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Toronto to Iceland – top 5 places to visit

Visiting Iceland is at the top of my bucket list. The hot springs, volcanoes, and of course, the Northern lights. It’s one of those countries that looks serene and quaint, despite tourism being one of their largest sources of revenue. Airfare costs are usually pretty cheap, as are hotels and tours.

Travellers can either sign up for a guided tour or self-guided tours that include car rental, GPS, and lodgings. Self-guided tours are great because you can also prepare your own personal stops in between the recommended attractions.

Here are the top five things to do while hitting up a self-guided tour of Iceland:

Blue Lagoon: This is a popular destination, which means it may be a bit crowded. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa with a breathtaking view. Enjoy some time in one of the heated springs or relax under a waterfall. Visitors an also sign up for other spa services like massages, silica mud masks, or saunas. For this attraction, remember to book early. The lines can be a bit lengthy, and if you are able to swing it, choose as many private options as possible.

Horseback riding: Horses roam the hillsides freely, but there are a few that tourists can ride on guided tours of the area. These animals are well kept and not overworked. Guides will follow trails that show off Iceland’s most serene landscapes, including rivers and mountains. This activity only has incredibly reviews from TripAdvisor, with most participants saying the trip was “magical”.

Glaciers and waterfalls: Despite climate change, Iceland still has a number of large glaciers and waterfalls to explore. Glaciers are made when ice and snow accumulate over centuries. They are large, beautiful structures and the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, as the locations are rather remote. Tour groups offer a number of guided hikes and climbs through these glaciers for people of various skill sets.

Explore a volcano: There are a number of volcanoes throughout Iceland, and the country takes advantage of these phenomenons and offers tours of each region. Don’t worry, they are not active. For those who want a bird’s eye view, there are helicopter rides available that fly over a few volcanoes and lava fields. For those who want are more active tour, take a 3k hike through Thrihnukagigur, a volcano located between Reykjavik and the Golden Circle area. The tour will take you through caverns right into the heart of the dormant volcano!

Skaftafell Park: This park is 4800 square kilometres and home to some of the most surreal landscapes in Iceland. Pick one of the many trails and enjoy views of waterfalls, fields, mountains, and glaciers — all within one park. Make sure to check out the Scartifoss (Black fall), a waterfall that flows off black basalt columns. Nature lovers can actually camp overnight within the park!

Have you visited Iceland? What are your suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

What is happening with Brexit?

Where does Brexit stand and will it affect you in anyway? In June 2016, over 30 million U.K. citizens made their way to the polls to vote on whether or not Britain should withdraw from the European Union. It was a move that was facilitated and led mainly by the current members of the opposition, the Labour Party. The results of the nationwide referendum was 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent, the majority voting to leave. There was an approximate turn out rate of 71.8 per cent.

These results were not what many citizens, or even members of parliament, expected, including that of the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, who resigned after the referendum.  Theresa May, the former home secretary, took his place. In the beginning, she was against the results of the vote, but changed her mind and moved ahead with Brexit talks after determining this is what most of the citizens wanted.

It’s been over a year since the decision was made. Talks commenced on June 19, 2017 and so far the UK is scheduled to leave the EU at 11pm on Friday, March 29, 2019. There are currently discussions taking place on how exactly Brexit will work and what this means for British citizens inside and out of the country, especially those living in EU member states.

Britain joined the EU, or European Communities, in 1973, along with Ireland and Denmark. In a mere 40 plus years of relations, the withdrawal will mean a lot of changes. The European Union is basically an economic and political agreement between 28 member states in Europe. It is a single market that encourages seamless flow of trade, work, and studies for member states. In a move to withdraw from the EU, one of the major changes will be a tightening on immigration. EU members will not be able to come and go as they please. This decision was highly criticized and was thought to be one of the main reasons why the UK, mainly England, wanted to leave.

Under article 50 of the EU agreement amongst member state, it says there must be two years of negotiations after giving notice of their request to withdraw. Both sides have to agree to the terms of the split. Once a deal is met, it will be presented to the members of council in the remaining EU states for approval. The deal needs to be approved by at least 20 out of the 27 remaining countries. If Britain does leave the EU in 2019, it is said they will seek a new customs and trade agreement with the rest of Europe, and EU law would no longer stand in the UK.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have, however, voted to remain in the EU, with Scotland’s Prime Minister calling the move democratically unacceptable. This is causing questionable friction within the member countries of the United Kingdom.

