What a trip! We started in Venice and ended in Catania, Sicily.
Our trip began in Venice. We stayed at the Palazzo San Lorenzo for 5 nights. This hotel was in a great location right in Venice. A short walk to everything, if you didn’t get lost.
The first day adjusting to the time difference is always the hardest. We went to bed early and got up the next morning without much of a problem.

Day 2 was a boat trip to Murano Island, where we watched glass blowers. Then we toured the store where we saw a multitude of glass blowing’s of all varieties. From there we took another boat to Burano Island. We toured this peaceful island and had a lovely lunch before heading back to Venice.

The rest of our group arrived on day 3! The next day was filled with a tour of Doges Palace and a look around St Marks Basilica before heading to more glass blowing in Venice. There is a lot to see and do in and around Venice! I would recommend at least 3 days if you’re going to stay here.

Next, we moved on to Florence! We wandered around the neighbourhood and found a really nice restaurant. Did I mention that we had pizza or pasta almost every night? We never got tired of it.

The next day was our tour of Academy of Fine Arts with the original David. Also, we walked and saw most of Florence, including Ponte Vecchio. After the tour, we stopped for lunch and a little shopping!

This day was for touring. 7 of us went to Cinque Terre, while 4 went on to Pisa, San Gimignano and Siena. I’ve been to the other 3 cities before, but not Cinque Terre. What a wonderful day it was. We saw, ate and swam!!

Our last full day in Florence was spent viewing the city from a higher vantage point. And of course, shopping, eating and riding the carousel

On to Rome! We had 3 days here, so we wanted to see everything we could. Our first day consisted of taking the train and then walking to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.

We started our next day with a visit to the Vatican. Here we toured the Vatican museum and finished with the Sistine Chapel. It never ceases to amaze me each time I see it. Afterward, we did a visit to St Peter’s Basilica. We ended our tour at the Colosseum. Such an amazing site!

The next day was free to do what everyone wanted.

On the train to Naples! We are heading for Sorrento. From the train station in Naples, we took a van transfer to our hotel. Sorrento is very small compared to the places we’ve been so far. We settled in to our hotel, and went for a walk through the streets.

The next day was free. We went shopping and wandering the whole day.

Today was a visit to Pompeii. I personally love that place. It is ever changing, and there is always something new to see. Our guide knew a lot about Pompeii, and was able to fill us in on what happened back in 79A.D.

For the afternoon, we visited a farm and had the most beautiful lunch. We ate a lot! We learned about the different kinds of lemons that are grown, Cheese that is made and of course we had a little wine. All in all, it was a very good day.

Our last day in Sorrento consisted of a beach day. As well as dinner with the group. 5 of them are flying home the next day.

While 5 of our group went home to Canada, the rest of us flew to Sicily. With only a one hour flight to Palermo, we were on the beautiful island in no time. Our time in Palermo was well spent. Our second day consisted of a stop at Monreale and a visit to Cefalu. The church at Monreale was beautiful. We followed the stairs over the top for some views that were breathtaking.

Our stop at Cefalu had us stop for a lunch break and some of the group went swimming afterward. Did I mention gelato?? Cefalu was also a great stop for that.

We had dinner at our hotel tonight. It was likely the best dinner we have had. Who am I kidding, they were all good.

The next day had us stop at the Marsala salt pans for some photos and a quick visit. Also on our day, was a wine tasting at Donnafugata winery. It was very good. We all bought some wine from there.

From the winery, we continued to Agrigento. We had a one night stay here as we were going to see the Valley of the Temples the next morning.

The valley was spectacular! Probably the most impressive was the Temple of Concordia. These ruins have been uncovered since 1783. It was quiet throughout.

We headed for Catania, our final stop for this tour. Wandering around the city was easy.

Our next day took us to Savoca, where they filmed the Godfather 2. Here we visited the Bar Vitelli as well as the church. For a small place, they had a lot to offer.

After that, we took a tour of Taormina. We walked and took photos and shopped! Oh.. and had gelato.

Our last day was a beach day. With views of Mt Etna in the background. We couldn’t have asked for a better trip, or a better group of people!


A Week In The Sun!

Puerto Vallarta!
A week went by so quickly. Seeing friends, warming the bones can pass by like the blink of an eye. I took a group of 43 to the RIU Vallarta for a fun filled getaway January 9-16, 2022.

