Pam Stellini

Pam Stellini is an original. Her quirky outlook and wry humour defy categorization. Readers have compared her to Erma Bombeck and Art Buchwald with a travel spin – and we're not about to argue.

Not shy to share her family secrets, or offer an eccentric take on a total stranger or situation, Pam's flights of fancy and fantasy will keep you reading and smiling to the very last word.

Her column is aptly titled Without Reservations. 


18 APR 2019: Chicago’s attributes are considerable, starting with over 41 km of lakefront park space protected from industry. It is the birthplace of deep-dish pizza pie, gospel and house music, improv and storefront comedy. It is the home to the world’s first skyscraper and sells more architectural tours than any other city. Chicago has a lot to be proud of and the Choose Chicago team was in Toronto recently to say that whatever we knew about the windy city, there is still more to ‘show.’ 2019 has been designated as The Year of Chicago Theatre. MORE

18 OCT 2018: Many years ago a friend was looking for a destination for a family road trip.  Colleen said she and her husband pulled out a road map of Ontario - she closed her eyes and let her finger land on the map.  She looked up at her husband and said, “We are going to Manitoulin Island.” At the time, I marvelled at her spontaneity, having never heard of the island.  Colleen was thrilled, and a few weeks ago I chose the same location for a weekend get-away and with both my eyes open. MORE

06 SEP 2018: We were on the train from London for my second visit to Bristol in a week. My partner Tony was checking out maps to plan out a route to explore his family history in England.  I was checking out restaurants on the internet for our first Bristol dinner.  We knew where we thought we would like to dine, but asked Mariana at the front desk for her opinion. She asked what kind of food we were interested in, and smiled with our response, ‘ethnic, spicy and cutlery optional.’ MORE

13 AUG 2018: I have been to Bristol England twice. In March I was a guest of Visit Great Britain, where I got a taste of the city. But I had an appetite for more, so when our hosts and guides told us that we should all come back, I decided that I would, and returned the following week. This is what we did on the first trip. MORE

24 MAY 2018: Long before Pinterest made repurposing trendy, a prudent Welshman was snooping through building demolitions, with a vision of constructing his own village. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis may have lacked a formal architectural degree but he was knighted for his "services to architecture and the environment." His most recognized work is the tourist village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd, North Wales. MORE

07 MAY2018: Downton Abbey gave me a glimpse into what it would be like to be a guest at an historical country house but it was Llangoed Hall in the Welsh countryside that gave me the experience. When we pulled into the estate in the idyllic Wye Valley, we saw a turn out of staff members who lined up outside the front door to greet us. Mr Carson would have approved. MORE

Newcastle Gateshead is impressive
29 MAR 2018: We arrived in Newcastle Gateshead, UK on the first of March to a snowstorm and gale force winds, described as the worst in a generation. Among the group I was with, were women from Miami, Austin, Italy, India and Australia.  As the only person in the group hailing from north of the 49 parallel, I made every effort to take the cold weather in my stride. After all, it was pointed out - I was in my natural habitat. MORE

13 MAR 2018: David and Alison Lea-Wilson were university sweethearts who had fallen in love with the Island of Anglesey in Wales off the mainland’s northwest coast. In the past forty years they have created opportunities to live and work in this area of outstanding natural beauty and visitors to the area as well as the culinary world have been the benefactors of their ingenuity.   MORE

ExploreGB highlights the best of Britain
06 MAR 2018: When Carol Dray, commercial director of Visit Great Britain went onstage to welcome buyers, suppliers and media to the 2018 ExploreGB event in Newcastle Gateshead England she was accompanied by a blast of the song Beautiful Day. The irony was lost on no one, and not because U2 is a beloved Irish band, but because outside the warmth and good cheer of the Metro Radio Arena, snowstorm Emma was pounding the UK alongside a Siberian cold air front referred to as the 'beast from the east.' MORE

01 FEB 2018: It is the classic love story.  Boy meets girl. Boy proposes. Earthquake hits and destroys church of intended nuptials. Boy and girl have civil service wedding and make babies. Boy and girl go to work and meet the Pope, and then get married by the pontiff. Boy and girl are high at the time. MORE

24 JAN 2018: If the decibel level in a room determines the success of an event, then the Annual Partner Appreciation Luncheon by Globus family of brands was a resounding winner. Globus extended an invitation to their business partners for lunch at Sassafraz restaurant in Toronto's Yorkville last week. The group was decidedly animated.   MORE

