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.

Italy: Yes, Please!

Italy… I don’t know where to even start!

It was an amazing experience. Unlike anything or anywhere I’d ever been. Would I go again? In a heartbeat.

And I would definitely go in February, March, October or November. As a Canadian, I like my space. I don’t like crowds and I’m simply not accustomed to waiting more than 15 minutes in any line.

Even the locals in Florence told me, that they flee the cities in July and August. The cities are too hot and far too crowded. The place to be is by the sea. And I got the impression that tourists are not completely welcome at their seaside hideaways, some of the last undeveloped tourist areas.

September is a lovely month, for weather. But, it’s also harvest. Their agricultural economy depends on the grape harvest, which is then followed by the olive harvest late September, early October. Their culture and livelihood are so intertwined with this annual ritual that I wouldn’t want to get in the way as a tourist wanting to tour wineries.

In late February, we had lovely weather, about 15C most days. I was comfortable in a light jacket, and with a scarf in the mornings.

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As far as tourist sites, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the wait was less than 15 minutes and you could just walk up and purchase a ticket at the desk. In tourist season (April-Sept) you would need to buy tickets on-line, in advance and attend at your scheduled date and time to avoid waiting 2-3 hours in the walk up line. You have likely read this several places if you are already researching a trip to Italy or Europe

Flight deals can be had, especially in the low season. If you choose to go to Italy in October through February, you can watch for airfares as low as $650 on sale. High season, you would budget for $900 or more per ticket. (Taxes in, return trip from YWG)

San Diego: A couple’s trip

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 1.02.48 AMSan Diego has such a great scene. I think it would be a fabulous place for a couple’s trip.

If you’re the comic-loving type then maybe you’d enjoy a fan-fest weekend at Comic-Con. It’s hosted in San Diego every year in July. Of course, this will take some serious planning as the event always sells out.

 

What about a movie themed getaway for you and your sweetie? Visit Coronado Island and the famed Hotel del Coronado where Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis filmed ‘Some Like it Hot‘ in the late 1950s.

For a more recent, but no less iconic movie connection, drop by the Kansas City Barbeque restaurant downtown San Diego where the unforgettable bar scenes of ‘Top Gun‘ were filmed. The piano where character, Goose, pounded out a roaring rendition of ‘Great Balls of Fire‘ still sits in the corner.

If after enjoying a pint, and you you utter the words of Goose’s wife (played by Meg Ryan)  “take me to bed or lose me forever’  you’ll want to be staying across the street at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Not only is it a fabulous hotel, it overlooks the harbour and Seaport Village. 

You would have to rent a car and drive north up the coast to see “Charlie’s house” where Maverick races to on his motorcycle after that beach volleyball scene. Yes, you remember that volleyball scene! Anyways, the house or beach cottage as it was, is located at 102 Pacific Street, Oceanside California which is right by Camp Pendleton the military base. Should you rather skip the rental car, you can walk over from the Hyatt to the USS Midway Museum. Here you can explore an aircraft carrier. (Incidentally, it was named the #1 thing to do in San Diego, by Trip Advisor.) At a cost of about $20 ($10 with ID for Veterans) it’s the closest you’ll get to a working aircraft carrier, like in Top Gun.

If movies like ‘Anchorman‘ are more your style, you might be disappointed to know that even though the movie story was set in San Diego, it was nearly completely filmed in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California. Even the San Diego Zoo (celebrating its centennial this year), was staged at the Los Angeles Zoo. Regardless, there are no reasons why you can’t drive around in a turtleneck and velvet blazer saying “keep it classy San Diego.” After all, it’s YOUR vacation.

 

The statue of sailor kissing a girl, on the harbour. The statue is a rendition of the famous Time Life cover from July 1945.
The statue of sailor kissing a girl, on the harbour. The statue is a rendition of the famous Time Life cover from July 1945.

That cake. Cake by the ocean.

I shouldn’t start in the middle of a story, but this time I can’t help myself. I’m still thinking about it. That cake. Ok, THIS cake….

Carrot cake with ooey-gooey cream cheese icing, from Caroline's cafe at the University of San Diego, at Scripps Pier.
Carrot cake with ooey-gooey cream cheese icing, from Caroline’s cafe at the University of San Diego, at Scripps Pier.

 

I don’t know what to say, other than while others were eating salads, and some folks, fries, I opted to skip lunch altogether and indulge in this piece of carrot cake.

When I first saw it, it was under glass. Like a retro 50s style cake plate and glass topper. It looked so fresh and gooey it just got me. I didn’t even ask the price. I invoked the “I’m on vacation” clause and just did it.

We picked a table on the deck, which overlooked the ocean and Scripps Pier. Then we each ordered a glass of wine. I can’t think of a more carefree Monday afternoon. Just a couple of gals, kicking back in California. No agenda, no grocery lists, and no calories or cares.

And I can’t think of a better piece of cake, ever.

Coolest thing to do with your Valentine! Literally.

 

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Vist Churchill Manitoba! Did you think I was going to say that?

You could go for Valentine’s Day weekend and (hopefully) see the northern lights. This trip could be surprisingly affordable. I just learnt that you can book a flight to Churchill, Manitoba from Winnipeg for 1400 Air Miles or less! (Flights Feb 13 – 15th, 2016 available at 1380 Air Miles.)

See, this is actually an amazing thing, because if you were to pay the cash price for the fare with Calm Air, it actually ranges between $688 and $1900 for a return ticket.

See the bargain? Staring to think it’s cool yet? The total taxes on the flight is $95. Not bad, eh?

There are just a few hotels in town, and they are not the Fort Garry, but, they will certainly do for an adventure weekend. At $139 (or less with a CAA discount) you can appreciate this opportunity for a bucket list experience. The Tundra Inn will pick you up from the airport too!

If the weather works, you could go dog sledding.  There are bed and sled packages available through Blue Sky Mush. ($400 for 3 nights accommodation PLUS a dog sled tour for 2 people!) Or, just a sled event is about $90 per person. www.blueskymush.com

But for everything Churchill, you need to check out the website.

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If you would like to go in July, or August which is peak tourist season, you might still be able to get your bargain flights off Air Miles (1400 Air Miles/1200 in low season), but hotels and tours will cost at least double. It’s simply supply and demand, and you are definitely wise to book early.

Via Rail also offers transportation between Winnipeg and Churchill. It is a 2 day ride and will cost between $400 (economy seat) and $1200 (cabin with meals) per person, round trip.

As a bucket list trip, I think it’s an amazing possibility. And it’s in our own backyard! At about $400-$500 per person, for 3 nights accommodation, air fare, meals and an activity, I think most Canadians would be envious. (Bargain price noted as with Air Miles redemption.)

 

Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Churchill in June. A field of fireweed highlights the landscape of Churchill in June. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)

 

Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)
Beluga whales, as seen in June on tour with The Churchill Experience. (Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling)

 

Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling
Photo courtesy of Ross Mackling

Links:

Tundra Inn

Everything Churchill

Manitoba Tourism

The Churchill Experience

Blue Sky Mush

Assiniboine Zoo Polar Bear Conservancy 

Learn about polar bears

Via Rail to Churchill