Memorable meals and cozy adventures top our list of the best Ottawa staycation activities for couples.
If you were going to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, where would you go?
If you answered that you'd stay at home, you're exactly on our wavelength! We knew that an Ottawa staycation was the perfect way to celebrate our August wedding anniversary - and not just because international travel opportunities are limited at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning a cozy couple's staycation meant that we could spend more time exploring, less time driving, and we could easily work all activities around our existing schedule. It would also allow us to tackle our neglected summer adventure bucket list, soak in the last of the August sunshine before autumn rolls in, and brush up on our local knowledge (which always seems to be lacking when we host out-of-town visitors).
Despite a nearly endless list of things we could possibly see and do in Ottawa, it didn't take long to decide on a plan that was very "us". We'd be exploring all things cozy, mixing and matching some old favourites with some very new experiences. This is what made our romantic Ottawa staycation itinerary perfect for us.
With Ottawa's newest savings passport, there's never been a better time to discover local businesses.
Ottawa's newest local savings passport is turning things around for travel-crazy locals eager to get a taste of summer vacation fun - as well as for small businesses eager to rebound from COVID-19.
We're definitely among those who are craving travel like never before but we know that, undoubtedly, the best thing for us, our community, and the destinations we hope to visit one day, is to stay close to home. That means it's staycation time! We've been trying to support different local businesses every week and, as long term readers can probably guess, food takes a starring role for us. #MyOttawaPass is helping us discover new spots, reconnect with old favourites, and save a bit along the way.
Anyone can access #MyOttawaPass for FREE. You can find the simple sign up form here, as well as a list of all the participating businesses. Hotels, spas, retail stores, tour operators, cafes, restaurants, and specialty food shops are all participating in this virtual program.
With the pass ready on our phones, we headed out to explore two special spots.
In Western Montana's "Gates of the Mountains" wilderness area, a rare rose keeps company with bats, birds, and legends.
At first glance, Kelseya Uniflora doesn’t look like much to get excited about, but botanists know better. These petite, low-lying pink and white blossoms don’t look anything like the classic roses you’d find at a flower shop. They’re quite the opposite, as their limited territory makes them one of the world’s rarest members of the Rosaceae (rose) family.
Finding them in nature is no easy task. The Kelseya Uniflora is fond of the volcanic and limestone cliffs of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Using the fine hairs on the underside of their branches, these tenacious little blooms can gain a foothold in small cracks on high cliffs. These rocks, which are so inhospitable to other plants, are Kelseya Uniflora’s ideal habitat. The tiny hairs gripping the rocks can also draw up moisture from small crevices. Once established, their semi-evergreen foliage forms mats of silvery green leaves that look like moss to novice horticulturists, such as myself. But up close, intricate leaf patterns are visible and the delicate tiny bright pink and white blossoms are lovely – that is, if you can find them.
There's an easy way to make your hotel room feel more organized and homey. Here's why your ironing board is a travel hero.
Have you seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? There’s a great scene in which the lovelorn Peter gets some unusual advice. Family members tell him to iron his shirts—even his t-shirts!—in order to feel better. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it takes more than sharp creases to turn Peter’s vacation around.
Though their advice didn’t help Peter, it has worked for me—albeit under less dramatic circumstances.
Whenever I’m feeling a bit rundown on the road, I know that some serious laundering and even the occasional ironing session will help put a spring in my step. Since those occasions are few and far between, I usually ignore hotel room ironing boards. However, a recent podcast had me rethinking ironing boards in general—and how handy they can be for travellers.
Here are five great reasons to set up your hotel ironing board on each and every trip, even if you’re not trying to rebound from a broken love affair!
Is your Canadian flight delayed or cancelled? You might be entitled to compensation under the new Canadian Transportation Agency flight delay compensation rules. We breakdown your rights as a passenger.
Fasten your seat belts, dear readers. You're in for one heck of a post. In 2019, a whole new set of rules and regulations about flight delays came down in Canada. And boy, were they new. For the first time ever, delayed passengers on flights in, out, and around Canada are entitled to some actual serious compensation.
But - and this may utterly surprise you - airline regulations are DULL. And confusing! And not exactly designed to be user friendly and easy to understand for the average passenger. Thus, I've tried to break things down into real terms that a jet lagged frequent flyer can easily understand.
Not all travel gear is great. I'm spilling the tea on 5 travel products I wasted my money on. Better luck next time!
