Otherwise known as YVR, this is one beautiful airport. As soon as you enter, there is a nature theme, even sounds like the trickling of streams… that’s because there are actual streams winding their way through the space.
There’s stunning Indigenous art, and another great feature is the aquarium. It’s so well designed that as you come upon it, it looks a part of nature & you’re drawn to its relaxing flow. To many viewers’ delight, 2 scuba divers suddenly appeared in the tank to clean & check the fish.
There are so many things to see as you wander through to pick up someone from Arrivals or while you await your own flight.
Cartier, Burberry, convenience shops with snacks & amenities to make your trip better & many other stores line the corridors, along with quite a good selection of food. There are a couple of sit down restaurants, if you’re looking for a more civilized meal that takes a little more time, or there are spots like A&W, Subway, Salmon & Bannock (with a delicious fresh beet salad & also candied salmon on a bed of fresh lettuce for those of us with dairy & gluten intolerances or who want to eat a little healthier). Of course there’s also Starbucks.
The washrooms are always clean, with plenty of soap & sanitizer. There are water stations so that you can bring your own bottle to refill. There’s a play area & plenty of seating to watch the planes come & go. The only thing that is still lacking is the complete shortage of outlets to recharge phones, laptops, etc.
Vancouver International Airport was fabulous this trip. It’s beautiful, yes, but it was also efficient & very clean. Our luggage went straight from YVR to RAK & back with no issues… thank goodness.
We managed to get quite a bit of work done at the tables near the manmade little creek that meanders through the food court prior to boarding. We’re always there AT LEAST 3.5 hours before our flight because if you’ve ever driven from Abbotsford to Vancouver – anything can happen. This relaxing spot makes for a really nice start to a holiday.
We stayed our entire time in Marrakech at the lovely Riad Catalina, reserved with Booking.com. We had researched, as always, on Booking but also Tripadvisor & the reviews were excellent, as were the guest photos & comments. When we arrived, we were greeted so warmly & given our first experience of the refreshing Moroccan Mint Tea & biscuits.
Sitting in the stunningly tiled courtyard surrounded by the sounds of birds, murmurs of the other guests & beyond the walls, the bleat of horns, calls of merchants & clip clop of the horses & carts, we immediately felt the immersion into Moroccan life.
We were given our choice of two rooms, shown where the rooftop pool is, and told of the meal times. We knew we could ask any info of the staff there & did! Our friends Samara & Baha were just two of the wonderful people we met there. The food was fantastic, the room was spotless, as was the rest of the Riad.
There was a fountain & mature trees inside the courtyard, quite a few types of birds, 2 cats(wait… plus the 5 new kittens!) & 2 turtles. There was plenty of seating for meals or just to visit. Once, when it had rained overnight, we were able to sit inside & still have the wonderful views & a comfortable meal.
We did join in breakfast on the days we were not on adventures, and it was delicious! Always hard boiled eggs, plentiful fresh pastries, bread, jam & the best freshly squeezed orange juice, a pot of English tea for my husband & a pot of coffee for me with hot milk for it! We enjoyed a couple of evening meals with them as well, but most times we were out adventuring.
The service from all of the staff was perfection, always smiling, always polite, our room had sweet touches each day after being refreshed.
One thing we must unfortunately mention, was the extremely loud, outdoor neighbouring patio bar. You must understand, the way the buildings are, there is quite an echo at the best of times, it’s usually not an issue, especially when the hauntingly, soulful Calls to Prayer play, but when it’s music played from 9:30 pm till sometimes 2:30 am & it’s mostly only the bass you can hear… it’s so disruptive & there’s no rest to be had the nights that is going on. We experienced at least 6+ nights like that when we had daylong excursions to wake up for, we can’t imagine how the poor families function daily that live right there. We would highly recommend to stay here still, but do bring good earplugs. It would be a shame to miss out on this lovely, centrally located spot due to an ignorant neighbour.
