Monthly Archives: August 2022
Beautiful British Columbia
Hornby Island Magnificence
Air Canada’s Flight Safety Video
I know, I know, a strange thing to write about but cudos must be given to whoever Air Canada hired to produce this video.
It’s quite beautiful, focussing on many stunning locations throughout Canada as you’re shown what to do in case of emergency. The amazing videography features Newfoundland & Labrador; Manitoba; the Yukon, Toronto, Ontario; the Northwest Territories; Nunavut; Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia; & Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
It’s also got a lightheartedness about it as a bearded fisherman on his boat in Nova Scotia is taking the airline life jacket from below his seat & showing how to inflate it.
When explaining how to brace yourself in case of emergency, there are yogis overlooking the ocean in Prince Edward Island doing the ‘lay your chest across your lap & grasp the back of your knees or ankles’ pose.
It’s just a nice change from the air crew having to show you how the seatbelt works or the oxygen mask technique & I could hear other travellers exclaiming over the gorgeous scenery, which meant I wasn’t the only one watching the presentation for once.
Absolutely the best meal of this vacation!
il Basilico, one of the restaurants at our hotel, Portobay Falesia, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was excellent.
First, Rosé Sangria, then fresh grilled Ahi tuna & chargrilled beef fillet accompanied by seasonal vegetables, and lastly, Tiramisù & red berry Cheesecake for dessert.
The service was perfection, the views stunning & the live band’s music was entertaining. You could sit indoors or outside on the spacious patio. As we had a fairly early dinner, was quite warm out still so we settled on a cooler table inside.
Bar Baratillo – Seville, Spain
In Seville, we went on a Hop on Hop off Bus tour & by the time we were done were absolutely roasting in the 37 degree heat. We decided we needed to find a restaurant with AC fast!
We came across the Bar Baratillo after checking out a few spots, it looked & felt cool + the menu seemed good. Had we not already been overheated from our tour, we would have enjoyed sitting on the outdoor patio, watching the people go by.
In the heat (I was feeling faint) I had forgotten to start speaking in Spanish… I asked for a table for 2 in English, our waiter sat us, then studiously ignored us after that.
Quite a lot of other people came in & were served or spoken to way before us, some even receiving their food before our order was even taken. We signalled our guy a few times but he wouldn’t come over. There was a lovely, efficient female server who spoke both Spanish & English to her tables & they were dealt with in order of arrival, so it wasn’t the entire staff acting the way our guy was.
We noted that others who asked for water in Spanish were given glasses with ice & water from the bar tap but because we had inadvertently asked in English to start(then corrected ourselves), we were brought bottles of water & charged.
Despite the bad attitude of our server, the decor was really cool with an industrial, yet modern feel. There were taxidermy bulls heads on the walls (Spain is known for its bullfighting) but also a glass encased wine collection. The art was very Seville in the history that it showed.
We ordered White Sangria with pork chops & Spanish style pork cheeks with sauce. The Sangria was the best we’ve ever had! Very refreshing & citrusy. The pork chops were more of a “designer” chop in that they were artfully arranged on a bed of fries but without much meat on them (check out the photo… very little meat). The pork cheek was delicious. We’d seen this suggested by other travellers we follow on social media & they did not disappoint.
To get our bill, we asked our server multiple times when he would actually look our way but we had to give up & go get it ourselves at the bar… our waiter preferred to clean other empty tables or chat to his coworkers rather then bother with us again.
When travelling we learn key phrases to start a conversation with as a sign of respect for where we’re visiting. Most locals will either switch to English if you struggle or try to point at what they mean for you but aside from one incident in Berlin, this is the only time we’ve had someone be so dismissive of us for forgetting to speak their language.
Top Tips: Rental Cars & Parking
Always prebook rental cars. In fact, if you know you’re driving somewhere else for the day to where you’re staying, say a day trip, reserve parking in a parkade as well.
