How to: travel with your parents as an adult

You may have caught on, I’m plagued with wanderlust. I have the infinite want to travel no matter what my situation – I love being on the road (or in the sky depending on the destination). As such, a couple years back I had the opportunity, last minute albeit, to take a trip to Europe. I had 2 weeks off work and my paychecks were burning a hole in my pocket. I looked into flights, talked it over with my family, and decided there’s no time like the present… my parent’s had the same thought.

Now, I’m not opposed to traveling with my parents, but at the time I was 24 all I wanted was independence. After a little more planning and a new stop added onto the trip we were on a plane to Rome. We spent one week walking the cobbled streets of Rome, eating gelato and listening to stories my Italian father had of the places he knew as a child. My dad was born and raised in Sicily and he loves being back in his home country. It was amazing to see his stories come alive through the city’s landscape. I always took for granted my dad’s love of history and his love of his country. I am so glad I was able to travel to Italy with him, I can’t wait to go back.

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After an amazing week seeing history come alive right in front of me, we were off to my preferred destination – London. Words cannot convey my love for this city, a love I have had long before I was even able to visit. London feels like home, I’ve always had the need to be there. Our plane touched down at Heathrow after midnight, so sightseeing was pushed to the next day. We rented a flat in Battersea (thanks to my sister for finding amazing accommodations) this was the best choice for us. We all had our own space and weren’t confined to one room together.

Early the next morning we jumped on the train and headed to Victoria Station. I remember walking out of the station and seeing the double-decker buses for the first time with my mom. She had always wanted to visit there too, it was amazing to be able to share that experience with her. We walked and walked that day, luckily it was late May so it was warm and sunny – a great surprise. It was a great week in London with my parents, I had a few friends living in the city so I had the opportunity to meet up with them and get some of the feel of non-tourist London. My parents loved walking through the parks during the day and I loved walking the beautiful lit up streets at night. London is a magical city.

Sadly our trip came to an end and we flew back to Toronto. I was so sad to leave it behind and not know when the next time I was able to visit would be, little did I know I would be back in 6 months, but that’s another story.

I am so glad I traveled to Europe with my parents as an adult, it gave me a whole new perspective on our relationship. Of course we had our fights and they embarrassed me in front of the cute English boys, but at the end of the day they are my parents and they’re going to embarrass me no matter what. If you’re thinking of traveling with your parents as an adult, I say DO IT! Make sure you get some time alone to explore and see the things you want to see, if you can do it – get your own room (you’ll need it!), and lastly enjoy your time with them, let them tell you the stories of their youth no matter how many times you’ve heard it.

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Throwback Thursday: Banff, Alberta

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Calgary, Alberta. It was only for one night but the group I was with decided that it would be fun to take a trip up to Banff instead of stay in the Calgary area. I was skeptical at first, but I’m so glad that we did it. It was my first time in Alberta and I wanted to see as much as I could.

Like I said, it was a few years ago so that camera quality isn’t the best but I still love looking through these photos and remembering what it was like standing on top of Tunnel Mountain in Banff and being awestruck by my surroundings. I can’t wait to get out west again this summer and climb some more mountains!

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Oh you know, just an elk and some wild horses to start off the trip nicely.

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Even driving near Banff is beautiful.

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We started our hike up Tunnel Mountain, it was by far the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

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View of the town of Banff from Tunnel Mountain.

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Near the top, at this point I was almost crying from being so close to the edge.

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Our little hiking party, missing these folks like crazy!

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As we made our trek back down the mountain (at times on our bums) we saw these little friends. They were very friendly and came right up to us.

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This is one of my favourite pictures of all time.

We spent some time walking around Banff and had lunch. We didn’t have too much time so by dusk we headed back towards Calgary. I had such a fun time in Alberta, I can’t wait to go back west!

xx.

Let’s take a drive…

It’s been awhile since I’ve grabbed my camera, gotten in my car, filled up with gas, grabbed a warm drink and hit the road to find something I find beautiful enough to shoot. I had been thinking about it for the past couple weeks and decided to do that last Monday and just see where the road would take me.

I have to admit, I got a bit caught up in my thoughts when I was driving and just being able to have some time to myself. I didn’t take too many shots – but I love the ones that I took. I find that driving really clears my head and allows me to think – my best ideas come from long drives listening to great music.

I’m hoping to get my camera out more but it’s just been way too cold!

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xx.

Girls Weekend

It’s been a long winter and pretty stressful for me lately, being an adult is difficult. So when one of my very best friends Megan invited myself and Coleen (writer of Lipstick and L’Attitude) up for a visit we jumped at the chance. Megan lives in Peterborough, about a 2 hour drive from Toronto, so Coleen and I packed her car full (well, I packed her car full – I’m a serial over packer) and started our journey!

We had plans to eat at the yummiest restaurants and drink some delicious wine – and did we ever. I was so tired on the Friday night that I just couldn’t bring out my camera. But on Saturday we got down to business, starting off with breakfast and orange juice, we got ready for a day of shopping, eating, more shopping, and wine.

We grabbed lunch at the famous Hot Belly Mama’s on George Street, and it was not disappointing! The food is Cajun style with New Orleans inspired dishes, so many options. We all got something a little different and it was great. I went with the brisket sandwich, I already want to drive the 2 hours back up there and get it again.

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Pictures just don’t do this food justice. It was seriously good, highly recommend Hot Belly Mama’s if you’re in the Peterborough area! The atmosphere in there is great too, really comfortable and friendly – and awesome service! 

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After making some plans to meet up with our friend John, who joined us for lunch, Megan, Coleen and I went shopping (of course). I’ve been on the search for a “grown-up” cloth black jacket lately and I found one for, get this, $22! It was in a crazy sale and I can’t be happier with it. I’ll show it off soon – promise!

We topped of a great day by cooking Mexican food, drinking wine, and of course using Lush fresh face masks – what else?

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Sadly our weekend had to come to an end, Coleen and I packed her car with our bags and recent purchases and headed home. Being the Canadians we are, we stopped at Tim Horton’s for some coffee and Timbits and hit the road.  The drive was a bit crazy but we got home safe and sound.

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I love weekends like this, relaxing, catching up with friends, and shopping. I can’t wait to plan the next weekend! Not to mention cuddling Mily, Megan’s Greyhound, I’m already missing this little girl, how could you not love this face? IMG_1288

xx.

West Coast Wedding

Vancouver has to be one of my favourite cities in the world. Being as my sister moved there just under two years ago, I have the pleasure of going to visit whenever I want! I had always been an East Coast lover, I could never understand the pull of the West Coast – that was until I visited it for myself. How could you not love a city surrounded mountains and water, not to mention all the delicious food.

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Pups on a hike an hour after I got off my flight

This past summer, my West Coast sister got married! It was the first wedding in the family – pretty exciting stuff. I spent a few weeks with her and the rest of my family in Vancouver getting ready and then promptly resting. Who knew one day could be so exhausting.

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summertime drinks on a patio in Gastown

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Vancouver by night

My wake-up call every morning

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The view from the deck

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Photo shoot before the wedding, typical of my family

The day was amazing, my sister’s attention to detail and eye for design really allowed for the wedding to be unforgettable. What a beautiful day it was and in the perfect location. They chose a venue with so much charm and character, Hart House in Burnaby, BC. Seeing Hart House for the first time is like living in the past, you’ll fall in love immediately. (I highly recommend a visit there for brunch, amazing eggs benny)

The wedding was in early August, a great time of the year in Vancouver, the day started out a little dreary but it turned out to be lovely weather. The whole day was a blur, as I was one of the bridesmaids along with my other sister and my now brother-in-law’s sister, I didn’t get a chance to take too many photos. The only ones I could sneak were some candid iPhone shots.

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The bride and her daughter

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My two sisters

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Mother of the bride

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Bride and Ring bearer

The groomsmen and pups

The groomsmen and pups

I can’t properly do Hart House justice with words, you’ll just have to see it for yourself one day. Here’s the bride and groom with Hart House in the background.

View More: http://taliahleigh.pass.us/jasonandandrea

Image via Taliah Leigh Photography

The photographer that my sister and her husband picked is a natural light photographer. I really enjoy her work, she’s super fun and has some great ideas. Check out Taliah Leigh’s website and portfolio. She took some amazing photos of the ceremony and reception at Hart House, you can check them out here.

But of course, the vacation had to come to an end, and this had been a long one – a cap to a two month trip through California and British Columbia. After getting some last minute shopping and eating done, I was off, back to Toronto, back to reality. It’s always sad to leave a place you love, but even more so when you have to leave your fur nephew and niece.

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Imagine leaving this behind

Goodbye for now Vancouver, I’ll be back soon….

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My Own Space

For me, there is something cathartic about designing. I like being able to bring elements together and make them my own.

During the warmer months, I’m not so worried about my bedroom since I’m really only in it to sleep. However, it’s now autumn and we’re on the way to winter and the weather is getting much cooler, making me reevaluate what I want my space to feel and look like. Making my living area something I love has been on a long list of things to do. In the past few weeks I’ve been collecting inspiration and looking for the right pieces to go in my room.

To me, a room should consist of four things: comfort, personal style, many books, and a glorious bed. Lucky for me, I already love my bed, it just needs a bit of a makeover in the sheets and duvet cover area.

I’ve decided on a reading corner with my favourite books as decoration. I’ve been looking for the perfect chair to accompany my much loved books but I’ve come up empty handed. When I brought this up with my dad, he told me that there was a great chair in the basement that I could reupholster and make my own, now I’m on a search for fabric!

Here are some pieces I’ve seen around random antique shops and interior design stores around South Western Ontario.

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Excuse the blurry photo, I was in a bit of a rush but I LOVED this chair.

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Of course a good room redecoration wouldn’t be complete without some inspiration from Pinterest, check out my For the Home board for my home inspirations. The following photos are just a couple pieces of inspiration for me from Pinterest.

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I love the idea of a cool toned wall with warm accent pieces in the room. I’ve decided on grey for the walls, but looking at all my options is overwhelming. Any suggestions?

I love style, however I don’t think a room should be overly put together. Organization is a must but comfort is key.

Throwback Thursday – Touring Europe

In the fashion of being a huge Instagram user (follow me!), I thought it was only appropriate to write a whole blog post about a trip I took a few years ago. This trip’s memories have stuck with me throughout the years and have left me longing to go back to Europe.

In the fall of 2011 I had just finished a contract as an Outdoor Experiential Educator, in other words I was a year round camp counselor, at the time it was my dream job. However, it was time to move on and start, as I lovingly call it, a big girl job. As I had graduated university the year previously, it was time I used my Communication Studies and International Relations  degree in a “proper” way. I decided that I wanted a more specialized area and I applied to do post graduate work that started in January of 2012. However, it was only October – what was I to do for the next 3 months?

I did what any travel loving twenty something would do – booked a flight to London, booked a tour with the awesome people at Contiki (great idea for first time solo travelers), packed my bags, and got on a plane a few days later. Luckily, I had been to Europe with my parents only a few months earlier, so I knew what to expect. The only thing that made me somewhat uneasy was the fact that I would be traveling around Europe on a bus with 50 strangers – what if I was the only solo traveler? Not the case at all, plus everyone on my tour was awesome.

I had the opportunity to visit London, drive through Belgium, tour around the streets and canals of Amsterdam, go wine tasting in St. Goar, visit the famous Hofbrauhaus and Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich, walk the picturesque streets of Innsbruck in Austria, drive through the Bavarian Alps, see the sights in Venice, Rome, and Florence, stay in a converted jail house in Lucerne Switzerland, and of course drink coffee and eat pastries in the famous cafes of Paris.

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View from the London Eye

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On the ferry from Port of Dover to Calais, France

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Booze Cruise through the canals of Amsterdam

I don’t have too many photos of Amsterdam at night, cameras aren’t allowed in the Red Light district.

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Amsterdam in the daytime

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Wine tasting in St. Goar, Germany

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Cuckoo Clock in St. Goar

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In the Marienplatz in Munich

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Drinking in the historic Hofbrauhaus

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Driving through the Alps

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How could you not want to visit here?

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Innsbruck, Austria

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Taking a gondola ride in Venice

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Beautiful Venice

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Venetian masks, we had to.

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Obligatory shot of the Colosseum

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Florence

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Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) in Lucerne, Switzerland

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Jailhotel Loewengraben – the converted jailhouse that is now a hotel

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Walking the streets of Lucerne at night

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Eiffel Tower at night

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The Louvre

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In the Napoleon III Apartments in The Louvre

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Moulin Rouge

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Stonehenge, England

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The Roman Baths in Bath, England

It was a whirlwind adventure but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If you’re thinking of making the trip to Europe but don’t have the guts to do it by yourself I HIGHLY recommend going through a tour company like Contiki or Gap Adventures.