Belles in Cowtown

Cibo Wine BarCibo Wine Bar Yorkville

By Cathryn Gagnon:

A recent visit to see Cityline in Toronto brought the girls and I to Yorkville.  We discovered that a favorite restaurant named Ciao, at  133 Yorkville Avenue, has been renamed Cibo Wine Bar. It did not disappoint.  I was pleased to hear that there now is a Cibo Wine Bar on King Street as well.The place is huge, among the other posh eating establishments in Yorkville.  Cibo is trendy and loud, but the whole atmosphere is vibrant.

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Taste Sensations:

  • CARPACCIO – thinly sliced raw beef, arugula, shavings of parmigiano.
  • FUSILLI – chicken, porcini mushrooms, light cream sauce.
  • ARUGULA – Prosciutto di Parma, shaved parmigiano reggiano, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil.
  • TONNO SCOTTATO + CAPONATA Seared Ahi tuna*, black olive salsa, green beans.

We chose to eat a lighter fare, but every mouthful was amazing.  I highly recommend Cibo Wine Bar, rating it 9 out of 10.

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Relax at the Ben Miller Inn

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Two of the main buildings at the Ben Miller Inn & Spa are over one hundred and thirty years old, but it’s the simplicity and charm of the old grist mill, that keeps visitors coming back for some good old fashioned country R & R. It’s nestled in the rolling hills near Lake Huron, about ten minutes from downtown Goderich.

Rooms are available in different buildings or cottages, depending on the experience you are looking for. We stayed in one of the Mill rooms that overlooked a gushing stream and the Maitland River. The sound of the water and the view were amazing.

The room was clean will all the amenities, including a mini hideaway kitchenette. I was a bit disappointed with the overall condition of the old Inn. There is being old and there is looking old; the Inn looks like it could use some TLC. It was more evident on the property away from the main building.

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Contrast – Valparaiso, Chile

Graffitti in Valparaiso, Chile
Graffiti in Valparaiso, Chile

This story is an excerpt from Ed’s book, A Casual Traveler

The ride from Santiago to Valparaiso was uneventful in comparison to some of my Asian bus adventures. I had planned to ride the Train del Vino while in Santiago, but it only ran on Saturdays. I arrived on a Monday, and didn’t want to stay in town that long.

 I’m a true wino at heart, and also planned on touring some Chilean wineries, but as fate would have it, I had to settle for doing my tasting in restaurants. To put it simply, I found Santiago was just too big and busy and noisy, and just not where I wanted to be at that point in my South American adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I was impressed by the colonial architecture, and I know the city has many things to offer, but I just wasn’t in the big city mood. I needed something smaller, and more laid back. Valparaiso turned out to be just the place.

 On the bus, I sat beside a local guy, who appeared to be around my age. We struggled to communicate in broken English and Spanish. I gathered that he was retired from the Chilean navy, and proud of his prior service. He was married, with children, and he lived in Valparaiso.

He was curious about my plans and exact destination, but we couldn’t place it on the city map. He used his cell phone, and called someone to Google the street I was looking for. I had previously selected a couple of hotels, up in the hills above town, that were in my guidebook. The retired navy man seemed obliged to get me there. Silence eventually crept over both of us, and we nodded off for a bit.

 The city of Valparaiso took advantage of its position on the Pacific Ocean, by becoming a major shipping port. In it’s heyday, before the opening of the Panama Canal, it was an important stopover for ships on their way around the bottom tip of South America.

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The Lost Empire – Machu Picchu

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This story is an excerpt from Ed’s book, ” A Casual Traveler

Why is it that all tours and excursions have to start so early in the morning? I boarded the bus for Machu Picchu at 7 a.m. sharp. It was quite foggy and I could barely see the mountains that surrounded the town of Agua Calientes, where I’d spent the night. It’s about a twenty minute ride from there to the Old Mountain (Machu Picchu).

The bus ride starts on the edge of town along the fast and swollen river, its water the color of chocolate milk.   The rocky road got steep quickly and narrowed to the point where I could only see thick vegetation on either side of the bus. Most of it grew right out of the rocky terrain. Continue reading “The Lost Empire – Machu Picchu”

Rocky Mountain High – Colorado

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This story is an excerpt from Ed’s Book, “A Casual Traveler

I had been following a storm in the middle of Nebraska, so the roads were a still a bit wet in spots. I came upon a barricaded bridge that was impassible. The problem was I didn’t recall seeing any previously posted detour signs; I had no choice but to turn around.

