I'll Follow You Anywhere

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There are without question many drawbacks to living so far from my hometown, but as I get older I start to discover more and more advantages too. Time with family is that much more special, I covet the mountains and ocean more than ever and every time I go home to visit I find the city transformed with new developments I couldn’t have dreamed of!

When I originally left Vancouver fresh out of high school I was bored by the slower pace, but now I soak up every moment of quiet I can while back in town. That said, you might even find Vancouver has got a leg up on Toronto in some departments, with spots like Virtuous Pie vegan pizza, the stupidly beautiful Botanist restaurant and SO many craft breweries! Check out my full list of favourites new and old here:

New Finds //

Nectar Juice
Botanist
Anh & Chi
Hey Kokomo
33 Acres
Besties (and Sunday! Cider)
The Bird and The Beet
Brassneck
The Good Spirit
The Alibi Room
Small Victory
Nightingale
Ask for Luigi
Four Winds Brewing
Andina
Kissa Tanto
Virtuous Pie
Rainbow Alley

Oldies But Goodies //

Moderne Burger
Me n Ed’s Pizza
La Casa Gelato
Butter Baked Goods
Medina Cafe
The Cross
49th Parallel

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Dress UpI'll Follow You Anywhere

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So I already published the BIGGEST NOLA GUIDE EVER, but believe it or not, there are still a few more posts to come. One of the restaurants in my guide was so special that I figured it was owed an entire post of its own.

Pastel people, meet Brennan’s, one of the pinkest and prettiest places I’ve ever been! I noticed the cotton-candy pink exterior on our first walk through the French Quarter on day one, and without even glancing at the menu I knew we had to go in – it was love at first sight!

A few days later we returned for brunch and explored the space itself, a wonderful collection of whimsical rooms filled with my favourite shades of green, pink and peach. There were hand-painted oyster dishes on the walls, glass lined with drawings of tropical birds, gorgeous tiled tables and a courtyard complete with pink flowers and a turtle fountain! It seemed never ending as I explored room to room, and even the bath room was what dreams are made of.

In my star spangled romper and pink sunnies I couldn’t have felt more at home, and if you love pink, you’ll fit right in too!

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I'll Follow You Anywhere

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It’s hard to truly understand New Orleans without having seen, heard, tasted and felt it yourself – it’s a truly sensory experience unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. When our team member Kelsie went for Valentine’s Day last year (mini guide here) I’ll admit I was intrigued, but NOLA didn’t actually end up on my radar until my friend Tellie asked me to go down with her this past November. I had a rule for 2017 that I’d say yes to any adventure that came my way, so I bought the ticket and started making lists of things I wanted to see in the 7 days I was there.

Suffices to say I had no idea I’d end up with a list THIS big! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done a city guide this gigantic all at once (hence the delay in getting it published for you guys), but there was just SO MUCH GOOD! I mean for starters, the entire city is almost completely painted in pastel shades – it’s a #pastelhunting dream if I ever saw one! I’m surprised I didn’t lose my voice from all of the excited squealing I did walking around New Orleans. The first day we explored the Bywater neighbourhood, our favourite part of the city, I couldn’t go two steps without snapping another photo of the sweet colourful houses.

Even as someone who loves to write, I have a hard time summing up New Orleans on paper. The city is so ALIVE, with so much FLAVOUR in every sense of the word. Live jazz pours into the streets from every bar, and incredible musicians play loudly on the sidewalks outside too, creating a symphony of sound. The food is rich and hearty, and the cocktails are unparalleled. Best of all, the people are so darn friendly! Every Uber we took or beer we ordered at a bar came with an offer of advice, local spots to see and a friendly smile (if not a hug). Though it was never top of my list, I can’t wait to get back to this beautiful colourful city!

A few travel tips:

-If you’re vegetarian, plan ahead. This is NOT a lot of veg food and even less vegan so you’ll have to strategize your eating plans. I tried to include restaurants with options for everyone on my list but always check the menu first!

-Always pack a bathing suit. The weather can be super unpredictable, but when it’s hot you’ll want to take advantage of your hotel pool, or go visit The Country Club.

-I know it seems obvious, but be careful if you go out drinking! NOLA is home of the yummy fruity drinks that are secretly super strong. Beware of the “Hand Grenades” and “Hurricanes” specifically if you don’t want to miss a day of travel because you’re sick in bed (erm, not speaking from experience?)

-Though New Orleans is awesome for anyone, I especially recommend it for couples and lovers. Everywhere you go feels like the best date ever (like when I got roped into Swing Dancing classes at a dive bar) and the romance opportunities are endless. Move over Paris!

-If you’re international take out a bit of cash, as there are still a few places that don’t take credit cards (like the famous Café du Monde!)

Scroll down for the full guide!

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Food //

Bar Tonique
Bratz ya’ll
Pizza Delicious
Brennan’s
Bacchanal Wine Bar
NOLA Brewery
Mcclure’s BBQ
The Grill French Quarter

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Josephine Estelle
Cafe Beignet
Imperial Woodpecker Sno Balls
District Donuts
Sucre
Commander’s Palace
Carousel Bar
Drip Coffee
The Mellow Mushroom
Oak
Elizabeth’s
The Country Club

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French Truck Coffee
Sylvain
Congregation Coffee
Old Point Bar
Stein’s Deli
Poke Loa
Napoleon House
Magasin Cafe
Lilette

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Shops //

DNO
The Elizabeth Chronicles
West London BQT
Lionheart Prints
Freda
Folio and Flores
Peaches Records
Hemline
Lucy Rose
Tattoo a Go Go
Porter Lyons
Angelique Clothing

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Hotels //

International House Hotel
Hotel Mazarin

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Places //

Botanical Gardens
Lafayette Cemetery
Street Car
Longue Vue
City Park

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NOLA shopping guide:

Pink Carry-On Luggage
White Cowboy Boots
Cafe Dumonde Beignet Mix 28 oz
Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chickory, 15 Ounce
June Christy – Gone For The Day/Fair And Warm
Crystal Louisiana’s Pure Hot Sauce

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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It’s hard to know where to start when writing up my guide for Cuba. To start, there was so much pastel everywhere that I can hardly call my time there “pastel hunting” – the entire island is a rainbow of milky shades!

I did a horrible job of researching before our trip (in my defence, it was fairly last-minute), so unlike my usual travel habits, I landed in Cuba almost entirely unprepared. In retrospect I definitely should’ve packed some allergy medication and bug spray, brushed up on my Spanish skills etc. but there was something exciting about not having it all figured it out.

Though our trip was short and not properly scheduled, we managed to do so much between the resort and Havana!

We stayed in Memories Jibocoa Resort an hour outside Havana, and split our time between the two. At the resort we indulged in massages at the on-site spa, sipped endless pina coladas by the beach, swam in the pool under moonlight and frequented the 24-hour deli for late-night grilled cheese sandwiches. On Fridays there is a Cuban party on the beach complete with fresh cut coconuts, cocktails served in pineapple and a killer live band, so make sure you check that out if you’re around! A catamaran tour complete with snorkelling at the reef is also not to be missed – who knew flying fish actually fly?! If you feel like getting a bit wild, you also have to visit the piano bar, where singing along is a must (don’t worry, if you order the “fire drink” you won’t be shy for long!)

When it comes to our time in Havana, I’m just going to list all of the things we loved most below. The city was so alive, it was almost overwhelming, but with the help of our amazing driver we were able to cover a lot of ground in a super short time.

In Havana //

Eat at Paladar Los Mercaderes
Drink at La Guarida
Dance with Daiquiris at El Floridita
Explore at Fabrica De Arte
Stock up on snacks at the fruit stands
Walk along the Malecón seawall
Hire a colourful vintage taxi for a tour
Shop for cigars at Morro Castle

Keep scrolling for our travel tips and so many photos!

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A few general travel tips:

*Take out Canadian cash and exchange it into the convertible peso (for tourists) at the hotel when you arrive. There is no way to get this currency outside of Cuba, and when you’re heading back you can have any leftover cash changed back to Canadian at the airport.

*Learn as much Spanish as you can, even if it’s just the basics.

*If you’re vegan, bring along a lot of protein bars and other filling, nutrient dense snacks. We love Luna Bar in Lemon Zest . Being pescetarian is super easy, and vegetarian isn’t bad either, but if you’re vegan you’ll likely be living off of just fruit and bread the entire trip. Also if you’re vegetarian watch out for meat products in unexpected dishes, like rice and beans!

*Plan to disconnect as much as possible. Wifi is few and far between, and buying internet time can get pricey – but who wants to be on their phone anyway in such a beautiful place? A portable charger is always a must in our packing routine.

*If you can, plan to bring along some extra clothing and household goods, like toothbrushes, condoms, tampons/pads and baby products. These items are expensive and hard to come by in Cuba, and in my personal experience leaving them with locals can be a great way to say thank you.

*Bring insect repellent , sun screen , basic first aid items, and do NOT forget any prescription meds! Again, very hard to come by.

Additional resources: Margo & Me has a super helpful guide on her site for American travellers!

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An extra special thank you to Siren Communications and Memories Resorts, plus everyone else who made this amazing vacation happen!

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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Though I’m from BC and generally considered more outdoorsy than most Toronto folk, I’m by no means an expert camper. Growing up we went “camping”, but for my high maintenance parents that always meant some form of glamping, usually in a massive RV with all the fixings.

Perhaps that’s why I am SO into Glamping Hub.

Have you ever wished there was an AirBNB for outdoor adventures? Meet Glamping Hub, the perfect place to find your next cabin or treehouse. This site is international, easy to use, and has SO many unreal alternative accommodations. From yurts and beach shacks to converted barns and luxury tents, there is seriously something unexpected for everyone, at any budget.

The longer I live in the city the more I crave getting out of the city and into nature, so I jumped at the chance to try out an Ontario glamping adventure of my own. After a lot of “shopping” around the site, I finally settled on the Tabins (tent cabins) at Grail Springs, a short 3 hour drive from Toronto. I brought my good friend Amanda from Blueberry Moon along, and with the help of Zipcar we zipped up to the retreat property for a few days of rest and relaxation.

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I’ll admit I initially wasn’t the bravest about all the bugs and the pitch black composting toilet down the path, but by day three I was so thankful for all of the fresh air and quiet. We went paddle boarding, spent as much time as possible in the various saunas and made magic potions to sip with tea and spices. Though this vegetarian retreat with yoga every morning wasn’t wildly different from my fairly healthy lifestyle at home, it was still the perfect opportunity to disconnect, and there was seriously no better sound than the rain falling on our tabin roof alongside the crackle of the fireplace.

Maybe I can get into this camping (well, glamping) thing after all!

Here’s a list of some essential items to bring along with you on your next glamping adventure!

Portable Nylon Fabric Camping Hammock
2-in-1 Camping Light and Ceiling Fan
Ban.do Super Chill Cooler Bag
Solar Powered Phone Charger for Iphone and Ipad

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