• United States!

    United States: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Go Now!

    United States
    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

  • Cuba!

    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

    Cuba
    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

  • Guatemala!

    Guatemala: Colorful culture. Go Now!

    Guatemala
    Colorful Guatemala offers something for every visitor: great food, ancient Mayan ruins, and pristine beaches. Go Now!

  • Honduras!

    Honduras: Children. Go Now!

    Honduras
    The original banana republic, Honduras has made a name for itself with the banana trade; however foreign influences have also vastly altered the culture. Go Now!

  • The Bahamas!

    The Bahamas: Nassau's street art. Go Now!

    The Bahamas
    Although the Bahamas is primarily known for its beaches to tourists, the capital city of Nassau is known for its street art (pictured). Explore the Bahamas!

  • Jamaica!

    Jamaica: Pristine beach. Go Now!

    Jamaica
    Jamaican culture is about relaxation, great foods, friendly competition, and so much more. A good place to start is on the beach. Begin Your Journey!

Canada

Ile des Moulins in Terrebonne, Quebec

Banff, Alberta

June 28, 1999
Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, & Lake Louise

The last few days have consisted mostly of driving and quick whistle-stops in Calgary and Edmonton. Both cities abruptly ended; no real suburbs like we have in the U.S. We were hoping to get a ride on the bobsled at the old Olympic Park in Calgary, however it was closed when we arrived. In Edmonton, we stayed at the huge mall, which includes an indoor water park. We stayed here for a day of entertainment, but seeing as how I'm not a fan of shopping, I spent more time watching the Edmonton Oilers practice in a rink in the mall and the rest of my time wandering around and people watching.

Our next stop, and our reason for the trip, was Jasper and Banff National Parks, which are conjoined. We entered the parks near the southern border of Jasper National Park, but thus far have spent most of our time in Banff National Park.

June 30, 1999

Everywhere we turn we see waterfalls, rivers, mountains, and glaciers. In Banff, there are numerous high alpine lakes formed from the glacier run-off. The highlights for me have been the lakes and hikes. One of the most photographed lakes is Peyto Lake, which at first seemed over-rated, however soon after arriving the cloud cover opened and the sun brightened the lake's color, giving it an almost light aqua blue glow. Similar to Peyto is Lake Moraine, however here you could walk up to the lake's shore, whereas Peyto you could only see it from a mountain overlook.

July 2, 1999

Lake Louise is very impressive; however the hiking trails in the area trump the lake itself, so we hiked for a few hours, finding multiple dark green lakes and incredible views of the mountains we were submerged in.

Nearly the only city in the area is Banff, which reminds me of a ski resort town. Everyone's very laid back; each day is approached with whatever seems to arise, whether that be kayaking, hiking, or just people watching on one of the town's main streets.

*    *    *

Victoria, British Columbia

October 12, 2002
Marathon, Buchard Gardens, & the City

Victoria is a small little town, which somehow became the capital of the province. The people are down to earth and treat everyone like a neighbor or friend. As we entered into the bay on a boat from Seattle we were welcomed by the Empress Hotel and the provincial building. The sidewalks were filled with people and the streets dotted with horse-drawn carriages and street performing mimes.

We spent most of the day wandering around the city and checking in for my marathon tomorrow. After checking in, we took a course-route tour, which gave us a new perspective on the city. The city sprawls along the Pacific Ocean and is mostly flat, filled with trees and hardly any traffic. The course seemed longer on that bus than I'd like, however it was beautiful and moved from ocean views to historic downtown mansions and small neighborhoods with unique character.

October 13, 2002

The marathon took place today and started great, but finished painfully, however it still finished. The rest of the day was occupied with trying to walk, hydrate myself, and eat enough to catch up with what I lost. We went to dinner at a small English-style pub, where I got a burger and my dad and I got the pub's home-made beers, which I decided after two sips wasn't going to help me hydrate.

October 14, 2002

We woke early so we could see the wax museum and get out of town to Buchard Gardens. The wax museum was odd, but a necessary stop if you're in Victoria. After the wax museum we went to The Empress Hotel for high tea and biscuits, a great tradition of the hotel, but in no way constituting a meal.

In the afternoon we went to Buchard Gardens, which is very impressive, but trying to walk took away from the beauty. To me, the landscaping was more impressive than the flowers and plants, as every turn seemed to offer a surprise.

