Monday, July 13, 2020

Photo Impressions from the Rockies in AB & BC

Spending the Winter on Vancouver Island one year, I had to wait until the
end of April to cross the Rockies and drive back to Eastern Canada.

Impressive Resort in Revelstoke, BC

Huge clouds over the mountains, but the weather held

Not necessary on this day - thank goodness!

The famous Lake Louise hotel still snowed in

The marvelous building style of this Banff restaurant...

Downtown Canmore, surrounded by impressive mountains

Mural, reminding that the West was developed with the help of trains


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Writing Your Way While Traveling Canada

Ottawa Parliament

Once we can travel again...
Being a freelance travel writer and seeing Canada and other parts of the world requires a lot of hard work and creativity, but it certainly can be done. Many writers have chosen to become digital nomads. They are pros at making a full-time living while traveling permanently. 

Writing about your travel experiences is obvious, and probably the most attractive way to earn an income as a location independent freelance writer.  Travel journalism has experienced rapid growth as a result of booming worldwide travel, and the growth of online travel media. However, travel writing is highly competitive and requires patience and dedication to make a living out of it.  Here are the most important tips before going location-independent:

Your Future Lifestyle
The lifestyle will not suit everyone.  If you are not willing to leave your comfort zone or the safety (and some would say benefits) of your friends, family, or full-time job, then it’s probably not for you.  But if you want to challenge yourself, experience different parts of Canada or the world, and live an extraordinary life, then why not take the leap?

Where to Find Writing Opportunities Online
Earning money online is not that easy, and a location independent freelance writer must actively find and create work opportunities.  Working as a freelancer is like owning a small business and it’s up to you to market yourself to clients. The good news is that there is plenty of writing work available on the internet – some well paying and others not so much.  Find magazines and websites that relate to those subjects (not only travel media outlets).  If the content of the site is supplied by a range of contributors, email them and suggest an article you would like to write.

Read the Recommendations of Travel Editors
For a good overview of what editors recommend how to sell travel related articles and posts, check out the list of the "Lost Girls World".

BootsnAll editor, Katie Hammel

New York Times’ deputy travel editor, Monica Drake

The Expeditioner’s founder and editor-in-chief, Matt Stabile

Galavanting‘s managing editor, Joseph Hernandez

Travel Belles’ publisher and editor, Margo Millure

Go NOMAD‘s general edit Max Hartshorne

Travel Agent senior editor Joe Pike

Recommend‘s managing editor Paloma Villaverde de Rico

Learn the Techniques to Write for Newspapers/Magazines
Write newspaper-style: the inverted pyramid.  This means writing the conclusion first, details later. gives these tips: “Write with the “punch line” first, starting with the conclusion, rather than building up.  One way to learn to write this way is to write the section first with all the details, and then go back and start it with a lead sentence or two.”

Edit, Edit, and Edit Even More! 
Use free editing tools such as EditMinion or PaperRater, besides using Grammarly for US English pieces.  Read your article the next day again, get the help of a beta-reader if possible to have another opinion on your article before you send it off to the editor.

Carefully read the last ten (or more) issues of these freelance writing travel websites and magazines before you pitch.  If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read lots of magazines and newspapers for free.  Study their submission guidelines carefully.  Find out who is the current editor and send your pitch directly to him or her. Use their name in your salutation.  No one wants to be titled "Hey"...

Don't forget:
English language media outlets are covering not only America but half of the world: Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, etc. Make sure you also pitch to the English-speaking media outside of North America!

Freelancing Platforms
Elance, Freelancer, and oDesk:  tick some boxes for "freelance writing looking for work". Setting yourself up requires minimal investment, clients are already on the site looking for writers, and the platforms handle the financial transactions.  However, these are ultra-competitive platforms, and it’s often a race to the bottom in terms of pay as they are chock full of (mainly ESL) writers who are willing to work for peanuts.  Consider them only a plan B or C to supplement the income that you derive from other sources.  The ProBlogger Job Board is also a popular place to pick up freelance writing gigs (and also lousy paid).

