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TRAVEL WITH BRADLEY! Bradley has always put his clients first and his tours reflect just that. Making travel dreams a reality is his speciality. Follow this blog and he'll take you around the World!

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PARIS – A “Small Town Gem” in Ontario’s Backyard

When I was a kid, Paris, Ontario (located just 90 minutes west of Toronto) was a booming town.  Highway 2 was a major thoroughfare in Ontario and that highway passed through the quaint community of Paris.

From a popular highway overlook, many travelers would take in picturesque views of the historic town.

A short drive past the overlook was, “The White Horse Restaurant”. We would dine there, only when celebrating very special occasions. It was always a dress up affair. Their advertising read – The White Horse of Paris, Ontario. Canada’s most outstanding Country restaurant, famous throughout the land for superb food and gracious dining – Also featuring our old-tyme Country Store.

I also recall  the “Trading Post” Restaurant that was across the street from the “White Horse”.  They served breakfast, lunch and dinner to hungry “Highway 2” travellers. I was intrigued with its distinctive road sign.  

Years past and a new, modern, “Highway 403” opened. “Highway 2” quickly became a secondary road with little traffic.  The many businesses in Paris that relied on the “Highway 2” motor vehicle traffic quickly suffered and most closed.

A few decades have past and Paris is booming once again.    It proudly regards itself as the “Prettiest Town in Canada”. It also claims the impressive, “Cobblestone Capital of Canada” title.

Tourists flock to small town Paris – a perfect escape, from big metropolitan cities.  It’s now very trendy to exit, “Highway 403” in order to spend some quality time exploring the historic downtown core of Paris.

Paris is no longer a sleepy, little town – its grown at an unbelievable rate.  New housing subdivisions have popped up all over the place.  I’ve even considered putting my house up for sale and relocating to Paris – it a community with so much to offer and you can’t beat its central location.  

Luckily, despite all the tourists and influx of new home owners, the downtown core has kept its “small town” charm. Locally owned businesses line the Main Street. During the summer season you’ll admire the towns many colourful hanging flower baskets.

The “Paris Wincey Mills Co.”, dates back to 1889. What a neat looking building. Today, its Market Hall features quality vendors. My favourites are, “Link Street Sausage House” and “Jiggs-n-Reels”. “Paris Beer Co” is the latest occupant and I expect they will be extremely successful.

Summer tourists often purchase ice cream treats from one of the many seasonal ice cream stands that are found in the downtown core and outskirts.

The “Little Paris Bread Co” is a small batch bakery that specializes in all things sourdough. It’s worth a stop.

Paris is also home to a number of yearly successful festivals and its Fall Fair continues to be one of the most successful in Ontario.  

Many of you probably don’t realize that “The Walters Family” started our dinner theatre shows at the Paris Fairgrounds before opening at our family farm, in Bright, ON, 20 years ago.

Paris is located where the Grand and Nith Rivers meet.  Many excellent, downtown restaurants offer river views.   I can confidently recommend, “Stillwater’s Plate and Pour”, “Juniper Dining Co” and “Capeesh Craft Kitchen and Cellar”.

When Paris is bursting at the seams with tourists and all its downtown restaurants are full, its just a short drive out of town to the “1909 Culinary Academy”, located on Trussler Road. This very casual spot is an ideal location for a family picnic lunch. Order one of their many take-out gourmet burgers, fresh cut fries, locally produced ice cream and grab a seat on one of their many picnic tables.

Paris is a vibrant community which makes it well worth a stop when exploring our Ontario Backyard.

September Greetings from Bradley

The sun is beaming into my home office this morning. We are lucky because it has shone so brightly during most of the summer. After Labour Day when it decided to hide, I must admit I wasn’t a fan of the dark and gloomy skies. I’m glad the sunshine has returned once again.

I’m pleased that many of you have been following my daily Facebook posts. Thank you so much for keeping in touch. Hopefully you agree that I’ve stumbled across some wonderful Ontario treasures that are perfect day trip stops. During this “no travel” period we must be thankful that we can hop in our car and explore locally. These are troubling times and in order for our neighbourhood businesses to survive we need to support them. I know many of you have followed my lead and have enjoyed many of my “recommended” Ontario treasures.

Typically, Saturday is the day when Mom and I hit the road. We’ve really enjoyed spending this time together. Usually I have a route researched and all planned out but sometimes the destination is a mystery for both of us. Mom told me she is amazed with how many different routes I’ve come up with over the summer but I’ve been planning travel routes for decades – its just a little different when they are so close to home.