When booking this trip awhile ago, we did our usual order of things (well, after checking out ArriveCAN & everything Covid related…)
- car rentals
It was a good thing we’re organized because there was literally ONE car left in London for us to have. For the first time we dealt with Green Motion. Do NOT deal with them. Turned out it was a nightmare for 3 days of our trip. Why?
Try to find their location – it’s inside a Holiday Inn but it doesn’t say that ANYWHERE.
The staff were very short on information & manners.
The vehicle was an electric VW & before we picked the vehicle up, someone must have set the vehicle to only charge up to 60% (why would that be an internal setting anyway & how would we know that could happen??) which made it impossible to charge it enough to go very far. Finding charging stations, let alone WORKING ones, proved to be frustrating & stressful.
We tried to call them to ask what the problem could be & there was no number to call to speak with someone. Each number we tried told us to email. We didn’t receive many email replies & when we did we were asked for the same information over and over. We sent videos of the exact issue multiple times.
There was no manual in the car nor could we access one online. We called emergency services who came & said they get calls like this all the time but didn’t know how to fix our issue. We even called a VW dealership to see if they could tell us why it would only charge up to 60%. They couldn’t.
Eventually we drove straight to another of the same company’s rental sites in Bristol, UK & with the help of a tech savvy brand new employee, the incorrect setting was found & reset. We still haven’t had a satisfactory resolution from Green Motion yet for our lost three days of holiday time but won’t let up until we have compensation. UPDATE: there have been 12+ emails back & forth so far, with no satisfactory result. Clearly, they’re hoping we give up & go away. Not happening. They gave $50 back & when we said that wasn’t the correct amount, the manager said “Oh well, you must understand, we have to pay our employees & bills first.” So YOU made a mistake but WE don’t get what is owed to us? Unacceptable.
In Albufeira, Portugal, we dealt with Avis & had the cutest little red topped, convertible Fiat (petrol fuelled & manual). The staff were efficient & friendly both picking up & dropping off the vehicle. The only thing… there was no SatNav but we luckily had data on our phones using the Airalo app so we could use Google Maps & that got us to Lisbon then Seville & back to the Algarve.
UPDATE: So much for efficiency & service – Avis overcharged our credit card by over $400! Now try to get that money back. It’s taken about 20 emails. Still no suitable result & we’ve been back over a week already. Another company that seems to be hoping we’ll just give up.
We’ve even tried reporting the overcharging on our credit card to Visa themselves since we hadn’t gotten a reply from Avis for at least four days. It’s taken 4.5 hours of sitting on the phone to Visa.
When we fly from YVR, we always use Vancouver Park n Fly Parking & Airport Shuttle Service. We book online when we know we’re travelling & get a coupon that significantly reduces the parking fee. When we got home the total was twice the amount we had been quoted & when we tried to explain that to the staff, one of them said very confidently that there were no discounts like that any longer… we said we literally have the discount right here from the Park n Fly online booking website. He said no, they just don’t do that anymore. We knew this wasn’t right but paid it & when we got home we called & explained the situation to another employee that kindly gave us an email to the store manager who took care of the overpayment. Yes, they do still do the online coupons so if an employee tries to tell you otherwise, hold your ground! Especially when you’re holding the official coupon with barcode *insert eye-roll here*
The total we were out of pocket between Avis, Green Motion & Park n Fly Vancouver for $750+! And currently chasing the companies to get the refunds.
What if that was all the money someone had on their credit card for their entire holiday & these companies overcharged them?!
Be aware of every price & quote before you leave for your trip & even though it’s so easy to have everything at hand on your phone… print out anything that is a discount to have a paper copy to show. Also, check your credit card daily for charges.
We reserved parking in both Lisbon & Seville using the Parkimeter website. It was simple to understand & easy to do. We found the parkade closest to where we wanted to tour, as we’d heard parking was tricky to find in both places. The Parkimeter confirmation email even contains a link with directions to find that parkade.
What we loved about these parkades was that upon entry we could easily see a numbered stall that was available by an overhead sign. For example, as we drove into the underground, the number 112 flashed above us as available & we drove straight to it. Also, there were red lights over full or reserved stalls & green lights over free stalls. The parkades have washrooms (WCs, toilets) which is great before or after a long drive.
