It occurred to me recently that I have not written here in such a long time! I have a new website venture (www.thesleepypineapple.com) where I am focusing more on food and fitness. Travel is my first love though and this blog was such a big part of my life for so long! There are many more places and sites I have yet to tell you about too! It was sad for me for awhile there, my life in Toronto became a bit stale when I first returned from my whirlwind trip. Talking about my adventures made me sad and I became a bit depressed again. The good news is I persevered! I am now teaching Pilates and working at the studio full time! I began school for Holistic Nutrition and I am doing very well over all. I still give myself too much to do and I’m trying to juggle multiple jobs and new endeavours, but I am happy. I continue to dream big and I am working towards those dreams everyday!
Last fall I got to return to the place where it all began, Nice, France. I was lucky enough to bring my boyfriend this time and show him around. He thought it was picturesque and stunning. If they didn’t speak French, I could probably get him to move there with me! I showed him the Promenade des Anglais, Place Massena, the Chateau de Nice and the old town Vieille Ville.We stayed in a six floor walk up, we found on Air Bnb, that had the sweetest little balcony that looked out on the city. I would 100% stay there again, even with all the stairs! I was blocks from the beach and the lively tourist section of the city, which wasn’t as busy due to us arriving in early September.
We did lose our luggage on the way there, as we flew via Frankfurt from Dublin and there was a bomb scare that very morning. Thanks to a mix up we also lost two days waiting for the luggage to arrive and had to go to the airport to pick it up in the end, 3 days after we arrived. While I do hate we couldn’t even go swimming because we were waiting for luggage and I missed out on seeing some of my old haunts from when I was there in 2013, I still loved every second of being there! I’m also incredibly thankful for my travellers insurance!
Luggage aside, we did get to the beach multiple days and I swam my little heart out! We also took a day trip to Monaco and Eze! If you look at past posts, Eze is magical and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. Lovely little shops and cafes, stunning views and adorable surroundings. We sat on a patio over looking the sea and had some drinks. We wandered through the small pathways and up to the church, where I lit a candle for my father (as I do in all churches). We even hiked down to Eze sur la Mer, which was MUCH longer than I remembered and definitely much hotter as well!
In Monaco, I changed my mind at the last minute and we went to the old town first and then to Monte Carlo. That was a mistake! Because, we by the time we made it to Monte Carlo, it was passed 1pm and my boyfriend couldn’t get in with his flip flops. I think I was more disappointed for him, then he was about not getting to go in. We did sit in front at a cafe and had some Monaco brand beer, which was quite good though. Afterward we made our way into the smaller casino next door and lost some money, all in good fun of course! There was a lot of construction though and I will admit, it did ruin the ambiance of the area quite a bit. It didn’t have that same luxurious quality and the designer sports cars were lacking in numbers. It was still a fun excursion and a great day!
We did buy some groceries and had a full kitchen but surprisingly we ate out quite a bit more than we expected. There is no shortage of foods to try and while we tried to eat cheaply at breakfast and lunch, dinner out and drinks seemed to be standard practice. It is just such a lively and fun vibe at night, the city comes to life! It’s hard to explain but we loved wandering the streets and stopping to have a drink at an outdoor table, people watching and talking. It was my favourite part of the trip.
I hope to return again soon, it seems to be every three years right now, just by coincidence! I do hope to make it back sooner the time. Of course, I want to see many new places as well, but Nice will always have my heart!
Arizona is a magical place. You can feel the energy from the earth, mountains and wind. It is breathtakingly beautiful and unlike any place I have ever been, and I’ve been around. For my 30th birthday, my friend and I went to Las Vegas and on that trip we also visited the Grand Canyon. That was spectacular! This time around I visited Gold Canyon (near Phoenix), specifically we stayed at the base of Superstition Mountain. If that name doesn’t tell you about the beliefs of the land in Arizona, I don’t know what will. To be honest, we saw so many things in my short trip it is now blending into one lovely memory. We visited the Mesa Market, Tortilla Flats, Salt River, Saguaro Lake, Queen Creek Olive Mill, and Goldfield Ghost Town. I’ve probably forgotten a place but we drove through many little towns as well, stopping for lunch and taking in the winding mountain roads.
The main thing I noticed was that the attractions were generally free; they want you to see what they have and if you want to buy souvenirs, food, etc., then that is where they are making money. I thought it refreshing, to go to a landmark and not even pay for parking! That is how it should be and the places were busy.
