Global Affairs Canada warns Canadians to avoid ‘all’ travel to Venezuela

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Global Affairs Canada has updated its official travel advisory for Venezuela to warn Canadians to avoid all travel to the South American country because of the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis there.

« Avoid all travel to Venezuela due to the significant level of violent crime, the unstable political and economic situations and the decline in basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, food staples, gasoline and water, » Global Affairs says on its website.

Venezuela is a major oil producer that has been wracked by hyperinflation, food shortages and rising violent crime since Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013 by a thin margin following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez. 

Maduro was inaugurated Jan. 10 to another term in office following a widely boycotted election that many foreign governments — Canada included — described as a fraudulent.

Maduro’s government accuses the U.S. and other countries of launching an « economic war » against Venezuela, blaming foreign sanctions against his country for most of its problems.

The change to the official travel advisory comes a day after the Liberal government hosted a gathering of foreign affairs ministers from the Lima Group of countries in an effort to find a resolution to the crisis gripping Venezuela.

At the close of that meeting in Ottawa on Monday, the Lima Group — Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia — officially elevated Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to the status of a « fully fledged » member of the group.

Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, swore himself in as interim president last month and was quickly recognized as such by Canada, the U.S. and other nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

Bolivia, Cuba, Turkey, Mexico and Russia, among others, have not followed suit and continue to back Maduro as the rightful president, accusing the U.S. and others of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

« It is very important to understand that Guaido derives his legitimacy from the National Assembly, which is the sole remaining democratically constituted body in Venezuela, » Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said at the closing press conference of the Lima Group meeting.​

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Left to decay, the Toronto Coach Terminal offers a fading glimmer of the glory days of travel

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Toronto has never been kind to its architecture. This is a city, don’t forget, that has happily allowed countless heritage buildings to be demolished or reduced to empty facades that hide the modern mediocrities that replace them. Such is progress in this busy conurbation.

No surprise then that a town that once contemplated tearing down two of its most important landmarks — Old City Hall and Union Station — would stand by while the Toronto Coach Terminal at 610 Bay St. slowly falls apart. The stylish Art Deco facility, which opened in December 1931, could have done double duty as a nightclub. It was the kind of place where one imagines elegant women in long gowns making their entrance on a grand stairwell.

The Toronto Coach Terminal was designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also designed Toronto’s General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre.
The Toronto Coach Terminal was designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also designed Toronto’s General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre.  (Lucas Oleniuk / The Toronto Star)

The stairwell is still there, but today it serves no purpose. The second floor and the restaurant that was once there are closed. Designed by architect Charles Dolphin, who also gave Toronto the General Postal Delivery Building, which survives as the façade of the Air Canada Centre, and the Consumer’s Gas Showroom on 2532 Yonge St. north of Eglinton Ave., the terminal is a remnant of a more optimistic age.

Though Canada was in the midst of the Great Depression, which devastated the country — at one point the unemployment rate was fully 33 per cent — Toronto somehow managed to build a bus terminal that had limestone cladding, stained glass windows, hand-painted faux stone walls and an interior illuminated by a cluster of crystalline chandeliers. Clearly, these were different times — attitudes to public architecture, let alone public transport, weren’t what they are today. Mobility was something to be celebrated, even glamourized. Men wouldn’t have thought of entering the terminal without a jacket and tie. Women wore hats and gloves.

Toronto's motor coach terminal at Bay and Edward Sts., North Mezzanine, looking west, on Dec, 19, 1931.
Toronto’s motor coach terminal at Bay and Edward Sts., North Mezzanine, looking west, on Dec, 19, 1931.  (Alfred J. Pearson)

Ninety-odd years later, people definitely do not dress up for travel. Whether by bus, boat, train or plane, getting around is something to be endured not enjoyed. Travellers today are better off dressing for comfort. Buses aren’t as uncomfortable and unhealthy as airplanes, but at a time when the car rules, they are considered the lowest form of public transportation, abandoned to those who can’t afford anything better. Even on the TTC, they rate well below subways and streetcars. Maybe that’s why the commission cares so little for those unfortunates consigned to ride the bus.

The GO bus terminal at Union Station confirms the lowly status of the vehicles it serves. Little more than a series of bays, it offers benches and a simple glass enclosure to shelter passengers. It’s so basic it seems more a structure than a building, engineered rather than designed. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course. As long as it’s not raining, snowing or freezing cold, it’s as comfortable as one would expect a loading dock to be.

If it represents anything, it is the triumph of austerity. We applaud the new terminal because it was constructed cheaply. The materials — steel, glass and concrete — are industrial. No limestone here. And don’t expect chandeliers. That would have been not just excessive, a waste of money and an affront to hard-working taxpayers, it would have been laughably — wildly — inappropriate.

The grandeur of Union Station across the road feels anachronistic, even ironic. With its massive stone columns, enormous arched windows and vaulted ceiling, its Great Hall was designed to impress those arriving in the Big City. Hearts raced and mouths gaped at the sheer scale, the spectacle and opulence of the space. The experience of Union Station was not quickly forgotten. But by the 1970s, trains and buses were in decline; people preferred to drive. Travellers gave way to commuters, and with the ongoing transformation of Union Station into a shopping mall, commuters are now being turned into consumers. Airports have met a similar fate.

Passengers arrive at the Toronto Coach Terminal through the Bay St. entrance.
Passengers arrive at the Toronto Coach Terminal through the Bay St. entrance.  (Lucas Oleniuk)

Meanwhile, the Toronto Coach Terminal, that relic of a lost world, has never felt so lonely and isolated. Through all the changes, however, the remakes and neglect, the building retains a glimmer of its former glory. The attentive user will be rewarded with the odd glimpse of a city that could afford to be optimistic even during the worst of times. By comparison, contemporary optimism feels forced, even false. It is merely rhetorical.

Overwhelmed by demand, drowning in expectations, poorly run and bullied by its provincial masters, modern-day Toronto simply can’t cope. It does what it can but it’s never enough. The past isn’t just a foreign country; it’s also a foreign city.

Christopher Hume is a former Star reporter who is a current freelance columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @HumeChristopher

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Audit finds flimsy accounting for travel, booze at Canadian UN mission

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Canada’s diplomatic office at a UN agency in Montreal has been badly managed for years — and even managed to lose track of its alcohol and silverware.

« [T]he current method used to track alcohol consumed during hospitality events was not sufficiently reliable, » says a newly released audit of the Canadian mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

« The audit team also identified discrepancies in the crystal, chinaware dishes and cutlery inventories after performing a physical count. »

Transport Minister Marc Garneau was warned in March 2017 of problems at Canada’s mission to ICAO in Montreal. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The report says that most of the overtime and travel claims it sampled were not pre-approved, there was no proof that goods and services paid for were actually received, five hospitality claims disappeared entirely, silverware was never counted — and at least $6,000 in travel and hospitality spending wasn’t tracked at all.

« [I]t is difficult for the audit to determine why certain travel took place, » says the highly critical document.

The audit focused on operations between April 2014 and March 2017, a three-year period that followed intense lobbying in 2013 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to keep the ICAO in Montreal.

The UN agency, which sets global standards for aviation safety and security, came into being in 1947 and has been located in Montreal ever since. According to one estimate, the agency’s 191 member countries are bringing some $120 million in economic benefits to the city each year.

Rival bid

A rival bid by Qatar in 2013 to host the agency in Doha beginning in 2016 was dropped in the face of intense lobbying by then-Foreign Affairs minister John Baird and others. That lobbying ensured the ICAO will stay put until at least 2036.

Canada’s small mission in Montreal, with eight permanent staff and three temporary positions, devotes about half its resources to host-state duties, including securing visas and even parking for ICAO member countries.

The Liberal government was alerted to problems at the Canadian mission sometime before March 2017, when a briefing note to Transport Minister Marc Garneau warned of major « shortcomings » and the need for a full audit. CBC News obtained the note under the Access to Information Act.

The auditors ended up delivering a scathing June 2018 report, citing « haphazard » communications, « confusion » about work responsibilities, « ad hoc » procedures, « insufficient training, » a « lack of documented procedures » and missing paperwork.

The mission’s annual budget – averaging $806,000 during the audit period, and $856,488 in 2017-18 – reserves about 10 per cent for hospitality and travel.

