Mia goes M.I.A: Blue Mountain Resort

img_0693

After living in the Southern United States for seven years, returning to the cold winters of Canada wasn’t an easy task. For the first few years, I decided to hibernate from November until May, however this year I made a pact to myself to get out and enjoy winter, starting off with a weekend getaway to Blue Mountain Village and Resort.

Blue Mountain is just a short two-hour drive from Toronto, making it the perfect weekend destination to escape the city. The ski resort has 42 runs accessible from 16 different chairlifts there are slopes for all different levels. When your legs are tired from the day on the hills, there is an adorable European style village to get some shopping done, or find a spot to sit down for Après. There are also several hotels and cottages in the area to stay and get your zzz’s.

fullsizerender-4

What to do:

On my recent trip to Blue Mountain I arrived bright and early to make sure I would get a full day on the slopes. I really wanted to check out all the sides of the mountains. I even dared myself to go outside my comfort zone and try some double black diamonds.

After one tumble it was time to take a time out. It is a ski tradition of mine to stop a hot chocolate break. I made a stop into Bullwheel Pub. This pub is the only one located on the South end of the mountain and offers a beautiful view of the slopes. The rustic deco makes you feel like you are inside a cabin.  It offers delicious Canadian comfort food. I had the chicken fingers and mac and cheese along with my hot chocolate.fullsizerender-5

After a full day of skiing and some sore muscles, it was then time to relax at my favourite après spot, Rusty’s at Blue. Rusty’s is located right at the base of the slopes in the village. It offers a beautiful view of the mountains and live music in the afternoons and early evenings which offers the perfect atmosphere to unwind with a beer in hand.

Next it was time to shop until I dropped. The Village at Blue Mountain has so many unique stores, boutiques, and even candy shops. My personal favourite spot is Red Devil Sports. They have so many vibrant outfits, that is where I got my favourite ski jacket.

After dropping off all those bags, and a delicious dinner (you can find my favourite spots for food under where to eat) it was time to put the dancing shoes on. I went to check out Twist Martini Lounge Bar and absolutely loved the elegant interior, delicious cocktails, and amazing DJ that had me moving all night long.Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 6.56.48 PM.png

Day two of the weekend I needed some serious R&R after all the skiing and dancing, and so I made a trip to the Scandinavian Spa. The spa is located just a shot 10-minute drive from the mountains and with big trees surrounding it, it is very secluded and tranquil. I arrived early to make sure I would have a spot in their famous baths. Basically you rotate from hot to cold baths which is meant to cleanse the body and get blood circulation going. I must say I felt surprisingly energized afterwards.

fullsizerender

Where to Eat: 

The Village is packed with amazing restaurants for all taste buds but the following are a few of the spots I really enjoyed on my recent trip.

After a full day of skiing, my legs were exhausted and I didn’t want to venture far from the hotel, so thankfully there was Oliver and Bonacini Café and Grill right in the lobby, and what a teat it was. The restaurant offers a fine dining experience with a beautiful view of the village. The food was delicious to say the least. I absolutely loved the Miso Glazed Salmon.

The following day for lunch I was craving more of a carb loaded meal to say the least, and so I made a stop into Firehall Pizza Co. I absolutely loved the decoration, modelled after a Northern Ontario Firehall. The menu itself was a pizza lover’s dream. They had everything from the Sexy Texy Mexy (a Mexican style pizza) to the Meat Head (self-explanatory) creative and delicious.

For the last supper I decided to go Greek and give Tholos a try. The restaurant was so beautifully put together. It really transforms you to an ancient Greek ruin. I love the interactive experience this restaurant has to offer, from dancing and traditional plate smashing. And of course the food is delicious. I personally love the Stuffed Florina Peppers.

