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Camden Market is a Daily Delight, in England: Day trips around London

Camden Market is open daily and is literally at Camden tube station, in England. This past spring mimicked summer so well that Brits and tourists alike only wanted to congregate outdoors. It is a pedestrian friendly and picturesque market. One of many day trips that can be enjoyed just outside of London and with a simple tube ride to spring cherry blossoms, bridges, locks, artsy goods, handmade items, a slightly hippy vibe and a beet-quinoa veggie burger which was delicious! The food stalls remind me of an international caravan of flavours claiming to be the once shunned, now celebrated, street eats of the world. I purchased my red patent dock marten boots here two years ago and enjoyed documenting my experiences. How you perceive this market can differ from moment to moment. Wandering alone this time throughout the market I was not lonely. Curious by nature, the photos made great souvenirs of a day well spent.

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Croatia Direct Flights from Toronto and Montreal Continue into 2016-2017 with Air Transat

All photos and article by Paula Erskine

One can book an Air Transat ticket for a direct flight to Zagreb, Croatia right now for as early as next year, for example, May 30th, 2017 at a price of approximately $871 Canadian dollars and enjoy the comfort of Air Transat’s Airbus 330 fleet. Visit http://www.airtransat.com to book ahead and take advantage of cheap flights to Croatia flying directly out of Toronto, Canada and Montreal, Canada. Air Transat will likely add a second flight weekly to Zagreb, Croatia as of May 2016. Book early to get the deals! Here are some places to visit in Croatia that may delight your senses.

Below, Plitvicka National Park, known to visitors as “paradise,” is less than 2 hours away from Zagreb and enjoyed year round. Easy hiking, hundreds of waterfalls, 16 turquoise lakes.

Rastoke Village, in Slunj (above), is 1 and a half hours from Zagreb, Croatia on the way to Plitvice Park. Imagine opening your window shutters and overlooking a waterfall below your window, with the sound rushing through your veins and the fresh, cool mist rising up through the atmosphere. In this valley, one is surrounded by trees whose roots run deep, taking a drink from the rivers they call home. Eat at Petro, visit Unique Rastoke park (just that part is closed on tuesdays) and eat there too,  the food is fresh and authentic throughout the village…or stay at many of the apartments built on waterfalls in this fairy tale mill town on pristine waters. Simply unmissable and picturesque, any time of year. A peaceful place. Take advantage of the pleasant off season weather with more elbow room than mid-summer to enjoy Croatia even more.

If you are still on the fence, wondering if Croatia is the right destination for you, let me share with you some favorite places to visit that are off the beaten path. Even within the usual hot spots, there are great tips to be shared on how to get the maximum value and enjoyment from your Croatian vacation. For those who travel yearly to the motherland, direct flights to Croatia this summer of 2016 have been a dream come true. In addition, Zagreb has proven to be a great hub for native travelers of Serbia and Bosnia and bordering nations visiting their families. It is very moving to see people of all these nations “going home” to introduce their children and grandchildren to the beautiful lands, lakes, rivers, mountains and the crystal clear Adriatic Sea which were their playgrounds.

It was especially convenient for the older generations to travel “home” on direct flights, most of them wanting to look out the window or watch the air show rather than the individual movie screens at each seat. The atmosphere on board is one of gratitude, appreciation and social friendliness without borders. Although the blocked time of the flight is 9 and a half hours, depending on head and tail winds, the average flight to Zagreb, Croatia from Toronto on Air Transat’s Airbus 330 consistently took only around 8 hours!

Air Transat flights were packed all summer with added adventurers from Quebec and Greater Toronto Area as well as Americans enjoying the tour packages that were very reasonable and action-packed! Below, Ozujsko Pub in Zagreb, beside the Naive Art Gallery Egg in Upper Town serves tasty meats stuffed with cheese and prosciutto (pershuto), grilled vegetables and chicken shishkebabs wrapped in bacon. Tender, fresh, tasty and very reasonable!

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Vinodol Restaurant, lower town, superb eating, Zagreb Croatia

Vinodol Restaurant (lower town), Zagreb Croatia above was absolutely superb eating, with a wonderful indoor skylit atmosphere and outdoor seating too. Below, Kava Tava (upper town)…find an excuse to eat palacinke (palachinke) the Croatian stuffed crepes, dessert, cappucinos, breakfast or sandwiches. Then,  for all you airline buffs, Kava Tava’s decor boasts passenger seats and airplane tables. 20160621_192442

Zagreb’s Upper Town can be reached by Funicular or stairs and is full of incredible places to eat with no lack of creativity, history, architecture, naive and modern art, fountains museums, bird’s eye views, Lake Jarun, shoe shopping in particular in the lower town, and delicious food everywhere. To say Zagreb is hip would be an understatement.

A hidden gem in Zagreb is MS Grill run by Olga who will cook like only a mother can, and specializes in Bosnian dishes such as cevaps (barbecued chevaps are mixed meats, usually lamb, on home made grilled bread served with kajmak (k-eye-mahk) cream cheese, chicken paprikash, and many stews and famous crepes.The truth is, I ate most of the mouth watering meat before I remembered to take a picture. The secret to all the juicy meats, especially the grilled chicken, is the time they take to marinate it all…and I enjoyed it very much on my flight. The portions are too generous, and the prices are ridiculously cheap! You can find them around the corner from the Sheraton Hotel, Zagreb, with the orange canopy, simple. Olga is open from 7 or 8 am till midnight and serves fresh, home made food, her most evident ingredient, is love, warmth and enthusiasm. I do not leave the restaurant without my goodbye hug.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ms-Grill/1549760118614667 This is the facebook page.

Air Transat flights were packed all summer with added adventurers from Quebec and Greater Toronto Area as well as Americans enjoying the tour packages that were very reasonable and action-packed! See you in Zagreb! Check out my other posts for more great places to visit in Croatia! This is StrossMarte, at the top where the Funicular station stop is. Very artsy, great views, puppet shows, and very whimsical somehow.20160906_18551320160906_18555220160906_185448Sveti Marco Square, tiled roof, straight ahead from the Funicular. Many ways to see the city, including a vintage car ride. Fresh fritule, powdered mini doughnuts sometimes filled with jam at a window in upper town. We drop in on an orchestra practicing amid rows of fountains, it was lovely. The architecture, the old gate to the city, is so interesting. I hope to visit Lake Jarun where locals swim and bike in the near future. Until we meet again, Zagreb, I will enjoy my memories. See you in Croatia until early October of 2016 and May 2017 onward.20160906_18491320160823_18350320160823_19023920160906_18403120160906_18503220160817_19534320160906_19051620160906_18185320160906_21042620160817_191813

Glasgow, Scotland See, Do, Be

All photos and article by Paula ErskineGlasgow, Scotland all photos Paula ErskineKelvingrove Park beside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has some of the best trails and things to do in Glasgow, Scotland. Museums in Scotland, Ireland and England are almost always free to the public, which is a great incentive and quite an in-depth European education for travelers. I thoroughly enjoyed the Kelvingrove Museum which also had a great cafe inside check out http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove/Pages/default.aspx.

Trails along the river near the museum and along the park are shady with sun beaming through and glorious blooms, set against historical buildings, statues and fountains. Three days of sunshine did not go unappreciated by locals who gathered at parks, and shopping street steps to listen to exceptional buskers along Sauchiehall’s pedestrian shopping streets. We enjoyed our lunches, sometimes in the company of like-minded strangers. Side by side, we gather to thank the weather and soak up fresh air and rejuvenate our active selves. Marks and Spencer an Sainsbury have food halls which offer cheaper picnic lunches. A good tip for a cheap dinner is to visit Marks and Spencer 1 hour to 30 minutes before closing, where the yellow price tag gun comes out and discounts the sandwiches, salads, and casseroles before they expire for good. It is a frenzy of the fittest.

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Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Scotland above.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow where I will in the near future enjoy a java at this beautiful skylighted Saramago Cafe in a courtyard hidden inside the CCA. What a gem! It is located at 350 Sauchiehall street (which are wonderful pedestrian streets that are often full of locals and tourists milling about).  I enjoyed two award winning films there for free which were excellent!http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove/Pages/default.aspx

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The first free film at the CCA was called “Borrowed Time” by Alice May Williams and will be playing from May 28th-July 10th 2016. It is a film that won the JERWOOD/FVU awards. It has a very deep, meaningful, meditative narrative that is juxtaposed against an industrial landscape and I really enjoyed all 16 minutes of it. Indeed, it is a film that reflects upon our current actions and how they may impact our future, hence the name, “Borrowed Time.” The narrative will surprise you. 20160602_174026[1]20160602_161315[1]

The second film by Karen Kramer was centred around the Fukushima nuclear reactor and the consequences of the disaster. Images from nature float in front of the camera with plastics and refuse and Japanese wisdom translated into English subtitles tell a different story. Even though the images sometimes show dilapidated buildings and refuse, the narrative again, is like poetry, life lessons, something that must be re-visited because it is ancient and wise. The CCA is a treasure trove to visit and thought provoke, with a unique book store and gift shop for the curious shopper. 20160602_190305[1]

If that is not enough reason to visit Glasgow, let me tell you about an alternative theatre known affectionately as the GTF standing for Glasgow Film and Theater. I just saw one of the best films I have ever seen called Sing Street, an Irish award winning film set in the 80’s with fantastic music, great actors and great music.Here is the trailer, it is an irresistible film you will want to see again! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYk2Vx1z6lk. Wait till you hear the improvised songs they come up with, like “Riddle of the Model,” truly hilarious and feel good. The movie epitomizes the phrase “good vibrations.”The Theatre is also at one end of Sauchiehall street where the pedestrian part ends and meets with 12 Rose Street. You will clearly see it at this junction point where 60 seater cinemas treat the public to carefully curated films for about eight and a half pounds.http://www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre. There are also courses and different kinds of memberships you can have to lower your overall costs. If you love alternative and award winning films, and not always spoon fed Hollywood stuff, there are tons of great films to choose from. Enjoy Glasgow, Scotland, the land of the brave new hearts.

What I am planning for my next trip to Glasgow…

ps. Around the corner from the GTF are these interesting places to visit, next time, I will be sure to support some local, artsy places, including The Project Cafe, which has a terrace, poetry corner and is situated 2 blocks away on a quieter street, beside a fabric store. Up the street is St. Aloysius Church, which is sure to be interesting architecturally and house art in different forms. Until we meet again, Glasgow, keep up the great efforts, friendly dispositions and artistic endeavors.

