Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Things I Love About Toronto

Once in September, I went swimming in Lake Ontario. The heat and humidity had been killing me before I dove into the water and splashed my way around, honestly wanting to stay in the lake for hours. It got me thinking that I should really make a list of things I love about Toronto, since I wouldn't live anywhere else. I love Toronto. I hope you noticed.

It is now almost Christmas time. The heat and humidity aren't the issues right now; snowfall and freezing winds are. Things I love about Toronto are unchanged, though, and here are just some of them, in no particular order.

(Warming: a lot of  gushing and I love's ahead!)

Monday, September 12, 2016

5 Things to Make Air Travel More Comfortable

Flying nowadays is integral to travel. Driving is another big one for sure, but taking a flight is one of the most common modes of transportation for travellers, especially on overseas trips. (Duh.)

Spending a lot of time on a plane is any frequent traveller's plight. Most of us fly economy, and it is not always fun. Flying today is the cheapest it has ever been; compared to what it cost to fly in the 1950s, even the costs of business class start to look not that bad, but not everyone can afford - or is wiling to pay for - business class, let alone the first.

Being confined to economy class get old really quick. Trust me, I know. Even so, I am not a fan of peeps complaining about how terrible it is to fly economy. Neither am I fond of saying that you get what you pay for. It usually isn't an amenity missing, but dumb luck of unfortunate circumstances that makes the whole experience unpalatable. Overhead bin space that ran out. A seat mate who hasn't showered. Air conditioning full blast in the cabin. Expensive sandwiches. (Okay, the last one is an amenity, really. Or lack thereof.)

Maybe flying kinda sucks for a lot of people, but I still find it romantic and exhilarating. I get annoyed with all the airplane inconveniences too, but I have also developed routines to deal with them. I know a few things to pack to make it all easier. And this is what I want to share with you now.

Any list of this sort is personal, since everyone's idea of comfort is different (just like the idea of fun is), but here are some general ideas that I find help me - and maybe can help you too!

5 things to have on an airplane

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Visiting Mackenzie House

Mackenzie House is one of ten Heritage Sites operated and maintained by the City of Toronto. It's a great little museum that I visited by chance last Friday - and loved every minute of it.

I was actually on my way to Montgomery's Inn, another Heritage Site, riding the subway westbound, when an announcement on the train told me that the service was temporarily suspended between St. George and Ossington stations. This being a new and unexpected development, I figured it would be a while before shuttle buses showed up, and abruptly decided to visit Montgomery's Inn another day.

Good thing that Mackenzie House is located in the heart of downtown, just two streets east of Eaton Centre, so I could go there instead. Located at 82 Bond Street, it blends in with the area quite well, but you wouldn't miss it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Online Dating Experience (With Screenshots!)

Reviewing online dating apps was a fun exercise, and you all seemed to enjoy the post (a sincere thanks for all the ad clicks! Please keep clicking!), so here comes the sequel: The Online Dating App Experience - With Screenshots!

I think posting actual examples of messages is a good way to illustrate what it's like to try and find dates online. Of course, it is just my experience, since every screenshot below is of a message I personally received on my dating profiles. Everyone else's experience may be completely different, and it goes without saying that it is all valid.

Note that I am fully aware that it's not only women who get terrible first messages and are insulted and objectified at online dating sites/apps. What transfolk, disabled people and people of colour experience trying to date online is much more horrifying. People of all genders can be desperate, clueless, racist, classist and everything else in between.

Online harassment is a problem for everyone.

Yet, I am a straight white cis woman, and I mostly deal with straight cis men online, so naturally every message below comes from a man.

I've been having it quite good with online messages for a while, honestly. I haven't gotten a dick pic in a long time. I haven't been called a bitch or asked if I was a feminist. (I am, duh.)

Most of the messages I get are vapid one-liners, inane references to my practice of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, out-of-context compliments or just lazy "hellos". Then there are some odd ones. And ones with sexual undertones. And the combination of all of the above. I don't frequently engage the messengers, which probably accounts for lack of post-rejection insults.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Bit of Bordeaux in Photos

Our first stop in France is the Right Bank of Bordeaux. I can't really promise you posts about any other stops, because you probably don't want to see countless photos of empty wine bottles, and that's honestly the only thing on my mind here. (Wine, not empty bottles.)

 The line of vintages from Château de Siaurac

We have Bordeaux City, Lyon, Avignon and my old pal Marseille ahead of us on the itinerary, but today, we are enjoying Saint-Émilion and its surroundings. There is a château everywhere you look - and it's glorious.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Online Dating: A Very Biased Review of Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel

"Now where is my bagel?"

