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Everything Salt Spring: 20+ Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, Minus the Market

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Salt Spring Island has a huge piece of my heart. It’s where Kyla grew up, and the first time I visited I got to meet her family AND their new baby goats. We ate homemade goat cheese, fresh eggs laid by their chickens, and veggies from their substantial garden. I’ve been back over a dozen times since, and every time, I feel like we do something that’s Uniquely Salt Spring(TM).

On the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, it doesn’t really matter if you know a local or not. Whether you’re there for the day or staying for a while, you’re almost guaranteed to have a genuine Gulf Island experience on the island home of hippies, farmers, artists and artisans (and summer vacationers).

If you’ve heard of Salt Spring, you probably know about the famous Saturday market; many tourists love it; many locals – understandably – don’t: it clogs up ferries and roads, and brings hordes of people to the island. I personally LOVE the Saturday market: you can sample and buy anything from kale chips to cider, check out local artisan products, and then hang out in the park watching (or joining) free spirits drum and dance. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Raffi– yes, Raffi, the singer of your childhood faves like Baby Beluga and Down By the Bay! He lives on the island, and he’s often there selling CDs. The market may be on your West Coast bucket list, and in many ways it’s worth the hype! 

HOWEVER, I’m here to argue that you can have an incredible time on Salt Spring without seeing the market. If you go on a summer Saturday, you’ll encounter massive crowds, potentially extra sailing waits for the ferry, tricky parking, and you may miss the bulk of what the island has to offer. 

No matter what, aim to see MORE than the market. Here are some things to do, see, eat and drink around this magical island:

Around Fulford Harbour

Around Ganges

Pride

Around the Island (Food and Drink)

Hikes and Walks

If you DO go to the market…

Overnight Accommodation

Continue reading “Everything Salt Spring: 20+ Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, Minus the Market”

Rustic Cabins in Las Terrazas, Cuba

It can be tricky to connect to Wifi in Cuba; we relied heavily on our Lonely Planet Cuba guide.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever stayed? My list is constantly growing, but a new addition last year shot right to the top. When we were planning our Cuba trip, Kyla decided she wanted to stay in a treehouse. (I mean really, who doesn’t?!) She looked it up, and sure enough, it was *sort of* possible!

In Las Terrazas, an ecovillage about an hour west of Havana (or two hours east of Viñales), there’s an eco-hotel called Moka. The building is a mix of Spanish colonial architecture and forest, with a huge tree growing through the lobby! Moka also owns “rustic cabins“, located about 4 kilometres away, by the peaceful Rio San Juan (map).

Continue reading “Rustic Cabins in Las Terrazas, Cuba”

Sunshine Coast Trail: Lewis Lake to Tin Hat Mountain Loop

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Last weekend, we hiked a very small part of the Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180 km hut-to-hut trail north of Vancouver. Because we only had one vehicle to work with, and the price of getting a shuttle to pick us up along the trail was fairly steep, we opted to do a loop this time around. Plus, we really wanted to include Tin Hat Mountain in our trek, which is easily accessed via a 2 day loop from Lewis Lake.

Here’s a rundown of our 2 days on the trail, broken down into sections, including stops in Powell River. Let me know if you have any questions or, if you’ve done the hike, suggestions for next time!

Victoria to Powell River:

The ferry runs 4 times daily from Comox (Vancouver Island) to Powell River (Sunshine Coast), and takes about 1.5 hours. You can also drive the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver, which includes 2 ferries.

Powell River was a cute little town! We had some time to kill once we arrived, so we headed straight to Townsite Brewing; they had great beer, arcade games, and they’re the sponsor of Tin Hat Mountain hut! We had dinner at Costa del Sol, which had so-so food and service, but a fabulous atmosphere and ocean views from the cozy patio.

Continue reading “Sunshine Coast Trail: Lewis Lake to Tin Hat Mountain Loop”

Oregon Road Trip: The Coast

This is Part 2 of my post about our Oregon road trip; in Part 1 you can find some suggestions for what to do, eat, and drink on a weekend in Portland! (You can also find out how much I freak out about driving… #roadtrippp.)

Day 4: Wine and Dunes: Portland to Florence

By now you probably know that Portland is cool, but byeeee Portland! Today’s the day you get to drive out to the coast with the wind in your h—ohh but actually you have loads of time, may as well make a couple of stops along the way!

Eugene’s right on the route from Portland to Florence, so it’s a great spot for lunch. We needed a cheap food day after PDX, so we opted for scrumptious food truck tacos, but there are loads of options, and even a Voodoo Doughnuts if you were too stuffed to try it in Portland.

Ok now it’s time to drive off to the coas—oooh hang on though, there’s a WINERY route basically ON THE WAY?! Durrrr you are going there! There are lots of wineries to choose from near the Territorial Highway, just off the route between Eugene and Florence. We visited Sweet Cheeks Winery and Sarver Winery to share a tasting at each (had to be responsible, we were driving). Both offered great wines and stunning views of the rolling vineyards.

Continue reading “Oregon Road Trip: The Coast”

11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018

On Monday, the city of Victoria raised 5 flags in anticipation of Pride (including the transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, and non-binary flags, alongside rainbow). With just a few days left until Victoria’s 2018 Pride Week kick-off, there’s a LOT to look forward to in the next couple of weeks! Here are some events to consider!

 1. Drag Ball (July 1st)

The annual Canada Day kick-off to Pride Week and can’t-miss event: Kings vs Queens in a softball game where, in the wise words of WLIIA, “the rules are made up and the points don’t matter!” An awesome day to get dressed up in rainbow and day drink… or join in the game! More info about Drag Ball.

Continue reading “11 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2018”

Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

Jenna Wimshurst is a comedy and travel writer who also happens to be a lesbian. Humorous travel writing and being a lesbian happen to be two of my favourite things, so when she wanted to write a guest post for my blog, I was ecstatic! She even spells ‘travelling’ the right way the same way we do in Canada! Clearly, Jenna is fabulous. Once you’ve enjoyed her insightful and hilarious essay about what it’s like to travel as a lesbian couple, head over to her blog to read more things that will have you guffawing in seconds!

The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple

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The couple in room 12 are lesbians

In April 2016, the UK Foreign Office updated its travel advice warning gay and transgender travellers visiting the American states of North Carolina and Mississippi to be careful. It really got me thinking that a) America can be a dangerous place for LGBTQ community, and b) thank God there’s a government body here to tell me to tone down my gayness when on my holibobs otherwise I would’ve been throwing my lesbian self about all over the joint.

Other lesbians and gays will be familiar with those nervous few moments you get when you first approach the hotel reception with your partner and check into your double room that only has one bed.

A few things go through my mind when I first give my booking details to the receptionist:

– Are they going to say anything about us being massive lesbians?

– Will they say that we can’t stay at their hotel because of our sexuality?

– Will they press the homosexual button where rainbow flags drop down, Wham bursts out of the radio and suddenly two sparkling pink cocktails appear in our hands. Sounds fabulous.

But even if they don’t say anything, I know that they’re going to be telling their colleagues that there’s two lesbians staying in room 12 straight after they’ve served us. Ok, I don’t KNOW this, but I HIGHLY suspect it.

Continue reading “Guest Post: The Trouble with Travelling as a Lesbian Couple”

2 Days in Havana

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We only had a day and a half in Havana, so we squished a lot in! I found that it was completely possible to have a great time on a short trip to Havana, without it seeming stressful!

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Photos of me taken by Kyla.

Continue reading “2 Days in Havana”

How Travel Helped Me Come Out

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to really put my heart into my writing, but it was such a joy to immerse myself in this piece for Travel with Mei and Kerstin.

Mei and Kerstin have been featuring lesbian travellers on their blog, and they asked me to share a story. The topic was open-ended; it could be about how I started to travel, a specific travel story, lesbian travel, or something else. As I started reflecting, I realized how interconnected travel and coming out were for me, and how difficult it would be to disentangle travel and my sexuality from my current identity. What followed was a sort of summary of 10 years of travel, where I focus on coming out, and the important connection between being a lesbian and being a traveller.

Take a look at the article here: Lesbian Traveler: Leslie from Les Talk, More Travel.

Read more on my blog about: my coming out story, queer and lesbian Victoria, BC (this could use an update!), one of my favourite trips with my girlfriend, and some highlights from Vancouver and Victoria’s Pride festivals.

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Seoul-ed Out: Everything Seoul, Korea!

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Need more current information? Lonely Planet Korea and Lonely Planet Seoul  are awesome, and I relied heavily on both while in Korea.

I lived in Seoul for 2 years between late 2012 and early 2015, and it’s one of my favourite cities in the world! I feel homesick for Seoul all the time. Sometimes I miss the little things, like the subway system, or staring confusedly at the grocery store shelves, trying to make sure I was buying the right kind thing. (Really, I miss that!) Sometimes, it’s the big things. Entertainment at all hours. The food. My lifestyle. It’s always nice to look back on that time, and I was inspired to write a Seoul megapost for anyone heading that way for the Olympics or otherwise. Here are some things to see, do, and eat in the winter**. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list! Do you have a favourite Seoul food or activity that’s not included? Let me know in the comments!