Well-Paying Magazines and Newspapers
Most periodicals have a travel section.  Consider writing for these magazines with enormous readership numbers (Resource: Alliance for Audited Media), such as:

Huffington Post (43 Million/month) (7,7 Million / month)
Travel & Leisure 950,000 magazine readers/month
Delta Sky Magazine over 5 Million Readers/month
Wikipedia  provides a list of American and International magazines and their paid yearly circulation:
AARP The Magazine 21,931,184
Better Homes & Gardens 7,624,505
Reader’s Digest 5,241,484
Good Housekeeping 4,396,795
National Geographic 4,001,937
People 3,690,031
Southern Living 2,824,751
O, The Oprah Magazine 2,417,589

The National Trust Magazine, UK 2,043,876
Mathrubhoomi, India 1,600,000
India Today 1,100,000
Australian Women’s Weekly, 470,331

Best Paying: In-Flight Magazines
Airline magazines represent a real opportunity for freelance writers.  Despite the current contractions in the airline industry, in-flight magazines still attract many readers, and they are mostly written by freelancers.  The best thing about writing for in-flight magazines is that each one is different.  Some of them – such as Sky for Delta Airlines – feature restaurant reviews, fiction stories, regular columns, and technology articles - in addition to a cornucopia of other topics.  Other in-flight magazines are focused primarily on travel, with in-depth articles on interesting destinations.

Travel pieces are a staple of in-flight magazines, but only when showing the culture and feel of the place. Airline publications also contain articles on technology, business, sports, and food, as well as lifestyle trends. Some in-flight magazines feature celebrity profiles, fiction, humor and many have regular columns.

Air Canada

British Airways

Cathay Pacific



SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines)

Hana Hou! (Hawaiian Airlines)

A comprehensive list of 101 in-flight magazines from Air Arabia to Wizz Air can be found here (many with links directly to the magazine’s website):

Write eBooks and Paperbacks
Another way to earn money from writing while being location independent is publishing e-books.  Become an authority in something and write a resource guide or ‘how-to’ book. People respect authorities and will buy books from them if it contains valuable information on a relevant topic.

The benefits of e-books are that each of them generates a small passive income for years to come.  Once a book is published it requires little input - other than being on social media and post snippets of your book and the sales link to it.  Another great option is to post short, enticing blog articles, also with a link to your ebook or paperback. 

Or you buy Google ads:  You might have heard that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average!  There is barely a better place to invest in advertisements.  I am talking about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.  Her is how it works:

If the keywords you have chosen match what people search for, your paid ad appears next to or above organic Google search results.  When people click on the ad, they will reach your website to learn more or they will order products or services.  You can test the keywords and phrases using WordTracker, Overture Keyword Selector, or Google AdWords Keyword.  Google AdWords allows you also to target specific geographic locations.

Use Your Blog as Portfolio
A personal blog is a popular pursuit for location-independent freelance writers. In a world where there are more freelance writers than writing assignments, an online profile adds important credibility to you as a writer.  Blogs are simple to create. and Blogger are two popular platforms. Choose a title, layout, and start writing entries.

Finding topics to write about shouldn’t be a problem for a professional writer.  A blog is a great way to showcase your stories, articles, and examples of your writing.  If you are emailing newspapers, websites, and magazines with story ideas, or contacting potential clients for writing assignments, it is important to show them examples of your work.

Don’t forget to edit your blog articles as carefully as the pieces you write for sale!
Blogs can be monetized, such as through Google’s Adsense, Amazon, BlueHost, and other affiliate links, or selling a product, although don’t expect large earnings soon.  Monetizing a blog requires lots of time and steady work.

Location Independent
If you are a location independent freelance writer then you can work from anywhere with a decent WiFi connection, but pick an inexpensive place to start. “Find your best place to live, work, and play” The Nomad List of Cities - including many Canadian cities - is a great resource as it breaks down costs and quality of life in a simple table.  This will help you budget for your first few months.

Although one of the biggest fears of becoming location independent is money, it is often cheaper than staying at home. In many nomad hot spots, you can live a great life for less than $900 per month.  By choosing an affordable place to base yourself initially, you don’t need much money to start a nomadic lifestyle – just a plane ticket, a reliable laptop, and enough savings for three months or so for living expenses.  After all, part of the journey involves making money.

Apply for Free Writer Residencies
Most writer's residencies are located in Western Canada. Think Alberta, British Columbia, and even the Yukon. Some of these free residencies are even offering fellowships or even travel grants.  Duration is between two weeks and three months and is granted every year.  So, if you missed this year's deadline, apply later for the following year.  Here are some examples of residencies you might consider for application:

House Sitting

Don't overlook "House Sitting" for free stays (including internet) at private homes. This can be one week, one month, and even longer.  Your chores might be taking in the mail, watering the house plants, or walking the dog while the owners are on vacation or away for business.

Networking and meeting people are crucial in making it as a location independent freelance writer.  If you make the effort to meet people, you’ll come across many potential friends and mentors from all walks of life who might give advice and direct you toward work.  Try working at least some of the time in co-working spaces, and attend e-business meetings (most Nomad cities have both).  You get to know the area, meet with locals, and cook your own meals.

Whether you are a writer, IT specialist, graphic designer, or an editor, it’s possible to remove yourself from fixed-location work and become location independent, without reducing your income. Many writers enjoy a better quality of life than had they chained themselves to one location.

More Resources:




Sunday, January 5, 2020

Okanagan Valley - The Warmest Place in Canada


A hidden gem that even many Canadians have never visited:  the Okanagan Valley with it's dry, semi-arid climate, reminding me of Northern Italy.  The hills and mountains around the 135 kilometers long Okanagan Lake are dotted with vineyards, rose gardens, and apple orchards.  Winter temperatures go rarely into the minus degrees, yet there are skiing areas within an hour driving distance.  The Southern Okanagan Valley is the only desert-like place in the whole of Canada. 

The Okanagan is for Wine Lovers 
Hundreds of wineries invite visitors for tastings, many have even cozy outdoor restaurants or patios and nothing is more relaxing than to sip a glass, overlooking the surrounding wine fields, orchards and golf courses and watching the sailboats on Lake Okanagan. 

Even a Native Tribe owns an award-winning viticulture company, including tasting rooms, and last week I found a winery in West-Kelowna that offers delicious organic wines.


Sailing is the Preferred Outdoor Sport
Marinas in the Okanagan are full of boats, many have long waiting lists and sailing the lake is a popular past time.  Non-sailors can book a boat with skipper for sightseeing or a romantic Sunset Tour.  The Okanagan Lake cruising region offers some of the best inland sailings in BC with excellent winds and clear blue skies.



Floatplane Tours from Kelowna Harbour
At Hart Aviation you can experience the excitement of a floatplane or seaplane sightseeing tour over the breathtaking beauty of the Okanagan and its surrounding mountains, glaciers and alpine lakes. I chatted with the pilots about their Floatplane training classes and they mentioned an offer of a Fly n' Dine Tour to the Lake Okanagan Resort where you will enjoy the three-course "Wine Country Escape Meal".  After your wonderful meal, you can relax while traveling from the Lake Okanagan Resort to Kelowna in a stretch " Black Tie Limousine".  A special evening for sure!  


Golfers Paradise
I am getting the impression there is a golf course on every hill around the huge lake. Next to sailing, the best outdoor fun in the Okanagan seems to be golfing.  Amazing how many new golf courses are still built.  Each of them seems to compete not only with their greens but also with their clubhouses and restaurants with other golf clubs in the area.  Kelowna alone has over 20 golf courses, and many more are located around the whole Okanagan Valley.

Now, that it is almost November, the Roses and other Summer flowers are still in full bloom, even so, the tree leaves are slowly changing colors.  But I can hike in a short-sleeve blouse in the warm sun.  Yes, the Okanagan is a hiker's paradise too, among many other sports- and countless event offers.  A perfect holiday destination for year-round pleasure - also I would not come here in Summer:  it's just too hot then!



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Monday, December 9, 2019

Fall Impressions from the Maritimes

For many, fall is the most photogenic season of the year in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI. The Maritimes usually enjoy a long and colorful autumn season - often until Christmas.

The photos here have been taken mostly on the South Shore of Nova Scotia - in early December!

Usually, during the third week of October, the reds will be at their peak in the Maritimes, and this is probably the most glorious time for visitors. Earlier than this, there will still be a delightful mixture of greens among the reds, oranges, and yellows.

Gathering twigs of winterberries, seagrasses, bearberries, black huckleberries, hawthorne, and elderberries, together with some pine twigs make for lovely winter decoration.

Create a lovely centerpiece for the dining table or place them in pots or window boxes and let the birds nosh on the berries during wintertime.



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Canada's Most Beautiful Gardens

July 1st, we celebrate Canada Day. But how much do you know about this vast country?  Have you driven the total length from New Foundland to Vancouver Island? Or vice-versa? It's a very special journey - and to visit Canada's best gardens will give you a reason to finally explore the country in all its beauty. Here are the top botanical destinations:

Memorial University Botanical Garden is located in St. John's, Newfoundland, and is known for its cultivated gardens and natural habitats. The botanical gardens are also used for environmental, botanical and horticultural education and research.

Nova Scotia's features many themed gardens linked by picturesque paths that display plant collections, such as the Rose Collection pictured above. The collection contains over 230 cultivars.

The New Brunswick Botanical Garden spreads over an area of more than 17 acres, showcasing over 80,000 plants. The rose garden, rhododendrons, luxuriant annuals, and perennials offer a symphony of color. Visitors love the spectacular arboretum. The New Brunswick Botanical Garden is also a center for the study.

