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Love street art? You’re in the right place.

In Toronto, we’re a bit spoiled for street art. Ever since the introduction of the StreetARToronto program in 2012, the city has more stunning murals than ever before. Of course, there was tons of graffiti art and colourful tags before the program, although Toronto is tackling the topic of outdoor art much better than before. Instead of encouraging vandalism by leaving bare walls, there are commissioned pieces featuring bright, vibrant, and engaging works of art. It adds character to the city, too.

Toronto street art is always in flux; it’s expanding, changing, and there’s a never ending supply of new art to consume. For instance, I was introduced to Graffiti Alley, the most famous spot for street art in the city a few years ago. I’ve revisited Graffiti Alley on numerous occasions, and the art changes from year to year. You can visit these places over and over again with an entirely new experience each time.

That’s the beauty of this blog post, too. You’ll likely see a bunch of this Toronto street art when you go there yourself. However, this article won’t be a total spoiler. I’m sure that you’ll discover new murals and graffiti on your adventures.

Here is my comprehensive guide to Toronto street art for a self guided walking tour. You can easily explore all of these intersections, side streets, and alleyways all on your own. I’ll continue to update this guide as I check out more spots upon wandering around Toronto’s distinct and interesting neighbourhoods.

LIBERTY VILLAGE

Liberty Village might be the land of the condos, but it’s a thriving and youthful neighbourhood in Toronto. I found a few intriguing murals while I was there. This one is on the side of a building facing the parking lot on 25 Atlantic Ave. It’s got a cat and coffee on it…two of my favourite things!

There’s a beautiful one that takes up one entire wall of the old Toronto Carpet Factory building at 67 Mowat Ave. This one resembles a woven carpet with intricate floral patterns in pink, gold, orange, and green. Vines have started to climb across this one, adding mystique to the design. The entire building is an old factory building, restored and repurposed, which makes it an interesting space to wander around.

RECLAMATION WALL

The Reclamation Wall straddles Liberty Village and West Queen West. Though it’s on the other side of the railway tracks, you can discover the Reclamation Wall by walking on Sudbury Street, just south of Queen Street West and Gladstone Ave. Spanning over 1000 feet in length, it’s the longest mural in Canada. This unique piece of Toronto street art was painted by over 50 artists. The mural has giant, two and a half story letters spelling “TORONTO”, “LIBERTY VILLAGE”, “PARKDALE”, and “WEST QUEEN WEST”. Each letter was assigned to a different artist to paint in their unique style. Though I wasn’t able to get right up close to this one, it’s viewable from Sudbury Street through the wire fencing.

WEST QUEEN WEST

The West Queen West neighbourhood has a high concentration of Toronto street art and murals. If you walk down Queen Street West between Gladstone Avenue and Spadina Ave., you’ll see lots of graffiti art right on Queen Street and on the side streets. You could easily spend all day here wandering the entire neighbourhood and surrounding area. I’ll highlight a view of my favourites and a couple of spots that deserve some extra attention.

These little pixel, Space Invaders-esque characters are on a building on Northcote Avenue at Queen Street W. I’m a sucker for anything that looks like a retro video game.

You can find the Toronto Blue Jays wall, along with few other colourful tags and art, on Beaconsfield Avenue directly across from The Drake Hotel.

“You’ve changed” is on Queen Street West facing Paul Garfinkel Parkette (between Dovercourt and White Squirrel Way).

This mural on Strachan and Queen Street West appears to pay homage to the Queen and quite possibly the famous white squirrel who lived at Trinity Bellwoods Park, directly in the direction of where his colourful laser vision is pointed.

This pastel, zigzag painting covered in sunglasses was always one of my favourites. You can spot it walking down Queen Street West on Bellwoods Avenue.

This vivid, Japanese and anime inspired mural is on the side of the Sanko Trading Co building on Queen St W and Claremont St. You can find Japanese candy, groceries, and housewares in the shop, so it only makes sense that the mural reflects aspects of Japanese culture.

OSSINGTON LANEWAY

If you walk down Brookfield Street just off Queen Street West, and walk east down some alleyways, you’ll see a ton of spectacular street art. Many of these before you reach Ossington Avenue are painted walls and garage doors. But, don’t miss the murals in a parking lot on Ossington Ave. These ones are the largest and most beautiful, in my opinion. However, wander around the alleyways in this area between Queen St W and Humbert Street as you never know what Toronto street art you might find!

This next set of Toronto murals and street art are all on or just off Ossington Avenue.

ALLEY BETWEEN NIAGARA & BATHURST

This alleyway is almost a continuation of Graffiti Alley, but less famous and the artwork is slightly less striking. Even still, there’s a high concentration of murals and tags here, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Start at Niagara Street and walk down the alley just one lane south of Queen Street West. Continue along this stretch until you reach Bathurst. At that point, swing one street south to Richmond Street until you hit Portland Avenue, where you’ll walk north to reach Rush Lane (aka Graffiti Alley).

Please note that between Bathurst Street and Portland Street, this alley continues as “Public Lane”. I don’t recommend walking down Public Lane as it’s quite dirty and there’s no art there. However, on the corner of Public Lane and Richmond Street, there’s the striking mural that reads, “You look better with a moustache” that you should visit.

GRAFFITI ALLEY

Graffiti Alley (on Rush Lane) is arguably home to the best Toronto street art. It extends from Spadina to Portland, one street south of Queen St. W. You’ll find a huge collection of graffiti, street art, and murals here. If you’re looking for graffiti in Toronto, it’s definitely the best place to start. You’ll be able to see works by renowned artists, including Uber5000, Elicser, Poser, Skam, Spud, and many others. One of the wonderful things about Graffiti Alley is that it’s constantly changing. One mural or piece that might exist one year could be gone the next. Artists are constantly painting over their old works with new creations. Graffiti Alley is likely one of the most Instagrammable places in Toronto, so get out your camera or Smartphone and start snapping pics!

Pro Tip: If you’re interested in a guided tour with the experts, check out the free Toronto street art and graffiti tour operated by Tour Guys. It’s daily during the summer months and it’s a free walking tour. Visit their website for more details.

I was fortunate enough to see Toronto street art in the making! There were two artists painting a wall as I walked through Graffiti Alley.

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I’m here to profess my love for Galway.

After spending three weeks in Ireland, I kept mentioning one city again and again when telling my friends about this trip. I adored so much of Ireland, but I felt such a strong connection with Galway. It’s hard to describe. I only spent one day in Galway, but I could see myself living there. Have you ever been to a place like that? One where in the middle of your travels, you could simply settle down, unpack all of your things, and stay put? Not only are there so many things to do in Galway, but it was the vibe of the city that I fell in love with. The constant stream of music from every corner. The cobblestone streets that continually lead to interesting discoveries. Random bursts of colour in homes and fences. Even though it poured rain at one point, it didn’t matter. The energy and spirit of Galway flowed through the streets and through me; I was living in the moment and grateful for every second of it.

I urge you to spend at least a day in Galway, if not longer. While I only spent 24 hours in Galway, my departure was bittersweet. It was exciting to explore more areas of Ireland, but I also wished I could stay. Here are some things to do in Galway for one memorable day in this Irish town.

