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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Cape Breton Island has seen tourism surge this year, and it can thank Donald Trump — at least in part.

    Tourism to the Nova Scotian island has risen 14 per cent for the year to date, said a Wednesday news release from Destination Cape Breton.

    cape breton donald trump
    To the left, a lighthouse in Cape Breton. To the right, Donald Trump. (Photo: Getty/Reuters)

    The island saw 24 per cent more tourism in May over last year, 15 per cent more in June, and 14 per cent more in July.

    And Destination Cape Breton CEO Mary Tulle is chalking up the bump to Trump, so to speak.

    Earlier this year, radio DJ Rob Calabrese came up with the website, "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" as a way to capitalize on Americans who say they'll leave their country if he wins the presidency.

    cape breton trump
    The "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins" homepage. (Photo:

    "We're living on an island where the population is decreasing," he told The Huffington Post Canada in February.

    "As a joke, we thought of it to maybe get the word out there that, 'Hey, you should come here!'"

    The website helped to spike interest in Cape Breton. CNN sent a crew to document the island and at least one lodge in the rural community of Ingonish saw increased bookings.

    "We continue to marvel at the opportunity Rob Calabrese's website and our subsequent 'Trump Bump' has presented to us," Tulle said in a statement.

    cape breton
    Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. (Photo: Dale Wilson/Getty Images)

    There are numerous other factors that could be working in Cape Breton's (and Canada's) favour when it comes to tourism.

    The Canadian dollar is slumping against the U.S. greenback, and fears about the Zika virus are making travellers wary of venturing to Mexico and parts of Latin America.

    U.S. air travel to Canada was already up 15.6 per cent for the first six months of the year, according to the Toronto Star.

    Tulle agrees that Cape Breton may be benefitting from various trends.

    But she has little doubt that Trump has boosted his own people's interest in being somewhere else entirely.

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    Surprisingly, many long-term travellers long for their "trip of a lifetime" but inevitably find themselves achingly homesick. Travelling for weeks and months on end is incredible, but also relentless. Even simple tasks seem insurmountable when you don't know the language.

    Homesickness is often inevitable.

    Lonely In a Crowd

    Travel frequently includes what Fight Club called "single-serving friends." People we know briefly, then poof, they're gone. This breeds strange isolation and loneliness. It's not like being in a lonely mountain camp, with no humans for miles.

    It's the opposite. We're saturated in life, surrounded by meaningful moments -- but they belong to other people. We're a spectator to other lives -- both as we travel, and through the social media looking-glass with loved ones at home.

    Travelling is like being suspended above a world that doesn't need us to function. We're irrelevant. Despite how amazing travel is, that isolated irrelevance can gnaw at us.

    So it's important to remember everything ends, even travel. Few ever experience these prolonged journeys. Don't let homesickness or isolation spoil your adventure.

    After a year living on the road, here are methods I use to battle homesickness:

    Family Photos Can Be a Trigger

    Yes, you love your family, but if seeing their photos cause heartbreak while so far from home, that's bad. Don't make them your device's wallpaper or lock-screen image.

    Instead, choose an amazing travel photo that reminds you how incredible your experience is. I use a photo of Portuguese beach that blew my mind. I felt blessed to be there and swore I wouldn't blow it. Nine months later, it's still my lockscreen and I'm still travelling.

    Keepsakes Help

    Take at least one much-loved item for needy moments. I have three. One is my trusty plush sasquatch, Quaatchi. When the Paris attacks happened last November, Quatchi was soaked with my tears. Second, my dead mother's passport, which travels in my backpack. She's having the adventures she always wanted. Third is a wallet-sized photo of my young parents when their lives were ahead of them. I know everywhere I go is another bragging moment for Dad with his Bingo buddies.

    Comfort Food for the Soul

    Remember: You have NOTHING to prove. Tired of the local cuisine? Will another bowl of pho in Vietnam make you scream? It's okay to cop out with fast food or Italian. If it makes you feel closer to home, do it. Ignore people who mock you for eating a hamburger in Mexico or Chinese in Croatia. Why should comfort foods only be allowed at home? I recently ate a whole pack of Kraft Mac & Cheese I spotted while shopping in Mexico. Eating it felt like a HUG.

    Culture Transports You Home

    Big cities often have English-language movies with subtitles in your host country's language. This means "foreign" scenes subtitled in the English version are changed to the host language, but you'll live. For example, The Martian's Chinese scientist scene was titled in English at home, but in Zagreb, the Chinese was Croatian so that scene was lost on me. Oh well.

    Seeing live music can also be a great way to break the funk.

    Love music? Make an email account to receive mailing lists of bands you love. Maybe you'll catch Florence + The Machine in Dusseldorf, or Foo Fighters in France. Who knows? It's amazing how music transcends language and culture, though. Experience that!

    Hostels Offer Community

    When you really don't want to be alone, find a well-regarded hostel for a few nights. Some sites rate hostels for "party factor" and community. Look for social ones with common areas for mingling. Don't bring your book or wear headphones. Be open to engagement. If you've got travel flexibility, maybe you'll connect with travel friends for a bit. Or maybe three days in a hostel reminds you why you travel alone. It goes both ways.

    Saved by Social Media

    Let friends and family know you're homesick. Ask for encouragement. Don't be embarrassed. You'd be surprised how many can relate -- even people who've never been away more than a month.

    If you're in a particularly rough stretch, make video-chat dates with people you love. Plan ahead for video calls nightly for a few days. Gives you something to anticipate, breaking up the monotony of all-by-myselfness.

    Get Outside

    Often, when I'm in the dumps, just wandering reminds me how lucky I am. I'll aimlessly stroll and discover unexpected delights, then settle in a café and write. Being in that moment of gratitude while travelling can end a funk. If that fails, there's always chocolate.

    Plan More Travel

    It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes anticipating The Next Chapter can lift you. Research, possibility, unexpected chances - they're powerful experiences. Go with it. Go down the travel rabbithole. Go ask Alice how it worked out for her. Be like Alice.

    The Fat-Pants and Netflix Cure

    You could just be burned out. Guess what? It's okay to take downtime in a safe, unspectacular city for nothingness. Hole up with easy meals, Netflix, and bedhead. Recharge. Apologize to no one. Chill, Winston. There's more travel ahead. You need a break. Maybe your brain needs to process all the awesome you've seen, file it away, so you can cram in more awesome. Okay then! Make space for more awesome!

    "Once in a Lifetime" Usually is Once

    Long-term travel is a rare opportunity. You may never do it again. Life intervenes. Whatever plans you have for the future, they're no guarantees. Don't let homesickness win.

    Stop, Netflix, read, or sleep for days, if recharging is needed. But don't give up. See it through. Change locations if you hate it. Do everything to embrace this chance.

    Homesickness is okay. Awesome will return. The world'll be outside your door again tomorrow.

