Top 5: Roads for Cruisin’

I am a big road trip fan, and I always need to be the one behind the wheel (except when driving a manual transmission in Italy – thanks Katie for taking on that job!).

I’ve done a few gorgeous road drive in my day, and I am going to attempt to pick my mostest favoritest ever.

This is going to be hard.

5. Highwood Pass – Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada

I’ve been back and forth on this road a billion times, it feels like. I know it like the back of my hand, I suppose! It was all those early morning and late night drives in search for the perfect grizzly bear to observe.

4. Rogers Pass – TransCanada Highway in B.C., Canada

I didn’t expect much on my way to Revelstoke, B.C.. But this pass was absolutely breathtaking. The wildflowers were the most colourful and widespread I had ever seen!

I wasn’t able to stop and capture my own photo!

3. Going to the Sun – Glacier National Park: Montana, U.S.A.

I’ve completed this drive 3 times now, and I will never, ever get sick of it. It would really be nice to drive it some day when I can actually see the sun peeking through the gloomy clouds. Still – jaw-dropping beauty with all the glaciers, pine trees (ohhh the smells!), and mountain goats.

2. Amalfi Coast – Italy

Zing – jaw dropping scenes and those crazy little towns like Positano hanging off the side of those sheer rock cliffs. Sure, I would move there though!

1. Road to Hana – Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A

WOW – the views! At one spot, there was a very unique tiny town that sold the best banana bread and shave ice. The volcanic rocks and huge crashing waves there were amazing! Once in Hana, we noticed that it was getting late in the day and we had to turn right back around. I was kicking myself for not booking a room there to spend the night (they were full). Try to keep your windows open when you pass the eucalyptus trees – wow! Wow. WOW!

Honourable mentions to Beartooth Highway, the Canadian gold rush route through the Fraser Canyon, the drive from Vancouver to Whistler (Sea to Sky highway), and any driving we did in Italy and Hawaii – there wasn’t a dull scene anywhere!

 

What the bleep is glamping?!

I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately, this ‘glamorous camping’. And by everywhere, that means on Pinterest. I can’t quite wrap my head around the concept, and why this is becoming/is so popular.

Here is my version of glamorous camping:

Glamorous! I even have my Kobo awaiting me on the picnic table!

Not so glamorous – after a wind storm. Bye bye tent.

Anyway, I don’t think my version of glamorous camping is the same version that everyone is talking about. Research time!

This luxury camper in the Highlands of Scotland has a shower, TV, microwave, kettle, fridge AND an electric heater AND is 200 metres from pubs and a grocery store. Don’t worry though, you have to rough it a bit – there is NO cutlery provided. Phew!

At least I can see a picnic table in this photo. Some of the next glamping experience do not have this camping staple at all! Shame, shame.

Wow – check out this one in Martis, Italy. There are tiny Christmas lights all over the ‘Emperor Bell Tent’.

Please read what this site provides for a wonderful glamping experience:

“No sleeping bags, hard floors, or ‘roughing it’ we provide everything you need for your glamping holiday.

Leave your cares behind and unwind. We provide everything,  just bring your heart and soul and romance. Honeymoon couples will be spoilt upon request!

Each Emperor tent has a separate private gas heated shower, vanity basin and eco toilet facility, you also have a private terrace with garden furniture and a little Cool Pool.”

WHAT?! Shouldn’t your private little terrace there be the edge of a cliff, situated along a valley with a meandering stream, speckled with grazing ___________ (bison, deer, antelope, bear….ANY wildlife).

This place has breakfast service, PRIVATE showers, a fridge and a freezer, even CUTLERY! Wow. Way to be closer to nature!

On Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania – your very own private island awaits your glamping experience. It starts off describing the bar and restaurant areas encourage guests to walk around barefoot, then walk out to your private beach, and later have a nice cool shower in the solar powered facilities.

