My Top 50 Canadian Anthems 

Standard

My Top 50 Canadian Anthems

This is a list of my personal favourite Canadian anthems. To me, anthems are songs Canadians from Victoria to St. John’s would likely recognize and sing along to without feeling a shred of shame! Not necessarily, #1 hits but songs that resonate with Canucks for one reason or another. It could be a childhood favourite or that summer jam that takes you back to that time you first heard it.

I grew up in the 90’s so my list won’t have Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes or The Weeknd on it…YET! Keep in mind this just my personal collection of Canadian songs I consider anthems and these are in no particular order. I would love to hear some of yours.

I should also point out, originally this was supposed to be a Top 25 but, then I realized 25 is not enough. So I opted to make it a Top 40 and still that was not enough. I could go well passed a Top 50 but I had to cut it off at some point.

  1. Hockey Night in Canada Theme: This is basically the 2nd national anthem after Oh Canada; the true Canadians can hum this theme with ease. Growing up in Canada, Hockey Night in Canada was religion on Saturday nights from fall to spring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAjgpVy2rMQ

  1. The Hockey Song – Stompin’ Tom Connors: If HNIC is the 2nd national anthem this could be considered the 3rd national anthem in Canada. Stompin’ Tom is a Canadian legend if you don’t know you better ask somebody.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YS3GQverRiQ

  1. Log Driver’s Waltz – Wade Hemsworth: This classic folk song was a part of the Canadian Film Board’s ‘Canada Vignettes’ series which started back in the 1979. It tells the tale of a young woman who is told to love someone like a doctor or lawyer but she can’t escape her affection for the log drivers. This was a staple during my elementary school days, when I would watch YTV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srp7k-9oCkw

  1. Blackfly – Wade Hemsworth: Another classic folk song about those pesky blackflies. If you have ever been to North Ontar-I-O-I-O you probably know all about this. Back in elementary school I think in 3rd grade our class had to learn this song in South Ontar-I-O-I-O. Oh the memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2q8jEuH3nk

  1. Skinnamarink – Sharon, Lois and Bram: These 3 wonderful people were staples of kids’ lives back in the 80’s and 90’s. There way of making simple things into unforgettable songs that were interactive to all people was amazing. While one could argue songs like ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’ or ‘Fish and Chips and Vinegar’ or ‘One Elephant’ were great (and they were) their signature song was no doubt ‘Skinnamarink’ with the hand motions every child talent show from the 1980’s onward in Canada. I believe this was probably the first kid song I remember performing as a kid probably back in Grade 1 or 2. Not really sure if my vocals improved since then. Also, R.I.P Lois.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPdV8jXAjUQ

  1. Down By the Bay – Raffi: This was the jam back in music class in elementary school. Raffi is beloved by many of us born in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. His family emigrated here from Egypt when he was 10 years old. His other hits include ‘Baby Beluga’ (remember that from Full House), ‘Apples and Bananas’ and ‘Bananaphone’ but for me, ‘Down by the Bay’ sticks for me because it is where watermelons grow!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CSxGHve60E

  1. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams: This song is the quintessential song at every cottage weekend or BBQ in the summer. People over the years have had the argument of what ‘69’ meant if it was the year 1969 or something else. Apparently, it is meant to be nostalgic and about making love in the summer. Either way this is forever an iconic Canadian anthem!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f06QZCVUHg

  1. If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot: Mr. Lightfoot is a national treasure and this is easily one of the most recognizable Canadian songs in history. Now, growing up in the 90’s I knew this song more from the ‘Stars of 54’ dance remix but, still it brought me to this version….eventually.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkvPkSpg1OQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97ZbiemJ1KU

  1. Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane: If you have ever been on a road trip in Canada, this song is necessary listening material. Or if you have kids, you have been driven insane by the Rascal Flatts version from the Pixar film ‘Cars’…Thanks Lightning McQueen! Either way if you don’t get your air harmonica on during the bridge something is wrong with you. Also, shout out to ‘Big League’ that’s banger too.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sMjm9Eloo

  1. Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf: So this classic was first made famous on the soundtrack of ‘Easy Rider’. If I am being completely honest, I have always known this song but for the longest time I never knew Steppenwolf originated from Toronto. Also, this song coined the term ‘heavy metal’ when describing a motorcycle. This track still ROCKS and it will never die! The ultimate cruising song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UWRypqz5-o

  1. Let Your Backbone Slide – Maestro Fresh Wes: Calling this classic an anthem is an understatement I would probably consider this the most important song in Canadian Hip-Hop as Maestro showed Canada that rap music was not a fad it was here to stay. The road was not easy for him but, he is a legend today and the first person I can ever recall using ‘sacroiliac’ in any music lyric that alone is a feat. ‘Backbone’ still rocks the party like it was 1989. Remember kids, without this song Drake might not even be rapping today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eQt3KFNeh4

  1. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette: Potentially one of the breakup songs in music history. When this song dropped back in 1996 this was not the Alanis we grew up on, not the teen pop singer. Although ‘Too Hot’ was nice and ‘An Emotion Away’ was my jam, she repackaged herself as this young woman filled with emotion, angst and raw energy who was not afraid to be heard. The rest as they say is history. After a few drinks at the bar, you can’t help but belt out the chorus as loud as possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPcyTyilmYY

  1. Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart: Thanks to Corey Hart we now know why you should wear your sunglasses at night. This song is another banger that the average Canadian rocks bars, bonfires and house parties from coast to coast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56HSPQHSqEE

  1. American Woman – The Guess Who: No, this song wasn’t done by Lenny Kravitz. Interestingly enough, this rock classic was created by accident. The famous riff starting the song happened on the fly and they started jamming and ‘American Woman’ was created. This track is timeless is another one of those songs you scream at the top of your lungs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_3yeQeBOAI

  1. Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone – Glass Tiger: The pride of Newmarket, Ontario hit the big time when this single dropped. This song used to be on CBC Video Hits and MuchMusic on heavy rotation. This is another one of those singalong tracks after a few beers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG2IFsz_n5c

  1. Working for the Weekend – Loverboy: As I’m going through this list I see the obvious trend of 80’s music but, whatever this is good track. I didn’t learn about this track until later on in life but 35+ years later it still kicks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL8G5pBZ5CI

  1. Lay it on the Line – Triumph: Repping Mississauga, Ontario Triumph was all about that hard rock, metal type of sound. This track is winner just because of the awesome guitar solo midway through let alone the whole song being sweet. Definite headbanging material!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz26fcmq3S8

  1. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles: The mix of rock and country on this song just adds to the power of this track. If you really listen to the lyrics it is a pretty sexy song. I can’t even count the amount of covers to this song there is out there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT4d1LQy4es

  1. How You Remind Me – Nickelback: So today, it seems like the whole world hates Nickelback but, ‘How You Remind Me’ is an iconic song and is one of the best-selling singles of the 2000’s. Before it was cool to crap on Nickelback they put out some pretty solid tunes. I can recall rocking this track at a karaoke night or two.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cQh1ccqu8M

  1. Superman’s Dead – Our Lady Peace: This OLP song is around 20 years old and for me it never gets old. Mimicking, the ‘aye ee aye ee ah aye yeahhh’ was everyone’s favourite thing to do after the song got popular, and I still try and fail to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBBtorFg2I

  1. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now – Celine Dion: To be fair there is lots of songs in Celine’s catalogue to choose from but for this one is a stand out. Firstly, it’s a 6 minute song but you will listen to the entire thing because the tempo and vocals change it is a power ballad lover’s wet dream. Secondly, this sort of feels like the Canadian version of Meat Loaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything for Love’ which I’m good with. Lastly, Celine throws down some serious vocal acrobatics all over this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDxoj-tDDIU

  1. Rise Up – Parachute Club: Let’s be real ‘Rise Up’ is one of the most important songs in Canadian pop music for its message of peace, unity and equality while still remaining upbeat. It also, brought together Caribbean sounds for the first time in pop music. Today, it is an activist anthem used to inspire and uplift in the LGBTQ community along with feminist movements. This song is 34 years old and still going strong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwR0CPXZpBs

  1. Run With Us – Lisa Lougheed: So, either you know this song because you watched the CBC cartoon ‘The Raccoons’ in the 1980’s or you made conscious choice to watch ‘Hobo, With A Shotgun’ either way you can’t go wrong, this song is so 80’s it hurts and I love it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usFFKNRB2z8

  1. I Beg Your Pardon – Kon Kan: What you know about this? When new wave and dance music was dominating the charts in the 1980’s Kon Kan pulled out this gem. It kind of has that New Order/Pet Shop Boys feel to it which makes it even better!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAw-YYKkqWE

  1. These Eyes – The Guess Who: This song is a rock classic period, Burton Cummings vocals are haunting and pierce right there you. For the hip-hop fans you may recognize the sample from Maestro’s track ‘Stick to Your Vision’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOBBXfWEdW0

  1. Tom Sawyer – Rush: Once that drum crashes and the guitar hits you already know what song this is. For the new school people you may have heard Paul Rudd and Jason Siegel raving about Rush in the film ‘I Love You Man’ you know ‘slappin da bass’. Iconic rock song and its Canadian!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auLBLk4ibAk

  1. Conductin’ Thangs – Maestro Fresh Wes: Off of Maestro’s 2nd album ‘Black Tie Affair’ listening to a hip hop track with a big band sound was awesome. Once again, putting Canadians on notice that rap music was on the come up in Canada.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUuYtBSe4pU

  1. Dance Desire – Haywire: 80’s glam rock at its best on this one. Maestro sampled this track; ‘Drop the Needle’ came from the opening of this song. This another one of those awesome summer cottage tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhAK0WYsELI

  1. Don’t Wanna Fall In Love – Jane Child: As new wave was transitioning into synth-pop and ushering in the 90’s this track was too dope! I still jam hard when this track plays at old school parties, I still recall seeing this on MuchMusic and being in awe of her style the perm looking spikes, braids down past her butt and the earring chain attached to a nose ring that left an impression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWd__w5UWVc

