Local Grocery Stores are Awesome

As I’ve said before I tend to be traveling on a somewhat limited budget. A huge expense while you’re away from home is the cost of eating out all the time. While I understand wanting to experience the local food there is an alternative, the grocery store.  A lot of hotels offers at least a fridge and some even a little kitchenette. Perhaps you're more the type that says in an airbnb rental and gets to enjoy a full out real kitchen. Either way one of my favourite things to do while traveling is to visit a local grocery store. Not only are you able to get some inexpensive food to have around the place you’re staying but you might get to find some really interesting food too. I often go for the breakfast type items. Cereal and milk or muffins that kind of thing. We also try and get some snack food and fruit for when we get hungry in the evening hanging out relaxing. I also quite enjoy trying to find some what odd things that I couldn't get back in Toronto or even Canada for that matter. Also don’t forget a bottle of wine, especially if you’re in an area where it’s made.

Photo by Laurie Stein

Photo by Laurie Stein

The only trouble is sometimes you go into a local store where you don’t speak the language and it can be a bit confusing to figure out what you’re really buying. In Israel for example we picked up what we thought was cream cheese. It turned out to be more of a cheese dip which to be fair was still great but not quite what I had expected. There have been some others interesting things we’ve found. There was chocolate milk in a bag in Israel that was amazing. Microwave brownie in Chicago that was kind of easy bake ovenish. San Francisco had some great local cheese and wine.

Over all going to a local grocery store is fun, interesting and reasonably priced. It’s also a great way to take in some local culture, give it a try next time you’re on a trip.

 

 

Things to Consider When Booking a Hotel

Sometimes you just have to learn the hard way

Photo by Laurie Stein

Photo by Laurie Stein

Booking a hotel can be a stressful experience. You either wade through your guide books or online listings searching for the perfect spot to stay. I personally use the online method via Expedia and Tripadvisor to try and find a place that looks appealing, also free wi-fi. For some of us there is the added challenge of finding a place that also had to meet our accessibility needs. Now of course this is different for everyone. For me it means finding a place that is wheelchair friendly.

Things are not always as they seem

The problem is just like any other information gathered online, things aren't always as they seem. Once you have picked a place out that you feel you want to stay,  see if you can get in touch with the hotel directly. Sometimes this is easy other times not so much, especially when language is an issue. For example I booked a hotel in Tel Aviv that seemed wheelchair accessible for all the information I could get online via a travel agent. Then when I contacted the hotel before we traveled to confirm and let them know I was traveling with a wheelchair they told me the hotel was in fact not accessible. After finding someone at the travel agent that spoke Hebrew and a phone conversion later it was determined that yes everything should be just fine. Then we got to the hotel, remember how I said everything is not always as it seem? Well there were elevators (great) but they were quite little (uh oh). My wheelchair is only 21.5 inches wide at the wheels and I just managed to squeeze in. Had my chair been any larger I would have been totally screwed as our room was on the 6th floor and there were no ground floor rooms.

The other reason to contact the hotel directly is some hotels have rooms that are setup to meet the needs of disabled travellers. Staying in a downtown San Francisco hotel the room we were given was much larger and the washroom had grab bars and a shower seat for example. Theis was of course great and made our stay a lot nicer, except for the loud bar across the street. Never forget to pack some ear plugs.