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Photos that Inspire – Italy

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Fantasy Trip – Paris

Come 2014, I would love to find myself in Paris for at least two weeks – Ideally, I would like to be there a month because I don’t think you can see what there is to see and do what there is to do in just a week. Unless I didn’t sleep and when I don’t sleep I get really cranky–shhh don’t tell anyone! lol. So, here are the things I would love to do:

You don’t see a movie in Paris without this bridge – I’m not sure what its called yet but I will find out.

Imagine, sitting at a quaint little diner taking a breather after a long day of exploring

Slightly allergic to coffee – but the headache would be worth it

The theater – Preferably La Bohème

These are just some of the things I want to do – Of course I’d love to jet over to Rome for the Coliseum and all that good stuff.

 
 
Yes, the above is a map of one of the routes. It’s a 13 hour drive but anything is possible, right?
 
 
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Day After Thanksgiving Blues

Recently, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving. Like always, I worked but I managed to swing some family time through it all. It was lovely for I got to spend it with my favorite uncle! But aside from that, there was plenty of food where it would be strange to whip out the camera and snap pictures. Besides, my aunt got to the turkey with the electric knife before I could sneak pictures. But the sentiments here is the same. Thanksgiving is a time for us to get together with family and friends–those we care about and celebrate each other. For Christians, it is to thank God for life and happiness and for everything we take for granted. For others, it is a time to take off works and celebrate our families and friends-those we don’t get to see as often as we would like. There is good food, laughter (I hope) and a sense that we belong to a bigger part of a puzzle in our lives, a glad whole.  There is tons of food–turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potato, veggies, snacks–but if you’re from the Caribbean there is a slew of native food we cook like Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas, Roasted Corn, Greens and that’s just a part of it. We eat until we are ready to pop needing someone to desperately rub our tummies.

Then the next morning you wake up and you open the fridge and thing what in the world am I going to do with all this food? Well, aside from the obvious that is. But lets face it, if your family is anything like mine, there is no way you can eat all the food, jammed into that fridge before it starts going bad and as a person, there is only so much turkey you can eat before you start gagging at the thought of more turkey. So what do you do?

Here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Before your dinner party, go out and buy some Tupperware. When your guests are leaving, ask them if they’d like to take some food with them and give them what they want, within reason, to take with them in one of the containers you bought. Sure, it may be a little pricey but it’s worth it. You won’t have a fridge about to burst at the seams and food going bad on you and your guests has lunch or snack or dinner for the next day. Its win-win!
  2. That giant turkey that you barely touched – Slice the turkey down the middle, stick the untouched half into a freezer bag and drop it into the freezer. If its frozen it will last a while and it won’t spoil. This can also be done with the ham – you can take it out at a later date, let thaw and use for sandwiches.
  3. The food that you believe will go first, eat those first – spice them up by making different alternatives – use veggies like broccoli, celery, cauliflower and the like for stir fry. Drop them into a wok or a frying pot, toss ’em around with some onions, tomatoes and green and red peppers with a splash of soy sauce, ground pepper and thyme. You can add bite size pieces of turkey or ham but either way it could be fun.
  4. I know, after thanksgiving the last thing you probably want is a bunch of people back in your house-you want a break to just sleep in, let your feet rest but invite people over, do not cook anything new. Sure, maybe bake a cake or get some ice-cream for desert but use what you have. Thanksgiving happens around the Baseball playoff season and the beginning of football season, have a tailgate party or something-that is a sure fire way of getting rid of all that yummy goodies.
  5. Or to avoid the build up of food, accept an invitation to have dinner at someone else’s place for a change – offer to bring the turkey or the ham.

There are plenty of things that can be done to not make you go all crazy. There is always something to be done with left overs or that feeling of being too full. If by the next day you still feel full, do what I do, first thing in the morning, go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or a year long–just a little walk to stretch your muscles and to work off some of that stuff you ate the day before. Then, when you return to your place, for your breakfast, have a cup of tea and a few crackers. This will help give you a few more hours in the day to allow that day after thanksgiving feeling to go away.