The funding was accounted for; however, the reporting was lacking.– Transport Canada spokesperson responding to an audit of the Canadian mission to ICAO in Montreal

Among other things, the report found the mission’s accounting for those funds was flawed, citing « weaknesses in the Mission’s management controls and oversight in the areas of budget planning and monitoring, expenditure approvals, inventory management and information management. »

A spokesperson for Transport Canada, which is primarily responsible for the operation of the ICAO mission, played down the findings, saying that « the funding was accounted for; however, the reporting was lacking. »

« There was no evidence of any items that went missing, including alcohol, » Sau Sau Liu added in an email.

Performance reviews

The audit does not refer to individuals at the mission. Asked whether any staff members have been reprimanded or terminated, Liu said only that the « lack of management oversight has been addressed through the completion of regular performance reviews required within the public service. »

On April 3, 2017, the Liberal government appointed career diplomat Martial Page as the new head of the ICAO mission to help sort out the mess.

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, left, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, centre, and Jean-François Lisée, Quebec’s international relations minister, leave a ‘Team Montreal’ meeting at ICAO’s Montreal headquarters May 3, 2013. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Transport Canada declined CBC’s request to interview Page, whose three-year appointment ends in 2020. But the department says the mission has since strengthened management control, implemented new strategic and operations plans and created an inventory system.

« Transport Canada and Global Affairs Canada will continue to monitor progress in the implementation of measures identified and will work with the Mission to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being used effectively, » said Liu.

The audit was conducted jointly with Global Affairs Canada, which provides support and advice to the mission.

Follow @DeanBeeby on Twitter

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Laval woman missing in Mexico, travel partner dead – Montreal

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The Sûreté du Québec is asking for the public’s help in locating Christine St-Onge, a Laval woman who did not return home from Mexico last week.

Authorities say the 41-year-old was travelling with a male friend who came home alone on Dec. 5.

That man was found dead the next day in an apparent suicide.

Family members fear for her safety.


READ MORE:
Laval police seeking public’s help to locate missing woman

St-Onge is five feet four inches tall, 122 pounds, and has blonde hair and blue eyes.

The RCMP and Mexican authorities are aiding in the search.

Police ask anyone with information to call 911 or the SQ’s center for criminal information at 1 800-659-4264.

READ: City unveils plan to manage coyotes after 19 Montrealers report bites

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Laval woman missing in Mexico, travel companion found dead

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Quebec provincial police are asking for help finding a woman who went missing in Mexico and whose travel companion was found dead after he returned to Canada.

Christine St-Onge, 41, hasn’t been heard from since Tuesday.

The male friend she travelled with to Mexico returned to Quebec, alone, on Dec. 5 and was found dead the next day. Provincial police said it was death by suicide.

Both left for Mexico on Nov. 29 and were originally scheduled to fly back to Quebec on Dec. 6.

The Sûreté du Québec won’t confirm the relationship between the two but spokesperson Stéphane Tremblay said they went to the vacation destination Los Cabos.

When the man was found dead last week, an investigation was launched by provincial police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Mexican authorities, Tremblay said.

St-Onge, from Laval, is five feet 11 inches tall and weighs 122 pounds. She has blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the SQ’s confidential information line at 1 (800) 659 4264.


Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service

In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone:

  • Toll-free: 1-800-668-6868.
  • Chat: kidshelpphone.ca.
  • App: Always There by Kids Help Phone.

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre.

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Alberta Energy Regulator executive found billing for travel from B.C. residence

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A second executive with the Alberta Energy Regulator is billing the organization for travel expenses because the person is living in B.C.

The AER tells CBC News its board of directors wasn’t aware of the situation. The AER is the single regulator of energy development in Alberta — from application and exploration, to construction and operation, to decommissioning, closure and reclamation.

Since May, Jennifer Steber has expensed flights, taxi trips and other costs to go to work at the AER from her residence in B.C. Her expense claims also include mileage on her vehicle driving from her B.C. residence to the Penticton airport in B.C’s Okanagan Valley. Steber is part of the executive team at the AER.

A snapshot of Steber’s expense claim shows travel from her residence in B.C. to the AER offices in Edmonton and Calgary. (AER expense claims)

The discovery comes after the Alberta government expressed its disappointment with the regulator for reimbursing CEO Jim Ellis’s travel from B.C. 

