Upcoming Adventures – 2018 Edition

As has become somewhat of a tradition at the start of the year, it’s time for me plan out my travel for 2018. This year is a little different to normal, well a lot different I suppose, in the fact that I’ve quit my job and am spending the year traveling … eeeekkkkk! Unlike previous years there are no maybe’s just definites. So without further ado, lets do this!

The Definites:
England
I’m starting this year of adventure with some much needed downtime back in the UK. It felt like all I did in 2017 was work (308 out of 365 days to be precise) so I’m very much looking forward to going home to see family and friends, eat all the food and not do a lot else.

Australia
I still can’t believe this is happening. Australia has felt like a pipe dream for so long, but it’s finally happening. I have my working holiday visa and a rough plan, and I’m heading down under for a year of adventures and doing as little work as I can manage. I’m looking forward to discovering new cities, and experiencing a winter that doesn’t involve constant rain and near freezing temperatures.

Canada
Well more specifically The Rockies, and Vancouver. Two of my good friends are getting married in October in the beautiful Canadian Rockies, so I will be venturing back from Australia to watch those two goobers get married. I’ll also be using this opportunity to  explore the beautiful Rockies and maybe even spend a day or two in Calgary. As well as squeezing in some time in Vancouver to catch up with my faves before I evade the dreary Vancouver winter to return to the Australian sunshine.

IMG_9219

It’s the first time in a long time that I am not working around vacation time to plan my travels and it feels very freeing. The thought of going to Australia is slightly daunting but the feeling of excitement is far outweighing anything else. This year is going to be very different for me and I couldn’t be more eager to see how it goes … Stay tuned to see how it all goes.

What are your 2018 travel plans?

Top Ten … Hidden Gems in Vancouver

There is nothing better than stumbling across a hidden gem whilst exploring a city. Whether you are a local or just visiting there is always something new to discover in this wonderful city. Below are a list of some of my favourite hidden gems in Vancouver, a few you can probably read about in travel guides but some aren’t quite as well publicized. I hope you go and explore and enjoy these places and experiences just as much as I do.

  1. Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe
    The cafe at the Art Gallery not only offers a huge selection of delicious food but also one of the nicest places to sit and relax in the summer with a glass of wine on the secluded patio. This oasis is my favourite summer lunchtime retreat.
  2. Vancity Theatre
    If you’re a fan of festival style films and documentaries, then this is the place for you. This is the hub of the Vancouver International Film Festival, but they run festival films all year round not just during the festival. They have some of the comfiest seats in town, plus you can take alcohol into the theatre with you, win win!
  3. Shipyards Night Markets
    Summer time in Vancouver means night markets. Most people head down to Richmond to check out one of the two options that are there. Those markets are great but a few years back I went to the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver and found that I liked it a whole load more than the Richmond markets. Plus as an added bonus you can take the seabus straight there and there are some stunning views of Downtown on offer too. Make sure you check for what dates it’s on before you head over.

    img_1819
    Views from North Van.
  4. La Casa Gelato
    Located in Strathcona this place is an ice cream lovers dream. They have over 200 flavours to choose from in store and you can try them as you attempt to narrow it down and make a decision. Set aside a decent amount of time for the decision making process. I had Rice Krispie flavour last time and it was so yummy!
  5. Choklit Park
    This is one of my favourite views of the city. The park is so tiny it hardly classes as a park, more of a gap in between houses, but the views are simply stunning. Tucked away along 7th Avenue, it’s well worth the trip out of downtown and into Fairview Slopes to see the city from a different perspective.
  6. Main St. Murals
    Main St. is a pretty awesome place to visit, it’s full of cool shops and restaurants and is a great place to get some “local flavour” and now it is filled with awesome murals. Head there for some super Instagrammable spots.
  7. Queen Elizabeth Park
    Stanley Park is great and all but I personally prefer Queen Elizabeth Park, it’s located out of Downtown and up past Cambie Village but it’s well worth the trip. Head here to catch the sun setting over the mountains and the city. The views are absolutely incredible and you get such a cool perspective of the city against the backdrop of the mountains.
  8. Kit’s Pool
    Not so much of a secret or a hidden gem, but absolutely one of my favourite places to go in the summer. The views are incredible and I cannot help but get blindsided by the beauty of the blue of the pool against the blue of the ocean and the sky.
  9. Hot Chocolate Festival
    Whilst everyone gets excited in the New Year for Dine Out Vancouver, myself included, what I get really excited for is the Hot Chocolate Festival. Local coffee shops, bakeries and chocolate shops create signature hot chocolates which are always delicious. Check out their website for dates and participating venues.
  10. Cocktail Roulette
    Like cocktails? Like trying new things? Then the Revel Room is the place for you. Whilst you can have one of the many delicious drinks from the menu my favourite thing to do is play Cocktail Roulette. It’s pretty simple, you choose the spirit, style of cocktail and can request sweet or sour etc and then leave the rest up to the bar. They’ll whip you up something delightful and different, I’ve never had a bad experience!  The Revel Room is located in Gastown slightly tucked away along Abbott Street.

