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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Movie travels

Today on Sympatico Travel, Robin Esrock has a great round-up of movie locations you can visit. I’d like to add one more – I came across it while working on a school presentation this fall, and while I’ve never been there, it looks like it would be a fun place to check out.

Sweethaven Village, Malta

The 1980 musical feature film “Popeye” starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duval was filmed here. The village features tours of the set, a water and fun park, minigolf, shops, Toytown, etc. You may also meet a favourite cartoon character or get to be part of a filming experience.

The country of Malta, a popular stop on many Mediterranean cruise itineraries, encompasses 18 islands,three of which are inhabited. Visit prehistoric temples, World War II historic sites, sandy beaches and more. Although a European nation, Maltese culture also allows the visitor to experience the flavour of two other continents: Africa and Asia.



To “e” or not to “e”

Cross-posting today. Merry Christmas everyone!

Where it always feels like Christmas

If you live in Southeast Michigan or Southwestern Ontario, and need an extra boost to get you into the Christmas mood this year, I know just the place -Frankenmuth, Michigan!

Frankenmuth is a Bavarian-style village located not far from Flint, Michigan. It offers shopping, dining, accomodation and recreation – and of course, those famous chicken dinners! I never used to understand why everyone got so excited about the chicken dinner – until I had one myself. OMG, the food -awesome!

The town always has a Christmas-y feel, especially at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Larger than a single football field, the store is wall-to-wall ornaments, trees, decor, cards, wrap and more. It’s even located at 25 Christmas Lane, and at this time of year they pull out all the stops.

Just next door to Bronners is Zehnders Hotel & Splash Village. Offering family suites, an indoor water park and even family-oreinted movies in the lobby, we found it a great place to stay. There are always a variety of packages and special rates available. Zehnder’s also offers a free shuttle for guests into town, to their flagship restaurant, where you can have – you guessed it – their chicken dinner. Once you’ve landed at the restaurant, the rest of the downtown shops are an easy walking distance.

Even if you can’t get there before the holiday, be sure to check it out as an easy getaway!

It’s not all downhill from here

Was reading a friend’s blog today, wherein she chronicled some of her experiences with skiing. Although we’ve no snow yet here in the Banana Belt of the Great White North, our thoughts are definitely turning toward the winter recreation season. Her blog reminded me of a great deal that I don’t think gets nearly enough publicity.

Here in Canada we’ve got what they call the Snowpass. Essentially, it’s a program offered by the Canadian Ski Council that gives kids in Grade 4 and 5 the chance to ski for FREE. Be sure to check the website for participating locations – they’re all over Canada.

My earliest ski adventure happened when I was eight; here in Southwestern Ontario, our downhill ski venues are few and far between, so many of us look to Southeast Michigan for quick day trips. I can still count on both hands the number of times I’ve skied since then, but I can tell you this: I love it! There’s just a feeling of freedom and an incredible rush of adrenaline when you’re hurtling down the side of a hill, picking up speed the further you go. And yet, if you’re me, you never feel out of control. Yes, I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises, and I’m a long way from being any kind of an expert, but it’s fantastic!

So, when my own kids were little, I didn’t hesitate to take them over to Mt. Brighton and let them give it a try. They seemed to enjoy it too; I even have a video here somewhere, I’ll dig and see if I can find it.

It should be noted that skiing the so-called “garbage dumps” in Lower Michigan in no way prepares you for, say, Searchmont, in Northern Ontario. I was 13 when I encountered that lovely resort on a school trip; as I stood at the top of the hill, I was shocked to see, you know, trees, right there in middle of the hill. There’s a world of difference between a natural hill/mountain and something man-made.

Nonetheless, get the Snowpass, find a ski hill near you, and let your kids give it a try – and you try it too! It’s one of those things that everyone should do at least once. I’ll make you a deal – apply for the Snowpass, and I’ll post the video of me trying out the baby jumps, and maybe even some photos.