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Why High Tea in Manchester is a Must Do, As is Chetham’s School of Music Free Concerts

All Photos and article by Paula Erskine

High Tea at the Midland Hotel in Manchester starts at 19.95 pounds per person. We dropped in without a reservation, and they gave us the best couches overlooking the lobby and treated us like queens. Every morsel was delicious and fresh. Posh experience without the posh price.

Midland Hotel, High Tea, Manchester</a

Finger Sandwiches at the Midland Hotel, Manchester were delectable. Find the Midland at the corner of Peter and Mount Street. High Tea served from 12 to 5pm.

Finger Sandwiches at the Midland Hotel, Manchester were delectable. Find the Midland at the corner of Peter and Mount Street. High Tea served from 12 to 5pm.

Earl Grey with Bergamot notes in my tea, lots of clotted cream and jam on my scone.

I chose Earl Grey because I love Bergamot. My friends chose Assam.

Although the Midland Hotel can seem intimidating, especially without a reservation. We later learned that it is officially held in the Octagon Lounge. We were glad to have this elevated view of the lobby, which was much less noisy than the restaurant. The server made us feel like vips, putting cloth napkins on our laps, and keeping the tiers of food and specialty teas coming. My colleague informed us that when it comes to hotels and restaurants, there are always 3 rooms or tables on stand-by in case someone needs to be squeezed in due to mistakes. We almost gave up when the hostess told us to come back in 1 hour. But then, she wouldn’t let us leave, checked with the manager, and suddenly, front row centre, steps above the lobby which hosted a giant sky window.

Mid afternoon tea can help combine two meal times in one, in case you missed breakfast trying to catch up on sleep. The price is considered to be very inexpensive for the quality and posh surroundings. Two hours flew by as we contemplated our wonderful view, the glamorous aspect of our jobs overseas, home decor and hiking in the forests of Ontario to relax and recharge.

Midland Hotel cakes, part of the Afternoon Tea which is delightful.

Midland Hotel cakes, part of the Afternoon Tea which is delightful.

Chetham’s Free Mozart Concert followed by Afternoon Tea or Lunch at Tea 4/2-A match made in Itinerary Heaven

Looking for amazing experiences in Manchester? Chethams School of Music hosts free music concerts mid-day, almost daily. The classically trained students perform around noon or one in the afternoon. We were able to catch a Mozart Concert and were absolutely floored by the talent! The performances were classical pieces performed by 4 musicians that were professional and a sheer joy to absorb with the ears, the eyes, and the notes resonated long after it was over. The Chethams School itself is a combination of medieval buildings and modern. You will need a special visitor’s pass you can get at the gate if you are not on an offical tour. The only place you are really allowed to go is the library which they may insist to escort you to for the security of the students. The deep, dark, medieval library has many gates, but if one peers through all the barriers, one can find a treasure trove of history. Chetham’s library hosts Shakespeare’s works, a “Holie Bible,” old printing machinery and many incredible books upon which this land, and the world in fact, tried to record and define itself.

Chetham's talented

Chetham’s talented

DSC08976DSC08988 We openly gush to Sophie about her enthusiastic performance and she sweetly indulges our fanship with a photo.

Chetham's music students rocked Mozart

Chetham’s music students rocked Mozart

A privileged look at the Medieval Setting of Chetham's Free Concerts

A privileged look at the Medieval Setting of Chetham’s Free Concerts

A door to historical findings at Chetham's gated library.

A door to historical findings at Chetham’s gated library.

My travelling cohorts Anne Sophie and Vania marvelling at the Chetham library's collection.

My travelling cohorts Vania and Ann-Sophie marvelling at the Chetham library’s collection.

Ancient and protected books

Ancient and protected books

Printing press

Printing press

Needs no introduction

Needs no introduction

"All that glitters, is not gold" and much more of Shakespeare's poetic messages that still apply to today's society, and alot of help from Cole's notes. Appreciated long after the obligatory school projects.

“All that glitters, is not gold” and much more of Shakespeare’s poetic messages that still apply to today’s society, and alot of help from Cole’s notes. Appreciated long after the obligatory school projects. Only in the last few years, have I discovered the wisdom and brilliance of his inspired “lessons” to humanity, laced in universal truths. Let’s go off campus now, to discover Shakespeare at yet another wonderful library, located in St. Peter’s square.

Shakespeare's image in stained glass, at Central 's Library.

Shakespeare’s image in stained glass, at Central
Library.Manchester's Central Library in St. Peter's Square, England. Shakespeare's works immortalized in Stained glass. Manchester’s Central Library in St. Peter’s Square, England. Shakespeare’s works immortalized in Stained glass.

One can appreciate the impact of Shakespeare's works in this ambitious stained glass window. Captured here are possibly all his contributions to theatrical ponderings. Central Library, Manchester.

One can appreciate the impact of Shakespeare’s works in this ambitious stained glass window. Captured here are possibly all his contributions to theatrical ponderings. Central Library, Manchester.

Now Let's get back to Chetham's School of music, located across from the Football Museum. A great place to chill with it's mix of turf, garden, pond and wit. Entrance to school in the background to orient yourself to the free concerts.

Now Let’s get back to Chetham’s School of music, located across from the Football Museum. A great place to chill with it’s mix of turf, garden, pond and wit. Entrance to school in the background to orient yourself to the free concerts.

A return to innocence.

A return to innocence.

Around the corner from Chetham's School of Music is Afternoon Tea 4/2. In our case, Tea for 3. Our cups runneth over with joy after Mozart.

Around the corner from Chetham’s School of Music is Afternoon Tea 4/2. In our case, Tea for 3. Our cups runneth over with joy after Mozart.

Tea 4/2 is a modern, hip, fuschia and white wing chaired Tea house with tons of tasty lunch items and several gluten free sandwiches and cakes to choose from.

Tea 4/2 is a modern, hip, fuschia and white wing chaired Tea house with tons of tasty lunch items and several gluten free sandwiches and cakes to choose from.

Tea 4/2 has gluten free sandwiches too, I would suggest asking them to toast the bread.

Tea 4/2 has gluten free sandwiches too, I would suggest asking them to toast the bread, and added a mayo dip.

Fenitman's sparkling Rose Lemonade infused with organic Bulgarian Roses is my new favourite drink. Apparently, Bulgaria is famous for it's roses.

Fenitman’s sparkling Rose Lemonade infused with organic Bulgarian Roses is my new favourite drink. Apparently, Bulgaria is famous for its roses.

Brilliant..all photos and article by Paula Erskine

Brilliant..all photos and article by Paula Erskine

Tea 4/2 Manchester, England

Tea 4/2 Manchester, England

Tea 4/2, Manchester

Tea 4/2, Manchester

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Mementos

Mementos

Amsterdam’s Vondelpark Free Concerts

Amsterdam's Vondelpark Free ConcertsArticle and photos by Paula Erskine

Just a few minutes down the same street as the Rijks Museum is Vondelpark and Vondeling Restaurant where we enjoyed free, live entertainment. Vondelpark is brimming with locals, bicyclists and tourists alike seeking solace among it’s artful ponds and green space. Sights and sounds of Vondelpark included the aroma of sizzling dutch barbeques, bicyclists, roller-skaters, and the unmistakeable singing coming from the centre of the park.

Luckily we followed the sounds of a free outdoor concert on Sunday at Vondeling Restaurant equipped with a bandstand, bleachers and platforms. We grooved to Berget Lewis debuting her album and decided she was Chaka Khan meets Beyoncé.

Berget Lewis at her Album launch at Vondeling Restaurant, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Paula Erskine

Berget Lewis at her Album launch at Vondeling Restaurant, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Paula Erskine

We locked up our bikes and chilled to her wide range of song styles. In Europe, it seems that artists don't have to stick to any particular "sound" which I suppose is something our North American music industry shuns. Free concert goers cannot be choosers. We really enjoyed people and fashion watching. It really reminded me of Central Park in New York City in the summer. Amsterdam's artistic community and families gather here for a city-park daycation. Blending into the local ambiance was easy breezy in Vondelpark and I highly recommend putting it on your list of self-made bike tours of Amsterdam.

A serene view of Vondelpark's many vistas. Photo by Paula Erskine

A serene view of Vondelpark’s many vistas. Photo by Paula Erskine

Self-Made Bike Tour Itineraries, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Self-Made Bike Tour Itineraries, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bicycle through the idealic, acoustic archways featuring often-talented musical buskers to discover modern sculptures against the classic backdrop of the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo and article by Paula Erskine

A few bicycle tour companies to rent and/or take standard bike tours with in Amsterdam, Netherlands are Mac Bike tours, Yellowbike tours, Budget tours and many more less known, but less expensive local bike shops everywhere. I have enjoyed the country bike tour with Yellow Bike tours, and the city tour with Mac Bike tours. In hindsight, Amsterdam has great architecture and is a must ride and stroll. Sometimes the city tours are best done with some helpful advice. However, the city routes haven’t changed much in the last few years, with its staid and unoriginal and un-Dutch visits to seedier parts of town. If you really want to know, the Dutch consider the Red Light District and drug-filled streets to be untypical of their culture, and a self-destructive tourist trap. The misuse of spiritual images to promote drug use is parasitic and anti-culture.

That being said, the country yellow-bike tour was very picturesque for me with it’s windmills, farmlands and pancake house. There is so much more to Amsterdam than the conveyer belt mass tours of the city, so here are some ideas to make your own bike/walk/museum/art/concert tour of your own. It would very much please the locals if you discovered the real treasures Amsterdam has to offer to the visiting tourist. Ready-made tours are a great way to meet people but cost a little more. To save money, rent a bike on your own and pick two or three spots with ample flexibility for the unexpected “finds.” I paid nine euros for twenty-four hours and dropped my key off at the front desk of my hotel. All bikes are equipped with one to two industrial locks and I have always opted to take the insurance against theft or damage.

