Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 9 – Saturday June 10, 2017 Regina

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

I didn’t have a great morning as I don’t always sleep in when I’ve been up late drinking (more so now than when I was young) and the condo we stayed in was super bright. Then, shortly after 8, the in-laws called to inform us they would be there shortly for breakfast. We went to bed at 2 something. Oops. Read More

Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 7 – Thursday June 8, 2017 Manitoba again

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we woke up and ate our Riding Mountain National Park cinnamon buns. They were quite good but not as good as the ones from Saskatoon. Today we were supposed to go for a boat ride. So we got in the car and headed back to Manitoba to Lake of the Prairies. Read More

Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 6 – Wednesday June 7, 2017 Manitoba

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

We woke up in Manitoba, to a weird situation: we had been informed the night before that our host couldn’t make us breakfast at our bed and breakfast because she had to look after her grandkids due to an emergency. But she left us some farm eggs to microwave and she left us scones and muffins with homemade jams. The scones were fantastic as were the muffins, which sort of tasted like carrot cake. One of the jams was really excellent. We were not sure if she made them. Read More

Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 4 – Monday June 5, 2017 Yorkton and Melville

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we had the Kuchen (Kowach?) that we bought at the Farmer’s Market, which was pretty great. Then we went for a walk down to the end of the road, and then back to the other end of the road. I was not expecting all the trees as my idea of the farming part of Saskatchewan was based solely on driving the TransCanada through the southern part of the province. I knew there were trees but I had seen them in the north (really central) part of the province, and didn’t think there would be so many this far Read More

Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 2 – Saturday June 3, 2017 Saskatoon

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

We woke up pretty damn early on account of the time change and headed over to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market probably not much longer after it opened. We wandered around, looked at the vendors, and had some snacks. We had not very good (too dense) scones and an absolutely amazing croissant. It was so good we went back and bought another for later. Then we headed to a very nice but expensive bakery in the now gentrifying bad part of town for more food and drinks. That afternoon we went to Jenn’s friends place for a drink and then headed Read More

Riley Goes to Saskatchewan Day 1 – June 2, 2017 in Saskatoon

Categories: 2017, Daily Log, Personal, and Travel.

On Friday June 1, I went to Saskatchewan for the third time in my life. Why I went is sort of a long story. The short version of that story is that I was supposed to be in Europe for most of May but had to cancel my trip. Saskatchewan became the alternative because my in-laws live there and because we were going to go in August anyway. So, here goes: my super exciting vacation to Saskatchewan. Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 13 – February 22, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

It was cool again this morning, probably as cool as the day before (so, relatively cool). The hotel had a large breakfast buffet, probably the biggest we’d seen. It was quite nice, although it wasn’t particularly Colombian. We took a cab and got to the airport relatively quickly, despite it being a weekday. I looked for a Botero mug at the airport but no such luck. Tons of other mugs, just no Botero. We had to get exit visas to leave the country, which appeared to be a complete formality. Our flight to Panama was quick and then we had Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 12 – February 21, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

It rained today, the first time it rained on our trip. And that was kind of funny because it was supposed to rain the entire time we were in Medellin and I think a few other times. Anyway, it was just sprinkling too. We took a cab to the bus stop and had to wait a bit for the bus. It was pretty full so, for the first time on the trip, Jenn and I couldn’t sit together. The bus ride was interesting as the guy we paid for the tickets hawked maps to us for half the trip. But Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 11 – February 20, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we headed to the northern bus terminal, one stop farther on the metro than the northern gondola. We were able to find our bus counter rather easily and our bus. We were early, which was good, and sat on the bus for a bit before it took off. It’s a 2 hour so drive to Guatape: The main road was full of construction, and not as scenic as the drive from the airport. (Though, on the way back, the view was obviously better.) Once we got off the main road, the construction stopped (for the most part) but Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 10 – February 19, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

I woke up feeling much, much better. I would still have some minor digestive issues over the next few days, and it would take rather a while before I felt completely myself again, but I was able to enjoy our holiday once more. I don’t know whether that’s just the thing that happens with stuff like this, or it was because I started taking antibiotics immediately – either way, back to normal. It turns out, the timing was rather lucky, because we had been unable to book a walking tour for the 18th. Instead, we had to be content with Read More

Riley goes to Colombia Day 8 – February 17, 2016

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This morning we had a flight to Medellin. We were sitting in the airport wondering why everyone was lined up for their flight 2 hours too early. We decided “well, I guess that’s what they do here” and got in line. Only once we were in line did we realize it was for the earlier flight. It was a short flight, but it was a nice one – there wasn’t much of a ceiling so we were able to see the coffee plantations on our descent into Medellin. That seemed like a real treat until…well, I’ll tell you in a Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 7 – February 16, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we went to Playa Blanca. There was more than a little confusion: Nobody picked us up despite the pledge yesterday that we would be picked up. We could have walked four times before we finally got in a cab. First, our hotel called them and they said they were on their way. Then our hotel called again, and we were told to take a cab. We waited close to an hour before they told us they were waiting for us, but only after our hotel had called them twice. (Fortunately, the tour company paid for the cab. We Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 6 – February 15, 2016

Categories: 2016 and Travel.

The day before, we were hoping to figure out how to get to a beach, but we had contacted a tour group but had not heard anything. (The beach situation: beaches a few miles away in Bocagrande, on the same peninsula – rendered an “island” by a canal – but in a Miami Beach-type setting. Alternatively you can take boats to islands further afield. Cartagena’s old city does not have beaches.) Not knowing whether or not we would be going to a beach today or tomorrow, we went to the Modern Art museum. Yes, another modern art museum. This one Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 5 – February 14, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

Valentine’s Day. One of the cool things about this hotel was the breakfasts. Every morning we had a choice of “American” or local breakfast, and I ate the local every day: empanadas, arepas, a local sausage and limes. Plus, fresh fruit juice! Good stuff. This morning we walked over to Castillo de San Felipe, which I have read is one of the largest Spanish style forts in the New World, if not the largest. Even walking over after breakfast, it was already fucking hot. (Though, as with the entire time we were in Cartagena, there was a breeze, albeit a Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 4 – February 13, 2016

Categories: 2016 and Travel.

The first two mornings at the hotel, we’d had regular food for breakfast: eggs, waffles. But today we got tamales! They were pretty good. We had a super fast ride to the airport, as it was a Saturday morning and apparently the awful traffic virtually disappears on the weekends. So we got to the Bogota airport a little early and spent time wandering around the domestic departure side. As airports go, Bogota isn’t bad. It’s certainly nicer (cleaner) than Panama. The flight was pretty quick – just over an hour, I think. My first impression of Cartagena was that the Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 3 – February 12, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

This morning we took a cab ride to Monserrate, a mountain that overlooks Bogota. For the first few minutes of the cab ride, we worried he was driving us up the mountain, as we had to go up high to get on a beltway that runs along the hills. The cabbie took us to the station where we could catch a funicular up the mountain, or a gondola. The gondola didn’t open until noon, but that was fine with us because we both wanted to take the funicular. (Jenn took pictures from it; I did not as my camera doesn’t Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 2 – February 11, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

After breakfast, we took another long cab ride to a mall, where we met Loon, our guide, for a tour of one of Bogota’s big food markets. We tried the following over the course of the morning: 1.Breakfast Sancocho de pescado  Fish soup made with plantain, yuca and potatoes. Arepa de queso – Colombian arepa filled with gooey double cream cheese [better in Bogota than Medellin] 2. Fruits Feijoa – Green, bubblegum tasting fruit Granadilla – Sweet passion fruit Pitaya – Yellow dragon fruit Mangostino – This was the final one we ate that looked like garlic cloves. 3. Fried stuff Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia Day 1 – February 10, 2016

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

We got up sometime after 4 AM, though I was up from 1-something until 2-something, due to my usual anxiety about leaving for a big trip, and because I was anticipating the alarm going off any minute. We took the Union-Pearson Express, because it’s pretty much the only option at 5:30AM (unless you want to spend an hour+ on the night bus or spend $60 on a limo). I was pleasantly surprised by the trip – and fascinated by the route – but it is still incredible to me that a new, separate train was judged the best solution, not Read More

Riley Goes to Colombia – Prologue

Categories: 2016, Personal, and Travel.