Of course like many of you, I long for the day when I can once again explore the world, board an aircraft, a motor coach, relax at a 5 star resort, cruise the oceans, relive history, savour local specialities and tap my toes while listening to live music. We all wonder when those days will return.

This week I was invited to be part of a virtual Norway Travel Convention. Over two days I experienced back to back, 20 minute appointments with Norwegian Travel suppliers. I made some wonderful new contacts and even though I have visited Norway many times in the past, I learned so much more about their beautiful country- a favourite of mine. Most importantly I realized after talking with so many Norwegians that they are experiencing the same COVID worries and issues that we are. There is plenty of “space” in Norway due to their small population and vast landscapes. In their remote rural areas there hasn’t been a single COVID case but they have still experienced the devastating effects of closed borders and no tourism.

I listen to many “experts” but let’s admit, no one knows how quickly tourism is going to recover. Scientists and medical professionals are busy devising technologies and tests so we can once again safely explore the world but how long is this going to take?

In the meantime let’s be responsible citizens. Support those who are struggling. Follow the rules because “possibly” the rules will help us get out of this COVID mess much quicker.

During this downtime I’ve been very busy planning a number of exciting and unique Domestic and International boutique travel experiences. When the time is right I’m ready to share them with you.

Some of you have been asking how my book is coming along. I’ve been very busy writing it so its progressing extremely well. Its wonderful reliving travel memories.

Currently our Canadian Government has asked us to “avoid non-essential travel outside Canada” so let’s embrace the upcoming Canadian fall and winter. When it is safe the world will be anxious to welcome us back and we will appreciate the luxury of being able to travel even more than we have in the past.

ICE CREAM – “A Scoop of Deliciousness”

My latest “Road Trip With Bradley” celebrates Canadian Ice Cream – the “Perfect Scoop of Deliciousness”. I traveled throughout Southern Ontario over 2 days, visiting some of the most popular Ice Cream Dairy Bars.

Canadians are Ice Cream FANATICS – 90% of us savour this tasty, frozen treat during summer months.

Whether scooped into a bowl or piled into a cone, Ice Cream is THE awesome Canadian summer delicacy.

Canadians have many quirky ice cream habits.

Our preferred flavour – VANILLA – yes, its the best seller!

Our favourite ice cream sundae topping – HOT FUDGE. (My FAV too)

The busiest ice cream sales day – SUNDAY.

The most popular time for Canadians to reach for an ice cream cone – between the hours of 2 and 4pm.

A Canadian Ice Cream themed postage stamp was released in 2019. The stamp featured “Blue Ice Cream” topped of a cone.

The ice cream dairy bars I am featuring, all serve the good stuff. Most of these community icons have been tantalizing our tastebuds for decades.

During the hot and humid days of summer – why don’t you Cool Down – Ditch the Diet and Reward Yourself with a Scoop of Deliciousness!

There are a number of Ice Cream Dairy Bars located throughout Southern Ontario so you won’t have to travel far to get your Canadian ice cream fix.

———————————————

Shaws Ice Cream

6598 Sunset Drive

St Thomas

Shaws Ice Cream Dairy Bar has been in operation since 1948. The location of this iconic Dairy Bar is the best – just a short drive from touristy, Port Stanley beach. Shaws produces 45 flavours of HARD ice cream in their St. Thomas facility. The good news is you don’t have to drive to St. Thomas in order to taste Shaws Irresistable Ice Cream. It’s available in select speciality shops and grocery stores throughout Ontario. A few months ago I was browsing in the Parion Animal Nutrition store in the farming community of Hickson. A young farmer saw me eying the tubs of Shows Ice Cream. He came over and told me Shaws Ice Cream is his favourite – his go to flavour is “Grammy’s Cupboard”. Shaws produces a quality ice cream – fresh 100% Canadian Dairy Cream is the main ingredient. Your biggest challenge will be deciding which flavour to choose – Betty’s Blueberry Cheesecake, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Double Stuffed Cookie…. Yummy!

Bartley’s Dairy Bar

853 Dundas Street

Woodstock

Bartley’s is the favourite ice cream bar in Woodstock. This Dundas Street landmark has been in operation since 1971. Bartley’s sells quality, vanilla soft-serve ice cream along with frozen yogurt. I highly recommend their seasonal toppings – local maple syrup, strawberries, peaches…. Delectable!