Kingsbrae Garden, located in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, is a 27-acre public garden. The many themed gardens boast more than 50,000 plants. The garden also features a genuine Dutch windmill, which draws water up from the lower pond through a sluice to the upper pond. The water then trickles down a rocky course before returning to the lower pond.

Montréal Botanical Garden is one of the best in the country and deserves praise for weathering some mighty cold winters. Stroll through and enjoy many of the 22,000 plant species and cultivars that grow here and don't miss the 10 exhibition greenhouses.

When visiting the Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) you can explore the 12 award-winning themed gardens spread over four acres. The TBG also hosts tours, programs, nature day camps, and field trips. Don't miss the LEED Silver Certified Building; its energy-efficient slopping green roof and eco-conscious design are award-winning.

Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario is full of color all year long. Enjoy winter in the indoor Mediterranean Garden and spectacular spring and summer outdoor displays that burst into bloom. Royal Botanical Gardens is alive with color, scent, and spectacle.

The Crofter's Cottage in the English Garden of Assiniboine Park, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a popular site. This heavily planted precinct of one of North America's largest urban parks boasts visits upwards of 4.4 million annually. Both locals and visitors love The English Garden for its spectacular seasonal color and texture, as well as the wide variety of plants.

Visitors to Lethbridge, Alberta's breathtaking Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden come here to enjoy the peaceful grounds. It's an authentic Japanese meditation garden that's well worth the visit to escape the stresses of everyday life. Explore the many meticulously pruned trees and shrubs, the only flowering plants that grow in the garden.

Hatley Park, located in Victoria, British Columbia, is one of Canada's National Historical sites.  Aside from the stunning Edwardian estate, this historic site features hundreds of heritage trees, including 250-year-old Douglas firs. The park boasts over 600 acres of forest, which can be explored from the many hiking and biking trails.  The most popular gardens are the Rose, Japanese and Formal Italian, which are open to the public.

Located beside the 7,000-foot Mount Chem, Minter Gardens is one of British Columbia's many stunning attractions. It features 10 different Canadiana gardens intertwined with waterfalls. The gardens also have beautiful displays of containers, tropical specimens, and intriguing annual designs.

The David C. Lam Asian Garden is the largest area in the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. Visitors can explore the many plants and trees from Tibet, Japan, China, Korea, Manchuria and other regions of the world. Favorites include the stunning magnolias and rhododendrons. Visitors also love the paperbark (Acer griseum) and snake-bark (A. capillipes) maples.

Vancouver's VanDusen Botanical Garden is a pleasure to visit year-round. The garden has 55 acres worth of plants gathered from around the world. The Laburnum Walk, pictured above, is in full bloom from late May through June.

Glendale Gardens, located in Victoria, British Columbia, calls itself the 'garden for gardeners'. This six-acre garden is located on a large nature conservancy, which is also home to the Pacific Horticultural College. Explore the grounds along its many trails. Glendale Gardens boasts 10,000 varieties of plants in 28 demonstration gardens, including lovely perennial borders, Japanese and Zen gardens and the Doris Page Winter Garden.

There are many more natural beauties along the route, for example, the Reford Gardens - Jardins de Métis - near Rimouski on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Or the downtown Halifax, NS, beautiful Victorian-inspired Public Garden, open for visitors since 1867 - just to name two of the many lovely places.  

See also:



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Brockville, St Lawrence and 1000 Islands in Ontario

Brockville, formerly named Elizabethtown, is also called the "City of the Thousand Islands" and the "Pride of the St. Lawrence River" and is a lovely destination - not only for history lovers.

Fulford Place
This turn-of-the-century Edwardian style mansion, which is on the St. Lawrence River in Brockville, Ontario makes an incredibly interesting visit.  The building and its surrounding grounds demonstrate what the utmost in privilege and wealth could afford at the beginning of the last century.

Built between 1899 and 1901, at a then-staggering cost of $100,000, Fulford Place was designed by the prestigious American architect William Fuller for his millionaire client, George T. Fulford.  He was a Canadian businessman who made his fortune selling "Pink Pills for Pale People."  This medicine, the rights to which Fulford purchased in 1890 for $53.01, was essentially an iron supplement and was touted as a cure-all for many ailments including, "rheumatism, heart palpitations (and) all forms of weakness in male or female."

He was also a local alderman, a Liberal senator, and philanthropist, friend to politicians, royalty and foreign dignitaries.  His international connections and influence allowed him to hire the best professionals and craftspeople to construct his 20,000-square-foot, 35-room mansion on prime waterfront property.

