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Air Canada Vacations - Travel Blog

17 Sep

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Top 3 Excursions in Montego Bay

September 17, 2018 | By |

All day adventure, always…

Secluded stays and seascapes aren’t the only ways you’ll satiate your senses in the Bay—more adventure always awaits inland. And that remains true all over the mesmerizing island of Jamaica.

Black River & Appleton Estate Rum Tour

Black River & Appleton Estate Rum TourCrossing paths with a crocodile or a chestnut-bellied cuckoo is par for the course, while you drift down the Black River, a long, lazy waterway flanked on both sides by dense and vibrant tropical vegetation. Unspoiled and spectacular, the river run gives way to a luscious lunch and a tour of the world-renowned Appleton Estate where welcome samplings of some of the very finest rum ever aged is assured.

Ultimate Thrill Seekers Pass & Adventure Falls

Ultimate Thrill Seekers Pass & Adventure FallsA 2,000-acre plantation playground punctuated with river canyons and rainforests is yours to explore from up high by zipline or down low, while tearing through mega-fun mud trails by ATV. After an authentic midday snack of Jamaican jerk, ice cream and peak Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee blend, wash off the day’s playfulness at Adventure Falls, with its 50-foot cascade of fresh water and 300-foot water slide. Don’t miss this monumental island experience.

Island Routes Reggae Sunset Cruise Montego Bay

Island Routes Reggae Sunset CruiseExperience the magic of the MoBay coastline from the casual comfort of the Island Routes Reggae Sunset Cruiseliner. You’ll even have time to stop in Margaritaville, literally! Made famous by Jimmy Buffet’s hit, this liquid locale comes complete with water trampolines, floating obstacle course, and a 12-story water slide designed to drop you right into the Caribbean. Dry off back aboard with DJ-spun music and savoury snacks as the setting sun disappears over the ocean horizon.

17 Sep

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Sandals Montego Bay: The Hottest Resort in Jamaica

September 17, 2018 | By |

New. Hot. Authentic.

Sand so silver-white it shimmers. Crystalline aquamarine seascapes that look like they were filtered by cosmic forces. Lush and verdant tropical forest canopies. The finest (and spiciest) flavours in the Caribbean. People as warm as the Jamaican sun—both of which will leave a golden X on your heart, forever. There is truly no place like Jamaica.

Stay in Montego BayNestled in the northwest of all its life-affirming wonder is the quintessential luxury sanctuary for lovers. Is it romantic? Well, there’s a proper Love Nest Suite®, if that’s any indication. No other resort does sensual, adults-only experiences better than Sandals®—unsurprisingly, their Montego Bay hotspot, where it all started, is no exception. And good news, paramours! This flagship escape is now fresher, more fabulous and, if you can believe it,
hotter than ever.

Restaurants Montego BayA Day in MoBay at Sandals
Luxury shuttles with select rooms will usher you from the airport to a premier, private beach of pure powder and incredible accommodations in mere minutes. Every possible all-inclusive amenity is yours here—even full-access play passes to Sandals Inn and Sandals Royal Caribbean, should a playcation from your playcation be in order.

Luxury Suites SandalsSink into the Tranquility Soaking Tub™ for two, and watch sun meld with seascape, or swim right up to your room in brand new luxury suites, while the Butler Elite service easily attends to your every whim with white-gloved precision, 24-7.

If you manage to leave your bed for some flavour instead, your taste buds will have unlimited entry to impeccable eateries, some of which will have you savouring authentic Jamaican fare right on the beach while your sand-buried toes curl in ecstasy. If that’s not enough gustatory goodness, there are three more restaurants on the way.

There’ll also soon be an Over-the-Water Wedding Chapel for next-level nuptials. Have your sacred vows consecrated by the sanctity of the sea and consider that every Sandals Resort allows you access to the signature “Aisle to Isle” program, with plenty inspirations to design your celebration of love so it’s as unique as you are. Your gathering would be incomplete without a little media magic? The new fully stocked multi-media conference centre will easily seat 300 guests for any event.

Weddings Sandals Montego Bay

Sunup is fun up at Sandals

From ultra-fun tubing and serious snorkelling to satisfying sailing and playful paddle boarding, Sandals Montego Bay offers a gateway to the calm, reef-rich waters that define the Caribbean. Still, energy-intensive activities are as plentiful here as lazy days spent relaxing in restorative rays of sunshine.

