Posts Tagged ‘Cape Breton’

30 by 30

January 18th, 2013 | Rachel


#11: Morocco

One of the travelers I met in India recently posted something about achieving 30 by 30, that is 30 countries by the time she turned 30. What a great goal to have! I hadn’t tallied my own travel checklist in a while, so I made a list to see if I met that challenge. My thirtieth birthday is fast approaching at the end of this month.

I’ll preface this exercise by acknowledging that lists such as this aren’t always the best measure of travel experience because they don’t distinguish a single short weekend trip from repeat visits from actually living somewhere. Some people include layovers, but unless you exit the airport and tread on actual soil, I say it doesn’t count. It also gets fuzzy when you are dealing with socially distinct regions that are technically a part of another country. The United Kingdom is one example, which comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Taiwan and Tibet are other examples, as they are technically a part of China. Despite my personal opinions regarding Tibet’s independence, I have listed them together. On the other hand, some tiny places like Vatican City are a country all of their own.

Mt. Everest

#29: China, Tibet, Taiwan

Gozo, Malta

#20: Malta

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

#4: Canada

Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia

#25: Cambodia

Anyway, here is my list in chronological order, with repeat trips in parentheses. Now you know where I’ve been, so if you are traveling somewhere else, please invite me to join you! Below this list, I’ve also included my short list of places I’d like to go in the next five to ten years. Perhaps 40 by 40?

  1. Mexico
  2. Canada (4)
  3. Germany (3)
  4. Austria (2)
  5. Switzerland (3)
  6. Australia
  7. New Zealand
  8. United Kingdom (England, Wales and Scotland) (3)
  9. Ireland
  10. France (4)
  11. Morocco
  12. Costa Rica
  13. The Netherlands (2)
  14. Luxembourg (2)
  15. Belgium (2)
  16. Hungary
  17. Sweden
  18. Denmark
  19. Italy (2)
  20. Malta
  21. St. Maarten
  22. Dominican Republic
  23. Thailand
  24. Vietnam
  25. Cambodia
  26. Vatican City
  27. Chile
  28. Greece
  29. China, Tibet, Taiwan
  30. Nepal
  31. India

Venice, Italy

#19: Italy

The Hague, The Netherlands

#13: The Netherlands

Folegandros, Greece

#28: Greece

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

#12: Costa Rica

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

#31: India

Where to next?

  1. Turkey
  2. Argentina, Peru
  3. Tanzania, Kenya
  4. Czech Republic
  5. Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
  6. Antarctica
  7. United States National Parks!


Places where I would love to return include Australia, New Zealand, Greece and, of course, France.

What about you? Where have you been? Where do you want to go?

Round Peg, Square Hole

October 18th, 2011 | Rachel

Square Cake?

It’s amazing what a difference following directions can make.  Having rated that last yellow cake recipe a lowly C-, I decided to give it one more try, this time using the instructed quantities of milk and eggs.

The result was a very tasty and moist cake, although it felt a little bit gritty.  I have a 5 lb bag of organic cake flour coming in the mail this week, and I am curious to taste and feel the difference.  FYI, if you find yourself in need of cake flour and only have all-purpose flour, cornstarch and a flour sifter on hand, I find the ratio of seven parts all-purpose flour to one part cornstarch sifted together at least once to be a perfectly decent substitute.

Speaking of flour sifters, does anyone know the proper way to wash them?  I’ve been rinsing mine, but I hate the little hardened pieces of flour that get trapped inside.

Steve and I have less than a week until our California trip, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I think I am still a little traumatized from my last job when it comes to planned vacations.  With that job, no matter how far ahead a trip was planned, there was always this lurking fear that something would come up and the trip would either have to be cancelled or I’d have to spend half the time typing away on my laptop.  That never happened to me, of course, but I heard stories.

I was recently reminded of a fateful weekend back in 2010 when I decided to take Steve on a last minute trip to Nova Scotia for the Fourth of July weekend.  The plane tickets were going to be $800 each, but I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and found us a beautiful lodge up in Cape Breton.

A couple of days before the trip, I got an email at work looking for a few extra people to work on a document review project.  I needed the extra hours, so I volunteered for the project and explained at the meeting that I was going to be out of town for the weekend but would work as much as I could before I left and after I got back.

Apparently, I was expected to either cancel my trip or spend all of my time in my hotel room reviewing documents because I got a scathing “I’m disappointed in you” email from the partner when the project was over and an even more scathing review at the end of the year — one that the practice group leader made sure I never forgot.  It didn’t matter that my other reviews and day-to-day feedback (on projects that were actually substantive) were overwhelmingly positive.

For a long time, I looked back at that experience with mixed emotions.  I felt I had made the right choice, but I knew within the context of being an associate at a large law firm it was the wrong choice.  When things started to unravel at the beginning of 2011, part of me wished I had played it safe so I would have gotten a big end-of-the-year bonus (the denial of which was attributed to that very same negative review) and job security.

Only recently did I realize that the decision to go on that trip isn’t quite the albatross that I’ve been making it out to be in my head.  As some of you know, I am an avid traveler (this year alone I’ve been to China, Tibet, Nepal, Taiwan, and France, in addition to California wine country with my mom and Yellowstone with my brother), and one of the ways that I have traveled so much is I have made it a top priority ever since I took a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand when I was 18.  I still plan on living abroad one day.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about working at a law firm, but being too afraid (and overworked) to make vacation plans — as most people seemed to be — isn’t the kind of life I want to live.  Life is too short for that :-)  So, as it turns out, making the decision to go to Nova Scotia with Steve wasn’t me sacrificing my cushy, New York law firm job.  It was me choosing to stay on my own path and not get trapped on someone else’s.

Now that I have been away from that job for six months, I am started to see a completely different future take shape ahead of me.  It might not be as lucrative, but it is going to be a whole lot more fulfilling.

Stay tuned.

Hiking in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia


A Moose!


Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Sunset in Nova Scotia