The best restaurant that never was
13 DEC 2017: Oobah Butler is a writer for who has been paid for writing fake reviews for Trip Advisor. After watching the popularity of some restaurants inflate at his doing, he wondered if he could create popularity for a fake restaurant. Butler lives in a shed (albeit a very expensive one in London) and used his humble dwelling as the setting for his new false eatery, The Shed at Dulwich.   MORE

Leave coffee to the professional
05 DEC 2017: When Starbucks announced that they were launching stores in Italy over the next few years I thought it was a joke. The very thought of the American coffeehouse chain percolating into the country where moka pots sit on every household stove is not just bold, but grande bold.   MORE

24 OCT 2017: A woman from New Westminster travelling on a BA flight to London discovered a number of insects crawling out from the seat in front of her and, “pouring out of the back of the TV.” The flight was too full for her and her travelling companions to be moved, so they inevitably landed nine hours later covered in bed bug bites.   MORE

A story to remember
10 OCT 2017: If the walls could talk, the Gothic ones at Beaulieu Palace House might tell the tales of former residents, but there is no way they could deliver them with the humour and charm that our tour guide did. William, replete in his coat and tails gave us a tour of the 13th century Victorian country residence on the Beaulieu estate, seasoning his historical knowledge with anecdotes that visitors will remember long after the datelines blur. MORE

26 SEP 2017: I get to Gravenhurst every summer for a few hours, most often to attend their fantastic farmer’s market, or walk through town, stopping at antique shops or cafes for lunch or coffee. The city is most renowned as the birthplace of Henry Norman Bethune in 1890, but since my visit last week, I shall associate it with Laundry. Sexy Laundry.   MORE

12 SEP 2017: Alone in your room and want company? The Hotel Charleroi Airport, in Belgium can provide you with a companion for 3.50 euros a night. The hotel has just launched a campaign that it describes as 'surprisingly unique.' And it is, because for $5 a day you can enjoy the riveting company of a goldfish.   MORE

29 AUG 2017: A few months ago I was on a flight from London to Toronto. I was sitting in the aisle seat and a young man was sitting at the window. We had the middle seat empty between us. and just as the plane lifted off the ground the man in seat A looked out the window and hissed the ‘F’ word. Then he covered his head in his arms.   MORE

15 AUG 2017: You will have to excuse me for gushing, but I am enamoured with the story of a family’s vacation plan that was predicated by ‘words.’ It started with words of mystery by an accomplished writer, and subsequently heartfelt words in a letter of condolence. This is how US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her family came to spend a vacation in the eastern townships of Quebec.   MORE

01 AUG 2017: I was cleaning up a wood pile in Muskoka on a July afternoon when a large raccoon walked passed and climbed a tree right in front of me. I raced to the safety of the ripped screen doors of the cottage, and my memory being what it is, I forgot all about it. The next morning having coffee in the kitchen I heard activity beneath the floorboards. I called my wildlife specialist Tony who sent me on a mission to buy supplies to eradicate the intruder.   MORE

Leave it as you find it
18 JUL 2017: ‘It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey;’ thoughtful words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Travelling is about expectations and wonders and discovering joys and experiences even when plans take an unexpected turn. And for all that flowery stuff, I wish people would focus on the destination.     MORE

04 JUL 2017: I celebrated Canada’s centenary as a youngster in west Toronto; where my family walked up and down the street with our neighbours banging our pots and pans. Yes, we hooted and hollered whacking our mismatched, dented aluminum cookware and no one got grounded. It was a perfect day, and how I wished every occasion could be feted.   MORE

20 JUN 2017: The mayor of Florence is justifiably concerned about tourists sitting on church steps eating their lunches. They leave behind empty containers and greasy wrappers and Mayor Dario Nardella says that is no way to treat historical Renaissance buildings. I agree with his sentiment, as much as I am amused by his solution. He has arranged for the offending tourists to be hosed down.   MORE

06 JUN 2017: There is a town in Switzerland that I am to understand is so visually exquisite, that the mayor has told visitors not to take pictures of it; for the sake of those who have not seen its beauty. Seems that, in the ultimate display of thoughtfulness the Mayor of Bergün/Bravuogn thinks photos that show up of his town on social media will make other people miserable. Best that we don’t know what we are missing.   MORE

23 MAY 2017: It was March 7 and I had just landed in Malta; enjoying a long overdue visit with cousins, when I got an email. It was from a family friend planning a trip to Malta. She asked if I would recommend visiting a particular landmark in Malta, of which I was unfamiliar. I looked up at my cousins and asked, “What is the Azure Window?” Well, I may as well have asked if they had any opinions about politics. Their responses were immediate and robust.   MORE