I retreated all the way back to the previous town and took the first crossroad, figuring I’d out flank the bridge by crossing the river further west. It was a lovely detour through cow country, but it brought me right back to the same closed bridge. Crap!

I formulated plan B and headed east along the river until I found another crossing. The road eventually veered away from the river, but then I came across a good road heading in the right direction that looked big enough to have a bridge on it.

Before long the road took a few turns, going into the middle of nowhere. Then I saw a sign that said, “Paved road ends ahead.” No biggie I thought, as I slowed to the appropriate speed and continued on the gravel. I thought I could see the river ahead and I hoped for a bridge.

 Just when I was getting comfortable riding on the gravel, it disappeared and the road became dirt. It had been raining earlier in the day; you know what happens to dirt gets wet—it becomes mud.

I’d never ridden on a mud road before, but I had little choice. I immediately tried to gear down, but dared not brake; I was already sliding in the mud and doing a low-speed wobble. The front wheel only plowed and the wobble got worse. I knew I was going down; it was only a matter of how hard and where.

I slid closer and closer to the big creek on my left; that’s the way the road sloped. There was a grass shoulder, where I thought I might get some traction, or at least have a softer landing. I really didn’t want to crash in the creek.

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“Floating Junk” Ha Long Bay, Gulf of Tonkin, Viet Nam

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This story was taken from Ed’s book, “A Casual Traveler

Hanoi, Viet Nam was not kind to me during my stay, but it served me well as a base while I visited other places in the area that I wanted to see. I was told there are 50 million scooters in the country of Viet Nam and 6 million people in Hanoi. I believe the majority of the scooters were in Hanoi.

 Considering the crowds and vehicular noise, I decided to get out of town. There are always plenty of options when you travel on your own with no set agenda. I decided on a no brainer mini-trip, where I set my own itinerary. I booked a four day tour that combined two days on a boat in Ha Long Bay with two days of trekking in the mountains near Sa Pa, near the Chinese border.

After booking the trip and wasting the day wandering around Hanoi, I chose to have dinner at a restaurant right across the street from my hotel. Nothing else had caught my eye. A place full of locals is usually the sign of a good restaurant. Continue reading ““Floating Junk” Ha Long Bay, Gulf of Tonkin, Viet Nam”

A Royal Tour-Sen Monorom, Cambodia

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This story is an excerpt from Ed’s book, “A Casual Traveler

Our bus adventures took us from Phnom Penh to Kratie and then to ,Sen Monorom in the untamed northeast section of Cambodia. The second half of the trip to Sen Monorom was spent in a beat up bus, on a dirt road, for over four hours. If there was ever a trip to the boonies, this was it.

My travel companion, Michael, is a seasoned traveler and he promised me a no frills adventure off the beaten path. We booked our bus in advance, but once in Sen Monorom we had to hike up the main road to town in search of lodgings. It was a mystery to me why the bus station was not actually in town.Our bus adventures took us from Phnom Penh to Kratie and then to Sen Monorom, in the untamed northeast section of Cambodia. The second half of the trip to Sen Monorom was spent in a beat up bus, on a dirt road, for over four hours. If there was ever a trip to the boonies, this was it.

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Charleston, South Carolina

 

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Leaving Myrtle Beach and arriving in Charleston, was like graduating to college directly from grade school. Even though the city wasn’t on the way home, we just had to make the detour and experience this gem of the south. Luckily, the city managed to remain mostly unscathed during the U.S. civil war. The architectural beauty of the 18th and 19th century buildings will punch any history buff right in the solar plexus.

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Myrtle Beach

 

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We weren’t planning a winter getaway this year, mostly for financial reasons – one being that we’ll be doing a three to four week bike trip to the west coast this summer, but I saw a post on Facebook about Myrtle Beach accepting Canadian money at par for food and lodging.

The next thing I knew we had five nights booked at the Admiral Motor Inn, in downtown Myrtle Beach for the March Break. They offered a thirty percent discount through Hotels.com that almost evened out the exchange rate. We scored an ocean front, ocean view efficiency room for sixty-two bucks a night (Canadian).

I hadn’t been to Myrtle Beach in over thirty years, but was impressed to see that they built a beautiful oceanfront boardwalk that runs almost a mile and a half. For folks like us who want to park the car and walk most places, it was perfect. It was ideal for strolling or getting to and from about two dozen bars, restaurants, arcades, beachwear shops and more.

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