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Ceide Fields is the most extensive prehistoric monument in the world.

The landscape simply looks like a vast expanse of Irish bogland, as far as the eye can see. However, it’s one of the most unique settings in the world. Yet, at first glance, you’d never know it.

Céide Fields (céide means “a flat topped hill”) in North Mayo contains the oldest field systems in the world. It’s also the world’s largest dated Stone Age monument. Not only is this site the oldest known enclosed landscape, but it also demonstrates a changing climate and environment over several thousand years.

Currently, Ceide Fields is under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it provides an innate understanding of our past, showing how a Neolithic farming community lived and survived 5,000-6,000 years ago.


You’ll drive along the coast of County Mayo for some time before you reach Ceide Fields. The scenery alternates between dense bog and farmers’ fields. At last, you’ll reach the visitor’s centre where you’ll be able to learn more about this intriguing site.

Thankfully, there is a lot of information in the visitor’s centre, through illustrations, displays, and video. If you simply looked at the land itself, you wouldn’t understand why it was so important.

With that said, my favourite part of visiting Ceide Fields was strolling around the fields themselves via an extensive boardwalk across the property.

Would you believe that the remnants of this pine tree are over 4,300 years old? It’s a centre piece in the middle of the visitor’s centre, spanning two stories. This pine tree was found at Ceide Fields, preserved in the bogland.


A local man, Patrick Caulfield, discovered Ceide Fields in the 1930s. As he worked on the land and cut away peat for fuel, Patrick noticed piles of rocks positioned in such a way that only humans could have arranged them. The rocks were beneath the bog, insinuating that they were placed in ancient times.

Forty years passed. Patrick’s son, Seamas, studied archaeology and began to investigate the site more thoroughly. These excavations revealed a highly organized farming system, with fields, houses, and even tombs.

A peaceful community once lived on this land. They worked together to clear a dense forest to farm their cattle. These communities divided 1,000 hectares of land between themselves and co-existed peacefully from 5,700 to 5,200 years ago.

So, what happened?


Nearly 6000 years ago, the climate here was much warmer and drier. The land was covered in trees: forests of pine, birch, hazel, oak, and willow. The prehistoric farmers cleared out most of the forest to develop their field systems.

After five centuries, the climate became cooler and damper. This lead to a widespread increase of blanket bog throughout their fields, making their farms unsustainable. The people abandoned their sites, and they slowly crumbled and became hidden beneath the growing bog vegetation. The pine trees grew back, but were slowly consumed by the bog, preserved in the peat.

With the increase in dampness (a growth of bog requires at least 225 days of rain per year), the landscape grew to appear as it does today.

By checking out the visitor centre, you’ll learn even more about this historic marvel in much more detail. I highly recommend it!


After you walk through the visitor centre, walk up a spiral staircase to the top of the building. From there, you can walk out onto a balcony near the roof. Be careful – it’s super windy up there. I am not sure I’ve encountered anywhere quite this windy before. I had to hang on to the railing as I was scared that I’d blow away!

Walk down to the boardwalk where you’ll begin your scenic stroll around the bog.

While some of Ceide Fields has been fully excavated, other places are mostly buried beneath the bog. At the beginning of the boardwalk, you’ll see one side of an exposed rock wall. These stones have not been moved in over fifty centuries!

On the other side, you’ll see white stakes. The white stakes mark where the wall lies beneath as it has not been excavated.

During an early archaeological excavation, Seamas used a technique of probing the bogs with metal rods to find the stone walls, hidden beneath 4.5 metres of bog.

A jaunt around the full boardwalk takes approximately 20 minutes, and it loops back to the front of the visitor centre. It’s such a peaceful walk, as it’s so quiet and serene out there. When we visited, it was mostly just us and the sheep.

Be sure to bring a rain jacket. Naturally, it could start to rain or mist – it is Ireland, after all!


Here’s how we spent one of our days, road tripping around Ireland. Consider these stops between Donegal and Galway:

On the way to Galway, we saw these adorable cows and couldn’t resist snapping a few photos.

I wonder if they resemble the ones that lived at farms owned by our prehistoric ancestors, 5000 to 6000 years ago?


If you’re looking for a nearby place to stay, I recommend checking out Solis Lough Eske Castle in Donegal (check out more reviews or book your stay).

Or, in Galway, I stayed at a comfortable, cozy, and affordable accommodation, The Connacht Hotel (check out these reviews or book your stay). 

Check out more photos of Ceide Fields at my travel photo album. You can also purchase photographs, canvas prints, cell phone cases, mugs, and all sorts of things made from any of my photos!

Ceide Fields
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Céide Fields


County Mayo

Hours: Open from Easter to Oct 29th, 10:00am-5:00pm

PIN this image to your Pinterest board for future reference.

Have you visited a place that wasn’t as it appeared on the surface?

The post Ceide Fields: Prehistoric Irish Landscape You Must Explore appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Treat yourself to a traditional seaweed spa when visiting Ireland.

I never knew that bathing in seaweed was a thing until I travelled to Ireland.

Who ever thought it would be a good idea to climb into a tub filled with slimy seaweed?

Well, seaweed baths are actually a centuries-old practice in Ireland. Dating back to the 12th century, monks harvested the seaweed from the coastlines and gave it to the poor as a nourishing food. As seaweed came to have a multitude of uses over the years, seaweed bathhouses started springing up around the country in the early 20th century.

At one point in time, there were over 300 seaweed spas in Ireland. Today, only a handful of seaweed baths remain.

I knew that I had to give it a try. After all, when in Ireland…right?


I’m sure you’re aware, but it rains a lot in Ireland. You won’t have to worry about a rainy day hampering your plans at the seaweed spa. It’s all indoors, so it doesn’t matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

The town of Enniscrone is a sleepy seaside village in County Sligo. I ventured here specifically to try the seaweed baths in Enniscrone after spending a few hours in the nearby town of Sligo.


Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths remain in the same family for generations. Nearly 100 years ago, Kilcullen’s opened for business, although the bathhouse was built back in 1898 for this purpose. In its fifth generation of ownership in the same family, Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths doesn’t look too differently from when it first opened its doors.

This charming Edwardian era building still uses large porcelain bathtubs, solid brass taps, and old fashioned wooden sauna boxes. It’s like transporting yourself back in time. Because when something simply doesn’t need perfecting, why change it?


While seaweed is highly nutritious to consume, there are many benefits of treating yourself to a seaweed spa day. It’s nourishing for the skin, too. High in vitamins and minerals, seaweed can soften the skin, improve circulation, aid liver problems, drain the lymphatic system, and help with cellulite. Bathing in hot water with seaweed is also thought to provide relief from arthritis, and assist those with eczema and dermatitis.

It’s even toted as a hangover cure. It might not be a bad idea to head to the seaweed bath after a raucous evening at the pub the night before.