There were many things to see and do from this location such as coffee or Moroccan Mint Tea across the street from the Koutoubia Mosque visitmarrakech.com/en at the Cafe Koutoubia, where we watched the worlds of Moroccan life & travellers combine.
There was not too far of a walk to the main Jemaa el-Fnaa Market & all its stalls, stands, merchants, restaurants & more.
We found rooftop restaurants & street side diner-style spots to sit & enjoy the city while we ate Tajine.
The Riad itself is an amazing piece of architecture – from the winding staircases, the tile-work, the soaring wooden ceilings, the dreamy draped curtains, the carved Moroccan furnishings… the colourful stained glass-type windows, the carved doorways within doorways… what an experience in Marrakech! We’ll never forget it!
While in Morocco, we’ve got many events & activities planned & most had the same thing in common… the pickup each morning by the companies was at the El Fenn. We decided we should know where this is prior to going so went searching… we didn’t have far to go as it’s right around the corner from our own Riad.
We’ve learned to not assume anything from the front of a building here in Marrakech – some entrances are a huge wooden door in the middle of a stone wall, others are glass, but once you go inside, it’s usually quite something else. El Fenn was the most surprising yet.
The colours & art were bright & beautiful with an African feel. There was beautiful clothing, footwear, there was decor & jewelry, furniture & even a cool brass moped with a cowhide seat! Giant vases in a cerulean blue, lanterns upon lanterns lit up every corner, and brightly coloured bunting hung throughout the lobby. There was an amazing display of colourfully painted full-size branches in vases.
Then there was the stairway up to the rooftop… a shiny, red corkscrew of a staircase that lead up to a beautiful patio with stunning views of Marrakech & two of its spectacular mosques.
The lanterns swing in the breeze, there’s lots of plants & trees, comfortable seating, even futons. The tiles that Morocco is famous for did not disappoint here, herringbone green on the floors paired with the brick walls & mirrored bar made for such a lovely spot.
I had a refreshing Red City Rosé Cooler – Rosé wine, fresh strawberry, Triple Sec & sparkling wine – delicious. We were served spiced olives & salted peanuts as a snack.
Dinner was from the bar menu – a Spiced Lamb Burger with Feta & minted raita sauce & also a Red Bean & Mushroom Burger with Cheddar Cheese, both with tasty homemade, fresh cut fries.
We’ve learned that staff are not in a particular hurry in dining establishments, unlike on the streets where it’s rush, rush, rush. We work fast-paced demanding jobs at home so are learning to slow down here & take it easier, to relax & enjoy the moment. We were lucky to have gotten a spot on the patio it seems, as reservations are required for dinner service & we can see why.
We were able to capture tons of photos from inside while we waited, but also of the patio & its brilliant sunset, with the fading light overtop of the exquisitely lit mosques, where you can hear the Call to Prayer echoing.
We’d like to make a reservation for dinner at some point during our stay & see what the dinner menu & seating elsewhere upstairs will bring.
The perfect corner spot to sit, people watch & talk about our tour of the Saadian Tombs.
The Zeitoun Cafe has a street level seating area but also a rooftop one. There is so much hustle & bustle around the neighbourhood where you’ll find the Saadian Tombs, located on the south side of the Kasbah Mosque, inside the royal kasbah (citadel) district of the city.
There are petit taxis or horse drawn carriages everywhere but we chose to walk so we could see the local businesses & people living their daily lives. Dodging mopeds becomes second nature as you go along the cobblestone sidewalks.
We enjoyed a refreshing cold drink called a Tutti Fruiti which meant it was full of all the local juiced fruits. We had the freshest of fruits & yogourt + some almond briwates. The finale was, of course, Morrocan Mint Tea with the perfect foamy pour.
The service was quick & friendly, the food was good & priced fairly. One of the hosts was a young man, full of life, who agreed to get some great video for us of a local barber shop across from where we sat, who were having a fabulous time singing & dancing!
