Blogs I’m reading

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Looking for a fresh read? Here’s the fabulous 5 that are open on my desktop right now!

  1. Eatlivetraveldrink.com
    You’ll love Nicki’s Instagram too @eatlivetraveldrink
    Click on this link to see her recent post on Ireland.
  2. 2girlstrippin.com
    Full of sass… grab a seat in their sidecar and buckle up for adventure!
  3. Choosetravelonline.com
    They’ve got 5 reasons to convince you to take on a travel adventure in your gap year.
  4. Whereisnoodles.com
    Well written and always fresh! You could click here to read her tips on travelling to Amsterdam.
  5. Thethirstytourist.com
    A fellow Canadian, Carolynne has been there, and done that, coast to coast. Have you been to Newfoundland? She has. Here’s Hunting for Icebergs.

 

Bonus blog for flair and style: 

Dianaelizabethblog.com

I love her fresh, fabulous style and she has simple, 3 step advice for looking great in your travel photos.

Got a blog we should check out? Do post it in the comments.

Phoenix?!! I never knew.

Phoenix! When can I go back?

Need a quick vacation? Something action packed and easy to navigate? I have the answer! Phoenix, Arizona.

My son and I wanted to see a couple major league baseball games. We were on a very tight time schedule, Between work and school, we could only find two nights to get away that worked for both of us. A quick search of the MLB master schedule revealed all the games and cities that would work for our dates.

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We narrowed it down to a few choices and then compared flight schedules and prices. Phoenix was quickly identified as the best value for time and money when it came to flights. In fact, even at last minute prices (we booked on 4 days notice) Delta sent us round trip, taxes in for $350 CDN. So, already this trip was off to a pleasing start

For our hotel, we chose the SpringHill Suites (Marriott) Downtown Phoenix for 3 main reasons. Location, free airport shuttle and excellent Trip Advisor reviews. This turned out to be a brilliant choice!

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The airport shuttle was easy, convenient, clean and also available for short trips in the downtown area. It even had a luggage rack! This is actually a pretty rare asset.

The location was unbelievable. I honestly couldn’t have asked for more. We were a casual, stroll in flip flops to the baseball stadium, which incidentally is called “Chase Field.” (More on Chase Field, later.)

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We were 3 blocks from a major dining hub called the Arizona Centre, It had sit down restaurants, patios, waterfalls, gardens and casual eating areas. It was absolutely beautiful. An oasis in the city.

If you had young children with you, the hotel was right across from the Arizona Children’s Museum. We didn’t go, but it was very inviting and actually right there in the same block as the hotel. Rather, we opted to cross the street and go one block further to the Arizona Science Centre. It’s 4 levels of interactive displays, plus and IMAX theater and special travelling exhibit space. We spent just 2 hours there but could have easily spent twice that time. A full day for the really inquisitive mind. Admission was $27 for the both of us, with a modest $2 CAA discount.

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IMG_0205Sharing the same entrance courtyard as the Science Centre is the Museum and also the Heritage Center. The Heritage centre consists of a museum building, stores, restaurants and a coffeeshop, all in original period buildings. The Rose and Crown is one such restaurant, Pizza Bianco another. Each has casual outdoor patio space where you can dine or enjoy a beverage. We chose to stop in at Royal Coffee Bar. It was amazing to me, that in a heritage space of very limited size, they actually roast their own coffee. A very impressive operation. The equipment and furniture still looks brand new even though they’ve been at this location 3 years. It’s obvious that the owners and staff take a great deal of care and pride in this business. Open daily from 8am to 3pm I think it’s a ‘must see’ for coffee lovers if you’re in the area.

In all my travels, I can’t think of another area that was so absolutely all-ages suitable, incredibly convenient, and packed with amenities all within easy walking distance. I’m in awe really. It was exactly what I was hoping for in a quick weekend trip.

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If you wanted to travel to Phoenix for a basketball game, or concert, it would be likely located at the Talking Stick Arena (formerly American Airlines Centre) and is just one block further than the baseball stadium. More restaurants, and a courtyard full of pre-game bars are right there at the doorstep.

This was a two night getaway, that felt like so much more! Without taxis, Uber, or wasting time in traffic we had a chance to relax, enjoy and participate fully in exactly the vacation we wanted. The baseball game… well that was incredible. Worthy of its own chapter.

Pittsburgh in the 2016 NHL Playoffs

Mere hours ago the dates and times were announced for the Eastern Finals in the 2016 NHL Playoffs. It will be the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Game 1 will be hosted in Pittsburgh on Friday, May 13th. Flights from Winnipeg, with either Delta or United are still sitting under $600 (tax in, return).

There are several hotels near the Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh. You can’t get much closer than the Hilton DoubleTree.

I’ve priced out a trip for game 5, on the Canadian long weekend, through Expedia.ca.

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Tickets to the Eastern Finals are about $160US each, from Stubhub.com

If you go for game 5, you will be able to go to a Pirates’ baseball game as well. They play just after lunch, and hockey starts at 7pm. If you have time to linger an extra day, and fly home on the 24th, you will then fly with United Airlines for the best bargain price. This “extra” day can raise your total package price per person, as little as $25. This is, indeed, staying at the same hotel. So, for an additional $25 would you stay and see a little more of the city? I think so!

You’ll have to act quickly and decisively when booking, as seats on flights and to the games will be snapped up by eager fans wanting to do the very same trip.

If you have Air Miles, or Aeroplan points, do check for flights on your respective sites. Sometimes you can get a free, last minute flight. This worked for me in last year’s playoffs when the Jets were playing Anaheim.

Exclusive Pool Access – Vegas

If you love the heat and want to spend a little time just relaxing by the pool, may I suggest the Laurel Collection rooms at Caesar’s Palace.

The Laurel section of the hotel has its own exclusive check-in desk (around the side, not the front entrance),  its own elevators, its own security, a Starbucks location near the check in desk and very best of all, its own pool.

Access to the Laurel pool is by room card and check in with an attendant. The area has attentive service, complimentary treats (water coolers, and we were offered freezies) and great quality lounge chairs and towels.

The main pool area can be packed. Of course, in 30C weather, it SHOULD be packed. But for just a few extra dollars you can get an upgraded room and access to the exclusive pool. In my mind, it is WELL WORTH IT.

To find these rooms, simply look on your preferred booking site for “room types” and make sure you book a “Laurel room.” I found it here with Westjet for less than $100 more, per couple, over 4 nights.

Thinking about Caesar’s Palace and my favourite tips, may I also suggest that you eat at Bobby Flay’s restaurant on site there. Excellent! Everything we tried was simply excellent.

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Screenshot, May 2nd, 2016 Westjet Vacations

Cheap Vegas – Last Minute

Here’s a sweet deal from Winnipeg, to Vegas. The estimated totals as shown are for two people, taxes, hotel and flights included. May 9th to 12th.

The first three hotels are centrally located on the strip. The last three shown are more exclusive and have fabulous pools, but only the Cromwell is on the centre strip.

It’d make a nice mother’s day gift. Just saying.  (Westjet Vacations. www.westjet.com)

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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?