We drove through the quiet neighborhoods, perplexed and anxious. Were we on the right track? Perhaps the vaunted google maps is failing us now, taking us to some private parts of North Vancouver where we shouldn’t be. Or perhaps this was a good sign that our next destination, Lighthouse Park, was a hidden gem. We pushed on. And boy were we glad we did.
Love is in the Air! Take a Romantic Getaway with Expedia and Save! – Expires 2/14/2016

We arrived at the near empty parking lot. Well, to say it was a parking lot assumes that there were actual paved parking spaces. There weren’t any, but that wasn’t going to stop us now. The light tapping of the famed Pacific Northwest rain gave us vigor as we began our short hike to the lighthouse. We were alone. The dark forest wasn’t as frightening as the silence that pervaded this lush green walk, but the paths were well maintained. It didn’t take long before we arrived at an open gate and a brightly lit house – the park ranger’s house. “You may enter up to the lighthouse when this gate is open,” the sign on the railings told us.

lighthouse before the sunset

lighthouse before the sunset

So we wandered through and at the end of the path stood a beacon of light, literally. The dark sky had cleared up somewhat and we could see Downtown Vancouver in the distance. I took a couple photos then backtracked to the trail. What a wonderful view and honor to be the keeper of this lighthouse, I wondered. Perhaps I could apply to be a park ranger here. It couldn’t be that hard to be a park ranger here, eh?

cargo ship

cargo ship

Back on the trail, we veered off the path and made our way to a rocky adventure. The rain made the rocks slick but they weren’t that big a deal. I felt like we were adventuring hobbits going on a quest. Down the rocky sides we went, paying close attention to the ground before us lest we wanted to tumble. I’m not sure how long it took, but at some point the brushes gave way to a clearing. We looked up and before us were wonders to be held. A little rocky beach was visible down further the trail. A couple, blankets spreading on the rocks, was enjoying the views. The singing of the birds signaled to us that the rain has passed.

downtown Vancouver in the distance

downtown Vancouver in the distance

We wanted to join them but didn’t want to disturb their peace so we made our way to an adjacent rock, jutting out on the sea. And there we stood for hours, gazing across the bay at little buildings, bridges, and cargo ships far in the distance. I’ve been to Vancouver dozens of times and have gone to Stanley Park just as many. I was used to the view from that side, but this was the first time I saw Stanley Park from far yonder. It was magnificent.

the lighthouse lit up by the sunset

the lighthouse lit up by the sunset

Dark clouds that had previously invaded the sky now gave way to blue skies here and there. A baby seal surfaced but for a second and disappeared. We stared into the water for half an hour trying to find where it might have gone but failed to find it again.

beautiful sunset at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver

beautiful sunset at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver

Out there on that rock, we waited for the sunset. The chill of the air rejuvenated our bodies. Slowly but surely, the sky opened up. And for the time we were there, nothing was really on my mind. I was at peace. Finally, dark orange hues took over the sky. The lighthouse with the sun-setting backdrop glowed. I took way too many shots of the idyllic scenery. I wanted to stay and linger, but at last, we must leave this wonderful place and speed towards traffic waiting for us on the other side. On the way out, we saw that another couple had nested on the side of the rock where we were, looking into the far reaches of the horizon, holding each other in that cold Pacific Northwest winter air.

a couple enjoying the beautiful sunset

a couple enjoying the beautiful sunset

If you’re coming to Vancouver, escape the hectic city and go North to find peace – like this Lighthouse Park. Travel on my friends.

couple enjoying the views

couple enjoying the views

the grounds around the park ranger's house

the grounds around the park ranger’s house

the trail down to the water

the trail down to the water

Want more adventures? Read Adventuring with 3 days in Iceland.

Share:
Reading time: 4 min

The featured image is courtesy of Reed George.