Former CEO got expenses to come to meetings

CBC News counted nearly 50 trips, mostly return airfares between Calgary and Penticton, to transport Ellis for the express purpose of attending AER meetings. A tally of those flights shows costs topping $14,600, not including airfare change fees and other travel expenses. Ellis has since retired.

According to the regulator, Ellis authorized Steber to file expense claims from her residence in B.C.

« This travel arrangement was approved by the AER’s previous CEO, Jim Ellis, » said Bob Curran, a spokesperson for the regulator, in an email. « The AER board of directors has just become aware of this issue and has ordered a thorough review of practices inside the AER to determine what corrective action is required. »

There is no indication from her expenses about where in B.C. she lives, however a property registry search shows Steber is listed as one of the registered owners of a house in Osoyoos, located 60 kilometres south of Penticton.

The AER lists Steber’s salary as $373,547 in 2015.

The provincial government sets the budget for the AER, but the oil and gas industry itself funds the regulator through administrative fees.

According to the regulator, Steber is currently on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jennifer Steber’s expense claims include ‘personal mileage’ as she drove from her B.C. residence to the Penticton airport in B.C’s Okanagan Valley. (AER expense forms)

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5 things about international travel when cannabis becomes legal

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The signs posted on the Canadian side of Ontario’s Thousand Islands crossing into the United States couldn’t be more clear: « No cannabis at border crossings. »

They’re punctuated with a logo featuring a pot leaf inside a red circle with a red slash through it.

It’s a reminder that even though Canada enters a brave new world of cannabis legalization on Wednesday, these heady horizons do not necessarily extend beyond the country’s borders. So Canadians should be aware of the rules when travelling abroad once Ottawa allows recreational marijuana use at home.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Legalization

As of Oct. 17, adults in Canada can possess and share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. They’ll be able to buy it from provincially or federally licensed retailers and grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use.

2. Cannabis to go?

Leave your freshly procured weed at home. The federal government warns that taking pot in any form across Canada’s international borders will remain illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad.

This is the case even if you are travelling to places like The Netherlands or Uruguay that have decriminalized or legalized cannabis.

The restriction applies regardless of the amount or whether you hold a document authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Only Health Canada has authority to issue permits or grant exemptions in limited circumstances.

3.  Heading to the United States

Many U.S. states allow medical or recreational use of marijuana. But it changes nothing when crossing the border. That’s because cultivation, possession and distribution of the drug remain illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. 

The border falls under federal jurisdiction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny Canadians and other non-citizens entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds. These include a pot conviction in the United States or abroad, an admission of use without a conviction, or reason to believe you’re a drug addict or involved in trafficking. Or you could be turned away if the officer believes you will violate the Controlled Substances Act — for instance by smoking pot in the U.S., even in a state like Colorado or Washington where it’s legal.

Once ruled inadmissible, a traveller might require a special waiver to enter the U.S. It’s best to avoid telltale visual clues or saying anything that might prompt questions about drug use. So, no flashing a lighter emblazoned with a marijuana leaf or joking about that Grateful Dead concert you went to in Portland years ago.

The federal government advises Canadians not to lie at the border. If you don’t like the questions, you have the right to withdraw your request to enter the U.S.

4. What if I work in the cannabis industry?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says a Canadian citizen working in the legal cannabis industry in Canada will generally be allowed into the U.S. for vacation or business unrelated to marijuana. But a person seeking entry for reasons related to the cannabis industry might be turned away.

Indeed, there have been reports of Canadians being denied entry due to involvement in the U.S. cannabis industry.

Consultant Ivan Ross Vrana says he has not been asked about marijuana upon entering the U.S. about half a dozen times in the last couple of years to meet with people looking to work in the Canadian cannabis industry. Nor has he heard of associates running into snags at the border.

« I think the best policy is to be straightforward, » said Vrana, vice-president of public affairs at Hill and Knowlton Strategies. « It’s their country, it’s their rules, right? »

5. Coming home to Canada

Bringing cannabis into Canada will remain illegal, even when travelling from places that have loosened their laws on marijuana use, the government warns.

Canada Border Services Agency officials say they will be asking visitors and returning Canadians whether they have any cannabis with them. They hope the question will reduce the risk of unintentional violations of the law.

