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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Is it really true that calories don't count when you're on holiday? Let's hope so! Whether it's sampling sizzling-hot local delicacies from a street-side vendor or tucking into a five-course gourmet spread at a celebrity chef's hip new restaurant, enjoying scrumptious food is one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel.

    For many foodies, visiting a Michelin-starred restaurant is not only a highlight of their trip; it's often the primary reason to travel in the first place. For those in search of the most exceptional quality and stellar VIP service, we have scoured the globe -- and the endorsements of more than half a million Booking.com travellers -- to bring you a bucket list of six delectable destinations that are guaranteed to tickle even the savviest of taste buds with tantalizing Michelin-starred fare. From super-star gourmet capitals to hidden gastronomic gems, these delicious destinations will have your mouth watering in no time.

    Hungry for even more amazing foodie finds? Feed your appetite for discovery and peruse the full list of 3,461 traveller-tested destinations with fabulous gourmet food powered by Booking.com's new Passion Search platform.

    2016-06-06-1465241811-6101595-TsutaRestaurant.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    Tokyo - Japan


    Featuring more than 80,000 restaurants and the biggest fish market in the world, the capital of Japan is a culinary paradise for any food lover! Conveniently located only minutes away from the Sugamo Station in central Tokyo -- and the world's first ramen restaurant to be awarded with a coveted Michelin star -- Tsuta is well worth a visit for any noodle aficionado! Serving up affordable fare for travellers on any budget, chef and owner Yuki Onishi's unique ramen dishes feature broth prepared with three different kinds of soy, special homemade noodles, and steaming hot bowls finished with a dollop of black truffle sauce. What more could any foodie ask for?

    2016-06-06-1465242244-359614-SanSebastian.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    San Sebastián - Spain

    Known as the city with the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter, San Sebastián is a gastronomic paradise and the culinary capital of the Basque region in northern Spain. In addition to incredible food literally being available around every corner, this coastal retreat piles it on with additional servings of stunning natural beauty, lively nightlife and world-famous festivals.

    With countless amazing restaurants, you can't go wrong, but no trip to San Sebastián is complete without sampling the Basque take on tapas, known locally as "pintxos." Must-try dishes include "gilda," a pintxos made with local anchovies, olives, and guindilla peppers and "txistorra," a traditional sausage made from a mixture of minced pork and beef.

    2016-06-06-1465242492-769930-FishChips_Marlow.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    Marlow - UK

    Home to the only UK pub that has been awarded with two Michelin stars, the British enclave of Marlow is a picturesque town on the banks of the River Thames only 33 miles west of central London. When we think of the iconic staples of British cuisine, the first dishes that immediately come to mind are the world-famous fish 'n' chips, mom's Sunday roast and of course the ubiquitous full English breakfast, served throughout the UK.

    At The Hand and Flowers, food lovers can indulge their palates in a simple and informal environment, feasting on the pub's modern and unpretentious takes on English favourites and rustic French classics, all prepared with seasonal ingredients and served up in cosy surroundings.

    2016-06-06-1465243344-6268615-HongKong.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    Hong Kong - China

    As a true gourmet paradise, Hong Kong is not only one of the most populous cities in the world, but is also home to the world's least expensive Michelin-starred restaurant. Located in the Mongkok district, the small eatery of Tim Ho Wan, earned a Michelin star in 2010. For dim sum lovers familiar with their delicious dumplings, the accolade is completely justified. With baskets of dim sum selling for less than $2 USD -- make sure to queue up early, as this budget-friendly joint is incredibly popular!

    2016-06-06-1465243419-3626071-WoskPig.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    Warsaw - Poland

    The Polish capital of Warsaw is a great destination to sample traditional Polish specialties like hearty meat stews and stuffed dumplings. As the first restaurant in Poland to be awarded with a Michelin Star, Atelier Amaro is the perfect spot to savour delicious Polish dishes prepared with fresh ingredients.

    Featuring a creative array of ingredients, their signature dish "The Wosk Pig" is inspired by the fact that the melting point of beeswax and the perfect temperature for slow-roasting suckling pig is the same, a toasty 72°C. Once it's been cooked to perfection, they serve it as a terrine, accompanied with honey and mustard ice cream, and finish it with a fine powder made from ground sweetcorn. Bon appétit!

    2016-06-06-1465243498-8815280-Kyoto.jpg
    photo credit Booking.com

    Kyoto - Japan

    Known as the foodie Mecca of Asia and the best restaurant city in the world, Kyoto's gastronomic scene will satisfy even the most demanding palate. The former capital of Japan is home to 175 Michelin-starred restaurants serving 20 different types of cuisine.

    In additional to truly sublime eats, this beautiful destination also boasts countless temple and shrines, as well as -- of course -- cherry blossoms, with a famous annual festival that attracts visitors from all over the globe. While in Kyoto, you should definitely try some of the city's most famous specialties, such as soba or ramen noodles, tantalizing preparations of tofu, or just sit down for a traditional multi-course dinner known as Kaiseki.

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    People have been asking me what it costs to live in Bali, so I put together this post to breakdown the numbers for inquiring minds that want to know.

    Keep in mind, I didn't go there to travel, I went there for three main reasons:

    1. To live like a local. A local expat I guess? 
    2. To learn about the culture through food and people watching.
    3. To build something. Build something bigger than me. I'm not that big, so that sentence has no merit.

    Because Bali was home, not a place I toured, I can give you a legitimate breakdown. A one month breakdown that is.

    2016-06-08-1465353746-1346300-IMG_1390.jpg
    The views were worth every penny

    Accommodations

    Common living options in Bali are a) hostels (dorm room shared with multiple adult children) b) homestays (better than hostels) c) cottages (better than homestays) or d) private villas (large homes with a few beds/baths, shared amenities and a private pool, located outside of the downtown core.)

    Hostels are where you stay when you're a dirty twenty something backpacking in places with cheap booze and greasy parties, whose sole purpose is to make bad decisions. I'm too old for that. I'm in my thirties, it's time to upgrade.

    Homestays in Bali are a mix between staying at a Balinese person's house and a traditional hotel.

    A cottage is a step up with bigger, cleaner rooms, better linens and feels more like a getaway, even if you're in the core area because you're surrounded by trees, flowers and in my case, a river streamed through the cottage compound. It made no sense but it was calming.

    [Side note: I stayed in a homestay located in Ubud central for the first month and a cottage 15 minutes outside the hustle and bustle for the second. The cottage ran for $705/month. Agota.com is a great site to find deals, I found this place for 40 per cent off there.]

    [Side note (the sequel): My friends who lived in a private villa outside of downtown Ubud paid the same amount as I did living central.]

    My home, Latugu Homestay, offered the option of a standard room that ran for $450/month or what I opted for, a two-storey loft that was $850/month. I knocked down the price to $740. Yup, bargaining for accommodations is a thing in Bali.

    The standard room was a typical space with a bed, an armoire, shower-over-toilet and ceiling fan.

    Getting in from 31 hours of travel time, I wanted the nicer, air conditioned room. I deserved the brighter, more comfortable, air conditioned room.

    The main floor of the loft made up my entertaining/working quarters, with a giant window exposing an untamed jungle, a fridge, a natural stone bathroom complete with a rain shower head and a separate throne area for the pooper. The second floor was furnished with a double bed on the bamboo floor, two floor lamps and two giant windows showcasing more nature at its wildest.

    Accommodations: $740 CAD/month

    2016-06-08-1465354412-787316-Natureatitswildest.jpg
    Nature at its wildest

    Food & Drinks
    Dealing with 39*C everyday, I was hungry for only one other meal a day besides breakfast, and breakfast was included in the cost of renting a homestay and cottage.

    Now there is a pretty dope food scene in Bali, and I was determined to eat my way through the island. Sometimes I ate for $2.50/meal and other times I ate for $65/meal.

    I tried to average my meals around $10-15/day.

    Again, because it was too hot for comfort, I ended up buying tons of bottled water on the go, like any other human would living in extreme heat. (I'm being dramatic, I love the heat, especially when I could feel the gathering of cleavage and underboob sweat.) Water was only 50 cents/litre, but when you're buying it so often, not only to drink but to wash your fruit with, to make tea with and to brush your teeth with, it adds up.

    Plus, as I went about my day, I would stop off for at least one of the following, every single day; a fresh fruit smoothie, cup of coffee, coconut water, Teh Botol (bottled cold tea), any drink with electrolytes from the convenience store and a Bintang Radler, or three.

    This would amount to another $10-15/day.

    2016-06-08-1465354730-3932906-IMG_1264.jpg
    Bintang Radler

    Food: $450 ($15/day x 30 days)
    Drinks: $450 ($15/day x 30 days)
    TOTAL: $900 CAD/month

    [Side note: tipping 10 per cent is something I stuck to.]

    Cruising
    Being mobile in Bali is key for the experience, although it's not the safest way to get around. Monthly scooter rental is $60/month (or $5/day). If you do the math, it's worth renting for the whole month, even if you end up scootering around for only two weeks.

    Full tank of gas for my Scoopy (brand of Honda scooter) was $2.50. I think the tank size was 3.5L. I can't tell you how much milage I got out of it, but I can tell you I rode from Ubud to Seminyak and back, a two hour ride, on a full tank of gas and when I got back home, to Ubud, I still had a little more than a quarter tank!

    2016-06-08-1465355377-7425872-Scoopy.jpg
    Mine was the blue one | Image courtesy of vintageholic.wordpress.com/

    Overall, I filled up on gas once a week, at most, and it was never a full tank.

    [Side note: I found that gas stations were sparse in Ubud. Fortunately, little convenience stores sell gas in vodka bottles for $1/0.75L off the side of the road.]


    Scooter rental: $60/month
    Gas: $8/month


    [Side note: If you don't want to rent a scooter, there are too many scooter taxis available everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. There are also regular taxis which I used once, until I knew Uber existed in Bali. Just to give you an idea of the price difference, when I initially arrived to Bali, I arranged for an airport pick up from my homestay. Flat fee was $30, however with Uber it was half of that.]


    Real taxi: $30 CAD/month

    I used Uber specifically to run errands outside of Ubud.

    Example One: When you stay in Bali passed 30 days, you have to make a visa extension run to the Denpasar immigration office, an hour away, I used an Uber to take me there, wait for me to get all the paper work done and drop me off back at home. My three hour mission was $20.

    Example Two: I went to visit a friend in Thailand for a few days and arranged for an Uber to drop me off at the airport ($14) and of course, pick me up upon my return to Bali. During the pick up ride, I made friends with the driver, told him I have a slight drinking problem and we ended up stopping by his buddy's place to sample some homemade coconut liquor, called Arak. After that, we got talking about the gifts I needed to buy for family and he suggested hitting up a Polo outlet on the way home. With the meter running the whole time, my one hour ride turned into a three hour mini day trip and my Uber bill was a whopping $17.

    Example Three: I once Ubered from Ubud to Seminyak, there and back for $30.

    In total, my Uber rides ran me about $85/month.

    Scooter rental: $60 
    Gas: $8
    Real taxi: $30
    Uber: $85
    TOTAL: 183 CAD/month


    Hubud Coworking Space
    To work out of Hubud, a coworking space that is essentially a multi level, bamboo treehouse, (also the reason I was drawn to Bali in the first place) was a set cost of $270 for 100hrs of high speed internet, download speed=50mbps/ upload speed=10mbps, which is by far the best on the island -- says Hubud.

    Hubud: $270 CAD for 100hrs/month ($205 US)

    2016-06-08-1465355842-1024787-IMG_0992.jpg
    Hubud coworking space

    Entertainment / a.ka Alcohol Consumption
    I hit up a few pool parties; three in a month to be exact. Hubud hosted a few pub nights, I went to two. I also checked out a few after hours bars, which in Ubud really means places that are open till midnight, or a little later. On a regular day I was in bed by 10 p.m. 
    Cover total: $30 
    Drinks total: $220
    TOTAL: $250 CAD/month


    [Side note: It may look like I spent a lot of money on alcohol  --  that's not the case. It's very expensive to drink in Bali. The tax on booze is around 200-300 per cent.]