Scuba Diving Montego BayWant a massage seaside? Done. Or melt your stress indoors at the signature Red Lane® Spa offering mindful self-care and welcome rejuvenation—body, mind and spirit. Of course, four freshwater pools are yours at all times if you’d rather soak your troubles. You’ll also enjoy unlimited access to three soothing whirlpools should your brand of stress need something of a twist. Landlubbers seeking leisure activities can hit the courts, shoot hoops or shoot pool, play board games or challenge each other (or other couples) to prestigious, high-stakes ping-pong matches.

Pool Sandals Montego BayTypical day at Sandals Montego Bay – Sundown, live it up

If you want to go extra and glow up come sundown, after-hours parties are always going off between the sand and the stars at Sandals. So are weekly theme nights in the wildly fun carnival style—fire breathers, more epic eats and fanned, feather headdresses colour midnight-blue skies as music fills the ocean air. For expertly poured cocktails, there will soon be Latitudes Overwater Bar, where you’ll walk, or dance, on water as you sip the night away. Of course, darts and a dram of whisky will complement everything on tap at The Cricketers Pint, a proper English pub where freshly pulled conversation is available every evening.

Sandals Montego Bay Sunset

14 Sep

By

The Best Time to Visit Portugal

September 14, 2018 | By |

It’s impossible to resist the many charms of Spain’s friendly coastal neighbour. Perpetually sunny, rich in culture and history and naturally breathtaking, Portugal paints a pretty picture year-round. Check out our breakdown of the best times to go to Portugal.

Spring & Summer

It’s no secret that hotter days and warmer waters bring in bigger crowds. That being said, the numerous outdoor festivals and balmy beach weather welcoming you between May and July deter shrugging off a spring or summer Portugal vacation.

Festival Frenzy

Portuguese people honour their saints in very interesting ways. Case in point: the Festa de Santo Antonio in Lisbon. It pays homage to Lisbon’s patron saint with feasts of grilled fish, street parties to rhythmic fado music and…free weddings! Meanwhile, you might want a hard hat for Porto’s Festa de São João, an eccentric tribute to Saint John the Baptist. Festivities include the odd tradition of banging revellers on the head with colourful plastic mallets, as well as more typical goings-on like fireworks and dancing.

If you worship a more modern set of idols, Portugal attracts some of the best musicians and bands in the world with top-notch summer music festivals cropping up near its main cities, from the indie sounds of NOS Primavera Sound to the rockin’ rythms of Super Bock Super Rock and the eclectic star-fueled lineup of NOS Alive.

The Portugal’s Delightful Duo rail tour brings you to Lisbon and Porto during any of these events!

Beach Time

Praia de Rocha

A spring or summer trip to Portugal calls for soaking up the sun along the country’s dreamy coastline. A prime place to do so is the sunny southern region of The Algarve where spectacular rocky cliffs surround golden beaches varying in size and popularity:

  • Praia de Rocha buzzes with high-rise beach resorts and lively bars and restaurants to entertain the hotels’ inhabitants.
  • The smaller, secluded Praia do Camilo serves up a postcard-perfect setting with the gorgeous Ponte da Piedade also just a short walk away.
  • Don’t skip out on iconic Praia da Marinha, aptly named one of the best beaches in Europe and located down a dramatic cliff side.

We could keep listing our favourites, but taking a tour of the Algarve, like our Portugal City & Coast rail tour, will let you discover yours, from the surfing paradise Praia do Amado to the adventurous Praia de Benagil and its sea cave.

Fall

We love fall travel to Portugal: cooler climate, quieter cities and…wine harvest season! Sure, the Atlantic isn’t as sizzling, but it’s often still warm enough for a dip, plus all popular sights have cleared of their summertime crowds.

Take a Hike

Sintra

A drop in temperature makes this season perfect for hiking Portugal’s many trails without breaking a sweat.

Near Lisbon, the fairy tale-like, UNESCO-listed village of Sintra sits a day-trip away. Wander up romantic forest paths leading from the town’s Moorish Castle to the colourful, Disney-like Pena Palace, surrounded by gardens and the rugged landscape of the Serra Mountains. Take on the coastal trails of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, home to continental Europe’s most westernly point, Cabo da Roca, and mystical monuments like the Convent of Capuchos or the Hermitage of Peninha.

