Friday, July 22, 2016

Travel Tips [Travel]

After my Packing Tips post here, I decided to share some of my Travel Tips. Some I have been doing for years and some I learn from my recent trip.

  • Download a Map app of the city in advance, one that doesn't need date/WiFi to use. 
  • Ben is usually the one responsible for this and he uses CityMaps2Go where he'll pin all the places we plan/want to go in advance. This will save time and trouble so we could go to all the places close to each other on the same day etc (no going back and forth). There's even different pin colors you can use which is perfect for OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Disorder) people like me, I swear just a little bit (^_<) 
  • It's a bit slow since it's offline but it does show your current location, so you won't get lost.

Guide Book
  • One will be especially helpful if you do not plan to join any local /walking tours.
  • For our Spain trip, we bought Rich Steven's Spain Guide Book and we love all the tips and suggestions in it. 
  • We especially love the self guided tours in it, basically you will hear and go to the same places if you were to join a local walking tour (trust me we bump into a few and they were explaining the same things). This not only save us money but also allow us to do it at our own pace and time. 
  • It even includes some popular Museum guide with artwork explanation etc and what you'll find in each section.
  • He have star reviews of all the places, so you may want to skip some of the one or two stars attractions 
Museums & Attractions
  • I recommend to check online beforehand if you need to buy tickets in advance etc.
  • Or there may be a Free Admission day or time which could save you quite a bit of money.
  • For Spain, we went through quite a bit of trouble since the popular attractions and museums who sells tickets for specific entrance time (you can stay as long as you want). We learn this the hard way, we stop by an attraction in the morning and tickets for immediate entry was sold out and we end up having to get tickets for later that afternoon which means we have to go back (waste of money and time) and for another spot, tickets was sold out for the entire day on our last day in the city which means we won't be seeing it.
  • If you plan to got to certain Churches, Temple or Mosque on your trip, make sure to check in advance if certain type of clothing is allow and which are not (covered arms and legs?)... seems a rather small detail but if it's summer, you may not have packed those clothing.

Do you have any travel tips to share?!?

Related Post:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bandit Brewery [Beer - Toronto]

 Since Ben have been into beer recently, we try explore breweries around the city and Bandit Brewery (@banditbrewery) was probably one of my favorite local brewery so far.

What a transformation from a bare packing lot to this welcoming bright and airy space. I just love the space here and can't wait to come back at night time for all the patio lights around the space.

Love the simple patio with bare picnic tables but it was way too sunny and hot that day to sit outside.

On the date we went, there was 12 of their own beer on tap

Flight of 4 samples of your own choice was only for $8.85/ea, so we had 2 to share so that we could try more. Aren't their branded glassware just too adorable and hate to admit it but that was what bought me here in the first place... but you will not be disappointed with their beer.

Flight #1 : Farmed & Dangerous, Bandits APA, double IPA, Cone Ranger
Flight#2 : Hassle Hef, Belgian Pale Ale, Hopper Lager, White IPA 

Our favorites being the Double IPA and Badit APA, they were so balanced and aromatic plus love the slight bitter and hop-iness of both. But we somehow didn't like the lighter ones since it was a bit flat/bland amd we didn't try the different stouts and porters either since we felt it was too hot for such heavy beer. 

They also have a small bar menu but we ate before we came so we wanted to order only the Chicken Tails to munch on but it was sold out (>_<)

Love the space, the staff and the beer
And the mascot can't be cutter, love the branded glassware (do they sell it?!?)
Def would need to come back and maybe try their their food as well next time.

Bandit Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, July 15, 2016

Muskoka Brewery's 20th Birthday Bash [CONTEST - closed]

I'm giving away a pair of tickets to 
Muskoka Brewery's 20th Birthday Bash

There will be 20 Ontario Craft Breweries participating and they will each come up with a special birthday beer to feature Muskoka's Toronto celebration. There'll also be food & music!!!


 Date & Time:
Thursday August 4, 2016
Ticket Details:  
$29 in advance and $39 at the gate (subject to availbility) cash only
Get your tickets here

Good Luck!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Calle del Laurel : Tapas Crawl [Longrono - Spain]

Calle del Laurel is a must visit for when you are in Longrono, it's basically a small pedestrian street fill with tapas bar. Amazing tapas, cheap drinks and a super energetic friendly atmosphere with a mix of all sort of different people from the old to the young, pilgrims, tourist, businessman and a lot of bachelor/rette parties when we arrive on a Saturday night. It was fun seeing them since the bride/groom-to-be have to dress up in funny crazy costume here.

The place start filling up starting from around 8:00pm and get super packed by 9:00-10:00pm.
Note that dinner time are rather late throughout Spain, a lot of dinner places doesn't open until 9:00pm and it was a rather difficult adjustment for us who are use to dinner by 7:00pm.

Everything is close during the day....
Note that everything is close on Sunday, all shop and businesses even restaurants and supermarket and it was rather difficult to find anything to eat during the day. Fortunately they open up at night.

Each place have a specialty, so people would just hop from place to place only eating certain dish.
Some you will notice right away what their specialty is or just look at what everyone else is ordering.
And note that there's no seating for most places, it's standard to stand at tapas bar and the space are usually pretty small packed with people. All the small sizes dishes (tapas) are served with bread or on bread, so don't worry of them being not filling.

