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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Located 2.5 hours from Toronto along the east end of Lake Ontario is Prince Edward County, a relatively new and rapidly growing wine region. One of the region's gems is The Grange of Prince Edward County vineyard and wine estate, eastern Ontario's largest award-winning estate vineyard and winery owned and operated by Caroline and Maggie Granger, a mother-daughter duo.

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    Maggie Granger in the vineyard


    This summer I toured the estate, tasted their array of wines and I interviewed Caroline for my radio show, Shannon Skinner Live, and her daughter, Maggie, for this article. As a part-time student of wine studies, not only did I learn a thing or two from the experience, it was genuinely a treat.

    For Caroline Granger who is the president and CEO - or, as Maggie jokingly puts it, "the chief, cook and bottle-washer" - farming and agriculture is in her blood. Those roots in family farming spawned Caroline's independence and entrepreneurship, and prepared her to lead her family into a brand new industry - and a male-dominated one at that.

    "Fifteen years ago, when I started planting and growing grapes, and making wine, I was unique," says Caroline Granger. "There were some women winemakers, but there were few women winery owners, and that is something that continues today."

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    Caroline is an advocate of not just her own winery, but all wineries of Prince Edward County, and a single parent who is passionate about equality and the importance of agriculture for the future of Canada. A former model, Caroline has tirelessly fought for women's rights, and the role family farms can play in the future of our economy.

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    The Grangers grow six varieties of grapes, including the tricky-to-grow pinot noir. They have 60 acres of vineyards and produce 100 per cent estate-grown wine. This model enables them to make wine that reflects the region and their own distinct style. Since the Grangers believe in eating and drinking locally, and providing good value, this business model is ideal, despite its challenges.

    "The estate-grown model isn't common and for a good reason," says Maggie Granger. "It's challenging to rely only on yourself and your vineyard, and so to be able to produce these wines and have them shine is fulfilling and, ultimately, a really unique experience for consumers."

    Spending a warm and sunny morning with Maggie in the vineyards was an education in itself for me, as it was the first time I have been able to get close-up to vines. Maggie's role comprises basically everything that happens in the vineyards, and she speaks with passion about her job.

    "Being out in the vineyards is my favourite part," adds Granger, who lives in a fully renovated trailer on the property, only mere steps away from the vines. "It's where you can see your hard work shine. If you work hard, your vineyards are happy, you get beautiful fruit, and making delicious wine is easy."

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    The Grange of Prince Edward County winery is set in a rustic farmland setting and the wine tastings occur in an old converted barn, which has an art gallery loft and room rentals for events. We enjoyed a delicious home-made picnic lunch, which was assembled in a small kitchen and packed in a basket, complete with a tablecloth and a bottle of their signature sparkling brut.

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    Our delicious picnic lunch


    A select number of The Grange of Prince Edward County wines are available for sale in the LCBO and online through their website.

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    While all wines produced at the estate are delicious, my personal favourites are the biscuity-style sparkling brut, made in the traditional method and aged 18 months sur lie ($29.95); the silky, French-oaked Diana Block Pinot Noir 2010 ($35.00); and especially the off-dry Riesling 2012 ($15.95). They also make a lovely Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gamay and (my least favourite) Pinot Gris.

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    For information about tastings, events, directions and how to purchase their estate-mode wines, visit: www.grangeofprinceedward.com.

    For more in-depth information about the story of The Grange and the topic "getting into business with family," check out my interview with Caroline Granger on my radio show Shannon Skinner Live on VoiceAmerica.com.

    This article originally appeared in Infinity Magazine and is re-published with permission. Photo credits: Shannon Skinner and Darcelle Runciman.


    ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    Photo credit: Hernán Piñera

    A holiday in Europe doesn't have to be expensive, especially if you visit in fall. In many parts of Europe, fall is considered the shoulder- or off-season. That means you can save big on accommodations, avoid photobombs by packs of tourists and return home with a little money left in the bank.

    Set your sights on these eight budget destinations to enjoy your dream European getaway for an affordable price this fall.

    1. Krakow, Poland

    Fall means pleasant temperatures and mellow tourist crowds in what is often known as the cultural capital of Poland -- Krakow. You'll find the historic European feel you're seeking in this city that offers more 750 years of stories. Budget-friendly hotels mingle with mystical gothic architecture to make you feel like you paid a fortune, but you'll still have plenty of money for the world-renowned Polish eats and a night or two out on the town.

    2. Dublin, Ireland
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    Photo credit: Juan Salmoral

    Picturesque coastal scenery, big city culture and tall pints of beer tend to come with a high price tag, but that's not the case in Dublin. This Irish city is known for offering some of the most affordable hotels on the continent, which means you have more money to spend in the pubs. However, all visitors should take a break from the city and see the beauty of country towns like Galway and Connemara in fall.

    3. Berlin, Germany


    Berlin is one of few places where you can capture some of Europe's best restaurants, nightclubs and cultural centers for an affordable price. The city is in the heart of a cultural renaissance, with hoards of museums, fashion that rivals Paris and restaurants that consistently rank among the best in Europe. Even better, you can enjoy all of these features without crowds in the mild fall months, and Berlin's efficient and easy-to-use subway system saves you big bucks avoiding cabs.

    4. Valencia, Spain
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    Photo credit: Luc Mercelis

    The Mediterranean Sea just sounds expensive, but your trip there doesn't have to be. Valencia becomes even more affordable in the fall months, when the golden beaches are clear of crowds and museums are wide open for you to wander. Valencia's prices are lower than other European hotspots, but you don't sacrifice the beauty, history, or cultural sites.

    5. Istanbul

    Istanbul constantly ranks among the best travel destinations in the world. That's partly because the city hasn't outpriced all of its visitors. Dine affordably (and deliciously) on the streets and stay in one of countless budget-friendly accommodation options, so you have more to spend on the tough-to-resist trinkets at the Grand Bazaar. See the Hagia Sophia mosque, get a taste of the nightlife (be careful, because alcohol can be pricey) and squeeze an affordable trip to Asia (via a 20-minute ferry ride) into your trip as well.

    Like many other European destinations, you can save yourself a few extra bucks on accommodations and tours while avoiding sweaty temperatures by visiting Istanbul in fall.

    6. Barcelona

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    Photo credit: Maciek Lulko

    Visit Barcelona before it's too late. This hip, cultural city is slowly getting more expensive, but the prices tend to deflate when the crowds thin in the fall months. Choose one of the city's budget accommodation options, such as a guesthouse or Airbnb rental, so you can spend more days tackling all of the non-stop action this Barcelona has to offer. From sacred churches to beachcombing and some of Europe's top nightclubs, Barcelona is a one-stop European destination for those who want it all.

    7. Venice, Italy

    If you've ever seen photos of Venice, you probably thinks it's too expensive for a quick fall getaway. However, looks can be deceiving. The Queen of the Adriatic is a city that's best explored on foot, and wandering the winding roads doesn't cost a dime.

    Fall typically means lower accommodation and airfare prices, and with most Italians taking their vacations in fall, you'll enjoy the city with a less crowded feel. It's also one of the best times of year for food in Venice, as freshly-harvested mushrooms and truffles flood the dishes at many restaurants.

    8. Prague, Czech Republic
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    Photo credit: LenDog64

    Prague was once a place that attracted budget travelers in droves, but the prices have been steadily rising in recent years. However, fall is a time when you can still get the bargain deals on accommodations and tours, especially if you brave the tail end of the season when cold temperatures are more common. Despite the rising accommodation prices, you can find cheap eats, drinks and entrance fees in the Golden City.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    My motto is and always has been "don't die before you are dead." This tenet factors into every decision I make from whether or not to go to the gym on a rainy day (when consuming cookies and cocoa looks better) to whether or not I have the time to take a trip.

    Self-employment means I get to set my own hours but for every hour I chose to do something other than work, I have to manage the stress of knowing I am not paying the rent. There are ways to do both. Here is a video of my trip to Chateau Montebello, Quebec.

    So I borrowed a 2016 Cadillac CTS from the media fleet at General Motors at and boogied to la Belle Province where my colleagues at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts put me up for a bit of a rest. Resting in my entrepreneur world necessarily means blending work with pleasure and comfort with efficient luxury. Taking care of that kind of business really does make it more possible to take care of business, business.

    You should know that I actually drive an eight-year-old rattle bucket that has no bells, whistles, or comfort. This would not be conducive to getting any work done; it is strictly an A to B proposition. This trip, I took the cushy passenger seat and the captain took the wheel.

    I logged into the on-board 4G WiFi, adjusted my three-button manoeuvrable leather seat and set to work. He took great pleasure in the auto steering features that effectively floated us within our lane, within our set speed and auto piloted the pretty blue cocoon. This caddy buzzed his butt each time he veered out of the lane or got too close to another vehicle on autopilot. It was a nice ride to set off and explore Quebec.

    From my perspective, I may as well have been in a first class pod flying direct into a castle of the past. I did find its auto shut off and restart unnerving each time the car stopped at a light. I assume this feature is a gas saving device but each time it shut off and restarted itself the car shuddered and startled me from my writing and web browsing.

    In the woods, seemingly in the middle of nowhere is a massive log cabin built in 1930. Entering Le Chateau Montebello instantly transports you to a time gone by. At the core of this star shaped massive log cabin is a hexagonal fireplace with a variety of cozy sofas and settings in the lobby. The utter opposite of stuffy hotel lobby, everyone can feel cozy here.

