2019 ~ A Year (and Decade) in Review

Looking back at this past year (and decade), I summed it up during my New Year meditation and intention ceremony down to one word… Overwhelming.

2019 and this past decade has been so hard but so f*@&ing necessary.

This past decade I dealt with the fallout of my father’s death on my family, I left a controlling religion that held me back since childhood, my marriage falling apart because my husband cheated, restarting my life from two suitcases, loss of fur babies due to old age, divorce, started a proper career in travel, traveled to 22 new countries, started to go hiking, skiing, downhill mountain biking and enjoying other things that make me happy again, climbing the corporate ladder very quickly to have my own shop, closure of my shop, growing my travel influencer/business coaching/marketing business, launched a podcast to landing on my feet finally on the ground floor of a brand new premium travel agency brand.

Reading back this list, I can’t help but feel proud. It’s been overwhelming, but so amazing at the same time. I found my authentic self.

I grew as a person so much over this past 10 years. I gained so much strength from within to deal with everything. I didn’t let my situations define me. I learned what I want and what I didn’t in my relationships (for love and in friends and family), and I won’t settle. I learned so many valuable lessons in life this past year and decade and also in business.

So now let’s dial in how this past year was for me.

What did 2019 teach me overall about myself? It taught me to be open, trust the path I’m on, manifestations do come true. I needed to see the value of me, my health and put myself first. I felt feelings of failure and vulnerability. I realized that there are always ebbs and flows to life and it’s how we react to situations that determines if we’ve grown or taken a step backwards.

In 2019, what are you most grateful for? I’m grateful for all the lessons learned, positive and negative. I’m grateful for my friends (old and new), my family and my clients. I made some great new connections in my business this year. I’m grateful for my travels, being able to recharge and the ability to see five new countries this year (Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia). I’m grateful that I believed in myself and had the courage to start and launch a podcast (The Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast).

My biggest accomplishments in 2019 was being a store manager for a Flight Centre store and all the learnings that came from that. Also, focusing on my business coaching, targeted growth on my social media platforms, working on my own business projects and launching a podcast this year all by myself. Landing a position in a new brand of Flight Centre, the first one in Western Canada, a new premium travel agency called Laurier Du Vallon.

2020 and this upcoming decade is a blank canvas for me.

During my intention setting and meditation ceremony I ended with how I want 2020 and beyond to look. I got very specific in my goals and set metrics for them. I even did a few exercises to come up with my “words” and “mantra” for this new year. So I’m going into this next year with a positive outlook and a mantra of “I am worthy of love, peace, balance and abundance”. I’ve set my new goals personally and in my career using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) goals. The words that I chose for this year are Success, Abundance, Love, Health, Wealth and Positivity. I summed it down to “I am worthy” of these things – so my one word for 2020 is Worth.

I’ve got so much planned for 2020 already. In travel, I’m heading to Norway, Germany, France and England in May. In July, I’m heading back to England to take in the British Formula One Grand Prix, then flying to Denmark to do a Baltic Cruise and visit Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden. My last trip on the books as of right now for this year is in September, I’m leading a river cruise from Switzerland through France, Germany, Luxembourg and finally ending in the Netherlands. If you’re interested in joining me on this cruise please contact me. I do still have cabins available on this sailing through the Rhine Gorge. It’s going to be a great year, I’ll be adding a minimum of eight new countries to my list! I’ve got some great guests coming up on my podcast this year and excited to see where this goes and takes me.

2019 and this past decade were so f%$ing necessary. It’s set me up to absolutely slay in 2020 and this decade to come.

2020, I’m ready.

Ariane

Ep. 5 Surviving the Holiday Travel Season

Aloha from The Big Island of Hawai’i! Today on the podcast I’m chatting about Holiday Season travel tips.

I’m diving into my own recent flight woes and how to prepare yourself and your family for a busy travel season. Stresses are high and tempers are short, but there are ways you can alleviate some anxieties while travelling during the Christmas Holidays.

Here is the link to find out your rights when it comes to compensation from the airlines due to delays, cancellations, etc with flights departing to, from and within Canada: https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/air-passenger-protection-regulations-highlights

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

Ep. 4 Travel Safety Tips and Tricks with David

I chat again with a really good friend David about travel safety tips and tricks. We chat about muggings, natural disasters and travel scams we’ve seen on our travels and how to do your best to prepare yourself. Knowledge and preparation empowers you to be a more confident traveller.

