High Waves and Low Tides in Fiji
Paradise on the doorstep: a sweep of deserted beach on Waya Island, Fiji. | All photos: Louise Slyth

High Waves and Low Tides in Fiji

It was 1998. My husband (then boyfriend) and I were nearing the end of a year backpacking around the world. We had visited Bali, spent the majority of our time in Australia on working visas, then experienced adventure and adrenaline in New Zealand. We decided to make a relaxing stop in Fiji before journeying home via LA.  

Independent travel is so rewarding, but it can be exhausting too. I was ready for some downtime, and imagined Fiji as a luxurious pacific paradise, with pristine beaches lapped by sapphire seas. It ended up being everything — and nothing — like I expected.

These were the days before Trip Advisor. The days before everyone relied on the internet to know whether a destination was #goals or #flee. When independent travellers clung to hard copies of their Lonely Planet guides like a security blanket, or simply turned up hoping for the best. 

We flew into Fiji’s second-largest city, Lautoka. We’d booked a modest hotel for the first night to orient ourselves and make plans. Getting there was an ordeal: I quickly had to shed my organised, scheduled tendencies and become accustomed to “Fiji time”, (as the locals called it) where no one was in a hurry and timetables were mere guidelines.

A few minutes after we settled into our room, a man appeared at our door with a bucket of water. The hotel had run out of water and this bucket was to sustain our cleanliness needs for the next 24 hours. It was at that point I realised Fiji wasn’t going to be quite what I expected. As it happened Lautoka was just a jumping-off point, so we didn’t have to maintain our bucket-washing regime for more than one night. 

We had been relying on our wits and our guidebooks until that point. However, Fiji is an archipelago boasting 333 islands and we only had 10 days. We decided some professional help was needed and arranged the rest of our trip with recommendations from a travel agent based in the hotel. Tired and in need of running water, we were happy to hand over the responsibility for planning our trip to a local expert. 

Hut on Waya, Fiji

Our first stop was Waya Island. It’s a journey I will never forget. Waya is about 40km from Lautoka, and our mode of transportation was a cabin boat with an outboard motor, that had clearly seen better days. Two-thirds of the way there, the weather turned, and we were soon clinging to each other as the boat was tossed around in two-metre waves. All our belongings were soaked. My levels of panic rose when the outboard motor failed, and our skipper pulled out a machete to try to fix it! I realised we were out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with no lifejackets and no way of contacting the mainland. My silent prayers were answered when our skipper managed to restart the engine and we were off again, bumping across the waves towards our destination.

When we arrived at Waya, it was too rocky for the boat to bring us directly to the beach. We had to wrestle our wet rucksacks out of the boat and wade ashore through waist-high shallows. I was just so glad to get back on dry land that I didn’t care. Bear Grylls would have been proud of us. 

After our eventful journey I was desperate to freshen up and relax, but the fun and games continued when we were shown to our bure (pronounced bur-ray). Fijian bures are simple one-roomed wooden huts with a straw roof, ranging from basic to luxurious. 

We had paid a little extra for the convenience of an ‘ensuite’. Imagine my reaction when we were shown to a straw hut overlooking the beach, with a black bin bag hung from the ceiling to separate the toilet from the only piece of furniture – a small bed with a mosquito net. But I was thankful for that net, as what our room lacked in amenities, it made up for in its flying insect population. There was no power, so we went to bed when it got dark. 

Our host welcomed us with a traditional Fijian drink, kava. Kava looks like mud and probably doesn’t taste much different (it has a strong peppery flavour). The host decides whether you get ‘high tide’ (a full glass) or ‘low tide’ (half a glass). Even though I had no idea what I was drinking, I also had no intention of insulting my host by declining. Thankfully my cup was low tide, as tradition calls for Kava to be downed in one. 

Over the next three days, we settled into life on our tiny island. Waya is only 22 square kilometres, and we walked most of it. The two resident dogs at the ‘resort’ acted as our tour guides, one trotting along ahead to show the way and one taking up the rear to ensure we were safe. They slept outside our bure at night, as if guarding us from danger. In reality, there was little to guard us against, other than spiders the size of my fist.

Apart from walking, there was nothing to do but read, sunbathe and immerse ourselves in the present moment. We lived by nature’s timetable. We woke to the sun streaming through our thatched walls. We ate when the fishermen had caught enough to feed everyone. We watched our hosts cook over an open fire, then devoured it greedily. Each evening we sat on the rock outside our bure and basked in the fluffy pink sunset. 

After Waya, we visited two other islands, but 25 years later, I can barely remember them. They were picture-perfect, exactly as I imagined Fiji would be. But Waya stands out; despite the challenges and the creepy crawlies, it was an unexpected, unforgettable paradise. 

Louise Slyth


Louise Slyth is a communications consultant and freelance writer. Born in Edinburgh, she has lived in Sydney and Barcelona, and now resides in Dublin with her husband. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including HuffPost, Stylist, The Independent and The Ethel, to name but a few. When she’s not writing, she’s planning her next trip. You can connect with her on Instagram.

Time to Read:  4 Minutes
Traveller: Louise Slyth
26 March 2023
Travellers' Tales - In this Moment

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Architectural Contrasts, a Literary Legacy, and First-Rate Food in Dublin, Ireland
Dublin's River Liffey is spanned by dozens of bridges, each with its own character. | All photos: Emily Cathcart

Architectural Contrasts, a Literary Legacy, and First-Rate Food in Dublin, Ireland

Divided into the Northside and Southside by the River Liffey, Dublin’s fair city of nearly 1.5 million is home to about a third of Ireland’s population. You can feel the brisk tempo of this busy capital — with its vibrant arts and culture, upsurge in restaurants, and classical Georgian neighbourhoods bumping up against rapidly changing areas like the Docklands. Local expert Emily Cathcart says there’s always something to see in Dublin when you know where to look.

Georgian door in Dublin, Ireland. The door is bright yellow, with an intricate fanlight window above.

