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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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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I’ve been to New York a number of times, but Johanna had somehow never made the short trek, so when we decided to go down together I knew it had to be an extra special visit. Instead of staying in a ritzy hotel we booked a room in a loft listed on AirBnb, and though we’re both somewhat terrified of strangers we decided it was worth the risk of being awkward all week for the amazing location and epic views.

Of course, it wasn’t awkward at all – it was perfect. We drank wine pretty consistently, woke up to sun streaming through the loft’s massive warehouse windows, and walked less than a block to stroll over the (surprisingly pink) Williamsburg bridge. We fell in love with little shops and restaurants all over Brooklyn, my favourite part of the city (and a part I didn’t get a chance to visit on my last trip). Every time we went for a walk to get coffee or a snack we ended up swooning all the way there and all the way back. It was a never ending parade of cute pastel everywhere we turned!

On top of all my usual favourite stops, like Cha Cha Matcha and Pietro Nolita, I wanted this trip to be more than average, so I reached out to some of my favourite NYC-based brands and makers to arrange a couple of “meetings”. To our delight, everyone we reached out to wrote right back, and though we were only in town for less than a week, we somehow ended up seeing so much more than we’d bargained for. Below we’ve listed some of our favourite “special stops” from the trip:

Scroll to the bottom for even more NYC shops, restaurants and more that caught our eye this time around!

Bing Bang //

If you like pearls, crystals, gold, rose gold… ok, pretty much any sparkly things, you’ll love Bing Bang. We’ve been big fans for ages, admiring their collaborations with Me & You and Ban.do from afar, and we figured why not stop in for a real life hello?

The studio space was so FUN – in an unassuming building in Chinatown it was loaded with glittering treasures, plants, and pink details. We tried on just about everything, inherited a few new pieces for our personal collections and about 100 feminist buttons to cover all of our jackets.

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Chillhouse //

I met Cyndi, the founder of Chillhouse NYC way back in August on the GIRLBOSS trip with Netflix, back when the whole concept was just an idea she was developing. It has been truly amazing to watch Chillhouse come to life over social media, and I was super dedicated to seeing it IRL while I was in town.

Cyndi did us one better – Jo and I each got a set of amazing signature nail art from their look book, sipped pastel purple taro lattes, and I even slipped in for an “Express Focus” massage.

The whole morning was really, truly ~chill~, and everything from the epic drink list to the metallic pastel marble wallpaper left me feeling inspired and recharged.

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Samantha Pleet //

If you ask Jo or I who our favourite designer is, we’ll almost always answer “Samantha Pleet” (often in unison). A few years back when I met Samantha at a Victoire event she mentioned I should visit her studio if I was ever back in NYC, and I made a silent vow to try and make it happen. Turns out she was just as serious as I was about the whole thing… a couple emails later and we were in Samantha’s house meeting her sweet baby Valentine, trying out her Mom’s homemade Kugel and playing dress up in all of the amazing clothing!

Strawberry prints embroidered with tiny green seeds, magnetic lemon accents on dress sleeves and ruffled denim shorts were just a handful of highlights from the “appointment” and don’t even get me started on the decor situation. Basically Samantha Pleet lives in a dreamworld, and we were so lucky to get to be a part of it, if only for a short while.

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SHOP

Glossier showroom
Malt & Mold
Outdoor Voices
Dusica Dusica
American Two Shot
Swords-Smith
TicTail
The Frankie Shop

EAT

Pokito
Seamore’s
The Lucky Bee (for brunch!)
Jars by Dani
Tacombi
Black Flamingo
Sweethaus
Butler Coffee
Doughnut Plant
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Roberta’s Pizza

PAMPER

Pucker
Dream Dry
Chillhouse

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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I'll Follow You Anywhere

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An eccentric melting pot of French, Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures, New Orleans is unlike any place in the world. It modestly boasts a one-of-a-kind blend of architecture, food and language, and definitely has a way of making an impression.

The French Quarter mostly caters to tourists, but this doesn’t mean that you should avoid it. Bourbon Street is literally always a party, and great for people watching and some casual car-free debauchery. At night you can take in a ghost tour, and with the city’s dark past, it’s a must whether you believe in spooky behaviour or not. When it comes to hearing authentic jazz (the genre was born here) it’s actually unavoidable. Talented street performers of all ages are known to casually bust out a full brass ensemble, and you’ll have no choice but to stop in your tracks and take it all in. Other notable areas outside the Quarter (and you really should explore outside the Quarter) are Frenchmen Street, Bywater and the Garden District, all accessible by foot or adorable wooden streetcars.

A city famous for it’s libations, there are a TONNE of cocktail options in The Big Easy. Also, don’t forget that New Orleans is a magical place where you can openly carry drinks wherever you go. You can even pop into a bar and ask for a beverage in a “go cup” and be on your way. As for the food, expect simple southern dishes and lots of seafood. Famous for gumbo, jambalaya and beignets (delicious little powdered doughnuts), the diverse historical roots of the city are heavily reflected in the cuisine.

The people of New Orleans celebrate funerals with a brass band parade, and I think that’s the perfect representation of the spirit of the Crescent City. No matter what you choose to do here, whether you want to stay in the Quarter and party, or venture out to Tremé and see the road less travelled, you will be absolutely surrounded by the one thing that New Orleans serves up like no other – Southern hospitality.

Scroll down to see the full list!

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Sips //

Cane & Table
Latitude 29
Bacchanal Wine (Pick a bottle of wine and some fresh cheese, and head out to the backyard party)
The Spotted Cat
Tiki Tolteca
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (The oldest operating bar in the US)
Apple Barrel
Compère Lapin
Three Muses

Snacks //

Atchafalaya (Truly incredible garden-fresh Bloody Marys)
Elizabeth’s
Killer Poboys
Stanley
El Libre
The Old Coffee Pot
Café Du Monde

Stay //

International House Hotel
The Old No. 77

For the next visit //

Green Goddess
Pizza Delicious
Kermit’s Tremé Mother in Law Lounge
The Country Club
Mimi’s In the Marigny
Algiers
Tremé