Cincinnati, Ohio: an unexpected "hidden gem by Jessica Lee

On our first day driving towards the Deep South, we weren't planning on making a stop in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was supposed to be a straight plow towards Nashville, Tennessee. But we saw the tall buildings and the cityscape and couldn't resist our curiousness so we took the next exit and went in.

It was right about dinner time and the sun was setting. Locals were taking their evening strolls with their dogs and families. We went for our own walk to see the city as well and along the way, we found the most amazing park at the riverfront.

Cincinnati recently developed new infrastructure around the water area and it was so exciting to be there, enjoying the "newness".

Much of the area around hadn't been commercialized yet, but I'm sure this will change in the next few years as more businesses open near the gardens and attractions on the riverfront.

There was a beautifully curated maze garden, swings facing the river (and bridge) and a brand new water park and a very fun-looking playground for children. If I had this kind of playground when I was young, it would have been one of my favourites for sure. (I am still "young" if we are talking about life expectancy - even John F. Kennedy, who was 46, was considered a "young president", but unfortunately much too old to be running around with five year olds on a playground.)

Sometimes I wish I could have toddlers to babysit on particularly amazing playgrounds so I could experience the playground myself without being judged by parents - because no one wants to be the strange overgrown person running around on playgrounds with little kids. If you clicked the link, yes it's a completely different context since the guy was a sex offender and also the movie was a fictional scenario, but you get the idea - parents are overprotective and can sometimes be a little frosty.

Regardless, I was incredibly impressed by the riverfront area and snapped a few photos of the new playground, swings and water park. We did not have time to see the rest of the city before moving on, but if you're ever around the Cincinnati area, definitely stop in for a walk around the water. Maybe you will discover more than we did.

Camping and climbing in Val David, Quebec by Jessica Lee

I have a feeling this summer's going to rock. On the Canada day weekend, the six of us, packed into a van and drove up to Val David, Quebec, an hour's drive away from Montreal. We kicked off the start of my new life in Montreal with an epic camping and climbing trip.

The camping wasn't too extreme, but it allowed us to fiddle with our tents and fire strikers.

We eventually used a lighter to get the fire started (but you're not supposed to know about that!).

After a night of roasting wieners and marshmallows, we woke up the next day and proceeded to climb.

We headed for a hike afterwards. Here is a photo of the boys looking lost.

And here is the breath-taking view of the top of Val David. We must have sat there for hours.

Afterwards, we grabbed some iced snacks. You will never guess what the dessert below is made out of. Okay, I will tell you, below we have tofu ice cream infused with blueberries and raspberries.

It tasted alright.

We did it all again the next day, then drove off to Montreal for some breakfast. In between all that, we found time to gaze up at the stars until early morning, swim in a gorgeous blue lake and watch dogs shake off water from their fur from a beach.

I would do it all again in a second.

The Easter Show in Sydney by Jessica Lee

It's kind of strange, but I'm reminded of home the most when I least expect it.

Matt took me to the Easter Show tonight.

It's pretty much like a carnival, much like in the tradition of the Canadian Exhibition every year at the end of summer back in Toronto. The place was filled with groups of teenagers, families and couples.

There were rides, and midway games- lots of food and some farm animals. It even rained tonight, like it did that day Bedouin Soundclash played a free show at the Ex and I waited it out along with the crowd.

Key differences between the Australian version and the Canadian one are that Aussies call cotton candy "fairy floss", I couldn't find candy apples here, and candy here is called "lollies" or "sweets".

Also, they have things here called "show bags" where you can buy lots of candy in a plastic bag. They should start this tradition in Canada. Or maybe not. We have diabetes problems as it is. We also have extremely strange things to eat at the Ex such as deep-friend Mars bars and deep-friend butter.

Matt and I started the night out in the food building. It had lots of samples, but not nearly as many as the Delicious Food show I attended back in Toronto at the Ex in October. (see what I mean about little things reminding me of back home?) It was nice to see all the food vendors with their specialty products such as honey, jams and sauces.

From there, we moved towards the rodeo show.

Here is a photo of someone riding a kicking/bucking horse.

After that, we wandered into the rides and finally decided to commit to the roller coaster.

It wasn't half as scary as the rides at Canada's Wonderland, but I was still feeling the adrenaline rush. As we got to the top of the coaster, I exclaimed in a panic "Matt! Why are we doing this?!" To which he replied: "Well the view is nice from up here. Where's your camera?"

I survived in the end, but him not so much as I was giving him the death stare for quite some time afterwards.

We were treated to some spectacular fireworks at the end of the night in the stadium. It was one of the best fireworks display I've ever seen. It was just row after row of fireworks for at least half an hour. And they do it every night.

I was quite impressed with the Easter Show. It was not as big as the Ex in Toronto, but I quite liked it for its charm.