    Precautions Taken to Avoid Getting Mildly Obese
    I joined a gym and got me a trainer. A friend convinced me to become her workout partner. We weight trained together three times/week with an attractive lad from Cali, whose body was (and probably still is) wonderland.

    The gym membership set me back $7/month. Now before you get all googly eyed over how ridiculously cheap a monthly gym pass is, let me paint you a picture of this "state of the art facility." This gym was split up into two big rooms; on one side there was an open space for us to do manual cardio. This is where I could hear the dead cockroaches and beetles being crushed beneath me, every time I did a set of burpees. Better yet, after our cardio session, I saw little bits of bug stuck to my skin. I guess sweat makes for a good glue. On the other side of the dusty glass was the bigger space that housed six old school, rusty weight machines, IN THE WHOLE GYM! We only used one of the six to do sets of deadlifts, bench presses and barbell squats. There wasn't an option to do more.

    It was an indoor/outdoor gym which was nice because occasionally it would rain and a little breeze would drift in post rain. However, it was also gross because it was always hot and muggy to begin with.

    [Side note: I really regret not taking a few pictures of this one of a kind gym.]

    I secretly kind of loved it. It reminded me of the first Rocky movie. I felt bada** stepping inside a gym that was hardcore, or as hipsters would say "industrial." This also goes to show, you don't need much to workout. It's also true, you pay for what you get.

    Monthly gym membership: $7
    Beautiful trainer: $400 (
    $40/session x 10 session/month)
    TOTAL: $407 CAD/month

    Playing Tourist
    As mentioned earlier, playing tourist in Bali was not part of the plan, but sometimes I got the urge to see some touristy spots. Below, I laid out three of my excursions (the only three I did), just to give you an idea of how much it costs to see some must-see spots in Bali.

    Outing One:
    I hired a motorcycle taxi for half the day to see the following: Tegelance Rice Terrace, Luwak Coffee Plantation, Hidden Tegenungan Waterfall, Lebih Black Beach.

    Motorcycle taxi fare: $18 
    Entrance fees total: $15 
    Drinks for the day: $10
    (no need to buy food, I came prepared with snacks in my bag)
    TOTAL: $43 CAD

    Outing Two
    For a full day of site seeing across the island, my friends and I chartered a car and custom made our tour. We covered a lot in one day; Mount Batur, Tanah Lot Water Temple, Balangan Beach and Jimbaran Bay.

    Charted car for the day: $32 ($95 total split three ways)
    Entrance fees total: $20 
    Food & drinks for the day: $100
    (Seafood at Jimbaran Bay was pricy but worth it, picture the freshest grilled seafood in Bali, served on the beach!)
    Total: $152 CAD

    Outing Three
    Spending the day at Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, where the drinks were as inventive as Chef René Redzepi's food. Therefore, you can't help but indulge and then overindulge.

    2016-06-08-1465357079-8911444-IMG_1794.jpg
    Beach club vibes

    Drinks at Potato Head Beach Club= $100 ($9-18/drink)
    Dinner at Sarang: $50
    Fuel to get to Seminyak and back on my bike: $2.50
    Coffee/snack/mid day drinks: $20
    Total: $172.50 CAD

    Outing 1: $43
    Outing 2: $152
    Outing 3: $172.50 
    TOTAL: $368 CAD


    Custom Threads
    I found me a tailor in Ubud, she was aight. I made one custom dress which I'm never going to wear for $25, and one jumper I've already worn twice for $20. It's true, finding a good tailor really is a very difficult mission.

    Tailor: $45 CAD /month

    Shopping
    I didn't really shop for myself. All I bought myself was a litre of the best coconut oil, coconut soaps, and a bunch of other potent oils that were much better quality than anything I could find at health stores in Toronto.

    Oils: $50 CAD

    Miscellaneous
    Travel insurance: $130
    On arrival visa $45 (or $35 US)
    Visa renewal fee: $65
    Gifts: $200
    Total: $440 CAD/month


    Flight Details (in case you were curious) 
    Eva Air: YYZ to DPS return = $1550 CAD (about a 31hours journey with delays, getting an on-arrival visa, baggage, etc)

    En route to Bali
    16 hours from YYZ to TPE (Taipei) + five hours stopover in Taipei
    Five hours from TPE to DPS (Denpasar)
    two-hour taxi ride from DSP to Ubud 
    [I know this only amounts to 28hours, I said delays and such!]

    2016-06-08-1465357300-4811512-EvaAir.jpg
    Yup, this is real. I was on it | Image courtesy of evaair.com

    En route to Toronto 
    DPS to YYZ (about 29 hours with delays, rechecking bags, going through a ridiculous amount of unnecessary security at San Fran) 
    Five and 1/2 hours from DPS to TPE + two-hour stopover
    12 1/2 hours TPE to SFO (San Francisco) + two-hour stopover
    Five hours SFO to YYZ

    Keep in mind, I was living there during off peak season, which affects the overall cost of living.

    So, here's my one month breakdown of Bali expenses

    2016-06-08-1465357402-7449983-BaliExpenses.png

    2016-06-08-1465357476-7914056-BaliPie.png

    Interesting Find: My largest expense was food and my smallest expense was shopping for myself.

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    If after a long winter of coddling your adorable infant, ahem, you just need -- need -- to get your champagne on, Grand Prix weekend in Montreal IS the time to finally do it. Events across the city are running from June 9-12. The actual race is June 10-12 on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

    True, the most luxurious Grand Prix parties involve dropping over $400 smackers (!!) for just a few hours of celebrating, um, fast cars, which you might have zero intention of actually watching zoom down the track. And it will definitely mean figuring out that confusing order of operations for your facial, blow-out, manicure, and spray tan appointments (ah, problems!). But you will surely get to don your favorite sexy summer outfit and have opportunity galore to take some stellar selfies, possibly with hockey players and other celebrities in the background.

    And just think: With all that glitz, one Grand Prix style soiree equals, like, four to five "normal" nights on the town, so you'll be back to flipping burgers on the BBQ in no time, feeling far more sparkly than if had you just stayed at home.

    So, dearest homebodies, I present to you my top five list of place to party F1 weekend. Incidentally, most "official" F1 parties you have to be invited to. All listed (below) are open for reservations, and in one case, for a stroll by.

    1. Soirée Grand Prix at The Ritz.

    In the past, Canadiens hockey players, Hollywood celebrities, along with the who's who of Montreal have attended. This year's top F1-related event is sponsored by Pfaff McLaren and will feature a Moët & Chandon welcome bar, scrumptious food stations, luxurious gift bags, cellist and musical collaborator of C2 conference on creativity and commerce Philip Sheppard, and all around glam. $325-$700, Friday June 10, 7 p.m. Bar closes at 2 a.m. Reservations essential, many tickets levels sold-out. Buy at eventbrite.ca.

    2. Angels & Drivers at Auberge St-Gabriel.

    Guy Laliberté's F1 after-party at his home was formerly the coveted unofficial F1 party to attend. Now, the historic L'Auberge St-Gabriel in Old Montreal where Laliberté is a co-owner, is among the "official nightlife venues" of the Grand Prix. There are events starting Thursday with the Red Carpet BBQ ($45 cover, June 9, 5p.m.-7 p.m.), but the most talked about is Sunday night's closing event called Angels & Drivers ($60 cover, June 12, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.). It will feature Victoria Secret "Angel" and ZCD supermodel Devon Windsor "and some of her squad." Drivers are expected as well. Main Sponsors include Dom Pérignon and Romeo's Gin. Reservation necessary. abge.ca.

    3. Red Carpet Party at Le Richmond.

    Since opening a few years ago, Le Richmond has managed to become a Grand Prix scene staple with its large, partially exposed terrasse and niche Griffintown location. The recently opened adjacent Le Richmond Marché Italien is also a new brunch hotspot. Saturday's Red Carpet Party at Le Richmond, $200-$400, June 11, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., is sponsored by Rémy Martin and Grey Goose and will boast oysters, champagne, a cocktail dinatoire, and DJ Joe Marella. There are also events at Le Richmond running from Thursday night to Sunday brunch. By reservation only. lerichmond.com/en/upcoming

    4. Pedestrian fun in Old Montreal.

    FYI to those who haven't gone Grand Prix gallivanting since St. Laurent Blvd. became a vacant wasteland -- though Buenanotte is still holding strong -- Old Montreal is now THE sidewalk party for pedestrians to strut their stuff. Of course, there is still Crescent St. too, with a line-up of racecars and their official F1 Budweiser-sponsored stages (there will be U2 and Madonna cover bands) and Peel St., with the lovely Le Jardin Belvedere Vodka, across from Harry Rosen.

    But back to Old Montreal: Stilettos and cobblestone certainly make strange bedfellows, so grab your partner, stick to the sidewalks, and make a reservation at your favorite resto, because spots are going fast. Pit Stop venue Wunderbar at the W Hotel will feature nightly events too, including Tay James on Friday, 10 June at 10 p.m. eventbrite.ca.

    5. Restaurant Beatrice, formerly known as Bice.

    So hard to pick the last place on this list! But Beatrice features Grand Prix style swank all year round, has a lovely outdoor terrasse, and is a terrific choice for those looking for a slightly more low-key night. There are no specific events, just general "Grand Prix fever". Limited tables are still available, but the restaurant is closed on Friday night for a private event. Please call. ristorantebeatrice.com

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    new brunswick fries
    Owner Thane Mallory prepares "New Brunswick's Most Expensive French Fries," at Gulliver's World Cafe in Gagetown, N.B., June 8, 2016. (Photo: Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press)

    GAGETOWN, N.B. — An East Coast chef has made a luxury item of the humble french fry, triple-cooking it in imported goose fat, serving with his own merlot ketchup and available by reservation only for a cool $12.99 per serving.

    Chef Thane Mallory of New Brunswick — a province that calls itself the french fry capital of the world — eschews the locally produced McCain fries served by many restaurants in favour of russet potatoes he hand-cuts himself.

    He says the goose fat, imported from France, adds a distinctive flavour to potatoes fried three times at different temperatures, but it's the long prep time that drives up the price.

    "Process-wise you end up peeling them, you have to wash all the starch off them, once you've washed all the starch off them, you have to dry them. Once you've dried them, then you have to triple fry them," he said.

    new brunswick restaurant
    A container of goose fat used making in "New Brunswick's Most Expensive French Fries," is shown at Gulliver's World Cafe, June 8, 2016. (Photo: Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press)

    They are first fried at 320 degrees to infuse some of the goose fat into the fries. Then another bath in the hot fat at 365 degrees and a final dip at 370 degrees. Each time they gain more colour and become more crispy.

    Mallory got much of his culinary training in France, where he said goose is regularly served for special occasions.

    "They end up rendering down the fat and the fat is just delicious. That's why gravy tastes so good on your chicken. It's not because it is gravy. It's because it has fat in it. Fat equals flavour."

    He said the flavour of the goose fat is not enough to overpower the taste of the potatoes.

    Mallory opened the small Gulliver's World Cafe overlooking the St. John River in the village of Gagetown in November.

    He said his brother-in-law told him he wouldn't eat at a restaurant that didn't serve french fries, so he decided to give fries a gourmet twist, and they've been a big hit.

    new brunswick fries
    An order of "New Brunswick's Most Expensive French Fries," is shown at Gulliver's World Cafe in Gagetown, N.B., June 8, 2016. (Photo: Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian Press)

    And what would French fries be without ketchup?

    Mallory makes his own ketchup with a Merlot reduction in it, and lots of locally grown garlic.

    "Traditionally homemade ketchups are made with brown sugar, but we substitute the brown sugar and put Crosby's molasses in it, because New Brunswick has a molasses palate," he said.

    The fries are also seasoned with Windsor Sea Salt and imported Fleur de sel.


    "People love the fries."


    Mallory said his restaurant has been busy, and people have offered to go into business with him if he'd be willing to bottle his ketchup for sale.

    "People love the fries. They love the creaminess and when you dip it into the ketchup it gives you all the flavour that you're looking for," Mallory said.

    He says it is enjoyable to do what you want in your home province, and to build a menu around New Brunswick ingredients like russet potatoes, fiddleheads and apples.

    "It's extremely satisfying because you're doing what a chef is supposed to do and that is taking local ingredients and amplifying that local ingredient no matter what it is," he said.

