I have seen a lot of photos of Salvation Mountain but didn’t know very much about this place until I went for a visit two weeks ago while in the Palm Springs area. It was a little bit of a journey to find the monument but it was well worth the trouble.
Immediately when I got to the area I was bewildered by the beautiful bright colors of the place. Luckily, as we were walking around, the resident “Salvation Mountain Man”, a very nice man who lives right beside the beautiful artwork gave us tons of information about the monument itself.
This visionary artwork was created from straw and gallons of lead-free paint by local resident Leonard Knight, who passed away in 2014. The murals and painted hill depicts Christian sayings and Bible verses and though I am not a religious person, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the positive vibes that the area radiated. This section below especially rang true to me… Love IS Universal!
Since the death of Leonard Knight, the “Salvation Mountain Man” has gotten the help of the local Slab City community and anyone who is willing to lend a hand and donations to keep the monument freshly painted and in good condition. Several times a year he even organizes special painting events and invites people to come out and lend a hand in exchange for a beautiful sunset, great conversations and good times. You can check him out on Instagram here.
This week I wrap up my Ontario Summer Getaway series with a trip to Bruce County, another destination I had been wanting to cross off my bucket list for quite some time now.
For my weekend’s adventures, I had the opportunity to test drive the brand new Ford Focus. This car has come a long way over the years so I was happy to try out the latest and greatest model. The first thing that I noticed while in the Focus was how easy it is to drive around in and how quickly it reacts on the road. The car’s sleek design and spacious interior made the 3 hr drive to the county very pleasant. The trunk also offered the perfect amount of space for all of our gear and luggage for the weekend. In the Focus, you’ll also find some signature Ford features such as the standard rearview camera, available active park assist, Available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), the SYNC® 3 – which was definitely a highlight for me in every car I drove because it was a huge help with navigation, providing me with a great soundtrack (thank goodness for Sirius XM Radio!) as well as keeping my drives safe with my two hands on the wheel.
Bruce County is a big region to explore so I made the most of the 48 hrs that I was there to see as much as I could. I started my weekend off with a trip to Sauble Beach, a cute little oceanfront community that offers great food, entertainment and beach fun. The place reminded me of Grand Bend or other family-friendly towns. A must while you’re in town – the Casero Taco Bus, for great and cheap Mexican food made from scratch! Also, if you’re a fan of the water like I am, you’ll love the super long strip of beach and the warm water.
Another must-visit is Lion’s Head. This small waterfront community is located halfway up the Bruce Peninsula’s Georgian Bay coast. What’s great about Lion’s Head is that it’s super quiet and quaint, away from a lot of the tourists that flock to the area. The mix of sandy and rocky beaches are absolutely stunning. They’ve got a small marina and harbour that neighbors the town’s main street. In the summer, you’ll find a farmers market right at the beach on Saturday mornings and live music on Friday nights.
You can’t go to Bruce County without at least spending a couple of hours in Tobermory. Tobermory is known for many things including all the shipwrecks located in the area. It’s one of Canada’s top scuba diving destinations. Instead of getting on board one of their many guided tour boats to visit some of the wrecks, we opted for a more DIY approach and rented a canoe at a nearby marina and went exploring on our own. We couldn’t have gotten more up close and personal with the wrecks as you’ll see in the video below. It was quite a surreal experience!
Accommodations in the area come in all shapes and sizes. For this last getaway, we opted for something a little more remote and unique. We rented a cabin at one of the many campgrounds in the area. I loved having our own BBQ, picnic table and fire pit while also being right by a dock and the water. Nothing like staying in a place with no reception or wifi and just one general store nearby. It’s nice to disconnect and be off the grid once in a while!
All in all, a memorable last weekend getaway with the Ford Focus in Bruce County. I hope you enjoyed these travel posts and videos.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of staying at one of Hotels.com‘s hundreds of thousands of properties that are located in over 200 countries. For my trip to Prince Edward County, I stayed at the TownePlace Suites located in Belleville.
This was my first time booking a hotel with Hotels.com and I found the entire process to be super quick and easy. What I like about their policy is that after every 10 nights you book with them, you get 1 night free.
One of the things I’m particularly found of on the site, are the guest ratings. They are quick and easy to find and provide great insight when booking a room.
I downloaded their app for free, which made my check-in even easier because I had access to my reservation right in the palm of my hand.
Another unique thing to Hotels.com is their post-check-in survey that allows hotel guests to immediately rate the room and check-in service only minutes after arriving and thus providing real-time feedback to the hotel.
The TownePlace Suites was the perfect combination of comfort and class. We had all the amenities we needed for our weekend in the area. Our suite was equipped with a beautiful kitchenette (which to my surprise even included a dish washer!). There was also a desk area that was perfect for the blogging I had to do over the weekend. The bed was incredibly comfortable and plush. The bathroom was spotless. Even if the room was a little small, it contained a lot of storage and state of the art amenities. A great plus was also the free breakfast in the morning, the perfect way to kick-start my day!
I made a little Unrooming video to show you guys the room that we stayed in and also gave a rating on 5. These Unrooming videos are also a great way for you to see what the room in a particular hotel actually looks like at the moment and also get a full review of the room.
1) Start at the Detroit Historical Museum – This “pay what you want” museum is the best way to get started when you first arrive in the Detroit. You will learn so much about its creation, history, downfall and current resurgence. The museum is separated into different exhibitions that cover the automobile industry, to the creation of Motown, to some of the city’s greatest athletes and moments in sports. The museum is fun, interactive and teaches you a whole lot about the city, past and present.
2) Grab a drink at UFO Factory – This was hands down my favorite place we went to the entire time we were in Detroit. The reason being: it was a no frills, no hype, just laid back bar located in Corktown. The name drew me in immediately and to find out that the space was even cooler indoors, I was beyond stoked. You can order some great diner-style food from Laika Dog, with classic bar drinks while also picking songs out on the jukebox. The UFO Factory is also a great place to see live music.
3) Midtown & Corktown – These are two areas of the city that have been changing a lot over the past couple of years. Midtown is located along the east and west side of Woodward Avenue and north of downtown. Corktown is located just west of downtown Detroit, it is the oldest extant neighborhood in the city. Both areas of town are packed with beautiful lofts, little shops, restaurants, fitness studios and more. They are both a great place for an afternoon stroll, to grab a coffee or even get a workout in. You can also feel a real sense of community in both of the neighborhoods.
4) Visit the Eastern Market – This may be a classic on everyone’s list who goes to Detroit but the Saturday market is the best place to meet the most locals. You really can get a feel for the city, when you walk around throughout the market and the entire area. Signs like “Detroit Hutles Harder” or shops like Everybody Vs. Detroit showcase not only Detroiters’ strength but also their pride. So many people in Detroit wear apparel with the letter “D” or wear some of their local sports teams’ jerseys, logos, etc. The market has been encouraging local food producers and artisans for the past 125 years.
5) Don’t be afraid to explore – Detroit is full of really unique neighborhoods, but you have to be willing to explore to find some of the coolest things the city has to offer. Not every neighborhood is located side by side and sometimes, appearances can be deceiving. What may look like an abandonned, or not so great neighborhood can potentially have a lot to offer. Just by being curious and spending time driving around the city, I found so many great gems. The Heidelberg Project or even the Michigan Building, the former theatre turned into a parking lot are just some of the amazing things I saw during the weekend. The city is really a photographer’s dream. Though there is still a lot of rebuilding and growth to take place before the city can really thrive again, from the looks of it, thanks to some creative young entrepreneurs, the city really seems to be on an upswing and it couldn’t make me happier. There truly is something magical about Detroit!
1) Rooster and the Pig. You may have to wait up to 2hrs to get into this popular joint but this Vietnamese American bar and restaurant is worth the wait. The friendly atmosphere inside allows for a laid-back dinning experience. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and try something new while you are there. All of their dishes will definitely please your tastebuds!
2) Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Located in uptown Palm Springs, this minimalist and industrial-looking restaurant is one of the places to put on your dinner list. Heavily focused on local ingredients, this farm-to-table spot works with local farms in the Coachella Valley to provide a creative and varied menu. They have a plentiful selection of both vegetarian and meat dishes that are presented in a beautiful manner. The farmhouse-style table located in the middle of the restaurant makes the space super convivial.
3) Norma’s. If you’re looking for an ultra hype and beautiful place to go for brunch while in Palm Springs, make sure you visit the The Parker Palm Springs. Not only is the hotel exquisite but the food at Norma’s is also topnotch. The colorful restaurant serves up your choice of healthy and hearty options including their James Beard Award-Winning Potato Pancake Recipe. You never know who you may rub shoulders with at this intimate and cozy hotspot. While you are there, make sure you spend time in their fireplace lounge or visiting their outdoor garden.
4) Kings Highway. Located at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, this no-frills casual diner serves up good food and good vibes. The hotel partnered up with the same team that created the very popular L.A. Chapter to create a cool western and bohemian vibe. Jud Mongell and Ken Addington base their menu on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients while adding an imaginative twist to it. All late-night cravings will be satisfied at Kings Highway!
5) Chi Chi. The newly redesigned restaurant at the Avalon Hotel is all about celebrating California cuisine. The west coast is made a focal point on not only the menu but also on the pool-centric setting and space. Eating outdoors is a must for a romantic candlelit dinner.
Those who’ve had the chance to travel to Vancouver know how big of a foodie city Vancouver really is. I’ve seen such a big change in the food scene there even in the last couple of years. Here are my 5 latest food discoveries in this beautiful city.
1) Heirloom Vegetarian – Thinking about this spot as I write this is making my mouth water. I became obsessed with Heirloom as soon as I tasted one of their homemade drinks and delicious Cesar kale salad. The whole time I was in Vancouver, I kept wanting to go back to try every single item on their menu. I loved that they had both a vegetarian and vegan menu to choose from and an abundant selection of colorful and super tasty items. Even though the restaurant is almost always packed, there’s a nice laid back feel to it. The place is modern, airy and inviting. I secretly hope they open up a restaurant in Toronto in the near future… or that I find a way to get that delicious kale salad sent to me.
2) Salt Tasting Room – This spot was recommended to me by Vancouver Tourism and boy was I glad I decided to check it out. This tiny back alley joint is the perfect spot for appetizers or pre-dinner drinks. We had the chance to check out their tapas menu and be a part of their “San Sebastián Experiment”, which was the best way to taste their wine and different tapas. For every flight of wine we ordered, we were given three free tapas, like in San Sebastián, which I had the pleasure of visiting last summer! Salt Tasting room is super convivial and offers a great selection of local wines and delicious food. They had a particularly good selection of cheese that I was impressed by. It’s a great place to go as a couple or to bring friends.
3) Pourhouse – Located in Gastown and in a beautiful 100-year-old building, the Pourhouse is a great place for a cocktail or delicious and comforting food. Its dimly light space is intimate and cozy. The menu is varied and feature some unique twists on classic dishes. Their drinks are stiff, creative and very tasty. Their desserts are larger than life and oh so sweet. It’s the ideal place to have a laid back romantic dinner.
4) Meet on Main – Located on Main Street in East Van, this vegan and vegetarian hotspot became one of my instant favorites for several reasons. First, the food is original, flavourful and delicious. Second, everything on the menu is reasonably priced and the portions are big. And third, the casual dining atmosphere makes it welcoming to all.
5) Meat & Bread – If you’re looking for a quick and delicious spot to eat lunch while in Vancouver, stop by Meat & Bread located either on Cambie or Pender Street. This no-fuss, grab and go spot, assembles their mouthwatering selection of sandwiches right in front of your eyes. Their menu changes frequently and always offers a vegetarian option. I had one of the best grilled cheeses I’ve tasted in a really long time.
Palm Springs has become one of my favorite places to travel to when I’m in California. The reason being, there’s just nothing quite like it. It’s the perfect place to relax, reset and explore while also enjoying some of the best food and most beautiful scenery.
After our wedding, we were looking for a little oasis to spend time in before heading back to reality and found the perfect spot – the Del Marcos Hotel.
Built in 1947 and designed by architect William F. Cody, this Mid-century boutique hotel was Cody’s first independent commission in Palm Springs and was key in launching his solo career in the desert. The hotel design is a mix of native stone and redwood as well as floor-to-ceiling glass. It’s a two-story building that features a beautiful courtyard with a saltwater pool and lounge chairs. There is also a stunning fireplace for guests to warm up around on a cool evening.
The Del Marcos has 17 guest rooms, which keeps the atmosphere very intimate. Each room is uniquely decorated using Mid-century furnishings to keep that same modern feel throughout the hotel. We stayed in the Don Wexler room, a stunning room dedicated to the iconic architect. Our room featured a king bed, a beautiful private back patio, a large kitchenette and beautiful tiled bathroom. The room also featured some of Wexler’s prints and etchings, making the room even more authentic. Our room was the perfect sanctuary for us after our wedding.
One of my favorite things about the entire hotel was its super cozy lobby and lounge area. I loved the fact that each afternoon, they offered complimentary happy hour. It was the perfect occasion to sit down, relax, talk to some other hotel guests and also play board games. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast every morning. The hotel property also plays some light jazz and Motown classics dating back to the 40s and 50s, setting the perfect mood for relaxing. It being an 18+ environment also made it a lot more quiet and the perfect space to retreat to.
The hotel couldn’t be more conveniently located. It is situated right by some of the best restaurants, museums, shops, etc. You are also right at the corner of the Palm Springs city bike path. What’s also great about the location is that you are steps from downtown but also far enough removed that noise isn’t an issue. If walking isn’t your thing, then you can use some of the beautiful complimentary cruiser bikes that the hotel offers to its guests. We took the bikes on an excursion across the city and ended up being gifted grapefruits from a man in his backyard.
The entire staff was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. They made sure that we had everything we needed and more.
We couldn’t have asked for a more ideal place to spend the week after our wedding. It was the perfect little getaway!
For more information on the Del Marcos Hotel, go here.
The year 2016 started off with a bang. On January 1st, my partner in crime, Offner and I got hitched while in California. I haven’t spoken much about our nuptials or anything wedding-related just yet but I plan on doing a little post on February 1st.
While planning our wedding, we were looking for a cool and unique hotel to stay at the weekend of our nuptials. I found The Ambrose, via social media and immediately fell in love with this quiet gem located just a few minutes from the ocean, 3rd street promenade and the PCH in Santa Monica. The Ambrose looked like the perfect intimate spot for us to get ready for our big day and also spend the night of our wedding… and we weren’t disappointed.
I love checking out boutique hotels because they always offer an original alternative to the bigger chains. The one thing that caught my eye when deciding on where to stay was the fact that this hotel was also very Eco-friendly.
When you arrive on the grounds of the hotel, you are right away transported into an area of tranquility with its beautiful garden and outdoor lounge area. The candles and zen-like decor make you feel at home.
The entire hotel staff was exceptionally friendly and accommodating. A huge plus is their free underground parking garage, so you never have to worry about paying for expensive parking lots. Additionally, if you don’t have a vehicle, the hotel offers complimentary car service to its guests.
Their lobby and lounge is decorated with taste and uses local craftsman influences to create a very warm ambiance. The lounge is also where they offer a complimentary organic breakfast buffet every morning for their guests. It’s the first time I go to a hotel that offers healthy organic and quality breakfast free of charge for their guests. This made me very content and was super appreciated especially on our big day as we were running around the city getting everything ready.
All the rooms at The Ambrose are unique but with the same amount of comfort and luxury. Some rooms even have beautiful outdoor terraces that you can access.
Our room was spacious, had the most sumptuous king bed equipped with luxury bed linens. We also each had cotton robes, all natural bath products, complimentary newspapers in the morning and also, a necessity – complimentary Wi-Fi access. The hallways and the room itself were very quiet, which made it easy for us to have a really good night sleep after our special day. The room was also big enough to get all the flowers ready for our celebration, my makeup and hair done and still have enough space to relax before our busy day.
I briefly mentioned it earlier in this post, but it’s important to mention that The Ambrose has received several awards for their Eco-friendly initiatives, which include the Excellence Award – Stewardship of the Natural Environment Sustainable Quality Award 2013 and were the Sustainable Quality Award Grand Prize Winner2006, just to name a few.The hotel has also received a handful of green and sustainable business certifications and make big efforts daily in energy conservation, water conservation, indoor environmental air quality, non-toxic housekeeping practices, waste reduction, etc. I think other hotels should follow in their footsteps to do their part in conserving our beautiful planet. To see all of their green and sustainable initiatives and awards they’ve received, go here.
All in all, we had the dreamiest stay at The Ambrose for our wedding. We can’t thank the hotel staff enough for making it the most magical few days. I look forward to our next visit! For more information on The Ambrose, please go here.
Before the holidays, I got to explore a part of Vancouver that I was still unfamiliar with – Granville Island. I had the opportunity to stay at the only hotel on the island – the Granville Island Hotel and spend a weekend exploring this little oasis.
Staying on the island is a completely different experience than staying in any other part of Vancouver. Not only do you get a stunning view of the city, you have access to amazing restaurants, shops and art galleries and you also feel completely detached and far from the bustle and stress of a big city.
The Granville Island Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel that offers luxurious rooms and all the amenities one could hope for. Their rooms are spacious and incredibly cozy. The bedding is plush and all of the in-room amenities are top quality. Some of the rooms also come with a small balcony that allows you to have your breakfast or complimentary coffee and tea, while either being super close to the beautiful park or while having a stunning view of the city. They also have complimentary wifi, which is an absolute must for me when I travel.
In the hotel, you will also find a state of the art fitness room with machines, free weights, mats, etc. They also have a beautiful sauna and Jacuzzi with a view of Vancouver. Guests staying at the hotel can also access basketball and tennis courts as well as aerobic classes at a small fee at the community center located next door. If you’re a outdoor fitness enthusiast like myself, you’ll appreciate that the hotel is located right at the foot of the seawall which is perfect if you want to go for a run, Rollerblade or a bike ride (the hotel offers complimentary bike rentals during the warmer months). You can also get into a kayak if the weather permits.
The hotel also has a great restaurant located adjacent to their lobby called the Dockside Restaurant. The waterfront location and tall windows allow for a beautiful panoramic view of the city while you eat. The atmosphere is refined yet warm. They offer a menu that uses local, seasonal, sustainable and fresh ingredients, something that is always appreciated. Their dishes are classic but incredibly tasty and well prepared. The highlight of the restaurant was their dinner menu. Everything that we ordered was delicious. They also offer a good selection of vegetarian options on all of their menus.
The hotel’s outdoor patio and fire place is also a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The hotel couldn’t be more conveniently located. It is just steps away from the famous Granville Island Market and all of the island’s attractions. It’s also incredibly easy to get to downtown Vancouver either via water taxi or via the Granville Island bridge.
If you’re looking for a unique and relaxing stay in Vancouver, make sure you check out the Granville Island Hotel. For more info on the hotel, go here.
One of my favorite things about traveling is staying in different hotels all the time. When came time to book my travels to Vancouver last month, I really wanted to see if I could find a super cute and unique spot to stay at in the downtown core.
I foundThe Burrard on social media and I was immediately drawn to this small boutique hotel in between Yaletown and the Davie Village. The hotel’s retro design and super fresh branding is what first caught my eye. It reminded me of some of the hotels you can find in Palm Springs, that are inspired by the 1950s. The Burrard actually first opened in 1956.
When I first got to the hotel, I was impressed by its super cool looking exterior. The neon sign at the entrance is unique and stands out in the area. The blue, black and white color pallet is perfect with the style of the building.
The vintage design of the lobby along with retro light fixture and mid-century couch is super inviting and cozy.
Everyone at the hotel was incredibly friendly and available to answer all of our questions. I was delighted to find out that there’s a coffee shop connected to the hotel lobby called Container Coffee, that serves organic homemade breakfasts, juices as well as snacks and sandwiches all day long.
I loved the sense of humour and clever little quotes that we found throughout the hotel. Each floor gets its own amusing saying and you’ll find cute notes that will make you smile throughout the hotel property.
Speaking of the rooms, our room was very charming. They kept the decorations to a minimum but stayed within that same retro and vintage vibe. I was particularly fond of little details like the free NESPRESSO machine, free water bottles, free calls and free wifi. No one likes going to a hotel and paying $5 for a water bottle or wifi. In 2015, these are things that guests should receive complimentary.
Other great assets to the hotel are their free Brodie cruiser bike rentals as well as their patio lounge. It’s such a great way to explore the area and there is a bike path located right beside the hotel. When it gets warm out, the hotel also whips out their super cool ping pong table on the patio.
We had such a wonderful time at The Burrard. The location was great because it was walking distance to everywhere we wanted to go. They also had on-site parking, which made it much more convenient and hassle-free.
I hope we’ll get the chance to go return to this cute retro haven in downtown Vancouver some time soon!