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    Just because you're planning a big trip, doesn't mean it has to leave a big hole in your wallet. Although summer tends to be an ideal travel time for most people, especially given the lengthy school break, slightly tweaking travel dates can end up saving you big in the long run.

    But that's not all! To help those planning an upcoming bucket list trip stay on budget, we have come up with a few easy ways Canadians can see the world their way, and save all at the same time! Of course if you want to have your trip paid for all together, enter your travel video into the travelcuts film fest and you could win $5,000 to travel the world.

    Here are our top tips to save on your next worldly adventure:

    September Getaway


    In addition to shorter lineups and more comfortable walking/exploring weather, off-peak travel has a wide range of benefits. If your schedule (aka boss) allows, moving travel plans from summer to fall can open up a whole new world of opportunities to you. From on-trend destinations that are typically priced out of reach, to far shorter wait times when exploring a destination's highly sought after attractions - fall and spring are the perfect time to getaway.

    Don't Wait Last Minute


    Despite what people say, just don't! Many of us tend to hold off booking till the very last minute in the hopes of scoring discounted fares and added perks. But, in actuality this usually isn't true. With few exceptions, prices tend to increase the closer your departure date gets, and you risk the chance of missing out if the plane fills up. Instead, save yourself the stress, time and a little money by booking in advance and locking in a great price early on.

    Be Flexible with Your Flight Dates


    When doing your research, you may instinctively start your search with departure on Saturday or Sunday, but did you know that leaving on a weekday could save you big on your flight?

    Look into Less Tourist-y Destinations


    For those with exploration on the brain, selecting a lesser known destination could be a great way to travel, save and get fabulous memories not everyone will have all at the same time. Instead of researching the year's hottest destinations, think about some under the radar places that will give you just as much to see and do. While everyone may be heading to Rio post-Olympics, think about visiting Uruguay this year and re-visit Rio next year once the hype has worn off a bit. When selecting a destination, don't be afraid to check out some lesser explored areas as well - that is where some of the best memories are created!

    Spend More Time in Fewer Places


    If budget is a concern, cramming too much into one trip could be a huge no-no. Spending more time in fewer destinations will not only save you a lot of money in transportation costs, but you'll have extra time to see and experience a place in more depth.

    Look into Local Transportation


    Before taking off, do a bit of research on your destination, the inner city transportation and local attractions offered. A lot of times you can find great deals on city passes and/or combined transit and attraction passes that will end up saving you - even if only a few dollars. By pre-paying for transit you'll not only enjoy a cost benefit, but you'll save yourself the added stress of searching your pockets for exact, local change in the middle of a crowded bus.

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    The Great Lakes are pretty impressive before you even start to break down each one individually. The five lakes -- Ontario, Huron, Erie, Michigan and Superior -- make up the largest body of fresh water in the world and account for one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water.

    The lakes are spread across eight U.S. states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York and the province of Ontario in Canada. Each lake and their surrounding towns and cities offer something interesting to see or do depending on the type of getaway you're looking for. Whether you want to spend your time wandering small towns, hitting the beach, exploring a big city, or enjoying the water through water sports or activities, will help you find the right Great Lake for you.

    Lake Ontario

    Image: RichardBH, Sunrise over Lake Ontario via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    The smallest of the Great Lakes, Ontario has the potential to appeal to a range of travellers. For starters, much of Lake Ontario's tourism is focused on Niagara Falls and, if you've never experienced the impressive waterfall, it's well worth adding to your travel bucket list. Niagara Falls may not be the tallest in the world, but the sheer force and volume at which it plummets into the Niagara River is awe-inspiring. Once you've crossed the Falls off your list, spend some time on a city break in the lakeside city of Toronto. Known as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is a hotbed for arts and culture and an impressive food scene that's enticing more and more celebrity chefs to set up shop.

    If a slower pace is what you're after, there are many opportunities around the lake to spend some time in smaller towns or chill out on a beach. One of the best beaches in Canada can be found at Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County. Book a campsite here and sleep under the stars, or rest your head at one of the many bed and breakfasts in the region.

    Lake Erie

    Image: Rona Proudfoot, Lorain lighthouse via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    There's plenty to discover on the shores of Lake Erie, the shallowest and therefore warmest of the Great Lakes. Whether you're looking for an island escape, some small town rest and relaxation, or the faster pace of a city, you can find it on or near the shores of Lake Erie, which are dotted with many picturesque lighthouses in towns like Lorain and Marblehead. For nature lovers and active travellers looking to head away from the mainland, Pelee Island, Ontario boasts a Waterfront Trail loop taking hikers 28 kilometres around the island, putting you in close proximity to beaches, sand dunes and forests.

    In the U.S. you've got Kelleys Island and the Bass Islands to choose from, both of which offer natural attractions in the form of state parks and beaches, as well as the chance to get away from it all.

    Anyone looking for a city experience on Lake Erie can make a visit to Cleveland, Ohio. While the city may not have the cache of Chicago or Boston, Cleveland has more going for it lately than a lot of people might realize. Some highlights to add to your list include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the recently renovated and expanded Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland West Side Market, the beachfront Edgewater Park and the neighbourhoods of Little Italy, Tremont and Ohio City.

    Lake Michigan

    Image: Roman Boed, Chicago via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes and the only one located entirely in the United States, and it offers both beachside and city stays. Beach-hoppers will want to focus their time on Michigan's beach towns, from which there are several to choose, including St. Joseph, South Haven, Saugatuck-Douglas and Grand Haven. Any beer, wine and cider lovers exploring Michigan's beach towns should check out the Beachtown Craft Beverage Trail to experience the area's craft booze and spirits.

    For a foodie, art, culture and entertainment fix, make your way to Chicago. Between Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Art Institute of Chicago, world-class shopping and dining, Chicago is made for curious urban adventurers. Milwaukee is another good option if you're looking for a little more action. The city's downtown area is home to 17 museums (including the world's only Harley-Davidson Museum), 25 theatres and 150 restaurants. You'll also find over 200 kilometers of biking trails here, as well as more than 150 state and county parks.

    Lake Huron

    Image: daBinsi, Feels like heaven in here, Lake Huron via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Lake Huron is known to have some of the cleanest water of the any of the Great Lakes and boasts the longest shoreline as well. On the Ontario side, beaches and provincial parks abound. There are no big cities on the shores of Lake Huron, so your vacation here will be more laid back and back-to-nature. Beach-hoppers will want to set up shop on one or more of the following stretches of sand: Singing Sands Beach, Oliphant Beach, Port Elgin Beach and Sauble Beach.

    Lake Huron is also known for containing the largest freshwater island in the world, the beautiful Manitoulin Island. Escape here to hike, bike, swim, golf and check out the many charming art galleries and art studios on the island. In terms of accommodation, you have your pick of hotels, beachfront apartment rentals, resorts and campsites.

    Lake Superior

    Image: The Cut, Lake Superior Provincial Park - Ontario via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Lake Superior is, by surface area, the largest lake in the world and, amazingly, contains 10 per cent of all of the Earth's fresh surface water. Make your way to Thunder Bay, Ontario to Sleeping Giants Provincial Park where you'll find over 80 kilometres of scenic hiking trails, biking trails and beaches where you can rent a canoe to get out on the water.

