I'll Follow You Anywhere

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Before I got pregnant I had plans to leave Toronto as soon as the weather turned cold. It’s become a bit of an accidental yearly tradition for me after moving to the wintery side of Canada, and in my mind 2018 would be no exception. I started the year in sunny Palm Springs, and in the case my attempts to get pregnant didn’t work out (everyone reminded me again and again it can take a lot of time) I hoped to finish out the year on an epic adventure to Japan, topping it off with Christmas in Hawaii.

When I saw those two lines appear on a test back in June it didn’t immediately click that for the first time in a long time I’d be firmly grounded in Toronto this winter. As Summer slipped by and the sweaters hit shop shelves it finally dawned on me with what I can only describe as a feeling of total panic. I’m not great with the cold, and even though I have the best reason ever to get cozy at home this year, the idea of not being able to leave the snow and ice behind had me shook.

I started to reason there had to be somewhere hot I could go in my second trimester, the best time for a babymoon before things get really rough, but it turns out there are still a ton of Zika travel warnings in Mexico and the Caribbean, making pregnant vacations at any stage more complicated than I had expected. Yes, the threat has significantly dropped and the chances of coming home with Zika at this point are fairly low, but I decided for me personally the cons still outweighed the pros. Again and again my heart kept calling for Hawaii, but it just seemed too far away and too expensive. I had sort of given up on the idea of escaping to the sun one last time before baby when my dear friend Bianca surprised me with a trip for the two of us! It was the sweetest gesture EVER, and before I knew it I was boarding a plane to one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Originally from the West Coast, I had been to Hawaii a couple times as a kid on family vacations, but this was my first time visiting the Islands as an adult with my own agenda. I landed in the humidity armed with a long list of pastel places I had to see, with inspiration from my pals at Ban.do and suggestions from my local friend @GirlandHerPearl. We chose to stay downtown Waikiki to get the bustle of the city and all the fun that includes, but rented a cheap car to explore faraway beaches and tasty food destinations most days.

Overall this 5 day vacation was everything I could have hoped for and more for a last hurrah. I absolutely do not believe life ends after baby, but it was really precious to have a final trip to myself, with endless time to bask in the sun and wander through shops full of breakable objects without worry. It gave me time to thank my body for all the heavy lifting its done lately, and fuel up for the final three months of pregnancy in Toronto’s deep winter. And now? Now we wait for the biggest adventure yet!

Scroll down for my list of must-see pastel places!

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Where to Stay //

There are so many amazing hotel options in Waikiki that it can be hard to pick just one, but we couldn’t help but fall for The Laylow . Newly renovated and steps from the beach, this pastel paradise was dreamy down to every last detail. The restaurant, the gift shop… even the wallpaper in the elevators was on point. I’m not sure I’ve ever blended in at a hotel quite so well!

How to Get Around //

A car is pretty much necessary in Hawaii unless you want to stay right in downtown Waikiki (or whatever city you’ve chosen a hotel in!) We rented something super basic for super cheap and it was a great decision, though you may want to consider a larger vehicle with 4 wheel drive if you’re venturing off the beaten path (we may have gotten a bit stuck in some sand on a beach at one point!)

What to See //

Leonard’s Bakery // Hawaii’s first Malasadas, which are basically delicious Portuguese donuts served hot! I recommend getting one of each kind (the Li Hing was incredible)
Rainbow Drive In // A classic Hawaiian fare takeaway counter with amazing cheap eats.
Bailey’s Aloha Shirts // All the vintage Hawaiian shirts you could ever ask for! Careful with your shopping though, some of the oldest shirts go up to $3000.
Hula Pie at Duke’s // A tourist favourite, I remembered this place from visiting as a kid and I have to admit the Hula Pie was JUST as good. I recommend bringing a friend or two to share this monster dessert… or if you’re pregnant and anything like me go ahead, get a whole piece to yourself!
The Royal Hawaiian What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t mention Hawaii’s pink palace? If you’re able to get a table for brunch be sure to try the pink guava pancakes!
Shimazu Shave Ice // There is shave ice available almost everywhere but this place makes them as big as your head and has SO many delicious flavours. By far the best selection we saw.
The Surfjack Hotel // Famous for their awesome “Wish You Were Here” postcard pool, this hotel wasn’t my favourite for food but their coffee/gift shop was adorable!
Yanagi Sushi // A local favourite, this might just be the best sushi outside of Japan (and it feels like you’re in Japan too!) Reservations highly recommended.
SALT at Our Kaka’ako // We only stumbled across this spot because I was determined to go to ARVO for their famous avocado toast, but basically it’s a brand new shopping centre of sorts in Hawaii’s most “indie” neighbourhood filled with all sorts of wonderful curated shops and restaurants. These were our favourites but more businesses were in the process of opening too!
Paiko Plant Shop
ARVO
Lonohana Estate Chocolate
Butterfly Ice Cream
Here. Store
*If you’re not on a babymoon I also highly recommend walking around all the awesome breweries in this neighbourhood – there are so many and they’re all SO cute!

