Photo Essay: Visiting Taiwan for Free!

Photo Essay: Visiting Taiwan for Free!

I’ll be honest – Taiwan wasn’t on the top of my travel bucket list but when the cheapest flight to Thailand involved a 15 hour layover in Taipei, we decided to make the most of it.

Lucky for us, the Taoyuan International Airport offers FREE half day tours. That’s right – 100% free. After disembarking and breezing through customs we signed up for the daily morning tour. The itinerary included a stop at the Shou Sin Fang Creativity Wagashi and Cultural Centre, which is essentially a pastry factory (yes please!). We got to make our own pastries (which we quickly devoured) and then roamed the factory sampling as many local cakes and pastries as possible.

Our second stop was at the Zushi Temple in the bustling town of Sanxia, just 22km southwest of Taipei. There we learned about the Taoist religion and participated in some of the religious practices like lighting incense and learning our fortunes (my future looks pretty excellent!). We also got to wander around the beautiful  surroundings, soaking up the sunshine and striking up friendships with the locals.

Although, it was just a taste of what Taiwan has to offer, it was enough to entice me to return some day for a longer visit. Thanks for the memories TPE.

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Everything they say about Santorini is True!

Everything they say about Santorini is True!

I have been dreaming of Santorini for over a decade. Villages of white and blue perched atop rocky cliffs. Aegean sea waves meeting caldera backdrops. Donkey traffic jams and Greek salad dinners. Nightly sunset photo shoots. Needless to say… I was expecting a magical place and was mildly concerned that reality could not possibly live up to the hype. Fortunately, my fears could not have been more misplaced. Santorini was everything they said it would be and MORE!

I had heard rave reviews from friends, family, and travel bloggers. Everyone told me that it was amazing! Touristy? Yes. Overcrowded? At times. Worth it? Most definitely.

Santorini was so intoxicatingly gorgeous that I started to hate myself just a little bit. As I wandered the streets of Oia, you could hear me exclaiming “Look at this view! This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!” Only to hear me say, just minutes later, “I take it back… THIS it the most beautiful view!” And then again around the next corner, “Here we go. Money shot! Is this real life?!!!” You get the idea.

The pictures do not come remotely close to doing it justice but here’s a little teaser of what I saw in Santorini.

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I’m not quite done with Santorini yet because I had one of my favourite travel days of all time when we rented ATVs to explore the island. Stay tuned for the full post to come.

Santorini was a dream destination for me. But I want to know… Have you ever been to one of your dream destinations and did it live up to the hype? Leave a comment below.

Photo Essay: 5 Hours in Amsterdam

Photo Essay: 5 Hours in Amsterdam

On my way home from Spain last month, I ended up with a five hour daytime layover in Amsterdam. It was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning and my bag was checked through to my final destination so I decided to be adventurous and leave the airport. I bought myself a train ticket from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal station and in less than 15 minutes I was wandering around the quiet streets of the city centre. I ate delicious pastry. I marvelled at the impressive bike lanes. I photographed the lovely canals.

In all my travels abroad, I have never left the airport during a layover before but I’m so glad I did. It was the perfect way to stretch my legs and pass the time. And it was easier than I could have imagined. Can’t wait to go back to Holland for a longer stay!

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Have you ever done something fun on an airport layover?

Photo Essay: Summer in the Pacific Northwest

Photo Essay: Summer in the Pacific Northwest

It’s the last week of summer, and instead of getting sad about the shorter days and the inevitable rain, I am choosing to celebrate my favourite season!

If it wasn’t already obvious from my posts over the past couple of months… I love summer and I especially love summer in the Pacific Northwest! This region, which is loosely a combination of BC, Washington, and Oregon, enjoys warm, long, dry summers that stretch into the late days of September. The temperature typically sits in the mid 20s Celsius near the water and peaks around 30 degrees inland (sometimes a bit hotter). For the most part, the temperature is so deliciously perfect that you can get a tan without dissolving into a puddle of sweat and with the sun setting late into the evening you can really make the most of all the great activities that only happen at this time of year.

I may be known to use a bit of hyperbole from time to time (okay a lot of the time), but I can honestly, without a doubt proclaim that we have the best summers of any region in the world.

Don’t believe me? Well maybe these photos will help change your mind…

Active Pass, Southern Gulf Islands

Active Pass, Southern Gulf Islands

Coal Harbour, Vancouver (this is where I work!)

Coal Harbour, Vancouver (this is where I work!)

Chesterman Beach, Tofino

Chesterman Beach, Tofino

Kettle Valley, Summerland

Kettle Valley, Summerland (see… it even has summer in the name!)

Howe Sound, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park

Howe Sound, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park

Bridal Falls, Chilliwack

Bridal Falls, Chilliwack

Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver

Mission Hill Winery, Lake Okanagan, West Kelowna

Mission Hill Winery, Lake Okanagan, West Kelowna

Sunset over English Bay, Vancouver

Sunset over English Bay, Vancouver

Lost Lake, Whistler

Lost Lake, Whistler

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast

Vancouver Skyline

Vancouver Skyline

Farewell summer! Until next year…

Photo Essay: Summertime in Whistler

Summertime in the Pacific Northwest is absolutely glorious! I love nothing more than spending my time hiking in the beautiful Coast Mountains, playing in the Pacific Ocean, and relaxing lakeside.

One of my favourite (not-so-secret) local spots is Whistler Village, which I’ve documented here in the past. I always have a great time in Whistler, but for the last several years, the weather just hasn’t cooperated… until now!

I just came back from a picture perfect weekend of sunshine in Sea-to-Sky country and I had to share a few photos… enjoy!

Upper Village

Upper Village

Lost Lake

Lost Lake

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Plaza