Do you have any favourite hidden gems in the city? What are they? Let me know in the comments below. Happy exploring!

Upcoming Adventures – 2017 Edition

At the start of each year I like to start thinking about my travel plans for the rest of the year, places I know I’m definitely going to go, and places I’m dreaming about going. I’ve been meaning to write this post since New Years Day, but in classic last-minute Leah style I’ve procrastinated and now it’s February! This year I have a trip home to which is going to eat into most of my vacation time from work (damn you Canada and your stingy vacation allowance) but I’m hoping to squeeze a couple of weekends away into my travel plans for the year, and as always there are plenty of stat days coming up so if I’m strategic I can squeeze in a three day weekend or two for exploring.

img_3334

The Definities:
England
I have a trip home to look forward to at the end of May. It will be nearly 18 months since I’ve been back to England by the time this trip rolls around and I cannot wait to catch up with family and friends. I’m looking forward to spending some relaxing time at home as well as going to Gloucester, London and anywhere else I can squeeze in during this trip.

Spain
Whilst in England, I’ll be heading over to Spain, more specifically the Costa Blanca, to celebrate a friends wedding at the end of May. Myself and another friend are flying into Alicante and then heading down to the port town of Denia, where we will be based. I know we are both looking forward to seeing the ancient castle in the town and explore the surrounding area’s, as well as squeezing in a few trips to the beach and plenty of sangria.

Los Angeles
I’ve been to LA and many of the surrounding area’s before but this year I’m heading back for an extra special reason; my bestie’s bachelorette weekend. The process of planning is in full swing, and without giving too much away; we will be heading down to the LA area for a weekend, of sunshine, cocktails and laughter!

Pemberton/Whistler
The wedding of the aforementioned bestie is taking place in the beautiful area of Pemberton, British Columbia in August. I know I will be spending a weekend up in ‘Sea to Sky’ country for the wedding and taking in the beauty of Whistler and Pemberton in the summertime.

The Maybe’s:
Gulf Islands
I’ve been to Galiano Island and Bowen Island, but there are so many more Gulf Islands to explore right on my doorstep, top contenders include; Salt Spring and Pender. Watch this space …

Canada
I’ve said it before, and no doubt I will say it again, but I haven’t made the most of living in this beautiful country and I want to attempt to rectify that this year. Even if I just explore some more of British Columbia I will be happy.

Weekend’s Away
I know I will probably have a weekend away with two of my best friends at some point in the summer. We go away together every year, last year we went to Harrison Hot Springs which was lovely and relaxing, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we end up this year.

img_3335

Whilst I have lots of exciting stuff to look forward to this year, I don’t have any big epic trips coming up. I’m more focused on taking smaller weekend breaks and local days out, in a never ending effort to try and save money. We’ll see how it goes …
What are your travel plans for the year? Let me know in the comments, happy exploring!

Top Ten … Coachella Road Trips

Whether you are going to weekend one or weekend two, why not make the most of your vacation and take a pre or post (or both) Coachella road trip to squeeze the maximum amount of fun out of your trip! The last two years, we managed to fit in a bit of a pre and post road trip, partly because there are so many great places to see and explore in that part of the world, and partly because traveling 1400 miles from Vancouver we wanted to make the journey worthwhile! I ideally like to sandwich the craziness of the festival with some relaxation either side, with the option for a crazy night if the mood should take. We typically stay in or around Palm Springs before Coachella, and then afterwards head off on another adventure, we’ve visited Scottsdale, Las Vegas and The OC in the past two years.

Here are my top ten picks for road trip destinations (some I’ve been to, some I haven’t) all within a few hours drive of the festival grounds in Indio.