The beach in front of the resort is beautiful. If you like smaller waves for boogie boarding, or just for playing in, this is the resort for you. Endless miles to walk in each direction gives you choices each day. I think a walk to Bucerias at the end of a fun filled day is in order.

Bucerias is a nice town about a one stroll along the beach. It had a market and lots of shops to wander through. We watched the sun set and took a cab home for the short trip back to the hotel.

We spent a lot of time at the beach. The resort itself has a lot to offer. If you like pools, they offer a swim up pool, as well as several other pools depending on whether you prefer sun, shade, activities or none. You could be busy all day.

The restaurants were all good. The buffet was great for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pepe’s grill was a fabulous lunchtime venue located near the beach/ pool area. Dinner was available at the Italian, Kulinarium, steak house and Nirvana. I tried them all except Nirvana. Next time!

One night was a tour to a Mexican Fiesta. What a fun night! We watched a rodeo. Some took part. The food was tasty, and the drinks were great! We rode an open air bus there and back as part of the fun.

All in all, it was great to get back with people!!

California Here I Come!

I have to say I was pretty excited to travel again! I arrived at the airport early to anticipate any delays. Line ups through security were long, but they usually are. They moved quickly. Pre clearing U.S. customs was a breeze. So, off to find a Starbucks before meeting the group.

We did so much each day that I needed to remind myself that I’d only been in California for a short while. Our first hotel was the Westin Anaheim. The rooms are well appointed and this hotel just opened in 2021. My room had a great view of California Adventure park’s Screamin Roller Coaster. It was about a 10-15 minute walk to the parks. Or, you can book a pass for ART transportation, which is kind of like an Uber Bus that will take you all over Anaheim.

Our next stop was the beautiful Radisson Blu. We not only got to tour this beautiful hotel, but also had the opportunity to have a lovely lunch. This hotel is close to all the main attractions and opened in August 2020. It is only 4 blocks to the entrance of the Disney parks.

The rest of our day was spent with a drive around Anaheim. We saw the stadium where the California Angels play and the Honda Center which is home to the Anaheim Ducks. Our drive also took us past the Anaheim Packing District. All of these would be a fun way to enhance the stay!

Our last stop of the day was at the JW Marriott Anaheim Resort. This beautiful hotel boasts some amazing views inside and out. Our dinner was hosted at this hotel, and was exceptional!

Day 2! Our first day was spent in the Disney Parks. California Adventure to start. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in a while, so a lot has changed. The Avengers Campus is now open, and features the Web Slingers ride among many other adventures. The characters were out and about. The Cars ride is a personal favorite, and while the line ups are long, you can go as a single rider to avoid the waits. There are a ton of rides to choose from, so don’t hesitate to try them all if you have the time.
Disneyland for a wander through was on the list for the afternoon. The new Star Wars Land is definitely a highlight. There is a lot to see just by walking through this area.

Day 3 started with breakfast at the Great Wolf Lodge, along with a tour of the property. This hotel is a little further from Disney, but has an indoor waterpark, as well as bowling, arcade and so much more. The rest of the was spent at Downtown Disney, Disneyland Park and a meal at the Grand Californian at the GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill. We did have a short adventure part way through our day to get a covid test for our return flight.
This day was equally as full, and a necessary nap was in order at the end of the day!

We left the Westin this morning, but not before a beautiful breakfast at the Tangerine Room and a quick tour of the hotel. The staff at this hotel are truly outstanding. We all enjoyed our stay!

On our way to Huntington Beach! This was my first time in this area, and I just have to say Wow! The beach is approximately 10 miles long, with excellent surfing and beach culture. We started our stay with yoga on the beach and right after, watched dolphins in the surf. We walked to Ola Mexican Kitchen for lunch, and then had some free time at the hotel pool. Our stay was at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. What a beautiful hotel. It was quite spread out and has the only walkway bridge that leads over to the beach complete with an elevator if you need. Dinner at the Watertable was served after the tour of this beautiful property. To top off the evening, we went to the beach and sat by an open fire to have s’mores. How does it get better than this!

Our next day starts around 8:30am, so after a great night sleep, we meet up for breakfast and coffee and then head to the pier for our surfing lesson with Rocky McKinnon at Mckinnon Surf. I didn’t partake, but took photos of the surfers of our group. It was outstanding to watch how each of them were able to get out and make this look so easy! After getting out of the wetsuits, we wandered over to Sandy’s Beach Shack for a little lunch before our boat cruise on Huntington Harbor with Prince Charters LLC.