Despite being busy with fun stuff like training Brazilian jiu-jitsu and working, I am single and thus receptive of going out on a date every once in a while. And thanks to various mobile apps and online dating services, at times I happen to be dating quite actively.

Online dating used to be weird. I remember the days when it wasn't strange to suggest lying to your families about how you met, if you met your partner online. Today, so much of people's lives happens online, that online dating has successfully claimed its own sweet spot in our collective cyberspace as well. It is no longer much stranger than updating friends on what you ate or what you thought about the latest Marvel movie.

Online dating websites are still alive and well (or so I've heard), but it's online dating apps where it's at these days. I also find most of my dates online. My social circle, although not small by any means, happens to consist of people who are already settled, happily or otherwise. I work from home and spend a lot of time training BJJ, which limits my time and, indeed, opportunity to meet someone new in the wild (although things happen). So I turn to online dating again and again, despite not having much luck with the most popular dating apps out there.

After all, dating is fun, even if it doesn't bring desired results.

Oddly, when it comes to finding people online, I do best with Reddit. I owe Reddit several very close and very treasured friends, several casual relationships and one full-blown ex-boyfriend with whom I don't talk anymore. These are all stories worth telling, but not today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Great Wolf Lodge: Being Single in These Trying Times

Not sure if you could check into Great Wolf Lodge by accident, but I'd certainly count it as one if you were single - like I am. I can't help but wonder if there's even one more single person staying in the lodge right now. How do you even get here without a ring on your finger and a little cutie-patootie in a pink swimming suit in tow? Or blue swimming trunks. Or waterproof diapers. Or whatever.

There are some 400 suites in the resort, so it is statistically likely that at least some of them contain single people. Single friends. Single moms. Single dads. Single aunties and uncles, perhaps? Third wheels who end up being pillars of support to tired moms and dads ecstatic to be on vacation but equally eager to catch a water slide ride by themselves and not carry the whole 30 pounds of toddler around all the time. Why else come with anyone but your spouse and children?

That's approximately how I feel about my brother and his lovely wife bringing me along. Three adults per one child is the minimum requirement for all involved to have some fun at Great Wolf Lodge - taking turns at fun, perhaps, but fun. Watch the little angel shoot a water gun at other babies while the parents soak in the hot tub; switch places; cannonball down a giant vortex thing; rinse; repeat.

I am genuinely, painfully curious if any single people are present here. I'd like to hang out. Any non-parent with enough patience to be here is someone I'd probably share a beer with. Preferably in a bar. Wouldn't it be nice to have an actual place for adults to go to to have said beer or a glass of wine? But alas - no nightlife at Great Wolf Lodge after hours!

Oh the after hours. The waterpark is shut, the arcade is winding down, all "restaurants" are closed. Kiddies are in bed, exhausted from the day of mayhem, all that splashing and squealing (weeeeeeee!). Dead silence falls all around. The after hours begins... at 9:30 pm or so.

What's a single girl to do?

Well, spoiler alert: nothing really. There is nothing for me to do at Great Wolf Lodge after 9 pm apart from drinking in the room. A bottle of Rioja Reserva 2010 is nice, but boring.

Some friendly company right about now would be so awesome. Someone who isn't already asleep. (Or married.) Since I bet there are some (see above), we could have a nightcap together, if only there was a place for us to go. Not that I'm asking for drunken debauchery opportunities. Just a meeting place.

I like the vibe of Great Wolf Lodge, I really do. The family-friendly theme is valid and exciting. It's great fun with my nephew. But it's also thoroughly nuclear family-oriented and I feel I have no place here, being single and all, unless I leave after the waterpark closes and everyone settles for Storytime.

Maybe I should just take this opportunity to go to bed early myself. That's a rare luxury these days, is it not?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writing, Consigo and My Other Plans

Currently in YYZ and enjoying some spring warmth at last! (Yes, it's May. Get your weather act together, Toronto.)

Not much travelling has been happening in the last year or so, while I have been working on getting my professional life in order. I have been writing full time for the last 12 months, but only recently began zeroing in on what I actually enjoy doing as a (technical) writer.

Blogging - check.

Copy writing - check.

Help sections and articles - check.

Resume writing - not so much, although I'm still happy to create a kickass CV for anyone who wants one.

I am also neck deep in helping run a tiny accounting firm in Toronto called Consigo, whose goal is to get a foot in the door of the exciting world of online bookkeeping and taxes. We are proudly an online-only service provider with transparent pricing and super-friendly people. So if you need an accountant to take care of your books, you know where to look now ;)

Apart from writing and Consigo, I intend on updating YYZ-BCN way more often from now on. Stay tuned for more travel advice and more moments of conventional wisdom!