Loading...

Follow Travel Yourself on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
The Broadview Hotel Toronto - Review - YouTube

The Broadview Hotel Toronto in the east end is one of the best boutique hotels in Toronto. Opened in 2014 the Broadview Hotel is located in one of the more historic properties in the city dating back to 1891. Once a strip club named Jilly’s now turned boutique hotel it is filled with a lot of charm, art, great food and more. Here is my review of Toronto’s Broadview Hotel.

Broadview Hotel Room Review

There are 58 rooms in the hotel of various sizes and design all featuring king sized beds, record players and the most stocked mini bar I have ever seen in a hotel. There are four different room types that can sleep 2 to 4 people. You also have the option to book connecting rooms to make a family suite. I stayed in a King Sitting room, which I found to be spacious with a nice sitting area that has a pull out couch, a desk and bar top area. Each room also features black out curtains which are always ideal.

I found the bed to be quite comfortable and the pillows just the right amount of fluffiness for my preference. I liked the side lamps in the headboard that tucked away to be turned off as well.

The bathrooms feature soaps and lotions that smell citrus-y and delightful by Graydon Skincare. I appreciate that they are in large refillable bottles mounted on the wall in the shower and by the sink and not single use bottles. Bonus – saves the environment. Bummer – no tiny hotel toiletries to take home to your collection.

If you like “hipster” type things then this is definitely the property for you because there is even a Bodum French Press coffee maker in each room. I would definitely request a King Corner room on my next visit, featuring two walls of windows because of all of the natural light in those rooms. For that reason though they are also on the pricier side of rooms that are available.

Complaints

My only complaint about my room, which might have to do with the age of the building was that I could hear quite a lot of what was happening in the hallway. Perhaps this could be fixed with a different door on the room with a tighter fit or maybe it’s thin walls, I’m not sure. Also I can’t speak to every room having this issue, (I was in room 304) it wasn’t a game changer for me though.

Hotel Bonus Perks

Not every hotel these days offers turn down service but I always find it to be such a delight. One of the simplest of things that a hotel does that makes me happy. I was not really expecting it a the Broadview but I came home after a day of delicious afternoon tea and Harry Potter drinks and my room had been turned down! On my bed side table was a large carafe of water, along with a glass and two small chocolates. Simple, but lovely! I also enjoyed the added touch of the coaster over the top of the carafe covering the water from things getting into it. Definitely shows you that they care and are thinking of the guest.

Unique Hotel Amenities

As I checked in to the hotel I was told that on the floor where I was staying there was also a refreshment station. When I arrived on the 3rd floor I found two taps like you would find at a bar that served either still or sparkling water, there were lots of glasses and a few carafes as well as a small ice machine, a few tea options and clementines. The station was self serve and open to all hotel guests. It was very convenient to be located just down the hall from my room. There is also a refreshment station on the 5th floor.

On the 4th floor you can find a small library area with a few books to choose from and a bunch of vinyls to peruse. There is a record player in each room of the hotel with a few records to play. If you are looking for more options then all guests are welcome to swap them out for new ones at the library. As part of the library there is also “the Shop on 4th” which features a collection of gift items from the hotels neighbour shop The Good Neighbour for purchase.

For those who need it the 6th floor also features a computer and printer station area.

Dining at the Hotel

The Broadview Hotel has great dining options for breakfast, lunch and dinner including room service from 7am to 10pm.

The Civic dining room is open Wednesday to Saturdays starting at 6pm for dinner and Sundays for brunch from 10am to 3pm. The restaurant boasts locally sourced, southern Ontario produce with a menu that changes seasonally. Offering the same menu for brunch as the cafe, I enjoyed the breakfast burger and it was amazing. Not an actual burger but a brioche bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle, fried egg, and peameal bacon. I highly recommend it.

The Cafe & Bar located just off of the lobby is a bit more casual, light and airy then the Civic. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and tasty cocktails daily from 7am to late. Aside from the menu there are also various pastries and cookies available for purchase. For breakfast at the Broadview Cafe I had avocado toast, I couldn’t resist. It was delicious as all avocado toasts are, and I really enjoyed the braised peppers on top. I wish it had been a bit more substantial though for the cost.

Rooftop Bar

The Rooftop Bar at the Broadview Hotel is an extremely popular late night spot in the east end of Toronto. Open from 5pm to late Tuesday to Saturday in the winter and 7 days a week in the warmer months. The later you go at night the busier it will be, reservations are definitely recommended. They offer a great drinks list and small bites menu. While there I enjoyed a local beer by Eastbound Brewing Co. named the Backpacker Blonde. On the Rooftop Bar menu however it’s called Jilly’s Blonde a nice nod to the previous use of the building.

The highlight of the Rooftop Bar of course is the view. Located on the 7th floor overlooking the east end, the Don river and the stunning Toronto skyline including the views of the CN Tower.

Gym and fitness

The hotel does not have a gym but the front desk can give you a complimentary pass for a nearby gym called HONE fitness. Guests can also purchase a class at Studio Lagree for $12. In the summer months the hotel also offers yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. On nice days they are offered outside on the rooftop.

Where is the Broadview Hotel located?

The Broadview hotel is located just a touch outside the immediate downtown of the city, on the corner of Broadview Ave and Queen St East. It’s nice to be located in a bit more of a neighborhood VS amongst skyscrapers. There is a tram stop right outside of the hotel that can whisk you into the downtown core of the city in a few minutes. Nearby there are also a bunch of pizza shops for quick eats and two convenience stores on opposite corners.

To learn more about the Broadview Hotel watch my video review here:

 

I was a guest of  Toronto Tourism for my stay. However as always all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
BEST lobster rolls in Prince Edward Island - YouTube

Prince Edward Island is known for a lot of things, from Cow’s Ice Cream to its famous red dirt and potatoes, Anne of Green Gables and more. It is of course also known for it’s seafood. Like Nova Scotia, one of the most popular items is the lobster roll. Being the connoisseur of lobster rolls that I am I decided it was time for me to find the best on the island. This past summer I visited PEI and put together the ultimate list of “Where to eat the best lobster rolls in Prince Edward Island?”

After eating almost all of the best lobster rolls on the South Shore of Nova Scotia I decided that I needed to broaden my research area. I hadn’t been to Prince Edward Island in a few years and with just three days and two nights on the island I made it my goal to find the very best lobster rolls in PEI.

I did a lot of lobster roll research and reached out to people on Instagram for their recommendations. The lobster rolls were added to my google maps and I set out on a tasty adventure.

The view from the bridge of the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI Where to Eat the Best Lobster Rolls in Prince Edward Island?

There are three ways to get to Prince Edward Island, by plane, by taking the Confederation Bridge and by taking the ferry. There is nothing like a good boat ride so I went for the Northumberland ferry option. This was a bonus as they serve lobster rolls onboard. As soon as I had my car parked below deck my lobster roll quest of PEI began in the ships cafeteria.

All of the lobster rolls I ate were tasty but I did like some more than others so they are listed in order from great to best. It’s true I rarely meet a lobster roll I don’t like. Here is my list of my tummy grumbling, lip smacking, drooling research of the best lobster rolls in Prince Edward Island.

Lobster roll on a ferry boat? Don’t mind if I do! 1. Northumberland Ferries Ltd Lobster Roll

The ferry ride from Nova Scotia to PEI lasts a little more than an hour. Once you get your car parked and situated, there isn’t much time to grab a bite and eat before you arrive. Partly because of that the food served on board is all quick service food. The lobster rolls on the boat aren’t made to order, but instead are ready and waiting for you to pick up and go. The fries are being made constantly so there was a bit of a wait for them and they are served hot. You can get the lobster roll just by itself if you want as well.

Lobster roll number one of my quest had a good amount of lobster meat. However the bun was so large that I wish there was either more lobster or less bun. This was an ok lobster roll, definitely could have been better if it was made fresh. Also if there was a bit more taste in the mayo, or if the bun was toasted, etc. It was ok but not amazing.