Always on the search for the perfect personal item & the best carry-on… I’m going to give these a try:
Found a Kenneth Cole carry-on branded ‘Reaction’ at my local Winners store. It’s got zippered covers on each side to hold your belongings firmly in place + extra pockets inside. I like the easy movement of the double spinner wheels & the telescoping handle works well. There are protective corner pieces & a few spots with grip handles to make it easy to pick up at any angle. This one was about $90
I won’t travel without compression bags (or socks!) now. They make it so much easier to fit everything you want to take into just a carry-on. These ones don’t need a vacuum to seal them, just roll them up by hand. They also protect your clothing etc from any moisture. They cost about $13 for 4 bags.
From experience, I know good shoes make all the difference between enjoying your walking tour & totally not. I knew just where to shop local to get them too – Payton & Buckle Shoes in Downtown Chilliwack. These comfy little slip-on runners are by Vionic & are from their Beach line, they actually have arch support. I’ll wear these for our flights as well – easy on, easy off. They can be worn with my capris, skirts or dresses. I love that they’re washable. It’s going to be hot in Morocco so sandals are a must, these gold ones will be cool but are nicely padded & adjustable across the top of the foot. They’re by Aetrex. Pricing varies. www.paytonandbuckle.com
This time I ordered my new anti-theft personal item bag from Amazon, a co-worker had gotten a similar one that she took to Mexico & it worked very well. I have to have something with lots of compartments, this one has 2 + 18 pockets! I also wanted an extra USB charger, and something that was easy to get into. This one opens like a doctor’s bag & has padding for my tech so putting in my laptop, iPad, eReader etc is simple & safe. This bag has a strong carry handle or can be used as a backpack. It has the strap to secure it to your carry-on handle as well. There were other colour options but I wanted to somewhat match my carry-on & also not get so dirty., so black with grey it is. The brand is Lovevook and was just over $50. Here’s the link for you: amzn.to/3NvHpL3
I wanted to downsize my toiletry bag but couldn’t seem to find what I wanted until I came across this cutie with some travel size Moroccanoil products inside (no that wasn’t planned – Morrocanoil products to Morocco… lol) – extra volume shampoo & conditioner, a light treatment & a clean, light body spray. I learned awhile ago to take much less makeup & skincare. I’m never away that long so a decent wash of my face using my favourite Dermalogica wash, my good quality moisturizing sunscreen, my powder foundation with SPF by Eminence, a toothbrush/paste & some excellent lash extensions by my girl Tracey from Voila Lash Lounge (Downtown Chilliwack & Downtown Abbotsford), deodorant & my tinted chapstick with SPF are really all I need. www.voilalashandbeauty.com
It’s always so much easier to pack for a warm weather holiday than it is a cold weather one… no bulky heavy clothing & footwear, so a carry-on is all you really need. Lessons learned: always take pjs, an extra change of clothes, any medications & your toiletries in your personal item… checked baggage gets lost. A lot. This way you can at least change into pjs & wash the clothes you’re wearing, letting them dry overnight & able to wear your spare outfit until you get your luggage back. I always pack a couple of sheets of Tru Earth laundry strips, they melt easily in the hotel sink & despite not having a strong scent, or major suds, they clean very well. You can also take less clothing if you’re washing in between. I’ll do an update once I’ve tried these bags out.
Simply put, we check it all over, then clean. If you think the airlines have time between one flight & another to do a thorough clean, then think again. There is no way they can clean up everyone’s mess they seem to leave all over the floor(that’s a rant I’ve already posted grr), reload the plane & get everything perfectly clean & sanitized in often less than 20 minutes.
I put our bags under our seats, my husband places anything that needs to go in the overhead there while I get out the disinfectant wipes. I’ve seen how gross people can be (adults are almost worse than kids!) nose picking, bare feet placed on tray tables… I shudder at some things I’ve seen. We wipe down the window, the seats including belts, the TV monitor, the seat pocket, tray tables… once a woman was giving me the side eye as I cleaned, so I flipped over the cloth to show her how BLACK it was, she gagged & asked me if I had an extra wipe… I keep empty sandwich bags with us, the dirty wipes go into them in the seat pocket until the flight attendant comes around collecting garbage, then we use hand wipes on our hands & those also go in the sandwich bag.
