Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square illuminated and decorated for the holidays.
The holidays are one of my favourite times of the year. Between the decorations, parties, food and drink indulgences, and cheerful tunes playing everywhere I turn, I love the feelings that the holidays bring. It was just last year that I was reconnecting with the holidays after being abroad for 3 years. But now with this years’ holiday season already upon us, I’m more excited than ever to celebrate them.
I’ve jumped right into the swing of things this time around. So much so, I set out to find and put together a video of the top 5 things to do in Toronto for the holidays. It’s no easy feat to choose just 5. Everyone has their specific traditions and interests but after consulting with a number of my fellow Torontonians, and including a bit of my own personal biased opinions (I’ll be honest!), I feel these top 5 are guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit here in the city.
So which activities made the list? Check them out below! Read more
Whenever I talk about my travel experiences one of the many responses I always get is, “wow that sounds amazing, if only I had enough money to do the same”. One of the misconceptions of travel is that it’s expensive. Sure, there are the unavoidable costs of transportation (air travel being the most costly), accommodation, and food. But travel doesn’t have to cost as much you may think. A lot depends on your travel style, but being prepared and having an adventurous spirit will allow you to get out and explore the world for less than you think. Below are some tips that I use that will definitely help you save money while traveling, and therefore, allow you to see more and be on the road a little bit longer. Read more
The colourful homes on Burano, Italy.
This year marks the second year the Capture the Colour Photo Contest is running and I’m excited to be participating this time! Bloggers have been challenged to showcase five travel photos that best represent the colours of these five categories: red, blue, green, yellow, and white. Of course these categories can be interpreted in any way or form and some of the photos coming in are really creative.
The hardest part of this challenge was picking just one photo for each category. I poured over thousands of images spanning over 7 years of travel. The result was a trip down memory lane as each photo represents more than just a colour but a personal travel story. Read more
The main Gooderham & Worts sign in Toronto’s Distillery District.
I love spending time in Toronto’s Distillery District. Every time I visit the area I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. It’s one of the city’s most historic areas and the rough cobblestones and Victorian buildings are a stark contrast to Toronto’s Financial District core. The district was at one point the largest distillery in the world and has since become a vibrant cultural and entertainment area filled with one-of-a-kind shops, gallery and performance spaces, cafes, and restaurants. In the wintertime, it transforms into an outdoor Christmas market modeled after the Christmas markets made famous in Germany.
The Distillery District is the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian Industrial architecture in North America. It’s one of the most sought after shooting locations in the city with Hollywood blockbusters such as Cinderella Man and Chicago using it as their backdrops.
The Distillery District is open to pedestrian traffic only and makes for a great place to explore at a leisurely pace. But if you want a little action and adventure to go along with your latte and fine art, pop into Segway Ontario where you get a tour of the district while scooting around on a Segway. Read more
The Paria Crew take over the side of a building during the Mural Festival in Montreal.
Ever since my tour of New York City’s street art last fall, I’ve been looking at this art form in a completely new way. First off, I’m noticing it more, I didn’t realize how much of it actually exists. Secondly, I’m taking the time now to look at the pieces and the creativity that goes into making them instead of just walking past thinking, “oh that’s cool” as I once used to do.
Of all the cities in Canada, Montreal has the strongest street art scene. You don’t have to venture too far out your front door before you’re face to face with one of its forms (stencil, mural, wheat paste, and stickers). The city fully recognizes and encourages what street art can do for a neighbourhood or community. Just this past spring, the first annual Mural Festival was launched where close to 20 new murals were created by local and international artists over a period of 4 days transforming a 2km stretch of Rue St. Laurent into an outdoor gallery.
I was so excited to discover my trip to the city coincided with this festival. On the Friday when we arrived, we meandered our way along Rue St. Laurent (aka The Main) watching as the artists were slowly transforming huge sides of buildings. Each piece was different from the next and drew crowds of interested onlookers watching as the scenes were taking shape. On the Sunday before we left, we made our way back and were amazed at the finished products. I personally felt like my inner creativity was being awoken just viewing the different pieces and I loved the bright colours and vibrancy it brought to the area. Read more
A panoramic shot of Montreal from atop Mont Royal.