At $9.75 CAD by itself or $13.50 CAD in a meal it’s one of the more affordable lobster rolls you will find.

For more information on the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI click HERE. I would recommend getting a reservation in advance if possible to secure the departure time you want.

The adorably pink Terry’s Berries Food Truck near the Charlottetown waterfront

Terry’s Berries Salt Daddy Lobster Melt lobster roll 2. Terry’s Berries Salt Daddy Lobster Melt

Terry’s Berries is a bright pink food truck with a smiling blueberry on the side located not too far from the Charlottetown waterfront. Known for their smoothies and sandwiches, their Salt Daddy lobster melt is an interesting twist on the New England style lobster roll. It also makes up for 90% of the food trucks sales. Served on a baguette type of ciabatta bread with a mix of lobster, garlic, chives and a three cheese blend. It tasted kind of mushroom-y to me? Might have been in the cheese or maybe I just made that up.

This was kind of hard to eat because the bread was pretty tough and crunchy. I almost wish I could have sat down and knife and forked it. It was quite tasty however and I really like the melted cheese mix whatever it was. Would have again, but might not label it a lobster roll exactly.

Listed at $16.50 CAD it is reasonably priced compared to most lobster rolls and served on it’s own. It was quite filling too.

The Terry’s Berries Food Truck can typically be found in the summer months at 20 Great George St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4J6.

The Point Prim Lighthouse and the ultimate lobster roll road trip vehicle Ford Mustang

The Point Prim Chowder House butter lobster roll overlooking the red dirt shores of PEI 3. Point Prim Chowder House and Oyster Bar Warm Buttered Lobster Roll

If you are taking the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI make sure once you arrive that your first stop is at the Point Prim Lighthouse. Take some nice photos then head to the Point Prim Chowder House and Oyster Bar for a delicious meal with a view. Of course I ordered the lobster roll. Instead of going for the typical mayo lobster roll I opted for the warm buttered lobster roll this time. It was warm, toasted and it was definitely buttered. It was actually very messy because of the butter and the winds of the ocean blowing my hair into my face as I tried to eat it. Note to self, tie hair back. It was interesting to have the butter on the lettuce too but messy or not this was a really great lobster roll. Also you can’t beat that view.

Listed at $19 CAD it would be a bit of a better value if there was some kind of side but not unreasonable.

The Point Prim Chowder House and Oyster bar is located at 2150 Point Prim Rd, Belfast, PE C0A 1A0 and is open seasonally.

Lobster Roll from the Water Prince Corner Shop in downtown Charlottetown 4. Water Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound Charlottetown Lobster Roll

I had no idea how popular the Water Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound would be. At first I thought it was a corner shop with lobster rolls to go. I went there on a Tuesday night in August and there was a line around the corner of people waiting for a table. The wait was about 30-45min, thankfully being a solo eater I got to sneak in there quicker. I was placed at one of the communal picnic tables outside. If you want your own table inside you have to wait longer or get there early.

When my lobster roll arrived I wasn’t that impressed by how it looked but was delightfully surprised by the taste. Since it is a lobster pound as well as restaurant the lobster was very fresh as was the steak roll it was served on. It wasn’t toasted but it was still tasty and the meat was tossed in mayo with celery a lettuce. The potato salad was ok, but not amazing for PEI. I would definitely get this again and would love to try more of their menu.

Listed at $17.95 CAD in the summer of 2018, their prices might vary each year.

The Water Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound can be found at 141 Water St, Charlottetown, PE C1A 1A8 and is open seasonally.

The lobster roll with homemade mayo from the Lobster Barn 5. Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery Lobster Roll

The Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery is located in the cute seaside town of Victoria by the Sea. They serve up a fresh lobster roll on a toasted bun with lettuce and homemade mayo. I was really impressed with the amount of lobster on the roll and the big chunks of it. The homemade mayo was also quite tasty however it was spread on the roll rather than mixed in with the lobster. Because of this you weren’t necessarily getting a good mayo to lobster taste with each bite. It would definitely be better for me if it was all mixed together. The mayo was tangy and a bit sweet, really quite delicious. The lobster roll was nice because there wasn’t much fuss with it but it was still really flavourful. The fries were great as well. I could eat like five of these, easy.

Listed at $18 CAD with fries included this is a great price for a lobster roll.

The Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery can be found at 19 Main St, Victoria, PE C0A 2G0 and is open seasonally.

The beautiful looking lobster roll at the Blue Mussel Cafe 6. Blue Mussel Cafe Lobster Roll

The Blue Mussel Cafe is a popular spot and due to a random power outage was hard for me to eat at. After driving all the way there twice I finally got to enjoy their lobster roll and it was definitely worth the trip. If you are going, arrive early or be prepared to wait.

To begin with this was just a gorgeous looking lobster roll. It was served on a really nicely toasted hotdog bun, with a nice mayo and a pepper and lemon flavor. The menu suggests dill as well, but I didn’t get much dill taste from it if at all. Oddly though it was a bit salty? Almost like there might have been a mistake making it, it was so salty? It was still delicious though, hold the salt next time. The housemade potato salad was very paprika-y but delicious and the pickled onion was a great addition. If I lived in PEI I would no joke eat this lobster roll twice a week.

Listed as $22 CAD on the menu, it’s on the higher side of price points for lobster rolls but still pretty typical for the quality.

Note: The lobster roll is typically only served on their lunch menu and not dinner.

The Blue Mussel Cafe can be found at 312 Harbourview Dr, North Rustico, PE C0A 1X0 and is open seasonally.

The constant and to be expected line at Richard’s Fresh Seafood

The Lobster Roll and Fries at Richard’s Fresh Seafood 7. Richard’s Fresh Seafood Lobster Roll

Almost everyone and their mom told me to go to Richard’s. Locals and visitors a like seem to love the place so I put it at the top of my list to visit. When I got there I was met with yet another large line of people. Proof that I chose some pretty good places to visit, but also proof that I need to show up earlier. They were so busy that I was worried they might sell out. Richard’s Fresh Seafood has a food to go window set up, with lots of seating available. They give you a buzzer that rings when your order is ready to be picked up. I probably waited as long in the line as I did for the food to be ready.

The bun was nicely toasted but also a little greasy which = messy. I have come to learn that most lobster rolls will be very messy. There was tons of meat so much so that it was overflowing the bun. Getting a knife to push it in there is vital. The lobster was mixed with lots of mayo and had a nice lemon-y taste. The fries and coleslaw that came with it were great too. This is the kind of place where you want to try everything on the menu. Next time I’d go back with friends and a big appetite to try a bit of everything.

Listed at $19CAD for the lobster roll and fries, a great deal.

Hot tip: Richard’s is located inside the Prince Edward Island National Park. If you enter after 6pm it is free.

Richard’s Fresh Seafood can be found at 9 Wharf Rd, York, PE C0A 1P0 and is open seasonally.

After eating 7 lobster rolls in 3 days, still all smiles and craving more

Delicious and fresh Malpeque oysters at the Malpeque Oyster Barn Enjoy ALL of the PEI Seafood

PEI isn’t all about lobster however. While there I of course enjoyed some delicious Cow’s Ice Cream, because honestly how can you not? I also stopped by the Malpeque Oyster barn for a tasty flight of oysters. They were so fresh and served with a great rhubarb mignonette. I think my next trip to PEI will be all about finding the best oysters. What do you think?

To get a more in depth view of my lobster quest enjoy this video:

While on my lobster roll quest I based myself in Charlottetown at the Great George Boutique Hotel. To book with them click HERE.

If you liked this post give it a pin!

Special thanks to Tourism PEI and Ford for helping me with this trip. As always all opinions and views are my own as is my delightfully full belly.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

In February 2018 the South Shore of Nova Scotia celebrated the first ever South Shore Lobster Crawl which is now one of the best things to do in Nova Scotia in the winter time. From Peggy’s Cove to Barrington, Nova Scotia the south shore celebrates with lots of lobster related events from a lobster sculpture art show to a lobster 5km fun run, and more. Being the height of lobster season in the area there was also a lot of lobster to be eaten. From boiled lobster to lobster mac’n’cheese and even lobster beer.

The highlight however are the lobster rolls, with 13 of them being available from 13 different partner restaurants. As a Halifax blogger I had the chance to try them all, it was a delicious and tough job, but someone had to do it.

Here is my review of all 13 lobster rolls from the first ever South Shore Lobster Crawl. Including my Top 5 favourite selections. (Top 5 or not, all of these lobster rolls were delicious and it was very hard to choose.)

To be fair these first eight are in no particular order.

Grand Banker

The Grand Banker’s lobster roll was probably one of the prettiest of the whole lobster crawl. Served on a tasty brioche lobster roll from Boulangerie Le Vendéenne and mixed with a house made lemon aioli, romaine lettuce and green onion. It went down nicely with the South Shorer Lobster Beer from Hell Bay Brewing Co.

La Vista at the Atlantica Oak Island Resort

La Vista was one of the fancier restaurants to be serving up a lobster roll in the lobster crawl. Their lobster roll appeared to be smaller than others but was quite filling. Served on a different kind of bun from Boulangerie Le Vendéenne the lobster was mixed with a tarragon oil reduction, mayo and sour cream with some greens. It was tasty and the fries were some of the best as well.

27th South at the Best Western Bridgewater

27th South served up a unique spin on the lobster roll putting it on a huge hoagie bun. But to go with the huge bun there was also a lot of lobster meat. You definitely need a good appetite to devour this lobster roll. The bun was toasted and combined with the celery and mayo mixed in with the lobster. It had a great crunch.

Anchors Away Family Restaurant

The waitress told me that their lobster rolls were the way that the local people in the area ate their lobster rolls. Called the “Old Fashioned Lobster Roll” the lobster was pan fried in butter then mixed with mayo and lettuce to a warm hot dog bun. The locals might like them this way, but I think I’d pass next time.

Quarterdeck Beachside Villas & Grill

The Quarterdeck was probably the most gorgeous of the restaurants. All white decor, with colourful lobster traps hanging from the ceiling and the ocean views were the best. They served up a large lobster roll on a brioche lobster roll from the Boulangerie. Mixed with a light amount of mayo, celery and lettuce, their meat was really fresh and quite tasty. The cut of the roll however was like the old Subway Sandwich cut. Because of this it didn’t hold the lobster in the best so it was a bit messy to eat.

Elliot’s Dining Room at the White Point Beach Resort

The White Point served up a lobster roll on a lightly buttered and toasted brioche bun and called it a lobster salad. Instead of just being lobster chunks on a bun it was finely shredded like a chicken salad and mixed with celery and mayo. On the side were tasty house made pickles, coleslaw and your choice of fries, salad or soup.

U-Cook Lobster in Peggy’s Cove

The lobster rolls from the U-Cook Lobster were being served for the first time in the summer of 2018 aside from during the lobster crawl. Served on a toasted roll from Julien’s Bakery that has a really nice crunch to it. The lobster is cooked fresh right before your eyes as part of the U-cook experience. It is then mixed with a secret ingredient house made aioli with a wedge of lemon on the side. That’s it, simple and delicious. Served with kettle chips this is the perfect treat to eat when visiting Peggy’s Cove.

Lane’s Privateer Inn

The Lane’s Privateer Inn lobster roll was served on a burger bun with lettuce and red onion. The meat is mixed with a horseradish mayo that gives it a nice kick. A bit too much mayo for me but the horseradish taste was definitely unique. Served with a good sized salad and serving of fries.

My top 5 favourite lobster rolls of the South Shore Lobster Crawl

This was hard to decide, but there are some key factors for why these five made the top of my list. Quite often it was because they were served on a delicious brioche lobster roll from Boulangerie Le Vendéenne. Other reasons they were high on my list was because of a good ratio of mayo to lobster, the freshness of the lobster, the quality of the other toppings and sometimes even the sides.

#5 Fo’c’sle Tavern in Chester

The Fo’c’sle serves up a lobster croissant and the croissant really makes this lobster roll. Fresh, flaky, and the buttery-ness of the croissant just go so well with the lobster. (These are the croissants from Costco so you know they are delicious!) Sometimes they might go slightly overboard with the mayo, but garnished with some simple greens and either a side salad or fries, this lobster roll is quite the meal.

#4 Captain Kat’s lobster shack

Captain Kat’s was definitely my favourite restaurant of them all for the décor. There are fishing and lobster related things every where, there were even lobster lights and a lobster tank, home to some massive lobsters. The restaurant is also located in the heart of the Nova Scotia lobster fishing industry and lobster fishing capital of Canada. One of my favourite things about their lobster roll was the toasted bun, it was toasted just right and had a nice bit of garlic taste to it. It was jam packed full of lobster meat. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the spinach instead of lettuce, but aside from that it was delicious.

#3 Mateus Bistro

This was one of the more unique lobster rolls of the whole bunch. The lobster was mixed with a house made aioli, red onion, red pepper, salt, pepper and garlic. It was then topped with fresh micro greens and served on a brioche lobster roll from the Boulangerie. The bun was toasted nicely and was very fresh. It was a bit messy to eat, but definitely worth it. I might have eaten it twice…

#2 Kiwi Café

The Kiwi Café lobster roll is meant to be served with a dill mayo, however I could hardly taste the dill at all. For the non-dill lovers out there don’t let this throw you off. It was served on an adorable fish shaped plate and served warm which made it even better. Also served on the same brioche lobster roll from the Boulangerie this one blew my mind at how fresh and delicious it was. I definitely wouldn’t have expected it some this small cafe. Just thinking about it I want to go back for more right now. Luckily they serve their lobster roll year round.

#1 Port Grocer

The Port Grocer is an unassuming grocery store / café / post office / restaurant in Port Medway, Nova Scotia. I had never even heard of Port Medway before my lobster crawl expedition, however I am happy that it lead me here. This was hands down, without a doubt, the best lobster roll I have EVER had.

The Port Grocer lobster roll was basically like eating lobster on top of garlic bread and I am a HUGE garlic fan. This was honestly the most amazing thing ever. Non-garlic lovers be warned. Also served on a brioche roll from the Boulangerie, but instead of the lobster roll / hot dog bun it was a burger bun. Aside from the shape, it was the exact same deliciousness.

The Port Grocer’s lobster roll was one of the most simple lobster rolls of the whole crawl. The lobster meat was incredibly fresh, lightly mixed with some mayo, along with lettuce on the toasted bun with what I am assuming the world’s best garlic butter. The only side that it came with was the smallest little bowl of fruit. Simple yet insanely delicious.

If this post has piqued your interest on the South Shore Lobster Crawl be sure to join us for the next one in February. To learn more visit LobsterCrawl.ca

Best Lobster Rolls On Nova Scotia's South Shore - YouTube
Thank you to Visit Nova Scotia for having me take on this monumental task. As always all opinions, views and full bellies are my own.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Being “half” Irish and loving a good beer I have always been a fan of St. Patrick’s day and enjoy celebrating it. There are lots of great St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world from Dublin to New York, Savanah, Georgia and even Sydney, Australia. One of the best and well known however which I recently had the chance to attend is the Chicago St. Patrick’s day celebrations. They celebrate with a big parade, special events and one of the most iconic St. Patrick’s day celebration, dyeing the Chicago River green. Learn about all of that and more in my one stop guide to St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago so you can have as great of a time as I did and more.

When do they celebrate St. Patrick’s day in Chicago?

The most IMPORTANT piece of information to know about the St. Patrick’s day celebrations in Chicago is that they don’t necessarily take place on St. Patrick’s day. Since it is such a big event and celebration and closes down parts of the city with the parade they actually celebrate it the Saturday the weekend before March 17th. That is of course if March 17th doesn’t fall on a Saturday. Be sure to plan your trip accordingly so that you don’t miss the big celebration.

