Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


24 Wild Hours in Vancouver

I cheated last week.

On Quebec City, my favorite Canadian city with Vancouver, its anglo rival. French has multiple words for the type of affair you’re having. What Vancouver and I had would be called an aventure– a brief affair. Ours lasted 24 hours. A liason is a longer, more involved indiscretion.

I headed to Vancouver to give my best friend, who I have known for over 15 years a good time before her impending marriage. Note, I did not write “one last” good time because we’ll be having good times well into our 80s. Maybe even our 90s.

Whenever I head out on the road (often), I pretend I am Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac. Don’t worry. It’s less about peyote; more about legal, goofy fun with sunglasses and loud music. Continue reading



Leaf-Peeping Tips

Maine leaves, leaf peeping, travel blog

New tagline for Maine: Our state looks like a water-color painting.

I lived in Quebec City last fall and during a magical two weeks, it was like living inside a flame: a swirl of reds, golds, and oranges.

I went back recently to work on a few articles and to knock four more states off my list: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. My follow-up post will be a leaf-peeping log of the things we did, ate and argued about. Continue reading


Quebec City in Cuisine & Clouds

I am finally finished with The Project from both heaven and hell. Funny, just as I finished, a month of 12-hour days, hunched at the computer, I read a forum where this lady said:

How can I get a job like Rick Steves and and Samantha Brown, travel around the world, and be PAID for it?”

If the forum wasn’t four-years old, I would reply: There is no job like that. And also, although I like Rick Steves, I am pretty sure Samantha Brown has no idea w-t-f she’s doing. Now Anthony Bourdain…

(Side note: Rick Steves and Expedia rejected me, so really, there is no job like that, even for me who has been travel writing for 2 years now.)

I also don’t REALLY travel the world, I expatriated and became a specialist in one specific region.

Travel writing, especially guidebook writing is A LOT of hard work. So please, think of us writers next time you toss a guidebook in the garbage. I like to save them, take notes on them, sort of like a journal of the trip. I imagine if you’re creative enough, you can make a cool collage or poster out of their innards.

I understand eventually, they’ll get tossed or (hopefully) recycled, but I hope people really appreciate and use them. Unlike with certain review sites, the writers are (theoretically) trained to taste-out the best restaurants, sniff out the best hotels.

Also, please don’t say, I Could Do Your Job. It’s insulting, like I just waltzed into it with no prior experience. The devaluation of writers is something I plan to tackle in a future post.

Travel writing, by far, with the exception of literary writing, the most rewarding type of writing I’ve ever done. I enjoy getting rid of restaurants who are obviously serving terrible food. And replacing those with ones I know visitors will have a great experience.

Here is a photo narrative of Quebec City cuisine.

Quebec City in Cuisine and Clouds

Want to look like a brilliant photographer? Take more aerial shots and stop using Instagram!


If you don’t like croissants, I question your status as a human.


Food porn, Quebec City restaurants

The best fish ever. Salmon in a cranberry sauce.


All baguettes should be presented like this.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

I am going back to Quebec City tomorrow on a travel-writing assignment. On the itinerary: tour relics, take a food tour, travel to an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence and just drive around. Fact-check a million properties.

I won’t have a GPS and maybe not a cell phone. It’s like traveling back in time. Just me and a map.

Pictures of Quebec in Winter

Cold yet? Seeing as this is the hottest year on record, I feel like we could all use a cool down. Happy summer everyone!

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Living,growing, and still not a snob

Quebec City, Expat, Chateau Frontenac

C'est moi

Listening to study abroad stories is like hearing about someone else’s weird dream: it’s a snooze fest. It also incites extreme jealous in the poor bastards confined to life in the states.

I firmly decided that I would never become one of those people.

“In (insert country here), the bakeries are just so much better.” 

“They have (insert random food item here) in (insert country here)…”

“The government is soooo much better in (insert country here).” 

And yeah, please don’t tell me because I live in Canada and not somewhere in Europe that I’m not “abroad.” I will remind you, while I snarl that the US and Canada aren’t the same and that Quebec is unlike everywhere else in the country.

