Posted in Canada, Daddy, family, Food, health, money, Parenting, The Urban Daddy, Toronto, travel

Travel With Kids! Yeah! As Much As Possible, Please!

I opened my Twitter feed this morning (I’m @urbandaddyblog if you’re not following me yet – and if you’re not… SHAME!) and the first tweet that greeted me was this one;

“Up next with on Travel Edition. Are healthy eating and traveling even possible with hotel stays and security restrictions? Tune in to hear more…

Then I thought about all of the travel we have done over the years with the kids and food, make that nutritious food, has never been an issue… anywhere!

By “travel”, I’m not just referring to East York, Mississauga, or GASP, Richmond Hill – which if you live in or near the Greater Toronto Area, you will know take 40 minutes to an hour no matter what time of day, and literally used to take “5-minutes” when I was younger…

Here are some of the places we’ve taken the kids (current ages are 8-13);

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • PEI
  • England
  • France
    • Paris 3 times
    • Drove the country heading south
  • Spain
    • Barcelona
    • Madrid
    • Seville
    • Drove the country / took trains
  • Italy
    • Venice
    • Rome
    • Amalfi Coast
    • Florence
    • Drove the country / took trains
    • Tuscany
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Holland
    • Amsterdam
    • Ghent
    • Edam
  • Florida

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…

We’re big into the experience, so I’m not including cruises, but we backpack – take the least amount possible, and when we look for places to stay, there are no hotels.  We want to experience our destination as the locals would, which is why Air BnB is great for us.

With Air BnB not only do we save on accommodations because 5 people at hotels require an extra room, or extra charge, but we ensure we have WiFi, Air Conditioning and most importantly a kitchen!

With a kitchen, the food, especially healthy food, never becomes an issue.   We are so lucky to have a spouse who is almost certified as a nutritionist, and who is so incredibly organized that when we (read: she) plans our accommodations and itinerary around grocery stores so we can gather the food we need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Without having to rely on eating out all the time, we save money, and eat much better and much healthier, plus we have snacks available for taking with us on our excursions / day-trips.

That’s how we get to experience the world with children, while eating healthy, and having a ton of fun.



Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, family, Food, Life, Parenting, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

The Urban Daddy: Back from family vacation. Europe V4.0.

So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities.  Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!

Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.

You get it!

But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.

This was our 4th summer in Europe.  As a family.  We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.

Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.

With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.

This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.

We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on.  Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.

We’ve yet to be disappointed.

I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.

This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home.  The final bag arrived 3 days after us.

Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids.  Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium.  She was an absolute trooper.  No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.

Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.

I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives.  Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.

I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground.  Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him.  Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer.  He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.

Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.

As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring.  New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!

For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals.  We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest.  We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.

But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.




Posted in family, Life

Back From Vacation!

In case you were one of the MANY who email me trying to find out why there have not been any new posts in a month (or if you really don’t care – you’re going to find out anyways) but I’m back from vacation.


Back from an amazing family vacation in Europe (again) and in need of another vacation.  LOL.

This thing called jet lag is kicking my ass… Hard.

I hope everyone has also had a wonderful summer and with 3 weeks still left in the summer, I hope the weather is great and I look forward to hearing about your family vacations as I outline mine.

Back from vacation and back to work!

The Urban Daddy aka Warren

Posted in Life

67th Anniversary of D-Day – Canada’s role in the liberation of Europe.

Today, June 6th, is the 67th anniversary of the greatest seaborne invasion in history as Canada took part in the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.  Canada’s role on this D-Day: to take one of the five designated beaches where Allied forces were to land.  The Americans had Utah and Omaha beaches in the west, then came the British at Gold beach, the Canadians landed at Juno Beach and finally the British arrived at Sword beach all across a stretch of about 80 kilometres of mostly flat, sandy beach along the Normandy coast in France.

The bombardment of the beaches began at 6 a.m.  Two hours later, the German defences at Juno Beach had been shattered and Canada had established the beachhead.