*    *    *

Montreal, Quebec

July 9, 2004
Notre Dame, McGill University, & More

After arriving in Montreal, we headed out for dinner and an evening near City Hall, which was swarming with diners plus hosts and hostesses vying for our business. As we passed each restaurant, we were greeted with a "Bonjour, Hello" then invited to look over their menu. Food seems to be a passion here and from first glance dinners seem to be an event.

The streets resembled more of a street festival atmosphere than a Friday night given the fact that people were everywhere and the sound of chatter spread over the traffic or music from any locale.

July 10, 2004

Today we saw much of the city, beginning with Notre Dame Basilica, which, from the outside was somewhat ordinary, however the bright, vibrant blues of the interior behind the basilica's organ were amazing.

From here we headed further inland to McGill University and what seems like an endless maze of underground tunnels nearby. There are tunnels filled with restaurants, shops, and simply paths throughout this part of the city making winter travel much easier I imagine. McGill is set in front of a rising piece of earth, which called my name and demanded I climb to the top for the views of the city. The views allow you to see nearly all of Montreal and the St. Lawrence.

Overall, the city feels relaxed, yet passionate, alive and present, yet historic, foreign and unreachable, yet so accessible... I really like it.

Quebec City, Quebec

July 11, 2004
The City, Canon Ste Anne, & Quebec Falls

The heart of Quebec City is outlined by city walls on a large cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, with an interior which looks and feels more European than any place I've been in the Americas. To enter this part of the city you must climb the steep walkways into the city, however the views from the top and the city itself are well worth the effort.

Unlike so many places, the city feels local and most people speak very limited English, so you truly feel like you are elsewhere. The streets in old town are narrow, only some allowing traffic, and many of which are made of stone. The city's skyline is dominated by a huge hotel overlooking the seaway below.

After leaving the confines of the city walls, we found a lively street filled with coffee shops, Joliet's grave, and dozens of locals conversing over coffee alongside shops serving both locals and tourists alike.

After seeing the town, we headed out to Canon Ste Anne via a sugar shack, winery, and a small house that looked like a Smurf's house, shaped like a mushroom and painted sky blue and white to match. The sugar shack helped me realize the effect of all those maple leafs and the winery helps me steer clear of all wines from Quebec.

Canon Ste Anne is a beautiful waterfall and canyon, however the highlight was the rope bridge across the canyon. I felt like Indiana Jones exploring a long lost location, but I had no whip, hat, or sidekick named "Short Round."

St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebec

July 12, 2004
Cruising

We cruised most the St. Lawrence Seaway from Montreal to the Atlantic. The area around the river shifts from desolate forests to thriving cities like Montreal and Quebec City. This morning we took a detour to see a giant statue of Mary on a rocky island which seemed to jut into the sky from nowhere.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

July 13, 2004
Charlottetown

Charlottetown is "quaint," but Canada's roots are here in Province House and there are enough interesting buildings to keep a person entertained for a couple hours.

Sydney & Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

July 14, 2004
Sydney & Louisbourg

Sydney, Nova Scotia is similar to many other towns so we decided to rent the last car in the rental lot and drive down to the Fortress of Louisbourg. Louisbourg was the French answer to English Halifax. This huge complex hosted not only the military operations protecting Quebec from the English to their south, but also was home to many people. The fortress is a small town within its walls, surrounded by water on two sides, a swamp on another, and only a narrow stretch of solid land to enter the fortress on its last side.

Halifax & Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

July 15, 2004
Halifax & Peggy's Cove

We arrived to Halifax on our cruise, but soon my dad and I caught a bus for our excursion to Peggy's Cove. We arrived to the sleepy little fishing village to find it draped in a cloud of fog. This made us feel like we were truly isolated with nothing around but fishermen making a living at the sea.

Soon, however the fog gave way to the hordes of tourists. We were told that the population here is only about 75 people in the winter, however during the summer there are up to 500 people here each day. Although picturesque, there's little to see, other than the iconic lighthouse, which symbolizes the town.

Once back in Halifax, our time consisted of walking along the board walk, checking out the maritime museum, the city's fort, and just people watching. The city feels almost like a quiet Boston, with its east coast charm, character, and history however without the rush many U.S. east coast cities experience.

The city has long been a military stronghold and border city for the English before reaching Quebec. The city's history is felt through the architecture and obviously chosen due to its geographic layout with a huge bay and hills overlooking the area.

*    *    *

Vancouver, British Columbia

April 26, 2007
Downtown, Work, & Grouse Mountain

There are no expressways running through Vancouver so the city is very densely populated, consisting of high-rise apartments, condos, and office buildings. In complete contrast, just across the bay, North Vancouver rises quickly turning into mountains and on Vancouver's peninsula is Stanley Park.