Basically our best piece of advice is:
Don’t leave anything to chance.
It can be costly & very frustrating. We’ve also wasted a lot of time sorting out others’ errors while on holiday + since we’ve been home – we’re still trying to sort out the missteps. Our time is valuable when we finally get away & we don’t want to lose travel opportunity or time with family due to having to sort out issues that could be avoided with pre-planning. Having said that, we DID pre-plan & through no fault of our own, still had problems… but there would have been more had we not had our paperwork & tenacity.
Embarrassing mess left behind after people travel by air!
Wondering why it is that travellers leave such a mess behind on the airplane?
It’s shameful that grown adults, who have many opportunities to give their trash to the air crew, don’t.
Almost every time we deplane we see scads of litter, headsets, blankets, pillows, etc. on the floor.
When did people stop being polite, responsible adults & start having the mindset of “well, that’s their job to clean up behind me”…
There is no good reason to leave behind a mess on the plane or in the airport (or anywhere, for that matter). Do you appreciate it when someone leaves a mess for you to clean up after them?
Be a good human & a true custodian of this earth. It’s all we have.
and P. S. why do you go with sock feet or even barefoot into the airplane toilet?!
Hyatt Place, Heathrow Airport
A nice stay at Hyatt Place, Heathrow. Due to how flights lined up, we had an overnight here both coming & going home from vacation.
Clean, modern & comfortable.
The lobby has lots of conversation areas, a bar to get an alcoholic drink or a coffee bar & even a computer with printer station.
The rooms come with coffee & tea, there’s a mini fridge, a safe, iron & ironing board & the beds are comfortable with good pillows.
The room service was quick & delicious. We asked for a 2 am taxi service to Terminal 2 & they took care of it easily.
Close to www.heathrow.com
In Albufeira, Portugal, in this funky glass pod, is a 50s Diner themed little cafe. It’s like a blast from the past!
There’s a life size statue of The King himself + one of Marilyn Monroe! There’s the front end grill of an old car inside & tons of memorabilia.
It’s called American Diner & definitely embodies that very thing. From the Philadelphia Cheesesteak to the Godfather Pizza, the Priscilla’s Rodeo Drive Salad, to the stools up next to the sofa fountain… everything is about as authentic as you could get.
We wish it had been open to go try some food but it was early in the morning & we were just there to pick up our rental car next door.
Portobay Felisia, Portugal
A picture is worth a thousand words…
The Green Rocket Cafe, Bath, England
The Green Rocket is a cute cafe & restaurant in the centre of Bath. By their menu & the meals we saw being enjoyed by others, there’s plant-based food made in-house with seasonal produce from local independent businesses.
They serve breakfast, coffee & lunch.
I happened upon the Green Rocket while photographing the Bath Abbey & the Parade Gardens, so had a really delicious iced Americano with a splash of oat milk on the go, but there is indoor & outdoor seating.
Good, friendly, quick service.
Quintessential British Afternoon Tea
You’ve not had tea until you’ve had an afternoon Cream Tea. Now, you could have High Tea but really a simple Cream Tea will do. We found ourselves in Bradford-on-Avon, England.
The difference? High Tea consists of both savoury finger sandwiches & sweet pastries with your tea, delivered on a tall tiered platter – you can even have Prosecco or Champagne! Cream Tea is either savoury or fruit scones with your pot of tea.
We enjoyed a wonderful tea at The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford on Avon. They’re double winners for UK’s Top Tea Rooms & we could see why. The staff dress in costume & the decor is so interesting with antiques & family photos.
When we ordered we received two scones, Devonshire Cream, strawberry jam & a pot of tea made using the freshest loose leaf tea. Everything here is made using only the best local, organic ingredients, and you can certainly taste it. Wonderful!
Bath Abbey, England
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter & Saint Paul, most commonly known as Bath Abbey, is a parish church of the Church of England. It’s also a former Benedictine monastery in Bath, England.