Category Archives: France

Some Recommended Authors for International Mysteries- Get Your Travel Reading On!

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So I’ve started off a great list of authors that a friend and I once created under the subject of adventure and encourage you to add to the list of any great ones you are aware of or love!

Recommended Authors for International Mysteries Reads

Africa

  • Malarkey, Tucker
  • McCall Smith, Alexander

China

  • Bradby, Tom
  • Liang, Diane Wei
  • Xiaolong, Qiu

Cuba

  • Garcia-Aguilera, Carolina
  • Latour, Jose
  • Parker, Barbara
  • Standiford, Les
  • Truman, Margaret

England

  • Armstrong, Vivien
  • Dexter, Colin
  • Fowler, Christopher
  • Hall, Patricia
  • James, P.D.
  • Marsh, Ngaio
  • McCrery, Nigel
  • Rendell, Ruth

France

  • Claudel, Philippe
  • Simenon, Georges
  • Temple, Lou Jane
  • Vargas, Fred

Holland

  • Ewan, Chris
  • Freeling, Nicolas
  • Mathews, Adrian
  • Van De Wetering, Janwillem

India

  • Adiga, Aravind
  • Keating, H.R.F.

Ireland

  • Brady, John
  • Malarkey, Tucker
  • Nugent, Andrew

Italy

  • Dibdin, Michael
  • Eco, Umberto
  • Hewson, David
  • Leon, Donna
  • Nabb, Magdalen

Japan

  • Hunter, Stephen
  • Nonami, Asa
  • Okuizumi, Hikaru
  • Rowland, Laura Joh

Norway

  • Fossum, Karen
  • Nesbo, Jo

Pakistan

  • Benard, Cheryl

Russia

  • Bradby, Tom
  • Kaminsky, Stuart

Scotland

  • Beaton, M.C.
  • Mina, Denise
  • Murray, Colin
  • Rankin,Ian

Spain

  • Perez-Reverte, Arturo

Sweden

  • Mankell, Henning
  • Edwardson, Ake
  • Nesser, Hakan
  • Tursten, Helene
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A Traveller’s Checklist

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After speaking with a rather well-travelled client the other day and hearing their tales of passport dramas I decided it would be great to do a short review of a well-advised Traveller’s Checklist!

 

Your safe and well-planned trip begins with most or all of these important steps:

  • Carry a personal passport from your country of residence/citizenship that is valid well beyond the date of your anticipated return to your country of residence; keep a copy of the identification page separate from the original. I also scan one into my computer and take with me in digital format as well/store on an external storage site ie. Cloud etc.)
  • Leave copies of your passport indentification page, itinerary, and insurance policy with friends or family(I also scan one into my computer and take with me in digital format as well/store on an external storage site ie. Cloud etc.)
  • Obtain any required visas well in advance – do your research or ask your travel professional as you might need a lot of lead time to obtain!
  • If travelling with children, carry documentation proving your right to accompany them ( eg. a consent letter or court order)
  • Arrange for Travel Health Insurance
  • Plan your Itinerary and Budget
  • Anticipate financial needs: local currency, traveller’s cheques, departure taxes which may need to be paid in local currency at destination
  • Take care of health needs: vaccinations, prescriptions,medical certificates,supplies, extra eyeglasses/contacts
  • Check whether Dual Citizenship is an issue for you
  • Carry an Emergency Contact Card with the coordinates of the nearest home countyry government office in your destination
  • Obtain an International Driving Permit, if required(you must have a driver’s license in your home country – if not it can prove to be difficult)
  • Carefully attend to luggage, documentation, and airport security.
  • While abroad, keep receipts for purchases and make special arrangements for any food, plants, or animals brought back to your home country.( I try to remember to take pictures with my camera/smartphone or use a small portable scanner that links to my computer by USB like NEAT – fits nicely into the suitcase or carry-on)

 

For those of us here in Canada I also suggest signing up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service at http://www.travel.gc.ca/register

Another helpful thing that our Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade offices provide is the Bon Voyage, But… from the Consular Services which contains essential information for Canadian travellers. You can also get copies of the Country Travel Reports for your destination(s). before you go that are filled with some great information and contact names and numbers. An email address to keep in your “travel “go-to” list is the following: sos@international.gc.ca and is to only be used in cases of emergency when you are abroad.

I hope this checklist was helpful and informative and will guide you to better planning or remind you for the next journey you head out on!