If you are carrying pot when you enter Canada, it must be declared to the border agency. Otherwise, you may face arrest and prosecution, the agency says.

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The Runaway Experience: How Moving to Jamaica Helped This Entrepreneur Launch Her Travel Brand | Healthyish

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In Entrepreneurs Run the World, Ali Francis gets advice and insight from game-changing entrepreneurs with big ideas. This week we talked to Kalisa Martin, co-founder of The Runaway Experience, a travel service that really gets us.

Whether I’m surfing in Barbados (while renewing my visa), smearing cream cheese on a St-Viateur bagel in Montreal, tipsy from mulled wine and pierogies in Krakow’s Old Town, or slurping a bowl of Hanoi’s finest phở at 8 a.m., I can’t help but return to the same question: “Could I live here?” And then, more practically: “What would I do?”

For The Runaway founders and soon-to-be married couple, Kalisa Martin and Jeff Belizaire, answers to both these questions came while they were on a last-minute getaway to Jamaica in 2014. “We were both at a place in our careers where we were ready for a change and burnt out from our daily grinds,” Martin, a former brand director at Tasting Table, explains. “The location was the perfect place to incubate our idea, and, by the time we left, we were at the beginning of an awesome adventure.”

The pair ran a Kickstarter campaign for the first-ever successfully funded B&B, with backers donating almost $47,000 toward the Jamaican island pad. The Runaway concept soon grew into a larger lifestyle agency, offering boutique travel packages around the world. Want to glamp your way around Morocco, learning to make Berber tea and tagine, sampling street foods, and shopping for spices in local souks? How about seven days of self care, sisterhood, and writing? The Runaway’s got you.

With her degrees in food science and nutrition from Cornell University, and chef training from the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, Martin knew that food would be an important pillar of The Runaway brand. “Our goal is always to take guests on a culinary adventure that is at the same time exciting, unexpected, and delicious,” Martin says. “To us, food is a major part of a travel experience, and we never want any guest to have a single bad meal.”

Part of Martin’s mission involves using food as a vessel to open people’s minds beyond cultural stereotypes. For example, in Jamaica, she cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her B&B guests using fresh ingredients from local farms. Likewise, in Cuba, Martin walked the entire island in search of destinations that would shatter rumors of “lackluster food.” “During our research, we ate high and low, chatting with locals about their favorite places,” she said.

We talked with Martin about monetizing a passion project, staying sane in startup mode, leaving time for self-love, and the morning routine she’ll never give up.

I’m always so fascinated by the moment people make the jump and start their own businesses. It’s hard! What was that journey like for you?

Exciting, energizing, and a complete leap of faith! Because of our unique approach and perspective on travel, there was no roadmap, no instruction manual, and no success stories we could directly emulate. Fortunately we had a ton of experience with startups and building companies from scratch. So while it was a new industry, we were able to apply the skills we already had to bring our vision to life.

How did startup culture prepare you for The Runaway?

Instead of being plugged in to a fully formed operation, we were part of teams that created the processes and the foundation that the business needed to run. We saw what worked, what didn’t, and were encouraged to optimize and evolve. We also felt the pressures of answering directly to investors, advertisers, and customers.

How do you and Jeff divide and conquer work?

I like to say that Jeff is the “What” and I am the “How.” Simply put, he’s more of a big picture creative and I am more of a detail-oriented project manager. While he’s identifying our brand positioning, strategizing on our marketing, and projecting our five-year plan, I’m calculating trip budgets, building research spreadsheets, and coordinating logistics with guests.

What’s it like working with your fiancé?

Starting a business with my significant other was like bootcamp for our relationship. We have very different working styles, and while couples usually smooth out their communication differences over time, we had to learn very quickly how to give each other space to run with our angles of the business while also collaborating effectively.

Real talk: How did you keep paying your bills while starting The Runaway?

We both had savings, plus, Jeff took on marketing projects as necessary to keep the lights on as we were building the brand.

How did you actually figure out how to start planning trips? Were you calling airlines, etc?

I’m a project manager at heart and each trip is essentially a major project, with multiple elements that needs to be planned. We research each market extensively. First remotely, connecting with partners and identifying trip elements, then we spend physical time in the city, walking the streets, meeting with people, eating everywhere, and literally testing out every experience we’re considering including in the itinerary.

What is your best marketing asset? In other words, how did people start hearing about you and caring about The Runaway?

Social media, press, influencer collaborations, brand partnerships, and definitely word of mouth! Not only do we have great repeat travellers but they also tell their friends.

When was your “Oh boy, this is totally a viable thing” moment?

Kickstarter was a great way for us to validate the brand from the very beginning. We’ve received such amazing support that we never doubted the concept. The challenge for us was narrowing down all of our “That’s cool!” ideas and focusing on a sustainable, scalable business plan.

The first iteration of The Runaway was a bed and breakfast in Jamaica. What was that move like from New York?

We’d both been in NYC for several years—and loved it—but we were ready, and honestly thrilled, by the change. In Jamaica, we lived on a hill with views of the mountains and the ocean, walked ten minutes to the beach, and bought our food directly from farmers. Not to mention it was 85 and sunny year-round! When we decided to move back to the U.S. to facilitate research and expansion to new markets, we chose Philadelphia instead of going back to the hustle and bustle of NYC.

Can you share any memorable advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?

“There are a lot of good things you shouldn’t do.” My mom, a medical doctor with her own practice, actually said that to me when I was in college. I was super active in student organizations, sports, and community activities. That was my first major lesson in prioritization. There’s simply not enough time in the day to do everything, even if it’s a GOOD thing to do. This motto, as simple as it is, helps keep us on track as we operate our business.

What are the top three foods we’ll always see in your kitchen?

Since we work from home, I cook most of our meals, and the most exciting thing in the fridge is our weekly farm share. Matcha is a must. I switched from coffee two years ago and ceremonial matcha for home and instant matcha for the road have been essential ever since. [Martin loves The Republic of Tea.] And plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. Top it with some fresh fruit, chopped nuts, seeds, and a drizzle of raw honey—that is my kind of sundae.

Best meal you’ve ever eaten on a Runaway Experience trip?

Dinner at my absolute favorite restaurant in Cuba: El Partenon. This paladar, or private restaurant, is literally a house in a completely residential neighborhood 20 minutes outside of Old Havana. There’s no menu. They just tell you what’s available and it’s all served in multiple courses, family style. We start with fried yucca that’s been smothered in freshly grated garlic; tostones rellenos stuffed with ropa vieja (shredded beef); fish or shrimp ceviche; and, my favorite, grilled octopus with an insane pesto. Then the mains, desert, and digestifs! Not to mention the BEST frozen mojitos on the island.

Do you have any habits that keep you grounded and on track?

My morning routine. I keep my water bottle next to my bed so when I first wake up I drink a ton. Next, I make my morning shake or smoothie and hit the gym, if it’s a gym day. I also tidy up the kitchen so that each day feels like a fresh start. Before diving into work, I make my matcha latte and do my daily devotions.

Where and when do you do your best work?

When I’m fully rested! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need 8 hours of sleep. Period. The “where” is usually the office in our apartment. I have my standing desk, a second screen I hook up to my laptop, and a big window to look out of. Since I work from home, it’s important to me that I have a designated work space that’s different from our living space. I try to keep those separate and sacred.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting The Runaway Experience?

If you told us where we’d be in 2018 back in 2014 I’m not sure we could’ve fully processed that at the time (laughs). That said, I do think some tailored financial advice would’ve been helpful early on. Tips and tricks on how the money we were already spending could do more for us. For example, how to maximize airline points and the right credit cards to get for our specific kind of business.

If you could pick one person’s brain about The Runaway Experience over lunch, who would that be?

Anthony Bourdain. I’ve always looked up to him as a pillar in the food, travel, and content space. He had a very clear point of view and never buckled under pressure to stick to the status quo or do what was expected of him.

What constitutes a perfect day off for you?

Jeff and I do a thing we call “Saturdates” almost every weekend. It’s basically a whole day date that involves doing all of our favorite things: a hike in the park next door to our apartment, picking up our farmshare, exploring a cool neighborhood by foot in our new hometown of Philly, and eating out at a few places along the way. We love Zahav (absolutely worth the wait to get a reservation), Double Knot, which is a secret izakaya in the basement with amazing cocktails, and Reading Terminal Market, the 125 year old indoor market with over 80 restaurants and merchants.

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