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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Summer and travel -- our two favorite words. Trouble is, travel's uninvited companion, sleep deprivation, usually hitches a ride and brings everyone down. But a few simple tips could send your sleep challenges packing, leaving you to energized and ready for adventure.

    Reserve rest & relaxation

    If a quiet night is a priority for you when you travel, speak up when booking your room. You're the expert on what helps you relax and get the sleep you need. If you're going to Vegas, skip to the next section -- you won't be sleeping anyway...

    • Ask for a quiet room - Request a room away from the elevator, stairs and ice machine.

    • Don't follow the sun - If you're crossing time zones, request a room on the west side of the hotel to avoid a sunrise wake-up call.

    • Update your profile online - Some chains allow priority customers to enter personal information that will help the hotel serve you better when you arrive.


    First class luxury
    When it comes to sleep and travel, space is a luxury -- and a necessity. While the price of first class may be hard to swallow, there's a lot to be said for finding a place to stretch out.

    • Secure your stuff - Feeling safe is priority number one for sleep. If there's a place to lock your belongings, use it. If not, make sure your money, credit cards and passport are tucked inside your shirt where it would be hard for someone to remove without waking you.

    • Stretch it out - If you're flight's delayed, chances are you aren't relaxed. Yoga or some simple stretches that elongate your muscles will help release the tension. If it helps, put on your headphones and let your favorite tunes relax you.

    • Change your clothes - Slip into loose clothing that will allow you to move freely (and make it easier to nap).

    • Make a pillow - Your head needs a soft place to rest so roll up a jacket or scarf. It's as simple as that.


    Last longer in bed
    Travel quickly across time zones and jet lag becomes an unwelcome and unavoidable travel partner. And if you're going west to east, expect jet lag to be worse. But there are non-medicinal ways to hack a good night's sleep.

    Start by pushing back your bedtime about six days before you leave -- just 15 minutes will do it. Then three days out, push it back half an hour.

    When you board the plane, adjust your watch, laptop and cellphone and start living the new time zone right away.

    While in the air
    • Try not to nap - A nap can thwart your body's need for a longer sleep that night. If you must sleep, limit yourself to 25 minutes,

    • Stay hydrated with water - Not coffee, alcoholic beverages or soda drinks. Arriving dehydrated will make you feel lousy and it will also makes it hard for your body to adjust to the new rhythm.

    • If you must nap when you arrive - Limit your nap to 90 minutes, long enough to recharge the batteries but not so long you won't be able to sleep later.

    When you arrive, a few tricks in your hotel room can help you find sleep satisfaction.
    • Pack a sleep kit - Eye shades, meditation CD, aromatherapy sprays (lavender or chamomile) and a night light so you don't wake yourself up fully if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

    • Try a bedtime shower or bath - Studies show that raising the body temperature (with hot water) and lowering it quickly (with room temperature air) an hour before bed relaxes your muscles and prepares your body for sleep.

    • Clip the drapes shut - Furnace and air vents are often directly below the curtains. Clipping them prevents them from separating during the night and letting the early morning sun in.

    • Check the thermostat - Sleep can be disrupted if the room is warmer than 65° F or colder than 54° F.

    • Check the clock - The alarm may still be set from the last guest.


    Leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. I'd love to hear from you!

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    From the Val di Cornia to Florence to Elba Island, here are a few delicious discoveries made on my most recent trip to Tuscany. Some spots do require a car, but if you are brave enough to do it all via Vespa, even better!

    VAL DI CORNIA

    2014-08-19-ItalyCalidario.jpg


    EAT
    Piombino
    ABBE (Piazzetta del Mare, 5/5A). Cocktails, good selection of wines and one of the best places to sit under the Tuscan sunset. Yes, I went there.

    Gattarossa. Quite possibly the best spot for a sundown spritz, lunch, or snacks after a lazy day on Calamoresca beach. The Via dei Cavalleggeri, or Sea Road, also makes for a worthy hike into the area's history. This was the 16th century route that linked Livorno and Piombino.
    2014-08-19-ItalyGattarossaAperolSpritz.jpg


    L'OSTEria (via Ferruccio 25). A very special place tucked into an unassuming avenue. Order a bottle of chilled Vermentino to wash down whatever is listed on the little chalkboard.

    Il Garibaldi Innamoratu. All I can say is WOW. We randomly walked past the restaurant and when I asked "what's this?", my partner (who is from Piombino) replied "oh, yes, this place is kind of famous". Um, thanks for sharing love. In any case, when we did manage to get a table a few days later and our tastebuds where dancing in a sea of fresh catch prepared a myriad of ways. Just tell them what your allergies are and go with the flow! Reservations strongly recommended.
    2014-08-19-ItalyIlGaribaldiInnamoratuwine.jpg


    Il Peccato (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II). One can never go wrong with a dish of spaghetti and lobster. I credit this kitchen with igniting my obsession for gnocchi al pesto.
    2014-08-19-ItalyIlPeccatolobsterspaghetti.jpg


    Bolgheri
    2014-08-19-car.jpg
    Osteria San Guido is tranquil Tuscany at its finest. The food is as rustic as it is exquisite.

    Populonia
    2014-08-19-car.jpg
    After a lazy afternoon on the beaches surrounding this ancient Etruscan village, it's time for aperitivo under the trees at La Taverna Di Populonia Di Luca Pavan (Via S.Giovanni). Aperol Spritz or local wine will put you in a fine mood, as will their little stuffed red peppers and succulent prosciutto.
    There are hiking paths (1.5 to 2.5 hours) in the area.

    2014-08-19-ItalysundownatSerendipitysanVIncenzo.jpg

    San Vincenzo
    Serendipity (Via Sicilia, 8). A lovely shabby-chic spot on the beach for the kind of chilled out dinner you picture yourself having on an Italian sojourn. It turns into a lively club later on.

    Hemingway (Piazza della Vittoria 17). Cozy enoteca on the edge of a quite square.

    Il Timone (Corso Italia 4/G). Need to keep it cheap and cheerful with the kids? This joint serves up pizza and calzones (don't order anything else) with a sunset view.

    STAY
    2014-08-19-ItalyCalidariopool.jpg
    Calidario Terme. Simply put, this hotel spa has left an impression on me. I only managed to get there for a dinner in 2013, but this time we made sure to stay overnight for the full experience. Our room was gorgeous and spacious; with a little balcony to keep it airy. Taking a before-breakfast dip in the mineral-rich waters was the best way to wake up. After a facial in the Thermarium I barely remembered my name. Calidario is open to the public daily and is an ideal way to take a break from touring.

    Next week... Florence and Elba Island.

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    WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Do not read on unless you've seen "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2, Episode 7. Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead!

    Feel free to call them "French toast."

    "We're on our way to Normandy," said Ryan. "We're not exactly sure. We haven't seen any signs."

    Vancouver bartenders Ryan and Rob continued to stumble as "The Amazing Race Canada" stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. Making light of their subpar performances, the two bestow self-appointed working titles for their improbable French travel show spinoffs, including "Getting Lost and Hating Yourself," or "Taking the Long Way in France with Ryan and Rob."

    We can see the marquee now.

    According to Rob, the best buds "just sucked at directions today," and managed to get lost every time they went back into their vehicle in between each task. Luckily, the pair was spared by a non-elimination leg, the second of the race, after the former saved Sukhi and Jinder while abroad in Macau.

    This time, however, the race's trip outside of Canada's domestic borders was considerably more appropriate to the tone of the series. The challenges in Hong Kong and Macau were certainly entertaining on the whole, but save for a ludicrous "MasterChef Canada" tie-in which required the search of maple syrup in an Asian marketplace, they seemed tangential to celebrating Canadian talent, beauty and history. On this leg of the race, the teams raced from Winnipeg to Normandy in honour of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and to commemorate 70 years since June of 1944, when Canadian troops landed on Normandy Beach. It was a fitting tribute, and the show's producers never lost sight of it.

    Before landing in France, Meaghan pledged to get the hockey players back to the top of the race podium. Meanwhile, Audrey made a feeble attempt to connect with Pierre and Michel after their first place win.

    "Suddenly, people want to speak to us," said Pierre. "She hasn't talked to us in six legs. I think she's a hypocrite."

    True or not, the teams then travelled to a Roadblock at the Boulard Calvados Distillery, where one member was tasked with distilling its signature apple brandy to 40 percent. The challenge involved a "complex mathematical formula and silent tutorial," but the secret to solving this alcoholic puzzle wasn't in the numbers, it was in the size of the equipment. With that in mind, Pierre, Audrey and Ryan all solved it on their first try, though not in that order. Meaghan struggled by using the wrong tool sizes, Pete got a leg up from Ryan and Rob, and Jinder panicked, which is something viewers have come to expect. Plus, apparently Mickey and Pete are two jacks of all trades, with the former attending school for accounting. He was also, at one point, enrolled in cosmetology classes and is a master hair braider. Who knew?

    Once they were back in their car and forced to navigate, Ryan and Rob could never gain an advantage on his leg, getting lost at each turn. Upon finishing the Roadblock first, Pierre noted the team wasn't even present with the others at the task, and called them out, saying, "I think [they] are on their way to Spain." Sassy and almost true, at least we got to see beyond Ryan and Rob's competitive fire in this episode, particularly when Ryan told Sukhi and Jinder to "fermer la bouche" after their trademark task showboating celebrations.

    Next, the teams took a historical Detour of "Show and Tell," where they were given the options of bestowing a horse with a French braid complete with a Canada-red ribbon, or rearranging a series of chronological tapestries. Aside from Alain hoping that the horse would nip at a sheepish Jinder, these tasks were noticeably simple and unspectacular, to save time in the episode for a longer tribute in Normandy — a wise choice by the production team.

    After quickly land sailing around the Atlantic Ocean, the duos made their way to Beny-Sur-Mer, a permanent resting place for Canadian soldiers. Here, "racers [had the] opportunity to pay their respects to brave Canadian soldiers" before landing at the mat on Juno Beach.

    Touching and emotional, each team seemed humbled by the tribute to Canada's veterans. Mickey and Pete read the ages on several gravestones, and were taken aback by how young the soldiers were when they met their fates. Sukhi teared up after identifying the fallen as brothers, and talked about how grateful she was to race across the country, and the world, with her sibling.

    Then, each pair was greeted at the end of the leg by both host Jon Montgomery, and 89-year-old veteran, Jim Parks.

    After being thanked for his services, Parks said, "I feel privileged to be here to represent those that couldn't make it."

    It's hard to express gratitude better than that. Next stop, Paris! ... France, not Ontario.

    Episode 6 Recap
    Episode 5 Recap
    Episode 4 Recap
    Episode 3 Recap
    Episode 2 Recap
    Episode 1 Recap
    Episode 1 Review

    "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2 airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.


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    Unless you've been living under a rock, you are well versed in the ongoing social media fascination with the unkempt Trivago pitchman.

    Actor Tim Williams, an American working out of Germany, has become a viral sensation thanks to his earthly, slightly dishevelled turn as the voice of the online travel booking company Trivago.

    As Troy Patterson wrote so adroitly on Slate: "The man is seedily creased, grayly stubbled, distractingly beltless. He may be looking for a hotel after coming home at 3 a.m. to find that his wife changed the locks."

    Well, it has not gone unnoticed. Trivago has launched an online campaign to give the Trivago Guy a new look. Users are invited to send pictures of themselves dressed as Trivago Guy. The winner gets a 5-day trip to Berlin, Germany, a chance to "re-style" the pitchman and attend the next commercial shoot.

    Watch the video above to hear from Trivago Guy about his unexpected fame.

    CORRECTION: The online campaign to give the Trivago guy a new look was lauched by Trivago itself, not by Expedia. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version.

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    A Halifax man has filed a human rights complaint against Air Canada, saying he’s endured repeated interrogation by frontline staff because he is Muslim.


    Air Canada maintains that it hasn’t discriminated against Mohamed Yaffa and was only following airline security regulations in Canada and the U.S.


    Yaffa says he used to travel a lot for his job as Capital Health's diversity and inclusion co-ordinator. The health authority oversees hospitals in the Halifax area.


    According to the complaint, Air Canada allegedly subjected Yaffa to enhanced security screening six times between March and June 2010.


    Yaffa says he started getting asked questions about his travel and asked to produce additional identification. He claims Air Canada would then mark his boarding pass, signalling to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority that he needed an enhanced security check. He was always allowed to board following the secondary checks.


    “I started asking questions about why that was happening and the only answer I would get [was]  it was because of my name. Which was quite a sufficient answer because since the terrible incidents of Sept. 11 in the United States profiling is very, very common with institutions like Air Canada. We’ve heard it over and over. It became apparent it wasn’t random,” he said.


    “The only times I’ve been in court is either to interpret or challenge a parking ticket.”


    Yaffa said he continued to ask the frontline workers questions, without much help. He hasn’t had the same experience while flying with WestJet


    “After going through it several times, over and over, I decided if I’m not going to get an answer, maybe the best thing for me to do is put it through due process,” he said.


    Yaffa lodged a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which has since moved the case to a tribunal.


    “What would any Canadian seek? It’s dignity and assurance of respect. I don’t want my children to go through this. I don’t want any Canadian to go through this. I understand the threat of security all over the world today but I think this is not some dictatorship, this is a democracy there should be respect for human rights,” he said.


    Air Canada asked to hand over files


    “There should be balance between what we want to achieve with security and what we want to achieve from human rights. I don’t think one would dismiss the other.”


    He says he hasn’t been interrogated since he lodged his complaint.


    The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal asked the airline to hand over files on similar complaints against it. It's also asked the airline to disclose whether staff are trained in how to handle customer complaints about enhanced security questioning.


    Air Canada says it’s limited in what it can say because the issue is before the courts.


    “We are obligated by the government of Canada to enforce the Canadian government’s no-fly list...For flights to and from the U.S., we are obligated by law to enforce the U.S. no-fly list,” wrote spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur in an email to CBC.


    “We also screen our customers for a variety of reasons. This could include such things as past misbehaviour on a flight, or something like credit card fraud. By way of comparison, I am sure your advertising department keeps track of advertisers who do not pay their bills.”


    Air Canada says sometimes people who are identified for additional screening are not the person on the no-fly list but share a common name.


    “It is important to remember we carry 35 million people a year, the equivalent of the entire population of the country. So we are dealing with very large numbers of people, many will share the same or similar names.”


    The tribunal has asked Yaffa to provide his health and work records, something he says he has no problem handing over. 


    “What happens if in front of everyone you’re signalled out? What happens when you’re travelling and you’re the last person to show up on a plane when people had seen your arguing with the person at the front? What happens when you’re not told what your crime is but you're presumed to be criminal and then you have to find a way to make yourself look innocent? How do you explain that to your children? How do you explain that to your co-workers,” asked Yaffa.


    He says he hopes there's eventually a hearing and Air Canada changes its security methods.







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    EDMONTON - Online polling to choose a new Alberta licence plate has closed and the most realistic of three designs has come out on top.

    Kathleen Range of Service Alberta says the photo-like image of a field and mountains got almost 50 per cent approval.

    Not far behind at more than 45 per cent was a blue-and-yellow design with mountains and wheat.

    A more stylized version finished a distant third at six per cent.

    Range says 160,577 votes were cast.

    She says there could still be changes to the design before the plates are released next spring.

    The new plate options caused a ruckus when the government unveiled them in July. Critics, including local designers, were angry that they were all created by U.S. conglomerate 3M.

    And the Opposition Wildrose party pointed out that the province's longtime slogan "Wild Rose Country" was replaced by the web address alberta.ca. The party said it was a politically motivated slight by the governing Progressive Conservatives.

