My Favourite Travel Day: ATV Adventure on Santorini

My Favourite Travel Day: ATV Adventure on Santorini

On our second full day on Santorini we decided to venture away from our adorable villa in Finikia and the unbelievably gorgeous streets of Oia to explore what the rest of the island had to offer. Well let me tell you… it had a lot!

The view from our villa... it was hard to tear ourselves away.

The view from our villa… it was hard to tear ourselves away.

To maximize our freedom (and fun for that matter) we decided to rent two ATVs for four people. At a rate of €34 for 24 hours – we figured we were getting a pretty good deal. I was super stoked about this whole experience as I’d never driven an ATV before. And the last time I decided to rent a vehicle while traveling was on my wildly successful trip to Maui – another island paradise! Are you sensing a travel theme these days?

As it turns out, this day was quite possibly one of my favourite travel days of all time!

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By the time our two ATVs showed up (that’s right… we had them delivered to our door) we were more than ready to hit the streets. I handed over my drivers license and signed my life away before some 14 year old kid showed me how to operate the ATV properly. I even had to go for a test drive with the rental guy for him to assess my abilities. My male friend Caleb did not. Another loss for feminism… but I digress.

After a quick pit stop to fill our tanks, we were off. Our first stop was lunch in the centrally located town of Pyrgos. The main draw to this part of the island was the proximity to a plethora of wineries. We had trouble finding the first one on my list but ended up stumbling upon a winery recommended to us by the owner of our wine store in Finikia. Are you sensing another travel theme?

Art Space was a completely delightful addition to our itinerary. Immediately upon arrival, the owner of this winery turned art gallery started leading us on a tour of the facilities. He spoke in rapid Greeklish with me only comprehending one in every 20 or so words. But he was completely adorable and the space was very cool which more than made up for my lack of understanding. Plus, we concluded our not-so-informational tour with a €5 wine tasting that included various blends of the Assyrtiko grape, the local sweet speciality Vinsanto, Ouzo, and something akin to moonshine at 42% alcohol. 

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Conveniently located just around the corner was Santorini’s first and only brewery. This craft beer obsessed Vancouverite was definitely excited to taste the Greek brews, which were adorably named the Yellow Donkey (lager), Red Donkey (red ale) and Crazy Donkey (IPA). They gave us a free tasting and I have to say that I really enjoyed all three, even the IPA which isn’t normally my drink of choice. I’m definitely rooting for this new business!

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The final stop on our self-guided wine tour was the one I was most looking forward to – Gaia Wines. We drove to nearby Kamari where an old tomato factory was converted into a winery. The beach front location didn’t hurt either.

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Next up was a frolic in the sea on a black sand beach in Kamari. By this time we were completely blissed out and feeling the vacation vibes in a big way. There’s nothing that puts me in a better mood than oceanfront dining and the sound of crashing waves.

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We had some time to kill before our final activity of the day so we took our ATVs for a drive to a lookout at the top of the island. I couldn’t believe how high we were able to drive and the view – stunning!

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Mandatory helmet selfie :)

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Our final activity of the day was the highly anticipated outdoor movie at Kamari’s famous Open Air Cinema. We got there early to nab front row reclining seats for an English screening of Age of Adaline. The movie wasn’t great but the atmosphere was top notch. The cinema featured complimentary blankets, a full bar, and reasonably priced snacks. What’s not to love?

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What a day! Aside from the post-movie ATV incident (it wouldn’t start but then it did) and the adrenaline filled ride home (imagine pitch black switch back roads with 1000 ft cliffside drop-offs) we had a perfect day. It was fun. It was adventurous. It was delicious. Santorini – you did it again!

Coming up on the blog… we left Greece just in time to miss the economic meltdown and turned our attention to neighbouring Turkey. Stay tuned for some of the most incredibly weird and wonderful sites that I’ve ever seen!

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Salt Spring Vineyards: A Taste of Island Living

Salt Spring Vineyards: A Taste of Island Living

During the past three years, I have fallen head over flip flops for the Southern Gulf Islands. Most of that time has been spent frequenting my beloved Galiano but last weekend I visited a new island that is sure to become a favourite. This was my first of two scheduled trips to Salt Spring Island this summer and I’m already itching to get back. There is a surprising number of activities to do and places to see on an island with only 10,000 inhabitants.

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Fortunately many of these activities lean towards the delicious. It’s no secret to my friends and family that I’ve become a bit of a wino (yet still totally classy) in recent years, so when I learned that we were heading straight from the ferry to a brewery and then on to a winery I was instantly excited.

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The highlight of the day was our visit to Salt Spring Vineyards. The idyllic location could have been straight out of a movie and the wine was tailor-made for summer nights by the lake. The free tasting featured four local wines: Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Rose, Petite Milo (my personal fave!), and the Blackberry Port. I loved all of them and we walked away with two bottles to share with friends.

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After deliberating long and hard we also purchased a couple of glasses to enjoy immediately with bread and cheese from the Salt Spring Cheese Company. We sat outside under the warm spring sun, sandwiched between a pond and the vineyards. I could think of worse places to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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I didn’t get to visit any of the other wineries this time around but I’m already scheming for my return trip this August. Salt Spring you sure know the way to my heart!

Wine Tasting in the Okanagan Valley

This past weekend I spent my second annual “Girl’s Weekend” in the Okanagan Valley with my mom and sister-in-law. Basically, this weekend is an excuse for me to have a mini vacation (with my mom picking up the tab) and to show my new American sis all the glorious spots BC has to offer. And of course to bond and spend quality time together too.

Last year we took her to one of our favourite summer stomping grounds – Whistler Village. Although the weather didn’t quite cooperate, we still managed to kick off this tradition with a bang and checked bungee jumping off the bucket list!

Just jumped off a bridge... no big deal

Just jumped off a bridge… no big deal

This year we had to make sure our trip was equally entertaining and decided to return to the Okanagan where my family used to frequent back when I was a kid. However, this time we had more grown up pursuits in mind… cue the wine!

No trip to the Okanagan Valley would be complete without making time for a little wine tour. With over 150 wineries in the region it’s no wonder that USA today named it as the world’s second best wine region to visit. Described as “Drop. Dead. Gorgeous” by expert Kerry Woolard, this wine country has made a name for itself with award winning white wines like the Mission Hill Chardonnay and incredible lake views from nearly every angle.

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We decided to visit the famous Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna for a one hour heritage tour. It was a delightful experience, perfectly crafted to please by our host Elizabeth. We watched a short documentary, toured the bordeaux cellars, and of course sampled some wine (three to be exact). But, it’s really the grounds that make this such a lovely place to visit. The winery is built in a Roman classic style similar to what you would see in Tuscany and boasts a 140 ft bell tower, a 1000 seat outdoor amphitheatre, and truly beautiful lake views. I could have stayed here all day!

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Next up: Soaking up the lake life in Kelowna!