For the most part, the architecture seems rushed and few of the city's numerous skyscrapers have any unique characteristics. Only rarely is there a truly unique building, such as Canada Place, which sits on the bay.

The most striking contrast in the city is that of a highly populated downtown just minutes away from complete solitude of forests, mountains, or the ocean itself. However, many districts also stand out such as the Gas Lamp district, which portrays an old charm and China Town, which feels a little rough and represents a large proportion of the city's ethnicity.

For dinner I went to a Canadian chain, The Keg, which is a steak house. I ordered the steak and poutine on the side. Poutine is French fries topped with cheddar cheese curds and smothered with gravy. It's commonly referred to as a "heart attack in a bowl," but since I'm not in Canada that often, I have to have it every time I'm here.

April 27, 2007

Today was just work all day. Most of the people at this meeting are Canadians, many of whom are from the Vancouver area. It was nice sharing stories and learning more about their home town. The city is very diverse and is an immigrant destination, particularly among Asian immigrants.

My Canadian friends also told me that you can tell when a Canadian's from Vancouver because they have no idea if marijuana is illegal. The people here smoke marijuana like cigarettes and they said the police simply don't enforce the law, because most of the city, including the law enforcement, doesn't see a problem with the drug. The city is also home to thousands of homeless people, since it's the warmest Canadian city.

April 28, 2007

Our meeting ended early so I rushed off to North Vancouver. Public transportation here is incredibly easy and reliable. I walked down to Canada Place, got on a ferry to North Vancouver, then caught a bus to Grouse Mountain. On the ferry ride, there were a couple passengers smoking marijuana, which I found odd, but confirms what I was told yesterday.

Grouse Mountain's appeal is not for the mountain itself, but for the view it provides. It's so close to downtown Vancouver that it provides panoramic views of the city, bay, and even out to Vancouver Island and the mountains around the city. I simply relaxed and enjoy the views until it was dark, at which point I headed back to Vancouver for a late dinner and to prepare for an early morning flight.

*    *    *

Toronto, Ontario

June 14, 2007
Food, Lake Cruise, & the Royal Ontario Museum

I was in Toronto for a meeting and fortunately got an early flight in the day before I had to work so had plenty of time to see the city. The trip from the airport to my hotel downtown took nearly 45 minutes due to the city's sprawling layout, but once I was in town everything seemed fairly easy to navigate.

The subway system in Toronto is very convenient from my hotel and everything, it seems, is only a short walk from a subway stop. My first stop was at the CN (Canada's National) Tower, from which I could see Lake Ontario to the south and the city in every other direction. There's a glass floor you can walk on, which is exciting, although looking down doesn't give you a lot to see other than a new perspective.

From here I decided to walk north and quickly realized that street vendors selling sausages has become a staple to the city's culture. Fortunately, the Polish immigrant population has also become a staple and their influence demands Polish kielbasa at every street stand. The sausage was as good as it gets outside of Poland itself.

My next stop was at Toronto University, which I just happened to stumble across as the graduation ceremony was ending and the crowd poured into the adjacent courtyard. Families celebrated, friends said goodbyes, and I just watched, mesmerized by the scene from the shade of a tree.

For dinner, I again wandered around until I found a small place called Utsav, an Indian restaurant, which at first slightly scared me since the place had only two other customers, however I was hungry so ordered. My host, Suresh was incredibly nice and the food, much of which he recommended was incredible. As I was finishing and ready to leave, the place began to fill up. At this time I realized Indians tend to dine very late, in fact in Punjab, India they partake in Punjabi dinner, which typically starts at about 10:00pm. I soon became a minority and decided to free my table for another customer as I headed back to the hotel.

June 16, 2007

At the conclusion of our meeting, there was a lake cruise. The cruise provided great views of the city and perhaps more alcohol than most of the people on that boat should have drank. As those on the boat got intoxicated, I felt more and more sober; however it's difficult to get more sober when you're already completely sober.

June 17, 2007

Before leaving today, I went over to the nearby Royal Ontario Museum for a temporary Peruvian exhibit. The exhibit was impressive as was the entire museum. Plus, the building itself seemed to be an exhibit in and of itself. The building had a courtyard, however has been completely covered by modern architecture, contrasting the original building and leaving me in awe.

*    *    *

Toronto, Ontario

June 19, 2009
Food

Back in Toronto for another meeting and back off to Utsav for another meal. Incredible.

After a couple days of meetings and poutine we finished our meeting with a "Wine and Spirit Fest" in the Distillery District. This was my first time in this area and it reminded me of an area in Milwaukee, where they've gutted out old warehouses and turned them into modern condos, shops, and restaurants. Here, however many of the buildings were part of an old distillery. The streets are pedestrian and consist of roughly laid out red bricks that match most of the buildings. The festival had all sorts of wines and tons of food including ice cream, poutine, and sandwiches. This part of the city has great feel... and great food, at least for tonight.

*    *    *

Montreal, Quebec

September 13, 2009
Work & Lifestyle

Something always gets lost in translation. On this trip my title "Assistant Executive Director" was shortened to "Ass Director," which was prominently displayed on my nametag for all the world to see. Although that job seems intriguing, I already have a job so swapped out that nametag for the one I brought.

Having spent a couple more days in Montreal, I'm beginning to realize the lifestyle here. Life isn't about the past or future, but rather entirely focused on the present. The present matters more than what's next and now seems to trump any planned event, not to say the people miss appointments, but rather they devote 100% of themselves to the present company.

For each meal I was invited out and our meals literally took hours. Every restaurant we went to was excellent and the service felt like it was sincere, truly hoping we each enjoy our meals, yet still competitive, trying to win us over from the competition.

Each meal would begin with drinks and menus, with an explanation of the daily specials and the chef's recommendations. This would be followed by a lot of conversation about everything from the menu to our passions and loves.

By the time the waiter or waitress finally came out to take our orders, it seemed a bottle of wine was already gone and each of our relationships was much more intimate. Nearly everyone orders a starter (entree) and a main dish (plates), then the conversation continues.

Once the starters arrive, everyone smells their dishes, give them an once-over and analyzes their appearance, odor, and texture. The starters were slowly consumed, with no threat that our main courses would be ready prior to out completion of this course. As we ate, everyone discussed the food, including their thoughts and opinions for improvement; after our plates were cleared our conversation continued.

There seemed to be a large break prior to our main course, but time flew as the restaurant's volume rose. As I looked around I noticed that dining out isn't much of a couple's retreat so much as a social event, often consisting of groups. While there were couples eating, most of the crowd was groups.

The main courses come out quite late, however no one seems to mind, in fact I think some may even be upset if it came out too quickly, for these people can't be rushed.

The main course, like the starters, are almost art and it becomes clear very quickly that the chef put in a lot of time and effort, along with a risk or two fusing the flavors and ingredients of each dish. While not always successful, each dish seemed to be very satisfying. The time lapse between the starter and main course always seems to allow your stomach to settle, diminishing the hunger and perhaps magnifying the flavor; by the time the main course arrives your hunger has been tamed, so your motivation for dining is on flavor, not on gluttony.

Finally, the dessert menus are presented, dessert ordered, and later served. The entire dining experience, from arrival to departure, is more of an event than a feast and most of the time is spent on socializing, not on eating. This, it seems is Quebec culture as I understand it.

*    *    *

Calgary, Alberta

February 6, 2010
Airport Hotel with Nothing but Timmy's

I went to Calgary about ten years ago and saw most of the city. This time I didn't see much of Calgary, but saw a lot more of the people. As soon as I exited the airport I noticed a plaster cow invasion with cows acting as painters, ninjas, and unorthodox art work... it was utterly fantastic. I later found one cow accepting money that they are raising to build a park for developmentally disabled children... it really moooved me so I threw in my extra change. If you're still reading this, you have a much higher tolerance for bad puns than I do, because I don't think I can write anymore, but no guarantees.

As I checked into my hotel across the street from the airport I asked what there's to do or see in Calgary and my almost too honest hotel employee told me "not much." I asked how to get downtown anyway and he insisted I take public transportation because "taxis and shuttles are way too much money."

Instead of rushing off to see "not much" I decided to pick up some tourist brochures in the lobby. Most of the sights are not in Calgary at all, but in the mountains, which I've been to and are more incredible than any city could hope to be. Hidden amongst the mountain brochures I found a brochure called "Calgary Attractions" so picked it up and headed to my room.

The city, like most northern cities, seems to offer more in the summer than it does in early February. One of the highlights is the Calgary Fort which described the city in a succinct, yet almost embarrassing way... well embarrassing to me. "The heart of Calgary is red... the scarlet red of the North West Mounted Police tunic." I wonder if the heart of my home, Milwaukee is navy blue... the navy blue of a state trooper's uniform? I don't think so; Milwaukee's heart is more light amber... like the light amber of Milwaukee's Miller High Life.

Another highlight of Calgary is the Heritage Park Historical Village. Apparently here "Guests solve a traffic jam..." among other highlights. I decided to stay in the hotel for the evening.

February 7, 2010

I woke up for work, got ready, then headed across the street to the airport to get a couple doughnuts at Tim Horton's at the airport. I got a Boston Crème, but then noticed a sign that said they are now selling the "Canada Doughnut" so I got one of those as well. Americans have a stereotype that Canadians are proud and the red maple leaf symbolizes that pride. This doughnut had white frosting with red maple leaf sprinkles on it. After I finished I felt a little more Canadian.

I like the Canadians though, they seem more laid back than most Americans and tend to be more down to earth. I can't claim to like hockey or beer as much as most Canadians, however I find I have more in common with the Canadians than I do with much of the American south. My culture, attitude, etc. all seem to favor the Canadians and it's impossible to go anywhere in Canada and not find a person you like, especially here in Alberta. Everyone seems willing to help you out and time seems to move a little slower. Even here in the big city of Calgary you feel like you're in a small town.

For lunch a Canadian friend learned I had never been to Swiss Chalet so encouraged me to go. Each time I'm in Canada I tend to become a little more Canadian beginning ten years ago here in Alberta when I first ate French fries with gravy, then discovered The Sticky Wicket in Victoria, learning about my love of poutine, then multiple dinners at The Keg, followed by my addiction to Harvey's. So when I learned that Swiss Chalet is a Canadian mainstay I had to try it... I'll stick with Harvey's and Tim Horton's

February 8, 2010

Went to Tim Horton's for another Canada Doughnut... how could I not have another one? Lunch was at Harvey's at the airport for poutine... yum. Then I headed home to the land without poutine. I think I may try to make a poutine sandwich: roll, sliced pot roast, cheese curds, French Fries, and covered or dipped in gravy. That with some ice cream is the best heart attack I can think of... that's how I want to go.

*    *    *

Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario/Quebec

September 9, 2010
"Smoker, Anti-Social, or a Jersey Shores Fan?"

Upon my arrival in Ottawa I stopped at a local hostel to live the life of a backpacker, however quickly realized that either backpackers or I have substantially changed over the past couple years.

After arriving I filled out the standard check-in sheet requesting my name and contact information, but was struggling with the final question on the registration form. I asked the young man working the couch-turned-lobby about the question titled "group." This question had only three options: chain smoker, internet addict, or Jersey Shores fan. He explained to me that I should check the box or boxes that best represent me. I was saddened by this news since I didn't fit into any of the categories. When I told him this the look on his face was of horror as he slowly and delicately said, "Oh, then you're one of the rejects. Don't worry; we have a place for you." "Where?" I asked. He asked me to follow him to my room.

I shamefully received my Scooby-Doo sheets and marched up the stairs to my room, the "Asia" room and my assigned bed appropriately called "Taj Mahal." I guess in Canada they send rejects to India. In the U.S. we only send jobs to India; we send rejects to Detroit, Mexico, or Aspen. I accepted my shame, talked to Scrappy as I made my bed, then headed into Ottawa alone.

I returned to the hostel late and after making my way through the ramen noodle steam cloud in the kitchen I discovered my true fate. The porch was filled with smokers, the living room with Jersey Shores-obsessed drunk Irish backpackers, and another space filled with the anti-social internet addicts staring at their computers. Other than the moth-ball emitting closet, in which the employees sleep there was only one place left: the couch of rejects. I made my way to the couch as I did my best to not disturb the house cat, whose roost consisted of a very nice new chair beside my couch.

I sat on the vintage 1970s couch with a newspaper only to discover the hostel's other reject, a man in his 60s eating a Domino's personal pan pizza. How did my life fall so far? A hostel of nearly fifty people and only two rejects, one of which was me? I needed to escape this fate.

I had three options, but buying a computer at this time of night seemed impossible and expensive so I jealously glanced into the adjacent room to meet the acquaintance of my new friends named "Nookie" or "Snookie" and some guy called "The Incident." Once again, I am a backpacker!

September 9, 2010
"Notice!"

