Sunday Special – Warsaw, Poland

The thriving and growing capital city of Poland, Warsaw is truly a phoenix that has grown from the ashes. Its history of various takeovers and rulers goes back to the 1500s. More recently it has endured the onslaught of  WW II’s decimation of it’s Jewish population, the suffering of those in concentration camps, and the demolition of nearly 85% of it’s buildings. Then came the communist regime under the Soviet Union until 1989. Today, Warsaw has emerged with increased growth and livability earning itself the moniker of Phoenix City.  It is a vibrant and eclectic mix of commerce, culture, tourism, architecture, sports, and lifestyle. It continues to grow and expand in areas of media, research and development, information and technology, and much more. Not only that, it is a city with  some of the highest number of skyscrapers within the E.U. and it’s historic Old Town of Warsaw is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have to say, this amazing city has just moved up on my bucket list!


Warsaw’s historic Old Town – Photo credit: Ben Bender, Warsaw Old Town, Warsaw, Poland – panoramio (75), CC BY-SA 3.0


Warsaw skyline at night – Photo credit: Jakuber, Warsaw at night, CC BY-SA 4.0





Sunday Special – Estonia

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Cliffs at Saaremaa Island, Estonia – Photo credit: Margus6, Varahommik ja Panga pank, CC BY-SA 3.0

This small Baltic country of Estonia has history that goes back for centuries and centuries with a Finno-Ugric language ancestry.  Throughout these times the Estonian’s faced German, Danish, Swedish and Russian control. In 1918 they became an independent nation but were forced into the Soviet Union in 1940. 1989 they demanded independence and gained it officially in 1991, with much credit going to their peaceful Singing Revolution of the 1980s. In 2004 they joined the European Union and switched to the euro in 2011. Today it is a tourism hot spot with plenty to offer. 

  • Capital city of Tallinn boasts an outstanding Old Town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Sight
  • Experience “White Nights” from May through July when the sun barely sets
  • Take in the Suur and Väike Taevaskoda (Small and Large Heaven’s Hall) along the Ahja River for some hiking and seeing some caves
  • The Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast is filled with beautiful landscape and perhaps you will see moose, foxes and other animals
  • The south’s Soomaa National Park showcases a primeval forest and quiet nature
  • Get your adrenaline flowing with activities such as repelling, rafting, ATV rentals, go-karting and even a precarious walk along the ledge of Tallinn’s TV Tower 
  • Visit any of Estonia’s plentiful islands, many just a quick ferry ride away
  • Take in all forms of popular music at any number of clubs offering rock, jazz, alternative, electronic and more. Music festivals are popular as well.
  • Admire the architecture of old in the many lighthouses, manor houses, churches, castles, and forts throughout the country

Katariina Passage in Tallinn’s Old Town – Photo credit: -jkb-, Tallinn Katariina Käik, CC BY-SA 3.0


Panorama of Tallinn’s walled Old Town – Photo credit: Ivar Leidus, Tallinn Toompea Upper Old Town 2013, CC BY-SA 3.0 EE

Sunday Special – Prince Edward Island, Canada

Summer here in Canada is not that bad. It can actually get very very warm and right now our dollar is somewhat weak so it could be an option for some of you to come visit. Of course I love to see all manner of cool things around this big blue marble of ours but there are places I want to see within my own “backyard”, so to speak. Canada’s smallest province is one of them. Prince Edward Island (PEI) is second only to the Yukon on my Canadian bucket list. Located in Atlantic Canada (east coast), this province may be small in size and population but is still historically significant as it is the birthplace of Confederation.

When I think of PEI two things come to mind: potatoes and Anne of Green Gables. Growing up it seemed most potatoes in grocery stores were from PEI. Today, agriculture is still a main industry along with tourism and fishing. As for Anne of Green Gables, well author Lucy Maud Montgomery (1884 – 1942) brought PEI to life with her story of a feisty ginger orphan named Anne. As many Canadians, I grew up reading some or all of the Green Gables series and then watching the TV mini-series staring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst and Jonathan Crombie. I really enjoyed that series. Though there is more to PEI than those two. Beaches, golfing, water sports, food (seafood at its finest), history, theatre and good music beckon. It seems to have something for just about everyone. With a small population of under 150,000 people in the whole of the province it speaks to me of a laid-back and chill vibe. Perhaps that is why it is referred to as “The Gentle Isle”. I hope you visit it one day just as I plan to do.


View of downtown Charlottetown, capital of PEI – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Martin Cathrae


Cavendish Beach, PEI – Photo is Public Domain

Sunday Special – Brooklyn (NYC), USA

Today, a dear friend of mine is starting a grand adventure. She will head off to New York City and then fly across the Atlantic to South Africa for a couple weeks. I am so very excited for T and wish her best of times. In honour of her trip, today’s spotlight will be on The Big Apple.

Where to start when focusing on such an iconic city? New York has such variety and many well-known places, activities and areas. A city made up of five boroughs with each one having more than enough to offer. These boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Since T will be staying in Brooklyn we’ll look there (though she is planning on visiting Manhattan and Staten Island as well).

Brooklyn is probably best known for its bridge, which at the time it was built was a significant engineering accomplishment. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and is a suspension/hybrid cable bridge that has 6 lanes that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. Another area famous in this borough is Coney Island. This neighbourhood has arts, amusement parks, beaches and even a minor league baseball team: The Brooklyn Cyclones. Other neighbourhoods in Brooklyn to check out include trendy Williamsburg, historic Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), artsy DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and old-world Brighton Beach.


Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Keith Pomakis


View of Brooklyn – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Kenneth Lu