The food! You can just imagine how good the food was. We ended our day at Duke’s Huntington Beach and luckily had about a 10 minute walk back to the hotel. The food was fantastic along this entire trip. Here are just a few of the options.

This was a great way to get back into the swing of travel. The fun, the food, the people…it was amazing! Thank you Air Canada Vacations for this wonderful time.


Ocean Coral Spring

Ah…Jamaica! Always a welcoming destination.

The Ocean Coral Spring is a fairly new resort. It opened in December 2019, and then had to close in March of 2020. It is now open! It’s approximately 40 minutes from Montego Bay airport. The beautiful views along the way easily distract you from getting bored with the drive.

Checking in can be done online, or at the front desk on arrival. If you have upgraded to the Privilege option, you’ll find a separate desk for all of that.

This resort has a lot to offer. With 8 restaurants to choose from, you will certainly have anything that your heart desires. Reservations are required for the Sakura, but all other restaurants allow you to just show up during their open hours. The coffee shop and Ice Cream shop are also available for in between meals!

Activities are abundant around the resort. There is a 6 lane bowling alley. Be sure to bring a pair of socks with you. Shoes and everything else are provided. The lazy river is available for all ages. It’s a great way to cool off without a lot of effort.
The Daisy area has a waterslide park and play area for the kids. The Water sports center at the beach includes non motorized water sports. The teen club includes a pool table, foosball, video games…no one can be bored at the Ocean Coral Spring!
The theatre holds the evening shows when the weather does not permit for outside shows. And of course, lounging by the beach, or any of the resort pools can fill a day!

All of the rooms at this resort are Junior Suites. Starting with a Garden view, all of the rooms are well appointed and quite large. Other categories are swim up rooms, Daisy Category for views of the water park. Ocean View, Oceanfront, Rooftop and Master Suites are also available. For a real treat, add the Privilege option! You won’t be disappointed.

The Ocean Coral Spring is a beautiful resort worth a visit. It’s close enough to several attractions like the Luminous Lagoon, Martha Brae and even Dunn’s River Falls.
With so many options at the resort, you might just want to hang out there for a week.

When you’re ready!

The 14 day quarantine

So, you’ve just taken a trip out of the country. On arrival back to Canada, you are currently required to quarantine at home, or somewhere without other people for 14 days. This sounds like a lot, but here are some ways that might make this task a little easier.

This is not my house

Step 1: Before you travel:
Do not attempt to clean your home. This will definitely take up several hours of the 14 days once you get back. It might even be a good idea to make up a schedule to do the cleaning. This schedule writing could potentially use up at least an hour or two of your time.
It’s also important to stock up on food prior to your departure. Of course, it is nice to have someone available that could pick up fresh fruit, veggies etc once you get home.
You can also use a number of different delivery services to order groceries, meals….anything you think you might require.

Step 2: Heading home:
Prior to arriving in Canada, you will now need to download the ArriveCan app. You’ll be able to add your arriving flight details, along with other pertinent information that is required at this time. Every couple of days, you’ll receive an email asking how you’re feeling and if you’re following all the rules that you agreed to. This will eat up a good 5 minutes to answer their questions. This time is really flying by!

Step 3: At home:
Well, here we are for the next 14 days. I’m sure you’ll have some laundry from the trip to do. I would suggest doing 1 load per day. This will extend the job, and will feel as though you have a lot to do.
And now, back to house cleaning. If you left the house in a bit of disarray before your trip, this will be a welcome chore. Again, don’t rush through it.
If you’re lucky enough to work from home, you can also schedule in your work time, which will then make the time seem to go even quicker.
Other suggestions might be an at home work out program, Netflix, video games. The possibilities are endless!

When you consider all the time it will take to do all of these chores, make meals, answer the ArriveCan app questions every other day, you’ll be done with the quarantine before you know it.

A Week in Paradise!

Travel has always been so important to me, as it is to many others. Getting away from it all has never seemed more powerful than now.

The Velas Vallarta has been in my radar for some time. To actually go and experience it, was a game changer. This resort was outstanding. From the moment you arrive, every detail is taken care of for you.

Our one bedroom suite had the expansive views of Banderas Bay. With room service included, it was easy to just order in each morning and enjoy these great views.
Speaking of food…. It’s probably good that we had to come home after enjoying so many incredible options either at La Ribera, or Andrea. The Andrea is the restaurant that is currently open for dinner, and La Ribera for breakfast and lunch. Pool and beach service are also available, so you can just relax anywhere and never be without a drink or a snack.