Once we get off the plane, we head straight for the nearest washroom, wash our hands & use damp paper towels to wipe the outside of our carry ons since they’ve been on the floor of the aircraft the whole flight.
At the hotel we drop our bags just inside the door, then check that the room is what we paid for, that the bathroom & main room is clean, and most important… the bedding. is. spotless. This sounds like it should be a given. It is NOT. We’ve found, unfortunately more than once, hair or even blood on the bedding. Nope. Absolutely not acceptable.
If something like that happens, one of us stays in the room & the other goes to speak to a manager at reception. Sometimes they come to check, but mostly they’re mortified so just give you another room immediately.
A couple of places we’ve been, that’s the way it is… the standards of cleanliness are not as high as other places, so you keep your shoes and socks on & use some clothing to cover the pillow you’re going to sleep on, or better yet, roll your clothing and sleep on that. Our hotel in India was like that. Also, our hotel in Whitehorse, Yukon.
It may seem like overkill, but now that you’ve read this, you’ll really notice people’s behaviour on long flights, it’s like they lose their perception of what’s appropriate in the company of hundreds of other people. We witnessed a guy walk barefoot into the plane’s washroom, then saunter out, and place his feet on the seat back & his TV monitor! Especially in the wake of Covid & Norwalk… why wouldn’t you take some simple precautions to ensure your hard earned holiday doesn’t get cut short due to illness or worse… staph infection.
PS Do NOT put anything but trash in the pocket in the airplane seat back… we’ve been told by former air crews that most people blow their nose & put the used Kleenex right into the pocket…
The breeze in my hair, the billow of flags & bunting, the chatter & laughter of long weekenders… the clink of my Hazelnut Espresso Cold Brew tumbler to my husband’s Chardonnay glass while watching sea vessels of all kinds sail past us at La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib House.
We had wandered by a few eateries on our way through town but this one had great views & lots of seating, so after about a 10 minute wait, we were seated on the harbour-side outdoor patio. Staff were friendly & chatty, also quick to bring water, without being asked & our food came quickly as well.
My husband ordered the 2 piece cod & chips & I decided on the crispy cod sandwich with chips & coleslaw. The batter was just enough, the coleslaw was fresh & crunchy, the chips were hot & there was malt vinegar, a sign of a chef who gets it.
It was so nice to sit, enjoy the view, talk about what we’d seen along the way so far & hear the waves beneath our feet, as the restaurant is literally built over the water. Lots of other people were walking, some with their dogs, along the boardwalk or out & about with their babies in strollers to take advantage of the dog days of Summer.
The prices were reasonable & the servings were a good size. There’s a drink menu & wine list with many selections + the food menu has a lot of choice. The patio had plenty of seating, or you could sit at the bar inside, there’s more seating with comfortable soft armchairs indoors, along with more family-style tables. This venue could easily host your family birthdays, or get togethers with a few friends.
I have these comfy, colourful world map slip ons in white & also black. They’re part of my capsule wardrobe that makes it possible to only take carry on luggage on our travels.
My sister got me into these great little shoes by Bucketfeet. They’re super comfortable, slim for packing & easy on & off when going through security at airports.
There are lots of funky designs that are creations of actual artists, making these cuties available by limited edition only. These are perfect for me because the map (hellooooo travel!) & each continent actually looks like different fabrics (my other hobby – sewing!)
Bucketfeet let you to express your personality & individuality + you’re wearing art on your feet, making YOU a patron of the arts.