The Government of Canada has a great travel information website: https://www.travel.gc.ca On this website you can find travel warnings, safety information, visa entry requirements and health information.

Follow David on Instagram at @attraversiamoinsieme

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

Ep. 3 Solo Travel Questions Answered

In this episode I’m solo answering some solo travel questions that I received through Instagram and Facebook.

I answer questions such as “Isn’t is weird to eat alone?” to “Do you find it lonely travelling by yourself?”. I discuss why I personally love to travel solo to some of the challenges faced when travelling alone. The biggest takeaway is that solo travel should not hold you back! It’s so rewarding if you’re prepared.

A great resource for cruising (especially if your travelling alone) is Cruise Critic, you can join roll calls for cruises you are travelling on, etc – https://boards.cruisecritic.com

The Government of Canada has a great travel information website: https://www.travel.gc.ca On this website you can find travel warnings, safety information, visa entry requirements and health information.

Some of the apps that I use when I travel are: Google Translate (make sure to download the languages so you can use while off data, etc), Google Maps/Streetview, WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger (to stay connected to home), Airline apps (Air Canada, WestJet, etc, whomever I am flying as some planes don’t have in seat entertainment, they require that you have the app to watch movies, etc), Various Hotel apps (Marriott Bonvoy, etc), the Weather Network (to get up to date weather information to plan your days) and of course Uber/Lyft.

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

Ep. 2 Talking Travel Anxieties with David

I chat with a really good friend David about travel anxieties that we’ve experienced with planning our last trips to Brazil and Italy. We also cover anxieties in the airport, flying and once you arrive in a new destination. We share our tips and tricks to help you prepare and manage stress while travelling.

For information on what you can and can’t bring through security check points in your carry on or personal item, visit the CATSA website: https://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en

Did you know YVR (the Vancouver International Airport) has a “quiet area” to meditate and relax prior to your flight: http://www.yvr.ca/en/passengers/navigate-yvr/quiet-area

YVR also has some great Autism Travel Resources found here for families: http://www.yvr.ca/en/passengers/navigate-yvr/accessibility-at-yvr/autism-travel-resources

A great app for travelling (or just even for relaxation at home after work, etc) is the Calm app. You can find it in your Apple App Store, Google Play or where ever you download your apps.

Follow David on Instagram at @attraversiamoinsieme

To listen to this episode of the Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast or past episodes, visit one of these links (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Thanks again for listening, as always if you’d like to get in touch to be a guest on my podcast or to give an idea on an upcoming episode topic, please contact me.

It’s Podcast Launch Day! ~ Ep.1 Hello From Italy!

I’m so excited to be launching my Wanderlust Journey Travel Podcast today!

My first episode is called “Hello From Italy!” and I recorded it from beautiful Minori, Italy on the stunning Amalfi Coast. It’s a glimpse into what my podcast will be all about and you’ll get to know me a little more through questions I’ll be asking some of my guests in upcoming episodes!Here’s where you can find my podcast (click on which platform you use to listen):

Let me know what you thought of the episode on Instagram! Find me @WanderlustJourney.ca Share a screenshot of you enjoying the episode to your Instagram and Facebook with your instant thoughts! Also be sure to subscribe which ever platform you use listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Anchor, etc), leave a five star rating and review.

Interested in being a guest or advertising on my podcast, please contact me for more info.

 

My Guide to Rome, Italy

Rome is one of my favourite cities hands down.

The Eternal City has a draw to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It might be that I’ve made so many amazing memories here, or simply that to me it feels like “home”. So with my recent trips here and heading back yet again I thought I would update this blog post as there are so many new experiences and places to see and do I’ve been recommending to clients and friends.

Arriving into Rome

The Fiumicino airport is easy to navigate, customs was a breeze, the tricky part is trying to make it to the taxi stand. I did plenty of research, arriving into Rome for a single traveller you have a few options, pre arrange a transfer in a shared vehicle, take the Leonardo Express (the train) into Termini Station or get a taxi. Taxis (white cabs, in the taxi line) do have a fixed fare of €48 to get you into the walled city of Rome. My suggestion if you arrive at night is to take a taxi, it’s safe, gets you directly where you are going and the drivers can be very polite and willing to chat. As I mentioned it’s just getting to the taxi stand that can be a bit of an issue, you will have people approach you for a transfer, just ignore them and keep walking. Black cabs in Rome aren’t legal (you will find them just as overpriced on Uber), they are private transfer companies they aren’t supposed to be taking extra travellers.

