Category: beaches


This blog usually takes us to exotic locales in search of chocolate and other delectables. But this post, I’d like to salute my own home turf in honour of  Manitoba Day. I was born and raised here. It is my home, and I’m proud of its many attributes.

Last summer my husband and I toured our area, taking in many exciting festivals and events. I wrote about them on my lifestyle blog but will recap the highlights here for those of you who may be curious about what there is to do in Manitoba’s Interlake region.

the beautiful beach at Camp Morton

In the Aug 23/10 post, I took you to Camp Morton, a stunning beach on Lake Winnipeg just north of Gimli. This beautiful picture of the beach inspires me on days (like today) when my energy level is on the low side and the air pressure is correspondingly low because of the dreadful weather we’ve been having this month. I know it will soon pass and we’ll once again be strolling along the shores of Lake Winnipeg talking to the shore birds and feeling the misted breeze on our faces.

In the Aug 9/10 post, I introduced you to the re-enactors who live like Vikings for the first week of August each year as part of Gimli’s Icelandic Festival. Who wouldn’t be smitten by a smile from this face?

the blacksmith in the Viking Village

In the July 22/10 post, we visited Hecla Island and the Gimli Film Festival. Hecla is a terrific place to explore nature, and although the Hecla Oasis Resort has come into financial difficulties and suspended operations, the campground and golf course are open for your pleasure. And be sure to mark your calendars and take in the Gimli Film Fest which runs July 20-24 this year.

In the March 29/10 post, we visited Chatfield, Manitoba, a rather out-of-the-way community in Manitoba’s Interlake region that surprisingly came up in conversation at a function I attended this week. Out of 4 people in the discussion, 2 had a connection with Chatfield! They certainly have a terrific museum for anyone interested in country memorabilia.

And with Winnipeg being my hometown, we can’t talk about Manitoba without tipping our hats to the province’s capital city. Check out my Feb 27/09 post to see some of my favourite things about Winnipeg.

A shocking survey by Peak of the Market suggested that most Manitobans don’t even know that May 12th is Manitoba Day. I hope this post will help change that, and that many of us will plan to discover or revisit some special places in this province over the summer to remind us just how lucky we are to live here – despite the challenges of the crazy spring weather.

My heart goes out to our fellow Manitobans in the Westman region who are facing a breach of the dike today. A crisis which do doubt has literally put a damper on any celebrations in the western part of the province.

But we look forward with hope. Please share your thoughts on a Manitoba gem you enjoy, or what you like best about Manitoba.

Look for the next post here during the week of May 23rd, when I’ll be preparing for a trip to Toronto. And yes, there will be chocolate.

I’m an island girl. A beach baby. All my favourite places on this planet are surrounded by beach, beautiful vistas and water, so it’s no wonder I love Fort Myers Beach. The white sand beach seems to be never-ending, the ambiance of Fort Myers Beach as a destination or community is unpretentious, and it’s quite accessible to other parts of Florida, being just three hours (less than 200 miles) southwest of central Florida and our previous destination of Orlando.

We were fabulously fortunate to be hosted by the GullWing Beach Resort, located on a wide stretch of Fort Myers Beach. The GullWing is part of the Sunstream family of properties and top-notch in every way. Our expansive suite was so large, we occasionally got lost in it! The spacious screened-in lanai overlooked the beach, and it was just a short walk before we were immersed in the welcoming waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

our beachfront suite at the GullWing had a beautiful lanai

We also enjoyed the pool and the poolside hot tub. There are no restaurants on-site as the GullWing is a condominium property. Each suite is owned by individual owners, so decor varies from unit to unit. I can tell you that Suite 306, decorated throughout in shades of green and blue, was most pleasing to this nature-loving water baby.

Most of the “action” happens at the north end of Fort Myers Beach, just as you come off the  Matanzas Pass Bridge (also known as the “Sky Bridge” because it seems to touch the sky) onto Estero Blvd, the road running from the north end of Fort Myers Beach to the less populated southern end. The GullWing is located more towards the southern end of the strip, but just a short drive to the rest of the action. And we liked it that way. Less traffic, fewer people and more birds.

brown pelican enjoying the sun at the Fort Myers Beach pier

I do love the pier at the northern end of Fort Myers Beach. You see many kids and adults fishing, a few brown pelicans resting peacefully in the sun and a terrific view of the entire beach. And right at the foot of the pier, you’ll find Kilwin’s, who make terrific chocolate goodies. Try the dark chocolate “Sea Foam.” It reminded me of sponge toffee. Now, doesn’t that bring back some warm childhood memories? Kilwin’s is also famous for their fudge and ice cream. But I can only swear by the chocolate, and it was indeed, good.

Yes, you’re right! I hadn’t come to Fort Myers Beach strictly for the beach. (You know me better than that!) I came for the chocolate, as it was the next research stop for Chocolatour. Please join me here the week of April 25th for more on a find that is perhaps the best chocolate that has ever passed these chocolate-loving lips.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts about Fort Myers Beach, your favourite place in Florida, pelicans, sponge toffee, or anything else that makes you smile.

Locals don’t know what you’re talking about when you  mention the W. They know this magnificent sail-shaped hotel as the Hotel Vela (vela means sail in Spanish.) But it’s not hard to get the message across. The hotel towers above Barcelona’s shoreline and can be seen sparkling in the sunlight from most points near the beach.

the magnificent W Barcelona (Hotel Vela)

I generally don’t write a blog post exclusively about a hotel property, but this one deserves a place in the sun. It is truly awesome, and had me repeatedly screaming, “I’m not leaving” as Virginia and I made our way back down the beach to the hotel after a night out celebrating with the locals. We’d been fortunate enough to have been in Barcelona for the Festes de la Mercè, a week-long celebration in honour of La Mercè, the female 17th century patron saint of Barcelona.

dancing in the streets of Barcelona during the Festes de la Merce

the decorated streets of Barcelona during the festival were awesome

The city was rocking! There was free entertainment everywhere in the streets! People dancing and singing, colourful decorations, and some of the best fireworks I have ever seen.

the fireworks were some of the best I have ever seen

How fortunate we were to have timed our visit to experience this excitement. I knew I’d love Barcelona, but being in the city during festival time and staying at the W Hotel made this three days among the most memorable of my life.

I’ll blog more about Barcelona in 2 weeks (look for it during the week of November 23rd.) But for now, here are a few images to entice you.

If you go to Barcelona, I’d highly recommend getting a copy of Eyewitness Travel’s Top 10 Barcelona, a handy guidebook that is comprehensive, yet light enough to throw in your purse or backpack. More on Barcelona can be found on the site of Barcelona Tourism.

view of Barcelona's Sant Sebastia Beach from the W Hotel

And if you want to have a truly amazing time in this must-see city, do give the W Barcelona a try (or at least drop in for a drink!) It will cost you a few Euros more than most upper-end hotels, but the view, the ambiance, the food, drinks, service and accommodations are well worth it. As Arnold says, “I’ll be back!”

Have you ever been kissed by a camel? Well, I have. And let me tell you … those lips are big!

We were enroute from the busyness of Dubai to Al Ain, an Oasis city of green in the otherwise camel-coloured desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE,) a Middle Eastern country just east of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. I was fortunate to have flown Pearl (business class) to the UAE from Toronto on Etihad Airlines, based out of the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. Etihad provided impeccable service and was an absolutely wonderful introduction to my first experience in the Middle East.

The UAE was the farthest from my home in North America that I’d ever been – physically, and culturally. Here, you’re quite likely to see camels off in the distance, just as we see deer and antelope scattered about the countryside in Canada. And we did!

But then … all of a sudden … we saw a few camels close enough to get excited about! They were no longer just dots in my camera’s viewfinder. For a moment, the otherwise conservative natured, John, became a completely four-wheeling free spirit – despite the fact that we were in a Honda Civic – and left the safety of the pavement, making a short cross-country (or should I say “cross-desert”?) trek over the sand and onto a smaller road, where we could get close to the camels. (snip)

Welcome to Travel Diversion with Doreen, my new travel blog. Many of you will have already visited my other blog, http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com

which I started in February, 2009 and for which I have now completed 100 posts. It’s time to celebrate, and to separate the milk from the curds (or in this case, take the travel posts and put them in a stand-alone blog.) The Blogger blog will continue to exist and be the resting place for my musings on the writing life and other lifestyle-related posts. I will post there during the first full week of every month and the third week of every month.

I will post travel news, thoughts, pictures and articles here during the second and fourth weeks of every month. It may take me awhile to master the art of WordPress, as I’ve spent the last 18 months learning Blogger — and I’m no techie. But I’ll try, and hopefully make this an attractive and interesting place for you to be amused or enlightened with my travel diversions.

Please visit my website at the link below to read how my date with the camel turned out …

http://www.wizardofwords.net/Camel.html

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