for a motor because the self-propulsion is tiring, coupled with the actual diving and fishing. His accent is hard to decipher to our untrained ears. We only catch snatches of his story and then consult each other after to fill in the gaps. What we don’t understand we begin to surmise and fabricate out of curiosity.

He arrives the next day with his family. They all go out on the boat and take Leif with them. I sit lazily on the beach reading and waiting. They return with an abundance of seafood. Using stones, dried leaves and wood from the beach, Shanti starts a fire. She sprinkles seawater on it to back it off when it becomes to hot so our food won’t burn. When the grilled fish is ready, Shanti places it inside a almond tree leaf that doubles as a plate with a scoop of beans and rice she has brought from home. We are touched by their gesture of preparing an authentic island meal especially for us.

As the light wanes, and the kids fall asleep, we sit there drinking vodka, wine and beer that we offer to our new friends. We share all that we have, just as they have done with us. It is the Bequian way, I am learning. Shanti tells us that fishing is harder for her now since her mask, fins and snorkel was stolen. She has no money to replace them, as she can barely make ends meet with what her waitressing job pays. Without discussing it, Leif and I gather our snorkeling equipment that we have had the privilege of using solely for pleasure, and give it to Boscoe and Shanti who need it for their livelihood. Another stark contrast. Shanti is so happy that she hugs my fins to her chest.

The time comes to wake the kids and prepare for their 2-mile walk home, at night, carrying all their gear, over steep hills, with 2 sleepy children. They are too poor to own a car, and we haven’t rented one, but we call a taxi and gladly pay the tab. Before they leave, I quietly scour the cabinets and refrigerator and hand a sack of groceries to Shanti, explaining we are leaving soon and it will go to waste.

I think about how generous they have been even though they have nothing in the way of material wealth. Their home is one of those shacks we saw on the way in. And yet, they share their food and themselves, and give us the gift of an experience we will never forget. It causes me to take pause and reflect on how lucky we are. Without them, we may have never found the real Bequia.

On another note, consider this:

One of the easiest and most pleasant ways to get from southeast England to northern France is via the Dover Calais Ferries. It’s a relaxing, picturesque 75-minute ride past the infamous White Cliffs of Dover. It is here that the English Channel is at its narrowest point.

Onboard you will find a bar with a jukebox and wide array of drinks. There is a Food Court boasting different restaurants with delicious cuisine from around the world, or coffee and snacks for a lighter fare. There is also complimentary Heinz baby food available for the wee ones, and shopping to keep you entertained, or you can take in the sights with a stroll on deck. For folks traveling with children, there are play areas, video games and fun activities that are supervised like painting and drawing to give parents a break.

For those who wish to enjoy a more luxurious experience, there is the option to upgrade for priority boarding and for access to the Club Lounge where a complimentary glass of champagne awaits you to start your trip off right. You can also dine at the Langans Brasserie where you will be served in style.

So instead of taking the train or a plane, sit back and relax onboard the Dover Calais Ferries.

<a href=”http://www.ferry-to-france.co.uk/dover_calais.html”>ferry to Calais</a>

New Zealand to Norfolk Island

Posted in Featured on March 31st, 2010 by Caryn B. Davis

(This is an excerpt from my memoir “The Desire to Journey”, a work-in-progress, and yes, I am seeking a publisher!)

Last month I left off with how I had answered an ad in the back of WoodenBoat Magazine (http://www.woodenboat.com) that was seeking brave souls to sail around the world, and flew to New Zealand to crew on an old 127 foot cargo ship. I then went on to describe the month I spent living on the boat in Whangarei Harbor getting it ready to sail, and the crazy crew members I had subjected myself to.
So finally the day comes when we were ready to set sail, even though all of the necessary repairs had not been made on account of Vladimir rude and generally abrasive behavior towards the locals. With a broken water maker, and a confused electric panel we set off for our first destination, Norfolk Island, located off the west coast of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia in the Tasman Sea.

As soon as we leave sight of land, everything falls apart. The crew have not been assigned set watches, so we have no idea when we can sleep, or when we are expected to be on watch. After a few days of this we do whatever we want. There is no order, and at sea, order is absolute. Without order, everyone’s safety is jeopardized. Vladimir slowly transforms into more of a dragon than he already is and starts to become unglued. He doesn’t bathe, shave, sleep, or change his clothes for the entire two week passage, and takes to wearing his girlfriend’s scrubs.

Klaus has decided that exercise classes are a must for keeping our sea legs sturdy and muscles fit. He wakes the crew at 6am for calisthenics on deck. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. It’s nice to see the greenish, blue water of the South Pacific at that hour.