Lovely Gardens
The elaborate 10-acre property gardens were originally laid out by the design firm of Frederick Olmsted, the landscape architect responsible for both New York's Central Park and Montreal's Mount Royal.  Two sections of the original landscape, including an Italianate garden and a lawn parterre have been restored to the original Olmsted design.

Delicious Homemade Refreshments
Homemade lunch and afternoon tea are served where the original laundry room was once.  The delicious homemade afternoon tea (consisting of a choice of finger sandwiches, savories, and sweets) and friendly service will make you feel like we were eating in our great-aunt's summer kitchen.  With only six tables, the room is small but, during warm weather, the tearoom extends onto the covered porch.

Brockville Mainstreet
Stroll the city's historic district, there are also walking tours from the tourist office, including the lovely area around the Courthouse.  Don’t miss the charming Brockville Museum, and browse the shops along King Street.  Discover lovely specialty stores, pubs and enjoy the amazing British tea and coffee houses in this Canadian gem of a historic town before you head down to the waterfront.

There are lots of events running throughout the summer, including the Ribfest in August, for barbecue lovers or the Riverfest, the annual extravaganza on Blockhouse Island that features color, noise, food and tons of family fun.

Leisurely St Lawrence River Cruise
designed to introduce visitors to the shoreline delights of Brockville, the seaway and the eastern sector of the Thousand Islands (which number closer to 2,000.  Run by 1000 Islands Cruises, the Brockville-based river tours (there are also tours run out of other communities upriver) come in a variety of possibilities, from one-hour sightseeing outings to relaxing, attractive sunset dinner cruises.  Discover treed islands and lovely lighthouses or shoreline mansions.  It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.  Bring a jacket or sweater, it's considerably cooler on the water.

Find out more about Brockville, Ontario

To find more Canadian Travel Destinations visit also: A Happy Traveler


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Spring Cycling the Niagara Area & Toronto's Greenbelt

Many cycling tours in Ontario are easily accessible, either close to urban areas or near quaint, hospitable country towns.  Dust up your bike and enjoy leisurely Spring cycling tours.
Welland Canal Locks
Riders can start or stop anywhere along the 475 km route (or for the most ambitious, ride from end to end). With 1,100 signs along the way to keep you from getting lost, the Greenbelt Route is a world-class cycle tourism offering taking residents through Ontario’s protected Greenbelt.

For those looking to venture off the main route, on you will find additional “local loops” taking riders on scenic day trips or multi-day vacations across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.  Like the Route itself, each local loop is customizable with hundreds of points of interest so you can tailor your experience to your specific interests - such as museums, galleries, beaches, conservation areas, and more.

Multi-Day Trips
The Greater Niagara Circle Route is a 140 km loop taking riders from the shores of Lake Ontario to the shores of Lake Erie. Cycle along the Niagara River and through the quaint countryside.  Riders pass through former battlefields, scenic vistas and must-experience attractions including wineries, culinary hot spots, Niagara Parks’ attractions and the Niagara Gorge.

Fruitland Ramble
The Oak Ridges to Lake Loop is a 201 km loop through Northumberland and Peterborough, with some of the most scenic cycling and taste of place culinary experiences in the region.  Stop at the Canadian Canoe Museum, enjoy fresh baked foods at Pastry Peddler, or take a break on the Beach at Bond Head.

Oak Ridges, ON
Rice Lake Ramble is a shorter 74km loop for riders looking for a shorter excursion in Northumberland. Take a stroll in Peter’s Woods Provincial Nature Reserve, the sole-surviving Oak Ridges Moraine ‘old growth’ forest in Ontario.  Other stops along the way include Hillview Haven Estate, the shops and galleries of downtown Alderville, and the Cobourg beach and pier.

Rice Lake Ramble
For a true Greenbelt experience, the Village Roundabout loop in York is a 59 km route almost entirely in the protected beauty of the Greenbelt.  Riders can spend the weekend in the countryside and enjoy a day-long ride with stops at Cold Creek Conservation Area, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and downtown Kleinberg.

Leathertown Spin
For a shorter ride that still offers a challenge, the Credit River Ride is a 30 km loop in the countryside, with stops in Inglewood, downtown Belfontain, the Cheltenham Badlands and Spirit Tree Estate Winery.  To the South the Leather Town Spin in Halton offers 38 km on quiet and well paved rural roads, passing bountiful farm fields, lush forests, and a variety of wetlands.

River Ride
The Greenbelt Route has something for every rider, and with thousands of points of interest available to add to any route.  You can customize your trip to get the most out of your time in the Greenbelt.  To complete your journey in the area, consider staying with a local host and book accommodation at a Greenbelt Bed & Breakfast with the help of

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