I thought I was ready to fly with Santa Claus - but was I? The plane was small - and the naughty list loomed large!
Every writer dreams of an exclusive celebrity scoop and I got one to top them all: Santa Claus! Not only did the head elf himself give me the inside scoop on what he loves about Ottawa but I also got to spend some time with him in his very own plane. That's right - Santa doesn't just fly a sleigh but he also offers 15 minute aerial tours of downtown Ottawa in a vintage Cessna 172 in conjunction with Ottawa Aviation Adventures as part of a program in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
There was just one tiny complication. The plane is tiny. Santa is all-knowing. And I'm a big ol' scarde-y cat. An Anti-Adventurist, if you will. Would my notorious stomach hold up in a vintage aircraft? Would my nerve hold up if Santa started grilling me about whether I was naughty or nice?
Fun, easy, festive gifts for your pet sitter (and anyone else who deserves a little treat this holiday season).
People ask me all the time what’s the hardest part about planning my trips. They probably expect me to say that it’s arranging the visas or searching for cheap flights or maybe even just deciding where to go. But my surprising answer is always the same. My biggest challenge is Ollie!
Ollie is my beloved dog and he often does accompany me on road trips but for most of my travels, figuring out his care is a bit of an adventure. He can’t exactly come along when I’m on safari in Botswana or even when I’m at a conference in New York City. I want Ollie to be happy and relaxed when I’m gone and I want his pet sitters to feel the exact same way. I do everything I can to make sure their job goes smoothly. I set up meet and greets, I leave long lists of emergency information, and I make sure the house is well stocked with everything Ollie needs. And I go the extra mile over the holiday season. You can bet the cupboard is filled with ALL of Oliver’s favourite treats. And you’ll probably find a few gifts from Santa-Paws in there as well. But what about the sitters themselves? What do they need to feel comfy and cozy in my home? And how can I make sure their holidays are special too?
The pet sitter – pet parent relationship is one of immense trust. Nomodor understands how important this is. Their process ensures that you feel comfortable and trusting with who is in your home and the site has built a reputation on providing reliable and trustworthy pet sitters for those that need one.
Afterall, you are counting on your sitter to take care of someone you deeply love, while they are counting on you to provide a safe, warm, welcoming work environment. You’ll talk about things you might not share with anyone else. But other things are more opaque. You probably know their professional qualifications much more than you actually know them. They’re staying in your home and caring for your beloved pet – but you don’t even know their favourite colour!
No wonder it’s so hard to find the perfect gift for your pet sitter. It’s a quandary! You want something professional but not formal, personal but not presumptive. Most of all, you want something that shows how much you value their work and the relationship they have with your pet. Here are some ideas to help you find that perfect present.
Ottawa bakeries showcase a delicious side of the city! These are some of my favorites.
I know bakeries. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's tracking down baked goods. And eating them. I am VERY GOOD at eating baked goods.
It's not just the obvious deliciousness I enjoy. Bakeries are a fun, accessible, affordable way to explore a destination. I have vivid memories of my very first backpacking trip in Europe, way back when before the common Euro currency was in play. I was determined to use up all my coins before I crossed borders (rendering them all but useless). As such, I soon became very adapt at buying the exact thing at a bakery that corresponded with the precise amount of coins left in my pocket. I still remember a train station apple pastry procured in France moments before I hoped on a train to Italy! The sweet filling was almost as satisfing as the knowledge that I had used every spare cent.
It's this kind of deep seated bakery love that had me jumping at the chance to investigate Ottawa bakeries. I know first hand that my local favourites make treats every bit as delicious as those fancy French spots that had me carefully counting my pennies all those years ago and I am eager to spread the word about just how much creative baking talent is right here in our hometown. Some of these destinations are long-loved special spots that I can't believe more people haven't heard about yet, while others are new to me, discovered this year as part of the #Invite2 campaign. And some, I must confess, aren't strictly bakeries per se but more like cafes that specialize in their own baked goods. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. And so does my stomach! I'm sure you will love these sweet destinations as much as I do.