Erie Drive In

634 Erie Street

Stratford

Erie Drive In has been in operation since the 50’s. You can’t miss its distinctive, nostalgic sign. This popular, Drive In has a dedicated, soft serve ice cream order window. Its also possible to pre-order ice cream tubs and ice cream sandwiches. Tasty!

Dairee Delite

10 King George Road

Brantford

Dairee Delight has thrilled ice cream lovers for over 60 years. Originally known as Koster’s Cream-EEE-Freeze, the name changed to Dairee Delight in 1965. When I was a kid it was the ultimate treat when my parents bought me an ice cream cone from Dairee Delite. This festive looking, Dairy Bar specializes in Delites such as – Hot Fudge Brownie, Supreme, Peanut Butter Triple Threat. Mmmm!

Paris Twisted Treats

79 King Edward Street

Paris

Paris Twisted Treats is owned by a Mother and Son team. On hot summer days join the line to purchase their seasonal offerings such as fresh strawberry and butter tart sundaes (very Canadian). For hard ice cream lovers they have opened a NEW location in the downtown core of Paris. They named it, “What’s The Scoop”. Mouthwatering!

Four All Ice Cream Scoop Shop

75 King Street South

Waterloo

Four All Ice Cream was established in 2016. In order to handcraft the highest quality, all natural product, they operate the smallest dairy plant in Ontario. Four All Ice Cream will appease the pickiest ice cream connoisseur. Small batch flavours rotate so snap them up while you can – Queen of Roses, Honey Chamomile, Chocolate Lavender, Tiger Tail, Beer and Brownies. The name Four All was inspired by the owners family’s ice cream preferences – Classic, Vegan, Childhood and Foodie. Succulent!

Bradley’s Ice Cream Storing Tip

In order to keep a tub of ice cream fresher longer, once opened place a sheet of wax paper directly on the ice cream before you put the lid back on and place it in the freezer. This will help prevent crystallization. Another way to prevent crystallization – store the ice cream tub upside down in your freezer. Keeping a tub of ice cream fresh is not a typical problem because true Canadians will “devour” it long before crystallization forms!

TASTE, INDULGE AND ENJOY!

A Stunning Drive – Ontario’s Mennonite/Amish Countryside

Happy Canada Day!

During these crazy COVID times we all need ways to unwind. Relax by heading out on the open road in order to take in some stunning Ontario countryside views.

Tucked up 90 minutes west of Toronto is Ontario’s largest Old Order Mennonite/Amish region. You need to plan on a “minimum” of a half day in order to explore this wonderful destination.

I spent a few days driving throughout the area in order to research and compile this blog post. My post should provide you with all the details you need – you aren’t going to find much additional information on-line.

A good place to start your adventure is at the Tim Hortons in St. Jacobs, Ontario. It’s exterior isn’t typical – it nicely fits in with the look of this touristy town. Grab a coffee before you hit the road.

Tim Hortons

1229 King Street N

St Jacobs

Set your GPS to direct you to the Kissing Bridge in West Montrose (15 minutes). On the way you may wish to stop at Picard Peanuts (3011 Sawmill Road, St Jacobs). You will pass through the community of Conestogo.

Built in 1881, the West Montrose Covered Bridge is also known as the Kissing Bridge. This historic treasure which spans the Grand River is an area landmark. Its a “back in time moment” when you drive over it. This is the last “wooden” covered bridge in Ontario and the oldest such bridge in Canada. Last year it was featured on a Canadian Postage stamp. Once you drive over it you will see a parking lot to the left where you can park and then walk back to the bridge in order to get your selfie pictures. You will admire the community of West Montrose – its filled with charming homes.

West Montrose Covered Bridge –

1 Covered Bridge Drive West Montrose

Next I suggest you continue to the small town of Floradale (20 minutes). Here in the heart of Mennonite Country you will find Hillcrest Home Baking and General Store. The bake shop is in the rear of the general store – its pretty tiny so during these times, only 1 person is allowed in at a time. The shelves are typically packed with reasonably priced, freshly baked goods. You can see the bakers at work in a small kitchen. I recommend you purchase their home made donuts and delicious bread. Gentleman, if you’d like a Mennonite felt hat they sell a variety of them. They only accept cash.

