Most Canadian experience: Helping drive a team of sled dogs across a frozen lake outside Canmore, Alberta.
Best Ontario Resort: The Lodge at Pine Cove, north of Parry Sound. Luxurious surroundings on a pristine stretch of the French River. Try a sunrise paddle with the mist rising off the water, or check out nearby waterfalls. Relaxation to the max.
Prettiest sunrise: A glorious and clear start to the day in Santa Barbara, California, with the sun popping up over Stearns Wharf in one of my favourite parts of my home state.
Nicest motel: Si Como No, a fun and colourful spot in Flagler Beach, Florida.
Best walk: A long stroll along the south bank of the River Thames on a cold but perfectly clear morning in London. Awesome views of St. Paul’s, Parliament and the London Eye. And a great Cumberland sausage on a bun at a Spanish bar near Borough Market.
Best bar: Drink, a hard to find spot in the basement at 348 Congress St. in the Fort Point area of Boston. Just tell the bartender what you like in a drink and let them do the rest. A great scene with beautiful people and a fun vibe.
Best drive (U.S.): My Dad and I headed south from Palm Desert, California in a wind storm in the spring. The sand was blowing too hard to visit our intended destination in Borrego Hot Springs, so we kept going and stopped in the town of Julian for great apple pie and then drove on to San Diego for a stay at the fabled Hotel Del Coronado. Always love a driving trip with my Dad.
Best donuts: Leche Desserts in Montreal. I had one with coconut and lime and they also do some with miso with sesame seeds and other odd ingredients. A passionate owner and a great place where they encourage women to eat instead of starving themselves to look like pencils.
Most interesting artwork: There was a display of kinetic art on show at the Bergamot Art Station in Santa Monica when I was there in November. In one art piece, you turned a crank and a small model of New York Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield waltzed down a conveyor belt, where he was handed a baseball that he then “threw” at a seagull, knocking it dead. It was a crazy and wonderful replication of the famous incident at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in 1983, complete with a front page cover of the Toronto Star the next day.
Best rooftop view: Along the tops of the buildings and gates that surround the Croatian city of Dubrovnik on a trip with Silversea Cruises. I’d heard it was a beautiful town, but I had no idea it was THAT beguiling. The shopping I didn’t think was so great, but the views? Oh, my.
Worst tourist slogan: At the World Travel Market in London in November, there was a sign that said Morocco is “The Country That Travels Within You.” It travels within me? I thought maybe I got carried away with the spices in my Malaysian chicken the other night, but apparently it was Morocco inside my stomach, doing a jig. Seriously, though, it’s the country that travels within me? Does that mean I don’t have to fly 16 hours next to a mother who brought a half used colouring book and two crayons for her two-year-old to entertain himself for half a day in the confined seven-by-eight-inch space of a modern airline seat? If Morocco travels within me, do I still have to clear customs in Marrakech? Can I still shop at the Duty Free Store?
Best overall food city: Singapore. Everything from high-end to incredible and varied street food in a city that’s surprisingly colourful and cool.
Best diner: Ernie’s in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A real throwback, with saucy waitresses and the perfect diner ambience.
Best sandwich (Canada): Smoked meat at Schwartz’s in Montreal. I can’t believe it took me 32 years of living in Canada to get there, but it did.
Best sandwich (U.S.): A muffellatta at a market in New Orleans. I’d never had one, but it’s basically an Italian style cold cut sandwich with chopped olives, carrots and other treats on top. Deliciously satisfying.
Top moment overall: Getting to march in a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. It was the Krewe du Vieux parade and a new friend invited me to take part. It was awesome to dress up and toss beads to kids and to women and men on balconies high above the street. The parade floats were mostly rude and incredibly suggestive, with giant penises and breasts and displays making fun of politicians and public figures.
Best cannoli: Vittoria’s pastry shop, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. It’s a fun shop run by an older Italian lady who grew up in Ottawa.
Coolest roadside attraction: I was in Cape Breton, south of Baddeck, Nova Scotia, when I took a ferry over to Little Narrows. I was heading to a small town called Iona and a park I’d been told about when I turned a corner and found a miniature, white church on the shores of a bay along with a tiny picket fence and a small graveyard. I never did find out quite what it was. Or is. But you hopefully can still find it in a tiny spot called Plaster Cove.
Most interesting hotel feature: At the Athenaeum in London, my room had a small glass case next to the bed with tiny toy soldiers in it. Very cool. The hotel also has a great bar.
Biggest food surprise (city): Canmore, Alberta features remarkable, varied cuisine, including incredible lamb and Caesar Salad with potato chips at The Trough, a wonderful restaurant. Stop at the Junction House Café and Market in nearby Dead Man’s Junction for spectacular samosas.
Best burger: My Father’s Office, Santa Monica. It comes on a soft baguette with gruyere cheese and blue cheese, plus caramelized onions and arugula. No substitutions allowed. I don’t like blue cheese but this was a great burger; salty and sweet and flavourful.
Best boat ride (international): A nighttime view on Hong Kong Harbour on a Chinese Junk with the Aqua Luna cruise company. Awesome.
Best golf course: The Four Seasons Nevis is a fabulous layout with tremendous ocean views and nice elevation changes.
The ones that got away: I never made it to Greece this year as planned. I’ve still never been anywhere in South America. Even travel dudes don’t get everything they want.