Spots we wanted to see but didn’t quite make it to //
Dole plantation, Ice HNL, Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory (they have a rainbow sandwich!), Awa and Olena Jewelry, At Dawn Shop, Bevy Cocktail Bar, Taco’ako

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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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I'll Follow You Anywhere

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New York City is like a tattoo – one time in the chair, and you’re left only wanting more. There is way to much to do for just one sitting – it’s truly impossible even if you run all day, every day, from start to finish.

I used to pop down all the time – after all, NYC is so close to Toronto, and once I had tasted a nibble passing through on an overnight road trip at age 20, I wanted nothing more than to devour the entire apple. After a lifetime as a West Coast girl with no New York minutes under my belt, I started packing trips in whenever I could, each time leaving with a list of places I still hadn’t found the time to see.

It’s been a few years since my last NYC visit and I can’t really tell you why – I suppose my last relationship really halted my usual travel spontaneity, and though my ex and I had plans to hop a plane a few times, we just… never got there. For some reason coming back from California, New York was the first word on my lips: I suddenly just really, really needed to go. A couple friends happened to be down there already, so though I had just returned from LA and had yet to move my apartment from the old spot to the new, I booked a ticket. If not now, then when, right? I had put it off long enough already.

This trip to New York was unlike any of my previous adventures. For one, I stayed in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn, and though I loved the bustle I think Williamsburg is definitely a bit more my pace. I also somehow didn’t step foot on a train over all three days! Travelling above ground helped me fill out my internal map of the spaces I passed through, but it was strange to be in that particular city without taking any transit.

Because this trip was so different for me, the whole city seemed more foreign than ever before. It was so quick, and over far too soon! In short, there’s still a lot that was missed on my list, and a whole bunch of new spots piled up as I wandered new neighbourhoods, but not to worry… Johanna and I already have another trip booked for the beginning of April!

Scroll down to see my NYC #pastelhunting picks!

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Where to Eat + Drink //

Sel rose
Cafe Henrie
Pietro Nolita
Cha cha Matcha
Le Bain (better in SUMMER)
By Chloe
Sweets by chloe
While we were young
Lucky bee
Catch
Dirt Candy
Jack’s Wife Freda

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Where to stay //

Dream hotels
Standard hotel
Ace hotel

Where to Shop //

Mansur Gavriel Pop Up
Acne Studios
Chloe Soho
Miu Miu Soho
Matter
Apiece Apart
Catbird

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Where to Primp //

Paintbox nails
Lush spa
Drybar

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Still on my hit list //

Bisou
Pucker
Tacombi
Seamores
Snow Days
De Maria
Baker and Co.
Dudley’s
Orchard Grocery
Dovetail
Modern Love
Pizza Beach

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Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

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When I made the decision to book a one-way ticket to LA with no sense of when I’d stop adventuring and come back, it was so spontaneous and unexpected I didn’t really think all of the details through. When a friend asked me about a going away party a few days after I made the announcement, I was totally blindsided – I needed to say farewell to all of my dearest friends!

With less than a week left I scrambled to put something together, and luckily Planta came to my rescue. A new upscale vegan restaurant in Yorkville, this place is literally to DIE for, and I knew it would be the perfect location to feast with friends. Their incredible team booked us our own massive table tucked away at the back for Sunday brunch, and no lie, it ended up being one of the best meals of my entire life.

Cauliflower tater tots, banana pancakes, nachos, crab cake benedict… the list of wondrous creations sent from the kitchen went on and on. Every single thing, from the tea to the blood orange mimosas was absolutely divine, and by the end of the meal we were confident our server was the nicest man alive. We ate like queens, chatted incessantly, and in the end shed a few tears over goodbye hugs and Christmas gifts.

It was the kind of sendoff that almost convinces you to stay, and ensures you’ll be back.

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A special thanks to Planta for hosting my special day!