The City of Ottawa will be closed on Thursdays during the fall months beginning September 9, 2010. The city will reopen on Thursday, December 23, 2010 to celebrate Christmas and the freezing of the Rideau Canal for ice skating enjoyment. This decision has been undertaken for a number of reasons, primarily due to the fact that tourist dollars received on Thursdays doesn't offset the cost to keep the city open.

This lack of income results from a number of recent occurrences, beginning with Parliament's constant need to go into session Thursdays in order to take extended three-day weekends. These Parliamentarian sessions have disrupted the flow of tourism in the city's largest and most popular tourist attraction, the Parliament building. Once tourists discover the Parliament building is closed they tend to take pictures of themselves in front of the building, aimlessly stare at the eternal flame, which mysteriously rises from a fountain, then return to their hotels without exploring the city any further.

Additionally, the city's other tourist "hot spots" have struggled in the autumn months due to rapidly deteriorating weather. One such attraction that has been destroyed is the once enjoyable bike rides along the Rideau Canal. Due to weather in the autumn, the canal now only offers scenic bike rides during the spring and summer months and ice skating during the winter months in addition to its original function as a water passageway for both passenger and transport ship to sustain life for inland towns and villages.

Finally, those thinking they have "First Nations" blood pulsing through their veins who wish to live out their aboriginal dreams in a comfortable and educational setting on the city's Victoria Island have no place to go since the long house in Aboriginal Experiences recently burned down. Ideally, this exhibit will reopen in the spring of 2011.

For any misguided tourists who happen to stumble upon Ottawa on a Thursday, the city has worked out an agreement with their sister city across the river Gatineau, which will remain open. Gatineau boosts Canada's most popular museum, the "Museum of Civilization," which sits on the river, beautifully overlooking Ottawa. Please note that in accordance with this exchange, Gatineau will close on Tuesdays.

Additionally, due to local interests, the Beaver Tail stand on the corner of George and Waller Streets will remain open to serve Ottawa's signature snack consisting of fried dough topped with cinnamon-sugar, chocolate, peanut butter, or a fruit spread of your choice for between $3.75 and $5.00 CAN.

*    *    *

Niagara Falls, Ontario

March 3, 2011
The Falls, 2 Hard Rock Cafes, & Guinness

Unfortunately, for all the Niagara Falls loving people of the world, I thought the highlight of my trip to the falls was actually my experience at the Guinness World Records Museum. After hearing the entrance fee was nearly CAN $12, I naturally asked if Guinness World Record holders get in free and was told "yes, but you got to prove you're actually a Guinness World Record holder." I quickly got the young man checking his 2010 Guinness Book of World Records and I was in the door for free!

The museum was alright, but the excitement of the guy working the desk there made the whole trip worthwhile, although the fact that I get free admission for life to the museum is even more exciting for me personally. I really think I made his day, but he seemed almost upset and apologetic when he told me that he doesn't think they have an exhibit dedicated to my record.

Enough of my ego-boasting and on to the falls. If these falls were in the middle of nature I think they'd be extremely impressive, however I almost felt as though they're just the central attraction in the middle of a gimmicky town cashing in on their location surrounding the falls. With the nearby towns, the falls look almost small in comparison to the buildings on both sides of the river. The falls also feel like a great "city dweller's natural escape," but you're still stuck in the middle of an urban area so you're not actually escaping any city.

Despite the slight disappointment, the falls are still very impressive and traveling there during the winter months means no entrance fees and no crowds, which makes the visit more pleasant.

Although I had to get back to Toronto for my meeting the next day, I still had time to buy a Hard Rock Cafe shirt from both the Hard Rock Cafe in Canada and in the U.S.A. for my brother, who now boasts a collection of nearly 15 shirts.

*    *    *

Vancouver, British Columbia

February 16, 2012
Olympic Flame

It was raining all day today, but it was my only free time in Vancouver before my meeting so I put on my raincoat and headed out. It let up just enough to see a few sights, including the Olympic Flame, but the highlight was just walking along the inlet waiting and hoping the clouds would free and I would get a view of the mountains; a hope that never truly materialized.

As usual, I made a concerted effort to have Chinese food while I'm in town and it was good. Every time I visit Vancouver I seem to have to eat Chinese, Indian, and traditional Canadian foods, like Tim Horton's and some French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.

February 17, 2012

Meetings are meetings, but one thing definitely worth mentioning is that I had Tim Horton's this morning (10 minute wait, which is fairly typical), then this evening I saw the "How I Met Your Mother" re-run when they go to Tim Horton's and it makes the episode so much funnier.

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