Upon Arrival

After a visitor arrives in my city, I recommend going straight to the heart of Georgian Dublin. They can ease into the city’s built heritage on the Southside, strolling gracious squares past terraces of brightly painted doors with intricate fanlights. Highlights include Leinster House — the current seat of the Oireachtas (Ireland’s Parliament), it was originally the palace of the Dukes of Leinster.

Crossing over to the Northside, 14 Henrietta Street is in one of the city’s earliest areas of Georgian development. This social history museum traces the life of one address from well-heeled beginnings to tougher tenement times.

The best time to be here depends on your idea of what makes a good holiday. The city’s pulse is at its quickest from April to September when the weather’s fine and tourist season is in high gear, but it can be quite hectic. For a quieter vibe, October to March is markedly more chilled (temperatures included). There’s still plenty to do and see… but no crowds to contend with or over-tourism to contribute to.

I tell first-time travellers to take home a memory of the Fair City sourced from the artist-and-designer-led shops around town. I also tell them to avoid disposable souvenirs; they may be omnipresent but they’re not representative. See ‘Shopping Locally’ below…

People from Ireland’s capital know better than to drink coffee from international mega-chains. Instead, they would rather support locals serving excellent drinks and treats from Italian classics to Argentinian specialities. Dublin is serious about a quality cuppa; independent cafés and coffee spots are not hard to find.

The best museum to start your journey and get a good sense of this city is the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen’s Green, where in their own words they’re “obsessed with history, hospitality and humour” — three key ingredients in getting to grips with the place and its people. Over 5000 donated objects illustrate Dubliners’ generosity in helping the museum to amass its collection of everyday treasures. But be sure to visit some of Dublin’s other outstanding museums as well.

Parents should take their kids to any of the city’s parks in fair weather for fresh air, stately trees, birdsong… and a good run-around. For kid-friendly history that’s also fascinating for grown-ups, the replica famine ship Jeanie Johnston tells the stories of passengers fleeing An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger); while just next door, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is an equally absorbing trip back in time (FYI, you can get a combo ticket for both attractions on either website). EPIC’s fun, interactive displays will teach you all about Ireland’s biggest and most successful export; its people.

Food From The Heart

Among the dishes my city is most proud of, many say that Dublin Coddle — boiled sausages, potatoes and rashers of bacon — is a must. Opinion is mixed on this one; not everyone rates it and it’s not necessarily the prettiest bowlful, but it is undeniably local! I send visitors to try it at John Kavanagh (aka The Gravediggers). This public house has been family-run since 1833 beside the East Gate of Glasnevin Cemetery, hence the pub’s being nicknamed after its core clientele.

When we get together to celebrate unsurprisingly, a pint of Dublin-brewed Guinness is often part of the round. Though it does depend on the drinker; many enjoy whiskey (with many locally distilled options). In any case, a celebration isn’t required for a get-together and what’s more important is finding the perfect Dublin pub to call your own. With over 700 of them, it’s actually tricky to walk through the city without passing one.

When I eat completely local, I’m likely to head to Camden Street. One of my favourites in this row of restaurants is Sunil Ghai’s Pickle. The food is always memorable — incredibly flavourful, beautifully presented Northern Indian cuisine using locally sourced Irish ingredients. It’s one to book in advance (between visits I’m working my way through re-creating some of Sunil’s delicious recipes via his cookbook, Spice Box).

Other standouts in that same neighbourhood include stylish Spanish-influenced Uno Mas with a menu that changes daily; the sweetly hidden-away ‘secret’ Cake Café, accessed through a bookshop; Zaytoon for unpretentious Persian (think halal kebabs, for us this is a late-night staple); and Mister S featuring live-fired sustainable fish and produce sourced from local ethical farms. And that’s only a few of the many choices on this one street.

At the Cake Café in Dublin, cups of bicerin (chocolate ganache, espresso, whipped cream) and baked treats on cute mismatched china.
The impressive Victorian-style red-brick George's Street Arcade market on Great George's Street, Dublin.

Shopping Locally

My city is known for making… Guinness! Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s hard to deny its worldwide fame, and even non-drinkers enjoy Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction, the home of the Black Stuff. If you simply must buy branded merchandise, this is the place.

The best old-school food market in Dublin is on Moore Street, an open-air fruit, vegetable and flower market running Monday-Saturday. One of the oldest of its kind, there’s a longstanding tradition of bargains and banter amid echoing vendors’ cries: “Bananas, get yer bananas here!”

The best market to buy everyday items is George’s Street Arcade, a striking red-brick building with over 40 independent traders for vintage, vinyl, accessories, artwork, books, bags — you name it. Browse, buy, or stop to grab a snack; do it all indoors, out of the weather and under one roof.

I always take visitors to Jam Art Factory to buy local keepsakes with genuine personality. It’s a hub for contemporary Irish art, created by brothers John and Mark Haybyrne (the J and M in ‘JAM’). Among the handpicked prints, ceramics, textiles and jewellery are lots of unique items that can be tucked neatly into a traveller’s bag. And we know to avoid plastic tricolour flags, cheap leprechaun figurines and fluorescent-green polyester ties sporting shamrock prints.

Getting Deeper Into Dublin

A great book to learn more about my city is Three Castles Burning: A History of Dublin in Twelve Streets by lecturer and historian Donal Fallon. Based on his social history podcast, it’s crammed full of quirky details even many born-and-bred Dubs wouldn’t know. But if you’d also like to read about the place from the perspective of one of our many celebrated writers, pick up James Joyce’s Dubliners.

Most people know about St Patrick’s Cathedral, but Christ Church Cathedral should also be on their must-see list, because they are equally splendid. At St Patrick’s (rescued from ruin in the 1860s by Benjamin Lee Guinness, grandson of brewery founder Arthur), author Jonathan Swift, a former Dean, is buried; while Christ Church is the final resting place of Strongbow, a key figure in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland some 850 years ago.

My city is a place people are attracted to because of its innate hospitality, authentic characters and ease of getting around.

Most people think of my city as just a place to party, but really this is a destination to inhale the history, soak up the streetscapes, connect with the culture and dive into the arts scene. The built environment is truly a living, growing thing — with an ongoing conversation between heritage buildings and newer architecture, the Dublin Docklands being a prime example.

This is one of the best places in the world to experience the magic of live performance, whether that’s as a ticketholder or onstage. Locals are proud of that and touring musicians agree; they love playing gigs in Ireland’s capital, add it to their itineraries time and again and often capture the sound of Dublin audiences for posterity.

Sunlight streaming through stained-glass windows at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
The Luas (Dublin tram) travelling along Harcourt Street in Ireland's capital.

Getting Around Dublin

One thing you should know about getting around my city is that the centre is compact and very walkable. Other good alternatives are cycling, buses, trams (the Luas) and trains. In many ways you’re better off without a car, as traffic can be heavy, parking can be expensive and street layouts can be bewildering to out-of-towners — including inaccessible pedestrianised areas and off-limits lanes used by the Luas, buses and taxis.

The best way to travel in my city to have as little impact as possible is on foot or on two wheels. 

Luckily this method of transportation also allows me to slow down, see things I might have missed otherwise, and walk or cycle off some of the snacks I’ll be eating along the way. It’s also ideal for leisurely photo-taking.

Outside The City

To get away and into the outdoors, I hit the Dublin Coastal Trail, with stops from Skerries in the north of the city all the way down to Killiney in the south. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) rail line gets you where you need to go, with excellent scenery to accompany your journey. A favourite Coastal Trail stop is Sandycove’s 40 Foot, where hardy souls can walk straight into the sea for a dip.

For a day trip just beyond my city, I visit the neighbouring county of Wicklow. Inviting towns like Bray and Greystones are within easy reach using public transport (the DART is also the go-to for this). Or visitors can arrange an outing with Hilltoptreks to see the sights of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Many vacationers will be tempted to head for far-flung places such as Blarney Castle or the Cliffs of Moher on a day trip; but it can be a long, tiring day of sitting on coaches and rushing around without much time to explore on your own. Instead, they might consider someplace closer like picturesque, lively Kilkenny with its castle, Medieval Mile, independent shops and restaurants. It’s only 90 minutes away by train.

Closer to home, I really enjoy the views of my city from Clontarf Promenade, Sandymount Strand or anywhere where there are vistas over the water, sea birds calling, and fresh breezes. I’ll also visit some of our many bridges for their distinctive outlook on the River Liffey. In particular, I have soft spots for both the 200-year-old iron Ha’penny Bridge and the modern, sleek Samuel Beckett (named after the Irish writer).

View of the Wicklow Mountains as seen through evergreen trees on a sunny afternoon.
Two examples of street art in Dublin; colourful portrait of a woman by DMC and collaboration by Maser and Damien Dempsey, reading 'The Liffey cuts the city like a meandering blue vein'

Connecting With Locals

When I want to have fun and celebrate being out in my city, I book in for a long lingering brunch somewhere that does indulgent food and cocktails — places like herbstreet, Brother Hubbard, or Krewe.

To hang out with my friends and go to a real insider spot, we head for the Iveagh Gardens. Nestled right in the middle of the city, this ‘secret garden’ is less well-known to visitors than neighbouring St Stephen’s Green but only a stone’s throw away. There are lawns, walkways, statues, a yew maze, a rosarium and fountains.

The best resource for finding out what’s going on around town is the long-running Dublin Event Guide (for Free Events) compiled as a labour of love by Joerg Steegmueller. Or I’ll pick up a copy of Totally Dublin, a freesheet “dedicated to covering Dublin high and low, North and South, upside down and inside out”. the official Visit Dublin website also has tonnes of information on what’s happening hereabouts.

When I want to enjoy my city without spending much (or any) money, I go on a street art safari, looking for the latest additions to Dublin’s walls by local and international artists. Or I pop into Bread 41, where owner Eoin Cluskey puts ethical practices and sustainability first (and the bakes are fab too). I take away whichever pastry strikes my fancy and a flat white, then walk through the nearby Trinity College Dublin grounds happily munching. If you do this, beware any greedy gulls circling; they will grab the food right out of your hands given half a chance!

A visit to Dublin Castle packs in pick-and-mix architecture; lovely gardens with secluded little corner pockets; and an exploration of the extensive and diverse Chester Beatty collection, promoting “the appreciation and understanding of world cultures” while offering an ever-changing programme of activities. My personal favourite is qigong at the rooftop garden. (Free museum admission, though if you’ve a fiver to give it’s more than worth it.)

Whelan’s is my first choice for music because there’s so much variety, with different stages to choose from and a kaleidoscope of acts to see; it’s an unfolding rabbit warren of rooms that’s been going strong for over 70 years. For something in a different sort of historic setting, I visit the National Concert Hall for anything from classical to new music (orchestral 80s hits, anyone?). And when I feel like dancing, I stick with Whelan’s for the Silent Disco or go to The Workman’s Club for its throwback nights.

Finding Solitude In Dublin

When I want to go somewhere to relax in my city, I head to the Phoenix Park to breathe in the natural beauty of this large enclosed public park, walking the trails and spotting roaming herds of fallow deer. The National Botanic Gardens is another haven of peace and quiet, as is Glasnevin Cemetery next door (a pedestrian gateway links them through a shared wall); together, the two make for hours of tranquillity. Or I’ll grab a sandwich to take to St Stephen’s Green for a picnic and people-watching. Set aside as parkland in the 1600s, the green was eventually renovated and gifted to the public by Lord Ardilaun, Sir Arthur Edward Guinness (yep, great-grandson of the brewer; you really can’t escape this family in Dublin).

What makes me proudest of my city is our love affair with the written word. Special spaces like the grand National Library of Ireland with its serene Main Reading Room; historic Marsh’s Library (Ireland’s first public library, dating to 1707); and the magnificent Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity represent the pride we take in our homegrown writers and our literary legacy. We also showcase those talents in brilliant museums like MoLI (the Museum of Literature Ireland), not to mention all the bookshops, statues, and festivals celebrating our scribes.

A fallow deer in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland.
Pink and white cherry blossoms in Herbert Park, Dublin.

When The Seasons Change, This City Shines

Spring (March to May) is the best time to witness Dublin’s annual reawakening. Though in the traditional calendar, St Brigid’s Day or Lá Fhéile Bríde (February 1st) marks the end of winter, practically speaking it’s from mid-March onwards that the weather improves noticeably as trees burst into leaf and flowers bloom. It’s also when we famously celebrate St Patrick with citywide festivities.

I always recommend visitors make the most of the summer happenings (June to August) because Dublin has wonderful warm-weather festivals like our annual outpouring of LGBTQ+ Pride; Bloomsday, a tribute to James Joyce’s novel Ulysses; and the Festival of Curiosity creating a culture of inquisitiveness through science, arts, design and technology. 

Autumn (September to November) here is also unmissable for festivals — this is heaven for theatre fans, with the Dublin Theatre Festival and Dublin Fringe Festival to keep them busy. On one eventful evening in September, Culture Night presents dozens of free performances, tours, and hands-on workshops. While in October, the Open House Dublin free festival of architecture has 100+ guided tours, films and exhibitions across the city.

The winter months (December to February) are a great time to eat a substantial breakfast then take a frosty stroll. A bracing walk along the Great South Wall to the bright-red Poolbeg Lighthouse and back will blow away the mental cobwebs. As Christmas approaches, Dublin is aglow with eco-friendly, low-voltage Winter Lights twinkling all over town. Come January, TradFest fills Temple Bar and notable venues around the capital with live Irish music and cultural events.

Emily Cathcart

Resonate Team

From her base in Ireland, Emily Cathcart was delighted to join Resonate as a Content Manager and has been revelling in the opportunity to collaborate with writers worldwide ever since. Emily enjoys encouraging authors through the creation process and also helping non-writers to tell their tales — all with Resonate’s ethical principles in mind. When she isn’t busy commissioning or editing, she can be found, camera in hand, seeking out-of-the-way discoveries for her own site that’s literally All About Dublin. And when Emily’s not working on any/all of the above, she’s writing articles and photo essays as a freelance journalist for publications from boutique magazines to national newspapers.

Time to Read:  13 Minutes
Resonate Team: Emily Cathcart
17 March 2023
Destination Guide

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Making a Positive Impact on the Host Community While Travelling
Learn about the world while helping the communities you visit. | Photo: Filip Mroz, Unsplash

Making a Positive Impact on the Host Community While Travelling

Travel is about discovering places and meeting new people. When you head out into the world to explore, you are visiting other people’s homes — making you the guest and them the host. With that in mind, you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the host community while travelling. When you focus on the protection and preservation of places, cultures and environments we believe every visit can, and should, be of mutual benefit to both host and guest.

So, how can you create a lasting beneficial impact on the places you visit while travelling? Here are a few tips to make sure your travel has the intended positive effect on the host community.

Before you travel

With all the digital tools available, not only is it easier to arrange travel; but we have also developed a tendency to leave planning to the last minute. We prepare ‘on the fly’ and quite literally wing it. Instead, you should read as much as possible about the country and the place you are visiting before departing your home. You can ask your tour operator questions, search the internet or even visit a good old-fashioned bookshop!

Knowledge is power, and taking the time to familiarise yourself with your destination can create a powerful positive impression. You will always make new friends if you learn a few words of the local language, and take the time to understand their customs when greeting and meeting new people. Be prepared. 

Meeting local people

When visiting a place, it’s easy to forget that you are indeed a guest. We travel because we are curious about people and places. Arrive with an open mind and be respectful of their way of living. Travel is your time to learn and experience. 

As you travel, you will encounter holy places like churches, temples or sacred grounds. Are you aware of dress codes according to local customs when visiting their holy sites? Observe, and ask if you are in doubt.

All people should be met with respect, regardless of status, position or how they make a living — from village elders to beggars on the street. In the latter case, you might be tempted to give to children that are begging; but think twice. It may only encourage them to continue to beg instead of going to school, or they might be part of a bigger scheme which ultimately doesn’t benefit them (and which you should not feed into). Instead, you can always spare a couple of minutes for a chat.

Have you ever had anyone point a camera at you? Did it make you uncomfortable? But if someone asks if they can take your photo, you might even say yes, and put on a smile! In many circumstances, it is about the interaction taking place beforehand. Begin to take part in what people are doing by showing interest. Do not provoke, but be polite, and you might just be invited to participate.

Recognise and celebrate both our differences and what we have in common; meeting people across borders is very important for understanding each other’s culture and building bridges. 

And hey, one last thing when you meet local people — be careful where you smoke and drink alcohol. Smoking is not yet common in many small communities and travellers should not encourage local people to smoke. Some areas also have strict rules about smoking and drinking. Alcohol in many places is a major social problem. It all goes back to knowing the customs and rules before you go.

Be careful with the use of resources

You may come from a country where you have plenty of water. Maybe you haven’t even given it a second thought, and long luxurious showers are the norm at home. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere — water shortages are common in many places. With that in mind, make sure you do not waste this precious resource. Maybe this is not the place for taking a bath? Or to let the tap water run unnecessarily while brushing your teeth? The same goes for being mindful of electricity use.

There are simple things you can do to conserve resources. You can keep your towels for reuse, turn off lamps and other electrical equipment when they are not needed; simple things, but they do have an impact. And even before you book, think about the type of place where you’ll stay: for example, maybe you could choose a solar-powered eco-lodge for your next journey. 

Experience new, slow food

A huge part of experiencing a new place is discovery through food. As part of your travel preparation, check out the seasonal local dishes. Which ingredients can you expect? What’s at its best right now? Which local dishes should you ask for at the restaurants? 

When you focus on locally sourced food, the money spent stays within the community and your meal plays a role in the local economy, including the waiter, chef, restaurant owner, market vendors and farmers. They are all part of the tourism industry, whether directly or indirectly.

