Sunday, November 6, 2011

FLIGHT SALES

 PORTER, WESTJET, and AIR CANADA have select flights to NYC, BOSTON, CHICAGO, and Eastern Canada 50% off until November 7. I would think about your travel plans and book asap!

9to5travelgirl

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our European Adventure PICTURES

Hi All,

I know my readers might want to see all of my pictures from Europe (since the last five posts have been about each of our stops).

Below is a link to my facebook album which provides pictures and commentary from each stay, let me know what you think!

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150786136500392.734132.666815391&type=1&l=e280b87015

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our last stop Barcelona!

Our last stop on our European adventure was beautiful Barcelona!

Since I am posting this weeks after my stay in Barcelona I will make it short and sweet. The people are hot, the parties are LATE, and the architecture is phenomenal. We stayed in Barcelona for 3 nights at the 4 star Gran Silken Havana hotel which was about a 5 minute walk to Las Ramblas (we booked this hotel using priceline and got it for $450 for 3 nights which was better than any deal we saw on other hotel sites). The hotel is not one I would recommend as the AC stopped working (so they say), and they did not have a concierge. Not having a concierge is like walking blind in a city, it is ridiculous that a 4 star did not have this. We did what we could with a few tourist maps and were able to adequately make our way around town.
Must do:

  • Gaudi's architechtural madness around the city (Sagrada familia in particular)
  • Magic Mountain - Great view of the city
  • Las Ramblas (have some drinks or just watch some of the street performers)
  • Pier (there is a great indoor/outdoor mall as well)
  • Spend a day at the beach (for a beachfront in a city, Barcelona takes the cup
  • Beachfront Bar/restaurants (we went to Carpe Diem Club Lounge - which was asian fusion cuisine resto lounge that had massage therapists and magicians entertaining guests as they had their meals. Although we had to wait 40 minutes for our table the restaurant gave us complimentary champagne and mojito's.
  • Nightlife - It should actually be called morning life, not night life in Barcelona since the parties really kick start at 3AM. I am ashamed to say that we had to attempt a nap before making our way out, and redbull vodka saved us.

Would I go back to Barcelona? Hmm not sure, I think I want to check out Madrid or other parts of Spain before I can make that decision.

Until next time,
9to5travelgirl

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Firenze and Roma

Just spent 3 fabulous nights in Firenze, and 3 amazing nights in Rome. There is so much to share, so I will try not to write too long of a post but I can't make any promises!

Firenze (Florence), Tuscany
We arrived in Firenze last Friday, and headed to our Bed and Breakfast located five minutes from the Duomo. We were greeted by Ricardo who ran the Locanda di campo bed and breakfast, and he spent a half hour highlighting on a map his favourite local restaurants, must do sight seeing, and tips on how to bargain at the leather markets. We spent the first day exploring Firenze - Duomo, Uffizi gallery, Piazza del signoria, Michelangelo's famous statue of David, ponte vecchio (bridge), and the markets around the Duomo. The first day at the leather market we met two italian women who taught us how to say "how much " and "too much" to help our bargaining skills. We ended up buying purses at Michelangelo leather, who was the most friendly and bubbly shopowner who asks all his foreign clients to sign his guest book, he's been in the leather business for 39 years.

Our next day we jumped on a 12 hour "Best of Tuscany tour", below I decribe each of our stops.
Siena - we had a one hour private tour of the town. Siena is home to the first banking system, and interestingly residents of Siena are divided into 17 Contrada (sections, which you are born into), and each Contrada competes in the Palio di Siena traditional medieval horserace, and whichever Contrada wins they celebrate (and have the bragging power for a year). The horserace is very spritual as they have the horses blessed at the respective Contrada church, and can get very emotional the winnings.
Chianti Lunch - we stopped at this beautiful organic winery and farm for lunch, explored their vineyards, and enjoyed a typical Tuscan 4 course meal with wine pairings. This winery also has villas you can rent, and if I ever go back to Tuscany this is where I will stay. It is breathtaking.
San Gimignano- Home to the worlds best gelateria. It is a small village founded in the third century, in the middle ages became a stopping point for catholic pilgrams on their way to the Vatican. It is such a cute town fenced with brickwalls with cobblestone roads, and beautiful views of Tuscany's greenery.
Last stop Pisa - Every italian we met in Italy made fun of the fact that tourists come from around the world to see a leaning tower. We had an hour stop here and it was enough time for us to get all of our "cheesy" pictures giving the illusion we were pushing the tower. That pretty much summed up our visit to Pisa! I would strongly recommend this tour, our cousins referred us to it (gracia Ruby and Randy) and it is worth the 80 euros pp.
Our last day in Firenze we did some shopping, did our laundry (yes those wash and dry locations are a godsend), and enjoyed the street entertainment. Definitely a fabulous stay in Firenze, I look forward to the day I am back in a Tuscan villa just taking in the views and sitting poolside.