Travel Safe!

 

 

What is Eco-Friendly in 2011?

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Here is a fast-n-furious navigation through the environmental consciousness with some easey-peasey definitions that aren’t too sci-fi when you travel and are reading just what your destinations are providing you for options.

Ecological Footprint: The amount of natural resources required to sustain a plant or animal to full growth

Eco-conscious: Having the awareness and being concerned for the environment

Fair Trade: Those people who make the textiles and the clothing – being paid a fair price and having decent working conditions

Organic: In relation to fabric, Fibres that are grown and produced without chemically formulted fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, growth stimulants, etc.

Reclaimed:Those textiles or garments that have been discarded or given away and are suitable for re-use

Recycled: Those textiles that have been manufactured from previously made items/products such as bottles and cans

Renewable: Those resources that can be replenished within just a few years – not decades

Vegan: Those products that are made without the use of animal bi-products

Journeys to the Sacred Sites Around The World

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We don’t have to travel around the world to visit sacred sites – we can create them in our own homes but until we are prepared to do so – how about visiting a site that inspires or connects with you.

Ancient stones and Sacred sites

Many ancient sacred sites are on the island of Great Britain and are connected it is said by invisible “ley lines” that carry a mystical energy around the world.  And while their mysterious origins and exact ritual purposes are lost in those mists of time there is no doubt that these sites with their careful construction and astonishing astronomical positioning have been focal points of the sacred to the societies who built them. To be able to witness firsthand, to run your hands over and touch the ancient mystical symbols carved into solid rock gives you a brief powerful ways of the magic crossing the centuries from eons gone past.

Stone circles, crop circles, an ancient burial chambers are part of the spiritual heritage of many countries where strong cultural groups tell the legends and stories of their history.  Let us take the small journey to sacred sites around the world.

There are sacred sites all over the world, each with their own unique structures and legends, where invisible world connects with the mystical.  What stopping you from taking a trip to those you feel most attracted to and connect their magical energy to yours? Here are some examples from around the world but there are so many that this article would be an entire book! (Note to self – new travel book idea!) I invite you to do your own research to determine if you have a connection or need to visit a certain one or a selection of a few. I encourage you to discuss with your yoga/meditation instructors and to check various travel sites to determine the best time to visit based on festivals etc.

Europe Highlights

Stonehenge (England) the most famous stone circle in the world.(see above photo)

Glastonbury (England) this town is no end for its magical energy, and it is overseen by an ancient tor, St.  Michael’s Tower.

Avesbury (England) the second most famous stone circle in the world.

Silbury Hill (England) this 4000 year old giant ceremonial mound rises out of the plains of the English countryside.

Les Eyzies (France) these cave paintings and ancient artifacts date from the time humankind began to express its mystical connection to the world.

Lascaux (France) these splendid cave paintings are possibly the most significant prehistoric expression of the spiritual known to exist.

Newgrange (Ireland) this megalith is an ancient Celtic structure.

Hypogeum (Malta) a 5,000 year old site used by many different cultures for Goddess Worship

The Neolithic Temples of Malta (Malta) Holy sites that are dedicated to the Goddess

The Palace at Knossos (Crete) a spectacular Minoan palace complex honoring Goddess culture

The Temple of Delphi (Greece) Home to the supreme oracle in ancient Mediterranean world and also believed to have been the seat of the Earth Goddess Gaia

Middle East Highlights

Oracle Shrine of Didyma (Turkey) this pre-Greek goddess sanctuary was finished in the 6th century B.C.

Aphrodisias(Turkey) an ancient goddess city that predates Greek culture

Yazilikaya(Turkey) a prehistoric ceremonial sanctuary dates back to 15th to 13th century B.C.

Asia Highlights

Mt. Fuji (Japan) this highest peak in Japan is also said to be the home of a Shinto goddess

Temples of Bali (Bali) Everywhere is sacred as is the splendor of the Balinese temples

Angkor Wat (Cambodia) this is one magnificient 1,000 year old Buddhist city is set deep in the forest

Banaras (India) Goddesses and gods abound here and devout saddus wander the streets in India’s holiest of holy city

Mt. Kaliash (Tibet) acknowledged as “The Center of the Earth” in many traditions, this is home to the Hindu god Shiva and the seat of the sky goddess Sipaimen in Tibet’s pre-Buddhist Bon religion

