Travel


Travel is fun. Period. Hoping to blog about my adventures in Ottawa, Montreal, Buffalo, Las Vegas, New York City and more.

May
24

I’ve recently returned from my first trip to Philadelphia and for the entire four days all I did was Tour and Eat, Tour and Eat…and Repeat. I’m not complaining as I wore the right shoes (my beloved Keen Uneeksand wore the right clothes (um, stretchy pants).

Let’s start with the touring part of my trip:

I used the Big Bus Tours as much as possible as it’s a great way to see a city. In fact, every time I visit a new city I will use these “hop and off” buses.

philly - bus map

I got off whenever I wanted to check out an attraction or museum, and then simply hopped back on after my visit. Their tour guides were cheerful, friendly and informative too.

Usually I’m not a museum person, however I took the time to check out the following museums/attractions and I’m really happy I made this decision.

Barnes Foundation

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Rodin Museum

National Museum of American Jewish History

The Franklin Institute

Independence Hall

-Liberty Bell Centre

-Rocky Steps & Statue

philly - touring

I walked, and walked and walked some more. In fact, my Samsung GearFit indicated that I walked 18,000 steps one day!

philly - tour 1

As for food:

I asked my cousin to send me a list of where I ate over my visit and this is what she sent me.  I was lucky enough to share a few meals with them which was the best idea as we cut up everything we ordered into thirds. Smart Move!

Tuesday
Carmen’s (cheese steak – lunch at Reading Market of course)
Fiesta Pizza (cheese steak – dinner)
Dalessandro’s (cheese steak – dinner)
Rita’s Italian Ices (dessert)

Wednesday

Dizengoff (inside the Whole Foods…this is unique to Philadelphia)
High Point Cafe @ Allens Lane Station (morning coffee)
Parks on Tap (to enjoy a beer in a beautiful park)
Vedge for a vegan dinner)
Big Gay Ice Cream

Thursday

The Franklin Fountain (rootbeer float)
Lennie’s (hoagie)
McNally’s (for their famous Schmitter®!)
Bredenbecks (ice cream)

Friday
Volo (coffee)
Insomnia Cookies
Monk’s Cafe (for unique beer that is hard to find)

Seriously, there was no shortage of good food to check out! I must say I tried hard to find foods that were unique to Philly and I’m pretty sure I can say “mission accomplished”. Now that I’ve returned to Toronto I’m back on track and eating more fruits and salad. LOL

I summed up Philadelphia like this: it’s bigger than Ottawa, but smaller than Montreal. I really did enjoy this city and do doubt will be returning seeing as the flight is only 1.5 hours from Toronto.

For complete tourism information please check out this website: www.visitphilly.com

Disclosure: A VIP pass was provided to me by the Philadelphia Tourism Office however all opinions are my own

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May
14

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)  launched a fun contest to find the top 150 hidden travel gems in our country. IHG sponsored this hotel stay and my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are my own.

For Mother’s Day, I wanted to do something fun with my mom but sadly I didn’t have the time to get to Ottawa. I solved this problem and met my mom half way in the beautiful city of Kingston which is half way for both of us.

kingston - mom and I

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Kingston – Waterfront which has both an indoor and outdoor pool. Sadly there was no sun. Sniff. But this gave us more time to enjoy the room!

kingston - room

We loved the pillows, which indicated if they were firm or soft. What a great idea.

kingston - pillow

Not sure if you know this but IHG® Rewards Club is currently running a unique 150th Hidden Gems Contest!!

IHG®Rewards Club will be celebrating Canada’s 150thBirthday with a Contest to Curate Canada’s Top 150 Hidden Travel Gems. The top 150 hidden gems from coast-to-coast will be selected by IHG through a contest just in time for Canada Day!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Visit their website:
  2. Follow the three easy steps!

PS Love how this contest is so user friendly!

holdiay inn - contest

I took the time to find this this hidden gem called “Martello Alley” in downtown Kingston. Naturally I’ve submitted into this contest. Wish me luck!!

kingston - martello alley

Hope you get a chance to enter the contest too.

Its not a surprise that IHG® Canada is a leader in hospitality, travel and leisure and the go-to destination for Canadians!