BREAKFAST/LUNCH AT LIGHTHOUSE CAFE

You have adventures in Galway ahead of you, so it’s time to start the day out right with a delicious meal. My first stop was at a cozy little vegetarian cafe called The Lighthouse. It’s a coffee house, tea room, and vegetarian/vegan lunch joint. When I arrived, I didn’t realize that lunch wasn’t served until noon. However, there were slices of cake and dessert with coffee ready to go, so I had my dessert before my meal. Hey, what’s a girl to do?

I didn’t eat the entire slice of cake before lunch as I didn’t want to totally ruin my appetite. The slice of chocolate/cardamom/orange torte was delicious, but the veggie burger I ordered was just as tasty. I highly recommend trying their butterbean and parsley veggie burger with herb tahini, hummus, and fresh tomato salsa. Along with their small menu, there are daily specials written on a blackboard. Whether you’re looking for coffee and cake or a light lunch, stop by The Lighthouse for a yummy and satisfying meal to begin the day on a full and happy stomach.

CHARLIE BYRNE’S BOOKSHOP

Are you a fan of independent bookshops and libraries? I love finding quaint and unique bookstores on my travels, and Charlie Byrne’s was a shop you could browse for hours. In a labyrinth of rooms, you’ll find 100,000 books of every variety and genre imaginable. The knowledgeable staff meticulously organizes the books by subject matter, and there’s even a section devoted to Irish literature. Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is pretty Instagrammable, too, so snap a few pics after you’re done your shopping.

STROLL DOWN QUAY LANE

Quay Lane is a pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. You’ll find many talented musicians performing on various street corners. It’s organized very well so only one artist plays at a time, or they’re far enough apart so the songs don’t compete in any way. Quay Lane is a very lively spot. You can spend hours exploring this street, along with its neighbouring ones, poking your head into the shops or stopping to listen to the music.

AFTERNOON TEA AT CUPAN TAE

After your legs are feeling sore from wandering, take a break at Cupán Tae. There’s a massive menu of tea selections in dozens of varieties, plus it’s served up in an elegant teapot and teacup. It’s a classic tea shop that reminds me of stopping for tea at your grandmother’s home. It’s cozy, warm and inviting, just like a soothing cup of tea. My tea was “Merlin’s Magic Elixir” – apple bits, grapes, rosehip petals, lemon myrtle, and marigold petals. You could also purchase loose leaf tea from the shop to bring home with you.

EYRE SQUARE AND #WHATLIFTSYOU

Continue walking around town by taking a stroll past Eyre Square. Many streets all intersect at this large park. The Quincentennial Fountain features a sculpture depicting Galway Hookers, traditional fishing boats used in Galway Bay.

We also stumbled upon a pair of #WhatLiftsYou wings on a wall near Eyre Square, as painted by street artist Kelsey Montague. Similar wings exist in Nashville and all over the world. These ones are just outside of O’Connells Bar and they’re perfect for a photo opportunity. Please note that I didn’t plan to match my sweater to the art as this find was a complete surprise – it just worked out that way! With so many things to do in Galway, there are so many chances to take beautiful photos along the way.

LUNCH AT TGO FALAFEL BAR

By now, maybe you’re feeling a little bit hungry again. It was a great time to stop for a bite to eat as it had just started to rain. By the time we finished eating, the rain temporarily stopped. It’s not a bad idea to plan your meals according to the weather. While it only makes sense to order falafel at the TGO Falafel Bar, I actually decided to try their Seitan Shawarma.  It isn’t every day that you find a vegan shawarma on a restaurant menu, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The wrap was perfectly spiced, and it even came with a side of fries. Order your meal downstairs and head upstairs to dine.

WALK ALONG THE RIVER CORRIB

The River Corrib is the shortest river in Europe, spanning only 6km in length from the lake to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a pretty powerful river with rushing waters, and a very pretty walk between the city centre and the university. Along the way, we stumbled upon some colourful street art and picturesque homes.

EXPLORE THE UNIVERSITY GROUNDS

The National University of Ireland Galway has stunning old buildings that look straight out of a film. Out of all the things to do in Galway, this was one of my favourites. Vines and leaves creep around each structure, and it’s worth a peaceful and quiet walk around the property. At one point while I was there, it started to rain, and then hail! Big chunks of ice pelted us from the sky. I took coverage in a nearby building with several university students until the storm let up. The weather is constantly changing in Ireland, and I’m pretty sure I saw just about every variety of weather all in one day!

THE LONG WALK

Walk back into town and visit the docks, including The Long Walk. It’s a stretch of houses facing the water near the Spanish Arch. Built in 1584, there are two remaining arches from an old city wall that used to protect Galway’s quays. They were partially destroyed in 1755 from a tsunami created from an earthquake in Lisbon. There are lots of swans and seabirds along the waterfront, and I suggest taking the time to relax as the sun starts to go down.

PIZZA AT THE DOUGH BROS

Looking for the best pizza in Ireland? The Dough Bros makes one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time, and it’s quite an institution in Galway. They use wood fired pizza ovens and the pizza is outstanding. They have a few vegan pizzas on the menu, complete with vegan cheese. I ordered the Buffalo Soldier (Buffalo mozzarella, balsamic red onion, portobello mushroom and basil) along with garlic bread. The restaurant has lots of 80s and 90s nostalgia through its decorative memorabilia. Naturally, I adored the restaurant even more for its Super Mario and Nintendo decor.

WHERE TO STAY

After you’re finished exploring all of the things to do in Galway, you need a place to get a restful night’s sleep. I highly recommend that you check out the Connacht Hotel. Even though it’s not right in the city centre, there are many reasons why you should stay there. First, the hotel is clean, comfortable, and has everything you need for a great overnight stay. The Connacht Hotel offers a luxurious stay at an affordable price.

If you’re traveling on an Ireland road trip, you’ll need somewhere to park the car. In Galway, parking can be quite expensive, so it was nice to save a little bit of money with the hotel’s free parking. There are outdoor and indoor parking lots with tons of spaces for your vehicle.

Book your stay today at the Connacht Hotel and please feel free to check out more reviews of the Connacht Hotel.

Would you like to see more pictures from Galway? Check out my entire Galway travel photo album! You can purchase canvas prints and housewares of every photo I take, directly from my Smugmug site.

Hopefully this article provides you with lots of suggestions for things to do in Galway. From eating tons of delicious food to exploring this historic and colourful city, I hope that you fall in love with Galway just as much as I did.

Galway
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Have you ever visited Galway? What do you love most about Galway?

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Feel like you stepped inside a fairy tale at Hotel Cour du Corbeau.

Our travel day between Frankfurt and Strasbourg wasn’t as easy as we anticipated. Our train from Frankfurt was delayed by about an hour, which meant that we missed our pre-booked connecting train. That meant taking two more trains with our suitcases in tow before reaching the quaint town of Strasbourg, France. As we caught our first glimpses of the MGallery Cour du Corbeau hotel, I felt my stress melt away. Justin and I were greeted immediately at the front reception desk by friendly and kind staff members that made us feel right at home.

With great pride, a hotel attendant showed us right to our room and gave us a small tour. The spacious suite incorporated modern design with old world charm. In fact, the Cour du Corbeau is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and it’s one of the oldest hotels in Europe.

