Wendy Perrin, Travel Guru

Wendy Perrin in Egypt copyright http://www.mccooltravel.com

I first became aware of Wendy Perrin though the Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Most of the magazines I read are travel-related and CNT had some very good regular contributors. Wendy Perry wrote a fantastic column focused on practical matters to do with all aspects of travel called the Perrin Report. She’s also been an Ombudsman for the magazine where she investigated complaints and tried to get the best resolutions. She’s branched out and now has WendyPerrin.com and she is also a travel advocate for Tripadvisor, that giant in the travel industry.

Wendy has given me a lot of inspiration and ideas over the years, adding to my wish list of destinations many times. Her website is one of the first places I go to see what she’s written about a destination I’m planning to visit. She posts articles about practicalities, good deals, connects people to top notch travel agents and specialists, (the “WOW” list) who will charge for their services but you’ll get an unforgetable dream trip.

There is a whole section on tips and advice, you can email Wendy directly if you have specific questions, a newsletter to get the heads up on deals and pointers and lots and lots of destination information. It’s true, though, the deals and prices may only apply if you are from the U. S. because it’s an American-based site/business but the advice and the information is all free and definitely worth losing yourself on the website.

Wendy’s been in the travel industry the better part of 30 years. There are loads of websites in the world that can provide information, links to sponsors, etc. Of course there are. Wendy Perrin is one of the travel gurus that I find comes across very sincere and that means, for me, she’s trustworthy. I don’t really have the budget for the WOW list but her advice is truthful and doesn’t gloss over the critical side of things.

The articles she publishes on WendyPerrin.com will most definitely inspire you. They certainly did inspire me not two weeks ago. I followed a link posted on Twitter about Newfoundland on the east of Canada via one of Perrin’s travel experts and it pointed me to the small town of Twilingate, in the middle of “Iceberg Alley”. Icebergs! Something I’ve always wanted to see and now we’re planning to take a trip to Newfoundland in the near future to see them. Coincidentally, one of my friends in the UK has just returned from a trip to Newfoundland that pretty much mirrored the one I thought about taking, similar locations and everything.

There’s a very good travel profile about her here on McCool Travel (from where I nicked the photo above)

I’m going to dig in there and see what I can find to add to the list for our upcoming trip to British Columbia and Oahu. I may be some time.

Wendy on Twitter and here on Facebook

 

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The Travel Agent Kiss of Death

Greek Helmet, British Museum, London

Greek Helmet, British Museum, London

This is *not* a rant about travel agents. I’ve mostly always had very positive encounters with these knowlegable and lovely people that help me book trips and hotels. I do like to do my research online and I will often book things myself but if I have a larger combination of things to book, I will drop in to an agency and use their expert services. It’s done me well in the past, too. They have obtained some good hotel deals and can get flight bookings in combinations that the airline and booking sites don’t always present  after a search.

No, the “kiss of death” is me.

Over the past 25 years or so, I can tell you that nearly every travel agent I’ve ever used leaves me one way or another. They change branches, they retire, they just disappear and most recently, the whole agency closed down. I’m telling you, I’m getting paranoid.

Some people tell me they’ve used the same agent for decades. Lucky them! I never have managed to built up a rapport with a travel agent. I have a cousin that was a travel agent but I didn’t dare use her services for fear of her losing her job! I think the most I’ve ever used any individual agent was twice. The third time I went to book something, I hear “Oh they don’t work in this office anymore”. Of course they don’t.

I really don’t think it’s me that drives them away. Most of my bookings are straight forward. I’m not forceful, or pushy and I’m always polite. My credit card has never been declined (yet! knocking on wood just to keep the Travel Gods on my side).

I’ve been using the Flight Centre branch near my office over the last few years even when one of the agents I’ve used has moved on. I came into the shopping area at work one Monday morning a few weeks ago and the whole office was closed and the glass storefront papered up. There was no warning sign that I remembered seeing. I just shook my head, not really very surprised.

There’s still an agency in the shopping area and another one across the street. I’m going to be planning a trip for late this year. Do I dare? In fact, I probably won’t need flights booked because I’m going to be using Aeroplan points for one of the main flights and my best friend’s husband who works for another airline, offered to try to get us tickets on our other flight at a discount. All I need from there is deciding when I will need hotels and possibly a rental car for one or two days. Still, they can find good deals on hotels that may not be available online. That’s happened to me before.

We need a plan first. Then we will have to pick the hardiest looking agent, not one too near retirement age and not one too new. Someone tenatious, someone “hard”, someone with staying power. A Warrior.

The quest continues.

A Photo A Week Challenge: Props

Nancy Merrill Photography’s blog has a weekly challenge and this week’s theme is Props. It’s often easier to take portraits of people if they have familiar items with them, especially for children to try to keep them focused. People like to show off their things, creations, anything that gives you an idea of who they are. In my post, I’ve decided to show some photos from a historical fort, Louisbourg, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where the staff dress in 18th century period costume and portray what life was like in the French fortress in that era. To see more of my visit to Louisbourg, check out my Flickr album.

Declaration

He’s guilty! (Sentenced to having to stand in an iron collar for two hours a day for three days in a row. All for stealing a bottle of wine.)

Costumed "inhabitants"

Passing the time of day.

Louisbourg Drummer

The Drummer Boy

Basket Weaving

Basket Weaving 101

Travel Theme: Fierce

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Fierce. This photo came immediately to mind. I took it a couple of summers ago at a Mawi’omi (gathering of tribes) of the Mi’kmaq Indigenous people here in Nova Scotia. I think it was a Canada Day event, actually. The costumes, dancing and music were mesmerizing and it was a great day out. This man looked rather fierce, I thought.

fierce

I’ve just got back from some vacation and a road trip or two. I’ll get my notes sorted and start posting some of our adventures soon!

DP Challenge – Living on the edge

This week, The Daily Post from WordPress wants to see things on the Edge. Here in Halifax, we get a visit from the Tall Ships every few years. I find the ships fascinating and they’re just magnificent at full sail. The crews of the ships are used to some rather precarious spots to do their job. They may not walk a plank but they do need good balance and a head for heights. Here are a few photos from various crewmembers.

Pride of Baltimore

Pride of Baltimore

No vacation for this guy

Pride of Baltimore

No mutiny here

HMS Bounty. No mutiny here.

Laundry day on a tall ship

Laundry day on the Iskra

Travel Theme: Sport

A weekly challenge at Where’s My Backpack. This week’s word is Sport, not something I tend to frequent either at home and almost never when I travel. There was one exception, however, when we visited Montreal a few year ago. I used to follow the NHL (hockey) when I was younger and Montreal’s Canadiens were “my” team.

I’ve never seen a professional game and when I discovered the “Habs” were playing a home game while we were there, I really wanted to go. I managed to get tickets. Yes, I confess, I got them off eBay which goes against my code of conduct and better judgement.  I only paid slightly more than the face value, though, so I justified it by telling myself I wasn’t paying horribly high scalper prices and there were no tickets left through the official website when I tried.

So, yes, we duly showed up at the Bell Centre. The seats weren’t too bad, not up too high or stuck in a corner. The team lost the game and my husband had no idea what was going on since he’s not a follower of sports and hockey really isn’t very popular in the U.K. where he lived but he was willing to go since I wanted to see the game. We compromised. He came to the game and I was supposed to go to a Slayer concert with him only the concert was cancelled so I think I still owe him one. (We did see a metal concert the next year and I maintain that, though it wasn’t Slayer, I completed my side of the bargain!)

Here then, are a couple of photos from the Montreal Canadiens vs. the Atlanta Thrashers which are no longer playing out of Atlanta, I don’t think.

Winners

Flags from the championship days when I used to follow the team

Centre Ice Faceoff

Faceoff. The game begins

Les Canadiens vs Atlanta Thrashers

Montreal is in red, unusual as that’s the “away” colour but it was the team’s anniversary and they were wearing a replica of one of the older uniforms

 

 

A Photo a Week – Hands

Over at A Photo A Week, the weekly challenge is Hands. I must say, random body parts are not something I tend to photograph while on my travels mostly or otherwise but there are a few in my archives, two from travels, two taken locally.

Brian's solo, closeup

Brian May of Queen. Montreal, 2014

Spooning

Playing the spoons.

Staci's Wedding 026

My niece’s wedding

Painters at Lilliput Lane

Liliput Lane artist, painting the cottages by hand. Penrith, the Lake District, UK

Proud

In a departure from my usual travel related topics, this post is about pride, in more definitions than one.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto's Pride parade, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto’s Pride parade, 2016

Toronto had their annual Pride parade over the weekend. They have a huge parade, one of the biggest in the world. For the first time ever, a Canadian Prime Minister made history by  participating and marching in the parade and from all accounts and photos, looked like he had a fantastic time. It’s not the first Pride parade he’s marched in, but the first as the Canadian Prime Minster.

He dressed casually, not in a suit, he allowed himself to be doused with water pistol ammunition. And a young man who marched with him  in his group turned out to be a short, gay HIV+ Syrian refugee whose life has probably been saved by immigrating here, considering he had more stacked against him in his former country than just politics.

PM Justin Trudeau and Syrian refugee Bassel Mcleash to the right, holding the Canadian flag

PM Justin Trudeau and Syrian refugee Bassel Mcleash to the right, holding the Canadian flag

I am proud to live in a country that took on some of the refugees. I am proud that my Prime Minister even went to the airport late at night to greet the first families that arrived and invited at least one refugee who was gay to march in his entourage in the parade. I’m proud that the PM did march in the parade and celebrated with everyone.

Halifax has a fun Pride parade later in the month, in a couple of weeks and I will probably go unless it’s teeming down. In anticipation of Pride Week here, several main intersections downtown and one in Dartmouth have had rainbow panels painted on them. Awesome!

I know that there’s still a lot of negativity towards LGBTQ folks and they are often still targets for violence, even here in Canada and I’m not proud about that but I think,… I hope, little by little it’s changing for the better.

Technology school

Parading in Halifax

Be proud of who you are.

And should you wish to travel to Halifax for the Pride festival, which runs from June 13 – 24 this summer, Check out the website for all of the events happening locally.  In addition to the Parade on the 23rd, there’s the fan favourite Dykes and Divas softball match, a theatre festival, drag shows, a drag queen Bingo night, family barbeques and picnics, concerts, lectures,  a Lip Sync battle, and a lot more.

Travel Theme: Camaraderie

Where’s My Backpack’s weekly Travel challengs is Camaraderie. When I travel, I often meet up with friends and/or family wherever I go. I’ve met a good number of wonderful people via Coronation Street online groups and even met a man that I married through those connections. I’m lucky to have a family that all gets along and has good times when we get together. Camaraderie between friends and family is a wonderful thing. You can also see it among people that can be perfect strangers but who have something in common. Fellow travellers can meet and  strike up a camaraderie on a train, in a hostel, in a cafe or pub.  Fellow fans of the same sports team, for instance, gathered together to watch a game, cheer on and talk about their favourites. If you’ve ever gone to a fan convention of any kind, you will see strangers linked together by a common interest as well. But even non-humans can form a bond, as you will see below.

Watching the Parade of Sail (Tall Ships) together.

Friends. Regent Park, London

Do you see what I see? London Zoo

Camel chat. London Zoo

Travel Theme: Faces

This week at Where’s My Backpack, the travel theme is Faces. I’m not one to take too many portraits of strangers when I travel but sometimes manage from afar or don’t feel as self conscious if the person is performing in some way.  Faces are everywhere, and not just on your fellow humans. Art based on portraits is standard issue. Pretty much all animals, insects, birds and sealife has a face of some sort.

This first photo was taken through a shop window on Ile St. Louis in Paris. There is the shop worker, and little statues of angels, and look closely and you can see all sorts of items in the display with faces.  There are eyes, eyes everywhere!!!!

Shop in Paris

In the Tower of London there was a display of carved wooden heads of kings and queens.

Henry VIII and (I think) Charles I, Tower of London

Next, back to Paris again in the Dali museum in Montmartre. “Him indoors” loves Dali’s art!

Graham and Salvador, Paris

We discovered an exhibit in the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal about Napoleon, from a private collection, a few years ago.

Bust of Napoleon, Montreal

And finally, from a local celebration (“Mawio’mi”) held by the Mi’kmaq First Nations, a very fierce looking warrior

Elaborate and traditional dress, Mi’kmaq Mawio’mi