Renting your own bike saves money and time in Amsterdam. Pink Floral bike, Vondelpark. photo by Paula Erskine

Renting your own bike saves money and time in Amsterdam. Pink Floral bike, Vondelpark. photo by Paula Erskine

I Amsterdam, behind Rijks Museum. A great photo opportunity located between Rijks and the pond of modern art. Photo by Paula Erskine

I Amsterdam, behind Rijks Museum. A great photo opportunity located between Rijks and the pond of modern art. Photo by Paula Erskine

Let’s get down to saving money on your bike tour and best tips for skipping museum lines. Most lineups for museums consist of non-ticket holders waiting to pay by debit or credit. So, do yourself a favor and buy your tickets ahead of time for example at the booth near central station. With pre-purchased tickets, skip the line and walk right to the front and cut in to the “ticket holder” line, and sail right in. I have it on good authority, that most museums don’t take more than an hour. Without a lineup, you will cover far more territory if time is limited.

Rijks man made water feature reflects whimsical, inspired soothing sculptures. Photo by Paula Erskine

Rijks man made water feature reflects whimsical, inspired soothing sculptures. Photo by Paula Erskine

Which brings me to this stunning photo of the Rijks Museum grounds. You do not have to be a museum-type to appreciate the surrounding pond, serene grounds and tasteful, modern art in the Rijks backyard. It did not cost anything for us to enjoy this park, without even entering the museum.

Archways grace the middle of the building where hundreds of bikes course through the tunnels. Beyond, a serene pond reflecting “tin-foil” statues of twisted, graceful shapes in pastels are waiting to be discovered. This place took my breath away!

If that weren’t enough, you can climb up the giant letters “I AMSTERDAM” (aren’t they clever?) for a fun, interactive photo opportunity to proudly announce your destination.

Back through the tunnels, an accordion player, and a violinist sing gloriously into the acoustic, makeshift bike-drive-by concert archway. I would have paid either of the buskers to watch them in concert, they were that good.

Stay tuned for more of my Amsterdam bicycle journey.

What’s Your Cure For Jet Lag?

Photo of Paula Erskine, Photo credit John Vanderschilden

Photo of Paula Erskine, Catwalk to Runway creator, by John Vanderschilden.


What’s your Jet Lag Coping Strategy? Here we review different styles of dealing with short layovers from the newbie to the seasoned traveller. When I first started this flying business, I thought sleeping was over-rated. When am I ever going to shop here, tour here, explore here again? I had places to see and people to meet. Like the modelling, there are only so many years in your early twenties you can get away with not sleeping and showing up the next day all peppy, wide-eyed and refreshed. Jet lag strategies weigh in against layover length. Here is to pursuing happiness, sampling world cuisines and accomplishing short term goals beyond a hotel room.

Old-School: Pretend To Take Back the Circadium Clock

Staying awake after a night flight, dropping your bags in your room, start touring and go to bed at the local time of each country. Awake time ranging from 30-50 hours.

This is considered to be old-school practiced by seniors and the occasional eastern european in the flight biz. Hook yourself up to caffeine intravenously, wear a messenger bag so you don’t leave your belongings anywhere because even the seasoned flight attendants can suffer from serious delireum.

You will likely not be meeting any crew members for dinner. You might not care because you are so senior and you have been everywhere anyway and done everything. You’re that experienced and your air of confidence says you have such a satisfying home life that these layovers are just blips. Room service is your only friend. Yet, you are not lonely. Although you are getting away from it all by being away from home, you actually treasure this selfish act of aloneness. Still, you are a pro and accustomed to shopping while the veins in your legs pulse for help. Even though each night flight to Europe disrupts your circadium clock a few times per month, you still attempt to maintain some semblance of control by pushing your body beyond its limits. You not only seize the day you land in Europe, you pretend you didn’t skip a night of sleep by working it instead. But then, that’s how you appeared in this foreign land, so ultimately, you are fooling no one.

The Determined Keener

1 hour nap, shower and head for the shops in a haze.

Ok, I did a 2 hour nap twice in my life after being awake for 24-30 hours. but I can explain. The first time was my first layover ever in Rome. 35 hours awake was interrupted by a 2 hour nap that did not even put a dent into the level of exhaustion I had reached. With the support of 2 more determined keeners, we trudged our way to the Fontana di Trevi and picked up a gelato to soothe our pain. We mingled with a bicycle team before heading into the Vatican. We ended with a glorious Italian pasta dinner and dragged ourselves happily back to the hotel. 13 hours in Rome well spent.

Cut to Istanbul, Turkey this summer. I was experienced enough to know better. But with yet another 13 hour layover, there was no time to sleep for more than 2 hours. The Famous Turkish Bazaar was across the street and we felt like we were in slow motion. I bought jewellry from an Afghani vendor. His booth was 2ft by 2 ft. He showed me a picture of his baby and he thanked Allah that I had been sent to him. He offered me turkish tea, sweated profusely and adjusted necklaces. I bought a hot pink and gold tea set. My friends bought lots of things too, including spices with a few bugs in them for extra protein. ewwwww. We never made it to the Blue Mosque, our legs parked us for the evening at a typical turkish restaurant where the house specialty served in ceramic was set on fire then is smashed to reveal a delicious stew. Later we dragged our un-sorry selves back to the hotel for some long awaited R & R.

The Secret Sleepworkers

Catch some naps on the plane. Officially, this only works on a deadhead. A deadhead is a flight one takes in civilian clothing, assigned a seat, is a representative of the company and travelling to position for a working flight that day or the next day. Personally, I have never been able to sleep in the upright position. Traditional horseshoe neckpillows can’t seem to keep my neck in check. One time, while browsing through a skyshopper magazine, my friend found a triangular pillow that inflated so you could sling your body onto a stomach style position. Unfortunately, it would arrive in the mail long after my deadhead flight had come and gone. But if you can catch a few zzzzzz on a deadhead, you should be raring to semi-go if you don’t want to waste the day sleeping.