THE ROOM

Our luxurious Junior Suite was roomy and bright, combining classic and contemporary styles. The half-timbered framing from the building’s exterior carried right into our room. Exposed wooden beams marked the corridor to the bedroom where we enjoyed a restful night’s sleep. Just across the room, there was a living space with a couch, coffee table, and a TV. Ideal for both couples and families, the sofa bed offers a secondary sleeping area.

The attic windows of this 16th century building allowed a lot of light to filter into the suite. Strategically placed beneath the windows, a chic desk and chair provided an ideal workspace. Of course, the hotel also offered complimentary Wi-Fi to all guests. To the right of the desk, a Nespresso coffee maker sat atop a small countertop. I’m a huge fan of hotel rooms with fantastic coffee makers, and it was a delight to wake up to a rich brewed coffee each morning. In the cupboards, there was a mini fridge and a safe.

One of the most elegant aspects of the suite was the bathroom. First, the toilet was in a separate room away from the bathtub and sinks. The bathroom itself was massive; there were two sinks, a large bathtub/shower, a heated towel rail, and a magnifying mirror. Plush bathrobes and slippers were also at our disposal. 

The best surprise of all was the view from our suite’s window overlooking the inner courtyard. I pulled back the curtains and opened the little window near the bed. Poking my head outside, the historic half-timbered structure and flowers lining every space of the balconies was so captivating. The enchanting qualities of Strasbourg were visible in plain sight right from our window. I felt like I was living in a fairy tale.

LOCATION

The location could not get any better than this! Located right on the river, you can walk to every tourist attraction and explore every nook of Old Town Strasbourg. It’s steps away from the Strasbourg Cathedral, Petite France, restaurants, cafes, shops, and everywhere you want to be. If you’re looking for where to stay in Strasbourg, location should play a huge factor in your accommodation choice. As Strasbourg is such a walkable destination, you need to be in the middle of it all. The Hotel Cour du Corbeau is the ultimate choice for location, comfort, history, and style.

Halfway across the bridge by the hotel.

COMMON AREAS

The romantic MGallery Cour du Corbeau extends its tranquility beyond the guest rooms. A cozy sitting room invites you to spend time with your companions or fellow guests, or perhaps you’d like to read a book or complimentary newspaper. There’s a beautiful courtyard with a seating area where you can dine, enjoy a cup of tea, or savour a glass of wine.

HISTORY

The MGallery Cour du Corbeau has a rich and intriguing history.  Back when it opened in 1528, it was a hotel known as Zum Rappen; however, there’s evidence that a hotel existed even before that. It’s interesting that this building started as a hotel, and continued as a hotel throughout the years. Many famous travellers stayed overnight here: the Duke of Bavaria in 1570, German Emperor Joseph II, and the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great. In the 1800s, the hotel became utilized by glass makers, and then a braid maker in the courtyard. It wasn’t until 2006 that the property was redeveloped back into a hotel, reclaiming its former splendor. After two years of construction and restoration, the Cour du Corbeau opened its doors and this historic site was alive with activity once again.

Upon checkout, we were presented with a small souvenir booklet of postcards depicting how the hotel looked over the years. On the back of the envelope, there’s a list of many famous and important historical figures who stayed at the hotel. At the bottom of the card, it reads, “Et vous…. and you”. It’s the little touches that make all the difference, and we were very impressed with the quality of service and attention to detail.

BOOK YOUR STAY

From the perfect location, the intriguing history, and the delightful rooms, we wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Mgallery Cour du Corbeau again. If you’re thinking about where to stay in Strasbourg, definitely book your stay at this elegant, luxury accommodation. Click here to read reviews by trusted travellers.

Cour du Corbeau
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Hotel Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg 

6-8 Rue des Couples,

67000 Strasbourg

Cour du Corbeau Website

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Disclaimer: We were hosted by the Hotel Cour du Corbeau for a portion of our stay. Our opinions, as always, are entirely our own.

What are the top qualities you look for when staying at a hotel?

The post Where to Stay in Strasbourg: Hotel Cour du Corbeau appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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On the road again!

June was one of those fantastic travel months where I spent more time away from home than at home. I ventured into two new countries and revisited one of my favourites. June is my birth month and I celebrated it doing the thing I love the most (travelling) with the person I love the most (Justin)! I also spent a day wandering around Toronto to find the best street art and dined at two vegan restaurants that were new to me.

JUNE TRAVEL

This was a trip that involved months of planning – I mentioned the countries and towns back in my Life of Lauren May Recap post. Well, the planning was all worthwhile – Justin and I feel it was our best trip to date! We spent two weeks exploring Germany, Switzerland, and a little bit of France. I’ve already started to write about this trip, and the next couple of months will mostly be devoted to covering these travels on the blog.

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

We left for the airport the day before my birthday and embarked on an overnight flight (as they usually tend to be between Canada and European cities). By the time we landed, it was the morning of my birthday. For the record, I thought it was a good idea to land in a new city on your birthday to start the trip right on your special day. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I don’t recommend this at all! Why did I think that was a good idea? I never sleep well on a plane, no matter what. It’s always a stressful situation to gather your belongings and navigate to your hotel when you’re exhausted. And then you’re too tired to want to do much of anything.

However, I still managed to have a wonderful day once we settled in to our accommodation, the 25hours Hotel The Goldman. Justin and I only really had a half day to spend in Frankfurt, but we certainly made the most of it after a power nap at the hotel. I didn’t expect that Frankfurt would be such a wonderful city to wander around, but we thoroughly enjoyed our day there and we wouldn’t hesitate to return. If you’re interested, here’s everything we did in Frankfurt for the day.

STRASBOURG, FRANCE

Strasbourg is an idyllic town on the border of Germany and France. It’s really a combination of the two countries: the half-timbered houses lend a German fairy tale vibe, and yet there are cute cafes selling the best baguettes and sweets. Justin and I had a day and a half in Strasbourg, by the time our train arrived in the city. There were French train strikes happening at the time, and I’m not sure if that impacted our train arriving an hour late in Frankfurt. We missed our connecting train and had to take two different trains to get to Strasbourg. It was a little bit annoying to sort it all out, but we didn’t arrive too much later and we handled it totally fine.

We loved wandering around Strasbourg and taking in the charming scenery. The cathedral had incredible views from the top, and it was an adventure climbing that narrow spiral staircase to get there. The two of us rented bicycles and rode to a park where we saw the most adorable baby swans. Strasbourg has a lot of really delicious vegan food, so we ate as much of it as possible.

BERN, SWITZERLAND

From Strasbourg, we took the train to Bern where we would start our week-long escapade in Switzerland. Bern really surprised us and within a few hours we were trying to sort out how to move there. We stayed at the Hotel Allegro Bern and we savoured the stunning view of the city from our room (pictured above). The city is so clean and easy to get around via the public transportation system. The most beautiful, turquoise river runs through it, and we saw locals flying down the rushing waters on tubes. Looked a little scary, but fun!

For two days, we based ourselves in Bern and took one day trip to the little towns of Thun and Spiez. I think my favourite part of Bern was taking the cable car to the Gurten, Bern’s mountain. Not only were the views of Bern spectacular from the top, but we also caught our first glimpses of the neighbouring mountains where we’d be spending the next few days after that. I also loved Bern’s rose garden for its epic city views, plus the tranquil nature of the garden itself.