    On the U.S. side, Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park also has a lot to offer active and nature-seeking travellers. In addition to camping and hiking, visitors can enjoy guided boat tours and canoe trips, as well as the chance to check out other park attractions including Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Kettle Falls, Grassy Bay and Anderson Bay.

    If pitching a tent isn't your speed, you can still enjoy the amazing nature and wildlife from the comfort of a lakeside resort. Accessible from nearby Duluth on the U.S. side of Lake Superior, Grand Superior Lodge and Surfside on Superior are two good options for places to rest your head in style.

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    While travelling, I'm always looking to be inspired, get re-energized and experience new things -- this is especially true when I'm on the hunt for the next cocktail trend I can bring home. On a recent trip to Central Europe, I was able to merge my love of mixology with ingredients from around the world.

    Three cities that really stood out for me are Prague, Budapest and Warsaw. Each offered a distinct take on the intersection between culture, cocktails and nightlife -- and each served a different kind of traveller. Below is a mini-guide to the area, with stops at some of my favourite bars as well as a cocktail recipe inspired by each destination -- so you can savour your trip even once you're back.

    For the Off-the-Beaten-Path Traveller

    Throw away your guidebooks -- you won't need one if you're looking for an authentic drinking experience in Prague. The majority of the city's bars seem to pay homage to the Czech Republic's political break from Communism towards a more Western style of mixology. One of my favourite watering holes, Bukowski's, echoes this shift.

    What really stands out in this cozy spot is the impressive list of cocktails and local beers, and, most importantly, the talented bar staff. The owner, a Canadian expat from Vancouver, isn't interested in having his place become just another pub-crawl destination, so you won't find it listed in most travel books. Enjoy sipping in peace! Here's my spin on a drink inspired by the Czech capital:

    2 oz Becherovka
    4oz tonic water
    2 dashes grapefruit bitters
    lemon zest

    For the Nightlife-Loving Traveller

    Budapest is one of Hungary's most popular cities for nightlife due to its romkocsma, or "ruin" pubs. Over the years, these cultural and social drinking hubs have become hot spots for tourists, too. With their bare-bones aesthetic and unique atmosphere, ruin pubs are used to showcase art films and live music from around the world, in addition to serving a great cocktail.

    One of my favourite romkocsma is Szimpla Kert, which is known for attracting large crowds and an international following. The wild décor is matched only by the extensive drinks menu, including artisanal beers, wines and spritzers. Try my ode to a Budapest tipple:

    1oz Flor de Cana
    ½ oz Zwack Unicum
    1oz simple syrup

    For the No-Frills Traveller

    The zakaska bars are a nostalgic nod to the city's Communist-era vodka bars -- and a draw for visitors to Warsaw. Instead of focusing on the glamour of cocktail outposts with long drinks lists, these bars attract people looking for a truly authentic experience, offering a single brand of alcohol and beer.

    My favourite is Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa, a Communist-themed bar known for its old school vibe. The bartender serves one type of Polish vodka -- respect! The eclectic vibe puts the focus on eating and drinking simply -- the true and traditional expression of a dive bar. Here's my Warsaw-inspired Mule:

    1.5oz Bison Grass Vodka
    4oz Ginger Beer
    3oz fresh lime
    2 dashes Angostura Bitters

    Until the end of September, you can catch summer seasonal non-stop flights from Toronto to Prague, Budapest and Warsaw with Air Canada rouge. For more information, visit

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    What comes to mind when when you think of Ottawa?

    Is it a frozen Rideau Canal ripe for ice skating?

    rideau canal skating

    Maybe it's the nightly light shows at Parliament Hill.

    parliament hill light show

    Or perhaps it's this guy.

    justin trudeau ottawa
    Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau applaud during Canada Day performances on Parliament Hill, July 1.

    Well, if you make the trip to Canada's capital and look around, you're bound to see a combination of the three.

    But if you look up, you might discover an experience that'll make you forget about the city's reputation for all things politics.

    Such was the case for "Like A Tourist" host Dan Rodo as he travelled to Camp Fortune, located 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa-Gatineau in Chelsea, Que. to experience zip lining first-hand.

    Check out the video above for yourself to see what you're missing out on.

    Find More Of Canada's Hidden Gems With "Like A Tourist":

    Try Not To Fall In Love With Halifax After Watching This

    Surfing In Montreal? Oui, S'il Vous Plaît!

    It's Time You Got Acquainted With Ottawa's Fun Side

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

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    VANCOUVER - A vast tract of pristine waterfront within British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest has been donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, filling in part of a patchwork of conservation efforts in the prized wilderness.

    Parcels of private land are scattered throughout the Great Bear Rainforest that stretches along B.C.'s central coast and is about the size of Ireland. It accounts for one-quarter of the world's coastal temperate rainforests.

    Only about one-third of the rainforest is fully protected under parks and conservation areas, while nine per cent of the total area is available for logging.

    great bear rainforest rivers inletRivers Inlet in the Great Bear Rainforest. (Photo: Johann Wall/Nature Conservancy of Canada)

    "Ecology doesn't respect who owns the land," Linda Hannah, regional vice president for Nature Conservancy of Canada, said during the announcement on Thursday.

    "To create a larger network of conservation, it's important to look at those pockets of private lands."

    The newly donated private lands along the coast will protect another 185 hectares of ecologically significant old-growth forests and estuaries.

    Three of the parcels were donated to the conservancy by the owner Tony Allard and his family. Hannah said Allard wanted to leave a legacy by preserving the land in its natural state.

    Hannah said the addition will help improve forest management by allowing for research to occur in more areas and determine where conservation efforts need to be focused.

    Whole island will be protected

    One of the donated parcels is located on Spider Island where all of the land, except that property, had been protected as Crown territory.

    Hannah said a provincial program exists that protects wildlife on the marine archipelago but the private parcel was left out.

    With the private land now belonging to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Hannah said the whole island will be protected.

    great bear rainforestThe kermode bear is one of the rarest bears in the world.

    The rainforest is home to a number of endangered or threatened species and supports some of the most dense populations of black and grizzly bears in the province, along with the white kermode or spirit bear.

    Director of conservation, Nancy Newhouse, said private property within the rainforest tends to be located on the highest quality land.

    "The people and the animals are looking for the same values in land so it's typically going to be in valley bottoms, in estuaries, in places that there is good water and good soil," Newhouse said.

    Mixture of public, private protection funding

    The newly conserved parcels include the Gullchucks Estuary, Spider Island, and the Geldala and Kiidiis shores that sit opposite of Rivers Inlet.

    The conservancy says protections on these lands will be funded by a mixture of government and private donors.

    On Monday, Premier Christy Clark announced the Great Bear Rainforest will be endorsed under the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy initiative aimed to conserve forests around the globe.