    Service Alberta Minister Doug Griffiths said that wasn't true.

    Even the three candidates vying to become the next PC leader and premier found themselves in the great plate debate.

    Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice said it was clear the plates had "struck a nerve with Albertans" and he wanted to hear more about what people had to say.

    Candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver, both former provincial cabinet ministers, said they didn't have an issue with the wild rose slogan.

    Lukaszuk said he would like to see more artistic input from Albertans and McIver suggested that dropping the slogan was petty.


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    Brace yourselves, Southern Ontario: You're in for a cool start to the fall.

    That's according to a new report from Accuweather.com predicting the weather patterns that Canada could see over the coming months.

    fall weather forecast canada

    Cooler-than-normal conditions are expected to kick off the fall season in areas from Windsor to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. A heat wave is forecast to arrive in early October before temperatures drop the following month.

    "It’s going to be an up-and-down fall across Southern Ontario," Accuweather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson told The Toronto Star.

    Early frost is possible and winter could be cooler than normal due to a possible El Nino system, which would extend Ontarians' pain after a polar vortex swept the province and froze the Great Lakes last year.

    The weather forecast service doesn't expect much rain in the first half of fall for eastern Ontario and Quebec but more precipitation and early snow could appear in November.

    canada fall forecast

    There's good and bad news for people in Western Canada. A warmer fall than normal is projected for Vancouver but drier conditions are expected in its interior (including Calgary), which could make things difficult for crews battling wildfires around B.C.

    October, however, could bring wetter weather to the region, while the Prairie provinces can expect normal rain levels.

    There may be an early frost or freeze in Manitoba and northern Ontario due to waves of cool air sweeping down through those areas.

    Eastern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, meanwhile, could see heavy rain due to warm and humid conditions.

    Temperatures that are about three or four degrees Celsius above normal in the Atlantic Ocean could also have an effect on weather after a hot, dry summer.

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    It's times like these we wish we had a time machine.

    These vintage photos, pulled from the Library and Archives of Canada, transport us to a time in Alberta's Rocky Mountains when (crazy) people fed bears on the side of the road, skis were still made of wood and there was nary a cellphone in sight.

    Judging from the antique photographs some things never change — including the clear waters of the Bow River, the majesty of the mountains, and the amount of fun people have when visiting Banff and Lake Louise.




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    Quietly tucked away just two hours from the world-class mountain destination of Whistler sits the empty town of Bradian, B.C. — and you could own it for under $1 million.

    The ghost town, which has has 22 buildings on over 50 acres, is selling for $995,000. It has power and phone lines, according to the listing, and is described as "one of the best snowmobiling areas in B.C."

    bradian bc

    Bradian has been on the market since February 2010 when it was listed for $1.3 million, Pique Newsmagazine reported.

    Realtor John Lovelace is selling the property for Tom and Katherine Gutenberg, who bought it in 2007.

    "It was disappearing at the rate of several houses per year, people would simply dismantle them for parts," Tom told Pique in 2010. "It's important for us to keep that sort of thing and that really was my intent, to save that piece of B.C. history."

    The couple spent time fixing up the town and bringing their kids up every summer, said Global News. But in 2010 they decided it was time to let someone else have a go.

    Lovelace is convinced there is money to be made in Bradian, telling Global that "if you build it, people would come."

    While Lovelace has received dozens of inquiries, most back off when they realize how much work is required to upgrade the town, said The Province.

    “The problem is that, for someone to get involved, it’s going to involve some imagination and somebody with deep pockets — that’s always been the issue,” Lovelace told the newspaper.

    But he added: “They have the satisfaction of owning this town and being able to do everything they want to do with it."

    See more photos of the ghost town:




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    Canada and the United States don't seem so different upon first glance.

    But an American on a six-week trip to Canada recently posted a series of observations on Reddit about what's different in the Great White North. Here are things our neighbours might notice when they visit the land of maple syrup and Tim Hortons that we don't stop to think about:


    If you have a prime minister, who is the president in President's Choice?

    presidents choice toronto

    There isn't one, technically. But Loblaws executive Dave Nichol created the line of products in the 1980s and became the face of the brand in TV ads. It's even his handwriting on the label.

    How come American chains put a maple leaf on their signs in Canada?

    mcdonalds sign canada

    Pretty simply, to help them fit in north of the border. The Canadian arms of big U.S. companies (Wendy's, McDonald's, Walmart, Arby's — the list goes on) tend to add a maple leaf to their logo or add "Canada" to the end of their name. As far as we can tell, Canada is the only country in the world with its own custom Golden Arches.

    Why is craft beer so hard to find?



    In several provinces, one word can answer this question: monopoly. While Americans may be overwhelmed by choice in the beer aisle at their grocery store, Canadian craft brewers face more restrictions on where they can sell.


    Why, oh, WHY can't we have Kinder Surprise in the United States?



    The delightful chocolate eggs have been prohibited in the United States since the early 1970s due to a ban on candies with toys embedded inside them. Though a New Jersey company seems to have found a way around it, according to Gawker.

    Why are you so nice up here?



    Shucks, I guess it was just how we were brought up. We hope you always think we're nice, but we worry we're slipping.

    Why so many bubbles in your chocolate?

    aero chocolate

    That's simply what sets Aero apart. It isn't widely sold in the U.S. but you can always try Hershey's Air Delight.

    Why so many dollar stores?

    dollar store toronto

    Canadians really love their Dollarama. The chain of stores is growing (more than 800 locations) and has seen its profits jump as much as 20 per cent recently.

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    Know another question Americans have about Canada? Share it with us in the comments.

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    Have you ever wondered what it's like on the other side of the business and first class curtain? The VIP treatment, the free-flowing drinks, gourmet meals/fine dining, the comfy seats or, better yet, beds. Ahhhh...the good life. And what about those secret perks in the complimentary "airline amenity kits" - your own personal in-flight "swag" bag?

    The Cheapflights.ca team of travel experts looked through, tested, photographed and rated 48 economy, business and first-class kits from 27 of the world's leading airlines to reveal the "secrets of the VIP experience".

    Part Hollywood A-list swag bag and part practical travel accessory, amenity kits are where airlines roll out the red carpet for their elite customers. So, it was no surprise to learn that the First-Class kits are stuffed with luxury brands (Loewe, Tumi, Chopard, Bulgari, Dior, Ferragamo, L'Occitane) - and contain everything from eye masks and shoe horns to "pulse point oil" and "pillow mist".

    In total, just five of the 27 airlines achieved a six-star review, with Middle Eastern and Far Eastern airlines dominating, as kits from Emirates, Etihad, Japan Airlines, Qatar and United came out on top.

    Lufthansa and Royal Brunei took joint top honors for the "Best Male Accessory"; Lufthansa for its German football kit-themed bag and Royal Brunei for its super luxury slippers.

    Polish airline LOT grabbed "Best Female Accessory" for its nail file; while Qatar was - literally - the comfortable winner for the "Best Kids' Accessory" with a Spongebob Squarepants backpack (in a Qatar captain uniform) that also doubles as a pillow or booster seat.

    Amenity kits, you could say, are the icing on the proverbial cake, and every airline has its own recipe.

    2014-08-22-airline_bags030.JPG

    See all the airline reviews:

    American Airlines: 4 Stars
    Air Berlin: 4 Stars
    Air Canada: 3 Stars
    Air New Zealand: 5 Stars
    Austrian Airlines: 4 Stars
    British Airways: 5 Stars
    Condor Airlines: 3 Stars
    Delta: 5 Stars
    Emirates: 6 Stars
    Etihad: 6 Stars
    Garuda Indonesia: 5 Stars
    Iberia: 3 Stars
    Icelandair: 5 Stars
    Japan Airlines: 6 Stars
    JetBlue: 4 Stars
    LOT Polish Airlines: 4 Stars
    Lufthansa: 4 Stars
    Malaysia Airlines: 5 Stars
    Qantas: 5 Stars
    Qatar: 6 Stars
    Royal Brunei: 5 Stars
    SWISS: 5 Stars
    TAM: 4 Stars
    Turkish Airlines: 5 Stars
    United Airlines: 6 Stars
    Vietnam Airlines: 4 Stars
    Virgin Atlantic: 5 Stars

    Our star rating system:

    One star = Taxiing
    Two stars = Approaching cruising altitude
    Three stars = 35,000 feet
    Four stars = High life
    Five stars = Edge of space
    Six stars = Fly me to the moon

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    diner en blanc vancouver

    A crowd dressed in blindingly white outfits descended on a Vancouver park for the annual picnic known as Dîner en Blanc.

    The event, which originally started in Paris, sold out of its 3,500 tickets at $35 in the weeks leading up to the banquet. The secret location at David Lam Park was revealed to participants last minute on Thursday night. Then dressed elegantly in all-white outfits, patrons carried their own specifically sized tables, folding chairs and dinnerware (also all white) to the dinner.

    The meal, catered by David Hawksworth and his award-winning team, fortunately was not all white. The menu included side-stripe prawn watermelon salad with heirloom tomato, chevre and jalapeno, reported The Province.

    The stunning chic picnic is a visual wonder, with organizers The Social Concierge ramping up the entertainment this year that included The Vancouver Opera, as well as stilt walkers and acrobats (dressed in white, of course).

    Story continues after slideshow:



    Dîner en Blanc began in 1988 when Francois Pasquier invited some friends to a Paris park for a picnic dinner. He told everyone to wear white so they could find each other. The event has since exploded with Paris organizers needing to cap the picnic at 15,000 people.

    This was the Vancouver edition's third year. The inaugural picnic saw 1,200 people at Jack Poole Plaza, followed by 2,600 diners at an area next to the Telus World of Science in 2013.

    You feel like you’re in another country and it’s the energy and everyone’s excitement,” Kerry Lawrence, who has participated each year, told The Vancouver Sun. “It’s like transporting yourself to Paris at the original Dîner en Blanc. It’s an electric event."

    diner en blanc vancouver

    Despite an exclusive registration process and strict picnic rules, more than 30,000 people were on this year's waiting list. Previous guests and their friends are given priority for tickets, then sales are open to the public and anyone registered online.

    Those with tickets must follow specific instructions and precise seating arrangements.

    About 1,200 people attended Victoria's Dîner en Blanc last month. The event also happens in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton.

    diner en blanc vancouver

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    lynx

    It's difficult not to be captivated by Alberta's beauty — the people, the mountains, the prairie and the animals.

    So we're excited to introduce to you a new feature that captures Alberta, quite literally: The Huffington Post Alberta's Photographer Of The Month!

    We came across Dee Cresswell's work a while back and were instantly taken by how she's able to capture the expressions of the animals she photographs — even the birds!

    Dee was kind enough to answer a few questions and share some of her images with us.

    Q: Where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
    A: I moved around a bit as a kid, but I'm from England and grew up there for the most part. I've lived in Calgary for about seven years.

    Q:How long have you been shooting photos?
    A: I got my first camera (a Kodak Disc camera) when I was seven, so I guess you could say I've been shooting since then. I've only been taking it seriously for the last few years though. I can't say I'm completely self-taught, as I've learned plenty from the people around me, but I have no formal training in photography.

    Q: What about Alberta inspires you?
    A: Alberta is amazing. There is so much to experience here. The scenery for starters. Also, the wildlife is so diverse. Alberta is just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer, if not more so. Snow, fog and frost create winter wonderlands wherever you look. Then in summer, we have impressive storm clouds rolling through, across the colourful patchwork of farmland, as well as a wonderful variety of wildflowers.

    Check out some of Dee's work in the slideshow. Interview continues below.




    Q: How patient do you have to be to photograph wildlife? Have you ever waited a really long time for a certain shot?
    A: I'm not a very patient person, so I'm not one to hang around for a long time waiting for a particular shot. I also don't like to spend too much time near any one animal. However, I have had to wait on many occasions for the animals to just look my way. Sometimes it feels like forever waiting for an owl to stop turning its head from side to side, and finally look directly at me.

    Anyone who's ever tried photographing bears while they're eating, knows that you need to be patient. They can go for ages just munching away with their heads hidden in the vegetation.

    Q: What advice can you give to people who are interested in taking photos of wildlife in Alberta?
    A: I would pass on the best advice that was given to me, and that is to just get out there. The more time you spend exploring Alberta, the more you'll see. The more you see, the more photography practice you'll get, and the better you'll get to know your subjects.

    Research the wildlife you're interested in to learn more about their activities year-round — you're not going to get many grizzly bear photos if you only look for them in January!

    When you find a wildlife subject, don't just snap away, spend some time observing their behaviour. Get to know when they seem relaxed, and when you're stressing them out, then stop stressing them out! My last bit of advice is a warning — you should be aware that wildlife photography is highly addictive!

    Q: What's the most unusual, remarkable thing you've ever seen an animal do?
    A: Watching a cougar strut casually past a black bear on a golf course was pretty unusual. Also, seeing a fully-grown black bear hanging upside-down in a tree eating catkins was very impressive.

    Q: Have you ever found yourself if a scary situation while out taking photos?
    A: The scariest situation I can think of was when I was out on my deck in the pitch black, photographing an incredible Northern Lights display. There's something a little spooky about the aurora as it is, but while I was out there the local coyotes started howling. It sounded like 20 of them out there in the darkness, and it really felt like I was surrounded. I was just a few metres from my back door, but I still kept shining the torch across the yard because they sounded so unnervingly close. It really gave me the shivers.

    Q: What do you like to do when you're not taking photos?
    A: Mostly I just love being outdoors. Whether its driving the backroads in some random direction away from Calgary, or going for a walk in the mountains or local parks.

    Follow Dee's work online:
    Website
    Twitter: @rockymtnchick1
    Flickr
    Facebook
    Blog


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    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA -- Architect Antoine Predock calls the opportunity to build the world's most impressive human rights museum a "no-brainier."

    Predock's vision, though, promises to put minds to the test, challenging perceptions and fostering a level of interaction with the troubling issues of the past and present.

    On Tuesday night, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights -- Predock's master work -- gave travel journalists from around the world a sneak peek of the first national museum to open since 1967 and the only one that resides outside of the Ottawa region.

    The 260,00-square-foot facility opens on September 20 with an invite-only gala. A week of special visits will follow before the general public can enter on September 27. Adult tickets will cost $15 each.

    With a month to go, the interior is still under construction. Many of the displays are stored in Toronto and will be shipped and re-assembled at the Winnipeg museum during the next four weeks.

    Despite the limited access and limited content, the night at the museum was a dramatic event for the media, who were invited to the Manitoba capital by the Canadian Tourism Commission for its annual Go Media conference, a gathering of the nation's tourism industry and the media who they hope will provide coverage of destinations, properties and experiences.

    One highlight of the 2014 conference is the preview of Predock's opus. Although he wasn't physically present, Predock appeared on Tuesday night thanks to a video produced by the CTC that featured the architect discussing his vision for the incredible building. Predock noted that he was inspired by Israel Asper and the original idea for the CMHR. Asper, the late newspaper owner, wanted to build a significant facility to honour and remember victims of atrocities as well as educate the public to prevent future crimes against humanity.

    The museum might seem dour in tone but the building is so stunning that it actually makes you feel uplifted. Light floods in from a massive bank of windows, the dark mud-coloured floors on the first level leads to a black ramp that turns into a beautiful white alabaster staircase that ribbons its way up the museum. At the apex is the Tower of Hope that allows visitors to peer down the length of the building. The tower was not open for viewing on Tuesday.

    Master exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum called the museum a "courageous idea" and "the mothership for human rights."

    "Embedded is a whole set of digital tools that will allow us to use social media to push out information to the rest of the world. If you look at the past 30 days, the relevance of the museum becomes more and more apparent," said Appelbaum, referencing the unrest taking place in Ferguson, Missouri as he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

    Story by Rod Charles, Vacay.ca Writer.

    To read the rest of the story on Vacay.ca, see a video and watch a live Google Hangout report, click here.


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    In the 14th century, the Black Death wiped out a third of Europe's population -- at the time nearly 100-million people. In 2013 alone there were 8.7-million new cases of tuberculosis and over 2 million new cases of HIV. Every year there are over 200 million malaria cases, and over 90 per cent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.

    And then there is Ebola, which has infected over 2,400 and so far killed 1,229. True, this is the largest, most severe outbreak of the disease we have seen, but that doesn't mean this isn't controllable. It has gripped thousands of lives in West Africa, and is scaring thousands more around the globe. Borders in the area have been blocked off, schools and hospitals have been closed down, and many cities and towns within the region are in states of emergency. In Africa and around the world, panic has been transmitted faster than the disease.

    But in reality the disease is rare. If people practice careful hygiene and avoid contact with blood and body fluids of infected people or animals, the risk of contracting Ebola is very low. Ebola is the enemy, but it is being facilitated by fear and ignorance. The lack of preparedness in the infected and at-risk populations and weak infrastructure in the affected countries has become the real culprit.

    Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the countries hit hardest by the virus, simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this scale on their own. At the same time, with the global movement of people diseases like this can't be easily contained in isolated places anymore. Without concerted international support, it could easily spread to other areas.

    Good news is that many countries are realizing that Ebola is not just an African problem. The United States, Canada, and China, among other countries have sent squads of health workers and aid to help halt the spread. This is precisely how the world should respond to global threats. It is our collective responsibility to help address this and all major health problems. With the World Health Organization in the lead, International Geneva is on its toes and ready to make sure we wipe this threat off the map.

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    Now THAT is a shiny car.

    A man in Victoria, B.C. had his Ferrari F430 wrapped entirely in chrome, and the results are quite something.

    Atilla Bassett hired local company The Sign Pad to complete the project, which took six days to finish and cost Bassett more than $13,000, reported the Times Colonist. The car is insured for $200,000.

    chrome wrapped ferrari

    Chrome is often considered the "Everest of wrapping" because the material is so hard to handle, according to a post on the company's website. A YouTube video shows the meticulous process behind the shine.

    “I am head over heels happy with the results,” Bassett told the Times Colonist. “I like to step outside the box. I know it isn't for everyone, but if you spend your life worried about how everybody thinks, you will never live your dream.”

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    orca killer whale net

    A whale-watching boat tour near Port Hardy, B.C. ran into quite a sight as a young killer whale struggled to get free of a fishermen's net, while her frantic family surrounded her.

    Nicole Mackay, co-owner of Mackay's Whale Watching wrote about last week's incredible encounter on the company's Facebook page.

    A fisherman on the water radioed a distress call that he had a whale caught in his fishing gear, said Mackay. Her boat with customers onboard happened to be nearby. She recognized the seven-year-old I103 orca from pod I15 entangled in a gill net.

    The veteran fisherman "worked tirelessly to untangle the young whale," Mackay wrote.

    The tangled orca went underwater for about 12 minutes, which terrified Mackay. She told CBC News that whales typically hold their breath for about five minutes.

    While the young whale was underwater, her family also dove down to stay with her.

    "We had the hydrophone underwater and they were sounding very frantic — their calls weren't their typical calls," Mackay told CBC News.

    In the end, the fisherman was able to cut through his net and free the whale. She swam straight to her family and towards an island where research vessels were able to monitor them for several hours to make sure they were OK, said Mackay.

    "A very rare event that I have never seen," said Mackay whose family has been in the whale-watching business for 30 years. "We were all happy to see her swim away. It was something I personally never want to witness again. Many thanks to the fisherman for freeing her and saving her life. I hope he is able to repair the damage done to his net so he can continue his livelihood."




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    A trip to one of Alberta's national parks is often an opportunity to see wildlife, but it's never a guarantee.

    The animals can be elusive, and are often too timid to come near the roads and highways where a wildlife encounter with humans would be most likely.

    Luckily, remote wilderness cameras set up in Banff, Waterton Lakes, and Jasper National Parks give us a glimpse of the animals we may never see with our own eyes.

    Specially designed cameras are placed in strategic locations around the park, essentially allowing animals to take their own pictures by triggering a sensor as they move.


    More Wild Alberta

    Banff Cougar Spends 24 Hours Eating Elk

    The Dangers Of Banff Wildlife Encounters

    Waterton Bear Destroys SUV


    Not only do these cameras provide us with rather remarkable photos of Alberta wildlife, but parks researchers and scientists can also use the equipment to track and monitor wildlife populations. By studying the photos, they can tell the number of animals in a particular area and gain an understanding of their travel patterns.

    The team at Waterton Lakes National Park has been cataloging these photos for several years and the results are incredible:




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    So, you’re all set to have a vacation of a lifetime in Rio de Janeiro. And while sometimes getting lost and fumbling through a foreign city is part of the fun — it can often lead to all sorts of adventures you’ll remember for years to come — it’s always useful to know a few key phrases in Brazilian Portuguese when traveling to Rio. That’s where we come in!

    Não, não entendo.
    Translation: No, I don’t understand.
    Perhaps the one you’ll use most often. You can use this one when the waiter starts rattling off the night’s dinner specials, or when someone cute at the club starts to chat you up.

    Você fala inglês?
    Translation: Do you speak English?
    When you know zero Portuguese, then this is how you’ll be able to find people you can chat with, like when you’re trying to find someone who can give you directions to Parque de Catacumba.

    Como vai?
    Translation: How are you?
    This is always a polite way to start a conversation whether you’re just at the bar about to order a drink or trying to make new friends at the soccer game.

    Onde fica a melhor praia?
    Translation: Where’s the best beach?
    Your vacation won’t be complete without some quality beach time, and you’ll be able to find the top spots for sun and sand by asking the locals for their favourites.

    Estou perdido/perdida.
    Translation: I’m lost.
    Even with your smartphone and your guidebook, you can’t figure out how to get where you want to go. It’s time to swallow your pride and tell someone you’re lost.

    Vai para a festa?
    Translation: Are you going to the party?
    If hitting up some great parties on your Brazilian vacation is essential, then this is definitely one phrase you will need to master.

    Gostaria de checar meu e-mail.
    Translation: I’d like to check my email.
    As much as you’d like to unplug from the world at home, sometimes it’s just necessary to check the inbox to check in with work or your family.

    Vocês podem enviar parao exterior?
    Translation: Can I have it sent overseas?
    So, it turns out that you can’t live without the cachaça you’re drinking and want a case of it sent back home so you can make caipirinhas just like the ones you’re enjoying. Bust out this phrase and reap the benefits of cross-continental souvenirs.

    Eu gostaria de fazer uma reserve, por favor.
    Translation: I’d like to book a room, please.
    If you want to make plans on the fly so your vacation plans can stay flexible, making knowing how to ask for accommodations a must.

    Eu sou casado/casada.
    Translation: I’m married.
    Always a helpful phrase to know, whether it’s so you can make polite conversation with locals, or to let down hopefuls trying to chat you up.

    O que tem neste prato?
    Translation: What’s in that dish?
    Almost everyone is going gluten-, meat-, or dairy-free these days. If you have a restricted diet (or simply like to know exactly what’s in the dishes you’re ordering), learn this phrase by heart.

    Você quer beber alguma coisa?
    Translation: Would you like a drink?
    This is one of the easiest ways to make new friends at a bar, period.

    Gostei muito de você.
    Translation: I like you very much.
    Have you found love in Rio de Janeiro? Then you’ll definitely want to be able to share how you feel with your new crush.

    Vou experimentar.
    Translation: I’ll try it.
    You’re all for trying new things on vacation — whether it’s food, drink, or activities. Here’s how you can say that you want in.

    Você podera tirar minha foto, por favor?
    Translation: Could you take a picture of me?
    There’s only so many selfies you can take. Get better photos of yourself at Ipanema Beach and Cristo Redentor by asking someone to snap a photo of you.

    Qual é número do teu telephone?
    Translation: What’s your phone number?
    It’s always important to know how to ask for one’s digits, whether it’s for the restaurant you want to call to make a dinner reservation at, or you want to be able to connect with the cutie you met at the beach.

    Está muito caro.
    Translation: That’s too expensive.
    Oh yeah, it’s time to get your haggle on. When it comes to bartering with the local vendors, no one is better than you. Ad now you can bring those skills in multiple languages.

    Qual o seu endereco de e-mail?
    Translation: What’s your e-mail address?
    You’ve met some lovely locals you can’t bear to say goodbye to and you want to keep in touch and need their email addresses.

    Me beija.
    Translation: Kiss me.
    You’ve been flirting all night and want to smooch. Here’s how to ask for that kiss. Nice moves, hot shot.

    Eu não sabia que estava fazendo algo errado.
    Translation: I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong.
    Uh, oh. Somehow, you’ve gotten into a little bit of trouble and need to be able to explain that you’re not from around here, and you didn’t know you were misbehaving. Way to go, hot shot.

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    Giants have descended upon Vancouver's popular Granville Island.

    Six industrial concrete silos there are being transformed into a vibrant mural, thanks to internationally acclaimed street artists, OSGEMEOS.

    osgemeos

    OSGEMEOS, which literally means "the twins," is made up of Brazilian twin brothers Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo. They're known for their public art, transforming buildings and walls into colourful spray-painted characters.

    The Vancouver project is the duo's biggest to date.

    osgemeos

    The 70-foot tall, 23,500-sq.-ft. mural is part of the Vancouver Biennale, an event that celebrates public art. Because of the sheer scale of the $126,000 project, the non-profit event is seeking donations from the public.

    The paint for the mural, for example, will cost $46,000.

    "If you love it, every $5 counts," Miriam Blume, the Biennale's marketing director, told The Huffington Post B.C. "We're putting the 'public' back in public art."



    While the mural will be completed by Sept. 6 no matter what, the Biennale is hoping art lovers will contribute to a crowdfunding campaign. Donors can receive perks including a rare limited edition poster — OSGEMEOS rarely allows merchandising.

    The 2014-2016 Biennale has also featured work by Brazil's Hugo França and is set to showcase something by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

    See more photos of the OSGEMEOS mural:




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