Here’s hoping these tips help you out at least a little bit. Have a happy Thanksgiving where ever you are in the world and whatever day you celebrate it on. And remember, thanksgiving isn’t just for Christians. use the day to celebrate your loved ones and your friends. Trust me, you won’t regret it…well, I hope.

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The Most Peaceful Place in Toronto

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when all they need is a place to breathe. It has to be a quiet place without chaos, traffic, music, ringing cell phones, dinging facebook notifications and speaking. That place, has to be perfect, untarnished by hands and free of everything that makes real life so hard sometimes.

Just a little walk from the intersection of Guildwood Parkway and Livingston, I found my such paradise at the age of sixteen during an unfortunate session of summer school. I wanted to use my summer do to things normal children were doing–maybe going swimming, eating out, going to see movies–that kind of thing. My parents, on the other hand, had other plans than my own. Instead of me taking a break and having fun like I wanted to do in the summer break, I was shipped off to summer school at a different school than my own.

Oh the horror!

The Path – Photo by Kadian Tracey

so I wound up taking drama for a few weeks in my summer.  Pouting and with ear phones plugged firmly in my ears, I wandered away from the school during a bright, summer day, turned right and kept walking along a wire fence with tress on the other side. I dragged my finger along the fencing, paying no attention to anything else around me but my music and my fingers, popping across the mouth of the holes on the wiring. Then suddenly the fence stopped, giving way to a path leading between rows of trees, in a lush area with nothing but a giant rock in the center then a lone path leading to an unknown area.  I figured it was safe because the path was foot trodden as if it was used regularly. Looking around to see if anyone was looking, I checked the sign that stood there and it only warned against dogs in the park. Shrugging, I turned down this path. This whole curiosity in me was put there by my mother who often times turned down streets just to see where they went.  I walked until I was probably in the center of the path, half way between where it was leading and where I was coming from, and stopped. I remember looking up to see if I could see the sky. There were glimpses of it when the soft wind curled around the leaves, pulling them to and pushing them fro. The sun peaked in on me during those times but other than that, it was cool. I closed my eyes and held my breath. The road, though not far from where I was standing was non-existent. I couldn’t hear the cars or buses driving by or the other students who by now were probably out of the building and roaming for food like lost bear cubs.

The Gate Ruin – Photo by Kadian Tracey

I could hear the leaves dancing in the wind and that was new to me. As I write this, I cannot remember how long I stood there, eyes closed, arms at my side, mind empty–just enjoying what was happening–or not happening–around me. There were no voices, sounds of vehicles, screaming babies, ringing phones, teacher shouting–all I felt was peace.

But eventually I had to move again. I told myself I had to go back to school which meant if I was going to see what else this place had to offer, I should get a move on. I glanced back toward the road to see I was still alone yet I continued until the dirt became a paged walkway that led from the edge of the tress to an opening. This place was no less spectacular than my heaven between the trees. To the left was what looked to be a gate of old ruins; remains of something bigger. They sat across from each other, backed by tress and another path leading to a great big opening.  To my right was a small area with lush grass and a small cabin sitting right next to a an old tree. Though to this day I have no idea what is housed in that cabin if anything, I remember standing there, staring at hit thinking how beautiful and quaint it was. There was something quite grand about it, the way it sat there with grey walls and a slightly red, brick chimney on top. Maybe it was the writer in me then but whatever it was, the small building was more beautiful than any mansion I could ever see.

The wind changed and I continued along my way to a low fence, a foot trodden path. I climbed over the fence and made my way through until I saw why there was a fence there in the first place. It gave way to the edge of a cliff, but what a view!