PS: Of course, this is but a tiny sampling of the bakeries the city has to offer, focusing on the places I know well. I hope this is a list that will only grow over time!
Updated in 2022! Who says a day in Paris isn't enough time to see the sights? Whether your Paris layover is 3 hours or more, you can still have an incredible trip to the City of Lights.
Paris, more than any other city, is a destination meant to be savored. This is a haven for the lazy and the lackadasicle, a place where sitting and doing nothing isn't just encouraged but revered as an art form. As such, when I had the opportunity to plan a day in Paris - and just one day - for travelling friends, I was initially stumped. But then I remembered how much readers love my piece on seeing London in just three hours (yes, THREE) and how my last trip to Paris was indeed so short that I actually made notes for a future three hour Paris layover guide - and naturally promptly forgot about them, until someone else was in need.
If you dream of a sleepy Paris sojurn but your reality is a lickity-split layover, I've got you covered. Who says a day in Paris (or even much less) can't be wonderful?
My list of the best things to do in Ogunquit, Maine, includes lots of cozy, affordable microadventures - plus plenty of foodie fun.
There’s nothing like the sound of the waves, the smell of salt spray, and proverbial long walks on the beach to make you realize just how much you love oceanside travel. The tiny town of Ogunquit, home to less than 900 people, stands out as one of my favourite seaside escapes in southern Maine. I promise it will check every box on your cozy wish list, but this is no place to simply be idle. There are plenty of things to do in Ogunquit, Maine to fill a long weekend - or maybe even an entire week.
These are some of my absolute favourite places to stay, spots to eats, and things to do in the Ogunquit area.
If you can't go to Rio for Carnival, this festive Brazilian chocolate brigadeiro recipe is a delicious alternative.
If there's one thing that travel has taught me, it's that every country seems to have their own special chocolate concoction and Brazil is no exception. Brigadeiros are best described as a Brazilian bon-bon. These soft, truffle-like delights are incredibly easy to make (cocoa and sweetened condensed milk are the star ingredients) and you can easily customize them according to your own tastes. This Brazilian chocolate brigadeiro recipe is the perfect way to inject a little travel coziness into your day, even if you can't exactly fly to Rio!
Window-Swap's virtual travel rooms are the best way to experience travel at home.
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If winter-haters had the opportunity to soak in the snow-clad streets outside Helpi's house in Hämeenlinna, Finland, they might just find themselves converted to the season. Tall, lacy trees shrug under the weight of ice, each branch individually painted a soft, silvery white. A thick, fluffy layer of snow muffles sounds and erases footprints. Meanwhile, the soft glow of the streetlights provides a timeless quality. Disney itself couldn't come up with a better backdrop if they were imagining their ideal winter wonderland.
Now Helpi, along with thousands of other travel lovers, are welcoming virtual guests into their homes, just to take in the view. It's all thanks to a super-cozy travel site called Window-Swap.com
A new book highlights Canadian craft spirits - and the cozy distilleries that make them, just in time for the pandemic.
What’s your lockdown libation of choice?
In my pre-pandemic life, I often kept things simple -- and alcohol free. My tipple of choice was a mix of cranberry juice and ginger ale. A pretty, refreshing blend, it never failed to remind me of travel. After all, ginger ale is this queasy girl’s best friend! But these days, there’s just something about, well, EVERYTHING that has me reaching for a stronger beverage to imbibe. Drowning sorrows and remembering simpler times? I can get behind that.
I’m craving something tangy, herbaceous, and travel-y. The mix of gin, lemon, and elderflower I had at Sydney’s New South Wales Art Gallery the night I heard Rolling Stone writer Toby Creswell speak about the origins of American rock and roll comes to mind. Or perhaps I’m really hankering after a generic frothy blender concoction like the one I sipped in a Bangkok infinity pool, where the overpriced slush diluted my fears of ice and waterborne diseases. Heck, maybe a classic Sex And The City-style cosmopolitan would do the trick, so long as I call it a quaran-tini. Ginger ale just doesn’t cut it anymore. And I’m not the only one who feels this way!
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.
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