London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to London, Ontario / by Kerry Hishon

Welcome to London! No, not that London…

I’m writing about the “other” London, here in lovely southwestern Ontario, Canada. I’ve lived in London for over a decade, and although I wasn’t born here, I’m happy to call London my home.

London has a small-town feel in a big city (it’s the 11th most populated city in Canada).

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

On its surface, London may seem like a stereotypical Canadian city.

On Friday nights, the downtown area is a sea of green as we cheer on the London Knights hockey team, but it’s not all just toques and poutine.

Yes, we love our winter sports – London is home to Olympic ice dancing champion Tessa Virtue, and where Olympic champion speed skater Christine Nesbitt grew up – but we are more than just sports! London has a bustling arts scene and a great sense of local pride.

Budding thespians can look to Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, The Notebook) and Amber Marshall (TV’s Heartland).

All these women are proof that with hard work and perseverance, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and that’s definitely a mark of a heroine to me.

If you are an artsy soul, embrace all things geek-chic or are obsessed with food (or like me, and all three apply), you’ll fit in just fine here.

Shall we begin our tour? Meet me at the corner of King and Talbot Streets, and we’ll get going!

Everything on this is within walking distance, so be sure to wear comfy shoes (or good, thick boots if you’re visiting in the winter!) and bring a bag to carry any treasures you pick up along the way!

 

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Start with a hefty breakfast at The Early Bird

Every heroine needs a hearty breakfast to begin her day of adventures (and to keep her from getting hangry). I love The Early Bird, a cozy setting with its tiki bar and kitschy décor, featuring an awesome set of busts decorated like the members of KISS.

I recommend the Fat Elvis, a monstrosity of a sandwich smothered in bacon, peanut butter, honey, panko, maple syrup, and powdered sugar. Bring a bag; you’ll need it to carry your leftovers with you.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Peruse the shelves at City Lights Bookshop

What’s a heroine without a good book? A bored heroine, that’s for sure.

Enter City Lights, which describes itself as “a living collage, crossed with a circus that was frightened by a Dadaist” and I couldn’t agree more.

Its two floors are packed with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, vinyl, sheet music, play scripts, postcards, and more. Everything is reasonably priced, and a heroine could while away hours exploring its depths.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Explore Covent Garden Market

I spend a lot of time at Covent Garden Market for my work with Original Kids Theatre Company (we present over twenty productions a year!), and there’s just so much to do!

In the winter, you’ll find a free skating rink outside; and in the summer, there’s an outdoor farmer’s market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Inside the Market is a ton of local vendors – if you’re not still stuffed from breakfast, I recommend visiting Petit Paris and ogling their massive array of sweets and goodies, and The Salad Bowl for amazing and healthy wraps and soups (Andrew somehow remembers everyone’s specialty order and it’s awesome).

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Take a walk through Victoria Park

London is known as the Forest City and it’s not hard to see why. During the winter holidays, Victoria Park’s trees are lit up with thousands of beautiful lights.

It’s a lovely place to take a walk with a cup of hot chocolate, or go skating (again, it’s free!). In the summer, it’s host to tons of festivals (such as the Home County Folk Festival, Sunfest, and London Rib-Fest) where there are live bands to listen to, local vendors to peruse, and of course, fabulous food and drinks to be sampled.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Take in a show

London has a thriving theatre scene, and the downtown area is the heart of it. The Grand Theatre has tons of amazing shows and even its own ghost (look up Ambrose Small for more details!), while The ARTS Project hosts local theatrical projects, as well as a free, ever-changing gallery, and various art classes.

In the summer, London is host to the London Fringe Festival, where theatre artists from all over Canada and abroad bring together an amazing selection of theatrical delights. Take a chance and see something that sounds intriguing – you never know what you’ll get at the Fringe!

Budweiser Gardens is right across the street from the Covent Garden Market, and offers tons of concerts and touring theatre shows. This year alone I’ve been able to catch Metric and Our Lady Peace, and I’ll be seeing Green Day there soon too!

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a HeroineKerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant. She blogs at both Kerryhishon.com and Theatrefolk.com. When she’s not immersed in theatre, Kerry enjoys reading, knitting, and travelling.

Xandra Recommends > Why Being in the Ensemble is Awesome

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to Versailles, France / by Andie Lollo

Versailles: the home of the Sun King, dream vacation of French Revolution history buffs, and quiet, wonderful city. Heroines, I have brought you a guide to the garden-filled, gilded and grand environment of your dreams.

First, a little background.

