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The French Lessons Begin

The French Lessons Begin

The third time is supposed to be the charm, right? Maybe in other things, but not so much with languages. At least not so far. French is the third foreign language I’m trying to learn, after six years of Spanish in high school/college and three years of Russian in college, plus studying it during my career break. I thought that it might be easier this time around, but so far not so much. Learning French has been hard! I’m taking a class...

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Biking Around Toronto

Biking Around Toronto

I haven’t sat my butt on a bike in more than two years, but when I got the opportunity to do a bike tour of Toronto with Toronto Bicycle Tours, I jumped right on it. With limited time in the city, it seemed like it would be the perfect way to see a lot in a short period of time – better than some trolley or double decker bus tour! I lucked out with perfect, sunny weather for my Sunday afternoon “Heart of Downtown” tour. We met at the...

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A Taste of Toronto at the Taste of the Danforth

A Taste of Toronto at the Taste of the Danforth

My first real introduction to Toronto came around 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night as I stepped out of the Broadview subway station and started walking toward Danforth Street. It wasn’t hard to find my destination – I just followed the crowds and the music to the beginning of the Taste of the Danforth, Canada’s largest annual street festival. In its 21st year, the festival sees around 1.5 million visitors over a three-day period (by...

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Deciding When It Is Not Safe to Travel

Deciding When It Is Not Safe to Travel

I have never thought much about safety while traveling. This may seem odd, but let me explain. Most of my travel early on was to Europe, which generally doesn’t raise many eyebrows – or travel warnings. I traveled with groups not because I feared for my safety, but because I was nervous about figuring out logistics and I wanted to meet new people. My first non-European country (aside from Australia) was Egypt in 2007. Again, I...

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A Preview of Toronto

A Preview of Toronto

I first visited Toronto last June for TBEX – a travel blogging conference. I flew in Friday night and departed early Monday morning and spent most of the time in between at conference sessions. Needless to say, I didn’t see much of the city itself. Therefore, I am very excited to visit Toronto again next weekend. The city is an easy trip from Chicago; just a short flight on Porter Airlines will take me from Midway Airport to Toronto’s...

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I’m Learning French!

I’m Learning French!

Parlez vous Francais? I hope that in the very near future, I will be able to answer this question with a resounding “Oui!” The idea of learning French first popped into my head while I was on my career break. As much as it was great to be able to speak Russian to converse with locals, I felt like I could have connected with other travelers better if I knew French. The majority of people I met seemed to speak French as a first or second...

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The One Where I Went to My High School Reunion

The One Where I Went to My High School Reunion

My iPhone read 5:51 p.m. as I stripped off my royal blue top in favor of a white and silver striped one and pulled on black capris in place of a dark denim skirt. It was one of more than a dozen wardrobe changes in about twenty minutes and it left me wishing that I had brought more options with me from Chicago. The two dresses, two skirts and half a dozen tops just weren’t enough to choose from as I prepared to go to my twentieth (gulp!)...

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An Independent Traveler’s Guide to Russia

An Independent Traveler’s Guide to Russia

  Why Travel to Russia?   Putting aside the political issues, Russia is simply a fascinating and diverse country. From the imperial capital of St. Petersburg and the bustling metropolis of Moscow to the natural beauty of the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal, Russia has a little something for everyone. And while the people often get a bad rap for being unfriendly, when you get outside of Moscow, they tend to warm up a bit more. I...

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Comparing 3 Classic Treks: Inca Trail, Grand Canyon & the Himalayas

Comparing 3 Classic Treks: Inca Trail, Grand Canyon & the Himalayas

When I was a kid, my dad would take my brother and I out to a park somewhere (maybe in Wisconsin?) to go “rock climbing.” Of course, this really wasn’t climbing up rocks, at least not in the sense that we were scaling the sides of cliffs with a bunch of equipment. No, really it was just hiking through the woods where there happened to be some big rocks to hike over as well. Nonetheless, I think these trips subtly instilled in me a love for...

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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

Just over a week ago, I stood in front of a room of about fifty people talking about lessons I learned while I was traveling around the world for 13 months. The last lesson I mentioned, and the one that I emphasized as the most important, was that things have a way of working out. At the time, I thought that I would soon be writing a new blog post to exemplify that. While I have plenty of other examples from my travels, an opportunity had...

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