Australia Highlights

Uluru (Ayers Rock) the colossal outcropping rising out of the earth in the outback of Central Australia that is sacred to the Aboriginal people

Megalithic Stone Alignment (Central Australia) these “stones” are dated between 10-15,000 years old

Lake Narran (Australia) according to an Aboriginal myth, the creation story of the world was imparted to its inhabitants here 10,000 years ago

Africa Highlights

The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx/Giza ( Egypt) the Great Pyramid of Giza was one of the ancient wonders of the world, and even most travelers today would not consider a trip to Egypt complete without seeing the pyramids and the mysterious Sphinx

Luxor ( Upper Egypt) the Temple of Karnak, which was used in ancient times for major religious ceremonies. The temple is known for its massive towers, some of them 70 feet tall.

Binu Shrines of Mali (Mali) these are the sacred mud shrines of the ancient Dogon people, who revere the spirits of their dead ancestors

Tshipise (South Africa) Mapungubwe Ruins, recently declared a World Heritage site as one of 24 new global sites inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage List. Mapungubwe developed into the largest African kingdom before it was abandoned in the 14th century as the people moved, according to some scientist’s, to establish Great Zimbabwe

Matobo Hills (South Africa) Known as “Amalindidzimu” – the dwelling place of the spirits, it was known by the ancients as the ‘burial place of kings’

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins (South Africa) The Great Zimbabwe Ruins known as the place of the ‘Sun People’ is a mysterious and sacred ancient city. Your journey will take you along the sacred pathway, travelling northward above the great subterranean river known to the ancient African Priests as – ‘Lulungwa Mangakatsi. Of special note is that the Great Zimbabwe Ruins are situated on the sacred Nilotic Meridian (associated with Zep Tepi – the beginning of time on earth) and due north of the birthplace of the White Lions of the Timbavati – the star beasts

The Americas Highlights

Machu Picchu (Peru) a stunning Incan city is set on a remote mountaintop, its mystical significance shrouded in mystery

Chichen Itza (Mexico) this is a sacred center of the Mayan world that has been wonderfully restored

Palenque (Mexico) a magnificent Mayan city in the highland jungle is full of ceremonial sites and ancient temples

Chaco Canyon (New Mexico, USA) the greatest architectural achievement of the northern Native Americans is the site of a great Kiva, which was the circular sacred den of the ancient Anasazi people

Mt. Kilauea (Hawaii, USA) this sacred volcano is said to be where the mountain goddess Pele dwells

My Guest Post on Vallarta Escapes :: Food Safety Tips for Home and Away

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Food Glorious Food! Just the thought of tantilizing flavours from far away conjures up the most amazing of sensations. Maybe at this exact moment you are remembering a favourite dish a parent, relative or friend made like Uncle Jim’s perfectly barbequed tasty ribs or Grandma’s expertly rolled homemade cinnamon buns. The thing about food is – it sustains us both emotionally and physically – it’s not just a necessity for living but also a joy and a simple pleasure so let’s discuss the challenges of taking this joy on vacation.

If you’re in a non-English speaking country, it’s a good idea to get referrals from other travellers and your travel agent if possible as well as having a phrase book on hand to help translate the menu and avoid potentially risky dishes. Do some research online or at the library to better understand the cuisine of the location you will be visiting. Make sure that your food is always cooked thoroughly and served hot if that is what the dish is supposed to be. This is not the best time to be super adventurous and have a runny egg huevos rancheros or some prepared tartare in a country not known for its “raw” menu items. It’s also a good idea to see how an eatery runs their clean “ship” as that will usually tell you how clean they might be keeping their kitchen.

One of the best things about travelling is enjoying the tastes and smells, the experience of new cuisine; one of the worst things about travelling is the possibility of food related illnesses. When choosing to place to eat, try to dine in busy tourist destinations, which are more likely to have higher food safety regulations, standards and practices in order to maintain their reputation and the continued return of business.

A new little travel tip I was recently enlightened to has helped to ensure that I don’t create a recipe for disaster and digestive chaos was the following: if the drinking water you will have access to is questionable, simply add 2-5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (otherwise known as GSE) to each glass of water. Be sure to get its full effects by stirring it well and letting it sit for a few moments before you consume it but be forwarned its quite bitter(think citrus on steroids) . As an excellent antimicrobial it’s great to have on hand to keep those digestive complaints at bay while travelling. Most will say that the best advice is to only consume those beverages that are bottled and served to you sealed(it’s not uncommon for bottles to be refilled from a contaminated source and order your drinks without ice,including those ones that are blended- I know- takes away the fun but its about being safe!