Hillcrest Bakery and General Store

2192 Floradale Road

Floradale (Elmira)

In the small town of Floradale you’ll also find Bonnie Lou’s Cafe – 2238 Floradale Road and Earlidale Meats – 2065 Floradale Road.

Next, travel to the hamlet of Yatton – along the way you will by-pass the community of Elmira. Don’t be surprised when your GPS directs you down a gravel road or two. Chances are good that you will encounter some horse and buggy traffic. Yatton is a VERY small place – one of those “if you wink you’ll miss it” communities. Yatton Bakery is very unique spot – its located in the back of quaint home. On Fridays they bake tarts.

Yatton Home Bakery

7284 3rd Line

Wallenstein

Fresh Bread – Tues/Thurs/Sat. Fresh Tarts – Fridays

The Wallenstein General Store is also close by. Its a fun place to visit so make it your next stop. The town post office is located in this Old Order Mennonite shop. Men are bound to find something to purchase (hardware/farm supplies) while the ladies search through fabrics and bulk foods. Grab an ice cream cone and take in the action as you take a seat on the front porch.

Wallenstein General Store Inc

7278 Line 86

Wallenstein

About 30 minutes away is your next stop – picturesque Millbank, Ontario.

Here you find Millbank Cheese and Butter (great tasting aged cheddar) – been in operation since 1908 – owned by a number of local families.

Millbank Cheese and Butter

6974 Church Street

Millbank

Its worth visiting Millbank Family Furniture – handcrafted by local craftsman. This impressive, new location just opened.

Millbank Family Furniture

4044 Perth County Line 72

Millbank

Most travel to Millbank in order to visit Anna Maes Bakery and Restaurant. Their speciality is Broasted Chicken (marinated and deep fried in a pressure cooker) and this time of year, their Strawberry Pie is available and I highly recommend it. To keep the public safe with distancing measures they creatively offer “Scooter Service – Contactless Pickup” – their parking lot is typically filled with customers waiting in their cars for their order to be delivered by a staff member riding a scooter!

Anna Maes Bakery and Restaurant

4060 72, Millbank, Ontario

Scooter Service Orders – 519-595-4407 or 519-616-0466

Continue onwards to Milverton but along the way consider making a stop in Newton at Creekville Bulk Foods. I don’t think your GPS is going to be able to direct you this this stop, which is located on a secondary country road. You may need to look at a map in order to figure out how to get there. There isn’t even a store sign at the end of the farms long driveway. They cater to the areas Old Old Amish and Mennonites but the owners were more than happy to see us. In their small shop (no electricity), I purchased pure peanut butter, instant yeast, popcorn kernels and an excellent health book called, “Be Your Own Doctor”. They carry both Canadian and American popcorn varieties. When I asked the owner he told me his favourite popcorn variety is from “Weaver Popcorn” (World’s Largest Popcorn Supplier). Congratulate yourself if you find this “out-of-the-way”, unique stop.

Creekville Bulkfoods

4497 Line 67

RR 1

Newton

Canada’s largest Amish settlement is found within the communities of Milverton and Millbank.

You should plan to take this scenic drive on a Friday so you can purchase melt-in-your-mouth, Fry Pies from the “Lil Fry Pie Shoppe” in Milverton. Its not unusual to see a sold-out sign on their door by noon, so you are best to call in advance to pre-reserve. Everyone has their favourite fry pie filling but I think the best ones, are cherry and blueberry. They are priced at $3. each or $27. a dozen. These freeze well so don’t hesitate – buy a dozen! You’ll be pleased that contactless service is offered – you stand on the sidewalk and their staff opens a small storefront window in order to pass you your order. I believe this is another cash only shop. They also sell well-regarded, Baden Coffee if you’d like a cup to go along with your fry-pie.

Lil Fry Pie Shoppe

32 Main St, N

Milverton

519-588-4923

Across the road (no sign but its obvious) is Guenther’s Bakery. They have been in business for over 100 years. If you don’t see the baked goods you are hoping to purchase on their shelves, be sure to ask them. You’ll luck out if their cream puffs are available. Cash only.

Guenther’s Bakery

39 Main Street N

Milverton

Down the street is Mennomex Mexican Variety and Take Out. This is a fantastic place to purchase salsas, hot sauce, unique candies, tortillas and hard to find Mexican ingredients.