There’s something about the juxtaposition of the warm pastel of daybreak, the leafy green of the trees, the cold steel beam, the smooth arc of the hand-plastered ceiling & the curved, finely oiled wood post, the cool, clear glass, the peace & quiet but for the surge & swell of the ocean waves in the distance… #ocean #traveltiktok #travel #worldtraveler #fyp #foryoupage #travelcouple #trend #viral #trending #traveller #bucketlist #travelblogger #nature #island
This is a rare find & you should know – Felix Jack Guesthouse on Airbnb is usually fully booked, so don’t wait until the last minute! It’s a whole bungalow rental in an absolutely idyllic setting. You’ll be staying in a studio Queen suite + 1 bath + a spacious open concept kitchen & living area with a Queen sofa bed.
There’s a dedicated workspace & a common area with wifi that’s well suited for working, if you’re looking for an inspirational spot to do so.
The Felix Jack is lovingly owned & operated by husband & wife, Cheryl & Scott, Superhosts that are experienced & highly rated – they’re committed to providing great stays for all of their guests.
“Our Guesthouse is a centrally located, fully self-contained studio that is situated on 5 beautifully treed acres with ocean/sunset views of Active Pass. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway that offers peace, tranquility & privacy.”
It’s a few minute walk to the village where you can enjoy shopping & restaurants & then the beach.
“We are extremely close to amazing trails & tennis courts” says Cheryl. And an important tip “If you are walking on the ferry, please RESERVE your spot! I cannot express this enough!”
What Felix Jack offers:
Public or shared beach access
There’s a lit path to the guest entrance & parking.
Mayne Island is surrounded with outdoor beauty including wild life such as deer, eagles, squirrels, ravens, raccoons & many species of birds + if you’re lucky… a pod of whales swimming through the pass!
Most things are within walking distance – groceries, liquor store, restaurants, galleries, library, bakery, park, beaches & tennis courts.
“Our art gallery/studio is located on the property & is open Thursday through Sunday but if you would like a private visit that is no problem, I open it up for anyone & you’ll find something for everyone. The art has been handcrafted by either me or my husband!” smiles Cheryl, proudly.
Felix Jack is a two minute drive from the ferry terminal. There is also a community bus available by donation. From the May Long Weekend, there’s a Farmers Market that runs Saturdays from 10-1 then runs every Saturday after that until Thanksgiving.
You’ll feel rejuvenated & relaxed after a visit to this perfect spot where you’ll daydream, nap or wander the days away. Many holidayers come back year after year… come see why!
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
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.
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!
This 14th Century fortified mansion, 9 miles from the City of Bath, stands in the incredible valley of the river Frome, England. There is an audio tour that tells of the 300 year occupation of the Hungerford family, sometimes intriguing but also gruesome…
See the chapel with rare medieval paintings, family tombs, displays in the Priest’s house, and a crypt with the best collection of human shaped lead coffins in Britain.
About a 2 hour drive from where we’re staying in Trowbridge in Bradford on Avon, is this fantastic velvet sand beach, called Branksome Chine in County Dorset. We were lucky enough to hit a beautiful day with a temperature of 27 degrees & the perfect breeze. When you dipped a toe in, the water was cold for the first moments & then felt so refreshing!
We had hoped to do a little body surfing but the usual 3 foot waves were more like 1 foot, so just had some fun swimming & splashing. If you wander down the boardwalk a ways there is a little hut that had delicious traditional (& not so traditional) Cornish Pasties, fresh sausage rolls, ice cream + hot & cold drinks.
There was another restaurant where you could sit inside or on the patio overlooking the sea to have your fish & chips + across the parking lot, a walk up window with snacks & drinks We noticed on our trek that there were tons of chalets you could rent for the day, with a sink & small fridge, patio set + a few more luxuries to enjoy your day at the beach. Though most beachgoers, like us, decided to bring a small tent/shelter & mats to lay on the sand.