  1. Grand Canyon (approx. 6hrs)
    Yes, it is a bit of a drive, but boy is it worth it! Undoubtedly one of the most amazing natural wonders, it really is something you have to see to believe. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a more low-key break, there are some great hikes, but if that’s not your cup of tea, just having a wander around is enough. I splurged when I visited and took a helicopter ride which I would definitely recommend doing, it is so cool to get a completely different perspective of the canyon and really helps you to grasp just how big it is. Make sure you catch a sunrise or a sunset, or both, the views are incredible.

    IMG_8766
    The Grand Canyon
  2. Scottsdale (approx. 4hrs)
    Scottsdale was an unexpected discovery we made back in 2014 after our first Coachella, we picked it because neither of us had been before and it wasn’t too far from Indio. I absolutely loved Scottsdale, and will definitely go back and explore again at some point in the future. There is some great shopping, a taste of the old West, amazing Mexican food, and stunning sunsets on offer.

    IMG_8429
    Stunning Scottsdale
  3. LA (approx. 2hrs)
    Los Angeles, is more than Hollywood, there are so many unique area’s to explore, from Venice Beach to Universal Studio’s. LA can offer you a relaxing pre/post Coachella vacation, or if you’re in the mood a crazy few days of partying. The great thing about LA being so big and diverse is that it means there are suitable options for all budgets, and some awesome things to see and do for free.
  4. The OC (approx. 2hrs)
    Orange County has so much more to offer than angst ridden teens like some television shows will have you believe. From stunning scenery and quaint towns there is a lot to check out. I’ve been to a couple of places; Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Anaheim (see number 9) mainly fueled by my love of said angst ridden teen shows and loved all of them. I’m a sucker for a great beach and The OC certainly delivers on those!

    IMG_4590
    Newport Beach sunsets
  5. San Diego (approx. 2.5hrs)
    San Diego has been gradually creeping higher and higher up my travel list. I’ve always been put off by some of the bigger tourist attractions, but lately some Pintrest research has made me reconsider. Beautiful beaches, enclaves of bars and restaurants, what’s not to enjoy? I’ll certainly be visiting the next time I am in southern California.
  6. Palm Springs (approx. 30mins)
    Literally a stones throw away from the festival grounds is the desert city of Palm Springs. We usually stay in Palm Springs the few days before Coachella, last year we stayed in Rancho Mirage which is pretty close by. Beware, hotel prices hike up around festival time, so plan ahead. If you aren’t camping at the festival, there is a good chance you’re probably staying in Palm Springs already. It’s a unique place surrounded by high peaks and big blue skies. The perfect place to recharge and rest by the pool with a cocktail in the blistering sunshine.
  7. Las Vegas (approx. 4hrs)
    Not had enough partying over the weekend? Drive over to Las Vegas where the party never ends! The great thing about Vegas, in my opinion, is that it’s a destination where you can literally do everything. Want to relax by a pool and have a few spa treatments? You got it! Want to party 24/7? Sure! Want to eat amazing food, and have some fancy cocktails? You’re spoiled for choice! Want to see an amazing show? Take your pick! Want to gamble the night away? That’s what Vegas is all about!

    IMG_8765
    Vegas baby!
  8. Santa Catalina Island (approx. 3.5hrs including boat ride)
    Catalina is one of those places I stumbled upon a while ago and have been wanting to visit ever since. A short 75minute boat ride from Newport beach, the island offers scuba and snorkeling, hikes, beaches and restaurants.
  9. Anaheim (approx. 2hrs)
    Why not head over to Anaheim where you can visit Disney and embrace being a big kid! Hang out with Mickey and explore the vast park full of fun and adventures. The area is pretty much centered around Disney, but if that is the purpose of your trip then embrace it. Downtown Disney is a wonderful place to wander around in the evening, and if you are spending a day at the park make sure you stay to check out the phenomenal fireworks display at night.

    IMG_8768
    Just meeting Mickey Mouse, as you do!
  10. Santa Barbara (approx. 3.5hrs)
    You’ll probably be beginning to spot a recurring theme here, beautiful coastal California beaches are my weakness. Just a bit further up the coast from LA, Santa Barbara is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, fancy boutiques and nearby vineyards. Perfect for a relaxing break, soak up the sunshine and recharge your batteries.

 

So that’s it, these are just some of the many wonderful places to visit, within the vicinity of Coachella. I highly recommend planning ahead as a lot of people have the same idea and places get booked up well in advance. That said, if you are heading a bit further afield you might have a bit more luck if you’re looking for an off the cuff adventure. Most importantly, enjoy exploring this beautiful corner of America.