For more information:

Website: www.150canada.IGHrewardsclub.com

Instagram and Twitter: @IHGRewardsClub, #IHG150

Disclosure: My hotel stay was complimentary however all opinions are my own

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May
11

Did you know that there’s a Cheese Trail in Oxford County? Most likely you are probably asking yourself: “Where is Oxford County”? Here’s the answer. Its a 90 minute drive from Toronto and a great place to discover Ingersoll, Woodstock, and more.

cheese - map

You are also probably asking yourself as well: “What’s the Cheese Trail?”. Here’s your answer.  This trail offers 23 curated stops featuring local cheese and dairy. (yum) and this event takes place every Saturday throughout the month of May. Naturally I had to go check it out myself.

cheese - sign

My day started off at MountainOak Gouda. (3165 Huron Road, New Hamburg, ON). Please note, that New Hamburg isn’t technically in Oxford County but on the border! I absolutely adore this award winning Gouda and now I have a better appreciation of this Gouda after touring their facilities and visiting their 200 happy cows in their barn!!

cheese - moutnain oak tour

I then stopped into a charming chocolate store called Chocolatea (38 King St. East, Ingersoll, ON) for a sweet treat. I was greeted warmly by the store owner and eagerly consumed a delicious basil/lime chocolate!

cheese - chocolate

For some reason, after I have a chocolate I always feel like a coffee. So I walked over to a neighbouring cafe called  The Olde Bakery Cafe (120 Thames St. South, Ingersoll, ON) for a unique Cajeta Latte. I was informed that 99% of their baked treats are made in-house (yum) and my Cajeta latte is unique to the area as its made with goats milk right from the area!

cheese - latte

I made sure to stop into a restaurant called Louie’s Pizza Pasta & More, (440 Bell St. Ingersoll, ON)  as I read about it on www.curiouscreature.com. I am so happy that I stopped by. This popular restaurant is popular for a reason! Of course I tried their famous Panzerotti which was stuffed with goodness!

cheese - vicky panzerotti

But this month, they are featuring a deep fried cheese curds and I HAD to try that too!! Guess what? It was freaking delicious.

cheese - deep fried curds

The only thing I didn’t try was their famous pizza. But I did that on purpose cause I’m definitely going back!!

cheese - pizza

Ok back to the Cheese Trail I also stopped off at Gunn’s Hill but sadly I didn’t go on on a tour. Again, another good reason to go back.

cheese - gunns hill

I then went back to Toronto (sniff). I wish I had more time as this Cheese Trail offers so many unique activities. For example I wish I could have added 3 more stops:

  1. Cheese Board and Wine Pairing at SixThirtyNine (639 Peel St, Woodstock)
  2. New Seasonal Brew Launch at Upper Thames Brewing Company (225 Bysham Park, Dr #9, Woodstock)
  3. Visiting the Dairy Capital Cheese Shoppe (474 Dundas St, Woodstock)

However like I said before, I will be back. Nothing beats a weekend getaway!

PS I encourage you to click here to see suggested itineraries and maps! Oxford County Tourism has you covered and has thought of everything.

For more information:

Website: Oxford Tourism Cheese Trail

Twitter/Instagram: @TourismOxford

Hashtag; #BigCheeseDays

Phone: 1 519 539 9800 x3355

 

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May
03

The month of May is going to wiz by. Here’s why.

May 4 to 14 – I will be seeing as many films as I can throughout the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. I’ve been been busy studying the guide and putting together a schedule! Can’t wait to help them celebrate their 25th anniversary.

tjff - guide

On May 4th – I will be walking thru the aisles of SIAL looking for new products to share with you. For example – Sugar Cubes that are available in three flavours : cardamom, cinnamon and saffron. Stay tuned for an entire blog post dedicated to this incredible trade show.

sial - flavor sugar

On May 6th – I’m heading to Oxford County to go on their Cheese Trail.  Every Saturday in May, you can head to Canada’s Dairy Capital in Oxford County and enjoy the day celebrating all things cheese. How can I NOT go? LOL

chees days

On May 8th at exactly 9:30 am you will find me and my cheque book at this fabulous Sample Sale. I will happily be shopping for my FALL wardrobe at wholesale prices. Love. Love. Love This Sample Sale.

sample sale

On May 10-11th – I will have the opportunity to drive the the 2018 Equinox on a beautiful drive through some of Niagara Region’s most charming towns. The route promises to include great food, activities and accommodations too.