Going into this trip has been a little stressful, what with worrying about the luggage situation the world over, Covid, heatwaves, hardly any car rentals available (+ $$$?!)…
We originally booked awhile ago, prior to the luggage situation, so prepaid for two checked bags with our flights. Once we saw what was happening with the piles & stacks of luggage not getting through, not to mention lost luggage, we decided to try to pack three weeks worth of things into carry-ons instead. We called Air Canada to get a refund on the checked bags ($100) but they wouldn’t do it stating it isn’t their fault the luggage situation is what it is but it’s Heathrow Airport’s… that may be, we said, but we had paid you for a service that now you won’t have to be providing… nope, too bad, they said.
We packed, repacked & weighed our bags about 10 times because not only are we doing England but also 6 days in Portugal. The Air Canada carry-on doesn’t have a weight limit but must fit in the metal rack they have for sizing. Seems easy enough, yeah? Portugal, however, will only allow a 17.5 lb carry-on aboard. Now, our carry-on bags are the lightest we could find at 5 lbs… this means you can only put 12.5 lbs of items in… that’s not very much in the way of clothing & personal items. There’s an allowed personal item as well but that is only 4.5 lbs too so pack carefully…
We arrived at Vancouver International Airport about 1:30 pm for our 8:15 pm flight as we had heard & seen horror stories about lineups through Customs. It was surprising how few people were actually at the airport in general on this lovely Saturday in July.
We decided to try to go through security right away and couldn’t believe that we were really only about 20 minutes, start to finish. It would have been closer to 10 minutes but one of us carries a medication kit that needs to be kept cold & it seemed to draw attention. It was drug tested on the way through, with zero issue & the pleasant staff were efficient.
We wanted to have a bite to eat in case we weren’t happy with the inflight meal, so landed at Lift cafe where we had excellent service & fresh, delicious salads & a tea & coffee. There were only two wait staff but they did an excellent job.
We found a spot at our gate (Gate 55) to relax & charge our phones etc for awhile. We did a lot of stretching & walking about to get ready for the 8-9 hour flight. It’s always interesting to wander around & see any art installations in the airports around the world. YVR had a dress made of paper, a papier-mâché sculpture, wood carvings & some well done paintings. The decor of YVR is beautiful with its Indigenous flavour & natural decor including indoor streams, carvings & aquariums.
We boarded the plane (Boeing 777) with no trouble & were pleased to see we did get plenty of legroom as we’d upgraded slightly in Economy Class. It was the usual tricky situation with trying to fit everyone’s carry-ons in the overhead, eventually but we were off.
Very pleasant air crew, and luckily not one issue with passengers remaining masked for the entire flight. The meal was alright, chicken with gnocchi, celeriac salad, and a bun with a brownie for dessert. Everyone settled in quietly for our overnight flight. Breakfast was a small croissant & yogourt. The seats were pretty squishy as far as width, we noted just how much more room there was in the class ahead of us … wider, further reclining seats with more space between each seat, and a proper foot rest.
Our flight was on time, in fact we had been 6 minutes early, but we had to wait on the tarmac for about 15 or 20 minutes as another plane was in our spot. Once we deplaned, we were relieved at how easy it was to march off, and avoid waiting at the luggage carousels. There was a literal WALL of baggage in the baggage claim area so we were glad to have made the extra effort to avoid checking bags. (A relative of ours just returned from a Scotland/Iceland trip where they had taken strictly carry-ons but had been forced to check their bags due to storage issues… two of the four travellers have still never seen that checked baggage since… they were without it their entire trip & have come back home… it’s been over a month… terrible).
Overall, a satisfactory first leg of our holiday. We’ll chat about our car rental nightmare later…
PS Want some comfy AND cute footwear for your holiday? These leather sneakers by www.rieker.ca have the sweetest ribbons for laces & were good for walking yet cute with summer dresses too! I also had some gorgeous Josep Seibel sandals. Try this family run, fantastic shoe store – Payton & Buckle. I only took 2 pairs of shoes on this trip & both were from P & B! They have 3 locations: Chilliwack, Abbotsford & Pitt Meadows. www.paytonandbuckle.com You’re welcome!