Into the Blue…Mountains

…Mountains, that is. Take a bite out of Ontario big apple country

Time was, Collingwood built lake freighters, navy trawlers and ice breakers. It then developed as a winter destination for skiing and eventually became an all season destination for hiking, caving, golfing, paddling and zip lining. Then, from Georgian Bay’s fruit basket, apples became the core of tourism.

What we’ve discovered is, an escape to The Blue Mountains, with its endless outdoor activities and festivals, offers many ways to appreciate and enjoy Ontario’s quintessential fruit: the apple. Continue reading “Into the Blue…Mountains”

Chasing Happiness in Antigua

I arrive on a Sunday and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to watch the sunset. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly I’m swaying to the music. The crowd on this plateau is in the hundreds, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and fun. Everyone knows that this is the best barbecue on the island. The aroma is intoxicating. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish until I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the picnic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Waxman,” I say to myself, and I know that my vacation has begun. Continue reading “Chasing Happiness in Antigua”

The Bordeaux Wine Route

The world of wine swirls around Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a style, a quality, and a symbol of status. The soul of Bordeaux is vested in the newly minted La Cité du Vin. Is it shaped like a decanter? What is it? We ask. In fact, it’s a “non-shape.” It is an abstract representation of the flow of wine pouring into a glass. Sheer brilliance. A magnet for oenophiles and for those simply curious about the alluring and iridescent mica and glass structure, changing colours as it reflects the sun like a glimmering temple nestled on the riverbank. Continue reading “The Bordeaux Wine Route”

International Farmer’s Markets

Food trails and markets have become the tastiest part of any travel experience. They are the places where we can really sink our teeth into a taste of place. Write up a new bucket list of farmer’s markets. Here are some of the most incredible ones to experience. Continue reading “International Farmer’s Markets”

DINE Recommends Unique Spas

We all need to relax. Wouldn’t it be great if the office was a hot tub? On days when I’m so wound up I could snap, I reminisce about luxurious spas that seduce the senses and melt the tension. For all those who could use a spa day, here are DINE’s recommendations for unique destinations to replenish, rejuvenate and breath easy.

Spa Nordik, Chelsea, Quebec

A veritable buffet of baths and saunas, my thermal cycle flows from an Icelandic bath to a Japanese onsen-style bath, and a Eucalyptus Steam bath to a Mongolian Yurt. In the Kalla pool, akin to the Dead Sea, I float, enveloped in warmth, while calming music streams underwater. Weightless, I drift into a deep sleep. When I awake, I wonder what time it is. “Don’t bother asking anyone,” I tell myself, “I don’t think anyone really cares about time.” Here, it’s only about being present. As the day progresses, every muscle in my body unclenches; and the incessant pinging on my phone becomes a distant memory as I stretch into a thermal hammock for a cozy afternoon slumber. Before my day-ending Swedish massage, I venture into a Russian Banya treatment. The air is infused with aromatic oils, and waves of warmth. Salts and essential oils are prepared for exfoliation and then, I lie down for a whipping! Rhythmically flogged with birch veniks, my body is awoken, regenerated and rejuvenated. It looks and sounds worse than it is. It is actually totally invigorating. This unexpected excitement is followed by an Aufguss ritual in which snowballs infused with essential oils are set upon hot rocks, their hot steam wafts through the air, and is propelled by sauna-meisters with towels to direct the heat to blanket our bodies. Unique and addictive, the Nordic Spa is my cure.

Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel, Salta, Argentina

Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel

High above and far away from the rest of the world, Lerma Valley, crowned by mountains, is majestic. High altitude wine, nurtured in the unique micro-climate of Salta, is lush and vibrant nectar of the gods. Following a robust, flavour-forward dinner of sweetbreads tempura, llama carpaccio and Argentinean rib eye steak with Andean potatoes, I stroll in my robe through manicured gardens in the crisp, clean air of night toward the hotel spa. Inside, I am welcomed with an elegant glass of sparkling Torrontes, and led toward my own private room in which I slip into a bubbling barrel bath of Cabernet Sauvignon! I feel like a Roman emperor.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Freestone, California

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary

Located on Sonoma’s Bohemian Highway, The Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is renowned for its Japanese meditation garden, massage pagoda and cedar enzyme bath. Michael Stusser combined his love of Japanese aesthetics, the message of Zen and the feel-good relaxed culture of Northern California to create a transformative experience of immense therapeutic value. Immersed and packed in a mixture of ground-up fragrant evergreen cedar, rice bran and live enzymes that, combined, generate their own metabolic heat, I am profoundly relaxed. Afterwards I sip an infusion of clover, spearmint, yarrow and digestive enzymes and stroll through manicured Japanese gardens toward the calm sound of trickling water. Through the woods I reach a wooden pagoda, inside which my Chinese meridian alignment masseuse awaits me. The aim is to replenish my Chi flow through energy pathways. Nurtured and pampered, I am then treated to a customized blend of essential oils on a series of acupressure points to deepen healing potential and vitality. Bergamot to balance brain hemispheres, Blue Tansy to calm the mind, Mandarin to calm the heart, Helichrysum, Altas Cedarwood and a host of others to release stagnant energy and induce an easy revitalized calm. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to do the rest of the day, but please cancel all my appointments; I am too relaxed to care.

Integratron, Landers, California

Integratron

Deep in the Mojave Desert, within the Sound Bath of Integratron, quartz crystal bowls gently sing. We lie down comfortably and focus on breathing while reverberating sounds and vibrations are gently played to correspond to our chakras for deep relaxation. The wooden dome around us is “based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials…an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.” Totally Pure, hollow, expansive and powerful, the sustained sounds are tranquilizing musical medicine for our souls.

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Three-Day Holiday to Boston and New York

We still watch reruns of Cheers on TV. We’ve seen Good Will Hunting 20 times; we love Aerosmith; we feel pride for the Patriots; we respect Harvard; we adored Julia Child; we are in awe of the Kennedys. And every so often we get a craving for a big platter of New England full belly fried clams at Legal Seafoods. Their code, “if it isn’t fresh, it isn’t legal.” Continue reading “Three-Day Holiday to Boston and New York”

Yamagata Beef at Han No Daidokoro in Tokyo

In the world of Wagyu there are so many brands worth sampling. Tokyo has them all. Restaurants specialize in sourcing the best. On a recent visit, I check off another major luxury brand from my list: Yamagata-gyu. Continue reading “Yamagata Beef at Han No Daidokoro in Tokyo”

Epicurean Osaka

Once Japan’s centre for rice trading, the “nation’s kitchen,” located at the mouth of Osaka Bay, also has an insatiable appetite. To be good here, restaurateurs have to be great. The massive availability of high quality produce has led to discriminating tastes that demand skilled chefs to wow their guests. One day spent in Osaka, commonly referred to as the food capital of the world, and I’m like an awestruck pachinko ball bouncing through a cosmic maze of gastronomy. Continue reading “Epicurean Osaka”

Vancouver to Banff: Waitin’ for the Train

There’s so much to do on a visit to Vancouver, and so much to explore on a visit to Banff. Here is a checklist of things to do while waiting for the train that you just can’t miss. Continue reading “Vancouver to Banff: Waitin’ for the Train”