While I wasn’t looking to improve any specific health issues, I was looking forward to a relaxing soak after driving around Ireland for days. After spending hours and hours in a car driving all over Ireland and Northern Ireland, I was hoping that the seaweed baths in Enniscrone would soothe my aching muscles and back.


You can request a single room for one, or share a room for two. As I wasn’t travelling with Justin, I asked for a private room to myself. It costs €25 for one person and €32 for two guests.

The staff member filled up the tub with the seaweed inside it. When I was ready, I was instructed to strip down and soak in the tub. From there, I could alternate between the tub and the cedar sauna box. You can stay in the room as long as you’d like, although most patrons visit for approximately an hour.

Though it might not look like a fancy day spa, this was one of my favourite spa experiences of all time. There’s nothing better than what nature provides.

I perched my body inside the wooden cabinet, while my head stuck out of a hole in the top. The wooden cabinet filled with fresh seawater vapour, enveloping my entire body and opening my pores.

Afterwards, I climbed into the bathtub of seaweed and amber water, which was stained from the release of iodine from the plants. I relaxed my body and put my head back. Floating in the water, I pulled the seaweed through my fingers and wrapped the greenery around my body.

The oils from the seaweed formed a velvety layer on the surface of my skin. It felt a little bit slimy, but very moisturizing and nourishing.

You’re welcome to alternate between the tub and the sauna as many times as you’d like. Feel free to add more hot water to the tub if it gets too cold. After the entire experience is done, you can take a cold shower to rinse the oils from your skin, or simply towel your body dry.

When it’s all over, scoop the seaweed from the tub into a bucket beside it, and drain the water.

My skin felt so amazing after this natural therapeutic treatment. While I might have smelled a little bit like seaweed or the beach, I was willing to take the risk of smelling a little bit pungent for the overall sensation of the treatment.

I’ve visited many day spas in the past, and nothing truly compared to the long lasting effects of the seaweed bath. When I was in the bathtub, my skin felt like a layer of oily ooze penetrated the surface. But, my skin felt so soft and moisturized for days following this traditional Irish seaweed soak. The tension left my aching muscles, and I felt energized to continue my road trip.

Back at the front desk, you can buy seaweed snacks, seaweed beauty products, and even seaweed to take with you for your own spa experience at home. I bought a few of these for some friends so they could try their own seaweed bath at home, too.

Check out more photos from Enniscrone, Ireland. You can also purchase any of our travel photos as canvas prints, housewares, and more right from our travel photography page.


If you’re looking to participate in a traditional and unique experience in Ireland, definitely try the seaweed baths in Enniscrone. If you love spas or relaxing moments, I’d add the seaweed spa to your bucket list.

I only wish there was a seaweed spa back at home in Canada so I could go more often…although I’ll just have to fly back to Ireland so I can try this again.

If you’re looking for a nearby place to stay, I recommend checking out Solis Lough Eske Castle in Donegal (check out more reviews or book your stay) Or, in Galway, I stayed at a comfortable, cozy, and affordable accommodation, The Connacht Hotel (check out these reviews or book your stay). 

Kilcullens Seaweed Baths
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Kilcullens Seaweed Baths

Cliff Rd, Carrowhubbuck South,


Co. Sligo, Ireland

Hours: See Facebook page for details

PIN this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

Have you ever tried a unique spa experience?

The post Why You Must Visit the Seaweed Baths in Enniscrone appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Dublin is a very vegan-friendly city – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Before travelling to Dublin, I kept hearing that Ireland was not a great country for vegans to visit. I heard numerous times that I wouldn’t be able to find much to eat. In doing my research before my trip, I discovered that Ireland isn’t just an up and coming destination for vegans. There are an abundance of vegan eateries, and even vegan food festivals and vegan food tours.

When you travel to Dublin, you’ll discover a vast array of vegan restaurants as long as you know where to look. I only had a couple of days in the city, and there wasn’t nearly enough time to eat everywhere.

Here are my recommendations for vegan restaurants in Dublin, including vegan options for tours and festivals.


Vegan Dublin Food Tours operated my favourite food tour…ever! It’s for vegans and non-vegans; vegetarians and veg-curious.

The tours are led by a vegan couple named Scott and Sivan. While they both live in Dublin, Scott is from Ireland and Sivan is originally from Israel. They’re both very sweet, upbeat, and have a kind way of discussing and introducing vegan ideas.

You don’t have to worry about any kind of judgment being passed if you’re not vegan on this tour. It’s all about learning and trying new foods, as well as sharing the positive effects of choosing a plant-based lifestyle.

We tried a wide variety of food at restaurants that were all within walking distance of one another. On the tour, we ate quinoa salad, bruschetta toast, garlic potatoes, a tofu curry, two vegan pizzas, garlic fries, curry cheese fries, vegan chicken nuggets, three decadent desserts, and more. We indulged in vegan beer, wine, and a homemade vegan Bailey’s Irish liqueur.

Show up hungry, and leave completely stuffed. I definitely enjoyed the yummiest samples from vegan restaurants in Dublin.

Tours run on Wednesday evenings (this is the one I tried), and there’s also a different tour on Saturday afternoon with afternoon tea and coffee. I’ll have to return to try that one out!

To learn more about booking your tour, check out my article about Vegan Dublin Food Tours.


While I only got the chance to dine at a small percentage of the vegan restaurants in Dublin, I thoroughly enjoyed everything that I ate and highly recommend you try them for yourself.


It’s Dublin’s original vegetarian restaurant, opening way back in 1986. Cornucopia serves primarily plant-based meals, catering to vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, and raw food diets.

Everything is made fresh. There’s an emphasis on local and organic ingredients wherever possible. Every selection tastes like a home cooked meal, prepared with love and care.

You can visit for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, with various menu offerings during different times of the day. Vegan items and allergens are clearly marked on the menu board.

Every day, they serve up two soups, five main courses, ten salads, wraps, and hummus plates. I recommend ordering a main course with two salads. And if you can manage, be sure to choose a dessert, too.

For my main course, I enjoyed a pastry pocket filled with a mix of mushrooms, eggplant, chickpeas, beetroot, and peanuts. As for my two salads, I ordered the Asian noodle salad with cucumber and asparagus, as well as the garlic potato salad.

Cornucopia Vegetarian Restaurant

19-20 Wicklow St,

Dublin 2

Check their Facebook page for hours


While I didn’t get the chance to try a full meal there, Sova Vegan Butcher is a crowd pleasing vegan restaurant in Dublin. They’re open for brunch during the afternoon and dinner in the evening. With a creative menu that will win over the omnivores in the crowd, take all of your friends to Sova for a great start to a night on the town.

I had the opportunity to sample two desserts from Sova on my Vegan Dublin Food Tour, and they were divine.

Sova Vegan Butcher

51 Pleasants Street,


See Facebook page for hours


Visiting a local chipper is something you simply must do while you’re in Ireland.

McGuinness has a whole vegan menu in addition to their traditional menu. As it turns out, the owners both went vegan and decided to launch a fully plant-based menu. That way, anyone following a diet devoid of animal products could visit the chipper, just like their meat-eating pals.

If you’re looking for anything deep-fried, greasy, or a snack that will hit the spot after a night at the pub, McGuinness is the place for you.

McGuinness Traditional Takeaway

84 Lower Camden Street


See Facebook Page for hours


Aperitivo is a pizza place specializing in vegan pizza. While they don’t serve exclusively vegan pizza, it does make up half of their menu. The pizza offerings here are quite original and ranging in variety.

On my vegan food tour, we sampled a gluten-free, marinara pizza topped with vegan cheese and gluten-free seitan. The other pizza was the “Vegan Green” with a pesto base, peppers, sweet corn, zucchini, and artichokes.

As you can see, there are several different vegan pizzas to try, so you can sample something new every time you visit. Yum!

Aperitivo Pizza

6 Parliament Street


See Facebook Page for hours


While I went to one of their locations in Wicklow (just outside of Dublin), there’s also a Happy Pear location in Clondalkin, Dublin.

The Happy Pear isn’t just a restaurant focusing on healthy food, it’s a massive vegetarian brand that’s swept the country. They have two cafes, a farm, and a product line.

The restaurant is vegetarian with the vegan items clearly marked. I visited The Happy Pear for breakfast on the way into Dublin at the end of my epic three week road trip of Ireland. I enjoyed a vegan croissant, some bread and jam, and a chia pudding.

The Happy Pear

Church Rd, Rathdown Lower,

Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

or in Dublin: 22 Tower Road, Clondalkin, Dublin

Check Facebook Page for hours


Don’t feel like cooking…or leaving your apartment or hotel? I don’t blame you! Sometimes you just feel like relaxing for the afternoon or evening without getting up.

Enter Deliveroo. Deliveroo has a vast selection of vegetarian takeaway from restaurants near you. Just search “vegetarian” or “vegan” on their website, type in your address, and you’ll see the options. Select what you’d like to get and it will arrive at your place shortly after you order. Easy peasy!

Naturally, they have options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just search through the site’s dozens of categories for whatever you feel like eating.

When I checked out the vegan options at Deliveroo, I found six in Dublin and a whopping 18 vegetarian restaurants. I know there are hundreds of other vegetarian or vegan-friendly items you can order from other establishments, too.

Blazing Salads at Dublin Vegfest

Here are a few of my favourite Deliveroo vegan options in Dublin:


Blazing Salads is a vegetarian, whole food deli with meals prepared using high quality ingredients. From Deliveroo, you can order their soup of the day, a vegan health treat box, a vegan samosa plate, salad bowls, and even a pizza platter.


Pang is a Vietnamese restaurant with vegan-friendly dishes. Choose from sweet potato rice paper rolls, a roast sweet potato banh mi sandwich, vegan pho, edamame, kale salad, and miso soup.


Jewel in the Crown is Dublin’s longest serving Indian restaurant, and they have loads of vegetarian and vegan offerings. Choose from onion bhaji, vegetable pakora, veggie samosas, saag aloo, chickpea masala, tadka dal and more.


Cocu is an Irish restaurant serving up healthy meals with a Middle Eastern influence. You can find a vegetarian hot pot, a bombay bowl, hummus wraps, smoothies, and even raw desserts like Snickers bars.


Zizzi is an Italian restaurant with a whole vegan section of the menu. You can order mixed olives, vegan bruschetta, vegan garlic bread, a rainbow salad, summer slaw, spicy mixed nuts, or vegan herb potatoes.


It was meant to be. Dublin Vegfest happens just one weekend a year, and it happened to be the weekend I was visiting Dublin! How lucky was that?

It’s Ireland’s largest vegan food event, with loads of vendors, cooking demos, speakers, and more. Dublin Vegfest in 2017 had experts and vegan celebrities like James Aspey and the world’s strongest man, Patrik Baboumian.

I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the grounds and eating as much food as I could. There were tons of local businesses with delicious eats that I couldn’t find back at home.

Here’s some of the things that I ate, and what I wished I could have eaten. Be prepared to get hungry by looking at these photos.


Guess what – Guinness is vegan now! Vegans, rejoice!

Trust me, you’ll want to take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. You can spend all afternoon exploring the several levels of exhibits, which detail everything relating to this famous Irish beer. You’ll learn about its history, the brewing process, and even the advertising campaigns over the years.

At the end of the tour, enjoy a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar from the top floor. Savour your beer while taking in spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of Dublin’s skyline.


Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Dublin is extremely vegan-friendly and you won’t run out of food to try while you’re there. Even though there just a few vegan restaurants in Dublin, there are so many vegetarian and vegan-friendly ones. Veganism is only growing in the city, with introductions of vegan festivals, vegan food tours, and vegan food delivery options.

Interested in seeing more photos from my trip to Dublin? Check out my entire Dublin travel photo album. You can purchase prints, housewares, phone cases, and more from any of my pictures! Makes a great gift for travel lovers.

Looking for a place to stay in Dublin? Check out the two different Airbnb apartments I called home in Dublin.

Pin this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

Have you ever travelled to Dublin or tried any of these awesome restaurants?

The post Vegan Restaurants in Dublin – Dublin Vegan Guide appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Ready for an unforgettable adventure?

It’s no secret that I’m in love with Québec. Justin and I have visited there on numerous occasions, whether it’s a memorable city break in Montreal, exploring the history and wonders of Quebec City, or pursuing adventures at Mont Tremblant.

Even though Québec is only a province away from us in Ontario, it’s a whole other world to explore. Even though I’ve gone to Québec several times, I’ve barely scraped the surface of what this spectacular destination has to offer. With its unique culture, stories, and landscape there’s an infinite amount to explore and I highly recommend that you start as soon as possible.

To inspire travel and adventure in Québec , there’s a brand new Quebec video you should watch.

Let go and let Québec take over | QuébecOriginal - YouTube

In the video, travel influencers had one task – to let go. They didn’t only let go of their technology, they let go of their routines, plans, and fears while visiting Québec . By letting go, we are able to fully appreciate and absorb our surroundings. It’s a life changing experience to step outside of our comfort zone.

The video features the following personalities:

The music is by Québecois artist, Geoffroy.


As you can see in the YouTube video above, there are so many inspiring ways to truly let go in Québec. There’s something for every interest and passion, and perhaps you’ll get the chance to fall in love with a new activity or place.


Walk through the forest, go ziplining past mountains, discover lakes and fjords, or even take in the majestic northern lights. Québec is a prime destination for outdoor adventures.

If you are from Ontario like us, I bet you didn’t even realize that this is practically right in your own backyard.

There are 27 national parks with campsites and eco-lodging, sandy beaches, and trails through boreal forests. Breathe the fresh air, and soak up some peaceful moments in nature.

Québec is also an excellent place to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. There are boat tours on the St. Lawrence River where you can go whale watching for an unforgettable experience.


Hit the open road and enjoy the freedom of a road trip in Québec. Explore all of Québec’s changing landscapes and meet friendly people as you travel.

Stumble upon quaint towns, wineries, and bustling cities. Québec is incredibly beautiful in all seasons, but I’d love to see the leaves changing colour in the fall. Fill up the gas tank and embark on a road trip adventure – who knows what you’ll discover on the way!


There are unique festivals celebrating life, culture, and creativity in Québec all year long. Whether you’re interested in comedy, film, food, music, art, culture, or sports, there are an endless amount of festivals where you can participate and celebrate with the locals.


For a special cultural experience, learn about the cultures of the 11 distinct Indigenous nations peoples in Québec. These traditions have been passed down through generations, and many of these traditions were adapted by early European settlers in Québec, too. From spirituality, artistic expression, and a respect for nature, become immersed in these authentic cultural experiences.


Check out the video and discover the wonders of Québec. There’s so much to explore, and I can’t wait to continue my travels around this spectacular Canadian province. Adventure awaits!

PIN this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of QuébecOriginal. All text and opinions are my own.

The post Travel Inspiration: Let Go in Quebec appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Aran View Country House – a spectacular Doolin accommodation!

You might not have heard of Doolin, but it’s a hopelessly adorable town in Ireland. Not only does this village have its own quirky personality, but it’s the perfect base for exploring nearby bucket list destinations, like the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. You should definitely book a Doolin accommodation and base yourself there to explore the town and the surrounding region.

I stayed overnight at Aran View Country House in Doolin and highly recommend that you plan to stay here, too.


Ashley and I had a very long day before arriving at our Doolin accommodation, Aran View. We woke up incredibly early in the morning in Dingle, and drove for almost four hours to catch the ferry to Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands.

Why did we plan it this way? Well, when we were staying in Killarney with fellow travel bloggers, Chris and Heather of A Brit and A Southerner, we were all discussing our various travel plans for the rest of our Ireland road trip. I expressed how I felt like I was missing out by not seeing any of the Aran Islands when I’d heard such wonderful things about them.

After some fast and furious Google searches, Ashley and I decided that we could wake up really early in the morning and get to Doolin just in time to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands. You see, the only ferry to Inishmore leaves Doolin at 10:00am, and we were four hours away the previous night in Dingle.

Even though our day was fast-paced and even a little chaotic, it was totally worth it. We woke up at 5:00am and drove for hours, took a choppy ferry ride to Inishmore, rode bicycles all over the island, and took the ferry back to Doolin.  Phew, I feel exhausted even just thinking about that!

Thankfully, Doolin is a small town and our hotel was not far from the ferry docks. Aran View is merely steps from the main village on an expansive property, surrounded by rolling, green hills and views of the ocean.

I was immediately in awe of this gorgeous property.


We were warmly greeted and welcomed upon our arrival. It was an easy process to check in, unload our bags, and take them to our room on the second floor.

There was always space to park our car, even when we left and returned from dinner later that evening. The parking lot out front is quite large, and there’s even additional parking behind the building.

The original house itself was built in 1736, though it has been refurbished in an Irish country style. The home has remained in the same family for many generations. Aran View Country House sits on 100 acres of farmland.


This room was so spacious that I could probably do a few cartwheels across the floor. Our room had one double bed, a single bed, and even a couch. Not only was it perfect for two friends travelling together, but it would be ideal for families.

There was room for all of our belongings, with an antique wardrobe and lots of dresser drawers.

While there wasn’t a coffee maker in the room, be sure to call the front desk if you’d like some coffee or tea. The staff will put the kettle on and prepare some for you right away!

One of the best parts of this suite is the view. There are two large bay windows at the front of the room that overlook the countryside and the coastline. I could have sat there for a long while just to watch the nearby sheep, grazing in the fields.

As my legs were aching a little from riding bikes all day, I was thrilled to see a bathtub in the room. I soaked my aching muscles that evening, and it was such an excellent way to unwind at the end of a hectic travel day.


For fellow travel bloggers or those who love to stay connected, the Wi-Fi is complimentary and very fast.

Both the first and second floors have guest lounges. If you’re staying with a larger group or feel like socializing outside of your room, these lounges are a great place to connect.


Aran View Country House is cozy, comfortable, and within walking distance of everything in town. Furthermore, this Doolin accommodation is perfect for sight seeing to nearby must visit destinations, like the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren.

With the warm hospitality of the staff to the spectacular views from our room, my stay could not have been any better. Be sure to book your stay at Aran View Country House when you plan your trip to Doolin.

Feel free to check out more reviews from trusted travellers of Aran View.

Aran View Country House
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Aran View Country House

Glasha More,

Doolin, Co. Clare,

V95 VC56

PIN this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

Thank you so much to Aran View Country House for hosting my stay. My opinions, as always, are entirely my own.

Have you ever travelled to Doolin or anywhere nearby?

The post Doolin Accommodation: Aran View Country House appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Thank you to Capital One Canada for sponsoring this post.

Did you know that only 53% of Canadians are taking some of the recommended steps to guard themselves from fraud and identity theft? March is Fraud Prevention Month, and Capital One Canada has some tips to help Canadians learn how to protect themselves from identity theft. Whether you’re at home or vacationing abroad, you can take easy steps towards protecting yourself against credit fraud.

When you are a tourist in an unfamiliar place, you are more vulnerable to the impact of credit card fraud than usual. Thankfully, a little bit of knowledge, preparedness, and action can go a long way.


Capital One asked Canadians about their knowledge of transaction fraud, identity theft, and how they protect themselves on a regular basis.

While 71% of Canadians are aware of the impact of identity theft, only 53% are taking some of the recommended steps to prevent themselves from becoming victims. Many consumers (88%), are not sharing their pin number, and a majority are monitoring their credit card and online banking accounts (76%).

To further assist, Capital One credit cards have smart features built into them, such as two-way fraud alerts and transactional push notifications to your mobile device. It’s wise to take advantage of these features.

However, there are other important and easy tools to use, such as Credit Keeper*, from Capital One Canada. This free tool, available to select Capital One card holders, indicates recent inquiries on your credit file, allowing you to watch for unexpected activity on your credit file.

To learn more about Credit Keeper and my personal experiences, please check out my Insider’s Guide to Travel and Credit Scores.


In addition to monitoring your accounts and taking advantage of fraud prevention tools issued by your credit card company, there are smart ways to guard yourself against identity thieves when you travel.

  • Protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi. I’m sure that we all use free Wi-Fi on the road, including connections found at airports, cafes, and hotels. Stick to secure networks when possible, including those that require a password to login. Try to stick to encrypted websites on free networks.
  • Lock your smartphone. Set a numerical code, swiping pattern, or fingerprint scan on your device. Our smartphones contain lots of personal data. That information could end up in the wrong hands if you lose your phone or if it gets stolen.
  • Be careful when using ATMs. Some ATMs can be fake or hacked. I recommend withdrawing cash from a bank branch or bringing currency with you before you leave. I also tend to use my credit card most of the time instead of withdrawing lots of cash.
  • Lock up your passport and documents. If possible, lock your passport and travel documents in your hotel room safe. If you have to keep your documents on you, secure them safely in a hidden money belt.
  • Put a travel alert on your credit cards, if they allow you to do so. Call your credit card company or fill out the applicable online form to tell them that you’ll be travelling abroad. Let them know where you’ll be visiting so your credit card will be kept secure while you’re away.

If you suspect that you’re a victim of credit fraud, you should take the appropriate course of action. Contact your credit card company immediately. Check your credit report for anything that looks suspicious. Change the passwords to your online banking accounts. You can also put a fraud alert on your credit file, which requires lenders to verify your identity before providing credit.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out this press release issued by Capital One Canada.

*Credit Keeper is a service offered by Capital One Canada and is powered by credit history and score information provided by TransUnion. Availability may vary depending on the ability to verify your identity and obtain your information from TransUnion. The credit score provided by Credit Keeper is intended for your educational use only. Lenders and other commercial users may use a different type of credit score and other information when making credit decisions. Currently, Credit Keeper isn’t available for Capital One customers who live in the province of Quebec, or who have a Capital One Mastercard exclusively for Costco members.

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What steps will you take to protect yourself against identity theft?

The post How to Prevent Identity Theft When You Travel appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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Winter Stations Toronto is an annual outdoor art installation that isn’t to be missed.

Have you heard of the Winter Stations in Toronto?

It’s an international design competition that gives purpose to a space that’s underutilized during the winter. Designers create public, outdoor art around several lifeguard stands at Kew Beach in Toronto. These lifeguard stands are only used during the summer months and otherwise are vacant bits of metal.

The result? Thought-provoking, inspiring, and even interactive works of art that everyone can enjoy. So, let me show you around this stretch of beach in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto to discover these outdoor art displays.


In its fourth season, Winter Stations Toronto brings an exciting temporary art display to the Beaches neighbourhood, at Kew, Balmy, and Ashbridges Bay beaches. By developing the temporarily abandoned lifeguard stands on the beach, locals and visitors have a reason to visit this beach in the winter, too.

The lifeguard stands are the base for the art installations, which must be built to withstand the punishing winter weather of the city. This international competition is open to architects, designers, artists, and landscape architects.

This year, the theme is RIOT:  “violent disturbance; uproar; outburst of uncontrolled feelings; a large or varied display.” As this past year has been one of conflict and upheaval, RIOT calls designers and architects to act out. Express your resistance through this art. This might be political, cultural, or environmental in nature. First and foremost, this project aims to evoke happiness and playfulness throughout our long, Canadian winters.


Out of 270 submissions, here are the seven works of art that won the competition. These art installations in Toronto are bold, bright, and courageous. It’s art that imitates life, and makes us think about important issues around the world and in our daily lives.


Pussy Hut is created by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng of the United States. It’s a large scale version of the pussy hat, worn by men and women in solidarity on Women’s Day.

This structure also functions on a practical level as a shield from the elements. There are wooden shelves and bare plywood on the inside, encouraging people to leave mementos or scrawl messages that unite us all, working towards equal rights.


Revolution is the work of several students at OCAD University in Toronto. It’s the combination of 36 vertical modules of various heights. As people speak into these modules, their voices are amplified and carried out into the air. The breeze carries these words and ideas into the atmosphere to create a collective voice.


Rising Up is a concept by a team at the University of Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. Inspired by the topography of the Don Valley, it showcases nature’s objection to mass urbanization. This battle between humans and the environment is illustrated through many layers with empty spaces that expose visitors to the elements.


NEST is a concept by a team at Ryerson University, which contrasts a space of comfort with a complex system of disarray. Asymmetrical woven webs symbolize the overwhelming nature of everyday life. While these patterns provide playful displays of shadow and light, the visitor can also find a peaceful reprieve from outdoor noise to view the world clearly.


Obstacle is made by Kien Pham of the United Kingdom. We all encounter obstacles in the world, and at first, they seem daunting. However, once we face these obstacles as a society, we can work together to overcome them. In this outdoor art installation, people must work together to maneuver through the columns in order to conquer our hardships.


Wind Station is art by Paul van den Berg and Joyce de Grauw of the Netherlands. This collection of hundreds of pinwheels looks like a nuclear cooling tower. It calls for the phase out of nuclear power, in favour of renewable wind energy.

This art installation raises the question of why we rely on dangerous forms of power when we have safer and cleaner alternatives available.


Make Some Noise! is a work of art by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid of Germany. This public art is an instrument to “ring the alarm.” Just as Italian Futurist Luigi Rusollo’s ‘intonarumori’ caused an uproar in the classical music scene in 1914, this giant noise box comes to Toronto to do precisely that.

There are four cranks on each side of the box, which sound four sirens of varying pitches. This encourages visitors to get loud, make some noise, and break their usual patterns of behaviour. Unfortunately, we were unable to sound the alarms because there was a homeless individual sleeping at the base of this artwork, and we didn’t want to disturb him or her.


Each lifeguard stand had an art display that was playful and thought provoking, so I was very impressed by Winter Stations Toronto. It’s something that’s out of the ordinary and brightens up Toronto’s winter waterfront.

The Winter Stations in Toronto run from Family Day (mid-February) until April 1st, so there’s still lots of time to get out there and see them for yourself.

Best of all, it’s public art that’s free to visit anytime.

Want to see more photos? Check out my entire travel photo album of the Winter Stations. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and more from any of my photographs directly from the album itself.

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Thank you so much to Lindz of I’ve Been Bit for taking every photo of me. It was also a delight to discover Winter Stations with you!

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Wonder if you can dine as a vegan at a resort in Mexico?

Yes, it’s possible! It’s more than just possible, it’s a treat for your taste buds. As a travelling vegan in Mexico, I had no problems finding delicious plant-based eats at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya Resort & Spa. While there was not an entirely vegetarian or vegan restaurant on site, every restaurant was able to prepare a vegan meal. Most of these were off the menu and by special request.


When you arrive at the resort, it’s important to inform the front desk that you are following a vegan diet. A staff member will bring appropriate allergy cards for you. For instance, there are allergy cards for Celiac, seafood, dairy, egg, nut, and others. Even though I am not allergic to dairy or eggs, I carried the allergy cards for those. That way, it became easier to tell the staff that I was vegetarian, but also could not have dairy or eggs.

Typically when I approached the host and server at the restaurants each night, I simply told them I was vegan. Sometimes I had to provide some clarification as to whether I consumed seafood, dairy or eggs as part of my diet. It was never a problem to order a vegan meal. Some items on the menu were naturally vegan, and some were specially created just for me.