And hey – while you are at it, go to the spa for a nice massage to help you relax just a bit more…

Finally, near Queenstown, New Zealand, I could take a helicopter into a very remote area (could I at least hike in there?! Is that too much to ask?!).

Here’s what’s in store in this glacial valley:

“Guests are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpet, king beds, private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite with double vanity and endless hot showers.

On-site facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its well stocked library, dining room, living area, open fires, first class chef and on-site private guides.”

A LIBRARY?!?! A FIRST CLASS CHEF?! SHEEPSKIN CARPET!?!? Why is the word CAMPING even PART of this style of traveling?! This isn’t a type of glamourous camping, it’s a type of luxurious travel in very expensive but unique rooms with full amenities and beyond. I can’t even use the word ‘rustic’ for most of these examples.

Do I sound cynical? If I do, it’s because I am fighting very hard right now not to click on the reservation button on one of these options. Groan.

More glamping locations:

The Red Snowshoe in Slocan Valley, British Columbia – Canada

Forest Tree Houses, South Carolina – U.S.A.

Le Camp – South Western France

Surfing Beach – Santa Maria, Greece

Mmm I could do this one – are there sand flies?

The Five Towns of Cinque Terre

Sigh.

I stumbled upon the article below on the 5 gorgeous towns of Cinque Terre – a place that I am still kicking myself for not checking this place out while in Italy 2 summers ago.

After hopping from hostel to hostel, everyone we encountered asked my travel partner and I if we had been to Cinque Terre. My friend had already been on a previous occasion, but I had not.

The ideas I had in my head did not allow room for me to head over for an afternoon to check this place out. BUT – as the trip progressed, we met more and more people, and all I saw advertised was CINQUE TERRE – I started to crave this mysterious place that I had not heard of before.

Arg – the trip quickly came to an end and every time I closed my eyes I could picture CINQUE TERRE.

So this site was taunting me.

Better go to CINQUE TERRE to get these voices out of my head!!

Located on the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre is a rugged coastline, made up of “The Five Lands”  or the five villages: Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. The Cinque Terre is so appealing because it does not display any modern developments in its architecture. Many of the residents over the centuries have built terraces on the cliffs that overlook the sea from the coast. The villages are only connected by paths (specifically the Blue Path of Cinque Terre that connects all five villages and is a famous hiking trail), boats, or trains—nope, no cars. You definitely will not need to spend more money renting a car if you choose to visit the Cinque Terre; you can just focus on these almost mythical lands themselves.

Vernazza


One of the truest fishing villages of the Italian Riviera, Vernazza has no car traffic on its streets. There are quite a few sites to see in this coastal town. The Santa Margherita d’Antiochia is a famous church in Vernazza, which was built in 1318. It’s built on a rock right in front of the sea. Appropriately, it has a rich story behind it—traditionally, it is said that this church was built because the bones of Saint Margaret were found in a box on the beach. Another unique place to visit is the Doria Castle which was built in the 15th century, strategically placed to protect Vernazza from piracy. In Vernazza, as in each of the villages, there are not only hotels to stay in, but B&Bs, and farmhouses, not to mention wine bars and restaurants.

Corniglia


This village dates back to Roman times, and sits on a steep cliff, surrounded by vineyards. It is divided into four sides, with the first three overlooking land, and the fourth above the coast. From this height, you can see the four other towns. In order to get to Corniglia, one must climb up the Lardarina staircase (33 flights and 337 steps). If you don’t want to brave the stairs, there is also a road and a bus that will take you into the village. The Church of San Pietro is certainly a place to go—built in 1334 over a ruined 6th century building, the church was constructed in beautiful Baroque style with some Gothic elements as well. The ruins of a Genoise fortification, documented to have existed in 1556, and located on a cliff overlooking the sea, is another sight not to be missed. Like the other towns of Cinque Terre, Corniglia life is centered around history and the coast.

