Ah, Maui. Vacations don’t get much better than paradise on this tropical island. This year, we timed our trip perfectly to coincide with a bout of snowy weather in Calgary. Packing is easy when you are leaving behind your heavy sweaters and coats for bikinis and rompers. This summer it is all about fun prints, bright colours and pom-poms! Here is a round-up of what I wore in Hawaii… [Read more…]
Do you have a travel bucket list? Places and activities that you want to experience in this lifetime? I was fortunate enough to get to check something off my list last week and that was dog sledding in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s an experience that I won’t forget and I even captured the whole adventure on video so that I could share it with you! Don’t miss this post:
Why Canadians Love Scottsdale, Arizona
This year, winter has been a savage for most parts of North America. For us in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, it started in October and hasn’t let up yet. We’ve had extremely cold temperatures, huge amounts of snow and all the hibernating that goes along with it. It’s tough for parents and kids to be cooped up indoors!
My husband and I decided to plan a little getaway to escape the frigid temperatures but had the hardest time figuring out where to go since everywhere has been below seasonal! Our typical destinations like Las Vegas and San Diego were just not warm enough. So after waiting long enough to see a 14-day forecast, we settled on our favourite spot: Scottsdale, Arizona. Here is why we can’t get enough of this place:
Where to Travel with your Dinosaur Fans
Hello friends! As a mom of boys I can swear to you that their love of cars, trucks and dinosaurs is imprinted on males from the time of birth. Dinosaurs are so much fun when you are a kid and as you get older, they become even more fascinating. So where do you take your children to feed that prehistoric love? The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. See what all the fun is about plus watch our YouTube vlog!
I’m experiencing a bit of a love affair with my adopted province of Alberta this summer. I’m not sure if it is because I’ve taken a bigger interest in photography but the beauty of mother nature is almost overwhelming this year! The Canola Fields are a sight to see if you are traveling to Alberta during the summer months. Take a weekend to explore the countryside and read about the style that goes along with it…
Whenever we have family come to visit us in Calgary, we transform into tour guides, trying to show off the beautiful province that we live in. It’s a vacation for them and a staycation for us. This past weekend, we headed to the Canadian Rocky Mountains to explore the crystal clear lake waters that make Alberta famous. If you haven’t been here, then come experience a little bit of heaven on earth.
I hope that many of you have had the opportunity to experience at least a couple days of spring in British Columbia. Tulips, daffodils, azaleas, rhododendrons, cherry blossoms and tulips trees in full bloom and they create these gorgeous hues of pink and red everywhere. It’s a short period before the petals start to fall like rain but it’s so worth experiencing it. While the rest of Canada is still under snow or stuck in that drab brown landscape, places like Vancouver and Victoria are blossoming.
I’m lucky enough to have made it to Vancouver twice the past two Aprils to model a dress made of toilet paper at the Grocery and Specialty Food convention. I know this sounds ridiculous right? So let me explain.
Every fall, fifteen Canadian bridal fashion designers each create a dress using Cashmere bathroom tissue. They are showcased on a runway in Toronto at an event to benefit Breast Cancer Research. The White Cashmere Collection is part of their annual support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. For every Kruger product that you buy with the pink ribbon (Scotties facial tissues, Sponge Towels, Purex and Cashmere bathroom tissues) they donate twenty-five cents to the foundation.
After the fashion show, one of the dresses is then chosen and flown to Vancouver for me to wear. I get to walk around the trade show and talk to people about the dress and the cause for a couple days. Kinda like Princess Aurora at DisneyWorld? Maybe not exactly, but I look forward to doing it every year! Half of the excitement is finding out which dress it will be. The dresses are all so different but I have no trouble feeling like a princess once I put one on.
CANADIAN WONDERLAND in BANFF
Merry Christmas friends! I hope you all had some quality family time during these past few days. I’ve been so fortunate to spend it with my family here in Calgary this year. It’s always hard missing my husband and I’s extended families in Ontario but it’s just so hard to travel during the busiest time of year with two little kids.
A little tradition that we started last year was to spend two nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs right before Christmas. It is a magical wonderland during the winter in Banff, Alberta, Canada, but “Christmas at the Castle” is extra special. The hotel is filled with decorated Evergreens, giant gingerbread houses, a Santa’s workshop, and even nightly bedtime stories.
Our kids spend a couple of days swimming in their outdoor, heated pool and my husband and I spend a couple of days relaxing. Getting away from the city can be just what you need to unwind.; leaving the daily stresses of work, schedules and household chores!
If you want to enjoy the snow, there is an outdoor skating rink, tobogganing hill, and cross-country skiing trails, all surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. Just don’t forget to bring your warmest gear as the temperature dips well below freezing during the day! Shop my picks for warm winter outerwear in the links above.
What are your favourite family traditions during the holidays?
Love, Kiki Davies
ITALY IN 10 DAYS
My short and sweet travel guide on how to see the best sights of Italy in 10 days.
I am a mother with 2 young kids so my husband and I rarely get to take a trip together. We love traveling but getting away for an extended length of time can be really tough. We’ve always wanted to see Italy so for our 5 year wedding anniversary, we decided to do it. I must admit, I am a crazy planner when it comes to traveling somewhere. I have a phobia of showing up to a new place and missing out on something because I failed to know about it. So for Italy, I spent hours in front of the computer researching Trip Advisor and flipping through my Fodors guide book trying to plan the best trip in a short amount of time. With so many places to go and things to see, Italy can be a bucket list trip.
Here is our 10 day Italian itinerary with overnight stops in Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena and Rome with a pit-stop in Pisa. Don’t forget about other cities like Milan, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. It’s just so hard to choose!
A few tips:
*On a short time frame, stay in the heart of the cities. Don’t waste time commuting in everyday to see the major attractions.
*Get good maps and ask for directions! Especially if you are driving.
*Fly to Venice and work your way down or to Rome and work your way up.
*On the first Sunday of every month, Italy offers free admission to all museums.
*If you can purchase your admissions tickets ahead of time it may save you a lot of waiting!
Day 1 & 2: VENICE (VENEZIA)
Venice is my absolute favourite city in Italy. We started our journey here and I don’t think you could pick a more unique and romantic place to stay. You will love getting lost in a maze of walkways and bridges as every time you turn a corner, you are greeted with a new sight.
*Basilica di San Marco
*a Gondola Ride
*Strolling through the neighbourhoods of San Marco and Dosoduro
*Pizza lunch at Antico Forno
Day 3 & 4: FLORENCE (FIRENZE)
Florence is easily the cultural centre of art history in Italy. Get here in a couple hours by taking a high speed train from Venice to Florence. The city is easily accessible by walking or biking and it’s easy to cover a lot of ground in one day. The Duomo is the heart of the city and an absolutely magnificent sight. Climb the windy stone staircase to the top if you aren’t too claustrophobic!
*Galleria dell’Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David)
*Piazza della Signoria
*Gelato at Grom
Day 5 & 6: CINQUE TERRE
My husband and I decided to rent a car for 4 days to visit the Italian Riveria towns of Cinque Terre and then the Chianti Wine region town called Siena. Rental cars can easily be reserved ahead online. Although driving can be confusing, if you get a good map and directions ahead of time, this is a wonderful way to explore Italy.
You cannot beat the culture and beauty of Cinque Terre. I could have stayed much longer exploring these 5 coastal villages. Monterosso Al Mare is the larger town and offers more in the way of dining and lodging but all towns are worth thoroughly exploring.
Day 7: PISA
Pisa can be a pit-stop. We stopped here while driving from Cinque Terre to Siena. We found free street parking and spent an hour touring around the grassy piazza of the Leaning Tour of Pisa. It is a beautiful plaza that is worth a stop.
Day 7 & 8: SIENA
The Tuscany wine region is most easily accessible by car. I would highly recommend seeing this region by this mode of transportation as it is wonderful to have a bit of open freedom after touring some of the larger cities. Siena is a beautiful walled medieval city with fantastic surrounding views. If you don’t want to stay in town, I would suggest booking a villa in the countryside. If you’re looking for a different option than Siena, try the town of San Gimignano.
After spending our first day walking and sight seeing in Siena, we spent our second day touring around the Tuscan Chianti region in our rental car. This was the perfect way to relax and go at our own pace. Take your time lunching and wine tasting along your drive between Castellina , Radda and Gaiole in Chianti.
*Piazza Del Campo
*Duomo and Cripta
*Castello di Brolio (castle tour and wine tasting)
*La Prosciuterria – the most delicious meat and cheese boards from local produce.
*Ice Cream in the town of Castellina in Chianti
*Hotel Athena (the above photo of the countryside is the view from our room and they include parking!)
Day 9 & 10: ROME (ROMA)
Rome may be a little overwhelming after 8 full days of traveling. There is enough to do and see to fill your days here. The long lines and flocks of tourists may seem daunting but everything you see will be worth it, especially St. Peter’s Basilica.
After returning our car to Florence we took another high-speed train to Rome. Rome is one of the only Italian cities that has a subway system so use it when your legs need a rest. It also can connect you to the airport which is super convenient. There are “hop-on hop-off” bus tours too that take you to all the main attractions. This is a good option when traveling in those hot summer months.
*St. Peter’s Basilica
*The Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel
*Trattoria il Tettarello (we ate here both nights we loved it so much, best pizza ever!)
Whether you are blessed with more time in Italy or less, choose an itinerary that suits your needs. We definitely tried to cram as much as we could into our ten days but I didn’t want to miss any of the spectacular sights in these six cities (see, it’s my phobia!). It’s true I felt pretty exhausted on our journey home but my soul felt full.
CINQUE TERRE – THE ITALIAN RIVIERA
I had never even heard of Cinque Terre until I polled my Facebook friends on places to go in Italy. My husband and I decided to do a trip of a lifetime to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and we decided it needed to be Italy. Once I started googling photos of this Italian town, I knew immediately that I had to see it in person.
It turned out to be one of our favourite spots on our trip. The perfect majestic getaway after a few days of sightseeing in Italy’s most tourist packed cities. It was a chance for us to unwind, stroll the beautiful streets and appreciate the “Dolce Far Niente” or “the sweetness of doing nothing”. If this sounds like a place for you, read on for some helpful travel tips.
A little background: “Cinque Terre” literally means “Five Lands”. The five, small towns cling to the coastline and give you as much charm and character that you could ever want. Monterosso Al Mare – Vernazza – Corniglia – Manarola – Riomaggiore are all linked by hiking paths or a super convenient train that runs between villages every 30-60 minutes. Unfortunately, the commonly used trail that connects the cities, known as Trail #2, are closed indefinitely due to falling rocks and mudslides. BUT if you are adventurous then try one of the more steeper, challenging trails to get some great views of the cities (keep reading for more information). You can also enjoy travel and views from the sea by taking a ferry between towns.
Getting there: We wanted to try our hand at driving to the Eastern Coast so we rented a car from Florence and drove 2.5 hours to the Ligurian Sea. Rental cars are cheap and easy to reserve online ahead of time. Good tip: Get a good map! We printed out exact directions on Google Maps ahead of time and still managed to get lost heading out of Florence. The good part is that highways are great and easy to navigate but you will pay a toll fee. Once arriving in Cinque Terre, you cannot drive your car in any of the towns but there are car parks where you can park overnight and walk down with your luggage. You can also reach Cinque Terre by train from any major city but it does take longer as there may be a few stops along the way.
The Five Towns:
Monterosso Al Mare
Monterosso Al Mare is the larger of the towns and offers more hotel and beach options. We absolutely LOVED our stay at La Colonnina. A roof top terrace with lounge chairs, a shaded courtyard patio with huge lemons trees and a delicious breakfast every morning. Paradise! There are two sides to this town connected by tunnel: the Historical Centre and the pebbled beach area that you see above.
The coastal hiking train between Monterosso and Vernazza (Trail #2) is the only one that is still open but it is also the longest. It will take you about 2 hours (3km/2mi) to complete it. Do it early in the morning before it is too hot and take plenty of water!
If you decide not to stay here, plan for dinner in one of the many cute and quaint restaurants. Enjoy a Spritz and try the seafood pasta! Try a Limoncino for dessert. Limoncino is like Lemoncello but made exclusively in Cinque Terre: a little more sweetness and a little less alcohol. Take it from me, you’ll be buying one to bring home in your suitcase!
My favourite of the towns. A beautiful little harbour that makes for a great place to sit and enjoy a cappuccino while people watching. There is a medieval tower that is worth the climb for great views.
This town is perched high on the mountain-top. When disembarking the train or ferry, you must walk up hundreds of stairs to the top! On a clear day, you can see for miles, making the climb totally worth it!
The picture perfect postcard photo is from Manarola. After our long hike (see below), we stopped here to take in this tiny town while toasting with beers and fresh calamari wrapped in a newspaper cone. Life doesn’t get much better than a view and a moment like that one. Head to the cemetery to the right of town to capture this colourful photo.
Trevor and I took the train from Monterosso to the last town of Riomaggiore. You can buy a day pass or your single train ticket is good for 100 minutes after validation. We decided to do the 1 hour hike to Manarola as it is the shortest one. Walk up to the top of town and head right. Look up. See that incredibly steep staircase? Yep that’s the route. You literally climb through vineyards to the top of the mountain and back down again. It is extremely tough but absolutely breathtaking.
Cinque Terre is a place to visit at least once in a lifetime. I would have enjoyed many more days here but our trip only allowed us for two. If you are planning a trip to Italy consider taking time out and visiting these 5 Lands.