I’ve been told that the 2018 Equinox is a fresh and modern SUV that’s sized and designed to meet the needs of the compact SUV customer. It will be the perfect balance of design and technology to keep me safe, comfortable and connected.

equinox

May 14th – Mother’s Day! Planning on meeting my mom in Kingston to celebrate this special day with her, and planning on spending the evening with my daughter.

May 16 to 19 – I’m heading to Philadelphia and I’m too excited for words as I’ve never been to this city and the food scene sounds amazing. (a priority – clearly).

philly

May 23rd – more good news to follow!!

My biggest challenge is how to get to Ottawa to see the Tulip Festival. ARGHHH.

Hopefully I will get a chance to rest in June.

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Feb
26

Weekend Recap: Ottawa


I hadn’t been to Ottawa since August so I was really due for a trip and timed it beautifully to coincide with Winterlude.

I took Via Rail to get there, which is always a great way to travel for two reasons: 1. to avoid weather problems 1. to avoid traffic problems. #smart move

As always, I kept busy. Seeing as I didn’t have a car I was limited to how much I could run around but I still managed to discover a few new spots! (Thanks to my friend who drove me around on Saturday)

  1. Maverick’s Donuts: This cute little spot located at 1500 Bank St. offers an array of fun donut options. I scooped up half a dozen to take back to my moms as I was having a few people over on Saturday night and they were a hit.

ottawa - donuts

Maverick’s Donuts is in the same plaza as Farm Boy so it made sense to pop in and do some grocery shopping. Each and every time I visit this store, I’m impressed. Naturally I picked up some fresh curds from St.- Albert Cheese Co-op.

2. Citizen: This new restaurant (207 Gilmour) is brought to you by the same people at Town. I got there early to grab a seat which was a brilliant move as it quickly filled up. The menu offers a lot of vegetarian options and my friend and I had no problem ordering three  veggie dishes. (Charred Broccoli, Roasted Squash and Radicchio Salad, and the Five Leave Salad). Each and every dish was a winner.

ottawa - citizen

 

4  Somehow I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to La Noodle (179 George St) which is Ottawa’s first hand- pulled noodle restaurant. I will be back for more!

ottawa - la noodle

I also managed to visit the Ottawa Farmers’ Market which is always one of my favourite activities to do in Ottawa.

ottawa - farmers market

Naturally the highlight of my trip was a visit to the Rideau Canal to put on my skates and spend $3 on my childhood treat (maple syrup on a stick). I briefly roamed around to see the beautiful ice sculptures and despite the snow that was falling heavily, I was a happy camper.

ottawa - skatingAs always, I’m looking forward to my next trip to Ottawa which will be to visit the Tulip Festival (May 12 to 22). Please click here to learn more about Ottawa Tourism. 

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Feb
13

A little over a week ago, I returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta and thought it might be fun to go over a few highlights of the vacation.

My trip was booked in a heartbeat when I punched in the dates (Jan 25 to Feb 1) and the destination (Toronto to Puerto Vallarta) into www.travelocity.com. The first thing that popped up on the list of options was a flight for $450 CAN with Taxes with Delta Airlines. I grabbed my Visa card and booked it without hesitation. #smart move

As for accommodations: I was pretty lucky and scored an opportunity to stay in an airbnb that my sister had rented. It had a huge terrace, was super clean (and quiet), and in a fabulous location as well.

pv - terrace

I also decided to hang out at The Westin Spa and Resort, and so glad I made that decision. The view was from my 11th floor room was spectacular. I’ve been a fan of Starwood for a long time and glad that I’ve now stayed in yet another one of their hotels.

pv - westin view

I did absolutely nothing on this trip except lie in the sun everyday and read my Kobo. Books that I finished included:
-My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler (chuckled my way thru this book)
-The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richmon (amazing historical fiction story)
-My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitwell (another great memoir)

I highly recommend GoodReads – it is my lifeline when trying to find a good book to read.

Food highlights: This chili pineapple paleta that I had every day!

pv - paletta

The taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours on my last night (stay tuned for a blog post) was certainly a huge highlight of my trip.

I would also highly recommend to visit the Olas Altas Farmers Market on Saturdays which has a huge selection of prepared foods, breads, flowers and more. They even had a vendor that sold cinnamon buns that had atlas 20 people in line (I was one of them!!)

pv - birds of paradise

The weather did not disappoint me throughout the week…which is one of the best reasons to visit Mexico!

Huge thanks to @StunningOttawa (my sister) who encouraged me to join her for a week.

pv - mandy

As always, I’m already looking forward to my next trip. This year I’m fortunate to have three family functions to attend; one in New York, another in London, England and one in Niagara-on-the-Lake. #cantwait.

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Jan
21

For the next few weeks I’m going to write a series of blog posts called: Spa Sundays. These blog posts will be dedicated to a few Spas that I’ve visited over the last few months. I don’t know about you but visiting a Spa is like a mini-holiday for me without the hassling of airports, long flights and huge amounts of  time!

Seeing as I live in Toronto, there are no shortage of fabulous spas that are less than two hours away.

My first Sunday Spa blog post is about a recent visit to Langdon Hall which took place on a beautiful fall day in October.. Usually I visit Langdon Hall in the summer, but I was all to eager to visit them during this gorgeous season.

langdon - building

Even though I missed hanging out at their stunning outdoor pool (as it was closed for the season) it meant that I got to spend more time hanging out in their new spa.

langdon - hot tub

Yes – Langdon Hall has a 35,000 square foot expansion!! This brand new wing located by the lower gardens, is now the home of  a new day spa, a premier event venue and eight luxurious new guest rooms. Of course, I took full advantage of everything – the hot tub, the dry sauna, and the wet sauna too!

langdon - sauna

Lucky me, I got a chance to hang out in their brand new spa for an incredible facial which I badly needed.  The designers at the spa kept everything in mind: there’s plenty of sunlight, spacious rooms and beautiful change rooms.

Naturally I took the time to relax, relax, and do some more relaxing.

langdon - relax

I also took time to enjoy the food at Langdon Hall!  This Radish Salad had fresh ricotta, lemon preserves and hazelnut dressing! It was exactly what I needed. A trip to Langdon Hall must (must) include a nibble from their kitchen.

langdon - lunch

Oh ya – I “needed” to hang out on their porch and sip wine will catching up on a few blog posts too!!

langdon - vicky

Please note that Langdon Hall is about an hour away from Yorkdale Shopping Centre and is an ideal get-away (day trip or overnight!!). Also it’s worthwhile to subscribe to their website for news about promotions and special events.

For more information:

Langdon Hall – www.LangdonHall.ca

1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8
Reservations & General Inquiries : 1-800-268-1898
reservations@langdonhall.ca

Instagram: @LangdonHall

Twitter: @Langdon_Hall

 

 

 

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Nov
09

I grew up in downtown Ottawa surrounded by hotels so I’ve always been interested in the “hotel scene” in Ottawa. The newest hotel to be introduced to Ottawa has opened up in the fabulous Byward Market area and is called the Andaz Hotel.

The check in process can be done online or on site in their intimate lobby area. Immediately after checking in, I sat down at the bar and enjoyed a complimentary beer. Keep reading as there’s more than just one perk at this hotel!
andaz-vicky Then I checked into my stunning room, that featured very stylish clean decor. I felt like I was in NY but I was in Ottawa!! I love how they incorporated “copper” into so many aspects of the room – the alarm clock, lighting, etc.

andaz-roomEven the bathroom taps were copper and gorgeous.

andaz-taps

My room included COMPLIMENTARY snacks. When was the last time you saw that? What’s better is that they truly support local suppliers and that’s something you rarely see in a major hotel. (the booze on this tray wasn’t free but everything else was).andaz-freeEven the soap supplier for the Andaz Hotel is local. Truly they are committed to supporting their local community!

andaz-soap

As much as I needed to sleep after checking in, I forced myself to go to their 16th floor roof top lounge which overlooks the city. At 5 pm on a weekday, the roof top was busy and everyone was enjoying the fall weather.

andaz-rooftopThere was no need to leave the hotel, as the hotel has a dining room called Feast +Revel . Once again the space is just beautiful. (just like the rest of the hotel!!) and features a menu that really appealed to me.

andaz-dining-roomI dug into this well prepared Elk dish which was described as a 72 hour Elk Ranch elk rib, with a mushroom + salsify, birch jus, sorrel, lemon honey mushroom conserve. andaz-dinnerMy sister (who owns Stunning Ottawa) joined me for dinner and she was super happy with this Steak dish. On the menu its’ described as a Enright Cattle striploin, with lobster butter sauce, dressed baby gem + roasted tomato with Yukon Gold chips. Both of us wanted to drown in the lobster butter sauce!! SO SO good!!

andaz-steak

After dinner, I couldn’t resist going back to the 16th floor to enjoy the views of Ottawa at night.

andaz-night

If you are heading to Ottawa, please consider staying at the Andaz Hotel or dining at Feast + Revel. You won’t be disappointed.

