#PlayingTourist in NEW YORK CITY

The Classic FLATIRON photo is a must have for any NYC trip!

New York City truly is one of the most amazing cities; you can find A N Y T H I N G and everything in this city. For some it’s a bit much; I personally don’t think I could live in NYC, but for others it’s a dream come true.

Visiting New York City during the summer is actually not the best idea, but we went for it anyways. For starters, if you hit a heat wave in the city, you’re basically doomed. The concrete jungle literally sucks in the days heat and beams it out day after day. There’s no letting up even in the evenings. Another thing about NYC in the summer is the amount of tourists – I mean, there are hundreds of tourists in the city no matter what season it is, but it just seems like summer is the most popular. If you’re not into crowds though, don’t let that stop you from visiting. There any MANY places you can visit that aren’t your typical crowded Times Square.

So simple, yet so unique!
This view could never get old!

So, there are dozens of NYC city guides out there so I won’t bore you with a what to do, where to go, what to see guide. I’d say, anywhere you go, you’re guaranteed a New York experience. Pick a direction and just start walking! Especially if you’re staying in the downtown core; manhattan anywhere, you’re guaranteed an interesting and entertaining experience!

THE Library of all Libraries!
One day…
We finally tried Chick-Fil-A and absolutely LOVED it! I highly recommend it!
Mandatory Shopping!
Finding gems in such a big city is one of my favourite things to do!
Bryant Park – right in between the Library and Whole Foods Market! Score!
It never gets boring!

Although travelling is one of our favourite things to do, I think this was one of our last “longer” trips for a little bit now. With everything else going on, between settling into our new home and our baby on the way, the focus is now elsewhere. But hey, once a traveller always a traveller, so I know we will go back to it as soon as the time is right!

#PlayingTourist in BOSTON MASSACHUSETTS

Boston Massachusetts has been on our travel list for some time now. We have heard only good things about the city, and have always had an interest in visiting great universities (Boston, housing two major ones – MIT and Harvard). Last year we finally decided it was time to take this trip to Boston and see for ourselves what it had to offer; and so the planning began.

We decided we would spend 3 nights in the city, and managed to find a super cute American heritage AirBnB to stay at during our visit. AirBnBs really are the way these days; especially when traveling in larger groups. The convenience of having a kitchen and living area is so important – especially for me now when all I think about is food, and have to watch what I eat a bit more. Being able to make our own meals whenever we needed was very convenient and definitely healthier as we were able to cut out the fast food option (mostly).

Whenever we travel, we like to sightsee on our own. We always plan ahead, by making a list of places we need to see, and tips and tricks to follow while visiting that specific location. So far so good, because we’ve only had luck in our travels and always managed to find local gems. So, here is my quick overview guide to our Boston adventure

Where to EAT

If you’re like my husband and love seafood then I would definitely recommend the clam chowder at Quincy Market. I’m sure there are a few other places which have “Boston-famous clam chowder” but he found this one and thought it tasted great!

While you’re at Quincy Market, I recommend Wagamama. This is a place we always visit when in England, so it was super exciting to see it in Boston. I always go for a classic chicken broth with udon noodles and toppings on the side. It’s light and you don’t feel bloated or heavy afterwards, like you might after a burger and fries.

Another tradition for us while in England is tea from Pret-A-Manger, and surprise surprise I found one (I’m sure there’s more than one) in Boston! After a fulfilling shopping trip to Primark we picked up a nice hot English Breakfast tea at Pret-A-Manger to go, and continued our stroll through Boston.

Where to SHOP

One of my must see stops on this trip was Primark! I’ve only ever shopped at Primark in England so this was super exciting. Stepping into four floors of European tradition was absolutely amazing! I’ll be honest, I started in the children department because I was so excited to see what they had in store for our baby girl! I then moved down to the mens floor and then women’s to pick up some pajamas and basics – my go-to items from Primark always.

While you’re at Quincy Market grabbing a bite, I recommend browsing the shops as well. There you’ll find lots of local gems as well as high street stores such as Victoria Secret and Coach.

Where to SIGHTSEE

The downtown core and markets were a must see for us while in Boston, as were the two main Universities; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. The downtown core is created for walking and sightseeing. By following the Freedom Trail (which is essentially a red brick path built into the sidewalk which you follow through the city), you walk through all of the important spots in the core and sightsee all of the other surroundings at the same time.

MIT and Harvard are two of the worlds most highly sought after universities and are generally known for their technology advancements (MIT) and legal departments (Harvard). We couldn’t find parking at MIT, so we just took turns jumping out of the car and running through the campus to take photos and glimpse at the buildings and property. At Harvard we had a bit more time to really take in the campus. Ive always viewed Harvard as the main hub for legal education, but this day I was constantly reminded that Harvard has so much more to offer a student than just Legal education – thanks Legally Blonde. One of my favorite places at Harvard was the Coop – the bookstore and gift shop. Of course, I LOVE books so naturally this place spoke to me! I definitely picked up a few good titles to read next!

The Boston harbor front is another local gem in the heart of the city; which we actually only reached by the end of the trip. Nestled in between Boston Marriott Long Wharf and the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park you’ll find a beautiful marina, large play area for kids, waterfront walkways, cozy restaurants, and plenty of perfectly thought out seating areas. I do have a weakness for waterfront views, and I’ll admit that this one was one of the best I’ve seen. Although we only walked a few steps into the waterfront walkway, I’m certain that the entire strip is just as magnificent as the beginning. After a day spent inside the city, this is the place to be to unwind with a cold beverage, and take in the soothing sound of waves splashing against the harbor and birds chirping above.

Overall, this trip was truly amazing and we fell in love with Boston right away. I’d say, if you enjoy the big city life, but can’t stand the crowds and traffic, then Boston is the place to be. In the middle of summer I not once had to push through a crowd or wait in a long line. The city is perfect for walking/strolling through and sightseeing because everything (major in the downtown core) is within walking distance; and that’s a pleasant walk from one to another. The Freedom Trail will take you to all the important sites, and you’ll enjoy the journey on the way.

L O N D O N IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA

I think it’s safe to say that the United Kingdom is one of my favorite places to travel to four main reasons:

  • Family!
  • Shopping! SHOPPING! Shopping!
  • Direct flight from Ottawa to London! + MANY direct and inexpensive flights from the UK to many major cities in Europe!
  • It’s a BEAUTIFUL country; from the heart of London to the flowing countryside; I can never get enough of the views!

Our most recent visit to this wonderful country was back in November. At this point, I think we’ve visited the UK during every season. I’d say there’s something I love about each season so I can’t say I like one more than the other.

During each trip, we visit our traditional list of attractions such as the heart of London, Primark, Wagamama, etc., but also try to see at least one new place we have never been to before!

This time, my husband made the call, and we visited Stonehenge and the nearby Town of Windsor. Both locations were definitely worth the trip! It actually felt important to visit Stonehenge because of its historical background; I definitely feel we checked something off our bucket list with this one. Next, the Town of Windsor; like many of these English Towns, was absolutely adorable! Filled with so many little shops, cafes, and restaurants, and of course, the Windsor Castle right in the middle of the Town. Check + Check!

Luckily for us, the weather cooperated better than expected as well. We were greeted with sunshine from the moment we landed, to the moment we took off at the end of our trip. Not only was it sunny, but it wasn’t at all as cold as it was in Canada, so – bonus! Walking around comfortable in a leather jacket in November is a win in my eyes.

Anyways, we will probably be back sooner than later because we just can’t seem to get enough of Europe recently!!

TOP THREE FARMERS MARKETS IN OTTAWA

For those who are looking for healthy, organic, or fresh from the farm products, Farmer’s Markets are a true gem – especially for those who live in the heart of a big city and don’t have too much spare time to venture out to these local farms. (Yes, most stores carry “fresh from the field” products, but read on, and you’ll see why a Farmer’s Market is worth your while).