Roma (Rome)
We all know how much I loved Paris (if not refer to my Paris post), but now my heart is torn between Paris and Roma. I think Roma should be short for Romance or Romantic because this city puts a spell on you, from the magical Vatican city to the Patheon, Coliseum/ Palatine Hill, ancient Rome, Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain ( toss a coin in and the spirits of the fountain will see to it that you will one day make it back to Roma). I won't spend time talking about any of these must do sights, as you can look up the significance of each prior to your own visit to Roma.
We stayed in Campo di Fiori which was quite central, we were able to walk to the Coliseum, Vatican City, and the Patheon. We spent our first night exploring all the key monuments in Roma ( we got a tourguide of the Coliseum, who spoke way too fast and jumped around way too much, I would reccomend just getting an audio guide and exploring on your own), that evening we had dinner at Macheroni near the Patheon ( recommended by my cousin Kama), this was the best restaurant we had been to in Roma and likely all of italy. Our concierge and many locals also recommended it. This restaurant hit the spot when it came to true roman specialities like cacio e pepe, carbonara, and fried artichoke ( the house wine was also a hit and it was only 8euros).
The next day we devoted to Vatican City, we happened to run into a rep from "What a Life tours" and it was the best thing that happened to us. We had Angelo as our tourguide of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. He spoke fluent English and Italian, and studied art history. On tripadvisor he is the #1 or #2 tourguide in all of Roma, and I can honestly believe it. He also has a special access pass of Vatican City that only 24 others in the world have, of course he couldn't take us with him (a cardinal showed him the real painting tools of Michelangelo). During this 3 hour tour not once did I lose interest, his character and personality made this magical place even more beautiful. He had an ipad as his sidekick and spent time getting everyone up to speed on the history of the Vatican. All I can say is when entering the Sistine Chapel your completely mesmorized and blown away by the talent of Michelangelo, and the stories painted in each of the panels. If you come to Roma for one reason it may well be for what you will see on the Sistine Chapel walls. We spent our evening in Piazza Naova, the ambiance, music and entertainment was lovely.
Our third day in Roma we spent our morning to afternoon at Le Fate restaurant in a cooking class run by Andrea Colis ( another reccomendation we got from our cousins Ruby and Randy). We were in a group of 12 and learned how to make 4 roman dishes including gorgonzola stuffed figs, sausage tomato linguine (freshly made the pasta in class), beef and arugula tomato salad, and a chocolate raisin pie. He was charming, funny, and very knowledgeable.
I love Roma and will definitely miss our evenings on our rooftop terrace enjoying the panoramic views, having too many bottles of wine, while laughing our hearts out.
They say you come to italy to eat, and boy we did just that. Spent our days eating gelato, and our nights eating pizza and pasta.

On to our last stop, Hola Barcelona! They say you leave your heart in spain, my heart may need to be torn into 3!

Ciao bellas,
9to5travelgirl

P.S. After 10 days in Italy you may think eating all that pizza, pasta, and gelato you would gain weight. In actuality the amount of walking you do up and down hills you end up staying the exact same! No need to buy a new pair of jeans.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Third Stop: The canals of Venezia

Ciao readers,

Just spent 2 nights in Venezia which was way more then enough. This city is a maze with lots of small streets with plenty of shops (you easily can get completely lost). We did the typical attractions in Venice - St. Marks Square, Doge Palace, a gondola ride at sunset, and spent a day at Lido Beach.
We have arrived in Italy yet I do not think we have experienced authentic italian food (it is because Venezia does not have their own style of cooking), everyone working at the restaurants in Venice were from mostly Bangladesh or some other foreign country. I am looking forward to Florence!

Ciao,

9to5travelgirl
P.S gelato is amazing


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second stop: j'adore Paris

Je suis tombé amoureux follement de Paris ( I have fallen madly in love with Paris). 
Words can not describe the love I have for this city, not only is it one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, but also the most romantic. Every street corner, building, road looks beautiful. And if you know me even a little bit, you'll know I love pretty things lol.  
There is so much to do in Paris, and below I will highlight the best parts of our 3 nights in this city:
1) Picnic by the Eiffel tower - if you had to do only one thing in Paris I would suggest this. On Sunday evening we had the boys surprise us by preparing for a picnic supper at the park across from the Eiffel Tower. They bought delicious artisan breads with 3 different cheeses, dip, croissant desserts, and 4 bottles of wine ( most of it purchased at a Paul bakery) to take on the picnic. We arrived for 8:00pm, played cards, relaxed on our blanket, and waited for the sun to set, and the Eiffel tower to light up ( we were pleasantly surprised when at 10pm the tower started to sparkle).  La tour d'eiffle est magique, the Eiffel tower is magical and definitely not overrated. The evening was absolutely romantic ( couples getting proposed to, people celebrating birthdays, it was full of happiness).  After our late night picnic we headed across the river and enjoyed ice cream and a merry go round ride!
2) Louvre - I believe this is suppose to be the most famous gallery d'art in the world. It was also the most breathtaking in my eyes. We spent 4 hours on Monday at the Louvre seeing world famous pieces like the Venus de Milo, Rebellion Slaves by Michel Angelo, Napoleon's apartments, and of course the Mona Lisa the most famous painting in the world ( the insurance for this is over 700MM USD). Just a tip if you don't speak or read French you can rent audio headsets that provide commentary for each piece or room ( definitely a big help). We enjoyed lunch at an outdoor bistro just across from the Louvre ( lots of them to choose from).
3) Champs elysees - shopping, bistros, and entertainment is what this main Paris street is known for. We did some exploring and window shopping at some high end Paris boutiques.
4) Arc de Triomphe - The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. I would suggest climbing this as its more cost efficient then the Eiffel Tower and you get a great view of it from the top ( to snap some real panoramic pics of the city).
5) Chateau de Versailles - Take a tour of this magnificient castle. Located approx. 20 minutes away from Paris.  The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until October 1789 when the royal family was forced to return to the capital after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a beautiful monument, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.  I would strongly suggest taking the private group tour, which allows you to explore the areas of the castle that are not open to the public, with a true historian that shares all they know about the history of the Versailles. There seemed to be some animosity between the Chateau de Versailles staff and the Louvre museum, and it could be due to the fact that after the French Revolution many of the Versailles art pieces were sold to the Louvre, which today they won't return back to the Chateau de Versailles.
6) Caius - this was a French cuisine restaurant we tried that had the most splendid service and mouthwatering truffle ravioli. During our trip we did experience some snobby French individuals, but that was balanced by some very wonderful individuals that were understanding of our language barrier. This restaurant in particular went out of their way to explain food dishes ( even drew an image of a shrimp to explain what it was). The food, ambiance, and service were superb, and at the end of our meal they brought by a tin full of candy to end off our night. I would strongly recommend checking it out, approx. 39 € per person.
 