As a British citizen myself, I am concerned about the changes that will take place and what this will mean for residents living outside of the UK when it comes to emergency medical care, work, and study travel access. The UK has said they hope to keep visa-free travel in place for British citizens and EU members after Brexit, but there is no solid guarantee. If this is not the case, this can mean several years of permissions and proposals and increased costs.

In 2019, there should be a clear view of the terms of the exit. The framework for withdrawal will need to be approved by parliament, but another referendum could throw everything into chaos. However; May has strongly declared there will be no second vote.

What are your views on Brexit? Comment below

Woman of the Week: Linda Stephenson

How often do you look at the ingredients of your beauty products?  It’s not a common practice. Most people are unaware of the chemical names of toxins that linger in popular beauty products. If you’re fairly good at looking at ingredients in the foods you eat, it’s time to become more aware of what you put on your body. That’s where Linda Stephenson comes in. Stephenson is the CEO and the brains behind Mereadesso skincare products, a luxury brand of plant-based products that are targeted to cover a range of skin issues in a one-step approach.

It only took a few minutes of chatting with Stephenson to know she’s a ‘chemically aware’ beauty guru who cares about the health of her skin — and my skin as well. While enrolled at the University of Toronto, Stephenson studied Chemistry and Biology with a minor in Botany. After landing successful positions at Mary-Kay cosmetics and MAC in the mid-90’s, Stephenson moved on to a purely technical position at  Estee Lauder. Stephenson left her corporate roles to work privately with clients and to study brand acquisition, focusing on how beauty products are positioned in the industry.

Stephenson was always on the go and working tirelessly to market well-known beauty products with a reinvented look. When Stephenson started her family and have birth to her son, she barely had time to think. She was used to being the person that was good at branding and helping people, but it became time to do it for herself.

Stephenson loves to travel, and got used to compressing all of her beauty products to fit into her tiny travel bag. As a busy mom. she noticed all her friends had similar lifestyles — working moms, travellers or even guys who are minimalists. That’s why around eight years ago, Stephenson made use of her educational background ,as well as her corporate directory of contacts, to launch Mereadesso, her own skincare line.

“For me it was a natural evolution from a technical background with over 20 years of experience.” said Stephenson “My products are pretty much plant based— I don’t believe in the ‘magic’ ingredient theory. Our skin is an organ, we live and we work, we need vitamins and minerals.”

With this idea in mind, Stephenson set out to nourish the skin by using natural and real ingredients to calm, heal, and soften the skin by supplying the skin with vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, botanical extracts and minerals that our bodies can extract.

Unlike many water-based beauty products, Mereadesso is over 30 per cent aloe based with infused minerals and vitamins. One of the things Stephenson wants customers who shop in the beauty industry to be aware of is the ingredient list of products. Look for paraben-free products with real ingredients that are easy to understand. For instance, if you want more Vitamin A, the chemical name is beta-carotene or retinyl palmitate, so look for that listing in your ingredients lineup. The highest percentages will be listed first eg: water and the lowest ingredient of percentage will be listed last eg: fragrance.

“Look for the selling point, not the label claim. Take awareness to your own skin, look for what you need and what you can manage.” said Stephenson.

One of Mereadesso’s best selling products is the original one-step and all in one moisturizer. This moisturizer is aloe based and is a combination of a day cream, night cream, serum, primer and moisturizer. It is also a product designed for all skin types. As Stephenson said, most clients would come to her saying they have sensitive skin, but what does that mean ? Stephenson says to look for the commonality in the products you use that can cause redness and rash and most often this is linked to fragrance. Mereadesso products are fragrance-free in addition to being free of sulfates or artificial colours. Over all, there are about seven different product categories that users can enjoy with Mereadesso, including another best seller — the face and neck cleanser. This cleanser was designed to come with a gentle exfoliating cloth for easy cleansing.

” People need to exfoliate. Cell renewal rate slows down as we age and by removing the dead layer of skin cells, this prompts our skin to renew.” Stephenson said.

Stephenson pays a lot of attention to packaging. For instance, the travel kit comes with a reusable pouch. This kit was actually one of the selling points for landing Stephenson’s products in luxury retailer, Nordstrom. Most products don’t have a secondary purpose, but Stephenson plans to utilize her packaging.

In fact, Stephenson let me in on another skincare secret — avoid buying anything in a jar. The blanket rule is that the preservative system in a jar is there to kill mould and bacteria from forming on your moisturizer, but after being exposed to air and the constant dipping of your hands, the preservative system has to be more aggressive, which is no use to your skin. Mereadesso uses pressurized products in metered dose pumps to protect the product and keep out bacteria.

As Mereadesso continues to grow, Stephenson keeps her team small, but mighty, as her products are mostly available to order online in the United States; although it is also being featured on The Shopping Channel and is available at Nordstorm.

If you are wondering about the name Mereadesso, it was simple. ‘Mere’ means mother in French and ‘adesso’ means ‘now’ in Italian. When Stephenson became a mother, this was when her life changed and she decided to put all her beauty steps into well-rounded and unisex products for minimalists. Because of this, and more, this name will always be close to her heart.

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Why you should make Bermuda your next travel destination

Bermuda is a tiny island paradise located in the north atlantic ocean closer to the outer regions of North Carolina and near the north-east of Miami, Florida — or more famously north of the Bermuda Triangle. This British overseas territory is home to only roughly 65,000 people, and while it is viewed as a single country, it actually consists of 181 small islands, with two main areas being St George’s and the capital Hamilton. Bermuda was discovered in 1508 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez.

Bermuda is often confused with Barbuda, which is a part of Antigua and Barbuda in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. During Hurricane Irma, the island of Barbuda was completely ruined and almost all the residents evacuated. Many people who were unaware of the difference and kept confusing the two islands, though they are completely different and miles apart. This makes sense why Bermuda, which depends heavily on tourism, has boosted their tourism efforts by use of an ad campaign and a deal with Air Canada. Travellers can save 20 per cent if they book a flight by Dec 12 2017. If you are willing to take advantage of this deal, here are five things Women’s Post suggest you do in Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay Beach

One of the most popular places to go in Bermuda is Horseshoe Bay beach, known for its pinkish and smooth sand in juxtaposition to bright blue crystal waters. As the name suggests, this beach has a curved stretch similar to a horseshoe. It is located in the parish of Southampton and is one of the hottest tourist spots.

Crystal Caves

if you’re in the mood for exploring caves lined with heart stopping stalactite formations that look like droplets of crystals, Crystal Cave is the place to go. Travel underground to admire the natural beauty of these crystal straws. The formations are delicate and it’s a rare occurrence where water seeps through the cracks in rocks. The water, when combined with minerals overtime, hardens as each droplet expands. The result is the stunning clusters of natural crystal chandeliers hovering above light blue waters. The Crystal Caves are referred to as Bermuda’s true hidden treasure.

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse

Build in 1844, this lighthouse is one of the first in the world to be made with cast iron. It takes 185 steps to get to the top. This lighthouse was originally operated by the British army. The stunning structure stand 245 feet high and offers stunning views of Fairmont Southampton. The foot of the former lighthouse keepers cottage is now a restaurant that draws many tourists wishing to look out onto the sea as they have lunch.

Royal Naval Dockyard

If you are interested in exploring one of the more historic parts of Bermuda, consider visiting the Royal Naval Dockyard located on Ireland island. This base served as the site for the British royal navy during American independence and the cold war. The dockyard is a popular port for cruise ships well as the home of various sporting events, including the America’s cup which is won for yacht sailing races and this event was held in June of this year

Any Water/Outdoor activity

While Bermuda has a subtropical climate, these milder conditions make it comforting to take part in many activities while outside without fear of overheating. Water sports are big in Bermuda. You can try sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving or a long list of boat tours offered on the island. The main thing is to get out there and have fun while exploring this unique and picturesque country.

Get out there and explore ! Comment below if you will make Bermuda your next destination

What is a boutique hotel?