I spent most of the last two weeks in Colombia; it was my first visit to South America. Why we went to Colombia is a long story. The short version is that I wanted to go on vacation – it’s been two years since my last trip abroad – and the GF had heard great things about Colombia. And so we went. We went despite lots of people expressing their shock that we would choose to go to Colombia, and others expressing their fears. (What we found was that, if the person had been to Colombia or knew someone who Read More

Riley Goes to Turkey (February 2014)

Categories: 2014 and Travel.

You may have noticed the lack of blog posts from me during part of February. That’s because the wife and I went to Turkey. What follows is a summary of what we did. Why Turkey? Turkey has always been on my list, but it was quite high up on Monique’s. The real reason we went, and now – in the winter, with the Syrian Civil War supposedly scaring people away – was because we got a deal. We got a groupon for a tour with Gate 1, an American company I had never heard of before. We were a little Read More

In Patagonia (1977) by Bruce Chatwin

Categories: 1977, Books, and Non-Fiction.

Part travelog, part oral history, part amateur archaeological text, part memoir. Totally unique and a far cry from Theroux’s more traditional travel writing. Theroux takes the train, Chatwin hitchhikes – and perhaps that is why their experiences are so different. Chatwin is also much more concerned with local memory / mythology as history rather than his own personal observations of cultures and peoples. It’s a completely different approach but it is just as interesting. 8/10 Read More

Himalaya with Michael Palin (2004)

Categories: 2004 and TV.

This is yet another excellent Michael Palin travel series with the usual: great scenery, fascinating places and people, and Palin’s general affability. The only thing I can really say in criticism is that it seems a shame they were only able to get 6 hours out of 6 month trip through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I am guessing that a longer series would have involved endless shots of him walking up or down or along a mountain. Well worth seeing for any fan of travel documentaries, as is always the case with everything he has Read More

The Old Patagonian Express (1979) by Paul Theroux

Categories: 1979, Books, and Non-Fiction.

This is Theroux’s second excellent train travel book. In it he travels from Boston to Patagonia, mostly by rail (with the odd flight involved). As usual, he is astute, he is observant and, perhaps above all, honest. One of the engrossing – and I must admit frustrating – things about this book is how honest he is about his feelings. Other writers might have censored themselves when editing, but he lets us know when he dislikes a somewhere or someone. It doesn’t take away from the trip though; rather it humanizes it. We are more in his head as a Read More

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Categories: 2013 and Travel.

I have just returned from spending five nights at the Elk Country Inn in Jackson, Wyoming, where my brother and I skied (and snowboarded) at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, just outside of Jackson. We did not know this, but JHMR is widely considered one of the most difficult ski resorts in North America (we were told this after four days of marveling at how steep the mountain is). Jackson Hole is one of the larger ski resorts in the US: it has the 3rd highest vertical drop in the US (and 6th highest in North America) and it is in Read More

Pole to Pole (1992)

Categories: 1992 and TV.

This remains the definitive Michael Palin travel documentary and probably the best series of its type at least until the Long Way Round. Palin seems more honest and human here than he does in later series; less like a host and more like a traveler. It’s an incredible journey that is not without its problems; he takes some pretty incredible risks by the end. And his reflections are, though hardly philosophical, at least thought-provoking and universal. Watching this, I feel like Palin is the Theroux of TV. 9/10 Read More

Sarhara (2002, John Paul Davidson)

Categories: 2002 and TV.

This is an entertaining and fairly informative travel documentary. I do agree that sometimes he gets in the way of his own role when he is trying to be funny, and I feel like this is a little more apparent than in Pole to Pole. It’s still good to watch and it makes me pretty desperate to travel to Africa ASAP. I find Palin’s latest career to be pretty much the greatest job ever and I wish I could somehow steal it from him. 3 months traveling around a single desert. Amazing. 7/10 Read More