5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Canada’s east coast is chock full of history, natural wonders, great music, and amazing food — Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia, is no exception! This vibrant city has a huge natural harbor, is home to several universities, has fantastic museums, lots of shops, and an incredible food scene that boasts unique, locally owned restaurants and cafes.

While most visitors to the city stick to those on the waterfront or downtown, there are many spots in Halifax’s hip North End that are local favorites. This area of the city is where you will find vibrantly painted townhomes, beautiful boutiques, great coffee, cute bakeries, and cocktail bars serving small seasonal menus based around what can be bought locally.

I recently visited a friend who lives in this part of Halifax (Hi Michelle!), who also happens to be a part of the food scene in the city. These five spots are some of her favorites (and, now, mine) based on three very important things — great ambiance, great food, and great drinks (cocktails or coffees)!

LF French Bakery

2063 Gottingen Street
Website

The last time I was in Paris, I was staying a block away from an incredible bakery and started every day with a cappuccino and a fresh croissant. As you can imagine, that set the bar pretty high for bakeries, but the LF (Laurent French — the owner who was raised by two French bakers in France) Bakery did not disappoint!

They bake all of their pastries like croissants, chocolatines, baguettes, brioche, and various tartelettes fresh EVERY DAY, and also have a full coffee bar and soups and sandwiches. There are spots to sit inside where it is warm, fragrant, and welcoming, as well as a small patio to the side to enjoy on sunny days. Or, grab a chocolatine (highly recommended) and an espresso to-go and wander around the colourful neighbourhood!

enVie

5775 Charles Street
Website

If you are looking for vegan food, or just REALLY GOOD FOOD, then this is your spot!

We had an incredible brunch at enVie, which also offers food and smoothies to-go if you are looking for something healthy and quick. The food was delicious, the space was bright and cozy, and the location — on a corner overlooking a bustling street — was perfect for people watching.

I had The Skillet, which was a tofu scramble with roasted vegetables, garlic aioli, green onion, and seitan bacon served on a bed of crispy home fries, and a Grapefruit Mimosa. The food was SO good I forgot that I wasn’t eating real bacon and eggs!

Bar Kismet

2733 Agricola Street
Website

This was my favourite cocktail bar that Michelle took me to. There was just something about the way that it was decorated that just really made me feel like I was on the East Coast. We sat at the bar which was perfect, as the place was packed (reservations suggested) so it was easier to chat that way.

The menu changes throughout the year based on the season, but oysters are a constant, as are small plates with some sort of fresh seafood. All of the dishes on the menu are perfect for sharing. I tried (aka devoured) the Ahi Tartar and Allumettes Fries, which was indescribably delicious, and indulged in a glass of bubbly.

This spot is also well known for its creative cocktails with names like Less Than Ideal Situation, No-Spresso Martini, The Gangster Of Love, and Famous Last Words.

The Nook Espresso Bar

2118 Gottingen St.
Website

This cafe is the perfect place to do a little work, read, or catch up with a friend over a locally-roasted cup of coffee. Nook uses North Mountain Coffee, which is roasted in Nova Scotia — they also sell it in bags if you like it enough to take some home with you!

The cafe also gives back to their community through the Nook Token Program. When you are ordering your coffee and/or snack, consider purchasing a token for $2 or $5 as well. The tokens can be used by those in need to get something to eat. A great program that cafes all over Canada are starting to adopt.

The Ostrich Club

5529 Young Street
Website

This modern and minimalist space is a bit of a surprise considering the building it is located in looks old and historic from the outside. The Ostrich Club serves lunch, dinner, and brunch and is another great spot to share small plates and cocktails with friends.

I sat at the bar, which gives you a full view of the kitchen and the chefs putting the finishing touches on simple dishes packed with flavour. They have a great cocktail menu (if you are craving an Aperol Spritz, this is your spot!) and wine list that includes some local offerings. The menu also changes frequently, but make sure you don’t pass by the vegetable dishes — the brussels sprouts I had were amazing.

Oh, and if you are searching for the floral floor (pictured above), you’ll find it in the bathrooms in the basement!

Pin Me!

5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax
5 Local Spots to Eat (+Drink) In Halifax


Your Guide To Visiting The Skytram in Jasper National Park

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , , ,


Open from the end of March to the end of October (check the website for exact times, as this can change based on the weather) the Jasper Skytram offers breathtaking views of the town of Jasper, the surrounding park, turquoise glacial lakes, and six mountain ranges (yes, I said SIX!).

Located on Whistlers Mountain, a short 7 km from Jasper, the tram can hold 26 passengers and takes 7 1/2 minutes to travel from the lower station (1,258m above sea level) to the upper station (2,263m above sea level).

If you want to experience amazing rocky mountain views (without having to hike for hours), this is the way to get them.

Inside the tram there are three small seats in the corners, rails on the sides to hold onto, and had hold hanging from the ceiling. There are windows on all sides, offering a 360 degree view.

Planning Your Visit

Location

From the town of Jasper, follow the Icefields Parkway south for 2 km. Then turn right on Whistlers Road (it is clearly marked). Follow the road up the mountain (you will pass a hostel on your way up) until you get to the Skytram parking lot.

Hours of Operation

Hours vary based on the time of year you are visiting. Check the website for updated hours.

Ticket Prices

Adults (16+) $49.30, Youth (6-15) $26.30, Child (Under 6) Free
*Note: You can purchase a half price one-way ticket if you choose to hike to the top (there is a well-used hiking trail) and would like to ride the tram down.

The unloading area at the upper station once everyone has left the tram.

What To Bring

The weather can change quickly on the top of the mountain so you need to make sure you are prepared, especially if you are planning on hiking to the summit. Here’s a list of items you should bring with you and/or wear:

  • water

  • hiking boots or supportive runners if you are planning on trekking

  • sunscreen (even on a cold day you can get a sunburn at that elevation)

  • layers, including a wind or waterproof jacket

In the spring there is often still snow at the top of the mountain. The summit trail takes you to the top of the ridge in the photo, you can snowshoe it when it is still covered in snow. Just on the other side of the ridge are views of Marmot Basin.

When you get to the top, whether you have a clear view or are surrounded by clouds, you are in for an incredible experience.

On a clear day, you can see the shockingly blue Patricia Lake, Pyramid Lake, Lac Beauvert, Lake Annette, and Lake Edith. The Athabasca River winds through the valley, and you’ll also get incredible views of Pyramid Mountain, Old Man Mountain, the Colin Ridge, and the Victoria Cross Range.

This is the view from the tram just after leaving the top. You can see the second tram in the distance and the incredible views!

But being at the summit on a cloudy can be an incredible experience too, as it feels like you are suddenly in an alien landscape!

Jasper Skytram Whistlers Summit

There is a wooden boardwalk at the summit that is kept clear (unless it just snowed like in this photo) and nice and wide so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

There is restaurant and gift shop at the top, a accessible boardwalk near the tram, and a 1.4 km trail that will take you to the summit of Whistlers Mountain. In the spring, the trail is usually still covered in snow and can be hiked in snowshoes that you can rent at the top or in the town of Jasper before you make your way to the tram.

There is nothing better than feeling like you’re on top of the world!

Pin Me!

Guide to visiting the skytram in Jasper National Park
Guide to visiting the skytram in Jasper National Park



25 Questions To Ask Your Travel Buddy On Long Travel Days

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


There is A LOT of down time when you are traveling long distances — waiting for your flight, driving to your next destination, or relaxing on a train.

You could sit with your nose in a book or scroll through Instagram to pass the hours, but why not take the opportunity to ask your travel buddy (or the random person sitting across from you if they look interesting) some fun questions and get to know each other better instead?

You never know where the conversation might go…

1. Describe what you looked like in your most awkward childhood phase.

2. What is the weirdest thing that you’ve ever eaten?

3. Describe your perfect meal.

4. Have you ever done something illegal and never gotten caught?

5. You can have one superpower — what would it be and why?

6. Is there a country or city in the world that you never want to visit?

7. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

8. If you could stay this age forever, would you?

9. What is your favorite smell?

10. If you needed a new identity what would your name be, where would you go, and what would you do?  

11. If you had to compete in a food eating contest, what type of food would you pick?

12. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? Where and when?

13. Would you rather give up coffee forever or alcohol forever?

14. If you could be a fictional character who would you be?

15. If you could join a mission to colonize Mars, would you?

16. Tell me something that nobody knows about you.

17. What would your personal theme song be if you were a character in a sitcom?

18. If you could change one thing about the way you look, what would you change?

19. If you could time travel, what year or event would you go back to?

20. What’s your go-to karaoke song?

21. Tell me about the last thing you read.

22. Do you believe in ghosts?

23. What is your favorite Olympic sport?

24. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Why?

25. Describe yourself in five words.

Click here to download a pdf of the questions to take with you on your next trip!

Pin Me!

Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days
Questions to ask your buddy on long travel days



Hit The Beach! Your Guide to the Best Beaches in the USA

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Winters are long and cold, and I find myself dreaming of the beach for most of the year (who am I kidding, ALL of the year).