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    In a country renowned for its idyllic natural landscapes and breathtaking city skylines, pretty much any location in Canada makes for a great snapshot. Canadians love to take selfies with beautiful backdrops; even Drake's new album cover can attest to this.

    Some Canadians also went as far as to take selfies when they received their 2016 Census in the mail. Who can blame us for wanting to photograph our experiences in such a great country? With so many selfie-worthy spots to choose from, Travelzoo has narrowed it down to a few places in every province and territory. Check out our list of where to bring your smiles and selfie sticks for the best self-taken photo-ops across the country.




    Alberta



    West Edmonton Mall

    At 5.3 million square feet, West Edmonton Mall is the largest mall in North America, and is the size of a small city. WEM boasts over 800 stores, two hotels, 100 dining venues, a water park, ice skating rink, an amusement park and an exact replica of the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed on when he crossed the Atlantic in 1492. With so many spectacular attractions, you're bound to snap a great selfie somewhere in the mall.





    Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

    This lake is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, and is famed for the colour of its water, along with its three surrounding glaciers.





    Another selfie-worthy location:

    Saamis Teepee (World's Largest Teepee), Medicine Hat






    Saskatchewan



    Ernie the Turtle, Turtleford

    Ernie the Turtle is the largest turtle in Canada, and the second largest in the world. He was built in 1983 to celebrate Turtleford's acquisition of town status. How many people can say they've taken a selfie with an eight-foot tall turtle?

    #Turtleford #saskatchewan

    A photo posted by Mir (@fotos_by_frankie101) on





    Other selfie-worthy locations:

    Delta Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon
    Traffic Bridge, Saskatoon
    Saskatchewan's Badlands






    New Brunswick



    Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide

    The Hopewell Rocks' distinctive shape is caused by the erosion of the changing tide. At high tide, these formations become islands that visitors can kayak around, but at low tide visitors can walk to the beach and explore the ocean floor, get up close and pose next to these spectacular rocks.









    Quebec



    Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal

    Whether you're admiring the Basilica's architecture from the outside or marvelling at its beauty from within, this outstanding landmark of Montreal's religious heritage is picture perfect.

    #notredame

    A photo posted by Marcelo Munoz (@mmunoz10) on





    The Mount Royal Lookout

    Hike, bike, or drive up Mount Royal to get to the lookout. Once you're up there, you'll understand why the view is worth the trek up the mountain. Reward yourself with a photoshoot featuring a scenic view of Montreal's downtown area and the St. Lawrence River.

    The groom's crew #hawhawhaw #ispeakfrenchnow

    A photo posted by Ethan Agliata (@fromesays) on





    Other selfie-worthy locations:

    L'Hotel de Glace (The Ice Hotel), Quebec City
    Old Quebec City with Chateau Frontenac in the background






    Yukon



    Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Whitehorse

    The YWP is the place to go if you want to experience and learn about arctic and boreal ecology. This preserve stretches out across 700 acres, and is home to some amazing animals. Even if you don't manage to get a selfie with a moose, the landscape makes a great backdrop too.

    Moose selfie

    A photo posted by lindsay ralph (@lindsayralph) on









    Nova Scotia



    Anywhere along the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton

    This winding roadway along Cape Breton is one of the most famous drives in Canada. Most visits to the Cabot Trail are a few days in length, because there are so many ocean vistas, hiking trails, heritage sights and photo ops to take advantage of.






    Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

    This lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. The geology in the surrounding area is also very impressive, so snap a few pictures while you're there.





    Another selfie-worthy location:
    Citadel Hill, Halifax






    Prince Edward Island



    Avonlea Village

    Whether you snap a picture with the staff dressed as characters from Anne of Green Gables stories, or decide to dress up as Gilbert or Anne yourself, Avonlea Village is the best real-life place to relive a childhood favourite.

    Gilbert and Anne #Avonleavillage

    A photo posted by Susan Beth (@susomme) on





    Another selfie-worthy location:
    Cavendish Beach, PEI






    Nunavut



    Dogsledding

    Get a selfie with a Canadian Inuit dog, a special type of husky that has been a resident of Nunavut for over 4,000 years. The vast and icy Nunavut scenery is stunning, and the hard-working dogs are adorable too.

    Heading home #dogsledding #arctic #nunavut #canada

    A photo posted by Corrie (@corriemac) on





    Another selfie-worthy location:
    Mount Thor, Auyuittuq National Park






    Ontario



    Ferris Wheel at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto

    If you're going to The Ex, then you have to take a ride on the Ferris wheel. If you're lucky enough and the ride stops while you're at the very top overlooking the CNE, make sure to take a selfie with the Toronto Skyline in the background

    I didn't CNE real unicorns but The Ex was fun

    A photo posted by Josslyn Farrow (@josslynfarrow) on





    The Big Nickel, Sudbury

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, a selfie with the Big Nickel is worth an extra five cents!

    Home of the Big Nickel

    A photo posted by Crystal Sum (@crysum) on










    Newfoundland and Labrador



    Cape Spear Lighthouse, St. John's

    Cape Spear is the easternmost point in North America. If you stand in the right spot, you can take a selfie with all of North America behind you.

    Freezing our giblets off at the most Eastern point in North America. #CapeSpear #Newfoundland

    A photo posted by Jamie Lincoln (@jamielincs) on





    Other selfie-worthy locations:
    Cupids
    Signal Hill






    Manitoba



    Churchill's Polar Bears

    Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be seen (and photographed) in the wild. Visit the polar bear capital of the world, and make sure to grin and "bear" it.

    Polar bear!

    A photo posted by amijones44 (@amijones44) on





    Another selfie-worthy location:
    Assiniboine Park Zoo with the dinosaurs, Winnipeg






    British Columbia



    Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver

    This suspension bridge stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River and can support the weight of 96 full-grown elephants. Although you definitely won't get a selfie with an elephant, the bridge and the surrounding forest make for a really cool linear perspective snapshot.

    Treetops adventure #capbridge @rpunza1

    A photo posted by josanna (@annasoj) on





    Other selfie-worthy locations:
    Stanley Park at Cherry Blossom Time
    Whistler Mountain Inukshuk Statue
    Abbotsford Tulip Festival






    Northwest Territories



    Northern Lights in Yellowknife

    The Northern Lights, otherwise known as aurora borealis, are a breathtaking set of natural lights that are only visible from certain places on earth. This is one of the trickiest selfies to execute, but will be well worth it if you succeed.

    #northernlightsselfie #bucketlistcheck #northernlights happy birthday kyle!

    A photo posted by Rachel (@goodrachel) on





    Other selfie-worthy locations:
    Alexandra Falls
    Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve




    Krista Pereira is a Travelzoo Deal Expert based in Toronto. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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    Europe's high-speed trains and cheap flights are worth taking advantage of if you don't have time to get from point A to point B. But if you really want to get to know a country, your best bet is to rent a car and hit the open roads.

    Remember, there's a lot to consider before you rent a car in another country — and not just which side of the road you're supposed to drive on (in Europe it's still the right, unless you're in the U.K. or the Republic of Ireland).

    According to travel expert Rick Steves, getting an automatic car can cost nearly 50 per cent more than a standard, and in some cases the only automatics available are larger, higher priced vehicles.

    If you don't have time to brush up on your gear switching skills, save some money by booking your car in advance and shopping around through local agencies. Steves also suggests renting your car outside of major cities to avoid stress during pick-up and drop-off times.

    Just don't start revving your engine as soon as you get your car (or Vespa, if you're feeling adventurous). International roads may look similar to the ones back home, but that doesn't mean they are, Richard Guy Martin explains to Conde Nast Traveler.

    According to Martin, tailgating is a common occurrence in many European countries and each country has their own designated drinking limit, so you're better off skipping the vino unless you're planning to stay in park for the night!

    If you're thinking of renting a car while visiting Europe this summer, check out the images below by used car company WeBuyAnyCar.com for eight epic European road trip adventures.

    Bon voyage!


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    Visiting cities can be a great travel experience. They can be exciting and offer a multitude of things to see and do, but cities can also be expensive when it comes to accommodation and food, and sometimes you just want a slower pace when you travel. That's where suburbs and small towns come in.

    There are so many across Canada that are worth trading city time for, especially in the summer. If you're looking for an alternative vacation idea, why not stay outside the city? Here's Cheapflights.ca's take on some worthwhile spots close to major cities like Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton that offer proximity to the hustle and bustle, as well as their own unique charm.

    Boucherville, Quebec

    2016-06-08-1465345653-5944068-boucherville.jpg
    Image: Gilles Douaire, îles de Boucherville via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    This suburb of Montreal recently nabbed a top spot on "MoneySense" magazine's list of the top places to live in Canada. Located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River, the charming area is a draw for a few reasons, one of them being Parc National des Iles-de-Boucherville, made up of five small islands. Hikers and bikers (bikes are free for kids 17 and under riding with family) can enjoy a network of 21 kilometres of trails, canoeists and kayakers can tackle the eight-kilometre marked water trail and campers can spend the night under the stars. Boucherville also offers a good balance of things you'll find in a city, without the same speedy pace.

    Victoria-by-the-Sea, Prince Edward Island

    2016-06-08-1465345824-7589824-VictoriabytheSea.jpg
    Image: cbransto, Victoria by-the-Sea, PEI via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    If you're looking to travel somewhere that makes you feel as if you've walked directly into a postcard, Victoria-by-the-Sea could be just the place you're searching for. Located halfway between Charlottetown and Summerside on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, this postcard-worthy village of Victoria puts you smack dab by the seashore, and it also happens to be filled with unique shops selling handcrafted items ranging from soaps to jewellery, and restaurants serving some of the freshest seafood you'll find in Canada. Rest your head at The Orient Hotel, a historic hotel established in 1900.

    St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick
    2016-06-09-1465502994-8500729-200608894_c882fd2aa3_o.jpg
    Image: Cernavoda, St. Andrew's-By-The-Sea Downtown via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    The National Historic District of St. Andrews by-the-Sea (or simply St. Andrews) is one that most visitors are hard pressed not to fall immediately in love with. Founded in 1783, St. Andrews has a lot of what you might find in a larger city, but offered at a much slower pace, in a more laid back setting - and all just an hour and a half from Saint John or two hours from Fredericton. Whether you want white sand beaches, world-class golf, art galleries and museums, watersports like kayaking and scuba diving, or shopping, you can find in St. Andrews. Don't leave without a visit to the St. Andrews Farmers' Market, which takes place every Thursday in Market Square May 26 through September. Shop fresh, local produce, handcrafted jewellery, hand spun scarves and more while snacking on pastries or wood-oven fired pizza.

    Dundas, Ontario

    2016-06-08-1465346473-3791868-Dundas.jpg
    Image: Joe deSousa, Webster's Falls, Dundas, Ontario via Flickr CC0 1.0

    Trade the hustle and bustle of city life for the slower pace of Dundas, Ontario, located about an hour outside of Toronto and less than 20 minutes from the city of Hamilton. The small historic town is the perfect place to set up shop for a few days of sightseeing, shopping and getting back to nature at one of the area's many parks, hiking trails and waterfalls. Dundas' downtown area should have enough to keep most travellers busy, with its array of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.

    St. Albert, Alberta

    2016-06-08-1465346563-7879268-StAlbertALberta.jpg
    Image: holdsworthdesign, St Albert Alberta via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Located just minutes from Edmonton, St. Albert is home to the only provincial park in Alberta's capital region, Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park. St. Albert is known as "The Botanical Arts City" and has a wide variety of things to see and do depending on where your travel interests lie. Art lovers will want to search for the more than 30 pieces of public art where upon locating them you can scan the interactive code to learn more about each piece. History buffs can tackle the self-guided Founders' Walk to learn all about the history of St. Albert and outdoorsy visitors can explore Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park (a great spot for bird watching) and spend some time in St. Albert Botanic Park. Make sure to grab a seat on the Botanical Loop, a free hop-on, hop-off bus that runs Saturdays all summer and stops at several of St. Albert's best attractions.

