Travel


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

Sep
05

I wanted to take advantage of the long weekend so I booked a quick trip to New York City. I was originally going to drive and then went on Travelocity and decided to fly. It felt like a smart move till our flight got delayed for a few hours. Ouch.

Sadly this meant that our lovely afternoon on the Go NY Tours –  Hop On and Off Double Decker  Bus Tour was reduced to two hours. However we were so glad we went regardless. We had a great overview of the city while enjoying the double decker bus. I can’t imagine not doing these tours. I really do think they offer tremendous value.

nyc - tour

For dinner, it was recommended that we go to a Kosher Certified and Vegan restaurant called By Chloe.  (185 Bleeker St).  I was SO glad we went. The restaurant was hopping but scored a cute table outside to enjoy this super tasty kale salad.

nyc - kale salad

After dinner, I was able to nip into Murrays Cheese  (284 Bleeker St) where I quickly bought three items: Vermont Butter (which I havent found for years), some unique crackers and this beer that had me buzzed in no time at all. (can you say, 13% alcohol). Sadly no time to even look at the cheese counter. ARGHHH.

nyc - beer

Rushed back to the Residence Inn NY Manhattan/Central Park for a wonderful nights sleep in our beautiful corner suite that had an incredible view! (Blog post to foll0w).

nyc - corner room

On Saturday, my day included two critical elements of any visit to NYC – Shopping and Eating. (not in that order).

I started my day off at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. (90 Kent St) What a great decision. It was my 3rd time visiting this fabulous outdoor food market since it started in 2011 and it keeps getting better and better. What I like best is the opportunity to see so many creative food vendors.

nyc - smorgasburg 1

I saw a few of my favourite vendors from my previous visits: Bon Chovie (which I get on each and every visit) and Kelvin Slushie plus the Ramen Burger vendor.

nyc - smorgasburg 2

 

I was in foodie heaven.

Late afternoon on Saturday included a walk thru Central Park where we stumbled upon a huge gathering of people and then figured it out: POKEMON GO!!

nyc - pokemon

We also did some shopping on 5th Avenue and did some damage at the insanely huge UNIQLO (89,000 sqf).  Pretty grateful that there were no line ups at the cashier but as you can see from this photo. ..they are prepared.

nyc - unqlo

Can’t wait for UNIQLO to open in Yorkdale Shopping Centre sometime in the fall. Seriously.

On Sunday morning, I scrambled to the US Open. I was only there from 1030 to 1230 but it was worth it. I’ve been watching the US Open for decades on TV and it was great to experience being there even though I wasn’t there to watch a match.

nyc - us open

Just like that – it was time to head to Newark to catch our flight. I wish we had time to visit MOMA or the Whitney Museum or Washington Square or Chelsea Market but it just means I will have to go back, right?

Hope you had a wonderful weekend too.

For more information:

Go NY Tours Websitehttps://www.gonytours.nyc/double-decker-tours

Address: 2 E 42nd St, New York, NY, Phone: 1 212-664-0300

Website:  Residence Inn NY Manhattan/Central Park

Address: 1717 Broadway, New York, NY Phone: +1 212-324-3774

 

 

 

 

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Aug
16

This is what happens when you are a foodie and you have a few hours in Montreal to kill before hopping on a plane. You end up at Jean-Talon Market. Trust me, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend time.

Naturally I bought so many goodies that I had to buy a bag!

JTM - bag

In case you are wondering “What did I buy? ” a better question might be “what didn’t I buy”.

Here’s a list of what was in the above bag:

1. Bourgot: I know they are ugly but they are my favourite item to buy at Jean-Talon Market. I discovered that they are also called Whelks and are very abundant in the St. Lawrence River and Estuary.

These Whelks are ready-to-eat as they are sold in brine, which gives them a long shelf life as well as a tender and flavourful taste. Sadly I had to throw the brine away at the airport but they still made it through security.

JTM - bourgot

2. Cult Yogurt – I bought two but one was confiscated at security. Go figure. I discovered this yogurt back in May and hope to see it on the shelves in Toronto one day soon. It’s creamy creamy creamy.

JTM - cult

3. Olives stuffed with Orange Peel. Love this combo.

JTM - olives

4. Nuts: One bag is Lemon/Pepper and the other back is smoked to perfection.

JTM - nuts

5. Cretons with Dates and Herbs: Not something you see in Toronto which is code for: “I had to buy it”.

JTM - creton6. Candied Orange: I have no idea what I’m going to do with this but I’m sure it will be a lovely garnish for something!

JTM - orange1

7. Salt with Herbs: I have a feeling I will be sprinkling this product on my eggs, in dressings, on fish etc. For $3.99 I figured it was a good buy!

JTM - salt

As always, I adore this market for so many reasons. Hope you get a chance to visit Montreal in the near future and visit this market too!

For more information:

Website: Jean-Talon Market

Address:  7070 Avenue Henri Julien, Montréal, QC H2S 3S3

Happy Shopping!

 

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Aug
14

This past weekend I had the opportunity to hang out in beautiful Mont-Tremblant. It was the perfect escape seeing as Toronto was going to be hot and humid. Sorry my Toronto friends, but I was wearing long sleeves and pants in Mont Tremblant!!

vicky - mt tremblant

But enough about the weather, lets talk about the food.

Hee. Hee.

The weekend started off with a trip to a grocery store called S. Bourassa where I picked up a cheese I never had before (Le Samson D’Ici) and some other favourites as well!! #score

bourassa - food

Then we went Ben-Venue for poutine and a pogo. I resisted eating the poutine but I couldn’t resist devouring the entire pogo.

pogo

Somehow I had the willpower not to indulge in this fabulous poutine.

poutine - mt tremblant

Here’s two restaurants that I would highly recommend.

1. L’Escalope 597 Rue de Saint Jovite, Mont-Tremblant, QC, Phone:  (819) 425-3354

This restaurant had a prix fixe menu for $26 which included an impressive salad bar, a main course, dessert and coffee. Of course, I was so full from the salad bar that I wrapped up 90 percent of my main course to take home for lunch the next day.

dinner - mt tremblant

2. Creperie Catherine,  977 Rue Labelle, Mont-Tremblant, QC, Phone:(819) 681-4888

Oh my. What a treat. I ordered the french onion soup which was exactly what I wanted. It was so good that it deserved its own photo on my blog.

french onion soup

The smoked salmon crepe was also outstanding – full of smoked salmon and stuffed with gooey cheese. Was kicking myself that I’m on a no carb diet and could only have a bite!!

crepe

I had a fantastic weekend in Mont-Tremblant despite the clouds. The excellent food and the great company made up up for it!!

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Jul
03

Long weekends are meant as an opportunity for a quick getaway (in my humble opinion. Seeing as I didn’t visit Niagara on- the-Lake last year, I decided that it would be an ideal destination.

We broke up the trip by stopping to pick our own cherries at Vanderburgh Farms (5511 Greenland, Beamsville, ON).It was on my bucket list and now I can cross it off! I have to say, the cherries were plentiful and delicious too. NOTE: the season is something like 3 weeks so don’t go in August!!

niagara - cherries

We headed into Niagara-on- the- Lake and got there just in time for the Canada Day parade…which is small. I mean really small. It consists of a marching band, a big cake and politicians. That’t it. But we got our flags and we were a happy bunch.

niagara - family

Then we visiting friends who made the most incredible strawberry ice-cream with a balsamic glaze. The best part of this ice cream was that it was made with a sugar alternative (that I must get my hands on).

niagara - ice cream

On Saturday morning, we headed right to Balzac’s and then roamed around the park to soak in the beautiful scenery.

niagara  - balzacs

Of course, I stumbled upon the Exchange Brewery which is a new brewery and tasting room. I couldn’t resist and plunked myself down at the bar for a quick tasting.

niagara - beer

On our way out of Niagara -on -the 0Lake, we stopped at Stratus Vineyards. Sadly I never have time for a tasting but snapped a few photos of their gorgeous space. One day I will make it a point to do more wine tastings in Niagara on the Lake. One day!!

niagara - stratus

Also stopped at The Pie Plate. Snapped up a savoury tart to take home but wish we would have had time to eat lunch on the premise. Again – One Day!!

niagara - pie plate

There’s no shortage of things to do in Niagara- on -the -Lake. Usually I have time to drop into the Pillar and Post for a spa treatment and to enjoy their outdoor pool (the only hotel that has an outdoor pool in Niagara-on the -Lake #justsayin’) – but there was just not enough time!!

I guess this means that I should visit again and stay for two nights!! One day it will sink in, that going there for one night is nice but one more night would do the trick.

Hope you had a wonderful long weekend too!!

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May
26

Long Weekend: Montreal – Part 2

I hadn’t been to Montreal since 2014 so I was due for a visit. When it comes to food, this city is right up there with New York, Vegas and Chicago. (in my humble opinion)

Day 1:

How could we not stop at the epic Gibeau Orange Julep (7700 Boulevard Décarie) . It was the perfect way to say “Hello Montreal. We have arrived!”

montreal -orange

Then we continued to Jean-Talon Market (7070 Avenue Henri Julien). I absolutely adore this market. It’s one of my favourites for so many reasons. I bought a new yogurt I had never seen, (which I hope we will see in Toronto one day) a cheese I had never tasted (Tahlia) goat cheese curds and a gorgeous mustard with black sesame seeds.

montreal - what i bought
Sadly I found out that the butter I use to buy is no longer available. I use to buy this butter on every visit and was so sad to hear that they went out of business. Sniff.

Then we went to the Montreal Biodome (4777 Avenue Pierre-Coubertin) to see something other than food!! We encountered an oasis of beautiful birds, penguins and more. So glad we included this in our itinerary. This special space is accurately described as an indoor zoo, an aquarium and a botanical garden wrapped into one space!

montreal - penguin

Naturally a trip to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without visiting Au Pied Du Cochon. (536 Avenue Duluth E). We couldn’t get reservations but showed up at 5 pm and scored a table on their outdoor patio.

montreal - au piedI already know what I’m ordering next time (I’m a planner – can you tell?) – this incredible looking hot chicken sandwich.

montreal - au pied next time

Day 2:

Woke up and headed directly to Patisserie Au Kouign Amann (322 Avenue du Mont-Royal E) for their incredible Kougin Amann which I was introduced to in 2012. (see blog post here). I’m almost grateful that I’ve never seen this pastry in Toronto!

montreal - kougan

Again, a trip to Montreal would not be complete without a trip to Schwartz’s Deli (3895 Boul St-Laurent).  The smoked meat sandwich I inhaled is the real deal.

montreal - shwartz

After lunch, we walked thru Old Montreal and the Port. My new Keen shoes were a pleasure to wear as we walked and walked and walked.

montreal - touring
Seriously, these Keen shoes saved me. By the way, if you haven’t seen this colour before it’s because this colour is one of their newest colours. #loveit

montreal - keens

On both days we were wiped and never made it out of the hotel after 8 pm. Just. Too. Tired.

Day 3:

Went for breakfast with a childhood friend at Maison Christian Faure(355 Place Royale).  This almond croissant is something else and the best part is that they are coming to Toronto in September.

montreal - maison

Last stop before heading on to the highway was La Diperie. (68 Avenue De Pins E) OH MY. OH MY. OH MY. This soft serve ice cream shop has 30 different dips (turtle, cookie dough, milk banana, baileys, espresso, cheese cake etc) and a variety of toppings (pretzels, pistachios, almonds, coconut etc).
I decided to order Becky’s Fave from their menu – which was soft serve vanilla ice cream dipped into ginger dark chocolate and topped with pistachios.

montreal - la dipperie
As for our hotel: We stayed at the beautiful Loft Hotel which was located at 338 Terrace St. Denis. Our room was just stunning and complete with a FULL kitchen i.e. dishwasher, pots and pans, etc etc. I couldn’t have been happier with the space and the location. Would stay there again in a heart beat.

montreal - hotelHope you get a chance to visit Montreal one day soon!

Please click here to find out more about Montreal attractions, festivals, events and more.

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May
24

I’ve tried hard over the years, to make it to the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. I decided to take Friday and Tuesday off of work and visit Ottawa AND Montreal. This particular blog post will be dedicated to the Ottawa segment of the trip.

As always, the first thing I did upon arriving in Ottawa was to stop at Golden Palace (2195 Carling Ave) for an egg roll (or two). Please google “best egg rolls in the world”,….guess what appears?

ottawa - eggroll

It also dawned on me that I hadn’t been to Perth for a while so on Saturday we headed to this charming city to visit their farmer’s market.

ottawa - perth river

Naturally I wanted to buy something and this product intrigued me. I’m thinking of putting it on a piece of salmon and then baking it. What do you think?

perth -jelly

I didnt’ buy this Loon Kombucha but I should have! #next time

perth - kombucha

After the farmers market we drove back to Ottawa and went directly to Dow’s Lake to visit the tulips. Please forgive me but I’m going to bore you with a few photos of some beautiful tulips.

ottawa - tulip pink

See what I mean? One flower is more stunning than the next one!

ottawa - tulips red

I can’t decide which photo I like best.

ottawa - tulips lots

I had a little bit of energy left to drop by Seed to Sausage (729 Gladstone) to pick up a bottle of this root beer syrup by Michael’s Dolce. I had been seeing this product on Instagram and was waiting to return to Ottawa to pick up a bottle, so I was thrilled that I have my hands on it!!

ottawa - rootbeer After our quick trip to Ottawa, we proceeded to Montreal.

Stay tuned for Long Weekend: Montreal – Part 2.

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Apr
03

I like celebrating so I decided to celebrate my birthday the entire week.

Here’s how I celebrated:

Saturday: I went to Bruce Mill’s for one of my all time favourite activities that I have been attending since I was a child. Best pancake experience ever!

birthday - bruce

Sunday: I can’t remember. (this is what happens when you are about to turn 51)

Monday: Had some gal pals over for sushi. I used this 4 ft wooden serving board that I recently purchased at Farmhouse Artisan Cheese(345 Kerr St. Oakville). What a great purchase and what a fun night!

birthday - gals

Tuesday: Went out for dinner to a newly opened restaurant/lounge called Entice (1036 Queen St W). The decor was inviting, the food was flavourful and beautifully plated. I liked the whole vibe of this restaurant – especially the bar. I’ve never seen anything like it before and it really made an impression on me.

birthday - entice

Take a peek at this video which will give you an idea about the cool bar top.

Wednesday: Went to the Giant Tiger #SharetheSecret event and truly had a blast. This event thought of everything. Not to mention, I was able to go home with the cutest shoes.

birthday - giant

Thursday: Birthday drinks at Bar RavalMy friend knows me well!

Friday: Weekend getaway to Niagara Falls! When I checked into my gorgeous room at the Sheraton on the Falls and looked at the view, I said to myself “why have I not done this before”. Believe it or not, I’ve never stayed overnight in Niagara Falls before, so this was a real treat. Plus the inner child in me, had a blast in their massive arcade.

birthday - view

I did some research on line before heading to Niagara Falls and Taps on Queen Brewhouse and Grill appealed to me. (4680 Queen St, Niagara Falls) Any menu that has deep fried pickles and vegetable curry poutine has my attention. Not to mention they serve beer and I’m a huge fan of that refreshment. I also liked this restaurant as they had vegan options and vegetarian options as well.

birthday - taps

Saturday: April 2nd is my official birthday and naturally my celebrations included a wonderful massage at the Chistienne Fallsview Spa in the hotel, a beautiful cheese plate at the Niagara Brewing Co. and dinner at IHOP. What a great combo of activities, don’t you think? By the way, my dinner at IHOP was really special for me as it brought back so many childhood memories. I didn’t hold back and ordered from the kids menu!

birthday - saturday

My birthday week is now behind me. Now I can relax. LOL

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Mar
13

I’ve just returned from a trip to Ottawa. I hadn’t been there for a little over 4 months so I was a bit out touch with the foods scene, but not for long as I posted on facebook: “Where should I eat?” and as always my foodie friends in Ottawa were happy to help.
Here’s a recap of what I discovered;

Datsun  (380 Elgin St) – This is a new trendy restaurant on Elgin St and is owned by the same owners as El Camino. It’s one busy restaurant …even at 10 pm. We ordered two dishes and both were incredibly flavourful. Next time, I need to go with a larger group so I can try more dishes.

We started off with this most satisfying bowl of ramen.

ottawa - datsun

Then we moved on and had this Braised Beef Panang Curry with Roasted Peanuts and Lime Leaf dish.. Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.

ottawa - datsun2

2. Aroma Espresso bar – This a popular coffee chain in Toronto, New York and Israel now has a location in Ottawa. It’s located at Landsdowne Park (300 Marche Way – #109) which has been developed into quite a bustling part of town. What did I order? I tried the new cold pressed ginger and tumeric drink. This beverage (which is available hot or cold) hit the spot and was a great alternative to (another) cup of coffee.

ottawa - aroma
3. Urban  Juice Press  (340 Parkdale Unit B Entrance on, Spencer) I had just purchased beer at Beyond the Pale and as we were turning the corner saw a sign and parked the car again. Loved the space and the organic juice that we purchased. These cold pressed juices can be the perfect pick me up in the middle of the day!

ottawa - urban

4. Origin Trade Inc. (111 York St) – This new coffee/lounge blew me away. Someone really put some thought into decorating the space. Plus my coffee can best be described as “smooth” with no bitterness whatsoever.

origin grid

Other discoveries:

This local kombucha that is made in Smith Falls. (purchased at Herb and Spice on Bank St)

ottawa - kombucha
2. This local kimchi that I purchased at the Ottawa Farmers Market.

ottawa - kimchi

But besides eating my way thru Ottawa, the real reason I went to Ottawa was to celebrate my friends 50th birthday and to hang out with my mom. I’m so lucky to have both of these women in my lives.

ottawa - mom:suziAs always, I love visiting Ottawa. Hoping to return in May for the Tulip Festival and to discover more great food.

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Feb
16

I went on my first all inclusive vacation back in December and had such a great time at El Dorado Maroma that I decided to return in February to Azul FivesBoth are managed by Karisma Hotels and I must admit they do a stellar job at managing these All Inclusive Gourmet vacations.

Here’s what you need to know about Azul Fives!!

480 Rooms

9 Restaurants

5 Pools

6 Bars

1 Spa

But here’s some details….

a) My room was STUNNING and spotless too. I  was in building #18 which just opened in Nov 2015. It was about a 10 minute walk to the beach but was worth the walk. (golf carts were available too). Kudos to the design team!

azul - room

b) The beach had the right sand, the right amount of rocks, and was actually warm! Bonus – you didn’t have to wake up at 7 am to grab a chair.

azul - beach

c) The food: As you know I’m pretty fussy about my food and once again Gourmet and All Inclusive DOES exist. Restaurants that you could select from included: Thai, Sushi, Mediterranean, French, Italian and more. There was even a natural juice bar! Naturally I went to all of them.

azul - beets1

d) The grounds were immaculate and included a grass tennis court, plenty of hammocks, a pool in front of each building, and even monkeys!

azul - building

e) The Service: Everyone was cheerful and polite. Can’t complain.

One important thing to note is the Azul Fives is a family resort with plenty of supervised activities for the kids. Plus they are well equipped with high chairs/booster seats, toys and more!

Actually there is one last thing I learned: At Azul Fives you can actually own a unit. As an owner, you get all the benefits of the hotel. How cool is that?  There’s also time share options too.

Needless to say, my mom and I had a special vacation and can’t say enough about our trip to Azul Fives.

azul - vicky and mom

Bye Bye Karisma Hotels. However I will be back!!

Website: www.karismahotels.com

Twitter: @Azul_Fives

 

 

 

 

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Dec
28

A Week Of Bliss…


My last blog post was called “My Bags Are Packed and I’m Ready to Go”. This blog post is called “A Week of Bliss” which means I had a SPECTACULAR vacation.

Here’s what I would like to share about Karisma Resorts and specifically El Dorado Maroma in  Mayan Riviera.

THE PROPERTY:

The words lush, manicured, and immaculate all come to my mind. The best thing about this property was the fact that there’s only 90 rooms so that means everything is close by. There is no such thing as a 10 minute walk to get to the pool or a restaurant or the lobby. It’s all just steps away from your room. Yes – I’m a sloth and I’m proud of it!!

mexico - property

THE ROOM:

The room was SPACIOUS, SPOTLESS and CONTEMPORARY. No outdated “Spanish” themed rooms! YAY.

mexico - room

THE FOOD:

I seriously never thought the word gourmet and all inclusive could be said in the same breath. Well, it’s possible. There were 6 restaurants to choose from and all of them were excellent. Presentation, quality of ingredients and freshness were evident in every dish. Plus each restaurant was tastefully decorated (modern and contemporary).

mexico - food

BOOZE:

Grey Goose Vodka was available EVERY DAY….ALL DAY. Do I need to say more? LOL. There was even a tequila tasting one afternoon by the pool. However I had this drink everyday (ok maybe twice a day). It’s called: MANGO JALAPENO, which included the following ingredients: Tequila anejo, lime, sugar, orange liquor, mango and jalapeno. OMG what a combo.

mexico - drink

SERVICE:

I kept joking that there were more staff than guests! Every day our “Personal Concierge” found us by the pool to ensure we were satisfied guests and to answer any questions. Not to mention, the lobby has 4 desks where 4 agents SIT DOWN and check you in. (with a cool towel and a glass of bubbly as well). I was super impressed when a staff person called us the night before we were leaving to ask us if we wanted a wake up call and what time we needed assistance with our bags. They truly do anticipate your needs!!

CONCLUSION:

I would return to this property in a heart beat. However please note: There’s a solid line up of entertainment at at night but the week we were there it wasn’t well attended. Not sure if guests left the property (to visit Playa De Carmen) or just preferred to have dinner and relax in their rooms.

In the event you want to see some great photos, please head over to Instagram  and plug in the hashtag #KarismaExperience or #KarismaResorts

For more information:

Website: www.karismaresorts.com

Instagram: @karismaresorts @eldoradoresorts

Oh ya…I discovered one of my Instagram followers is a travel agent and has visited numerous Karisma Properties (and other properties in Mexico as well). Check out her photos as well: @lorirachelgold.

Hope you had a wonderful vacation as well. Already looking forward to my next vacation which will be either a cruise or another visit to El Dorado. Time will tell!!

 

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