My Top 5 Favourite Countries


Another Top 5 for ya! This time round will be my favourite countries that I’ve wandered about. This differs from my favorite cities because in many cases I have only seen one city within a country. This in turn does not always give me a feel for the whole nation.  Of the countries listed, I have visited at least two locales, if not more. And as always, this list is in flux as I continue to travel and see more.

  1. IRELAND – How I love this country. It’s lush and green and stunning. I feel comfortable there. I did not think I could love a place as much as Paris yet Ireland swept me away. I want to move here. It is my happy place.
  2. Myanmar – I did not know what to expect from Myanmar really. I had done some research yet still I did not know how it would go. It went with love, that is how it went. Even though I had some tummy issues, was harangued by locals to buy items, and was only so-so about Yangon (though I loved Bagan), I was still mesmerized by this place. When I think of it I am back there with a smile.
  3. India – I dream of returning to India to see more of it. My visit was like a tease even though it was a month long. India plays on all your senses. It is crazy, it is chaotic, it is beautiful, it is loud, it is colourful, it draws you in and I can’t wait for that to happen again.
  4. United Kingdom – For a small island there is plenty to see and do. I just really like the U.K. So much of it is old, it has history (well compare to Canada) which is something I love to learn about anywhere I go. And Scotland has amazing whisky so that should just sum it up. 
  5. Canada – Yes, I know. I was born and raised in Canada. I can (and do) love it. This is a vast and varied country. I have not seen nearly as much as I’d like though that will change. The natural beauty here is some of the best in the world. 

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

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Pub life in Killarney, Ireland

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Myanmar sunset over the Irrawaddy River

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The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

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Chester Rows in Chester, England. Love the old-world charm

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Canadian West Coast sunset

 

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Happy Canada Day! Joyeux Fête du Canada!


July 1st is Canada Day here in the second largest country around and this year Canada celebrates it’s 150th birthday. In Vancouver the city is calling it Canada 150+ to recognize both the country’s official day as Canada and that the First Nations people have been here for much longer than the rest of us.  I’d like to wish everyone a great day! For me, I am always grateful that my parents choose this wonderful country to start their new life well before I was even a thought.  All of us in Canada make up this country whether your ancestors have been here for centuries or if you’ve arrived here only recently.  Let’s grow as a nation and as humans – to be an example of that to the world. Kindness matters. Celebrate diversity.  Love to all.

Happy Canada Day from Wanders the World.

P.S. – Sunday Special will not be posted this weekend and will resume the following week.

My Canada Day swag, eh? (Photo taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World


 

Sunday Special – Montreal


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View of Montreal from Parc Mont Royal – Photo credit: Taken and owned By John Lian (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Today we will check out the city which I think is the coolest in all of Canada and that is Montreal.  This fun city is the largest city in the province of Quebec and the second largest in Canada after Toronto. Not only that, this city is the second largest predominantly French-speaking city on the planet, just after Paris. Additionally it was recently ranked as the world’s best city to study abroad by Quacquarelli Symonds. Finally, Montreal is celebrating its 375th birthday this year. Which if you don’t know, makes it older than Canada (which turns 150 on July 1).  Montreal wa founded on what was Hochelagaa St Lawrence Iroquois village in the 15th century, though First Nations peoples inhabited the area for centuries longer. It was part of New France until the mid-18th century.  Today Montreal is a vibrant and social landscape that has a bit of a European feel to it. It has been far too many years since I visited though I do recall enjoying the vibe of the city a great deal. Perhaps another visit is due.

  • Visit historic Old Montreal and take in various sites such as Bonsecours Market, the Old Port of Montreal, and the picturesque Notre-Dame Basilica. Or perhaps you’d like to wander its cobblestones streets via food tour?
  • Take in a pretty city view from Parc du Mont Royal (Mount Royal Park) or visit the Jardin Botanique de Montreal (Montreal Botanical Gardens) in Parc Maisonneuve?
  • Foodies rejoice – Montreal has some great restaurants and dining of all ranges, though do try the Montreal-style smoked meat, the bagels and of course poutine!
  • Sports fans take in all manner of games to watch:
    • Montreal Candiens NHL hockey
    • Montreal Allouettes CFL football
    • Montreal Impact MLS soccer
    • Auto racing
    • Boxing
    • Women’s hockey
    • Tennis
  • Music and comedy festivals abound

I don’t think my list has done this city justice though I hope it inspires you check out Montreal at any time of year. 

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Vieux-Port Montreal (Montreal Old Port) – Photo credit: By Joanne Lévesque (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Montreal-style bagels – Photo credit: By Garyperlman at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Montreal-style smoked meat – Photo credit: By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – CN Tower, Toronto


This year my country of Canada turns 150 years old (officially on July 1, 2017).  To honour that I will be writing about a few spots in my beloved country over the months. Today will be about one of Canada’s well-known landmarks: The CN Tower. Many cities have an iconic landmark gracing its skyline. Canada’s largest city is no different. Standing at 553 m/1815 ft in downtown Toronto this telecommunications tower has been synonymous with city since its completion in 1975. For 34 years the tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. As us humans have continued to build higher into the sky that title has been lost yet the appeal of it’s magnificent view remains today.  It’s use of a major broadcaster for wireless, television and radio continues. Architecturally it was acclaimed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1995 by the American Society of Civil Engineers. And of course, it is a major tourist attraction with plenty of ways visitors can experience it.

The first and obvious way to see the tower is to be whisked up to the observation deck in the high-speed glass paneled elevators. Three of the six elevators even have glass inserts in the floors. How’s that for seeing where you have been? The LookOut offers viewers a panoramic scene over Lake Ontario and the city-scape of Toronto. When visibility is clear one can peer for what seems like forever. If the view isn’t enough then try out the first-ever glass floor. Added in 1994 it allows you to look straight to the ground from 342m/1122ft above. Do you think you can walk across this section without feeling nervous? (Don’t worry, it’s safe – I can attest to that).  If you prefer you can enjoy a meal in one of the two restaurants floating above the city.  Horizons is located at the LookOut level with a casual ambiance. For a complete view of the city try 360 Restaurant. As its name implies, this revolving restaurant offers a feast for you eyes and your taste buds. It also has bragging rights of having the world’s highest wine cellar. I’ll drink to that!

Still not wowed? How about an even higher view at 447m/1465ft above?  Or a crazy walk outside of the tower? The Skypod is even higher than the LookOut at 447m/1465 ft. Up here you may be lucky to see all Niagara Falls (both sides). For the thrill seekers there is the EdgeWalk. Yes, as it sounds you get to walk around the CN Tower outside and up above on it’s roof! Do note that is seasonal feature. And yes,  this is on my bucket list (unless I chicken out).

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Toronto skyline at night with the CN Tower standing proudly. Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned Benson Kua [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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CN Tower including the EdgeWalk – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Sergiu Dumitriu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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View of downtown Toronto from the CN Tower – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Philipp Hienstorfer (photo taken by Philipp Hienstorfer) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons