They say that the best way to see Tuscany is by renting your own car to cruise through the endless hills of the countryside. But if you’re like me and don’t feel like shifting gears to maneuver around narrow cliff-hugging roads, then there is an alternative that doesn’t include booking a group tour, and that is public transport.
I spent quite a bit of time sifting through numerous 10-day Italy itineraries, and came across many suggestions to zip around the country like in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but I knew that I wouldn’t be doing beautiful Italy any justice. As a returning visitor to Italy, I knew that it was better to stick to my usual style and travel slow. I decided to focus my efforts on Tuscany, and throw in a short getaway to Cinque Terre for good measure. Read more
I’m a bit of a sunchaser, so during our short-lived Canadian summers, I like to stay local and absorb every ounce of sunshine that I can. I prefer to visit the beach destinations during our world renowned frigid, and in my opinion unbearable, winters. Nevertheless, I still like to squeeze in a little getaway here and there throughout the summer, and what better way to do that than to explore my home province of Ontario. Since I’m typically a last-minute traveller, I find that I’m always behind the ball when it comes to booking cottages or planning trips to popular Ontario destinations like Muskoka or Niagara Falls. Almost always, I find myself scouring accommodation sites on the Thursday before a long weekend, hoping for a miracle (aka: a vacancy).
This summer, I decided to save myself some time and avoid the spots that I knew were already booked up months in advance. I managed to sneak in a spontaneous getaway for each of the long weekends in the summer. Read more
I would have never guessed that Hamilton, of all places, would be a food and art lover’s haven. Just under an hour west of Toronto, Hamilton is known to most as home of the beloved Tiger-Cats, and also for it’s rich history and preservation of National heritage sites. Contrary to popular belief, Hamilton is an undiscovered wonderland for foodies and art lovers alike. I’ve been to the Hammer several times back in my University days, but have never actually seen anything outside of Hess Village (which I’m kind of embarrassed to admit). Lucky for me, my friends at Travel Massive and Tourism Hamilton gave me a true dose of what Hamilton is really like – here are some hidden gems that I had the pleasure of discovering: Read more
I asked Michelle Dias what she had to say about travelling for work, and here’s what she had to say:
Before working in the hotel business, I thought that the “big-box” branded hotels were all the same: cookie-cutter versions of the same formula, like your neighborhood Best Buy or Target. Boy, was I wrong! I am now one year into my role as Marketing Manager, PR and Communications, with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and I have seen my fair share of hotels. From hotels in Vancouver to Atlanta to Nisku (5 minutes outside of Edmonton’s airport), the 13 brands we represent all have similar standards, but each hotel comes with a unique surprise waiting to be discovered. Typically when I go on a business trip, I have the pleasure of getting a hotel tour. It’s a great way for me to get to know the staff and the property. Although friendly smiles and great hospitality come standard, there have been surprise “WOWS” that I won’t soon forget. After a year of jet setting, here my favourite delightful surprises that I have stumbled upon during my hotel stays:
1. A bowling alley, arcade, and huge fitness facility at the Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo
Crowne Plazas are known and enjoyed for their upscale facilities (restaurants, meeting spaces etc.) and cool décor. When touring the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo, I was shocked to see their underground bowling alley and arcade – which was formerly a parking garage. This space looked like a gamers-dream, and a perfect space for business and leisure guests to unwind. LPGA Golf Professional and Canadian-favourite Brookie Henderson recently took a swing and got a hole-in-one (surprise, surprise!) while playing on the mini-putt course in this cool underground space.
I kid you not! This section of the Berlin Wall was given by Germany to Montreal for the city’s 350th birthday. I’ve been to Berlin, Germany and have to say that the piece of the wall inside the InterContinental is so lively – it really brings that part of history to life. The graffiti looks freshly painted and the markers at the base give you an informative lesson into this grime piece of Germany’s history.
3. This amazing view!
One of my most memorable trips this year was to Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be there for Canada Day and was awestruck by the nature, the number of fit people (seriously, everyone hikes and jogs), and also the vast amount of green space. Coming from Toronto – I feel as though Vancouver has a certain Euro-style: everything is modern, the buildings are glass, and it’s so clean. After hosting an SEO workshop at the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre, I was given a tour of the property and stopped for 5 minutes to play tourist while on the building’s highest level overlooking the Pacific ocean.
I know most hotels are just a stopping ground for travellers – folks are more concerned with seeing the outdoor sites and neighborhoods, but I would encourage you to learn about your hotel on your next trip. Some hotels are historical buildings or conversions from old factories, while some house priceless art or have entertaining game rooms.
Michelle Dias is an energetic, A-type traveler who doesn’t travel without a detailed itinerary. She is a known over-packer who enjoys taking photos and over-sharing on social media. In her role with IHG, Michelle is responsible for Marketing and Public Relations for all Canadian hotels.
Follow me as I travel @MichelleHotelLife
Island Plantation is a hidden gem that sits on the outskirts of the otherwise tourist-saturated island of Bocas del Toro. Island Plantation isn’t just a hotel, but more of a sanctuary where everything is focused on the experience.
Finding Work in Australia for a Working Holiday can be difficult.
Imagine quitting your job, packing up your belongings and moving halfway across the world to work and travel for a year. Now imagine yourself embarking on said life-changing journey, without an inkling of how to find work or a place to live – that pretty much sums up what most working holidays are like! Read more
Three years ago, I returned from my working holiday in Australia, and although I’ve told many tales of my other adventures abroad since then, I’ve never actually opened up about my time in Australia until now.
Macchu Picchu was at the top of my travel bucket list for years, yet I was always making excuses as to why it was never the right time to go, often blaming factors such as weather, vacation time, or money. It was only nine months ago that I was able to tick Machu Picchu off my travel bucket list with a big, emphatic check mark. I decided to ditch the excuses and go for it – something that usually comes second nature to me, however I was a bit apprehensive this time around because I had placed the destination up on a pedestal for so many years. Read more
Canadian Dollar Getting You Down?
Yes, the Canadian Dollar is down in the dumps, but don’t let it put a damper on your 2016 travel plans! Here are some options that won’t break the bank this year:
- Kiss the exchange rate worry goodbye and explore Canada by taking advantage of local deals created to entice American travellers to visit Canada. If you can’t find a good deal on flights, don’t fret – gas prices are ideal for road trips, which are often the best way to see this beautiful country!
South of the Border: There’s Still Hope!
- Local businesses and hotels in Myrtle Beach teamed up to offer Canadians up to 60% off on accommodation, dining, and entertainment as an incentive to come down south and overcome the hardship of the exchange rate. See Visit Myrtle Beach for more information.
- If Myrtle Beach isn’t your cup of tea, several airlines have launched major seat sales to the U.S., and many major attractions have also publicized great deals and reduced rates.
- Do your research. Airlines are currently offering awesome sales, such as WOW Airline’s deals to Iceland. Other major seat sales include round trip airfares to China from Toronto/Vancouver. Aside from flights, it goes without saying that key destinations to consider are those whose currency values can make the Canadian Dollar stretch, such as South American nations like Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. Any of the few European countries who do not use the Euro are other great options, with the exception of the UK, of course! For example, Poland has been topping the lists of top international destinations for Canadians.
- Here are some resources to help with your research:
- Check the exchange rates: http://www.xe.com/
- Though some countries have their own legal tender, some accept the US Dollar as a common form of payment. Check http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories under Laws & Culture to see if any other currency is widely accepted
- It’s always a good idea to get a sense of a destination’s cost of living to prepare for what your daily expense might be: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/
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