The whining of hot breeze and the neighing of horses greets you as you go down town south of Virginia. Virginia comprises of many small towns including Manassas. Known for having a strong historic civil war experience, Manassas is at the meeting point of two railroads that links up northern Virginia, Washington DC and Richmond.

train arriving just on time - by John Mueller

train arriving just on time – by John Mueller

You really can go to almost anywhere around the states from Manassas. Travellers coming down to Manassas should expect an enjoyable train ride. The hot breeze bursting in through the windows would give you delight whilst you look onto dusty roads afar. A woman tourist I once sat beside on a train ride to Richmond told me she enjoyed the hot air and explained how she enjoyed watching the train speed past the dust. As an ex-war zone, Manassas is the stronghold for museum attraction as it is richly endowed with war equipments and fascinating socio cultural equipments and artefacts. The museum is a must visit for any tourist in this part of the states. Manassas features a wonderful museum system and a couple of household shops and restaurants.

battlefield re-enactment - by Reed George

battlefield re-enactment – by Reed George

A lunch at Okra’s Louisiana Bistro for Creole and Cajun with patio setting would leave a lasting taste of want down your throat. You really won’t regret spending a few $$ on this spot as this spicy delicacy seems to be specially made for your hungry belly. An all year planting season encourages food production in Manassas. Hence you always find your potato crisps and fries available at almost any food source. A foot walk to Opera House Gourmet for a bottle of wine would be awesome for travellers needing a taste of local brew. I rarely miss this on weekends.

parade - by Carl Dunn

parade – by Carl Dunn

The town is a beehive for artists as the ancient city has a kind of inspiration it exerts on artists. A few steps on the tarmac would lead you to creative brush studios where you would get an instant painting right from the artist. It is the reason an art gallery can be found around the corner. Art collectors are frequent tourists in Manassas.

snowy field - by Heather

snowy field – by Heather

Manassas is a place for someone with an urge for a feel of an ancient town with modern facilities and a touch of art. For more great local trips, read 12 reasons why you need to visit Coronado, the Crown City, in 2016.

Travel on my friends.


Share:
Reading time: 2 min

It’s not everyday I get to talk to a travel professional and TV personality. I’m lucky to talk have a chance to chat with Sandra who tells me about her work in strategic marketing and travel media. Her new travel is set to launch soon and you can get a jump-start on it by visiting SandraCottam.com. You can also find her amazing travels on Instagram @sandracottam, on twitter @villagegirltrav and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sandracottamtv.

Sandra Cottam feeling right at home on the road

Sandra Cottam feeling right at home on the road

Up Up and a Bear: Please tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, what you do, etc).

Sandra: I’m blessed to be bi-racial (South Pacific & Australian roots) and to have had a childhood where my parents enjoyed and valued the benefits of travel. For many reasons including my father’s job, a foreign exchange program and a culturally blended family, we moved a lot. In fact I had changed schools 9 times before my senior year of high school. No doubt this led to a career in the travel industry and studies in tourism and marketing.

Originally I took a job as an international travel consultant STA Travel for the travel perks it gave me but the more that I delved into the industry, the more I realized the endless opportunities it presented. As my career evolved I was able to move from sales and marketing roles, into customer service and project management roles and eventually into media, all within the travel industry.

Right now I enjoy a very successful career that combines my two greatest career loves: strategic marketing and travel media. Every day I am somewhere amazing and able to share that with my fans. I love that armchair travelers (people who don’t travel much or at all) can live vicariously through me and that more frequent travelers can be guided by my travel news and tips.

On the other side of our comfort zone are some very amazing opportunities.

Up Up and a Bear: Wow! That’s great! That’s a job we’re all jealous. You’ve been all over the world it seems. How many countries have you been to?

Sandra: A Facebook quiz recently calculated that I have been to 88 of 195 countries in the world, which means that I’m not even half way there! LOL.

looking cool at Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico

looking cool at Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico

Up Up and a Bear: That’s 80 more than I’ve been to! What an awesome perk to your job. What is it like traveling for work that much?

Sandra: Right now I travel 90% for business and 10% for pleasure – that being said, I try to find some time to explore and experience something new on each business trip. Like most people I love food so eating is often at the top of my strategies to learn about a new destination. I also love taking photos although it’s most definitely a hobby, not a skill. I have a lot to learn about photography but I have a great teacher!

posing with the locals in Bethlehem

posing with the locals in Bethlehem

Up Up and a Bear: Experiences galore I’m sure. What are some things that you’ve learned from your travels?

Sandra: I’ve learned a lot about myself. I know that it sounds kind of corny to say that think of it this way… we all know ourselves in our everyday environment. But what happens when you’re in a different environment (culture, language, geography) every day? You find yourself being tested and tried in more ways than one. So I’d have to say that I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned about my best traits and gifts and more importantly about my areas for personal development. I have also learned that I need constantly be grateful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t have.

Right now I enjoy a very successful career that combines my two greatest career loves: strategic marketing and travel media.

Up Up and a Bear: Couldn’t agree with you more. I set out to discover the world and most often it’s us that we find. And I believe that traveling is a very courageous thing to do – the unknowns, the strange language, people, and culture can deter you from traveling. Did you feel this way when you started traveling? How did you deal with it? How would you suggest someone in the same boat do to alleviate this fear?

Sandra: To be perfectly honest I have never felt this way and can’t really relate to someone who feels this. That being said, there are things in life that are unknown to me and that make me anxious; new experiences, goals, tasks. When I need to tackle those I really try to educate myself first and foremost. I truly feel that we are uncomfortable when we don’t understand. On the other side of our comfort zone are some very amazing opportunities. So, be curious, ask questions, challenge the status quo and be open-minded to whatever knowledge comes your way.

enjoying coconut shrimps in Mexico City

enjoying coconut shrimps in Mexico City

Up Up and a Bear: Thanks for the great advice. I’ve often been rewarded mightily when jumping out of my comfort zone. Anyway, I’m sure that since you’re jet setting all over the world, you must have excellent organization skills (suitcase ready to go, routine down to a science, etc). What are some of your routines that have really helped you travel efficiently?

Sandra: Oh totally! I’m a great packer and an excellent vacation planner! I get asked a lot about how I pack and (I can take just a carry on for a two week business trip!) where I find the best travel deals. I’m currently working on my new travel series and am going to share both strategies with my viewers. I’m bringing my suitcase into the studio and unpacking it for everyone to see what I take and how I pack it, and I’ll also showing viewers how absolutely anyone can plan and afford to get on vacation no matter your budget. Exciting stuff!

Every day I am somewhere amazing and able to share that with my fans.

Up Up and a Bear: Sweet! That’s going to be a great show! Now I know that you’re the road a lot so it must take effort to work on your health and fitness. You mentioned you’re in a love/hate relationship with carbs and cardio. I think a lot of us have the same relationship with carbs and cardio. LOL. How do you balance this while you travel? Do you have tips for other travelers?

Sandra: Losing or maintaining weight while you’re on the road can be super challenging and there really is only one way to conquer it… it’s all about forward planning. I travel 3 weeks out of every 4 and have a range of strategies. I’ve lost one third of my body weight in the last 18 months, all while on the road. I plan out my travel snacks and buy them in advance – almonds, fruit, boiled eggs, vege chips etc. I’m never caught without food in my purse. When it comes to eating out I rarely look at the menu – I ask the waiter for grilled protein with a side of vegetables or salad. And every now and then I have a cheat meal…not a cheat day! I also schedule time to exercise. Every cruise ship or hotel has a gym and I try to mix up between cardio (you’re right, I don’t love it) and weights training.

Sandra about to host it up!

Sandra about to host it up!

Up Up and a Bear: Tell me a little bit more about your role as a Travel TV host and writer?

Sandra: What’s the favorite part of your job? I host and write for 8 different companies and also work with a major cruise line. I’m a travel expert savvy on a range of topics including but not limited to destinations, food and cruising and love special guest appearances and interviews (like this one) where I get to cover fun topics with viewers and readers. Every now and then I also guest speak at travel expos, conferences and industry workshops. I also write for several airline and travel magazines.

I have been to 88 of 195 countries in the world

Up Up and a Bear: Exciting work indeed! You know… I’m really looking forward to the launch of your site. It’ll be an excellent source for travel tips for travelers everywhere. What do you hope to accomplish on it? What will you write about?

Sandra: My new site launches at the start of February and is gorgeous if I do say so myself. Some of the fun features include packing tips, travel checklists and budgets, guest bloggers, recipes of world food, my top 10 travel must haves for 2016, prizes and competitions and lots more! Oh and this year I’m finally launching my new line of travel accessories!

looking sharp in Greece, Sandra

looking sharp in Greece, Sandra

Up Up and a Bear: Lastly, and most importantly, since you’ve been everywhere, where is the best pizza on the planet?

Sandra: Well, I’m so incredibly fussy with pizza. First of all it’s all about the thin dough and fresh toppings. I’m going to put my money on pizza directly from Italy…Milan and Naples! Oh and my favorite pizza is anything with three or less toppings especially cheese.

Up Up and a Bear: I’ve heard that Naples was the best place for an authentic pizza. Now it’s been confirmed! Thank you Sandra for sharing your travel life and good luck with your site launch.

Get a jump-start and sign up to get notification when Sandra’s site goes live at http://www.sandracottam.com.

Travel on my friends.


Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Page 20 of 28« First...1019202122...Last »
Up Up and a Share...