Danger Danger …sometimes its only skin deep so only eat fruits such as oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas and mangos that have a protective, peel-able layer of skin. The peel of the fruit acts like a protective barrier to microorganisms that can make you sick. The peel protects the fruit inside but also makes it a net that harbours the growth of bacteria and molds so always make sure you completely wash and peel it first so you don’t tranfer anything.

Wash, Wash, Wash! Don’t forget to wash your own hands many times over! Washing your hands is even more important to travellers in a foreign locale than at home because of the possibility of picking up “little critters” or microbes that you have never been exposed to.

Paying attention to food safety is not just a travelling issue as we are such a global community that comes with a very global food supply. Food is sourced and delivered from multiple sources and your favourite fruits and veggies can travel thousands of miles to grace your table and even our local produce is handled many times over before we pick it up at the supermarket and the local veggie stand.

Travel safe!

~ Namaste ~

Passion + France = LOVE (a foodie crush)

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Foodie Love

There is nothing like meeting someone who is as passionate about what they do as you are and this was the case when I was invited to interview Michelin star Chef Alexandre Gauthier this January. A favoured choice by Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsay, Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère participated in Stratford Chefs School’s Chef in Residence for the second time bringing Pascal (his maitre d’ hotel) and Nicholas (his sous chef).

As a week long event at the school(from January 24 through January 28, 2011), this allowed Chef Alexandre to work closely with the students, shopping daily for the evening’s menu and being a passionate mentor to the students for the evening services. The Celebrity Chef in Residence program offers students and staff of Canada’s premier culinary institute the opportunity to expand their culinary repertoire while learning from, and cooking with, the finest international chefs.

The family restaurant La Grenouillère, in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France is currently closed and experiencing a massive transformation into Chef Alexandre’s new vision and I for one am extrememly excited to see the final outcome. Not only will this be a reborn restaurant keen to a highlighted patron experience but also a 12 room Auberge with herb and flower gardens. (For those not in the know, an auberge is by definition: an inn or tavern providing overnight lodging for travelers) What an amazing experience this will become for those enjoying the new décor and the rustic, etheral setting with a small castle atop the hill in the backdrop and his fantastic cuisine.

Chef Gauthier has been the chef at La Grenouillère since 2003. The family restaurant is located in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France (a village mentioned in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables). He has worked with chefs Régis Marcon (Au Clos des Cimes), Michel Roth (Lasserre), and Grégory Coutanceau (Les Flots). In 2007, Chef Gauthier received his first Michelin star and brought back the star that had been missing from La Grenouillère since 2001.

The iconic chef Alain Ducasse encouraged Chef Gauthier’s talent early on in his career, inviting him to the famed Plaza Athénée to make two dishes (including an notable appetizer of soft & hard-shell clams- C’est tres bonne!). Chef Gauthier defines his cuisine as Cuisine Délurée (“smart”, “subtle”,”forward”,”impertinent and pertinent”), using French & Japanese techniques(offset plating) to create his distinctive dishes.

Amongst the many words that come across the many articles about this noteworthy chef – “radical”, “authentic”, “pertinent”, “provocative”, “wild”, “and “robust”.Chef Alexandre is the Ultimate recycler when it comes to ingredients and pays homage to all the food sources on his menu. He promises that there will be no “frontier” between the chef and the customer including lots of glass and open spaces with iron, leather and large fire pits to complete the new experience.

I would challenge anyone to not agree that this young chef, who has already accomplished so much, is an example of a Spiritual Entrepreneur who is following and actioning his dreams – making them a reality – great energy to be aligned with as a fellow entrepreneur myself.

When I asked this amazingly talented man to choose one word to describe him, he paused, challenged to find just one word and then said “PASSIONATE” et “UNCONVENTIONAL”. Certainly two words that make the tastebuds tingle in anticipation of the next outpouring from this extremely talented chef.

I will be taking a group to France later this year and will encorporate the short 2 hour drive from Paris to visit to the newly renovated resto & auberge to experience Chef Alexandre Gauthier on his own homefront stage.

Look for more about this amazing chef and upcoming trips designed by AYA Life.

Best dishes til then travellers and foodies alike.

