Archives for category: Travel

flowers
Mazel tov to yet another friend who has joined the league of married folk! The union took place in Kleinburg, which I didn’t know even existed, just 40 minutes outside of the city, at the McMichael Canadian Art Museum (it houses iconic collections such as the Group of Seven).

I love going to weddings of different faiths and seeing the unique traditions and rituals. A few things I learned:

  • it’s common for Jewish weddings to take place on Sundays because Saturday is a holy day of rest
  • the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other the week before the wedding and then during the day of, the groom needs to check that the bride is indeed her (as per a reference to a biblical tale)
  • 18 is considered a lucky number, meaning long life
  • the ceremony takes place under a ‘chuppah’, a canopy, meaning the home they will build together
  • the groom promises to sell the shirt of his back to provide for the wife (I found this part funny…only because it was so bluntly put!)

totem pole - mcmichael canadian art collection
(an intersection of cultures: a totem pole which depicting a frog surfing the web – not pictured!)

flowers, table settings
(note that only the top tier of the cake is real! so genius!)

under the chuppah
(happily ever after!)

HUZZAH!

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belleville on the water
(my favourite photo from the weekend – houses along the waterfront)

During my splendid getaway to Niagara-on-the-lake, one of my companions mentioned Picton, Ontario as a place to visit, particularly for their abundance of homemade jam. After a quick Google search, not only did I find places to buy jam, I stumbled upon the Great Canadian Cheese Festival!

great canadian cheese festival
cheese
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local winery field

When it comes to travel, I’ve always been drawn towards far off and exotic places. I’ve lived in Canada nearly all my live and only once flirted with the thought of travelling across Canada and seeing the great wonders of my country (not counting the work trips I had to Edmonton and Vancouver this year!). The trip never panned out and still, the idea still only sometimes lingers in my mind.

That said, I’ve been to Niagara Falls many times, particularly when relatives visit from distant lands, but I’ve never explored Niagara-on-the-lake. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it and after spending a weekend there, I now know why it’s nicknamed “the loveliest town in Canada”. Tucked away in the southern part of Ontario, in the Niagara region, it is a fantastic weekend getaway from the city.

The weekend called for rain and but we set off anyway, fingers crossed for some sun since our plans included a bike tour around the wineries.

We smartly opted to stay at Globetrotter’s bed and breakfast. We were met with luscious landscaping and an inviting porch, wood interiors with exposed beam, and charming rooms peppered with worldly souvenirs.

globetrotter b&b porch
globetrotters b&b

The hosts, Donna and Fernando, showed incomparable hospitality (and some mean skills in the kitchen!). She is the editor for Dreamscapes, a travel and lifestyle magazine in the Globe and Mail and, he is an equality well traveled hospitality manager at a local hotel. Together, they make the perfect team.

After a quick rest, we walked to the local bike rental store, Zoom then took off to explore the wineries and sample local wine. We visited 5 altogether: Stratus , Caroline Cellars, Pondview Winery, Frogpond Farm Winery, and Mary Nissen

I don’t proclaim to be a wine connoisseur by any means but I definitely enjoyed being able to sample wine and having someone there to explain the nuances in taste to me. I found that I had an affinity towards sweeter wines, and ice wine.

ice wine shots
Ice wine shooters in chocolate – so delicious!

garbage bag poncho
The garbage bag poncho = solution to the rain

sheep
Sheep!

We must have biked for about 4 hours (in the rain) and were completely soaked but it was hilariously fun. A hearty meal at Strewn
was a great way to end an tiring day.

We woke up with sore limbs and butts but trooped to the town to take a peek at the local shops and for the infamous Cow’s ice cream.

brunch
Our fabulous brunch the next morning in the sun room.

sun room brunch
A perfectly cooked egg on smoked beef and a biscuit with hollandaise sauce, made by Fernando!

Kennedy's gelato
Scrumptious treats at Kennedy’s gelato, a new gelato joint owned by the nicest woman!

niagara apothecary
Pretty vintage bottles at the Niagara Apothecary.

After a quick lunch at the Old Winery Restaurant, we said farewell to Niagara-on-the-lake, with a promise to come back soon!

While I was in Cincinnati for my cousin’s wedding, I had a little bit of time to explore the city. Sadly, there isn’t much to do in Cincinnati!

When I got there on Saturday morning, I met a lot of family members and we went out for lunch in Kentucky at Newport on the levee, which is just over the Ohio river, about 5 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. There, we grabbed a bite to eat, at Brothers. One of their signature dishes was Beer Battered Cheese Curds so we had as an appetizer to share. Not terribly impressive. (Can’t beat the real cheese curds of Quebec!)

The day after the wedding, the family met for brunch and then set off for Chicago to get back to work. I had some time to kill before my flight early the next morning so my day was spent shopping (because there was nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon!) and wandering.

My hotel was right next to Fountain Square, which is probably one of the most happening places in city. There was a Cinco de Mayo celebration going on, with lively Mexican music, dance, food, and lots of activities, including a llama petting zoo!

cinco de mayo fountain square
llama
I sampled a seafood ceviche, accompanied by a tall glass of pineapple juice. My cousins and I also shared a churro.

seafood ceviche
I then hit up a Macy’s and a TJ Maxx and score some great deals on workout clothes, a curling iron, and jeans! And finally, met up with my cousin and new cousin-in-law for dinner. But not before we ate more cupcakes and drank more champagne!

I’m at that age where it seems like everyone around me is getting married! I have about four weddings to go to this year and know many others who are getting hitched!

My first wedding of the year was my cousin, Michael’s, on May 7th, 2011. My dad’s brother (my uncle), and aunt, and two cousins live in Chicago. While I see my uncle almost every year, rarely do I see my cousins. The last time we saw each other was when we were all still teenagers, over a decade ago, at our grandfather’s funeral. After so long, it was so nice to reconnect.

