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    Calgary is a great city to live in and to visit. As the weather warms up, though, I get the itch to travel a bit farther afield. Thankfully there are many great places to visit that are a short hop, skip and a jump from Calgary. You will be pleasantly surprised how many very different experiences are available to your family within a days drive. Alberta isn't JUST about visiting the mountains!

    All distances are from "Calgary" which is from the center of town per Google maps.

    Road Trips from Calgary - North

    Big Hill Springs Provincial Park (41.8km)


    Big Hill Springs Provincial Park is so close that it is hard to even consider it a road trip. However, it is a very cool spot that your kids will love. Easy hiking, a picnic area and a small creek make it a great place to visit throughout the spring and summer.

    Lacombe Area - Ellis Bird Farm (181 km)


    The Ellis Bird Farm is near Lacombe, Alberta and is both a working farm as well as a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Mountain Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and other native cavity-nesting birds. They have great programs for kids on most weekends and a lovely tea house. Check out my full write up about Ellis Bird Farm before your visit.

    Red Deer Area - Torrington Gopher Museum and Discovery Canyon (147 km to Red Deer)


    I'm excited about this post from Brooklyn Berry Designs about visiting Red Deer. The Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington has been on my list for a while. This summer we WILL be visiting because who doesn't like taxidermied gophers?

    Cochrane (36 km)


    MacKay's is famous for it's homemade ice cream that they've made since 1948. They make TONS of flavors...some that you've heard of and some that may seem a little weird (avacado anyone?).

    Canmore (104 km)


    Canmore is a great day trip from Calgary. It's just far enough to be "away" but close enough that your kids won't get too antsy. Check out this great post from Home to Heather about her weekend away with her kids in Canmore.

    Road Trips from Calgary - South

    Medicine Hat - Medalta Museum, Saamis Teepee (295 km)


    Head South from Calgary and visit Medicine Hat. Between gorgeous parks, yummy restaurants, the Saamis teepee, the Medalta museum and the butterfuly house, there are tons of things for the entire family to enjoy.

    Black Diamond - Marv's Classic Soda Shop (66 km)


    Take a trip back in time. Marv's is a great diner with an old fasioned soda counter, ice cream shop and candy store. Your kids will love a visit especially if you give them a bit of money to spend on candy.

    Lethbridge - Activities, Places to Eat and Accommodations (212 km)


    Lethbridge has tons of great activities for families. This great post from Calgary Playground Review includes family friendly activity ideas, accommodation recommendations and ideas of where to eat.

    Nanton (92 km)


    Head South to the great little town of Nanton. Here are two great posts about things to do in Nanton and the Bomber Command Museum of Nanton.

    Kananaskis (100 km)


    Thinking about taking a little longer trip? Head down to the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. They have beautiful facilities, a great pool, hiking and lots of activities for kids.

    Camping Southern Alberta Provincial Parks


    Thinking of going camping within a day drive of Calgary? Check out this great post from Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies about the The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta. Many of the parks also have day use areas in case you aren't staying over night.

    Just Heading Out for Brunch? Check out Travels With Baggage's suggestions in Canmore and Banff (check out Chez Francois...she is totally right that it is amazing!)

    See more posts from Merry at


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

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    It's Time to Get Out and Enjoy Calgary's Best Festivals!

    I have to say that I am looking forward to Calgary's full line-up of festivals this coming spring and summer (2015). If you are as enthused as I am about getting out to some of YYC's best events, then you'll definitely want to check out our list of must-visits that run through to the fall season.

    Calgaryism's top festival choices for spring and summer 2015:

    Lilac Festival

    • When - Sunday, May 31st, 2015, 10:00am to 6:00pm

    • Where - 4th Street SW btw 13th Ave S - Elbow Drive

    • Cost - free

    With over 100,000 visitors every year, the 4th Street Lilac Festival is one of the most popular spring events around. Brimming with countless food vendors, street buskers, live bands, artisan shops and friendly faces, this festival is one not to miss. Get to the restaurant street side patios early to watch from the sidelines if walking lots isn't your thing.

    FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival

    • When - May 28th to June 7th, 2015

    • Where - multiple venues

    • Cost -20.00 a show per person

    If you like laughing and having a good time, then the FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival should be on your list of things to do this May / June. You are guaranteed to be walking away after whichever show you attend with sore ribs from laughing so much.

    Sled Island Music Festival

    • When - June 24th to June 28th, 2015

    • Where - multiple venues

    • Cost -50.00 to349.00

    The Sled Island Music Festival is one of the biggest and most eclectic music festivals on all year in Calgary. See any of the 250 plus bands performing you like, and then some more with a great selection of ticket options. Events are held at several top-notch venues around YYC, mostly in the inner city and downtown areas.

    Calgary International Blues Festival

    • When - July 27th to August 2nd, 2015

    • Where - Shaw Millennium Park

    • Cost -30.00 to129.00

    Do you love the blues, maybe some jazz or perhaps that genre in between? If so, then you'll be pleased when you visit the Calgary Bluesfest this summer, a world class event featuring talents from a handful of international countries. Seven days of non-stop music will be played over its four days of duration - now that's some bang for your buck!

    Fiestaval Latino Festival

    • When - July 17th to July 19th, 2015

    • Where - Olympic Plaza (downtown)

    • Cost - Free

    Fiestaval Latino Festival is one of the biggest multicultural arts / entertainment celebrations there is in YYC with a focus on the rich and diverse cultures of Latin America. There are lots of things to do and see at Fiestaval including shopping at vendors, enjoying live music and entertainment plus much more.

    Calgary Stampede

    • When - July 3rd to July 12th, 2015

    • Where - Stampede Grounds

    • Cost -10.00 to20.00

    The Calgary Stampede, dubbed "the greatest outdoor show on Earth", is one of the best and most celebrated summer festivals in YYC. If you choose to visit just one of these spring or summer festivals listed, this should be the one! Keep a heads up for the new food vendors in 2015, you may just find a new stampeding favourite!

    Folk Music Festival

    • When - July 23rd to July 26th, 2015

    • Where - Festival Hall

    • Cost -25.00 to169.00

    The Folk Music Festival showcases some of the most unique music genres out there - performed by over 70 artists from 14 different countries - making this summer event one not to miss regardless if you are into the folk genres or not.

    Chinatown Street Festival

    • When - to be announced

    • Where - Chinatown

    • Cost - free

    Sample tasty Chinese cuisines, play a game of traditional Mah-Jong, watch performers work miracles as dragon dancers, shop a variety of wares and more at the Chinatown Street Festival in Chinatown. This event is typically held in late July or early August so keep an eye open for the actual date to be announced!

    Inglewood Sunfest

    • When - Saturday, August 1st, 2015, 10:00am to 5:00pm

    • Where - Inglewood

    • Cost - free

    What the Sun & Salsa Festival is to Kensington, Lilac Festival to the beltline, Marda Gras to Marda Loop is what the Inglewood Sunfest is to Inglewood; a community event celebrating its diversity through music, food, entertainment and more. Inglewood's connectivity to East Village and RiverWalk makes it an event easily accessible via the river pathways.

    Marda Gras

    • When - Sunday, August 9th, 2015

    • Where - Marda Loop

    • Cost - free

    Marda Gras is similar to Inglewood Sunfest when it comes to having a variety of food vendors, live entertainment, shopping and all the rest that goes with. But then and again, Inglewood and Marda Loop are two Business Revitalization Zones with many different things to see and do, and plus, it's the weekend after Sunfest, so why not go to both!?