Turn your trek into a pilgrimage by climbing up all 686 steps leading to the Nossa Senhora dos Remedios sanctuary in Lamego. Shrouded by dense woodland, it offers quite the view of the town and surrounding hills once you’ve made it to the top. Elevate the experience by timing your visit with the Festival of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, the annual pilgrimage to the sanctuary’s shrine. Join thousands of religious devotees in pious processions, including one that carries the statue of Our Lady of the Remedies on an oxen-lead cart.

Wine & Dine

Douro River

We kept the best for last: food and wine!

The scenic and charming Douro Valley lures you in with its rolling green hills and aromatic vineyards, including those specializing in the region’s famous Port wine. Douro’s a breathtaking sight any time of the year, but wine harvest season really steals the show with its landscape coloured in autumnal shades. Many of the area’s wineries will invite you to participate in the harvest, from grape picking to stomping and the inevitable taste testing. That glass of vinho tastes even better once you’ve worked for it.

Fall’s cooler nights prompt heading indoors and trying all of the country’s culinary delights. Savour everything from traditional bacalhau to pork-based dishes, spicy piri-piri chicken and creamy Serra da Estrela cheese. Of course, complete any meal with one of their famous (and delicious!) custard tarts, pastéis de nata. For a seasonal treat, hunt for sweet Portuguese Rocha pears, freshly picked from the Oeste region.

For a fall trip, Lisbon Your Way or Porto Your Way tours lead you to the best of both cities and their surrounding regions, including the Douro Valley and Sintra.

What’s Next

Keep an eye out for all our tours to Portugal! They run from spring to fall and are the best way to take in all the sights or experiences mentioned. Hot travel tip: while some of our tours, like the Fly & Rail tour Sunny Portugal or our Fly & Drive tour Highlights of Portugal, operate as early as April or May, others like Portugal North to South only take off in June. This might influence when and how you decide to travel to Portugal! You can always opt for our year-round option, the Lisbon Your Way Urban Getaway.

07 Sep

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Sea Italy: Italian-Style Cruising

September 7, 2018 | By |

The best view of Italy? Standing starboard, floating on the Mediterranean! Costa Cruises carries you to top spots on the incredible Italian coast with a departure from France and stops in Spain. All aboard!

Cruisin’ with Costa

What’s better than sailing to Italy? Sailing to Italy on an Italian-helmed ship! The Italian cruise line offers a unique nautical experience in an authentic setting inspired by its cultural heritage. Think festive ambiance, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and elegant decor inspired by Italy’s most awe-inspiring Renaissance masterpieces. Hop aboard their Costa Diadema ship, nicknamed the Queen of the Mediterranean and named after the Italian word for “tiara.” With a reputation like that, expect royal treatment for the whole family. We’re talking fine dining, a bar-lined terrace, luxurious spa and every form of sea-bound entertainment you could possibly want. Plus, enjoy Italian-style extras like lessons in Venetian mask-making, indulging in a Roman steam bath or sipping excellent espresso in the ship’s lounge.

Set Your Course

Costa Cruises goes overboard with their 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise. Departing from the buzzing French port city of Marseille, it sets sail to beautiful Barcelona for a taste of tapas and a gander at Gaudi’s architecture. Next day, anchors aweigh as you make your way to Palma de Mallorca, a sunny city set on a Spanish island and your last stop before being Italy-bound. Then, you’ll answer the call of Cagliari, on the southern coast of sublime Sardinia. Think glorious beach dips and walks around historic landmarks. Day six is all about Rome—its romance, its ruins, its architecture…its pizza. Before setting back to Marseille, soak in Savona, a gorgeous seaside city on the Italian Riviera.

What’s Next

Interested? Who wouldn’t be! Get your sea legs ready for this maritime journey across the Mediterranean. Plus, when you cruise with us, expect nothing but smooth sailing with our Cruise Promise. Hot travel tip: The travel dates for Costa Cruises’ new itinerary departing from Marseille are from September 2 to 23, 2018 or from May 12 to September 29, 2019. Plan accordingly!

 

02 Aug

By

Best Reason to Visit Jamaica: Jamaican Food!