  1. Heaven – Bryan Adams: To be honest, narrowing down Bryan Adams tracks is difficult there is still ‘Cuts Like A Knife’, ‘Run to You’, ‘Somebody’ and that’s just from the 80’s that doesn’t even include his stuff from the 90’s like ‘Everything I Do’, ‘Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman’, ‘Please Forgive Me’ among others. ‘Heaven’ to me was one of those classic 80’s power ballads and when karaoke nights happen, someone is singing the hell out of this one. Also, the video shows the Stanley theatre in Vancouver, a piece of Canadiana.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6TtwR2Dbjg

  1. Any Man of Mine – Shania Twain: Oh Shania! I remember the first time I ever saw Shania Twain I was smitten pretty much like a majority of Canada. She made country cool and fused it into pop music. Not to mention, she didn’t pull any punches with her content she kept it real. This is another country bar and karaoke classic almost anywhere in Canada. Country girl done good!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N2k-gv6xNE

  1. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion: I mean this is the biggest power ballad probably ever maybe only ‘I Will Always Love You’ surpasses it. After Titanic was released this song haunted your dreams. Then it followed you at high school dances, weddings and any karaoke bar you entered in the world not just Canada. Just like Bryan Adams, Celine’s catalogue is hard to choose from because there is so much but this is one of the greatest love songs ever hands down. I still remember her from ‘Love Can Move Mountains’ and ‘Je Danse Mon La Tete’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHG2oizTlpY

  1. Northern Touch (Remix) – Rascalz featuring Kardinal Offishall, Checkmate, Choclair, and Thrust: This posse cut was a landmark of Canadian hip-hop. Getting that American love which is what we wanted back then for hip-hop. I remember freaking out when I saw this on BET’s 106 & Park. Crazy that this song is 20 years old. Man, I feel old.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qCJ6Jazpfc

  1. Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf: Another classic rock song that, as I mentioned earlier, I had no clue until recently was Canadian. Trippy psychedelic rock that again is another one of those songs you can cruise to on a road trip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvidoBef4wA

  1. Steal My Sunshine – Len: Had to put up this guilty pleasure. Sure, Len were one-hit wonders but we all still jammed to the song regardless. And it automatically reminds you of summer and just kicking back with friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1fzJ_AYajA

  1. You’re A Superstar – Love Inc.: I will be the first to admit, dance music in the 90’s was huge in Canada. From ‘Chris Sheppard’s Pirate Radio Sessions’ to the ‘MuchMusic Dance Mix’ series it was inescapable. This was an ultimate feel-good track. Every time I hear this track flashbacks of Electric Circus keep rushing back to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsidcB-24JU

  1. Let’s Ride – Choclair: After the success of ‘Northern Touch’ when Da Shizknocka dropped his solo album this single was a BANGER! The beat is just so chill this is a driving down Yonge Street on Caribana weekend kinda track. This also, got some love on BET south of the border.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_Nnvl621oo

  1. Dancing Under A Latin Moon – Candi and the Backbeat: Was Candi and the Backbeat a huge deal in Canada? Probably not but, I loved this song from the first time I heard it so it is making my list! Great pop music with a bit of Italian and Latin flavour in it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlF-mX4DrCg

  1. Someday – Glass Tiger: This one is a tune! I think we had the vinyl 45 for this when I was a kid. Alan Frew kills it as usual and the lyrics are simple but you can feel them. We’ve all had those times after a break-up and trying to cope with it. I could see myself belting this one out after last call.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHYtsnSlCg0

  1. My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style – Dream Warriors: I don’t think this one needs much of a description as this was a foundational song in the story of hip-hop in Canada. You had to be living under a rock not to know this song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXAJZmlRMdc

  1. Rocking in the Free World – Neil Young: I mean does it even get more Canadian and rock than Neil Young? I don’t think so; I believe that’s all that needs to be said. Neil Young is an OG no question about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnAgc1kgvLc

  1. Taking Care of Business – Bachman Turner Overdrive: It doesn’t matter whether or not it is one of the best rock n roll songs ever, that’s undeniable. Who even knows how many covers of this there are?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4sI5DG5sjc

  1. If I Had A Million Dollars – Barenaked Ladies: It’s hard to find someone who hates BNL because they were just so likeable. Shoot, I remember when they were doing videos at Speakers Corner before they got their first break. This song is as Canadian as it gets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBH2Q_owBHw

  1. Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here – Deborah Cox: There weren’t too many R&B stars in Canada but she was one of them. The lyrics and the vocalization in this song makes you feel her emotions and if this sounds too sad for you well good news there is the dance remix. Now that I’m an adult I totally get what she is going through in this song. Honourable mentions to ‘Sentimental’, ‘ Beautiful U R’ and ‘Who Do You Love’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H947PtHmh0Y

  1. So Into You – Tamia: Representing Windsor, it’s Tamia! Along with Deborah Cox she was one of the few Canadian-born R&B stars. This track is just timeless to me. Honourable mentions to ‘Officially Missing You’, ‘You Put A Move On My Heart’, ‘Still’ and ‘Imagination’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0uuy4mDrE

  1. Wavin’ Flag – K’Naan: When this was used as the official anthem in the 2010 World Cup it was incredible and closest Canada has been to participating in a Men’s World Cup since like 1986. This song brought some unity and pride with its lyrics and message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amXeJrA-wDc

