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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    For most North Americans, thinking about a trip to New Zealand might be the mental equivalent of envisioning yourself on the moon. First, depending on the departure hub, there's 20-odd hours of flying to endure. And when the cost of getting there amounts to what one might spend for an entire week (maybe two) in Mexico, well...

    This is not to dissuade you, dear reader, but rather open up your mind to what New Zealand can offer on the ground. Where else can you get up close to a Hobbit hole (we'll go there in Part 3), after all?

    Here are my highlights that should help balance the budget, while allowing intrepid travelers to roll like a Royal here and there.



    The "Adventure Capital" is a bit of what you might call "a bubble" in terms of prices. Probably the highest in the land for hotels, eating out, and entertainment. Heck, their largest hostel is even upscale. Nomads -- occupying a retrofitted building that was originally planned for office space -- is, as far as my experience goes with hostels, superior in that the rooms and common areas are larger and much more modern. The top floor is reserved for private rooms, which is what we booked and were pleasantly surprised at how quiet our stay was, despite the masses of barely-out-of-their-teens backpackers checking in. Rates are reasonable, and the location can't be beat with the waterfront -- packed with all the cafes, pubs and restaurants -- just a skip away. Makes for a free and easy walk back to homebase after an indulgent night out. Nomads also has a sister property in downtown Auckland.

    Now that you've got a room, let's eat!
    Madame Woo -- For Chinese and Malay style street food served on sharing plates, and fun cocktails. Try a Ginger Mojito and the Tea Smoked Salmon Salad.
    Public Kitchen & Bar -- This newcomer to the wharf boasts an outdoor terrace that's closest to the lake. Stop in for bar snacks (smoked cod croquettes), lunch (big bowl of steamed green lip mussels and clams) or dinner (half roasted duck). Everything is locally sourced and almost all meats are free-range.
    Sasso -- A relaxed fine dining setting makes this one great for a date. Super staff. Open kitchen serving pastas (really enjoyed my risotto), pizzas and other savoury secondi.
    @ Thai -- For a quick and satisfying nosh that's (sort of) cheap, head directly across the street from Nomads.
    Walnut Cottage Café -- run by my good friends Rick and Dini, this place is a must-stop on the way to or from Arrowtown. Go for breakfast or brunch and order farm fresh eggs on gluten-free toast. The best deal in the sweetest, coziest environment about 20 minutes from Queenstown.

    Continued after slideshow

    Vudu Cafe -- Be very careful you don't fall under their spell because you will spend a mint eating breakfast and lunch here every day. I started most mornings with a post-run fresh pressed juice (Immune Boost or Coronet Cleanse) and a Bliss Ball. Love the Quinoa, Spinach and Lemon Salad that comes with a massive chickpea fritter. That dish is gluten-free, as are many of the sweets. Plus they have an addictive carrot cake (not gluten-free).


    Amisfield -- The Royals ate here on their recent NZ tour...So there's that, but the real star is the Pinot Noir. Do like the Duke and Duchess and pop by for a tasting and sample a few small bites (or go big with the Trust the Chef menu) in the award-winning bistro.


    Stoneridge Estate -- My brother's wedding was the reason for my trip to NZ and, with it's sweeping views of Lake Hayes, it provided a charmed backdrop for the ceremony and celebration. If you are a fan of The Bachelor then you've seen this place before (Season 13!). Stop in for a late afternoon tasting of their best whites and reds and, if it's a chilly day, you may be sipping fireside. #bliss


    Up next ...Christchurch, Wellington and Matamata.

    Photos of the Royal Couple courtesy of Amisfield. For more photos of New Zealand and beyond, check out @freshpresse on Instagram.

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    (Relaxnews) - Disney has put the final touches on the ride it's billing as the crowning jewel of New Fantasyland in Orlando, a ride that will take guests on a twisty, scenic roller coaster ride through a gemstone-studded mine and by the hearth of the quaint dwarf cottage.

    The completion of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train also marks the completion of New Fantasyland, the largest expansion for Magic Kingdom.

    Set to open May 28, the attraction features cars that swing back and forth over twists and turns to enhance the rider experience, the first technology of its kind.

    After entering a mine filled with glittering gemstones and meeting the seven dwarfs who, of course, are seen whistling as they work, the ride passes by the woodland cottage where Snow White is a cursory presence, seen through the window dancing.

    The ride gets a thumbs up by Theme Park Review for being a “family coaster” and received praise for the animatronics used to create expressive characters.

    Take a virtual ride with Theme Park Review at

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    Janne Kyttanen may have found a way to take the "lug" out of luggage.

    The Finnish designer specializing in 3D-printing currently has a line of clothes and accessories that don't need to be carried around while travelling. Instead, Kyttanen wants you to print them out.

    The idea is to have travellers' baggage broken down not into items or materials, but lines of code. Much like how you'd send a document or photo over the web to print remotely, Kyttanen wants travellers take the concept to the next level by printing their baggage after they've arrive at their destination.

    "What if luggage was obsolete? How would this change our perception of travel? Send your luggage in an email. Travel the world unencumbered and arrive to find your luggage waiting for you," Kyttanen says in his video.