WENGEN, SWITZERLAND

Wengen is a Swiss alpine village that sits at the foot of the Jungfrau, overlooking the town of Lauterbrunnen. To get there, we took a train from Bern to Interlaken, a smaller train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, and another train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. Trust me, it’s worth the trip! We stayed at the hotel with the best view in town, the Hotel Bellevue Wengen. In the Instagram photo above, you can see the brilliant view from our room’s balcony. Imagine waking up to that view every morning? We also soaked in the hot tub with the mountains all around us and the valley down below. It was pure bliss.

The weather started out a little bit foggy and cloudy. When we took the cable car to the top of one mountain, we were inside a cloud and could see nothing but white. Even still, we made the most of it, venturing out in the rain. Thankfully, the weather cleared up. With a semi-cloudy cog train ride up the Brienzer Rothorn,  we marveled at the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz. And our favourite day of all was the journey to the summit of the Schilthorn. After four cable car rides, we were nearly 3000 metres above sea level!

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

After three days in Wengen, we travelled by train once again towards Zurich on the most spectacular train ride of our lives. Mountain after mountain, adorable town after adorable town, we could barely believe our eyes. These captivating views made the two hour train ride feel like no time at all. We spent two nights in Zurich, staying at the five star Hotel Storchen right on the river in old town. We walked everywhere from here, exploring old town Zurich and beyond.

On our second day in the area, we journeyed to Lucerne and took a boat ride plus a cog train ride up to the top of Mount Rigi. After a week of stunning mountaintop views, you’d think we’d get sick of them? Nah, it isn’t possible!

TÜBINGEN, GERMANY

Have you heard of Tübingen, Germany? It’s a university town in the Baden-Württemberg region where about one in every three people living there is a student. The town wasn’t bombed at all during World War II and has a very in tact, historic old town. We learned all about the town on a brief walking tour with a local guide, and then set off on our own. Before leaving the town after staying just one night, we were treated to a private punting trip on the Neckar river. Take a ride down the river on one of the punts, which are boats maneuvered a person wielding a giant stick. We even got to try it for ourselves! It isn’t as easy as it looks.

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY

And just like that, our trip was almost over. We spent two nights in the German town of Heidelberg, making the most of our remaining days in Europe. We visited Heidelberg Castle, went on the Philosopher’s Walk, made our own candy, discovered street art, saw the old student’s prison, and ate lots of yummy vegan food. Heidelberg is such a fascinating city, and another one we could see ourselves revisiting again and again!

LOCAL TRAVEL

After two weeks in Europe where we didn’t rest much, you’d think that I could use some time off to rest and recuperate? Well, we landed and got home by 10:00pm and I was off to work the next day! No rest for this girl. However, after a number of uneventful days, I made some time to visit my two best friends to spend a day by the pool in Cambridge, Ontario.

Then, I treated myself to a solo trip in the city. I walked all over Toronto to test out my brand new Fitbit, the Fitbit Charge 2 HR. It’s certainly an upgrade from my old one! I used the app to keep track of my entire walk, mapping it as I wandered. It tracks my steps, my heart rate, stairs, and there’s even a relaxation setting on the tracker itself. It guides you through a 2-minute relaxation session with breathing exercises, which I really appreciated after a hectic day. I’m in love!

In Toronto, I was on the hunt for street art and found an absolute ton of it, in Liberty Village, Graffiti Alley, Kensington Market, and West Queen West. I dined at two vegan restaurants that I hadn’t visited before (Away Kitchen & Cafe and Hello 123), and drank lots of iced coffee and lemonade as it was a very hot and humid day outside. Stay tuned for a post all about Toronto street art, as well as an update to my Toronto vegan guide.

BOOKS, TV, FILM, ETC.

This might be more of a July thing than a June thing, but Justin and I have started watching all of the Harry Potter movies together. In September, we will be traveling to Orlando for Justin’s birthday with a trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As I haven’t read a single Harry Potter book or seen a single Harry Potter movie, we’ve decided that we need to watch them all together before September rolls around!

We’ve also watched a lot of episodes of Impractical Jokers together. If you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out. We usually end up killing ourselves laughing every single time we watch it. I actually only stumbled upon this show on TV when I was in Nashville as we don’t get Tru TV in Canada. Justin and I have several seasons to watch when we have a few minutes here and there.

OUR LATEST TRAVEL VIDEO

Justin finished editing our travel video from our cruise aboard the MSC Divina! The video focuses on three ports that we visited: St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and Martinique. Take a look!

 

THIS MONTH, I’M OBSESSED WITH…
  • Making my own acai smoothie bowls. I’ve had several in Europe and thought that it couldn’t be too hard to make them at home. I found frozen Acai at my local Whole Foods, and I’ll put a bunch of toppings in the bowl: banana, strawberries, goji berries, chia seeds, and granola.
  • Reading all about the travels of I2W members. What’s I2W? Inspire To Wander, of course! It’s the travel community that I co-run and our members continually fuel my wanderlust. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Join the I2W community!
  • My new Fitbit, as I previously mentioned! It’s really inspired me to get out there and walk even more than usual. I love walking around my own neighbourhood in Port Credit. I feel so lucky to live right down the street from Lake Ontario and in the middle of a bustling village in the city.

Interested in previous Life of Lauren blog posts? Check out: February, March, April, May.

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Tell me all about your recent travels!

The post Life of Lauren: Recap of June 2018 (Travel and Life) appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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25hours Hotel The Goldman will boost your spirits with its colourful personality.

Just as the Ostend neighbourhood in Frankfurt has undergone a creative renaissance, 25hours Hotel The Goldman carries those modern, artsy themes throughout its rooms and hallways. This boutique hotel felt more like a design museum at times than a place to stay in Frankfurt. There aren’t many hotels where I stop to admire everything on the walls; at times, my senses were even slightly overwhelmed with where I should look first. 25hours Hotel The Goldman is the perfect place to stay for urban travellers, pop art appreciating wanderers, and creative personalities.

View from our hotel room window

LOCATION

The surrounding buildings might look a little drab, but the inside of the 25hours Hotel The Goldman is a whole other story. Blue laser lights at the front desk are a bold choice, but it fits with the eclectic theme of the accommodation.

The Ostend neighbourhood is just east of the historic downtown core where we spent most of our time. It’s about a 30 minute walk into the city centre or a 10 minute walk to the nearest subway station. While you might seek the convenience of a city centre hotel, this luxury hotel comes at a lower price point for top notch amenities. Plus, you’re staying in an intriguing area of the city with art galleries, studios, fashion shops, restaurants, and green spaces.

OUR ROOM

Each room has its own personality. We stayed in the west wing where each room is named for a different notable person. Inside, there’s biographical details, photographs, portraits and artwork related to this personality. Justin and I stayed in the Raoul Wallenberg room, a man who saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Pillows on the bed playfully state, “Almost home”. The bed was so comfortable that we really felt right at home, which was ideal after a long flight from Toronto. The neighbourhood and hotel were nice and quiet, so we had no difficulty having a restful night’s sleep (and a restful day’s nap upon our arrival!). When looking for the best place to stay in Frankfurt, you’ll want a spot where you’ll get the most amount of sleep possible, especially when your body clock isn’t quite adjusted yet.