Liquid Oxygen Anyone?

They sell it in some duty free stores and it is sometimes available onboard your flight. Still on the fence about this one, and conducting an ongoing survey. A few years ago, they tried to bring oxygen bars to Toronto and the GTA. I tried it at some soiree and I actually felt refreshed. Casinos pump oxygen in to keep you awake, refreshed and gambling. The cockpit gets 100% oxygen pumped in, so a joke telling session in the cockpit between services can be refreshing on a whole other level.

Middle Ground Jetlagger

A Strong European espresso or latte, after a 3 hour nap. The alarm is pre-set for wake-up success. Reluctantly, I wake up because on a 24 hour layover, I don’t want to be spending the night watching BBC documentaries. Well actually, I do, but not before working a flight. The telly in the U.K. is soooo educational and enlightening sometimes. But I want to see daylight by 3pm. Shops close at 5pm. Marks and Spencer is the last stop with it’s marvelous grocery store as I stock up for the return flight. And I am missing some serious Indian food which is the late night food of choice all over the U.K. This is my kind of layover in a home away from home.

The Princess and the Sleep

A brisk walk after a generous nap, followed by a snack. This is ideal after an 11 hour Greece flight with obligatory layover. Some of this nap can be split with half the time poolside. Fortunately, Greeks eat dinner after 10 pm, and there is no shortage of night life from late night crepes at 3 am to all out night clubbing.

Slam Clicker

Keeping the first day abroad about securing shelter, and possibly a meal they’ve packed from home. Heck-bent on saving that per diem or recouping one’s right to do absolutely nothing. You only see these people on the plane during your shift. But I’ll tell you one thing. They are well rested and evasive about their goings on. Their story is boring at best. Why bother travelling at all. But then, this is just a blip for them. A blip of slam clicks. Can also be combined with a delsey diner.

Delsey Diner

The delsey diner brings food from home, which if used wisely, can save some money on meals out at least the first day arriving in Europe. I have brought many healthy “permitted” foods on flights and layovers and I encourage everyone to do the same. Sufferers of allergies can benefit from packing emergency food for their flights. Maximizing fruits and veggies while away from home base will boost your immune system when you’re running on empty.

When it comes to delsey dining, after more than a day,then you are not exactly getting fresh food and there is plenty of that at the local grocery stores. Don’t try to bring canned fish into Mexico, they won’t even let you bring a tuna pate. Sometimes veggies are taken away or overlooked. European countries are not so threatened by dried fruits, granola and tins of fish. The goal is to keep calm, and don’t get too attached to any of your emergency food items. Bags are often x-rayed and arguing is futile and foolish.

I knew a flight attendant who started her career during Portugal layovers cooking macaroni and cheese, canned food and hot dogs in her room’s kitchenette. I have seen her blossom into a more experimental eater with her favourites from every country. Who knew that the Nederlands was famous for their thick cut fries in a cone with gourmet mayonaise ranging from garlic to curry? Travelling can make you positively the biggest fan of world cuisine.

Delsey dining does not enrich your social life unless you picnic with a colleague in your room. Getting fresh salads from the local grocery and loading it up with grilled barbeque chicken, sundried tomatoes and stuffed olives and sharing stories with a friend is priceless. Flight schedules can fatefully throw you together for a blissful reunion abroad. Socializing on layover with crew or new friends builds and bonds friendships and the good times and laughter will keep you energized even at half-mast. Two of the best friends I have ever had I met in Belfast, Ireland watching bands play to packed houses in the late afternoon.

The Night Rider

Sleep all day after landing, go out all night. Repeat. Been there, done that. Not repeating. But no regrets either. There is nothing worse than the feeling of being sleep deprived for any reason before flying. You’ll do it a few times, and get cured fast. I watched an interview with a “sleep expert” on The Marylin Dennis Show who claimed that naps are not helpful and unnecessary in the course of a day’s activities. Marylin and I were quite surprised by his findings. He never interviewed a flight attendant. Long after a trip, there is nothing more refreshing than an afternoon nap.
And it doesn’t take one long to realize, that if you want to have optimal health and feel great all the time, quality of sleep is what we all talk about when we get together.

Get Cracking

Sleep with the curtains open during the day so I don’t sleep the whole day away. This does not work in Manchester, England. 7 days out of 7 I could not tell if it was dusk or dawn most of the time. Fortunately, there is so much to do there. You just have to trudge through the grey like they do. From museums, to shows to the country-side, that is one place I would never get bored.

This get your curtain cracking method also doesn’t work in Newcastle where luckily you can walk home from dancing in daylight at 3 am back to your hotel room. The night is elusive. So those blackout curtains have to solidly block out the Scottish brightness. Many studies have been shared that indicate darkness is what signals the body to go into recouperation mode.

