For the past month and a half, my husband and I have been living in an Escape Campervans. When came time to book our latest Californian adventure, we were on the lookout for a new low-cost experience that would allow us the flexibility to travel to different cities around the state while also providing us with some great accommodations. After doing a bit of research, I found a great van rental company called Escape Campervans based out in California. If you’ve traveled across the southern United States, you’ve probably seen some of their colorful vans on the road.
What I immediately loved about Escape Campervans was the two great campervan models they offer. We opted for the bigger model of the two, the Mavericks, seeing as we’d be living in it for quite some time and it turned out to be the perfect size. Their converted Ford E150 campervan was easy to drive, park, economical and also allowed us to travel to anywhere our hearts desired. The 17 ft truck was the perfect home on wheels with fully stocked bedding, 2-burner stove, sink with running water, refrigerator, cooking and eating utensils, tons of storage space, picnic chairs and everything we needed to be independent during our trip. I was particularly a fan of their solar-powered fridge and light, allowing us to make food even while off the grid.
Escape Campervans also offer a handful of different add-ons and options so that you can customize your experience exactly the way you want it. We opted for a roofbox to put all of our extra luggage, a GPS, a USB charger as well as one of their custom Insurance packages. The company also offers complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.
The thing about #vanlife is that no matter what you end up doing with your campervan or where you end up going, it’ll always be an adventure and a unique learning experience. I’ve learned so much about camping, the roads, National Parks, etc. in the past month and a half, things I would have never learned if I hadn’t partaken in this great once-in-a-lifetime journey. The danger with vanlife is, once you get a taste of it, you’ll want to keep doing it. After living in a van for almost two months, we’ve grown so used to it that we are thinking of getting our own van after this portion of our travels ends. Our love for the #vanlife just keeps on growing every day!
You can find Escape Campervans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Seattle. For more info, go here.
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!
This summer, I want to get lost: Lost in a new country, in a new scenery, in a new adventure. Summer is when I feel most alive. I cannot wait to explore some beautiful new locations near and far away from home.
I’m obsessed with the Tuck Shop Trading Co‘s x Bather Trunk Co. first ever swimwear collection. This GET LOST bathing suit is the perfect addition to my summer travels. The line was inspired by vintage maps that both designers are fascinated by. They worked with both Bather Trunk Co’s Kyle Kaminsky and Bathing Belle’s Danica Salajko on the design of this swimwear line (they designed some similar swim trunks for men as well!).
Who’s ready to get lost with me this summer?
You can support these local Toronto brands and designers by checking them outhere.
Miami is one of my favorite places to travel to because of their amazing selection of hotels.
On my latest trip, I had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful hotel called Circa 39, situated in Mid-Beach and I couldn’t have found a more fitting place to stay.
The hotel’s motto is “Life is a trip, satisfy your wanderlust at Circa 39” and they are all about enriching your life through travel and wanting you to feel at home while you explore the world.
The entire hotel has an inviting yet also relaxing vibe, it’s one of those places where you want to spend a lot of time in. You don’t feel intimidated by the staff or the place, on the contrary, you immediately feel at home.
Renovated at the end of 2014, the hotel’s new decor reflects Miami’s multiculturalism and spirit, with vibrant colors, a mix of styles as well as vintage charm. The walls of the hotel are adorned with travel quotes, inspiring everyone at the hotel to keep exploring the world. This is a hotel that has tons of personality.
The room I had at Circa 39 reminded me of a tropical garden or island. It was airy and comfortable and provided me with all the things I might need during my stay. I had the most peaceful sleep while I was there. It was also a great place to watch the Oscars live from our room on their new flat screen TV. I particularly liked their custom orange robes, their free WiFi and free tea/coffee.
The hotel has a lot more than beautiful rooms to offer. Their garden is an ideal place to relax during the day. You can also opt for their large pool with comfortable chairs and also cozy nooks. They also have a small gym for those who can’t go without.
One of the things I most liked about staying at the hotel is being able to hang out in their lobby lounge and enjoy delicious drinks and snacks from Wunderbar. Their restaurant Jules Kitchen also offers a delicious breakfast buffet, that goes above and beyond almost every hotel breakfast that I’ve ever tasted.
The hotel couldn’t have been more conveniently located, just a block from the beach and close to some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the area. One of the perks of being a guest at the hotel is getting complimentary beach chairsand towels at the beach right in front of the hotel. Another perk of staying at Circa 39, is being able to sign up for a beautiful weekly Sunday morning yoga session in the garden of their sister property The Palms Hotel & Spa, located just a few blocks away.
My time at Circa 39 definitely left me wishing I could have stayed longer. If you’re looking for an inspiring place to stay the next time you’re in Miami, consider Circa 39.
Check out the fun recap video I shot while I was at the hotel below.
I recently watched Anthony Bourdain‘s special Parts Unknown episode on Budapest and was immediately intrigued by this destination. If you’ve also wondered about Central Europe and more particularly Hungary, this may be a destination for you.
I spoke to Desmond Ryan, Vice President In-Flight Services and Commissary for Air Transat at the launch of the inaugural Toronto-Budapest flight last week. He shared his top 3 reasons why you should add Budapest to your travel bucket list:
1) “If you’re a foodie, you’re going to fall in love with the city. From pastries to coffee and wine. Be prepared to eat very hearty meals. They’re very hospitable. Eating in a Hungarian restaurant is the equivalent of eating in ten Italian weddings. Food is everything.”
2) “If you like classical music, you’re going to one of the capitals of classical music.”
3) “If you like architecture and love the arts, you’re going to be dazzled. A week in Budapest and you still won’t have enough time to see everything, and that’s only talking about the city of Budapest, not even the rest of Hungary.”
Air Transat now offers direct weekly flights from Toronto to Budapest. Want more info? Go here.
This summer I returned to beautiful San Francisco. Though I travel to Los Angeles several times a year, I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, back in 2006 when I was on tour. I was delighted to be back in a city I didn’t know much about and that has changed so much over the past couple of years.
If you’re flying into San Francisco, the good news is that the airport is pretty awesome! It’s located only a few minutes from downtown (you can access it easily via cab or theBART), it’s new, clean and also offers some of the healthiest food options I’ve ever seen before in an airport. I loved their market and all of their fresh food options.
I spent five full days in San Francisco, which really gave me the opportunity to re-familiarize myself with this lovely city. We spent those days walking for hours non-stop. San Francisco is really a great city to explore by foot. If you’re going to go explore though, make sure you wear comfortable footwear as you will have to climb up and down hills to get to the different areas of town. San Francisco also has many bike paths than span across the downtown area. They have the Bay Area Bike Share system that you can use if you want to tour the city on wheels. I’ll be posting a special San Francisco food blog soon but in the meantime, here are some of the things that stood out while exploring the city.
1) Mission District. Is an incredibly unique neighborhood that is full of life and culture located in east-central San Francisco. What immediately stood out in this area was the huge presence of the Mexican culture. Everywhere you go you will find influences of Mexico in the food, the shops and the environment. Mission reminds me of a small Brooklyn or even Parkdale in Toronto. There are many young adults, artists and entrepreneurs that live in the area. Valencia Street between 24th and 14th street is the main street in the neighborhood where you’ll find a ton of really neat shops, restaurants, bars, schools, etc. Guerrero and Mission Street are also filled with tons of different businesses. Every street around these main arteries is filled with beautiful homes and apartments. The architecture in this neighborhood is stunning, just like anywhere in San Francisco. The Victorian rowhouses are all colorful and each have something special. One of my favorite shops that I found on Valencia was Paxton Gate, a boutique shop that specializes in taxidermy, fossils, plants, science & so much more. The shop is filled with so many interesting books, unique gifts & decorations. There’s also a handful of vintage stores on Valencia that have amazing clothes and accessories.
2) Coffee culture. I could have an entire blog just dedicated to coffee in San Francisco because it’s really a big deal. San Francisco’s coffee shops are renown across the US. You may have already heard of the legendary Philz Coffee located in Mission District, the place where each coffee is brewed individually and blended for each customer. For the past 25 years, Phil has been making his own unique blends of coffee and serving them to their faithful customers. Going into Philz is definitely a different experience. Other than Philz, you’ll also find Ritual Coffee Roasters in Mission, on Valencia Street. It’s smaller but a great spot to grab a croissant and coffee on the go or to stay for a few minutes. The simple and clean decor makes the place very modern and bright. Also, on Valencia you’ll find Fourbarrel Coffee, a spot that reminds me a lot of Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles. It was rated as the #1 coffee spot in San Francisco by San Francisco Weekly. It’s a big open space. You can buy lot’s of coffee accessories and merch from the shop. It definitely feels a little more upscale than Philz and is also a major hipster hangout. If you go closer to the pier, you can grab coffee from Blue Bottle, a coffee shop that originated in Oakland, CA and that now can be found everywhere in the Bay Area, New York and Los Angeles.
