Travel


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

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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Sep
19

Tel Aviv Suggestions!!


The other day I received the following message via facebook.

Hi Vicky- sounds like you are having a great trip… My parents are in Jerusalem now and are going to tel Aviv tomorrow to the Sheraton. Do u have any suggestions for them? where they should go… Different ideas than the regular .. Thx

Here’s a list of attractions that I’d visited over the last few days that I suggested to my Facebook friend:

1. Tel Aviv Museum of Art: I hadn’t been to this museum in over 3 decades and I’m so happy that I went. I must admit that one of the reasons I went was because a foodie friend of mine went a few months ago and his photos on facebook really impressed me. The building itself is stunning not to mention the exhibits themselves. It’s also a great way to escape the sunshine between 12 and 2 pm!!

tel-aviv-museum

tel-aviv-museum-2

2. Sarona Market: Even though I was in Tel Aviv in April 2015 – this market opened just after I left.

tel-aviv-sarona

This market brings the “best” of the country to one place. The variety of food in this market was perfect – restaurants, beer, wine, candy, fresh fruit, halva, bakeries, paletas, etc. My tummy was in heaven. I must add that I was lucky enough to have a “tour of Sarona Market” with a well respected Israeli Food Writer. Highlights of my tour included: Captain Curry and Forela Fish Bar.

Here’s a photo of my delicious Smoked Trout Shawarma from Forela Fish Bar!

tel-avivi-sandwich

Seriously, how pretty are these olives?

tel-aviv-olives

I couldn’t bring back the olives with me on the plane, but I certainly did buy  Rusty’s Almond Butter (with Halva) which is made here in Israel! #supportlocal

tel-aviv-almond-butter

3. Carmel Market: This market is a true Israeli Experience. Its crowded, busy and so much fun! I visit this market every time I’m in Tel Aviv. It’s a must.

4. The Old Tel Aviv Port:  A great area to stroll around as it’s on the water and this adds to the atmosphere.  There’s plenty of restaurants, retail stores, cafes and ice cream to keep Israelis and tourists very happy!!

5. Delicious IsraelThey offer unique food tours and food experiences. I was able to participate on a food tour of Levinsky Market and it was certainly a highlight of my trip. Read more about my tour by clicking here.

6. Nahalat Binyamin: I love this outdoor arts & crafts fair that is held every Tuesday and Friday. I always find gifts here and happy to support Israeli artisans. Not to mention it’s a fun scene.

Sadly I only took a photo of this piece of jewellery and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy one. #nexttime.

tel-aviv-nahalat

Attractions I didn’t have time to visit:

Old Jaffa Port: Such a gorgeous place to walk around but I just didn’t have time.

A Cocktail Bar; Apparently Tel Aviv has some pretty swanky cocktail bars (click on the link – pretty please)  and after googling “Cocktail Bars in Tel Aviv” – it’s evident that I need to go on a “cocktail crawl” on my next visit.

Jewish Diaspora Museum: I haven’t been in decades but it was always one of my favourite museums.

Tel Aviv is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer. I was fortunate enough to stay in Tel Aviv for 7 full days and can’t wait to visit next year!!

For more information about Israel – please click here.

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Sep
13

Today I was on chartered bus with over 40 others who were from Australia, London, Glasgow, Ottawa, California. We are all in Israel to attend a wedding that is taking place this week. #luckyus

The tour was organized by my fabulous relative (the mother of the bride) and here’s a recap of our day:

730 am – We were picked up the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. As we drove up north, the tour guide provided us with some interesting facts about Israel i.e there’s more museums in Israel per capita than anywhere else.

10:00 am – Arrived at the Atlit Detention Centre. where we had a guided tour of this national site which serves as an educational center for teaching the heritage of clandestine immigration. As you know I’ve been to Israel several times before but had never heard of this museum. What a great way to start the day.

tour-boat

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Arrived at Tishbi Winery for a wine and chocolate tasting. My cousin really knows how to impress her guests!!

tour-winechocolate

See this sign? Do you think I turned right or left? LOL

tour-sign

1:00 – 2:30 pm – We were treated to a delicious lunch at Tishbi Winery. So tasty. So fresh. Of course lunch involved more wine.

tour-pizza

2:30 – 2:45 pm – We went on a very quick tour thru Zichron Yaakov which is just gorgeous. (ps this was my first time in Zichron Yaakov)

5 pm – We arrived back at the Sheraton Tel Aviv and went directly to the 18th floor to enjoy these views. Not a bad way to end the day.

tour-view

Huge thank you to my amazing cousin for organizing such a special tour. As you can tell I’m having a fabulous trip.

For more information about Israel, please click here

 

 

 

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Sep
12

I’ve been on food tours in Barcelona, Jerusalem and New York and I truly believe it’s a great way to discover a city.

Therefore I was positively thrilled that I was able to go on a food tour of Levinsky Market with Delicious Israel.

Even though I lived in Tel Aviv for 4 years and have visited Tel Avis several times in the last 7 years, this particular neighbourhood was never on my radar.

This has now changed thanks to Delicious Israel who introduced it to me the other day.

tour-levinsky

The tour was friendly and fun and consisted of a few tourists from the UK, France and the U.S. Our tour guide was a native English speaker and was super knowledgeable and clearly passionate about food.

tour-table

Not to mention that on this tour I learned a few things. For example, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen cinnamon that looked like this before.

tour-cinamon

You see this green fruit next to the apple? Notice how its’ bigger than the apple? It’s an orange. ..not an over sized lime! How cool is that?

tour-orange

Plus I ate the most delicious hummus that was WARM. Once again, this was something new for me. I really did learn quite a bit on this tour.

tour-hummus

The tour was certainly comprehensive and we were introduced to a variety of interesting spots in the Levinsky Market i.e a spice shop, bourekas, a hummus restaurant, a cool restaurant that served cured meats and craft beers, a famous bakery and more!! No one left hungry.

At the end of the tour we were given cute business cards. I swear I’m going to try my best to get thru this list by Sept 22nd. Wish me luck.

tour-business-card

This company does more than just tours – in fact I really wanted to participate  in on their “cook and shuk” tours but the timing didn’t work out. I guess this means I will have to book this for my next trip!!

Please take a few minutes and click on their website. Not to mention that I highly suggest you book a tour on your next visit to Israel. You won’t regret it.

For more information:

Website: www.DeliciousIsrael.com

Instagram/Twitter: @DeliciousIsrael

Email: info@deliciousisrael.com

Telephone Number from ABROAD: +972 525 699 499

Telephone Number in ISRAEL: 0525 699 499

Disclosure: This tour was complimentary however all opinions are my own.

 

 

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Sep
08

It wasn’t easy to choose a hotel in New York. I couldn’t decide to go the AirBnb route or do a mystery deal on Hotwire or just look for a good deal.

I ended up searching on Booking.Com. My criteria was:

-price and location (in that order).

I originally booked the Courtyard By Marriott New York Manhattan/Central Park, but was graciously upgraded to stay at the Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park which is directly above the Courtyard Marriott (how convenient).

The price was right and the location was prime! Not mention that we could always find the hotel when we got off the subway as it’s the tallest building around.

nyc-tall

Here’s what we loved about our stay:

1. It was convenient to get to our room i.e. we didnt have to walk a mile down the corridor to get to our room. (huge pet peeve of mine).

2. The view was spectacular. It was so spectacular that we kept the curtains open all the time.

nyc-view

3. The hot buffet breakfast was a definite perk.

nyc-hot-buffet

4. Our spacious room had a full kitchen.

nyc-full-kitchen

When I pulled out one of the drawers in the kitchen I discovered that it wasn’t a drawer but it was a dishwasher. As you can see, we even used it.

nyc-dishwasher

5.. The lounge had these cozy spots so I could watch the U.S Open and sip on my happy hour cocktail.

nyc-cozy-booth

I adore Happy Hour menus.

nyc-happy-hour

6. The location was just perfect. We were exactly where we wanted to be..walking distance to Times Square, Central Park and 5th Avenue. PERFECT.

7.  I loved the decor of our room and the fact that it was a corner suite was an added bonus.nyc-furniture

I truly had a wonderful experience at the Residence Inn Marriott Manhattan/Central Park and would stay there in the future. As always, I’m looking forward to my next trip to NYC.

For more information:

Website: Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park

Address: 1717 Broadway Ave, NY, NY

Phone: 1 212-324-3774

Disclosure: The upgrade was complimentary however all opinions are my own.

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