Why Tofino should be on your winter to do list

I have written a few blogs now sharing my love for Tofino. It is the perfect escape, quaint and quiet and absolutely beautiful. The village is located on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island. Since it is nestled in the Clayoquot Sound, it is the prime summer destination for surfing and beach time. 

However, thanks to the help of Tourism Tofino, I quickly realized Tofino isn’t just for the summer, but it is the perfect winter getaway as well. I spent two days exploring the beautiful island town and getting to see a very different side of Tofino that I wanted to share with you. 

Day 1: Storm watching and surfing

I started the day with breakfast and a coffee in the Great Room of the Long Beach Lodge. The Long Beach Lodge is a stunning resort located right on Cox Bay Beach. In fact I woke up to the sounds of the waves crashing right outside my window. 

The Great Room offers award winning cuisine and large windows that let you see the stunning views of the water. The perfect spot to watch the waves crash against the rocks during the storm watching season. 

Speaking of storm watching, that is one of the things that make winter so special in Tofino. Because of the open waters, we tend to see gale force winds, giant swells, and lashing waves. Waves can crash right up to the shore and can reach more than 9 meters high. 

What I loved about storm watching is that there are so many ways to enjoy nature at work. You could sit by the fire inside with a book listening to the power of the waves, or you could go outside and experience it up close and personal, just make sure you are in safe areas. 

After being memorized throughout breakfast watching and listening to the waves smashing on the rocks, it was time to actually get in the water and experience it first hand. 

I have tried surfing in the summer, but the waves are much larger during the winter months. Of course, you wear a full and thick wetsuit because the water is freezing, but being able to feel the power of the waves is incredible. 

Of course, it is important to stay safe and know the conditions ahead of time. If you aren’t experienced you should talk to some of the local surf shops and maybe sign up for a lesson. 

After surfing, I was in need of some food so we made our way to Pai. Pai is a newer food truck tucked away behind the main strip. They serve delicious fusion asian and Thai food. In fact, some of the chefs there even went to Thailand to get their training. The seasoning and food was absolutely incredible and it was very affordable. 

Then it was back to our ocean front room at the Long Beach Lodge to get a good night sleep before the next day of our adventure

Day 2: Brunch with a view and whiskey samples 

To start our second day, we made our way over the Wickaninnish Inn, another perfect storm watching spot. WE got a tour of the beautiful property. We were able to meet with the owner Charles McDiarmid to find out how he started to market storm watching season as a tourist opportunity over a delicious brunch. 

After watching the waves crashing up against the rocks, we made our way into town and did a little bit of shopping. 

I decided to finally purchase my very own Roy Henry Vickers piece of art. He is known for limited addition first nations beautiful pieces. 

After a bit of shopping, I made my way over to The Distillery, a brand new distillery in Tofino and tried samples of their West Coast Gin and delicious Jalapeno Vodka. 

A few drinks in it was time for some fresh air. We took a little walk along Chesterman beach and through the beautiful forests in the area. Even though the rain was falling down, it felt so good to be outside among these giants and breathing in the fresh air. Seeing these ancient trees up close and personal make you so appreciate to live in a place like BC. 

The night finished off at my favourite restaurant in the area, Shelter. It is the perfect date night spot in Tofino with a quaint fire place and romantic feel. Plus every single item on their menu is both fresh and delicious. I always try and sneak in some BC wild Salmon. 

Tofino winter vacation tips 

I have fallen in love with the amazing town of Tofino and will be sure to visit again soon in summer or winter. Just a few tips if you are planning a winter getaway 

  • Check the weather forecast ahead of time especially if you are hoping to see storms. We unfortunately didn’t see any crazy waves on our trip but still had an amazing time. If you are hoping for an intense storm make sure the forecast calls for it ahead of time. 
  • Bring an umbrella and waterproof clothes: What I loved about a lot of the hotels we visited in the area is that they really embrace storm watching. They offered umbrellas and raincoats for guests at both Long Beach Lodge and Wickanninsh Inn, but you might want to check with the hotel ahead of time to see if you need to bring your own. 
  • Look for some sweet deals ahead of time: While tourism is definitely on the rise, it is still considered the off season and so a lot of hotels will offer some pretty sweet deals. Make sure you search for them if you are thinking of booking a trip! 
  • Be ready to relax. I am the kind of person that loves adventure, and while Tofino does have a lot of outdoor activities, it is a really small town. It is the perfect place to go if you are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway 

Happy traveling my friends 

xo 

Mia 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Vancouver staycation with JW Marriott

I was torn on what to do for my 30th birthday. From travel to Ontario for Christmas to heading to Whistler for New Years, I was exhausted. So there was nothing better I could think of doing than having a little staycation. 

The one thing I love about moving to Vancouver is the fact that I now live in a place where people vacation. From the ocean to the mountain it is absolutely stunning and so I just wanted to spend some time appreciating the city that I love. 

I also love gabling ( well I love the $5 limit tables). So I decided to put two and two together and decided to throw an Oceans 30 soiree. 

About Parq Vancouver 

All of my closest friends got dressed to the nines and headed down to Parq Vancouver.

Parq Vancouver is a new international entertainment destination located right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It features two luxury hotels and a casino that will give Vegas a run for its money. 

I love that the tables are lively, the 24 diner serves delicious food, and the band plays some of the best live music I have ever heard. They will have you dancing and singing all night long. 

My experience 

What I was most impressed though was how amazing the JW Marriott treated us and also how amazing their hotel is. 

I was able to stay in one of their ocean view suites for my birthday (the perfect staycation if you ask me). 

When I came up to the room it was absolutely stunning. From the giant bed overlooking the ocean, a bathtub I could literally sleep in, a soft cozy couch to relax on, and the world’s biggest television. 

The icing on the cake though had to be well, the cake. The hotel staff surprised me with the most delicious birthday cake and offered me a complimentary breakfast in their executive lounge as a surprise present. I couldn’t believe how kind their staff was. 

I may have lost all of my money on craps, but I had so much fun dancing the night away and going to bed in the most comfortable bed. I also loved waking up the next morning to the most beautiful sunrise over the ocean. 

I will be back 

I have to say, having a relaxing and fun staycation in the beautiful city of Vancouver with the amazing team at the JW Marriott was the best way to celebrate turning 30. 

If you would like to find out more about Parq Vancouver click the link to head to their website. 

xo 

Mia 

Mia goes M.I.A. Vlog: South Africa Safari

I have shared some of my South Africa  experience with on the blog. One of the highlights of my two week adventure with G Adventures was several safaris. We had a chance to visit both the Kruger and a private game reserve called Karongwe Portfolio.

I wanted to share the video with you of some of the amazing animals we saw along the way

 

My experience with Turkish Airlines

I recently had a chance to share with you my amazing adventure in South Africa, but here is the thing, there is no easy way to get to South Africa. So I decided to start my holiday with a mini holiday in Istanbul, Turkey. I had always dreamed of visiting Turkey and I was so excited to find out the Turkish Airlines travels to Cape Town.

If you have been following along for a while, you would know I travel a lot by now, but it has been a while since my travel time equaled 24 hours in flight. So I decided to splurge a little and upgrade to business class on this trip.

Let me tell you, there is nothing better than arriving at your destination refreshed and relaxed, and that is exactly what I experienced thanks to the easy travel with Turkish Airlines. This was by far one of the most luxurious flights I have ever experienced, and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you.

What to expect

Turkish Airlines has worked hard at establishing themselves as the top airline in Europe. They have one award after award for best business class lounge, best business class lounge catering, and best airline in Southern Europe.”

I was excited to experience how their airline compared to others that I have flown in the past.

Time to board

Once we boarded the plane, we were greeted with friendly smiles and a delicious welcome drink. The flight attendants were so warm and made sure we had everything we needed.

I was then able to find the comfort of my seat, nestled beside the window with all the leg room in the world. My seat itself offered an in-chair massage, personal reading lamp, power supply, and a screen to secure my own private area. It also had the ability to lie fully flat for when it was bed time.

 

Amenities

I was nervous about flying for such a long period of time. From the jet lag to the not being able to wash my face for two full days, but Turkish Airlines had us covered.

For the two flights we had two different amenity bags. The first was Christian Lacroix and the second was Molton Brown.

Both of the amenity bags offered toothpaste, toothbrush, hair brush, ear plugs, eye mask, socks, lip balm, and the most amazing hand cream. We were also treated to a complimentary pair of slippers, which was really helpful because I didn’t want to have to wear my running shoes for the full flight.

My favourite on board amenity was the bedding. Before bed time one of the incredible flight attendants will come by and fix up your bed. The bedding was so comfortable and the blankets so soft. I slept through the entire night.

I was so impressed with all of the amazing business class amenities. I honestly felt just as comfortable thousands of feet in the air as I do in my own home.

Entertainment

The video-0n-demand entertainment system was incredible and really helped keep me calm during the long haul to South Africa. There was such a wide selection of movies and entertainment. I was able to watch new blockbuster releases and old classics throughout the flight. There is also an option to watch live TV on board. The flight also offered free Wi-Fi so that I could make all my friends jealous back home through my insta stories.

Seating

I shared some details of the insanely comfortable seats but they offered so many different features I wanted to share some more with you. Once again the focus for the Turkish Airline Business Class is ultimate comfort. The seat itself offered a USB port, universal plug, and reading lamp.