    • When - August 20th to August 29th, 2015

    • Where - Elliston Park

    • Cost -7.50 to75.00

    GlobalFest is a world-class, international and multicultural fireworks festival held later in summer. During the nine day event, visitors can buy tickets to a number of shows with a theme that represents a particular country of the world. One thing I love about GlobalFest is the tents where you can learn about different cultures and their traditions from all over the world. Let's not forget about the heaps of artisan shops, unique food vendors and everything else offered by this awesome festival event.

    Expo Latino

    • When - August 28th to August 30th, 2015

    • Where - Princes Island Park

    • Cost -10.00 to35.00

    Expo Latino is another summer celebration of Latin culture similar to Fiestaval Latino Festival when it comes to having live music and entertainment, food vendors and artisan shops to fancy. Lots of differences between the two also exist, like the location for example, with Expo Latino being held in one of Calgary's finest spots for outdoor summer activities - Princes Island Park. Check it out!

    Chasing Summer Music Festival

    • When - August 7th & August 8th, 2015

    • Where - Fort Calgary

    • Cost -150 to250+

    Chasing Summer, Western Canada's largest outdoor music festival, is only a few months away. With electronic dance music headliners like DJ Tiesto, Afrojack, Dash Berlin, Kaskade, Tritonal and many more headliners from around the world, this is one event that EDM lovers don't want to miss.

    Sun & Salsa Festival - Cancelled

    Where is the Sun & Salsa Festival on our list? Well, unfortunately the highly popular event has been cancelled this year due to the construction of Kensington by Bucci and Lido, two new condominium developments that will help to revitalize the BRZ's streetscapes.

    Don't see one of your favourite up and coming Calgary festivals on our list? Leave us a comment below and we will add them to the list next time!

    I Love Calgary

    Are you looking for more of the best local activities, events, restaurants and everything else to do with this wonderful city of ours? If so, hit us up at Calgaryism on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay updated via live social media feed today - it's that easy. We hope to see you there!

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

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    From sensational steakhouses, to top-rate butcher shops, and amazing burger joints that will blow your mind - Alberta beef is everywhere... And that's just the way we like it up in the Great White North! Gear up for a meatapalooza in the Capital Area and let the carnivorous cravings commence.

    Acme Meat Market
    Who needs to go out for farm-to-table, when you can have butcher-to-face? Since 1921 Acme has been Edmontonian's go-to place for natural, free range and locally sourced meat. And current owner and meat-man Corey Meyer has become a social media sensation in the #YEG. So head in, say hi and pick up a succulent steak for the barbeque or a savoury roast for Sunday dinner.

    D'Arcy's Meat Market
    Selling only top choice Alberta products, D'Arcy's is renowned for their beef and bison that is aged 21 days, as well as being one of the only places in the Province whom offers Wagyu beef. Located in St. Albert, this renowned meat mecca will soon will be opening a new space... So what are you waiting for? Go meat your local butcher tonight!

    Real Deal Meats
    This family run facility will have your mouth watering for the AAA Heritage Angus beef. And you can gear up for barbecque season with their Spring/Summer steak pack; 4 rib-eyes steaks, New York striploin and Top sirloin steaks. As well as 4 Rib Steaks, 4 T-bones and
    3 lbs of Maui style short ribs. Now that's a steak-action!

    Hardware Grill
    A high-steaks experience can always be found at this A-list downtown dining establishment. With French influences on local Prairie flavours, husband and wife Melinda and Larry are as renowned for their progressive Canadian cuisine as the restaurant is for the outstanding Alberta Angus beef tenderloin. For something really special, request a dinner at the Chef's Table, where you can experience the excitement and drama of the kitchen.

    Von's Steak House & Oyster Bar
    From steak tartare to prime rib sandwich, there is a whole lotta beef in this building! All steaks are aged a minimum of 28 days then seared in a 1700 degree high heat broiler to lock in those Alberta juices. Or, opt for one of the 4 cuts of slow cooked prime rib, roasted for 17 hours and cooked to perfection. Pop in during happy hour for a side of oysters at a buck a shuck!

    Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
    Slicing off some of the juiciest, most mouth-watering meat in the city, this Brazilian steakhouse provides unlimited cuts of rib eye, rump steak, top and bottom sirloin, and even bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Wash it all down with a Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil, with flavours like watermelon and chili pepper, or banana cinnamon. You may come out with a mean case of the meat sweats, but it will be worth it!

    Jack's Burger Shack
    While you're off burger-hoppin', shimmy up north to St Albert in hot pursuit of two magic words: "hangover style": in place of the bun, you get 2 grilled cheese. Wowza! With fresh ground beef delivered daily, creative items like the BBQ Crunch; which comes with bacon, cheese, potato chips and an orange soda BBQ sauce, brothers Ninh and Tu are pumping out bold burgers to be proud of, in the Perron District. Oh, and the creative milkshakes like the Darth Vader or Italian Stallion will have you weak in the knees.

    Delux Burger Bar
    This hotspot is Plan A for scores of loyal locals. From building your own burger, to the 6 oz mouth watering signature "Deluxe Burger" with blue cheese, caramelized onions, portobello mushroom, crispy bacon, chipotle mayo on toasted brioche - the Prairie Wise certified, range fed, angus beef ensures that the beef is top-notch, and always amazing. Paired with Stella Artois beer battered onion rings, and you've got one gourmet burger experience. Check out their 3rd location, opening this week in St Albert.

    Unleash that growling carnivore within at this Southern style smokehouse located in the heart of Old Strathcona. They're bringing brisket back in a big way! Sometimes it's all about the sauce, and the sensational homemade sauces such as bourbon, cherry, spicy and mustard adorn every table. With beer, bourbon and locally sourced beef brisket, this is a trifecta of taste.

    This article was compiled by Jennie Marshall, Community Manager of Yelp Edmonton: @yelpedmonton


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    With the official start to summer just a couple weeks away, we're getting the urge to get in the car and go.

    Nothing beats a road trip on Alberta's open highways, and in this province the opportunities are endless. There are unlimited destinations with a plenty of opportunities to keep everyone in your family entertained.

    Whether it's an ATV experience in the province's northern forests, a canoeing adventure on a pristine mountain lake, or just a day trip for a picnic or an ice cream, there's always somewhere new to explore.

    With the help of Travel Alberta, we've compiled seven incredible road trips to take in Alberta this summer. Some take just a few short hours, while others could be turned into overnight trips or a week away:

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    Tucked away on the B.C. coast, Tofino is a serene, inspiring landscape sprinkled with endless beaches, monster waves, and care-free surfers.

    Born and raised in the tiny town, Jeremy Koreski is an expert in all things Tofino. The photographer captures the rugged atmosphere by getting knee-deep and muddy in everything that makes the area so great: the ocean, the forest, and the wildlife.

    Needless to say, the images are captivating. As our June Photographer of the Month, Koreski, 36, let us in on why he rarely photographs anything but his hometown, and shares his favourite photography memory — an underwater encounter that will leave you spellbound.

    jeremy koreski

    Q: How did you get started with photography?

    A: My dad gave me a camera, a Canon AE1, when I was 12 and I started taking it to the skatepark and out to the beach to take photos of my friends.

    Q: You grew up in Tofino. Why focus your work there, rather than branching out to other areas?

    A: When I was growing up in Tofino, I didn’t always want to be there… I wanted to travel and see the world, so when I finished high school that’s what I did. It didn’t take me long to realize how special Vancouver Island is.

    Lately I’ve been focusing a lot of my work on the B.C. coast, but I still do take international assignments. In the last couple of years, I've been to Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Mexico and coming up I have Scotland and Galapagos in 2015. But really the main reason for focusing my work around my home is that I care about it and want to use my images to show people how special it is.

    jeremy koreski

    Q: So many people look at photos of Tofino and see a really unique, “pretty” place. With your work, what do you hope people see when they see your photos?