The scenery was beyond stunning, yet the only words I could seem to find- “it’s so pretty”. Pretty does not do it justice and everywhere I looked was a picturesque landscape. Thankfully my uncle understood this more than most and stopped at many lookouts for me to snap away!
I stayed with my great-aunt and uncle in their RV. It was cozy and comfortable (I’d never stayed in one before) and their hospitality is next to none! They even got me vegetarian food and ate some themselves for dinner! I was very touched by the gesture and by the effort they put into giving me a great vacation.
Every evening starting at about 3-4pm we had Happy Hour, sometimes at the pool (where we also went every afternoon) and sometimes back at the RV in time for sunset. At the pool the drinks included popcorn and if you know my love of popcorn, then you know this was like heaven for me. A pool, sun, popcorn and wine= my idea of happiness!
The sunsets were just as stunning as the views and apparently I got lucky with some gorgeous ones. That is the problem, no clouds means no sunsets; we had little clouds a couple of nights that gave us picture worthy views.
Overall, I highly recommend Arizona to visit. My third time to the state will be to visit Sedona as I’m told it is spectacular and has even more energy to it. Given what I’ve seen already, I can’t wait!
It’s hard to believe I have yet to post anything about Santorini, Greece! While stunningly beautiful, I actually had a rather unpleasant experience with my hotel owner. It was the end of the season and in (what I saw) as a last attempt to make extra money, I was taken advantage of and overcharged. It put a bad taste in my mouth but it did not define the whole of Santorini. I ended up meeting a lovely couple from London who took me under their wing and a very sweet taxi driver. Over all I ended up having a lovely time. What made Santorini a must visit for me was when I heard they had a black sand beach! I stayed in Perivolos which is on the south-east side of the island. Santorini actually has red sand and white sand beaches as well; the differences are due to volcanic eruptions. The black sand was absolutely spectacular to see in person. Like always I spent as much time as possible on the beach and since it was nearly off season, the beach was almost empty. It was on this beach that I took this self portrait. This is probably my favourite picture of myself, ever. To me it has a sort of haunting quality and if you look closely I look happy, but from a far it’s questionable. I love the composition of this photo as well, the placement of my hand in the foreground and the blurred effect. This blog is just as much about photography as it is about travel and I really loved this shot.
September 22-24, 2013
As promised, here are my adventures in Vegas! My friend Vanessa and I arrived into McCarren International at approx. 10:30pm on the Friday before my birthday. After checking into the Hard Rock Hotel, where we were surprised by a complementary room upgrade, we decided to explore. Being huge classic rock fans (especially Vanessa), the Hard Rock was the perfect place to stay. It was very windy outside and we opted to see what our hotel had to offer. It was a fun first night with a late dinner at Pink Taco, drinks and lots of picture taking. We went to bed pretty early for Vegas standards so we could get a good start the next morning. Saturday was my birthday! We started the day with room service coffee (amazing) and ventured out to the strip for some shopping. In the first shopping centre we entered, we discovered Fat Tuesday. One of many such shops, at Fat Tuesday you can buy almost any kind of frozen drink your little heart desires! When you see photos of people in Vegas with giant drink cups, this is probably what they are drinking. They also have $1 Jell-O shots, which we gladly did. The best part is you get to take your cup and continue walking around and shopping. You’ve got to love the relaxed drinking laws! This is what we did for the rest of the afternoon, finally returning to the hotel in the early evening for a (pretty drunk) nap. Note: daiquiris contain a lot of sugar, which equals a hangover. After dragging ourselves out to dinner (a delicious steak dinner in the Wynn hotel) we decided to try our luck at Tao nightclub. We quickly got our second wind and just as quickly we made some friends. A bouncer called us over to join a bachelor party in the VIP area. Normally this would not appeal to me but they ended up being the nicest group of guys. All from Texas, they were the epitome of southern gentlemen. We danced into the wee hours of the morning with our new friends before heading back to our hotel. Just to give you an example of the character of these men; we took a taxi back to our hotel and as we tried to pay, we learned they had already pre-paid! That group of guys, along with Vanessa, gave me the best 30th birthday I ever could have asked for!
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
Sunday was obviously a day of rest by the pool, which quickly turned into our third wind and we made some more friends with a couple from Orange County. We left just before sunset to head down to “old” Vegas also known as Fremont street. While I was in Ireland, I met a woman named Patti on a tour who actually lives in Las Vegas. We met up with her and she showed us all around Fremont street. It was so much fun and exactly what I thought Vegas would be like. The signs are all lit up everywhere you look. There is a different energy here too that’s hard to put into words, it really is the “Fremont Experience”. We saw all the landmarks that you associate to Vegas; including Binion’s, the Golden Nugget, Vegas Vic and Glitter Gulch (to name a few). We also saw the impressive canopy of lights and caught a Bon Jovi “concert”. Patti then drove us along the strip to show us all the sights we missed during our drunken daiquiri escapade. It was a perfect end to our Vegas adventure. I would like to return one day even if it’s just to eat! But really, there was just too much to do and see in such a short period of time. Still, I had the best time and I am beyond happy to have gotten to go and experience all we did see.
Happy Birthday to me!
October 24- 28, 2014
I know, I know… I’ve been delinquent with my posts. At least I have a good excuse! I recently celebrated my 30th birthday! My very good friend and I took off to Vegas for four days and it was incredible. Yes, I’m aware of the mantra of “What happens in Vegas..” But I fully intend to share the details of my experience. Not today though! That’s for next week. I’m starting off with the Grand Canyon because that’s the part of the trip we were both most excited to see. We started our day at the crack of dawn, having to pack before leaving to get our rental car. We left our road trip for the last day, I’m still not sure that was a wise decision. The sights are stunning for the majority of the drive, and the drive is fairly uneventful. Our rental car had satellite radio which was a blessing and we sang along to the hits of the 90’s as the desert flew by us. To say the sun is bright is an understatement, it is the brightest light I’ve ever witnessed in my life. There is no escape from the sun either, and the drive to the canyon is blinding in the morning (even with sunglasses and tinted windows). I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. The drive to the west rim of the canyon is actually only about two and a half hours from Las Vegas. Originally we thought it was around five hours, hence the super early start to the day. About half way there, we stopped at a little diner. It was your typical greasy spoon in the middle of nowhere and it was delicious! We took our breakfast to go and kept driving. We just wanted to get there. As the canyon started to come into our vision, we could hardy believe our eyes. It is magnificent! The colours, size… everything, it’s breathtaking. Pictures don’t begin to do it justice. There is a spiritual experience that occurs when you visit, that is unexplainable. We drove to the parking lot and paid for our tickets ($43 US approx.). We then boarded a bus that takes you to three stops along the rim. The first is Hualapai Ranch, which mostly for children. Our second stop was Eagle Point, that was my favourite. The rocks actually form an eagle with its wings spread. At this point I was still beyond terrified of the edge and was shaking like a leaf; but it was stunning nonetheless. After a bunch of photo op’s, we ventured over to Guano Point which is where they mined for guano beginning in the 1930’s and created a tram that went over the canyon 8,800 feet. There is an actual pointed rock formation that delivers 360 degree views and makes for really neat pictures, but it is treacherous in flip flops (I’m aware I’m an idiot for that fashion choice). We stayed for quite awhile here before heading back, stopping in town for a souvenir spoon (they were sold out at the canyon). We also took a little detour to the Hover Dam on our drive back to Vegas. Parking was a bit of a nightmare and we found a little place to stop for pictures on the way out. After that we got some dinner and then killed time at Starbucks until we could head to the airport. Being the only licensed driver, I was pretty exhausted and didn’t want to drive anymore, but we both were by this point. The flight home was cold and uncomfortable but I passed out once I got home! Over all it was an incredible trip with the perfect travel buddy; I couldn’t have asked for a better way to ring in the big thirty!
October 24-28, 2014
Some weeks are more difficult to choose my blog topic than others; this was one such week. Looking through my pictures often helps me when I’m feeling particularly stuck. Today my inspiration came from a video I stumbled upon from a boat tour I took in Montreux, Switzerland. Avid readers of my blog will know I’ve already done a post on this city, but I couldn’t help myself again. This is truly one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been! These photos are all taken at dawn, which is when I both arrived and departed Montreux. It’s so peaceful that early, with just the odd person out jogging or walking their dog. The colours of the scenery beginning to come to life as the sun rises into the sky is utterly breathtaking. I’ve included the quintessential Freddie Mercury statue photography in this post as well (how could I not?). Below is also the aforementioned boat tour video, which clearly shows the twinkling turquoise waters of Lake Geneva. That particular shade of water, I have yet to see anywhere else. Montreux has an unparalleled beauty that must be seen to be understood.
June 20-22, 2013
As much as this blog is about travelling, it’s also about the pictures I’ve taken along the way. On the topic of last weeks post about school; I signed up for a French course and a photography course, both of which start in September. I’m really excited to learn more and expand creatively. With that in mind, I took a couple of shots this past week that I really liked and decided to share them here. Hopefully you enjoy them as well.
August 26, 2014