Author: Mary Chong

In Search of Empanadas in Old San Juan

There’s nothing like empanadas, warm from the oven or deep fryer, with the perfect amount of tasty filling and just the right amount of spice. Am I right? Empanadas, for those not familiar, are pastries that are baked or fried and stuffed with combinations of meat, vegetables, cheese and even fruit and olives. They are similar to a turnover. Whenever I’m in a place where there is great latin cuisine. I get out my giant magnifying glass and my Deerstalker Hat just like Sherlock Holmes and I set out in search of the ever elusive empanada. I have my...

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What Your GPS Doesn’t Know May Hurt You!

Your GPS tells you to turn left and turn right but can you really trust that seemingly smart, polite woman, talking to you from that little box strapped to your dashboard? I don’t know about you, but GPS Sally is constantly getting me lost and she keeps recalculating… recalculating… recalculating I’m reminded of a news program on TV about three women who used their GPS while visiting Death Valley National Park. It was a day trip so they only packed a few bottles of water with them and very little food. They had no paper maps of the area...

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Use Coupons to Save Money When Travelling

Like many people, I try to always use coupons to save money when I’m at home. Typically I use coupons for groceries but lately I’ve used them for the “extras” in life such as facials, manicures and for dining out at restaurants. I know that Staff Writer Kim has used coupons for fitness trials such as boot camp and yoga (she’s adventure girl so she needs to stay in shape!) You’ve seen the websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Dealfind and if you are a savvy shopper, you’ve subscribed to their emails to get local deals delivered straight to your inbox BUT have you thought about using coupons when you travel? I always knew that I could use these sites to find air/hotel deals for booking my trip but I never thought to change the “my location” tab to my real travel destination and look for restaurant, excursions and activities. (Not too bright I know) Most of the site’s list major cities in both Canada and the USA, but did you know that some like Living Social lists cities worldwide as well. Check out the article “Mojitos, Architecture and Art at the Lincoln Road Mall in Miami” where I review the great meal we ate in Miami using a Groupon deal. If you are Calculated Traveller’s like us, you already have an itinerary with your activities and restaurants all...

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McDonald’s Taro Pie – Memory Monday

Today’s Memory Monday photo of Taro Pie from McDonald’s comes courtesy of a friend and fellow traveller, Alan Chau. In case you are wondering there isn’t a problem with the photo and your eyes aren’t playing tricks with you, the taro is in fact purple. A man of few words Alan states the following… “McDonald’s in China with local flavour menu. Yummy.” So, I’ll elaborate on his behalf. ; ) We were not fortunate to go on this trip to China, although we were invited to tag along, I know from my travels to other cities/countries around the world...

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Lush Cosmetics – Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Review

I came upon LUSH Cosmetics just recently and I have to say…I’ve been converted. Friends have spoken of their love of Lush Bath Bombs for years but, I’ve never really been a fan of scented products so I dismissed the idea. For those of you that aren’t aware of Lush. All their products are made using fresh organic fruits and vegetables, essential oils, and safe synthetics.They do not test on animals, use little or no preservatives and use environmental packaging. They even have vegetarian and vegan products. They really have great beliefs and are involved in multiple charities. Their products are also available world-wide.  The website shows ingredient lists for all their products as well as videos on how they make them. How cool is that! During my research for my “carry-on luggage only journey“, I read about their solid shampoo bars, conditioners and (wait for it) toothpaste tablets. All liquid free and therefore carry-on friendly and I thought… This I got to see! Lucky for me there is a store close by so a shopping I went! I love the ambience of the store (photo is from the Lush Website not the real store I shopped at) – their products are all natural and fresh and that concept is reflected in the store design with crates and wood shelving similar to a country market. The staff is very...

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Bad Press and Cruise Ships

There’s been a lot of bad press these days when it comes to Cruise Ships. In the past week there have been issues with Carnival Legend and Carnival Dream. A few weeks ago there was the Carnival Triumph….then of course there was the Costa Concordia disaster last year. I’ve been getting questions almost daily from friends and family (many who have never cruised before) about whether it’s safe to cruise and if we would sail again. And although I prefer not to discuss negative matters and traumatic events like these I’m going to weigh in with my opinion. (I’m...

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Flashlight for Safety

This may seem obvious when you read it but do you have a flashlight in your travel bag? OR your daily purse/bag? Flashlight for Safety – better safe than sorry is my motto We live in a crazy world folks and you never know when there is going to be a black out, disaster…or zombie apocalypse. That’s why when we are at home we have smoke detectors, flashlights, fire extinguishers, extra water and food. But for some reason, we go to work or vacation and we don’t think about this, we become complacent, we drop our guard, we rely...

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Carry-On Luggage – One Bag to Hold it All

The quest for the ideal piece of carry-on luggage is like a search for the ring in the movie “Lord of the Rings”. Throughout the journey of en-light-enment, you’ll scale mountains of luggage piles, fight off bargain hunters at sales, and have to keep your wits sharp to solve the puzzle of measurements and weights. If you previously read my article entitled “Carry-On Luggage Only – My journey to En-LIGHT-enment” then you saw the reasons why I’m determined to travel carry-on only for all my adventures. Here’s my deductive reasoning on what type of bag to shop for if...

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Hong Kong – View from Victoria Peak

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a trip by tram up to see the view from Victoria Peak and the harbour down below….everyone has done it and bought the t-shirt in one of the many night markets to prove it. The views are breathtaking…even through the city smog. There are a couple of ways of getting up to Victoria Peak. You can bus it or take the historic Peak Tram, which has been in operation since 1888. The Tram ride by itself is an adventure – as it clickity clack goes along the track, you can feel...

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Travel Tip – Reusable Water Bottle – Would you like some germs with your water?

Let’s say you’re packing for your trip and you think “Hey…I have an idea! I’m going to bring my own reusable water bottle and I’m going to just fill it with ice and fresh water from the cruise ship, hotel, resort etc. for when I’m out touring! I’ll save money AND the environment!” Before you continue with this thought I’m going to assume that you checked whether the water at your travel destination is drinkable right? Well then that’s a GREAT Idea! I do this all the time BUT, did you pack dish detergent or something to wash out...

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