I’m currently looking for hotels in New York and I saw this term “boutique hotel” listed. To me, a boutique is a small, independent shop often found in a quaint neighbourhood that sell handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.

A boutique hotel is similar in a fashion. It is not operated by a large chain or brand. Instead, it is independently owned that provides individualized and custom service. Most have less than 100 rooms, meaning the experience can be quite intimate. At the same time, boutique hotels usually have a lot of character. The building may have a theme that seeps into every room.

Don’t be fooled though. This doesn’t mean the hotel is tacky. Most boutique hotels are actually quite luxurious. Because they are smaller than the typical hotel, it means more care is taken in the decor. Designer furnishings and unique pieces of art are common in each room. The best part is that, unlike your typical hotel, no two rooms are alike. Some rooms may have a quirky sense of humour while others may have a warm and cozy ambiance.

Because of the size of boutique hotels, owners are usually able to find prime locations to build upon.. This can result in some truly breathtaking views.

Each room will also have some luxury, hand-made and unique items available for use, like organic soaps, bath pillows, or even a linen selection. Prepare to enjoy some locally-grown foods as well as some art by local artisans.

There are also a few different kinds of boutique hotels. Historic or country boutiques, for example, offer accommodations with rustic charm — think stone walls, big fireplaces, detailed wood carvings, and homemade comfort food.  These buildings often have some sort of historic significance and rooms are designed to feel homey, yet still rich in culture and comfort.

Urban boutique hotels are often found in a city’s centre and caters too younger travelers looking for a tech-savvy and comfortable place to stay. They are generally located in neighbourhoods with lots of culture and nightlife. The rooms themselves use Smart technology and there are common areas for people to mingle.

Then there are the luxury boutiques. The rooms in this accommodation use high-quality materials and exclusive designer furnishings. They may have infinity pools, skylights, or even spa services available. Luxury boutiques pride themselves on personalizing your vacation experience, and ensuring you have the most fine wining and dining available.

Check out these boutique hotels in Toronto: Thompson Hotel, Le Germain, or The Drake (Nook room featured in photo above).

Luxury boutique hotel Barcelona Duquesa de Cardon
Boutique Hotel Bali

How to travel solo like a local

It takes a lot for some people to become comfortable with themselves, much less travel alone. It’s a task that few can handle, but it is becoming increasingly convenient and popular for solo- travellers to find special deals on vacations. Some brands like Norwegian Cruise Lines offer top-class studio styled suites for their guests at a lower price. The ship designs the studios to have exclusive key card access and a studio complex lounge to mingle with other solo travellers, so you will never feel alone, unless you want to be. Here are some tips from Women’s Post on solo- travel and how to act like a local.

Be prepared

If you’re not in the mood to stand out as a tourist while on vacation, do your research and explore the country/countries you are visiting as a local. Try going to the popular bar around town or even make friends with a local and ask for tips on the area where you plan to explore. Most residents will have a list of places you should visit that may not be on a map.

Skip the tourist traps

Bus tours, boat tours, guided tours, pfft those are for amateurs. The best way to get to know the local streets is to walk around and take note of your own landmarks. There is no harm in renting a mode of transportation to make your way around town as well, A car can get you there faster and save you a lot of unnecessary tourist expenses and cheap souvenirs. Use your phone as your trusted GPS or simply make use of public transportation — most train and bus operators will be able to help you reach your destination.

Stay at a boutique hotel

Boutique hotels are so much fun compared to the big chain and brand named places that you’re used to . Staying at a boutique hotel may be more intimate and gives you a chance to interact with locals and the staff on site. As another option, you can also choose to stay at a local Air BnB or hostel.

Pick the right time to travel

Solo- travel can be overwhelming if you’re not ready for it, but one way to avoid the rush of the season is to travel…well, off-season. Don’t go for spring break or summer vacation. Instead, use your vacation days at a less peak time (like October-November, or April-May) and you will avoid so many lines and you get insight into the way locals live year round.

No schedules here

Don’t tie yourself down to a full schedule like you would on any regular vacation. The agenda is yours to fill with the memories of your choosing, It’s your own personal journey with no expectations or limitations. You can still see all the places and famous landmarks you want to see, but just on your own terms.

Know the lingo

If you are going to a country with a language that you are unfamiliar with, it may be time to dust off the old phrase book and use it while exploring your new temporary home. Eventually you will also find yourself picking up a few terms from the locals you interact with. I’m not saying enrol in language classes, but just make yourself aware of basic greetings and manners.

Enjoy these tips on traveling solo and blending in or check out Like a Local Guide, which offers insider tips and tours by real locals for hundreds of cities around the world.

Happy Journeys and let us know your travel tips and plans below !

5 holiday desserts from around the world

What’s the best part of travelling? For me, it’s about the local culture, including the unique foods. This holiday season, you don’t need a passport to experience any of these international cultural traditions. North American holidays are known for turkey, stuffing and an assortment of sweet and sticky pies, but what are some other holiday desserts you can find around the globe?

Women’s Post showcases five unique and decadent international desserts from different cultures that are bound to impress guests at your next holiday party:

Phillipines- Pinoy Fruit Salad

Filipino food is amazing! While known for their glazed Christmas ham or desserts like halo-halo, during the Christmas season one of the most popular sweet treats is fruit salad. Yep, fruit salad, but this isn’t any random fruit salad. Normally, Filipino fruit salad, sometimes called Pinoy fruit salad, takes one can of fruit cocktail mixed with heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. You can also find versions with coconut meat, coconut milk, jello, tapioca pearls or added pineapple. Talk about easy, creamy and delicious.

France -Buche de Noel

This dessert might look familiar to some North American homes. Buche de Noel or Yule Log is a traditional sweet treat found in France and French-influenced countries during the Christmas holidays. It is made using a classic sponge cake coated in chocolate buttercream and rolled in chocolate shavings to resemble an actual log.

England- Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding, Christmas pudding ! What’s Christmas without some traditional Christmas pudding, especially if you’re from the U.K. Also known as plum pudding, this dessert is usually served after Christmas dinner and is made using a mixture of dried fruit,spices, molasses. There are no plums in the actual pudding, but lots of raisins. The pudding is often steamed for approximately three hours. Many people often soak the fruits before hand in Brandy  and once the pudding is done it is splashed with more alcohol. This helps to preserve the pudding for almost up to one year,

Guyana- Black Cake

Similar in look to the christmas pudding, this cake is made using minced dried fruits that have been soaked in cherry brandy or rum The fruits are mixed with flour, eggs and sugar, spices and molasses or browning. Once baked, the cakes are generously soaked in rum. This Christmas treat can be found in many Caribbean islands including Jamaica and Trinidad. Black Cake or Caribbean fruit cake are also popular at weddings and is said to bring prosperity and luck.

Australia- Pavlova

Even though it’s technically summer in Australia during the Christmas holidays, this doesn’t mean that Australians can’t indulge in a refreshing Christmas- summer dessert treat. This popular meringue- like dessert is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after she toured New Zealand and Australia in the 1920’s. Pavlova is made using egg whites, sugar, and cream, but it has a firm and crunchy exterior and a delicate inside. This dessert is usually served on Christmas day.

What are your favourite global holiday desserts? Comment and indulge!

3 ways to experience underwater tourism

Is water your life? Do your vacations often consist of snorkling or surfing? Are you the kind of person that spends 90 per cent of their time on the beach? If so, then maybe you are ready for a more unique kind of vacation — something a little more remote, quiet, and truly close to the water?

Let me present underwater tourism, one of the newest (albeit most expensive) types of vacation. These hotels, restaurants, clubs, and museums are all set under the water, meaning that participants get a spectacular view of sea life while enjoying all the luxury of a resort.

Interested in learning more? Here are three types of things you can do underwater during your next holiday:

Sleep underwater

People are spending thousands of dollars to sleep hanging from cliffs or in glass igloos in the middle of a remote forest in winter. Staying in a normal hotel is considered tame. If you are going to travel, why not do something truly unique? There are numerous companies that actually offer luxury suites on submarines. For example, Oliver’s Travel launched “Lovers Deep”, a submarine that plays host to couples looking for a remote and isolated, romantic, adventure.

Cost for a night in Lovers Deep is £175,000 (Euro). 

There are also resorts that specialize in underwater hospitality. The Manta Resort in Pemba, a remote island off the coast of Africa, offers an Underwater Room accessible only by boat. The room, or more accurately the floating island, has three levels and is situated 250m from shore. Underwater spotlights draw fish and squid towards the room, so that you can witness the magical and mysterious life under the sea. Meals will be brought to you by boat at pre-arranged times, and a kayak, fins, and a snorkel will be provided.

Cost for a night is $1 500 (US).

Most of these accomodations offer eco-friendly resources so as not to harm the wildlife. This includes advanced marine toilet systems, hand-wash basins, and biodegradable shower products. It’s less about the luxury of a resort and more about the serenity of isolation. There will be concierges or staff on hand to answer questions, arrange meals, and re-stock the minibar; however, there is little access to technology or outside civilizations. Perfect to get away from the craziness of downtown living.

Eat underwater

For those who may be nervous about spending an entire night underwater, an evening with fine dining may be the perfect compromise. Ithaa, located in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives, is the most popular of underwater restaurants. It was also the first to open in 2005. The food is prepared and cooked above water, and then brought down by servers. The restaurant serves European fare, offering six-course meals for dinner, four-course lunches, and cocktail or brunch options. Guests are surrounded by clear acrylic walls that allow them to see fish and sharks swim past.

Europe is joining the trend with a restaurant set to open in Norway in 2019. The restaurant will have three levels and a capacity of 100 people. A champagne bar will mark the transition between shoreline and ocean. The building will also double as a marine biology research centre.

Party underwater

Yes, you don’t have to commit to a meal or an overnight stay if you want to try the underwater experience. Instead, sip cocktails and be entertained at an underwater club with live music and dancing. There aren’t as many of these (as I imagine the movement of dancing requires quite the archeological reinforcement.

For those who want something a little more mellow, why not visit an underwater museums that allows you to either scuba dive or be transported using an underwater vessel to see ruins. There are also underwater spas and game rooms that allow tourists to play Jenga or have a bubble fight while wearing oxygen helmets!

As a general tip: make sure that you go to an underwater experience in the sea or ocean and not a river or lake. There are some restaurants and clubs taking adventave of this trend and setting up facilities in dirty water with little wildlife.

The best part is that the possibilities for underwater tourism is endless — as long as it is safe for both the participants and the fish in the sea!

Would you ever consider one of these vacation spots? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t let fear stop you from seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris

While at a recent dinner party, I was asked an interesting question: what’s your favourite city to visit and why do you have a connection with that place? I thought about it for a while and decided on London, which has always felt like home to me. It’s probably my obsession with British fashion and even the depressing weather. I heard other guests reply with places like Manhattan, New York, Tokyo, Japan, and other destinations. I got to thinking to what my answer might have been a few years ago—Paris, France.

France is one of the most popular European countries, with the City of Paris attracting a lot of attention. However, in 2016, the French Tourism Board reported a dip in tourists in the city, with the industry losing almost £644M. This sharp decline was mainly caused by terrorism fears and concerns. France is a country that relies heavily on tourism, with seven per cent of the country’s GDP  generated from those sales. Even the Eiffel Tower had about 1 million less visitors last year.

 

Paris is known as the city of love and, before terrorism became an active concern, it was seen as a peaceful and romantic destination with odd crimes and pick-pockets. French tourism does not look so positive, as a few weeks ago, in the City of Nice, nine people were arrested after a thwarted terror attack.

However, one of the worst things you can do is let fear restrict you from travelling to the places you dream of. We are living in an unpredictable world, but that shouldn’t prevent someone from experiencing other cultures or relaxing with friends and family. Here are four small tips to travel without fear.

  • Consider your anxiety and don’t let proposed fear outweigh actual concerns. As a tip, maybe stay away from overly populated tourists spots or make sure your valuables are kept safe. Try getting a small lock for your backpack to deter pickpockets.
  • Know where you’re going. Research the neighbourhoods and know roughly how to get to your destination. Don’t wander down dark streets on your own.
  • Don’t let regret plague you from missing out on a good trip. At the end of the day, you don’t want to think “Oh, I wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower, but I was too worried about pickpockets”. You will always regret not going to see this iconic and historic marvel. Just do it!
  • Stop worrying about something that is out of your control. Sometimes, shit happens. Just take every minute as it comes and remember that as long as you are safe, everything else is small potatoes.