    It is easy to imagine trappers of the past and hunters of the present rubbing shoulders with dignitaries all in their winter woollies. The history and heft of the building is embracing and the history is captured in photography on wood log walls. It is a perfect place to come in from the cold and curl up with a book and a coffee or a laid back glass of Quebec beer. Rooms are spread across pods so that each has a view of the water and the woods with windows that open wide to let in the light and the breeze (or can be shuttered against the snow as the case may be.)
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    Breakfast here represents a mouthful of my Quebecois childhood with baked beans, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and crepe with maple syrup and butter. Townies concur that the best place to eat is in this dining room. Of course there are options in town that are delicious or quick or sporty but the finer event happens here with three-course meals starting at $56 per person. Of note would be the 16-ounce sirloin steak that could feed three pioneers, cooked perfectly and sauced richly. Fresh crispy skin bass was the opposite and equally delicious.

    With all the eating and lounging to be done, one must balance in some activity. There are walking trails and mountain bikes to borrow and a four wheeling adventure. Indoors there are squash and tennis courts and they will even teach you how to curl. There is of course the requisite gym and a stunning indoor swimming pool. The fitness and spa building is as stunning as the main log cabin with its vaulted ceilings housing skylights and enough hand painted decor to invite lounging ceiling staring. Oops, this is the activity section....

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    I leave my luggage with the baggage drop. He glances at the tag and remarks "Oh, you're going to see Mickey, eh"? Um, well -- not entirely. In fact, this is the only or primary reason my friends and family think I'm visiting Orlando for. But as wonderful and magical as Disney is, it certainly shouldn't be the only reason to travel here.

    Yes, there's still a litany of chain restaurants that reside in the endless string of plazas and strip-malls one sees on International Drive. But, as far as the perception goes that it represents Orlando's dining scene -- is an outdated notion -- a relic of the past.

    Great food in Orlando is not an oxymoron. Your culinary vernacular should include restaurants from this sunny region. The only issue is that it is incredibly difficult to shine a spotlight on this kind of talent when you're in the shadows of gigantic Mouse ears. That's where Visit Orlando steps in to help. On our blitz media tour with the travel board, we get a taste of everything.


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    But first, we settle into our temporary home at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World.

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    Okay --- the title is a long one -- but for good reason. It is affiliated with Mickey Mouse and all his pals, but the resort exhibits this aspect in a sophisticated manner. Aside from a few gift shops and a Breakfast with Goofy and his pals on Thursdays and Saturdays at their restaurant Ravello, you won't find Mickey shaped pools or waffles.

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    Instead, you get an oasis of luxury at this newly minted resort. Celebrating its second birthday and receiving the Five Diamond Award rating again, the property boasts four additional on-site dining and drinking venues, Oasis - an adult only pool (with music played underwater!), Explorer Island that includes 7,590 square feet of water slides, a family pool, beach volleyball, outdoor movie nights, a lazy river and a splash zone. As long as you don't mind sharing floating donuts and water springs with the kiddies, these activities are enjoyable for young and old alike.

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    Best of all, the service at every corner of Four Seasons is spot on and thoughtful (thank you sunscreen bottles and eyeglass cleaners!).

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    And did I mention the views? The rooms are spectacular. You can watch firework shows from both Epcot and Magic Kingdom in the distance at night. However, there's one caveat. Because you are sharing this space with extended families, be forewarned that you can hear them through the walls, especially tantrums from the kiddies and loud conversations from adults. I could still slumber soundly in the evening, but if you're a light sleeper, consider bringing earplugs (or call front desk).

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    Once we settled in, it was onto the food. First up was Slate. It's a mid-priced retreat from the Darden owned line of chains (i.e. Olive Garden). The independently owned Slate is ideally close to theme parks and convention centre; it's only two months old but gaining popularity.

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    15 years ago, places like Slate were non-existent. Now the area is being revitalized with talented youth who champion farm-to-table, and supporting local to showcase the fresh produce from the Orlando area. Favourites of the day included ethereally light and crisp calamari, black pepper trumpet pasta, and a 28-day dry-aged burger. It was cooked perfectly: juicy, excellent charred crust with a good balance of toppings (red onion jam, thinly sliced pickles, arugula).

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    And then there was Spanish-styled Capa. The steakhouse's fanciful digs is situated on the 17th floor of the Four Seasons Orlando Resort. It's beautifully adorned with numerous traje de luces as well as a flowing crimson muleta overhead. Admittedly, the food is pricey so keep in on your 'special occasion' list. Aside from that, the heart of the decadent affair is the red meat as well as the extensive wine list. When it is available, opt for the ultra-buttery wagyu from Japan.

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    Or the feisty Gambas with a nice undertone of heat, sweet roasted garlic and white wine. Everyone at the table pounced on the Patatas; yes it's a side dish, but it's the damn- fine creamiest brown butter yukon potatoes you'll ever devour. Keep on the lookout for the 12 oz. Bone-in Filet as well. It's not a cut you see everyday, and most assuredly will be intensely more flavourful than the non bone-in variety. For dessert, skip the churros (unfortunately, they're not fried fresh. They're just reheated in the oven). Instead, get the Guindilla. It's layered with happiness a la spicy chocolate ice cream and reus hazelnuts.

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    High-end, heavenly eats aren't the only thing that Orlando showcases. In between theme park days, set one aside for a trip to Mills 50, which is largely populated by the Vietnamese community. Comprised of refugee descendants of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, they've carved out a neighbourhood filled with earthly delights. Our tour guide and local food blogger- Ricky Ly- suggests his favourite spots for homespun Vietnamese classics. The simply-named Vietnamese Cuisine is the premier spot to get a hot bowl of pho. The intoxicating broth is brimming with oxtail, beef knuckles, and draped with thinly sliced beef.

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    Or, steps away, go to Chuan Lu Garden for fantastically plump pan-fried dumplings and cumin lamb. The warm heat permeates the succulent and addictive lamb morsels-- it's a proud ode to proper Sichuan cuisine.

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    The area is rife with culture and smiling faces. Don't be shy to step into Tien Hung Market for teas, spices and treats to bring home as gifts.

    A few blocks down the and we enter the land of smoked wonders. The squeal-worthy named Pig Floyd's does ribs, briskets and tacos with creative takes. The owner, Thomas Ward, doesn't like definitions and being categorized into making a 'type' of BBQ. He just wants to make tasty food: and he does. The ribs here are the star attraction. The St.Louis cut has a sexy smoke ring and glistens in the sun from all the slow basting. Also, must haves include the yucca fries with rugged, crisp edges and creamy interior.

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    Just north of downtown is Orlando's Audubon Park where East End Market resides. If you want a taste of hand-crafted locally made goods, this will be your culinary utopia. From vegan breads and desserts to an omakase style meal, there's a vendor at every turn offering quality merchandise. John Rife, the owner of the building, is a bit of a jack of all trades; by day he's a project manager, and the rest of the time, a passionate food advocate who's responsible for curating these fine merchants. In fact, he brought farmers from Canada to teach and mentor the locals how to grow their own produce and build upon his urban farm incubator. If you have time, I highly recommend you make a visit.

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    That's it for now. Look out for my next post on the rest of my visit to Orlando... including an Amphicar ride and dinner at Morimoto Asia. (Iron Chef extraordinaire).

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    * #PinchietheLobster *

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    "Pura Vida" said our guide, as we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, which literally translated means "pure life." This describes the mandate of this eco-conscious country and the joy its inhabitants take in living in a land which is 46 per cent forested; it is generally used as an answer to, "How are you?" or just as a hello.

    They say hello, or good morning, early in Costa Rica. Year round, the sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and sets around 5:30 p.m. When the sun is up, there is a huge diversity of outdoor, natural and wildlife adventures to experience in this relatively small country. We had said goodbye to our cubicle office plants and hello to the pure life that awaited.

    Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast is a small village of 1,000 inhabitants, accessible only by boat or airplane and is known for the turtle hatchings which happen on the beach in the dark of night. Hundreds of turtle nests produce thousands of eggs (of which 0.1 per cent survive to adulthood), every May to November. Spotters from the National Park find where the nest has been dug, and quietly, without light, allow visitors to witness a turtle laying approximately 110 eggs. The turtles start laying eggs at around the age of 25, and do so until they are 150, coming back to the same spot every two to three years.

    But that's not all the wildlife. the shores of the Tortuguero River leading in and out of the village are dotted with crocodiles, caimans, sloths, blue herons, macaws, toucans and many other bird species. With some trepidation, we slid in to our kayaks to paddle the river, but found our voyage strangely serene, barring the prehistoric cries from the surprisingly tiny Howler monkeys which populate the area.

    While the biggest exports from Costa Rica are bananas and pineapples, coffee is also a major crop industry. However, unable to compete with other countries larger production, most of the coffee is kept in the country, where the focus is on quality, not quantity.

    The food in Costa Rica is a mixture of the cultures and people who came to this country after it was liberated by Spain. A railroad which was built to cross the country saw the immigration of workers (many of whom unfortunately died due to malaria) from Colombia, British Honduras, Italy, China and Jamaica.
    Their influence is still felt in the varying regions of the country as the railway moved across the country.

