Vancouver - TRAVEL & LEISURE
November 29th, 2012
Spain’s Castilla y León region is home to more medieval castles than anywhere else in Europe. Segovia - 30 minutes north of Madrid via high-speed train - is the jewel in this area’s crown with scenic castles, cathedrals and palaces. Like a fairytale come to life….
For a truly authentic experience, stay in a parador. Paradors are Spanish state-run hotels converted from historic buildings- usually convents, castles or palaces. The Parador de la Granja is housed in the 18th century palace used by Charles III for Princes Gabriel and Antonio. http://www.parador.es/en
Manchego, Jamón ibérico and morcilla (blood sausage) are regional specialties. Sorry vegans! Roast suckling pig, or “conchinillo asado”, is the most famous Segovian dish. The meat is so tender that it is traditionally cut tableside with a dinner plate. Our favourite was at Mesón de Cándido, a Spanish Inn founded in 1786. www.mesondecandido.es
Sangria, what else?! Throw a rock anywhere in Segovia’s Plaza Mayor and you are bound to hit a pretty patio with a spectacular view. Prefer your wine with less fruit? Tempranillo a good bet in this region. If you want to wander around with a drink in hand, ask for yours “para llevar” (to go).
The Alcázar de Segovia is one of the most recognizable and beautiful castles in Spain. Walt Disney thought so too- the Alcázar served as a key inspiration for the iconic Cinderella castle.
The Catedral de Santa Maria is not to be missed! Literally. It is massive, so really, you can’t miss it. The cathedral was built starting in 1525, making it the last Gothic style cathedral to be built in Spain. The interior is ornate but light and bright- one of the most beautiful I’ve visited.
Segovia’s Roman aqueduct is one of the most important and well-preserved ancient monuments in Spain. It is the symbol of Segovia, and one of the many reasons the town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Palacio Real de La Granja is an 18th century baroque palace, located 15 minutes outside of Segovia. Visit at dusk, when most of the turistas have left and there is a beautiful dappled glow cast over the extensive French-style gardens. You can still make it back to Segovia in time to watch the sun set over the Alcázar.
November 22nd, 2012
Feeling the need to build an ark? Don't gather the animals two-by-two just yet, there is a warm-weather reprieve in sight.
Take a jaunt to sunny Palm Springs for a Vitamin Daily-approved vacation at completely reno'd desert bungalow. You'll live like California royalty with high-quality modern designer furniture fit for a magazine spread (speaking of, it will be a magazine spread soon enough!). Lounge on the 1800 square foot pool deck or seek some shuteye in the shade in an outdoor cabana-covered bed. Make mealtime a breeze with an outdoor kitchen and dining area or ditch dinner prep altogether (after all, you're on vacation) and hit one of the nearby downtown restaurants for some West Coast fare.
Tip your family and friends to what you really want for Christmas and forward this dose (or play hero this holiday season, and book it as a gift for someone else).
California, here we come.
Exclusive to VitaminDaily.com readers: use promo code VitaminVIP for 25% off your booking - click here for more details.
November 15th, 2012
Whether travelling for business (as we were) or choosing a gift for a girlfriend, finding the right spa in another city can be an exercise in trial and error.
Several well-placed Torontonians (one a French skincare guru herself) recommended the new Spa My Blend Clarins spa at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel but this being VitaminDaily.com, an in-person experience was a must.
The hotel’s entire 5th floor holds 24,000 square feet of wellness experiences. From the beckoning reception area with fashionable gear from Yoga Girl, to the expansive, bright waiting room with double chaise lounges and copies of British Vogue, we were duly impressed.
A “rebalancing” massage helped ease away the jet lag, while the refreshing eucalyptus steam cleared our mind for the day’s meetings.
We see more trips to Toronto in our future – next time to try the custom facials using peptide technology, the anti-oxidant cocktails or the Innovative Fitness training.
More trial, less error. —Sarah Bancroft
Spa My Blend at the Ritz-Carlton 181 Wellington St. W., Toronto, 416-572-8000, www.ritzcarlton.com
November 8th, 2012
Make your getaway virtually pain free with these travel essentials.
Snuggle up in this knit jersey infinity scarf ($68, Lululemon) to keep airplane blankets away from your face and compensate for changing temps both on the plane and off.
Jao Goe Oil ($36, Drake General Store) goes on like a body oil but is a travel-friendly semi-solid in the carry-on-ready 85 g tube, perfect to replenish skin on cold-weather vacays. Order by phone, 888-296-8685, http://jaostore.com
Install Postagram on your iPhone or Android device to skip time-consuming post office visits and send customized postcards from your own photo library.
November 1st, 2012
Just an easy 90-minute train ride from London, the charming, compact and walkable city of Bath – former home to Jane Austen, among others – offers a perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
We adored boutique B&B Villa Magdala, across from lovely Henrietta Park (opened to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee) and just steps from Bath's downtown. You'll want to stay more than one night – or bring a big appetite – to sample the delightful breakfast menu, with fruit, yogurt and pastries plus to-order picks like the full English and our favourite, the lemon-ricotta-pistachio pancakes. www.villamagdala.co.uk
Book ahead and bring a group to sample Tilleys Bistro's tasty tapas menu, complete with clearly labelled veg and gluten-free selections. Our French Farmers Salad, Baked Avocado Tower and Butterbean and Root Ginger Firepot went down so well (accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc) that we tragically left no room for dessert. http://www.tilleysbistro.co.uk
Bath is home to the UK's only natural hot springs, put on the map by the Romans, who erected a full bathing complex complete with temple. A visit to the Roman Baths Museum is a must while in town. Wander the site with the audio guide and turn up your imagination to visualize the lives of the people who millennia ago bathed in these same waters. If you have time, pick up a combo ticket to save on a trip to the Fashion Museum, too.
You can't enter the original Roman baths, unfortunately, but there is a consolation prize across the street: Thermae Bath Spa, which taps into those same natural springs. Sample the selection of scented steam rooms, then soak in the rooftop pool and enjoy the views of Bath Abbey and the rest of the city. www.thermaebathspa.com
Photo: visitbath.co.uk Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus / Colin Hawkins
Bath has no shortage of boutiques and other shopping pleasures. Make sure to visit historic Pulteney Bridge, a late-18th-century stone bridge complete with built-in shops. One highlight for us was the Antique Map Shop, with its very giftable collection of printed maps from all over the world.
October 30th, 2012
The days of traveling in style ended when we replaced glamorous train trips and handmade trunks with low-cost airlines and polyester suitcases on wheels.
That’s why we are looking to Vancouver designer Alex Folzi to inject some elegance back into traveling, with his collection of handmade leather luggage. We love the brightly coloured suitcases ($369) for travel or as a briefcase, and if you aren’t on going far, his Osaka camera bag ($144) beats any nylon carrying case we’ve seen.
The only problem is that his collection really doesn’t suit economy, so we figure this is an opportunity to upgrade luggage and seats. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
October 25th, 2012
Houses are painted sherbert yellow, green and blue and the pinkish sand on every beach is as soft as flour. If you’re planning a winter getaway, consider Bermuda, where the sweet floral scents and sounds of the sea will whisk you a million miles away.
With three restaurants, pools, tennis courts and spacious rooms all steps away from one of the island’s best beaches, Elbow Beach is the place to stay. Order a Dark and Stormy and bask on the beach to a soundtrack of crashing waves. Sushi fans will love the fresh-from-the-ocean wahoo rolls at Seabreez. www.mandarinoriental.com/bermuda
Rent a moped and cruise the island at 25 miles-per-hour. Visit the flamingos at the local aquarium, stop and smell the hibiscus at the Botanical Gardens and leap off the cliffs into crystal waters at Horseshoe Bay. If you’re as nosy as we are, you’ll want to ride over to Tucker’s Town where Ross Perot, Michael Bloomberg and Silvio Berlusconi have holiday homes.
The Lobster Pot in town is a Bermudian institution where bibs are a must. Don’t miss out on the Guinea Chicks (Sept-March) and if you’ve never tried Wahoo, this is the place to do it. www.lobsterpot.bm
October 19th, 2012
Once upon a time the bright yellow Bell helmet was cycling’s It accessory.