Where to Stay:
Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 7.03.20 PM.png

If you are looking to stay in a luxury hotel for the weekend, the Westin Trillium is the place to be! I had a beautiful room that overlooked the skating rink, village, and the mountains. There was so much space and a fireplace to warm me up after a day on the slopes. The hotel really payed attention to detail, from their custom made soaps and shampoo, to bed side mist supposed to help you sleep better. The bed was heavenly. In fact, this was probably the most comfortable hotel I have ever stayed at. Besides the incredible lodging, the hotel has so much to offer, including their own mini spa, with two hot tubs and a heated swimming pool, perfect after a long day of skiing.img_0729

I think the whole experience at Blue was an eye opener for me. I realized that Canadian winters can be enjoyable if you embrace it. Secondly I learned that Ontario has so much to offer. Having had the chance to ski at Whistler last year, I was very impressed with what Blue Mountain had to offer, from the ski experience, to their village, to their nightlife. I will definitely be making a trip back there soon, and I hope you will as well!

 

Why Traveling Solo is a Must

10341551_10205701038261175_6285203350443264108_n

Early this year I had the opportunity to write an article for DailyHive about my personal experience of traveling to Thailand all on my own.  As I continue to share travel tips, I feel that this is an important one to pass along because this was honestly one of the most life changing experiences.

So why did I decide to pack my bags and travel half way across the world all by myself? Well in all honesty it was a last minute decision. After making a career as one of the youngest national news anchors in Canada, my station shut down and less than 24 hours alter I was dumped. So I did what any logical single and recently unemployed girl would do, I booked a solo trip to Thailand.

I regretted the decision the moment the ticket was booked. Nerves took  over and I called my dad in tears. He reassured me that everything was going to be ok and that this would be the trip of a life time.

I regretted the decision again after 20 hours on an airplane when I arrived in this foreign land with no luggage (Thankfully 7-Eleven’s carry every thing you could ever need or want).

As soon as I woke up the next morning to the beauty of the mountains and the white sand beaches, the regret washed away with the tide and I was ready for whatever adventure was waiting for me.

My ten-day trip included stops in Phuket, Phi Phi and Krabi. I visited the incredibly beautiful Ao Phang Ngo (aka James Bond Island). I partied at a ladyboy cabaret show. I fed wild monkeys. I swam with sharks. I visited the beach from the movie the Beach (even more beautiful in person). I overcame my fears and rode an elephant. I danced my butt off at a full moon party. I prayed for the first time at the Big Buddha. I ate my weight in Thai food.

But the most important thing I did was find myself again.

Travelling by myself was truly the best thing I ever did. And here are five reasons I think everyone should travel by themselves at some point in their life.

11072830_10205737414410556_5721633903613295048_n

You are the master of your itinerary10455655_10205702136488630_2935447828426095752_n

Sure, traveling with a group can be a blast, but it can also be a pain because you all have to agree on what to do and when. Traveling solo you can do whatever you want whenever you want no permission or compromise needed. I am a morning person, so I could wake up at the crack of dawn and see the sunrise, and I didn’t have to party until 3 am because of peer pressure. You truly get to do you.

You have chance to connect with yourself10953900_10205724079357188_7011318694399846369_n

Maybe this is the trip to the big Buddha talking, but traveling on your own allows you plenty of you time. During that time you can dig deep and figure out what makes you really happy and what you want out of life. There are no distractions.  It is an amazing opportunity to connect with the most important person, you.

You become more independent

I found myself constantly singing that really catchy tune from Kelly Clarkson, you know “Ms. Independent” because that is how I felt.  You have to make your own decisions, you have to solve your own problems, you have to learn how to use a real map, you know, that’s made from paper and you can’t update with every new destination (yes, they still exist and are hella useful when data is like $100/GB). You only have one person to rely on and that person is yourself.11070515_10205717261626749_5157240473514403247_n

You feel more satisfied at the end of the trip

It seems that whenever you travel with a group no matter how close you are there is always some drama, some fights. When you are on your own it is just peace and quiet. The only thing you have to worry about is if your margarita is near the bottom.