    Across the country to La Fortuna, we found one of the most popular tourist spots in Costa Rica, with a huge variety of outdoor activities to choose from. From careening down Costa Rica's highest zip line at Sky Adventures -- half a mile, at over 60 miles per hour -- to the hot springs, water parks, horseback riding and many hiking trails available.

    The village is shadowed by the Arenal Volcano, which has been dormant since 2010. It's hard to remember the water cooler gossip when you're soaking in the natural hot springs; the perfect way to purify both body and brain at the end of a wild (life) and wonderful day.

    For more information visit www.savethecanadians.org #PuraVida

    An excerpt from this article originally ran in the Metro News. Listen to Kathy on What She Said (Sirius/XM Canada Talks, Channel 167) Fridays at 10:45 for the latest in travel news and insight.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    Red and yellow leaves blanket the ground and the air is crisp with the bite of fall, which means it's the perfect time to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail! To give you wilderness explorers and adventure-seekers a rare glimpse at the world's most beautiful national parks and trails, trivago.ca has found the most spectacular hotels to set up camp. Whether you plan to scale steep peaks, hike a glacier, or just enjoy scenic river trails, we've found you some truly epic treks that are as breathtaking as they are challenging.

    The Ahwahnee - Yosemite National Park, USA

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    (c) Fotolia

    Famed for its groves of ancient giant sequoias, high alpine glacier meadows, granite cliffs and the famous falls, visiting Yosemite National Park offers a treasure trove of possibilities for the intrepid hiker. Blending perfectly into its natural surroundings, the rustic Ahwahnee hotel has played hosts to presidents, royalty, and adventurers since opening it's doors in 1927. Sink into the tranquility of the Sierra Nevada range, or climb up to El Capitan for the best view of the Yosemite Valley.

    Taj Tashi - Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan

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    (c) Taj Tashi

    Nestled into the very heights of the Himalaya's, the Taj Tashi is an isolated five-star getaway in a land--and mountain range -- straight out of legend and Buddhist mysticism. After you taste test the fiery local cuisine at nearby vibrant markets, head to the most challenging trek in Bhutan, the Snowman Trek, with incredible views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake.


    Belmond Hotel das Cataratas - Iguazú National Park, Brazil

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    (c) Belmond Hotel das Cataratas

    Hotel das Cataratas is the only hotel located within Brazil's Iguazu National Park, just a short stroll from the sensational Iguazu Falls (and the Brazil-Argentinian border). With more than 275 waterfalls to visit by day, and stunning panoramic views of the Falls from the hotel's gourmet dining areas at night, there's no better place to experience the full breadth of this subtropical jungle landscape.

    The BrookLodge & Wells Spa - Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland

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    (c) The BrookLodge & Wells Spa

    The BrookLodge & Wells Spa is a luxurious country house hotel on the edge of Ireland's Wicklow Mountains National Park and just south of Dublin. With over 20,000 hectares of upland mountain scenery to explore, no hiking trip to the park would complete without a visit to Glendalough, a sixth-century monastic settlement founded by the hermit priest St. Kevin.

    Fiordland Lodge - Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

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    (c) Fiordland Lodge

    A refuge of beautiful isolation, Fiordland National Park is the largest of New Zealand's 14 national parks and part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site. With an unimpeded view of Lake Te Anau and its surrounding mountains, the Fiordland Lodge also boasts log cabins perfect for hikers looking to seperate from the modern world. Awash with jagged misty peaks, glistening fjords, and glacier-sculpted valleys, the park is also home to three of the country's "Great Walks," including the five-day, 53-kilometre Milford Track trek.

    Belmond Sanctuary Lodge - Machu Picchu, Peru

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    (c) Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

    Considered by many to be one of the greatest short treks of the world, the four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu rewards hikers with a stunning combination of the region's ruins, mountainscapes and cloud forests.The only hotel located adjacent to that ancient Incan settlement, the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge offers exceptional access to the Lost city and is the perfect place to rest after trekking up to exploring the ruins in the Sacred Valley.

    Berghotel Bastei - Saxon Switzerland, Germany

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    (c) Berghotel Bastei

    Just 30 kilometres from Dresden along the German-Czech border and in the heart of the most picturesque mountains in Germany, the Berghotel Bastei is just a stone's throw from the the famous Bastei Bridge. Erected in 1851 and towering above the River Elbe, the bridge offers mesmerizing views of the ancient rocky landscape. With every room offering magnificent views of the surrounding forests of Saxon Switzerland National Park, it might be hard to leave your cozy room to explore the wilderness outside.

    Fairmont Château Lake Louise - Banff National Park, Canada

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    (c) Fairmont Château Lake Louise

    No list of incredible hiking hotels could ever be complete without highlighting Canada's oldest national park, and a shining tribute to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park. On the edge of Lake Louise's emerald waters, surrounded by soaring mountain peaks and within walking distance to the magnificent Victoria Glacier, staying in Château Lake Louise is the perfect base for exploring every inch of this this incredible national park.

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    Mother Nature puts on a special show every fall, and it's always free and open to the public. There are countless places throughout Canada to admire the fall colours, but a number of destinations just south of the border offer alluring towns and new natural wonders for fall "leafers" seeking something different.

    Some of America's most northern states offer fall foliage displays that are known as the best in the world. This year, above-average temperatures have kept the trees from reaching peak colours in September and early October as they usually do. Now is the perfect time to plan a quick trip into the U.S. to visit these four must-see fall foliage destinations.

    Old Forge, New York

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    Photo credit: David Barnas


    At the foot of the mighty Adirondack Mountains, you'll find a quaint town that boasts spectacular fall colours. Old Forge is a hot spot for tourists with cute cafes, souvenir shops, tasty restaurants, happening bars and countless places to adventure in the outdoors. An abundance of hiking trails, canoeing routes and scenic drives offer perfect vantage points for admiring the changing leaves and snapping countless photos in the tree-covered foothills.

    Stowe, Vermont

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    Photo credit: Jim Liestman

    Start your fall foliage adventure near the famous Stowe Mountain Resort in northern Vermont. The colours peak in the Stowe area in September and early October, but warmer-than-usual fall colours have made now the ideal time to visit. Take the scenic drive from Stowe to Waterbury, the birthplace of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, to admire the colours in three Vermont state parks and two state forests.

    If you want to stick near Stowe, hit the hiking trails at Topnotch Resort or hop aboard the ski resort's gondola to snap photos of the fall colours from a different angle.

    Harbor Springs, Michigan

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    Photo credit: Calm Vistas

    Whether you enter Michigan from the north or through the Windsor Tunnel, you'll have some of the country's most breathtaking fall colours in sight within a handful of hours. If you enter near Detroit, travel roughly four hours northwest until you reach the sleepy but adorable town of Harbor Springs along the west coast of Lake Michigan on Little Traverse Bay.

    This charming little town is known as a tourist haven in the summer months, but it becomes more affordable and less crowded as fall creeps in. Cruise along the famed M-119 highway through the "Tunnel of Trees" to see some of the state's most lively colours. After you spend hours cruising the empty coastal roads, stop at a lakefront restaurant to snap photos of the colourful trees against the backdrop of turquoise Lake Michigan.

    Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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    Photo credit: Bret Vogel

    The Columbia River Gorge forms a natural border between northern Oregon and Washington state. The 80-mile-long gorge is a sight to behold in all seasons, but it's even more impressive in fall. The big-leaf maples, cottonwoods, Oregon ashes and firs lining the gorge turn breathtaking shades of gold and orange between mid-September and late October. Travellers can cruise along the Columbia River for a scenic drive, hike the trails along the gorge or even kayak on the river for a more active take on "leafing."

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    "I see a screw-up coming."

    John Pomeroy shook his head in disbelief as the rainfall warnings arrived at his research station in southwestern Alberta. Environment Canada had predicted 100 millimetres of rain or more might fall in the Canadian Rockies. And now they were issuing a “high flow advisory.” OK. But where were the clanging alarm bells? Where was the official flood warning?

    canmore floodingResidents watch the flooding Cougar Creek on June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. (Photo: John Gibson/Getty)

    Pomeroy knew too well the built-up conditions that made a devastating flood so possible. A hydrologist with a special interest in climate, snowpack and precipitation patterns in the Rockies, Pomeroy had seen it coming two days before, as a big low pressure system slowly moved in from the south.

    It worried him that even though winter’s snowfall hadn’t been that heavy, the spring snowpack in the mountains was late in melting.

    Fearing the worst, Pomeroy had the computers and all the fragile equipment at the research station secured well above ground the next day before sending most of his staff home. Back at his house in Canmore, he and his wife put up extra food and drinking water, and prepared for no electricity.

    And still no flood alert from Environment Canada.

    That’s when Pomeroy typed “I see a screw-up coming” in an email to Kevin Shook, a colleague at the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan.

    The date was June 18, 2013.

    calgary floodingPhotos shared on Twitter showed the extent of the flooding in Calgary.

    "Screw-up" turned out to be an understatement.

    When 200 millimetres of rain — and in some cases 350 millimetres of rain — poured down in the coming days, it fell on still frozen alpine wetlands and high meadows unable to soak up much moisture.

    Wet snow rapidly melted and came barrelling down the mountainsides, bulldozing swaths of forest and carving out new channels along the Ghost, Kananaskis, Elbow, Sheep, Highwood and other rivers and creeks.