For miles out all I could see was the clear water of Lake Ontario. I turned left and there was the outline of the land. To my right, was water. The cool wind coming off the lake flowed over my skin. For a moment, I sat in the dirt not caring if I was dirty or not. I sat there, confused because there were many beautiful things in life and there I was, a teenager, absolutely hypnotized by such a simple thing as the view of a lake off a cliff–and I have always been afraid of heights so why was I sitting there, looking out as if all was right with the world. This is what this place does – it makes me stop, regain perspective of the world and myself and try living as best I can.  I didn’t get to explore the whole park that day because school–yes, I had to go back to school before I was late. There is one thing I dislike more than spending beautiful summer days in a classroom and that’s being late.

As the years went by, I have had a ton of chances to visit the Guild and what lies around and within it. And here are some pictures I have taken. This is the most peaceful place in Toronto – So if you’re in the city and you can spare some time – check it out.

The Path – Photo by Kadian Tracey

The Cabin – Photo by Kadian Tracey

The Russian Gates – Photo by Kadian Tracey

The Amphitheater – Photo by Kadian Tracey

Why the Willow Weeps – Photo by Kadian Tracey

The Ruins by the Old Guild Inn – Photo by Kadian Tracey

The old Guild Inn – Photo by Kadian Tracey

 

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Out Adventures – LGBT Adventure and Sustainable Travel

Photo Courtesy of Out Adventures

Over the years, travel has evolved in so many wonderful ways it is impossible to list them all. Within this evolution, travelers decide what they wish to do on their voyages and book trips catering to those wonderful endeavors—from adventure and romance, to knowledge and quests for enlightenment.

Whatever the heart wants within these ventures, chances are, is now possible.

With the dawn of a new era of travel and types of travelers, comes the need for group vacations with like minded people. These are the travelers who seek a positive, fun-fill time away from real life and the ennui of the typical all-inclusive and resort traps. This is where Out Adventures comes in. With a demographic of mostly gay men between the ages of 40 and 45 years old from around the world, they offer customized tours, unique excursions and knowledgeable local experts to give each client authentic experiences of the lands they visit.

Photo Courtesy of Out Adventures

I had the pleasure of speaking with Robert Sharp, co-owner of Out Adventures.  After travelling the world extensively, with fellow co-owner Steven Larkin, they believed there was a gap in the travel industry in relation to LGBT travelers seeking adventure and sustainable travel. They partnered with Intrepid Travel, for the first little while, to fill this void and revolutionize the way LGBT adventure seekers view vacations.  Over the years, Out Adventures have grown exponentially running about 30 trips per year covering destinations such as Morocco, Thailand, Cambodia, Peru and Cuba (to name a few). When asked how far in advance a traveler should book, Robert replied, “Six months is the sweet spot.”

But this is not just another company. Out Adventures’ slogan tells its clients to get out and experience the real world. Robert would be the first to tell you, Out Adventures’ jaunts around the globe is not for everyone. On their website, they tell you quite implicitly, to “think twice before you book.” When asked why that advice, Robert explains “Out Adventures’ holidays fully appreciate cultures and lifestyles that are often very different from our own. You are not sheltered from the cultural differences, inefficiencies or frustrations that are part of the places we visit. The emphasis is placed on getting OUT and experiencing the real world.”

Quite simply? They do things like hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. It is not a simple task so you must do your research before booking with them. If you are not the hiking type then do not get that one—find another trip among Out Adventures’ vast array of globe-trotting festivities that would more suit your liking.

Photo Courtesy of Out Adventures

They are different from the mainstream travel agencies and package sellers out there. Why? The answer to that is simple—Out Adventures caters especially to Gay travelers and they are connected to the pulse of what their clients want and need.  “The mainstream brand can “pink wash” anything,” Robert tells me.  “But Out Adventures is more hands on. We can find ‘gay welcoming’ companies and guides. We’re more experienced in that area.”

Out Adventures is a fresh way of looking at what the LGBT community wants and needs when it comes to adventure travel. It gives them a positive place to freely go around the globe and soak in all the cultures and beauty the world has to offer. While Robert understands that not every experience will be perfect, he insists that Out Adventures plan and research everything to ensure their clients have the best, most amazing experience with their company and on their vacations. From what I gather from Robert Sharp, Out Adventures is not merely a company but a labour of love that they spread to every voyage they put together.

