Category Archives: Travel

Sightseeing and Sweets in Toronto

On a recent trip to Canada, my parents and I stopped in Toronto. As a big city girl already, it felt like I was back in sweet home Chicago. With a limited timeframe to spend exploring – basically 12 hours – we squeezed in the important stuff: good food with a splash of sightseeing!

The Food – Ok, Really, the Sweets

Maman

When I was in NYC last month, I discovered Maman and fell in love. They know how to do pastries and decorating right.

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Bakery Walk: Lower Manhattan

My colleague and I were only in NYC for 24 hours after a training in upstate, so I reached out to my women’s travel Facebook groups (feel free to ask me and I’ll invite you to the groups) and requested suggestions for bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. These ladies showed up! With so many awesome suggestions, we decided to do a Bakery Walk – Lower Manhattan style.

Once Upon a Tart

The streets of New York City are lined with restaurants and cafes that I think you could go to a new place every day for the rest of your life and never repeat. I was happy to have received so many suggestions so our choices could be narrowed, though I’m sure that if we’d just seen Once Upon a Tart while walking past, we would’ve stopped in no matter what. As you can see by the pictures, this place is adorable. Our barista was lovely and that chocolate chip cookie was snarfed in 2.5 seconds.

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Pai, Thailand

Known for its laid-back, hippy vibe, Pai is a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Most hostels in Chiang Mai can get you set up with a ticket for a mini-bus; some travelers brave the many, many hills, twists, and turns by renting a scooter as well. I was in Pai for 3 days which proved the perfect amount to fit in everything I wanted to see, but there are a lot of people who fall in love with Pai and never leave. I can’t say I was that enamored, though I did enjoy the relaxed feel and yummy street food.

Carrot on the Moon

While I did have a nightmare hostel for one night, I moved accommodation and can fully endorse Carrot on the Moon hostel. The service was great and the free breakfast was amazing.

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The Downsides of Solo Travel

In December, I traveled solo for one week to northern Thailand. It wasn’t my first time taking a trip by myself, and I’ve written multiple posts about how much I’ve enjoyed being alone.

And while I met some really lovely people on the trip and enjoyed myself overall, I felt pretty lonely most of the time. When my carefully laid out plans got cancelled (on multiple occasions), I had no one else to turn to and say, “What’s next?” When the first hostel I stayed at in Pai was a nightmare, I texted friends at home and said, “What do I do?!” instead of hashing it out with someone else IRL. When I was tired and couldn’t muster up the strength to leave my bed, I needed someone to shove me out and say, “You’re only here for one Sunday! Don’t miss the Sunday market!!”

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Accommodation Nightmare

I have stayed in hostels a handful of times and have always had pleasant experiences. The people I met were nice. The accommodations, while sometimes sparse, were doable. The facilities were clean. Until…December 14, 2016.

On this day, I was faced with the worst hostel I could imagine (well, minus the horror movie type), at Common Grounds, in Pai, Thailand. I knew from the second I walked in that I was not going to be happy there. Reluctantly, I paid $18 for the three nights I’d signed up for (hey, it had good reviews online!).

Walking past the many stoners hanging out on beanbags in the outdoor verandah, the staff led me to my room: a 4-bed room with an in-room bathroom. The room was shabby, and I had flashes of bedbugs in my mind. As I was unpacking, I heard many other patrons being led to their rooms and one piece of instruction was a little different than what I’d gotten:

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I Regret Nothing

I moved back from Hong Kong in 2012. I loved my life there and  have regretted very little, though I have slightly chastised myself the past 4.5 years for not being more adventurous with food. Specifically, I wish I had gone to more Hong Kong style local cafes and tried the cuisine for which they’re famous. Sure I ate Chinese food, including yum cha (dim sum), but I rarely went and definitely never went alone. So this time when I visited HK, I made it my mission to try just 2 things I always wanted to have but never did: milk tea and egg waffles. I’m not sure if I didn’t have these when I lived here because I was scared, but this time I was going to conquer whatever it was that held me back and I was going to do it alone, by golly!

So, on my last day in Hong Kong, I yelped the best place for milk tea near me and an indoor market right down the street from my old house popped up. It was a place I’d walked by hundreds of times and never stopped in. I walked in, was the only white person, sat down at a communal table and ordered myself a cold milk tea. I took in my surroundings and sipped away.

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