    So far Kyttanen's collection, entitled "Lost Luggage", features a Le69 Handbag, a four-in-one dress, a pair of shoes, and accessories such as the St. Tropez Cuff, driving gloves and sunglasses, according to PSFK.

    3dprinted luggage

    While the items are skewed towards the female traveller, the potential is enough for travellers of any gender to get excited. For starters, checked baggage fees would be one less thing to worry about. Second, it'd give travellers the ability to pack (or is it print?) only what the need instead of lugging around unnecessary items. And above all else you'd be able to email your luggage, which is cool no matter how you break it down.

    Granted, Kyttanen's tech is still very much a concept.

    In order for full-scale use, travellers would first have to find out how to digitize their items into code and then find a nearby 3D-printer at their destination. Considering how 3D-printers like the Makerbot start at $2800 per machine, it doesn't look like mass usage will be available any time soon.

    What say you the 3D-printing of your luggage? A novel idea of a plan that'll flop flat on its face? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @HPCaTravel.

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    Dust off those passports, Canadians!

    Yes, after numerous online leaks and photos, it seems that "Amazing Race Canada" is heading out of the country for Season 2. In Season 1, the reality show stuck to home, never leaving Canada.

    With the Season 2 premiere not far away (the reality show starts on July 8, 2014), "Amazing Race Canada" is currently in production, and it looks like the reality contest is shooting around the globe.

    A HuffPost Canada reader (who has chosen to remain anonymous), currently in Australia, wrote into the newsroom with the following tip:

    "I'm traveling for work and happened across a Canadian team for supposedly the Australian show (overheard staff at the clue box - wanting to keep it top secret), but reviewing the video and photos I took the clue envelope clearly reads "The Amazing Race Canada" (1 - 10 sec video, 2 photos of the red team, 2 of the blue team running thru a crowd, 1 poor picture of the clue box)."

    Wanting to be certain, HuffPost Canada contacted CTV to find out whether the international travel news is true. CTV Networks' Senior Publicity Manager Jim Quan had this to say: "We can’t confirm or comment on anything related to the taping of Season 2 of 'The Amazing Race Canada.' Specific destinations won’t be revealed until closer to broadcast. You’ll have to stay tuned! Please note that anything you hear is speculation/rumour."

    Hmm ... roadblock, indeed. These photos/videos on Instagram seem to confirm our anonymous source.

    From Instagram user @izadsyah, who has a quick video of the contestants in Hong Kong:

    From Instagram user @saykay14, supposedly with a shot of contestants in Hong Kong:

    Reality Fan Forum user FTHJIL posted this shot, allegedly showing a team in Macau:

    amazing race canada macau

    As stated earlier, Season 2 starts on July 8, 2014, and we personally cannot wait to see Canadians traversing the globe!

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    What started as a family vacation on board a Virgin Airlines flight ended with the arrest of a British couple's daughter who reportedly abused cabin crew after they allegedly broke up her attempt to have sex on a plane.

    The incident took place on board an 11-hour flight from London to Las Vegas last week. During the flight, passengers began hearing loud, sexual noises coming from the plane's bathroom. Airline staff forced open the door where they interrupted the two passengers' induction to the Mile High Club.

    The woman, who passengers describe was in her 20s and travelling with her parents from London, was seen "getting heated with the guy next to her," the Sun, a British tabloid reports.

    The woman was then handcuffed to a seat after she started verbally abusing crew members. Both the Daily Mail and New York Daily News describe the British woman as "drunk" during the ordeal.

    The woman was eventually questioned by U.S. authorities once the plane landed in Vegas. She was later released without any charges.

    This isn't the first time frisky fliers have had a run-in with the law. Back in January, Alicia Lander, a Nova Scotia woman, was arrested at Halifax Stanfield International Airport after she allegedly had sex with another passenger on board an Air Canada flight.

    When Lander was confronted by RCMP, police say she kicked an officer. She was then charged with committing an indecent act.

    While there aren't any official numbers as to how many passengers have had sex on a plane, an online survey of 1,000 travellers found 9 per cent of them admitted to being intimate on a plane at least once, the CBC reports.

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    One of the world's richest — and hottest — royals swung through Vancouver and Whistler this month with an entourage, Instagramming their travels along the way.

    In some ways, the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, was like many tourists to the area. He cycled, snowboarded, rocked Roots sweatpants, and visited Starbucks.

    prince dubai

    prince dubai

    prince dubai

    But unlike the average sightseer, the 31-year-old prince is heir-apparent to Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and constitutional monarch of Dubai. His family's wealth is estimated to be more than $4 billion US, according to Forbes.

    Two weeks ago, a Boeing 747-400 owned by the Dubai government was spotted at a Vancouver airport hangar. The sheikh flew his three dogs in on another jet, reported CTV News.

    He previously visited Vancouver in 2013. Coincidentally, around the same time, an unidentified Middle Eastern royal bought the penthouse of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, as well as three sub-penthouses, for $55 million in cash.

    Educated at Sandhurst (where Prince Harry went) and the London School of Economics, Sheikh Hamdan also publishes poetry under the name Fazza.

    As his prolific Instagram account shows, the crown prince is partial to skydiving, sport fishing, and general traipsing around the world.

