Cooking School in Italy

While on vacation, we signed up for a day session at a cooking school in Italy. It was actually as indulgent as it sounds!

Even though I personally do own a restaurant and cook about 60 hours a week, it was my choice to sign up for this whilst on vacation.

The thought of learning to make pasta and sauce from scratch, in Italy sounded like an authentic and dream-come-true experience. I was right.

It took place in a state-of-the-art kitchen, with two professional instructors. There were overhead cameras at the teacher’s station and big screen TVs for us to watch them on. This enabled us to see the techniques from all angles.

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It seemed like a televised cooking show. Like something you’d see on a Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart episode.

At the end of the day we sat with our classmates for dinner and shared a bottle of wine. A certificate, the recipes and apron were ours to take home. Everyone was all smiles.

I haven’t actually made pasta for my family since the trip, but I have gotten really good at sliding the story into casual conversation. I just love saying “when I was at cooking school in Italy, we…”

I can be a bit of a joker, but in all seriousness, I really treasure having had this experience and I would highly recommend taking a class or pursuing your hobby while on vacation. A fresh perspective and the chance to do something ‘just for fun’ is such a memorable way to spend  a day.

Better stories start with travel. 

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Left turn at Livorno

I was thinking about road trips yesterday and thinking about planning a little something. Then, I was suddenly reminded of my last wrong detour.

Livorno, Italy.

See, I had this idea that, according to the map, we could just take the train (for about 3 Euros and twenty minutes) from Pisa to Livorno and see the coast. It appeared to me… that we were just “that close” to the sea, and coastal greatness.

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“Coastal greatness” was not immediately apparent when we stepped out of the train station. There were beautiful palm trees, but not much else that made a couple of Canadian gals wanted to hang around. The industrial area and a lack of tourist information or people willing/able to speak english to help us out, had me second guessing my “see the coast” plan.

Then, we saw this sign. Didn’t feel like a good sign.

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However, it was daylight, and we were up for adventure, we decided to venture forth and take a quick glance around town, on foot.

We discovered casinos, and casino-like places where one could gamble among a few lovely palm trees. Thinking maybe this could turn out to be a lucky detour, I put a 2Euro coin in a slot machine. Nope… not a winner. That was enough of a sign. We bought our train tickets back to Florence and grabbed snacks for the road.

At the snack shack, I gambled on a little green jar of pear juice. An Italian specialty, it said. Loved it! That juice was amazing. Definitely memorable. Thank you Livorno.

There are no wrong turns. Just experiences.

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Just a lovely bit of architecture on our walkabout

Better stories start with travel. 

Road trip ready

If your best friend dropped in today and said… “we leave tomorrow” could you do it? Would you do it?

What holds you back?

Work waits, I can assure you that. Haven’t you ever been knocked off your feet sick? The world stops for those two or three recovery days and believe me, when you get back, work will still be there. So, instead of being sick, couldn’t you just take a quick vacation?

Could you be the instigator? Could you grab the golf clubs or the bikes and your best friend and just hit the open road? All you need is music and a sense of adventure. Buy a clean t-shirt at the first souvenir stand and send a postcard home!

I tell you, better stories start with travel. Write yours, it’s a great adventure, I know it!

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Wouldn’t you like to cruise, old school?

Florida – The Caddyshack Link

I was salivating over the cheap flights to Florida and looking for interesting things to do, incase I get bored with the beach. (Haha… odds are slim that I’ll get tired of a beach, but I did the research anyway.)

That’s when I found a great connection to a classic movie, Caddyshack!

The movie was filmed at Grande Oakes Golf Course near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Technically, it’s a private golf course, but there are a few  fabulous hotels in the area that can hook you up with a tee time (providing you’re their guest).

Marriott Harbor BeachRitz Carlton & Bahai Mar Beach Hotel

You could have your own Bill Murray moment: “It’s a Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper…”

Wouldn’t that be outta’ sight?  Cue the Kenny Loggins music and start packing. Florida is waiting.

My Ski Correspondent

When you see a fabulous deal, you have to jump on it, if you possibly can. The under $200 flights to Kelowna were too good to pass up. And while I absolutely couldn’t get the time off work at spring break, my son could. (He has a fabulous boss!)

So, he went snowboarding in the mountains of British Columbia.

In an effort to include me (and the readers of SheTalksTravel.com), he’s shared some fun helmet-cam GoPro video that he shot.

He followed his friend down the mountain at Silver Star Ski Resort in Vernon. Not bad for a couple of novice snowboarders, and a helmet cam.

Thanks boys!

This clip is a little longer and shows more of the scenery at Silver Star Mountain Resort. It was taken by my older son, on a snowboard, as my youngest skis and blazes the trail.

Absolutely a fabulous hill. Great for the novice skier and beyond. Really great conditions for end of March. Top marks to Silver Star Mountain Resort, from my correspondent!

Ps. I will follow up soon with recommendations for hotels in the area and a few more of the fun photos he took. 

Tip for finding great package deals

Doesn’t it seem like all the great package vacations are out of Toronto? Tired of “them” getting all the deals, but not us, fine, prairie folk?

So, here’s my tip: Do it….search those Toronto deals and find the one you like. Salivate, drool, dream and then write down the dates.

Next, take those dates and go to the search page of the package provider. (Example, Air Canada Vacations). NOW, search for that destination, and specific dates, but use your preferred airport. (Like Winnipeg, or Regina, etc) Chances are, your Toronto deal will be there with a minimal fee added for the connecting flight.

Bingo! It’s that easy to find a deal when there are none (shown) for Winnipeg.

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First step: Find a bargain from Toronto that you love
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Then, search from your local departure city. This search is from Winnipeg. Great deal and is just about $90 more than the Toronto search. I consider that a success. You can certainly not buy a separate (return) flight to Toronto for under $90.

But wait… there’s more!

The Winnipeg search actually reveals two additional hotel offerings (see below) at an even better rate! (But before you jump at ANY deal, make sure to read the recent reviews from Trip Advisor and see exactly what people are saying. Is it really the right hotel for you? The cheapest is not always the most suitable, but what if it IS?)

This looks like a bargain to me!
This looks like a bargain to me!