Thank heavens those days are behind us. Now, Vancouver-based brand Sahn has launched a line of helmets inspired by equestrian headwear. They come in muted, matte shades like off-white and steel blue, though the black feels the most Charlotte Casiraghi. They’re also launching a limited-edition collaboration with Vancouver-based illustrator Chairman Ting.
Now that's street cred. —Kelsey Dundon
At Walrus, 3408 Cambie St., Vancouver, 604-874-9770, www.walrushome.com/main.htm
October 18th, 2012
The wonders of la ville d'amour are endless, but you have to start somewhere. Here are a few highlights from our latest jaunt across the pond.
For free vistas of the city and its landmarks, stroll up Paris's steepest hill to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, a neighbourhood once home to artists such as Picasso and Modigliani. Come at sunset to see the Eiffel Tower light up, hawkers ply their wares and local youth crowd the stairs in this popular hangout spot. http://sacre-coeur-montmartre.com
Our three-hour walking tour with Urban Adventures took us along stylish streets and through secret passages to see glorious architecture and real Parisian life, with a well-deserved break for cheese and baguette in-between. Bring a map so you can return to the adorable and easy-to-lose shops you see along the way. www.urbanadventures.com/destination
The Saturday-morning lineup of locals at bakery Arnaud Delmontel convinced us the goods were worth it even before we tasted the pastries, tarts and macarons. Ladurée gets all the hype when it comes to the petite sweets, but our favourite was the prettily pink-and-white marbled rose flavour here. www.arnaud-delmontel.com
Ballet flat addicts might want to set a budget in advance to a visit to one of the city's several Repetto boutiques, with the iconic shoes spread in a rainbow of colours and styles, including kitten heels, T-straps and even boots, plus ballet-inspired streetwear. www.repetto.com
Europe's so wee from a Canadian perspective: London and Paris are closer than Toronto and Montreal. Hit both cities on one trip while avoiding excess airport visits via the comfortable and just 2 1/2-hour-long train ride on Eurostar. www.eurostar.com
October 11th, 2012
The big draws to this city are its theme parks, but where do the locals go for a good time? We took a tour of the Orlando most people don’t know.
With on-site activities like swimming, golf, kayak, tennis and even fly-fishing, the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes is a luxe retreat all on its own. Add to that fabulous restaurants and a standout spa at the adjacent Ritz Carlton hotel (The Citrus C Organic facial ($159) is one of the best we’ve had) and we hardly wanted to leave. 4040 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, 407-206-2300, www.marriott.com
Swimming with dolphins is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Discovery Cove proved the perfect place to check it off our bucket list. The all-inclusive resort-inspired park offers 30-minute group dolphin swims (from $259) where we fell in love with Yoko and Diego (more than we can say about the giant sting rays we also swam with!). Sandy beaches, lazy rivers, an aviary pavilion, all-you-can-eat and drink… Booking a reservation at this piece of paradise is a must. 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, 877-557-7404, http://discoverycove.ca
Back on land, we got a glimpse at what Florida looked like pre-Disney at Forever Florida, a 4,700 acre eco-ranch and conservation area. We experience the pristine grounds – and played spot-the-gators! – by zipline and canopy cycle, but coach bus and horseback tours are also popular options (from $32). 4755 North Kenansville Rd., St. Cloud, Orlando, 407-957-9794, www.floridaecosafaris.com
Downtown Disney is technically in Mickey Mouse territory but it is home to an array of fabulous entertainment (like Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba) and restaurants like Bongos Cuban Café. Request a table on the balcony for a view of the lake: it’s the perfect spot to sip a signature mojito and let the exotic flavours (like the to-die-for seafood paella) transport you even further south. Dancing starts at 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and seeing as Gloria Estefan is the owner, you might end up doing the conga into the wee hours of the night. 1498 East Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, 407-828-0999, www.bongoscubancafe.com
We just have three words for you: Orlando Premium Outlets. Think Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Prada, Tory Burch and a ton more. Word to the wise: There are two locations, so make at least a day out of it. 4951 International Dr., 407-352-9600 and 8200 Vineland Ave., 407-238-7787, www.premiumoutlets.com
For more on our trip to Orlando and the ultra-posh city of Winter Park, Florida, check out our Editors' Diary. —Christine Laroche