    Check out what else Sheikh Hamdan did on his B.C. visit:

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    Toronto is endorsing safe sex with its name and logo on a new line of condoms.

    On June 4, Toronto Public Health will reveal a city-branded condom, which will be free in bars, clubs, hotels and gyms across the city. The limited-edition prophylactic will be called condomTO.

    Both New York City and Los Angeles also have city condoms. The thinking, according to Public Health, is that "when condoms are more easily accessible and available, condom use tends to increase."

    The other city condoms come in eight different varieties, like ribbed and ultra-thin. There has been no indication the Toronto condoms will have similar features.

    The condom campaign — on social media as #condomTO — coincides with World Pride 2014, which Toronto is hosting in through June 20-29.

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    Your mom is a wise woman.

    Over her lifetime, she’s been there and done that more than once. But how about introducing her to a fresh adventure that pushes her out of her tried-and-true routines, rolling out the proverbial welcome mat as she steps into the unknown?

    The giving of experiences, rather than stuff, makes for a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. Of course, you can always join her and add some new memories into the basket of old ones.

    As we know, some parents are reluctant to embrace the unfamiliar when it comes to travel. They’ve gone to the same cottage for eons and they stick with the same destinations and resorts, too. It’s time to shake things up. If mom resists your attempts, here’s what you tell her: It’s good for her brain.

    No kidding, modern research has determined that brain plasticity (the ability to change and adapt) is boosted through learning, new information and experiences. The old thinking said this process happened mainly in the early years of a child’s life. Now, we know that the process can continue into adulthood, though at a slower rate.

    The bottom line is this: Your mom’s brain can thrives with the introduction of new travel adventures, whether it’s enjoying high tea at a luxury hotel or facing her fear of heights with a stroll around the top of the CN Tower. Maybe now she’ll stop asking you where her glasses are, as you point to them perched on the top of her head.

    Mom, we adore you. Let’s add some more memorable moments into our family history. Here’s how:

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    Some Air Canada passengers are seeing red after the airline moved them to its new low-cost carrier called Rouge.

    Many customers who purchased Air Canada flights months in advance say they have found themselves bumped onto Rouge flights and given no choice but to accept the smaller seats and less fulsome service.

    Jim Noon, who booked a regular Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles on points in March, says the company subsequently moved him to a Rouge flight without his knowledge or consent.

    "It's frustrating, and it makes you feel deceived," Noon told CBC News.

    The flight could prove a tight squeeze for Noon, who is six-foot-three: Rouge cabins feature slimline seats – where once there were two across, now three fit into the same width.

    Leg room is also an issue, with seats positioned closer to the one in front than they are on regular Air Canada flights, and with a shorter seat length, affording less support.

    "I'm a tall guy," Noon says. "My No. 1 concern is that I can fit into that seat for three hours — or eight hours — and not have to crawl off the plane afterwards."

    The experience has made him swear off the carrier for good.

    "I used to be a loyal Air Canada traveller, and now I am certainly going to look elsewhere."

    Social media reaction also critical

    Noon is not alone, based on social media comments.

    The travel review site Skytrax has comment forums for every airline and the Rouge board is filled with posters complaining about getting bumped from Air Canada flights.

    And it's not just those who bumped to Rouge flights who are complaining.

    The new brand is facing criticism from passengers who have booked with Rouge and argue that not only is it not cheaper than regular Air Canada flights, but the cramped quarters on board make it an unpleasant experience.

    "The 319 plane was cramped with uncomfortable seats, absolutely no leg room and no ventilation," J. Morton writes.

    "Average height people found their knees jammed into the seat ahead of them and it was impossible to bend over to place or retrieve items from under the seat. Heaven help you if the person in front of you reclined their seat even the small degree they move."

    Another poster coined a new term against the airline, saying, "I got Rouged."

    On Air Canada Rouge's Facebook page, complaints are noticeably absent, but elsewhere on social media, customers are complaining the company is deleting Facebook posts that criticized the service.

    CBC News also observed that dozens of critical posts spotted on Friday had been deleted from the Rouge Facebook page by Monday.

    Air Canada defends Rouge

    Air Canada denies the Rouge service is suffering from customer fallout. In a statement emailed to CBC, the company wrote that "Rouge flights have been very successful and customers tell us they enjoy the service."

    The statement goes on to say that since the launch of Rouge in 2013, "we have received very few such concerns."

    Air Canada describes Rouge as "low cost," but is careful to avoid the term "budget airline". 

    It calls Rouge a "leisure" service.

    "The fares are largely the same," says Renee Smith-Valade, vice-president of customer experience at Air Canada Rouge, who notes that the services offered by the two carriers are also comparable.

    "Air Canada has always priced itself competitively," she says.

    "In the airline industry, the airlines look at what each other is charging for a fare and make sure that they're always competitive."

    'A marketer's nightmare'

    "Either Rouge is a real price deal at stripped-down services, or it's not," says Lindsay Meredith, a Simon Fraser University marketing professor. "Don't try to have your cake and eat it too. High prices and jammed-in service? No."

    Meredith cautions that the company may find itself in trouble if it switches customers from one service to another without offering an alternative.

    "That kind of misrepresentation might catch the attention of somebody like the Competition Bureau," he says.

    He also warns against fuelling the increasing disaffection of customers, who may already be looking at other carriers, saying that one truism of marketing is that once you drive customers away, it's extremely difficult to get them back.

    "It would be pretty much a marketer's nightmare if somebody talks about being 'Rouged,'" he says.

    "The name of your brand is in the lexicon as being a term for being ripped off? Boy! That would be the kiss of death for any brand name I can think of."

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    A Vancouver dispensary has installed what it says is Canada's first vending machine for medical marijuana.

    The B.C. Pain Society offers "high-grade" medical pot sealed in tamper-proof, sealed bags and sold in the machine for $50 per half ounce.

    "The product stays fresh and it's easy for the members," the dispensary's Chuck Varabioff told The Huffington Post B.C.

    Unlike other dispensaries where staff have to handle the products stored in jars, this method prevents the marijuana from drying out, explained Varabioff.

    Only members can use the machine.

    "Anyone could walk into our dispensary, but we have a 36 inch gate that you can't get by unless you show your ID card," said Varabioff. The dispensary is considering installing a card swipe system programmed to the machine as well.

    The B.C. Pain Society, which opened in March, also has a gumball machine that dispenses single grams of marijuana for $4 or $6. There are plans to sell pot-infused coffee next.

    pot vending machine

    "What really sets us apart form every dispensary in town is our prices," said Varabioff. He claims the B.C. Pain Society charges 50 per cent less than other dispensaries.

    "Because we don't just care about money here," he said. "I've had a number of people who were sick and dying of cancer. It's nice to see that there's a product that ... at least allows them to be comfortable on their last days."

    New federal rules came into effect April 1 stating that only licensed producers can grow and distribute medical marijuana, but an ongoing legal challenge has left some areas in limbo. As well, Vancouver police have stated they won't target the city's many dispensaries as long as they're only selling to people with medical marijuana permits.

    Last month, Colorado opened its first edible pot treats vending machine for medical marijuana patients with valid ID. The state legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012.

    Vancouver is also home to two vending machines that sell crack pipes as part of a harm reduction strategy.

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    When cards, flowers and breakfast-in-bed won't cut it, brunch always prevails. And when it comes to Mother's Day brunch (May 11), you have to go big or stay home.

    Fortunately, hotels and brunch go hand-in-hand like the peanut butter and jam sandwiches mom made for you as a kid. In Canada, there's no shortage of top-notch hotels running Mother's Day brunch specials that you can take advantage of.

    To help narrow things down, here are a few stand-out restaurants for a memorable Mother's Day meal.

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    For most people, back-to-back 15-hour work days sounds like a punishment.

    Yet for chef Jamie Kennedy, it's all part of the job at the first-ever Equinosh exhibit inside the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. If events could be recipes, Equinosh would be one ingredient comprising Grow Op, a four-day celebration of landscapes, food, art and music in April.

    Kennedy, a chef known for his commitment to sustainable, local and in-season cuisine, has some back-up to serve the dozens of hungry guests, thanks to the Gladstone's resident chef, Mario Paz and chef Miriam Streiman. The trio dish up bowls of lamb stew, rounds of foraged mushroom salad and plates of strawberry rhubarb meringue well into the night.

    Like the glass of red wine he sips later that evening, the founder of Jamie Kennedy's Kitchens' first foray into Grow Op goes down smoothly. Yet in other ways, Equinosh mirrors one of Kennedy's crazier attempts to highlight local produce: his trip to Cuba.

    "I was invited to represent Canada in the International Cigar Festival that happens every year in Cuba," says Kennedy. "Canada was honoured as 'country of the year' for the cigar festival. When you’re nominated, you're basically asked to come and bring your culture with you."

    As a guest, the Order of Canada recipient had to showcase Canada through its cuisine, an experience which quickly became a "nightmare" for the chef.

    What would you say is the wildest thing you’ve done in or out of the kitchen?
    Probably Cuba. Cuba’s an interesting place because there’s really no infrastructure to support how a modern kitchen operates. It was like a nightmare — cooking a dinner for 500 people in a kitchen that barely functioned with a support staff of Cubans who have a whole other approach to work than what I’m used to in Canada.

    I had this almost panic moment where it wasn’t going to happen and in addition to that, they held up my ingredients at the airport. I had brought in caribou, oysters from the West Coast, oysters from the East Coast — really interesting and indigenous, Canadian ingredients to form this whole menu and experience.

    At the end of the day, I said, ‘If I don’t get these ingredients by this time, I physically won’t have the ability or time to prepare the food in the way it needs to be.’ Magically, at that moment, the food gets delivered and it had been stored and refrigerated in pristine condition.

    Pristine. Condition. I had this nightmare feeling or vision of it being in some f**king hot room at the airport and all these perishable things like oysters and lobsters just perishing.

    Not an experience I’d want to repeat, but one I’m so happy to have in my memory.

    What’s your definition of Canadian food?
    Canadian food is not about specific ingredients or dishes. Maybe the Italians would say ‘this pasta dish is authentic’ because that does exist in certain countries. They’ve got hundreds of years to back it up. Our history has been fractured, given the fact that we’re not even 200 years old, but the makeup of our population is from people all over the world. When you talk about what’s Canadian, the answer is the beauty of the regions.

    What’s a Canadian restaurant you’d recommend someone visit?
    I think Michael Stadtlander's Eigensinn Farm is an important stop. His food is thought-provoking. It gets you really thinking where food comes from so it starts to turn those wheels, you know?

    Do you get to travel a lot?
    Yeah, I do. It’s part of my work, certainly to check out other places and sometimes it’s my work that takes me to certain places like Cuba and sometimes it’s just curiosity.

    What’s the most memorable food city you’ve been to?
    That’s a hard one. In no particular order: Barcelona, New York City, Paris, London. I didn’t even mention San Francisco yet. And I haven’t been to Chicago yet, but I plan to go. I think it’s an important food city.

    France is unique and original. There’s a lot there in what I studied. A lot of my inspiration is from French canon. So France, Paris are important to me.

    Barcelona because I think it’s really cool what’s happened in the post-Franco days. After the ‘70s, suddenly Spain presented itself as a country to the rest of the world and before then, not so much. But there’s obviously a thriving food culture alive for centuries there that is only now being discovered by the rest of the world and that’s pretty exciting.

    Do you view yourself as a chef or are you beyond that?
    I’m a cook. I’ve been cooking 40 years and this is my anniversary. As you see today, I’m still cooking, it’s my prime occupation. However, along the way, the world of cooking has allowed me to witness and participate in a new food culture in Ontario that didn’t exist in my time and there are others that are certainly sharing in this experience with me, my generation and a younger generation.

    It’s very rewarding to see the seeds that we planted as it were, 30 years ago let’s say, are flourishing with the new generation of cooks coming up. So old guys like me are still holding onto their ideologies and working continually to showcase what’s possible in artisanal food and wine production in Ontario. I feel like we’re not alone anymore.

    What do you like to make after a nice boozy night out?
    Honestly, a beautiful meal for me would be bacon and eggs. Like really nice bacon and make it myself. Really slowly cooked and cook some onions in the same pan, same fat, and break some really good eggs in there — like eggs from a local producer — and honestly, that is such a great late-night, drinking meal with toast from the bread we make at the restaurant.

    Favourite cheap food thrill?
    I’m a big fan of Vietnamese banh mi.

    What would be your last meal?
    I’d have to say fish. There’s lot of luxury ingredients out there that are certainly seductive but I don’t think I’d want that as my last meal. I think fish because there’s nothing more I love more than eating a whole fish — the whole thing. It can be a snapper, it can be a rock bass, it could be anything. But the idea of having a pristine, whole fish that I can take my time eating, simply with some beautiful olive oil, some salt and lemon and nice wine.

    Oh yeah, gotta include the wine.

    I consider wine food. I don’t really consider it a beverage or a source of alcohol — which of course it is — but there’s something about wine that with food, it just so beautiful. It can be poetic. Wine and food together can be poetry. Not all the time, but it can be.

    What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
    I think I’d be studying languages. There are things in common that being a chef has in common with studying language. History holds the key to the puzzle. When you start analyzing language, you have to look at history to understand why it is spoken the way it is. The same way with cooking. You have to look at the historical references to understand why dishes evolve.

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    Whether you call it Victoria Day, May Long Weekend or May Two-Four, May 17 to May 19 means time off for Canadians.

    And any time off in our books is a perfect excuse to travel.

    While Victoria Day harkens back to Queen Victoria's birthday, its meaning has shifted to something along the lines of "the unofficial start to summer", prompting Canadians to head to the cottage for the first time. Also popular is the "staycation" approach which usually involves watching fireworks and cracking open a case of 24 beers (hence May Two-Four).

    But for the non-drinking, cottage-less types out there, the May Long Weekend typically means 72 hours to cram as much travelling as possible before you're needed back at work on Tuesday. Typically, this means Canadians will spend their time either in New York if they're travelling internationally or make trips to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, according to Hotwire, a travel booking site.

    So if you're planning on staying in the country but are unsure what to during those three days, here's a few suggestions:

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    Everyone's familiar with the stereotypical Mother's day gifts -- a robe, flowers, chocolate or jewellery, but we know that we'd all like to do something so much more for our moms, right? Every mom has her own distinctive personality -- whether she is known for being always in control, being wild and crazy, or a mom that loves some serious relaxation time. To help stay in her good books (at least for a little while), has compiled a list of getaways for every type of mom. Surely there's one for yours.

    The In-Control Mom

    New York, NY: New York is the perfect place for a mom that likes to be in control. The city has so much to see and do that you she could never fit it all in one trip -- no matter how hard she tries -- so she'll have to plan an itinerary. She can schedule perfectly timed trips to the plethora of museums, followed by brunch at a hot new restaurant or her old favourite. The big apple will have your "in-control" mom in her element and loving every minute of it.

    London, UK: Whether your mom is planning on sightseeing, taking a ride on a double-decker bus, or soaking in all the history the city has to offer, London is a city that will keep her busy. Let mom schedule a trip where she can see her favourite musicals, have high tea, and then walk around Oxford Street shopping for the newest and trendiest items. No matter what she plans to do, let your "in-control" mom plan the perfect London getaway.