Monterosso al Mare


Monterosso al Mare is uniquely protected by hills and olive groves. In the 16th century, Monterosso defended itself from vikings by erecting 13 towers, of which only 3 remain today.

One of these remaining buildings, the Aurora Tower, separates the old part of this village from the new part. Aurora is definitely a must see. There are also quite a few unique churches to explore like the Abbey and Church of San Francesco, which was once transformed into a hospital, and then into a warehouse in the 1800s. But  in 1894 it was restored, and now houses important art like The Crucifiction (attributed to the painter Van Dyck). For anyone more interested in nature or lounging than history, Monterosso actually  has the largest beach (with sand) in all of the Cinque Terre, and is beautifully preserved.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore is known for its wine, which is produced by the village’s local vineyards. It is also known for its history, which dates back to the 13th century. You can still visit the Castle of Riomaggiore, originally built in 1260 after the dominion of Nicolo Fieschi. Back then it was used as a fortress. Now it is used for cultural activities. For adventurous souls, scuba diving off the coast is also offered. Besides Monterosso, Riomaggiore is the only other village of Cinque Terre to have diving available.

Manarola


Manarola is the calmest of the five towns, perhaps because it was the last to be discovered by tourists. There are natural paths to hike on, including one called The Lovers Path, which is a very scenic path that leads to Riomaggiore. You can also go swimming in the Mediterranean in a little cove on the coast. It’s very calm, cool water—and virtually a Mediterranean swimming pool. Once you dry off, there are plenty of historic churches to visit, as well as the ancient 8th century bastion/castle of Manarola. As for wine, Manarola’s local Sciacchetra wine was even lauded for its high quality in early Roman documents. When in Manarola, drink like the ancient Romans do!

Which is your favorite Cinque Terre town and why?

Written by : Stephanie Photo Credits : tylerco83 / Alexandros80/  leemcarthur /  Allie_CaufieldRob Inh00d

Fantasy Friday – Happy birthday to my sister!

It’s my fabulous sisters birthday, so I am dedicating my Fantasy Friday destinations to a few of her favorite places:

Her favs:

Grand Floridian Resort at Disney World

Brugge, Belgium

London, England

Las Vegas

Cuba!

Jasper, Alberta

Waterton, Alberta

New York City

Some places I think would be her favs some day:

Vancouver, B.C.

Yellowstone

Chicago

Rome

Travel Wears

I love to be comfortable, yet not a total slob when I am traveling.

Yep – it’s pretty hard sometimes – like when I am camping for 2 months, but somehow I think I can narrowly pull it off (in my head).

Here are some of my favorites:

Yep - I also look so awesome like this model...(in my dreams) From H&M

Nice and casual...

Me in Grand Teton National Park - anything looks great in front of these mountains.

Strollin' in Sorrento, Italy

Piazza San Marco/St. Marc's Square - Venice, Italy

Photo of the Week – Colosseum

This photo was taken, as my travel partner and myself set off on a quest to find a refreshing lemon gelato.

Up the hill we went, and as I peeked back behind me to catch a last glimpse of amazing historical architecture, I snapped this photo.

Sigh – take me back!

The world according to Pinterest

Yes, I admit, I am a little addicted to pinterest and I really couldn’t tell you precisely why…but I saw a very suspect/intriguing/insulting/facinating/fun contest that Pinterest released – in which you may win a new digital SLR camera!

All you have to do is vote on the most beautiful country in the world.

Wow – how do they come up with this?

Apparently you can vote on Twitter or Pinterest for your opinion on this matter.

So – voting. You can’t really use a scientific measures to determine for a fact WHAT the most beautiful country is….so let the opinion of computer literate/social media literate be the law 😛

A few days ago, I checked, and I saw that the UK was in first place for most beautiful country in the world. The next day it was Turkey, then Italy, then India, then Latvia.

Canada, my home and native land, has steadily remained at and around #6. Go Canada!!!

Where would your most beautiful country vote go to?