Where to Stay

Jet lag to Europe is somewhat easier than jet lag to Asia, still not fun, but more tolerable and has it’s benefits. I typically wake up bright and early at 4:30am local time in Rome and venture out of my hotel room by 5:30/6:00am depending on the time of year. Venture out early. You see how the locals live, enjoy Rome’s busiest sights without any tourists to be found and take some pretty amazing photos with the soft warm sunrise lighting. Down side streets that normally look like cattle herding gates with all the crowds and are shoulder to shoulder with tourists come 2:00pm, you’ll find are empty and peaceful. You see the local deliveries to restaurants and hotels, the true bustle of local life in Roma. “Buongiorno!” echos down the streets. It’s a magical time to explore Rome in my opinion.

I typically stay in the vicinity of the Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps. I just find it’s a great spot to stay as that’s where most of my favourite restaurants are.

Hotel de Petris (basic/mid range accommodations) – Staying at Hotel de Petris (or the area) you are so close to quite a few main sights, you are a five minute walk from the Trevi Fountain and about eight minutes walk from the Spanish Steps. Some of the rooms have been updated, the hotel has a beautiful rooftop patio, where they serve breakfast and a beautiful place to relax at night.

NH Collection Roma Centro Hotel (great mid range property) – I stayed here on one of my last trips to Rome. It’s a great location in regards to walkability to many top sights, it’s on the West side of the Tiber River (same side as Vatican City). I woke up quite early and easily got to the Vatican with no one around. Property is in quite good condition, breakfast was very good and lots of choices. The cappuccino/espresso machine I would have loved to have taken home haha. Love the bathrooms at the hotel as well, the bathrooms featured bathtubs, which are so nice at the end of a long day walking around Rome. Rooms are also well furnished, beds are very comfortable and I slept very well.

Hotel Modigliani (mid range accommodations) – I was highly recommended this property by a friend and it’s got great reviews on TripAdvisor. It’s a boutique hotel owned by husband and wife Giulia and Marco. Hotel features an inner garden, an extensive continental breakfast and most rooms feature a small balcony. Breakfast was good and had both hot and cold items.

La Griffe Roma, MGallery by Sofitel (mid range/luxury accommodations) – I recommend this hotel to many of my clients due to location and service level. Great location to Roma Termini (train station) and the hop on hop off routes.

The Westin Excelsior (luxury accommodations) – I stayed here for a night and loved this hotel. It’s so classy and again near the area of Spanish Steps, so close to my favourite part of Rome to wander. Everything and more you would expect at a Westin Hotel. Rooms are more of a traditional style, however to me very respective of Rome.

The St. Regis Rome (luxury accommodations) – Absolutely stunning and beautiful hotel. All the service and amenities you would expect at a St. Regis property. Rooms have been renovated recently and look amazing.

Getting Around Rome

Ok, I enjoy a good quintessential touristy way to get around. The first time I was in Rome, I opted for a hop on, hop off pass with City Sightseeing. Honestly I think they are good value, a great way to get around the city and has the highlights of what to see along it’s routes. I usually ride one loop around so I know exactly where stops are and to listen to the commentary that is provided.

Other ways to get around Rome reasonably are the public buses, it does take a little more figuring out, but is a very cheap way to get around Rome. Taxis line up at taxi stands (orange sign, black lettering), you can find most near main Piazzas. If you do call for a cab from your hotel, etc, they do start their meter when they receive the call to pick you up. Taxis are very reasonable and have found them all to be quite good and honest with the routes taken.

Rome does have Uber now, however the prices are very expensive compared to other places where Uber exists. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rome or Italy in general no longer supports Uber like some cities like Barcelona.