I've said it before and I"ll say it again: I LOVE packing! And travel gear and gadgets? I love them too. I can spend hours browsing in travel stores and websites. While I keep my own kit pretty minimal, I'm always picking up new items to try out and seeing how they work with my existing stuff. Of course, not everything is great but even if things aren't perfect I can usually get some use out of them. But not for the five items in this post. This is about all the gear I didn't use, the stuff that never helped me out and never made my life easier. These are five travel products I wasted my money on.
An important point of clarification before we begin. Some of these products were disappointing to me through their function and design, while others found their way on this list in part because of me - they just weren't what I needed or wanted in the end, though their function may have been just fine for another user. So take this all with a grain of salt - if you're a devoted user, I'm glad it's working out for you!
Here's how to cancel your non-refundable hotel reservation if you're affected by COVID-19 or another crisis.
So you rolled the dice and took a chance on a non-refundable hotel reservation. We see these kinds of tempting promotions all the time. They're usually $5 to $25 cheaper than their counterparts, the "book now, pay later" deal. Sometimes the price difference isn't enough to tempt you but other times the savings really add up so you throw caution to the wind and click "pay now!" After all, it's just not feasible that you'd *ever* miss your trip, right?
No one expects to be caught up in a global pandemic like COVID-19. Or to get stuck a thousand miles away by a hurricane or blizzard. Who anticipates that their surgical appointment will suddenly be moved up? And hey, it's not like anyone expected the groom to runaway with the bridesmaid a week before the wedding, did they? Yet here you are. Hotel booked and paid for. And you're not going to be there. Gotta kiss that money goodbye, right? Your coronavirus hotel booking is a disaster, is it not? Maybe not.
This is my totally-not-guaranteed-but-not-exactly-hopeless-either guide to finding a financial solution when you've booked a non-refundable hotel reservation you need to bail on.
When planes and plans are grounded, it's time for travel lovers to help others - and themselves.
On March 12, 2020, I told friends that it felt like a tiny part of me had died.
After weeks of distressing reports about the spread of COVID-19 - and an equal amount of time whereby I stoutly resolved to keep calm and carry on - the writing was on the wall. There was clearly no way that I would be able to take a long-hoped for trip to Paris in April.
This wasn't just any trip. This was THE trip. I was turning 40 and I was moving to Paris - solo! - for a month, to write and eat and dream. Bookended by a layover in London and a trip to the United States, it was due to be my longest solo adventure since I was 24 years old. Until, of course, it wasn't. I say I made the decision not to go, but in reality the decision was made for me. Within 24 hours of my choice to withdraw, borders were closing, the news cycle went into overdrive, and I hunkered down into my home, happily choosing social distancing for everyone's benefit.
I felt like a tiny part of me had died. And I was filled with shame.
What right did I have to be crying (and let me tell you, there was crying) over missed macarons and museums when people were dying, when people's entire livelihoods were evaporating in front of them? I thought of the people of Italy, an entire nation quarantined, finding solace in community song, joining their voices together from the safe distance of apartment balconies to comfort one another in their grief. What right did I have to feel sad?
But my online community disagreed. Several people reached out to say that it's both normal and expected to feel sorrow for those in need and to also be sad that someone you really wanted did not work out. That it's okay to feel blue when your dream dies, even if it was a dream built on pretty, dainty, cozy things, and you can still have tremendous empathy for those who are also suffering in their own way. Pandemic self-care for travel lovers can acknowledge and incorporate both.
Does every good travel story start with a quest?
"Are you open?" It was nearly three in the afternoon, far too late for lunch and way too early for dinner. But I was starving. Starving! And the small, unassuming Italian restaurant which I had passed earlier in the day suddenly felt like just the ticket.
The older waitress shook her head emphatically from side to side. I pushed aside a micro-flash of confusion then nimbly skipped over the threshold. This was Bulgaria, where shaking your head "no" is actually a gesture for "yes", and catching on was easier said than done. Once inside, I was greeted by the mouthwatering smell of cinnamon, so bright and vibrant that I could only conclude that the restaurant was using its pizza ovens to make baked goods during their downtime.
The staff of Sofia's Restaurant Balito (ul. "Pozitano" 50, 1303 Pette Kyosheta) laughed when I inquired about what they were baking. I was smelling an air freshener! Perhaps I was more hungry than I realized or Bulgaria must make the best commercial scents in the world. Either way, I couldn't shake my craving, even after several courses of savory Italian delicacies. I knew I had to find the best apple pie in Sofia.
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