Each room has a desk with two chairs, as well as outlets to plug in your electronics. Combined with the complimentary high-speed WiFi, this hotel offers a fantastic place for business travellers and digital nomads alike to get some work done.

An E Boom Bluetooth Speaker sat on a small shelf near the desk, so you don’t have to deprive yourself of music on your trip. If you love the speaker, you can purchase the same one in the hotel’s gift shop.

The bathroom had lots of shelf space for our toiletries, and the walk in shower had great water pressure. The hotel takes extra steps to be more environmentally friendly. For instance, the larger bottles of soap and hand lotion are much better than the tiny ones that get used up and thrown out with each guest. The phrase, “Stop the water while using me!” was scrawled across each bottle, a gentle reminder to conserve water. Furthermore, the 25hours Hotel has partnered with the Viva con Agua to collect donations to build wells in third world nations, with an emphasis on providing clean drinking water to local schools and children.

HOTEL AMENITIES

The 25hours Hotel The Goldman has a lengthy list of amenities that I haven’t seen at many other hotels. These include:

  • Schindelhaur bicycles available for hotel guests to rent, along with an on board map of the best spots in town
  • MINI cars to rent, free of charge, to hotel guests upon availability
  • Day pass to nearby fitness club for 8 Euros (includes gym, sauna, all classes)
  • Goldman Restaurant, perfect spot for a bite to eat
  • Individually designed rooms, vintage style
  • iPod dock and flatscreen TV in each room
  • Meeting rooms with conference equipment

OOST BAR

After a day exploring Frankfurt, we recommend that you return to the Oost Bar at the hotel for a nightcap. The bar has quirky design elements, such as the fluorescent pink lighting and menu sign behind the bar (“Already wine o’clock?” and “Diet comes from die” written on the board). Justin and I each ordered a locally brewed beer and cozied up on a retro couch. Behind us, shimmery beaded curtains swayed as guests passed the bar. Sometimes there are live bands or a DJ playing tunes, welcoming visitors off the street to stop by.

In the morning, we ate at the breakfast buffet in the same area, feasting on fruit and freshly baked bread as the primary vegan options.

GIFT SHOP

If you’re enamored by the quirky design elements of the hotel, perhaps you’ll find something inspiring in the 25hours Hotel The Goldman’s gift shop. It’s a lengthy shelving unit filled with a curated selection of wares, like books, jewelry, mugs, hats, treats, and more.

BOOK YOUR STAY

25hours Hotel The Goldman is the place to stay in Frankfurt! With its splashy interior, comfortable rooms, friendly and helpful staff members and spacious bar, you’ll want to make this hotel your home in Frankfurt, Germany. Book your stay quickly and easily online. Be sure to check out some additional reviews by trusted travellers, too.

25Hours Hotel The Goldman
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What’s your favourite kind of artwork and have you ever admired art in hotels?

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Your guide for things to do in Frankfurt for a day or a layover trip.

It was my birthday and we landed in Frankfurt after an overnight flight from Toronto. Who decides to fly on their birthday? Well, technically, we left on the day before my birthday. I had the grand idea of starting our two-week Europe trip on my birthday, arriving in a new city. But, as you know, travel doesn’t always go smoothly.

Our flight was delayed, it was nearly impossible to sleep on the plane for a variety of reasons, and it seemingly took forever to collect our luggage and take the train into Frankfurt. With a flight that was supposed to arrive in Germany at 9:00am, we finally reached our hotel room by about 1:00pm, far later than we anticipated. However, by the time we reached our hotel, we immediately felt right at home in Frankfurt and couldn’t wait to make the most of our short trip there.

FRANKFURT IN A DAY

Is it possible to see Frankfurt in a day? I always recommend that you spend as long as possible in each country, city, or town. A day is never enough. But, it isn’t always possible to stay longer. One day is better than nothing! Sometimes you can cover a lot of ground, even just in a few hours. In our case, we only had two weeks in Europe and a whole bunch of places we wanted to visit.

I can’t say that Frankfurt was initially high on my list of cities to see. I really didn’t know much about Frankfurt in comparison to popular destinations like Berlin or Munich. With that said, I’m really glad that our flight brought us to Frankfurt. Not only did we check out a brand new city, but we totally loved our time there and feel that we need to come back to see more.

I’d like to suggest a few things to do in Frankfurt for a day, whether you’re spending the night or you have a lengthy layover.

GETTING THERE

From the Frankfurt airport (FRA), it was easy to get into town. Purchase a train ticket from the airport to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Main) station. The ride takes about 15 minutes. From there, you can easily walk to wherever you need to go. In our case, the hotel was a little too far to walk with a bunch of luggage in tow, so we took a cab to our accommodation. Please note that Uber or Lyft does not operate in Frankfurt.

WHERE TO STAY

Justin and I spent one night at the artsy 25Hours Hotel The Goldman in the Ostend neighbourhood. This one-of-a-kind hotel reflects the creative nature of the Ostend. Splashes of colour and intriguing art covers nearly every inch of the walls. Staying at this hotel was like staying at a modern art museum. I adored walking its hallways and public spaces to discover and read the messages on every framed print.

We felt right at home for the night in our room. Even the pillows read, “Almost home.” Each room has an individual design and its own unique artwork. There’s also a comfortable bed, a desk, and other extras that you don’t typically find at accommodations. For instance, the rooms have UE Boom Bluetooth Speakers so you can listen to your favourite tunes as you would at home. There’s a desk that’s great to work from, as well as high speed complimentary Wi-Fi.

In addition, the hotel offers bicycle rentals to its guests and even the free rental of MINI cars, upon availability. We didn’t take advantage of the car or bicycle rental, but both offer brilliant ways to get around town.

You can even purchase a variety of swag and curated gifts from the hotel lobby. It’s right next to the hotel bar, which serves up drinks and small bites. We ordered some locally brewed beer in the evening to celebrate our arrival in Germany…and my birthday! We recommend that you come back to the hotel bar in the evening to enjoy a beverage before retreating back to your room.

To get to the centre of town, you can take the subway from the station Ostbahnhof/Honsellstraße, about a ten minute walk away. We also walked from the hotel to the historic city centre, which took about 30 minutes.

Interested in staying at the 25Hours Hotel The Goldman? Book your stay quickly and easily online. Be sure to check out some additional reviews by trusted travellers, too. If you’d like to stay somewhere close to the main train station, we recommend that you check out the 25Hours Hotel by Levi’s as it is around the corner from Frankfurt Main (read reviews of this property).

VISIT RÖMERBERG

The first spot to check out on our list of things to do in Frankfurt for a day was the public square, Römerberg. The square faces the medieval building, Römer, the home of Frankfurt’s city hall for over 600 years. Römerberg is the heart of Frankfurt’s old town and shouldn’t be missed.

I’m in love with half-timbered structures, and you’ll find a whole row of them here. They were reconstructed after WWII to appear as they did back in the medieval time period. If you’re here over Christmastime, Römerberg is where you’ll find Frankfurt’s Christmas market.

CROSS THE EISERNER STEG

The Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge) is a footbridge across the river Main. Admiring the views from the Eiserner Steg is an iconic thing to do in Frankfurt. Be sure to snap a few selfies, whether it’s with the river and the church in the background or the row of skyscrapers on the opposite side, affectionately known as “Mainhatten.”

There are also thousands of love locks attached all over the bridge. Whether you’re a fan of these declarations of love or not, it brings a splash of colour to the stark, iron structure.

STROLL BY THE RIVER MAIN

Now that you’re across the bridge, go for a walk along the river. There’s a lovely path lined with trees that runs right beside it. We walked a big loop from one side of the river to the other, taking in the pretty waterfront views.

STOP FOR A COFFEE

If you’ve just flown a number of hours overseas or you’re taking in the sights on a layover, chances are you might need a pick me up. That’s what caffeine is for, right? There are a number of quaint cafes in Frankfurt serving up rich and flavourful brews. We stopped at The Holy Cross Brewing Society because they had a little patio of picnic tables out front, perfect for people watching. They’re right in Old Town, too. And their coffee was just what I needed!

FRANKFURT BOAT CRUISE

Looking for another perspective? Take a boat cruise on the River Main. This scenic one-hour tour will provide some stunning scenery of the city, and you might learn a thing or two, too!

HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS

Even though they might appear a little touristy on the surface, a Hop-On Hop-Off bus is an easy way to see major attractions all over the city at a low price. Board a comfortable double-decker bus to visit notable spots all over town with insightful commentary. Hop off the bus wherever you’d like to get a closer look.

FRANKFURT CARD

The Frankfurt Card is an excellent way to make the most of your time in the city and save some money. The card offers free public transportation, even from the airport. You also receive discounts at major attractions, museums, tours, restaurants, shopping, and more. You get up to 50% off at more than 20 museums. The Frankfurt Card is available as a one or two day ticket, depending on how long you’ll spend in the city. We highly recommend the Frankfurt Card, especially if you plan to use public transit, check out any museums, or take any sightseeing tours. Please note that the Frankfurt Card offers a 20% discount off the Hop-On Hop-Off tour, too!

DINNER AT VEVAY

We highly recommend dining at Vevay, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant right in Old Town. There are a variety of healthy and tasty selections on the menu, and they’re clearly marked as vegan or vegetarian. Justin ordered the Udon noodles (fresh vegetables, enoki mushrooms, ginger and lemongrass soy sauce) and I got the Lukewarm Rice Noodle Salad with Tofu. They both tasted so yummy. My dish caught the eye of the couple dining next to us. She immediately asked what we ordered and then proceeded to also order the rice noodle dish.

We both thought it was a good idea to order fruit smoothies to get an extra dose of vitamins after a lack of sleep. And it was my birthday so I had to order a slice of their vegan hazelnut cake! Everything here tasted so fresh and delicious, and I feel like you can’t go wrong ordering any of the meals at Vevay.

Would you like to see more photos of Frankfurt, Germany? Check out our Frankfurt travel photo album. You can purchase prints of photos, housewares, canvas photographs, and more directly from our photography page.

What I loved most about Frankfurt was the history, the walkability, and the laid back environment. It’s easy to relax near the river to take in the views or sit at a quiet cafe with a book. There’s a good selection of vegan restaurants, including one right in town. Frankfurt is a city with history, art, and culture. Get out there and see as much of this great metropolis as you can, even if you only visit for a day.

Frankfurt
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Thank you to Frankfurt Tourism and Germany Tourism for hosting our stay. Our opinions, as always, are entirely our own.

Have you ever visited Frankfurt, Germany?

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It’s high on my list of alternative things to do in Berlin.

When you think about museums in Berlin, which ones come to mind? Perhaps the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, or the Jewish Museum. Maybe it’s one of the several museums on the city’s Museum Island. While all of these museums are definitely worth the trip, this one might not be on your radar. This museum adds to the alternative, unique, and even the weird qualities for which Berlin is known. It’s the Computerspielemuseum, or Computer Game Museum of Berlin. It indulges in technologies from the last few decades up to the modern day, pertaining to anything and all things gaming.

Personal Note: As I’m writing this blog post, I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of a friend of mine. Syd Bolton was the owner and operator of the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Sadly, he passed away recently quite suddenly. I’m very shocked and saddened by his passing. While I hadn’t seen Syd in a long while, I attended his game nights and visited his museum on several occasions in the past. He was an amazing person, a community leader, and often described as “larger than life”. I know that he would have loved the Computer Museum of Berlin so much, so I’m writing this blog post in his memory.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM

Back in 1997, the Computerspielemuseum was founded and opened its first permanent exhibition until the year 2000. Then, for a little over a decade, the museum transitioned into an online only exhibition. However, in 2011, it reopened in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood in Berlin. Within the walls of the museum, there are over 300 interactive gaming exhibits. In its collection, there are 25,000 storage devices with games, over 12,000 magazines, an extensive amount of arcade consoles and computers, and a plethora of computer gaming memorabilia.

INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS

As one of the most unique and alternative things to do in Berlin, it’s easy to be fascinated by the history of computer gaming. From the moment we entered and were greeted by the statue of Link from the Zelda video games, we were teeming with nostalgia and good vibes. We wandered around the building and explored the permanent collection, stopping to play any games that we wished. Every sign in the museum was presented in both German and English, which we appreciated.

RETRO ARCADE

One thing we loved most about the Computerspielemuseum was the thought and detail in every space. There were several rooms dedicated to recreating specific eras in gaming. There was a retro arcade room with several arcade cabinets. Outfitted with neon lights and kept super dark, it was reminiscent of an arcade from the 80s. You can play whatever games you’d like at no additional cost. I played a little bit of Donkey Kong, and that game is just as tough to beat as it always was.

RETRO ROOMS

Beyond the games themselves, an interesting component of the museum was its authentically furnished retro rooms. The Berlin Computer Gaming Museum had rooms from the 60s, 70s, and 80s outfitted properly to every last detail, from the wallpaper to the movie posters. There were retro telephones in the rooms, and of course, gaming consoles that you could play. Justin felt quite at home in the 80s room with the Star Wars poster on the wall and the Nintendo Entertainment System. This could have easily been his room as a kid, had he been born a decade earlier!

GAMES TO PLAY

As you walk around the museum, stop to play whatever games you like and learn about their place in gaming history. Do you remember the Virtual Boy? How about more recent games, such as Wii Bowling? There were ones that I’d never seen anywhere else before, like a racing game controlled by an exercise bike and a Pacman game with a gigantic joystick. And then there were many games I’d never seen in my life and I learned all about them. It wasn’t only a trip down memory lane, but an opportunity to try new games, even if they’re decades old.

It reminded us of a travelling exhibition we visited years ago at the Ontario Science Center, the Game On 2.0 Exhibition. Back home, that exhibit only lasted a few months. Luckily for those living in Berlin (or traveling there), the Berlin Computer Museum is permanent!

THE PAINSTATION

Now, this is a one of a kind experience that you won’t have anywhere else in the world, making this museum top the list of alternative things to do in Berlin. Have you ever heard of the Painstation? Well, maybe you’ve heard of a Playstation, but certainly not a Painstation. It’s an original game cabinet developed in 2001.

Two players face one another and play a game of Pong. You use your right hand to control the game, and keep your left hand on a metal sensor. You must keep two of your fingers pressed on two buttons on the sensor. The person who lets go of the buttons first loses. Sounds easy, right?

