Five Misconceptions About Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a destination I had no desire to travel to.  It seems like everyone has been there on multiple occasions due to low prices and easy access.  I travel for the sake of curiosity and felt I knew what Las Vegas is about – a cheap destination to host bachelor and bachelorette parties.

When word spread that Britney Spears (fan girl alert) signed a residency at Planet Hollywood I immediately booked my ticket!  It’s her show (which happened to be scheduled on my birthday) that excited me – not the destination.

Was the trip a bust?  No, Las Vegas pleasantly surprised me and is a city I’d like to explore more.  The assumptions I made proved to be false.  These are my top five misconceptions about Las Vegas.

1) It’s tacky

There are obvious, distasteful aspects about the city.  The saying, ‘freaks come out at night’ is appropriate in this instance.  Look past that and you’ll find tasteful entertainment and dining options along the strip.

2) It’s cheap

The flight/hotel packages from Canada to Las Vegas tend to have incredibly low prices.  Don’t let that fool you about the overall cost of the trip.  Once you add up the resort fees, expensive dining, taxi fares and the exchange rate, you’ll find that it’s not so cheap after all.

3) It has the best outlet malls

When shopping abroad I aim for businesses that aren’t accessible at home (hello designer stores).  Friends come home bragging about their amazing finds at the Vegas outlet malls all the time.  My experience differed.  With my eye on a designer watch (happy birthday to me) I went to the outlet shops expecting to find low prices.  Boy, was I mistaken!  The prices matched those in the designer stores found along the strip.

4) It’s one big party

Open alcohol is allowed in public, the casinos never shut down and shows run every night of the week.  It’s the perfect formula to create a party atmosphere.  For some (usually on weekends) this is the case.  My trip was during the week (Sunday to Wednesday) and I found the public to be respectable, even with drinks in hand.

5) It’s hot

In the summer perhaps, but not in February.  The air was crisp enough for me to wear a jacket day and night.  Most pools were closed, with the exception of heated outdoor pools.  The rest usually open mid-March when the weather really starts to warm up.

If you had your own misconceptions about Las Vegas prior to traveling there please share them with me in the comments below!

24 Hours in Los Angeles

Booking travel proves to be a challenge from time to time.  Being from a small city, the number of airlines and flights available are limited, sometimes forcing long layovers on route to the destination.  Travelers may see this as a burden.  For me, this is an opportunity to discover new places.

California has been on my ‘must see’ list since The O.C. debuted in 2003.  Having luck on my side, long layovers in Los Angeles allowed me to get a taste of the Golden State.  Exploring infamous areas of the coastline leaves me longing for another visit.  Until then, I share with you my top recommended experiences in Los Angeles.

Venice Beach

Just stepped off of a flight, hungry for food and fresh air?  Hop in a taxi and tour 15 minutes to Venice Beach.  This neighborhood is lively with an impressive array of characters who frequent the pubs and the pier.  Recharge your taste buds with a plate of tasty guacamole and an over-sized margarita at Cabo Cantina.  The energetic staff are inviting to guests who are between flights, even with luggage in tow!

Time to head back to the airport for your connecting flight?  Call an Uber and have them meet you by the Venice Fishing Pier.  Only a four minute walk from Cabo Cantina, stroll down to the beach and catch the ocean breeze before being confined within an aircraft.  Warning: the seagulls may use you as a target!

In-N-Out Burger

If you’re like me, airplane food doesn’t satisfy your appetite. Flying to a destination usually means my tummy is rumbling for some ‘real food’ upon landing.  Other bloggers rave about In-N-Out Burger during their travels in America, therefore I had to try it.  And you do too!  This is not your typical fast food restaurant – the food is fresh and the menu is simple.  Be warned that the lines are long but worth the wait.

The closest In-N-Out Burger location to LAX is just a 13 minute Uber ride away.  Perfect for those of you with shorter connections of three to four hours.

Manhattan Beach

Does your flight require an overnight connection?  Check into a hotel neighboring the airport for easy access to Manhattan Beach.  Hop on the Ocean Express, a shuttle that connects guests to downtown Manhattan Beach and surrounding areas.  It’s not for general public use and has limited stops – a quicker commute than typical public transportation.

This area is bustling with locals and visitors alike, dipping their toes in the ocean and dining at trendy restaurants.  Seek comfort and eat like a local at Lemonade – a modern marketplace serving a seasonal spread, both delicious and nutritious.  The salty ocean air may leave you wanting to indulge your sweet tooth. The Manhattan Beach Creamery serves house-made creams and is home to the original artisan ice cream sandwich.  They are open late and there’s a reason the line is out the door!

California sunsets

There’s something to be said about those California sunsets – they’ll take your breath away.  Before the night ends and you pack up for the next leg of your trip, be sure to wander down to the beach and revel in the neon sky.  Grab your camera to capture this unforgettable sight – no filter required!

Have you stopped over in Los Angeles?  If so, let me know your suggestions of what to see and do in the comments below!

Vlog: Cruising through the countryside on a motorcycle

Summertime in Saskatchewan calls for road trips, near or far.  Cruising on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle gives me a sense of freedom – a feeling that I lack when riding in a vehicle.  Saskatchewan highways are scarce in bends and curves, an opportunity to crack the throttle wide open.

A group of 42 motorcycles rallied in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation over Canada Day long weekend.  384 km of Saskatchewan highways were covered with stops along the way, notably the rest stop in Stenen.  Rawhides Restaurant welcomed the riders to a buffet of western cuisine to replenish themselves before embarking on the second half of the trail.

Enjoy a sneak peek into the fun that was had on the bike rally!

24 Hours In Amsterdam

Traveling across the world is exhausting – countless hours spent on airplanes and in airports.  Being sleepless and shower-less leaves one thought in my mind, “are we there yet?!”

Creating itineraries and booking flights is my job.  Putting together different flight patterns can be a lot of fun, especially when it’s for myself!  A friend and I traveled to Romania together and decided to try something new – let’s stop over in London or Amsterdam.  Breaking up the flight would help us fight jet lag and the cost would be minimal, so why not?  Amsterdam turned out to be the best fit for flight times and our budget.

What a whirlwind experience – landing at 5:00a.m. and wandering the city well past midnight.  Here’s what we did with 24 hours in Amsterdam.

Anne Frank Huis

Many people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who hid from Nazis during World War II.  Her diary was published and sold over 30 million copies.  The home has been transformed into a museum – the Secret Annexe has been kept in its original condition and other parts of the building have been renovated.  The bookcase that once concealed the hidden entrance remains open for visitors to pass through and walk in the footsteps of the young Anne Frank.  Her diary sits open and protected underneath a glass case.  This piece of history is one that stirred up emotions and left me heavyhearted.

Dutch pancakes

Turn that frown upside down with Dutch pancakes!  Walk four minutes down the street from the Anne Frank Huis and you’ll reach The Pancake Bakery, one of Amsterdam’s top three bakeries.  It is situated in a 17th century warehouse where over 100 kinds of pancakes are served.  A lover of both sweet and savory, I ordered the ‘Canadian’ pancake.

Appeltaart

No meal is complete without dessert, especially when on vacation.  Villa Zeezicht serves satisfactory meals, but it’s all trumped by their homemade appeltaart (apple pie).  We specifically sought out this local favourite and were not disappointed.  Their appeltaart is comparable to my grandmother’s – impressive considering no one else has come close!

Red Light District

It’s late and most businesses are closed, but you’re not ready to head back to the hotel.  Why not meander around the Red Light District?  Heavy with foot traffic of curious tourists and cheeky couples, the cobblestone streets are lined with women behind windows.  Like mannequins in a display case, they are dolled up to look their best and attract customers.  The bold ones tap on the glass to catch male attention.

For those who don’t want to leave anything to the imagination, stop by Casa Rosso Theatre for a drink and a show.  Some acts include audience participation, so be wary of how close you sit by the stage.

Coffeeshop

Not to be confused with a cafe, a coffeeshop is where one purchases marijuana.  Though coffee is probably served with Space Cakes, alcohol is not permitted.  Still unsure if it’s a coffeeshop or cafe?  You’ll know by the fragrance exiting the doorway as you step inside.

Have you stopped over in Amsterdam?  If so, let me know your suggestions of what to see and do in the comments below!

How Travel Can Mend A Broken Heart

Most of us have endured the pain of a broken heart.  You loved and lost.  The days go by and your mind is consumed with unanswered questions.  Where did things go wrong?  What could I have done to save the relationship?  Did he meet someone else?  The list goes on and on.

We all cope in different ways.  Some of you become best friends with Ben & Jerry, others release their stress at the gym, and the rest of you may drown your sorrows in chardonnay.  No judgement!  My first instinct when faced with a broken heart is to run away.  Leave all of my problems behind and start over. I’ve actually done that and, while it didn’t solve my problems, it definitely helped my heart heal.

How can traveling mend a broken heart you ask?  This is how it helped me.

It’s a distraction

From waiting in airport security lines, to your chatty neighbor on the airplane, to navigating around an unfamiliar city – your mind will be consumed with new experiences.  Who has time to think about an ex-boyfriend?

You’ll meet new people

There are countless opportunities to meet new people and make new friends while abroad.  Traveling solo makes you more approachable and opens you up to reaching out to others.  Traveling with a tour group introduces you to like-minded travelers.

The world may seem small when the person you loved is no longer in it.  Bonding with people in new places makes you realize how many amazing people are out there.  You never know, ‘the one’ just might be a plane ticket away!

You put yourself first

I’m a people pleaser and want to make others happy.  Where would you like to go?  What restaurant would you like to dine at?  What music would you like to listen to?

Take a trip by yourself and you’ll have the freedom to go anywhere you want and do (almost) anything you want.  There’s nobody to compromise with.  The only person to please is yourself!

You’ll get comfortable being on your own

You started to build a life with someone and were used to leaning on them for support.  Suddenly, you’re facing the world on your own.  It feels uncomfortable and you may not know what to do next. My advice is to try something new and try it by yourself.  Learn a new language, join a class, or face a fear.  It will liberate you and you’ll be looking forward to a new challenge to conquer.

Distance yourself from the past

Physically distancing yourself from your ex can emotionally detach you from them.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Take a road trip or book a plane ticket.  No wifi at the hotel?  Even better!  Stalking your ex through social media will lengthen the healing process.

Make new memories

Traveling the world creates memories that will last a lifetime.  Replace those memories that sadden you with new ones that bring joy to your heart.  That relationship with what’s-his-name will be a distant memory before you know it!