The Plumbers Local Union130 dump the dye into the Chicago river to mix it up, it starts out orange then changes to bright green

Watch them dye the Chicago River green

What time do they dye the river green? This is the most important question when celebrating St. Patrick’s day in Chicago (aside from where to get a good drink). The dyeing of the Chicago river green starts bright and early at 9am. Rest up the night before, wake up early, put on all of the green clothes and things that you can find and head down to the Chicago river for 9am. Position yourself along the Chicago riverwalk between Columbus Drive and State Street along Wacker Drive and you can’t miss it. On average 200,000 people watch them dye the river green so head down early to get a good spot.

A close up of the churning bright green Chicago River

The next question that comes is, why do they dye the river green? It actually has been taking place for over 55 years and is organized by the Plumbers Local Union130. They used a green dye in pipes to check for leaks and one of the bosses had the idea to flood the river with it on St. Patrick’s day. The dye is eco-friendly and they use about 40lbs of it to change the color of 1/4 of the river. There are several boats in the river dumping the dye and driving around to stir it up. It is quite the site to see. The dye lasts for 4-5 hours but in my opinion is best to see right when they do it.

A view of the large crowds and a Wendella booze cruise watching the dyeing of the Chicago river

Public drinking is frowned upon in the streets in Chicago but if you want to watch the dyeing of the river with a drink in hand that early in the morning you do have options. There are various bars and restaurants on the river with great views that serve or you could also take a boat tour. Wendella tours and cruises are one of the top boat tour companies on the Chicago river. Join them for a St. Patrick’s day cruise full of Irish music, a great spot to watch the river dyeing and a lot of green beer for everyone. Learn more here.

Young girls Irish dance in the downtown Chicago St. Patrick’s day parade

Ladies of the St. Patrick’s day parade court

Next stop, enjoy the parade

Following the river dyeing you should maybe grab a breakfast sandwich then make your way towards nearby Millennium Park / Grant Park for Chicago’s St. Patrick’s day parade. Starting at 12noon from Balbo Drive & Columbus Ave the parade will head straight through the middle of the parks heading north. You can grab a spot along the spot and watch for free. Ory you can pay a $45 fee for VIP seating located by the Buckingham fountain. Over 800,000 people will be watching the parade so make sure you grab your spot early. More than 120 community groups, marching bands, Irish dancers, firefighters and more will be celebrating in the parade.

Enjoying a large green beer at Dick’s Last Resort

Drink a Green Beer

After the parade is over it’s time to get your drink on! Anywhere in the near vicinity will be packed full and there may be a wait, but you need to get that green beer! I enjoyed cheap drinks and pub eats at a place along the river called Dick’s Last Resort. Their balcony has a great view over the river dyeing too. They are far from being an Irish pub though. If you want to go full Irish on St. Patrick’s day I suggest checking out Lizzie McNeill’s and Fado. But again be prepared to wait to get in. Also drink responsibly!

Go on a bar crawl

Can’t make up on your mind on where to grab a drink or you would prefer someone else lead your St. Patrick’s day shenanigans? Then you should check out one of the several offered St. Patrick’s day bar crawls. One of the most popular is in the Wrigleyville neighborhood starting at 8am until 2pm. Prices range from $15-$60 depending on how far in advance you purchase them. They include a free t-shirt, a buffet breakfast, access to over 11 bars and restaurants and a giftcard to use during the crawl. For tickets and more info click here.

Other great events to check out in Chicago on St. Patrick’s day

There are more parades and events then just mentioned above. Head to the Irish American Heritage Centre for their St. Patrick’s day festival great for families. For a small entry fee enjoy Irish dancing, Irish language classes, an arts and crafts fair and more. There are also two other parades one in the South Side and one in the North West, so you have three to chose from to enjoy.

For the “healthy” people attending you can skip the river dyeing and take part in a 5k or 8k run/walk. The whacky the costumes the better and you could win a prize. Learn more about the St. Paddy’s day run here.

Later in the day there are also numerous booze cruises offered, see a great list of all of your options for Saturday and Sunday here.

Late at night while walking / stumbling home don’t forget to look up at all of the buildings. For the whole week around St. Patrick’s day the whole city lights up green at night becoming the GREENist city in the world.

For more ideas on the best things to see, do and eat in Chicago check out my blog post and video that highlights the best of the city.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Visiting Texas has been on my bucket list for a long time. I have always wanted to try chicken fried steak and because I have really wanted to know if things truly were bigger in Texas? I recently had the opportunity to spend 5 days in San Antonio and I explored as much as possible. At first I thought that might be too much time to explore the city solo, but it turned out to be just the perfect amount. I now feel like there is still more to see as well so I will definitely be visiting again.

While there I did everything from checking out all of the riverwalk attractions, to eating a bunch of delicious food and probably the best burger in San Antonio. I also saw a the Saga light show, rode the hop on hop off bus, visited the Alamo and more. I have put together everything that I got to see and do into one post as a list of the best things to do in San Antonio today.

How to get there:

Before visiting San Antonio I was in Austin, Texas speaking at the TravelCon conference. I could have rented a car to get to San Antonio, but instead I chose the much cheaper option of taking the Megabus to the city. For just $10.50USD it got me there in an hour and a half. I was squished, and couldn’t get the wifi to work but it was worth it to save some cash. Other options for getting to San Antonio of course is by plane. Being the 7th most populous city in the USA you will find numerous flight options to get you there for a good price. Find some great flight deals with JustFly, and you will be there in no time.

Looking for a place to stay in San Antonio? Click HERE to jump to the bottom for my best suggestions!

Best Things to do in San Antonio Today

1. Start the day with Texas Waffles

During my visit to San Antonio I spent a few nights at the Crockett Hotel and their buffet breakfast each morning (complimentary for guests) was the best way to start my day. Not just because there are many options of eggs, sausages, bacon, fruits, etc. but also because they have make your own waffle machines. The best part however was that they are Texas shaped waffles which I think makes them taste even better.

A delicious avocado, egg and bacon breakfast taco

If your hotel doesn’t have Texas shaped waffles then the next best option for breakfast in San Antonio would have to be breakfast tacos. Texas is known for its TexMex and they serve up some of the best tacos and burritos you will ever eat and they are cheap too. For a great breakfast taco in the city check out The Original Blanco Cafe or Pete’s Tako House.

2. Take a hop on hop off bus tour

No matter how “touristy” you think hop on hop off buses are, they are one of the best ways to explore a city on your first visit. They are great because you get a good lay out of the city, learn what is what, and hear a bit of history too. City Sightseeing San Antonio offers 1, 2 & 4 day tickets for a reasonable price. The great thing with their buses is that the narration is all done by the drivers live. There aren’t any pre-recorded narrations that you have to strain to listen too. The drivers are very knowledgeable and directed me to a great margarita happy hour.

With my two day ticket I hopped on, did a loop and learned everything then the rest of the time got on and off as much as I needed like it was my own taxi service but way cheaper. The buses also run every 20 minutes so you never need to wait long either from 8:40am to 5:30pm daily.

A Go Rio boat cruise passes under the famous Selena bridge on the riverwalk

A Go Rio boat cruise passes under a bridge and the friendship torch aka La Antorcha de la Amistad

3. Take a River Cruise along the Riverwalk

One of the most unique things about San Antonio has to be the Riverwalk. A series of rivers and canals that cut through downtown with walking paths on either side. The riverwalk is covered in a lot of flora, vines and beautiful old trees along with a mix of restaurants and shops. It is also full of history and truly makes San Antonio one of a kind. Take a San Antonio riverwalk boat ride and tour of the river with Go Rio Cruises in a brightly colored boat at day or night to learn even more about San Antonio. The riverwalk boats offer fully narrated tours, water taxi services and at night time you can enjoy a dinner cruise aboard them as well.