Before taking the leap, I felt worn out and old. Eight months in and the creases beneath my eyes have disappeared, I lost about 10 pounds, and I can now get by in French conversation. I feel better somehow – maybe it’s because I’ve fallen off the corporate wheel and started getting a regular dose of exercise and brain activity.

What’s changed the most? I stopped caring. I stopped feeling competitive and started writing, for realz. My new friends span all ages and all countries, from a 70-something-woman Falconer to a 17-year-old Venezuelan. They inspire me to get up and get movin’

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Throwing up on Prince William and Kate

All_smiles_Wedding_of_Prince_William_of_Wales_and_Kate_Middleton.jpg (1569×1179)

If anyone pukes on Their Royal Heighnesses during the 2011 Royal Tour, it’s going to be me. Not purposely of course.

They’re coming to Quebec City in two days and I have a media pass to cover the tour. It just hit me today that I’m going to be mere steps away from the future King of England and his new bride. I’m now envisioning getting trampled in a media stampede or being so nervous that I throw up on the Duchess.

Weeks ago, I convinced myself that they’re just people. They get food stuck in their teeth, they get gas, they have to clip their toenails just like everyone else. And today, I realized I was knee-deep in denial. They probably pay someone to file their toenails and it’s likely someone’s JOB to tell Kate if she has a huge clump of spinach in her teeth. Every move they make is scrutinized and mull-over by Monarchy worshippers around the world. Continue reading

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Conjugation & Caring. Or What I Learned in French Class

french quebec anglo

To learn is to dream

My new routine is both intimidating and invigorating. At 6:30 am I arise to a dark room and brumal chill. I shower, I apply make-up, and carefully select the day’s wears. I make coffee and pack my Rosie the Riveter lunch box. I walk down the big hill and around the bend to my car and then I drive to school.

I’m back in first grade.

Or full-immersion French for immigrants, held five days a week in class 302.

The students’ names are tapped to the desks: Gloria, Mimosa, Hiroma, Yuka, Amande. Wonderful names with soft rolling Rs and whispered Ms.

The days of the week and months are spelled out on construction-paper and hung to the board. Flashcards with pictures of books, cake, cats, and more trim the ceiling.

We  practice the alphabet and play Bingo and Memory. When we leave class, we put our chairs on the desks. I expect to play the French-version of “Heads Up, 7Up.”

Every day, my mind floods with memories of how I struggled cutting Christmas trees into construction paper (I’m lefty), the putrid smell of the orange powder Janitor Bob used to cover up throw-up, and the smell of new books and pencils.

I’m brought back to the adoration I had for my teachers, especially Mrs. Hubert, the one who first unlocked my language; the one who taught me to read, write, and imagine.

We're all human. We're all alike.

The most heartwarming part of this process is the camaraderie of the classmates. There are only two other Anglos in class. Some speak Spanish, some Japanese, one speaks Armenian. And yet we communicate. We help each other understand through hand motions and broken French. We share gummy bears, stories from our native countries, and our favorite sports teams and musicians.

It’s that magical time early in life when your only mission is to observe and absorb. Before everyone got mean and jaded and before all the kids started competing for grades, boyfriends, best friends. It’s sharing and caring. The good stuff. The stuff in our genetic make-up; the stuff that makes us human.

I found the fountain of youth in an immersion French class for Canadian immigrants. Who knew?

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Surviving the Weird & Wonderful Winter Carnival

Confession: I’m terrified of Bonhomme Carnaval.

winter carnival quebec city travel

Bonhomme: Terrifying anglos since 1954

He’s the official greeter of Quebec’s Winter Carnival, which started last weekend.

Crowds of singing drunks fill the streets. There’s an ice sculpture contest, a glittering ice hotel, cocoa served out of ice mugs at the glittering ice hotel, an ice palace, ice skating, a canoe race across the icy St. Lawrence.

Here’s how I plan to survive my new city’s weird and wonderful winter festival:

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