Eating in Rome

Breakfast in Rome (or anywhere else in Italy) is simple, “caffe e cornetto” (espresso and a pastry) are all the words you need to mutter. Be sure to order at the cashier first, then go to the counter with your receipt. Standing at a counter is typical European way, if you sit in for breakfast or just a coffee, you do get charged an extra service fee. A great cafe would be the Antico Caffe Greco, located just down the street from the Spanish Steps, it bears the plaque of a Roma Historical Site and locals argue it’s one of the best places in Rome for a coffee. Another morning drink to try would be a “cappuccino al ginseng”, a cappuccino with ginseng extract which is surprisingly amazing and gives you quite a kick to start your day, try Tazza D’Oro for one of these right near the Pantheon. Asking for your coffee to go is sacrilege in Italian culture. It’s the one time to stop, and literally smell the coffee.

Lunch and Dinner in Rome was for me, street food time. This is a newish concept to Italy, however the bakeries can be centuries old. Forno Campo de’ Fiori has some of the best pizza I have ever tasted. Try the Pizza Bianca with mortadella and figs, absolutely amazing. Near by another bakery serves up pizza by the slice (no, not like you would typically find here in Canada) and the best arancini I’ve ever had, check out Antico Forno Roscioli.

If pasta is more your thing, try “Cacio e pepe”, a traditional Roman pasta dish of butter, fresh cracked pepper and pecorino or parmesan cheese, aka heaven in a bowl. Pastifico Guerra is located on Via della Croce (street connecting to the Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Steps), this place offers a choice from two pastas for lunch and dinner, a glass of wine for €4. Yes, no joke, €4. They don’t have a place to sit in, they actually make and sell pasta, but offer a “taste” of their labours at this very reasonable price. The choices the night I went was a linguine with arribiata, pecorino and pancetta, or a vegetarian option of linguine with fresh pesto and zucchini.

A few of my favourite restaurants are:

Fiaschetteria Beltramme (near Spanish Steps, 39 Via della Croce) – Honestly the BEST carbonara you will eat on this planet. Period. They also serve up amazing appetizers such as Burrata and Prosciutto, Caprese Salad and other great dishes including a great Cacio e pepe. Glasses of house wine are also really good quality and like the food prices, very reasonable.

Ristorante All’Oro (slightly North of Piazza del Popolo, 23/25 Via Giuseppe Pisanelli) – An intimate Michelin Starred restaurant with the best seven course tasting menu I’ve probably ever had. Staff are incredible, friendly and very good with food preferences and sensitivities. It’s well worth the price to experience the full dinner here, so memorable.

Piccolo Arancio (near Trevi Fountain, Vicolo Scanderbeg 112) – Located very close to the Trevi Fountain but in an alleyway that is very “local Roman”. Try the amazing Ravioli All’Arancia, ravioli pasta filled with ricotta cheese and orange served in a cream sauce. Delicious!

Dessert in Rome is simple, you need to try Pompi’s tiramisu. Literally kitty corner from Pastifico near the Spanish Steps, this is the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. The gelato there is pretty good too.

Roman Fountains

I always travel with a refillable water bottle, you don’t know what each countries rules are for recycling are, so it’s just something that makes me feel better. What I didn’t realize and was so happy to hear that you can drink out of the fountains in Rome. There are specific places to refill your water bottles at each fountain and is completely safe to drink. The water comes from an artisanal well and is looked after and tested daily by the Italian government. Buying bottled water in Rome therefore is really unnecessary. On a hot day, the water is cool and refreshing, and always available.

The Vatican

I’m not a religious person, however the Vatican is still a sight to see. I did a guided tour of the Vatican, while I did enjoy it, I think I would have just enjoyed wandering around on my own. I felt like we were being rushed around (yes, even a 4 hour tour felt rushed) and really only skimmed the surface. If the Vatican interests you, do it on your own, arrive early to beat the crowds and just wander. There is a lot of history held within those walls and some artwork by some fantastic artists. While I was there in one of the courtyards they had an Egyptian exhibit, some of the historical pieces were a delight to see.

So a bit of an update here… I had another amazing experience at the Vatican which I would HIGHLY suggest if you can book a tour that offers it. I had a private after hours tour of the Vatican Museums followed by dinner in the gardens after hours! It was so amazing to see the Vatican again in this way with NO crowds. We could take our time and we were the only ones in the Sistine Chapel! Such an amazing experience!

Other Experiences in Rome

I highly recommend doing an Urban Adventures tour in Rome. I did the “Rome Highlights” tour and it was a great introduction to the city the first time I was here. Tours are very small groups (one paid passenger means the tour is guaranteed to go) and the local guides are amazing! Guides in Rome are very highly trained and especially have PhD’s because of the historical significance of pretty well everything you walk on or look at.

Of course there are so many of the iconic things to see and do such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, the markets (don’t miss the market at Campo de’ Fiore, it’s where I buy my kitchenwares such as ravioli presses, pasta tools, etc, however the flowers here are stunning!). I could go on and on. Rome is full of so much stunning architecture and history. If you do go and see the Colosseum and Roman Forum on your own, buy your ticket at the ticket office located on Via dei Fori Imperiali (the main street near Piazza Venezia). The line was maybe five minutes wait and was stamped with an entrance time to see the Colosseum. The lines to buy tickets at the Colosseum were crazy, I got to basically walk right in (just a small line for security).

Rome Overall

I always have an amazing time in Rome, it’s actually a place I could totally see myself living. Everywhere you look and corner you turn there is more and more history. I find the city to be quite safe if you knew what to look out for, I saw a few of the scams I had read up on in the Lonely Planet guide and online on various blogs, but didn’t have any problems personally. I found Rome to be clean and welcoming. Whilst I did find some unfriendliness in the city, many of the locals are chatty and quite nice. Travelling as a single woman in Rome didn’t make me uneasy at all.

My most recent “pinch me moment” was on one of my early morning walks to Vatican City in May 2019, standing in the empty Piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. As I was standing there all alone with the sun rising on this beautiful scene, an all girls children’s choir singing “Ave Maria”, followed by “Hallelujah”. I seriously started to cry as it was such a beautiful moment.

I’ll always be looking forward to the day I come back to Rome. Yes, I always throw my coin over my shoulder at the Trevi Fountain, so it will only be a matter of time…

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Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos

In June I was invited to check out the beautiful Le Blanc Spa Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. It was stunning. Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos is an adults only, 373 rooms, all inclusive resort. It features 4 heated outdoor pools (1 infinity pool), 2 swim up bars, 2 outdoor hot tubs, daily activities (including TRX, yoga, spinning classes in the pool and BOGA yoga/pilates classes), unlimited (included with your stay) hydrotherapy at the spa, 24 hour room service, 8 restaurants and 6 bars.

I flew with WestJet, a direct flight from Vancouver in just under four hours. It was my first time to Cabo, so I was very excited to see a new part of Mexico. Landing into Cabo I could see why so many people loved it as a destination. It’s dry and not really humid. It reminded me of Arizona or Sicily, cactus lining the mountainsides along with sage brush. Again, also such a quick flight from the West Coast to get some much needed sun. Once I dodged the timeshare representative gauntlet in the Cabo Airport, I found a representative from Le Blanc who met me outside, gave me a cool towel and took me over to the waiting Cadillac Escalade for my private transfer. Once inside the air conditioned vehicle, luggage was loaded, I was given a cold bottle of water and enjoyed the 20-25 minute drive from the airport to Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos.

Once I arrived at the hotel, I was given a welcome drink, a beautiful flower and checked in seamlessly at one of the reception desks. I knew at that point, this was a very different all inclusive resort from others I have stayed at in the past. I really needed food at this point, so I checked out Blanc Ocean, the casual oceanfront restaurant here. The food and service is amazing. I ate at Blanc Ocean a few times, it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After a late lunch, it was time to check out my room, and it didn’t disappoint. I was treated to a Royale Deluxe Honeymoon Suite. It was stunning. The room had an amazing, very comfortable king size bed, a soaker tub (with a view of the ocean from the bathroom), separate rainfall shower, BVLGARI bathroom amenities, a Nespresso machine, beach bag for you to use during your stay then keep and of course a bottle of Tequila (which I took home, or you can enjoy in your room).

Every room includes butler service. I would highly recommend downloading the app (yes there is a Le Blanc Resorts app), so that you can manage everything regarding your stay. Using the app you can message your butler, order off the pillow menu, select in room aromatherapy, select which bath salts and handcrafted soap you would like in your bathroom, and you can order room service, then track your order afterwards. My butler came and introduced himself, he also offered to unpack for me and/or iron anything that needed to be, I kindly declined, but the service is there if you wish to use it. They also offer a packing service on the day of check out should you feel inclined.

It was then time to try Blanc Italia for dinner. It was the some of the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. The pasta is made daily, everything was delicious. It was totally worth breaking my keto diet for (another post on this soon). Afterwards, it was time to check out Blanc Fire, one of the beautiful bars here at Le Blanc, looking over the pool area. Comfortable lounge chairs and outdoor chairs create a cozy laid back environment with fire pits lining the space.

Every morning I ordered room service. The Dulce de Leche pastries in the morning were so good. It arrived very promptly and I ate out on my balcony most mornings. The food always arrived hot, which was nice as I find that can be a struggle with room service. I’m an early riser (5:00am), and took advantage of getting the perfect spot at the pool quite early each morning at 7:30am (yes it was already quite sunny and hot). I arrived down to the pool where the pool concierge greeted me and laid out my towels for me on the chair I had selected. He them brought me over a side table with a bucket of ice and a couple bottles of water. Never thought anything of it, he asked for my room number and headed off to greet the next guests. About half hour later my regular butler greeted me at my chair asking if there was anything I needed or had forgot in my room (at this point I was already impressed with the service, but this blew me away). I was all good, so just wished him a good day. This is a spa resort, so the music near the pools reflect that, which I loved. It was mostly quiet, spa style music, in the afternoon a little bit more upbeat however still not loud. If you’re hoping for foam parties and DJ’s by the pool, this resort is not for you. It is a serene place which I was so thankful for and enjoyed thoroughly. I even read two books!

After a site inspection and resort update, I look part in a margarita making and ceviche cooking class. It was so much fun to learn how to make this amazing dish and a proper margarita. They also host tequila tastings so you get to learn a little more about tequila and how each tastes better with different flavours. Who knew dark chocolate truffles with Anejo tequila tastes so good?

I did try a full body toning pilates class followed by yoga on the BOGA boards at the “activity pool”. It was a lot of fun and really suggest getting involved in all the different activities. I also tried the water spinning class, which was challenging but so much fun! Then it was time to enjoy the spa. The hydrotherapy (water journey) is included for everyone at Le Blanc, spa services (facials, massage, etc are at an extra charge). You enter the split hydrotherapy room (one for women, one for men) and are led to the locker room by your spa butler (yes, a spa butler). Your spa butler gives you a robe and sandals to use while taking advantage of the hydrotherapy. I was then led to the Sauna, asked how long I would like to stay here (up to ten minutes), then she applied cucumbers to my eyes with a cool towel on top and sprayed my body with a lime smelling water. I dosed off when she lightly tapped my shoulder and asked if I was ready to continue (I totally lost count of time so I already think having a spa butler is amazing). She then took me to the “Ice Room”, where I was given a pumice full of ice and an aloe vera gel to apply to my body (felt amazing after spending the morning in the sun). I stayed here for five minutes. Then off to the Steam Room. Before entering the Steam Room I was given a lavender and rosemary facial mud to apply and a thermal protectant conditioning treatment for my hair. I applied both and enjoyed the Steam Room for ten minutes. Then it was time for the invigorating shower, a series of showers at different temperatures and intensities. Time to now relax on a tiled heated lounger, where you can sip on hibiscus iced tea or ice water. Again once rehydrated, relaxed here for twenty minutes with another set of cucumbers and a cool towel over my eyes. The time flew by, as again she lightly tapped me on my shoulder asking if I was ready for the therapy pools. From here you are shown to a seat in a private cabana and explained the three pools in this area, the main therapy pool has many different water jets and is a warm temperature, a hot tub and a cold plunge pool (yes it’s cold but very refreshing after doing all the pools). You can then relax in the “Relaxation Room” where they have these amazing nest beds (yes, I had a nap). You can do the water journey and hydrotherapy as many times as you like. I did it at least twice a day!

All the restaurants here are amazing! The food is incredible for an all inclusive resort. The most surprising to me was Mezze, everything was sharable and meant to be shared. It is a Lebanese style restaurant and the food was so delicious! Make sure you order the Turkish Coffee, they make it the traditional way in the sand, table side. The French restaurant “Lumiere” is the only restaurant that requires reservations (you can make this reservation when you check in or from the app) and is a bit more of a formal dress code. Again, can’t say enough about the food, very very good. Blanc Asia has amazing appetizers and sushi, if you’re a seafood fan there are lots of great options on the menu. Poolside, I ordered from Blanc Pizza, actual stone fired pizzas and fresh salads (I love a caprese salad on a hot day). Also ordered from Blanc Ocean poolside, guacamole and pico, and of course amazing tacos! The other poolside attraction is the churro cart every afternoon! They make fresh churros right in front of you and you have the option of getting it stuffed with dolce de leche (yes, so yummy).

Overall, this is definitely my favourite all inclusive resort so far. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation where you are spoiled from the moment you arrive, this is the resort for you. If you have any questions or if your interested in working with me as your travel agent, please send me a message here.

Thanks again for reading and happy travels!

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My Guide to Santorini, Greece

Santorini is one of my all time favourite destinations to visit. I absolutely LOVE this island. I love it so much, I’ve already travelled here twice in the course of just over a year. It’s more than just romantic, it feels like another world. The sunsets here are incredible, and the charming towns that line the clifftops are beyond beautiful.

You can get to the Cyclades island of Santorini a few ways. Located in the Aegean Sea, most people visit Santorini for the day via cruise ship. You can also fly in (airport code JTR) and even arrive by ferry from Athens (or from many of the other Greek Islands) for longer stays.

If you’re visiting by cruise ship, you will have to tender (your cruise ship anchors out in the caldera and you are ferried onto the bottom of the cliff of Thira (Fira). You will then have a few choices. You can take a gondola/cable car to the top of the cliff side, a boat to Oia (sounds like EE YA), walk up the stairs or ride a donkey up. I’m going to be very honest, please, please, please do not ride the donkeys up the hill. They are overworked, working in very hot conditions and getting injured. Conde Nast Traveller wrote an article on the donkeys of Santorini that you can find here. Please keep in mind being a socially responsible traveller, especially when it comes to animal welfare. The cable car up is €6 per person, per direction, so €12 per person round trip. I recently did the boat to Oia option on my last trip, taking a boat from where the cruise ship tenders drop off. This option was €15 per person which includes the boat to Oia, bus ride up the hill into Oia and then the bus ride back to Thira.

Getting Around Santorini:

If you decide to check out Thira first, once at the top of the hill, you can’t help but take in the magnificent views. This island is just beautiful everywhere. Thira is one of the main towns on Santorini. It’s where you will find the main bus terminal (public bus system run by KTEL). A bus ticket to most areas on the island is around a €1.80 to €2.50 per direction, honestly it’s a great deal and the public buses are coach style buses. A bus from Thira to Oia will cost you €1.80 per direction.

Here’s how to get to the bus station from the cable car (red dot is the cable car, yellow dot is the bus depot, it’s about a 10 minute walk):

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Taxis on Santorini are limited and can be expensive. Renting a car, motorbike and/or ATV is the other option most visitors opt for. Rough costs for this depend on the depot and rental company used.

Things to see and do:

There are so many things to see and experience on Santorini. It’s a place to take in the beauty, relax and unwind. I’ve broke down some of the top sights and things to do based on each town.

Oia – Probably the most iconic town that tourists flock to. Here in Oia, my favourite thing to do is just to wander the streets and enjoy the sights. I love photographing the whitewashed homes, clinging to the cliffside. It’s just an incredible view. If you’re here for the day, visit early in the morning before the cruise ship crowds descend on this small village. Once 11:00am rolls around it can be very busy here as it is such a popular destination. Crowds don’t dissipate until later in the afternoon depending on the cruise ship schedules. Sunsets are absolutely amazing, however Oia can still feel quite busy if there is still a ship in port. There are several restaurants that have stunning sunset views, where you can order a bottle of prosecco or champagne and enjoy the experience. Oia is a tourist town, however there are a few locals shops here offering some beautiful unique products and gifts (don’t miss the Atlantis Books Store and a store called Nama). Oia to me it’s one of those places to explore, take amazing photos, grab a seat at a restaurant, enjoy a glass of wine with some amazing Greek food and ponder life while taking in the view over the caldera.

Thira – Thira is a place that most tourists arrive, it’s where the cable car brings thousands of tourists almost everyday in the busy season. There are a few local shops here, however it can also be a great starting point to exploring the island of Santorini. Santorini has some amazing wineries and breweries. One wine tour in particular is with Santorini Wine Adventures, they offer a great half day tour visiting three local wineries on Santorini learning about how the volcanic earth here help creates some great wines.

Red Beach (Akrotiri) – One of the most scenic beaches on Santorini, within walking distance from the Akrotiri Archaeological Site, a site not to miss. The site is covered and  enclosed to protect the discovered and very well preserved ruins from the Minoan Bronze Age. Red Beach itself can be a bit tricky to get onto depending on the level of erosion, but it’s a beautiful and unique beach.

Where to eat on Santorini:

Oia – My favourite place to eat in Oia is Lotza Restaurant. The food here is fresh, home cooked and just delicious. It’s a very quaint restaurant with amazing views overlooking the caldera.

Other restaurant options in Oia are Karma and 1800, for something sweet try Lolita’s Gelato on a hot day and Melenio Cafe for an amazing dessert.

Thira – Located a short walk from the Thira cable car, Volkan On The Rocks serves up amazing locally sourced food, their very own wines and beer called Volkan Beer.

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Other restaurant options in Thira are Fanari and Theoni’s Kitchen.

Whatever you see and experience on Santorini, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a beautiful island to discover and is full of history. Santorini is one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to and has a very special place in my heart.

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If you have any questions about travelling to Santorini, leave me a message!

 

 

Self Love, Gratitude and My Morning Routine

As you might have already read, on my trip home from Venice this past October was definitely a time for me to reflect on my life in more ways than one (click here if you missed this post). Many people have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day, however all of these reminders of love really wanted me to write something to help some in regards to having a more positive attitude during this time of year. Whether you’re married, single, in a relationship, in a complicated relationship or whatever your status is, we all crave happiness and love in our lives. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life so far, is that no matter what, you need to love yourself first, practice gratitude and have a true understanding of what makes you happy. If you miss these vital steps, you can lose yourself in a relationship, or worse off, never find that place of true contentment.

On New Year’s Eve, I performed a very powerful intention setting ceremony which was very sacred to me. I wrote out my intentions for this year on a piece of paper and at midnight I rolled it up with some sage leaves and smudged my apartment and all my crystals with it, putting my intentions into the universe. One of my intentions for this year is to fully practice self love.

My Path to Self Love

I’ll be totally honest, I have huge self image issues. I’ve struggled with this for years now. You won’t find a photo of me on my Instagram, I prefer to take photos of the beautiful places I visit than to be in any of my photos. It’s something I’m working on, on a daily basis. I feel I’ve made huge strides with this since practicing self love and daily gratitude, but it’s a work in progress. Being grateful has a huge impact on your path to finding self love and acceptance. I want to clarify, self love is not being selfish. It’s coming to an awareness of what you truly have to offer, who you are as an individual and you are fully aware of all your faults and failures, after all, you are just “human”. Self love is about being the best you and standing up for your truth. It involves understanding your body’s presence, limitations and need for nourishment, exercise, rest and rejuvenation. You need to strive to practice self love daily.

My morning routine is my way I make this a daily practice and priority.

My Morning Routine

Every morning I wake up at 5:30am. I make my way to my living room, sit on my yoga mat and meditate for ten to fifteen minutes. Immediately after my meditation, I write in my journal. I always start off with “Today I am grateful for…”, and from there I let my gratitude and thoughts for the morning flow. After journalling I do thirty to forty-five minutes of yoga to completely “wake up” my body and get ready for the day. I recently started a ketogenic diet again (I love how I feel on a keto diet overall, more in a new post soon), so after yoga and a shower I make myself a keto latte (steamed unsweetened coconut milk with a couple shots of espresso), sit at my dining room table and organize my day ahead of me. My morning routine helps me with stress levels, making sure I’m starting the day with intent and focus, and keeps me grounded.

Self love is so important. Creating this mindset along with gratitude is key for being a successful person in all aspects of your life. Find your rituals that speak to you. This could be going for a walk, doing a cross fit class, setting time in the evening for a relaxing bath, reading a book or sitting in silent meditation. These are examples of practicing self love you can do on a daily basis. It’s about finding a self love routine that helps you accept, forgive and focus on you.

How do you practice self love and gratitude? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Love and light,

Ariane