Meditate to Refresh
Hands facing upward on your lap, meditation 5 or 10 minutes or day will clean the slate of any accumulated negativity within that may be weighing you down. The purist most transformative meditation I have ever tried that helps me balance myself is Sahaja Yoga Meditation. With a free Sahaja Yoga i-phone app or attend a free class or do the free online course http://www.freemeditation.com. Free classes are held world-wide in over 100 countries and it is a great way to evolve yourself, and ultimately mankind. It is like pressing the refresh button on your brain and making room for happiness. As someone who experiences jetlag monthly, it is a wonderful tool for life and happiness. And when given the chance, I visit classes in cities abroad.

What is your cure for Jet Lag?

Citizen of the World

Bon Appetit on Air France

Bon Appetit on Air France

By Paula Erskine

When I was a little girl on a plane ride to Croatia, for yet another privileged summer of bathing in the Adriatic Sea, a stewardess put a meal tray on my table top. Delighted at seeing all the mini compartments of food served neatly on a tray seemed like such a treat! “Mom! This is the life!” I exclaimed. A defining moment that was to shape my future in travel as a flight attendant.

Bororo Nomadic Tribe, Cameroon

Bororo Nomadic Tribe, Cameroon

For six months, I was stationed in the west-African country Cameroon. I had the privilege of interacting with gentle, humorous people that nurtured my quest to communicate in French. I drew on all the bilingual labels I had ever seen in the grocery stores living in Canada and racked my brain for remnants of grade eight French. I made notes and practiced talking with Cameroonians and ex-patriots. By month two I started to feel the francais flow. What struck me most was that the Cameroonian population, comprised of Muslims, Christians, ex-patriots and many tribes (speaking over 56 different languages) lived in relative harmony.

Getting over that French hurdle was key to landing a long-term career that pays me to travel. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to practice my French speaking skills with my Quebecois passengers who, gratefully, nudge me in the right grammatical direction. The more I integrate myself into authentic travel experiences, the more I see the common threads that bind everyone to each other. I feel very much as Socrates did when he claimed to be neither Athenian nor Greek, but rather belonging to a more universal identity. I too, am not only Canadian or Croatian, but also “a citizen of the world.”

Art, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

Art, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

Twenty-eight countries and counting, time really flies when you’re having fun! I have accumulated 1000 words of Russian since meeting my husband backpacking. I am nurturing international friendships. I have adopted many neighborhoods around the world to connect with as my home away from home. I choose my desired destinations on a monthly basis and my schedule is determined by seniority. My curiosity fuels my desire to boldly explore new territory and revisit favorite destinations. The quest for healthy, comfort food away from home, relaxing cappuccino corners abroad, discovering remarkable natural wonders, participating in historic excursions and shopping are just a snapshot of the perks.

Resolving conflicts, first aid, ensuring flight safety, improvisation, public relations, and serving coffee are all part of my job. Through the grapevine, I have heard of a study which claims that for every 3 months of flying overseas, a flight attendant loses up to one month of sleep. Based on my own experience and that of my colleagues, this is true. If I work a night flight and arrive in Europe by mid-morning, I will immediately recharge with a 4-5 hour deep sleep. This window of rest is sometimes shortened if shops, tours or restaurants are closing by late afternoon. Sleeping daylight hours away is not the solution for jetlag. A good dose of sleep shortly after arriving in Europe followed by a healthy walk, a lovely meal and aiming to go to bed at a more local time helps to get back on track. For those unpredictable sleepless nights, I pack a book, my computer, music and an occasional magazine left behind in a seat pocket.

Plitvice Park, Croatia

Plitvice Park, Croatia

Balancing travel with a healthy dose of family time and a sense of humour is the best medicine. Outside of work, I recharge by hiking halton and Hamilton trails, zumba dance aerobic classes, swimming and Sahaja Yoga Meditation which keeps me grounded and happy. On the subject of “seizing the day” of your vacation, I will be sharing the highlights of “my favourite things, places, people, experiences.” I hope that it inspires you to put your life on pause and enjoy the treasures that the worlds’ neighborhoods have to offer.

Croatia’s Beaches on Krk Island can be “A Pound of Therapeutic Dirt”

Muddy Escape to Klimno

Add Klimno beach bay area in the Bay of Kvarner on the island of Krk in the Primorje (Preemorryeh) region of Croatia to your list of reasons to visit Croatia with direct flights from Toronto at http://www.airtransat.com.  This beach is unique to even to Krk’s pristine, rocky and crystal clear beaches because of it’s healing mud and you can expect the shallow waters to be much warmer than other bodies of water. In mid-summer, it can feel like a bathtub! If you are like some of my relatives that prefer warmer water and sun for their joints, this is the place to visit and makes a great day trip.

For those planning trips earlier than peak season, around June, or after the madding crowds have thinned in September and October,  guesthouses throughout Croatia are significantly cheaper. Even the beginning of July you can still get good prices on rentals at private residences. September and October, the prices for rooms or “apartmans” drop collectively according to the tourist rates set by the board. Even in mid-season, you generally don’t pay per person, so you can get an apartment for two couples for the equivalent of 75-100 Euros which is very reasonable.

The shallow waters of Klimno are also ideal for families playing a game of “Pitzigeen” with a tiny ball in a wide circle and diving and volleying to keep the ball in the air. The game is a cross between water polo and volleyball, passing on scoring, in lieu of splashing. You can pack a picnic with your taxi boat or load up the car and drive across the bridge near Rijeka and follow the well marked signs and roundabouts.

