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.
Planning a two week trip to Europe? Here are three potential itineraries to consider.
I've never seen a European itinerary I didn't like. People ask me all the time what I think of their plans to see certain cities and, inevitably, I always convey my hearty approval. And whenever I hear any kind of "if only" scenario, I always find a solution. "If only" you could go to Krakow? You can - because I know all about the overnight trains that will get you there while you sleep. "If only" you could afford to go to Stockholm? Pull up a chair, because I'm about to outline every freebie the city has to offer.
But when I'm asked what someone should do with two weeks in Europe, I draw a blank. What an impossible scenario! How do you squeeze dozens of countries and hundreds of cities into two weeks? Alas, the two week scenario is a common one. Honeymoons, graduation celebrations, retirement splurges, and long overdue vacations all come up when chatting about how to spend two weeks in Europe.
I've pondered this situation at length and I think I have three realistic, affordable, manageable approaches for how to spend two weeks in Europe. They aren't exact itineraries but rather philosophical approaches that any traveler can mold to their own precise interests and travel style.
Legendary art, freshly baked pizza pockets, luscious gelato, and... Starbucks? How to experience Milan in one day when you're on a layover. Plus: The Milan airport hotel we loved!
On my first visit to Milan, I changed trains and spent my last precious lira (yep, it was a long time ago) on a soggy train station sandwich that was decidedly not good. I was unimpressed - and hungry.
One my second visit to Milan, I once again changed trains and spent way too many Euros on Burger King. Yes, BURGER KING. My least favourite fast food - and the last thing you want to eat in Italy.
But on my third visit to Milan, oh let me tell you about the third visit. It was filled with gelato so luscious it was downright profane. And dough. Soft, fluffy dough, fresh from the oven, with the cheese and tomato sauce so hot they were bubbling together in a happy stew. Then there was art, the kind of art that puts all the other art to shame. And - of course! - there was coffee.
After two false starts, I finally had my day in Milan. I arrived via an overnight flight from New York and I left the same day, on an overnight flight to Addis Ababa. It was all part of our epic round-the-world trip that required us to cash in all our frequent flyer points and embrace a world of short but sassy layovers. Though my time was short, I was ready to do Milan in one day - or, at the very least, do my version of it in one day.
Here's where we ate, what we did, and even where we stayed in Milan, plus practical advice on getting from Malpensa airport to Milan's central station.
Eating, touring, exploring, and ... going to the Post Office? Here's what you can do in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, is one of the world's great adventure travel destinations. Vic Falls arguably offers the most scenic and heart pounding zip-lining, bungee jumping, aerial adventures, and white water rafting in the world. For some travelers, this all takes place against a backdrop of incredible luxury - gorgeous, plush resorts, genteel and swanky cocktail bars overlooking the gorge, and elegant restaurants whose service recalls a bygone era of glamour and refinement.
I, however, experienced none of this in Victoria Falls.
I was far too terrified to take part in anything remotely adventurous and far too frugal to indulge in any luxury offerings. The truth is that Victoria Falls activities are a bit tricky for value-minded travelers like myself who are eager for cozy microadventures. There is a fair bit on offer for transcontinental backpackers eager for cheap hostels, beers, and thrills. There's also plenty for indulgent spenders to drop their money on. But when it comes to the modest-spending scaredy-cat (that would be yours truly....) figuring out what you can do in Victoria Falls can be a challenge. These 15 activities are a good place to start. The list includes both things I did personally as well as some that I haven't yet experienced but seem to fit the bill.
This Greenwich Village food tour made me feel at home in New York City - and it's filled with celebrity homes, haunts, and musical legends too!
I've been playing catch up on my relationship with New York City for a while now. Unbelievably, my first visit was only a few years ago in the form of a short layover at the beginning of our round the world trip (short, mind you, but impressive - we combined a library visit, a meal at a singing diner, and a movie-themed sightseeing bus tour all in a few hours!) My second visit - which coincided with our second round-the-world trip - brought another short layover, another lovely but brief bus tour, and (of course!) another meal at my favourite singing diner. With two layovers and two bus tours under my belt, I felt like I had seen a lot of classic New York but I hadn't actually experienced the city. I hadn't walked through a single neighbourhood. I didn't have a good sense of where things were in relationship to each other.
Bottom line, I hadn't really hit the streets for the proverbial pounding of the pavement to get my bearings. But was a Greenwich Village food tour what I needed in order to feel more settled in the city?
If you want to try llama trekking, Montana is the place to do it!
With soulful, chocolate brown eyes, silky soft hair, and a passion for food, nature, and daydreaming, Raffi sounds like the perfect man. And I can certainly attest to the fact that he is! Furthermore, legends about handsome, strong, capable Montana ranch men are indeed true... provided that you don't need all said men to actually be human. Raffi, after all, is a llama. Yes, you read that correctly. A llama! And a devilishly handsome one at that. We spent one blissful day together, sharing our hopes and dreams as we hiked up the side of a mountain. But I know that it's only a matter of time before another girl catches his eye. After all, if you're into llama trekking, Montana is the best place to be! Find out why this is one of the most memorable micro-adventures I've undertaken.
Bruges in a day? Yes, it's possible! Here's what to do if you're planning a short break and have one day in Bruges.
We LOVE Bruges! It is one of the most charming, the most romantic, and the most fun small cities in Europe. Indulging in short trips to Bruges in northern Belgium have been a highlight of our time in Europe and they've been the perfect relaxing interlude to otherwise busy trips. But what are the best things to do in Bruges, other than just walking around and eating chocolate (which, for the record, is a superb use of time)?
We've put together a Bruges one day itinerary of some of our favourite things. We've also reached out to some of the best travel bloggers we know to get their take on the best things to do in Bruges at night, their favourite restaurants and pubs, their top Bruges museums, suggestions on where to sleep and so much more. There is so much to see and do here!
Have we forgotten anything from the list? We want to hear what you love about this delightful city!
We have 21 suggestions for Ottawa travellers to discover the city's cozy side, one microadventure at a time.
I am not adventurous. Nope, not one bit. Sure, I talk a good game and occasionally do things which other people might consider a bit daunting, like walking across Victoria Falls Bridge or kayaking in the Saguenay Fjord, but I think we all know the truth. Deep down, I'll always be the girl who caused a commotion in the Athens Meat Market and braced for an attack from non-existent wild pigs in Hawaii. I'm scared of adventure and (...I like to think...) adventure is a bit scared of me. However, a conversation with a friend has completely re-framed things for me. I've been introduced to the world of microadventures!
The phrase microadventure has been popularized by Alastair Humphreys in his book Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. The book describes a microadventure as something "close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours."
Hang on a second. That sounds like what I do. That sounds like what I do ALL. THE. TIME. I like things that are cheap, simple, short, and refreshing (aka COZY things!). Could it be that I've been an adventurer - and a trendy adventurer at that! - all along? Since the spirit of Humphrey's microadventures focus on this close to home, here are my favourite microadventures to recommend to Ottawa travellers.
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