    A: Hopefully people who look at my work realize that there are fewer and fewer untouched places on this earth and that those places are worth more than money.

    Q: What sets you apart from other photographers?

    A: My eye.

    jeremy koreski

    Q: Nowadays, it’s easy for “anyone to be a photographer” with sharing apps like Instagram. How do you keep finding success?

    A: I think most of my success has come from the fact that I shoot a lot of person work [photos with living things versus inanimate objects] and those are the images people enjoy the most.

    Q: Can you tell the story of your most memorable shoot?

    A: One of my most memorable shoots so far happened a couple years ago on a tuna fishing trip off the coast of Tofino. We were in the blue water with 60+ vis [60 feet of visuals] and were catching a ton of tuna when roughly 300 Pacific white-sided dolphins swam through the area. I had my gear with me, so I suited up and jumped in. It was the most fun 45 minutes with those dolphins I think I’ve ever spent in the ocean with my camera.

    jeremy koreski

    Q: What are some misconceptions about your work/industry that you’d like to set straight?

    A: My job is 10 per cent of the time taking pictures and 90 per cent of the time working on the computer / meetings / email / brainstorming shoots / contracts / estimates / more meetings…

    Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into photography, especially as a business venture?

    A:Don’t get into photography as a business venture, get into photography because you enjoy taking photos.

    Q: What else do you do when you're not shooting? What's next for you?

    A: When I am not shooting, I spend time with my wife Sarah and three-year-old daughter Bellavita, and keep trying to plan shoots that they will be able to join me on.

    My next project is putting together a Kickstarter project for a book of my favourite images from the British Columbia coast. The title of the book is This is Nowhere and the project will be launching soon — hoping for June 8.

    Follow Jeremy Koreski's work online:





    Interested in being HuffPost B.C.'s Photographer of the Month? Email us and we can chat!

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    Calgary's creative food entrepreneurs have taken to trucks like a bento to a burrito, or naan to a taco. If you don't see the connection, read on. Whatever feeds your fancy, one thing is certain -- pound the pavement in Calgary and you're sure to turn up some satisfying street food.

    Eats of Asia -- Bao Sliders
    On the forefront of this city's steamed bun revolution, you'll find Eats of Asia's Bao Sliders. Bask in the glory of the Lucky Pig Bao -- melt in your mouth pork belly on top of a warm and soft steamed bun. Topped with cilantro and peanuts, these are some scrumptious street sliders. Stumble across their truck on summer streets, or seek them out at at the Crossroads Market.

    Cheezy Bizness -- The Hot Mess
    That's right, Calgary is home to a Food Truck dedicated to everything grilled cheese! Get down to business with the Hot Mess: Pimento cheese, pepper jack, banana peppers, sriracha mayo and staying true to their local philosophy, Spragg's Spanish chorizo and a Sylvan Star Farms fried egg.

    Perogy Boyz -- Perogy Poutine
    There's a food d'état happening in Calgary and the Perogy Boyz are at the centre of the perogy revolution. Having studied with the pierogi masters, (their babas,) Perogy Boyz cook up urban street food versions of everyone's favourite Eastern European potato pocket. Try them traditional or enjoy a truly Calgarian creation like the Perogy Poutine -- topped with truck made garlic herb beef gravy, melted cheese curds, crisp double smoked bacon, and fresh chives.

    Fiasco Gelato -- Gelato Brioche
    Sure, they handcraft their gelato 10 litres at a time with the highest quality local ingredients and have flavours like Bourbon Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt . Sure, they serve fresh brewed coffee from Calgary's own Rosso Coffee Roasters, they create incredible cookies and craft house made marshmallows from honey, but what truly sets the Fiasco Gelato Van apart from every other ice cream truck in existence -- no Greensleeves! Try one of their creative brioche concoctions like a S'mores Gelato Brioche with Marshmallow Fluff.

    The Naaco Truck -- The Naaco
    When naan bread met taco, the whole city fell in love with this tasty Indian-Mexican mashup. These street food sensations have Indian inspired innards like chickpea, butter chicken and beef vindaloo. They feature a changing menu of items that are made from ingredients so local, they even have an edible rooftop garden.

    Waffles & Chix -- Cheezy Waffle Sandwich
    The Cheezy Waffle Sandwich at Waffles & Chix puts all the comfort of southern cooking into a uniquely Calgarian street food package you can eat with your hands -- that is, if you don't mind the mess. Southern fried chicken, creamy coleslaw and maple syrup sandwiched between between two cheese waffles. We doubt you'll still be hungry, but try and save some room for their Nutella and banana Waffle for dessert, will you?

    Red Wagon Diner -- Montreal Smoked Meat Hash
    An authentic Montreal diner, rolled up in a little red truck and served street side, the Red Wagon Diner smokes up some tasty meat. Looking for something a little more out of the ordinary? Try the smoked meat hash -- Montreal Smoked Meat mixed with hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, onions, banana peppers and cheese, topped with two soft basted eggs. Bon appetite.

    Bento Burrito -- The Bento Burrito
    In the world of street food, the burrito is an engineering masterpiece. Bento Burrito takes it a step further featuring all of the flavours you'd find in a Japanese Bento box. Sushi rice with pickled carrots, cucumber, daikon radish, fresh cilantro, avocado and toasted sesame seeds, all rolled up into a self contained smorgasbord with your choice of peanut satay chicken, teriyaki pork or tofu.

    Farm Girls -- Meatloaf Sliders
    Down-home and homemade, Farm Girls brings the "fork to truck" picnic wherever they go. Try their pork, goat cheese and herb meatloaf sliders with cornmeal and caramelized onions. It's momma's home cooking that you can hold with your hands.

    Mighty Skillet Brunch Truck -- Golden Age Poutine
    Like a superhero made of cast iron, the mighty skillet swoops in to protect Calgary streets from a boring brunch. Go big with the Golden Age breakfast poutine -- two soft eggs over large wedge fries, covered in all melted cheese curds, slices of ham and smothered with hollandaise sauce.

    Compiled by Yelp Calgary's Community Manager Dale E / @yelpcalgary


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    Mark Twain once said "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do."

    As our boomers are reaching the age of retirement, their thoughts become centered around the amount of time they'll have on their hands, and how to fill it. As most are now empty nesters and not doing the nine-to-five, they have the flexibility to travel where and when they want. Only a few will have an unlimited budget, so the majority will be living on pensions, and luckily there are many options for senior travel on a budget. Some seniors may feel the need to cash-in an existing pension to maintain their lifestyle as well as travel. Make sure you get professional advice before making any rash decisions.

    Travel in Europe

    Europe is always a big draw, but hotels in major cities can be cost prohibitive. B&Bs have become popular, particularly in Britain where so many are lovely and well appointed. You can drive around the England, Scotland and Wales staying in B&Bs and small Inns, actually in some towns they are your only options. Also if you are there don't forget to visit their top tourist destination, the British Museum in London. Driving can be pricey as gas runs about $8.00 U.S. a gallon and adding in auto insurance may persuade you to take a bus or train tour. B&Bs are slowly catching on in the rest of Europe but most are a little less comfortable then in the U.K. Train travel is a great option while in Europe and a Euro Pass can give you access to 21 countries. Guidebooks are available at local tourism offices and as locals staff them can put you on to some great out-of-the-way spots. You can also get a lot of great info at local hostels; they know all of the inexpensive places to eat and reasonable tours.