Overall a great trip, we explored the city of Paris by using the metro/ trains which were very easy to understand in comparison to the TTC. The culture felt relaxed at a much slower pace then anywhere in North America. What I found intriguing was how the seating outside bistros was facing the street for some true people watching enjoyment. 
Would I go back to Paris? QUI QUI- I was thinking about my next trip back the whole time I was in Paris. 
Paris and I have fallen in love!
 
Au reviour Paris, Ciao Venezia...
 
Looking for pasta,
9to5travelgirl
 
P.S took a flight from Paris to Venice using easyjet charter airline, which is actually not as shady as they make internal europe airlines sound. Strongly recommend! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Stop: London

Our European adventure has finally begun, joining us on this trip is our oldest couple friends (my husbands best friend and his wife who I've known since junior high - we actually started dating our husbands the same time 9 years ago, so when I say "we" on my posts it means the 4 of us). We just spent two nights in London, and likely spent as much in 2 days than we would in 2 weeks anywhere else in the world. Needless to say London is quite overpriced ( we learned that the hard way in Leicester Square enjoying one too many 10£ mojitos).
We arrived in London on Friday and took a train to King's Cross station which was 10 minutes walking distance to our hotel. One of our family members suggested we stay close to King's Cross as it was easily accessible, aside from making it easier to catch the eurostar to Paris this location should be avoided at all costs ( especially if you're a virgin to the city and want to do all of the typical tourist attractions). I would have rather enjoyed staying in Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and even forked it out for Park Lane.
We spent our Friday on the Big Bus Tour visiting St. Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower Bridge ( which is much more visually appealing than the London Bridge), London Eye ( we avoided going on only because it looked like it would take an hour to come down), Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. I am a checklist kind of girl, and was definitely happy to get all of our big tourist attractions done within one day. For lunch we had fish and chips with Peroni's at a pub across the street from Westminister Abbey ( I found the green peas the best part, I guess battered fish is not my thing). Being there on a Friday we were able to see what "happy hour" really looks like, at 6pm we ended up in SOHO and enjoyed cosmos on the street in front of gem bar/lounge. Happy hour being pretty foreign in Toronto, seeing a crowd full of individuals drinking on the street, and clubs pumping at 6pm felt like I was in the twilight zone. Definitely a cultural experience we enjoyed! After a cosmo or two we took the tube back to our hotel to change, and then headed to Leicester Square for dinner at Spice Market ( this is where we had one too many Mojitos), and headed for even pricier post dinner drinks at the W hotel. We had a great night with a bartender who told us the ins and outs of bar service in London ( and to avoid asking for a fat shot, as it will get you a skinnier one for sure).
The next day our plan was to enjoy a soccer game, but at 150£ each we realized just like Toronto Maple Leaf tickets, it just wasn't worth it. So instead we searched SOHO to find a pub that would play the Liverpool Vs. Arsenal game. It was like giving candy to a baby, we left the boys at the pub, and the girls were off to shop. I love my husband but we can not shop together, which makes this adventure even sweeter going with another couple - you have a female companion to do that all with. We spent the day exploring Regent street ( the best part was Hamley's toystore which completely brought out the big kid in me), Oxford street (Top Shop, Next, Reiss, Uni Qlo, Dorothy Perkins, and many more) and finally Knightsbridge where we explored the retail maze also known as Harrods. For dinner we had Northern Indian food (we heard the indian food in London is unbeatable - we weren't homesick yet) at a place called Punjab which was established in 1946.
Our time in London was fun. We had all never been and were happy to check it off as a city we explored. Would I go back? Probably not. The second I arrive in a city I can usually tell if I am in love, unfortunately for London and I that didn't happen. We are heading to Paris now, and I have my fingers crossed we have instant chemistry.
Looking for love,
9to5travelgirl

P.S. I think my legs are going to fall off from all the walking we did, and its only been 2 nights!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Canadian Travel Adventures


CANADIAN TRAVEL

I know this is so long overdue, but if it is any consolation I have been making the best use of summer (by avoiding all things technology lol). I have come to the realization that I am an outdoors person? Really I am! I use to avoid the outdoors in fear of the bugs, sun damage, and sweat/exhaustion from doing too much in the heat. But now things have changed, I love being outdoors even in the scorching heat! I feel like I am 10 again when all I did was play outdoors.

Having an extremely cold winter has helped me realize how much we should enjoy and value our short but intense summers in Toronto. Which is exactly what I have been doing these last 2 months, I have explored two great cities in the province of Quebec, I have spent a weekend in Blue Mountain Village, and gone wine tasting in Niagara on the lake. Who knew how great Canada was for some fabulous mini getaways. Below I share my experiences across all my Canadian travel so far this summer.