Bob and Dee have taken to catching dinner for us by fishing over the side. One day an albatross gets caught in the invisible line. It is too horrific to watch. I cry and cry as the albatross struggles to get free but in the end has become so mangled that he chokes on the line and dies. Nobody seems disturbed by this except me. It is similar to when Vladimir told me to throw the epoxy resin he had been using overboard. I refused, citing how bad it was for the environment and that I would have no part in it. Vlad laughs at me in a belittling way, insisting that the epoxy would not pollute the ocean nor have an impact on the creatures that lived in it, and how ridiculously stupid I was behaving to think it could. Again, I was the only one disturbed by Vlad’s act of throwing the hazardous waste over the side himself, as I would not.

One morning I am awakened quite early by Kurt and Daphne. They tell me to hurry up on deck and so I do. There, playing in our bow wave is a pod of white sided dolphin illuminated by the glow of phosphorescent that is surrounding them, and to my left is Norfolk Island. A strange and quieting feeling came over me as we approached that island. Here we were a shipboard community with our only reality and our entire world comprised of being aboard this 127 foot space.

So to come upon an island in the middle of the vast South Pacific Ocean with nothing else visible, was really mind blowing. There was nothing else around for miles and miles except this tiny, isolated island and the people on it. Just a little dot in the middle of nowhere with life happening all over it.

We lower the anchor just off the island as there is no harbor. Getting ashore can be really tricky as you have to time the tide just right to take you in, or you risk running aground and smashing your dingy into the rocks. The objective was to land at the jetty where a large crane with a hook on the end of it, extends a mechanical arm outward to pull the boat up and out the water. This is how the Norfolk Islanders unload cargo from ships that stop in route to and from New Zealand and Australia. In the event that bad weather makes it inconceivable for them to motor out to where the ship is anchored, they are forced to wait until the following month for another supply ship to stop.

While we are anchored off the island, things really come to a head. The crew had been promised time off because we had been working already for 6 weeks straight. Naturally, we all wanted to go ashore. After a much heated discussion, Vladimir informed me that he never intended to honor the agreement that we had made regarding my work hours prior to my coming to New Zealand. We had agreed that I would work 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, but since my arrival that had never been the case. In fact, I was working ten hours a day, 7 days a week. Part of the reason for the 8 hour work days was so that I could spend two hours shooting footage to create a promotional videotape that would entice paying passenger to sign up for different legs of the voyage.

As matter of principal I decide to get off the boat. Anyway, Vladimir was truly a miserable sod and I wasn’t having much fun. Being the despicable person that he was, Vladimir would not let me back onboard to say goodbye to my shipmates or pack and collect my own baggage. My baggage was packed by Klaus and delivered to me on shore, minus a few items that had mysteriously gone missing like my very expense malaria pills, and SCUBA equipment.

So there I was. Sitting on the jetty with more gear than I could possibly carry, not having a clue as to what I was going to do, but feeling well confident that anything must be better than what I had just experienced. All I knew was this: Going home was not an option! I had just quit my job, sold everything I owned, and I had only been gone just over a month. I wanted an adventure! I had two thousand dollars in my pocket. I thought I would take a hiatus and see this beautiful little island, and then fly to Australia and find another boat. Little did I know that I would never make it to Australia.

THIS MONTH’S TRAVEL TIP:
This month’s travel tip is about money. In the olden days one could carry travelers checks and if they were American Express travelers checks, you could pop into an American Express office, cash them, and take advantage of the other travel services that they offered to members in foreign countries.

But nowadays we have the ultra convenient ATM machine which has practically rendered travelers checks obsolete and eliminated the need for paying banks their conversion fees for changing your dollars into the local currency. The other advantage is that ATM’s are always open, unlike banks, especially those overseas that often close midday for siesta.

If you have a Liberty Bank near you, I highly recommend opening an account with them just so you can use their ATM card while traveling. Liberty Bank will reimburse you all the foreign ATM transaction fees, and all the conversion fees the foreign banks charge just for the pleasure of using their ATM to convert dollars to Euros for example.

If you are using a credit card while traveling, be aware that they charge between 3-5% in conversion fees every time you use the card, so whatever you are purchasing will actually cost you 3-5% more. It doesn’t seem quite right to me.

That’s all for now. Until next time, safe travels. Enjoy the journey.

Caryn B. Davis

Next Month: Norfolk Island, car rental

Caryn B. Davis is a commercial, editorial, architectural, marine and portrait photographer, and a published writer, with a studio in Chester, CT. Her images and articles have appeared in over 60 leading national and international publications. She is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers and teaches photography to adults and children. As an avid world traveler, Caryn enthusiastically and artistically photographs people, places and things at home and abroad. For more information log onto www.cbdphotography.com and www.thedesiretojourney.com.

This is an excerpt from her memoir The Desire to Journey, which is a work-in-progress.

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