    In Canmore, Pomeroy watched in awe as Cougar Creek — which is normally one metre wide and sometimes dry in the spring — swelled to 100 metres in width hours before the flood alert was announced.

    canmore floodingHouses damaged along the edge of Cougar Creek are shown on June 20, 2013 in Canmore. (Photo: John Gibson/Getty Images)

    In just a few hours, dozens of houses along its banks were damaged. CP Rail's mainline, the TransCanada Highway and Highway 1A were washed out and campgrounds along the Bow River were submerged. Hundreds of basements in Canmore filled with water.

    Canmore was not the only place hit hard and left unprepared for the deluge. Flooding occurred to the north and the south along the Red Deer and Oldman rivers, and to the west along the Elk River. Had it not been for dam storage and slow release at Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan, says Pomeroy, the moderate flooding that occurred in that province would have been a lot worse.

    By the time the rain stopped, at least a dozen communities, including the cities of Calgary and High River, declared states of emergency. Five people were dead. More than 100,000 people had to be evacuated. With an estimated $6 billion in damages, the Alberta government described the flood as the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.

    But it’s only a matter of time, in this era of climate change, before a deluge does even worse damage.

    alberta flood 2013Calgary in June 2013. (Photo: Canadian Press)

    Disastrous deluges

    Floods are by far responsible for most of the natural disasters in Canada. Between 1900 and 2013, 289 flood disasters occurred across the country. That’s more than the next three major disaster events — hail, wildfire, and snowstorms — combined.

    Many studies, including one by Natural Resources Canada, predict that this flooding is likely to get worse as the climate heats up and introduces more moisture into the atmosphere.

    If the past tells us anything about this future, it’s going to get ugly.

    Since 1996, when the overflow of the Saguenay River in Quebec caused $700 million of damage and forced the evacuation of 16,000 people, there have been catastrophic floods:

    • Along the Red River with 25,000 people evacuated in 1997.

    • In Alberta in 2005 when 13 communities declared states of emergency.

    • Along the Saint John River in New Brunswick in 2008 when 1,600 homes and properties were damaged.

    • Along the Red River in 2011 when the province of Manitoba called a province-wide emergency.


    The record-breaking 2005 floods in Toronto paled in comparison to the July 8, 2013 flood that caused $850 million in damages in the GTA.

    In many cases, the nature of the flooding was unprecedented. On August 8, 2014, the Ontario city of Burlington got two months of rain in one day.

    Floods that swamped large parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in June of 2014 were also unique in that they were caused by rainfall, not the usual snow melt, and at a time of year when creeks are normally dry.

    toronto flooding 2013A scene from flooding in Toronto in July 2013. (Photo: Canadian Press

    While climate models suggest that global warming will exacerbate the problem as temperatures increase and trap more moisture in the atmosphere, there is additional evidence to suggest that severe weather systems could linger longer than they have in the past.

    Insurance companies have been at their wits' end thinking of ways of dealing with mounting claims, according to Blair Feltmate, chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP) at the University of Waterloo. Today, he says, more than 50 per cent of all the disaster-related compensation payments made by insurance companies comes from flood damage.

    In nine of the past 11 years, he adds, insurance companies have paid out more than they have collected in premiums.


    “... we need to think about where water is going to be 25 or 50 years from now.”


    “You hear lots of people talk about climate change, but very little on adaptation to climate change,” says Feltmate who emphasizes that he has no doubt that climate change will result in an increase in flooding events. “We need to be doing that. Right now. And we need to think about where water is going to be 25 or 50 years from now.”

    Canada’s government has heard this from scientists, insurance company executives, municipal politicians and even Public Safety Canada. In August 2013, Global News used Access to Information legislation to get access to public safety documents that rated natural disasters as a bigger risk to Canada than cyber threats and emerging threats to national security.

    alberta flood 2013A once peaceful park path disappears into a flooded torrent as waters rise in Calgary on June 21, 2013. (Dave Buston/AFP/Getty Images)

    Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says that an enormous amount of money needs to be invested in flood mitigation. When campaigning, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has earmarked part of his 10-year, $125 billion infrastructure plan promise for flood mitigation.

    For Pomeroy, the lessons of the past aren't being acted on fast enough. Talk of additional river water storage upstream of Calgary have been discussed, but not implemented, he points out. More innovative solutions, such as building a tunnel from the Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River downstream of Calgary to permit floodwaters from the Elbow River to bypass the city, have not gone anywhere either.

    “In Canmore, homes along Cougar Creek were almost entirely rebuilt despite creekbed mitigations that cannot handle a debris flow from the size of the 2013 event,” he wrote in a recent report.

    “In Calgary very few homes were removed from the floodplain and in Kananasksis Country, $18 million was earmarked to rebuild a flood-damaged golf course in its floodplain location along Evan Thomas Creek. Only in High River were whole subdivisions in a flood plain declared untenable and slated for removal.”

    canmore floodingCanmore in June 2013. (Photo: Jordan Verlage/CP)

    Feltmate says the situation is the same across the country. After recently assessing the preparedness of 15 Canadian cities to limit flood damage, he and his colleagues gave Ottawa and Winnipeg the only high grades. Halifax failed. Mississauga, Edmonton, Fredericton, Whitehorse, Charlottetown, Quebec City, Regina, and Vancouver barely got a passing grade.

    "Governments tend to make promises in the weeks after a flood that they don't keep because it takes time and money to deal with it,” he says. "What they don't realize is that in failing to weather-harden our communities, they will end up paying more in disaster relief."

    Feltmate has no doubt that the situation is going to get worse if the world continues to rely on coal, oil and natural gas as 80 per cent of the world’s population currently does.

    “A recent report suggests that between now and 2030, that reliance on fossil fuels isn’t going to change much. But our footprint will. In 2030, there will be between 1.3 and 1.5 billion more people on the planet that will rely on coal, oil and natural gas for energy if we continue to rely on this form energy. Even if we find some ways of reducing greenhouse gases, the climate is going to continue to warm for some time. What we need to do now is weather-proof our communities and our homes.”


    “... in failing to weather-harden our communities, they will end up paying more in disaster relief."


    In a recently released report, John Pomeroy along with scientists Ronald Stewart and Paul Whitfield say that advancing the science of predicting floods is imperative in preparing the country for future floods in a warmer world. But that, they also say, is not enough.

    What is needed is a national strategy that would replace the fragmented, interprovincial, underfinanced and somewhat technologically challenged system that failed the people of Alberta in 2013.

    “The flood of 2013 may have been the largest in 60 years, but it was not extraordinary, and it was likely neither the flood of the century, nor the flood of a lifetime for those in the region,” says Pomeroy. “We need to prepare downstream communities for similar floods as well as floods that will be a lot larger.”

    When Weather Gets Stuck


    Climate change appears to be causing weather systems to get “stuck” in place longer, wreaking havoc as a result. Why?

    A compelling explanation comes from Jennifer Francis, a research professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. Because the Arctic regions are heating up faster than any place on earth, she explains, the temperature difference between north and more temperate regions is shrinking.

    That temperature difference is what propels the jet stream that influences weather systems. The bigger the difference between temperatures in the north and those in the south, the faster the jet stream moves from west to east, dragging associated weather systems with it.

    “Theory tells us that a decrease in the west-east flow tends to slow the eastward progression of waves in the jet stream,” she says. “Because these waves control the formation and movement of storms, slower wave progression means that weather conditions will be more persistent. In other words, they will seem more “stuck.”

    A warmer Arctic will also result in an increase in the waviness of a jet stream, according to Francis. Larger swings in the jet stream allow frigid air from the Arctic to plunge farther south, as well as warm, moist tropical air to penetrate northward. These wavy flows often lead to record-breaking temperatures. They also cause the jet stream to move more slowly, resulting in weather systems to linger even longer.


    This is published in partnership with The Tyee. Ed Struzik is an award-winning writer and the author of "Future Arctic, Field Notes From a World on the Edge" (Island Press 2015), as well as "Arctic Icons, How the Town of Churchill Learned to Love Its Polar Bears" (Fitzhenry and Whiteside 2015).

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    The Eiffel Tower glowed red, white, and blue in honour of the victims of Friday's horrific attacks in Paris.

    The iconic landmark, like many others in the French capital, had been closed to the public.

    For the next three days, the tower will be lit up in the colours of the French flag after a request by the Paris mayor, said administrators of the attraction.

    ILLUMINATION BLEU BLANC ROUGE LES 16 17 ET 18 NOVEMBREA la demande de la Maire de Paris, la tour Eiffel est éclairée...

    Posted by Tour Eiffel on Monday, November 16, 2015





    The tower went dark after Friday's violence, which was widely mistakenly as a tribute to victims. The tourist attraction turns off its lights every day at 1 a.m. to conserve energy.

    Over the weekend, landmarks all over the world lit up in the colours of the French flag in solidarity with Paris.

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    Confession time: I have been having a love affair with white truffles for the past seven years. It's an expensive relationship and my love is blind.

    Friends who have never been seduced by the aroma of the rare mushroom from Italy often ask what it is that keeps me coming back for more. What could the unsightly fungi that has been known to fetch up to $10,000 a pound possibly have over me?

    Like many Great Loves, words rarely do justice to the feelings they evoke, but let's put it this way. I'm starry-eyed and can't carry on a proper conversation until I have savoured my last delectable bite of white truffle; usually shaved on to a plate of butter cream pasta, eggs, beef carpaccio or risotto.