Well, when a player loses a round, they are subjected to actual physical pain. The pain might be one of three things: the sensor gets really hot and causes your hand to burn, your hand gets whipped by a little whip that comes out of the machine, or you receive electric shocks through your left hand and arm. As the game goes on, the pain gets more intense until it becomes too much and someone lets go. Of course, if you never lose a round of Pong, you will never feel any pain.

This is the only video game I’ve ever played before where I had to sign a waiver before playing!

Don’t be alarmed; it’s actually a lot of fun and you’ll be talking about it for hours after you try it out.

VISITING INFO

The museum is open 7 days a week from 10:00am to 8:00pm.  It’s open all days of the year, even on Christmas and New Year’s! The regular ticket price is €9 or €6 for youth/students/retired/unemployed/volunteers. There’s a reduced ticket price if you visit after 6:00pm, and a reduced price for a family pass. Check out the Computerspielemuseum website for more details.

Computer Museum Berlin
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Computerspielemuseum
Karl-Marx-Allee 93a
10243 Berlin

TRAVEL INFO

We stayed at Almodovar Hotel, a vegetarian/vegan hotel in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin.  Almodovar is an accommodation with a unique style and design. Furthermore, it’s not only a vegan hotel in Berlin, but completely organic with a focus on sustainability. The style of the rooms reflects Berlin as a whole – modern, lively, and worldly.

I was delighted by the vegan breakfast buffet. I’m glad we spent three nights at the hotel, as there were too many choices to eat everything in one sitting. There were two different kinds of tofu, a Muesli cereal, homemade cashew cheese, prepared faux meats like seitan and vegan chorizo, lentil salad, rice salad, homemade vegan currywurst, tofu scramble, bread, muffins, and croissants. The coffee was robust and fair-trade, and there were also juices and teas.

Check out our full review, the reviews of fellow trusted travelers, and book your stay today!

Speaking of vegan food, Berlin is the vegan capital city of the world! There are options at every turn. However, if you’d like to see my favourites or at least know where to start, check out my vegan guide to Berlin. If you’re looking for alternative things to do in Berlin, I’d stay at Almodovar Hotel, check out the Berlin computer museum, and take an alternative bike tour.

Check out all of our photos from our travels to Berlin, Germany.

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Have you ever visited a computer museum or a video games exhibit? Do you like playing video games and which is your favourite?

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Only have 1 day in Sydney? No problem!

As much as it would be wonderful to have an infinite amount of time in every place we visit, sometimes we only get a day. Well, don’t fret. Even with only one day in Sydney, you can have a memorable and eventful trip. For a packed day of activities, do several of the things on this list. Want a more relaxed day? Just choose a few. It’s up to you.

FREE WALKING TOUR

If you’re in a brand new place, taking a walking tour is the best way to get acquainted. I’m Free Walking Tours in Sydney has free walking tours twice daily. Start your day off right by booking their 10:30am tour. They’re about 2.5 to 3 hours long, and you get to visit several famous landmarks. In one trip, check out: Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Hyde Park Barracks, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney’s oldest cemetery, and more. The best part of a walking tour? You’ll see the sights, learn some interesting facts, and tour around with a local guide.

Walking tour not your thing? Perhaps another tour in Sydney is more up your alley!

KAYAK SYDNEY HARBOUR

Looking for a unique view of Sydney’s most epic attractions? Kayaking the Sydney Harbour offers a completely differet perspective. To make the most of your short time here, I recommend booking a kayaking tour with an reputable company, such as Oz Paddle. Paddle your way near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Farm Cove, and even past the Sydney Opera House. These calm waters are perfect for those newer to kayaking because there won’t be very many obstacles on your journey.

DINE IN SYDNEY

By the time you’re finished walking and kayaking all over the place, you’re probably pretty hungry, right? Finding a great restaurant and saving money on your travels is always a challenge. Thankfully, Groupon always offers amazing deals on food and meals. You can search by dining style, such as French restaurants in Sydney and find a meal and a deal. There are always additional coupon codes listed on the site too, so you can save even more! Even with only one day in Sydney, you’ll be able to eat at least three delicious meals, right?

BONDI BEACH TO COOGEE

First, spend a relaxing afternoon at the world famous Bondi Beach. Soak up that hot, Australian sunshine and do some people watching. If you’re into beach sports, this is a great spot to try surfing or beach volleyball. You might even be able to spot some wildlife from the beach, such as whales, dolphins, or even fairy penguins. There are tons of restaurants and cafes near by if you’d like a little break from the sunshine. Bondi Beach is on the Australian National Heritage List.

COASTAL WALK TO COOGEE

From Bondi Beach, embark on a spectacular coastal walk to Coogee Beach. If there’s one thing to do during your day in Sydney, this is the activity. Do it on your own or take a tour. This 6km coastal walk up on the cliffs provides stunning views of the surrounding scenery. You’ll pass by beaches, parks, cliffs, and rock pools. As you’ll be passing through neighbouring suburbs, you can always take a break at a nearby cafe or rest stop. For maps and more information, check out the Bondi to Coogee Walk website.

CRAFT BREWERIES

Did you know that Sydney is home to tons of amazing craft breweries? The number of microbreweries has more than doubled in recent years. Seek out the hip neighbourhoods of Newton, Camperdown, and Marrickville for quirky breweries with their own stories and refreshing beer. While you might want to stick with traditional sounding beers, like The Grifter’s Australian Pale Ale, craft breweries sometimes come up with some creative names for their brews. Sauce has one called “Piss-weak Sauce” and “Son of a Peach!”. Taste a few different ones and perhaps you’ll want to take a growler to go.

With only one day in Sydney, you’ll be able to see, do, and taste the best the city has to offer. Looking for cheap hotels in Sydney? Find great deals, read reviews and see photos by travellers, just like you!

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Have you ever visited Sydney and what would you recommend?

The post How to Spend the Perfect Day in Sydney appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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A video of our week in the Caribbean on the MSC Divina.

During a frigid, Canadian winter, the two of us escaped south for a blissful week in the Caribbean. From Miami, we sailed to St. Thomas, Martinique, St. Kitts, Barbados, and Guadeloupe. This MSC Divina Caribbean cruise video showcases some highlights from our trip.

Starting with a sunrise on the cruise ship itself, we venture through downtown Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas just months after the island was ravaged by hurricanes. From there, allow us to whisk you off to St. Kitts with us. We spent the day at Cockleshell Beach, one of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches we’ve visited. Finally, we take a boat tour in Martinique where we snorkel, get pelted by a passing rainstorm, and discover a tiny bat cave.

 

The entire video was shot on a GoPro HERO5 Black with the GoPro Karma Grip stabilizer.

Music Credit: Steps by Killo-Gram 

Although this video features primarily the ports, we had a wonderful time aboard the MSC Divina. Justin and I traveled with the Holistic Holiday at Sea group, which was a vegan cruise. We enjoyed delicious vegan meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks at night (like ice cream and nachos!). Also, we visited several gorgeous Caribbean islands, as shown in the video above.

Please check out my entire page about this MSC Divina Caribbean cruise experience if you’d like to read more. As Justin and I are avid cruisers, we have an entire section on the blog devoted to cruising, too!

Got any questions about this particular cruise or cruising in general? Be sure to post them in the comments section below!

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Have you ever taken a cruise before? Have you traveled to the Caribbean? Tell me about your experiences!