Since moving to Ottawa, one of our main weekend attractions has been searching for these organic + fresh from the farm products. We have ventured outside of the city as well to a few farms to pick our own strawberries, raspberries, or currant, but always find ourselves being drawn back to these farmers markets. Here are my top three picks for Farmer’s Markets to venture out to this summer:

CARP FARMER’S MARKET

The Carp Farmer’s Market, located in (you guessed it) Carp, is open on Saturday’s between 8:00am – 1:00pm, from May to October. The Market features an incredible selection of locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, flowers + plants, and arts and crafts. At the entrance of the Market you will find a few food stations with hot and ready items to try (and snack on) while you shop around. One of the biggest fan favourites is the bacon on a bun; the lineup always seems never ending. Across the street from the Market, sits the cutest + coziest coffee shop called Alice’s Village Cafe we like to stop in for a coffee (and sometimes a snack) before or after our Farmer’s Market adventures. Click here to read more about our experience at the Carp Farmer’s Market.

LANDSDOWNE PARK – OTTAWA FARMER’S MARKET

Located in the heart of The Glebe, this Farmer’s Market also boasts all of your favourite fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and plants + flowers, and is open on Sundays between 9:00am – 3:00pm. Although the layout is set up into two rows, it never takes us just two strolls up and down to look at everything. One of the main reasons why this market is at the top of my list (besides the delicious selection) is the fact that it’s inside a park, minutes from the canal, and next to one of my all time favourite food markets; WHOLE FOODS. Before moving to Ottawa, Whole Foods Markets were merely a destination for me while on trips to the USA (I believe I spent na hour in the store in San Francisco), but now that it’s right at my fingertips it’s become my actual grocery go-to for specific organic and healthy products.

BYRON PARK – WESTBORO FARMER’S MARKET

This Market, open on Saturdays between 9:30am – 3:00pm, stretches linearly through Byron Park in the beautiful Westboro neighbourhood, where vendors bring forth a great selection of organic and healthy options. In addition to the Market shopping, you can cross the street and enter into the heart of Westboro where you will find neat shops and cozy restaurants; including many healthy and vegan options as well.  PLUS if you’re feeling the need for some clothes shopping as well, you’ll find unique boutiques along the street, as well as one of the most popular Lululemon store locations in Ottawa.

I definitely don’ need much convincing for why a trip to the Farmer’s Market can turn into an adventure on its own. Not only are Farmer’s Markets a great place to pick up fresh products, but they’re also a nice place to just stroll around and take in the atmosphere and environment. Many Markets offer food stands with hot/cold snacks that are ready to eat; keep in mind that these yummy snacks are usually also organic and fresh from the farm! BONUS! Most are situated in quaint neighbourhoods you can venture out to after your shopping!

Best to set aside a few hours to a trip to the Farmer’s Market these days!

SATURDAY IN THE CITY

Growing up I told myself I would work and live in the heart of the City – there’s a type of lifestyle downtown that I craved; big city + corporate life. Funny enough, now that I’m “all grown up” I run as far away from all of that as I possible can. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time in the city, corporate structures are necessary, and city life is enticing, BUT, I’m happier in the suburbs.

When planning our move to Ottawa this year we were beyond excited for the opportunity. Whoever we talked to and whatever we read about life in the Capital region was right up our alley; just what we were looking for in our lifestyle choices. Settling in a BIG CITY but living in a small town vibe was just what we wanted. It takes us 20 minutes to drive into the heart of Ottawa (Parliament Hill), and we are situated in a quaint family oriented suburb, surrounded by endless fields, greenery, and all the necessities (grocery stores, shopping malls, etc). Keeping in mind, as I mentioned, we are 15 minutes away from the heart of the City.

I can say honestly, with my hand on my heart, this is perfection. Waking up to the sunshine beaming through my windows, and looking out to see fields, greenery, and homes in the distance. They layout is truly ideal for our liking. Not only is everything close by, but when we do decide to go into “the City” it feels so much more special.

Last weekend, we took our Friday Night Date Night right into the heart of the City, into an incredibly pretty location called Byward Market. The date started with wood-oven pizza and Chardonnay, on a cozy flower covered patio, overlooking the picture perfect market promenade. After dinner, we picked a direction and started walking, discovering whatever was ahead of us; in this case, Embassy’s, museums, and some of the most beautiful architecture and views in the city.

Every single time we step out of our home we find a new and beautiful location in this City. There is still so much we have to explore and I can’t wait share more experiences of this mesmerizing region with you!

#PLAYINGTOURIST : CARP, ONTARIO

As we’re settling in to our new City, we are trying to explore local areas as well; I’d say we equally love the countryside and the City.

This past weekend, we decided to check out a town near us called Carp; it was recommended to us by my husbands colleague, who mentioned a great little farmers market which happens every Saturday from 8am-1pm from May until October. Of course that caught our attention; we’re all for supporting local!

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It was no surprise that this was an amazing market; there were so many local vendors with organic food options, plants and herbs, and local handmade products such as soaps!

In addition to the farmers market, across the street we stumbled upon the prettiest coffee shop called Alice’s Village Cafe – I’m sure I looked like a total tourist with the amount of photos I was snapping! Pure wooden furniture (including old church pews) offered comfy seating for the customers, raw metal and unique lighting fixtures added the perfect hygge glow, and green plants decorated tables and walls – this place is just dreamy!

 

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I would definitely recommend this town to visitors; especially the farmers market and Alice’s Village Cafe. I’m sure we will visit it again sometime soon and will check out some new spots which then I’ll be able to share with you!

Happy Weekend!

24 HOURS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Whenever we travel to Europe we like to make a stop in the United Kingdom; for family + shopping generally. This time, our stop was very quick and had an exact purpose.

7:55 am

We touched down in London at 7:55am; by the time we moved through customs and grabbed our luggage it was 9:00 am. My sister in law picked us up, we grabbed some Costa coffees to go and we were off to Bicester Village for some shopping.

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11:30 am

We arrived at Bicester Village with a mission. My husbands goal was to buy a few suits, dress shirts, and a few pairs of shoes. I personally didn’t have high hopes of getting what I wanted; simply because what I wanted is very specific and has been sold out in EVERY store I’ve gone to (including online). So the focus was on my Husband and his shopping mission.

After a couple of hours of shopping we succeeded in finding and buying all of the things he wanted. I can’t say that I didn’t have any luck either though because I bought myself    something as well; a powder pink lace dress from Ted Baker.

4:00pm

The shopping was done and the hunger kicked in. We drove over to the Town of Oxford to one of our favorite restaurants which we always try to visit when in England; Wagamama. Traditionally, we both got Ramen.

Since we were in Oxford we decided to have a look around and sightsee a little bit; we learned and saw some pretty neat things. For starters, Oxford University has a breathtaking campus! The town seems like an entire student town; there are hardly any cars in the area and instead, the amount of bikes everywhere is astounding. Secondly, we learned that many of the locations in the area were used to film scenes from Harry Potter! This was something very interesting for me; it was so neat to find the various locations and recall which scene of the movie they were in. Clearly, I’m a Harry Potter fan; I feel like I grew up with the movie.

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6:00pm

The next part of the day was spent doing something I recommend to anyone traveling to the UK, and that’s stopping in to Primark for some shopping.

Although I look at clothes differently now, and don’t feel the need to buy dozens of items just because they’re “nice” I still like to stop in and see what I can find in these stores. So, I didn’t really buy much besides a cardigan, skirt, and a few tank tops and T-shirt’s.

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8:00pm

At this point we were starting to feel the exhaustion of the trip and days events, and we headed back to my sister in laws home outside of London.

The 12 hours we spent running around were planned and well used; but also exhausting. But this was the idea of our time here, since we knew we’d be spending time together in Poland within the next week, we took full advantage of the UK.

The next morning we caught a flight to Warsaw, Poland, and that was it for our London adventure for this trip. We usually spend at least a week in the Country; it’s mandatory to visit Harris’s and Selfridges, and to fall in love with a new designer item, but we just didn’t have the time for that fun on this trip. Either way, it was nice to be in England again!

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GREETINGS FROM SUNNY ARIZONA

 

H E L L O  A R I Z O N A!

On Thursday morning we landed in Phoenix, for a few days of fun and sun in the deserts of Scottsdale. So far, I have fallen deeply in love with the climate and environment of my surroundings here – especially the Cactus plants, which I simply can’t get enough of.

 

The first thing we did after arriving at The Phoenician Resort (after unpacking and brunching) was go exploring. We started with then Cactus Garden on the property, and were mesmerized right away! Within seconds we were surrounded by hundreds of different types of cactus plants, overlooking majestic mountains in the background.

 

In the garden, and all around the property, each of the different types of plants are labeled with a name and explanation of its type and origin. I’ve decided that cactuses are my type of plant, I have lost track of the amount of photos of them that I now have on my phone; I feel no shame. We don’t have natural cactus gardens in Canada and I want to remember this calming and regenerating experience forever!

 

I’ll admit, since Thursday, I have visited this Cactus Garden five times already; given it’s on the (long) way to our suite, I make it a point that we stroll down these paths routinely!

 

In terms of my outfit; simple and my favorite pieces. A classic canary yellow off the shoulder top, a high waisted black denim skirt, my new Michael Kors sandals, and to finish the look, Dior sunglasses! Casual, comfy, and chic, perfect for the desert!

Happy Saturday!

XX

 

PLAYING TOURIST: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

After a few days in San Francisco, we packed our car, and began the drive to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, highway one was closed so we weren’t able to drive down it like planned, but definitely can’t complain about the road we took – blue clear skies, zero traffic, and beautiful scenic lands all around.

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I must say, if you’re ever planning on doing this drive, you MUST stop off at XX for steaks. I’m not really a big fan of steak, so trust me when I say you have to stop for a steak here. Here’s the link, in case you take my advice:

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Since we did not have too many days to spend in Los Angeles, and knew there was a lot we wanted to accomplish already, on our way into the city, we decided to drive through Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. We didn’t stop for long, but long enough for me to realize that I will be coming back to visit and spending a lot more time in these locations specifically.

Then WELCOME LOS ANGELES, and that famous LA traffic. Yes, it’s true, it take three times as long to get somewhere in LA, if not longer. I can’t say it’s not worth the wait though. We explored Los Angeles in two ways; the tourist way and the locals way. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, we did more of the tourist way, but next time we do, it’ll be local vibes all the way.

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Driving through the city gives you this different vibe, this sense of freedom and need to explore; I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s really something else. I honestly don’t know how else to describe this city, except for that it’s a must see; the vibes are incredible, the scenery mesmerizing, and the atmosphere comfortable – I literally felt like this is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

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PLAYING TOURIST: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

To finally find myself on the west coast was like a dream come true for me. I’ve lost track of the number of years that I have been dreaming of a california vacation, literally. I’ve touched down on this land before, but only as a flight transfer, and it only lasted 3 hours. Since this trip, I have learnt that there is actually no such thing as enough time spent in California.

Our California trip began in San Francisco – the land of incredibly hilly streets, foggy skies, and the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. Our first stop after settling in was of course, Whole Foods – I couldn’t wait any longer to walk through all of those super healthy, vegan friendly aisles; basically, I always find new, state-specific items whenever we travel, and, more importantly, I am always snacking!

We spent about three days playing tourist in this wonderful city, but we definitely could have used a few more. A few of my favourites from this trip would have to include Alcatraz, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, and the San Francisco Premium Outlets. Overall, there isn’t one specific location in the “downtown core” that I could say I preferred over the rest, because I feel like we ventured around so much it all felt so special and beautiful. I definitely was able to feel the San Fran vibes everywhere, and I LOVED IT!