August 2, 2018 | By |

Vacations often leave you looking slimmer, from all that on-the-go action and exploration. A trip to Jamaica might not be so kind to your waistline, considering the country serves up some of the best dishes in the Caribbean. Here are our picks of the Jamaican cuisine you need to try!

Jerk around

Jamaican allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg–these are just a few of the ingredients found in the jerk seasoning that defines one of Jamaica’s most iconic dishes: jerk chicken. Sweet and spicy, perfectly grilled, the flavourful meat is traditionally served with rice and beans or bammies, a tasty fried flat bread of sorts. Of course, you can also get jerk pork, jerk fish, jerk…lobster (!). Find jerk dishes anywhere, from street vendors to your resort’s restaurant.

Patty cake, patty cake

What’s not to love about the Jamaican patty? It’s perfectly golden, flaky and filled with delicious, seasoned meat (or vegetables). This sublime snack is actually a product of colonialism: a derivative of the Cornish pasty brought over by the Brits, spiced by Indians with cumin and curry and kicked up by Africans with cayenne pepper. While awesome on its own, you can try it like a local and stuff a patty in some sweet coco bread for a unique Jamaican sandwich.

Feeling fruity

It’s not all starch and meats. Being a tropical island, Jamaica is ripe with exotic fruits you might have never heard of. Most often eaten with saltfish, ackee is the island’s national fruit, an alien-like cluster of black seeds and spongy yellow flesh. Kind of like a tropical potato, breadfruit can be roasted, steamed, mashed or fried and makes for a superb side-dish. There are countless others that sound as colourful as they look: the grape-like, gelatinous guinep, the juicy June plum, heart-shaped sweetsop, spiky soursop, and something called the Stinking Toe. Okay, we haven’t tried that last one, but you can do the honours!

Liquid lunch

You’ll need something refreshing to wash all that down. Try sorrel, a red drink brewed from hibiscus blossoms, often spiced with cinnamon and ginger, or punched up with some of that famous Jamaican rum, if you fancy an extra kick. Savour the soda suited for the sun: Ting, offering just the right amount of grapefruit-flavoured fizz to cool you down. Finally, you really can’t leave Jamaica without trying a hot cup of Blue Mountain coffee, one of the world’s best brews from Jamaica’s highest mountain.

What’s next

Yum, all this is Jamaican me hungry! Any of these dishes can be tasted in the Jamaican destination of your choice. Montego Bay, or “MoBay,” is a hip city and a popular spot for dreamy, waterfront hotels. It’s a great base to explore the spectacular shores and paradisiacal settings of the idyllic resort town of Negril or former fishing village of Ochos Rios. Meanwhile, Kingston is the cultural heartbeat of Jamaica, sitting at the foot of the dramatic Blue Mountains. Hot travel tip: Book your winter vacation to Jamaica with us by September 9 to get $600 off per family and 8 days of free airport parking!

Savour the flavours of Jamaica! 

26 Jul

By

Top 6 Hotels in Barbados

July 26, 2018 | By |

Where to stay in Barbados

Sea Breeze Beach House

Sea Breeze Beach House Barbados
Tucked away on the southern coast, this newly renovated 4-star resort boasts two spectacular beaches, an adults-only Jacuzzi and a commitment to food culture that reinforces Barbados as the culinary capital of the Caribbean.

Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels

Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels Barbados

Focused on pampering families against a backdrop that is as elegant as it is exotic, Turtle Beach ensures fine, authentically Bajan fun, food and hospitality for all. It’s also part of our Spotlight Collection, so every stay comes with exclusive perks.

The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa

The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa

Be it by high tea in the afternoon, high-end dining in the numerous culinary amenities on site or highly soothing days in their signature Spa & Salon, The Club will leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated. This adults-only escape is also part of our Spotlight Collection.

Accra Beach Hotel

Accra Beach Hotel

Oceanfront rooms giving way to pristine, powdery beaches are a mainstay here — as is every other amenity you’ll ever need. Be sure to schedule a drink at dusk to enjoy their signature Sunset Bar as day gives way to night… then hit the lively Lagoon Pool Bar.

Port St. Charles

Priding themselves on luxury accommodations, Port St. Charles lets you experience Barbados like a local with access to every extravagance. Whether you need a water taxi for pickup, a stocked fridge for tomorrow’s brunch, restaurant reservations for tonight, or a fully catered dinner party at your villa — it’s all on offer here.

Sandals Royal Barbados

Sandals Royal Barbados

Offering 24-hour Butler Elite service, swim-up suites, and a roof top pool and bar overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this all-new, adults-only resort is tucked away in the famously lively St. Lawrence Gap of bountiful Barbados. You’ll have full access to incredible gourmet eateries, a wellness spa, unforgettable nightlife, and every luxurious amenity your mind can hope to summon.

26 Jul

By

Barbados: Savour the Sublime

July 26, 2018 | By |

Warm and fuzzy
Surrounded by the characteristic white-sand beaches and coral-dense, turquoise waters that define the varied isles and atolls peppering the Caribbean Sea, the spirited island of Barbados is a treasure trove of cultural and culinary variety sure to fulfill every traveller’s expectations of their idyllic dream destination. Fun fact: this paradise was named after the bearded fig trees once plentiful on the island.

Best Barbados beach

What to do

Map your memories by mood
Test your ocean mettle against local surf pros in the south. Golf from dusk until dawn in the island’s centre. Sneak away to explore the rare wonder of tiny sea creatures, nestled in secret water caves, in the north. Punctuate a breezy moped ride across eastern sea-cliffs at sunset with a night of dining and dancing in the south and west. Barbados has every experience on offer. Unsurprisingly, should sipping on a sweet, tall glass of Mauby Drink while unwinding in a swaying hammock be more your speed, the island is sure to oblige.

Golfing in Barbados

Mood: From golden feels to platinum feels

Home to Holetown, the epicentre of Barbadian history, the Platinum Coast is aptly named. A sprawl of sparkling oceanfront sands are its defining draw. Rainbow reef gardens, plentiful leatherback sea turtles and a sunken barge off Brighton Beach also make it a snorkeller’s sanctuary. Still, those content to stay sun-dappled on the surface can spend the day sea-sprayed on water skis instead. For infinite shopping, nightlife and native nibbles, the sizzle of the St. Lawrence Gap is just south of the strip.  Also, Rihanna’s from around here, so there’s something enchanting in these waters…

Diving in Barbados

Mood: Mysterious bliss for the naturalist

Named after the hungry anemones that populate its colourful, coral floor, the clandestine water grotto of the Animal Flower Cave atop the northern tip of Barbados is a mere rental car away. Enjoy the Caribbean breeze on your skin by bicycle instead and head to the stunning sea cliffs of Cove Bay — consider that the ride isn’t complete without a stop at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve to grab a selfie with a green monkey.

Barbados Animal Flower Cave

Mood: Elegant adventure and sport

If your tastes are more equestrian in nature, seek out the pristine Ape Hill Polo Club in the verdant parish of Saint Andrew. Or head out for a trek through the Scotland District — an explorer’s wonderland and, remarkably, the only part of the submarine Caribbean mountain range stretching from Trinidad to Puerto Rico that remains well above water. Stroll through rows of sweet-smelling mahogany boughs on Cherry Tree Hill pausing only for refreshments and energizing ocean views. The refreshment? Satisfying sips from freshly split coconuts — they’re an easy grab in these parts.

Horseback Riding in Barbados

Mood: Lushness, love and lunch

Taking its name from the frothy surf that licks its eastern shores, the swells of the Soup Bowl offer a romantic backdrop for an intimate beachside picnic. No basket? No worries. Tuck into some traditional food at the local restaurants on the sea cliffs of coastal Bathsheba. Dining at dusk overlooking the ocean always proves unforgettable, but a well-timed day trip to this region will end in sightings of seasoned surfers dominating waves along the shoreline. Do leave a little time to escape inland to six full acres of tranquil floral forests at Andromeda Gardens, the botanical beauty of this coastal region.

Best swimming Barbados

Mood: Turf and surf

Informed by an eclectic blend of influences from the African, Indian, Irish, and British islanders who’ve graced its shores, Bajan cuisine is a sensory indulgence with a sharp Creole flair. Snack shacks and fine eateries abound on the Christchurch boardwalk but local fare at Oistin’s Fish Fry, an authentic outdoor market, is a must-taste. Burn it all off at one of the many surf schools on the southern strip, or by hitting the links — the Barbados Golf Club offers leisure activities inland. But do save room for a cocktail or two after dining, surfing or golfing: Barbados is hailed as the proper birthplace of rum.

Best food in Barbados

Book your trip to Barbados! 

17 Jul

By

The Beauty of St. John’s

July 17, 2018 | By |

I’m super excited to share the details of my Urban Getaway to the Alt Hotel in St. John’s, Newfoundland with Air Canada Vacations!

Visiting Canada’s East Coast and particularly Newfoundland has been on my bucket list since I moved from Vancouver to Montreal. It just seems the coast doesn’t get the love it merits…and that became even more evident after I discovered what St. John’s has to offer!

We rented a car with Budget on arrival and made our way to downtown St. John’s, which was a 15-20 minute ride from the airport, an easy route to the Alt Hotel St. John’s.

The Alt Hotel St. John’s is part of the same family as the Germain hotels and I immediately felt right at home. The incredibly friendly staff were definitely a highlight, particularly one lady who patiently answered my 2 billion questions about the city and what to do. In fact, the people of St. John’s were generally just so nice, so warm and so polite! Our room was perfect, with the most comfortable beds and comforters. I definitely fell in slow-motion on the white fluff of a duvet as soon as I got in!
2-view-from-signal-hill
Our first stop: CAPE SPEAR! On a cliff located a 15-minute drive outside the downtown centre, Cape Spear is home to Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse. The drive up was majestic. After cruising down a forest-lined road, you find yourself driving on top of what I can only describe as a massive rock, with ocean waves crashing against the cliff. We parked, walked towards the lighthouse and, despite the cold and the fog (ok, it was, like, 3 degrees…we were COLD), we were blown away by the beauty around us. For me, personally, the thought that, beyond that point, the closest piece of land would be Europe, was really cool.
3-signal-hill
After trotting around there for a bit, snapping pics and making new friends (everyone was so friendly! We met a group of breast cancer survivors who were on a trip together. I won’t get into it, but it was inspiring to meet such amazing women), we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our first night, we dined at The Merchant Tavern, a lovely and modern restaurant with really good cocktails and incredible food. If you go to St. John’s, it’s definitely a must. The night was young when we finished, so we headed to George Street for some live music at O’Reilly’s. Live music in this town is serious; it’s a totally authentic representation of Newfoundland. Pub dancing and enjoying live music are how people party and I am not opposed at all! So. Much. Fun! An early night was in the books though, as we had a day of exploring ahead of us.

The following two days were spent exploring–the highlights were definitely finding the Jellybean Row Houses that define St. John’s architectural landscape. The homes, so brightly coloured, popped against the cloudy and foggy atmosphere. Green, blue, pink, yellow–you name it, there’s likely a house painted in it! So cute!

We then took our fish and chips craving over the Chafe’s Landing, a place the late and wonderful Anthony Bourdain ate at so we knew it was going to be a truly delicious feast. See picture below for the most perfect piece of fried cod I have ever had!
4-fish-and-chips
Signal Hill was another must-see, of course! Overlooking St. John’s, the views were incredible. Fortifications were built here in the 17th century and served as harbour defences until the Second World War. You can see anyone coming by boat up there! While the site itself is the most popular landmark of St. John’s, my friend and I still talk about the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, a small café located halfway up to Signal Hill. Here, you can choose a fun hot chocolate from a mouth-watering menu or opt for a delicious mocha. This was hands-down the BEST mocha I’ve ever had and I still dream about it daily! NEED. MORE. If you go to St. John’s, you MUST go there. The warm beverage was much needed, as the cold gusts of wind up on Signal Hill were chilly enough to wake the dead! (Side note: it was unseasonably cold for the month of June).

We finished the day eating a delicious lentil soup at the uber-cool Mallard Cottage located in Quidi Vidi Village, home to the province’s largest microbrewery, the Quidi Vidi Brewery. Mallard Cottage is a must if you like the vibe of places like Joe Beef and Liverpool House, aka brimming with cool locals.
5-st-john's
I want to finish with my FAVOURITE part of this trip: getting SCREECHED in at Christian’s Pub! Screech is Newfoundland’s rum. Back in the day, they used to trade this deep, dark rum with the Jamaicans, who, in exchange, took loads of cod off their hands. In order to become an honorary Newfoundlander, you must participate in a Screeching Ceremony, during which you learn some awesome Newfoundland slang, take a shot of Screech…and….kiss a cod. Yes, an actual cod. It happened. We laughed. We learnt. We drank. We got a certificate. True story! It was hilarious! Best part? Christian’s Pub is where Anthony Bourdain got “screeched in” when he spent 2 weeks in Newfoundland.
6-getting-screeched
Our Sunday night was spent celebrating our honorary titles: we had an insanely delicious dinner at Adelaide’s, made some awesome new friends (and perhaps, just perhaps, a few more drinks than I care to remember) with dancing back at Christian’s. Let’s just say that we were in no hurry to get up and at ‘em the next day!

Our last night was spent with a lovely group, hailing from Toronto and Montreal. We had dinner at Mussels On The Corner, which has a long menu of mussels cooked in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Not into mussels? You can try something else off their delicious menu and if you’re adventurous enough…maybe sample a seal meat poutine.

I feel truly lucky to have visited this adorable city, full of history, great food (read: chocolate), great people and great music. It’s the perfect Urban Getaway that actually feels more country-meets-small-town. In fact, St. John’s would be a great place to fly into for a few days before spending some time exploring the rest of Newfoundland…something I absolutely will do one day.

If you’re looking to get away to St. John’s, Newfoundland for a few days, check out the new Urban-Chic getaways in Canada with Air Canada Vacations. These packages include your flight, hotel and you can check out whenever you like!

This post was written by photographer and content creator, Karolina Jez. To learn more about Karolina, you can visit her website www.nineblonde.com.

09 Jul

By

A Big New Way to Play: Toy Story Land!

July 9, 2018 | By |

The wait is finally over – Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort, inspired by Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story films, is now open!

Toy Story Land dedication

Become an “honorary toy” as you discover the whimsical workings of Andy’s backyard. Here, you’ll be surrounded by giant building blocks, Tinkertoys, board game pieces and more– all while encountering your favourite Toy Story characters. Fun!

“With set pieces, staging, attractions and experiences, Toy Story Land represents the best of Walt Disney Imagineering’s collaboration with our storytelling partners at Pixar Animation Studios,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products. “This new land will place guests inside the wondrous world of Woody, Buzz and their pals – and invite everyone to experience the joy of being a toy.”

Visit Toy Story Land

Here’s everything you need to know about Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World Resort. (Psst! Read on for a very special promo from Air Canada Vacations – Kids Fly FREE!)
Where is Toy Story Land?

Located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the new land spans 11 acres. It’s part of a multi-year reimagining of the park, and, is the largest expansion in the theme park’s history! The entrance is located at the very back of the park; stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, curve a right at the Chinese Theatre and make a sharp right just before Pixar Place. When you see a larger-than-life Woody, you know you’re at the right place!

Toy Story Land Entrance

What are the new rides and attractions?

Toy Story Land boasts two new rides and one updated fan favourite. First, you’ll want to jump aboard Slinky Dog Dash. This family-friendly coaster zips up, down and around the entire land, giving riders a birds-eye view of Andy’s backyard. The best part? Slinky Dog Dash features a second launch at its midpoint (a first for a Disney coaster!), adding a thrilling element to the ride.

Toy Story Land Slinky Dog Dash

My take? 5/5! From an intensity standpoint, I’d rank it slightly higher than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but well below Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Admittedly, I was slightly nervous to ride it, but that’s just because I’m not a fan of big drops. If you’re in the same boat, good news: the two drops are winding and super smooth (translation: your tummy will stay intact!).

The second brand new ride is Alien Swirling Saucers. Brace yourself (literally, as you’ll likely smash and crash into your seat mate) as the adorable little green Aliens swirl about in toy rocket ships. The height requirement for this ride is just 32”, ensuring even the littlest Toy Story fans can experience the magic.

If you’ve previously enjoyed Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort, the ride will be very familiar (with all-new theming, of course). However, one major advantage over its predecessor is that Alien Swirling Saucers has shelter from both sun and rain, ensuring there’s no stoppage time in inclement weather.

Finally, Toy Story Mania, arguably one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, has been outfitted with a colourful new entrance and a third track, allowing even more guests to enjoy the carnival playset action.

Toy Story Land Toy Story Mania

Who can I meet and greet at Toy Story Land?

Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear and the Green Army Drum Corps appear throughout the land. While you’ll likely have to queue to meet Woody, Jessie and Buzz, don’t be surprised to see Sarge and the Green Army Patrol march through the land, playing games and even challenging guests to drop and give ‘em 10. Bonus: they’re always down for a photo op!

Toy Story Land Buzz Lightyear

Where can I eat?

Grab on-the-go tasty foods and refreshments at Woody’s Lunch Box. Order a grilled three-cheese sandwich, sip an old-fashioned soda float or if it’s been a particularly magical day, grab a “Grown-Up’s Lemonade.” Woody’s Lunch Box features Mini Babybel cheese – the Official Snack Cheese of Walt Disney World Resort.

What’s the must-have merch?

As the land just opened it’s hard to predict if there will be a runaway favourite, but from opening weekend, I can attest that the small scale replica toys of the Alien Swirling Saucers attraction vehicles were flying off shelves, as were the colourful headbands featuring Slinky Dog himself.

Toy Story Land Merchandise

Just outside Toy Story Land, the Little Green Alien Popcorn Buckets can be found at popcorn stands. Fair warning: they’re a hot ticket! They were sold out by 11 a.m. at two stands, so grab ‘em while you can!

When should I head over to Toy Story Land?

At the moment, to be honest, you’re not going to be in the driver’s seat – you’ll need to visit when you have the opportunity (fair warning: there may be a queue to enter Toy Story Land). However, once the initial fanfare has calmed down somewhat, I recommend visiting early morning or late evening, especially during the summer months.

From a comfort standpoint, there is very little shade/ shelter and it’s easy to overheat in the sun. Stay hydrated and wear light, loose clothing! From an entertainment standpoint, the land comes alive at night; the string of Christmas bulbs light up and the tracks on Slinky Dog Dash are illuminated as well. If your FastPass+ is valid after sunset, you’re in for a treat!

How can I save money on my Walt Disney World Resort vacation?

With Air Canada Vacations, kids fly FREE. From now until July 15, when travellers book a flight, an Orlando hotel, and a Walt Disney World Theme Park ticket package, you’ll get two free flights for children 2-17! (Taxes apply). Travel by February 28, 2019.

Air Canada Vacations also has an offer where you can save the equivalent of the taxes on Florida packages; it works out to savings of $300 per family + 4,000 bonus Aeroplan® Miles. Book before July 30, 2018 for departures by February 28, 2019.

Toy Story land army men

This post was written by Lena Almeida, family travel expert and Air Canada Vacations Ambassador. To see more from Lena, visit her website.

 

05 Jul

By

What to do in Costa Rica

July 5, 2018 | By |

Answer the call of Pura Vida! Inciting a simple way of life, Costa Rica is a hot-spot for adventure and activities. Get inspired for your next getaway with our picks of the best things to do in Costa Rica.

Get Adventurous

Take your trip to new heights by conquering simmering peaks or zipping through treetops. Epic hikes await around the country’s most active volcano, the Arenal Volcano. Walk through former lava fields before unwinding in the national park’s natural hot springs. Take your feet off the ground at the Monteverde Cloud Forest where zip-lining adventures send you flying over the tropical woodland.

Go Wild

Add a couple critters to your clique! Known for its biodiversity, Costa Rica teems with colourful wildlife. Witness the incredible nesting or hatching of sea turtles at Tortuguero National Park, a turtle haven. Keep your eyes peeled up-top at the Manuel Antonio National Park, where capuchin monkeys swing around and three-toed sloths hang loose. Meanwhile, Marino Ballena National Park beckons you to go big or go home with humpback whales and dolphins swimming by its shores.

Catch a Wave

Surf’s up! Set yourself up for a bit of splashing around at one of the country’s best beaches. Bustling Tamarindo Beach calls for surfing and swimming all day and great dining and dancing all night. Explore the nearby, quieter palm tree-lined shores of Carillo Beach where rest and relaxation reign. For a more adventurous swim, you can hike to the Celeste River and its impressive waterfall tinted turquoise thanks to volcanic minerals.

What’s Next

Now that your Costa Rica activities are checked off, you need a hotel or resort to rest in. Try the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica! Its world-class spa, luxurious rooms and dining options will help you refuel after a jam-packed day. Alternately, you also can’t go wrong with The Westin Golf Resort & Spa or Hotel Villas Playa Samara.