Europe just a drive away? - Montreal + Quebec City
For our anniversary weekend we decided to head to Montreal for a night, and Quebec City for 2. We already spent a fortune booking our Europe trip and most of our vacation days would be devoted to that trip, so a road trip seemed to make the most sense. We drove to Montreal which took about 5 hrs. We saw a travelzoo offer which was $99 for Le Sheraton in downtown Montreal and we quickly took up this offer. We only had a day here (and have already been to Montreal in the past) so we decided to do some more leisurely activities like exploring the street of St. Catherine’s (for some shopping finds), walking around the fenced area for the Jazz Festival (which was full of people from around North America) definitely a great time to go, and we enjoyed lunch in Old Montreal which felt so European with the brick stone roads. We asked our concierge to suggest a place for dinner (since the restaurant we wanted to go to Garde Manger – was fully booked 2 months in advance), we told them the ambiance and cuisine we were looking for and they suggested Cavalli. The Sheraton concierge team was bang on, it was amazing, very lively on a Thursday night. We ordered their fried shrimp appetizer and it was to die for, the sauce was mouthwatering (can’t stop thinking about it now).
We then proceeded to head to Quebec City, which took about 2 hours from Montreal. We used priceline and ended up booking the Hilton which was at the top of Old Quebec. Upon arriving the hotel told us we would have 2 double beds since we booked through priceline. It seems the Hilton hotel chain does not like people booking through priceline (and make it clear in their tone and manner – like how about you don’t give your hotel inventory to that site then). Anyways, after some arguing and explaining we were celebrating our anniversary they magically were able to find us a room with a King bed. Although, I was a little turned off the Hilton quickly changed my opinion by later surprising us in our room with chocolate covered strawberries. So now I would definitely recommend the hotel! We spent two nights in Quebec city and did a lot! We spent time at Montemorcy Falls (climbed 500 steps!), spent the day at the Siberian Spa station just outside of old Quebec (this was a relaxing outdoor spa experience), explored all of old Quebec, enjoyed fireworks on the grass in front of the parliament building, and filled our tummies with some fantastic cuisine. We had brunch at a cute place on the top of old quebec called accent, we had poutine as dinner one night at Chez Astor, we had breakfast at a crepe station in Old Quebec, and enjoyed some wonderful Italian cuisine at Savini (this place is a must, the patio and ambiance are amazing). I would highly recommend going to Quebec City, it is so lively till the wee hours, the architecture is beautiful, and the people are so friendly (despite wanting to separate lol). When we were heading out Prince William and Kate were coming in, there was quite a lot of chaos in Old Quebec waiting with anticipation.

Relax just steps from home –Collingwood
I  spent the weekend in Collingwood at the Blue Mountain Village Resort. I have never been to Collingwood (I skipped this as a prom afterparty option), it is so calm and relaxing. We had a suite with a full kitchen and balcony looking over the village area (which is full of pubs, restaurants, and little shops). We went hiking through the blue mountain trials (the gondola ride down was amazing, after defeating the hills you felt like you conquered the world coming down, a great view as well), drove to wasaga beach (about 25 minutes away), and laid by the resort pool. The village area also has BEAVERTAILS which were so yummy. I felt super Canadian at this resort, although it wasn’t this over the top vacation with endless amounts of things to do, it was perfect, close to home but far enough to justify staying away. I would highly recommend going, I felt so refreshed and relaxed coming home to a list of things to do lol! I would definitely go back, and actually am planning to go back early August for a Family cottage weekend (won’t be on the resort but will be super close by).

Wine Tasting in Niagara on the Lake
Just last weekend spent 2 nights in Niagara on the lake with some of my bestest friends. We booked a cottage for 2 nights that was 10 minutes from the Niagara on the lake town (the cottage was only $550 – it had 3 double beds, was super cute). We arrived Friday night after work and prepared dinner and jammed to some tunes and caught up on each other’s lives. The next day we woke up made breakfast and headed to Niagara Getaway’s Wine Tour office where we booked bikes and headed on our unguided tour of 5 wineries. We got on our bikes at 11:30 and returned them by 5pm. We went to Reif winery and had a full tour, Frogpond organic winery (which apparently is hangover free wine) – tasting, Peller Estates – tasting (although I am married, this estate was so fabulous I would get MARRIED again if it was here), Riverview - tasting, and Maryinnesen - tasting. The great thing about doing it through the tour company is when you purchase wine bottles, the tour company goes and picks them all up for you, so when you drop off your bikes at 5 they have them waiting. It was super hot but we managed to bike around 15kms and survive. It was a great workout, and a fun experience (much better than taking a car). The area is so old the trees are magnificently huge, and biking through each winery is a lovely refreshing experience. Others there suggested we do this tour in the fall when the colours all change as well, which we are seriously considering booking soon. It surprises me that I have not taken advantage of so many great places just in Ontario, I spent next to nothing and had a blast. All you need is great company, and a great class of wine!

If you’re bored and don’t have a large travel budget, why not consider driving to Quebec, relaxing in Collingwood, or wine tasting in Niagara. There are many places in Canada to visit, like Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Lake Louise in Calgary, and Whistler, BC. I feel like the Canadian Tourism Board, but I am sold we live in a beautiful country and I am only realizing how much fun we can have outdoors here. So I will likely go MIA again, as I am heading to Crystal Beach tomorrow for the day, and then will be thrown into Wedding galore (2 weddings two weekends in a row).

Until next time,
9to5travelgirl

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Boyfriend Watches - Nordstrom Michael Kors Sale

Hi All,

Just thought I would give my readers the heads up, that Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale ( which is providing quite a discount on Michael Kors watches. The watch below is $180CAD

Take a look if your interested.
Michael Kors 'Bel Aire' Resin & Crystal Bezel Watch
-9to5travelgirl

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Long weekend here we come!

Well I know I talked about my European adventure coming up, but unfortunately it is still 2 months away. This upcoming long weekend is my 2 year wedding anniversary and in order to make the home stretch to our Europe trip easier, we decided to book a mini trip to Montreal/Quebec City. It almost just fell into our lap when we got our weekly Top 20 deals from TravelZoo. On the weekly deals page Le Sheraton Montreal Centre was available for only $99/night for 3 days (which in comparison to their standard prices, was quite the deal). We booked Montreal for the Thursday night, and decided to book Quebec City for the following 2 nights since we both have never really experienced Quebec City to its fullest (last time I went was when I was 16 on a breakaway tour bus). We used priceline.com and bid $120 and got the hotel for 2 nights taxes in for under $300. We are planning to drive down and will likely spend $100-$150 in gas to fill up twice, given it is almost a 10 hour drive to Quebec City.

I have reached out to a few of my work colleagues in Montreal to give me a run down of which trendy restaurants to try out, and which activities are a must. I will definitely keep you all informed when I return on where I went and what was a must try!

Until after the long weekend,

9to5travelgirl

Sunday, June 26, 2011

STYLE SUNDAY: FASHION INSPIRED BY FAMILY


Hello readers,

I just had the most fabulous weekend. I spent Saturday at my cousins place lounging by their heated pool with some great company. Although the weather was cloudy we still managed to have a blast. I may have gotten a very minor tan (mission accomplished!)

After some fun in the sun we decided to have dinner downtown on Saturday night. Which was traffic galore due to the IFFA awards being held at Rogers Centre. Downtown was chaotic/exciting all week with the IFFA awards in town, with screaming bollywood fans trying to find every opportunity to see their favourite star (ask the staff of the Fairmont Royal York). Although, I am not a big bollywood movie watcher, I do think I would have gotten into the frenzy if I were to surround myself with the fans swarming the Rogers Centre on Saturday (apparently there was a girl that fainted and started pulling her hair because she had a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan – Bollywood's Brad Pitt equivalent). Unfortunately or maybe fortunately I missed out on some of the chaos and decided to spend the evening in King West with my familia (my cousins and my sister). We ended up having dinner at LEE (resto-lounge owned by Chef Su Sur Lee) which was quite delicious but RIDICULOUSLY overpriced. Our waitress I believe truly screwed us, we had originally decided on ordering the following: 1)Green curry balls 3) 3 cheeseburger rolls 4) 2 Asian Slaws (best thing on menu by the way) 5) Chickpea fritter 6) Spicy Tofu 7) Watermelon Salad.  Which was the perfect amount, but we were pushed into ordering the following additional items: 8) Skirt Steak (which was the second best thing I believe) 9) 2- Black Cod 10) Garlic Shrimp. We were quite overstuffed by this point and ended up spending more than we needed to, aside from the overpriced menu and the aggressive waitress I would still head back, but this time stand my ground.

As the lovely familia all looked super great on Saturday night, I thought I would have another Fashion inspired post with my familia. Below are different looks of the night that I hope will inspire you all on your next night out!
***I apologize in advance for the dark pictures, I did not have my camera with me!

Flower Power – Floral patterns seem to be everywhere, but I will warn you that floral can sometimes look too casual or too busy. When I found the jumper I am wearing below I liked that there was still a lot of white space between the flowers so it did not look too busy. I think a shorter jumpsuit looks very chic when popped with a blazer (makes it less casual and more dressy). I am wearing a camel blazer from H&M ($59.99), with a floral white print jumpsuit from Forever 21 ($19.50 – what a steal bought it online), bracelet from So good jewelry in NOLA ($27), and shoes from Aldo ($19 Sale, Regular $89 – got them when I was in LA)

LBD Lover– How can you go wrong in a Little Black Dress (LBD), LBD lover looks super sophisticated in a chic black dress with beautiful rhinestone accents around the neckline and two waist pockets for your lipstick/ID’s for a night out (price and store unknown). Her shoes are from Nine West which she snagged when she crossed the border for only $54.99. The bracelets were borrowed from a friend and were $8.99 from Nordstrom.


Pretty in Print – What I love about this outfit is its quite revealing with the short shorts, but still feels super conservative when paired with a  blazer. Pretty in prints outfit is also one that can go from evening to late night, take off the blazer and add a chunky necklace and she’s ready to go dancing! The printed shorts make the full outfit pop and adds a fresh touch, the shorts are from dynamite ($20), tank top from Smart Set ($16), blazer from Joe fresh ($40), and shoes from BCBG ($89).


Pastel Princess – I don’t think I can repeat myself anymore, blush pink and cream are the look of the summer. Below is Pastel Princess in an uber chic cream dress (from a boutique in NOLA for $39.99) that almost feels upscale bohemian, paired with a shirt blazer in blush pink from H&M ($39.99), a chunky necklace from Forever 21 ($10), watch Michael Kors ($250), and shoes Aldo ($99.99).

Eyelet Enamored – A summer wardrobe would not be complete without a white dress. Eyelet Enamored looks ready for the summer in an eyelet white dress from Dynamite ($59), with camel belt from Forever 21 ($8), Pandora Bracelet ($60), and shoes from Winners ($50). What I love about white dresses is they can be super versatile, you can pair it with flats and have a more casual backyard bbq look, or add some pumps (see below) and be ready for a dinner night out, or add a short crop blazer and you could take this look to the office.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

STYLE SUNDAY: Retro Swimwear

Hello all,

The days are warming up (well atleast they are here in Toronto), I spent my Saturday at Wasaga beach soaking in the sun. Although the weather was too cool to jump in just yet, I did get to relax and fall asleep on the sandy beach (still got the sand in my ears to prove it :S lol). This season can be super exciting or somewhat nervewrecking when thinking of getting into a bathing suit again. As I was trying to find a bathing suit for my Cottage trips planned for later this summer and my European adventure, I noticed the high waisted bikini bottoms were making a come back. The retro bathing suit is super cute, the bottoms are high enough to cover key assets, yet still leave a bit of a space from the bottom to the top piece to show a bit of skin (so you don't look like a 12 year old in a swim suit lol).

When I realized I wanted a retro bikini I checked a few stores, and then did some major digging online. I ended up finding pinupgirlclothing.com, which has a pretty sketchy name (I think most corporate security would block this website just because the name sounds a bit more alluring then it really is). I ended up ordering their two piece cherry print bikini with high waisted shorts (comes with a matching sarong). The suit was $100 altogether (not more then what I have paid at bikini village or victoria secret so I was okay with the price). The shipment was at my house within 2 days of ordering, and when I received my package I was pleasantly surprised. I was almost afraid the quality of the swimsuit was going to be super thin and not up to par (given I ordered it from a site I just found googling away one day). Turned out the quality was super high end, thick material that provided the right amount of coverage. I would say it was well above the quality of any Victoria Secret bathing suit I have had in the past. So if your stuck on purchasing swimwear and are interested in the retro look be sure to check out pinupgirlclothing.com and let me know about your experience. Below are some pics of some of the bikini's available.




