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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I also got a chance to drive a bit of Route 66 in Albuquerque.
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 –
Wishing you new beginnings, magic, dreams and safe travels in 2015, the best is yet to come!
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.
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.