Please note, this hotel is BUSY even though it’s new. Book early #justsayin’.

For more information:

ANDAZ OTTAWA BYWARD MARKET
325 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 7G1
Tel: +1 613 321 1234

Disclosure: I was provided a media rate but all my opinions are my own

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Oct
13

Disclosure: This is a sponsored blog post however all opinions are my own!

Now that I’m working full time, I try my best to get out of town during the long weekends. Therefore on the Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to head up north to see the beautiful fall colours. #smartmove.

holiday-inn-lookout

On our drive up north we stopped into Bracebridge and Gravenhurst in search of butter tarts. As you can see from the photo…mission accomplished!!holiday-inn-butter-tart

Staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites® in Huntsville was a great decision so that we could really enjoy the long weekend.  Plus it was the perfect location as it’s just 30 minutes away from the entrance to Algonquin Park.  

But before booking, I became an IHG® Rewards Club member which is the largest guest loyalty program in the hotel industry!! When you like to travel like I do, these loyalty programs come in handy.

Here’s a few things I learned about the Holiday Inn Express® :

For starters, IHG®  (Intercontinental Group – which Holiday Inn Express is part of) has a unique program called: Winning In Sleep and I LOVE TO SLEEP.

IHG’s brands, are doing more for their guests to ensure they are well-rested. For example, here’s five Sleep standards that they have focussed on:

1. The bed

holiday-inn-bed

2. Noise levels

3. Temperature in room

4. Lighting in room

5. Cleanliness of the room

I also learned that the Holiday Inn Express®  has a Snoozapalooza program!
What is Snoozapalooza? On weekends between September 17 – December 18, Holiday Inn Express® hotels across Canada, the United States and Mexico will extend the hours of their Express Start™ breakfast bar from 7 a.m. – noon, and extend check out hours until noon on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests are encouraged to sleep-in. (gotta love it)

It’s pretty evident that the Holiday Inn Express® is committed to ensuring their guests get a good night sleeps.

Take a peek at these pillows!! Notice that the embroidery says: FIRM or SOFT

holiday-inn-pillows

I also enjoyed this booklet in our room with more tips on how to get a good nights sleep.

holiday-inn-booklet

Naturally we needed a good night sleep so we could take advantage of visiting Algonquin Park. I’m so glad that this is how we chose to celebrate Thanksgiving Weekend. It was truly a wonderful getaway with perfect weather, scenery and accommodations.

holiday-inn-fall

For More information

Website: www.holidayinnexpress.com.

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/hiexpress

Facebook www.Facebook.com/holidayinnexpress

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Sep
25

I have a long history with the Sheraton Tel Aviv. It actually goes back to 1988 when I had my last dinner there after spending 4 years attending Tel Aviv University. #truestory

However over the years, I continue to stay at this hotel and to be honest I haven’t ever considered staying at any other hotel when visiting Tel Aviv. Plus I know many friends and family members who stay at the Sheraton Tel Aviv so I know it has a great reputation.

Here’s just a few reasons why I  continue to stay at this hotel.

1. The views: Need I say more?

sheraton-view

2. The Israeli Breakfast: This is a must so make sure it’s included in the price of your hotel. If not, it’s wroth the $$ to pay for it.  The selection is unlike anything you have ever seen in an North American Hotel. You have been warned!!

I couldn’t possibly capture the entire range of what’s offered at this Israeli Buffet however I can tell you that the ENTIRE restaurant is dedicated to it. Trust me – it’s a sizeable restaurant.

sheraton-buffet

3. The pool/beach proximity: I spend most of my time at the pool however if you cross the street – voila – you are the beach!! As you can see, it’s a great place to capture the gorgeous sunset.

sheraton-beach-sunset

4. The service: Everyone was courteous and helpful – the bellboys, the front desk staff and front desk staff too. We had no complaints.

5. The Club Lounge: I’m not a world traveller however I have seen a few club lounges in my life and this one is the best ones I’ve ever seen. There’s food served all day long and an incredible outdoor patio to view the city.

sheraton-more-view

For more information:

Website: www.sheratontelaviv.com

Twitter: @SheratonTelAiv

 

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