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Family and Solo Travel Adventures of 2017

As we step into 2018, I’d like to take this time to thank you for following along and for your comments and questions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and email. I hope that I’ve helped to answer all your mobile photography, camera and tech gear, and travel related questions.

I had some incredible family and solo travel adventures in 2017! I explored 2 new countries – Israel and Japan, returned to British Columbia, The Florida Keys twice, South Africa and Australia and visited new places at home in Ontario like Tobermory and Manitoulin Island, and we also saw the solar eclipse in totality on a spontaneous road trip to Kentucky and Tennessee.

We also returned to our favourite close-to-home destination, Niagara Falls. We spent time on both sides of the border. While my boys love playing the redemption games, we also enjoyed walking through Dufferin Island on the Canadian side in the Spring as well as chasing cherry blossoms, found some! In the summer, we ventured to the American side and visited Goat Island. It is a great place to visit as it gives you close-up views of both the American and Canadian Falls.

It was very much a year of incredible snorkelling adventures in the barrier reefs of the Florida Keys and Australia as well as the Red Sea in Eilat, Israel. My 7yo snorkelled for his first time, in Eilat and loved it. We ended our travel year with a trip to The Florida Keys where he embarked on his first open water snorkel trip. We went on 2 snorkel trips from Key Largo and one in the backwaters of Key West. Our favourite experience was our snorkel trip at Molasses Reef where we encountered sea turtles, Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks. He was over the moon with excitement and can’t wait to snorkel again. You can read more in my guide to snorkelling the Florida Keys here.

To recap and close out 2017, here are some of my favourite Instagram and mobile camera photos that were all shot on my iPhone 7+. In 2018, I look forward to continuing to inspire your family travels, solo trips and photography and show you more beautiful, nature and culture-rich destinations.

JANUARY

bahia honda tide
Moving tides at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. A trip I did with my niece.

FEBRUARY

St James Beach Cape Town
Dusk at St. James Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. A solo trip to South Africa for The Heart of a Woman Project.
Penguins at Boulders Beach
Penguins at Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, Playing with portrait mode on the iPhone 7 plus.

MARCH

zebra in Kruger
A Zebra in Kruger National Park, South Africa. A self-drive trip I did with my South African travel writer & travel blogger friend Anje Rautenbach of Going Somewhere Slowly in March 2017. Check out her video here.
tea at mahane yehuda jerusalem
Tea at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. A family trip with my husband, 2 sons and father in March 2017, I travelled there after my trip to Kruger Park.
My oldest son and the Eilat Mountains in Southern Israel. We could see the Sinai Desert when we climbed a bit off the dusty road.
old town warsaw
Old Town Warsaw, Poland. A layover on my home way home from Israel.

APRIL

cherry blossoms canada
Found cherry blossoms in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Maid on the Mist in Niagara Falls. A family day trip from Toronto.

MAY

cherry blossoms Kariya Park Mississauga
On the hunt for more cherry blossoms. Found these at Kariya Park in Mississauga.

JUNE

Enchanted Forest
My son at The Enchanted Forest in British Columbia. A family trip to BC with my youngest son, father, aunt, and uncle to see relatives.

JULY

Beautiful art on the arena in Wikwemikong, the unceded territory on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. A trip with my best friend who was visiting Ontario from British Columbia with her family.
Balm Beach Ontario
Sunset in Balm Beach. Some of the most spectacular sunsets in Ontario happen right here, on Georgian Bay, traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg people. Balm Beach is our fave family beach in Ontario. A trip with my family and my best friend and her family who were visiting Ontario from British Columbia.
Tobermory Ontario
My oldest son on the rocks near the Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory, Ontario. My sons and I went on a spontaneous 2-night trip on the shores of Lake Huron chasing Aurora. We didn’t find her but found Tobermory.
Bruce Country Ontario
My oldest son in the canola fields of Bruce County, Ontario. This is part of the same trip with my 2 sons.

AUGUST

Manitou River Manitoulin Island
A peaceful spot by the Manitou River near Michael’s Bay on Manitoulin Island. A trip with my 2 sons and father to take in the annual Perseids meteor shower.
Sunflowers in Caledon, Ontario. Random Sunday drives with my husband and 2 sons.
clarksville tennessee for the solar eclipse
A spontaneous road trip to the USA where we experienced our first solar eclipse in totality. We found this spot in Clarksville, Tennessee by the Red River. This was
the light about 30 minutes before totality. The birds flocked, and the cicadas sang. It went to darkness and planets you don’t normally see, were seen. Hard to describe the feeling but we were in awe.

