Saturday, 28 September 2013

Photos From A Day in Dublin

As you walk through Dublin it almost feels like you have gone back in time.

 Here are a few photos that I took while exploring the city.

I thoroughly enjoyed my few hours at The Temple Bar.

Below are some of the other pubs that I saw along the way

The Architecture in Dublin is breathtaking, especially the Cathedrals.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is beautiful, as you can see.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Toronto to Welland:136 km Bike Challenge

Ideas to do crazy things always seem to be created over a few drinks, but hardly ever get followed through. On September 14, 2013 I am proud to say that my good friend John and I followed through on a crazy idea and rode our bikes 136 km from Toronto, Ontario to Welland, Ontario. The best part of this is that we decided to embark on this adventure just 6 days before. This left us no time to over think it and best of all no time to train. The challenge to ourselves was to take the long ride in our current physical state.

Like most crazy ideas, people we told had many different reactions including: “You’re doing this ride…by choice?”, “You two are going to die”, “You guys are stupid” etc. We never let it bother us because for every naysayer there was someone cheering us on. We even had some friends get us some good luck drinks the night before our ride. Was it the best idea? Probably not but we can say now that we did the first portion of the ride hung over…like real men.

Getting ready to ride at 4:00 am. 

With our backpacks loaded up with water and snacks, a change of clothes and some necessary tools/repair items we met up at 4:00am in Toronto to begin our 136 km ride.  For the first half of the ride we would be following the Waterfront Trail. The Waterfront Trail is a series of connecting paths that spans from Windsor, ON to the Quebec and Ontario border for a total of 1400 km. This first half took us through Etobicoke, Port Credit, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and a small slice of Hamilton. Out of these areas Port Credit and Mississauga had the most scenic views. When we arrived in Port Credit a boatload (pun intended) of fishermen were loading up there vessels and it felt like we were cruising by the docks of a coastal town. The portion of the Mississauga trail featured the most parks and was quite in tune with nature and really changed my view that the city is indeed more than town homes and condos.

Some shoreline shots between Toronto and Burlington

My least favourite stretch was the Oakville portion of the trail. It seemed like they didn’t really care about the trail and just threw signs up along the roads. The first portion of Burlington felt this way as well but quickly changed when we got to the developed waterfront area. This was approximately the 68 km mark and we decided we would walk along the trail and see some of the sights they had. This included a model boat pool, a snack shop, beach rentals and memorials. It was a nice area but we still had a large portion to go so we rode onward under the Skyway Bridge. Along a small stretch of the trail in Hamilton before we would turn off of the Waterfront Trail for good, we decided to stop and have a beer. We grabbed a seat on some rocks in the water and cracked open a Steam Whistle and looked across Lake Ontario to see Toronto off in the distance.

A much needed beach beer break.

The next portion of the trip would see us through Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Beamsville, Vineland and finally Welland. The ride to Stoney Creek was good and smooth, we had left the trail and were mostly on roads but they were quiet enough where we could ride side by side and talk. While biking through Stoney Creek we made one big mistake. We were in an area with lots of options for restaurants to grab a bite but decided to push on to Grimsby in the hopes of knocking out a few more kilometers. There are a few rules that you should abide by when being adventurous:

  1. Eat before you’re hungry
  2. Drink before you’re thirsty
  3. Layer up before you’re cold
  4. Layer down before you’re hot

In our case we lost all fuel in our bodies before reaching Grimsby to eat and it was a complete struggle to move. We actually ended up taking a half hour break in a wine field and just laid down using our packs as pillows. After a quick Google search we found a pub that was just a mere 16 minutes ride away.

When we finally arrived in Grimsby we ate some lunch and then John asked the bartender to inspire and motivate us because we needed it and she told us a tale of how a 60+ year old couple rode in from Toronto, had lunch and then continued on to Niagara Falls the week prior. We looked at each other and knew we couldn't quit if someone 40 years older than us had done it. So we grabbed a red bull and hit the road. On the way out of Grimsby we passed a church that had a message on its sign that I feel was intended for us. I can’t remember it word for word but it was along the lines of success is yours to make. That was a piece of motivation I needed to continue and finish the last 43 km.

Misc photos from along the way.

The last 43 km were the toughest by far, not only were our knees, legs, butt and shoulders sore but now we had reached the escarpment area and had to battle hill after hill. Despite the hills, the scenery in this area was amazing. Rolling hills and wineries as far as the eye could see. It was a truly beautiful area to bike through. 

After another short break to rest our legs (at that point we were 19km from Welland) we pushed on and John started to recognize the streets of his hometown. When we arrived at Pelham Road his eyes lit up and I knew we were close.Being closer gave us both the push and drive to pick up our pace. When the "Welcome to the city of Welland" sign appeared it felt like a gift from the heavens, we had made it! We stopped to take a photo in front of the sign with our bikes held high (took John 2 tries to lift his up heh) and then we were off to John’s parent’s house which was around the corner where Frank Campion (@FrankCampion1 - Councilor Ward 2 of Welland) had set up accommodations for us.

Upon our arrival we were greeted with smiles and victory shots that were already set up on the table. I won’t forget what Frank had said about the shots already being poured, “I didn't know when you guys would arrive, but I knew you wouldn't quit”. That’s what the trip was all about, not how fast we got there but rather about pushing ourselves and not quitting on each other/ourselves and accomplishing the goal of making it.

We made it!

The funny thing about the second half of the trip is that we lost all motivation to stop and take pictures. At that point it simply became get the trip done! I personally regret it because we passed some beautiful wineries and interesting sights and I am unable to share them with you all. But what I can share now are some tips for long bike rides that we learned from this adventure:

  1. Bring heavier snacks, granola bars were good, but a sandwich or something with more fuel helps when your miles away from a restaurant.
  2. Don’t wear a backpack, invest in a rack and some panniers to carry the load.
  3. Take as many breaks as you need
  4. Every 20-30 minutes stand up on your pedals while riding and get your full weight off your butt
  5. Whenever possible ride side by side to talk and distract your mind from the pain in your body
I recommend trying to push yourself on a bike trip whether it be 30 km or 300 km. There is a great satisfaction of making it somewhere using only your muscles! If you have any similar adventures, please feel free to comment below about it, I’d love to hear! And if you have any questions about our trip ask away, I’d be happy to answer.

Here is a video slideshow:

Thursday, 12 September 2013

It's a Manniversary!! Real Man Travels turns 1!

Happy Birthday!

Its hard to believe that Real Man Travels has turned 1 this week, seems just like just a little while ago it was just an idea that had come up around a campfire with beer and friends. (Beer as you know, makes your ideas that much better. I am a firm believer in that!)

Thank You!

If you have been following the blog from its origin you know that it has come along way from just me blogging.  Real Man Travels now has 4 great contributors, switching my role to Editor In Chief (which is really fun to say) and bringing a whole new life and appeal to the blog and I have you guys to thank for that. Thanks for every little pat on the back when I see you at the store or thanks for connecting over social media and reaching out to let us know that you have enjoyed what we have posted.  It means a lot and it helps tremendously to help get the creative fires burning.

Where In The World Are We Going!?!

Ending off I would like to tell you where we are travelling in the next little bit.

  • Helen is our newest contributor and hopefully will show her smiling face a few more times yet. Thanks for being our first woman contributor Helen.
  • Ed will be heading on a 173 km bike ride from Toronto to Welland, I wish him luck on his journey.
  • Scott will be posting about his recent trips and will always be thinking of beer (this is why I love him) but he is in for a heck of a wonderful journey in his life as he sets out to be the second dad of the group. Cheers to your family Scott.
  • Sam has been a tremendous help behind the scenes and is headed to Algoma Country with our Dad and I to go Fly Fishing  I hope I catch more fish than you brother.
  • Real Man Travels as a group is headed to Minneapolis at the end of October to the Sunday Night game Vikings vs Packers. It will be our own unique version of a press trip, so stay tuned for fun stuff from Minneapolis.
  • Last but not least I will be heading to Dublin,Ireland at the end of this month to participate in another Press Trip and TBEX convention and best of all drinking beers in pubs (lots of beers) I am thrilled that the opening night party is at The Guinness Store House. I almost feel I will need to come home for a rest on this one.
So please enjoy the next year of Real Man Travels,


Monday, 9 September 2013

Real Men Go Treetop Trekking in Toronto

Within the Real Man Travels group we take challenges very seriously. So when we received a challenge (at least we took it that way) from Mike over at Treetop Trekking by Arbraska, we were in Toronto getting suited up within a week.

The Group: Chris (@realmantravels) Ed (@EdRealManTravel) Mike (@JackWanderlust) Dustin, and myself (@SamRealMan)

Location: Treetop Trekking by Arbraska in Brampton, situated perfectly in Heart Lake Conservation Area

Treetop Trekking Brampton
Like most things designed for your safety, the harness fits tight in all the wrong places.
left to right: Mike, Ed, Dustin, and Sam

Finding Heart Lake Conservation area is actually quite easy. If you are coming from Toronto, take the 410 north to Sandalwood Parkway. After that a quick left and a quick right on to Heart Lake Road and you're there.

TIP: Show your booking confirmation at the main gate and save paying admission to the conservation area. Remember to make your reservation at least 3 days before your desired date, and earlier if you plan on visiting on a weekend.

After signing the waivers and getting outfitted in the required safety gear we were lead by a guide to the orientation course where we learned the proper techniques for using the courses and zip lines. Once our guide was satisfied we could handle ourselves we began working our way through the gauntlet of aerial courses that lay ahead.

The guides we met were more than willing to chat with us as we waited our turn and made our way from course to course. The consensus among them was that the Brampton location is the more introductory of the Treetop Trekking with courses ranging from novice to advanced intermediate. They said if we really wanted a challenge that the Ganaraska location near Port Hope is home to the most challenging course in Ontario.  

Treetop Trekking Brampton 1
About to take on the King Fisher, the most challenging course Brampton had to offer.
left to right: Mike, Ed, Chris and Dustin

They allow you 3 hours to make your way through everything, and I can tell you that we moved a quick pace the entire time and barely made it through everything. So if your planning on conquering all 8 course, 10 zip lines, and all 75 aerial games make sure you put those 3 hours to use.

TIP: Dress for exercise. It's a work out so make sure you wear clothes that wont hold your sweat and make sure you wear comfortable closed toe shoes.

We took some video during the day to try to give you an idea of what to expect if your planning a treetop trek in the future.  

Final Thoughts: Treetop Trekking is a bit of a tongue twister to say, but is a heck of a lot of fun to do. I would recommend this to any group of outdoorsy and fit people who want to try something new, and Guys, if your trying to think of a unique date idea for that fit girl in your life this might just be for you.

If you are looking for more unique activities in the Greater Toronto Area visit, or if you have a challenge for the Real Man Travels team email us at 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Real Girl Travels - Misadventure


There's this little company in Toronto that you may not have heard about, The Culinary Adventure Company, a small chef owned and operated business. They take dining to the next level in a way I've never experienced before. They are passionate about food, and its' unique way of feeding such strong emotion in people. This company loves to show off it's home town Toronto. Through unique dining experiences and tours they show off the "real" Toronto, not only to tourists, but to locals as well. When I was asked to take one of these tours, I jumped on it with out hesitation! I was more ready and willing to take the "Escape the City... Canoe and Beach Dining Adventure".

Imagine, taking a leisurely paddle to the beautiful Toronto Islands in a heritage freighter canoe. (Just like the ones used by the settlers!) You paddle through a bird sanctuary, past some sailboats and watch as planes take off and land right over your head! Once you hit the shore, you’re treated to a gourmet dinner picnic, I’m not talking about burgers and hotdogs here! The picnic is made of delicious dishes featuring local Ontario products and prepared by one of Toronto’s hottest young Chefs. Then as you relax after an amazing meal you can watch a beautiful sunset and paddle back towards the city lights as darkness falls.
Now I say imagine because that’s about all I can do for this adventure. My best friend, Chantelle, and I had set off for this incredible sounding adventure with excitement and anticipation. After battling the rush hour city traffic, and finally making it down to the Queens Quay, we hit another road block, literally, the road was blocked for construction. Being the resourceful and intelligent ladies that we are, we detoured, found parking, and made it to the waterfront! We walked along the buildings looking for the address on our tickets, we finally found it, went in, and were promptly told that we just missed the trip. We walked to the dock to see the giant canoe, packed with about 7 or 8 people, paddling across the bay to the island. To say we were disappointed is a bit of an understatement. Since we were already in the city, and paid $20 for parking, we weren’t about to just turn around and head home.  

So instead, we decided a Jays game at the conveniently located Rogers centre across the street was a fabulous alternative. As we began walking over we started to feel a couple drops of rain, first a few and then a light sprinkle, we took shelter under an event tent just in time. The clouds opened up and a torrential down pour hit hard and fast! We both started laughing at the situation. If we had been just 5 minutes earlier to the dock, we would have been out in the middle of the bay, in a canoe, completely drenched! It’s funny how things work out sometimes, when we thought we had missed out on a great opportunity, we were actually saved a massive soaking!

When the rain tapered off we made our way over to the dome only to find the streets flooded. We decided to cut our losses and just had a nice meal and spent time chatting and catching up. Both of us being busy women with completely different lives, it’s hard for us to get together all the time, so the one on one catch up session ended up being exactly what we needed. It’s funny sometimes, how things work out. You are all set to do one thing, then life has a funny way of directing you to something better. We might not have got do the exciting canoe trip and eat the delicious gourmet picnic, but we stayed dried (mostly) and had a great time catching up.

Learn more about Helen at her Blog "Talk 2 Helen"