If you’re familiar with Paris, you may have heard of a little museum called the Louvre. I’m kidding, it’s massive, and that’s because it used to be the royal palace.

That’s right, up until 1682, Versailles was nothing more than a huge expanse of forest with King Louis XIII’s hunting lodge in the middle of it. When his son, now known as the Sun King, decided to move the entire royal court out to his father’s lodge in Versailles, a vision was born.

Soon came man-made lakes, intricate gardens, and a palace to rival all others the world over. That small village has now grown into a wealthy suburb and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Allow me to open to you the gates of this marvelous storybook city. Enjoy your stay in Versailles.

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Take a Walk (from the train).

Only about a 10 minute train ride from Paris, you’ll start your walk in the morning from Gare de Versailles-Chantiers. Follow the Rue des États Généraux to Avenue de Paris and behold: a larger-than-life tree-lined avenue with a clear view of the Château at the end. Wave hello to the Hôtel de Ville on your way to the palace – it’s where the mayor lives.

This is a great time to pop in some earphones and press play on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s ‘Marie Antoinette’. The mix of classical and modern music is the perfect blend to represent the journey you’ll take in Versailles.

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Visit the Gift Shop.

When you arrive at the Château, watch your feet. Those cobblestones are ancient and total ankle-breakers. Now’s a great time to head to the left and check out the gift shop – they’ve got everything Marie-Antoinette themed a girl could wish for, and French history books in every language under the sun (king). Shop to your heart’s content among all the stationary and macarons. I personally recommend picking up one of the novels about the Queen. They’re written diary-style in first person, and are a fascinating read for any heroine.

Explore the Gardens.

Next, bypass those serpentine lines of tourists and head towards the gardens. They’re free! (Except for days with fountain shows, but more on that later.)

Stop to check out the view of the last Queen’s intricate gardens over the balcony before exploring her beloved land on your own. You might take this time to ponder some of the more interesting statues, get lost in the labyrinthine hedges, or do some sketches.

When you’ve had enough of the Royal Gardens, head towards the canal. Now might be your time to find a spot to picnic or read. Or, if you want, you can rent a rowboat and take it out – how romantic! What you absolutely must do, I suggest, is walk all the way around the cross-shaped canal. This means taking the paths or the grass around the perimeter of the water.

Tip: Go right, and work your way around that way, eventually leading you back to the Apollo Fountain. While you’re on your walk, our next destination crops up.

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Les Trianons & Orangerie

 

Marie Antoinette’s estate is found at the right wing of the canal, including the Trianon Palaces and the Queen’s Hameau (little village). Take some time here to locate one of the fresh juice vendors, who will squeeze you an incredibly flavourful cup of orange juice from the Orangerie before your very eyes. Armed with a refreshing beverage, carry on through your stroll. When you’ve had enough of the estate continue on your walk around the canal. Feel free to dip your feet in the water if it’s a hot summer day.

You’ll find that the farther you head towards the cross’s far end, the less people you’ll see. If you do, they’re most likely locals going for a jog or bike ride.

Congratulations, you’ve made it halfway around the canal! Complete your walk by following its shape the rest of the way back to the Royal Gardens.

You won’t find any tips about actually touring the Château here because, honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. It was so packed full of literal busloads of tourists the one time I did go, that the grandeur of the palace didn’t really seem all that grand. Your decision. But, as a fellow heroine, I implore you to take the path less crowded.

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Relax on the Plan Suisse.

 

When you head out the gates, take a sharp right and keep going straight. This will take you over to another man-made lake, the Plan Suisse.

It’s an idyllic spot to read, write, do homework, have a picnic, or even a nap! You may again want to take a walk around, even touch the statue at the far end, or simply relax. You’re having a good old fashioned Versailles day.

Versailles, France / a travel guide Fit for a Heroine

Lunch Outside the Versailles Cathedral.

 

From the Plan Suisse make your way to the Rue du Maréchal-Joffre where the Versailles Cathedral rests in a large square. Pop into one of the patisseries for a snack, if you haven’t packed one (I’d go with some pain au chocolat and a macaron). Take your loot around the right side of the church where a pretty little bench awaits you in a quiet park and observe. If you’re lucky, you may be in time to witness the coming and going of a mass, where the French are dressed in their best.

Before heading back to the train, listen to your heart for a moment. Are you ready to leave? Did you take what you wanted from Versailles, or are you already pining for your next leisurely day in the Queen’s Gardens?