    North Vancouver, British Columbia

    2016-06-08-1465346762-9843397-NorthVAncouver.jpg
    Image: Kyle Pearce, Capilano Lake in the Clouds via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Anyone who loves the outdoors and being active will want to add North Vancouver, British Columbia to their travel wish list. Whether your preferred way to get active outdoors is kayaking, hiking, playing golf, or mountain biking you'll get a chance to do in North Vancouver, located within easy access to downtown Vancouver. In addition to outdoorsy activities, visitors will want to check out the Lonsdale Quay Market on the waterfront. Shop local vendors and artisans, browse the fresh produce, stop for a drink at Green Leaf Brewing Co. and snack on whatever the food vendors have on offer.

    Wellington, Ontario

    2016-06-08-1465346897-8622958-Wellington.jpg
    Image: Doug Kerr, Wellington, Ontario via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Just over two hours from Toronto you'll find Wellington, Ontario, a picturesque town on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County. Book a room at a cozy bed and breakfast (of which there are many to choose from in the area) and plan for a few relaxing days of getting to know one of the prettiest towns in the province. A trip to Wellington puts you well within easy exploring distance from one of Canada's newest VQA wine regions as well as the largest freshwater sand dunes in the world located in Sandbanks Provincial Park.

    Portneuf, Quebec

    2016-06-08-1465347086-6439541-portneuf.jpg
    Image: Gilles Douaire, Saint-Casimir, Québec via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Located less than 45 minutes from Quebec City, pretty Portneuf is a region that oozes the charm of a quaint village, offering both cultural and nature-based attractions, depending on what you're in the mood for. Foodies will love discovering cheesemakers, a farmers' market, a vineyard, restaurants and cafes serving great food and even a chocolatier. You can then work off all those goodies with a bike ride along some of Portneuf's nearly 500 kilometres of cycling routes.

    Want to check out more great suburbs? Discover cool off-the-radar towns along the U.S.-Canada border.

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    Quebec is more than a province where everyone speaks French. At almost three times the size of France, it's also Canada's largest province and it's as varied as it is vast.

    From world-class cities, filled with museums and galleries, to rural towns, scattered with small vineyards producing award-winning wine; from bustling streets to deserted beaches; from parks so vast you can wander alone for days to music festivals so big you'll meet people from around the world -- this is Quebec.



    Regardless of what you're looking for in your next vacation, Quebec has something for you.

    Quebec for the Urban Explorer


    2016-06-07-1465308457-2698437-Quebec1.jpg
    Notre-Dame Basilica in the heart of Old Montreal

    Montreal is a tale of two cities where modern, high-end shops, hotels and restaurants, as well as art galleries and museums coexist with some of North America's oldest buildings, churches and neighbourhoods.

    Walk the cobbled streets of Old Montreal, a historic area also known as the Old Port, to travel back to the 17th century. Stop off at the Notre-Dame Basilica, first built in 1672 and still one of the most dramatic Gothic buildings in the world or put your walking shoes on and head up Mount Royal, (yes, the city is named after this mountain) for a bird's-eye view of this sprawling metropolis.

    See current Montreal travel deals here.

    Quebec for the Foodie

    2016-06-07-1465308620-3339243-quebec2.jpg
    The Chapelle Ste Agnes Vineyard on the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route. Photo : © TQ/D. Gunther

    The Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route in the Eastern Townships is just an hour's drive from Montreal and less than 90 minutes from Burlington, Vermont. The region is home to 21 wineries, including some of the province's oldest, and produces 60% of Quebec's local wine. Visit the Chapelle Ste Agnes Vineyard, a Romanesque stone chapel with several levels of medieval wine cellars, or stop by Les Pervenches, widely considered the top winery in the province. Tip: If you like the wine, stock up. Les Pervenches' bottles sell out at stores almost immediately after they are stocked.

    Of course you can't have wine without cheese. Quebec is famous for its local blends. Travel 90 minutes from Montreal to the Fromagerie de l'Abbaye Saint-Benoit, in the idyllic town Saint-Benoit-Du-Lac where you can see the monks in the local abbey producing more than a dozen varieties of fresh cheeses.

    If you consider yourself a foodie, try Quebec's local delicacies: poutine (French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds), freshly baked bagels, smoked meat, meat pie or tarte au sucre (sugar pie) made with real Quebec maple syrup.

    Quebec for the Adrenaline Junkie

    2016-06-07-1465309067-7487432-Quebec3.jpg
    Bungee Jumping on "Goliath." Photo: Great Canadian Bungee

    The Great Canadian Bungee's "Goliath," in Wakefield, is the highest bungee jump in North America at 200 feet. Not quite brave enough to take a leap? Try zip-lining instead. The site includes a 1015-foot zip line that goes over a crystal-clear lagoon. Wakefield is located in the Gatineau Hills, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Montreal.

    If cycling is more your pace, saddle up in Lanaudiere, just northeast of Montreal. The area is an outdoorsman's wonderland, with wildlife reserves, regional parks, beautiful lakes and rivers and various heritage sites. From challenging mountain roads for serious cyclists to easy terrain for families, Lanaudiere is best seen on two wheels.

    Quebec for the Art Lover

    2016-06-07-1465309493-577566-quebec4.jpg
    The Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. Photo © TQ/Gilles Rivest

    The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau (two hours from Montreal) celebrates art that has shaped Canada, with exhibits exploring the country's 20,000 years of human history. The architectural wonder features a spectacular Grand Hall with a magnificent collection of towering Totem poles (the largest indoor collection in the world) set amidst a forest scene, believed to be the world's largest colour photograph.

    The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, meanwhile, has an acclaimed collection of local and international fine art as well as touring exhibitions. This summer, see Pompeii, a spectacular exhibition that features over 220 archaeological artifacts including mosaics, frescoes, statues, personal artifacts and other art from the small Roman Empire colony, frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

    Quebec for the Nature Enthusiast

    2016-06-07-1465309626-7197297-Quebec5.jpg
    The limestone monoliths at Mingan Archipelago National Park

    Quebec is home to 24 national parks, including Mingan Archipelago National Park, which boasts some 30 limestone islands and more than 1,000 granitic islets and reefs. Located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, about a 10-hour drive from Quebec City, the park is dotted by spectacular limestone sculptures carved over the course of thousands of centuries, and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including seals, dolphins and whales.

    Discover Nunavik, comprising the northern third of the province. The area, a four-hour drive north from Quebec City, is the homeland of the Inuit and, from August to March, its skies are the backdrop to fabulous displays of northern lights or aurora borealis. Nunavik's Parc national des Pingualuit is a marvel of Northern Quebec. The park is the scene of a meteorite crater filled with crystal-clear blue water. The crater, which measures more than two miles in diameter is called "L'oeil de cristal du Nunavik" (Crystal eye of Nunavik).

    Quebec for the Family Traveler

    2016-06-07-1465310135-1554122-quebec6.jpg
    Getting up close and personal with a whale off the Cote-Nord

    What child will not be impressed with the sight of magnificent whales swimming along the surface of the St. Lawrence River? The Cote-Nord's so-called Whale Route, three hours northeast of Quebec City, is home to 13 different whale species, including the blue whale. While you can see them from the coast, you can also take a whale-watching cruise for a closer look or, if you're brave, go kayaking for a chance to get within arm's reach of see one of these colossal mammals.

    Meanwhile, the Montreal Biodome, located in the city's Olympic Park (the site of the 1976 Olympics), allows visitors to walk through replicas of the four ecosystems found in the Americas. You can see everything from macaws to beavers, lynxes and penguins.

    Quebec for the Beach Lover

    2016-06-07-1465312673-6522549-quebec7.jpg
    Relaxing on one of the Magdalen Island's many beaches


    Travellers looking to get sand between their toes should head to the Magdalen Islands in the St. Lawrence Bay. This remote archipelago has more than 185 miles of white-sand beaches, where you can laze around all day and stare at lapping waves. When in Quebec, do as the Quebecois and stop by the area cheese shops and bakeries to pack your beach picnic or try the local delicacy "pot-en-pot" (mixed fish, seafood and sauce baked in pie crust).

    While the region falls under Quebec territory, it is closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and is accessible by flights from Gaspe, Quebec, as well as ferry rides from Gaspe and Souris, Prince Edward Island.

    Quebec for the Luxury Seeker

    2016-06-07-1465311044-6408529-quebec8.jpg
    The Auberge Sainte-Antoine, in the Quebec City's Old Port


    The Auberge Saint-Antoine, a Relais & Chateaux hotel set in a 17th-century building in the heart of historic Quebec City, has been consistently rated one of the best in the world by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller. It overlooks the St. Lawrence River, and is steps away from the boutiques of the Quartier Petit Champlain, the oldest shopping area in North America.

    You can also head to Montreal for world-class shopping. Canada's Holt Renfrew, founded in 1837, is comparable to Barneys or Saks and carries all the major luxury brands.

    See Quebec hotel deals here.

    Quebec for the History Buff

    2016-06-07-1465311992-470244-quebec9.jpg
    The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac towers over old Quebec City

    Quebec City, founded in 1608, is a living museum. It is one of the oldest cities in North America, and the old town is the only fortified city north of Mexico with its walls intact. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit the star-shaped citadel or pose for a selfie in front of the impressive Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel (the world's most-photographed hotel).

    If you want to dig deeper into history, visit Parc national de Miguasha, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southeastern Quebec. The area's cliffs are home to a wealth of plant and fish fossils that tell the tale of life on Earth 380 million years ago.

    Quebec for the Music Fan

    2016-06-07-1465312072-9646448-quebec10.jpg
    Crowds gather at one of hundreds of events held as part of the annual Montreal Jazz Festival

    Fans of all types of music, from jazz to pop and everything in between are likely to find a music festival catering to their tastes in Quebec. The Montreal Jazz Festival, the world's largest jazz festival, takes place from June 29 - July 9, with more than 650 concerts, including 450 free outdoor shows, featuring 3,000 artists from more than 30 countries.

    Those prefering Top 40 music will be in music heaven at Osheaga, a Montreal music festival that takes place July 29-31. This year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey and Radiohead are just three of the 100-plus performers slated to take the stage. Those with more eclectic tastes can celebrate both emerging and celebrated artists at Pop Montreal. This year's event takes place Sept. 21-25, and is expected to feature more than 400 artists.

    Quebec for Spa Lover

    2016-06-07-1465312157-1037679-quebec11.jpg
    Some of the pools at the Scandinave Spa at Mont Tremblant (Courtesy of Scandinave.com)

    Spa day in the city or a retreat in nature? Why choose? One of the most popular spas is the Scandinave Spa at Mont-Tremblant, 80 miles northwest of Montreal. Nestled in the Laurentian mountains, the spa offers Scandinavian hydrotherapy (hot and cold) pools and an unbeatable view of the mountains and Lake Tremblant.

    Equally stunning is the Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Quebec, two-and-a-half hours west of Montreal. The spa is the largest in North America and features various water-therapy pools, saunas and even overnight accommodations for groups.

    See Quebec spa deals here.

    Quebec for the Traveller who Wants Europe On A Budget

    2016-06-07-1465312295-5590216-quebec12.jpg
    Centuries-old buildings in Old Quebec

    Want a taste of Europe -- but short on time or budget? Skip the pricey long overseas flights by staying closer to home. Surround yourself in the old-world charm of Quebec City; taste authentic French cuisine at Restaurant Initiale in the city's old town (one of only two restaurants in Canada given the prestigious five stars by AAA); stroll along the romantic Petit Champlain district, a quaint neighbourhood filled with one-of-a-kind boutiques and bistros or stay at the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, a hotel fit for a king. It's no wonder Quebec City tourism's motto is "So Europe. So close."

    Promoted by: Québec Original. Visit the tourism board website to find even more tips and information for planning a vacation to Quebec.

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    Sure, New York City has a magical feel when the lampposts are covered in greenery and storefronts are donned with bright holiday lights for Christmas. But tromping through inches of wet snow and feeling the howling wind rip through the shield of your jeans can make a visit to the city less enjoyable. Visit the Big Apple in the summer months, and you'll experience outdoor theatre, festivals, street fairs, flea markets, and warm days in the city's green spaces, when they're actually green.

    Whether you're into hitting the beach, catching some live music, or walking the neighborhood streets, shopping and dining outdoors, New York City is the place to be this summer. The following are five events, festivals and activities you don't want to miss on your visit.