Spanish Omelet (Tortilla de Patatas)
It's made with eggs and potato which looks like a small torte/cake. Love all the fluffy layers and the hot sauce here are delicious. 

Beer on tap or wine are usually very cheap here for €1 -2 per glass. Since we are bar hopping which means having a drink with a tapas at each place, love how they have a small serving size available (1/4 pint?)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Packing Tips [Travel]

Have been pretty lazy in updating my blog since I came back from our Spain vacation in May and have been thinking of sharing some of my travelling tips with you.

I have seen a lot of friends over packing or under packing for vacation, even just for a simple weekend getaway. So here are some of my packing tips, hope that help.
Please let me know your packing tips as well...

  • Invest in good travel bottles for your lotions and potions, it does save an insane amount of space. 
  • I tried not to relied on the free skincare samples I get since I want to stick with my usual trusted routine, it's just not a good time to try new things when you travel since you don't want any unexpected breakout or allergic reaction to the new products. 
  • I use the ones from Muji here and it last for years, plus love all the tiny sizes available and trust me cause that's really all you need.

Body Wash & Shampoo
  • I would totally recommend using samples in this case and what I do to save is refilling the travel size bottles each time... 
  • Or save up the complimentary bottles from Hotel visit especially when suitcase space is not an issue (ex: weekend/mini roadtrips), then you can reuse those mini bottles for your next trip and throw it away as you go and the plus side is more space for souvenirs on your way back 

  • Always check the weather of your destination before packing, will it be hot or cold etc.
  • Try to pack pieces that can easily mix & match or smaller non-bulky pieces, No you do not need the extra "just-in-case" extra pieces. Remember you can always buy it there if needed.
  • If you are on a longer trip, try to see if you can wash some (if so remember to pack some washing detergent).
  • Pack pieces that can easily transform from day to night for fancy dinner or a night out; like a change of jewelry, bag or shoes are the easiest.
  • Try to only bring one jacket or coat which you will wear on the plane since it's usually bulky and tends to take up your suitcase space. Choose one that can easily match everything you are packing, I personally tends to opt for my Jean jacket or a light cardigan that can be easily carried around.

  • I can't stress enough how important it it to wear comfortable shoes since you'll probably be walking all day long for your entire trip. 
  • And ladies, please restrain yourself from packing too many pair of shoes since it's the one thing that take up the most of space and you probably won't need them. 
  • I personally like to wear the comfy bulkier pair which is usually a pair of sneakers during summer or boots during winter and pack a cute pair of sandals or flats that can be worn for night out or fancier occasion.
  • Heels take up a huge amount of space and to my experience, you probably either will not need them or too tired after all the walking to wear them. Only bring a pair if it's really needed, like if you are attending a wedding or plan to go out for parties where you really need to dress up or feel extra sexy.
Since you will only have 1-2 shoes and a jacket, try to pack cloths that will match them.
Best way is to lay out the outfits when planning.

Compression Bags
  • Compression or Space Bags are great if weight are not an issue and only trying to save space.
  • Make sure to get the ones that can be compressed by hand rolling and not vacuum only. I got these ones here
  • It does wrinkle your cloths, so make sure you will have an iron handy at your destination. What I did for our trip is to bring it along for our trip and only use it on our return trip since our souvenirs filled up our suitcase space

  • Try to switch to a sturdy but lighter handbag (the leather one you are using is way too heavy even when it's empty) since you'll be tagging it the whole day you are out and about..... plus you'll likely have the extras like camera, water etc
  • I try to avoid backpack since it's more prone to pickpockets at packed touristy places, better be safe than sorry especially with passport and the extra cash you may probably be carrying.
  • Try to leave all the extras from your wallet at home, only bring the credit cards you'll be using and ID you need cause trust me, it makes a difference.

What's your Packing Tips?!??

Thursday, July 7, 2016

El Rincón de Alberto [Longrono - Spain]

First meal in Spain and our first stop was at the northern city of Longrono and this dinner was planed for us cause if it was up to us, I think we'll never have found this place on our own.

The small space is pretty common around that area for tapas places but they have tables set up for sit down dinner here although we saw mostly people dropping by the bar for drinks and 1-2 tapas only.

Although the menu are in Spanish, they tried to translate everything for us as best as they could and gave us some recommendation as well.

Since we won this part of the trip from Campo Viejo Winery, we just have to have their wine. Love this super affordable and easy drinking Rioja Reserva which is also available in Canada at the LCBO.

White Asparagus
Mostly from the northern Spain Navarra region, we were just in time for White Asparagus season which are only from April to June. Although Ontario Canada being a big producer of Asparagus, we do not have the white variety due to how labor intensive it is to grow. White Asparagus are more tender and sweeter in taste in comparison, so it's perfect just to simply cook it it some olive oil and garlic and let it's natural taste be the star.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hale Coffee Company

 Love discovering new coffee places and have been meaning to visit Hale Coffee Company (@halecoffeeTO) for a while but it a bit out of our way.
Beans are roasted in house here with beans roasted to order with delivery through Toronto and shipping all through Canada.

Also love the spacious space here. 
I just love the "blocks" counter with the word "Hale" hiding there, can you see it?

Love the colorful sofas... and the metal cute on the ceiling which all look very DIY..

 Cappuccino has the perfect balance of  bitter dark roast flavor and just a slight acidity to it.