Montreal has always been one of those cities that I’ve wanted to visit but just never made it happen. “What, you’ve never been to Montreal?!”, people would say to me totally a gasp. “It’s an amazing city, I love it, you have to go!”, they’d follow it up with. Yes, I’ll admit it; I’m one of those Canadians who has seen more of the world than my own country. So since returning to Canadian soil, I’ve made a promise to start exploring and discovering what Canada has to offer for travelers.
It’s funny how some of my travels come about because I find a great deal on transportation (case in point, my trip to New York City last September). Back in the spring, Via Rail was having a wicked sale; $25 one-way from Toronto. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that and after a quick discussion with Tristan, a weekend trip to Montreal was finally in the works. Read more
Elaine with her two Princesses. Photo credit: Elaine Schoch
I first met Elaine back in June when we both attended the Travel Blog Exchange conference (TBEX for short) in Toronto, a global gathering of travel bloggers and travel brands to talk shop, learn some new tools of the trade, and network and meet individuals we may have only had online connections with up till now. We were both at one of the kick off parties and instantly hit it off. As a wine blogger she had me at hello and over the course of the weekend we would bounce ideas off each other at the various workshops and let loose at the multitude of parties together.
I was inspired by her travel stories with her family (yay it’s possible once you have kids!), the decision and process to adopt her second princess (aka daughter) from Russia, some of her favourite wine-travel destinations and her overall down-to-earth, super chill demeanor. As someone who looks forward to the day when I have children of my own running around (but that’s still a while a way so don’t hold your breath), it was great to see someone who I could take some cues from and learn how to balance it all. No doubt the love for wine comes in handy every once in a while too.
I asked Elaine if she would be willing to be part of my Inspiring Travel Interview series and I was so excited when she happily agreed. Read more
About a 5km drive from the town centre of Mattawa, Ontario, and tucked between the lush forest landscape and the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers is Moosehead Estate and Retreat, a family run bed and breakfast steeped in history and oozing with vintage charm.
Originally built in the early 1900s by Noah and Henry Timmins (of which Timmins, Ontario gets its name), Moosehead has had a long and interesting history with some prestigious names attached to its deed. At the time, the Timmins brothers wanted a summer cottage where they could entertain family and friends, close important business deals and enjoy the stunning waterfront view of Lake Champlain. It is believed that the iron ore industry in Canada was born in this house and in 1903, the brothers literally struck gold. Read more
Contemplating on the Great Wall of China.
Somewhere between the end of last summer and this spring, I lost it. It went out with a snap like a blown out candle, and I was only made aware that it was ever burning because of the lingering smell of smoke in the air.
It’s hard to imagine that just a little over a year ago I came back to Toronto feeling like I was on top of the world, a completely different person than I find myself today. For almost 3 years between 2009 and 2012, I had been living and traveling abroad. Two years were spent teaching English in South Korea, a job with a steep learning curve for this never-before-taught individual and a culture I had nothing to reference it to. But I adapted and learned the language, the culture, and how to fit in with a society that operated differently than my own.
Before returning to Canada, I was off on another adventure, this time backpacking for 8-months through China, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. With nothing more than what we could carry in our packs and only concrete plans for a week at a time, my boyfriend and I had an adventure of a lifetime. Read more
Going full speed through the mud holes.
“Oh you’re going to get addicted to this” said Rex, an ATV aficionado and one of four ATV enthusiasts who lead our group of three inexperienced female riders. It was a positive outlook for the start of the day. I, on the other hand, was focusing more on making sure I wouldn’t crash and burn.
I was recently invited by Ontario Tourism to visit Mattawa, a small Northern Ontario town about a 4-hour drive north of Toronto, to experience riding an ATV on the Voyageur Multi-Use Trail System. I’d never been on an ATV before and was excited about the opportunity. I also thought it could make for a fun video (see below).
I was joined by two other newbies to the sport, Dani of Going Nomadic and Christen of Divas and Dorks. Together we amped each other up, cheered each other on, and got in touch with our inner bad-assery (I know, that’s not really a word, but I’m going with it). We were instructed and lead by 4 experienced ATV riders, Jeff, John, Mark, and Rex who are passionate about the sport and want to show off why Mattawa is a great place to experience it, even for this all female crew. We were in great hands. Read more