    The endorsement will be made officially when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the rainforest as part of the Royal Tour later this month.

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    If you've never visited Calgary before, the first few things that come to mind might be mountains, cowboy boots and country music bars.

    Stereotypes aside, Canada's fifth most-populated city has plenty to offer tourists and locals alike. That's especially true for anyone looking to break out of their comfort zone and tap into their adventurous side.

    Enter "Like A Tourist" host Dan Rodo and Calgarian Yeny Lara. Together, the two team up to uncover Calgary's hidden gems that are perfect for any thrill seeker. You can join their adventure in the full episode below.

    Where To Go: Skyline Luge Calgary

    88 Canada Olympic Rd. S.W., Calgary, Alta.

    If you've got a need for speed in Calgary then you don't go go-karting, you go luging. Make your way to Calgary's Canada Olympic Park where Skyline Luge has repurposed part of the venue from the '88 Winter Olympics. The ski lifts are still there but now concrete tracks snake down the mountainside for you to challenge your friends to a race.

    skyline luge calgary like a tourist

    What To Do: Rage Yoga

    Dickens Pub, 1000 9 Ave. S.W., Calgary, Alta.

    Yoga doesn't sound very adventurous, does it? Well, throw in some heavy metal, a few pints and a heathy number of "f*ck yeahs" and now we're talking! Rage Yoga at Dickens Pub ditches the quiet background music and scented candles for sessions that involve yelling and swearing in the pursuit of zen. Sessions happen twice a week and class sizes run between five to 15 people.

    rage yoga like a tourist

    What To Eat: Native Tongues Taqueria

    235 12 Ave. S.W., Calgary, Alta.

    Street luging has your adrenaline pumping. Rage yoga has you zen as f*ck. It's time to refuel but that doesn't mean the adventure has to stop. Make your way to Native Tongues Taqueria for small snacks like octopus tostadas or a platter of beef tongue tacos if you're feeling hungry. The upscale taco joint has earned accolades for making their corn-flour tortillas from scratch and a wide selection of Mexican spirits if you're ready to call it a day with a drink.

    native tongues taqueria

    "Like A Tourist" takes on Calgary:

    Find More Of Canada's Hidden Gems With "Like A Tourist":

    Try Not To Fall In Love With Halifax After Watching This

    Surfing In Montreal? Oui, S'il Vous Plaît!

    It's Time You Got Acquainted With Ottawa's Fun Side

    With files from Sarah Rieger

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    We've all heard of the 7 Wonders of the World. And the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. And the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

    Sadly, Canada is represented in these famous lists only by the Northern Lights, which Greenland expects us to share.

    So I was a little excited to come across an article on the 7 Natural Wonders of Canada. Those are:

    • Niagara Falls (Ontario)

    • Joffre Lakes (BC)

    • Northern Lights

    • Lake Louise (Alberta)

    • Maligne Lake (Alberta)

    • Singing Sand (PEI)

    • Hopewell Rocks (NB)

    Hmm. While these are all amazing places, they lack one important feature -- places I have actually been. They also lack my field of sunflowers, which I assume did not qualify because it blooms for just three or four weeks a year.

    Huffington Post published a list of 8 Great Natural Wonders of Canada a few years ago, which is a somewhat different list:

    • Haida G'wai (BC)

    • Fossil Forests on Ellesmere Island (Nunavut)

    • Niagara Falls (Ontario)

    • Northern Lights

    • Singing Sands (PEI)

    • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (Alberta)

    • Bay of Fundy (NB)

    • Manicouagan Crater (Quebec)

    Not to be outdone, Canadians actually voted for their top 7 Wonders of Canada, which turned out to be:

    • Sleeping Giant (Ontario)

    • Niagara Falls (Ontario)

    • Bay of Fundy (NB)

    • Nahanni National Park Reserve (NWT)

    • Northern Lights

    • The Canadian Rockies

    • Cabot Trail (NS)

    I like this list better, as it includes four places I have been or seen -- even if my field of sunflowers is still missing. Three places show up in all three lists -- Niagara Falls, Bay of Fundy and the Northern Lights -- but the lists are otherwise fairly unique.

    These are all amazing places, which you can take me to anytime you like. I am a little surprised that the Alberta badlands aren't on any of the lists. I am even more surprised that the Percé Rock is not on any of them, given that it is as iconic a natural image of Canada as Niagara Falls.

    My contribution to the lists of natural wonders will be 7 Natural Wonders of Canada that I Have Actually Seen. This is a far more important collection, right? The fun thing about a list like this is that you can make your own. So feel free to leave your list in the comments below. Here's mine:

    Flowerpot Island, near Tobermory on the Bruce Penninsula, in Ontario. Not so famous as its cousin on the Bay of Fundy, but you'll have to agree that it's pretty cool. Maybe even cooler than the Bay of Fundy. And such blue water!


    Capilano Canyon is so close to Vancouver that it is accessible to all. So much so, in fact, that I painted and drew a view of it four times.


    Ironically, as I was searching for lists, a Google Ad for BC Tourism, featuring the Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge, stalked me from site to site. The bridge is fun to cross, because it is wobbly. Some people are afraid to walk across, because they don't like foot bridges that sway with every step. I dare you to run across!

    Bird Island is nothing special, just a very rugged crop of rock jutting up from the water. But the birds on Bird Island sure are special. I was able to check one thing off my bucket list by taking a boat tour from near Sydney (Cape Breton Island) to this island. I saw puffins in the wild. Thousands of Puffins, in fact, popping in and out of their caves in the rock face. We also saw grey seals (not popping in and out of caves), cormorants and black herons strutting atop the rocks, and bald eagles flying overhead.

    Lusk Cavern, near Gatineau, Quebec, is to blame for me knowing the word "spelunking". The cavern is a pathway for a stream, and is divided in two, with a huge open-air gap between the two segments. The first half of the cavern can be walked through with natural light most of the way. In some spots, the water is only ankle deep. In other spots, be prepared to get wet.

    The second half of the cavern is completely dark. You can't see what you are doing as you climb down the underground waterfall. In the spring, when the water is high, you have to swim underwater to pass through one of the pools.

    The Niagara Whirlpool is just downstream from the more famous Falls. It's not really part of the Falls, though, as it is 6 km away. So much water whirls in a circle as the flow takes a tight bend in the Niagara River.


    Red sand and red earth. If you live in PEI, you might wonder, "What's the wonder?" However, any place where sand is other than a dull grey-beige is pretty amazing to us mainlanders. Red, blue, purple - whatever colour. And the sand and earth in PEI are an amazing hue of red.

    High Falls is a natural water slide near Achray, in Algonquin Park (Ontario). People, this is fun!

    Well, that's seven, and I didn't even mention Elora Gorge or the local rock family. Or my sunflower field. Never mind, by the time you make plans to visit, the flowers will be gone. So I will leave you with a couple pictures to enjoy.



