Top Travel Experiences of 2011

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

As 2011 winds down, I have decided to do my annual “year in review” posts. While it’s tough to select the best moments (that I have blogged) over the last year, this week I’ll profile the following categories: Travel, Food, Music, and Entertainment.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Layover in London Pike Place Photowalk


A highlight for the blog in 2011 was partnering with Backyard BC to offer up 12 getaways over 12 weeks to my readers. We had thousands of entries and gave away almost $7,000 in local travel experiences.

As for my own adventures, I took a minute to calculate just how far I traveled over the last 12 months and, not including our upcoming trip, I cruised past 75,000kms. From quick jaunts to Victoria, Seattle, and Edmonton, to Toronto, Kansas City, Mexico (in late 2010), and Ghana via London. In fact, there were some months where I only spent a week at home. Having lost my grandmother early in the year, I think being on the go kept my mind off the heartache – most of the time.

Top Travel Experiences


Iowa for New Years 2011

“The sun peeked out and began to melt piles of snow that quickly re-froze as solid puddles, causing my less-than-adequate soles to slip and skid. We walked by houses with frosted tire swings, porches laden with piles of firewood, and flags waving proudly on the front lawn.” – First Photowalk of the Year in Iowa.


Day One in Ghana Day One in Ghana

Day Two in Ghana - Nsiana

“The city itself is bustling. Petrol stations, women carrying everything from baked goods and plastic bottles of water on their heads, men selling bandanas and chocolate bars in the streets, and entire buildings painted red for either Vodafone or Coca-Cola advertisements. Cars drive on whichever side of the road will get them to their destination the quickest as burnt orange sand kicks up dust clouds in their wake.” – West Africa Day One: Bipoa, Ghana

“We haven’t been traveling too far out of major cities but within minutes you’re transported from bustling streets, honking horns, and billboards to groves of palm trees, children splashing in at well-water pumps, and random goats or chickens hustling across dirt roads. It’s one contrast after another but the universal language, I’m finding out, is that of a handshake, smile and dance whenever a good tune is played.” – West Africa Day Two: Nsiana, Ghana

Day Trips: Hester Creek & Sechelt

Flying over Oliver

“We spent the day touring the villas (that are currently B&B style), meeting the friendly staff like Robin and LeeAnn Openshaw, exploring the property with General Manager Mark Sheridan, and doing tastings with winemaker Robert Summers.” – Hester Creek Winery in Oliver

Flying to Sechelt & back

“Located about 30 minutes from the ferry terminal in Gibsons, it’s close enough to the city yet far enough away to enjoy the beaches, forest trails, coves, rapids, artisan offerings and more that are all abundant in the region.” – An Afternoon in Sechelt


No Parking Toronto Photowalk

“It was this connection and the exploration of quaint and diverse neighbourhoods that actually made Toronto feel more like a community to me for the first time since I started visiting in 1999.” – Toronto Photowalk: Distillery, Kensington, Spadina, Queen Street West

Sun Peaks

Weekend at Sun Peaks Resort: August 2011

“The arctic lupines powder the entire hillside with an aromatic floral scent, fiery red and yellow flowers pepper the wild green grasses, while the mountains in the distance look like waves rolling onto a beach – it’s breathtaking.” – Summer at Sun Peaks Resort

Rowena’s Inn at Harrison Mills

Weekend at Rowena's Inn
Weekend at Rowena's Inn Rowena's Inn

“The inn is named after Betty Anne’s mother so it was a real treat to hear stories not only about the inn, but of the home, the antiques her parents collected (which decorate every room), and about the family. History poured out of every sheet of wallpaper.” – Rowena’s Inn at Harrison Mills

Hastings House on Salt Spring Island

Hastings House, Ganges, B.C. Vesuvius Bay
Hastings House Hotel photowalk, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

“Braving the non-stop hills and inclines, we ended up cycling 28 kilometers that day, returning the bikes about 4 hours later. Well sunned and sore, we walked down to the Salt Spring Saturday Market the following day to pick up a selection of bath bombs from Saltspring Soapworks. We then promptly put them to use in our suite’s large soaker tub.” – Our Weekend at Hastings House on Salt Spring Island

Echo Valley Ranch Resort


“Between horseback riding, hiking, and the Thai spa, the rest of our group’s time was spent reading in the lodge, feeding apples to the horses, petting the kittens in the barn, or playing fetch with one of the ranch’s eight border collies.” – Echo Valley Ranch Resort

Alberta Badlands

Dinosaur Provincial Park
Bleriot Ferry Atlas Coal Mine Tour

“As the sun began to coast downward in the Alberta sky, we passed old mine sites and slag heaps, and ended up at the Alberta Star Mine suspension bridge. We made the quick round-trip crossing over the white-capped currents on the Red Deer River below.” – Wild West Badlands Tours

“Although there are wagon wheels out front and a short wooded boardwalk, you don’t walk through a pair of wooden swing doors when you enter the saloon and there’s no spittoon in sight. Fully carpeted and filled with instruments, antiques, photos, and knickknacks, you can tell why it’s favourite, down-home, stop for many.” – Last Chance Saloon – Wayne, Alberta



“We rolled down the windows and instead of the evergreen-filtered, salty sea-air of the West Coast our noses tickled with the scent of grass and earth (and occasionally the less-pleasant aromas of dairy farms along the route).” – Early Autumn in Iowa


Fairmont Olympic Seattle - Holiday Tea The Maxwell Hotel, Seattle

“What I enjoy most about train travel, aside from the fact that I do not need to drive, is that you get to explore the back corners of your region — where there are no roads. Rail lines snake behind buildings, between ravine walls, and over waterways that are not always in plain sight. We coasted behind Burnaby Lake, looped around Boundary Bay (it seemed as though we were right on the water itself), and hugged the cliff around Chuckanut Drive. Bald eagles, harbour seals, and herons dotted the landscape.” – Amtrak Train to Seattle from Vancouver

This is @johnbollwitt's first ever @BCLions game in the stands (not in media box). Good times!I was able to travel quite a bit with John this year and we enjoyed spending time at Rowena’s, on Salt Spring, in Bellingham, Whistler, Squamish, Cannon Beach, Kansas City, and Iowa.

My first few trips of 2012 will take me to Quebec and while John won’t be joining me, we will be spending more time away together in the coming year.

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1 Comment  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Jay BanksTuesday, December 27th, 2011 — 1:33pm PST

    All those pictures look great, but somehow I find the ones from Ghana most powerful and authentic. I´ve heard that people and culture of African countries are beautiful, but at the same time enormously different form our norm. It must have been really amazing to experience it.

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