3) Street art. Everywhere you look in downtown San Francisco, you’ll find beautiful and colorful street art. Artists of all types and backgrounds leave traces of their talent across the city. I was particularly drawn to the art I saw in Mission District, just because a lot of it was inspired by the Mexican culture. I really think that street art is so special and unique and makes a city so vibrant. It adds character to the building or structure it’s on. I think each city should make space for street artists to leave their marks.
4) Ocean Beach. I couldn’t go to San Francisco without going to Ocean Beach. Though a little far from downtown, the ocean is pretty easily accessible via bus if you take Judah Street. Another way to access the beach is to walk through Golden Gate Park, which is what we decided to do. Golden Gate Park is so incredibly vast and lush. It reminded me of Central Park minus the crowds. Once you get to the beach, you feel like you’re in a completely different place. We stopped at Java Beach Cafe to grab some beach snacks before crossing the road and climbing up the sand dunes. There’s a nice bike path located at the beach that goes on for miles. The beach in San Francisco is so large and quiet. The sand dunes prevent you from seeing the city behind you so you feel like you’re tucked away somewhere quiet and beautiful. Though I didn’t get out in the water, I did see a handful of surfers wearing 3/2 wetsuits riding some waves. A tip: Make sure you grab an extra layer of clothing when going to the beach, it tends to get a really windy. The view though… priceless!
5) Wine country. On the last day we were in San Francisco we were invited to go down to wine country in Sonoma. We visited a few family owned wineries including the Benziger Family Winery located in Glen Ellen. What I particularly enjoyed about this specific winery is that it uses Biodynamic, organic and sustainable farming methods to make their wine. We had a lovely tour of the estate and also had the best cheese & wine tasting I’ve ever had. They had such a tasty selection of cheeses, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Another fun winery on our tour was the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. This is a destination for the entire family, with a full hotel, restaurant, pool & spa. They also have a cool museum with artifacts from all of Coppola’s movies and his daughter’s movies as well. The pool and café are a great place to spend the afternoon.
Before finishing this post, I feel compelled to mention that homelessness still seems to be a very major issue in San Francisco. They are everywhere you go in the city. I’ve seen a lot of homeless people in Los Angeles and other cities on the west coast, but the problem seems even greater in the city of San Francisco. I really felt helpless as a tourist seeing all the people on the streets. I hope the city can continue working on making the lives of these people better!
Off to LA LA Land this evening for some much needed relaxation and surf time! New travel post to follow after the trip!! I will be updating the blog a little less frequently while I’m away but I’m excited to announce that I’ll be publishing a very special menswear daily outfit series of blogs starting next Tuesday August 19th! I’ll have three different posts coming on the blog next week, so stay tuned! It was a whole lot of fun to dress up my favorite male model – @offner! Can’t wait to share these with you!
I have a thing for flowers… I’ve always had. Maybe it’s a girl thing, maybe it’s the fact that I don’t live somewhere where flowers grow outside all year round. I like their delicateness, I like their colors, I like their smell and all of their different shapes and sizes. Each flower represents something different to me, a different time or event in my life. As a kid, I would receive flowers after dance shows, figure skating shows, birthdays, school graduations, etc. My mother would always adorn our house with fresh bouquets of flowers every week. It was just something that made our house not only smell nice but also feel a lot more alive. My favorite flowers are definitely peonies (hence the tattoo), but I really love them all! My dream is to live somewhere where I can have flowers around me all throughout the year. In the meantime, I try to decorate my apartment with flowers here and there, those than can survive with little sunlight or throughout the winter. Happy to have brought this new addition home!