    The fact that these truffles play hard to get is certainly part of the appeal as well; they're becoming more and more rare each year because of global warming and other environmental factors. And no one has been able to domesticate them; they're foraged in the forest by specially trained dogs.

    I fell head over heels in the fall of 2008 when friends invited us to join them at a white truffle dinner in NYC. The season starts in mid-October and runs for up to three months during which time high-end restaurants around the world scramble to get their hands on enough supplies to satisfy their most devoted foodies. (A healthy serving of white truffle costs about $60 for each plate, in addition to the food it's decorating, so it's serious business.)

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    I hadn't been expecting to fall so hard since black truffles don't really get my mojo going, but with the lighter and more aromatic white truffle, it was love at first bite. I couldn't stay away, and the next November my husband and I were back in NYC for another white truffle marathon.

    But after our family expanded to include two young children, it became harder to justify our wild white truffle weekends in NYC, so my husband and I decided it was time to bring the truffles closer to home where we could share the experience with our friends and family.

    We enlisted the help of the Italian chef in our condo's restaurant who had contacts back home and soon enough we were awaiting a white truffle mule to deliver the special goods. He arrived off the plane with the sought-after stash in a Tupperware container in his backpack; our condo's restaurant was just one of a few stops he would hit on the Toronto restaurant circuit.

    We were high on truffle fumes all weekend as we shared a series of dinners decorated by our prized white truffle; shaved onto every course from our cheese and honey starter to our vanilla ice cream dessert and the butter cream pasta and beef tenderloin in between.

    As our 10th wedding anniversary approached this past October, my husband and I decided it was time to make the ultimate declaration of love by flying to the 85th annual white truffle festival in Alba, Italy.

    Thousands of foodies and truffle aficionados make the pilgrimage to the northern Italian town in the Piedmont region each year to play homage to the diva of all truffles, which originate in Alba.

    As my husband and I approached the famous white tent which plays host to the festival, there could be no mistaking we were in the right place. The aroma of white truffle almost knocked us over while I barreled towards to the entrance, leaving a puddle of drool in my wake. Inside truffles in various shapes and sizes were displayed in glass cases and fawned over like diamonds at Tiffany & Co.

    2015-11-16-1447702932-1813770-truffle_1114.jpg

    And with all the pomp and circumstance of a beauty pageant, a judge's station sat in the middle of it all, set to crown the best of the best white truffles.

    The hype of the festival filters down to the local restaurants as well, which proudly display their truffles as you enter. Inside tourists and locals who may not speak the same language bond over their mutual love of their beloved mushroom.

    But the truffle on the top of our visit to Alba this year? Hunting for the diamond in the rough! We were able to see first hand how our favourite treat got to our plate in the first place.

    Oprah Winfrey and her best friend Gayle made headlines when they went truffle hunting last year so we were feeling extra glamorous as we set off into the forest with our local guide Oscar Bosio and his dog Dick. We were joined on the excursion by a couple from Switzerland who we met at a local winery and ended up breaking bread/truffles with together.

    Oscar had been training Dick to sniff out truffles since he was a wee pup, rewarding him with little tastes of the delicacy when he was successful, so the dog was off to the truffle races as soon as he was let off the leash.

    No more than ten minutes passed before Dick began barking and digging a hole beside an Oak tree (truffles grow among the roots of certain types of trees). We all gathered around as Oscar took over the reigns before Dick could eat the prize and viola... Our very own white truffle!

    2015-11-16-1447684157-5978121-IMG_3440.JPG


    Dick dug up another white truffle -- and a black one -- before we called it a day with major smiles on our faces. While Oscar let us smell the truffles and take a few photos with our haul, unfortunately he got to keep them, and would sell them to local restaurants or private customers. He did invite us back to his winery in Asti for some sparkling wine though, so we didn't mope for too long.

    After leaving Italy, I wasn't sure when I would have another white truffle rendezvous, but it turns out I won't have to pine for too much longer. My husband wants a white truffle for his 40th birthday next month, so I will be reunited with my love soon enough.

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    In skiing parlance, big air usually refers to launching off of large slope side jumps. B.C.'s Revelstoke Mountain Resort has taken the concept a step -- make that a giant leap -- further. If you've ever wondered what it feels like to fly, soaring thousands of feet above the valley floor, a tandem paragliding flight off the resort's upper slopes with Revelstoke Paragliding offers you an eagle's eye view of the largest vertical in North America.

    2015-11-13-1447374650-4143622-RevelstokeParagliding.jpg
    Photo credit: ZoyaPhoto

    Strapped securely together on a cloudless mid-winter morning, paragliding pilot Chris Delsworth and I point our skis downhill in unison and take off, rising effortlessly from a slope near the summit of Mount Mackenzie and into thin air. Beneath us sprawls Canada's newest ski resort -- 1,713 metres of lift-accessed terrain, 3,121 acres of fall line skiing, two high alpine bowls and 65 named runs, including great green swaths of glades and perfectly pitched freeway-wide groomers that seem to go on forever. Beyond lies the mighty Columbia River, snaking around the historic railway town of Revelstoke, two hours north of Kelowna and five hours west of Calgary.

    Thirty minutes of thrilling swoops, glides and descending corkscrews later we gently touch down beside the resort's mid-mountain Revolution Lodge. Exhilarated from my first paragliding adventure, I'm on top of the world as Chris unbuckles us from the deflated chute. Despite the epic terrain on offer, the rest of the day can't help be downhill after this lofty experience.

    Heli-skiing hotspot
    Paragliding isn't the only high flying winter adventure on offer at Revelstoke. With half a million acres of exclusive tenure, the Resort's Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing offers another spectacular way to experience the majestic beauty of the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains that surround Revelstoke. Plenty of powder on high altitude glacier runs awaits me the next morning as I board one of their Bell 212 choppers, bound for the ultimate downhill thrill.

    2015-11-13-1447375070-7512843-heliskiing.jpg
    Photo credit: Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing

    It turns out to be a perfect bluebird day. Along for the ride of a lifetime are several European and American skiers and boarders -- all first-time heli-skiers -- along with two of Selkirk Tangiers' most seasoned guides. Fresh from an hour of mandatory avalanche rescue orientation, we're all eager to reach our own private powder playground of huge, untouched bowls surrounded by a vast alpine wilderness of wintry white that resort-bound skiers can only imagine.

    Helicopters first carried adventurous skiers high into British Columbia's mountains over 50 years ago. Today, more than 90 per cent of heli-skiing operations call Western Canada's immense ranges home, making us the world capital of backcountry bliss. On run after glorious run, we descend down gleaming glacier faces, only to be scooped up and deposited again on mountain tops with panoramic views to die for. My first time companions are clearly delighted.

    "I was amazed when we first exited the helicopter how huge and untouched everything was" says a delighted Chris Deary, a futures trader from Chicago. "You're on top of the world".

    "It's a totally amazing life experience," adds his buddy, Jeff Hansen, a civil engineer from Michigan. "And the guides made us feel totally safe."

    Instant converts to the ultimate alpine thrill, both men say they hope to return to Revelstoke for another opportunity to tackle the legendary steeps and deeps here in one of the epicentres of world-class heli-skiing.

    So do I, although memories of my gravity-defying paragliding flight off the slopes of Canada's latest and greatest big mountain skiing Mecca just might muffle the sound of that chopper's blades in my powder dreams.

    If you go
    The only resort in the world to offer lift, cat, heli- and backcountry skiing from one village base, Revelstoke Mountain Resort offers North America's greatest vertical at 1,713 metres (5,620 ft). Opened in March, 2009 in the base village, The Sutton Place Hotel provides ski-in, ski-out luxury condominium-style accommodations and three on-site dining options just minutes from downtown Revelstoke.

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    Are you a folder or a roller, a planner or procrastinator? Do you make lists or toss items into a bag at the last minute and hope for the best? Cheapflights.ca surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians on their packing preferences and the results may surprise you.

    If you think you're a good packer, you're in good company. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians surveyed believe they're good at packing. But what does that mean? List making, laying out clothes and weighing luggage before you head to the airport, or waiting until the last minute, skimping on skivvies and hoping your bag doesn't bust the scale?

    Are you a (Holy) Roller, a classic Over-Packer or a Carry-On Connoisseur? Regardless of your packing personality, one thing is for certain -- you're not alone. Read on to find out how your packing habits stack up.

    Know when to fold'em
    2015-11-04-1446672404-8164523-2Fold.jpg
    Image: Melisse Hinkle

    Turns out 67 per cent of respondents choose to fold their clothes rather than use the rolling method, which many believe saves space. Interestingly, more men (71 per cent) are folders than women (62 per cent), meaning only 29 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women surveyed roll, roll, roll their clothes.

    To plan or not to plan?
    2015-11-04-1446672441-76699-3Plan.jpg
    Image: iStock.com/JackF

    68 per cent of Canadians plan or lay out their clothing when prepping for a trip. It may not come as much of a surprise, but 80 per cent of women cop to coordinating outfits in advance, while 56 per cent of men admit to doing the same.

    Start your trip on the right foot
    2015-11-12-1447352724-7878196-suitcasesnapshotasurveyofcanadianpackinghab03.jpg
    Image: Joe Shlabotnik, Pile of shoes via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Over-packing is often a problem when deciding what to bring on a vacay. Sixty per cent of those surveyed admit they don't typically wear everything they pack. As a general rule, if you don't wear it while you're home, you probably won't wear it on vacation. This often goes for shoes, too. Unless you're an avid runner or know you'll use 'em, consider leaving the workout sneakers at home. Same goes for uncomfortable heels. While 73 per cent of Canadians pack two or three pairs of shoes for a trip, 25 per cent of men only pack one pair. Seems ambitious, but we respect the effort!