Klimno can be reached by taxi boat from Selce, boat tour, or by car by crossing the bridge where Rijeka airport is located on the island of Krk. Unlike other pristine rock beaches typical of Croatia’s coast and islands, this area boasts therapeutic mud to cure anything from sports injuries, to arthritic complaints. It is also has great detoxifying properties when applied topically and deep cleans your pores. The sea is a plethora of curing properties in itself, cradling us in it’s elemental salt and minerals and purifying our soul. The mud and sea draw out aches, pains, impurities, negativity, and fill us up with positivity.

I was told to let the black mud dry on the skin in the sun which is part of the healing process. Enter the Adriatic Sea which is quite shallow here, rinse and repeat 2 more times for maximum benefits. Luckily, I had my wonderful Uncle Zvonko take us there by fishing boat.  We laughed and smothered ourselves in mud pits. The mud pits are tricky, so be careful with children and just dip from the shallow puddles of mud to be on the safe side, rather than immersing yourself into the deep pools.

Easily accessible from Selce or Crikvenica with some tours offered which include this beach. Don’t want to do the mass tour thing? Hire your own taxi boat and make a half day of it. A word of warning, you will have a faint, peculiar smell coming off your pores for about 2-3 days.  So, don’t do what I do and go on a lengthy road trip with your cousin…unless you roll your windows down. All that cleansing smells like a pound of dirt!

After our day trip, we parked my Uncle Zvonko’s boat near the red posted pier and ate the best grilled calamari (squid in English, or lignje-Leegnyeh in Croatian) I have ever had. While waiting for our savoury soups, I tried to gently shoo 3 wasps from drinking from my bitter lemon soda pop bottle. The waiter assured me they were domestic wasps with a wink. So I poured bitter lemon into a small dish on the side and slowly lured them away from the table.

Dinner ended with a final dip in the water and the start of the big “Bura”, or big winds where we fought against waves in his teensy boat. Fortunately, halfway to Selce, the waves subsided and the wind picked up as we made our way back to Selce by night. My Uncle is a very experienced fisherman, and we waited a little too long to get back to the mainland. We lived to tell the tale, but there was a lot of praying going on.

It is very important to consult the locals, the fisherman on matters of the winds, the “Bura” and take the car when the occasional weather change happens. The wind can look harmless and be fine to swim in from the shore, but avoid taking kayaks, floating beds or inexperienced boat trips which can carry you away.

To enjoy earth’s gifts, we have to respect that we can never conquer it.  The panoramic view of the village of Selce, our mainland refuge, can be enjoyed incoming from Krk, usually a 45 minute-1 hour ride. We would have strolled the riviera, but headed straight for bed after a day in the healing mud, sea and sun.

There are many more places to visit on Krk Island, like Vrbnik (a village built on cliffs), with a pirate ship and glass bottom boat tour from the charming village of Selce. The town of Krk, Baska (Bashka), and many more villages on Krk are as unique as the changing landscapes shaped by the sea. For more great places to visit in Croatia and around the world, please explore this world loving blog and let me know where you have enjoyed travelling.

Skywalker, Paula Skywalker-Croatia Must See Villages

Skywalking in Croatia-Vrbnik

At the base of the pier in Vrbnik, Croatia, is a heart-shaped cave opening with a secret beach which only stays sunny till mid-day, but is worth passing through the rocky archway. If you have a kayak, or flippers and a floatation board (and you feel confident in the water) you can venture from this beach into the water and around the right bend to another private beach which is harder to access and quite a bit further. My husband found many underwater artifacts there with his snorkel gear. He also got the bends diving too deep without a tank and surfacing too quickly. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Just off the pier is a small port where the water is quite a bit warmer than the coast. Vrbnik is located in the Bay of Kvarner and is less than 40 minutes from towns on the mainland, the closest being Selce on the border of Crikvenica. Vrbnik is one of my favourite go-to villages built on cliffs. They are famous for their home made “Zlatina” (pronounced with a soft “g,” “glatina,” meaning golden) wine, prosciutto, lamb stew (that graze on salt sprayed grasses), fried sardines and many typical Croatian dishes.

Region? Primorje, on the island of Krk. Krk, (follow the signs Otok Krk), also has the Rijeka airport on it, and the bridge to Krk island is near Rijeka. There is a small fee to cross the bridge. There are many tours offered by boat if you don’t drive that can be booked from Selce, Crikvenica and Novi that I have noted.

Wardrobe? This is a conservative town, so wear your beachwear on the beach. Put clothes on when strolling about town unless you want a Babushka shaking a stick at you in disapproval. I bought my maxi-dress in the store New Look which can be found downtown London, England or the suburbs. Maxi dresses are my favourite wardrobe item! It is a staple item for the summer and is always in my suitcase when travelling south. I keep it in my carry on bags in case my suitcase gets diverted so I have emergency clothing. New Look stores have a regular, tall and plus size section called “Inspire.” I always check them out when I am in their town for jeans and other offerings. A maxi dress with sleeves and long length will not offend when entering holy places of worship. Plus you can wear supportive undergarments without showing your bra strap, and it can double as a discreet “changing room” as you switch to dry clothes in some corner of the beach or boat. Yup, an inventive change-room maxi-dress. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.