Aside from the basics they offer so much more. The seats open up in to a 188cm bed and have complimentary blankets and pillows so that you can sleep in comfort.

This was a huge help for me to arrive revived and didn’t have to miss out on any travel days recovering from jet lag.

Dining

Turkish Airlines is known for their in-flight dining especially those incredible chef hats. In fact, Turkish Airlines was voted the Skytrax World’s Best Business Class Airline Catering

From the moment you walk on the plane, you are handed a menu and you fill out what options you want. The flying chefs prepare some world class meals in the sky. As they bring you the meals, they also bring a little candle along. A true candle lit dinner in the sky.

I loved the fact that they offered some traditional Turkish cuisine. Everything from Turkish tea, to Turkish delights for dessert.

Another fact I loved is that the on-board menu changes every season to ensure that the food is as fresh as can be.

The dishes were delicious and have won numerous awards. I honestly ate like royalty from breakfast omelettes, to smoked salmon snacks, to prawn pasta. I was so full and happy on-board the flight.

Turkish Airlines Lounge

Once we landed in Turkey, we had quite a long layover between the two flights and so we decided to visit the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge. After a long flight I was in the need to freshen up and get a good stretch in. I had the chance to do both in the lounge.

The facilities were amazing. There is over 60,000 square feet of luxury for the more than 4,000 travellers that pass through every day.

There are eight showers available to freshen up in complete with robes and slippers. Once you have finished your shower, you can rest in one of the suite rooms.

The food and drink options in the lounge are endless. You can dine on anything from traditional Turkish treats like tea and beer as well as baklava. There is also delicious meals from around the world to full your belly during your break.

I couldn’t believe the entertainment aspects available in the lounge. There was everything from PGA golf simulator, a slot car racing machine, a prayer room, library, and movie theatre. It really had something for everyone.

My absolute favourite part of the lounge was the free massage. After sitting on an airplane for a long time, no matter how comfortable the seats are, you can get a little stiff. It was so refreshing to be able to get a quality massage to get me ready for round two.

TourIstanbul

I have always wanted to truly discover Istanbul, and while I know eight hours is not nearly enough to discover the beauty of this city, but thankfully Turkish Airlines helped me discover a small but incredible piece.

If you have a connecting flight longer than 6 hours, Turkish Airlines offers free tours. Depending on the day of the week or time of day, the offer different tours.

I had a chance to visit the Old Town and see the beauty of the Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque, and the Hippodrome (German Fountain). It was so incredible to see the architecture and also go around with a local guide who had a chance to teach us all about the history.

The end of the tour was capped off with a free meal with our new found friends. It was amazing. On the way I also picked up some Turkish towels to take home with me.

Overall Experience

While writing this, I realized that no matter what I share with you, it is hard to do Turkish Airlines. As mentioned this was the most luxurious flight I have ever taken. Everything from the comfort of the seats, to the delicious food and everything in between made this experience next to none.  I can honestly say I believe Turkish Airlines is the best airline in the world and Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities. I cannot wait to travel with Turkish Airlines in the future again.

 

 

 

 

10 Moments that will want to make you book an African getaway with G adventures

What you might not know about me, is like most from Canada, I am a first generation Canadian. Both of my parents are originally from South Africa. As a young girl, I would go back to visit every other year. Yet as I grew older, life got in the way. The trips back to visit slowed down and eventually stopped. It has been eighteen years since the last time I visited South Africa. Eighteen years since I had seen my family, eighteen years since I had experienced the beauty of Africa, and eighteen years seemed far too long.

A different way to travel to Africa 

This time around though, I wanted to do things a little different. i wanted to explore parts of Africa that I had never been to before and so instead of trying to navigate this country on my own, I decided to do a group tour.

I have done group tours in the past and I feel like they are an amazing way to travel. Firstly they help you get from point A to point B safely. They provide you with excursion ideas and help you set up everything that you want to do. It is also an amazing way to connect with like minded travellers.

I decided to travel this time round with the Canadian company G Adventures. I will get more into this decision a little later on as well as in a follow up blog, but in the meantime I wanted to focus on the amazing experience.

The adventure was 9 days with stops at the Kruger National Park, a private game reserve, and Zimbabwe. During that time I had a chance to get up close and personal to a family of elephants and soar above one of the natural wonders of the world. It was truly a once in a life time trip with memories that will last forever and I am excited to share some of the top moments with you. 

My top 10 moments with G adventures

1) Staying in an adorable guesthouse

Johannesburg definitely gets a bad reputation, but I had the most amazing experience there, particularly at our adorable guesthouse, Malikana. This family run spot had the most amazing wooden deck patio that overlooked a little animal farm. I watched the springbok jump around while drinking my morning coffee.

The best part of our time here was when we were treated to a home cooked South African Braai. Our host Suki cooked us different kinds of traditional meat with pup and veggies on the side and traditional desserts.

2) Driving the Panorama Route

On our way to the Kruger National Park, we drove one of the most scenic drives I have ever seen. The Panorama Route connects several cultural and natural points of interest and offers spectacular views. I was blown away by the depth and beauty of Blyde Canyon. I have seen the Grand Canyon before, and this spot would definitely give it a run for its money. I was also stunned at the amazing views from God’s Window. From this spot, you really feel like you are on top of the world.

3)Muluwa Lodge 

When we went to visit the Kruger National Park, we had a chance to spend two nights at the adorable Muluwa Lodge. The moment we arrived, we were greeted by their resident giraffes. Our quaint tents overlooked the bush and we had a chance to have morning coffee with the impalas. It was absolutely stunning.

4) Driving in the Kruger National Park

 

As a young girl, I remember some of my most fond memories taking place at Kruger, one of South Africa’s largest parks. Now it was time to make some new memories. The first thing that I noticed during our drive was the smells. The fresh spring air lingered on the tip of my nose.

Despite some rainy conditions, we were so spoiled on our first drive. Not only did we spot the big five (lion leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) we also saw a pack of wild dogs. This is an extremely rare sighting as there are only 180 wild dogs left in the Kruger. It was amazing to see the family of dogs running around and playing with each other. A truly special moment.

5) Staying at  Karongwe Portfolio 

 

After experiencing Karongwe, I cannot suggest a private game reserve enough. Not only were we driving around the bush in an open truck, but we also had a tracker following footsteps and we could go off roading to get even closer to the magnificent animals.

We experienced some amazing moments like a family of elephants walking across our path, three cheetahs out of the hunt, a leopard munching on dinner, and drinking coffee with the hippos. Those were just a few of the highlights.

As for the actual resort, it was something straight out of a movie. Our accommodations were stunning, complete with an outdoor shower, beautiful patio to sit and watch for animals, and a gorgeous pool to cool off after a long day. I treated myself to an amazing massage during our stay and had a chance to experience a delicious outdoor BBQ .

6) Learning about cheetahs from the pros 

During our stay at Kerongwe, we were treated to a talk from a researcher from the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project. We sat through a lecture learning more about cheetah behaviours as part of the National Geographic project the Big Cats Initiative. I also found out that a portion of our money was going towards this project and helping keep cheetahs safe in the wild. Just one of the many reasons I loved traveling with G adventures.

7) Experience the local culture 

 

The second half of our trip took place in Zimbabwe visiting one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. Before even heading to the falls though, we got to experience the town of Victoria Falls. We went to visit the local market and try some unique foods.

Then we had the chance to have a local meal at a homestead. We sat down with our amazing host Flatter and met her extended family. She made us a traditional Zimbabwean dinner with produce straight from her garden. During the meal she shared with us what a daily life is like and taught us more about the traditions and cultures in Zimbabwe. It was a truly special experience.

8) Take a walking tour of the falls 

Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but just walking around doesn’t do it justice. There is so much incredible history here and it was amazing to learn all about it on a guided tour. We learned all about the falls, how it was discovered by David Livingstone, how the locals refer to it as ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, and how you can hear the falls 40KM away. Those were just a few of the incredible facts. It was also amazing because we got to see the falls from sixteen different angles.

9) Experience the falls from the sky 

Seeing the falls from the ground is one thing, but seeing the falls from above will take your breathe away. I had the chance to take a helicopter ride above the falls and it was a truly magical experience. You could see the entire length of the water fall and the beautiful colours of the Zambezi River. 

10) Bring out your inner daredevil by living on the edge 

Our last stop in Victoria Falls is not for the faint of heart. We went swimming at the very top of the falls at Devil’s Pool. After thousands of years of erosion, several rock pools formed around the falls, one of them at the very top. We were able to actually swim in a pool above the falls and even take in the views from the very edge. It was exhilarating.

Why G Adventures 

This trip with G adventures was one of those that was too incredible to be true. From learning about local communities, to watching a leopard pounce at a water buck each day offered new and unforgettable experiences. A reminder of how beautiful this world truly is.

The reason I loved traveling with G Adventures, was their focus on responsible tourism. I have travelled with other companies in the past, but this was the first one that organized local excursions, worked with local companies, and helped us really learn about the places and the people we were visiting.

I later had a chance to learn about their Ripple Score program, which monitors how much of our money stays in the local communities. I was excited to find out that on my trip in particular, 100% of the money stays locally. Not only did this trip give me something incredible, but it felt good knowing that I was able to give these communities something back in return.

I will have more on G Adventures in a later blog post, but in the meantime if you would like to learn more about their Kruger and Victoria Falls trip visit their website; https://www.gadventures.com/trips/explore-kruger-and-victoria-falls/5747/

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia