Pacific Northwest Roadtrips

As I'm lucky enough to call the beautiful Pacific Northwest my home, I love telling people about all the things to see and do in this vast area. But if you're planning a Pacific Northwest road trip, I do have a few recommendations, so let's take a look!

The Okanagan Valley
With 172 licensed wineries along its' 250-km valley, the Okanagan is BC's top grape growing region. But besides an abundance of tasting opportunities, the Okanagan offers an array of lakes, starting with the warm waters at Osoyoos and up to Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, that are perfect for enjoying water sports like boating, swimming and more. Plus, there are tons of family hotels and campgrounds to choose from. The Okanagan is also home to the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, which is perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

Tofino & Vancouver Island
If you're looking to have the quintessential Pacific Northwest rainforest experience, look no further than Vancouver Island. Here you can visit picturesque Tofino, a small oceanfront town with a population of under 2,000 people. You can also go whale watching or catch the waves here, or at nearby Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The area is also prized for its' fantastic storm watching opportunities in the winter season from November to February. If you travel east across Vancouver Island through Port Alberni, you'll arrive at the tiny town of Coombs in about 2.5 hours. Why Coombs? Because their famous Old Country Market has a family of goats living on its' roof. Yes, goats. And if you have any questions, you can always email a goat before you go. Yes, you can email the goats, too.

Harrison Hot Springs
Enjoy the quintessential summer experience at Harrison Hot Springs. Just 90 minutes east of Vancouver, Harrison Hot Springs is the perfect destination for the whole family to enjoy. You can go swimming and canoeing, while the kids enjoy the floating water park. If you'd like to see some local wildlife, take a tour along Harrison River. 

Squamish: Hardwired for Adventure
An hour north of Vancouver along the picturesque Sea-to-Sky Highway will bring you to Squamish, one of the adventure capital's of BC. One of the coolest ways to see the landscape is by taking a ride on the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, where once you're at the summit you can grab lunch at the lodge or really explore by hitting the hiking trails. If you want to try something you've never done, head over to the estuary where you can check out kiteboarding! If you're game, there are several school offering lessons and rentals.

Only 3 hours south of Vancouver, Seattle is the American equivalent of Vancouver. Be sure to check out the sights from high atop the iconic Space Needle, visit Pike Place Market and the historic architecture found in the city's first neighborhood, Pioneer Square. The vibrant Chihuly Garden & Glass gallery is well worth a look, as are the Museum of Flight and taking in a Mariner's game at Safeco Field.

Be sure to check: Riding the Storm Out at Wickaninnish Inn and 5 Celebrity Owned Hotels, which includes the Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet, BC, owned by Jason Priestly of 90210 fame.


Break on Through to The Other Side

While Break on Through to the Other Side was a famous Doors song back in the 60s, this is the Bahamian version of The Other Side. 

Cited as an Editor's Pick: Hot List 2017 by Conde Nast Traveler magazine,  The Other Side is an intimate 7-room hotel on Harbour Island. Actually, they're Tents and Shacks, but I'd dispute that until the end as they're absolutely gorgeous!!

The 3 Shacks are located on the hill top that overlooks the property. Each boasts an expansive ocean-view sundeck, a 4-poster bed, hardwood floors and of course, air conditioning. 

The 7 Tents are divided into 3 for sleeping and 4 that are communal for socializing with other guests. Tents offer the same luxe amenities as the Shacks, but additionally come with Wi-Fi, 2 sofas and open rain showers.

The property offers a variety of activities including an outdoor infinity pool, paddle  boarding and in-room massage treatments. There's also an on-site bar.

Open seasonally from November to August, the $550 and $750 per nightly rates include turn down service, vehicle use on both Eleuthera and Harbour Island, as well as daily breakfast. 

Plus, be sure to read: Solo Travel Just Got Better and Honeymoon & Wedding Hot Spots: Cruising & the Caribbean!

For more information, visit: The Other Side.


Backpacking in Europe

Last summer, my boys set out on a 3-week adventure: backpacking in Europe.

They bought tickets to Paris with no other destinations in mind. They ended up on a whirlwind extravaganza taking them to Rome, Munich and Budapest, where they visited castles, museums and even zip-lined across a sports stadium. 

With no pre-planning other than the first and last night booked in Paris (as per my strict former Certified Travel Consultant/mom instructions), they chose all of their destinations as they went, and hostels by looking at ratings/reviews and pricing.

In the end, they stayed at 4 hostels (one twice) during their bonding experience. All of them had reliable Wi-Fi that was easy to connect to, and they never felt their safety or security was compromised. Plus the bedding was always clean and comfortable. They both highly recommend the following:

Les Piaules, Paris 🗼

Pronounced Les Pee-owls, this hip hostel in the 11th arrondissement of Paris has a rooftop terrace and a bar, need I say more??! This is perfect for young adults who want to mingle with other travelers - and as a bonus, they received a free glass of beer upon check-in! 🍻One of the boys forgot both his cell phone and his shoes (!!) downstairs, but both were kept behind the counter waiting for him to retrieve. Merci!

Address: Les Piaules, 59 Boulevard de Belleville, 75011 Paris, France
Location: a 2-minute walk from Couronnes Metro station; close to outdoor market stalls and grocery stores. 
Read: Top Things to Do in Paris!

EnvyItaly, Rome

EnvyItaly was by far their favorite hostel due to the overall friendliness of the host, and the fact it's only 3 blocks from the Vatican. Yes, just 3 blocks (so jealous!!). 

The host and co-owner of the apartment gave them insider information on all the best places to get gelato, pizza and attraction admissions (including identifying less-crowded days to go to certain places). He then marked everything on a map for them. He also warned them about tourist scams near the Vatican (where people wear vests identifying themselves as employees of, but they're not). 

They had a private room with 2 beds and a minifridge, and as the temperature was hot and humid in August, the host asked if he could put window screens in their room while they were out for the day. It's great to know their privacy was respected. 

Address: EnvyItaly, Via di Porta Fabbrica 49, Rome
Location: a 6-minute walk from Roma San Pietro train station; 3 blocks from the Vatican!!

The Tent, Munich

Located at forested Postsportpark, the Tent is just that: huge tents offering floor and bed accommodations. There's also a group tent and a camping area if you've brought your own tent! Lockers are provided, so bring your own lock or rent one, plus they offer extra blankets (free!) as even in August, the nights can get chilly in Munich. There's also an on-site cafeteria. The Tent was a bit noisy at night when the partiers started to stream in, but generally there's a noise curfew to be followed. The Tent also offers a FREE Munich city tour every Wednesday morning. 

Address: The Tent, In den Kirschen 30, 80992 München, Germany
Location: a 5-minute walk to Botanischer Garten trolley station; 24 München-Moosach subway station; 30 minutes to Dante-Freibad public pool

Artline Hostel, Budapest

This new and hip hostel is located in a neighbourhood chock full of colorful old buildings sporting tons of architectural details. You can choose from a private room with 2 beds, or shared dorms with 4 to 6 beds, plus there's a communal kitchen. 

Address: Artline Hostel, Budapest, 1085 Hungary
Location: It's a 5-minute walk from Kálvin tér Metro station; 9 minutes from Central Market Hall; Rudas Gyógyfürdő (thermal baths) is about 23 minutes.
Read: Finding an Affordable Home Abroad!

And in thinking about Europe, be sure to check out: Sailing in Italy!!


Sailing in Italy

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go sailing in Italy? Well, once again we thank Costa Rican travel filmmaker, Netfali, for making his amazing video, Italian Winds, possible so you and I can experience this epic adventure right along with him... 
Italian Winds takes on a nautical journey across the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Ischia, Matera, Naples, Procida and Sorrento. Enjoy, è bellissimo!!
Be sure to check out Honeymoon & Wedding Hot Spots: Cruising & the Caribbean!