You may or may not have heard of the 1965 French hit song “Capri c’est fini” by Hervé Villard… Before going to Capri, @Offner kept singing it to me over and over again. It seemed like the song you absolutely had to know if you were going to visit this beautiful island in the south of Italy. I was lucky enough to be invited to a wedding in Capri at the beginning of June (hands down the most beautiful & romantic wedding I’ve ever been to, woah!) and here are some of the things I learned while I was there…
1) If you’re going to Capri, you want to take the Hydrofoil. What is the Hydrofoil you ask? It’s the quickest ferry boat you can take to get to the island from Napoli. They have three different types of ferries, ranging in cost from 12 Euros to 19 Euros for the Hydrofoil, for a 1-way ticket. The extra 7 Euros reduces the time of your trip by almost half. It’ll take you 45-50mins to get there on this high-speed boat. Plus on the way, you get to enjoy a beautiful view of Pompei that you’ll get to see from up close!
2) Capri vs. Anacapri. The island is divided into two major “villages” if you can call them that. Capri and Anacapri. You have a lot of locals and tourists staying in both of these areas. Anacapri allows you to be more on the west side, see the sunset and be closer to the beach whereas Capri allows you to overlook a lot of the island. Both areas have shops, mini hotels and good restaurants to eat at. We opted to rent an airbnb villa in Capri, yes… a villa! It was dirt cheap and belonged to an elderly couple that was so kind as to rent us their entire place that came with an outdoor wood oven, huge patio, beautiful gardens, etc. It was way cheaper than any of the little hotels on the island and definitely made you feel like you were a local. Both places will require you to walk a lot, there’s lot’s of walking up and down but with such pretty views everywhere on the island, fun shops and beautiful flowers & trees, your walks will be thoroughly enjoyable (just don’t wear heels!)
3) You’re going to want to rent a boat. Forget all the guided boat tours around the island that end up costing you an arm and a leg, instead round up a few people (max 10) and rent a boat for 100 Euros located just at the bottom of the Funicular. Renting a boat is without a doubt the best thing we did while we were there. Not only did it come equipped with towels and water bottles, it also had a sunshade and allowed us to be completely independent for an entire afternoon. We got to go explore caves, swim, sunbathe, relax, eat and just enjoy the beautiful sights. You can drive around the island in about 2 hours.
4) Capri cabs are better than any other cabs in the world. Here’s why – they’re all convertibles with sunshades, they fit up to six passengers and some of them even come equipped with a flatscreen, a disco ball and strobe light for nighttime dance parties in the cab… This is for real!
5) Bring your bathing suit. Yea it’s an obvious one but you HAVE to swim in the Mediterranean sea while you’re in Capri. There are so many different beaches. A lot of them are rocky, so watch out for urchins or little jelly fish here and there, but the water is SUPER clear and so refreshing. It tends to get really hot in Capri and it’s honestly the best way to relax. Plus, lot’s of incredible restaurants that serve fresh seafood and homemade dishes are located right on the waterfront!
6) Before you go, watching the sunset from Faro is a must. The last night we were in Capri, we were invited to join friends at an amazing beachside bar right beside the lighthouse. You can either just have a drink at the bar or go down a few steps and enjoy delicious traditional cuisine outdoors at Lido Del Faro. They serve delicious homemade pasta dishes, seafood, have a wonderful selection of wines and a super laid-back atmosphere.
This blog post was long overdue! I can’t believe that Offner and I have been back from Friday for almost two months now. It seems like just yesterday I was getting ready for this three week long adventure.
My trip was a little different this year. Since we had more time, we decided to explore more places than we had last December. On the itinerary: Paris, Bretagne, Lyon, Les 2 Alpes & St-Etienne. Here’s a little resume of our amazing adventure as well as tips for any of you going to France soon!
Because we were able to book our flights almost four months in advance we were able to find a super cheap deal with Orbitz for multi-destination trip with Air France. I really enjoy using Orbitz as a search engine when booking flights as they always have good selection for Europe, you can easily compare prices with other airlines and they’re booking is hassle-free, no hidden fee bullshit! We flew from Toronto -> Paris direct and on the way home we did Lyon -> Paris -> Montreal (It’s impossible to get a direct flight from Lyon to Toronto/Montreal). I was really excited to fly with Air France again since I hadn’t flown with them since I was a kid. I know the airline has made great strides in improving the quality of their service in the last couple of years, especially since that unfortunate crash in 2009. I was able to organize everything before my flight easily on their website. I was able to chose our seats, my vegetarian meal as well as get our boarding passes all sorted out before even arriving at the airport. The in-flight service was top notch! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of my vegetarian meal as well as Offner’s fish selection. I appreciated the fact they gave us quality wine and champagne as well a balanced meal. Air France also had a great selection of movies and entertainment options available that made the 7hr overnight flight a lot more bearable. Leg room was decent, the only negative comment I’d have was that the seats were really hard, they could have been a little more cushiony.
Traveling while in France
We opted for different modes of transportation to get to the different areas we were traveling to. We took the TGV from Paris to get to Rennes, where we spent two days with my family. I highly recommend using this mode of transportation for quick, painless travels across the country. I had booked the tickets online in November and they were 29 Eurosper person for the one-way. They also have complimentary wifi on the train and at the train station while you wait. Instead of taking us 4hrs to get to Rennes by car, it choped the travel time in half.
One thing you need to remember is that if you’re renting a car, most places will be closed on Sundays, so since we were arriving on a Sunday in Rennes, we had to find a car at the airport. It was a 20 Euro cab ride from the train station to the airport in Rennes and the car rental place only opened at 1:30pm (more like 1:45pm France time :p) and was open for 4hrs. That said, we had tried to get a car through a website where individuals rent their personal vehicles (a cheaper option and worth looking into!) but unfortunately that fell through.
We then flew from Rennes to Lyon. It was a 1hr flight. Though Rennes doesn’t have a very big airport, they have a few flights every day going to different areas in France and even to other countries in Europe. We took Air France’s regional jet HOP!, not only was the flight cheaper than the TGV but it also reduced our traveling time from 8hrs to 1hr. It was really a no-brainer for us.
While we were in Lyon and Paris, we also used the subway system a lot. It is super efficient and cheap. Also, you can use Uber taxi in Paris if you’re looking to get somewhere rather quickly but be prepared to dish out quite a lot of cash for cabs in Paris!
Where to stay
Offner and I are really lucky because we get to stay with family and friends while we’re in France. That said, we didn’t want to spend the entire three weeks crashing on people’s couches so we opted for our favorite type lodging: Airbnb. We spent one night in a Campanile, which is a big chain of environmentally friendly hotels that you can find across France. They’re a cheap alternative if you’re on a budget and hotels are more your thing. Though we could have stayed in a handful of different hotels, we opted to stay at cute little lofts/apartments in the neighbourhoods that we really liked. In Paris, we opted for Le Marais and in Lyon, La Croix Rousse. Both are safe and beautiful areas with lot’s to do and amazing food to eat!
Some must-see spots from my trip
Le pont des amoureux
La Place des Vosges
Notre-Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower (duh!), les Champs Élysées, Place, Sainte-Catherine, etc.
L’Opéra de Lyon
Place des Terreaux, presqu’île de Lyon, Croix Rousse, Confluences, etc.
La Bretagne – I may have a little bias towards this region of France because it’s where my mom’s family is from but it’s a beautiful small region that has much to offer. If you’re going to make the trek up there, I recommend you visit the following places: Dinard, Dinan and St-Malo. All three historic towns with beautiful scenery. While you’re there, you gotta eat “galette de sarrasin” the best salty crêpes on the planet as well as a bowl of traditional cider and my favorite dessert: le flan Breton! Also, if you like butter, you’re in for a treat! They put butter on EVERYTHING! Make sure you bring an umbrella with you, as it tends to drizzle (they call it “crachat breton”) quite a bit there.
Les 2 Alpes – everything about this ski village and station is amazing! Unlike most Intrawest or big ski stations, Les 2 Alpes has kept the old school small village feel. It’s not too loud and too touristy. Though there are people that ski there from all over Europe, the people it attracts are a little older or families. That said, there are really cool bars in the small town, local wine and cheese producers, markets, a small cinema, amazing restaurants and all the ski equipment your heart desires! The daily lift ticket is 42 Euros and includes insurance in case you get hurt or something happens, which is incredibly cheap for such a huge resort as compared to lift tickets here. Recommendation: Stay an extra day to go hiking in the mountains beside the village, it’s breathtaking. Also, you can ski at Les 2 Alpes almost all-year-round. In the summer, you can ski on top of the glacier and then go golfing or swimming in the nearby lake. Sounds dreamy!
Stay tuned for Pt 2 of my France travel blog featuring some of my favorite places to eat and shop in France. Coming soon!!