There are so many incredible tropical locations to explore in the world, but when the warm weather hits, the beaches in the US are well worth a visit.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the total length of the US shoreline (which includes outer coast, offshore islands, sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks), is a staggering 95,471 miles (153,646 km)!

That’s a lot of beach to explore!

What’s interesting about the beaches in the States is that they are so varied. Some do feel like a topical paradise, others are stormy and rocky, while others are deserted and isolated. Because of the sheer size of the country, there is no way you could visit all of the beaches in a single visit, but there are some more famous and popular ones that are definitely worth planning your trip around.

Surf Spots

Is catching a wave your idea of the perfect day at the beach? There are some amazing surf spots in the States. Here are two of the most famous:

Huntington Beach

Orange County, California
Also known as “Surf City,” this beach attracts serious crowds. There are actually four different surf spots in the area that cater to all levels — from the novice to the expert.

According to Gear Patrol, “longboarders should head to the northwest beaches, while shortboards are best in the south, by Huntington Beach Pier.”

Pipeline

North Shore, Oahu
I couldn't talk about surf spots and not mention a beach in Hawaii!

Considered to have the some of the world’s biggest and best waves, this spot is for serious surfers only. The currents are strong and the reef is sharp and cavernous, but that’s the reason for the incredible 30-foot waves and the large, hollow tubes of water that surfers are often photographed on. If you aren’t experienced enough to ride the waves yourself, it’s the perfect spot to take some amazing photos of world-class surfers!

Suntanning + People Watching

Located on opposite sides of the country, these two spots are the best beaches to see and be seen in America.

Miami Beach

Miami, Florida
This famous beach has more than 13 million visitors each year (!) making it the ideal spot to people watch.

The southern portion, or South Beach, is known for being the spot where models, celebrities, and other millionaires hang out (get ready for some celebrity spotting!), and this is where you will find the famous Ocean Drive with its stunning Art Deco architecture.

Venice Beach

Los Angeles, California
More than 16 million people visit the quirky and charter-filled Venice Beach every year to experience the sights and sounds of this one-of-a-kind spot.

Stroll down the boardwalk, purchase some unique souvenirs from a street vendor, get your fortune told, play some basketball, go dancing, relax in the sand, or get a little surfing in — there is so much to do here!  

Sunsets + Romance

Walk barefoot in the sand and catch the sunset at one of these locations that seem made for romance.

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, North Carolina
This gorgeous spot in the Brunswick Islands has a mile-long beach that is south facing, which means that you can watch the sun both rise and set over the water.  

Located at one end of the beach is the Kindred Spirits Mailbox, where lovers can pen notes to each other, or leave behind wishes for the future.

Montauk Point State Park

Montauk, New York
A favorite escape for New Yorkers, couples love this destination for its peace and serenity.

Go for a romantic horseback ride, take in the stunning views from the majestic rocky shore, or explore the beautiful 200-year-old lighthouse that sits on the cliffs in the park.

Get Your Party On

It’s 5 o’clock all day at these destinations that are always ready to party!

Your guide to the best beaches in America

Wildwood Beach

Wildwood, New Jersey
The famous Jersey Shore is known for its boardwalk and amusement park with more than 100 rides!

There are a variety of clubs and bars that turn up the heat when the sun goes down, and are where you can enjoy great food, indulge in some cocktails, or spend the night tearing up the dance floor.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia
The beach’s boardwalk is home to a strip of bars that is perfect for those that are looking to bar hop the night away. There are also some pretty incredible happy hour prices along the strip — some starting as early as 11 am!

LGBTQ-Friendly Destinations

Sun, sand, and all-inclusive fun await you at these LGBTQ-friendly destinations!

Race Point Beach

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Dubbed “P-town,” this free-spirited beach town has been a must-visit destination for LGBTQ travelers for years.

You’ll find a thriving art scene, whale-watching, incredible seafood, and lots of romantic and secluded spots to stroll.

Will Rogers State Beach (aka Ginger Rogers Beach)

Santa Monica, California
Located right off the Pacific Coast Highway, this is the closest (unofficial) gay beach to Los Angeles, so you may have a chance to do some movie star spotting here!

This is also the beach where the movie Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed, as well as the TV series Baywatch!

Pin Me!

Your guide to the best beaches in America
Your guide to the best beaches in America



12 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Nova Scotia in Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Though Canada’s east coast has been occupied and built up longer than most of Canada by outsiders who brought farming, building, and industry to the “New World”, there is still something raw, wild, and just beautiful about this part of the country.