Versailles, France / Fit for a Heroine

Nighttime Musical Fountain Show

 

If so, you’re in luck. Remember how I mentioned on certain days the jardins are not free? That’s because at night, the Chateau puts on a musical fountain show. Yes, you read that right. If you want to experience something truly ethereal, stay til after dark and bask in the magnificence of the illuminated gardens. Baroque music soothes you from all sides as the water spectacular delights your eyes. Oh, and at the end, the Grand Canal is lit up with fireworks. Now that’s my way of spending a Saturday night!

Heads up, heroines. After your magical night, be careful walking back to the train station. I know you’re all smart women, but it’s easy to get confident and let your guard down. Don’t. Tourists are never safe. You’re not quite a heroine without a little danger.

Andie Lollo is a writer, artist, and blogger behind AndieLollo.com, an animation appreciation blog. She’s also the author of Spongebob & Happiness, a series dedicated to analyzing the Nickelodeon show through the lens of mental health, and a debut novel on Swoon Reads, ‘New Paris U’.

> Xandra recommends: How To Be Like Rapunzel

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

Franklin, Tennessee / Fit for a Heroine

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine
a heroine’s travel guide to Franklin, Tennessee / by Kathryn Marr

Nashville is a city of dreamers, a refuge for those wanting to break away from the norm and forge their own path. Tucked away just a few miles south of downtown Nashville is the idyllic, storybook town of Franklin. It’s a historic getaway, founded in 1799, and named after founding father, Benjamin Franklin. Whether you’re a connoisseur of local food, a history buff, a nature lover, or a small business supporter, you’ll love getting lost in the beauty of Franklin!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Grab a latte and bagel sandwich at Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey, a favorite among locals, is the perfect place to start your day! Try their iconic white monkey mocha – a blend of white chocolate, banana, espresso, and milk that you can’t find anywhere else. And if you’d like a little something to eat, the Plain Jane is to die for. Get it on a freshly made everything bagel, and add locally produced Benton’s bacon for a gourmet kick. Make sure to keep an eye out for celebrities! Country music stars like Keith Urban are known to stop in frequently.

Take a Tour of The Carter House & Carnton Plantation

Be transported back to the last great battle of the Civil War – the Battle of Franklin! In 1864, the Federal army defeated the Confederates in what was considered the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The plantation was frequented since by the likes of Andrew Jackson, and others who forged the future of America.

On your tour, you’ll explore the grounds and outbuildings of the historic site. Or, you can purchase specialty tours to learn even more about the interior of the homes, or the battlefields.

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Grab Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish to go and picnic at Pinkerton Park

Nashville hot chicken is a must, and the local hole-in-the-wall, Big Shake’s, is the best place to find it! The 3 jumbo tenders plate with coleslaw and French fries will make for an excellent picnic to take out to Pinkerton Park. Sprawl out on the grass, or enjoy your food at one of the covered picnic tables. Then, burn off some calories by hiking across the Harpeth River, and up to Fort Granger, a historical Civil War site.

Go shopping in downtown Franklin.

Little downtown Franklin will remind you of Once Upon a Time’s Storybrooke! Spend some time wandering down the streets and popping into all of the businesses.  You’ll find charming local décor and clothing, gardening tools, and handcrafted stationary. Definitely a must see in the little town!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

Get your hands dirty at Noble Springs Dairy.

Feel like an 1800’s farmer at this local goat and dairy farm. Learn about the farm animals, tour the facilities, and get a hands-on view of cheese making. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to sample and purchase their artisanal cheeses, soaps, fudge, and yogurt.

Get dinner at Cork & Cow.

Start with their delicious butternut squash fritters (served with Parmesan, and a Garlic-sage Yogurt!), then move onto any of their top-cut wood grilled steaks. The locally-brewed Yazoo Gerst Ale is a great compliment to the steak, and if you’re feeling fancy, their crème brulee is to die for!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a Heroine

End the night with a movie at the historic Franklin Theatre.

You’ll be charmed and romanced by this restored theater from 1937. With all the benefits of modern technology, and the unmistakable memories of 1930’s moviegoers, it’s the perfect way to end a day in Franklin. If you didn’t partake in dessert after dinner (or if you have a sweet tooth!) delight in the local chocolates from the Showtime chocolate bar, right in the theater.

So have fun traveling back in time to the Civil War, or pretending you’re lost in a fairytale while wandering the streets of downtown Franklin. I promise that you’ll find the perfect getaway from everyday life! Happy wandering!

Things to do in Franklin, Tennessee / Travel Guide Fit for a HeroineKathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.