  1. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats: We can dance if want to! You can call this song corny but it’s damn catchy. Men Without Hats were reppin’ new wave in Canada back in the 1980’s and Safety Dance is a worldwide success along with ‘Pop Goes The World’. Classic tunes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjPau5QYtYs

  1. Informer – Snow: Whether you want to admit it or not, ‘Informer’ was a huge track! A white guy droppin’ Jamaican patois was a novelty. If ‘In Living Color’ does a parody of your song you are doing something right, for better or worse. I remember when people found out he was white, they lost their minds. ‘Girl I’ve Been Hurt’ was my jammmm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv1crUGHi4E

  1. Crying Over You – Platinum Blonde: These dudes were the definition of 80’s glam hair band. This song still goes hard especially when the chorus kicks in you want to scream it at the top of your lungs like they seem to be doing. When the guitar solo happens you gotta pull out the air guitar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkxH-Q7_sbk

  1. I Cry – Bass Is Base: This trio blended jazz, R&B and some hip-hop and this is one of my favourite Canadian songs. Catchy, soulful and for me this is one of those chill out songs I can listen to on repeat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOXqrAv6eEQ

If you made it all the way to the bottom of this list, bless your soul! What songs would make your list?

Cheers,

Waynie

Advertisements

What I Learned From Pushing Myself to Travel Solo

Standard

One year ago today, I embarked on a personal mission to see more of the world outside of North America. People always talk about it, but I wanted to be about it. Most of my friends are into going to the US or doing all-inclusive trips which is fine but I was seeking something more but, I just wasn’t sure. 

The wheels started turning in my head on New Year’s Eve as 2016 was approaching. Most people were out with friends or loved ones while I was inside of my apartment partaking in Chinese takeout. Toiling about the year I had and the year to come I realized I still hadn’t watched the Netflix series ‘Master Of None’ like I said I would back in like October. So, 3 episodes turned into 6 episodes and 5 hours later I ended up watching the whole season. First of all, that show is like the handbook to your 30’s. Secondly, when I saw Aziz Ansari’s character Dev, just randomly hop on a plane bound for Italy I was thinking to myself “ Yoooo, that is pretty bad ass…I wish I could do that!”.

Then suddenly, it hit me…WHY CAN’T I DO THAT?!?! After listing about 15 reasons why I am too scared to randomly travel alone it was almost midnight. Most of the time you share with your friends some goals or resolutions you may have. Since no one was around I told myself 2016 my theme is going to be EXPLORE! I should’ve prefaced that by saying each year instead of resolutions I have themes or mottos I try to live by. 2015 was ‘Get It Done!’ which was a challenge to finish my last bout of education and stop telling myself I can’t do this or that.  So perhaps that theme was a precursor to this 2016 one. 
I went back to work after the holiday and starting thinking, how the hell was I going to pull this off. I learned that once I have the time everything else will figure itself out. I had banked some leftover vacation time from 2015 so perhaps I could use that. I had money saved up as a ‘rainy day fund’ so if push comes to shove I could tap into that to make this happen. 

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day and I had a romantic day alone on the coldest weekend in recent memory watching the NBA All Star Game and after the game I was like…LETS DO THIS!!! I was researching places to go that weren’t too crazy expensive but weren’t in North America. Google Flights was my homeboy for about 3 weeks before booking just randomly mapping out destinations and price watching. So after 5 minutes of OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! AM I REALLY GONNA DO THIS…I said… F— It and clicked confirm and my flights were booked. And I would be leaving the following Sunday. That gave me no time to overthink this and talk myself out of it. The rush was amazing and scary at the same time, if that makes any sense. 

The destination was….wait for it….Malta! Wait what?! Where the hell is that?! Why did you pick Malta?! Why not Great Britain or France or Spain?!  So Malta is an island nation just off the south coast of Italy. I didn’t go for the obvious places like Great Britain and France because well one it’s cold there in February and everyone goes there. I like to be a bit out of the ordinary and Malta was like $400 bucks cheaper to fly there and it’s like 20-22C every day. Also, there were weird coincidences that I convinced myself were signs I must go there. 

I was scanning through the New York Times list of ’52 Places to Go in 2016’ and Malta caught my eye, one week later I was on a bus and one of the stops was Malta Street. About 3 days after I randomly saw the film ‘The Maltese Falcon’ on TV and at the groceries scanning through the candy aisle a bag of Maltesers fell on my arm. I was like whether these are real signs or not, this is pushing me to pursue something that I set it out to do so let’s go for it!

I booked my accommodations and sightseeing trips literally 2-3 days before I left, I had to get printer ink to print out my itineraries because I like having hard copies just in case. I packed my bags like 5 hours before I left and I hardly told anyone. Just my mom and sister, a few cousins and friends no more than like 6 people. My mom thought I was a crazy person for doing something like this so spur of the moment and alone no less. Up until that point the farthest I have ever travelled alone was to Hamilton…Ontario not Bermuda. 

Was I scared? No, I wasn’t scared…I WAS TERRIFIED!!! The longest I have ever sat on a plane for was like 4.5-5 hours. This was going to be 8 hours to fly to Frankfurt and then catch my connecting flight to Malta. When I said goodbye to my mom, my heart sank down to my kneecaps because this was really happening. My sister dropped me to the airport and she was impressed and maybe a bit jealous that I had the boldness to do what many others wouldn’t. Not only travel alone, but to put it all together in 6 days. Oh yes, I was brave. 