Enjoying the souvenir shop at the Alamo with a Davy Crockett hat

The entrance to the Alamo

4. Remember the Alamo

You haven’t visited San Antonio, Texas until you have visited the Alamo, now turned museum. Free to enter and explore, with donations accepted and a small fee for audio guides. The Alamo is steeped in a lot of history from the 19th century of the United States and iconic Americans like Davy Crockett who died in the battle of the Alamo. As a Canadian visiting it didn’t mean much to me as it does patriotic Americans but it is cool to see either way.

5. See the “Alamo: The Price of Freedom” in IMAX

Don’t know much about the Alamo? Then I definitely recommend checking out the Alamo movie playing at the nearby IMAX theater. Located one block behind the Alamo itself in the Rivercentre Mall at the AMC theaters. The film is 48minutes long, costs $11.50usd for adults and runs six or more times a day. Check out listing times here.  Before visiting I had heard of the Alamo and knew of Davy Crockett but aside from that I was a bit clueless as to what happened. This film gives you a good idea of everything that took place at the Alamo and why. Although there are some disputes to how exactly Davy Crockett died.

The unique lobby of Hotel Emma in the Pearl District that use to be the Pearl Brewhouse

The Pearl Brewery District

6. Explore the Pearl BreweryDistrict

Aside from the Riverwalk the Pearl Brewery District was one of my favorite spots in San Antonio. Located a little north of the city centre but still downtown the 22acre Pearl Brewery District was a brewery now turned into one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods. Home to 13 independent retailers, 19 restaurants, a culinary school and more it is easily accessible by riverboat, hop on hop off bus or your own means of transportation. You could definitely spend an afternoon here exploring, shopping and eating all of the delicious foods. Here you will also find the boutique Hotel Emma inside the original brewhouse dating back to 1881. Also I recommend checking out their farmers market on Saturdays and Sundays.

7. Walk the River Walk

Aside from cruising along the river make sure you walk along the riverwalk as well. The riverwalk is full of great restaurants and shops to visit and is the perfect place for people watching. Check out the Case Rio restaurant with its popular rainbow colored umbrellas, see the view from one of the stone bridges, get a little lost and grab a bite overlooking the water. Walking along the riverwalk is like it’s own little world away from the big city.

The colorful Historic Market Square

Frida Kalo bags and shirts, floral head bands, and Mexican serapes for sale at the Historic Market Square

8. Visit the Historic Market Square

Home to the largest Mexican market in the United States, visit this outdoor plaza, shops, farmers market and restaurants for all things Mexican and TexMex. Grab a mango margarita on special at La Margarita. Enjoy some tasty Mexican desserts at the Mi Tierra Cafe y Panderia or grab at drink at their Mariachi Bar. Then go shopping for a bunch of fun souvenirs.

Abraham Lincoln appears in the part of the Saga light show projected on the San Fernando Cathedral

9. Enjoy a Spectacular Light Show called “The Saga”

Every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 9, 9:30 and 10pm enjoy the free award winning video art projection light show called “The Saga”. Located in the main plaza of San Antonio and projected off of the San Fernando Cathedral. Through music and light the show narrates the historical discovery and settlement of the city. The show lasts 24minutes and is fairly popular so make sure you arrive early to get a good spot. There are a few seats and benches available with most people needing to stand or sit on the ground. I suggest watching the show twice to really see it all.

A memorial shrine to Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

9. Follow in the footsteps of Selena

The famous Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was from nearby Corpus Christie and spent a fair amount of time in San Antonio. San Antonio is also where a lot of the movie about her life starring Jennifer Lopez was filmed. Visit the bridge over the riverwalk known as the Selena Bridge, check out her star of fame in front of the Hard Rock restaurant and see the shrine to her at the Mi Terra Cafe.

The Tower of the Americas

The view from the top of the Tower of the American’s overlooking downtown San Antonio

10. Go to the top of the Tower of the America’s

Most big cities have some kind of building or tower that people can visit the top of for views of the city below. Like Toronto’s CN Tower, and the Space Needle in Seattle, San Antonio has one too. The Tower of the Americas. Standing 750 feet tall the viewing deck and restaurant above give you great views of the Alamo city. Included in your ticket price you can also enjoy a 4D movie experience called the Skies Over Texas that flies you above and around Texas.

The Buckhorn Saloon 

The Buckhorn Burger with loaded jalapeno bacon cheese fries – the best burger in San..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Wittenberg Aparthotel Amsterdam Hotel Review - YouTube

The Wittenberg Aparthotel Amsterdam is one of the newest boutique hotels in the city. Located in a freshly renovated 18th century building it is a great spot to relax after a long day exploring. Whether you are visiting and looking for a holiday apartment, staying for a few weeks or visiting for business the Wittenberg hotel can easily cover all of your needs. Here is my review of the Wittenberg Aparthotel Amsterdam.

The check-in desk with the House Host

What is an Aparthotel?

The first question you might have is what is an Aparthotel? An Aparthotel is essentially a short stay apartment rental complex that is run like a hotel. As they say themselves the “Wittenberg combines the attentive service of a boutique hotel with the convenience and independence of residential living.”

Specifically with the Wittenberg and other similar SACO Rentals, they require a minimum 7 night stay. Not only does this help them run the property more efficiently,  you get to know the staff, but also it is more environmentally friendly as less cleaning and change over is needed to be done with the rooms. Short stay apartments like this can also be cheaper than a regular hotel and offer more amenities than a hotel room. Definitely be sure to check them out when looking for Amsterdam holiday apartments for your next trip.

One bedroom apartment with high ceilings

Wittenberg Room Review

The Wittenberg Amsterdam offers 115 apartments in 13 various sizes from bachelor apartments all the way up to three bedroom apartments and even a small house. While staying I was in a one bedroom apartment on the corner of the building with a great view of the canals. The apartment was very spacious and brightly decorated with multicolored carpet and a big orange couch. Fresh flowers were on my dining table for two which they refresh for you often during your stay.

Dining table for two with fresh cut flowers

The living space, bathroom and kitchen in a one bedroom apartment. (The dining table is to the left and the bedroom behind me)

The apartment had nice high ceilings and accents to remind you of the building’s history. My apartment also had a full kitchen with stove top, oven and mini fridge. A nice thing the Wittenberg does before arrival is filling up your fridge with some essential breakfast items like milk, tea, coffee, yogurt and more. I was also welcomed to my room with some traditional stroopwafels, yum!

The bathroom was small, typical to Europe, with a stand up shower and a great rain shower head. They also provided soap, lotion and shampoos like a hotel and fluffy white towels. A bonus item was the a hairdryer. Hotels almost always have them but apartment rentals sometimes do not, so it was nice to have.

A view of the canal from my room

With your stay you also have access to free high speed wifi, TV with multiple channels and even Apple TV access. The rooms are not serviced every day unless requested. The front desk is open 24/7 however so if you need new towels or other items at anytime they can quickly bring them to your apartment.

Breakfast delivered to my room by Chef Nana a plant based culinary artist

Sprouted Rye Bread with tahini, avocado, watermelon radish and tograshi and a raspberry date bar by Chef Nana

Extra Hotel Amenities offered at the Wittenberg

There aren’t any restaurants or cafes to eat at on site, but the property does offer services with local partners to provide various meals for you if booked ahead. The House Host (what they call the concierge) can an arrange breakfast from a local cafe and have it delivered to your room. They can also arrange items for dinner and can also stock your mini fridge with almost anything that you require.

Located on property there are also a couple private courtyards and a garden area for you to relax in. With your stay you also have access to a fully equipped gym and lounge. The Wittenberg is made up of two buildings connected by the Glass House. Inside the Glass House you will find the main lobby with a welcoming lounge area. Upstairs from the lobby in the Glass House is a bar area and lounge to meet in where the property often offers guest meet and greets as well as providing guests more info about the city and activities.

The two buildings that make up the Wittenberg from across the canal

Delicious pizza from the nearby by De Pizzabakkers restaurant

Where is the Wittenberg located?