    Photo credits:

    Flowerpot Island: (Wikepedia)

    Capilano Canyon: (David Leonhardt)

    Niagara Whirlpool: (Wikipedia)

    Sunflowers: (David Leonhardt)

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    Australia isn't a stranger to tourists, but it's small towns are. Many travelers have seen the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne's Brighton Beach, the Wheel of Brisbane, and the city center of Perth. However, few have met the friendly faces Dalwallinu, Western Australia, or dined at a genuine Outback hotel in Cunnamulla.

    The people at Queensland-based travel agency Discount My Flights Australia have carefully constructed a list of the top 50 small towns in their home country. Their goal is to encourage travelers to taste their country's best hole-in-the-wall restaurants, roam beaches with nobody on them, and meet the down-to-earth people that make the Land Down Under so special.

    There's no doubt that if you visit one of these four small towns from their list, you'll return home with a never-ending love for "Oz."

    Cunnamulla, Queensland

    Cunnamulla lies roughly 750 kilometres west of Brisbane, so it's no surprise that few tourists make the journey. However, those who do will be wowed by the small Outback town, offering slow-paced living among some of Australia's most stunning and untouched natural beauty. Whether head into the Outback on a multi-day tour, go sandboarding, or discover the town's historic hotels, Cunnamulla is a place where you can truly experience the genuine hospitality of the Australian Outback. Don't forget to dine at some of the local hotels, like the Warrego Hotel Motel Cunnamulla, for cheap and traditional home-cooked meals.

    Stanley, Tasmania

    Photo credit: a_terracini

    You don't have to head to the jam-packed Bondi, Byron Bay, or Noosa beaches to get on the sand in Australia. The entire country is surrounded by coastline, and many of the most picturesque beaches go unseen -- the town of Stanley, Tasmania, is home to some of them. This town carefully meshes quaint country living with 15 historic downtown attractions, quaint shops, locally-famous cafes, and award-winning beaches within walking distance. Don't forget to visit the town's famous "Nut," a natural rock formation that offers 360-degree views of the land and sea.

    Hahndorf, South Australia

    The name "Hahndorf" may sound more German than Australian, and that's because it is. Hahndorf is the oldest German settlement in Australia, offering rich heritage, family-owned shops and restaurants, and some of the most unique architecture in the country. Hahndorf's tree-lined and heritage-listed main street makes walking through town, shopping at boutiques and refueling at cafes, one of the many must-do activities. The village of Hahndorf is just a short 30-minute drive southeast of Adelaide, making it an easy day trip for travelers seeking history and European charm with a big dose of Australian hospitality.

    Narooma, New South Wales

    Photo credit: Ian Armstrong

    Rent a seaside cabin in Narooma, and you'll probably feel like you've died and gone to heaven. This seaside community on the southern coast of New South Wales offers turquoise ocean waters, surfing beaches, whale watching, mouthwatering seafood restaurants, and everything you could want out of a relaxing beach escape. Every visitor should take the time to venture out to Montague Island, just 7 kilometers off the shore of Narooma, to snap photos, watch wildlife, and take in the views from atop the Montague Island Light.

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    The Canadian Rockies are a favourite summer and winter destination for travellers around the world. But many are missing out on the more mellow fall months, when crowds are thin, temperatures are just right, and the scenery is arguably more photogenic than any other time of year.

    From the fall colours on the golden larches to mountain vistas without another soul in sight, these are four reasons why you have to head to the Canadian Rockies this fall.

    You're Guaranteed to Find a Deal

    Photo credit: Wilson Hui

    Travel to the snow-capped peaks of the jagged Canadian Rockies between mid-September and mid-October, and you'll find cheaper airfare, lower accommodation prices, and special off-season deals on everything from craft beers to horseback tours. If you've ever visited Banff or Jasper in the summer months, you'll be wowed by how much the prices drop when the kids head back to school.

    The Trails Are Practically Empty

    The Canadian Rockies are for hiking. Mountain trails wind throughout Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper, Canmore and other favourite Rocky Mountain towns, making it easy to hop on a trail seconds from your hotel. Thrill-seeking hikers can venture on the 13-mile-long hike to picture perfect Berg Lake in British Columbia's Mount Robson Provincial Park or stop at the countless photo-worthy viewpoints along the Lake O'Hara alpine circuit loop in Yoho National Park.

    The Canadian Rocky Mountains are known for their snowy summits, emerald glacial lakes, and thick evergreen forests that weave through the peaks for miles. Fall is one of few times of year when you can marvel at the scenery without feeling fellow tourists on your heels.

    The Fall Colours Are a Different Kind of Cool

    Photo credit: Kat Lovasi

    You won't find the fiery maples of Ontario in this neck of the woods, but you will be wowed by the contrast between the blazing yellows of the golden larches and the evergreen forests that back them. Even better, you can discover the unforgettable golds and greens of fall in the Canadian Rockies by horseback, canoe, mountain bike, or foot. Avid leaf peepers will want to pay a little extra to hop aboard the Royal Banff Dinner Train to dine on seasonal eats while snapping photos of the foliage from aboard a luxurious Royal Canadian Pacific train.

    Rocky Mountain Towns Come to Life

    Fall isn't for sitting indoors and waiting for summer to return. There's no better way to embrace the season than at the anticipated fall festivals taking place across the Rockies. The Lake Louise Wonderfall festival, from Sept. 5 to Oct. 12, will feature a long list of guided hikes, bikes, and horseback rides for locals and visitors.

    The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is another must-visit fall event for anyone who loves being outdoors on crisp fall evenings in the mountains. Jasper is home to the largest accessible Dark Sky preserve in the world, and the festival's workshops, photography sessions, and activities for adults and kids are guaranteed to spark a new interest in astronomy this autumn. Whether you're in search of an action-packed adventure or soothing scenery, there's no better place to be than among the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains this fall.

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    Bilbo Baggins is probably the last person you would expect to rent out his home on Airbnb.

    But someone has to tend the place while he's off fighting dragons, right?

    A tiny home built at the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state has been designed to look just like the house Bilbo had in "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

    And now you can rent the "Tiny House in the Shire" through Airbnb for $264 per night!

    The home is the brainchild of Kristie Wolfe, an Idaho-based entrepreneur who adores J.R.R. Tolkien's work, Business Insider reported.

    hobbit house
    Kristie Wolfe, the host of "Tiny House in the Shire." (Photo: Airbnb)

    The house is located about three kilometres up a mountainside, where your neighbours include "deer, rabbits, birds and grouse," the Airbnb listing said.

    Inside, you'll find a queen-sized bed nestled in a 288-sq.-ft. dwelling that was lifted right out of the movies. It has a circular door and rounded ceilings, as well as a fireplace perfect for relaxing with a bit of pipe-weed.

    hobbit house

    Wolfe bought the 5.5-acre property for $18,000 before she built the home there, according to Business Insider.

    She got an excavator and dug a cave into the mountainside, where she built the home using reclaimed wood.