At YYZ, I was mingling with some passengers and they were pretty taken aback by my tale of not only solo travelling but planning it all within a week. I did not sleep at all on the flight or the first night in Malta because of the anxiety I was feeling. But, I needed that in order to gain some personal growth. Once I finally got used to not being in my comfort zone it was smooth sailing for the most part. 

My trip was challenging, it was refreshing and enlightening too. This blog has posts of that trip if you are still reading this and want to know about Malta and Sicily go nuts! I carried a travel journal with me that I would write in on almost a daily basis to keep me calm and to live in the moment without worrying about forgetting a detail. Since I wrote my thoughts out I can go back and look at these entries fondly. 

Some of what I learned from travelling solo for the first time is the following:

1) I can do just about anything I put my mind to

2) Fear is a part of life but conquering it gives you unimaginable personal freedom and power

3) Just because your friends wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be your own person

4) Always be smart with your data plan and battery life on your devices

5) VPNs come in clutch when you attempt to watch the Oscars with your tablet using Wi-Fi from your hotel room at 2 am and no channels in Malta are carrying it. 

6) Don’t be afraid to wander because the best self-discoveries happen when you least expect it

7) I can only control what I can control, I can’t worry about things that are beyond my control

8) Being Canadian really gets admiration from people in Europe

9) In Europe they reallyyyyy love churches and food (rabbit is pretty tasty)

10) Sports bars only seem to play soccer and cricket, asking about UFC will get you dirty looks

11) Life is too short to keep putting it off, it is okay to play and do what you love

12) An extreme change of scenery elevated my creativity and capacity to see and do more

13) If you like to collect passport stamps the EU isn’t as fun since it’s all connected, I only got 1 stamp!

14) People tend to get more fascinated by you when you travel solo and to different destinations. Strategic social media posting is key!

15) I can always make money back but, I can never make my time back so spend it wisely

In the aftermath of this, it gave me a new clarity and a hunger to explore more. So shortly after, I made more plans to see some more of the world in 2016. In May, I went to New York City and Philadelphia on my own and booked the flight 3 days before I went. 

In the fall, I set my sights on seeing Asia so I went to Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Singapore but I was thinking well I’m close by so let’s go to Sydney too! 

Yes, I got hit by the travel bug but it was worth it. In a span of 8 months I collected a lifetime’s worth of experiences and memories that can never be taken away from me. 

Instead of getting those new pair of Jordan’s or getting bottle service at that club I would rather use that money towards a trip that would be personally enriching to me and also it gives me decent points of conversation at gatherings and parties. I may not be rich in my bank account (especially after all of that) but I am richer in culture and experiences which is priceless to me! Solo travel may not be for everyone but, I thought it wasn’t for me until I challenged myself to try it out and test myself. And to think it all started with Master of None, Chinese takeout and a New Year’s resolution!
Walk it out people, 

Waynie

Memoirs of Honest Ed’s

Standard

I wrote about this back in April 2014, but now the iconic Toronto store is close to shutting it’s doors for the final time on New Year’s Eve. Over the past year Honest Ed’s has been selling it’s locally famous hand painted signs and this last weekend was supposedly the ‘final sign sale’ so I opted to go down and check it out for myself.

In case you were wondering about my history with Honest Ed’s I’ve written about it before but I’ll reiterate. As a kid born to immigrants Honest Ed’s was known as the place to find cheap deals and there were always interesting characters from the shoppers to the employees to the Mirvishes themselves. Whenever, we went to see family in Parkdale usually Honest Ed’s along with Dufferin Mall and Queen West were on our to-do list whether I liked it or not.

Christmas season we would trek there to look for bargains on gifts while Boney M Christmas was blaring through the store on repeat. My mom was smart though she would bribe me with a beef patty from Bathurst station for my patience.

While, in the store today random conversations were happening between total strangers talking about their experiences here with their parents or with their kids. It was like a Toronto living history lesson. One man said his dad would shop at the original store and other people reminisced about first coming to Canada and this being the place they got their first belongings upon arrival in Toronto.

Some people were here looking for signs to resell online while others like myself were searching and searching and searching for the right piece of Toronto nostalgia for their wall or basement.

Personally, my mission was to find a sign or a few for items I actually bought here as a kid. Some would grab a bunch of signs and find an area to sort through them while people like me would try to design the layout of signs on my wall. Prices ranged from $1 to $200+ it varies on the design, size and age of the sign.

It is kind of funny to me that now in Toronto we are struggling with not having enough community areas for people to gather and wander around meanwhile places that gave you that opportunity like Honest Ed’s are forced to close their doors because in Toronto condos are our hobby. Rumour has it there are plans for a big closing bash, hopefully many of us can pass through.

Ethnicity, gender and other demographics did not matter here all that mattered was finding the best deal for your family, meeting like minded people and maybe making good conversation in the process, now that’s something Amazon has yet to deliver.

Walk it out people, 

WAYNIE

The Malta Experience: Exploring Sicily and Going up Mount Etna!

Standard

 

Exploring Malta was pretty fun but, when booking excursions I realized that I had a shot to touchdown in historic Sicily, Italy! Was I an expert on Sicily absolutely not, Italian clients of mine would rave about Sicily, the food, landscape, the visuals and so on. The first time I remember ever hearing about Sicily was watching Golden Girls back in the day with my mother because the character Sophia was originally from there and during episodes Sophia would reminisce about Sicilian this and that (Yup, I’m kinda aging myself).

The good part is Sicily can be done in a day but, unless you plan on flying there it truly is a daylong commitment. How much of a commitment you may ask? Well, I woke up at 415am left my hotel at 450am and returned back to my hotel sometime around 1130pm. So literally, a whole day was required! The tour operator is a company called Virtu Ferries and to be honest when I heard ferry boat I was thinking Centre Island, creeky old boat for 2 hours how will I survive that? But, it actually was a luxury catamaran boat that carries passengers, cars and transportation trucks all at once. They show movies onboard, they got a snack bar, there are like 3 levels depending on how VIP you are, really comfortable seating options from tables to recliner chairs and there are even casino machines! I was pleasantly surprised.

Malta to Sicily Italy Ferry

The water was pretty rough so that kinda delayed us, people were feeling seasick from the rocking but, we made it! Once we landed in Pozzallo, Sicily we hopped on coaches and we were on our way. We entered the province of Catania and drove, for about 90 minutes, along to the municipality of Nicolosi. Our group stopped off at a café for people to have a coffee/snack. I will admit I probably had one of the best pastries I may ever eat in my life at this Dolce Vita Café. It was like a croissant filled with fresh pistachio crème and it legit changed my life! Soooo good, I was sad when I finished it because it was done and had to go back on the bus and couldn’t get another one.

La Dolce Vita Cafe Pistachio Croissant Nicolosi Sicily Italy

Next stop, Mount Etna!

Mount Etna is tallest active volcano in Europe at a total height of about 3329m or 10922ft. On the way up, our guide told us the history of Mount Etna and we also got to see some of the destruction its eruptions have done including submerging houses in molten lava. That was pretty cool and frightening at the same time.

House Submerged in Lava Mount Etna Sicily

So the coach took us up to about 1900m up. There is a lodge there for tourists and such. Every few 100 metres I would see the temperature drop and think to myself that I should’ve brought more than my Jays hoodie to keep me warm but the funny thing is when people asked if I had a coat or anything, when I mentioned that I was from Canada everyone was like…’Oh, then you’re used to the cold you will be fine then!’ Gotta love those Canadian stereotypes but, I owned it. So at 1900m you can hang out there for an hour or so check out the view but for those who need more elevation in their life you can take a creeky cable car up to 2500m at a cost of 30 Euro. Surprisingly, not that many people wanted to do the cable car, maybe it was the price or the height or the untrustworthiness of the cable car or the weather (because it seemed foggy). My thought process was I came here from Canada so this is HAPPENING! Went up the cable car with a random person from my tour group and as Fat Joe says…I’M ALL THE WAY UP!

Cable Car View Mount Etna

This is the view from the sketchy cable car. The view from up there was breathtaking and breathe shortening since we are 2500M up at the highest point. Once you reach that level you can climb up more and there is a shuttle that takes you up a bit higher. I missed the shuttle so I power walked up maybe 100-200M more. The experience was amazing to think that I was over 8200ft in the air without being inside of a plane was soooo cool! We were so high up we actually are looking DOWN AT THE CLOUDS and the sky is really clear.

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy

I think that is the shuttle I missed

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds

Up in rare air!

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds 1

Possibly the purest oxygen I’ve ever breathed in my life!

Top of Mount Etna Sicily Italy Above the Clouds (2)

Started from the bottom…Now we here! (8200+ FEET!)

After that we hopped back on the coach and went to explore the local area and the views and architecture were immaculate in Sicily. I felt like I was transported to another planet. Just straight up beautiful.

Hilltop houses in Sicily Italy

The houses stacked up on the hills looked awesome.

Wine and chocolate tasting in sicily italy

I’m sorry…Did you say complimentary Sicilian chocolate and wine tasting? YES PLEASE!

Views from Sicily Italy

Each corridor with stairs felt like another getaway to somewhere brand new.

Cathedral in Sicily Italy

This cathedral looked incredible and is over 500 years old!

The only downside was that from 4 to 630pm pretty much the whole town is shut down. It is like their daily break time so I was unable to get Sicilian pizza but, still that was interesting imagine most restaurants over in North America closing for 2-3 hours people would lose their minds!! But, I’ll admit I am pretty down with that way of life!

Authentic Italian Panini Sicily

Well at least I got an authentic Italian Panini… So it wasn’t a total loss! The journey back, was a bit longer due to rougher waters but it was alright. Finally, got home around 1130pm and I got to admit it was an epic day. It’s not often you get to jump on a boat to hang out in Italy for a day, go up a volcano, eat chocolate and wine and wander around the beauty of Sicily!

More to come,

Walk it out people,

Waynie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Malta Experience: Get Lost in Magic of Mdina!

Standard

Have you ever wished you could jump into a time machine and relive a different point of time? Good news Malta has got it for you. While there are various places to get this feeling one of the best places is the city of Mdina (no typo that’s how it is spelled). Once you walk across the bridge and enter the gates you legitimately feel like you’ve been whisked away into another world.

Walled City of Mdina Malta Kings Landing Date

You thought I was joking didn’t you? There really is a bridge and gates to enter when going into Mdina. In case you were wondering if this gate looks familiar, if you watch Game of Thrones, you may know this as Kings Landing Gate from the show. As I previously mentioned in my last post I do not watch Game of Thrones so I have no idea what that means but I believe it is a cool thing. One of the most impressive things is that most of the architecture is from the medieval times of the 1400s to 1500s and is still standing. The walled city (a.k.a fortified) of Mdina, was once the capital of Malta before Valletta, which later became the capital city.

Mdina Malta Kings Landing Gate

As you might be able to guess, the reason for the high bridges and walls is because Mdina and Malta as a whole was considered to be a military type of country that defended itself and Europe from outside enemies.

Mdina Malta Street Corridor

 

The streets of Mdina are cobblestone I believe, and you can only walk, cycle or horse carriage through the streets of Mdina if you are a non-resident. Only residents of Mdina are able to drive its streets. Their driver’s licenses and plates are slightly different to identify them as Mdina residents.

Mdina Malta Horse and Carriage

When you spend some time in Mdina you can literally get lost in its streets. The long stretching corridors just beg you to wander around them and explore a different world.

Walled City of Mdina Malta City Streets Corridors

The lamps are gas lit; the restaurants and cafes are cozy and friendly, the homes all have stories to them whether it’s the colours of their doors or the creative looking mailboxes and door-knockers (I don’t know if there is an actual name for them).

Mdina Malta 1

Just the sheer beauty of its simplicity is stellar. Can’t forget it wouldn’t be Malta without an amazing looking church in the city square.

St. Paul's Cathedral Mdina Malta European Churches

I present to you St. Paul’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral which is an awesome site to witness. It has a patriarchal cross atop it. The clock on the right is for the time and the clock on the left is for the date. This was built sometime in the late 1600’s and it is just immaculate. People’s selfie games were strong with this site, selfie sticks popped out almost on command.

Mdina Malta Statue Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus

This is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus along a main road of Mdina which is believed to have been sculpted back in the 1600’s that is a great piece for the art buffs out there.

Mdina Malta Elevated Countryside View 1

This is the vantage point from the highest area in Mdina giving you a marvelous view of the countryside. From a strategic military point of view I could see why this viewpoint would be advantageous when defending Malta in those times.

My View of the Malta Countryside atop of Mdina..AMAZING!! (Video)

All in all, this place was amazing especially if you enjoy history and different ways of life. Personally, being from a busy city like Toronto the laid back easy pace of Mdina was a welcomed escape to what felt like a whole different world.

And yes, there is still more to come!

Waynie!

 

 

 

The Malta Experience: Exploring the Westside of Malta (San Anton and Dingli)

Standard

My first day in Malta I survived but, full disclosure I was terrified! Not because I felt like I was in danger but because this was the first time in my life that I was in a foreign continent with absolutely nobody I knew so it does take a bit of time to adjust to that idea. So let’s just say sleeping wasn’t easy for me. I was actually awake for about 30 hours straight from the time I left Toronto to when I finally fell asleep in Malta. It was a glorious 5 hours because you can’t go to Europe without booking some excursions!

So keep in mind I booked this trip and left one week later so time was not on my side when it came to choosing what I wanted to do on my days in Malta. I could just relax, or sit by the bay and reflect on life. That sounded nice but, nope I have to explore this country. My first excursion was to the western part of Malta which was a guided tour showing me San Anton Gardens, Dingli Cliffs, Mdina, Rabat and Mosta. It was going to be a long day but, hey I’m on vacation! Stood downstairs waited for the tour operator’s coach to pick me up and off we went.

First impressions…Well I was one of the youngest people on this tour…The only person of colour on this tour…The only solo traveller on this tour…And the only person not from Europe on this tour. Yes, I like breaking barriers. Our guide was conducting the tour in English and Russian so hearing extended Russian in between English for about 6-7 hours was an experience in itself.

First stop…San Anton Gardens.

San Anton Garden Malta

San Anton Gardens is exactly what it sounds like, a garden. It is considered a sanctuary of sorts for plants and some wildlife we must have spent most of our time following the peacocks around.

San Anton Gardens

What is interesting about this place is that most of the structures are about 500-600 years old. Also, this place doubles as the President of Malta’s palace.

San Anton Palace Malta 1

Also, for Game of Thrones fans this palace is also used as a location in the show. On the show it is known as ‘The Red Keep’. Winter wasn’t here though it was like 22C.

San Anton Palace Malta 2

I apologize I am one of the 58 people who doesn’t watch the show so I got no idea what that is but, most you all do!

San Anton Palace Malta

Most of the structures in Malta are made using it is own natural limestone. After being here for a week I kinda want a limestone house because who needs bricks!

San Anton Garden Malta Statue.jpg

Next stop… Dingli Cliffs!!