The Wittenberg Aparthotel is located directly on a canal on the eastern side of Amsterdam in the Plantage district. The hotel is close to the city center which is a short walk, taxi or bike ride away. It is a quiet neighborhood with grocery stores nearby as well as some great coffee shops and places to eat. One of my favorite places to eat at when I stayed was across the canal at the De Pizzabakkers restaurant. Often busy at night you can dine in or take out and bring it back to your apartment. Their pizza is so delicious.

Three bedroom apartment with a loft

Other Rooms at the Wittenberg

While staying at the Wittenberg I also had the opportunity to view some of the other rooms. Since it is such an old building with a large history and originally built of other purposes many of the rooms are different from each other. Every other room I saw offered the same amenities but had various different layouts. Rooms on the higher floors had unique ceiling beams and circular windows, while other rooms have mezzanines and lofts. All of this of course adds even more to the charm of the property.

Enjoying the fresh flowers in my room

The Wittenberg is is kid and family friendly, however the furry friends have to stay home. To see a video review of my room hit play below:

I was a guest of the Wittenberg for my stay however as always all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

5 must try foods in Lisbon, Portugal

One of the best ways to explore a new city no matter where you are in the world is through a food tour. For this very reason I often chose places to visit on how tasty I have heard their food to be. Food tours help you learn the flavour of a country, allow you to meet locals and show you some great places you might not have found on your own.

Food was one of the main reasons I was interested in visiting Lisbon, Portugal. Most countries in Europe just in general do food well and people can never stop talking about Portuguese food. It also helps that nearby Spain is a culinary delight so surely the Portuguese know how to do food right as well.

Through my extensive research of eating all of the things in Lisbon here is my list of the top 5 must try foods in Lisbon, Portugal.

What to Eat in Lisbon?

1. Pastel de nata

You can’t visit Portugal with out eating one or 100 pastel de natas. These delicious egg tart pastries, also known as Pastel de Belem or Portuguese custard tarts can be found everywhere. First created in 1837 you can still buy them today from the original Pastéis de Belém bakery which is part of an old sugar factory. If you don’t have a chance to visit there though I suggest buying them wherever you see them. While in Lisbon I stayed in a nice quiet neighborhood and the local corner bakery had many delicious pastel de nata of which I ate many. Without a doubt this is the best Lisbon food… scratch that best Portuguese food you will find.

2. Port

Port aka Port wine of course has origins in Portugal, hence the name. A strong fortified sweet wine meant for sipping as dessert it comes in several varieties and ages. If you can make it to Porto that is probably the best place to have it as it typically comes from the Douro Valley. However there are many places in Lisbon that can serve you up a delicious drink of Port. Go for a 100 year tasting flight at Chafariz do Vinho wine bar where you are served Port that is aged 10, 20, 30 and 40 years.

3. Bifana Sandwich

The Bifana sandwich is a pork delight. Marinated boneless pork cutlets served on a warm roll with mustard. It can also be found served with piri-piri or grilled onions depending on where you get it. A simple and delicious treat that can be found in many small restaurants and the kind of cafes locals hang out in. Ze Dos Cornos is a great place in Lisbon to grab one while rubbing elbows with pleasant old Portuguese men that can often be found hanging out in the shop.

4. Sardines

Canned or fresh the Portuguese are obsessed with sardines. There are stores that sell just sardines only, nothing else. They even have a sardines festival celebrated as part of St. Anthony’s day every year on June 13th. You can find plenty of canned sardines in the city flavoured a bunch of different ways. Or you can enjoy them fresh, grilled, on a bun or numerous other ways. Sardines are also the perfect souvenir to bring a taste of the city back home.

Another popular seafood in the city is cod. Surprisingly though with all of the ocean coastline in the country it isn’t fresh cod but rather salt cod that is a favourite in Lisbon. Known locally as Bacalhau it actually can’t even be fished in local waters and comes from the Atlantic ocean around Newfoundland. Originally Bacalhau was brought back to the country by 14th century explorers and these days it is loved so much that it is said they have a recipe for it for every day of the year.

Presunto dry cured ham and cheese plate at the TimeOut Market Lisboa

5. Everything at the Time Out Market

The Time Out Market is a popular food court and market in Lisbon run by journalists from the Time Out magazine and website. The Time Out Market Lisbon brings together the best food in the city under one roof. Some of the city’s best bars and restaurants have stalls here which helps you really dive into the culture of the city through its food. Here not only will you find pastel de nata, sardines, port and bifana sandwiches but also the best cured meats and cheeses, desserts, wines, pizza, fresh seafood and so much more.

As you explore Lisbon with your tastebuds you can venture around on your own or even better you could take a tour with locals. Withlocals is a travel marketplace that literally connects people with locals through food and experiences. Wondering where to eat in Lisbon? With Withlocals you have a local tour guide taking you around on your own customizable private Lisbon food tour. If you’d rather skip the sardines, not a problem, they can do that, it is all up to you. Check them out for an authentic local experience to get away from the tourist crowds and enjoy the best Lisbon has to offer.

Have you ever been to Lisbon or Portugal? What were some of your favorite foods? Tell me what I should add to this list!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Aventura Hotel and room tour at Universal Orlando Resort - YouTube

In August 2018, the brand new Aventura Hotel by Loews opened at the Universal Orlando Resort. Located right next door to the Loews Sapphire Falls hotel and across the street from Volcano Bay and the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This premium value, 600 room hotel is sleek and modern with rooms starting at $120 a night. Here is my review of the Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando.

A standard double queen room at the Aventura Hotel

What are the rooms like at the Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando?

The hotel is shaped somewhat like a fidget spinner. Not sure if this was intentional or not but because of it’s shape, the building has three main parts. The elevators are located in the center of the building with rooms going out from them in three different directions. When you check in and head to your room make note of the color of the carpet pointing towards your hallway as you get off of the elevators. This will make it a lot easier and less confusing each time you head to your room so you quickly know which hallway to take.

The hotel offers rooms in various sizes with different view points and amenities available. For my stay I had a 314 sq ft standard double queen room that sleeps four. My bathroom featured a tub however some rooms only feature stand up showers. If traveling with little kids you might want to make sure to request a room with a tub.

A map of the Aventura Hotel

A standard double queen room has lots of storage space, a coffee / tea area, mini fridge and a desk with drawers along one whole wall. It also features a large flat screen TV, funky modern lighting and the best part, each room comes with its own iPad. The iPad is a central command system for the whole room. It is connected to the internet for browsing but also does so much more. You can use it to order room service, find out the weather, change the room temperature, turn the lights and TV on and off, control Netflix on the TV, ask questions to hotel staff and more. Every hotel everywhere needs a device like this in each room.

The iPad room and service controls 

Oddly one of the things that I loved most about the room though was the hair dryer. When I travel hotel hair dryers can be the bane of my existence, but the one in my room at the Aventura Hotel was great. It was very powerful and that is so appreciated.

Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel

The Lobby at the Aventura Hotel

The lobby of the hotel is a large open area with the check-in counter and concierge along the left wall. Past the front desk is a lounge area for guests, a lobby bar, gift shop, Starbucks and food court. The gift shop is your typical Universal store with items from every big attraction in the parks. Perfect for souvenirs and gifts to bring home. The Starbucks is your best bet for a quick, cheap and fast breakfast before hitting the parks for the day. If you are looking for more of a substantial meal then check out the many options available at the Urban Pantry food court. They offer made to order pastas and pizzas, breakfast sandwiches, burgers, gelato and more.

All of the gelato at the Urban Pantry in the lobby of the hotel

The Pool at the Aventura Hotel

There isn’t any food or drink service by the pool and actually food and drink are not allowed on the pool deck. There is however a pool bar pretty near by that you can sit at and order from. The pool is quite spacious and makes a U shape around part of the hotel. It is always attended by lifeguards and there are life jackets available if needed. There is a large seating area around the pool and a lower more quieter area set back a bit that features a hot tub. To the far left of the pool there is also a splash pad for kids as well as a pool table, foosball and other games. At the back of the pool deck there is also a garden entrance into Volcano Bay.