Vintage Pinup High Waisted Short with Matching Sarong in Black Cherry from Pinup Coutureclose
ntage Pinup High Waisted Short with Matching Sarong in Green Dot from Pinup Coutureclose
Sailor Girl Nautical Bikini Bottom

Sunday, June 12, 2011

STYLE SUNDAY: Tassled Earrings

Another style sunday...when I was thinking about what to share when it came to style this weekend it was clear that I had to share my recent obsession with Tassled Earrings. I don't own a pair yet but I am certainly intrigued.

The long tassled earring go hand in hand with the 70s chic look of Spring/Summer 2011. Louis Vuitton Spring 2011 was not only full of bright colour palettes but beautiful beaded tassled earrings in a smoky black. These earrings reach the end of the neckline (in some cases even further down) and are beaded full from earloop to neck with several strands of beads.
I started noticing these earrings after the season finale of Gossip Girl where Blake Lively was rocking a pair of black beaded tasseled earrings by Oscar Del La Renta. I mean she can rock any look but they looked so hot on her with her hair tied back (see below picture of Blake Lively).
Check out two pairs from Oscar De La Renta in midnight blue and sea green. Unfortunately these earrings run from 300-600CAD, so I am hoping the Aldos/Zara's/H&M's of the world will bust out with knock off looks that the rest of us can afford!






Monday, June 6, 2011

My European Adventure BOOKED!

 EURO TRIP HERE WE COME!

Yes I have officially booked all of my flights and hotels for my European Adventure for August. I will be traveling from mid August to early September (almost 3 full weeks eeeekk I am excited).

Below is my itinerary and details on how and what I booked for each destination. I will be blogging from each location when I am in Europe, so I thought I'd talk about the planning stuff now to focus those blog posts solely on food, culture and activities.

International Flight - I booked a multi-destination flight through Air Transat at a cost of $855 per person. We are flying into London and flying out of Barcelona International Airport.

London - We are planning to stay for two nights. We booked our hotel through expedia.ca and got the Holiday Inn on Kings Cross 3.5 star (which is suppose to be an accessible area) for $200 a night. A bit pricey but I believe we will save money on our transportation there, since we will be in a prime location.

We will then be taking the Eurostar train at $60 dollars a ticket, and heading over to Paris (2 hour train ride).

Paris- We are staying here for 3 nights, and booked our hotel at an incredible deal through priceline.com. We bid $135 a night for a 4 star hotel near Champs elysees and got Le Meridian Etoile. This hotel I believe goes for around $300+ a night, so we definitely snagged a big deal here. I would suggest using priceline wherever possible, especially if you know the core area you want to be near. Some European destinations on priceline you can not completely isolate the areas you want to bid at and are a bit broader, so where you can narrow down on priceline I would suggest using this site. You always get a big bang for your buck.

Flight to Venice from Paris was booked through Easyjet Airlines at a cost of $80 per person. I am a bit skeptical about this airline as it sounds like a joke (easyjet - it has 'that's what she said' all over it)

Venice - We booked the Best Western Albergo in San Marco, Venice. We got the room for $132/night (staying for 2 nights) through expedia.ca.

Booked train from Venice to Florence at a cost of $60 per person, through euro rail website.

Florence - We booked a B&B apartment in the Duomo region in Florence for $82/night called Locanda de' Coimpi, it has over 72 reviews with 100% recommendations on Tripadvisor. We booked this hotel also using expedia.ca.We saved big here, and will hopefully allow us to take advantage of the prada, gucci, and armani outlets!

Booked train from Florence to Rome at a cost of $60 per person, through euro rail website.

Rome - I won't take credit for this booking. One of my friends (the couple friends that are joining us on this trip), they did extensive research on the areas in Rome. Well actually they just went on Tripadvisor to determine the top rated hotels in Rome, and booked a boutique hotel called Campo de' fiori. We were able to get an apart for $450 for 3 nights. We booked the hotel on booking.com which is a sister site of priceline.com.

We are then ending our adventure off on the beaches of Barcelona, by taking a flight through Vueling airline from Rome to Barcelona, which cost around $63/per person.

Barcelona - Las Ramblas was the suggested area many of our friends and family gave us as the area to stay near. Luckily priceline.com had the option to select this location along with a 4 star rating. I bid $125 per night and got the Gran Silken Hotel.

TWO KEY TRAVEL BOOKING TIPS:
1) I would strongly suggest before booking any hotel to read guest reviews on tripadvisor, specifically look at what people are saying about the location and service. If the hotel has great service but everyone is saying it is 20 minutes out of the city core (take into account the incremental transportation costs you will face). I did this with all our hotels to ensure we were booking in the right spots.

2) The other suggestion I have is to use mapquest or google maps to determine the distance between the hotel to the airport or train station so you know what costs you will incur when it comes to taxis (or water taxis when it comes to Venice).

Stay tune for my posts in August as I hop from one country to the next! Super excited to share this adventure with you all.

-9to5travelgirl




Saturday, May 28, 2011

STYLE SUNDAY: FASHION INSPIRED BY FRIENDS

Happy Style Sunday,

This is the first official beautiful day in Toronto (at over 28 degree weather with humidity) I feel my bright summer wardrobe itching to come out!

As I was thinking about why fashion/style is so important in many individuals lives (including myself) I wondered who do we dress for? is it ourselves? or our significant others? our family/friends?