    Experience A Pop-Up New York Street Fair
    2016-06-14-1465869865-1561754-5977518807_70bb8e50eb_b.jpg
    Photo credit: Chris
    There's no better place to find unique souvenirs and one-of-a-kind gifts than at a pop-up street fair in New York City. If you stumble across a collection of vendors serving everything from donuts to fresh-brewed coffee and men's socks, you're probably at a street fair created by Pop Up New York. Pop Up New York has created street fairs across the city, showcasing up-and-coming artists, restaurateurs, musicians, designers, crafters and more. Log onto PopUpNewYorkEvents.com, and you'll know where to be for every street fair from April through October.

    See A Show At Central Park's SummerStage
    2016-06-14-1465870025-9482272-4853367004_6d30eb0bf3_b.jpg
    Photo credit: Michael Galpert
    Even better than Central Park's people-watching is its SummerStage. Backed by the City Parks Foundation, the 31-year-running series presents events nearly every day of the week from June 4 to Sept. 23. Events include live theatre, paid and free concerts, ballet, dance parties, outdoor opera and more. Log onto NYC's City Parks Foundation website to view the full summer schedule.

    Spend Some Time At the Beach
    Traveling to the city this summer doesn't mean you can't enjoy some beach time. Even better, many of New York's beaches are accessible by the subway, so you won't have to spend big bucks on a car rental or taxi. Rockaway Beach in Queens offers a boardwalk, surf lessons on some of the city's best waves, and the famous food stand Tacoway Beach. If you're looking for even more family fun, Brooklyn's Coney Island Beach features a full theme park, Nathan's Hot Dogs, summer lifeguards, and some of the city's best people-watching. Visitors seeking a little more seclusion can find it at Fort Tilden Beach, which is best accessed by bicycle.

    Root For The Home Team At A Yankees Games
    2016-06-14-1465870122-5638999-15119486201_13390f5bf2_k.jpg
    Photo credit: Dex(07)
    You don't have to be a fan of New York City's famed Yankees to have an unforgettable time at one of their games. Observe the Yankees fans in their natural habitat, feel the magic of Yankee Stadium, stock up on souvenirs, and taste some of the world's best ballpark eats. The Yankees' season spans from April to October, and the team plays every couple of days, so it's likely you'll be able to buy some tickets and catch a game during your summer visit.

    Catch An Outdoor Movie
    Forego a night at the pub for a night at one of New York City's many green spaces instead. A number of NYC parks present outdoor movie screenings for city locals and tourists during the summer months. From the Rooftop Cinema Club at OfficeOps to Films on the Green at Central Park, Washington Square Park, and McCarren Park, it's likely that wherever you find yourself in the city, there's an outdoor movie playing nearby. Bring some comfy lawn chairs, prepare a picnic, and make an evening of it.

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  • 06/14/16--07:22: Discover Beautiful Banff
  • Its' brilliantly aquamarine glacial lakes and the majestic Canadian Rockies are plenty enough reason, but add in wildlife (elk, deer and bears, oh my!), mouthwatering food (hello, Alberta beef!), top-notch pampering, and more, and Banff should top everyone's wanderlust list. -- Karen Kwan

    Stay: Closer to Lake Louise than the town of Banff, Baker Creek Mountain Resort is an ideal remote retreat where you can disconnect if you wish and enjoy some quiet time, as it is TV- and phone-less (but the property does offer Wi-Fi, so there's no need to hit the panic button if the idea of a social media detox makes you queasy). Keep your chalet's balcony door open for the fresh mountain air and to hear the comforting sound of the water rushing by, and, obviously the view of the Rockies and creek itself. Inside the charming red-roofed cabins, you'll find Pendleton blankets and a fireplace to keep you cozy in the spacious rooms. Baker Creek Charles P.O. Box 66, Lake Louise, AB, www.bakercreek.com

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    Savour: If eating local is on your travel agenda, you can't leave without eating some Alberta beef. The espresso salt rib eye at Baker Creek Bistro is your carnivorous dream come true (cooked perfectly to medium-rare as we requested and served with grilled veggies), and the soup of the day (cream of asparagus the night we dined) is a comforting, delectable warm-up on a chilly evening. Vegetarians, don't fret: your needs will be beyond satisfied at Nourish Bistro. This quaint resto, a favourite amongst all of the locals we spoke to, is right in the town of Banff and serves some of the best smoothies we've ever sipped (go for the Kombucha Colada), and their very popular 420 burger is a flavourful, hefty, juicy patty that had even the meatarians amongst us drooling. 110 211 Bear Street Box 1525 Banff, AB, www.nourishbistro.com

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    Spa: While there is the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs, for a modern spa oasis right in town, escape to Cedar & Sage. After a chat about what you're seeking out of your treatment and about your personal history (even about your physical pursuits throughout your life), your therapist, should you wish, will perform the ancient art of smudging, a ritual that will help clear your energy field and promote healing. And with "Serenity now!" as your mantra, you'll want to schedule some time to kick back in the spa's stunning lounge after your treatment. 220 Bear St., Banff, AB, www.banffsholisticlounge.com

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    Sweat: The views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, lush forests and glacial lakes so vivid they'll look photoshopped in your pictures, make going for hikes a must. At Lake Louise, pop by the concierge at Fairmont Lake Louise for a map of the trails, which range from a couple of hours to four or more. Drive about 13 kilometres from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, which you may recognize from an old ten-dollar bill. With the ten peaks serving as a backdrop to the lake, it's a scene right out of a fairytale and a spot that many consider more beautiful than the more heavily visited Lake Louise. Book a stay at the Lake Moraine Lodge where they offer daily morning hikes with a naturalist, during which you'll learn about the flora, fauna and glaciers. Tip: Bears do live in these forests; make noise while hiking so as to not startle them.

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    Sip: What better reward after hiking steadily uphill from Lake Louise to an elevation gain of 1,300 feet for 90 minutes than the darling tea house at Lake Agnes? Bring cash as the cheerful staff who live nearby in the woods don't have electricity at the tea house to run debit or credit machines. A spot of tea and some of their fresh-baked goods such as chocolate chip cookies or apple crumble will help replenish your spirits for the hike back down. Historical romance types, stop into The Station for an Old Fashioned and you'll feel as though you've been transported back in time at this restaurant that was built in 1910, complete with leaded glass windows and original hardwood floors. 200 Sentinel Road, Lake Louise, AB, www.lakelouisestation.com

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    Photo credit: theglobalpanorama

    You can stop making excuses. No more "We'll take that trip next year," or "We'll travel when we're retired." A multi-million dollar research project by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) has proven that travel provides more than just a good time. In addition to the social and psychological benefits of exploring new places and cultures, travel provides scientifically-proven cognitive and physical benefits.

    Travel Is a Must for Kids

    Research from the TCRS and GCOA study published by the U.S. Travel Association found that children between the ages of 12 and 18 who travel outside of their region perform better in school. In addition to being more interested in their studies, kids who travel are more likely to earn college degrees. The study may seem biased toward children of wealthier parents with more money to travel, but researchers confirmed that kids from a wide range of social classes were examined. The results were consistent across all classes.

    Adults Are Healthier When They Travel

    The benefits of travel weren't just obvious among the kids studied. The research project proved that travel can create major health benefits among men and women. Women who took a vacation every six years, or even less often, had a significantly higher risk of heart attack or coronary death than women who took a vacation at least twice a year. Similarly, men who didn't take annual vacation showed a 20-percent higher risk of death and a 30-percent higher risk of death from heart disease.

    The Benefits Start Immediately

    The study found that the benefits of travel among adults are almost immediate. After only a day or two of vacation, 89-percent of the respondents saw significant decreases in stress. The study also confirmed that 59-percent of Americans dream of traveling once retired, but the most impactful trips are those enjoyed with family and friends.

    Similar Studies Prove Even More Benefits

    If you're still not convinced that it's time to book your plane tickets and starting planning an upcoming getaway, a number of additional studies prove even more benefits associated with travel. During an MRI study, Swedish scientists discovered that learning a foreign language showed substantial growth in specific parts of the brain, including those involved with creativity and memory. A study of 853 adults by Edinburgh University found benefits to learning a second language beyond childhood. Similarly, Canadian studies found that being bilingual could delay the onset of dementia and the effects of alzheimer's disease.

    What Are You Waiting for?

    In addition to the scientifically-proven health benefits of traveling, exploring new places and new cultures can have a positive impact in a multitude of other ways. Discovering new ways of living and seeing the world can give you a different perspective on your own life. Maybe it's time to start a new career path or simply start appreciating the access you have to food, shelter, and clean drinking water. Traveling offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures, taste new foods, and discover new ways of living to help you discover that "different" should never be confused with "bad."

    Whether you're in need of a serious de-stressing or are looking for a new way to enjoy life, the study performed by the TCRS and GCOA proves that travel is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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    Photo credit: big-ashb

    England is a country more famous for its capital city and royal family than its rugged scenery and outdoor adventures. However, that doesn't mean adventures don't exist in the North Atlantic country. In fact, England's location, surrounded by water and home to some of the U.K.'s best beaches and jagged coastline, makes it an ideal place for your adventure-based summer getaway. The following are six adventures you can only have in England this summer.

    Try Paragliding Near Eastbourne

    Head to the coast of East Sussex, and you'll find some of England's most stunning natural scenery. And there's no better way to dive head first into the beauty of the Sussex Heritage Coast than to do just that -- dive into it. Beachy Head is the United Kingdom's highest chalk sea cliff, standing a mesmerizing 162-meters tall, and the Airworks Paragliding Cenre in Eastbourne is ready to help you take the leap with an unforgettable paragliding experience.

    Zip Over the Sea in Bournemouth

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    Photo credit: Lets Go Out Bournemouth

    Embrace the sought-after feeling of flying in a different (and less terrifying) way in Bournemouth. The PierZip experience -- the very first pier-to-shore zip wire in the world -- takes visitors on a scenic, adrenaline-charged flight from the end of the Bournemouth Pier, over the waves and into shore. Even better, the PierZip experience includes dual zip lines, which means you can experience the thrill of flying simultaneously with a friend or loved one.

    Take a Surf Lesson in Newquay

    Surfing is one of the world's fastest growing water sports, and once you experience the feeling of "the glide," you'll understand why. The Escape Surf School in Newquay, Cornwall, offers a selection of surf lessons for all levels of surfers, from first-timers to advanced wave riders. As one of the longest running surf schools in the U.K., Escape Surf School's knowledgable guides will have you experiencing the thrill of standing up on a surfboard during your first day in the water.

    Explore the Countryside on Bicycle

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    Photo credit: Peter Turvey

    Forget about sightseeing the countryside of southwest England in a rental vehicle or tour bus. Rent a bicycle and head to the Wiltshire Cycleway to spend a day exploring some of England's most peaceful natural scenery while feeling the wind in your face and a slight burn in your thighs. Visitors can attempt the 257-kilometer long-distance route or opt for a number of much shorter routes to visit the quaint, historic towns (and villages) of Bradford on Avon, Marlborough, Castle Combe and so many more.

    Get Dirty with a Bushcraft Adventure

    Seeking a summer adventure that will truly test your endurance and survival skills? Head to Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, to try your hand at the one-of-a-kind jungle assault course in Sherwood Forest or take part in a number of other survival classes and tests. Sherwood Bushcraft allows you to choose from overnight survival drills, shelter building activities, fire lighting lessons, team challenges and many other activities to help improve your survival skills and put them to the test in a picturesque outdoor atmosphere.

    Adventure then Relax at Alpamare Scarborough

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    Photo credit: RamseyCountyMN

    The brand-new Alpamare Scarborough water park will be opening for the summer of 2016, and that means you can be one of the first to enjoy this new English adventure experience. The Alpamare is gearing up to be a water park unlike any other in England, with a massive wave pool, state-of-the-art water slide, whirlpool attractions, steam baths and more. Located on Scarborough's North Bay, this water park, combining thrilling rides and relaxing spa-like features is ideal for families seeking summer fun, rain or shine.

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    2016-06-13-1465784586-2043223-RockyMountaineer.jpg
    As the train rounds the bend, Canada's highest mountain appears out of nowhere.