Mennomex Mexican Variety and Take Out

55 Main St S

Milverton

By now you’ll probably be very hungry. Set your GPS to Wellesley, the home of Schmidtsville Restaurant. Place your order before leaving Milverton and by the time you arrive in Wellesley (20 minutes) it will be ready for you. As you enter you’ll see a desk where you will pay for your order – you’ll then continue into the next room for pick up. They offer regular portion specials for $13.99 – includes meat/potato/hot vegetable/slice of homemade pie (recommend the Hawaiian) and soda. There is a town park across the road with picnic tables.

Schmidtsville Restaurant

3685 Nafziger Road

Wellesley

519-656-2430 (extension 3 for ordering)

If fish n chips are more to your liking, continue to Scran and Dram, Scottish Public House in New Hamburg, ON. Take-out is available from 11am.

Scan and Dram Scottish Public House

338 Waterloo Street

New Hamburg

519-390-2767

While in the beautiful town of New Hamburg be sure to stop by, “The Garden Stand” and tell my friend, Chef Adam Brenner that I sent you. His freshly grown garlic is now available. During this time 2 customers are allowed in his store at a time but to keep distanced you can call, place your order and they will bring it to your car. If Adams Strawberry/Lavender cold soup is available grab it – its more delicious than a milkshake. All his made from scratch soups taste superb but so does his hummus, coleslaw, salad dressings…..

The Garden Stand

90 Wilmot Street, Unit B

New Hamburg

519-390-0808

Once you depart the Garden Stand you are just a couple minutes from Highway 7/8 – 20 minutes to Kitchener.

You might consider a detour towards the town of Tavistock in order to visit with Brian and Cindy Larson at Quehl’s Restaurant (official caterer at the Walters Theatre). If you are lucky they may be selling fresh Strawberry Cream Puffs and Peach Hand Pies. On Friday’s for $11.99 you can select from local favourites – Pigtails, Rolled Ribs (highly recommend) or Cabbage Rolls. Call in advance to pre-order.

Quehl’s Restaurant

33 Woodstock St S

Tavistock

519-655-2835

Of course you can take in these countryside views without making a stop.

At the end of many farm driveways, locals place coolers filled with water/soda – sold for $1.00. Freshly picked flowers from their picture-perfect gardens are available too – only $2.00 for a bouquet of Sweet Williams.

Trust me – once you visit a bakery along this route, you’ll want to stop at all of them. By the time you head home your trunk will be filled with tasty goodies.

Enjoy!

Bradley

Fathers Day Greetings

I just wanted to send off a quick note to wish all the Fathers a terrific day!

I sincerely hope you and your family are doing as best as you can during these strange times.

Many have asked when I’m going to announce future “Travel With Bradley” Journeys.

I know you are anxious to start traveling again but we have to wait until the “time is right”.

Many of us live to travel. It’s our passion but currently there are too many travel unknowns and a lot of conditions to consider.

The Canadian government hasn’t given us the green light so we must avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada. The Canada/US border remains closed to travelers. Our neighbouring Canadian provinces have many travel restrictions in place. Some European countries are starting to “open”, but that doesn’t mean that Canadians are currently on their guest list.

Until there is a cure or vaccine in place, Travel Insurance that covers COVID-19 illnesses will be a travel necessity.

We all need something to look forward to. This is essential to create personal experiences that give life meaning.

Every great journey starts with a dream. This is the time to simulate your senses and awake your imagination.

As always I love to hear from you so keep in touch.

Be Well,

Happy Fathers Day,

Bradley

I miss my Dad every day but especially on Fathers Day

When we beat COVID how do we want to the world to be?

When we beat COVID how do we want the world to be?

Yesterday was the first time in 9 years that astronauts departed from U.S. soil. Space tourism will eventually become a reality. How exciting especially for todays younger generation. Many of them are now inspired and some will possibly have the opportunity to travel to space.

Isn’t it wonderful hearing a good news story. I think we can all agree that there aren’t enough of them right now.

It’s Sunday morning and I am currently sitting on my front porch soaking in the sun as I write this blog post. I’m thankful for this beautiful day. I’ve lived in my current home for a number of years but today is one of the few times I’ve sat out on that porch. I typically listen to the morning news when I get up and then there is always work to be done but today I decided I needed a break from those unbelievable news headlines.

I was disappointed in myself a few days ago. I was expecting a couple parcels. When they didn’t arrive as scheduled I was frustrated. The day after – still no parcels. The day after that – I wondered if they will ever arrive. I sat on the phone for hours trying to find out the status.

That same day I received an email and although I recognized the senders name, it took me a few minutes to place who that person was. I’ve met hundreds of people from all over the world but its impossible to keep in touch with everyone. The young gentleman that wrote me is the Taxi driver I hired many years ago in order to show me around his beautiful country named, Bali. This was the second time he has written. The first time was the day before his wedding. He was so excited and wanted to share the news. This time it was a – “How Are You” – during these times letter. How wonderful that someone who barely speaks English, from a land far away took the time to “share a little kindness”.

I emailed the shipping supervisor who was trying to locate my parcels and apologized. I came to my senses and realized those parcels can wait. There is a pandemic going on and most workers and businesses are just “trying to do their best”.

That young guy from Bali made me realize I can do better. I have started going through travel files in order to find emails/addresses. I now devote some time everyday sending “how are you” messages to tour companies, Coach companies, tour guides, hoteliers, theatre owners/entertainers, restaurant owners and more from all over the world.

I know so many who are struggling. I am most familiar with the entertainment and travel industries because I’m involved in both. Those industries have been brought to their knees because of the pandemic.

Social Media posts are turning brutal. I’d ignore social media if I could but its important for me to spend hours on-line so can keep up to date with the latest industry developments.

Six Flags amusement parks are opening shortly in locations throughout the USA. Opening during a pandemic is not an easy task. The owners want to protect both ticket holders and their staff. You are therefore required to wear a mask when working or visiting the park. Instead of reading encouraging “we wish you the best” or “we are excited you are opening for us”, social media is filled with hurtful messages from season pass holders saying that they “want their money back” and are “never returning” – why? – because they have to wear a mask….

Many of you have visited Pigeon Forge, TN with me and the finest theatre production in town is “Smoky Mountain Opry”. They just announced they will be closed for 2020 as its impossible for them to adhere to social distancing protocols. Theatres throughout the world have closed.

We are fortunate to have a national airline in our country. Air Canada has opened the world to us. Without that airline, travel will be much more difficult and prices will skyrocket. Social media posters are not supporting Air Canada.

A young entrepreneur from Fredericton, NB has diversified his clothing manufacturing business and has produced a line of designer masks. Some started posting on social media platforms he is a hoax and doesn’t exist.

When we eventually beat COVID how do we want to world to be?

I’d like the opportunity to once again visit Six Flags, Smoky Mountain Opry, fly on Air Canada and support a young entrepreneur’s clothing line in Fredericton.

If my favourite family-run restaurant is shut down, businesses are boarded up and the attractions I look forward to visiting every year are gone – its going to be a major letdown.

Let’s face it these aren’t easy times. Many are struggling not just to pay their mortgage but to put a meal on the table. The Canadian government has come out with many helpful programs but they aren’t available to all. Many small businesses do not quality. Many business owners may not see a paycheck for many months but even without an income they are trying to appease customers.

Let’s make a difference – I think we can!

Consider writing positive social media reviews about businesses that aren’t able to open right now – skip writing negative ones.

Share positive news about these businesses with friends and family.

Follow their social media posts and engage some positive online conversation.

Sign up for their newsletters/blogs/updates.

Consider offering to help them during these times by volunteering your time.

Send them a “How Are You” encouraging message. Let them know you anxiously wait for them to re-open.

When I woke this morning I couldn’t stop humming, Glen Campbell’s “Try A Little Kindness”.

Let’s spread more of that kindness and possibly we will can eventually wake up to more “Good News” headlines.

While on Pause…

While on Pause,,,

As the world pauses, everyday I hear from one or more of my family of travellers. I so appreciate you keeping in touch.

Many of you have emailed me your favourite travel pictures. Those shots have brought back awesome memories so “thank you”.

I’ve heard some of you are missing my blog posts so I’ll gladly continue to write at times during this “no travel” period.

I was joking with a good friend by telling her that due to COVID-19, I feel like I’ve been forced into early retirement but she quickly corrected me and said I’m on sabbatical!

The last tour group I hosted returned to Toronto from Dubai on March 9th. That was an AWESOME journey but I was relieved when we returned back to Canada because the world was just starting to shut down.

Part way during the journey my passengers and I toured the spectacular city of Abu Dhabi and we noticed nothing unusual. I even nabbed a, “Tim Hortons” grand opening invite for all of us which was great fun.

The next day was a free one. I hired a private driver so I could inspect some ultra-deluxe hotels and attractions. Surprisingly overnight Abu Dhabi had literally turned into a ghost town. I asked my driver what was going on and he explained that Covid-19 news was starting to make the front page headlines and even though it wasn’t mandated, the scary reports frazzled the locals so much they were staying at home. The highways were almost void of cars. In order to detect body temperature, thermal imagining devices suddenly appeared in the posh hotels and attraction entrances. It was eerie walking through the massive Marina Shopping Mall because there was next to no shoppers. I literally had the place to myself.

When my group arrived back in Dubai I once again met with some hotel sales people and they were concerned as travel groups and convention attendees were cancelling their travels last minute. Hotel occupancies which should have been near 100 percent were all of a sudden looking grim. The yearly Dubai “Pepsi” convention which draws worldwide delegates was abruptly called off that day which was the day before it was to start.

Our Emirates flight from Dubai to Toronto was scheduled to take-off just after 3am so we departed by motor coach for the airport around midnight. After we arrived at the airport I learned that the Dubai cruise port had just been shut down. We were getting out of the UAE in the nick of time. We were mysteriously moved from one check-in line to another. I could tell the airport workers were starting to get anxious about the unsettling Covid-19 news. Extra check-in security measures for foreigners were now in place. I didn’t relax until our plane was in the air. I then knew I was going to get my passengers back to Canada!

Soon after we arrived on Canada soil, Prime Minister Trudeau told travelling Canadians it was time to get home. Some took that request seriously while others ignored him. That was almost 7 weeks ago. When we returned to Canada, it wasn’t mandatory to self-isolate for 14 days but I along with my passengers decided to protect others by staying home.

Like almost everyone I’m not thrilled with the current situation but I’ve accepted that home is the safest place to be right now. I have no problem keeping busy so the weeks fly by.

I continue to “fine tune” my cooking skills! I make a point to eat very healthy. Everyday I enjoy a homemade bowl of soup. I can’t get over how much olive oil I’ve gone through! I typically purchase olive oil from small farm producers when I travel to Greece, Portugal and Italy but my stock-pile of that high quality product, is already running pretty low. Every once in a while for a treat, I devour a bowl of Indiana Amish grown popcorn which I top with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and black pepper – be sure to try that combo but in order to avoid a mess this concoction needs to be eaten with a spoon.

The entire Walters Family has taken the “stay at home” mandate very seriously. None of us are even entering a grocery store, We order on-line only what we really need and then take advantage of curb-side pickup.

None of us could have possibly predicted that life could change so drastically in a matter of a few weeks but we must do whatever it takes to keep everyone healthy and get through this.

My entertainment and travel careers have obviously been hit with a double whammy. It’s very stressful but I realize there is value in every one of life’s situations. I can always find the positive if I look hard enough so I’m not letting this valuable time go to waste. I continue to make great plans for the future.

Everyday while working from home I create memorable travel experiences for the ”Travel With Bradley” family but I won’t be releasing any of these new, exciting itineraries until it’s once again safe to travel.

How are you?

I miss the “Travel With Bradley” family very much.

You may have heard that folks are using ZOOM so they can chat as a “group” on-line. I thought it would be fun for some of us to try this out. I’ll share a few stories plus you can chat with your fellow travelers. In the future I could possibly arrange for special guests to join us. Email me a message if you’d like an invite – askbradley@bradleywalters.com and I’ll announce a date and time.

Over the years many of you have suggested that I should write a book but there never seems to be the time. I can’t use that excuse now so I’ve started writing it.

Most importantly I want you and your family to be well so take care of yourself and don’t venture out unless absolutely necessary.

Cheers from my home to yours!

Bradley

Easter Greetings from Bradley

It’s not often that I am home for Easter because this is typically travel time.

I very much look forward to daily video chats with my family but I really miss my jaunts with Mom.

As we celebrate “separately” there’s Easter joy in every corner of the world.

I put some of my favourite Easter Eggs on display from Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria.  Every time I look at them they bring back wonderful travel memories.

I laughed after watching a video message from Taras (the finest guide in Ukraine).  He was in the Carpathian Mountains on his wife’s Grandmothers farm.  He was busy planting potatoes – shovel in hand.   The rolling hill scenery was stunning.  His Easter message was very down to earth – he basically said in Ukraine during this time of isolation, you just can’t cancel the “planting of the potatoe”.

Some of you have emailed letting me know that while at home, you have been enjoying looking through your travel pictures.

I continue to reach out and am hearing from travel friends near and far.  These are difficult times for “everyone”.

It’s hard to grasp how much our world has changed over the past month.

As travellers it is challenging staying at home, distancing and pausing travel plans.

While I might not be seeing you for the time being, I think of you often,  I’m therefore doing my best to post daily on Facebook (Bradley Walters and Travel With Bradley) and I’ll continue to write some blogs.

I’m busy as always creating many new, amazing travel itineraries so I look forward to the day that we can start exploring the world once again.

Happy Easter!

Stay safe and be well,

Bradley

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Dubai and the Arabian Sea – An Amazing Journey

We flew from Toronto to Dubai on an Emirates A380 Double Decker Aircraft
Dinner during the flight was EXCELLENT – enjoyed 2 meals and a pizza snack
There was a welcoming committee waiting for us in the airport – Impressive!
Our 5 Star Hotel was Beautiful
Fairmont Dubai
Visiting Tim Hortons Made Us Feel Like Home
Dubai’s Marine District – All New Construction – Beautiful
The World Tallest Building – Burj Khalifa
AT THE TOP – The View
Burj Khalifa at Night
Beautiful Dinner Location
Outdoor Dining with Entertainemnt
Our View During Breakfast at the Fairmont
Sailing across Dubai Creek in a classic “abra” water taxi
Lovely Views during out Sail
Video as we sailed along Dubai Creek
The Famous Dubai Spice Market – Saffron
The largest GOLD Ring in the world
The Gold Market of Dubai
Our Deluxe Luncheon at Dubai’s Only Revolving Restaurant
Dubai’s Frame Attraction – very cool!
Common to Serve Arabic Coffee As a Welcome – at the Fairmont Hotel
The Fabulous Miracle Garden – a one-of-a-kind attraction
Video I shot while touring the Garden
So many impressive sights in the Garden
My passengers as pretty as the flowers
Acres of flower gardens – stunning!
Dinner in the Desert – a very deluxe affair
The Head Chef
Outdoor Seating with Entertainment
My passengers taking a dinner break to ride a camel! – all included with “Travel With Bradley”
The airy atrium on the “Jewel of the Seas”
Indoor Pool on the “Jewel of the Seas”
The Grand Dining Room on the “Jewel of the Seas”
Yes we experienced a Safari on Sir Bani Yas island – was incredible
Just like in Africa!
Impressive beach on Sir Bani Yas – our ship in the background
The beach is man made – no expense spared
The beautiful “Jewel of the Seas“
The massive mosque in Abu Dhabi
Chandeliers galore in the mosque
A photographers dream
I nabbed my passengers an invite to a Tim Hortons opening – great fun!
They served us complimentary Tim Hortons coffee – the donuts looked good!
The “Louvre” Abu Dhabi – NO, we are not in Paris, France
So many masterpieces on display – could have spent hours at the Louvre
The Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi – one of the most expensive hotels in the world
A Warm Welcome as I entered this lavish property
View of the atrium
Spectacular Atrium in the Emirates Palace
Qatar Al Watan – the Presidential Palace, Abu Dhabi
Doormen open massive doors as you enter the Palace – feel like royalty
The video I shot inside the “Presidential Palace”
Gold is everywhere you look in the Palace
Beautiful Flowers in Abu Dhabi
Back in Dubai at the largest mall in the world – more than shopping – an aquarium and the worlds largest OLED screen
Indoor Waterfall at Dubai Mall
Stunning Sunset over Dubai
Dubai’s Burj Al Arab – known as the worlds most luxurious hotel
Views inside the hotel
I was lucky to tour one fo the rooms at “Burj Al Arab” – take a look
You May Have Heard About Dubai’s, INDOOR Ski Hill
Taken during our Evening Dubai LIGHTS tour

City Walk Dubai – beautiful at night

Sweet Garden – a dreamy coffee cafe at Dubai City Walk
Lights everywhere – no worry about safety at night in Dubai
A creative picture frame advertising – Leto Restaurant, City Walk
Farewell to the “Jewel of the Seas”
Our 14 hour flight home departed at 3:30am – excellent service, plenty of legroom even in economy with Emirates Airline

A Message from Bradley