When you stay in one place for a while, you may think you’ve found your favourite restaurant on the first day. However, by trying out different places, you also spread your money to multiple stakeholders. Plus, of course, you will diversify your dining experiences, enjoy more variety on your plate, and get to know the specialities of your destination even better!

Bottom line: if you buy seasonal locally sourced food, you contribute to local economic growth and positively impact the host community while travelling.

Travelling image
Research your options and make informed decisions when heading out on an adventure. | Photo: Austin Ban, Unsplash

Support excursions that contribute to the local community

When you are visiting a place, naturally you want to get as much as possible from your stay. But why jump on the first and ‘best’ excursion you see? Take a breather, step back for a moment and research what’s available. Make an informed decision and choose environmentally friendly excursions even if it costs you a bit more money; those that are run and owned by locals. 

Chose excursions that do not harm people, animals or the environment. If in doubt, you are better off opting for another choice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can make informed decisions! And when looking at ways of getting out and exploring in a new place, why not try the local transport?

Be a conscious shopper

Are you one of those people that simply must have a new souvenir from every corner of the globe that you visit? It is easy to follow the herd into the popular shops and forget the important questions. Being conscious of what we are buying can have a big impact. 

Stay away from products made of endangered species or plants. When it’s attractively packaged, it’s also easy to forget that cultural heritage is not an appropriate souvenir — do not purchase such items or take ‘trophies’ from places you are visiting. Leave them where they belong; instead, buy copies in a shop nearby (locally made of course).

Do you ask where the items are being produced? Or where the materials are from? You are on the safe side if you buy from the artist themselves, and have the opportunity to learn where the materials are coming from. Responsible shopping is an art, but on the practical side, it’s very important to keep fair trade standards among all stakeholders involved.

Bargaining is the culture in many places, but don’t let it become a sport with winners and losers! Pay a fair price that both parties are happy about. The true ‘win’ is when buyer and seller walk away from the deal smiling and satisfied with the outcome. 

It should go without saying, but never, ever buy drugs — you may end up spending years in prison, or worse in some places.

Be careful with your surroundings

You may come from a place where waste management is implemented by your government, and recycling, reducing and reusing are simply an aspect of life that takes place on autopilot. This is not the case all over the world. But you can do your part, and be a good example. Do not litter outdoors or in the street; if there is no bin, take your trash with you. 

Reduce as much waste as you can. Bring empty plastic bottles (such as shampoo, shower gel etc.) with you back home, where you can deal with the plastic. Say “no thank you” to plastic straws and single-use plastic, and bring a re-usable shopping bag. They’re little things that make a big impact.

If you are travelling in nature, let that nature be wild and unspoiled. Keep to paths in fragile habitats, leave wildflowers, plants and mushrooms alone and enjoy them in their natural environment. Respect wild animals, keep your distance for your own safety and do not disturb them. Don’t feed them or cause unnecessary noise. Wildlife is best when it is free.

Leave the host community as a friend

You came as a stranger, a visitor, but aim to leave the community as a friend. A friend with more insight and knowledge about the place. A friend that has spent time interacting and exchanging cultures, bridging the gap of better understanding each other. A friend that made sure the holiday had a positive impact on the community.

Linda Veråsdal

Resonate Team

Linda Veråsdal is one of the driving forces behind Resonate, and is the Founder of Ethical Travel Portal. Splitting the year, she spends half her time in Norway and the other half in The Gambia. Linda is passionate about responsible tourism and using tourism as a tool for positive development. With a Master's in Responsible Tourism, she has years of experience in the field, from owning a company to developing experiences to leading trips. Putting principles into practice, Linda has shown how tailor-made responsible travel packages can have a transformative, positive impact on communities, especially in remote areas of The Gambia where she and her team have been actively promoting sustainable tourism for several years.

Time to Read:  7 Minutes
Resonate Team: Linda Veråsdal
17 March 2023
Responsibility in Focus

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Indigenous Culture, Diversity, and the Great Outdoors in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Head straight for the Inner Harbour with its great views of the Legislature Buildings. | Photo: Mario Mendez, Unsplash

Indigenous Culture, Diversity, and the Great Outdoors in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

For many years Victoria was known as the home of the newlywed and the nearly dead; a stuffy relic of its British colonial heritage. But in recent times, thanks to immigration, an influx of high-tech and a newfound appreciation of its Indigenous history, this provincial capital city of around 400,000 has transformed into a vibrant, diverse and inclusive hub of multiculturalism and a paradise for outdoor activities. Local expert Dermott Kelly discloses where it all went right.

The totem/story pole at Beacon Hill park, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Upon Arrival

After a visitor arrives in my city, I always recommend going straight to the Inner Harbour because that’s the vibrant and picturesque centre of town. At the height of the summer tourist season you will be surrounded by other visitors — but the locals will be out in numbers too, taking in the buzz of cafés, restaurants, street food and performers.

The best time to be here is the summer (but it’s a good destination year-round). That’s when the city comes to life entertaining locals and visitors alike. It’s also the best time of year to get active in a host of activities from kayaking in the waterways to cycling, whale watching, fishing, hiking and just strolling around the town centre and beyond.

I tell first-time travellers to take in the local sights on foot and to venture further afield by bicycle (there are plenty to rent, electric ones too). There is no need for a car if you are based downtown and public transit is cheap and regular at 5$ for an all-day pass. I also tell them to avoid the fast food giants for meals as there is an abundance of fine alternatives. Victoria has the highest ratio of restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars by population than any other city in Canada.

People from here know better than to limit themselves to safe choices to eat. Instead, they would rather partake of the diverse array of cuisine on offer by the many ethnic groups that have settled here and call Victoria home.

The best museum to start your journey and get a good sense of this city is the Royal British Columbia Museum, a couple of minutes’ walk from the Inner Harbour, because it provides a fantastic account of British Columbia’s history with particular emphasis on the culture of our Indigenous peoples. The museum itself is located on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsup Nations).

Parents should take their kids pretty well everywhere. Beacon Hill Park is less than ten minutes’ walk from the Inner Harbour and is a great place for a picnic. It has a large playground for youngsters and a cricket ground where you might catch a match in summer. The park is home to what was the world’s tallest free-standing totem/story pole made from a single log when it was erected in 1956. The 39-metre pole was carved by a team led by Mungo Martin, a Kwakiutl tribal chief and renowned artist. Across the road is the Beacon Drive-In for the best soft ice cream in town.

Food from the Heart

Among the food (or dishes) my city is most proud of, the locally caught, sustainable sockeye and coho salmon are not to be missed. I like to go to The Fish Store at Fisherman’s Wharf to really enjoy it at its freshest. Besides being a great spot for fish, fresh clams, oysters and chowder, it’s also North America’s only 100% Ocean Wise seafood restaurant.

When we get together to celebrate local craft beer is what people here usually drink. I like to gather my friends and go to the Garrick’s Head in Bastion Square or Darcy’s (with a couple of locations to choose from — Downtown or Westshore — they also have live music) for a pint or two. But there are many pubs well stocked with craft beers around the city.

When I eat completely local, I will go to 10 Acres Farm and Restaurant. They showcase local ingredients by using seasonal crops from their farm on the Saanich Peninsula and by sourcing from local producers whenever possible. Wind Cries Mary in Bastion Square also uses local suppliers and farmers and does family-style meals.

Other classic restaurants are the Blue Fox Café for great all-day breakfasts, and in Chinatown (the oldest in Canada) Little Yunnan Restaurant and, for Asian fusion, Bao.

Victoria, Canada - 7-9-2022: Outdoor dining with food from several restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf
Victoria, BC, Canada - April 14 2021 : Victoria Public Market at the Hudson

Shopping Locally

The best food market in Victoria is the Public Market at The Hudson for a selection of fresh food and snacks and includes a Jewish family-run bakery called My Way Bikery, open until 2 am for late-night munchies. The only Kosher bakery in Vancouver Island, they specialise in pretzels, bagels, challah and other traditional (and not-so-traditional) treats. Not only is their kitchen 100% electric-powered, but all deliveries are made by bicycle and/or EV car.

I always take visitors to Cowichan Trading to buy authentic handcrafted native Indian sweaters and knits, Indigenous jewellery, masks, carvings and art at this locally owned small business. Other shopping in town includes Ecologyst, SALT, Patagonia and MEC, all shops that keep sustainability in mind or have environmental initiatives. And we know to avoid the standard big-chain department stores in malls.

Getting Deeper Into Victoria

Most people know about the Butchart Gardens, but locals would rather appreciate the native flora with a walk along the Dallas Road waterfront for stunning ocean views across the Salish Sea to the United States — you’ll often see parasailers hanging over the cliffs and gliding over the beach below. Outside the city is a breathtaking view from Holmes Peak in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park on the Saanich Peninsula… but for this trip, you’ll need a car.

My city is a place people are attracted to because of its mild climate and its great hikes, trails and walks available for free all year round. It’s also clean, safe and inclusive for all — and it’s quieter and much more accessible than Vancouver.

To really celebrate my city at its best, come anytime, really. The mild climate allows for outdoor adventures year-round — just be prepared for rain regardless of the season. In the summer we have many patios and happy hours, free outdoor movies at Beacon Hill Park at the annual Free-B Film Festival and farmers markets — Moss Street Market is a favourite.

There are also seasonal happenings like festivals and brewery events from spring to autumn (Phillips, Backyarder and Rifflandia) and Christmas lights tours and outdoor ice rinks in the winter. The Fairmont Empress Hotel does outdoor fire pits to gather round roasting s’mores and sipping mulled wine. Craigdarroch Castle stages plays during the fall/winter. And local cideries have events in the autumn to coincide with the apple harvest.

Most people think of my city as a place to retire, but really this is a destination to get active and explore the outdoors. It’s not uncommon to spot an otter or an orca offshore and spy other wildlife such as hummingbirds, deer, rabbits, eagles and owls in the city or its many parks. Urban deer are also abundant… and can be a hazard on the roads so it’s worth taking care if driving.

This is one of the best places in the world to experience the outdoors, literally at your doorstep, with so many free hikes. Geocaching is a big thing here and there are over 4,000 to be found around Victoria. It is a relatively expensive destination but there are many free outdoor activities — hikes, walks, beaches, lakes and parks with tennis or basketball courts. Locals are proud of that because it gives them a sense of community that money just can’t buy.

Parasailer gliding by Dallas Road walk with views of the coast behind.
getting around in Victoria, Canada

Getting Around Victoria

One thing you should know about getting around my city is that you won’t need a car to enjoy your visit.

The best way to travel in Victoria to have as little impact as possible is on foot or by bicycle. Victoria and the entire Capital Regional District have hundreds of kilometres of dedicated bike paths and walkways. There are several bike rental companies in the city centre and scores of different routes to set off on that will take you to Sooke in the western communities or to Sidney and beyond on the Saanich Peninsula.

Luckily this method of transportation also allows me to keep fit as well as experience my surroundings up close, including the best — and least disruptive, for the animals themselves — wildlife spotting opportunities.

Outside The City

To get away and into the outdoors, I’ll cycle to Mount Douglas Park, about 11km from downtown. Dismount at the base and take a series of hiking trails to the summit which affords a vista of southern Vancouver Island. The park, named for the province’s first governor, is under review for a name change to PKOLS, to acknowledge the hill as a traditional meeting place of the SENĆOŦEN and Lekwungen peoples.

For a day trip just beyond my city, I like to visit Salt Spring Island which can be reached from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal just north of Sidney. The route to the terminal from town is bike friendly but you can also get there on public transport. At the Fulford Harbour terminal on Salt Spring, there is a public bus to the lively town of Ganges — or it’s about a 50-minute cycle.

I really enjoy the view of my city from Mount Tolmie Park. You can cycle there or take bus No. 14 and hike up and around the trails to the summit for great views of the city (an all-day bus pass is $5).

Beautiful Small Stream in the Forest of Mount Douglas Park British Columbia Canada

Connecting with Locals

When I want to have fun and celebrate being out in my city, I take a brewery tour — Driftwood, Moon Under Water, and Phillips do great events. If I’m feeling more extravagant I meet friends for fancy cocktails at tropical-themed Citrus & Cane or chilled Clarke & Co. (both do great non-alcohol mocktails too). For some intellectual stimulation and a bit of fun, I hit the pub for regular trivia contests and/or music bingo nights. The Mint hosts a comedy show on Wednesdays.

To hang out with my friends and go to a real insider spot, I head for coffee at sustainable stalwart Habit or warm, cosy Union Pacific or have brunch at Jam or Bear & Joey. Dallas Road walks are the go-to. Start in Cook Street Village with a burger or milkshake at Big Wheel Burger — Canada’s first carbon-neutral fast food restaurant. Then wander through Beacon Hill Park, along the waterfront path to the Ogden Point breakwater and into town.

The best resource for finding out what’s going on around town is the Victoria Event Centre, a non-profit multi-purpose venue for community arts. It hosts unusual events such as Art Battle, where artists paint live and the audience votes for a winner. Some artists register in advance but organisers save a couple of spots for audience members to participate the night of — and they serve cheap drinks!

When I want to enjoy my city without spending much (or any) money, I go on a hike/walk — to Mount Tolmie, Mount Doug or Elk/Beaver Lake Park. Or I grab a coffee at The Hidden Gem in Cook Street — they also have vegan ice cream — and take a walk nearby around Fisherman’s Wharf. The Fort Common is a hidden courtyard in the heart of town with lots of tables; a great spot to bring your own lunch and sit outside.

Capital Ballroom is my first choice for music because it attracts some big acts as well as local musicians, and the vibe is always good. And when I feel like dancing, I put on my cowboy boots and Stetson and mosey over to The Duke Saloon for some good ole country music. Family-run Caffe Fantastico is a great venue for local bands and also hosts alternative entertainment offerings like poetry readings, drag shows and DJs.

Finding Solitude in Victoria

When I want to go somewhere to sit and relax in my incredible city, I go to the beach. There is plenty of space at Willows, Gonzales and along Dallas Road. The Government House grounds are great for picnics and relaxing and there are plenty of local parks and green spaces to unwind and just hang out.

The place that makes me proudest of my city is the Inner Harbour with its ever-changing water vistas, striking architectural highlights and great views of the Legislature Buildings and the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

When the Seasons Change, This City Shines

Spring (February to mid-May) is the best time to count the flowers and your blessings. While the rest of Canada is still digging out from the snow, Victorians are smugly tallying the blossoms in the annual Greater Victoria Flower Count — it’s all a bit twee, but good fun. I always recommend visitors come in May for the annual Swiftsure International Yacht Race when over 200 racing boats and 1,400 crew arrive in the Inner Harbour to compete (and to party).

In the summer (mid-May to August) visitors can make the most of the warm-weather buzz of the city; I suggest attending a music festival and a free concert or film in Beacon Hill Park.

The autumn (September to mid-November) is magical here when you can appreciate the changing season yet still enjoy the outdoors in the fine, by Canadian standards, weather.

Winter (Mid-November to February) is a great time to enjoy the great indoors in a cosy pub, after a brisk walk around the waterfront to wave-watch during a winter storm.

Dermott Kelly

Local Expert

Dermott is a sound engineer, freelance writer and photographer who has lived in Victoria, BC for over a dozen years. He spends most of his free time on two wheels; either his Kona Kahuna or Kawasaki Ninja 636. Making the most of what’s in his backyard, ‘Up Island’ is a favourite trip, as he goes where the road — and off-road — take him.

    Time to Read:  11 Minutes
    Local Expert: Dermott Kelly
    9 March 2023
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    Absolutely Rammed: A Visit to a Weekly Provincial Market in The Gambia
    Local weekly markets sell all manner of items from magical potions to mobile phones. | All photos: Dave Adams

    Absolutely Rammed: A Visit to a Weekly Provincial Market in The Gambia

    I’ve always loved a market. Whether it’s Camden or Kolkata, there’s something irresistible about the sights, sounds and smells that emanate from their tangle of crowded alleyways. So when my wife, Fatou asked me to accompany her on a trip to the local weekly lumo to buy a ram, I jumped at the chance.

    Lumos, as they are known all across the Central and Upper River Regions of The Gambia and parts of Senegal, bring people from all of the surrounding villages to buy and sell local products. They also attract traders from Senegal, Guinea and Mali selling all manner of items from magical potions to mobile phones. The closest lumo to where we live in Lamin Koto is at Wassu, home of the famous stone circles.

    Lumos start early, and with the Islamic festival of Eid-Al-Adha (Tobaski) fast approaching the market was even busier than usual. It’s a time when Muslims spend on new clothes, good food and, most importantly, a sacrificial ram. By the time we arrived at 9 am the place was already packed.

    Wassu is usually a quiet town with single-storey concrete buildings lining the highway, and the North Bank Road disappearing into the bush in either direction. This morning, improvised stalls lined the street in front of the shops, with some of them so close to the road that the throng of customers left room for just a single lane of traffic. Beeping trucks, cars, and motorbikes compete for the space with bicycles and horse or donkey carts, while people and animals fill the gaps in between.

    Fatou sets off at pace, weaving through the chaos and I follow, trying to window-shop as we move. We pass a stall selling a massive selection of the latest mobile phones from India and China, with enough leads and cables to stretch between the two. Next to that, a woman in a glittering black and silver headscarf sits on a plastic bucket with four small piles of tomatoes laid out on a cloth in front of her. Next to her, two big men in overalls are brewing green tea as they sit on a tarpaulin covered in hand-made tools that could have come from the Iron Age. Axes, picks, hoes and other tools made from beaten metal fixed into heavy wooden handles. I nearly fall over a small girl selling frozen baobab drinks in plastic bags, so I buy one and decide to focus on keeping up with Fatou.