Yes, a lot of that beauty is a result of human occupation, but there seems to be a symbiosis between the land and the people who live in it, and a respect for the roaring ocean that is always close by.

These 12 photos show some of my favourite parts of this stunning province, and showcase why it is worth the visit.

The boardwalks that take you from a gravel parking lot on the side of the road, through the sand dunes, and out onto the beach that is stunning if it is shrouded on fog or glowing under the blue sky!

The happy, multi-coloured buildings found everywhere you look — in cities, villages, and on farms!

Sleepy fishing villages with moss covered roofs in quiet coves.

Fishing nets, boats, traps, colourfully painted floats, and the fishermen themselves are full of character.

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove — it doesn’t matter how touristy it is, this will always be one of my favourite spots!

Short ferry rides that give you views of small villages along the water and shorten your drive time.

Stunning parks are found throughout the province, like this one in Halifax.

Weathered, historic buildings that have held their own through winter storms and bright sunshiny days.

It’s just so ridiculously beautiful — I mean, look at those colors!!

Everywhere you turn, you seem to be at the beach, which is almost more beautiful in the fog than it is in the sunshine.

I could stare at the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean that crashes against the shoreline for days.

The colourful buildings in the North End of Halifax that have so much character!

Pin Me!

Visit Nova Scotia in Canada
Visit Nova Scotia in Canada


Your Guide to The Top Cities and Countries to Visit In 2019

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Lush green rainforests, storybook castles, rugged mountain peaks — where are you dreaming of visiting in 2019?

There are a lot of articles out there already about the top places to visit in 2019 so, to make things easier, I've rounded up the best to give you a one-stop spot to plan your 2019 adventures.

Here are the top five destinations for the year according to National GeographicLonely PlanetTravel + Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveller — four of my favourite travel publications!

National Geographic’s “Where to Travel in 2019”

1. Mexico City, Mexico (see image above)
The local food scene is the biggest draw according to the article, with a focus on handmade corn tortillas.

2. The Peruvian Amazon
Did you know that the Amazon rainforest covers more than half of Peru?!

3. Fanjinshan, China
This sacred Buddhist site is China’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Dakar, Senegal
The center of the fashion world in Senegal, this city is known for its incredible nightlife.

5. Dordogne, France
An annual celebration in this region called the Félibrée turns 100 in 2019 and the castles and landscape make this destination look like it’s out of a fairytale!

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list.

Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2019”

*Note: This article contains multiple lists, but I’ve focused on the cities for this post.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Dubbed the “capital of cool”, this city is a hub of fashion, food, and culture!

2. Shenzhen, China
Considered to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of China, this city is bursting with tech innovation.

3. Novi Sad, Siberia
The 2019 European Youth Capital, this city is quickly developing its cultural assets as it is set to be the 2021 European Capital of Culture.

4. Miami, USA (see image above)
Always a popular destination for beaches and nightlife, Miami has transformed into a “burgeoning center for the arts, a foodie destination and an innovator in urban design”.

5. Katmandu, Nepal
Still rebuilding after the 2015 earthquake, this city is in a phase of rejuvenation — tourism dollars can only help!

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list. 

Travel + Leisure’s “The 50 Best Places To Travel in 2019”

1. The Adirondacks, New York
”Clear lakes, pure air, and 46 high peaks to climb” — what more could you want?!

2. Alberta, Canada
The majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains, incredible museums and art galleries, and a robust foodie scene — this province in Canada has a lot to offer!

Read The Anthrotorian’s Guide to Trekking The Sulphur Skyline Train in Jasper, Alberta

3. Alsace, France
This region produces some of the best wine in the world and has incredible dining to go with it.

4. The Andaman Islands
This chain of more than 300 islands is between India and Thailand and is the definition of paradise.

5. Armenia (see image above)
A new liberal government has made this stunning country more welcoming and accessible to tourists.

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list.

Conde Nast Traveller’s “Top Holiday Destinations 2019”

1. The Peloponnese, Greece
Escape the crowds of Santorini and check out this even more stunning under-the-radar Greek destination.

2. Egypt
If museums are your thing (they are definitely mine!), the Grand Egyptian Museum is opening in January of 2019.

3. Matera, Italy
This romantic and historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Perth, Western Australia
A foodie and wine destination, this city is also a great jumping off point for adventures in Australia’s “wild west”.

5. The Scottish Highlands
Step into the wild wilderness that looks like a movie set or cuddle up near a fire in the local pub.

Click here to see all of the destinations on this list. 

Left photo below by Oliver Sjöström, Instagram: @ollivves, Website: https://ollivves.com/ 

Pin Me!

Your guide to the best cities and countries to visit in 2019
Your guide to the best cities and countries to visit in 2019


15 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Lagos in Portugal

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Lagos Portugal Algarve

Stretching 150 km along the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve is arguably one of the most beautiful and varied coastlines in the world. 

You can find solitude on sandy islands, action-packed golden beaches with amazing nightlife, and the famous breathtaking cliff-backed shorelines that have taken over Instagram. There are also charming towns packed with cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and lots of cobblestone streets to wander through when the sun goes down. 

If you are looking for resorts and nightlife, the east and center of the long coastline is where you should base. The west is a little quieter and more rugged. If you are looking for the best of both worlds, head to my favourite spot — Lagos.  

 

Why Lagos?

Lagos sits right on the coast with an old town that is surrounded by a 16th-century wall enclosing picturesque plazas, cobbled lanes, churches, charming restaurants, fantastic nightlife and more. Many of the hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and rental apartments are located outside of the old town but are easy to walk to. There are also a lot of grocery stores and markets if you are wanting to self-cater. 

Nearby beaches offer every type of activity imaginable, but you are also close to the rock backed nooks that you can climb down to if you are looking for a more secluded spot for the day. 

Getting there 

Portugal has fantastic train and bus networks that you can use to get all over the country. You can access Lagos from Lisbon by train, and there are also coastal trains that run back-and-forth along the cost if you would like to visit different towns and beaches during your stay. 

You can pre-buy your tickets on the Comboios de Portugal website. (TIP: The first-class ticket is usually only a few Euros more than the regular class. If you are looking for more space, a quieter car, and free wifi consider sitting in a first-class car.)

When to go

As with any location with a beach, as soon as summer hits locals and tourists alike flock to the sand and clear blue water of the Algarve. The summer months will find towns and beaches packed with people and temperatures soar. 

By October, the tourists clear out, but if you are (like me) okay with hitting the beach in around 20-degree weather (78-degrees Fahrenheit), then the fall and spring are lovely times to visit. You'll be sharing the town and beaches with locals, some expats, and the odd tourist, and prices will also be significantly lower. 

Watch out for

The beaches and towns along the Algarve are some of the busiest areas in Portugal in the summer months and the pickpockets know it. Keep your eye on your belongings, especially when laying on the beach.

Be careful if you decide to search out a cliff-backed beach, as the cliffs can often be unstable. And, make sure you are aware of ocean conditions — some areas can experience dangerous currents and winds.  

Surrounded by a historic wall, there are only a few paved roads that cars, and pedestrians, can use to access the town of Lagos through curved entryways. 

The streets of Lagos are paved with unique patterns laid out in cobblestones. Buildings are painted white, orange, pink, or blue, or are covered in stunning Portuguese tiles. 

Sun drenched streets make the tile-covered buildings in Lagos look even more beautiful. This shot was taken on my visit there in November when it was still hot enough to lay on the beach all day, but not hot enough to be packed with tourists. 

Cafes, restaurants, and charming souvenir shops spill out into the cobblestone pedestrian street in Lagos. 

One of the famous cliff-backed, secluded beaches, Praia do Camilo is a bit of a hike to get down to but is SO worth it. It is about a 40-minute walk from the heart of Lagos, but there are also local buses that will drop you off near this spot. 

A rock face at Praia do Camilo from the beach level. To the left is a passage through the thick cliff that gives you access to a smaller, more private beach on the other side. 

The homes that are located outside the city walls are colourful, covered in stunning flowers, and are often available for rent if you are looking for a base to have a longer stay in the area. 

Because of the year-round beautiful weather, even in November, these stunning flowers were in full bloom. 

There are hiking trails along the coast from Lagos heading west to a historic lighthouse. They take you past incredible views, to the top of staircases that lead you to secluded beaches, and go for miles. 

Near the lighthouse, there are caverns in the rock that can be accessed by boat. If you aren't interested in the hike, there are boats that leave from Lagos that will give you the ocean-side view of the cliffs. 

Looking east from the top of the cliffs near Lagos, you can see other whitewashed towns dappled along the coastline. 

The golden sand and stunning blue waters of the Praia Dona Ana, located just outside of central Lagos. 

I was surprised to see how many unique and colourful shells are washed up on the beach every day — most of them completely intact. The beaches of the Algarve are a beachcombers dream! 

Gotta love having a quiet, secluded spot to set up a selfie at sunset! Nothing better than getting that perfect shot for Instagram :) 

Pin Me!

Lagos Portugal Algarve
Lagos Portugal Algarve