    The Adventurous Mom

    Vancouver, BC: Vancouver has an endless amount of outdoor activities for the adventurous mom, including a superb waterfront that is ideal for running, rollerblading, biking and walking. The adventurous mom will have the chance to see some of the West Coast's most gorgeous snow-capped peaks, sure to take her breath away. If she likes to ski or snowboard, be sure to rent a car and visit Whistler for some late spring skiing.

    Grand Canyon, AR: Being one of the most remarkable natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is the perfect getaway for a mom that loves hiking and adventures. The southern rim is the most popular and easiest trail to access with different activities for everyone. Open all year long, the trail offers the adventurous mom the greatest hiking trails and access to the Grand Canyon Village for all her souvenir shopping, because even when it's all about her, she'll want to make it all about you and bring you home a little something!

    The Food-Loving Mom

    Venice, IT: What mom wouldn't want to feast on authentic Italian cuisine. Offer mom the best in Italian cuisine with a trip to Venice this Mother's Day. Not only is Venice a food-lover's dream, but it also offers rich history, culture and architecture that will leave her breathless. Don't miss out on famous Venetian cuisine like polenta, and ravioli and of course, seafood. After dinner, the food-loving mom will get lost walking around the city's streets, alleys and canals, while enjoying a fresh Italian gelato.

    Halifax, NS: If your mother loves seafood then Halifax is the perfect place for her to enjoy delicious freshly caught lobster or a battered haddock fish and chips dinner.
    Afterwards, she can take a walk along Pier 21 or head over to the Halifax Public Gardens and snack on some delicious salt water taffy. Beyond the fresh seafood, the city offers gorgeous piers and restaurants with ocean views to really up her food-loving experience. And no trip to Halifax is complete without a visit to the Lower Deck for some live music and a few pints.

    The Time to Relax Mom

    Fort Lauderdale, FL: A mom's job is never done and what better way to thank her for all of her hard work than by giving her a weekend getaway to the sunny beaches of Fort Lauderdale. Mom can enjoy laying on Fort Lauderdale's sandy-beaches or strolling along its beautiful, landscaped, beachfront promenade. Then follow that up with an afternoon of pampering at one of Fort Lauderdale's many day spas.

    Los Cabos, MX: Los Cabos, including San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, offers beautiful beaches on two seas, and is a perfect place to relax. Not only is it great for tranquility, it also offers a variety of excursions for mom. Leave the planning in her hands, so as to not stress her out, and let her choose from a day at the Cabo San Lucas Desert Spa, or a Pacific sunset sail - a small, intimate experience aboard a luxurious and spacious sailing yacht.

    The Dancing Mom

    Miami, FL: We've all seen her embarrassing us at weddings and parties...The Dancing Mom. Well this time, let's encourage mom to put on her dancing shoes and enjoy the great night life in Miami. She can spend the day at some of North America's most beautiful beaches and shop the day away for some great deals. Then at night, she can visit some of the most popular Latin nightclubs where she can shake the night away to some hot salsa beats.

    Montreal, QC: Instead of travelling to a different country, why not let mom experience the charm of Europe right here in Canada, with a weekend getaway to Montreal. Spend a day experiencing the charm of Vieux Montréal (Old Montreal) and Vieux Port Montreal (Old Montreal Port), and enjoy lunch on a sunny terrace. Then rest up because Montreal is famous for its nightlife and offers an array of options for a great night out. If she's looking for a night of dancing be sure to visit rue St. Laurent with its upscale night clubs or, for a more casual night out, visit St-Denis where you will find some of Montreal's best bars. And don't forget, Montreal is host of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, so consider one of Montreal's comedy clubs too.

    So, this year -- get mom the gift of travel that best suits who she is. There's still time to book a last minute vacation to truly surprise your mom this Mother's Day!

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    (Relaxnews) - Less than one week before the start of the Cannes Film Festival (May 14-25), hotels in the French city are getting ready to welcome the world of international cinema. Between new gourmet menus, new beauty products, and renovations, the hotels have spared no expense to prepare for the arrival of such illustrious guests. Here, we take a look at the most notable updates to three of the most iconic luxury hotels in Cannes.

    Majestic Barrière
    majestic barrière
    Frequented by movie stars year after year, the Majestic has undergone a makeover for May 2014. The renovation was overseen by interior architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, who has designed the interiors of several luxury hotels and cruise ships. The hotel's private beach has been outfitted with an entirely eco-friendly and removable deck, the first of its kind on the Croisette. The structure can accommodate 100 guests for lunch and dinner or up to 200 guests for cocktails. There is also a VIP area where clients can reserve day beds, and there is room for up to 400 mattresses on the sand. A lounge area will be opened in July and August. The dining area, with room for up to 600 guests, has also been revisited. The hotel's gourmet restaurants offer a choice between Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine concocted by chefs Maryan Gandon and Toyofumi Ozuru.
    More information and reservations:

    Intercontinental Carlton
    intercontinental carlton
    To its 343 rooms and suites, the renowned hotel has added the "Gilles Jacob." This 80 square meter suite, located on the first floor, was inaugurated by the president of the Cannes Film Festival himself, who has been a loyal patron of the hotel since 1976. Decorated in a "Belle époque" style, the suite is priced at between €1,320 and €6,200 per night (around $1,840 - $8,640) depending on the season. However, the suite is just one part of an extensive $6 million renovation program. The carpets in the hallways, the interior design in the restaurant and the rooms, and the marble architectural details in the common areas have all been updated. But loyal clients shouldn't worry: the hotel has preserved its character as well as the marks left by celebrities through the ages.
    More information and reservations:

    Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez
    grand hyatt cannes hôtel martinez
    The illustrious hotel on the Croisette is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its famous private beach and restaurant, the Zplage. Guests will find a new menu highlighting some of the ingredients that have left their mark on the past decade, each of which is offered in three different culinary creations. In addition, the hotel is introducing an exclusive new line of bath and beauty products in its rooms. Cannes-based perfumer Isabelle Burdel created this unique collection, which features notes of verbena, jasmine, rosewood, patchouli, amber and sandalwood.
    More information and reservations:

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    As much as America lays claim to be the automotive centre of the universe, just about all of us have at least one fond (or maybe not so fond) memory of piling into the car with the family or friends and heading off on an adventure to explore new areas of the vast Canadian countryside. Whether it’s part of summer vacation, a plan to head out and visit a long lost acquaintance, or just the call of the open road, there are countless kilometres to cover from coast to coast, and plenty of exceptional regions and roads that are worth the trip.

    So what makes a road trip feel properly “Canadian” other than the physical geography of it all? Scenic vistas are a key component, but as cheesy as it sounds, the community and the culture are what tie it all together. You’d be surprised at how quickly an out-of-province license plate can start a conversation, and before you know it you can be face to face with an impromptu history lesson on the town or area you’ve just arrived in.

    After much deliberation here is our comprehensive East-to-West guide to the great Canadian road trips. Now, in theory, you could daisy-chain each of these segments together and turn it into an all-encompassing “see all of Canada in one fell swoop” mega-adventure, but we wouldn’t hold it against you if you just stuck with the more manageable junkets below:

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    (Relaxnews) - Liverpool is hoping to follow in the footsteps of New York by creating its own ‘High Line' stretch of panoramic urban parkway from a concrete flyover.

    The UK city's transport structure currently functions as a series of elevated roads, but the Council is planning to demolish it at an estimated cost of £4 million (US$6.8 million). Now, a group of local designers named ‘Friends of the Flyover' has stepped in to propose an alternative plan: a sky-high park, walkway and venue space.

    Featuring a space for arts, music, dance and education events as well as markets, shops and community gardening projects, ‘The Flyover' would reconnect residential communities in Liverpool with the waterfront. Suitable for cyclists and pedestrians, it would offer "a thriving oasis and green lung in the city centre."


    "We see it being used by visitors, the public, the museums who overlook it and we see events, markets, shops and cycle lanes," explains Kate Stewart, of Friends of the Flyover.

    Having recently raised over £40,000 via a campaign on civic crowdfunding website Spacehive, a research study into the feasibility of the project will now commence.

    Elevated urban public green spaces are becoming increasingly popular in global cities, with New York's High Line, built on Manhattan's West Side in June 2009, leading the trend.

    Earlier this year British architects Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture submitted plans to transform London with its high-flying ‘SkyCycle' project, and Chicago's version of the High Line, The 606, is scheduled for completion later this year.

    Singapore's Telok Blangah Hill Park also features a network of flyover bridges and walkways, offering visitors a "monkey perspective" on the city.

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    MONTREAL - The Canadian government is laying out stricter rules to ensure clean water aboard planes, trains and passenger ships for drinking, hand washing, oral hygiene and food preparation.

    It's been sixty years since Ottawa first introduced regulations, and the Public Health Agency of Canada says it's time to bring them up to date.

    The existing provisions "no longer reflect the latest industry or scientific standards," according to a notice posted recently in the Canada Gazette, which posts many government decisions.

    Health Canada says the cost of the changes to operators are small enough that travellers won't see any effect on ticket prices.

    Under the new rules operators would still have the option of either supplying prepackaged water bottles and ice or offering tap water that would be subject to testing.

    The notice says if tap water is used, operators would need to "sample and analyse the water for E. coli on a routine basis."

    "Disinfecting and flushing the potable water system would be required should the water or the potable water system be contaminated or suspected of contamination," said the notice.

    The changes are aimed at reducing the number of illness among travellers in Canada, "which may contribute to reduced health care costs."

    The new rules are now open to a general consultation period, and won't come into force until 2015 at the earliest.

    They have been in the works for some time.

    A 2005 government audit recommended revising the regulations to reflect the latest scientific research.

    Most Canadian airlines have already been working with Health Canada to make some of those changes, the notice said.

    Stakeholders in the ferry, cruise ship, train and bus industries have also been consulted.

    Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, said in an email the airline is prepared to follow the new regulations, explaining that its policy is to "meet or exceed all government requirements and standards, particularly those related to health and safety."

    The main costs associated with the changes will be related to additional water sampling and record keeping, the notice said.

    The United States introduced tougher rules of its own in 2009.

    The regulations include requirement of sampling, routine disinfection and self-inspection of the aircraft water system every five years.

    A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that water on 15 per cent of 327 aircraft tested positive for total coliform, which is often used to indicate the sanitary quality of foods and water.

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    You're tired. Despite it only being May, the year has felt too long and too busy. You need a vacation, and you can't wait for summer.

    Good news: Victoria Day long weekend is coming up and there are plenty of places for you to go. Here are the most popular destinations for Canadians who take the time from May 17 to 19 to head to the U.S. for the May long weekend, according to

    New York City, NY

    new york downtown

    The Big Apple remains the most popular destination for May long weekend travellers, with an average nightly hotel rate of US$221. There's never a lack of things to do in New York, but this time you can catch James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in "Of Mice and Men" on Broadway; Great GoogaMooga, a festival that turns Brooklyn Park into a haven for foodies and music lovers; or you can check out the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, which promises international cuisine from Asian to Cajun.

    Minneapolis, Minn.


    Minneapolis, you say? Of course! The city has attractions like Minnehaha Falls, Target Field where you can watch the Minnesota Twins play the Seattle Mariners, or check out the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Paul. Aziz Ansari will also be performing at the city's Orpheum Theater on May 17. Just sayin'. Hotel prices average out to US$69 a night, which is less than most of Canada's major cities.

    Chicago, Ill.

    chicago downtown

    If you want options for activities, head to the Windy City. Chicago has Millennium Park, where you can see incredible public art like the Cloud Gate; visit Wrigley Field, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year; or imbibe in its vibrant craft beer scene as part of Craft Beer Week, which begins May 15. Average hotel prices are US$156.

    Las Vegas, Nev.

    las vegas

    What's left to be said about Las Vegas? On any weekend you go there, you're guaranteed to have a great or a terrible time ... or a mix of both. We'll spare you an extensive guide of where to gamble and party, but Britney Spears will be performing at the Planet Hollywood Theatre of the Performing Arts on May 17, so there's that, if you're not already booked to see a Cirque du Soleil show. You can expect to pay an average of US$149 for a hotel in Sin City.

    San Francisco, Calif.

    san francisco

    The Bay Area is a great destination in the spring or the summer, but May long weekend promises to be special as it hosts Maker Faire, an exhibition for inventors, scientists, crafters and more to display their creations at the San Mateo Event Center. The city will also host Bay to Breakers, a 12-kilometre run that's like any other, except it's done in costume. Hotel prices average US$184 for the weekend.

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    With our modern emphasis on frozen Frankenstein food, it can be easy to forget that real food comes from the land, not a box.

    That's not the case in sunny California, though. The Golden State's idyllic farms and orchards are bursting with fresh, delicious produce year-round -- especially in its picturesque Central Valley region.

    Whether you want to pick fresh apples, see how cheese is made, or wind your way through a corn maze, California has plenty of back-to-nature trips that will serve as a quick reminder of where real food comes from. We've rounded up a list of six great spots where you can indulge your taste buds -- and maybe even learn something along the way.

    Boa Vista Orchards
    This charming family farm in Apple Hill is home to an apple barn, a bakery, and picnic grounds that are open every day of the year. In addition to fresh produce like apples, pears, peaches, and plums, it also holds daily wine tastings for the adults to enjoy.

    Max's Miracle Ranch
    When you pick your own winter kale, spring cherries or fall pumpkins at Max’s Miracle Ranch, you’re also supporting a great cause. The Northern Californian ranch doubles as a retreat for kids with life-threatening illnesses. It’s also home to plenty of fun family-friendly features, including train rides, a petting zoo and pony rides.

    Dell'Osso Family Farms
    This is about as close to an amusement park as a farm can get. The family farm is located about an hour from San Francisco, and it boasts a number of farm-themed attractions ranging from a corn maze to a bucking pumpkin to tractor rides. Halloween is the prime time to visit, thanks to its famous haunted house and pumpkin patch.

    Harley Farms
    You can take a hands-on tour of this goat farm, where you’ll see everything from the goat nursery to how the goat’s milk is turned into delicious cheeses. After your tour, you can indulge in some of those fine cheeses, including ricotta, feta, chevre, and fromage blanc at The Cheese Shop. Nature, goats, and cheese; can you ask for anything more in life?

    Home Grown Cellars
    If you’ve grown tired of the usual apple orchards and berry farms, here’s a new farm experience for you: a pomegranate farm! The good folks at Home Grown Cellars have been growing pomegranates in the Central Valley area for decades, and their farm has grown to include a market and a butterfly conservatory. Get back to nature in a whole new way with this fun and diverse farming experience.

    Riley's Farm
    If you want to mix a fun history lesson into your family getaway, this working orchard in Oak Glen is the place to do it at. Riley's Farm offers living history adventures on everything from colonial farm life to the Civil War to the gold rush. The educational portion of your visit doesn't have to end there; the farm is also home to a tavern modelled after an 18th Century Public House. You can follow up your history lesson by picking your own in-season produce, including watermelons, pumpkins, strawberries and blackberries.

    Tanaka Farms
    This popular farm in Orange County is known for its guided strawberry tours, which are available from March - June. Visitors get to ride a tractor-pulled wagon as they learn about how the delicious berries are grown. It’s a perfect learning opportunity for the kids -- plus you get to take home a basket of fresh fruit. The farm also offers seasonal watermelon tours and a working pumpkin patch.

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