Dingli is a small village on the west coast of Malta. The village was established waaaaay back in 1436! The cliffs measure up to roughly 250M above sea level. These cliffs are considered one of the highest points in Malta. This picturesque view beams down onto the Mediterranean Sea and if you look in the distance you can see an island. (My bad, my camera isn’t top of line)

Dingli Cliffs Malta Coast

While I was briefly on top of here I couldn’t help but think of back home in Toronto for a minute. One of my favourite places to go and see are the Scarborough Bluffs which is what this kinda reminded me of. The view is just wonderful to take in, especially since it was a clear and warm day in February!

Dingli Cliffs Malta Coast 1

The serenity of it all was a nice change of pace compared to the usual hustle and bustle of big city life. I was helping people on our tour get those winner photos for their friends and family back home.

 

Coming up on my next post….MDINA and Rabat!

 

Stay tuned…More to come!

 

Waynie!

The Malta Experience! Goodbye Toronto and Hello Europe!

Standard

It was Toronto NBA All-Star Weekend also referred to as the coldest damn weekend of 2016. I had left over vacation time from 2015 that I didn’t use as yet. For whatever reason, maybe banking it for a trip, I was afraid of being let go so maybe I wanted that extra 2 weeks of pay just in case who knows. I was randomly going on Google Flights for the week prior trying to figure out somewhere cool to go to.  

Yes, I could’ve gone the easy route and just booked an all-inclusive trip to Cuba or Dominican Republic basically anywhere with sun and beach would do just fine. However, I wanted to explore somewhere completely different. So then while looking at routes to Italy or Greece I stumbled upon the island of Malta. What did I know about Malta? Game of Thrones is filmed there….There is a Little Malta in Roncy here in Toronto…Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau was in Malta for a meeting back in November…There is a street in the Scarborough Bluffs area called Malta Avenue…It was an island south of Italy where they spoke English. Once I saw they spoke English I needed to investigate further.

All the investigation I needed was the climate. Basically, for every day I would be in Malta it would be 17C to 22C which was better than the -17C to -22C we were facing here. So, I’m watching the NBA All Star Game at home, Russell Westbrook won the MVP. Kobe said farewell to Toronto and the All Star Game as he was set to retire. Then I said…’Screw it, lets go to Malta!’ Booked it on Valentine’s Day and I went one week later Feb 21st. I should also note, I decided to role solo. This would mark for me the longest distance I have ever traveled alone. Before this I think the farthest I traveled alone was from Scarborough to Hamilton, ON hahaha!

 

Malta Aerial

After connecting from Frankfurt this was my view as we set to land in Malta! I was like, ‘Wait…This is where I’m going to be for a week?! HELLS YEAAAA!’ One thing I knew going in was in Malta, the people are really helpful and overall nice. I booked a shuttle service from the Malta International Airport (MLA) and it would pick me up on my return back home for like 15 EUR which would be unheard of at Pearson! After scouring hotels for like 3 days prior to my trip I opted to stay near the eastern coast of Malta in a town called Sliema (pronounced Sly-E-Ma) and it was like 40 CAD per night. Was it the fanciest hotel ever? NOPE! But it had the essentials, a decent bathroom, double bed, cabinet and most importantly some really good Wi-Fi! Basically, everywhere from hotels to restaurants had really decent Wi-Fi and that was an added bonus for me and my roaming data plan.

Sliema Malta Coastline View

If this was your view on a daily basis, you would be a pretty happy camper. First things first, let’s walk around this bad boy and see what it is all about. I was surprised to learn that a good portion of Malta is very walkable there is a promenade walk that goes along Malta’s coastline and it is really beautiful. There are parks, relaxing areas, beach areas, bars and pubs along this promenade walk. First thing I learned was in Malta most residents either jog/walk or smoke like all the time. Second thing I learned was a bottle of water literally costs maybe 0.20 EUR less than a beer so guess what I was drinking most of the time? BEER!

Cisk Local Malta Beer Lager

Cisk (pronounced Chess-k) is a local Malta beer that is a lager which is pretty smooth. I probably downed a bottle in less than 4 minutes since it didn’t really have any kickback or anything. I walked to the southeast coast of Malta via the promenade and then passed by and went up the northeast coast to St. Julian’s Bay, Spinola Bay and Paceville (pronounced Pa-chey-vill) and again it was all along promenade so just straight up walking no oncoming traffic to worry about. I will admit drivers of Toronto would go nuts in Malta unless it’s a highway it is mostly one lane or two lane traffic and pedestrians are boss people will stop and allow people to cross the street without massive honking or road rage…OUTSTANDING!

St Julians Bay Malta Coast

This above is St. Julian’s Bay if I’m not mistaken.

Love Locks Sliema Malta Coastline

This is a bridge along the Sliema coast where people get their LOVE LOCK on. It overlooks the capital of Malta called Valletta which is reachable by car, transit or walking but it is 3 times faster to take the ferry boat.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Sliema Malta

This above is Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which is a spectacular piece of architecture. All the churches I saw in Malta were masterfully produced they highly respect and worship their faith in Malta.

This is just a sneak peek there is more to come I just figured I would post a little bit here and there about this magnificent place I grew to enjoy and love over my visit. Its official Waynie Walks the TDot is international again!

HELLOOOOOOOO MALTA! (I have no idea why the font changed on me)

 

 

Stay tuned more to come soon,

Waynie