Justin and I stayed at the Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa for part of our stay, and at The Royal Suites Yucatan Hotel for the other half. As these are both part of the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya (there are four resorts within the complex), we had access to all of the restaurants. We tried different ones each night and still barely scraped the surface of what was offered!

In total, there are 4 a la carte restaurants at TRS Yucatan, 9 a la carte restaurants throughout the other Grand Palladium resorts, 5 buffet style restaurants around the complex, and 22 bars in total. Wow! There are several international cuisines featured with something for every taste.

We also attended the Chic Cabaret dinner theatre production one evening, which included a five course meal and beverages.

Needless to say, finding food was never a problem.


Want to see exactly what I ate? Here’s how I maintained a plant-based diet as a vegan in Mexico and succeeded in eating delicious and healthy meals. I’ll let you know which items were on the menu and altered, and which meals were created by the chef with my dietary restrictions in mind.


Portofino is the Mediterranean style restaurant at Grand Palladium. They serve mostly pasta, pizza, and other dishes with flavours from the Mediterranean. Naturally, it was easy to dine as a vegan in Italy, so it was easy to veganize meals on this menu, too.

Every guest can order dishes from the main menu and help themselves to the restaurant’s buffet. From the buffet, the vegan offerings include pasta salad, roasted eggplant, grilled vegetables, and minestrone soup.

As none of the regular main dishes were vegan (there were two vegetarian pasta dishes and two vegetarian pizzas on the menu), the chef offered to prepare a vegan meal for me. To start, I ate a trio of bruschetta toasts (two different tomato ones, and one mushroom). My main course was pasta in oil, garlic, and basil.

Everything was really yummy. After my dinner here, I was confident that the rest of my vegan meals at the resort would be excellent.


Sumptuori is the Japanese restaurant at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya. It features a teppanyaki, although we didn’t partake in watching fish and meat being cooked before our eyes as we weren’t eating any of it. Thankfully, Sumptuori has regular dining tables, too.

Surprisingly, there were a number of vegan starters on the menu. There weren’t any main dishes, so the chef prepared a stir fry noodle meal with tofu and vegetables that was very satisfying. As for the starters, I ordered edamame, vegetable sushi rolls, and a tofu salad (mix of fresh greens, fried tofu, and a soy garlic vinaigrette).

The chef also insisted that I order the edamame soup, which was naturally vegan – vegetable and edamame broth with coconut milk and soy milk. I wasn’t initially sold on the idea of a chilled edamame soup, but it was actually quite good.

I arrived to Sumptuori not sure that I’d be able to order anything on the menu, and left having ate five different vegan dishes. Not bad, eh?


It’s only fitting that you dine at a Mexican restaurant in Mexico. Finding vegan food in Mexico isn’t that difficult, so there are naturally some vegan options here. Much like Portofino, there is a buffet at this restaurant to start, and then you can order an entree.

At the buffet, we helped ourselves to nachos, salsa, guacamole, fresh fruit, and salad.

On the main menu, there is a section marked as “vegan dishes.” However, the meals are vegetarian and not vegan. As the chef informed me that the tortilla wrap contained dairy, he created a deconstructed burrito as my dish with rice, grilled vegetables, and sauces.

I recommend visiting La Adelita if you’re dining as a vegan. There are lots of yummy plant-based meals to find at the buffet and coming out of the kitchen.


Once we moved over to The Royal Suites Yucatan, we dined at their specialty restaurants.


The Helios Beach Club restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. For both meals, it was very easy to order vegan offerings.

For lunch, I ordered a quinoa salad, minus the feta cheese. There was also a dip trio (hummus, guacamole, and spinach dip) where I opted out of the spinach dip and they brought two servings of hummus instead. For my main, the chef created the “chicken wok with noodles and vegetables” without the chicken.

I loved dining outside right by the sea. There was a gorgeous view with peaceful ocean sounds.

For dinner, there weren’t too many vegan offerings besides a couple of side dishes. The chef of this restaurant knew exactly what to make for a vegan, and I was very pleased with my dinner.

Please excuse one the quality of this first photo – I had to use the flash because the power went out across the resort for a few minutes! It was actually pretty exciting to dine in the dark. After I ate my green salad with avocado, the lights came back on in time for the main course.

My entree was a raw zucchini noodle dish with vegetables and fresh basil.

The star of this meal was the dessert. I hadn’t really had much dessert since arriving at the resort. However, the chef created a dark chocolate cup dusted in gold with fresh berries inside the chocolate bowl. Oh my goodness – it was so yummy!


Tentazione is the Italian restaurant at The Royal Suites Yucatan. Decked out in dark walls with gold trim, Tentazione is an upscale establishment offering several courses.

As for vegan meals, the chef went off the menu and created a beautiful salad as my starter topped with edible flowers. For my main, I requested a veggie pizza without cheese as I hadn’t had pizza all week and was craving it. For dessert, the chef prepared fruits soaked in syrup that was quite decadent.


We had dinner booked at the Brazilian steakhouse, and I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of vegan food. It wasn’t any surprise there weren’t any vegan or vegetarian choices on the menu.

At first, the chef came to the table and promised to make a tofu stir fry with chimichurri sauce. That sounded awesome. To start, a green salad arrived that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Next, when my main dish arrived, it wasn’t the chimichurri dish. It was a regular pasta dish with tomato sauce and a side of vegetables. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was edible and vegan. I think that I’d have been more pleased if I wasn’t expecting the original tofu chimichurri meal!


We dined at the several buffets across the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya for breakfast and lunch.

For breakfast, I typically had toast with peanut butter, fried potatoes, and fresh fruit.

For lunch, I had a combination of salad, fruit, vegetable spring rolls, beans and rice, corn on the cob, pasta, and tortilla chips with salsa. There were always lots of options at the buffet, and it was fairly obvious which items were vegan. If in doubt, be sure to ask the servers or the chef.


At TRS Yucatan (and available to all guests), there’s a dinner theatre show called Chic Cabaret. It’s an extravagant evening where you’re served several meal courses while watching an impressive stage show.

Chic Cabaret has talented performers who sing, dance, and even perform acrobatics. It was a feast for the senses: our eyes, our ears, and our taste buds. It’s easy to have a vegan meal, too.

To start, I enjoyed a unique sushi dish made out of fruit. Next, there was a flatbread crunchy bite with a savoury filling. Third, I received tofu topped with roasted garlic. My main course was reminiscent of the one I ate at Helios for dinner – zucchini noodles with vegetables. And for dessert, there was sweet fruits soaked in syrup and topped with berries.

These courses arrived throughout the performance, so it’s best to make the resort aware that you follow a vegan diet when you book your tickets to the show. That way, the chef has enough warning to prepare vegan food for you.

There’s no need to worry about finding plant-based meals in Mexico. When you travel to the Mayan Riviera, be sure to stay at a resort like the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya Resort & Spa for a stress-free, relaxing holiday. They make travelling as a vegan in Mexico very easy with healthy, delicious, and fresh tasting dishes.

To view more photos from the Grand Palladium in Riviera Maya, please check out my travel photo album. You can purchase..

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Looking for hotels in Cork City centre? The Maldron Hotel Cork has got it all!

Driving in Cork, Ireland is no easy feat. And this is coming from the person who wasn’t doing any of the driving.

As my travel buddy, Ashley navigated the incredibly narrow city streets, I marveled at how cars actually managed to fit down these roads. With cars parked on either side of the street, it didn’t seem physically possible to fit a third car down the middle. And it wasn’t even a one way street!

The Maldron Hotel Cork is in the middle of town, which is the ideal location for most travellers. This accommodation is close to everything. It’s possible to walk everywhere, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The beautiful lobby at Maldron Hotel Cork.

After successfully maneuvering the car through downtown Cork, we reached the parking lot for the Maldron Hotel Cork. However, there weren’t any parking spaces. From the moment we pulled into the driveway, the attentive staff members instantly assisted us.

No parking spot? No problem! The staff members helped us unload our luggage and allowed us to leave the car in the lot, even blocking a couple of other cars. They were confident that a spot would free up soon, and they’d call us when one did. Before we knew it, a parking space did open up and we moved the car there for the next two nights.

An excellent hotel experience is one where the guests feel relaxed for a stress-free holiday. From that first moment and throughout my time in the city, I felt very well cared for at the Maldron Hotel Cork.

I bid farewell each morning to this elegant, pastel building with flower boxes in each window. At night, I was comforted by the fact that I’d have a restful night’s sleep in my beautiful suite.


Out of all of the hotels in Cork City centre, the location of the Maldron Hotel Cork couldn’t get much better. Right in the middle of town, you can walk all over Cork without using the car once. This worked perfectly for my travel plans. On the way into Cork, I visited the Donkey Sanctuary and Blarney Castle (both excellent day trips!). Once in the city, I didn’t get in the car once.

The closest attraction is St. Anne’s Church with its harmonic chiming bells and bell tower. Walk up the street and you can visit the church and ring the bells, too! Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the very top.


The hotel staff were phenomenal in their care of hotel guests. I chatted with those working at the front desk on several occasions, and every staff member was an expert on Cork. Looking for a restaurant or pub? They know the best spots in town. Not sure what to do one afternoon? I know they have tons of great suggestions.

The lobby itself was stately, yet modern. Colourful chairs were the perfect accent to muted, gray walls. It’s a great place to meet new friends and your party if you’re travelling in a larger group.

I adored the small book exchange library in case you’re looking for a book to ease yourself into sleep at night.


I was very pleased to call one of the executive rooms my home for my two nights in Cork. It was such a relaxing and rejuvenating place to rest each evening.

The suite was quite roomy, with lots of space between the bed, the desk, and the cupboards. The king sized bed was like sleeping on a cloud with its pillow top mattress. The luxurious experience was heightened with complimentary use of a fluffy bathrobe and slippers, as well as luxury toiletries.

My room was so quiet. I don’t think that I heard any other hotel guests throughout my entire stay. You’re guaranteed to have a restful night’s sleep here!

If you need to get any work done, there’s a large desk and Wi-Fi is included with your stay.

And if you feel like kicking back and relaxing, there are many cable TV channels on the 42″ flat screen television. To top it all off, there are complimentary bottles of water and even a package of candies from a local sweets shop.

One of my favourite aspects of this room was the large bathtub. I took full advantage of being able to soak in the tub after a long day of walking around, especially since I’d been limited to having showers for most of my trip around Ireland.

If I had to choose my absolute favourite part of the room, it would have to be the view. Outside both of my windows, I had an epic view across the rooftops of Cork. Even with cloudy skies across the horizon, the scenery was postcard perfect.


While I didn’t take advantage of the fitness centre, there’s a fully equipped gym, 20 metre swimming pool, steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi on site.

Fancy a drink? Bells Bar is attached to the front lobby, and you can enjoy a beer or a coffee here while watching sporting events on the big TV screens.

Grain and Grill Restaurant specializes in signature dishes matched with beer from local microbreweries.


From the ideal location to the comfortable stay, I only have glowing things to say about my stay at Maldron Hotel Cork. Out of all the hotels in Cork City centre, I can’t imagine any others topping my stay here.

Be sure to read reviews by trusted travellers of the Maldron Hotel Cork, and book your stay when you visit Cork.

Maldron Hotel Cork
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Maldron Hotel Cork

John Redmond St,

Shandon, Cork, T23 A9TF

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Thank you so much to Maldron Hotel Cork for hosting my stay. My opinions, as always, are entirely my own. I highly recommend staying here!

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Welcome to the new monthly series, Life of Lauren!

For regular followers of Justin Plus Lauren, you’ll know that this blog is written by a Canadian gal named Lauren. I write about my travels with my partner, Justin…and sometimes I go places without him, too.

While I adore writing all about my various travels, sometimes it takes a little while for me to get those photos and words out there. For instance, I travelled to Ireland last October, and I’m still writing about that trip. In fact, I still have loads to write about my trip to Iceland in June of 2016, and my adventure to Italy in May of 2015!

This monthly wrap-up series will give you a chance to read about everything I’ve been doing over the past month. This includes trips that I may or may not have written about already, what I’ve been up to at home (because I am a part-time traveller), and whatever else I feel like writing about. In other words, I might get a little more personal here and include some non-travelly things.

Of course, if you want to see what I might be doing from day to day, feel free to check out my Instagram stories!

I love sharing travel stories, advice, and tips on this blog. One thing that I’ve always wanted to do, yet struggle with, is getting more personal with you, my reader. I’m hoping that this monthly feature will be my gateway to exploring that style of writing.


In February, I enjoyed some local travel around Ontario, as well as one bigger trip to the Caribbean.


At the beginning of February, I checked out three frozen waterfalls in Hamilton, Ontario. One of my best friends, Shannon joined me. I hadn’t ever visited one of the waterfalls before, and I need to go back in the summer to see it all thawed out. The other two waterfalls I’d never seen in the winter before. Shannon and I also hiked around all three areas, and it wasn’t even that cold outside.

After the hike, we went to one of my favourite vegan spots in Hamilton, Democracy Coffee Shop. On our way to Democracy, we stumbled upon Donut Monster – a new donut shop on Locke Street. I’d heard so many things about Donut Monster because most of their donuts are vegan. We bought a few right before closing time, even though there were only a few varieties left. They were so good, and I can’t wait to go back for more.

Plus, I’m an awesome girlfriend and brought home some donuts for Justin to try, too.

My other friends, Sarah and Ryan, met us at Democracy for a coffee. Then, we went down to Shannon’s place to visit her new-ish puppy, a Bernese Mountain Dog who keeps growing bigger by the second. I showed Sarah and Shannon my new obsession, playing HQ Trivia on my phone once or twice a day. I still haven’t won a piece of the cash prize, although it has taken our phones (and those of my co-workers!) by storm.


Later in the week, I met up with Lindsay of I’ve Been Bit to continue hiking the Bruce Trail. I got a little bit behind…as in, I hadn’t hiked ol’ Brucey in over a year! Even though it was pretty darn cold, we got lost, and we ended up plowing our own trail in the snow, we still had a total blast.

If you’re intrigued by my goal to hike all 900km of the trail, or if you want to see what two crazy Canadian girls felt like doing in the winter, check out the my post about hiking Short Hills Provincial Park (Bruce Trail Hike #8).

After the hike, we went to a restaurant and cafe called Mahtay Cafe & Lounge in downtown St. Catharines. They are a vegan-friendly place, and I was starving. After ordering a noodle salad and a mushroom flatbread, we opened up our laptops and attempted to get some blogging done.

As it was a Thursday night, we participated in the #WeekendWanderlust Twitter chat together. We’re both hosts of Weekend Wanderlust, so why don’t you hop on over to our Facebook group and join if you haven’t already?!

So, before the next amazingly fun thing I did in February, I worked.

And worked. And worked some more.

Leading up to my vacation, I worked four consecutive twelve hour shifts at my full time gig, directly before hopping on a plane the following morning. I don’t know when I found the time to pack, blog, or do much of anything during those days.

By the time I was in Miami, I was grateful for rest, relaxation, and the chance to spend twelve days in a row with Justin.


I won’t go into too much detail here as I’ll be writing quite a bit about it soon. Justin and I spent Valentine’s Day together in Miami, dining at Full Bloom (at their new location – or at least new since I’d been there last).

Then, we boarded the MSC Divina for 10 days at sea. We spent five of those days in port, and three of the islands were brand new to me. The cruise ventured to St. Thomas (USVI), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Martinique, Barbados, and Guadeloupe.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we enjoyed many days on the beach or in the ocean.

The cruise itself was really enjoyable, and it was great to be around so many like-minded people. Even though we were part of a group with Holistic Holiday at Sea (and some passengers weren’t on the vegan cruise), our vegan group numbered over 2000 people (and outnumbered the non-vegan passengers on the ship)!

I am truly blown away that thousands of people signed up for a specialty vegan cruise. I’m so happy that veganism and plant-based diets are growing in popularity.

The vegan food was really tasty, and it was really awesome not having to cook for a couple of weeks.  We also ate copious amounts of marinara pizza as afternoon snacks and late night meals. I know the specialty vegan meals in the restaurants were fabulous, but I’ll always remember eating a ton of this pizza!

We had personal training sessions with Dani and Giacomo of Vegan Proteins / Plantbuilt. These sessions gave us the motivation we needed to get back to exercising and lifting at the gym. In fact, Justin and I went to the gym on the cruise ship every damn day. And since we’ve been home, we’ve made a point of working out almost every day, except for a couple of times where work or life got in the way. Thanks for setting us on the right track again, Dani & Giacomo!

Justin and I took a Yoga Nidra class, which was something completely new to the both of us. It helps the body and mind to become completely relaxed, as a way to let go of anxieties and stress. I swear, I entered a dream-like state and time flew by faster than I thought possible. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this, and I’d love to find more yoga nidra classes at home.

We also got to meet James Aspey, I ran into Gene Baur several times on the ship, and heard lectures by incredible doctors like Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Heroes, all of them!

I’ll be writing about ALL of this in way more detail soon! Stay tuned.


I try to make it out to events in Toronto when I can because I love networking with other travellers, tourism boards, and brands. While I was travelling and working way too much in February, this didn’t really happen.

However, because I’ve never done Life of Lauren before (and because it’s my blog and I can do whatever the heck I want), I’ll include one from the end of January.

I attended the Discover Austria Gala Evening with a number of tourism boards and brands in Austria. It was a beautiful event with a hosted dinner, and we got to learn about the latest and greatest for Austrian tourism.

One of my favourite parts of the event was learning about what was happening in Salzburg, a city that stole my heart last summer.

The event definitely made me want to go back to Austria ASAP. Who knows, maybe it will happen? Stranger things have happened…


Yes, something crazy and spontaneous happened! I was at work one night when I received an email from YYZ Deals, a Toronto-based flight deal newsletter and group. There was an amazing deal on a flight to New Zealand at a rate that I’d never even knew was possible.

I texted Justin, “I found an amazing flight deal…to New Zealand! What do you think?”

I think that most of the conversation involved my frantic Google searches for travel dates and the like. It’s all a blur now. Even though Justin hates long haul flights with a passion, he enthusiastically replied, “Let’s do it!”.

And with the click of a button, we booked flights to New Zealand for November of this year!

I figured that we’d end up going to Japan in the fall, but it looks like we’ve traded that trip in for New Zealand. Can’t wait to start planning this one! Feel free to send all New Zealand tips my way.


I’m so happy to have finally finished reading the book, An African Love Story: Love, Life, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick.

I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage in Nairobi a couple of years ago when I was volunteering in Kenya. I was fascinated with the story behind the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and scoured their website for more details.

When I stumbled upon Daphne Sheldrick’s book randomly in a small bookstore on a trip through the Finger Lakes, I knew that I had to read it. This book details Dame Sheldrick’s life story, and it’s wonderful. I know I had tears in my eyes on several occasions, whether the stories illustrated her relationships with people or animals.

The book details the hardships of combating poachers and learning how to raise orphaned elephants, back when no one knew how to do it. David Sheldrick and Daphne Sheldrick have devoted their lives to the animals, and they truly are heroes.


Justin and I watched every episode of Nathan For You in February, and we can’t wait until new episodes come out. Nathan For You is a documentary style reality comedy series, and it’s one of the funnier shows we’ve watched in a long time. The final episode of the latest season, Finding Frances, is epic.

  • Our cats, Chickpea and Tiny (this will never change). When we travel, I miss them so much! I swear that I end up talking about the cats half the time I’m away.
  • Coffee – I will probably write this every single month. It’s Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim time here in Canada. Do you know what that means? If you’re Canadian, you do!
  • My day planner. Writing down everything that I have to do keeps my life organized and somewhat sane. It also comes with fun stickers.
  • Google Flights. I’m constantly looking at flight prices and figuring out where to go next. Can you relate?
  • HQ Trivia. It’s a live game on your phone that airs every day at 9pm ET (and weekdays at 3pm ET). I’ve never won, although I’ve gotten to about question 9 (out of 12 questions) before. It gets pretty tricky!

That’s all for now, folks! Until next month…

What were you up to this past month?

The post Life of Lauren: Recap of February 2018 appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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