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world travel

Topping Canadians’ Travel Wish Lists: Pyramids and Disney World

Photo by Tim Kelley

If you asked the average Canadian to name his or her dream vacation, what would you expect to hear? A safari in Kenya? Beach bumming in Brazil? A culinary tour of Italy?

Apparently, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark, with a notable exception: Walt Disney World is the second-most desirable attraction on Canadians’ wish lists, according to a recent poll covered in the Toronto Star on Friday.

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Pamela MacNaughten of SpunkyGirl Monologues

When Grand Cache, Alberta, native Pam MacNaughten started her blog SpunkyGirl Monologues two years ago, it was a way to cope with her grandmother’s illness. Bonding with her grandmother before she died inspired Pam to live life to the fullest and she struck out to travel the world less than a year later (first stop: Thailand) and hasn’t looked back.

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Happy World Tourism Day 2011

By Carissa Bluestone

Can sharing a tradition, a story or just a smile really change the world? Maybe not, but according to the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day—“Tourism: Linking Cultures”—the moments of joy, honesty and understanding we experience while travelling have global significance. (more…)

Meet Jetsetting TV Personalities the Travel Guys

Local jet-setters Jim Gordon and Darren Parkman are living the dream

By Kristina Urquhart

Darren Parkman (left) and Jim Gordon (right) sample suds at Yaletown Brewing Co. When abroad, the guys enjoy tasting local libations, from cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley to fresh beer at the Guinness brewery in Ireland. Photo by KK Law

Imagine if your job were to hop a plane and travel the globe. Climbing Sydney’s Harbour Bridge? Check. Riding an elephant in Thailand? Been there, done that. One month, you’re harvesting grapes in an Italian vineyard. The next, you’re kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

It’s all in a day’s work for Jim Gordon and Darren Parkman, who have achieved all that and more as the stars of Shaw TV’s The Travel Guys. In nearly seven years, the duo has filmed 90 shows around the world; when they’re not off in some far-flung locale, they can be found right here in Vancouver. Both former radio personalities, they each write entertainment columns for local publications; Gordon is also a movie critic for CTV.

The Travel Guys was originally shot for local television station KVOS, then moved to Shaw TV a year later. Each episode, which takes more than a month to organize, is peppered with the pair’s trademark witty banter. They’ll also help you plan your vacation (or, at the least, get you dreaming about one) by telling you where to stay, what to do and what to avoid—all while highlighting the region’s cultural heart.

If you’re fantasizing about your next adventure, consider Australia. Sydney is the guys’ favourite place to visit. “It’s like a tropical London,” Parkman says. “It’s got the cool British thing, but there are parrots flying overhead, and it’s 80 degrees every day.” Other worthy destinations? Gordon and Parkman count Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain among their top picks.

The guys have had more than their fair share of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In China, they shot a sequence for their show from inside a panda cage. While they embraced the bear, Parkman explains, a trainer was off-camera holding a spear—in case the animal got a little too friendly. At an Alaskan hatchery, Parkman greeted visitors while dressed up as a giant salmon flapping around on a bench.

But there’s nothing quite like home sweet home. “You recognize how beautiful Vancouver is when you’re away,” Parkman says. Gordon agrees. “It has so much to offer,” he says. “I live downtown and I’m still amazed 15 years later when I look outside and see the mountains. It really is a world-class city.”

Gordon includes hiking the Grouse Grind trail on Grouse Mountain as one of his favourite Vancouver activities, as well as walking the seawall and enjoying jaunts to Whistler. The totem poles in Stanley Park are also a great attraction, says Parkman.

When it comes to local eats, the men champion the tastes of Italy. Gordon frequents Il Nido, an enclave tucked off Robson Street with a lovely patio, and Parkman favours the elegant Il Giardino di Umberto.

As for their next journey, well, it’s still under wraps. But Gordon says they’re eager to stamp their passports for South America, which they still haven’t crossed off their list.

So much globe-trotting, so little time.

Travel Unravelled: Travel Medical Insurance

Emergency Signage 2

Courtesy Fotolia.com

Q: We’ve had friends who’ve been burned by insurance companies. How do you make sure your travel medical insurance is reliable?
— Kara Martin, Truro, Nova Scotia

A: Insurance companies are notorious for finding ways to avoid paying claims. But, most travellers can’t leave without them; provincial governments only cover a portion of foreign medical bills, credit card companies often restrict their coverage to a short period of time, and employer plans can be very limited. So, unless you have a pool of money standing by, you need to buy travel insurance.

As usual, you can avoid being burned by doing your homework, and never taking anything for granted. Make sure you check: (more…)