Visited a new spot downtown called The Offy. It was FANTASTIC.
It reminded me of a European café, say in Paris, with attention to detail, from real linens & beautiful cutlery, to a carefully curated food & drinks menu.
We decided to go first thing, for brunch, during the week, so I could get some great photos without the crowds I’ve been hearing about.
The Cappuccino with a dollop of Baileys we started with was sublime. Frothy. Strong. Delicious. Pretty, in it’s clear glass with a cinnamon sprinkle on top.
We decided to share, so ordered the Pierogi (apple & cheddar pierogi with thick cut bacon, fried egg, Polish farmer’s sausage, caramelized onion, Crème fraîche & grainy mustard) & the Croque Madame (grilled sourdough bread with hand carved ham, Gruyère cheese, onion Mornay sauce, a fried egg & fresh house greens in a Dijon vinaigrette).
Everything was perfectly cooked, beautifully plated & graciously served. Our server was lovely, fun & very good at her job. The atmosphere was exactly what I’d hoped; cheerful, quaint, good music & even better food.
I loved the decor, the way they served your drinks & meals, the location in the revitalized Downtown Chilliwack’s District 1881.
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.
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 was an excellent choice for a meal in the City of Bath, England. The surroundings are fantastic + there is a city view from the upper level.
This super cozy & relaxed spot allows dogs & had excellent friendly, fast service.
In a way you feel you’ve been invited into someone’s home with the conversational areas to have a quick drink with friends or the large family-style dining tables.
The food was delicious from the beef or chicken burgers to the duck confit, the grilled lamb kofte to the steak frites. There were comforting choices of desserts like brownies with ice cream & caramel sauce and even vegan chocolate torte with non dairy ice cream.
We were celebrating a birthday in our midst, so the server kindly brought over a glass of Prosecco.
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!
Follow along with us the next few weeks as we take our first international trip since December 2018.
We’re heading to England via Heathrow Airport then on to Portugal via Faro Airport.
We’ve decided not to take any checked baggage because of the shortage of staff to deal with it at Heathrow… it’s a hard shell carry-on suitcase all the way for us this vacation. Remember your carry-on luggage with say, Air Canada, doesn’t have a weight limit but it MUST fit in the overhead compartment. You may also take one personal item but it MUST fit under your seat. Here are some suitable hand luggage suggestions https://shop.samsonite.com/ Don’t be that person with more than your allowance as it’s not fair to other travellers who have done as asked.
We’ll be arriving for our evening departure at least 5 hours ahead of time to avoid any delays due to traffic or lineups while going through security. Expert Traveller Tips: Have your allowable liquids in ONE separate, clear plastic 1 litre bag ready to place in an examination tray. If you have any over 100 mls or more than the one 1 litre bag, you will be expected to get rid of them. Also, have your medications & their paperwork together in a separate bag so it’s easily checked.
We need to get to our first destination (London, Heathrow) to get our rental car on time (the only vehicle available!). It’s at least 2.5 hours to the City of Bath where we’re headed. There are strikes going on regarding the trains & possibly other transit so it’s imperative that we get this rental.
After our holiday with family in Bath & Bradford on Avon, we head back to London for one day to be ready for the next leg of our trip… Portugal.
We’ve been reading that there are forest fires, a heat wave, the worst Covid Ba.4 & Ba.5 numbers in the world, also pilot & air crew strikes happening right now in Portugal… we’re completely vaccinated & have all of the sanitizers & masks we could possibly need but we have no control over fires & strike action. As professional traveller, travel writer & television personality, Rick Steves wisely always says, be prepared for everything. https://www.ricksteves.com/
Sometimes you just need to go for a drive… get out, let the wind blow through your hair.
Sunday, Mother’s Day as it happens, we just got in the vehicle, grabbed a Starbucks & went. We didn’t have to go far from where we live to find some beautiful scenery & nature, even some wildlife… eagles.
And sometimes, pictures speak louder than words… in this case… it’s true… see for yourself!