Sunday Stories for December 14th, 2014

This past week I visited Salt Lake City. I hadn’t been there since the late 1980s, and was amazed to find how much it had changed. Although my time there was relatively brief, I discovered lots of interesting restaurants, brew pubs, and wine bars. And yes, the latter really surprised me. The blue skies – and no snow – also surprised me (see the photo below). I’m hoping to make a longer, return visit to check out more of what the city has on offer.

Blue skies and dancing water fountains in Salt Lake City.

A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on


Now, on to this week’s stories.

Instagram is now bigger than Twitter

I really enjoy Instagram, the social media platform that allows photo sharing. It’s simple, easy to use, and isn’t clogged down with a bunch of features. It’s designed for those of us who like taking and sharing photos taken on our phones (although there are ways to share camera photos as well).  That photo above of the dancing fountain show was taken in Salt Lake City last week, and I shared in on Instagram shortly after taking it. I’m not the only one loving Instagram. Turn out that it’s active user base has now surpassed Twitter, with over 300  million active users. By the way, if you are on Instgram, please follow me here (again, you’ll need to do this from your phone). If you leave your Instagram link in the comments, I’ll check out your stream and follow back.

Instagram now has a bigger active user base than Twitter, according to a blog post written today by CEO Kevin Systrom. The photo and video sharing platform has over 300 million active users, more than Twitter’s 284 million but a far cry behind parent company Facebook’s 1.3 billion . Systrom also says that those users are uploading more than 70 million photos and videos per day.

IATA: Falling oil price will drive down airline ticket costs

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the profitability outlook for the airline industry looks good, with an estimate of net global profits somewhere just shy of $20 billion (that’s with a B). With fuel prices dropping, accompanied with other productivity improvements, they forecast that those savings will be passed through to consumers. What do you think? Will we see a drop in airline tickets? Or, do you think that improved bottom line will fund the pockets of the industry?

After adjusting for inflation, average return airfares (excluding taxes and surcharges) are expected to fall by some 5.1 per cent on 2014 levels and cargo rates are expected to fall by a slightly bigger 5.8 per cent.

10 Unique Hostess Gifts

‘Tis the season! Here are some great ideas for a take along hostess gift, and they’d be equally great for a gift exchange, office party, stocking stuffers, and more. I’d love to receive any of these!

As you hop from party to party this month I do think it’s nice to bring along a little something extra for the party host – entertaining is a lot of work after all! And you could always resort to that good o’l bottle of wine (or champagne – ooolala), but if you like to stand out and do things your own way here are some ideas for more creative hostess gifts. I know I’d love to be given any one of these (although I’ve certainly never turned away a bottle of wine either – ha)!

There has been a tremendous diversity in the types of dishes we’ve had here in Greece. I’ve loved almost all of them, especially the salads. #visitgreece

A photo posted by Mary Jo Manzanares (@travelingwithmj) on


5 Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Food, glorious food. While I have some dishes that I can never get enough of (mac & cheese, I’m looking at you now), part of the joy of traveling is discovering local dishes, restaurants, and even the occasional cooking class. I’ve never been one for predicting what food is hot, and what’s not, but I certainly notice when menu items start looking remarkably similar. And I’ll be glad when rosemary is banished to the occasional dish or garnishment, rather than being featured in nearly every menu item! Here’s on opinion on what we’ll be seeing more of in 2015.

I’m conflicted on the topic of food trends. On one hand I live, breathe and sometimes dream nutrition (pathetic I know). I love to scope out what’s new or innovative, even on the fringe.

Stuffing My Face with Hong Kong Foodie Tours

I’ve been on a few food tours before, mostly unstructured with a very loose itinerary. Reading this review makes me re-think the concept, and perhaps something more structured would be a lot of fun. Of course, a food tour in Hong Kong sound delicious!

One of the things I was looking forward to the most in Hong Kong was the food. With roots in Hong Kong and the immense availability of delicious Chinese food in Vancouver, I had grown up eating much of the typical Hong Kong foods. I was eager to discover how similar or different these things are.

Toronto’s Top 10 Stoner Friendly Restaurants

With marijuana becoming legal in a couple of states, it was only a matter of time before we talked publicly about getting the munchies. I love the way my friend Andrew Dobson approached the research for the restaurant round up, combining his culinary sleuthing with social media sourcing.

I posted the question on facebook and twitter and was once again surprised by the enthusiastic response. I’ve had a good think and am happy to present to you my favourite stoner friendly restaurants in Toronto: menus that feature the delightful munch and crunch we all crave, 420 lovin for the sweet meets sour.

Finally A Law School Class Worth Taking: Weed Law

And while we’re on the topic of marijuana, and the legalization thereof, I leave it to you to decide how much of this story is satire, irony, or reality.

But while most schools are perhaps simply arranging deck chairs on a sinking ship, others like the University of Denver are going the extra step in making sure that their graduates are prepared to represent clients in the only homegrown American industry still in existence: WEED.



Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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