Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cayo Coco: Lounging in the Lagoon

Spending the afternoon lounging “lagoon-side” was music to my ears as we strained our necks to hear the other vacationers discussing their plans to head on over once they threw back their Spanish coffees. Eves dropping always has its perks.

So, we wandered over to the so called "Lagoon" to see what all the rage was about. It's about a 30 minute walk from the Pestana Cayo Coco Beach Resort along the shore to some shallow waters and a very large rock. Go past the big rock and you've gone too far. Even though we had these gorgeous shallow waters to ourselves, it wasn't exactly the Maldives-lagoon-vibes we were hoping for. Regardless it was still a neat spot to explore and definitely worth the walk to score some pics for the gram.

It was also a good excuse to get our butts up and out of those loungers and to take a walk somewhere other than the beach bar.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rad Resorts: Getting Loco at the Pestana Cayo Coco

Going to the beach is the answer for everything. The salty, wavy hair. The bikinis and board shorts. The sound of cheap flip-flops hitting the sand, rainbow-colored beach towels being shaken out and seagulls squawking overhead waiting for those leftover pizza crusts. That's paradise.

This time around we stayed 2 weeks at the Pestana Cayo Coco All-Inclusive Beach Resort. First things first upon landing in Cayo Coco, grab a cold one for the bus to the resort, even if it was only 20 minutes. But, there's really no better way to kick off a trip. Once we arrived to the hotel we were greeted with smiles, wristbands and most importantly, drinks. After showing us to our room we dumped our suitcases, ripped through them, found a bikini and hit the road for the beach.

The beach is all kinds of gorgeous. It's crystal clear, calm and because they've recently reclaimed it, there are no rocks or coral to poke at your feet as you roll out into the deep. The beach bar is steps away and there are plenty of loungers to go around. If you want a sun lounger or 10 there is a guy that will get them and put them wherever your heart desires. You don't have to tip, but it goes a long way and we always gave him a few CUC Pescos.

Tip: Take a banana and some bread, break it up in the ocean and watch the fishies come!

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cayo Coco: Hello, It's the Sea Calling

Cayo Coco is the perfect spot for a morning walk along the shore and if you’re lucky, you may run into a flamingo in the lagoon, a little crab scampering over the rocky tide or a straggler heading back to their resort after a wild night at the disco... 

The island is known for its coral reefs and many all-inclusive resorts that dot the long beaches. There is no shortage of natural scenic beauty as no one lives directly on the island (most people live in Moron on the mainland). Cayo Coco has also been known to have a mass influx of Canadian migrants flocking to its beaches, bubbas in hand, dfrom December through to April. Including the Turchyns. 

Can you blame them? Cuba is the idyllic beach escape mixed with rum, revolutionaries and retro cars. It has that back-in-time appeal while still being romantic and exciting. I guess that's why we're constantly planning our next trip.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekend Getaways: 4 Days to Vacation in Vancouver

Who knew vacationing in your backyard could actually mentally register as a vacation? Vancouver is playing mind games. Mountains, beaches, sushi, Lulu Lemon warehouse sales. So this is the real reason people come to Canada.

On a serious note, Vancouver is not in my backyard. And is actually on the other side of the country. Canada being the second biggest country in the world, means my flight was basically halfway to China. But worth every second of my  economy class seat!

I don't think people have a problem with boredom here. I just can't see it, there's just too much to keep you preoccupied. And that includes the food. In just 4 days I was able to take extremely long walks along the beach (in Stanley Park), climb mountains (at Cypress), island hop (over to Granville Island), eat the day's catch (at Go Fish), knock back a few local beers (the best out there) and chill with some of my most favourite people. Could I ask for a better weekend getaway? Mmm nope. 

Livin' La Vida Local:

Check This Out: If you're heading to Vancouver you're obviously going to check out Granville Island. While you're there be sure to admire the unconventional floating homes, stop in to the Granville Island Broom Co. store to see some gnarly brooms (you won't be able to tear your eyes away) and grab a local beer while watching the seals sun bathe.

You Need to Try This: Do you like sushi? Then go to Raisu. A Japanese fusion tapas restaurant located in the heart of Kitsilano on West 4th Ave and it will not disappoint. You want to order the Sho Ka Do Bento and The Oceans Offerings, but beware they are limited to serving 10-15 of these dishes per dinner service and usually sell out after 10 minutes of opening. You won't regret waiting in line for this place to open. Trust me.