You make a ton of new friends

Traveling on your own can be scary. Will you be lonely and miserable the whole time? Only if you want to be. You have the choice to connect with other people, get tips from the locals or learn from like-minded travellers. You may even find a travel buddy for your next adventure!

I know, traveling on your own can seem pretty scary, so I also have a few tips for planing that solo vacation.

10394846_10205717258266665_1651567423943753846_n

 Tips for traveling on your own: 

  • Plan ahead of time. I felt pretty safe on this trip because I had my hotels and transportation booked ahead of time instead of worrying last minute and putting myself in a potential unsafe environment
  • Always carry good identification on you
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy clothes or jewellery, don’t make yourself a target
  • leave a copy of your itinerary and contact info with a friend so someone knows where you are at all times
  • keep to open and public places especially at night time 984297_10205709531953512_2372907246794993417_n

So what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and go explore the world. It is your oyster after all.

MIA goes MIA: Black Wolves Home Opener

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 5.49.02 PM.png

This weekend was an exciting one. It marked the first time I had the opportunity to travel for a game with the National Lacrosse League as the New England Black Wolves hosted the Buffalo Bandits at their home opener.

One of my absolutely favourite things is being able to take in the atmosphere and excitement of a live sporting event, particularly with the NLL, so despite this not being a vacation, I was extremely excited to be able to experience a game at the Mohegan Sun.

The trip started early Friday morning, double checking to make sure I had all the equipment in tow. Camera? Check. Tripod? Check. Batteries? Check. The list goes on. Once I had checked for the zillionth time, it was time to head down to the Toronto City airport.

Since there are no flights that get you close to where Mohegan Sun is located, the trip consists of a flight and a drive. I jumped on a porter flight to Boston and from there rented a car.  I have only flown into Boston for work, so one day I will definitely have to come back to experience the city for itself.

I was definitely that annoying person on the flight with way too much carry on that wasn’t going to fit anywhere, but hey I am not checking a camera. A quick flight followed by an hour and a half drive and I was checked into the hotel down the street from the Mohegan Sun.

It was then time to prepare notes and have a concrete game plan for the next day. Being a videographer is one of the hardest yet most rewarding jobs because you are responsible for all aspects of the production. I needed to make sure I had my questions ready for the players, the camera batteries charged, the computer ready to edit.

After a long day of travel it was a hotel gym, followed by room service, followed by a movie kind of night. Mohegan Sun is one of the most incredible and fun casino’s I have ever been to with endless shops, restaurants, and bars, but I knew if I made my way over it would be a late night, and I sure needed my beauty sleep.

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 5.43.46 PM.png

An 8 am wake-up call, I was at the Mohegan Sun for the Black Wolves shoot around at 10am. At that time I also had my first interview of the Day with the NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz to talk about what is going on around the league with partners, expansion, etc.

I then had to gather b-roll and interviews for the game preview stories. Once I had gathered everything I needed I only had about 3 hours to head back to the hotel and edit the two stories and get them posted to NLL TV.

Once that was all done it was time to head back to Mohegan Sun for game time. I spent the majority of the pre-game upstairs getting some video of the crowds coming in. Fan after fan in their Black Wolves or Bandits gear. I was quite impressed with how many people packed the stands, but I didn’t realize I was in for a history making night.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-5-47-37-pm

The clock ticked down to the final minutes and then it was go time. I had the chance to be on the field as the players ran out of the tunnel. I don’t know how to put that experience in to words. The arena went dark, and fans got their glow sticks out to light the stands , and then all of  a sudden bright lights and the players came running down the floor. I had goosebumps down my arms experiencing this from a front row seat.

The stands were full, the cheers were loud, the game was intense. The overall atmosphere can be summed up as electric. Fans with wolf heads on, or orange bandit hair. They were hard core, true lacrosse fans.

I had heard that after every Black Wolves goal, the crowd lets out a howl. It was amazing to experience this in person. The entire arena coming together and cheering on their beloved team.