    Wolfe's other work includes a Hawaiian treehouse she created for $11,000.

    It, too, looks like something straight out of a fantasy novel:

    hawaii treehouse

    Check out more photos of the "Hobbit House":

    (Watch the video embedded above)

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    Lindsay Istace is giving the middle finger to everything you think you know about yoga, meditation and the pursuit of zen.

    And she wants anyone else looking to flip the bird to join her through rage yoga.

    "I love swearing, I love drinking, why don’t I start my own yoga thing called 'rage yoga'?" Istace said.

    The 24-year-old founder of the practice eschews the peaceful music and bright yoga studios for a bar in downtown Calgary, chock full of heavy metal music and swearing.

    Not the typical image of mindfulness most would expect — including "Like A Tourist" host Dan Rodo and Calgarian Yeny Lara.

    The two were on the pursuit of hidden gems across the city and decided to meet up with Istace at Dickens Pub.

    To see the art in practice, check out the video above. And for more of cool things to do in Calgary, head here.

    Find More Of Canada's Hidden Gems With "Like A Tourist":

    St. John's, You're An Absolute Beauty

    Let Calgary Bring Out Your Adventurous Side

    Try Not To Fall In Love With Toronto After Watching This

    With files from Sarah Rieger

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    The back-to-school blues is real. As summer fades away, hectic schedules, cooler temperatures and limited getaway time take over. But not everything about fall needs to be a bummer, and Torontonians know that. Hogtown is known for its long list of fall festivals and events that bring music, films, art, craft beers, and delicious eats to the downtown streets. These five fall events are ones you don't want to miss across the Queen City this autumn.

    Toronto International Film Festival

    The Toronto International Film Festival, also known as TIFF, will take place for 10 full days this September. Downtown Toronto will come to life for the world's largest public film festival, featuring more than 300 films screened from Sept. 8 through 18. Everyone from film buffs to everyday viewers can enjoy the festival's world premiers, galas, and red carpet experience. If you're into movies and schmoozing with celebs, there's no better place to be than TIFF this September.

    Small World Music Festival

    Photo credit: jack wickes

    Toronto is full of fall festivals that don't just come and go in a weekend. The Small World Music Festival is another 10-day-long festival that will take place from Sept. 15 through 25, for its 15th anniversary. Small World brings music from Spain, Estonia, Palestine, Ethiopia, Cuba, Mali, Korea and more to Toronto's favourite venues. Listen, dance, admire, and learn about the effects of music on some of the world's most unique locations and cultures.

    Toronto Oktoberfest

    One of the best things about fall is the craft beer. You can forget about your beach body and sip Bavarian suds for an entire weekend at the esteemed Toronto Oktoberfest. This year's festival will take place on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and will feature authentic Bavarian food, singing, dancing, polka bands, and more German and European beers than you'll be able to try in a single visit. Pack your lederhosen and dirndls and head to Ontario Place to join roughly 5,000 other attendees at one of the best renditions of the original Munich event.

    Nuit Blanche

    Photo credit: paul bica

    Head straight from Oktoberfest to Nuit Blanche. Meaning, "A sleepless night," Nuit Blanche is an event that happens across the globe on the first Saturday in October. Some of the world's favourite cities, including Toronto, are taken over by contemporary art projects that fill the downtown streets from sunset to sunrise. Stroll through the streets and parks as they're transformed into innovative art displays that have been an entire year in the making. More than 300 local and international artists will be displaying 80 contemporary art pieces at this year's event, which is always free and open to the public.


    The JFL42 (presented by Air Canada) gives you a reason to laugh this fall. As Toronto's signature comedy festival, the JFL42 presents 10 days of comedy shows starring the world's funniest comedians. The festival has hosted some of the biggest names in laughter, including Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Lena Dunham, and Family Guy Live, and will showcase Jim Gaffigan, Trevor Noah, Roseanne Barr, and Chris D'Elia this year. However, it's some of the 42 lesser known comedians that steal the show and make their way as up-and-coming greats at this iconic comedy festival. Check out the complete schedule for events taking place from Sept. 22 through Oct. 1, at

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    Whether you're a seasoned globetrotter, or earning your wings as a first time flyer, chances are you want to make the most of your travels. Bringing along a good book, packing a favourite pillow or preparing a travel playlist are all good ways to keep your sanity when roaming the world.

    There's always a chance, however, that you'll have to layover somewhere (and you're going to hate it).
    So, as travelers attempt to fly further for cheaper, the chance they'll experience diverted routes, layovers and delays becomes more likely. To combat these woes, and in celebration of the upcoming travelcuts Film Fest, we have prepared our top tips to make the most of your layover.

    Short Layovers (1-4 hours)
    Make the most of it, because with these tips, your layover will fly by.

    Rest, recharge and connect

    Photo credit:

    Perhaps the most obvious way to make the most of your layover in 2016: charge your devices and connect to airport wifi. A great way to review your digital itinerary, plan a route at your next destination or catch up on emails before you're 30,000ft in the air. Making the most of a few hours of delayed travel is pivotal.

    Prioritize any work you might need to do by asking yourself "What is the last thing I want to think about on this trip?" Whatever it is, confront it during your layover so you won't have to once you reach your accommodation.

    Old School Correspondence

    Photo Credit:

    Chances are you have someone in your life who still writes letters, and if not, most of us love getting mail. Grab a couple postcards from wherever you find yourself, or borrow some stationary from an airport kiosk, and take this opportunity to do something thoughtful for a loved one.

    Even if you don't know the mailing address for your aunt or your old college roommate, there's nothing stopping you from killing time writing a handwritten note musing on airline uniforms or your travels.

    Body Break

    Photo Credit:

    Don't roll your eyes. While people go on vacation to get away from the grind of their workouts, it's still important to be mindful of your mobility while on the move. Once the shock of a long layover wears off, it's time to get comfortable: remove your shoes, find a quiet, carpeted corner of the airport and have a stretch or meditate.

    Be careful not to go overboard. Think of the beginning and very end of a yoga class, and break out any low-impact moves you're comfortable doing in public. Engage yourself physically for 20-30 minutes, even if it means sitting in a prone position on the floor, then re-evaluate how you feel.

    Substantial Layovers (5-12 hours)
    This is where things get hairy: travelers get to brag about an ungodly amount of time spent in an airport, but can stay sane with these tips.

    Know Your Boundaries

    Photo Credit:

    ...and break them! If you have the means, take a taxi or city transportation out of the airport, in to the downtown center and prepare to make it back for your next flight. Ask anyone from that locale for restaurant, shopping or sight-seeing recommendations.
    Before you know it, you've spent your layover adding another city to your trip, even if just to window shop, grab a bite or people watch from a park bench.

    Explore the Whole Airport

    Photo Credit:

    Unless you're Rose from Titanic and travel with a trunk the size of a single bed, roll your luggage around with you as you check out every corner of your airport terminal. It's too easy to slump down in an empty row of seats and wait around for three hours. Plus, how many times have you settled for McDonalds when a trendy restaurant loomed around the corner?