SEPTEMBER

Lakeside Park Oakville
Revisiting one of our favourite family parks in the Greater Toronto area, Lakeside Park in Oakville. September was all about back to school and TIFF. At the end of the month, I returned to Vancouver to visit my best friend before my trip to Australia and Japan.

OCTOBER

Heron Island Queensland Australia
Reef walking at low tide in the Great Barrier Reef off Heron Island in Queensland, Australia. Heron Island is a Coral Cay with the reef as your playground. I saw sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, many species of fish and sea cucumbers. I even found Nemo’s cousin. It was a return to Australia but this time as a solo traveller and my first time exploring Queensland and the GBR.
koala on the great ocean road
Rainforest views on Grey River Road in Kennet River. This was my favourite stop on the Great Ocean Road. Can you find the sleepy koala?
The 8 remaining limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles. This is probably the most popular stop on the GOR drive and worth seeing in person.
The 5-story Yasaka Pagoda in Kyoto, Japan is surrounded by quaint narrow streets lined with cafes, restaurants and a variety of shops. Loved wandering through here after most people had left the area.

NOVEMBER

palm tree bahia honda state park
A broken but not battered palm tree at Bahia Honda State Park after Hurricane Irma blew through. A trip to the Florida Keys with my oldest niece and 2 sons.
sombrero beach views in Marathon Florida
My boys enjoying a sunset swim at Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Florida Keys.
So not a winter person but I can appreciate the beauty of snow especially with a setting sun. No travels in December.

VIDEOS

Wishing your many photographic opportunities and travels that fulfil your soul in 2018.

Cherry Beach is my favourite beach in Toronto, Ontario

Lifeguard station at Cherry Beach in Toronto, Canada.

Cherry Beach in Toronto, Ontario is my go-to beach for it’s laid back atmosphere. It’s my favourite place to sit by the lake and take some time out. It is much less crowded than the other Toronto beaches.

There are toilet facilities, a food truck and an off-leash dog park. You’ll often see kite boarders, kayakers, stand up paddle boarders and wind surfers. There are barbeque facilities as well, just bring the charcoal.

Toronto and a glimpse of the CN Tower

One of my favourite drives into the city and spot to view the CN Tower. Also, a partial view of the Rogers Centre (white roof). It was formerly named Skydome, I think I’ll always think of it as that. The Rogers Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and until last year, the Toronto Argonauts football team. It was opened in 1989 and has a fully retractable roof and hotel attached to it with many rooms overlooking the field.

Oh the Places I’ve Gone in 2014

It’s been a great travel year for me and I am grateful for the opportunities, new friends, old friends and for a family that supports me.

In 2014 I returned to a country I love – South Africa, not once but twice! I visited in May and my dad came along. I also returned in November and my family (husband, 4yo & 9yo sons) came with! My dad joined us a week later. My visits to South Africa are always so inspiring and wonderful and never long enough.

St. James Beach - Cape Town, South Africa.
St. James Beach – Cape Town, South Africa May 2014. This image was chosen to appear in Pocket Vistas, a Mobile Photography exhibition of Landscape, Nature & Wildlife.

 

Sons & penguins at Boulder's Beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
My sons & penguins at Boulder’s Beach in Cape Town, South Africa November 2014.

 

My son enjoyed seeing the penguins and playing in the water at Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa.
My son checking out the view at Boulder’s Beach May 2014. Both my boys enjoyed seeing the penguins and playing in the water. Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Street art in the Woodstock neighbourhood in Cape Town, South Africa.
Street art in Woodstock. Cape Town, South Africa November 2014.

 

Zebra in Black and White. Taken with my Olympus em1 mirrorless camera while on safari in South Africa. .
Zebra in Black and White. Taken with my Olympus em1 mirrorless camera & M.Zuiko 40-150mm 2.8 pro lens while on safari in South Africa with Naledi Enkoveni December 2014.

 

Bird silhouettes against a South African sunset. Taken with my Olympus em1 & 40-150mm 2.8 pro lens.
Bird silhouettes against a South African sunset. Taken with my Olympus em1 & 40-150mm 2.8 pro lens while on safari with Naledi Enkoveni December 2014.

 

The reason for my return to South Africa was because of a women’s mobile photography development initiative I founded and started there in November 2013, The Heart of a Woman Project. I visited in May to launch phase 2 and my father came with to meet the ladies and offer some help. I returned once more in November to celebrate our 1st anniversary with an exhibition and cultural celebration and was very happy to have my husband & 2 sons (9 & 4) with me.

The Heart of a Woman Project South Africa
The Heart of a Woman Project South Africa #thoawSA May 2014.

 

An instameet in Khayelitsha with Instagramers Cape Town and the ladies from thoawSA.
An inaugural #instameetEKASI in Khayelitsha with Instagramers Cape Town and the ladies from thoawSA June 1, 2014. Photo by Ockie Fourie.

 

A collage of the women's work over the last year. The Heart of a Woman Project.
A collage of the women’s work over the last year on display at eKhaya eKasi, The Heart of a Woman Project. Debuted at the 1st anniversary exhibition & cultural celebration November 2014.

 

My 4 yo learning isiXhosa games from the kids in the eKhaya eKasi community. We spent 6 days there. They played with the kids while I taught.
My 4 yo son learning isiXhosa games from the kids in the eKhaya eKasi community. We spent 6 days there in November 2014. They played with the kids while I taught the ladies and they can’t wait to return.

 

On the way to South Africa, we had an overnight layover in London, England. Mostly we stayed near the airport in hopes that my sons would adjust a bit to the time difference so they could handle the further 2 hour difference between GMT and SAST. It seemed to work and they adjusted well. It also helped to avoid 2 back to back overnight flights. We took off to Windsor  before checking in for our flight. Windsor was about 25 minutes from Heathrow, it’s a quaint town and a good layover visit. We saw Windsor Castle from the outside only and had lunch in a local pub. It was my son’s 1st visit to Europe, we’ll have to go back for a proper one.

My sons in front of Windsor Castle, a layover stop before our flight to South Africa.
My sons in front of Windsor Castle, a layover stop before our flight to South Africa November 2014.

 

I also kept going back to New York City. I went in March for the inaugural Women’s Travel Fest where I joined the 3 other WeGoSolo twitter chat hosts – Mariellen of BreatheDreamGo and founder of WeGoSolo, Kelly of Go Girl Guides and the founder of Women’s Travel Fest and Gemma from Girls That Travel.

Gemma, Andrea, Kelly & Mariellen - WeGoSolo
Gemma, Andrea, Kelly & Mariellen of WeGoSolo at Women’s Travel Fest in New York, NY March 2014.

 

I also went to New York City in October for National Geographic Traveler’s seminar on Storytelling Photography with Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow, two well respected NG photographers. I’ve been a professional photographer since 2003 and have been following Ami’s incredible work since that time. It was great to meet her in person and to learn from her.

New York is a great city for solo travel and I love to see a show on broadway, discover a restaurant and observe what’s happening around the city. While walking back to my hotel after seeing a show on Broadway, I came across this scene in Times Square. At first it was just this young man with his sign and then this half dressed man came by and started dancing, things got interesting.

Only in New York City?
Only in New York City? October 2014.

 

I am also grateful to have been able to get in a short visit but with quality time with dear friends in Vancouver (my home away from home) and Saskatoon in Canada in April.

Dundarave Beach in West Vancouver.
Dundarave Beach in West Vancouver April 2014

 

Saskatoon, Canada
Saskatoon, Canada April 2014.

 

Between all the travel both solo and with family, I also managed to visit some our family favourites nearer to home – Niagara Falls in February and June and the Kawartha Lakes in August.

The American Falls as seen from the Canadian side. Visited Niagara Falls with the family on Family Day.
The American Falls as seen from the Canadian side. Visited Niagara Falls with the family on Family Day February 2014.

 

My oldest son enjoying the view in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
My oldest son enjoying the view in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario at a cottage we rented for a week August 2014.

 

Sons enjoying a ride on the Skywheel in Niagara Falls.
Sons enjoying a ride on the Skywheel in Niagara Falls June 2014. We had an overnight there shortly after I returned from South Africa.

 

Lastly, I added 2 new cities to my travels, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico in July. I was in Santa Fe for the International Folk Art Market that hosts artisans from around the world. From their website – “Celebrates the humanity of the handmade that empowers communities through monumental earnings.”

There were so many talented artists with their incredible handmade work. It was like travelling around the world in a day. The highlights were visiting the artists and learning more about the work from Myanmar (Burma), South Africa and Haiti. I met a man and his family that represents the last 30 puppeteers of Myanmar. It’s a dying tradition that dates back 600 years. You can read about it here.

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Fabrics from Myanmar.
Fabrics from Myanmar at IFAM July 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Baskets made of telephone wire in South Africa.
Baskets made of telephone wire in South Africa at IFAM July 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Art from Haiti, with a strong belief in voodoo.
Art from Haiti, with a strong belief in voodoo at IFAM July 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Puppeteer from Myanmar
Puppeteer from Myanmar, a 600 year tradition at IFAM July 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

I also got a chance to drive a bit of Route 66 in Albuquerque.

Route 66 - Albuquerque, New Mexcio.
Route 66 – Albuquerque, New Mexico July 2014.

 

Route 66 - Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Route 66 – Albuquerque, New Mexico July 2014.

 

It’s been great to go through my photos of the last year and relive some memories. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some images from the destinations I visited in 2014.

Sharing 2 quotes I love and perfect for starting the new year –

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Wishing you new beginnings, magic, dreams and safe travels in 2015, the best is yet to come!

Until next time,

Andrea

…and my wandering iPhone

 

One Heart in Kensington Market, Toronto

I observe a man in a saffron robe. He is tall, his head bald and he is smiling. Ten others have suddenly joined him on the street; he stands above them as a shepherd tending to his flock. I hear the sound of a drum and shaking of the tambourine and then, “Hare Krishna Hare Hare Hare ”. The song trails off as they chant walking down the street.

Continuing my walk on Kensington Avenue where the streets are narrow and sidewalks wide, I come to a wall with graffiti and the words “One Heart”. As I take a photo of it, a faint scent of soap, fresh after a shower, wafts towards me. The sign above the entrance of the store reads Tribal Eye. I see a table full of incense in front of their window and then wander in. There’s a Djembe in the corner. Walking over to it, I feel tempted to play it.

“Do you play?” he asks.

“I’m learning” I answer enthusiastically. “I took 2 lessons in Senegal and bought a Djembe in South Africa.”

Suddenly, alternating soft and hard slaps on the drum sound out, the owner is now playing the African drum and I am the only audience. Enjoying this moment, I wonder if he took lessons too.

“Where did you learn?”

“I’m African, we’re born with it.”

He grins as he walks over to his laptop; I follow behind to continue the conversation. A rhythmic drumbeat begins to play over the speakers; he starts dancing behind the counter. As I am looking at the products on the counter, I feel myself dancing too. I find it hard not to move to this music.

“Did you see the Tree of Life on your trip? How did you like it?”

“Oh, the Baobab trees are beautiful and I even slept in one in Senegal.”

“You like to live life!”

“Yes, I do!”

He looks at me and starts singing: “If you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth, and now you see the light: stand up for your rights.

“I love Bob Marley.”

He smiles. It is 25 minutes after I walked in and I remember why I went in. I pick out some incense, look at the “One Heart” jewellery and buy some African Shea butter. I thank him, but what I am most thankful for is his time and openness.

“Thank you my sister.”

I smile and as I walk out, I’m reminded that we are all one; one heart. I am even more inspired to continue to live with an open heart by being open to conversation with people I meet as I wander locally and around the world.

The Krishnas just passed by singing. Just another day in Kensington Market that us Torontonians simply know as Kensington.

 

One Heart at the Tribal Eye in Kensington Market, Toronto
One Heart at the Tribal Eye in Kensington Market, Toronto

 

Dancing Days - Kensington Market, Toronto
Dancing Days – Kensington Market, Toronto

 

Kensington, Toronto
Kensington, Toronto

 

Author’s Note: 

You never know where inspiration is going to come from and you don’t have to travel to find it. It is right here, every day if you live with an open heart. Thanks to Anthony for the reminder and  another lesson in the Ubuntu philosophy. Ubuntu, is the Xhosa word I learned while in South Africa that simply means “I am what I am because of who we all are” and speaks of interconnectedness.  

Until next time,

Andrea… and my wandering iPhone