The game was as tight as can be separated by one goal at half time. Both teams fighting for the ball, going back and forth with goals, back and forth with hits, back and forth with saves. It was impossible to decide who was going to come out on top.

The game wasn’t decided until less than a minute was left on the clock, and New England Black Wolves all star Kevin Crowely came up with a huge game winner. The crowd was on their feet roaring and howling.

It was at this point we were also informed that for the first time in franchise history, the New England Black Wolves had a sold out crowd. No wonder it was so loud, so energizing. It was amazing to see the standing ovation when this was announced. Fans on their feet supporting their team, supporting the game.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-5-44-17-pm

It was an incredible experience to be a part of history and to see the growth of this game first hand. To talk to the fans who drive from hours away to cheer on their favourite team, to support their favourite player. It made me fall even more in love with this sport.

It was incredibly fun, but also incredible tired. Once the post-game interviews were done, it was time to head back to the hotel, pack my, bags, and hit the hay because I had a flight to catch the next day.

Work trips are always hectic. There is always so much to get done. They are also some of the most amazing trips, especially when you get to experience two teams battling head to head, when you get to talk to the incredible die hard fans, when you get to feel the cheers in your soul.

Thank you for the Black Wolves and Bandits for an amazing game and an amazing experience, I can’t wait for my next game.

Now first order of business, finding time to get a massage after luging that heavy equipment around!

Can’t wait to share my next adventure with you

Xo

Mia

MIA goes M.I.A. : Los Cabos

Los Cabos, the municipality of Mexico located at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula. It is an area where desert meets the sea and the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean. Where the land is covered in overall beauty from the turquoise waters of the ocean to the red volcanic rock covered mountains. Unlike the row of all-inclusive resort covered beaches in other parts of Mexico, Los Cabos is different. Still not as developed as other tourist locations, Los Cabos has a unique combination of nightlife and art institutions, and activities that the whole family can love.

On my recent trip to Los Cabos we stayed at the Secrets Resort in San Jose, the side of town my catered towards art lovers. A beautiful resort with 24-hour service to ensure you don’t have to lift a finger while on vacation. What I also loved about the location was that we had a swimmable beach just a 10-minute walk, a rare commodity in Los Cabos due to their strong rip currents (the only drawback I can think of).

While on the trip we explored, adventured, ate, and drank all that Los Cabos has to offer. While there wasn’t a minute of this vacation I didn’t enjoy to the fullest. There are so many things to do and see and try in Cabo. Here I share my top 5 must do’s if you intend to visit the Los Cabos region.

A Visit to the Arch 

cabo6

The Arch of Los Cabos is a distinctive rock formation at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas. It is probably the most famous landmarks of Los Cabos and it is a must see for anyone visiting. While there are plenty of boat tours that take you out to see the Arch, we decided to do something a little different and booked a stand up paddle boarding tour with High Tide Sea Expeditions. The tour included both paddle boarding and snorkeling out by the Arch. What I loved about boarding to the Arch was that you really had a chance to take in the beauty surrounding you, from the clear blue ocean to the stunning rock formations that lead up to the Arch. I even had a chance to paddle right beside a family of sea lions. Once we got to the Arch, it was even more beautiful than the pictures had made it out to be. With the sun beaming down on the rock it lived up to its Golden Arch title. We then had a chance to jump into the water and mingle with the beautiful sea life underneath. Our tour guide brought out some bread, and some fish even nibbled on my hand. We were able to get very close and personal with the beautiful life under the water. It was an amazing experience to paddle right beside this well-known landmark.

For more  information visit their website; High Tide Los Cabos

A Sunset Ride 

cabo2

Los Cabos is famous for its environment and terrain with half of it consisting of desert and the other half consisting of beach, and in my opinion the best way to see the best of both unique worlds is through an ATV or RZR tour. We went on our adventure with Cactus ATV’s. They have a sunset ride that allows you to explore both the desert terrain and the beach all while driving on off-road vehicle as fast as you can (or feel comfortable). I had never driven one before, but the guides made it very easy for first timers, and always made sure the group was together. It was beautiful to navigate through the plants and cacti and to breathe in the sea air from the open windows. We were even lucky enough to see a whale breach not far off the shore. I had always heard about the beautiful Los Cabos sunsets, and we were fortunate enough to experience this one on while riding along the waves. Truly a magical moment that anyone can enjoy.

For more information visit their website; Cactus ATV Tours

Sip on the Beach in Luxury 

cabo10

Enjoy a drink with a view. Everyone had told me about the party that is Cabo Wabo, but if you are looking for a more secluded, quieter spot with amazing food and even better drinks than why not stop by the Thompson Cape Hotel. The new boutique hotel is the spot to be in Los Cabos. We were fortunate enough to visit on New Year’s Eve and the hotel offered a party in pure Thompson fashion complete with world class DJ’s that kept us moving and grooving well into the new year, entertainers, and an incredible firework show that rivals that of Medano beach. But this hotel offers plenty even when there isn’t a party going on. Just take a trip up to their rooftop bar, six stories above the beautiful beach which the hotel is located on for a view that can’t be beat. When you are up there order their famous live oysters or chocolate infused clams but I must warn you, they are addictive. With the beautiful view of the beach and Los Cabos San Lucas you will truly feel like you have left the real world and entered paradise.

For more information or to make reservations visit their website; The Cape A Thompson Hotel

A Swim with the Biggest Fish in the Sea 

It has always been a dream of mine to swim with sharks, the only problem is I am petrified of them so when I heard that Cabo is home to friendly whale sharks I knew I had to give this a try. We went with Cabo Adventures which guarantees you a face to face experience with these friendly sea giants. As the sun got up so did we to head out to La Pas, a quaint town with plenty of markets and sea side restaurants. We then hopped in a small boat and rode about 15 minutes before we slowed down. Giant brown spots appeared in the water below us, apparently the signs of whale sharks. How it works is you get on your snorkel gear and sit on the edge of the boat. When the guide tells you to jump, you better be ready. Once you dip into the murky water your heart starts beating a million times per second with anticipation. Out of nowhere this giant beautiful spotted 24-foot creature swims past me. I literally froze in admiration. We had the chance to dive three times and all three times we were lucky enough to see a shark whale each time. I still have to pinch myself to believe it was real. Post swim, we were greeted with a delicious buffet of tacos and quesadillas. This was a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience.

For more information visit their website at; Cabo Adventures

A Cultural Walk 2690916_orig

A cultural art stroll. It was actually a tour guide on another excursion that informed us of Thursday night art walks in San Jose. The Gallery District in the area is a cultural hub. A great combination of contemporary and traditional artists line the streets and every Thursday from November until June the streets of central Alvaro Obregon Street are closed off and you can walk among live painters and stunning galleries.  I love how the painters on the street brought not just the Mexican culture, but the culture that is so specific to Cabo to life in their art right in front of our eyes. Combining the beauty of the Arch with that of the mountains. Cactus and whales coming to life on the paper. We were amazed at an interactive art gallery where the paintings literally came to life.   A quick stop into Mi Casa, an authentic Mexican cuisine with a beautiful back patio is the perfect place to end the night with a sweet margarita in hand. We had to buy a beautiful hand painted piece to remember our incredible trip.

For more information visit their website; Los Cabos Art Walk

cabo11

I have to say that Los Cabos exceeded my expectations. Between the beautiful terrain of mountains, desert, and beach, to the friendly people, and delicious authentic food I found it difficult to leave. It was one for the books and a location I highly suggest to outdoor adventurers, to cultural lovers, to the foodies and the night life enthusiasts, Los Cabos has something for everyone and I hope that you will also be able to experience one of their magical sunsets.

cabo7