Oh and for you heterosexuals who would love to go—let’s say for some peace in the Galapagos Islands—with your LGBT BFF? Never fear, because I asked Robert about Out Adventures’ policy on that and he says quite simply, “you are welcome here.”

Now, if you’d like to see what Out Adventures has on tap for the upcoming season, please click here for their Calendar.

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**A Special thank you to Robert Sharp of Out Adventures for allowing me to interview him for this article.

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Mac and Cheese Wrapped in What?

When I was younger, girls’ night was a weekly thing. I mean come on, we grew up watching Sex and the City and we all wanted that group of friends who we call no matter what time and they’re there. We wanted, well I never wanted the fashion because I thought those clothes were god-awful, but I wanted the girls’ nights and Cosmo’s and the talks about boys. But the reality of it all is that now that we’re older, those happy go-luck nights out are few and far between. With work and school and volunteering and travelling and every thing else we bombard our lives with lately–I’m surprise we find time to sleep or eat much less a social life.

One of those rare occasions happened recently. I worked nine hours the day before and eight hours on the Sunday and by the time the clock rolled around for me to go I just wanted to go home and craw into bed. But I hadn’t seen my friend A in a long time. It was starting to look as if we didn’t even live in the same city, a mere ten minute car ride or a twenty minute bus ride apart from each other. Strange, no?

Anyways, we met up and wanted to go to Kelsey’s for something to eat, a couple of drinks and just chill. But when we walked down to the Kelsey’s it was closed–not closed as in they hadn’t opened yet but closed as in gone, no more. I was not pleased. We’d walked to it and it was gone–poof! We both burst out laughing – why? To others this wouldn’t be remotely funny but in Jamaica there is a saying, If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.  It would have looked rather strange, women standing on the sidewalk doubled over in tears.

Sure, I know, it’s just a restaurant and its gone, it’s nothing to cry about. But when you’ve had the weekend I’ve had and all you want to do is just sit down in place with someone you care about and pretend everything that happened in the last few days was just a horrible nightmare and then you show up to this place and nothing– yes, I really did feel like crying. We walked back the way we came, crossed the street and up toward a mall where there is a St. Louis. For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, St. Louis is a lot like Jack Astor’s or Shoeless Joe’s. Its one of those sports bar meets a pub meets a restaurant. It shows UFC pay-per view shows and all the special play-off games. It’s the kind of places guys get together and talk about stuff. But more and more females are checking it out as well.

We finally got settled and A got the great idea to order two appetizers. Me, wanting to become a foodie, decided I would order something I’d never order before. I searched the menu, passing over the typical stuff like nachos and Jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers and the like and fell on a picture. When the waitress came back I pointed at it and she laughed because I had no idea what it was. She explained it was Mac and Cheese wrapped in Bacon. I shrugged, of course I’m like most Canadian that believe everything is better wrapped in bacon.

Yes my friends, Mac and Cheese wrapped in BACON. It was beautiful when it came. It was nice and brown and looked so absolutely yummy. Yeah–then I bit into one. It was fatty, the bacon stretched as I tried breaking the piece I’d bitten off from the rest of it.  I’m not sure if they were skimping on the good bacon but it was all fat – I’m not sure how they got bacon to be soft and not crunch but they managed it. The Mac and cheese inside was bland and just not right. It was as if they cooked the Mac without any kind of spices at all – not even salt. I tried using the dip which was melted cheese but that didn’t help for it too was missing any spark of life. I tried adding salt and ground pepper and it was tolerable to eat then. The Mac was over-cooked because if they’d done it right, the pieces wouldn’t stick together when you bite into it and would make a mess (I’m trying to think that is the only reason my everything was so soft and pressed in together and not because our chef was horrid) but I wouldn’t order it again.

Hugs,

Kadian