    I'm outside on the train's open-air vestibule when Mount Robson suddenly pokes its craggy face from the clouds. A snowy peak rising like a church steeple, it's a stunning but rare view of this finicky mountain.

    "We're not allowed to do this, but I can't resist," says a train attendant, snapping photos with his iPhone. "I've never seen Robson like that."
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    When the staff are excited, it must mean something. But such a spectacle is just one of the many marvellous sights on the Rocky Mountaineer, a rail journey through Western Canada that National Geographic has declared one of the "World's Greatest Trips."

    Too often, rail travel gets labelled as the vehicle of the unadventurous traveller. But the truth is, there's no better way to see Western Canada than by riding the rails on the Rocky Mountaineer, the only passenger-based train permitted to use the Canadian National Railway.
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    I actually found it difficult to write this article, because words and pictures can't express how thrilling it was to be a passenger. You just have to do it to understand, to feel the excitement in your bones (and decadent cuisine in your belly...oh my dayum!). So before you dismiss rail riding, here are five reasons to travel by train in Western Canada:

    It's a museum on wheels

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    As the train glides along the track, remember that you're riding a piece of living history. The Rocky Mountaineer operates along the Canadian Pacific and National Railways - two routes built at the turn of the century to connect the newly founded nation called "Canada."
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    As the train whooshes past glaciers, canyons, and turquoise waters, I listen to tales of Indigenous communities who have lived on this land for thousands of years; early fur traders, gold prospectors and European explorers who attempted to scale the mountain passes; as well as the plight of Asian labourers who risked their lives to construct the railway for abysmal wages. It's one way to sink your teeth into Canadian history.

    Boldly go where few have gone before
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    Soon after the Mount Robson spectacle, the train begins to creep along the tracks. A voice crackles over the intercom.

    "Ladies and gents, we're approaching Pyramid Falls," announces the attendant. "Trust me - you don't want to miss this one."

    I dart downstairs onto the outdoor vestibule. The train gradually grinds to a stop in front of the cascading waters of Pyramid Falls. From the platform, I can feel the mist and little droplets land on my camera lens.
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    We're that close. Normally, seeing this waterfall is near impossible, with most tourists settling for long distance views from across the river. But riding the rails, I get a backstage pass to this iconic Canadian landmark.

    Enjoy a five-star "moveable" feast
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    If there's one reason to board the Rocky Mountaineer, it's the food. Despite working on a "moving platform," Executive Chef Jean Pierre Guerin runs a five star kitchen.

    The feeding frenzy starts almost immediately. While half the car feasts in the dining room, cinnamon scones and hot drinks are served upstairs as a "pre-breakfast snack." Warm dough crumbling in my mouth, I curse that I didn't wear stretchy pants.

    "No one goes hungry on our watch!" jokes the staff.
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    No kidding. Each day brings two gourmet meals - along with wine, cheese, and tasty snacks in between - all made with fresh, local ingredients sourced from British Columbia and Alberta. Microwaved meals are outlawed on the Rocky Mountaineer. Instead, the kitchen prepares meals from scratch, starting at 5:00am with freshly baked croissants and pastries. It's basically a Michelin-star restaurant on wheels.

    "Calorie counting? We don't do much of that," says Chef Jean Pierre. "It's a feast."

    Go on safari...by rail
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    I'm dozing off, when a yelp rouses me from my post-lunch slumber.

    "Eagle!" screeches a passenger. "Right above! Look!"

    Just like that, naptime is over. Passengers jump from their seats and start snapping photos. I look up and see a bald eagle proudly soaring above - so close that I can see his clenched talons.

    "That's a teen eagle, folks," says the attendant. "He hasn't reached his full size just yet."
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    The train slows down so we can snap a few photos. Such a sight is only possible because of the glass domed coach - it has floor to ceiling windows that are scrubbed spotless every night and yield panoramic views.
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    "We have an ear piece hooked up to the conductor," explains our attendant. "Whatever he sees on the track, he tells us right away. So don't be startled if we suddenly shout out, bear to the left!"

    It's because of this that riding the Rocky Mountaineer is like going on safari. The train stealthily weaves through forests and mountains, revealing grizzlies fishing in the river, or elk or bighorn sheep grazing on the slopes. A few passengers have even claimed to spot (but not photograph) sasquatch (!).

    You can get out and explore Western Canada
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    There are no crammed sleeper compartments on the Rocky Mountaineer. Instead, the train disembarks in idyllic mountain towns, such as Banff, Jasper, and Kamloops, allowing us to sleep into a hotel and explore the incredible surroundings.

    In Jasper National Park, join a Walks and Talks guided hike to the spectacular Mount Edith Cavell Meadows. The trail offers a smorgasbord of wildlife spotting opportunities, as well as gobsmacking views of the Ghost Glacier - a small blue-ice glacier on the mountain that's rapidly thawing from global warming. After such an active day, treat yourself to a leisurely soak at Miette Hot Springs or a foamy pint at the Jasper Brew Pub.

    For more travel inspiration and advice, mosey on over to Eat Drink Travel Magazine. Get more ideas for planning your trip at Travel Alberta and the Rocky Mountaineer.

    (All photographs courtesy of Lisa Jackson)

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    Like many air travel passengers, Jerell Smith opted for a physical pat-down over a body scan.

    But unlike most passenger experiences, Smith said his penis was accidentally exposed during an aggressive search.

    The law enforcement worker was going through security at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in October when he chose to skip the body scanner. He said he was on his way to the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend.

    Smith said his rationale was that the pat-down would be faster, but that the screening officer assigned to do it didn't seem too pleased with his decision.

    "I could tell he was a little bit upset," Smith told The Huffington Post Canada, adding the agent repeatedly asked him why he wouldn't just hop in the scanner.

    "I think that's the basis of why I was treated the way I was."

    Right away, Smith said he noticed the search was very aggressive. The officer was slapping his back, he said.

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    A member of The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority takes a bag from a passenger at the Vancouver International Airport for testing June 20, 2008. (Photo: John Lehmann/Globe and Mail)

    Smith was wearing a form-fitting T-shirt and sweatpants, and when the agent got to his legs, the sweatpants were pulled down a bit. He told the officer to be careful.

    "I can't quote him verbatim... he said that, 'this is what you wanted, this is the search you're going to receive.'"

    Then the right side of his pants actually fell down, Smith said. The slit in the front of his underwear was unbuttoned at the time, he said, and his penis was exposed.

    He squatted down to pull them up and then stepped away from the officer, who demanded he come back to resume the search.


    "I can't quote him verbatim, but he said, this is what you wanted, this the search you're going to receive."


    "I said, 'Well, you just pulled my pants down, that's why I stepped away. Take it easy. Be careful,'" he recounted.

    "Obviously at this point I'm a little bit upset."

    Smith also said a woman behind him may have seen his genitals. He said he looked up immediately after he pulled his pants up and saw a stunned expression on her face.

    After, he went to speak to a supervisor, who told him his clothing was to blame for the accidental exposure.

    Frustrated, Smith filed an official complaint with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the organization responsible for screening at Canadian airports. He was told that his claim would be taken seriously.

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    An Air Canada passenger jet takes off from Halifax on January 21, 2013.

    "I'm a big guy," he told HuffPost Canada. "As I told CATSA, I'm 270 pounds, I'm just over six foot. To physically move my body takes force." The issue isn't about the force used in the search, he said.

    "No, I don't have bruises, no, I wasn't injured, but at the same time, I felt disrespected."

    Smith received a call back from a CATSA representative, who told him that while the search was aggressive and didn't meet their guidelines, the organization couldn't verify that his pants were actually pulled down.

    CATSA says it can't confirm Smith's claim

    Spokesperson Mathieu Larocque confirmed that finding in an interview.

    "What was claimed in the complaint was not co-operated by what we could see in the CCTV footage as well as statements by screening officers."

    Larocque told HuffPost Canada the process of investigating a complaint includes reviewing video as well as conducting interviews with the personnel and passengers involved.

    Story continues below




    When Smith asked to see the footage himself, the organization agreed to show him. But he said he was stunned to discover that even from four different camera angles in a passenger screening area, no video evidence existed of his actual search.

    "It was like watching an Atari video game. It was ridiculous."

    Smith said he was told sometimes the cameras get knocked out of place when they're cleaned. It's an absurd explanation, he said. But CATSA disagrees.

    "That is inaccurate," Larocque said of Smith's claim no video exists of his pat-down. "I looked at the video myself, you can clearly see the search from waist to toe. The allegations regarding passenger's pants and skin being exposed is not reflected in the video at all."


    It was like watching an Atari video game. It was ridiculous."


    Smith filed a complaint with Transport Canada over the worry the lack of footage of the passenger screening area could be a security risk.

    He said he got a call back a few days later saying that some corrections had been made to the cameras at the Halifax airport.

    A letter eventually arrived that officially confirmed CATSA's finding.

    CBC News, which first reported the story, obtained a copy of Smith's initial complaint through an Access to Information request. The report more or less repeats his account of the Oct. 12, 2015 incident.

    Smith said he contacted the public broadcaster after a friend told him his encounter had been included in an earlier roundup of airport security complaints.

    He said that despite his experience, he has no hard feelings toward the airport security employees.

    "I think they have a tough job. They search people all day, every day," he said, adding he hopes other travellers won't find themselves in a similar situation.

    "The next time I went through the airport, did I feel anxiety? I most certainly did."

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    We escaped urban life for a weekend of calm, serenity and clean air in Parksville, B.C. -- Lise Boullard

    Stay: If you're coming from the city (we jumped in our 2016 Honda HR-V and took BC Ferries, but you can also take a seaplane from Vancouver), there is nothing more detoxifying than the aroma of Arbutus and Douglas fir trees as you meander the grounds of Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort. Established by a Scottish family in the 1950s (Tigh-Na-Mara means "House by the Sea" in Gaelic) on 22 acres of forested land, the collection of log cabin-style bungalows is rustic luxury at its best. Features like beach access, activities (think sandcastle competitions and tie dye courses in the summer) and friendly staff are why generations of families have made this their annual vacation spot; but the world-renowned spa, rooms with fireplaces and jacuzzis (and eucalyptus bath products) make it the perfect couples' or girls' getaway. 155 Resort Dr., Parksville. 800-663-7373. www.tigh-na-mara.com

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    Do: Vancouver Island is home to some of the world's most interesting marine life and the collection of 12 communities dotting the sheltered Straight of Georgia are begging to be explored. On our two-hour kayak tour with Adventuress Sea Kayaking we made friends with sea lions and bald eagles (and drooled over some stellar waterfront properties) as we explored the Nanoose Bay shoreline with a group of women from Calgary. Post-workout we headed to quiet Rathtrevor Beach, known for its warm waters and white sand, for a peaceful picnic lunch. For your wildlife fix on a rainy day head to Butterfly World to become acquainted with aquatic and amphibious specimens (and a stunning orchid garden), or stop at The World Parrot Refuge to say hello to 800 previously owned pet parrots. 889 Little Mountain Rd., Parksville. 250-755-6702. www.adventuress.ca

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    Spa: With 20,000 square feet, 19 treatment rooms and three floors of blissful spa experiences, it's no wonder the Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara was named #1 Spa in Canada by Spas of America. In our Signature Grotto Package (new for 2016) we were spoiled with a 60-minute aromatherapy massage (the cedar essential oils put us into a peaceful sleep) and a detoxifying soak in the Grotto mineral pool, surrounded by natural rock formations. In our dreamy state we barely remember being swept up to the Tree Top Grill dining room for a 15-course tapas experience featuring local organic and antioxidant-rich creations (our faves were the oysters and kale salad). All of this while sitting in driftwood chairs and taking in views of the forest canopy, in our robes and slippers (don't worry, it's the mandatory dresscode). If this isn't on your bucket list already, it should be. 1155 Resort Dr., Parksville. 1-800-663-7373. www.grottospa.com

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    Savour: The Parksville Qualicum area has no shortage of talented local chefs experimenting with organic produce, fish, meats and cheeses. For a waterfront dining experience head to Qualicum Inn where you can feel the sea breeze wash over you as you dig into local seafood specialties. On Saturday night try Realm Food Co. for a farm-to-table gastronomic experience featuring light but hearty fare (think Albacore Tuna Wraps and Surfside Sushi rolls served with marinated kale salad) sourced from local farmers and fishers. For brunch, Tigh-Na-Mara's Cedar's Restaurant and Lounge comes highly recommended: we went halvsies on the sweet potato and onion frittata and strawberry waffles. 180 Craig St. #2, Parksville. www.realmfoodco.com

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    Shop: We could have spent hours shopping the Coombs Old Country Market (where you may be lucky to spot a few goats grazing on the grass-covered roof). Originally established by a Norwegian family inspired by their homeland's sod roof structures, the expansive space features a bakery, café and rows and rows of worldly (mostly European) delicacies, kitchenware and toys. With shelves full of every variety of condiment (have you ever tried Sriracha mustard?), pasta and sausage you could imagine, plan to get your groceries here before you head home. For wine and cheese to take back to your room (or enjoy beachside) pop in to Moo Berry Winery for some cranberry wine, and Little Qualicum Cheese Works where cheeses are made daily using local dairy. 2326 Alberni Highway, Coombs. 250-248-6272. www.oldcountrymarket.com

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    Drive: The 2016 Honda HR-V was a smooth ride and great on gas--the entire trip barely put a dent in our tank!