    Can you spare a pair?
    2015-11-04-1446672529-4704497-5underwear.jpg
    Image: iStock.com/funstock

    When it comes to underwear, 42 per cent of Canadians are on the same page, packing a pair a day plus a spare. While 12 per cent are a tad overly cautious, packing double as many pairs as days on the trip, a little more than 10 per cent wing it and throw caution (and hygiene) to the wind, bringing as many pairs as they happen to throw in their suitcase.

    Packing pros
    2015-11-04-1446672624-5695974-6weigh.jpg
    Image: Melisse Hinkle

    The 75 per cent of Canadians who believe they are good at packing just might be onto something. Sixty-six per cent of those surveyed claim they never push luggage size or weight limits. And for good reason -- 57 per cent of respondents report weighing their luggage before heading to the airport!

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    When RCMP Const. Neal Machek saw Ski-Doos gliding across a Northwest Territories lake, he knew it was time to finally cross a very Canadian dream off his bucket list.

    The Mountie said he and his partner Const. Jason Ellefsen were returning from an early Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 10 when they passed by Great Bear Lake, its conditions ideal for some shinny.

    “It was the perfect temperature. The ice was frozen, nice and flat,” Machek, who is from Kelowna, B.C., said in an interview with The Huffington Post Canada.

    “So we figured it would be good enough for us to skate on.”

    mounties hockey

    So he convinced his wife Shelagh to accompany them and take photos and video of their quick game.

    He shared some of his favourites with HuffPost Canada.

    deline mounties

    neal machek

    “We’re big hockey fans,” Machek said. “I grew up watching hockey, but never got to play until I was about 15 years old.”

    According to local lore, the sport’s earliest beginnings trace back to Great Bear Lake when explorer Sir John Franklin used to play shinny with his crew out on its ice. It’s also an origin story that challenges the same claim by Windsor, N.S.

    But that contentious detail is irrelevant to Machek, because he finally got to do something he’s been eyeing since he arrived in Deline a year ago.

    “We’re two Mounties and didn’t think we’d get an opportunity like that again — to be able to say we played in the birthplace of hockey out on a lake being in serges,” he said.


    “I just wanted to get out there and do it.” — Const. Neal Machek


    Deline is a remote, northern fly-in town that sits along the edge of a lake the size of the Netherlands. With a population under 500, it carries a “very good reputation” and is “very receptive” to Mounties, says Machek — which is why he requested a two-year posting in the community.

    Machek said locals have welcomed him warmly and have taken him on hunts. He even successfully convinced Ellefsen, who he worked with in Inuvik, to move to Deline, too — admitting he lured him with the idea of building an ice fishing shack come wintertime.

    Since the lake froze over nearly two weeks ago, the town’s efforts to develop its tourism industry are on a seasonal hiatus since deep-pocketed tourists can’t fly in and fish for some of the world’s biggest trout.

    So what exactly motivated Machek to play some shinny in traditional Mountie attire? He simply said it was a “once in a lifetime” moment.

    “I just wanted to get out there and do it, for whatever reason I don’t know,” he said “Just something fun to do.”

    Read more:

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    As promised, here's the rest of my edible tale. But first, a fun fact: Did you know that Central Florida boasts the most amount of James Beard nominated chefs for this year? It's promising to learn that these individuals are being recognized on an international scale for their talents.

    So, our whirlwind media tour soon lands us in Disney Springs. Formerly known as Downtown Disney, the rebranded Springs is a reflection of an aggressive expansion to include over 150 restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues in total. This grand project is expected to be finished in summer 2016; and upon completion, it will more than double the current offering of 70 retail outlets. In the meantime, the construction itself isn't too intrusive. While it's somewhat crowded, the pathways are wide enough for groups and families with strollers to walk through.

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    Before we head to Iron Chef America's Morimoto Asia for dinner, we make a slight detour to The Boathouse. As a 40s and 50s themed restaurant, as you may have well guessed by the name that indeed, the place is swimming with boat and sailing paraphernalia. The restaurant is filled to the gills with people but the service is still prompt. The ideal game plan here is to order several seafood platters and share. My favourites included the sweet and crisp Coconut Baja Jumbo Shrimp and the Hoison Chili Calamari with Bell Peppers, Jalapeno, Serrano Chili. It's an addictive combination of sweet and heat.

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    While we didn't have dessert, I'd definitely advise you to save some room for it. They have two massive specialty desserts that are sure to make nearby diners envious. Gibsons S'mores Baked Alaska is a bruleed wonder with mountains of ice cream hiding below the meringue's toasted surface. Or there's the Florida Sunshine Cake: sweet yellow cake, bright orange cream cheese frosting and finished with toasted almonds. Whichever one you choose, it's best to conquer them with an army of friends.

    To scrounge up an appetite, we spend some time in an Amphicar ride. Part car, part boat, it's all righteous amusement to floor the vehicle right into the splashy waters -- and not fear for sinking to the bottom of the lake(!). In fact, we bob on our merry way -- circling around Disney Springs. The ride is 20 minutes long -- definitely enough time to soak up the sights and the sensations of riding a floating car, no less!

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    And soon enough, dinner await us. It's not difficult to find Morimoto Asia. It's a beacon of white light with Chef's name emblazoned on the side.

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    Inside, it is gorgeous. Although it's a warehouse space, they've decorated it with contemporary glamour. Elaborate, glimmering chandeliers at 20 feet, dangle from up high. The two story restaurant boasts an open kitchen, a sushi bar and two cocktail bars. There are many secluded nooks where you can enjoy the company of your loved ones without feeling crowded.

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    In spite of all the hype, the main issue is whether the food lives up to the name. While it has only been opened for a month or so, the star-studded dishes - the Peking duck and the ribs -- generally shine with flavour. The Peking duck is not carved table side but sent to us fanned out on a platter. The meat is sweet & tender with crisp mahogany, lacquered skin.


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    The ribs are infused with Asian spices and lean towards a sweeter flavour profile with an ample coating of hosin sweet chili glaze.

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    House-made dim sum is also offered during lunch and dinner service but they are dull in comparison to the other dishes of the evening that pack a bountiful dose of pleasure. But the sushi and sashimi platters are a vision of beauty; sliced with deft precision, the fish is fresh and vibrant. And make sure to try one of their many sakes on offer ( I vouch for the Crazy Milk sake); it's a welcome array of zingy to creamy varieties.

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    *There's not enough dessert on this table :P *


    When you're not in Mickey's kingdom, head to Winter Park for picturesque settings and extensive estates sprawled out on thickets of lush greenery. They contain a storied history you'll hear all about on Scenic Boat tours. The guided tour is an hour long on Lake Osceola where you'll traverse through three of the seven interconnected lakes via man-made canals. You'll learn about the residence, the history of Winter Park and some unique facts about the area today.

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    And afterwards, head to Swine & Sons for lunch/ brunch. Situated on a homely strip plaza, inside, the smells of baked goods and artisan foods descend upon your olfactory nerve endings. Fall into plush biscuits sandwiched with gooey cheddar, egg, tomato jam and house-made Canadian bacon. They pride themselves on making artisan sweets and charcuterie that feature local ingredients, as well as offering a range of unique craft beers and wines.

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    We return to our resort and are given a few special treats: first, a patio luncheon by the water. PB&G Grill serves up their signature rotisserie chicken, as well as pulled pork and brisket from their smokehouse. The cocktails here are also irresistible. For someone who typically prefers wine, even I couldn't resist the allure of a creamy piña colada. It's a casual eatery with a summer BBQ atmosphere; the variety is plentiful and plates made ideal for sharing.

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    Next, we get a tiramisu demo with Pastry Chef Peter Whitley then a mixology lesson and tasting with Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi (who also oversees Ravello, the resort's Italian Restaurant). We taste intoxicating elixirs of his own Bicerin and Limoncello creations.

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    Chef Schenardi then leads us through his kitchen operations. A behind-the-scenes glimpse into the massive labyrinth of hot and cold lines, bakery and pastry sections, storage facilities, and prep stations reveals a few fun facts about this facility:
    • Ravello produces 8030 lb of pizza dough per year

    • Fresh pasta produced at Ravello in first year of operation: 5000 lb

    • Capa weekly usage of Wagyu beef: 20 lb & weekly usage of prime cut of beef: 500 lb

    • Gelato and Sorbet production per year: 18,000 lb

    • All restaurants and foodservice combined use 10,000 lb chocolate per year


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    After our exploration, we depart for Soco Thornton Park for our last dinner together in Orlando. Executive Chef Greg Richie, who fronted restaurants for Emeril Lagasse and Roy Yamaguchi, spearheads Soco's cuisine. Situated in the heart of downtown Orlando, this Southern- inspired restaurant offers contemporary takes on the food of Richie's youth. From Grilled Heritage Pork Chops to Pecan-Crusted Carolina Fluke, many dishes conjure memories of my beloved New Orleans and its soulful spirit. Here, they're spun out of their classic form; for instance, Grilled Meatloaf on Lobster Mashed Potatoes and Chicken-Fried New York Strip cooked to a juicy medium-rare.

