Mailbag! (a/k/a People search for things on the internet)

After almost a year of blogging, I thought it would be fun to dip into the reader mailbag.  When I say “mailbag,” what I mean is blog data that shows the absolute best search terms used to find my blog or anything on the internet. Readers find Bite-sized Travel using the most amazing combination of words or ideas, and I cannot thank you enough for your creativity, and shall we say, whimsy.

I swear on my passport, all of the following searches and questions are 100% real.

Is Georges Island infested with snakes?

Most everything you’ve heard is true. There are a lot of snakes on Georges Island in Halifax Harbour, but “infested” is a strong word. It’s not like you’re wading though piles of them. They pop up here and there, but the good news is that they’re harmless. Since the island is uninhabited and closed to the public, they rarely encounter humans, and are probably more scared of you than you are of them.

Tall Ship 2012 Georges Island Halifax Snake

Which way does a woodpecker fly during leap year?

I like the specificity of this request, but I need to ask everyone else: is this a thing? If you’re an ornithologist, please reply in the comments.

How do I get/buy tickets for Saturday Night Live?

Far and away, the blog gets the most search hits for the annual SNL ticket lottery. I’ll respond to your most frequently-asked questions with everything I know:

  • You can only enter the annual ticket lottery in August. 
  • People are selected for floor seats from the line by production staff. There isn’t any way to request a spot on the floor unless you know someone important at SNL.
  • If you are drawn for tickets, you’ll get about two weeks’ notice, any time between the premiere in September and finale in May.
  • You can’t request tickets for a specific show or date.
  • Tickets aren’t for sale, they’re free. If someone offers to sell you their tickets, it probably won’t work out. You are required to show identification at least a couple of times and production staff check lists carefully.
  • Standby tickets are distributed at 7am on Saturday morning for the dress rehearsal and the live taping. People sleep out overnight for them.
  • They don’t publish a taping schedule, per se, but upcoming hosts and musical guests are usually announced to the media about a month in advance of the taping.

I’m visiting Canada, do I need a parka?

Bring two. If you’re here for more than a weekend, you’ll wear it out and you’ll need the second one.

How to make jamón potato chips?

If anyone knows, please tell the class in the comments. Jamón chips are the best.

Spain’s Trenhotel

After Saturday Night Live, the second-most sought information is about Spain’s overnight train, the Trenhotel. Again, I’ll respond to your most-frequently asked questions with everything I know:

  • Booking discounts are available if you book online in advance, the further in advance, the better based on my experience.
  • It didn’t have internet when I took it, but that was in 2011. I wouldn’t count on it.
  • Breakfast is not included, but there’s a restaurant on board.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes in advance, there’s security screening.
  • I found Trenhotel to be very safe and secure. The Cama Preferen rooms shut quickly behind you when you exit, so always carry your key.
  • Room classes. There may be slight variations depending on the train you take, but generally speaking:
    • Turista = a single seat which reclines slightly
    • Butaca super = the same with better amenities
    • Cama turista = a bed in a shared room of up to four people, same gender
    • Cama preferen = individual room with bed and sink, shared showers and toilets
    • Cama G. Clase = individual room with private shower and toilet.

Is it illegal to own a lemur in Nova Scotia?

In fairness, this has only come up once, but it did make me say out loud, “I love you, internet.” I actually did a little research to find an answer for this one. In Canada, animal control is the responsibility of local/municipal governments. I couldn’t find any municipal by-laws specifically prohibiting lemur ownership, but many have exotic animal prohibitions and I would say lemurs are definitely exotic. It’s probably best to err on the side of not getting one, if you could get even it into the country in the first place.

There is already a decent number of lemurs in Nova Scotia, but they live at Oaklawn Farm Zoo in the Annapolis Valley, which has all of the appropriate permissions for exotic animals. Funny side note: since I’ve been to Oaklawn a bunch of times, I’ve seen more lions in Nova Scotia than I did in South Africa, where I saw none.

I can't steal this local lemur, that's what they're expecting.

What do champagne caves smell like?

The basement at your nana’s house. As a veteran of a champagne tour in France and a cava tour in Spain, I can report the conditions are what you would expect underground: a little damp, cold, dusty, but not all together unpleasant. Bring a sweater and try not to brush up against anything.

What do the French in Paris drink to stay awake?

Le carburant aviation. Otherwise, a jolt of coffee, taken standing up at a bar/café.

Can you stay awake all night in Paris?

If I can, you can.

What I did in Paris over summer vacation?

Do you own homework.

Submit a guest post

I get a lot of requests for guest posts that are links to commercial services. If you would like to contribute a guest post with a link back to a commercial endeavour, let’s negotiate a rate. My opening rate is $100,000 per link per post. Your move.

May your love last as long as birds

Thank you!

Well, that was a lot of fun! For me! If you have travel-related questions that I may be able to answer, please fire away in the comments. If you would like to try and stump me with a bizarre inquiry, please do the same.



    • Indeed they are. I’ve been thinking about this kind of post for a while and I think I’ll revisit it occasionally when something truly wonderful comes along.

  1. Haha! I loved it. I think the weirdest search term I have is, “I’m lonely for my boyfriend’s conversation, should I take him back?” Hmmm…can’t help you there.


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