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    www.visitparkvsvillequalicumbeach.com

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    There is that familiar saying that goes "It's about the journey, not the destination." Unfortunately, this isn't always the case: flights mean frisky security, long layovers and unexpected delays, which can sometimes make for unpleasant travel experiences. Still, your airport journey doesn't always have to be terrible. Here are some cool airports that will make you forget about all your travel baggage:

    1. Hamad International Airport, Qatar
    This $16-billion airport screams luxury. It features a 25-metre-long swimming pool. The airport is also equipped with quiet rooms, ideal for passengers seeking a pre-flight snooze. Did I mention they also have a giant dinosaur robot and a 23-foot-tall Urs Fischer sculpture of a yellow teddy bear? Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a brag-worthy Instagram pic. Hashtag, love Qatar.

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    23-foot Teddy bear at Hamad International Airport. Photo by gnoparus / Shutterstock

    2. Changi Airport, Singapore
    If you didn't get enough shopping done during your trip, then Changi Airport is the perfect place for you. There are over 300 retail stores available and two movies theatres -- free of charge -- for you to take advantage of. There's also a fascinating butterfly garden (yes, a butterfly garden) in Terminal 3. Here, you can find a rainforest-themed garden with about 1,000 butterflies surrounded by flowering plants and a six-metre grotto waterfall. Three-hour layover? Can I extend that to six?

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    Indoor garden and ponds at Changi Airport. Flickr photo by Firesock

    3. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong
    Have you ever wondered what it's like to fly a plane? If you have (assuming you're not a pilot or something), then head over to the Aviation Discovery Centre and hop on the plane cabin simulator. This ride allows passengers to see what it's like to actually fly a plane. Pretty cool if you're about to board a real flight in a couple of hours. This airport is also home to an IMAX theatre and an indoor, multimedia golf course.

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    Hong Kong International Airport. Photo from Shutterstock

    4. Helsinki Airport, Finland
    If you have an appreciation for art, then you'll love your layover in Helsinki. It's the MoMa of airports, complete with a 24-hour art gallery and aviation museum. There are paintings and art installations all over the building, making for a truly gorgeous stopover. Passengers can also relax between flights in a sleeping pod, an ergonomic seat/bed complete with a pull-up cover to keep out light and noise, storage for your carry-on under the seat, and a power outlet for your phone or laptop. Hyvaa yota! (If you didn't know, that's "good night" in Finnish.)

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    Railway station at Helsinki Airport. Flickr photo by Oona Räisänen

    5. Dubai International Airport, Dubai
    You know you're in Dubai International Airport when you come across a $6,000 bottle of French brandy. The United Arab Emirates, as a country, is luxe, extravagant, and over-the-top, so it comes as no surprise that their airport is a perfect representation of the Dubai lifestyle. Fully equipped with a swimming pool, gym, sauna and shower facilities, this airport will help you to literally wash your stress away. They also have zen gardens available for passengers who wish to escape airport chaos to a more peaceful and quiet space.

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    Baggage claim at Dubai International Airport. Flickr photo by Christopher

    6. Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain
    If you're looking for a calming airport experience (if there's such a thing), then go to Madrid. This airport was carefully designed to minimize passenger stress through natural lighting. The ceiling consists of several domes that allow natural light to pass through the roof. With a gorgeous ceiling and architectural design to look at, the thought of crowded airports and long lineups doesn't seem so bad anymore.

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    Beautiful architecture at Madrid Barajas Airport. Flickr photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

    7. Wellington Airport, New Zealand
    Some of you may not know this, but The Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand, so it's only fitting that they have a giant sculpture of Gollum in one of their terminals. Passengers can also spend their time waiting in a not-so-typical airport lounge called The Rock. The bold design looks like its straight out of a sci-fi movie. The roof has rugged steel beams and glass fixtures, making it look like, well, a rock. The lounge is meant to represent Wellington's history and culture.

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    The Gollum sculpture inside a Wellington Airport terminal. Flickr photo by Sheila Thomson

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    By Aurea Dempsey

    If whale watching along the Pacific, dining on the freshest farm-to-table fare, or enjoying the luxuries of a private, oceanside cabin sound good to you, read on.

    Thanks to our friends at Destination British Columbia, we recently enjoyed all of the above during a mini-tour of Vancouver Island, covering the best of Sidney, Sooke, Port Renfrew and Victoria. Just a sea plane or ferry ride away from downtown Vancouver, we're convinced there's no better way to spend a longish weekend. Should you follow in our footsteps (and we hope you will), here's what you'll need: A car to get around. Hiking shoes, sunscreen, a good camera and a pair of forgiving pants or shorts (the food is that good!).

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    DAY 1 - VANCOUVER TO VICTORIA

    Easily accessed by ferry or sea plane, after arriving to Victoria set your sights and your GPS on a sea adventure with Sidney Whale Watching. With Captain Mike at the helm, it's the best three-plus hours you'll spend in search of Orcas and Humpbacks. On our excursion, we spotted a few along with families of sea lions at play. #surreal.

    For some delicious lunch fare on nearby Pender Island, let Mike take you to Poet's Cove Resort. A destination spot for its private cabins, wedding-perfect views and venue, it also boasts a pub and restaurant right on the water. The lamb burger alone is worth a visit.

    After your day at sea, it's time to check in to The Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa. A 55-room boutique hotel, not only does it boast beautiful Harbour views, its upscale suites and restaurant Haros, are hard to beat. Before feasting on delicious local salmon, tacos and generous salads we kicked our evening off at Victoria Distillers. Famous for their gin, whisky and vodka, they've rebranded their look with a most impressive lounge bar and bespoke cocktail menu.

    DAY 2: SOOKE

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    About an hour away, the town of Sooke is ready to greet you with its lush greenery, vast beaches and culinary hot-spots. Home to the spa line Sea Flora, developed by Canada's premier "Seaweed Lady", Sooke is a gem to explore. Known for its comfort food and 50s style décor, there's good reason locals and tourists flock to Mom's Café. From burgers and salads, to all-day breakfast platters, Mom's has it all. For dessert, we shared a piece of their famous apple pie (40 apples big!), and let's just say Mom's hits the decadent sweet spot.

    For afternoon activity, nearby Rush Adventures offers paddle boarding, kayaking and cycling tours along the Western trail. We chose the latter and happily rode for hours aboard our cruise-friendly, electric bike. (Hello, turbo button!) Along with deer sightings, we stopped to take in the trail's famous 'pot holes'. Like mini lagoons, Instagram perfect.

    All that nature times calls for a hot shower and elegant suite to cosy-up to. Thanks to nearby Prestige Oceanfront Resort we were more than pleased. Our room's tall ceilings and super-sized bathroom wowed us, as did the hotel's ocean views and boardwalk.

    When in Sooke, one must dine at Sooke Harbour House. Period. In this romantic, boutique hotel, it's all about locally grown, caught, and crafted cuisine that's legendary for starting the slow food movement. We indulged in the chef's tasting menu with highlights including the freshest salad greens and sea asparagus, risotto pasta, wild salmon and morels--oh, those morels. It's no wonder celebs like David Duchovny and Kim Cattrall have been spotted there.

    DAY 3: MYSTIC BEACH HIKE TO PORT RENFREW

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    Just outside Sooke and en-route to Port Renfrew (a.k.a., the new Tofino) we hit the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. With Toni from Rain Forest Tours as our guide, we trekked through the trees, over rocks, and a suspension bridge before arriving to the vast and beautiful Mystic Beach. Despite our soggy weather day, we'd go back in a heart beat.

    Post-hike, there's no better place to reward yourself than Shirley Delicious. A cabin in the woods, it's where surfers and locals flock for organic coffees, matcha lattes, baked goods and more. We gobbled-up a turkey on focaccia before succumbing to their cheesecake and espresso brownie sweets.

    If time allows and you're feeling up for more exploring (we did), you'll want to hit Sombrio Beach and hike Avatar Grove for the world's gnarliest tree. Yes, it's there!

    To really experience Port Renfrew, one must stay at Wild Renfrew. Featuring a cluster of private cabins along the rocky shores, you get five-star amenities (think 400 thread count sheets, a full-sized kitchen and stunning views), we sense it's going to get very busy as word travels. Just steps away at the Renfrew Pub, you'll find gourmet burgers, seafood and salads, along with the friendliest locals, and craft brews on tap.

    Photo credit: Rick Graham, Destination, B.C.

    DAY 4: COWICHAN VALLEY TO VICTORIA


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    Circling the coast back to Victoria, there's much to see, eat and explore. Our stops included Cowichan's Tea Farm for a warm cup of organic chai with a slice of matcha cheesecake. Following, we made a stop at Bird's Eye Cove, a family farm with cattle, pigs and hens, with a custom-built event space that's simply breathtaking. We topped it off with a cider and gin tour and tasting at Merridale Cidery and Distillery.

    Arriving in Victoria, we checked in to the Fairmont Empress, an historic landmark in of itself. It's also been getting a major face lift. In addition to updating the interior décor and suites, they recently opened Q, a bold and impressive restaurant bar with a sophisticated lounge. And that's only phase One. Phase Two includes a spectacular new lobby, Gold suites, as well as updated health club and spa. Checking into our suite, we were immediately impressed with its contemporary style and luxury, including our favourite Le Labo bath products.

    Despite the number of restaurants in Victoria, we chose to experience the new menu at Q. Our dinner was nothing short of culinary greatness starting with their house baked rye loaf that comes with whipped lardo and sweet butters. Ling cod, heirloom tomato salad, risotto and spot prawns soon followed, as did espresso coffees and soufflé cheesecake. After a decadent night stay, it's time to bid a final adieu to Victoria. Before doing so however, a stroll to gourmet food and café bar, Fol Epi for their exquisite coffees, house-made breads, sandwiches and pastries--is a must. If toast is your thing, be sure to ask for a side of their maple-cinnamon butter. #heaven.

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    To learn more about Victoria Island getaways, and Super Natural British Columbia, visit www.hellobc.com

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    Bronzed bikini goddesses gaze through mirrored sunglasses over ocean waves.

    Bleach-haired surfers with six-pack abs you could see from space look as cool and unperturbed as Roman statues.

    You are in Bali.

    Specifically, you are in Canggu, Bali; and currently, you are at the beach with your friend and fellow Montrealer, Melissa, who is 29, gorgeous and without body fat, but also funny and unapologetically honest. She's been here since January. The first piece of advice she gives you about Canggu: "Don't fall in love."

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    The two of you have just watched the sun set while drinking coconut water out of actual coconuts. Now you're at the beach bar, where a guy one barstool over strikes up a conversation.

    With Melissa.

    He asks if she teaches yoga. Where she's from. How long she's been here. He not only doesn't speak to you, he doesn't even make eye contact. If you'd just arrived, you might be shocked. But this is Canggu. At 39, you are not only over the hill but down the other side, across a stream, and pretty much on another continent altogether.

    Canggu is a visually stunning paradise where rice paddies meet ocean. Like most of Bali, it is full of kindness, and very relaxed. Out on the roads, cars, trucks, buses and scooters press up against each other, snaking through black exhaust in an unhurried manner, everyone just emanating this "we'll get there eventually" vibe. A friend tells of seeing a scooter driver come within millimeters of a full frontal crash with an old man on a loaded bicycle. They both made sure each other was okay, smiled, and went about their respective days.

    And then there are the foreigners.

    So many. So beautiful. Travellers, expats, digital nomads. Models. Surfers. So much Instagramming, of cellulite-free bums in bikini bottoms, of chaise lounges next to infinity pools, of breakfast bowls that cost enough to feed a Balinese family for a week. A recent article called "Eat, Pray, Colonize" perfectly captures how the Bali for which foreigners claim their love often has little to do with the actual Balinese or their culture. It's not like you're not guilty of this. You have come to Canggu to try out a co-working space -- a place where aforementioned digital nomads (i.e. you) can get a reliable connection, and, if you're lucky, meet a few like-minded souls. Your commute to work in the morning looks like this:

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    On your first day there, like a good little expat, you order a smoothie at the adjacent café. A girl sitting nearby has just received her breakfast bowl.

    "I ordered extra mango," she says to the (Balinese) waiter.

    He smiles so genuinely that your heart melts.

    "I am so sorry," he says, "but we are out of mango."

    The girl says she paid extra for mango. The waiter apologizes and says he doesn't think she has. The girl asks why you would have a breakfast bowl with mango on your menu when you don't have mango? The waiter apologizes once more. You are riveted -- had this happened in Montreal, he would have spat in her food by now, or worse. The girl asks to see the bill. The total cost of the extra mango is about $0.50 Canadian. You burn with shame at being a white person in Bali.

    Incidentally, $0.50 is how much it costs to print one page at the co-working space. A few streets over, it costs $0.03.

    The vast span in the price of things is telling. A street food dinner for four comes to $10. You try a Mexican restaurant, where two tiny tacos -- the kind where you're already hungry before you've finished them -- cost $14. You can pay $1.50 for a coconut on the local beach, or $400 for a day of eating and drinking for two at a beach resort, accommodations not included.

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    Street food in Canggu



    There are a thousand opinions on this. It supports the local economy -- of course. Bali is still magical -- it is. Bule (white people) are ruining Bali -- we are. Bali is changing, rapidly -- it is. You write this as you use the air conditioning and connect to the Wi-Fi and drink the filtered water.

    You notice that Canggu sometimes brings out the worst in you. You, Ms. Positive Body Image, have not in years been more disdainful of your poor stomach and crow's feet. It doesn't matter that the average age here is 23, and that you are, well, not that. All the perfection and toned muscles have you vowing at least twice never to even look at another cheeseburger again for the rest of your life.

    But more often, it brings out the best in you. Every day since arriving Canggu you have met more of another kind of beautiful people. You've learned about the courageous leaps they've taken, the businesses they've createdhttp://www.helloadventure.travel, how they've supported local tradespeople and the environment. Sharing these stories leaves you feeling like a young backpacker again.

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    Brainstorm and beauty sesh with Sarah, Casha and Leannah


    One afternoon, you go for a walk on the beach. You pass people selfie-ing next to surfboards, flexing butt cheeks that defy laws of gravity. Three girls, each more model-like than the last, are spread out on a sarong. One obsesses over a boy; another about her (non-existent) thighs.

    And then, you remember that, while you never looked as flawless as these women, you were once their age. Also, you had zero confidence. Maybe minus four. You wouldn't go back to being that person for all the tacos in Indonesia. You wouldn't go back five years, or even two. But also, you wouldn't trade any of it. Because right now, at 39, in Canggu, you are more at peace than you've ever been.

    You hop aboard your trusty scooter and drive off: away from the sunset, and full of gratitude. You're not in love. Not yet. But you might stay just a little bit longer.

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    An Interview with Sara Graham, Author of How To Make Big Moves

    By Si Si Penaloza

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    As our Get Leashed community grows, we're fielding more queries and quandaries from readers interested in travelling with pets. Inspired by this rising interest in all things jet-set pets, we reached out to Sara Graham, editor, yoga teacher and author of How To Make Big Moves: Relocate Without Losing Your Mind. A Canadian currently based in Sweden, Graham shares with us inspiring tales from living abroad with her two frisky felines, Tigerlily and Dragon.

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    Your guide delivers on exactly what it promises -- a one-stop shop for every obscure question or panic-stricken scenario that a potential relocator could imagine. How did you approach structuring the book to be most relevant in a real-world context?

    Well, thanks! I think you just inspired my elevator pitch with that synopsis. While it's impossible to cover all relocation scenarios, I wanted to structure a guidebook that would kick start the thought process for the most important relocation tasks and issues. I really tried to come from a place of pure practicality. The anecdotes, from 17 globally based contributors and myself, provide actionable information, as opposed to fluffy roundabout "advice."

    Travelling with pets can be quite a trip; share some funny or endearing episodes from your time as a pet parent on the road.

    The first time was a mess. I flew with Tigerlily from Toronto to Halifax to visit family before leaving for Prague and she handled it better than I did. Assuming it was a good idea, I tried to give her a break from the carrier from time to time, but just ended up tripping over her leash. I also lost my less-than-a-year-old smartphone somewhere along the way!

    In terms of long-haul travel, getting from Canada to the Czech Republic, Tigerlily handled the first two flights (Halifax-Montreal-Frankfurt) well, but by the third leg she was literally chewing her way out of the carrier.

    Does a pet's healthy and successful relocation boil down to their own unique personality, or do you find the preparedness of the owner plays as big a role?

    Regardless of a pet's personality, an owner has to be 100 per cent prepared or the whole thing will be a nightmare for everyone. Attention must first be paid to the pet's disposition and unique health issues, which will determine if they can even handle endless hours in transit.

    Then an owner has to consider, what is the best possible way to get the animal from A to B? Should we drive or fly? If it's the latter, you don't want to show up at the airport without researching and pre-booking your pet space on the flight. Every airline is different when it comes to pets. Most have an in-cabin quota and then others don't let them on board at all. Moreover, it can all totally change depending on the aircraft type.

    I am very against putting a pet into cargo and I go into this more in the guide. However, if an owner has no choice, then at least look for an airline that offers climate-control from start to finish. Meaning, pets are last to board and first to come off the plane; avoiding wait time on hot or cold tarmacs.

    Then there's the paperwork. There are rules and forms that must be completed for both the country you are leaving and the country you are going to. All my forms were translated in both German and Czech. If you really can't get your head around this, or just don't have the time to deal, then there are professionals that relocate pets for a living. Not a cheap option, but an option nonetheless.

    Care to weigh in on how either Johnny Depp and Amber Heard - or on the flip side Australian officials - could have handled things better in the diplomatic Yorkiegate debacle?

    The missing puzzle piece, insofar as what I have read, is how the dogs bypassed customs in the first place. Yes, Amber Heard admitted she lied on the declaration, but the dogs were reportedly in plain sight of the officers. Seems like a gap in the Australian customs process to me. There would have been, at least in normal, non-celebrity circumstances, some kind of security check. Yes, it's a criminal offence and celebs should be treated the same as everyone else, but threatening to have the dogs put down was overkill. Barnaby Joyce came off looking like an aggressive grandstander. Heard and Depp's apology video had zero sincerity. It did make for a hilarious parody by Stephen Colbert though. That I would watch again.

    Given your own anecdotal experiences and the depth of research you put into this fresh new guide book, what are some of the easiest countries to travel or relocate to with a pet? How about the hardest?

    The degree of ease any human has traveling or relocating anywhere has much to do with their passport and the related visa freedoms and restrictions. That's number one. Then it depends on the breed of your pet, as every country implements controls on certain breeds. Some are banned outright. PETOLOG.COM has a comprehensive list of banned dog breeds by country. Government websites will also make it clear what cats and dogs are not eligible for import.

    Once those two pieces are sorted, and if you've got your pet paperwork in order, my experience is that Europe is easy to get both into and around. Going from Prague to Sweden was a breeze. The EU has designed these smart little pet passports that make so much sense, as opposed to the mess of forms that the rest of the world uses. When I say Europe, I don't mean the U.K. Any country where there is a mandatory quarantine will add another layer of stress to the move.

    Sara Graham is the author of http://howtomakebigmoves.com/. The guidebook is available on the iTunes Store as well as for Kindle and Kobo readers. Download in PDF format at WWW.HOWTOMAKEBIGMOVES.COM.

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    Summer festival season is coming into full swing and there are so many wonderful things to see and do around the province.

    Yes, there's the Calgary Stampede and Edmonton's K-Days, but there are so many more diverse and exciting festivals to check out.

    Here are some of the best festivals to help you maximize your fun in the sun in Alberta this summer:

    Waterton Wildflower Festival (June 19 to 24)




    Waterton National Park is one of Canada's most beautiful destinations, and it's also the country's wildflower capital.

    The park is home to over 1,000 plant species, some of which are rare and only blossom in the Waterton area.

    But you do more than just gaze at perennials at a wildflower festival.

    Creative types can try out photo workshops, while scientific-minded visitors can learn about the important roles that bears play in wildflower ecosystems.

    Sled Island (June 22 to 26)





    Sled Island might be Alberta's most eclectic festival. From music of all genres, to art, film and comedy, it has something for everyone.

    Peaches is the festival's guest curator this year, and she has some exciting picks joining the 250 bands that will play in Calgary venues in June.

    One of the best parts of Sled is its bike-friendly vibe. A noise band is wrapping up at an art gallery just 15 minutes before you need to be an an intimate, acoustic set in a hot dog joint? No problem. Just cycle over — there's bike parking provided at nearly every venue.

    Lethbridge Dragon Boat Festival (June 24 to 26)





    Ready, set, row.

    Lethbridge is home to the largest dragon boat festival in Alberta, attracting over 60 teams to compete from around western Canada.

    Just as exciting as the races are the drum performances and dragon dances on the main stage.

    Cyclepalooza (July 1 to 10)



    Cyclepalooza is a DIY bike festival — that means anyone can create an event. Want to organize a pub crawl along the bike lanes? How about a game of bike polo? It can be whatever you make it.

    One of the festival's most enjoyable staples every year is Bike Prom, where attendees dress up in their snazziest prom wear and ride to the party together.

    Edmonton International Street Performers Festival (July 8 to 17)




    A wild whirlwind of tightrope walkers, breakdancers and improv actors have taken over Edmonton in July for the past 30 years.

    The festival attracts some of the world's top street performers, and admission is free (but tips are appreciated).

    Kanfest (August 5 to 7)




    Not every summer festival has to involve loud bands and cold beer (although that sounds pretty great). Kanfest — or the Kananaskis Whitewater Kayaking Festival — is perfect for those seeking a bit more adventure.

    There are plenty of activities for both beginners and pros, including races, workshops, and style competitions.

    Cariwest (August 5 to 7)




    Cariwest initially started as part of Edmonton's Klondike Days for Caribbean immigrants to celebrate their culture. Now, it's grown to a three-day extravaganza that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.

    Enjoy some incredible jerk kebabs while checking out the spectacular costumes and steel drums at the Great Parade.

    Edmonton Airshow (August 6 and 7)




    Canada's first airport was located at Edmonton's Blatchford Field. It's the perfect city to learn all about the history of aviation, and watch pilots perform death-defying feats.

    If you've always wanted to be a pilot (or have a kid who dreams of taking to the skies), there are opportunities to chat with the navigators and check out their planes first-hand.

    Calgary Omatsuri Festival (August 13)




    "Omatsuri" is Japanese for "traditional festival." Visitors will have the chance to enjoy and learn about traditional Japanese culture, including music, cuisine and martial arts demonstrations.

    Paro, a brand of robo-seals popular in Japan (yes, that's right) will be making an appearance. It's worth grabbing a selfie with one of the world's cutest droids.

    Globalfest (August 18 to 27)




    Dozens of countries from around the world serve up incredible eats at this international event. But the real fun starts after dark. Globalfest is a primarily a fireworks competition — countries compete with elaborate, explosive displays set to music.

    The dazzling shows shine over Calgary's Elliston Park, giving it an ethereally beautiful dimension.

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