If you ask me I think most people dress up for themselves as it can really make you feel confident. I know when I wear my 4 inch heels I feel very powerful. I mean let's be serious I stopped dressing up for my husband a long time ago, not in the sense that I no longer dress up with him ('cos come on guys when do I not make the most of any occassion?). But in the fact that as much as I would like to think my husband can differ a skirt from a dress from a jump suit, he really can't. Lucky for me he always thinks I look great ( which I guess works out because I can guarantee I don't always lol).

So really who do we all dress for? I think most of us dress up for ourselves to feel great and express our unique personality through our fashion choices. But I have heard many times over from so-called Psychologists that women dress-up for other women, which I think is so true in so many ways. I love dressing up with my girls, not only are you inspired by their style and fashion sense, but you get to inspire them with your own.

On Friday night I went to dinner at Scarpetta which resides in the Thompson Hotel on Wellington in Toronto. As I was having dinner with 8 ladies it hit me what my Style Sunday post would be about. Instead of searching online for trends and outfits to inspire my readers, I would post about what each of the ladies wore. I know I get inspired by individuals at work, on the street, at the mall, at dinner, everyday, and today's post I'll inspire you with the Friday Night look of 9 women (including myself).

Outfit 1: Seventy's Senorita - ME!
One of my absolute favourite stores this spring is Zara right now. When it comes to late 60s/70s inspired looks this store is full of it. If you liked what Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and Jason Wu had on the runways for Spring 2011 you'll appreciate what Zara has to offer. Hence where my outfit is inspired. The bright blue/cream cotton silk top I am wearing is Spring 2011 Zara, and the red skirt is Spring 2010 Jacob. The red skirt I was super excited to bring back this season, it adds a punch to the outfit. The cream snakeskin shoes are from a random boutique in New Orlean's, I think this look could have been pulled off with cute purple or gold pumps as well.






































Outfit 2: Sheer Sweetheart - I love the creativity gone into this outfit. Sheer sweetheart below is wearing a black sheer dress from Mendochino (that she felt was too tight to be worn as is), instead she topped it with a red skirt from Jacob Spring 2010, giving the illusion she was wearing a top. This is a fabulous idea, I mean how many of us have dresses that are only meant for clubbing. Now take that tight club dress and pair a cute A line skirt and you can go from too sexy to sophisticated in one go!




Outfit 3: Power Princess - I truly appreciate the blazer and what it has done for woman's fashion the last 3 years. It has become a must have accessory, its replaced the spring/fall jacket in some forms, and it has allowed woman to rock a signature male staple in a sexy and fun way. Below is Power Princess she is wearing a grey blazer from Winners, white sequin tank top from Urban Outfitters, pants from H&M, and coral sandals from Aldo (she took my last post seriously). I mean can a guy rock a blazer with sequins and bright coral shoes? No way! I love this look as it adds a girlie touch (with the sequin neutral and coral pumps) yet still demands authority and power.



Outfit 4: Golden Girl - What I like about this look is it feels effortless, looks like you just threw something together and it turned out super cute. Golden girl is wearing a gold and black off the shoulder top from Urban Planet, skinny black denim jeans from Century 21 NYC, and shoes from Payless Shoe Source. Wouldn't you feel golden if you were able to pull off a great look like this from discounted fashion retailers. I love a good deal, and Golden Girl is the real deal.




Outfit 5: Ruffle Raven- Another effortlessly chic outfit, that looks great but feels like she just wakes up looking this great. Ruffles are all the rave, if you don't believe me check out Christian Dior Spring 2011 runway collection. Ruffle Raven below is wearing a great pair of pants from Jacob, with a beautiful vibrant ruffle turquoise top from Forever 21, and white sandals from Aldo. It really feels like summer when you see people in anything white, a great pair of white sandals can end up a staple in your wardrobe for years to come!




Outfit 6: Convertible Charlotte- Anytime a look feels sophisticated/pretty I think of Charlotte from Sex and the city. The greyish belted dress is from H&M and the chic cream/yellow sandals are from Aldo.  This dress is super versatile and can convert into many looks from day to night - just add extra accessories and it can be worn to a spring wedding, add a blazer or knit sweater on top and its a cute office look, or add a more casual belt and flats and its a great day look for shopping or site seeing while traveling.



Outfit 7: Happy Housewife - This cute A-line polka dot dress feels very Bree Vandercamp. It is fun and flowy with its beautiful ruffle detail. This dress would look great on any figure, as it tightens at the waist and spreads at the hips. So if you have too much hip it doesn't accentuate it, and if you don't have any hip it gives the illusion of you do. Great for many occassions - be it a dinner night out, or hostess to your own house dinner party. What I love the most about this look it is truly a diva on a dime - the dress is from Alfred Sung available at Zellers and the cute camel shoes are from Aldo!



Outfit 8: Blushing Barbie - My two favourite essentials for the summer, a blush pink top and a neutral skirt and shoes. The skirt is from Bedo, I love the stitching at the waist, it takes a sleek skirt and adds some funk to it. A high waisted mini like this one accentuates the chest and lengthens the legs like any barbie, and for this petite blushing barbie this is the perfect look. With both her bottom and her shoes neutrals it really draws attention to the blush pink top, which is simplistic but stands out against the rest.



Outfit 9: Comfortably Chic - I really really like this look and its not because it is mainly from Zara's Spring 2011 collection, but it just feels uber chic yet super comfortable. The pants are downplayed harem style in navy, and the top is a bright orange red with interesting cut-outs around the neckline. The shoes are Aldo, and the purse that adds the perfect evening touch is from a boutique in New Orleans. Also another great versatile look to switch to a more casual look - try a more casual belt, add flip flops or flatforms, and lose the clutch.


I think I will have more of these FASHION INSPIRED BY FRIENDS posts.

Toodles,
9to5travel girl




Sunday, May 22, 2011

STYLE SUNDAY: COO COO FOR CORAL

Happy Sunday! This weeks Style Sunday is devoted to my my must-have colour for the summer season.

I have officially picked my favourite colour for summer and I am completely COO COO for CORAL (not cocoa puffs lol). Let's ignore the fact that summer hasn't really begun in Toronto (bloody rain!!) for now. Everywhere I look theres a hint of coral in this summer's bright colour palette. I mean there's hot pinks, bright purples, blues, reds, and more, with so many colours I still was easily able to pick coral. Reason being it looks great on everyone from light to dark complexion's and there's so many ways to add this colour to your wardrobe without overdoing it. A simple coral lipstick, or a coral dress with neutral accessories, or cute platform coral sandals with blush/neutral outfit. I mean how can you go wrong. Below are my coral picks when it comes to accessories, outfits, shoes, and make up. I even show a few celebrity picks of how they rocked this colour.

Coral Lipstick - This is likely the easiest way to incorporate this colour into your look. Check out the following mac cosmetics coral shade lipsticks to find the right one for you:
Vegas Volt - full power coral (creme)
Ravishing - clean light peachy coral (cremesheen)
Lady Danger - Bright coral-red (matte)
So Chaud - intense reddish-orange (matte)
Costa Chic - frosty light coral (frost)

 Lipstick

Coral dress - Add some excitement to your wardrobe with a bright coral dress.

1)ASOS - Lace bodycon dress £45.00
Image 1 of ASOS Lace Bodycon Dress

2) Coral ruffled strap dress by Ella Moss. $190.

3) Eliza J Bow Detail Coton Jacquard Sheeth Dress. $120.15 available at Nordstrom.



4) Collection XIIX Tiger strip Floral Tunic in white coral. $38.69 available at nordstrom. If you don't want to wear solid coral try this tunic over a swimsuit, or white linen pants for a great summer look.

Collection XIIX 'Tiger Stripe Floral' Tunic

Coral Jewelry: Take any neutral outfit and add coral bangles or a necklace for a summer feel. All jewelry below can be found on nordstrom.com
Cara Accessories Colored Stone Bangle

Carole Beaded Necklace
Cara Accessories Bead & Metal Bangles
Coral Shoes: Again take a simplistic outfit in biege, blush, neutral, tan, and add a punch of coral. Check out these cute heels.
1) Enzo Angiolini 'Sully' Platform Pump in Coral Suede - $90 exclusively at Nordstorm.
Enzo Angiolini 'Sully' Platform Pump (Nordstrom Exclusive)
2) Charles by Charles David Fuss Coral Leather - Zappos.com for $92.00


3) DV Footwear Dewy Sandal - Nordstrom - $40.63. These flats are perfect for a long white/creme maxi dress.
DV Footwear 'Dewey' Sandal


CORAL CELEBRITIES: Check out these Coral looks our fave celebs recently rocked.

1) Rachel Bilson in a coral Vanessa Bruno crepe jacket. Rachel Bilson is wearing a nude dress and shoes with rustic gold accessories and a coral crop jacket.



2) Kim Kardashian is in a beautiful coral one strap on the red carpet, and she's wearing light nude shoes and minimal accessories.



3) Megan Fox rocked seductive dark coral lips. Yes I know it's Megan Fox, but trust me there is a right shade of coral for us all.






















Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fashion advice on the go? Go try it on NOW

Have you ever wanted advice on an outfit your planning for a first date, corporate work event, wedding, or dinner party with friends - but can't get a hold of your friends or want multiple opinions to be able to determine what you should wear? Well for you indecisive divas there now is an answer (besides stalking your contact lists).


Look no further then the 'GO TRY IT ON' new Iphone APP and website (www.gotryiton.com). This app/site allows you to post pictures of multiple outfits and get real time advice from random fashion obsessed strangers (which makes it quite unbiased). Picture it now your at Zara and fell in love with a bright pink blazer and can't get a hold of your bestie to justify the discretionary purchase (and the over the top colour)? 


With this site/app, you just take a picture post it and minutes later your likely to get feedback from others. Bored on a train ride home or on a road trip with the familia, take your fashion expertise and help many in need by looking at outfits posted and provide your opinion. I mean either way this is fashion genius!


Now go get an opinion or give one - for the love of fashion.


trying it on,
9to5girl 



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Style Sundays: Betty Draper Style Icon


 Hello lovely readers,


I know it has been quite some time since I have engaged with you all. This weeks Style Sunday will be devoted to another celebrity fashion icon, Betty Draper a 1960s housewife on Mad Men. It may seem unusual that I consider a character on an AMC series a style icon, but that is exactly what Betty Drapper is. Although she may be considered an ordinary woman on the show, she is quite on trend for 2011. From her cropped tops, a line skirts, and floral patterns she would fit right in today.

Below are a few images taken from the series, and I have also included images of outfits that you can purchase today that mimic this 1960s style.















Check out Modcloth for Betty Drappers 1960s style. Below are a few styles I have selected, but the site is full of this decades key fashion trends.
1) Dot couture Dress in noir- Black sleeveless dress, with A line skirt. $57.99







2) Honolulu Holiday Dress - Floral Pattern with belted waist, you would definitely see Betty wearing this to run her errands. $157.99


3) Leaps and Bounds Dress - sleeveless collar shirt dress a staple in Betty's closet. $99.99



4) A top of the staircase dress - $117.99





















Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are you planning to travel? - Luggage Sale at the BAY!

Hello readers,



Quick heads up. The Bay is having a huge luggage sale with up to 75% off (includes Swiss Army). I have heard it is chaos in the stores, so go quickly if you need luggage for your next adventure. I believe the majority of the luggage has a 10 year warranty as well.

Signing off,
9to5travel girl