The rooftop Bar 17 Bistro restaurant

The Rooftop at the Aventura Hotel

One of the most unique features of Universal Orlando’s newest hotel is its rooftop. One of the only rooftop bars in the city with views of Orlando for miles around. It also offers great views of Volcano Bay and the rest of the parks. Open from 4pm to 2am every night the Bar 17 Bistro offers a great appetizer and drinks menu. It is definitely the perfect place to relax after a long day at the parks.

Melon and tomato skewers at the Bar 17 Bistro

The view of the Cabana Bay Hotel and Volcano Bay water park from the rooftop of the Aventura Hotel

Part of the gym, there are also treadmills  and more workout machines

Extras

The hotel provides guests with a nice sized gym on the second floor. There are multiple treadmills, weights and work out machines for anyone to use. By the gym there is also a change room with showers and lockers, perfect for after you workout. The change rooms are also ideal if you need to check out of your room but your flight isn’t until later. You can check out, hang out by the pool until it’s time to leave and then you have a nice spot to get ready for your flight.

Another extra and unique feature of the Aventura Hotel is the Virtual Reality Game room. Hang out here and use one of the three VR game systems. It’s a pretty cool idea but will cost you about $5 for 10mins of play.

Virtual Reality Game room on the second floor

The hotel is also serviced by a dining shuttle from 6pm to 10pm leaving every 30minutes. The shuttle will drop you off at the various hotels on the Universal property so you can get a chance to experience it all. Italian at the Portofino Bay Hotel, sushi at the Royal Pacific, comfort food at the Hard Rock Kitchen restaurant and more.

The Universal Orlando Resorts complimentary water taxi arriving at City Walk

How to get to the parks from the Aventura Hotel

One of the best things about the Aventura Hotel is it’s location. Nestled nicely beside the Loews Sapphire Falls Hotel it’s location gives you quick access to all three parks. To get to Volcano Bay use the garden entrance near the back of the pool area. Or if you are going for early entry walk around the building to the left on the sidewalk and take the path under the roadway to the park.

If you are looking to go to Universal Studios or the Islands of Adventure there is a shuttle bus that leaves every 10mins to the right of the hotels entrance. The bus will drop you off at the entrance of City Walk where you can then head to either park. If you are looking for a more relaxing way to get to the parks then I recommend taking the water taxi. The Aventura Hotel isn’t connected to the water taxi system but the Loews Sapphire Falls next door is. Walk into the lobby and head down the stairs in the back right just before the restaurant and it will take you outside to the water taxi. The water taxi drops you off right in the middle of City Walk just a quick walk to each park.

Book a hotel at the Universal Orlando Resort

Looking for a hotel near Universal Orlando? Check out these great options:

Aventura Hotel: Affordable and brand new

Sapphire Falls Resort: Seaside vibes and great breakfast buffet

Portofino Bay Hotel: Your reservation includes unlimited express passes to all of the parks

Cabana Bay Beach Resort: Great for families and gives you early access to Volcano Bay

Looking for more? Search for a great deal on Booking.com.

To learn more, enjoy my video review of the Aventura Hotel here:

 

Special thanks to the Universal Orlando Resort for hosting me on this visit. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

This years gift guide not only features great items for traveling and travel related items but specifically products made by travel bloggers themselves. Travel bloggers that I call my great friends as well. These products are made and loved by travel experts so they can really be trusted.

Ultimate List of Travel Gifts Made by Travel Bloggers

Speakeasy Travel Supply Scarfs

I have been a long time fan of Speakeasy Scarfs made by the wonderful Bethany and Randy of Beers and Beans. Not only are these scarfs beautiful, comfortable and warm but they are also functional. The scarfs have a hidden pocket where you can hide your passport, phone, money and more. Perfect for keeping your important things safe as you travel while also keeping you looking fresh. Also if you are a fan of my friend Adventurous Kate she has her own line with Speakeasy that you should definitely check out HERE. Buy yours HERE.

Food Inspired Hand Drawn Maps

My good friend, travel blogger and popular long read author Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads has created some deliciously tasteful maps. A lover of good food and all things travel she has created these unique maps that you can get as prints, Tees or totes! My favorite is definitely the Italy print, they make me hungry just looking at them! To buy yours HERE.

The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case

Since 99% of the time I travel with carry-on luggage only, I am always looking for the best carry-on suitcase. The lovely Monica from TheTravelHack has now come out with her own that I can’t wait to get my hands on. This suitcase has some of the best features. There is an easy access laptop compartment, a water bottle holder and the best part, the top compartment. A lot of airlines these days have strict rules about how many bags you can bring on board. With this suitcase you can easily store your purse, liquids or extra small bag into the top of the case for easy access. This is such a smart idea! In the US buy it on Amazon here. In the UK buy it on Amazon here.

GloboTreks Fun T-shirts

Norbert from GloboTreks has been designing some really fun t-shirts. Some are travel related and some are dinosaur related. I love both things, who doesn’t. There are a few other designs as well so be sure to check them out on Amazon under GloboTreks. They are currently available in the US (here), UK and German stores.

A Guide to the Luxury Hostels of the World

When I started traveling I put my nose up at hostels and wasted a lot of money staying in hotels. I like many envisioned they were just full of dirty hippie backpackers who would steal your things. Then I actually stayed in one and quickly found out that I was mistaken. Hostels are basically the best thing ever, especially if you are traveling solo. Not only can they save you money, but you can also meet some of the best people while staying in hostels. Also all hostels aren’t just 14+ bed dorm rooms with no privacy, there are many these days that offer so much better. From private rooms with shared bathrooms or ensuites or even your own tiny apartment. There are endless options and wonderful hip, luxury like places to stay. But how do you find these beautiful hostels? You need to buy my good friend Kash’s book. “The Grand Hostels: Luxury Hostels of the World“. Kash’s book highlights 116 of the best luxury hostels in the world and can really elevate your travels. To buy a copy and learn more click here.

Give the Gift of Travel

One of the first travel bloggers that I ever met in person over nine years ago was Nomadic Matt. As one of the first and now one of the biggest travel bloggers in the world he has begun a foundation to give the gift of travel to others. Called Flyte, Matt teams up with various underserved schools and raises money to help send kinds on trips around the world. The trips focus on not only learning about new destinations and their cultures but also volunteering and allowing the students to share their time and talents to help local organizations. To learn more about this great program and to donate click here.

Ultimate Journey’s for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Continent

My friend’s Mike and Anne of HoneyTrek have been on their Honeymoon now for over 2,500 days. Hardly leaving each others sides they have been all over the world together and know everything there is to know about couples travel. Check out their book with National Geographic – Ultimate Journey’s for Two to plan your next trip with the one you love. Even if you’re flying solo this year it is sure to inspire your next trip. To learn more and buy your copy click here.

Become a Travel Photographer

If you want to up your travel photography game then you should look into Laurence Norah’s of Finding the Universe “How to Become a Travel Photographer” course. As part of the Superstar Blogging courses this course will teach you everything from how to master your camera settings, to learning about composition, how to edit, the best apps to use and more. The course also features trade secrets from some of the best travel photographers in the world. To learn more about the blogging courses and to sign up now, click here.

Adventurous Merch

Last but not least my very own travel themed merch in collaboration with my good friend Adventurous Kate. If you love all things travel then you need to have a favorite travel shirt! These novelty travel themed shirts feature the essential items you must have when traveling, the different types of travelers that exist, the best kinds of bubbly from around the world, how jet lag makes us all feel and more. We designed these shirts to be lighthearted and fun and think you will love them. We are selling these through Amazon and they currently ship to the US, UK and Germany. To buy them in the US click here, UK here and Germany here. Or search for “Adventurous Merch’ in your Amazon shop today.

Hopefully some of the items on this list has inspired gifts for the holidays for yourself or someone you love. If there are others that you recommend please share them in the comments below. Happy Holidays!