Try to venture off the beaten track a bit and explore less popular neighbourhoods in Paris, including Quartier Chinois (Chinatown), Bastille, Canal Saint Martin or Saint-Germain-des-Pres. This way you can soak up all the food, culture, fashion and romance the city has to offer without having to line up for hours with hundreds and thousands of other tourists like you.

Will you be planning you next trip to Paris? Comment below.

Canada named T&L destination of the year

Canada has been named Travel & Leisure Magazine’s destination of the year!

The recognition centres around Canada’s tolerance, openness, natural reserves, and the country’s 150th anniversary, which brought forward thousands of community events.

“The country welcomed refugees and immigrants with open arms, and encouraged travellers to experience its one-of- a-kind cultural institutions, emerging neighbourhoods, and top culinary talents,” the publication says. “On the international stage, it’s become a source of stability and hope in a time when the news is mostly dominated by crisis and political rhetoric.”

Past winners of this title were Portugal and Cuba.

So, Americans, if you are looking to come visit Canada over the next year, here are the top six places you should check out:

Toronto

Toronto is full of tourist attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Fort York, the Science Centre, and of course, Canada’s Exhibition Centre. But, it also has a number of quaint neighbourhoods with their own history and culture that are worth exploring. Check out Kensington Market for some unique shopping finds or hit the Waterfront for a lovely walk along a number of beautiful beaches. Sports fans can watch a game at the Air Canada Centre or the Rogers Centre or hit the Hockey Hall of Fame on Front St. At the end of the day, find one of our local breweries and enjoy a pint!

Ottawa

As the country’s capital, Ottawa is very tourist friendly. Hit the Byward market on a Saturday morning for some croissants and fresh fruit, wander the parks behind Parliament Hill, or even rent a bike to cycle along the canal. The city is an art-lovers dream, with multiple small galleries, museums, and theatres. Ottawa may seem like a big city, but it’s also got a small town feel, which makes it an ideal place to get away to if you need a break from the hectic downtown lifestyle.

Montreal

If you want to get a sense of the French Canadian culture, visit Montreal. The city is bursting with art and culture, but it also makes room for modern tourist attractions. Visit Notre Dame Basilica, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal Biodome, or the Tower Observatory, but make sure to spend some time wandering the historic university campuses or taking a walking tour of Old Montreal. Eat some real poutine, maple taffy, and enjoy the multiple bars available to you. The best time of year to go to Montreal is during a weekend with a street festival — no one parties quite like Montreal.

Halifax

I don’t think any place is as Canadian as the Maritimes. The beer, the food, the music — it’s something that can’t be found elsewhere. Check out one of the city’s gorgeous public gardens, the pier, the seaport farmer’s market, as well as the many other historic sites that can be found stretched across Halifax. Enjoy the fresh sea air and take photos be the Angus Macdonald Bridge, which is any architect’s dream. The pubs and breweries in Halifax are renowned — don’t forget to try the lobster!

Vancouver

This city has a little bit of everything — access to the water, a bustling downtown core, and a number of day trip excursions. If you enjoy hiking, Vancouver has a number of unique trails that take you along cliffs, waterfalls, and harbourfronts. Whale watching is one of the most popular tourist attractions, but make sure to check out Stanley Park and the botanical gardens. If you want to get out of Vancouver, try stopping in on Victoria. It’s got beautiful bookshops, pubs that look like libraries, and plenty of high tea available for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

The North

While Toronto may have claimed “We The North” for our basketball team, no trip to Canada is complete without a trip to our REAL north – The Northwest Territories or Nunavut. While the weather may be a bit nippy, the view is incomparable to anything else you will see in your lifetime. Watch the northern lights, visit one of the beautifully serene national parks, and check out one of the many art galleries featuring Indigenous masterpieces. You can also travel along the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, which officially opened last week!

What’s your favourite place to visit in Canada?