The victory was a turning point in World War II and led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Fourteen thousand young Canadians stormed Juno Beach on his day.  The fighting they endured was fierce and frightening and the  price they paid was high, costing 340 Canadian lives, wounding 574 more.

Unfortunately I did not learn about this in school, neither did my wife.  Instead we learned the best life lesson about D-day in a rather unique way.  We travelled to Normandy as part of our honeymoon. 

For those of you who are new readers of my blog, my wife and I took 5 weeks honeymoon, flew into Paris, France then rented a car and drove up to Normandy, then around the entire country, ending in Paris for the last 3 days.  It was a wonderful trip, looking back at what we saw and where we went.  We stayed in a lot of bed and breakfasts all over the country and enjoyed the countryside and the locals.  Outside of Paris, life in France was wonderful.  Sunflowers, lavender, wheat, mushrooms, and a very small car called a Twingo (which we named Twinga). 

Yes, there were some hiccups like getting extremely sick the last 3 days in Paris, both of us spending each and every second in the hotel hoping to feel better, and my exploits with a manual car.  I realized you can’t push a car over 100km/hr in 3rd gear.  Who knew?  It was also on this trip that I introduced my wife to camembert with fresh tomatoes on a baguette, something we still enjoy – on this past weekend for example.  Top this off with marinated mushrooms and it’s something you cannot beat for flavour.

So what does this have to do with D-day.

Well, as I mentioned our first stop was Normandy to the north-west of Paris.  It was sunny on the drive up there, however, as we settled into the region, it quickly clouded over and started to drizzle.  It was fitting weather as we experienced a piece of history that neither of us understood at that time. 

The beach and water leading up to the beach in Normandy is filled with markers and monuments reflecting the points where the allied forces landed in their attempt to remove the Nazi’s from France and put an end to World War II.  It’s an eerie site.  Then very close to the beach is a giant cemetery.  Row after row of crosses indicating where a Canadian, American or British soldier died.  There was, to the best of my knowledge, a Canadian cemetery and in that cemetery there were some grave markers with Stars of David on them reflecting where a Jewish soldier died.   As is custom, we picked up some stones and placed them on those headstones.  I believe that is done to show others that someone came to visit these people, and if I remember correctly there were more than 30, but less than 50 Jewish Canadian soldiers who died at Juno beach. 

As we were putting the final stones on the graves we noticed another couple wandering around the cemetery.  The rest of this story is a little sketchy because I do not exactly remember what happened from here – and I checked with my wife, but I remember chatting with them and finding out they were locals who upon finding out we were Canadian thanked us very much for saving their country.  That I was able to verify with my wife.  It was 10 years ago, or 57 years after the invasion.

I remember being choked up standing in the cold rain in the middle of a cemetery, with Canadian soldiers who died so far away from home and who are laid to rest in a foreign country.  They died freeing the French from Nazi rule.  We can to see Normandy, we saw the beaches where the allied forced landed and we saw the carnage that remains.  We also saw the soldiers who perished and some locals who were happy to see us.  It was quite surreal.

After that we decided to read up on D-day and to learn a little bit about Canadian history that far too often gets ignored.  Sure it seems that our military is still using equipment from 67 years ago, but not enough attention and respect are paid to our armed forces who risked their lives to assist others – both here in Canada and abroad.  It’s a thankless task.  Imagine if there was a socialist government in Canada at that time?  France would be part of Germany.

So with that, I wish to take a second this D-day to encourage each and every one of you to google either “Normandy”, “D-Day”, “Juno Beach”, “Canada in WWII” or anything relating to Canada’s presence in France and be proud to be Canadian (if you are), or proud of the fact that the Americans, Brits and Canucks came to help out.

It is with great sadness that I mark this anniversary of D-day as I recall standing in a cemetery in the middle of a cold, wet, almost empty beach proud as heck to be a Canadian!