This article appeared in The Huffington Post in August 2015.
“Our first night in St. Lucia is at Fond Doux Plantation and Resort. This eco haven is situated on 135 acres of forest and is actively contributing to biodiversity and protection of the environment. They practice sustainable tourism and are one of the greenest resorts in St. Lucia. And yes, everything is actually green! This organic resort is located on a 250-year-old working plantation. Our smiling guide, Phillip, expertly climbs tropical trees and picks us fresh fruit. Noah and I eat our way through the forest like hungry caterpillars. Fresh pink apples shaped like pears, huge juicy grapefruits, coconuts, and bananas! We sniff pure nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa beans. We touch the soft pink cat tails hanging from trees. (No, not from real cats, those felines arrive later!) That night the birds of the rainforest sing us to sleep”.
This article appeared in The Huffington Post in May 2015
“Nassau Bahamas is one of those destinations you want to return to again and again. It’s my third time visiting the island and the second time going with my son Noah, age nine. I carefully plan our itinerary to maximize our four-night stay — one adventure per day! It’s the perfect destination for an extended long weekend”.
“It’s 6am and I suddenly wake up to the wind blowing lightly on my face. Then I hear the ocean waves lapping against the shore and I start smiling. I am not sure if it’s a dream or it’s really happening because it is just that awesome. I look to my left and see my son Noah sleeping soundly wrapped in a white comforter in the big cozy bed next to mine. I sleepily look to my right and immediately freeze. It’s definitely real! I am in paradise, otherwise known as the Melia Nassau Beach
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“I explain several times to my 7-year-old that we are going on a fun “staycation” in our own city. He keeps asking if I’m sure I didn’t make a mistake and we’re in fact going back to the Bahamas. Poor kid. He’s lived in Toronto his entire life, but there is so much of the city he hasn’t seen, so my goal is to visit parts of Toronto we don’t normally see”.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
“While walking on the red sandy beach that Canada’s smallest province is so famous for, my playful son Noah pulls on my braids and tells me “you look just like Anne.” The Anne my 8-year-old is talking about is, of course, Prince Edward Island’s most famous fictional resident, Anne of Green Gables, who was immortalized worldwide in the writings of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, herself born on the north shore of this treasured island”.
“It’s the weekend before Noah’s 8th birthday so we celebrate with a special dinner at Aux Vivres on Rue Saint-Laurent. This vegan restaurant boasts delicious organic proteins, fresh locally grown veggies and no artificial preservatives in their wide assortment of salads, bowls and burgers. Noah makes a wish and blows out a candle on top of the best chocolate apple cake we have ever tasted”.
“I explain to Noah our rule of shell collecting: “If a creature is occupying the shell, we throw it back in the ocean and set it free. We only keep shells left behind.” The Bahamas has hundreds of shell species. The large pink queen conch (pronounced ‘konk’) shell is one of the most popular. It’s a common meal in the Bahamas and the shells are made into jewellery that’s popular with tourists and locals. Unfortunately, the conch is at risk — the population is drastically shrinking because of over-fishing. So Noah and I are extra careful”.
“We head out in search of dolphins — but not at an aquarium. Noah has seen TV shows and read books about dolphins, but hasn’t seen one live, so we head for Blue Wave Adventures at the Crazy Sister Marina (in Murrells Inlet, about 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach) for an eco-friendly boat tour. Our captain, Robert, tells us that dolphins show up 95 per cent of the time when the boat goes out, even though they don’t use harmful techniques or feeding to lure them. “We want the tour to be as natural as possible and we don’t want to disrupt the dolphins or their feeding,” he says. Robert also says he’s seen a great white shark, stingrays, jellyfish and sea turtles on these journeys”.
“We head to Charles Town Landing where English settlers arrived in 1670 and established the Carolina Colony. The 664-acre park features walking paths, a replica trading ship, an interactive museum, protective palisades, gardens, archeological activities, and even a natural habitat animal forest. We’re thrilled to learn all the animals were rescued with no wild captures”.
“Arriving at the castle’s majestic “drawbridge” (main door), we are kindly greeted by smiling “knights” in uniform (bellboys). They lavishly open our “chariot” (taxi) and lead us into the magnificent grand lobby. Prince Noah is in awe and immediately runs over to one of the luxurious couches and tests its softness and bounce-ability. “This place is huge!”shouts Noah loudly — but nobody minds since this child-friendly castle has many princes and princesses playfully exploring the lobby”.
“The cat sanctuary, started in the 1970s, is run entirely by volunteers and donations. The cats have been Hill residents for decades. It’s rumored that Col. By brought hundreds of cats here when he built the Rideau Canal to help control the rodent population. No matter how they got here, the cats were used for pest control in the Parliament Buildings until 1955, when they were replaced by chemicals. Committed volunteers now ensure the colony remains safe, warm, fed and loved — or at least “liked” … they have their own Facebook page, The Cats of Parliament Hill”.