    Before sitting on an airplane for any duration of time, it's good to get some light exercise. So, if you haven't opted for heels, or you're not wearing formal attire on your flight, take a stroll to explore, get some light cardio in and get your bearings in your new temporary home.

    "Lifelong" Layovers (roughly 24 hours)
    You don't have a lease agreement, but this airport is in effect your new home.

    Get Creative and Document the Day

    Photo Credit:

    Since we left off "napping" as a tip to battle short-term layovers, we won't suggest you find a hotel and hibernate for a multi-day layover. Instead, make it a layover to remember.

    This is your ultimate chance to turn a negative in to a positive, so put your director's cap on, leave the airport and head to the nearest city to uncover its most interesting locations. Record all the people, sights and sounds you come across. Just because you're not working with a big budget doesn't mean your film won't end up critically acclaimed by audiences.

    See if other travellers used their layovers to create a film for this year's travelcuts FilmFest and find out who takes home the grand prize.

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    An international banking authority that flashes early warning signs for financial crises has sounded an alarm for Canada.

    That's because one of the country's debt measures now exceeds that of several countries.

    The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) found that Canada has a credit-to-GDP gap of 12.1 per cent in its September quarterly report.

    It trailed only China, which had a gap of 30.1 per cent.

    domestic banking

    The "credit-to-GDP gap" measures how much the private non-financial sector has borrowed in given countries vs. the sizes of their economies.

    The comparison is considered a "useful early warning indicator of financial crises."

    The BIS monitors 43 economies in total. And Canada's gap of 12.1 per cent looms large among them.

    That number is down slightly from the March quarterly review, when the nation's credit-to-GDP gap was 12.3 per cent. However, as it's more than 10 per cent, BIS still considers the Great White North's credit worrisome.

    "Credit growth continues to be unusually high relative to GDP in several Asian economies as well as in Canada," the latest review said.

    parliament hill

    The BIS also has concerns about Canada's debt service ratio (DSR), which shows how much income is used to pay down debt.

    Canada had a DSR of 2.8 per cent. But, that ratio would shoot to 6.9 per cent if interest rates were to rise by 250 basis points.

    That puts the country in worrying territory alongside only Brazil, China, and Turkey.

    Just another bad sign

    The BIS report is just the latest in a number of nervous signals for Canadian debt.

    Statistics Canada said last week that the ratio of Canadian household debt to disposable income has reached 167.6 per cent — the highest it's ever been.

    household debt

    That means that, on a nominal basis, Canadians' household debt is actually bigger than the country's economy.

    Total household credit market debt — which includes consumer debt and mortgages — was just over $1.9 trillion at the second quarter's close. Mortgages accounted for $1.2 trillion of that figure, while consumer debt made up $585.8 billion.

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    It's no secret the East Coast is known for seafood.

    Whether it's lobster from Alma, N.B., fresh mussels from P.E.I. or some old-fashioned fish and chips from Dartmouth, N.S., you're in for a treat.

    If you're looking for something that's still local but a little on the wild side, you'd best roll up your sleeves and make your way to St. John's.

    That's where you'll find "Like A Tourist" host Dan Rodo alongside Cod Sounds Culinary Adventures as they forage for wild greens like beach pea flowers.

    Now, no one has ever gotten full off a plate of flowers, but watch what happens in the video above when they're paired with some foraged scallops or sea urchins. Just try not to drool.

    Find More Of Canada's Hidden Gems With "Like A Tourist":

    St. John's, You're An Absolute Beauty

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    At first thought, a fusion of Japanese and Italian dishes might seem odd. For Francesco Apreda, however, the melding of these two cuisines came across as a natural progression. Apreda spent years in Japan learning about that nation's flavours and cooking techniques. When he returned to Rome, he applied what he had learned to his native cuisine, and the results are marvellous.

    At Imago, whose name translates to "magician" or "magic," Apreda sublimely blends textures and flavours of the far east with Italian ingredients. Perhaps the best example of his unique cuisine is a fava bean soup that tastes like miso soup but with a flavourful nuttiness. His reliance on exceptional ingredients and his ambition to create worldly flavours in one of the planet's great food and cultural cities is what makes dining at Imago a distinct experience.

    A quail's egg is breaded and fried and appears like a bird's nest when presented on a canape block. Sfogliatella, a classic Italian pastry, is made to resemble a samosa and served with green tea ice cream, further evoking the Asian theme of Apreda's food. Other menu items that showcase Apreda's mix of Japan and Italy include sake-glazed black cod, rigatoni with shies pesto, soy vermicelli, and a delicious octopus dish served with seaweed.

    Read About Rome's Hotel Canada on

    In a city where it's difficult to have a bad meal, Apreda elevates Rome beyond its culinary roots and deserves the accolades he's received. Imago has earned a Michelin star and distinction as one of the Italian capital's most elite and elegant dining rooms. Its service is incredible -- one waiter who fillets a hen tableside tells me he practices the task at home because "I love my job so much" -- and the setting couldn't be more opulent.

    The restaurant is on the sixth floor of the Hassler Hotel, one of Europe's most highly acclaimed properties. Adjacent to the top of the Spanish Steps, the Hassler provides a dazzling view of the city. At Imago, guests can gaze out to the sweeping view of the city and the stunning sunsets over the ancient landmarks. While dining on such contemporary flavours, you will realize Rome's present is just as brilliant as its past.

    Location: Piazza Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187 Rome, Italy
    Menu Price Range: For pasta dishes and main courses, the range is 32-65 euro ($46-$95 CAD); the chef's classic 10-course tasting menu is the recommended choice and it costs 150 euro ($215 CAD).

    More Places to Dine in Rome

    Osteria Pesce Fritto e Baccala: You'll want to glimpse how the citizens here live. San Lorenzo is the place to do that. This district just beyond the walls of the ancient aqueduct features loads of good, inexpensive dining options. The best I found was Osteria Pesce Fritto e Baccala, where you can dine along the cobblestone streets of Via dei Falisci. Order cuttlefish pasta, mussels and prawns, and enjoy with a glass of red wine -- all for less than 15 euro ($21 CAD).

    Location: Largo dei Falisci, 4, 00185 Rome, Italy
    Menu Price Range: Most items are less than 15 euro and a half carafe of good wine is about 4 euro ($5.80 CAD).

    Canova: A classic Italian cafe, Canova is in a terrific location next to Piazza del Popolo, a large square near the city's northern gate and not far from the Tiber River. Canova is in a touristy spot, so prices are higher than in San Lorenzo. Pizzas will cost you about 12-15 euro ($17-$21 CAD). But you must have a coffee here. Canova's blends are smooth and easy to enjoy in the morning sunshine on a Rome patio. A cappuccino costs 5 euro ($7.25 CAD)

    Location: Piazza del Popolo, 16-17, 00187 Rome, Italy
    Menu Price Range: Most pizza and pasta dishes cost between 12-25 euro ($17-$36 CAD)

    Verde Pistachio: No stay in Rome is complete without lots of gelato. An ice cream shop with a popular food truck, Verde Pistachio has a brick-and-mortar outlet on Via Nazionale. For 2.50 euro ($4 CAD), you can have a cone or cup with three scoops of up to three flavours. Try the pistachio -- it tastes like peanut butter.

    Location: Via Nazionale, 239, 00184 Rome, Italy
    Menu Price Range: Gelato services for 2.50-5 euro ($4-$8 CAD), plus a range of smoothies, crepes and biscotti each for less than 10 euro ($16 CAD).

    Getting to Rome

    Canadians who opt to book their plane trip on Air Transat will depart with direct flights from Montreal or Toronto -- I connected there from Vancouver and took advantage of the upgrade to the Option Plus level.

    This Air Transat option (starting at $59.50 per person, one way; $99 round trip) provides two checked bags as well as a complimentary meal, snacks, small welcome bottle of Prosecco, and an additional alcoholic beverage. It also offers early on-boarding and comfortable seating close to the front of the plane. Once you complete the approximately nine-hour journey to Rome's Fiumicino Airport, you can pick up your rental car, or use public transit, Uber or a taxi to your destination. I had a poor and costly experience with a taxi driver and stuck to Uber and public transit for the rest of my trip in Italy.

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    Each day, thousands of Canadian travellers descend to the Los Angeles International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the world, and third busiest in the United States, before embarking on the next leg of their journey. Layovers don't necessarily mean endless hours of waiting and mindlessly flipping the same magazine over and over again. In fact, a layover can mean an extra fun pit stop to your vacation, depending on how many hours you have.

    We have put together our top recommendations if you find yourself landing in LAX for two hours or more, the hardest part about this layover will be saying goodbye and boarding the next flight to your final destination.

    Two- to Three-Hour Layover

    With two to three hours to spare, why not go on a culinary tour around the terminals at LAX? Inside the soon-to-be renovated terminal two, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse offers dishes from L.A.-based restaurant Hinoki and the Bird, known for its clean and healthy California cooking, specialty cocktails and fresh juices. Over at terminal four, try the Mexican creations at Border Grill, a restaurant inspired by famed Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Experience L.A.'s celebrity chefs just steps off the plane with ink.sack a creation by Top Chef winner, Michael Voltaggio.

    Four- to Six-Hour Layover
    Eager to put those toes in the sand? Some of L.A.'s best beaches are only a quick drive away from LAX, perfect if you want to soak up some sun before your next flight.

    South Bay (five miles from LAX):
    Known for its surfing waves, Manhattan Beach is regarded as the birthplace of beach volleyball. Explore the area via a self-guided walking tour itinerary, grab a cocktail at the Shade Hotel's Zinc@Shade or enjoy a meal at the stunning oceanfront restaurant, the Strand House.

    Manhattan Beach Pier | Photo courtesy of Discover LA

    Marina del Rey (10 miles from LAX):
    This seaside community is one of the largest constructed small boat harbours in the world. Visitors can stroll through the quaint Fisherman's Village along the Marina or bike on the Marvin Braude coastal bike trail. For those who have some extra time, enjoy a sunset dining cruise aboard a Hornblower Cruise luxury yacht.

    Venice Beach (10 miles from LAX):
    Famous for its street art, boardwalk and creative California cuisine, this beach should be at the top of your must-visit list if you are stopping over in LAX for over four hours. Those seeking uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean should head to the High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin where they can enjoy a refreshing drink overlooking the horizon.

    Santa Monica (15 miles from LAX):
    This trendy waterfront has been named one of the Top 10 Beach Cities in the World by National Geographic. The iconic Santa Monica Pier is a must-see, with an amusement park, Ferris wheel and the Looff Hippodrome. The area also boasts the sleek outdoor Santa Monica Place and quaint boutiques along Main Street and Third Street Promenade.

    Eight Hours or More

    For travellers with layovers longer than eight hours, take advantage of Los Angeles's ever-improving public transit system. Take a car-free journey via the FlyAway bus service, which provides frequent non-stop transportation between LAX and locations throughout the city.

    Downtown Los Angeles:
    Get dropped off at Union Station and head straight to the historic Olvera Street, home to authentic Mexican restaurants, the new Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, street vendors and much more. Venture out a bit further and you'll find the city's newest contemporary art museum, the Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and of course L.A.'s sports and entertainment district, the L.A. Live.

    Downtown LA | Photo courtesy of Discover LA

    For the hip and creative types, L.A.'s Arts District is a where you'll want to be. The area is filled with breweries, art murals and independent coffee shops and boutiques. Finally, enjoy the California views at the tallest open-air observation deck at OUE Skyspace LA or head to one of the many rooftop bars at either the Standard, Ace Hotel or Perch.

    Perhaps the most famous district in L.A., this is a must-see for any first-time visitors. As the hub of the American film industry, you'll find several movie studios and theatres including the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX and Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards. Take pictures of the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then walk over to Madame Tussaud's wax showcase of celebrities. In the mood for a quick bite? New restaurant options in Hollywood include Paley., located at Columbia Square, the birthplace of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the meat-centric Gwen by Chef Curtis Stone. Or, stick to tradition with Musso & Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood known for its killer martinis.

    Overnight Layovers

    For layovers that creep into the wee hours of the night, there are many cozy hotel options by the airport such as the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles. The hotel recently completed its second phase of multi-million-dollar renovation with sophisticated upgrades to their 802 guestrooms and suites as well as the hotel lobby area and Sheraton Club. Travellers who upgrade to the Sheraton Club have access to the lounge 24/7 and are provided with complimentary continental breakfast, evening hors d'oeuvres and panoramic views of LAX.

    Sheraton LAX | Photo courtesy of

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    Some people relax with yoga. Others pursue meditation. And then there are those who need to smash a few items and call it a day.

    If you're part of the latter, you'll want to make your way to Toronto's Rage Room.

    The facility is part of Battle Sports, an indoor archery tag range that also lets customers wail on inanimate objects with a baseball bat.

    Things start off with a protective suit and a set of dinner plates for $20. Customers wishing to wreck vengeance on that god-foresaken printer a la "Office Space" can do that too for a little extra.

    via GIPHY

    Rage Room co-founder Tim Cheung says it's perfect for anyone in the city feeling a little high-strung.

    "We thought it was a good idea for Toronto because it is such a high-stress city," Cheung tells the Huffington Post Canada. "Everyone so far loves the experience and are satisfied to the extent that they feel relaxed."

    Still not sold? Well, you can watch from the eyes of "Like A Tourist" host Dan Rodo and see how the experience all (literally) breaks down.

    Find More Of Canada's Hidden Gems With "Like A Tourist":

    St. John's, You're An Absolute Beauty

    Let Calgary Bring Out Your Adventurous Side

    Try Not To Fall In Love With Toronto After Watching This

    With files from Arti Patel

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