Jump to:

  • Food (hotteok, samgyupsal, kim bap, dakgalbi, green tea latte, pajeon and makgeolli, yeoltan bulgogi, galmaegisal, somaek, chimaek, shabu shabu, fish bread, tteokbokki)
  • Neighbourhoods (Myeongdong, Insadong, Hongdae (lesbian bars), Itaewon (queer bars), Gangnam)
  • Sights/Activities (Namsan, palaces, jjimjilbang/spa, parks, noraebang/karaoke, dog/cat cafes, hiking, markets, temples, amusement parks, museums)
  • Day Trips (DMZ, temple stay, toilet museum)
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Continue reading “Seoul-ed Out: Everything Seoul, Korea!”

10 Reasons to Visit Viñales, Cuba… and Stay a While

 

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When Kyla and I landed in Havana a month ago, the first place we headed was Viñales, about 2 hours west of the capital. We stayed for 5 days! After the craziness of Christmas (and life in general), we wanted our first stop to feel relaxing, rather than packing up and moving every couple of days. The Viñales valley turned out to be the perfect place to stay put. It’s not on the coast, but it’s not too far from a stunning beach, and the town and surroundings offer stunning landscapes and tons of activities (plus tons of ways to fill your belly and sample local rum)!

 

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Here are 10 reasons to hang up your hammock and stay a while in Viñales!

Continue reading “10 Reasons to Visit Viñales, Cuba… and Stay a While”

Happy New Year!

What an incredible year! It started with fireworks over the harbour in Victoria, and I’ll be ringing in 2018 in the Vinales valley, in Cuba! I have some great posts in the works for the new year, plus you can expect some Cuba-heavy content once we get back!

2017 was full of close-to-home adventures, and some big celebrations:

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Hygge Holiday: Tofino Hot Springs and Other Relaxing Things

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For a warmer weather itinerary, check out this post: 2 Nights in Tofino.

Kyla and I spent the November long weekend in Tofino, a surf town on western Vancouver Island. I’d only heard amazing things about Tofino since moving out here, and it lived up to the hype!

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Lots of people who visit the town choose to enjoy it the active way… surfing, hiking, that kind of thing. While it’s a fantastic place to do both of those things, and while I’ll definitely do more activities next time I go, we went the more… lazy relaxed route this time! Not only did we need a break, but we were both sick, so you could say that taking it easy was what the doctor ordered. And I mean… it’s not really that hard to chill out in a surf town! Here are 5 relaxing ways to explore Tofino:

Continue reading “Hygge Holiday: Tofino Hot Springs and Other Relaxing Things”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead

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Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)

Read about our hikes from China Beach to Bear Beach, Bear Beach to Chin Beach, and Chin Beach to Payzant Creek.

Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 4: Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek

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Day 3: Chin Beach (km 21) – Payzant Creek (km 40)

Read about Day 1 and Day 2

This was the day I tried to get eaten by a bear!

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Day 3 started out like the others, only a little wetter. We got up early, and headed out towards Little Kuitshe Creek, where we were planning to camp that night.

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The hike from Chin Beach to Sombrio Beach started out with some steep ups and downs, similar to the previous day, but this time they didn’t go on forever. There was a flat bit! And a few creek crossings with ropes, but these were fun and we made them look more dramatic in photos than they really were!

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Since it had rained the night before, the day brought a new challenge: mud! We’d encountered muddy spots before, but for the most part, we’d been able to manoeuvre around them, using rocks and tree stumps and packed down patches.

But today, we got the gaiters out! We knew we’d packed them for a reason! We couldn’t really avoid trekking through deep mud just east of Sombrio Beach, but at least the gaiters helped keep it out of our shoes. (Unless you have brilliantly designed boots with a breathable mesh front, like mine! Mud for days!)

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As we made our way onto Sombrio Beach, we met a woman who told us that there was a bear on the beach! “Don’t worry,” she informed us, “it’s a local, it’s friendly, and it won’t come too close”. We were delighted to see the black bear, looking for snacks on some rocks in the water.

We stood watching – at a very safe distance, with other campers – and I decided that this would be a good time for lunch. “Not here!” Kyla whispered, her expression incredulous, as she gestured towards the bear. “Oh, duh! Silly me!” I laughed, taking a half-eaten Cliff Bar out of my backpack. “I just needed a quick snack though,” I explained, shoving the remainder of the bar into my face. She shook her head at me, as we both continued snapping shots of the gorgeous bear.

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek”

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