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    On our final day, it's a bittersweet moment and my euphoric state is a culmination of many experiences during these past few days. I've made many great friends and I hope my story will inspire you to book your next trip to Orlando -- not only for Disney -- but for all the vibrant food in the off-the-beaten-tracks that await you.

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    *#PinchietheLobster*


    Disclosure: Travel and accommodation were provided by Visit Orlando.

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    If you're like many travellers visiting a city, beyond taking in the usual tourist attractions, you probably enjoy wandering off the beaten path to get a better sense of the town. Although exploring different districts and hoods can be fun, what's an even bigger blast -- and a sure way of finding out what makes the locals tick -- is to attend a major league sporting event.

    Here's the thing: regardless of what sport is being played, when tens of thousands of people gather in a single setting with the common goal of cheering on their home team, the facemasks of decorum come off. Expect a raw show of emotions -- love, hate, joy, sorrow -- manic dancing and huge public displays of affection. And whether you're a fanatic or you wouldn't recognize a player if he tackled you, expect to get caught up in it all.

    Check out the video and you'll see what I mean.




    Prime up on the team and the town

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    View from Duquesne Incline

    Recently, Girls' Flight Out camera-girl Sam Gary and I flew to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania armed with tickets to both the Penguins hockey and Steelers football games. No, we're not avid sports fans, nor did it matter. Prior to boarding our Porter flight we hung out in the Billy Bishop Airport lounge in Toronto sipping lattes and checking out the teams' websites and social media. Hardcore fans can go deeper via forums, blogs, etc., but Twitter along gave us a quick primer.

    If you've never been to Pittsburgh -- or haven't been there recently - you may have noticed that lately it has been showing up on lists of places to go. Since the collapse of the steel industry back in the 80s, the Burgh has slowly but surely re-invented itself into a clean, lean city flush with art and architecture, parks and pathways, an emerging nightlife and culinary scene. Aesthetically it is surprisingly pretty with its valleys and hillsides, three rivers and 450 or so bridges connecting 90 neighbourhoods.

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    Famous burnt almond torte from Prantl's Bakery

    Stay within walking distance of the game

    In the heart of downtown stands the Fairmont where we stayed mostly because we love the all-star treatment and on a more practical note, the lux hotel is within walking distance to all the sports venues. Pre-game traffic congestion in-and-around stadiums can be a nightmare, so it's a good idea to hang your hat close by so you don't miss the opening puck-drop or kick-off because you're stuck in the back of a cab. As an added treat, you get to join the parade of locals heading to the game, and when you walk home afterward, you won't be alone.

    Booking.com makes it easy to find accommodations within close proximity to a game. Simply key in the venue in the search bar, and a map with a pin drop of its location will appear. All property search results, from traditional hotels to condos to entire houses, will filter with the distance from the stadium.

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    Pittsburgh also known as City of Bridges

    Consult the Concierge if you don't have tickets

    Shay Badolato, a concierge at Fairmont Pittsburgh, says she's never had trouble getting last-minute tickets for guests assuming they're prepared to pay above face value for bigger games. Although, like most people, Shay goes through the box office or uses online ticket sites, the benefit of consulting a concierge is he or she will undoubtedly be familiar with local sports venues and therefore will be able to recommend best seats and share other tips you won't find online.

    You go girl
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    Rebecca gears up for the games at shops on The Strip

    Back in the day males wildly dominated fandom but times have changed. Major league sports has upped its game to lure new lady fans and/or keep existing ones loyal, from working with designers to turn out stylish women's merchandise to employing more and more females in executive and key positions. This season, in fact, Sarah Thomas makes history as the NFL's first full-time female game official.

    Tom McMillian, a spokesperson for the Penguins, believes that one of the reasons the Pens have the highest percentage of female fans in the NHL is because of the programs they develop to ensure girls have access to playing the game. For example, every year, Sidney Crosby's Little Penguins sees 1,000 boys and girls, aged four to eight, in the Pittsburgh area receive free hockey equipment head to toe.

    The Steelers too have the highest percentage of female fans in the NFL at 55 per cent (the average is 43.5 per cent). They run a series of women's-only events meant to engage, one of which saw Sam and I join a group of enthusiastic ladies and spend time with a few players learning how to punt and other skills. I have to tell you that when the top of my foot finally connected with the ball, you'd think I'd won the Super Bowl.

    Speaking of which, last season's Super Bowl broadcast averaged 50 million female viewers making it the most-watched show among women of all time.

    But go see a live game, ladies. You know how we like to keep it real.

    Rebecca Field Jager is a travel and lifestyle writer contributing to various publications including her blog, girlsflightout.ca. Follow her on Twitter @BecJager.

    Disclaimer: Aspects of this trip were provided by Porter Airlines, VisitPittsburgh.com and Fairmont Pittsburgh. Luggage was provided by Bentley. The author is a partner of Booking.com.

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    Photo credit: Patrick Nouhailler

    Winter has far more to offer than ice on your windshield and slippery streets. It's the time of year when families get to pack their bags, strap on their skis (and snowboards) and spend memorable days on the mountain.

    These five family-friendly ski and snowboard resorts across North America offer everything you need to create an unforgettable getaway that's low on stress and big on fun.

    1. Park City Mountain Resort - Utah

    Utah is quickly becoming one of the United States' top ski and snowboard destinations. Park City Mountain Resort, sometimes regarded as a luxury destination, offers family-friendly rates to help you stay within steps of the lift for an affordable price. Diverse terrain, top-notch ski schools, and high-speed lifts make this the ideal getaway for families with varying levels of skiers and riders.

    2. Beaver Creek -- Colorado
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    Photo credit: Mick Chester

    Forego some of Colorado's resorts with big names -- like Aspen and Steamboat -- for the more family-oriented and less exclusive Beaver Creek Resort. Beaver Creek offers world-class terrain coupled with family-friendly touches, like an on-site nursery, a Ski School Carpool program, creative and large learning areas for kids and even a special short gondola designed for little ones (and their parents).

    3. Whistler Blackcomb - British Columbia

    Whistler Blackcomb is widely known as one of the top ski and snowboard resorts in the world. The Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer more than 200 in-bounds runs, three glaciers and 16 alpine bowls. There's something for every type of skier from toddlers skiing for the first time to expert level moms and dads.

    Even better, Whistler is offering a variety of family lift ticket and lodging packages that allow kids under the age of 12 to ski, stay and rent equipment for free during the 2015-2016 season.

    4. Lake Louise Ski Resort - Alberta
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    Photo credit: Ricky Leong

    Lake Louise is more than one of the top ski resorts in North America. It's one with terrain, scenery and non-stop fun that you and your littles ones will never forget. The Lake Louise Ski Resort is located within the stunning Banff National Park -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site that becomes an outdoor playground for kids and adults in winter.

    Away from the world-class terrain, most area hotels and lodges offer apres-ski programs for families including winter hikes, bonfires, sledding, snowshoe tours and more.

    5. Whiteface Mountain - New York
    America's eastern states don't get as much recognition for top-quality ski resorts as the western ones, but Whiteface Mountain is constantly surpassing visitors' expectations.

    The former Winter Olympics site in the picturesque town of Lake Placid offers more than just mountain terrain for all types of skiers and snowboarders. Families can time themselves on the Olympic Speed Skating oval, bobsled at adrenaline-inducing speeds or take the gondola to an observation deck to see postcard-worthy views of the Adirondacks.

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    Nothing says that your hotel staff "understands you" better than a little bit of humour, and trivago.ca found the most hilarious, dirty, and occasionally disturbing hotel Do Not Disturb signs that will make getting your bed made or having a lazy morning in bed that much more enjoyable.

    Which "Do Not Disturb" sign would you hang on your door?


    High Achiever? Or Just an Average Morning in Berlin
    Michelberger Hotel - Berlin, Germany
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    (c) Joanna Penn


    Party Like a Rock Star
    Hard Rock Hotel Bali - Bali, Indonesia
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    (c) paupau1881


    Lonely, & Looking For Love?
    The Student Hotel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
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    (c) essinouette


    Growing Up Is SO Over-Rated
    Harrah's Las Vegas & Casino - Las Vegas, Nevada
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    (c) Derick Van Ness


    Bloodthirsty, But Effective
    Kaboom Hotel - Maastricht, Netherlands
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    (c) Larissa Hoogland


    Is It Best to Rule The World Before or After Room Service?
    Hotel Streym - Faroe Islands
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    (c) Peter E. Elleson


    Is it the Morning After Already?
    25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin - Berlin, Germany
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    (c) MPunkt


    Just Pick an Excuse & Move Along
    Hotel Kong Arthur - Copenhagen, Denmark
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    (c) Le Marché aux Étoiles


    Not Quite Ready to be on Display
    citizenM - Amsterdam, Netherlands
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    (c) cs_listens


    An Introvert's Final Appeal
    Embassy Suites West Palm Beach - West Palm Beach, Florida
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    (c) Quinn Dombrowski


    Daydreaming the Day Away
    Islandair Hotel Klaustur - Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Iceland
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    (c) Kimberly O'Farrell


    Surrendering to Artistic Temptations & Temperament
    Volkshotel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
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    (c) Alexey Buistov


    To hang up your favorite "Do Not Disturb" sign, you can book your stay at any of the hotels on our list by heading to www.trivago.ca.