The wedding took place in Cincinnati at the Taft Museum of Art and it was such a lovely affair!

Warning: lots of photos!

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I survived week two at my new job and can I admit that I love it even more each day? Perhaps it’s the honeymoon period (or the fact that they feed us breakfast and lunch) but I’m looking forward to what else is in store!

Anyway, New York seems like so long ago but I wanted to share my time there because it was great and I have tons of photos!

I stayed at The Standard, a boutique hotel known for it’s hip interior, great food, and celebrity sightings. It’s located in the trendy Meatpacking District , an area unfamiliar to me (the last time I went, we were just south of Central Park).

the standard hotelthe standard exteriorthe standard bathroom the standard bathroom
(Notice how the massive tub doesn’t have a door, and all that separates it from the bedroom is a pane of glass? Yeah, that’s right! Kinky!)

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nyc by night
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
Theres nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York…

New York City is one of those places that I feel like I can visit over and over and there will always be something new to see and do. My trip was fabulous and far exceeded my expectations. It was the perfect mix of newness, education, exploration, and fun (the lovely weather didn’t hurt either!).

Monday morning was nerve wracking for me – my first day at my new job. As vain as it is, I fretted over picking out my outfit for the day! You can never take back that first impression. It’s like picking out your outfit for the first day of school. You want to make sure you fit in with the culture, are work appropriate, and look approachable.

first day of work
(shirt from Jacob, sweater from Jacob, skirt from Zara, necklace from Walmart, boots from Aldo)

My first day was jam packed with orientation stuff – introductions, building tours, social ice breaker games – and then the rest of the week just flew by and I was still LOVING it. I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow at my normal office (did I just say I can’t wait to go to work?).

More photos and such on my New York trip to come!

jw
(dress from Jacob, necklace from The Bay)

If I had a glass of wine or a cocktail right now, I’d cheers you all -to new adventures! As I mentioned in a previous post, I quit my job and am starting a new one on Monday. It really was a bittersweet moment. I was sad but happy and I will definitely miss my colleagues. It was my first job out of university so it is all that I have ever known.

Things have been so hectic that I haven’t really had the chance to digest. After I got back from Vancouver, I hopped the Ontario border to Montreal, the last stop of the roadshow I was a part of at my [old] work.

When I think of Montreal, I think style, culture, sophistication, excitement, and romance (it’s the French thing!). And that means it also makes it on my list of ‘places I’d like to live in’. I can also then practice my french. Oui oui!

old montreal building (The view from my hotel room – it was snowing)

A couple of restaurants we went to:

L’assomoir
A quaint tapas style place that specializes in seafood. We started of with an assortment of appetizers (humus, candied salmon, kefta, plantain chips) and for our main, we ordered a huge feast to share (literally, I think the translation was “The Feast”). The platter had crab legs, steak, shrimp, salmon, salad…we were stuffed!

Holder
Located in old Montreal, I couldn’t tell what sort of cuisine this restaurant was. It was okay. Nothing too special in my opinion. I ordered the calamari and the lobster ravioli and sampled a pesto potato salad and salmon tartare. The latter two were really tasty and unique.

Well, m’dears, I’m off again! This time to New York City, baby! My new company is flying me out for an orientation and training which is OUTSTANDING! I can’t wait!

me in hotel roomDay 1: casual outfit for event set up
(shirt from gap, vest from jacob, pants from rue 21, belt from ?, boots from Nine West)

me in hotel room
me in hotel room Day 2: suited up for customer event; jeans for evening outings
(suit custom made in Hoi An, Vietnam, shirt from H&M, necklace from the Bay, jeans from rue 21)

Guys, I think I am in love. With Vancouver that is. I knew right from the moment I got out of the airport and hopped into a cab for the short ride over to the downtown core. The scenery is amazing, the air is fresh and crisp, the buildings are beautiful – the vibe is so inviting. And I knew right then and there that it has made it onto my “places I’d want to live” list.

My hotel was the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel which boasted a spectacular view of the mountains and water.

vancouver - view from hotel
vancouver - view from hotel bar view from hotel
This time around, I was lucky to have squeezed in some downtime, and even luckier that I had a friend and some colleagues out there who were kind enough to take us out.

Here are a few places that we went over two days:

Kamei Japanese Restaurant
One of the first Japanese restaurants in Vancouver that introduced the traditions and culture of Japan to Vancouverites. The staff are dressed in kimonos and we had to remove our shoes to sit on mats (there was space carved out under the table so we could dangle our legs). We ordered a bunch of share plates and roles. I tried fresh wild salmon (very different in taste and texture than the salmon sashimi in Toronto) and sea urchin. The latter was less than appetizing.

Cactus Club Cafe
A trendy bar (casual fine dining during the day) where we were entertained by a very intoxicated lady who tried relentlessly to pick up men.

Chill Winston
A restaurant & lounge in the lovely, cobbled streets of Gastown. We ended up in the private party room. I ordered the indulgent poutine and balanced it out with some steamed veg. Nice vibe, great food, great company!

Republic Nightclub
After a night of food and drinks, we wanted to go dancing and this was a great pick! We found ourselves a cozy corner on the second floor and hopped from one room to another where they were playing both house and hip hop.

Off to Montreal on Monday – last show and my last days at my current job. What a crazy month it has been!

30 for 30 - day 25 daily outfit
(DAY 25: sweater from ralph lauren, dress from banana republic, belt from INC Macy’s, scarf from my mom’s closet, shoes from Aldo)

Dear friends,

A quickie post before I jet set off to Vancouver, BC. Hoping to have some down time to explore the city or perhaps taste some succulent french sushi.

Be back soon!

xoxo
Jen