Links::

Alexandre Gauthier

La Grenouillere www.lagrenouillere.fr

Alexandre Gauthier and William Elliott

Froggy’s Tavern www.froggystavern.com

Seeing the world and reading about the world go hand in hand

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Let me begin by asking the two following questions: Does wanderlust run in your family? Have you always loved to travel? My family was very much divided growing up and one side was happy to stay at home in their own backyard and the other had visions of far off nations to be explored throughout a lifetime. I wish wanderlust had run in my family because I’ve embraced it fully. My ideal travel situation is almost anything and I truly believe that travel should be about the experience.

One has the luxury to be able to read about faraway places you haven’t been to, to see new cultures through others eyes in the written word – all the people, the places, and the experiences of travel just enthralling you but this article is not just about riding on the experiences of others … I truly believe that everyone needs a road trip or two in their life! The one they have dreamed about that they’ve put on their “Bucket List”, the one that takes months, has only the vaguest travel plans – the kind of a trip you remember for all your living days and those remembered by others re-telling about your life time.

It’s not just about location or destinations, but it’s about the people you meet and talk to on the way, the annoying chatterbox that everyone just wants to button it, even as you’re traveling, the problems and people you meet along your journey – both good and bad, and all that happens down the road. It’s that first night at a rest stop where you look at a clear starry sky and feel the landscape around you remembering the day’s adventure, or enjoying the flavors of the culinary delights in front of you knowing your belly is full and your mind is ready to explode with all the new taste combinations. Your eyes are glowing with wanton satisfaction of knowing you have crossed another destination off the list and then only to realize the next morning that you have done so much in the day before but you feel energized and ready to set off on the next daily adventure.

In a world obsessed with how: (how can I make money, how can I get a girl/guy, how can I get a better job) how is it that we are not obsessing about the “Why.” Why was it so necessary to take this trip? Why does the universe exist? Why do we worry about the how questions? Why do any of them matter? Why? Look around you in the destination of the day and absorb all that there is to see, smell, hear, feel and rejoice in the simple little pleasures and leave stress behind if but for a moment(or 10-14 days if possible!)

This leads to creating your incredible story about the open road, about the beauty of traveling with only a vague destination and itinerary, of realizing how much of what you have learned is learning the “structure” everyone “has to” live by, and what breaking away from that really means. What makes your travel dreams assemble? In this post I tackle the senses with the idea of smells and tastes creating the ultimate overwhelming tools that go with the visual imagery you may already have in your head of destinations afar.

Spices may be the secret ingredient to many dishes but they are also the trigger to what brings memories and dreams of faraway cultures to our taste buds and imaginations. Some creative ideas of incorporating this into creating the travel experience of a life time might just be something like exploring at one of the world’s oldest known spice markets in the world in Istanbul or head off to find adventure and appease the senses with carts overflowing with dried fruits and spices amongst the vendors of the Marrakech Bazaar, in Marrakech, Morocco. Or a trip to Mexico just might bring you to Oaxaca’s market where you will find “memorable” treats like dried grasshoppers to the flavorful and delicious Mexican chocolate!

Take the journey to Canada and experience markets in both the East and the West. Vancouver’s Granville Island Market will open to tourists the doors of wonder with a strong Asian influence or head East to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market – a mainstay the locals are keen to share to visitors since the days when seaway imports came through Lake Ontario. Travel experiences to markets like these show that we are, the cultures we share amongst us and the heritage from whence we came. Open a cook book or read a novel that inspires you to seek out the next destination for your journeys.

Such recent inspirations for me include:

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
  • Vij’s Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine Cookbook by Vikram Vij and wife Meeru Dhalwala
  • Mexico One Plate At A Time by Rick Bayless
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes
  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris

A few short tips to remember at this point :

• Remember that physical borders (mountains, valleys, etc.) are more important in many parts of the world than political boundaries.

• Be sure to do research and then find a good guide or travel counsellor who can choose the best company for you.

• The more tips for traveling abroad you can find and take to heart, the more likely you are to have a great and safe time abroad.

So the next time you are out having a meal at your favorite restaurant imagine what it would be like to experience it in the lands from which it originated. Ask yourself if you are the explorer who wants to actively challenge your boundaries with hands-on learning and experiences, inspired by rich culture, interactive exchanges and a heightening of the senses with feeling, food, friendships and of course – fantastic fun!

But if you need a kick in the pants to do something different – learn to embrace passion and adventure!