Instagram This: So, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is super cool, but also super expensive and super busy. Making it less than ideal for photos. The trick? Head over to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which has similar vibes, is a lot less busy, which means a lot less people to get in the way of photos and it's free!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rad Resorts: Hangin' 10 in Holguin's Playa Costa Verde

It was starting. The beach withdrawal. I mean, I'd started to wear my bathing suit under my clothes in the off chance that Lake Ontario became an appealing place to go for a dip,  I cuddled my SPF 30 before bed and was finding myself googling the biography of Enrique Iglesias...

So. Time to go.

We jet off for a week to the Playa Costa Verde beach resort in Holguin, Cuba. For a last minute getaway we couldn't have asked for more. The hotel was lovely, the people were lovely, the drinks were over flowing and the pool was insanely huge. The food was also extremely delicious. Don't miss the chance to book the Cuban and Japanese A La Cartes restaurants. And take a break from the sun in the Cuban restaurant for lunch. They really have an array of food to choose from, so even the pickiest of eaters will find something they can munch on. Speaking of food, because it's my favourite topic, there is also an ice cream bar, a beer garden and a cigar lounge. Now, don't even think of going into the cigar lounge without a Spanish coffee, it just goes hand in hand. Really, the only negative comment I have to make about our trip is that we only booked for 7 nights.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sintra: Hiking the Hillside to the Palace of Pena

All I can say, is that no one told me it was necessarily a BAD idea to go hiking in flip flops and skinny jeans. So I went. In skinny jeans and the flip flops. All 3 miles of the daunting incline through that damp forbidden forest. And then another mile to the entrance of the National Palace of Pena. And then some more hiking to the Castle of Moors. Jeggings over skinny jeans when hiking ya'll.

The National Palace of Pena takes your breath away (and not just from the hike through Sintra's hills). It's a sight worth every penny (so buy the whole ticket) and one you definitely do not want to miss. It's the epitome of a story book castle and is only matched by its lush interior. It does get pretty busy with tourists seeking their Rapunzel moment, but if you head up on a Monday or Tuesday as early as possible then you'll be sure to avoid the common over crowding there.

Side Note: Outside the castle is the Pena Park, where the king (when he was mustering up his palace plans, like kings do) ordered trees and shrubbery from around the world, giving the grounds a seriously whimsical feel. I mean the Queen got her own fern garden. Who has a fern garden? That can't be a thing. 

I couldn't think of a better way to spend our last day in Portugal! Trotting up the Sintra mountain to a creamsicle coloured palace was one of the my best memories I have looking back at our trip. 

This isn't goodbye Portugal, it's see you soon. 

Because I will be back for the man handing out beach donuts.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Porto: Where Everything is Made From Port Wine

Note to my future self: A day trip to Portugal's second biggest city is not a good idea. You should probably stay the night. And the next day. And the next night. Maybe the next day also.

A single day in Porto just isn't enough, I mean we barely scraped by and it majorly limited our Port intake. Although most things to see in Porto are close to each other and it's easily walkable, you definitely want to have more than three meals in this city.

To start off we strolled through the amazing Palacio da Bolsa because TripAdvisor told us to. Usually this isn't my cup of tea, but inside is the equivalent to Barbie's royal palace, especially the ornate 'Arab Room' which is covered in gold. Covered. Moral of the story TripAdvisor is a good advisor.

We strolled the cobbled streets to Cafe Majestic. The most luxurious, oldest and Instagram worthy cafĂ© in Porto. It's a good place to stop for a mid-afternoon drink ... or two, as most of their drinks play around with Port wine. Port sangria. Port bellinis. Port daiquiris. What more could you ask for? It's the definition of enjoying Port in a cool way.

Before heading out to dinner we hopped on a boat that took us along the river and also rode the ski lift overlooking Porto. To see where all the magic happens, we stopped into a couple of Port wine cellars. And with another fabulous day came another fabulous dinner. Actually it was the best dinner I've ever had, can I remember the name of the restaurant, absolutely not, sorry my bad.  

Update: I found the restaurant and it's one you can't miss Art'e Da Baixa