    There are so many cruise options available, Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean, European and American River Cruises as well as Panama and the Galapagos Islands. Most cruise ships are wheelchair/scooter friendly. Everything is close at hand -- meals, entertainment, activities but make sure you confirm your stateroom will accommodate your wheelchair and has accessible plug-outlets to recharge. Don't expect to visit all the Ports-of-Call as many may use tenders or gangways that won't accommodate a wheelchair.

    Pick a cruise the fits your preferences -- smaller ships are less crowded and offer fewer Ports-of-Call but you often end up visiting lovely off-the-beaten-path gems. Remember that smaller ships have more roll then the larger, so if you worry about seasickness stick to larger vessels. Budget wisely, meals and entrainment might be covered but alcoholic beverages, tips and off-shore activities are not. Choose cruise Line to fit your style, 'Celebrity' has a mature and luxurious ambiance, "Carnival" is a party ship, "Disney" is family-oriented and "Royal Caribbean" specializes in activities on and off-board. Lastly, inside cabins are cheaper.

    North America

    There are so many options on our own continent but the majority of Canadian retirees gravitate to the warm rays of the sun. In the middle of a Canadian winter, what can be better than a Florida beach. Flights and hotels are the most expensive from January through March. Most airlines in North America discontinued senior discounts long ago (South West Airlines in the U.S. still have a discount for 65+ travelers) but there are still a few deals to be had. Booking three months in advance can save you a few percentage points. Flying out of a U.S. airport (if it's reasonably convenient) can save you many hundreds of dollars. For people living in the Toronto/Hamilton area, Buffalo is the airport to use. Don't be afraid of asking for the best-possible rate, no matter what you're booking. Discounts are still available at hotels, museums and other attractions. Hyatt Hotels in the United States have the best discounts for seniors over 62. Searching sites like will give a good picture of what will best suit your budget. Best of all bridges the gap between an online and traditional travel agency with travel agents available 24/7 to help you find deals and offers to destinations worldwide.

    Central Florida is one of the best areas to rent a one or two bedroom manufactured home for the whole winter and rates range from $1,000 per month. Central Florida is one of the best areas to rent a one or two bedroom manufactured home for the whole winter and rates range from $1,000 per month. Another hot spot that's attracting more seniors is Arizona where the winter months are warm and dry. Scottsdale and Sedona are two popular spots. There are a lot of great resorts, with plenty of golf, sunshine and spectacular desert scenery.

    Last minute travel deals can be found if you do your homework.


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    If New Zealand is on your travel bucket list, get ready to line up for an incredible offer.

    In celebration of its 75th anniversary, Air New Zealand announced a one-day fare sale of $475 from Vancouver to Auckland.

    Current fares range from $1,200 to $2,000.

    The airline is offering 75 tickets at $475 to people lined up at the Flight Centre Canada's Vancouver flagship location at 625 Howe St. on Wednesday, June 17.

    Five people who enter a contest on Facebook could also jump to the head of the line.

    The deeply-discounted fares will be for departures in late September with return flights about 12 days later.

    Of course, terms and conditions apply.

    Say hi to the hobbits for us!

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    Mountains offer one of life's greatest pleasures; the combination of inspiring hiking/walking and gourmet eating.

    Taking it one step further -- perhaps for the first time ever -- a mountain park endeavours to put the mountains right on your plate.

    Any mountain meal in Europe is likely comprised of some local ingredients.

    However, the Monti Sibillini National Park in Central Italy is offering a pure mountain taste.

    The project called "Menu of the Sibillini" has challenged restaurants in the park to create a dish (traditional or innovative) whereby every single ingredient is from the park.

    The spinoffs are amazing:

    Some chiefs have researched ancient local recipes, for example making pasta using wild herbs. Now restaurants are reaching out to small local producers like never before, forging new links. Some restaurants have decided to create a shop area to sell and promote the local products after the meal.

    Visitors are given a menu map of the mountain park. Each participating restaurant offers one meal on the menu. This structure spreads the economic benefits. Plus visitors are given more opportunity to plan amazing meals to fit in with all the stunning hikes in different parts of the diverse landscape this mountain park is famous for.

    I interviewed Dr Maria Laura Talame, the Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Education officer for the Monti Sibillini National Park, and the instigator of this project, who explained:

    "One of the greatest challenges mountain parks in Europe face today is to reconcile the needs of nature and conservation, with social and economic demands. Sometimes these needs are conflicting and this project was developed to harmonize these forces by stimulating sustainable, high quality tourism."

    The public are encouraged to learn more about the plants and animals of the mountains while helping local producers. Food producers in turn can stimulate biodiversity, for example by keeping animals on the mountain pastures where grazing encourages the rich flora and fauna that have made the mountains so poignantly beautiful for many thousands of years.

    When you sit down at each restaurant on the menu map to eat your 100 per cent mountain meal, there is a description of the ingredients, as well as the person who produces the food, their location in the park, and also how the products contribute to or help maintain biodiversity.

    Menu of the Sibillini will be launched end of June so there is still time to plan your visit.

    For now here's a taster.

    Lets hope other national parks take up this inspiring idea for eating and walking.


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    Ontario's Prince Edward County is world-class touring country. Just a few hours from Montreal, Ottawa, Syracuse, or Toronto (and a free ride from Kingston on the Glenora Ferry), it's one of those places where the trip really begins once you leave the highway -- a perfect place to while away a weekend.

    The County, a wine-growing region on a large headland at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, technically became an island a couple of centuries ago when the Murray Canal opened the lake to the Trent-Severn Waterway. It's a fast-growing haven for creative types from all over, making for an appealing mix of country charm and urban sensibilities.


    Picnic truck: Photo, Lin Stranberg; courtesy Jenn Donville and

    PEC is loaded with pleasures so simple they're brilliant, especially for people who may feel like their brains have too many tabs open at once. This is active and easy unwinding. Nothing requires much organizing and self-guided tour routes are just a click away.

    Get Going

    Sandbanks Provincial Park: Photo, Lin Stranberg

    You can enjoy fabulous local food and wines while meandering along quiet country roads on the Taste Trail, visit artists' studios and galleries on the Arts Trail or hike the nature trails of Sandbanks Provincial Park, famous for sand dunes and balmy beaches.

    Last weekend Skye Collyer and I felt like we hit the jackpot, feasting our eyes on the infinite shades of green rolling out on both sides of the Loyalist Parkway as we drove to Picton for the Great Canadian Cheese Festival. All this peace, all this beauty, and the best cheese in Canada too.

    The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

    The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, love child of founder Georgs Kolesnikovs, has been an annual happening for the last five years. You don't have to be a cheeselover to have a good time -- there are wines, meats, preserves, all kinds of small-batch comestibles and handmade products, live music, great food trucks and a petting zoo.

    The focus is on artisanal and farmstead cheeses, and on makers rather than mongers, so you get to sample a dazzling variety of cheeses and connect with the people who actually produce them. A bite of brie here, a taste of cheddar there, and soon you've fallen in love with the stuff.

    Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère: Photo, Lin Stranberg

    We met established producers like Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese from Vaughan, Ontario, celebrated talents like Jean Morin of Quebec's Fromagerie du Presbytère, and young up-and-comers like Shep Ysselstein and his wife Colleen Bator, who started up Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese on the family farm near Woodstock. BC farmer/cheesemaker Debra Amrein-Boyes explained the intense yellow colour of many of her Farm House Cheeses : its from the beta carotene produced by her grass-fed cows.

    We loved the flavourful summer sausage from Martin Littkemann and Lori Smith's Ontario Water Buffalo Co. and the mellow Albert's Leap, made from their milk by Quality Cheese.

    On the way out we bought some craft Caesar mix from Josh Linde at Walter (perfect for summer parties) and a bottle of blackberry syrup from Wellington Made (we like it with soda). Wellington maker Shelly Walsh, who grows her own blackberries, was happy to be there. "It's a wonderful example of reaching out to a focused group of people," she said.

    If you love farmers' markets and/or lively wine and cheese parties, the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is made for you. Next year's dates: June 4-5, 2016.

    The Drake Devonshire Inn

    The County has hotels, motels and B&Bs galore, but we had reserved months ago at the Drake Devonshire Inn because it was at the top of our list (and everyone else's too -- easy to see why both Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveller UK named it one of their their Best New Hotels of 2015).

    The Drake Devonshire Inn: Photo, Lin Stranberg

    Because it's known as the Drake by the Lake and owned by Jeff Stober of Toronto's Drake Hotel Properties, we were kind of expecting a rural replay of the Drake on Queen West. It's all that and more -- fresher, cooler, and way more playful. Before checkout the next morning, we'd tossed beanbags, ridden bikes, and played outdoor ping-pong. For us, it was a breakout country hit.

    Dining room at the Drake Devonshire: Photo, Lin Stranberg

    Eye candy is everywhere. A paper gems sculpture by Kristen Hasselfeld, a giant wall mural by Faile of Brooklyn, a modified piano by Gordon Monahan, and the piece de résistance, that Great Lake itself. With soaring ceilings done up in Douglas fir, the dining room oversees the shoreline and provides unbroken Lake Ontario views. It's out of this world.

    Lake Ontario from the dining room: Photo, Lin Stranberg

    Chef Matty deMille's kitchen plays up the vibe, artfully simple with a twist of fun. The pickerel is perfection, the burger's a classic, and the beef tartare tickles the palate like a Big Mac with a pedigree. "With a small menu, you need to hit all points," he says.

    Lake Ontario pickerel at the Drake Devonshire: photo, Lin Stranberg

    Like lovely Brandy on the front desk and best-waiter-ever Ricky in the dining room, Chef deMille came to the County on a break from the city and ended up staying on. The friendliness, authenticity and sense of community are what packs the Drake Dev with so much appeal.

    But don't just take it from us. You need to see for yourself what all the buzz is about, and we're betting you'll be glad you did. With only 11 rooms and two suites, it's pretty well sold out every weekend through the summer, so plan a weekday stay, reserve for lunch or dinner, or just drop by for cocktails.

    For more information:

    Photo: Lin Stranberg


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    With the 2015 Calgary Stampede just a few weeks away, we're starting to get excited for the upcoming festivities.

    For more than 100 years, the city has opened its doors to competitors and visitors around the world, putting its best cowboy boot forward to bring "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth."

    We spent some time digging through the Calgary Public Library's "Postcards From The Past" digital archive, coming up with some of the best examples that illustrate the rich history of the Calgary Stampede, and just how much the exhibition has grown and changed over the years.

    Rodeo events have be added or removed, infrastructure that stood 100 years ago is, for the most part, a memory, and the fashion — well, let's just say Daisy dukes and Shady Brady hats are a rather recent development.

    Many of these photographs and postcards have been donated from the private collections of Calgarians and Albertans interested in preserving the history of Alberta's largest city.

    We've made sure to keep the library's original descriptions and dates, where available.

    Can you believe how much the Stampede has changed?

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    With a plan to become the greenest city in the world by 2020, Vancouver is becoming renowned for its safe and extensive bike paths. With all this glorious sunshine we're having, it's time to tune up your bike, strap on your helmet, and get outdoors to explore everything this amazing city has to offer!

    With such a plethora of choices, here are our top picks for spots to pedal your way to.

    vancouver vandusen garden
    (Photo by Sherwood411/Flickr)

    Van Dusen Botanical Garden
    This is a true gem, whichever season you cycle out here, and there's lots of bike parking to keep your bike safe. The gardens are a vast, sprawling place with a fun maze, and more types of plants than you can shake a stick at. Boasting plants from many different countries around the world, Van Dusen is as educational as it is beautiful, which is to say extremely!

    Museum of Vancouver
    Located seconds from the seawall, this unique museum has ever-changing exhibits on a variety of interesting subjects - from Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver, to Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show, there's always something fun to see. With a bike parking right outside you can chain up and enjoy all the museum has to offer, whether you're a Vancouver native, or brand new to the city.

    English Bay Beach Park
    Although this is one of the busier places to go in Vancouver, it's easy to see why. It's right on the seawall and a great place to stop for a rest after biking around Stanley Park. With tons of local bars and restaurants nearby you can grab a coffee or gelato and take it down to enjoy on the beach. There's tons of bike parking around, or you can prop your ride against one of the giant logs on the beach as you recline and watch the sun set.

    Trout Lake Farmer's Market
    Follow the bike trails down to Trout Lake on a sunny summer Saturday and you'll find a cheerful group of people holding bushels of delicious, locally grown food. With oodles of bike parking you can rest assured you'll find a spot to leave your steed as you take a stroll around. Once you're done at the market you can take your treasures and have a picnic by the lake, and even stop by the dog park to laugh at the excited pups as they dive in and out of the water!

    Queen Elizabeth Park
    QE Park is a bike-accessible spot that really has it all: stunning views over the city, a restaurant, a rose garden, and a conservatory. You can't go wrong with this beautiful greenspace -- there are always interesting people to watch, and lots of space to spread out on the grass with a picnic. If you get bored of the view (yeah, right) there's pitch and putt and lawn bowling to keep you busy until you head to Seasons in the Park for a delicious meal to finish the day.

    stanley park seawall

    Stanley Park
    No mention of biking in Vancouver would be complete without discussing Stanley Park. This giant swath of green takes up a large part of Vancouver's downtown, and between the seawall and the forest paths there's plenty to keep you busy while you're pedalling around. The views over English Bay are stunning, and you'll definitely want to stop at one of the gorgeous beaches scattered around the park to soak it all up.

    Wreck Beach
    Feeling like a longer ride? Follow Vancouver's designated bike paths all the way out to UBC and take a trip to Wreck Beach. This is a stunning beach at any time of day, with breathtaking views, soft sand, and quietly lapping waves, but do be warned that this is Vancouver's only nude beach so you may get more than you bargained for! There are bike racks at the top of the trail to the beach, and be prepared for a workout -- there are a lot of stairs to get there.

    Museum of Anthropology at UBC
    This stunning gallery is a reverent tribute to Northwest Coast First Nations' culture, and somewhere you can easily spend a whole day -- plus with the handy bike racks outside you know your ride is safe. The gallery also has the world's largest collection of art by famous Haida artist Bill Reid. The Great Hall has beautiful totem poles and bentwood boxes, plus a gorgeous outdoor sculpture area which is perfect for a sunny day.

    ambleside park west vancouver(Ambleside Park photo by sonson/Flickr)

    Ambleside Park
    Need to stretch those legs after a long week at work? Take a trip out to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver! A good ride from downtown, this is a beautiful park with unbeatable views of the skyline, Stanley Park, and the Lion's Gate Bridge. There's also an off-leash dog park, a kid's play area, and a pier.

    Pacific Spirit Regional Park
    With shared trails for cyclists and pedestrians, this massive park provides endless miles to explore. The park stretches across Point Grey, allowing you to travel around and through 763 hectares of gorgeous, West Coast beauty! With over 50 kilometres of trails to try out, this one's going to keep you busy for a while.

    This article was compiled by Ayla Collins. Follow her on Yelp, and on social media @yelpyvr.


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    1. The James Bond fanatic

    For dads with an appreciation for form and function, the technology and styling of the Nikon Df is hard to beat. It has been finely crafted to reference the retro Nikon designs of their famous "F" series of 35 mm film cameras (the first of which launched in 1959, shortly after movie producers began the search for the character of Bond and eventually landed by Sean Connery).

    2. The jetsetting dad

    He packs light but thoughtfully. Give him the gift of style and function with this sleek and highly functional American Tourister black hard case carry-on. It has all kinds of great features that will get dad excited -- especially the four swivel wheels which will make it easy to scoot through all the international airports he logs hours in.

    3. The hot dad

    He didn't get this way sitting on the couch watching TV and eating frozen dinners. The hot dad logs time at the gym, watches what he eats and looks after his skin. Here is his new secret weapon, the all black Clarisonic Aria. This cleansing device packs a double punch with both brawn and beauty. It's proprietary system will have people asking how old he "really is."

    4. The sporty dad

    For the sneaker head, Jonathan & Olivia stock a wide selection of on-trend kicks that will take him from the gym to the airport, to the streets of New York City. Try Acne Studios, Saturdays Surf NYC or the Nike Free Inneva Woven Sneakers.

    5. The sartorial dad

    The fashionable dad in your life will always appreciate a gift from Tom Ford, without a doubt, one of the world's most dashing designers. Tom Ford Noir Extreme is a robust yet fresh scent aimed directly at the man who enjoys life's most extraordinary adventures.

    6. The corporate dad

    Every year he gets another tie. Practical, yes. So it's best not to venture far from what you know he needs. On his next business trip, he'll be proud to pack this luxuriously easy-care cotton dress shirt from Eton. No time for ironing? No worries. His body heat will help gently release any wrinkles ensuring he always looks crisp and confident.

    7. The creative dad

    He can work a room like nobody's business. The calling card is his most important tool. Spoil him with this beautiful Mark Cross Saffiano leather card case so he can really make an impression while networking on the road.

    8. The adventure dad

    This dad is up for anything. He is drawn to destinations that are off the beaten path and have a reputation for danger. He can pack for an entire 2 week trip in one small bag. He'll love how rugged yet functional this beautiful 2-in-1 convertible laptop backpack by Victorinox looks and feels. He can take it to and from the office or on the road.


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    WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - A woman who surprised a grizzly while hiking up remote mountains in British Columbia's Interior had no time to protect herself or prevent the bear attack, a conservation officer said.

    The bear lunged at the woman and bit her, breaking her arm in a "chance encounter" on Friday, said Len Butler of B.C.'s Conservation Officer Service.

    The bear was just trying to protect itself as it happened upon the woman and her boyfriend, he added.

    "They hiked along a trail, they were in some of the open meadows and there was a small little pass to go up through," said Butler.

    "It was so quick. They did nothing wrong."

    The incident occurred about mid-afternoon while the pair from Williams Lake, B.C., was ascending in the Big Slide Mountain Area near the community of Horsefly, in the province's Cariboo region.

    It was a blustery day, meaning winds were diffusing the hikers' scents and obstructing the crunch of their boots along the foliage, said Butler.

    The couple emerged upon a knoll about the same time the animal arrived from the opposite direction uphill.

    The bear and hikers were only about seven to nine metres apart when they spotted each other.

    "They kind of starred at each other for a second, then the bear bluff-charged and stopped," Butler said. "Then the bear lunged at the female, grabbed her arm, threw her to the side and the bear then just immediately ran off into the trees."

    Butler described the bear's reaction as standard and said it took the path of least resistance to escape.

    He said the woman, in her mid-20s, had bear spray holstered to her hip but simply couldn't respond fast enough.

    "It's more of a surprise — shock value probably for both."

    The pair hiked about an hour back down the mountain before driving two more hours to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., where the woman was treated.

    B.C. Interior Health released a statement on behalf of the couple.

    "As you can imagine, the experience was startling, terrifying and one that caused physical injury," said the statement issued by the woman named River and her boyfriend Evan, who declined to publicize their last names.

    "Being outdoor enthusiasts, we both accept the risks of exploring beautiful British Columbia and we don't want this very rare experience to deter anyone from enjoying the great outdoors.

    "Just ensure you are prepared in case of any unexpected emergency, as we know this saved our lives."

    Conservation officers retraced the couple's path to the location of the attack. They closed the file and noted no sign of the bear remained in the area, said Butler.

    Surprise bear attacks are fairly common across the B.C. backcountry, he said, and bears may be out in higher numbers because there is fresh vegetation for feeding and mating season is just ending.

    — Written by Tamsyn Burgmann in Vancouver

    Follow @TamsynBurgmann on Twitter

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    There's a growing population of travellers that have become more interested in the various cuisines and cultures from countries all over the world, and are planning vacations specifically to incorporate culinary trips. One of the reasons for this evolution has been wine, beer and food festivals. Toronto's Caribana Festival is a good example. Now in its 47th year it's expected to draw over one million tourists from all over the world, much the same as New Orlean's Mardi Gras and Brazil's Carnival.

    According to the American Culinary Traveler, "The percentage of US leisure travelers who travel to learn about unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013. USA Today Travel Tips states "culinary tourism became prominent in 2001 when Erik Wolf, President of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), presented a white paper about culinary tourism to his organization. The paper evolved into a book that documented the growing interest in food and wine tourism..."

    With this ever-growing trend, the industry has seen a rise in new food blogs and websites. Print magazines have expanded their online presence to cover a wider scope of food, recipes and travel. Just take a look at Bon Appétit.


    A Cross Pollination of Culinary and Cultural Events

    Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) and Skift, published a report this year "The Rise of Food Tourism" in which they state, "...culinary tourists share millions of F&B (Food and Beverage) themed photos daily across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and especially Flickr. This increases travel consumers awareness of different cuisines and cultures and it fuels their desire to experience them." It was one of the most downloaded reports by the travel industry.

    Rebecca Leheup, OCTA Executive Director had the following to say in the report: "Many festivals and events worldwide are demand generators for tourists, whether they are food-driven festivals or festivals that happen to have great food programs within a broader subject." She went on to say, "We're exploring how many of these festivals and events are actually using local food, or show-casing a taste of place, as a way to add value to consumers."


    To get more insight into this growing trend, we asked Intrepid Travel's food product manager, Erica Kritikides few questions.

    How did intrepid's food tours evolve? What was the Catalyst?

    Food has always been core to the DNA of the Intrepid Travel experience -- tasting new dishes, encountering unusual ingredients, enjoying local hospitality -- after all, it's one of the most direct (and most delicious) ways to experience authentic local culture. Culinary travel-based TV shows, food magazines and food and travel blogs has generated a segment of travellers seeking a style of travel in which cuisine takes centre stage.

    These travellers want to taste firsthand the flavours they have read, seen and heard so much about. The growth of the culinary tourism niche was a key driver in developing our Intrepid Real Food Adventures.

    Did you see an emerging trend?

    When we first started out, there were already a number of culinary tour operators, but most were pitching to the luxury "gourmet" market. In contrast, we could see global culinary trends were reflecting a growing interest in street food, home-cooking and local food traditions. As Intrepid is built on the philosophy of providing authentic 'real life experiences', we decided to put our own unique spin on culinary travel.

    We focused on making our food trips affordable and accessible.

    Our Real Food Adventures celebrate real food, that is to say everyday local eating and drinking experiences -- everything from street food, home-cooking, grass roots local eateries, food markets, food courts, primary producers, farms, bars and nightlife. We use comfortable two to three star, locally-owned accommodation and public transport to get around as much as possible (trains, buses, songthaews, dolmus -- the list goes on!).


    What year did you start? Which country did you start with? Why?

    Real Food Adventures launched globally in 2013. We started with just 10 itineraries, focusing on less mainstream culinary destinations -- India, China, Vietnam, Turkey, Mexico.

    All our trip leaders are passionate local foodies -- they are excited to share the best of their local food scene and are able to guide our travellers through the best street food and authentic local eateries. They are able to get our travellers "behind the scenes" -- meeting local cooks and producers, eating in local homes.

    photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel

    Was it difficult to implement and get engagement from Travellers?

    The response from travellers has been overwhelming. In just over two years, we have expanded to 20 itineraries across Asia, the Middles East, Europe, The Indian Subcontinent and Latin America and our passenger numbers are rapidly expanding as the word spreads.

    Intrepid culinary travellers are not so much '"gourmet tourists" as they are "food adventurers" -- looking for authentic and affordable food experiences that help them to engage more deeply with the local culture.

    In your opinion, what country is the biggest draw for foodies?

    Our most popular destinations are Vietnam and India, although we are seeing strong growth across our Real Food Adventures in Asia and Central America as well.

    photo courtesy of Intrepid Travel

    What are some of your more out of the way spots?

    This year we launched in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The principle inspiration for this itinerary was the cuisine itself -- an incredible amalgam of Middle Eastern, North African, Eastern European and Mediterranean influences -- a true melting pot.

    We also saw an opportunity to offer a more varied perspective on a region that is too often seen in a binary context -- a political struggle between two sides. This itinerary celebrates the myriad cultures of this region -- Jewish, Palestinian, Armenian, Greek, North African -- to name just a few. This trip allows travellers to explore the region's culture through a prism that is linked to happiness, hospitality and togetherness, encapsulated in food and the sharing of a meal.

    How does Urban Adventures factor into food tours?

    We recognize that everyone has a different approach when it comes to travel. Our Real Food Adventures are touring itineraries, taking in three to four regions within a country or region. They are ideal for travellers who want to experience all the cultural highlights of a country (eg. the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Great Wall in Beijing), but are looking for their cultural experiences to be complemented by a strong focus on the local cuisine.

    Our day trips -- Urban Appetizers -- are run in partnership with our sister company, Urban Adventures. These food-themed tours are just three to four hours and perfect for travellers who want a quick taste of a destination. They include a mix of walking food tours and home-cooked experiences.

    We also have a range of Bite-size Breaks -- three-day city-based breaks -- perfect for a stopover, a short get-away or an extension to a longer trip.

    So what's next for Intrepid Travel that you can share?

    Without spilling the beans (pun intended), in 2016 there will be two exciting new 'real food' itineraries in Europe, as well as a trip that takes in the foodie hotspots across southern India. We'll be releasing our 2016 range of Real Food Adventures in the next few months.


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    "Pendula" by Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber from Nancy Lee on Vimeo.

    Synchronicity requires the perfect amount of convergence and divergence to happen. I navigate through my life swinging from one place to another, from one role to another, from one project to another, back and forth, back and forth. I'm still here swinging, but for art this time.

    When I was 10 years old, my best friend and I decided that we wanted to build a tree fort over the summer in her backyard. I had just moved back to B.C. with my mom and sisters from living in busy Shanghai and Taiwan for a year where my parents ended up getting divorced.

    I was delighted to be back in my old house and with my friends again, but I enrolled in Grade 5 with an immense feeling of uncertainty about my life. Every lunch break, I'd quickly eat my lunch and run for the swing sets at the playground.

    There was something calming yet thrilling I loved about swinging. Maybe it was the repetition reminding me of being in a cradle, or maybe I found it comforting being able to predict my rise and falls. Maybe it was the experience of zero-gravity and butterflies in my stomach.

    Our tree fort was built on my friend's cherry tree. That summer, with the help of my friend's dad, I learned how to use different power tools; I learned about knots and materials; and I learned about building and designing hanging apparatuses such as basket pulleys and rope ladders.

    The skills I acquired that summer, nurtured my ability to become an installation artist.

    vancouver pendula swingTesting the visual component of Pendula at a Chinatown studio space.

    I moved into the city during my university years. My life was consumed by work, and tied down by deadlines and obligations. One day I came across some rope and old skateboard decks in our storage room, and seeing these items somehow triggered fond childhood memories and an urge to build something.

    Hours later, after testing various knots, my first swing was born. I remember the joy I felt when I first swung on my living room swing -- it was therapeutic. Stressful thoughts shed with each swing, and I knew this was the beginning of something more.

    A couple months later, I left for an internship in Uganda working at a clinic and filming health-care programs. During my travels, I became hyperaware of an unquantifiable experience of abundance from my simple life there with my host family.

    I learned how to enjoy myself without electricity, running water, or spending money. I built swings on mango trees in my spare time with my host family using leftover wood from construction sites. Building swings seemed like an extremely "profitable" investment in the sense that the immeasurable feeling of joy and happiness each swing was able to generate for the community was way beyond the low cost of building it. I wanted to do more projects like this.

    vancouver pendulaSwinging on a Nancy Lee project in November 2014.

    When I got back to Vancouver, I went on a date with an artist and built my first public swing in a forested marshland area near the south arm of the Fraser River. We talked about the quarter-life crisis I was experiencing and my frustration with formal institutions.

    As we continued seeing each other, and my dissatisfaction with my academic life grew, he encouraged me to pursue art and swing building. A few months later, I quit university and found myself building "interactive street art" in different countries during my travels and throughout different neighborhoods in the Lower Mainland. I have never thought of myself as an artist, but the practice of building swings and working on video projects slowly warmed me up to this new found identity.

    Simultaneously, I became involved with the electronic music scene in Vancouver as an event organizer, VJ, and installation artist. For one of my events, I installed visual projections over eight swing sets in an area adjacent to the dance floor.

    I was extremely intrigued by the way people on the swings interacted with each other. Every individual swung at their own pace and direction, but somehow no one was crashing into each other. Instead the swingers moved in rhythmic synchronicity to the music and with each other like an single organism. I found the social observations from this installation profound. I decided I wanted to do more multi-swing installations, but I wanted my visual projections to reflect the social interactions.

    nancy lee kiran bhumberArtists Kiran Bhumber (left) and Nancy Lee (right).

    It was during this event that I first met Kiran Bhumber, an interactive music technology programmer and musician. When I explained my vision of having an interactive swing installation, she immediately expressed interest. Three weeks later, Kiran had designed a program capable of interpreting data from a motion sensor that could be attached to a swing seat.

    It has now been eight months since Kiran and I started collaborating on this interactive audio-visual 3-swing installation that we now call Pendula. Each swing will trigger discreet audio-visual effects in an immersive environment.

    With support from BC Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia and VIVO Media Arts Centre, we will be debuting this installation at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 20 and 21, 4-8 p.m. daily, along with a musical performance written for the clarinet, cello, bansuri, tabla and swings.

    Growing up in Richmond, B.C. -- where trees, parks and playgrounds were easily accessible and outdoor play was encouraged -- was fundamental in providing skills and nurturing my curiosity to create new things.

    Living in Vancouver, a centre for cultural convergence, having a supportive community, meeting the right people along the way, all contributed to this project as well.

    However, leaving my home in B.C., to live in other cities and rural villages around the world lent me new perspectives of value of play and simplicity. I think of Pendula as the result of moments, people, and spaces in my life and its coincidental convergences and divergences.

    For more info on Pendula:

    For full details on The Pendula Exhibit headlining the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival's Phase Shift Program:

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    VANCOUVER - "This is the place you really want to run through," advises my soft-spoken hiking partner, stepping up our already brisk pace on a rare stretch of nearly flat ground. "You save about 20 seconds, which can be a lot."

    These aren't the words I'm expecting to hear from the 73-year-old retiree who's graciously welcomed me on one of his early-morning treks up Vancouver's notorious Grouse Grind.

    Terry Byrne is no ordinary septuagenarian. He holds the second-place record for most ascents of the well-known trail — not to mention a commanding first place in his age category — having made nearly 1,700 trips up the infamously gruelling 2.9-kilometre mountainside trek.

    The Grind, as it's known locally, is a popular but demanding trail located right on the city's back doorstep.

    It's 6:30 a.m. and Byrne's showing me the ropes on tackling the more than 2,800 strenuous steps to the summit.

    grouse grind terry byrne

    Freshly cut yellow cedar stairs and railings — the most recent addition to the trail — infuse the crisp morning air with a sharp, delicious aroma, while the guttural thrumming of the hike's namesake bird pulses out on occasion from the undergrowth.

    Peering at the verdant canopy held up by towering old-growth trees, I'm momentarily distracted and slip on a loose stone, which, along with jutting roots and the occasional set of wooden stairs, makes up most of the route.

    "Cadence," Byrne offers, red-capped head bobbing with each stride. "You've got to keep one, two, one, two. And know if you do this steady you'll be there in an hour."

    By "there" he means the Grouse Mountain chalet. It's the end point for Grinders — a colloquial term for the hike's tight-knit community of regulars. Many of them — Byrne included — enjoy flashing cards at timer stations at the trail's beginning and end to record their speed and total number of treks. Today is hike number 1,695 for the energetic old-timer, who genially refers to his punishing pastime, launched about a decade ago, as nothing more than "a walk in the park."

    But the Grind, sometimes called Mother Nature's Stairmaster, is a formidable exercise that can spell serious trouble for the unprepared. Metro Vancouver estimates up to half-a-million people tackle the trail annually through its May-to-October season, with 25 to 30 evacuations taking place during that time. Reasons for emergency responses range from sprained ankles to fatalities, such as a mid-hike heart attack that claimed the life of a 55-year-old man earlier this month.

    Still, the Grind has never been more popular, drawing thousands of locals and visitors alike with its easy access to B.C.'s stunning outdoors.

    grouse grind

    "(It's) just the majesty of being amongst these trees," Byrne muses as he hauls himself up what has quickly become a nearly 45-degree incline.

    "There are trees over here that are 500 years old — big monsters, as wide as this trail," he says, extending his sinewy arms to their full reach.

    I wheeze at him in what I hope comes across as thoughtful agreement.

    The tops of railings and the occasional section of otherwise grizzled bark on trail-side trees are polished smooth through years of caresses by sweat-sodden hands.

    Suddenly we break through the foliage and squint into the glaring sunshine at the trail's end. Byrne pulls ahead in his bright blue sneakers and prances up the steps at the chalet's base, where he flashes his card at the timer station.

    An expansive view of the Lower Mainland greets us, with Vancouver's glut of gleaming downtown highrises bordering the enclave of green that is Stanley Park, appearing small at our 1,127-metre vantage. The ocean is a sparkling sheet of electric tinsel reaching across to Vancouver Island, which is visible through nebulous wisps of cloud.

    As we make our way to the gondola that will take us back down to the base of the Grind, Byrne is already talking about hiking up again.

    "I plan to do the grind about twice today," he says, boyish eagerness painted on his face. "It might be three. It just depends how (I) feel.

    "I could go all day, actually," he adds, grinning.

    Of that, I have absolutely no doubt. After all, he has a record to defend.


    If You Go...

    Consult Grouse Mountain's website for information on the Grouse Grind.

    Follow @gwomand on Twitter.

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    You've researched the hot spots and created the perfect packing list, but have you taken a moment to look into the customs and traditions of the country you're travelling to?

    Tourists often get a bad wrap when travelling abroad. Between language barriers and contrasting conventions, it's easy to stick with the habits you've learned at home. But don't forget, every country has its own tips for etiquette, so while you might not think twice about giving your friend a hug in the street, you could be offending the locals looking around.

    In the infographic below by Globelink Travel Insurance, we learn the 18 mistakes travellers make while abroad. From clinking glasses for a toast to leaving a tip in a country that finds it offensive — or worse, forgetting to leave a tip in a country that expects one — these guidelines make travelling to a new place for the first time a little easier.

    What are your tips for travelling abroad? Let us know in the comments below, then check out this infographic for even more traveller dos and don'ts.

    travel mistakes


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    0 0

    MONTREAL - Air Canada and WestJet are taking their domestic rivalry to London with both companies now adding flights to Gatwick Airport next year.

    The country's largest carrier, which already flies to Heathrow Airport from eight Canadian cities, announced Thursday it will add flights from Toronto to Gatwick on its leisure subsidiary Rouge next summer.

    Benjamin Smith, president of passenger airlines, boasted that Air Canada (TSX:AC) will be the only Canadian carrier servicing multiple airports in the London area.

    "Air Canada Rouge is ideally-suited to serve London-Gatwick, with its focus on leisure travel and provide easy access to southern London," he said in a news release.

    The move comes several days after Calgary-based WestJet (TSX:WJA) said Gatwick would be its first transatlantic destination for its wide-body Boeing 767s. That service is slated to start next spring but the originating airports haven't been disclosed.

    Bob Cummings, executive vice-president commercial for WestJet, said last week the planes will allow service to England from anywhere in Canada and to other international destinations. The Canadian airports will be determined this summer, he said.

    WestJet currently uses its Boeing 737 planes to Dublin, Ireland from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, and to Glasgow, Scotland, from Halifax.

    Canada's largest domestic airlines fiercely battle on fares and other charges. They both introduced checked bag fees around the same time. As WestJet expanded its Encore regional service, Air Canada has moved some Jazz-operated Q400s to similar routes.

    Air Canada also said Thursday that it will introduce year-round service on its mainline carrier between Montreal and Lyon, France. The airline will service the country's second-largest city, along with Paris and Air Canada Rouge flights to Nice.

    Montreal airport authority president James Cherry said the flights to Lyon supports Trudeau International Airport as a hub to French-speaking Europe.

    Air Canada said it will operate up to five times weekly to Lyon beginning next June and seven times weekly to Gatwick starting in May.

    Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter.

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    0 0

    The northern lights are often visible in the upper corners of B.C. like Prince George — but rarely do the colours make an appearance down south.

    So when the aurora borealis do come to town, it's special.

    Photographer Tristan Todd, who lives in Richmond, B.C., was on his feet for 17 hours capturing a gorgeous time-lapse of Mother Nature's show, finally wrapping around 2 a.m. Tuesday. (Watch above.)

    He wasn't the only one who stayed up late to see the lights — check out more mesmerizing photos from southern B.C.:

    Kamloops, Central Interior

    Sayward, Vancouver Island

    Kootenay Rockies

    Good morning from @HelloBC! Here's last night's time-lapse from the St Mary River @KootenayRockies #ExploreBC. Now off to Kaslo!

    A video posted by Matt Glastonbury (@mattglastonbury) on

    Fernie, Kootenays


    Dancing in the Dark ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Another magnetic storm is in town and this time it's all over the news. Dozens of astrophotographers make the trip up to the cove to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. This was a strong storm and it did not disappoint. The northern lights danced in the night sky and reflected off the Howe Sound. Captured this morning at Porteau Cove 1:30am 06-23-2015 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Auroraborealis #NorthernLights #PorteauCove #Squamish Lillooet⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

    A photo posted by VANCOUVER BC CANADA Michael (@seaside_signs) on

    Whistler Mountain

    Burnaby, Metro Vancouver

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