London Love

The London Underground and Big Ben

London calls to me. London enraptures me. London ties my tongue—and my heart—up into knots.

It’s always been this way. For as long as I can remember, England has felt like the center of the universe, exerting a gravitational pull on me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved its writers, its musicians, its television shows and movies; I remember spending more than one moody afternoon staring up at my ceiling—BritRock blasting at top volume—completely convinced I had been born in the wrong country and ruing the day the Harrisons of Bristol decided to migrate westward across the Atlantic.

At the center of my obsession, was the city of London. A sprawling city full of art, music, literature, and a history so rich and deep, I could hardly fathom it. A city of soot and stories, cutting-edge culture, and the seat of urban civility. A million lifetimes could be had (and indeed, have been had!) within the city of London… was it too much to ask that I get to experience just one of them?

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Chewing the Fat With Colleen Brynn Travels!

Chewing the Fat logo

You guys! Can it really be that we have not Chewed the Fat with someone for months now? That hardly seems possible, but scanning our archives, I see that it is (sadly) true. I have no excuse because the response to this series has really been excellent (I mean, really, who doesn’t love reading about food and drooling over delicious pictures?) and I’ve had a couple of wonderfully witty & engaging interviews sitting on the backburner all this time. I dropped the ball and I know our Foodie Fridays have all been a little bit less inspiring as a result.

But now that we’re back home and getting back into the blogging swing of things, I am stoked to revive this series so that we can all continue gabbing about grub on a semi-regular basis. I’m sure none of you are surprised to hear that during our temporary hiatus from traveling, it’s primarily memories of great meals had during our Big Trip that cause us the greatest sense of loss and longing… but thinking back on so many of the great meals we had during our travels is really one of our favorite ways to relive our trip, and now that we have a kitchen at our disposal, we’re hoping we can help bring them to life with our own hands and see if we can’t recapture a little bit of that magic. We’re also looking forwarding to diving back into this series in reveling in other traveler’s best food memories (including yours, I hope! If you’re interested in taking part in the series, drop me an email and we’ll go from there!); there’s a whole lot of the world that we have yet to wrap our mouths around, and if we can’t be out there doing just that, then this is the next best thing!

I can’t think of a better person to dust off this series with than the lovely woman behind one of our favorite travel blogs, Colleen Brynn Travels. A fellow Canuck, Colleen has managed to see (and eat her way through) an awful lot of the world, despite juggling her travels with a student budget and all the work and studying that optometry school entails. If you haven’t checked out her site but love thoughtful travel writing that is deeply personal and always burrows beneath the surface of the destinations it features, you really must fix that immediately. Colleen’s site exudes an infectious joie de vivre that has made me wish on more than one occasion that we could sit down with a couple of girly drinks and some tasty tapas and just chat the night away. Maybe now that we’re in the same country, we can actually make it happen!

In the interim, join me as I chat with Colleen about the succulent decadence of Indian weddings, the hardest thing about ingesting chicken butts, drinks that’ll put hair on yer chest, and so much more!

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How Much it Costs to Travel in SRI LANKA (& Other Handy Advice)

Stilt Fishermen in Sri Lanka

After years of fantasizing about Sri Lanka, there was a lot riding on our visit. In fact, given our past experiences with heightened expectations, my repeated mantra on the flight over was “Don’t expect too much. Sri Lanka probably won’t be that great.” I was certain my hopes and dreams for the country would prove to be too much, my very desire to have Sri Lanka be as wonderful as I believed it would be would prove to be a jinx and we’d leave feeling vaguely deflated and rather disappointed.

I wanted to love Sri Lanka, but I secretly feared that we wouldn’t. I certainly never expected that the country would prove to be far better than anything we had ever dared to anticipate, something that would make the sumptuous and lush photos we had ogled in advance seem lackluster and bland in comparison. I never once predicted how hard we would fall for the country, as Sri Lanka swiftly catapulted itself near the top of our list of favorite countries we have visited on this journey.

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We Drove a Tuk-Tuk Across Sri Lanka & You Can Too!

Our Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka

If I’m being perfectly candid, we have seen and done some pretty adventurous things during our journey around the world. We’ve trekked in the mountains of Nepal, and over-landed on scooters through the back-country of Laos. We took a tiny boat along some of the wildest and most beautiful coastline in the Philippines, and went scuba diving in some of the world’s best waters. We’ve met real Geisha in Gion, and tried the foul-smelling “king of fruit”, durian, not once but THREE times! We’ve done some epic things, many of them things we never expected that we would ever do.

When it came to Sri Lanka, our last Asian destination before making the jump to Europe and then home, we wanted to do it right. We wanted to dive head-first into this exotic and seemingly little-known country and make the most of our (for us) blink-and-you’ll-miss-it three weeks in the country. And, above all, we wanted to have an adventure.

At first we were considering renting a motorcycle and over-landing, as we had done so many times in various other countries. We looked at various websites and found some okay options, but nothing really spoke to us; beyond that, Sri Lanka’s train system is supposed to be quite good and an attraction in and of themselves, so we were on the fence regarding motorcycles.

But then, lightning struck.

We were looking at a website for a place in Negombo and Steph pointed to the screen.

“Does that say we can rent a ‘three-wheeler?’ For real? That looks… awesome! We have to do it.”

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The Beginning of the End

Negombo, Sri Lanka

There are few places I have rolled into with a heart as full of as much dread as I did the western coastal resort city of Negombo. Throughout our three weeks exploring Sri Lanka, we had been won over by every place we had visited (in most cases quite easily), but I knew things would be different in Negombo. Although some travelers had ranked it as one of the country’s best stretches of beach, a gloomy grey rain cloud hung over our heads and a heavy mantle of sadness clung to us as we drove King Tuk into town.

Our glorious three-week adventure around this wonderful country would come to a close in Negombo, and we were sad that we would soon be leaving this beautiful island, a place we felt we had only witnessed but a fraction of.  Sri Lanka was a country that captured our hearts hard and fast, and I fully admit that when we arrived in Negombo, all we could see were all the things we would soon be leaving behind.

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