Archives for posts with tag: tourist

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
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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


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.

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
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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(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:

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!

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!

*sent on August 4, 2009 from Hong Kong; part 4 of 4*

Waking up today, I was greeted with the news that Tropical Storm Goni has prompted HK to raise warning level 1, with a pending level 3 warning later in the day.  The kicker – it was slated to go to a level 8 tomorrow, at which point the storm is so severe that everything is closed, and most flights are re-scheduled – very likely my flight to Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow will be one of them!

There wasn’t much to do but wait for the verdict.  The streets were wet and it was raining but I didn’t want a little rain to dampen my last day in HK.  I barely spent any time on HK island and there are TONS of attractions and sights to see and do.  We opted for Repulse Bay, a beach area, and Stanley Market.

To be honest, I was fairly disappointed with both! After having gone to Cuba last year, this beach pales in comparison and Stanley Market was a very touristy area. The highlight was the winding bus ride around the mountain to get to these sites.

At this point, we got a call that HK had raised the warning level to 3, which is still okay, it just indicates high winds and rain.  We headed to the Central area for some lunch at a restaurant that specialized in tripe, beef intestines and other interesting innards (I didn’t order those items…not my cup of tea!).   In this area, there is an outdoor escalator that takes you up the mountain and at each level, you can get off and do shopping or grab a bite to eat.  We then headed back to Tsim Sha Tsui to browse the stores.

After 4 days in Hong Kong – I am exhausted!!! I need to learn to take it easy and not cram so many things into one day. All in all, HK was a lot of fun and I would definitely come back!  As for the next city on my travel itinerary, Ho Chi Minh City, we’ll have to see how that pans out tomorrow.

Hope everything is well with you all. Let me know what’s up with you!

Until next time,

P.S. This is a really long email, sorry! Will try to be more brief!
P.P.S.  Also sorry if I forgot anyone, feel free to forward!
P.P.P.S.  Sorry again, I would have attached photos but I realized I forgot to bring the cord that connects the camera to the computer. Major OOPS!!!

    *sent on August 4, 2009 from Hong Kong; part 3 of 4 (read part 1 and 2)*

    In Toronto, you often see Asian ladies carrying around umbrellas even when it’s a beautiful day. While I understood they do it to shield themselves from the sun’s cancerous rays and preserve their porcelain skin, I never really appreciated the practice.  I finally did during my day trip to Macau, a 1 hour ferry ride from Hong Kong Island. It was a blazing 33 degrees + humidity, so I dug out my umbrella (lined with a UV reflector, of course)!  I was on my own for the day so navigated to the centre of the Macau at Sao Paulo Square.

    First stop, a well-known store that specialized in jerky, little almond cakes, and portugese egg tarts – delicious!  Macau used to be a Portugese settlement and its influences are evident in the city centre, where there were cobblestone streets full of little shops, European style balconies and buildling, and churches. Walking through the streets, there were greeters thrusting samples of jerky from all angles and one even tried to shove one into my mouth with a pair of tongs when my hands were too full (the umbrella, and a cold drink) to take their generous offer.

    The day only got hotter as I trekked around to see the Ruins of St. Paul, the remaining facade a Portugese cathedral and the Fortress and Crypt around it. After about 3 hours of walking, the heat was too unbearable.

    I wanted to check out the Fisherman’s Wharf as well but didn’t want to get heat stroke. So, I hopped back on the bus and headed to the Venetian Casino.  The exterior was gorgeous and there was even a canal with gondola rides (both inside and outside!).  There were murals everywhere and the insides were designed so that you felt like you were strolling the streets of Venice. 

    From high end designer stores, to buffets, shows such as Cirque du Soleil, and of course, the casino, the Venetian was packed with things to do.  Eventually, I headed back to Hong Kong Island…and decided to go to the Peak to get a beautiful view of the city. But I must say, the highlight was probably taking the Peak Tram up to the top, a funicular rail car that has been around since the 1890s, because you can see the harbour and the city line, and due to the steep climb, everything looked like it was angled at 45 degrees.