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you are a fan of film and TV and are in love with the magic of it all then the Warner Bros. Studio Tour should be at the top of your bucket list. Located in Burbank, Los Angeles on the edge of Hollywood it is a must do for all movie and TV fans visiting the city. I was beyond thrilled to recently take the tour, here is my Warner Brothers Studio tour review.

Warner Bros Studio Tour Costs and Descriptions

There are three to four tour options available depending on the time of the year. The basic tour costs $65 USD (bought online) for adults. The tour consists of  2 hours of a guided tour via a tram and then time to explore studio stage 48 which highlights various parts of film & TV production.

Other tour options include the Classics tour for $75 USD per guest. This tour highlights the golden era of film and TV from the beginning up until the 1970s. For the ultimate movie and TV buffs I definitely recommend looking into the Deluxe tour. A bit of a higher price at $265 per guest this tour takes 5 hours. It includes everything from the basic tour as well as a fine dining lunch, a visit to the costume department, props and a lot more.

During the Halloween season the Warner Brothers Studio also offers a “Horror Made Here: Festival of Freights” tour. This features a few scary mazes featuring characters from your favorite horror films like Pennywise from “It”. You can also see costumes, props and more from the brain of Tim Burton, some crazy haunted mazes and a lot more. This tour is offered only on select nights in October and prices vary from $76 to $86 USD.

It is recommended to buy your Warner Bros Studio tour tickets well in advance. You can purchase them online for the best rate HERE.

The iconic WB water tower 

Best Tips for a Warner Bros. Studio Tour

While visiting I took the regular studio tour. It is recommended that you arrive for your tour 15-30mins in advance. Check in with your tickets and you will be assigned a card that will be called when it is your time for the tour. While waiting there is a bathroom available as well as a Starbucks in the waiting area.

The tour begins with a quick video introduction on the history of Warner Brothers with some funny bits by Ellen Degeneres. Guests are then taken outside by their guide where you get on a studio tram and your tour begins. During the tour pretty much no video recording is allowed but you can take photos in many spots. They will be more than sure to tell you when no photography is allowed.

Throughout the tour you will be getting in and out of the tram a few times and often the tram you are riding in changes, so be sure to keep your belongings with you at all times. Tour routes also vary due to 1) How many tours are happening at that time. 2) The filming locations of current productions that might close down certain areas. 3) A million other reasons.

An outside view of the Alibi Bar from “Shameless”

Highlights of the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour

During my tour they were filming the 9th season of Shameless so unfortunately there were areas of the backlot that we couldn’t drive through. I had hoped to spot some of the cast as I am a big fan of the show, but no luck. Celebrity sitings are not uncommon however so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled.

Driving through the backlot one moment was as if we were driving through the streets of New York and the next Rosewood, Pennsylvania through the sets of “Pretty Little Liars”. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and could answer many questions about things that had been filmed there. We also learned some movie magic secrets. All of the buildings in the NYC set had missing door knobs and street numbers as each different thing that films there uses different ones each time.

The popular bandstand from “Gilmore Girls’

There were many other exterior locations that we saw as we toured around the backlot as well. We saw spots featured in the “Gilmore Girls”, the exterior of the house from “Fuller House”, “Shameless”, “La La Land”, locations from “Friends” and more.

Costumes for Aquaman and the Flash

It was cool to drive through the backlots and see all of the famous exteriors but the best parts were when we got to get off the tram and explore a bit closer. One of the buildings we stopped at housed the “DC Universe: The Exhibit” which was full of various costumes worn by your favorite super heroes.

Gal Gadot’s blue dress from Wonder Woman

On display when I visited were the costumes from the main members of the Justice League. You could get up so close to Batman, Superman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg and yes of course Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman even had her own section for her own film with costumes and props from other characters in her story like Steve Trevor and Antiope. They also had the stunning blue dress she wears with sword down the back and all.

Original costumes for the teachers at Hogwarts and the sorting hat from the Harry Potter films

Upstairs from the DC exhibit were even more surprises. There were costumes and props from the Harry Potter films including the Triwizard cup. You could also be sorted by the sorting hat. This level was basically all things JK Rowling. There were also costumes and props from the first “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” film. You can check Newt Scamander’s costume as well as bread shaped Nifflers,  Erumpents and Demiguises from Jacob Kowalski’s bakery.

Baked Nifflers,  Erumpents and Demiguises from Jacob Kowalski’s bakery

What is inside the big studio buildings and sound stages?

Aside from filming exterior shots on the backlots, some of building facades also have working interior spaces too for filming. The majority of the filming at WB however is all done inside of the huge studio buildings / sound stages. A cool feature beside the entrance to each studio is a large plaque on the wall listing each tv show or film that was ever shot in that building.

The famous Stage 1 at Warner Brothers

One of the studios that we got to visit was where they film “The Big Bang Theory” with a live studio audience. Inside we saw both apartments featured in the show and the famous broken elevator and stairwell. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside and the show was on hiatus during my visit so we couldn’t get to close to the hot sets either. It was still cool to see and I was AMAZED at how small the sets were. I didn’t think they were real they looked to small. It’s amazing what camera tricks and angles can do.

The Batmobile from Batman and Batman Returns

As we drove around we also got to see the exterior of the large props department. It would have been amazing to go inside, but that option is only included in the longer Deluxe tour. Right next to it however was another exhibit area that we were able to enter that was full of a bunch of Batmobiles from over the years, to celebrate 75 years of Batman. This was like a history display of the evolution of the bat mobile from all 7 Batman films. There were Batmobiles from the Michael Keaton days all the way up to Christian Bale. This also included Jared Leto’s pink car from when he played the Joker most recently.

Learning about the Post Production filmmaking process

Our tour finished with us being dropped off at the Warner Bros. Studio Stage 48. Opened in July 2015 Stage 48 adds a whole other experience to your WB studio tour experience. Entering the Stage right away there is a cafe called Central Perk (like in “Friends”), where you can stop and grab a drink or bite to eat. Then continuing on through the experience to the left you will find the actual Central Perk Cafe set from “Friends”. You can sit on the famous couch where you can get a pro photo done by a WB team member. If you are lucky you might even get to participate in a script reading for a scene in the show. They will film you and edit it together with the cast of the show like you were actually filming with them.

Hanging out at Central Perk

(Note: You can get a really nice pro photo done by the WB staff on the “Friends” set. They will also take photos for you with your phone/camera. BUT staff are not allowed to take photos with your own camera with the Central Perk Cafe sign in the shot. If you are there solo ask someone else in line to take that picture for you if you want it.)

Costumes from Casablanca

Stage 48 also features wardrobe pieces from various films. While I was visiting there was a temporary exhibit of the ball gowns from “Oceans 8” as well as the necklace that they steal in the film. They also had many costumes from classic films from the past on display like “Casablanca”.

Here you can also learn how films and TV shows come to be. You can learn about screen writing, casting, postproduction, production design, sound and green screen work is done. As well as ride a broomstick from Harry Potter films and then be put into the film digitally.

I won my first Oscar!

There is also a room full of Oscars, Emmys, award envelopes and other awards. If you are lucky you can have the chance to hold an Oscar yourself.

Exit through the gift shop

One of the best parts at the very end of the whole experience and tour  was the gift shop. In the Warner Brothers Studios gift shop you can find some unique souvenir items related to your favorite films and TV shows that you might not be able to find elsewhere. From “Ellen” t-shirts and sweaters to Nifflers from “Fantastic Beasts”, various “Big Bang Theory” T-shirts, a “you’re my lobster” cup from “Friends”, “Harry Potter” wands and robes, items from “The Lego Movie” and a lot more.

The Warner Brother’s Studio Tour is a great value for the price with everything you get to see and learn about. If you are a fan of movies and TV and have any kind of interest in how they are made I definitely recommend this tour. Buy your tickets online HERE for the best price.

These were the highlights of the tour in the summer of 2018. Often exhibits change and new things are added so your experience may vary.

While visiting WB I stayed on the coast at Marina Del Rey Hotel.

Special thanks to Warner Brothers for hosting me on this visit. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview