I need a minimum of a trip every 3 months. I just recently received my fourth week vacation allotment at work (WOOHOO!) but sometimes, schedules don’t work out. Pals are using their vacations on out of town weddings, my husband is jet setting to the middle of nowhere Canada for work, my mommy friends can’t get a long term sitter, man, getting older is hard. BUT! I was recently given a free stay at the hip Queen Street location Drake Hotel (www.thedrake.ca) from Daily Hive Toronto (www.dailyhive.com) (BLESS you!)
Out of all the places I’ve been in the world, Mexico wasn’t one of them until just last month. People are usually pretty surprised “Not even once? An all-inclusive around Cancun somewhere?” Nope, resorts aren’t normally my style, and maybe what took me so long to finally visit Mexico was that I assumed it was all one big tourist trap of giant beach hotels, open bars and college kids. My bad.
I found Merida almost by mistake, I was browsing through Air BnB and saw a gorgeous house for rent in the city centre. Never having heard of Merida before, I pulled it up on a map. It wasn’t near a beach (but still accessible to one, read on) and boasted food markets, free art galleries and not completely over run by tourists. Bingo. My husband and I along with a couple friends of ours booked for the end of February.
Here are some events we really enjoyed, or tips we found out about while visiting and maybe you will too if Merida is in your future!
Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? Toronto is full of bar’s serving up complicated and Instagram worthy cocktails that I’m always happy to order. Thing is, when I finally pick my poison off the drink menu, it magically appears completed before me and I have no idea what went into making it. I love hosting parties and our house even has its own little bar, but apart from serving up some super simple drinks (I’m talking rum and cokes, gin and tonics) and maybe some sangria, I have no idea what I’m doing.
The spark of true love is the dream that each of us pursues ~ Donatella Versace
I’m a fragrance queen, I don’t leave the house without spritzing on a perfume that reflects my current mood or ‘completes’ my outfit. I’m just as interested in what’s new in the world of men’s colognes. Dave Lackie held a beautiful launch party to celebrate Versace’s’ Ero’s Flame at Terroni’s on Adelaide last week. A chic event space on the 2nd floor was transformed into a Miami-esque dinner party, complete with palm leaves towering over dinner guests in tall black vases, gold lamps gently glowing over bouquets of geraniums, roses and scattered oranges, a nod to the notes of the fragrance. It was the perfect escape from the blizzard that was happening in downtown Toronto, just outside the front doors.
Beauty and finance are not something that usually go together, and when I saw Dave Lackie was hosting an even for just that, I was intrigued. It seemed to pop up at just the right time, too! My husband and I have been trying to sort our finances out since the wedding, and were in right in the middle of taking an investing and finance course online, too.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I wouldn’t call myself money savvy. I mean, I’m good at saving, have some mutual funds and an RRSP account through my workplace but wouldn’t be able to get into any detail about what exactly the accounts meant for me, how they’d help me later in life and where all my investments are going. I let my banker handle that!
In Dave we trust, so when he brought his own personal financial expert Jay Papernick (Check him out here: https://www.assante.com/advisors/jpapernick/) to speak to his followers gathers in a hall at 15 York St, we were hanging off his every word. I chatted with a few of Dave’s Babe’s over some wine and veggie spring rolls before the event started and we were all on the same page when it came to money. It scared us, it made us feel uncomfortable and we wish we knew more about it, especially living in such a big city like Toronto where the rent and mortgages seem to climb higher every week and a decent meal out will set you back a nice chunk of change.
I love travelling and try to get away as often as I can. Life in the city can add up, we have rent, insurance, parking and countless other bills to take care of, so we really need to budget when we go away.
When I say ‘budget’, I don’t mean we choose a lesser quality trip, I like to think of myself as a smart shopper and subscribe to such newsletters as Travel Zoo, Scott’s Cheap Flights, Next Departure and YYZ deals (thanks, guys, you’re all life savers!) to score a great trip at the right price.
Earlier this year, my husband called me from work after receiving the Travel Zoo weekly newsletter, he saw a deal too good to pass up. Thailand. It’s been on his bucket list forever. It was an 8 day trip, with flights to Bangkok, from there flights to Chiang Mai and Phuket were also included. 4 star hotels in each destination and transportation from each airport, all for $1400. It seemed too good to be true. I put my travel detective hat on and googled some reviews of the tour company, UTO travel based out of Richmond Hill. They were mixed, some raving and some ranting.
Bright lights, big production shows and chiming slot machines, I get it, I get it! The appeal of Las Vegas has never been so obvious, but for a frequent visitor like myself, I found it slowly starting to become predictable. I wanted a little more. I wanted to see the real Vegas, eat with some locals, get into the desert, and take a drive away from all the twinkling signs… Here are a few things I’ve found that are fun and interesting and will help you get off the strip!
By this point, you know I like to enjoy a local brew or two whenever I’m visiting somewhere new. So many craft beer enthusiasts told me that I NEEDED to try Heady Topper from the Alchemist. I was excited about it! I was happy to have been able to have a delicious Heady Topper on a patio with dinner one night, but the actual brewery itself was closed on Sunday and Monday when we were in the area, what a bummer. It’ll have to be a stop for next time. (For those who don’t know, Heady Topper is a double India Pale Ale brewed in Stowe, it’s a whopping 8% but still goes down smooth with hints of citrus. It was voted the 4th best beer in the world this year by Beer Advocate, that’s a pretty big deal).
My husband is a huge foodie. He watches documentaries on food factories, popular authentic stops and events. When we booked our Vermont trip one of the first things he asked me is if we could stop by the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. I thought it would be a little hokey, I didn’t know what to expect, but of course I said we could check it out.
One of the absolute highlights of Vermont for me was Dog Mountain in Saint Johnsbury. At first, since it was a bit out of our way and would have added 3 plus hours onto our trip back home, we didn’t think we could pay it a visit, but Katie had the sneaky plan of us following her car (she had the GPS, after all) and surprising me.
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.