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    While no one can predict the future with 100 per cent certainty, travel, tourism and hospitality insiders are able to pick up various trends; the growth of eco-tourism and eco-resorts is really gaining momentum. Unite this growth with the slow-food movement and you have a match made in heaven.

    On a recent trip to Italy, namely the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, I discovered the most picturesque landscape with a breathtaking backdrop of Alps. This is an area not usually top of mind with many tourists, as they are normally lured by the charms of Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi coast. But they're missing a great deal, as I discovered because Piedmont is considered Italy's most culinary-progressive region.

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    The fertile ground of Piedmont is custom made for eco-resorts and eco-tourism. (Piedmontese means meat of our livestock, vegetables, fruits, vegetables, herbs, proposed in old recipes). One company has recognized this, Vistaterra. This is a new resort being developed near Ivrea, Italy (scheduled to open, at least in part, in 2017).

    It's rising from the remains of the castle of San Martino di Parella on lands that are part of a historic park that was slated to be a vast vineyard. Vistaterra's mission is to serve as the heart of a local agricultural and artisanal renaissance, sourcing skills and knowledge from local suppliers, boosting businesses and creating jobs. It's called Vistaterra because land is what the entire project starts with, and is the origin of many of the activities that will be offered.

    Vistaterra is the brainchild of Manital CEO, Graziano Cimadom, and Manital (an Italian facilities management company) is the resort's owner and developer.

    The centre of Manital's restoration efforts will be the castle itself, which is undergoing a massive refurbishment that seeks to reuse as much of the original materials as possible -- including roof and floor tiles. Once finished, the castle will have about 10 luxuriously-appointed guestrooms, according to Cimadom, while another 10 guestrooms will be housed in a separate building. There will be a host of other services offered, including a spa and wellness center, a business services center, events facilities, a gourmet restaurant -- serving dishes with ingredients sourced on site -- as well as a cafeteria.

    The resort will be marketed aggressively in northern Europe and the U.S. Visitors will be able to buy wines and beer produced at Vistaterra as well as products made by local artisans which will be sold in the little bottheghe (shops) set up in the castle's courtyard. This is taking the idea of eco-resort to a higher level.

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    Vistaterra Park

    The initiative's backing by the slow food movement, founded by Carlo Petrini, will make it appealing to the increasing number of eco-tourists, in Italy and abroad, who are on the lookout for sustainable vacation options.

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    Vistaterra Frescoes

    Slow Food, headquartered in Bra, Piedmont, is an international movement as an alternative to fast food. The idea is to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourage farming of plants, seeds and livestock. Their motto is "Good, Clean and Fair." The movement is slowly expanding globally and now has 100,000 members in 150 countries.

    Petrini is also the founder of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, located in Pollenza, near Bra. He established the school as the first university to focus on the organic relationships between food and cultures. More than 2,000 students have taken courses at UNISG since it opened in 2004. UNISG offers a variety of courses leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas related to gastronomy, food culture and heritage, food journalism, farming methods, Italian food preparation and marketing, paying particular attention to environmental and sustainability issues.

    As part of their curriculum, students go on study tours in European countries and other parts of the world. In early 2015, a group of UNISG students studied food culture in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The university welcomes visitors; they can take a tour and visit the "Banca del Vino" for tastings.

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    According to Michael Howell, board member of slow food Canada, eco-tourism must engage the community to be successful. This in turn will attract urban travelers who are looking for an eco-experience. They will still visit the touristy sites but at the end of the day they want to get back basics -- be in the heart of the country.

    Howell, based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia is founder and executive director of the "Devour: The Food Film Festival" held every November with a stellar line-up of celebrities, chefs and movies. It is a perfect showcase of what the region has to offer. Howell's vision is to have Wolfville declared a slow food city in the near future and events like "Devour" just strengthen the case.

    Disclaimer: Manital Corporation organized the author's visit to VistaTerra and the Piedmont region.

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    Austrian ski resort Kitzbuehel has dethroned France's Val Thorens to be named the world's best ski resort 2015.

    At the third annual World Ski Awards, the host of the ceremony was given the coveted title Saturday at a gala event that aims to highlight the best in the industry.

    Located 95 km from Innsbruck, Kitzbuehel boasts a 120-year-old skiing tradition and features 170 km of slopes including the Streif, one of the most famous and challenging downhill ski race tracks for its high-speed jumps, steep slopes, curves, compressions and bumps.

    The ski area also features 50 gondolas and lifts, 120 km of cross country ski trails, and 155 days of guaranteed snow from December through to April.

    Visitors can choose between rustic Tyrolean guesthouses, or five-starred hotels in town. Likewise, medieval streets are dotted with international designer boutiques for the well-heeled.

    Meanwhile, Utah's only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley took home the title of World's Best Ski Hotel this year, a ski hotel styled after European winter getaways.

    Named after Norwegian Olympic Gold Medal skier Stein Eriksen, the lodge mixes Nordic elements with contemporary American esthetics within its 180 rooms or suites and features 145 stone fireplaces and cathedral ceilings.

    The World Ski Awards are an offshoot of the World Travel Awards which has been described as the Oscars of the travel world.

    Winners are determined by votes cast by key players in the ski industry -- executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media -- as well as ski tourism consumers.

    Kitzbuehel managed to knock France's Val Thorens from the top spot which it had held onto for the first two years.

    Votes are cast by professionals working within the ski industry -- senior executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media -- and by the public (ski tourism consumers).

    Here are the major winners of the World Ski Awards 2015:

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    "So did you hear about Rita and Norris's love child turning up?" As the in-the-know studio tour group chuckled, we all knew that for most of us, touring the sets where the longest running television show in the world had been filmed from 1982 to 2013 would be sort of a mecca for us.

    The Granada Studios in Manchester saw some of the most dramatic storylines of Coronation Street unfold over its 31 year tenure, representing a full 8,200 episodes. The studio and surrounding lot were finally outgrown as the show moved to the much larger Media City, which has permanent sets, both inside and out, and the show could be filmed seven days a week.

    The tour opened April, 2014, and will welcome more than a half a million fans before it closes on December 31, 2015. It starts inside the actors' green room, and heads down the hallway towards the wardrobe and make up room, passing the dressing rooms that would have been like second homes to the many actors who have remained on the show for decades. Besides the actors, it takes 200 staff to put together each half hour episode of the show.

    The wardrobe room was surprisingly small, but has several notable outfits on display including the three wedding dresses used to film the violent non-wedding of Tracy Barlow and Rob Connor, in their various states of distress. The wardrobe staff would shop as though they were their characters, with the example of Ken Barlow only buying his socks at Marks & Spencer. Roy Cropper's clothes are "vintage", and sourced off Ebay.

    The make up table is small, and seats only one actor at a time, with a sign on the wall warning the men they had 15 minutes, and the women a scant 45, unless of course there were special effect cuts and bruises to be added.

    When the studio moved Coronation Street from the Granada location, they had already painstakingly recreated the sets still required -- the Platt's home, the local newsagent The Kabin, the Underworld factory, and more. But original sets were left behind at this site, including Jack and Vera Duckworth's home, and one of Carla Collins' first flats. A pair of Deirdre Barlow's luminous round glasses are set on a stand, next to Hilda Ogden's ubiquitous hair curlers.

    We learn during the tour that the actors had extensive amounts of dialogue to deliver, and with a tight filming schedule, they didn't rehearse scenes. "Learn your lines and on to the set you go!" Some of the older actors were known to place post-it notes around their set, inside pots or on tables, for a quick prompt.

    "Betty's Hot Pot is more like the "not-pot", says our guide, as we are led into the core of the show, The Rovers Return. Deceptively small, sitting in Britain's most well known pub is a moment which had tour guests squealing, as we took turns pulling a (pretend) pint at the bar.

    Walking through the studio control room you have the sense of being in a time capsule, as the show finished filming in December 2013, there were Christmas decorations up, and they were simply left as the crew walked away.

    After a walk through to the "underpass" where the tram explosion happened, and where Ashley Peacock met his demise, and with the well-known soundtrack playing, we enter The Street. It is a little disconcerting, firstly because of it's familiarity and sense of fictional world meeting reality, but also because the scale of the set outside is 7/10 to life-size (the Rovers seems quite small), while it has been increased to 9/10 on the new set, due mostly to the development of high definition television sets which exposed the differences.

    We pass The Kabin, looking down a side street to Webster's Garage, Underworld, and then along the street past the homes of some of the most well known television characters in the world. Dev's shop, The Rovers Return, it's all there. Down another side street, past Barlow's Buys, we spy Prima Doner, Roy's Rolls and the long shut Elliott & Son Butcher shop.

    The Medical Centre is the studio's gift shop, and as I pick up my USB key fob loaded with an image of my turn as a new Rover's barmaid, I'm conscious of how upsetting the end of this era will be when the site is leveled in early 2016, as developers Allied London revealed their plans to build hotels, a theatre, other performance venues and up to 2,500 apartments on the site. Plans for the Coronation Street sets, buildings, and props have not been announced. But it's fair to say most fans will have a "face like a wet weekend" when the cobbled street is crossed for the last time.

    Coronation Street airs on CBC Television, Monday to Friday.

    This article originally ran in the Vancouver Sun.

    You can hear Kathy talk about travel on her How She Travels segment on What She Said on Sirius/XM Canada, channel 167.

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