The Best Hidden Gems of the Greater Toronto Area

georgina-york-region-staycation-toronto

It’s no surprise – The Canadian dollar stinks.  Gone are the at-par days with the U.S. greenback, making overall travel more expensive (did you know airlines purchase fuel in U.S. dollars?).  But with Canada turning 150 this year, the timing is perfect to stay in your own backyard to celebrate what this great country has to offer.  In the Toronto area alone, there’s plenty of hidden gems to last a lifetime.  When was the last time you went ice-fishing or even took the time to learn about your region’s history (did I mention Canada’s turning 150?)?

So before you decide that things aren’t exotic enough for you in Toronto, think again.  Below are some hidden gems of York Region (just north of Toronto) with all of it doable over the course of a couple days.

 

Briar’s Spa

What’s a vacation without a little spa time?  The spa at Briar’s Resort is one of the most luxurious of the region providing services ranging from massages, hydrotherapies, and hand/foot treatments.  For a real treat, try the Mokkaccino Body Wrap!

 

…heck, just stay the night!

Gong to the Briar’s Resort only for the Spa is too much of a tease!  Stay the night and enjoy one of the best resorts in Ontario with fine dining, luxury pool area, numerous fireplaces (too many to count!), and lots of historic items from around the world showcased throughout the grounds.

Read more

Air Canada Bid Upgrades Now Available

Air-Canada-Seat-Bidding-Upgrades

See some additional ‘hacks’ at the end of this post.

Want to fly premium economy or business class, but not pay the full price?  Air Canada now allows economy ticket holders to place bids on empty premium economy and business class seats before their flight.  Just like any auction, the highest bidder(s) will get the seat(s).

The process is quite simple.  Bids are made online using a sliding scale with a set minimum and maximum amount. When passengers pick their price, a chart lets them know the strength of their offer.  Travellers find out if they have the winning bid about 48 hours before departure.

air-canada-bid-upgrades

According to Air Canada, the purposes of the Offer Strength chart is to be a rough indicator of how likely a bidder is to win the auction, although the algorithm used for this graph seems quite obscure.  It is safe to assume that the chart is a marketing tool to get bidders to bid higher than they otherwise would have with the goal of making the overall top bids higher.

Read more

Montreal BARBEGAZI Winter Action Sports Festival

montreal-barbegazi-winter-action-sports-festival

Although the thought of Montreal in January can bring memories of cold weather, the first two weekends of 2017 are going to be a hot commodity with the the introduction of BARBEGAZI.  Îlot Clark, in the Quartier des spectacles, will be transformed into a huge free playground, featuring all kinds of physical activity to encourage Montréalers to have fun instead of hibernating… and the opportunity to plunge into urban culture.  The main attraction of the event is a playful, oversized and high‐tech obstacle course where the top 10 performers get to share $5,000 in prize money. The general public can also participate in this mad obstacle course… and then discover other extreme sports, such as snowskate, lumberjack, arm wrestling, Christmas Tree throwing, and more!

For more information visit the BARBEGAZI website.

Concerts Announced! Montreal Jazz Fest 2017 | Le Festival de Jazz de Montréal 2017

2017-montreal-jazz-festival

The 38th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival has been officially announced with 10 concerts (with more to come) listed below.  Ticket sales started November 25, 2016 and more info can be found at the festival website.

Buddy Guy | Charlie Musselwhite | Lucky Peterson — Triple bill
A major-league blues evening in Place des Arts, with three giants of the genre… a classic triple bill!
June 30, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA (Événements spéciaux TD series)

Pink Martini
Somewhere between jazz, chanson, classics and retro, the suave, savvy Pink Martini orchestra never fails to pour out a cocktail of musical exhilaration… Make it a double!
July 8, 8 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA (Événements spéciaux TD series)

Read more

The New and Upcoming Little Tokyo/Japan Town (J-Town) of Toronto, Canada

Toronto, being world renowned for being highly multi-cultural and accepting of all cultures, has many famous pockets such as Spadina’s China Town and Little India in the Greenwood area.

Japan on the other hand, has never established a neighbourhood for itself until recently.  With the increasing popularity of Japanese brands such as Uniqlo and Muji (both now in/near the Eaton Centre) the Dundas Street and Bay Street area of Toronto is quickly establishing itself as the ‘Little Tokyo’ or ‘Japan Town’ of Toronto.

Read more

Zip Lining in Toronto and Around Ontario – Tree Top Trekking Review

Think you need to go south in order to experience the thrills of zip lining?  Luckily, it’s not the case.  Treetop Trekking has various locations around Ontario where you can experience both zip lining and treetop obstacles, all while safely strapped in to a harness.

This review is based on the Brampton, Ontario location.  For their other locations, please see their website. Reservations are required for all locations and you should arrive 30 minutes early to fill in all the required paperwork.

 

The Overall Experience

The day will start with an orientation session where you will learn the safety skills required to navigate the obstacles and ride the zip lines.  After a short hands-on test of the safety skills, you are off on your own to navigate the numerous courses.  Each course get progressively harder, ending with the longest/hardest (assuming the guides feel that you are ready for it and time permitting).  In general, be prepared to be out on the courses for about 3 hours.

Tip: Go to the washroom beforehand!  Having to go while you’re out makes for a lot of work (i.e. removing your harness) and lost time.

Tip: Bring snacks and water with you in a small bag that you can hang for a branch.  Leave valuables in your car.

Tip: Bring fingerless gloves to prevent your hands from chaffing.

Read more

Top 10 Safest Countries and Destinations 2016

Porto Portugal Europe
Worried about safety when travelling?  Consider these countries for your next trip to ease your anxieties.

 

#10 Canada

A video posted by Rain Travels (@ra_raines) on

Although many see Canada as being very similar to the U.S.A., there are a lot of differences between the two countries.  Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world and one of the lowest unemployment rates.  It rarely sees acts of terrorism, although some of its major cities have a minor amount of violent crime.  Overall, Canadians are very open, multicultural, and welcoming and unlike their U.S. neighbours, have strict gun laws.

 

#9 Slovenia
Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia experienced its violent uprising in the 90s, but has since emerged as one of the safest nations in the world. The country now rarely sees violent protests, engages in few international conflicts, and has low crime rates.  Known for both its coastline and scenic alps, there is something for everyone in this up and coming country.

Read more