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The best vegan eats in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Newfoundland is a spectacular region of Canada with endless stunning landscapes, friendly residents, and opportunities to observe pristine nature and wildlife. Did you know it’s also easy to travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland while following a vegan diet? When I visited, I had no idea I’d discover so many restaurants in St. John’s NL with vegan options. While it might not be obvious where to search, I’ve put together this handy vegan travel guide for St. John’s so you can gorge on the same yummy eats that I did.

POYO & THE SPROUT TAKE OUT

Poyo & The Sprout Take Out is an amalgamation of two restaurants: The Sprout was one of the only vegetarian restaurants in St. John’s NL, and Poyo was a pop-up vegetarian Mexican restaurant that operated in the same building as The Sprout for late night meal service. The owner of the Sprout decided to sell the business just as Poyo was looking to expand. Poyo bought The Sprout, so it’s now known as Poyo & The Sprout Take Out. The “take out” aspect simply means that the restaurant doesn’t offer table service. Order your meal at the front and they’ll make it within moments. You can sit down in the restaurant to dine (there’s water available, too) or take your food away with you.

Since the restaurant combines Poyo & The Sprout, the menu contains selections from both restaurants. You can order tacos and burritos or veggie favourites like Pad Thai or a vegan Caesar salad. I was in the mood for Mexican food, so I ordered a burrito. Burritos are filled with cheese, rice, black beans, corn, salsa, and you can choose between refried beans and TVP “beef”. To make the burrito vegan, they’ll remove the cheese. Most items that are labeled vegetarian can be made vegan, so just let the staff know ahead of time.

Poyo & The Sprout has an eclectic style, combining retro wood paneled booths with antique decor, such as an kitschy organ topped with plants and old sheet music. With succulents lining the window sills, you feel like you’re dining at home more than a restaurant. It’s also inside a bright, lime green home, keeping with the colourful house theme of St. John’s. If I lived here, I could see myself going out for meals with friends all the time, whether for dinner or a late night snack after an evening at the pub.

Here’s a look at the full menu. One side is fully Mexican food, including enchiladas, burritos, and tacos. The other side has vegetarian selections like a teriyaki stir fry, curry, poutine, and a hummus plate.

Poyo & The Sprout Take Out

364 Duckworth Street

St. John’s, NL

See Facebook page for hours.   

PEACEFUL LOFT

In a tiny blue house in downtown St. John’s, you’ll find the Peaceful Loft, a vegan Chinese restaurant. It’s operated by a very sweet Asian couple: he works in the front and she works in the kitchen. They both show amazing hospitality and serve up delicious food. If there’s one place you should dine in St. John’s, this is the spot.

When we arrived, the owner welcomed us to the restaurant and immediately brought out vegetable soup. He was very proud of this soup, which instantly warmed our bellies and our hearts. It was inspiring to hear him talk about the ingredients in the soup. He said that even though some vegetables were a little expensive, he felt that every customer should enjoy a bowl of it to start their meal. Not only did we enjoy complimentary soup, but there was a never-ending supply of green tea, too. The owner brought three dipping sauces to the table, ranging from a milder soy sauce to spicier ones.

For the main course, my sister and I decided to split an order of Peaceful Rolls and a noodle stir fry with tofu and seitan. The food arrived to the table very quickly, and it was lovingly prepared. In chatting to the gentleman who owns Peaceful Loft, he said that they use the same fake meats that are made by King’s Cafe / Zen Gardens back in Toronto. I’m very familiar with Zen Gardens (I go there all the time as it’s in my hometown) and their veggie meat products are so yummy.

The food at Peaceful Loft is some of the best vegan Chinese food I’ve tasted. Definitely head here when you’re in the city.

Peaceful Loft

250 Duckworth Street

St. John’s, NL

Open daily from 11:30am-8:30pm

THE MERCHANT TAVERN

While the Merchant Tavern isn’t a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, there are some options that cater to a plant-based diet. This restaurant mostly focuses on seafood and traditional cuisine from Atlantic Canada, but they’re happy to cater to vegans. Just mention that you’re vegan to your server and they’ll take care of you.

On the menu, there’s a roasted beet salad (omit the dairy), a cauliflower steak, and even a couple of dessert choices. I ordered the cauliflower steak: wild leek marinated cauliflower, white bean and lentil cassolette, green pea puree, seasonal vegetables, and toasted spelt.

For dessert, there are various fruit sorbets or an item on the menu called “something sweet”. Something sweet is a platter of sponge toffee and dark chocolate mint truffles which are all vegan. The main dish has milk chocolate truffles and the waiter substituted the dairy ones for the dark chocolate ones. Paired with a cup of coffee, it was the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience, this is one of the restaurants in St. John’s NL to check out.

The Merchant Tavern

291 Water St.

St. John’s, NL

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O’REILLY’S PUB

Now, you won’t find many vegetarian or vegan choices on the O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub menu. In fact, the fries are not cooked separately from the chicken, and many things are filled with meat, dairy, or eggs. However, I asked about vegan food after getting screeched in, and they were super accommodating. Not only did they bring out a house salad (with balsamic dressing and dried cranberries), but they prepared cauliflower wings for me! The cauliflower wings are not on the menu, but they were absolutely delicious. Perhaps if you ask in advance, they would be willing to make them for you, too?

If you’re looking to enjoy some locally brewed beer or perhaps get screeched in yourself, O’Reilly’s on George Street is a happening place with live music. There’s no better place to spend your evenings in St. John’s.

O’Reilly’s Pub

13 George Street

St. John’s, NL

See Facebook page for hours

ROCKET BAKERY

Rocket Bakery is a cafe and bakery in downtown St. John’s. Not only do they have lots of caffeinated beverages, but they are very vegan-friendly, too. I came here just to purchase an almond milk latte, but discovered a whole bunch of vegan grab and go meals. They have hummus, a wrap (the “protein powerhouse” with chipotle tofu, edamame, green pea pesto, and veggie slaw), a herb sweet potato soup, and their breads and buns are all vegan. There’s also vegan perogies in the frozen section to prepare at home. For dessert, grab a partridge berry macaroon dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.

The owner was delighted to show me every vegan option in the shop, so don’t hesitate to ask for their vegan selections. While I went in for a coffee, I came out with a coffee and a macaroon. I couldn’t resist!

Rocket Bakery

272 Water Street

St. John’s, NL

MAP OF VEGAN RESTAURANTS

Here’s a map of the vegan, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly restaurants in St. John’s NL. Looking for more things to do? Check out how I spent a weekend in the Avalon Peninsula and watched the sunrise at Cape Spear.

Vegan Restaurants in St. John\'s
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WHERE TO STAY

We spent two nights at the JAG Boutique Hotel in downtown St. John’s. From the hotel, we walked all over town. Besides the perfect location, I had a very peaceful night’s sleep in my spacious and comfortable suite. With ample space, a luxurious bathroom, two flatscreen TVs, Keurig coffee maker, and speedy Wi-Fi, it’s really a traveller’s dream. Be sure to check out more photographs and reviews from fellow travellers.

PIN this image to Pinterest for future reference.

Have you ever travelled to Newfoundland before?

The post Vegan Restaurants in St. John’s NL – Vegan Travel Guide appeared first on Justin Plus Lauren.

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