    We turn off the highway and down a small side street with bedsheets strung across the road above us, shielding the glare of the sun and keeping the place cool. Colour is everywhere. From the beautifully dressed women, the stalls selling African cloth, the dazzling displays of soap and cosmetics to gleaming golden jewellery, every shade of every colour that exists in this world is to be found; sometimes all on one person. 

    Weekly Provincial Market in Gambia

    Fatou stops to look at some brightly coloured globules in small plastic bags. I recognise it as local incense known as Churrai. It’s a mix of seeds, fragrant woods and perfumes soaked together and pressed to form a resin. Aside from driving away mosquitos, people believe that it has spiritual and health benefits, and even aphrodisiac qualities. Each variety has its own particular aroma but in the highly scented alleyway, I couldn’t tell them apart. I bought a yellow one and we moved on.

    Before we had gone far, a wholly different, pungent, musky smell assaulted our senses, and as we turned a corner we saw the reason. There were rams in all directions, along with a few cows and some goats — but mostly rams. There were trucks full of rams, rams on top of vehicles, people walking rams on ropes, people coaxing reluctant ones by their horns, rams on the back of bicycles and even one old man carrying one on his shoulders as you might do with a young child. 

    We walked towards the daral, the enclosed area that serves as a shop floor and watched for a few minutes. On a less busy day, the livestock stands or lies down in small groups as their owner tries to attract interest from customers. This day, the groups were so tightly packed together that they all merged into one huge flock. Most of the sellers are Wallenkos, the nomadic Fula people who move with their livestock and their families from place to place seeking pasture and water as the seasons change. They wear long robes and headscarves wrapped desert-style covering all but their eyes. They all carry sticks, but I notice that within the daral they are without their cutlasses, which are said to be so sharp that they use them to shave.

    “Something like that one,” Fatou says, pointing at a stout, clean-looking ram. “It’s a Gambian variety. They’re shorter but they have more meat than the Senegalese breeds.”

    I look at the gangly Senegalese specimens. They do indeed look to be all skin and bones and have an unusual shape, like miniature camels. 

    “What about one of those?” I ask as I look at a tall, muscular, handsome ram with impressive spiral horns.

    “Crossbreed,” Fatou tells me. “The best of both varieties but forget it. Even here they go for D20,000 upwards. D30,000 in the city. People spend like crazy at Tobaski and half of them won’t be able to afford breakfast the next day.”

    Weekly Provincial Market in Gambia

    We enter the daral with Fatou leading the way, pushing past rams and people alike. We stop as she feels the flanks of a small Gambian variety and asks the price.

    “CFA or Dalasi?” the owner asks.

    “Are we in Gambia?” she retorts sharply. “I’m a Gambian. I think we’re in Gambia?”

    She turns to me and adds, “These people are killing us with CFA!”

    It’s a common complaint from Gambians. Despite historically having been more or less the same people as the Senegalese, colonisation and recent political manoeuvrings have created divisions and economic rivalries between the two when it comes to currency.

    “9000 Dalasi,” he tells us. We thank him and walk away.

    We stop next to a thin man in a Manchester United shirt, holding two rams on a rope. He’s a Gambian from a village just a few kilometres away, and works as a mechanic but supplements his income by keeping sheep and growing cassava in his compound.

    His starting price is 7000 Dalasi for each, so Fatou grips one of them by the horns and turns it to face us, checking for any scars or injuries that would disqualify it from Tobaski duties. She nods approvingly and after a short discussion agrees with the man on 6000 Dalasi. I take the rope and lead Rambo, as I had by now named him, through the crowds and back towards the minibus stand.

    It started well. Rambo trotted happily along behind me, as if pleased to be away from the noise and dust of the crowded daral. It was only when I stopped to wait as Fatou disappeared around the corner in search of something to cook that my problems began. 

    Barely had Fatou left when I met an old friend from Janjanbureh. As we greeted, I failed to notice that Rambo had grabbed the chance to find his own lunch. By the time I heard the complaints of the nearby trader, Rambo was nose deep in a bucket of tomatoes and licking his lips. I pulled sharply on the rope and he slid a short distance towards me. I pulled again, but he’d planted all four feet on the floor and refused to budge. I slapped him across the rump and pulled again. Nothing.

    Still optimistic despite the increasingly amused looks from all around, I went behind him and with a combined lift and push motion, tried to move him forward. Still nothing. His front feet stayed exactly where they were and he seemed ready to do a forward roll before he’d walk one inch.

    By now, red-faced and sweating, I was losing patience. I gripped his front legs together and tried to pull him on his hind ones as I’d seen the Wallenkos do. At first, it seemed to work. Rambo looked at me surprised as we shuffled a few steps forward before he stretched his legs out behind him, ending up flat on his belly.

    Before the scene could deteriorate further, Fatou reappeared wearing a bag of vegetables on her head. Whether it was the vegetables or her commanding presence I’ll never know, but she grabbed Rambo by one gnarly horn and he allowed himself to be escorted to the highway and soon after onto a vehicle. An hour later, Rambo was happily installed at my compound, chewing at my lemongrass while I tried to clean the dirt and sheep hair off my jeans. 


    I grew quite attached to Rambo over the few weeks leading up to Tobaski and when the day came, I made an excuse to go out while he met his maker. I consoled myself with the fact that he’d lived a happy, healthy life of roaming in the bush as nature intended, far from the cruelty of the industrial farming system that supplies meat to Europe. Well… that and the fact that he was delicious on a plate of spicy Jollof rice. Sorry, Rambo.

    Dave Adams


    After a lifetime of travelling in the developing world, Dave finally hung up his rucksack in the Gambia. Having arrived with a plan to travel further into West Africa, he fell in love with Janjanbureh and decided to stay, establishing his social enterprise business, Fair Play Gambia River Adventures, on a shoe-string budget in 2016. Fair Play has since become renowned for offering unique ecotourism experiences for small groups of discerning travellers and for its positive impacts in the town. Dave now lives in Lamin Koto, across the river from Janjanbureh Island, with his two Gambian sons and dog, Limpy.

      Time to Read:  7 Minutes
      Storyteller: Dave Adams
      8 March 2023
      Local Stories - Customs and Traditions

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