This resort is well established, so the grounds are beautiful to wander through. I had the opportunity to see the resident peacocks wandering around.
Swimming pools are connected by a peaceful narrow waterway that you can walk or float through. The activity pool closest to the beach offers a swim up pool bar, pool volleyball and various other options. It’s easy to just relax anywhere around this resort.

My fave is the beach! Swimming right in front of the hotel was a bit challenging, but definitely doable for the ones braver than me. Every morning would include a walk on the beach and another in the afternoon, and sometimes more in between.

The Velas Vallarta is located very close to the Marina Vallarta. It is an easy 10-15 minute walk. It’s a great place to wander through, with plenty of restaurants and shopping. This was a perfect walk on a cloudy morning to pick up a few things that we just couldn’t live without!

I do believe this resort will be seeing my return. I loved everything about it.

Let me know when you’re ready.

Ah Mexico!

I’ve never been to Mexico in September. The warm weather trips are usually reserved for January or February. This trip proved to be everything and more!
After several months of restricted travel, it was nice to get out again. Flying, and navigating airports is easy. Having a smart phone at your disposal can speed things up in regard to filling in health questionnaires, but it’s not completely necessary.

I’ve always loved the fact that beaches in Mexico are not private to each resort. So, long beach walks are always a possibility. Finding spots along the walk to swim in the ocean is definitely a bonus.

7 nights at the Ocean Riviera Paradise was a fantastic stay! The resort offers plenty of activities throughout the day and evening. There’s even a bowling alley. This is a perfect place for families, couples, single adults…everyone!

Restaurants were available to book via the H10 app provided by the hotel. This was quick and easy every day, and there were no limits to how many times you’d like to go to any of them. A favorite was Sakura which offers Teppanyaki style cooking. It’s not only fun to watch, but quite delicious! Other restaurants included Italian, Steak house, Mexican, a burger place, and a Caribbean restaurant. There is also a buffet available for breakfast and lunch, and dinner a few times a week. There is one more lunch buffet by the beach for lunch. Mikes Coffee shop, and an ice cream shop are open at various times of the day.

If you’re ready to travel again, the world awaits! It looks a little different than before, but doors are opening!

Winnipeg for the Win!

Winnipeg for the Win!

This trip started out as a visit to see family, and became an adventure that surprised me to say the least. Winnipeg and the area has some of the most unique restaurants I’ve been to. The first stop was Pineridge Hollow. This beautiful Farm to Table restaurant offers amazing food, as well as beautiful grounds to wander around and enjoy before or after dining. It’s located near Oakbank, Manitoba, just east of Winnipeg. It is also very close to Birds Hill Park, where you can take in the Winnipeg Folk Festival every July. 

After eating, it’s always important to get in some exercise. This afternoons adventure took us to Assiniboine Park with a stroll through the beautiful Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. The Assiniboine Park Zoo is right next to these gardens. It’s also worth a look if you’ve got time.

It’s been quite some time that I’ve seen a real prairie thunder storm. And luckily, we finished our garden walk just in time to hear the thunder roll, and to see some amazing bolts of lightning.

Saturday started with coffee of course. Then, on to the Manitoba Legislative Building. This building was completed in 1920, and stands 77 meters high. It is famous for its Golden Boy statue at the top. It’s a gold covered bronze statue based on the Roman god Mercury, or the Greek god Hermes.
The “Bears on Broadway” decorate the grounds of the Legislature. The bears celebrate the 75th anniversary of Cancer Care Manitoba.

So, now we’ve walked, we can eat again. On to Baked Expectations on Osborne Street. Do not miss this!

A little more walking back to the car and on to The Forks. You’ll find a wide array of shops and restaurants here. We enjoyed a Cinnamon Bun from the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company. Of course we shared all of these items so there would be room for more! The area around the Forks will offer a lot of photo opportunities.

Our next stop is the Human Rights Museum. This is a must for any visitor to Winnipeg. The purpose of the museum is to “explore the subject of human rights with a special but not exclusive reference to Canada, to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue.”

This has already been a full day, but, one more stop at Blondies for one more dining experience. Sandy Doyle has been running this place for almost 30 years. People come here for the burgers, shakes, fries and ambiance. She offers a 9 lb burger that requires a $100 damage deposit. If you finish the burger, you’ll get your $100 back. I wasn’t so brave. I shared an 1/8 lb burger with my sister.

Today we travel to Gimli, Manitoba. It is located on the west side of Lake Winnipeg. The community’s first European settlers were from Iceland. They became part of the New Iceland settlement in Manitoba. The settlers sustained themselves primarily from agriculture and fishing.

Gimli beach is a popular summer spot, and every year you can head there for Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival). 2020 will offer a virtual Festival, but definitely keep this in mind for your future adventures. And, of course, food in Gimli… our stop today was at K.F.C., Kris’ Fish & Chips. I planned ahead and shared some delicious pickerel and chips, so that I could join in for the dessert, Eyjafjallajokull. This Island mountain glacier volcano includes my favorite Vinarterta (Icelandic Cake), along with soft vanilla ice cream and more!

If you find yourself in the Winnipeg area, please be sure to check out as much as you can. I was fascinated by the beauty of the wide open prairie, the incredible food, and the friendly people everywhere we went. Add this to your bucket list for 2020!

Take me back to Greece!

I’ve been to Greece twice. The first trip was focused on Athens, followed by a seven night cruise to visit Mykonos, Crete, Patmos, Kusadasi (Turkey), and finally Santorini. All of the islands and Kusadasi have so much history to offer. Flying into Athens is the best place to start. Taking the time to see the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, the Temple of Zeus, many museums, and simply wandering the streets is well worth a few days here.

The cruise ship port is located in Piraeus, the chief sea port of Athens. There are many options to get around the Greek Islands. A cruise ship is always nice, as you’ll be able to unpack and settle in for a few days to discover a few of the islands. Most cruises will include the stop at Kusadasi in Turkey where a visit to Ephesus is a must. The ruins here are high on the list of my favourites in the world.

Of course, Greece has so much more to offer than just their islands. Perhaps you’ve watched the Olympics on TV. In Greece, you can walk among the ruins in Olympia where the Olympics began in 776 BC. In Corinth, you can visit the stunning canal, and in Delphi there is much to learn about the Oracle and how people in ancient times would travel there to seek her wisdom.

A highlight for me was seeing Meteora. The word Meteora translates to “hovering in the air”. There are six monasteries built on the very tops of these geological phenomenons.


Both trips to Greece were fantastic. There are places and experiences there that really stand out to me but I will say that so far, my favorite place in Greece is the island of Santorini, officially known as Thira. 

I was lucky enough to spend four nights on this island, and could easily have spent a week or more. It is a place for relaxation, and for some great touring and food. The donkey ride up the hill is exhilarating. 

Santorini is high on my list to revisit. I stayed in the town of Fira, which is located centrally on the island. There are buses that can take you to Oia, the beaches, or wherever you’d like to explore. Car rentals are also an option. I always find that walking is the nicest way to get around, as you’ll see and experience so much more.

Let’s plan to go to Greece!


Ixtapa 2020

I have to say, I love this place! January 9-16, 2020 was my fourth year in a row to the Azul Ixtapa Grand. The resort just gets better and better all the time. Our group of 26 all enjoyed this week and managed to get in a variety of excursions and relaxation. 7 days goes by quickly.

While the beach in front of the hotel is small, there is a beach to the right, and to the left of the Azul that anyone can access for long walks in the sand, or even some fun swimming time in the ocean. A short walk along the boardwalk joins up with a beach that connects you to the Ferry dock for Ixtapa Island. 50 pesos will get you over to the island and back. You’ll also find Playa Linda at that end of the beach. The little village offers a few restaurants, and some opportunities for shopping. Or maybe a massage? Some are available for 250 pesos!
Nearby the village is the Crocodile Reserve. Be sure to stop in to see a lot of crocs, and some great varieties of birds.

Ixtapa is just a short bus, or cab ride away if you’re looking for more shops and restaurants. Franks Bar is a popular hang out in Ixtapa and worth stopping by while you wait for your friends to finish their shopping.

The resort offers 3 pools, including an adults only quiet pool, a swim up pool bar, and an activity pool. You’ll also find a very nice gym if you are so inclined. Kayaking to Ixtapa Island is included, along with cycling tours.  This resort offers so much! The disco opens at 11:00pm, so I have yet to experience that!

There are a lot of dining options to choose from. The Buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. A la carte restaurants include Italian, Asian, and Mexican, as well as the Oyster Bar. The snack bar near the infinity pool is a personal fave for lunch.

Sunsets, or watching the moon set..all rooms have an ocean view, so you’ll never miss all the beauty this resort has to offer! Ixtapa 2021 prices are coming soon

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