One Night in Calgary

Happy Friday ya’ll! I’ve been back to work for almost two full weeks and I still find myself dreaming about our trip to Alberta, Canada with the fresh air, gorgeous blue lakes, and tree that soar higher than anything I’ve ever seen. Originally, I was going to tell you about the first part of my trip: Calgary and Lake Louise. But I had SO MUCH to write about I thought for your sanity, I’d split it into two different posts.

To get to Banff National Park, your best bet is the fly into Calgary if you’re coming from the States. We got a car right from the airport. Super easy. We landed into Calgary late in the afternoon so instead of hoping into the car and taking a two-hour drive – after a propeller plane, a four-hour flight, and heading through customs – we spent our first night in Calgary.

What we didn’t really think about, but night one was a Sunday. Calgary is a major city in Canada, but a major city in Canada is a little different then the major cities I’m used to here in the U.S. so we didn’t have a huge pick of restaurants and bars that were open, and we were ready to explore.

Calgary – Where we stayed and where we ate
We stayed at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel right across the street from the Calgary Tower, thanks to Marriott’s amazing relationship with travel agents. Our room over looked 9th Ave and the tower itself. It was awesome. I really wanted to go up to the top to see the views of the city but it was super overcast and cloudy that first night so we opted out of the trip to the top and headed to a brewery that’s been in Calgary for over 20 years. WHAT! That’s insane! Wild Rose Brewery was a craft brewery before craft breweries were a thing. We each had a flight and split some of their amazing flat breads. It was the perfect quick dinner that we needed to wake up and get ready for our night out.

We Ubered back into downtown Calgary and started at Last Best Brewing Company, which was recommended by our server at Wild Rose. Not really the vibe we were going for but this would be an awesome place for a group dinner on a Saturday night. On Sunday it was a little too, I’m going out alone and going to sit in the corner watching the TV for us. But they did have an awesome bartender who gave us some great recommendations for the rest of the night.

He told us to head over to 17th Avenue and check out Living Room. We walked by a ton of other amazing restaurants and bars that look like on a Friday or Saturday night it would be wild. Living Room was so cute! We walked in and the bartender asked 3? I said yeah and instantly there were three of their late-night specialties in front of us, the Shaft. Coffee, Kahlua, and a splash of skim milk is apparently what locals come in to get at the end of the night. It was just what we needed to end our night.

Next week I’m here to tell you more about our trip. I have travel guides for Lake Louise and Banff with tons of detail, recommendations, what we did, and what I’d do again. AND info for a non-hiker going to a National Park. (yep that’s me!)

What to Know Before You Go: Canada

Last week my road trip besties and I got home from an amazing road trip through the Canadian Rockies. Last year while we were driving across country we decided we needed to keep this road trip life going and check out our neighbors to the north. So this trip has really been a year in the making. Canada is a pretty easy international trip. There is no language barrier, their customs and manors are pretty similar to ours here in the US (they may be a little nicer though), and it’s not a terrible flight.

But even though Canada is pretty easy, its not as simple as crossing a state boarder. There is still customs to go through, passports to be checked, and you are still a visitor in their country.

Getting In
Yes, it’s true, you need a passport to go to Canada now. For the past ten years or so you need a passport, or passport card, to get over the border. Working in the travel industry, I’m shocked how many people I come across that don’t know that by now. There are exceptions for minors crossing the border by car, but I would really look into travel.state.gov to clear up any questions if you’re a US passport holder. Otherwise, just get a passport. It makes everything easier. (And gives you an excuse to explore more.)

Canada is pretty strict about entrance into their country. They will do a background check on you and if anything comes up, you will be turned away. It’s pretty insane and I didn’t really believe it until I had a client that had a DUI from 20 years ago be turned away at the border. Yikes.

Driving Around
We are road tripping this week. Most international countries require a International Driver’s Permit, or an IDP, but Canada doesn’t. But they do require proof of insurance when renting a car. I brought my car insurance card just to show I was covered, otherwise they were going to make me buy Hertz’s insurance. Check with your insurance company to make sure your policy covers you outside of the United States.

Tipping Etiquette
The first time I went to Canada I was 18 and I had no idea you’re supposed to tip a taxi driver, in the U.S. or Canada. I’m not sure if I ever really paid a taxi before that. But that man yelled at us three little 18 year olds and I will never forget it. Know the area’s tipping customs. A quick google search before you leave should suffice but I like to look at a Lonely Planet book  before traveling to another country. They have an awesome survival guide at the back of all of their books that covers things just like this. In Canada things are pretty similar to America. And FYI, you should tip a taxi 10%-15%.

Have Your Back Up
Canada is pretty safe, but anytime you’re traveling, you should be prepared. I take pictures of my passport and drivers license and keep it in my DropBox. I keep my hotel confirmations and car rental agreements in there too and make sure someone at home has access to all the same information. Never keep your passport on you while traveling, lock it up in your hotel room, and always keep an extra credit card in your hotel safe. If your wallet gets lost or stolen while you’re traveling you will have the additional resources you need to get by.

To Do List Prior Before You Go:

  • Make sure your passport is good for six months from when you return to the United States
  • Talk to your car insurance provider if renting a car
  • Let your credit cards and banks know you’re traveling and find our which card has the lowest foreign transaction fee
  • Talk to your cell phone provider, most have a super simple and cheap North America plan
  • If bringing medication into Canada, you should bring a note from your doctor and defiantly have it in your carry on
  • Know their tipping etiquette

Where to Get the Perfect Instagram Shot in Banff, Canada

Last week I spent the entire week in Alberta, Canada exploring Banff National Park, Lake Louise, and bits of Jasper National Park and Yoho National Park. To say this trip was amazing would be an understatement. Anyone who’s been on Instagram in the past year or so has seen the amazing shots of girls in canoe in Lake Louise, or on top of the rock pile at Moraine Lake. We went and found some off the beaten path spots during our trip, but of coarse, had to keep in the oldies but goodies too. If you’re headed to Banff, here’s your insiders guide before you go of where to get the shot. A few I’ve already used on my own Insta feed.

Icefields Parkway– This secluded highway has amazing views since you’re driving straight through the center of the Rockies. We pulled off to the side and would run out to the middle of the street to get these shots. It made it so much fun and the snow-capped mountains with bright blue skies are absolutely stunning. We were kind of on a curve in the road so we made sure we had someone watching behind the photographer to make sure we were being safe. But hey, you do what you got to do to get the shot, am I right?

Waterfowl Lake– We did a lot of research on places to stop and check out along the Icefields Parkway but this was absolutely stunning and we ended up just stumbling upon it. Waterfowl Lake had so many places to take photos, sit on rocks, be on the lake bed. It definitely helped that we were there right at golden hour and the reflection of the mountains was a perfect mirror on the lake. Put this on your list.

Lake Agnus Teahouse– It was a HAUL up, but the views from the top were absolutely amazing. The trailhead begins right at Lake Louise and you hike 4.2 km up. There are rocks, and ice, and it was rough, but once you get to the top, there are views everywhere you turn. The tea house itself is so cute and quaint. The lake at the top is gorgeous and flows down the mountain. If you hike up a little further, on Little Beehive Trail you can see views of Lake Louise and Mirror Lake.

Lake Louise canoes– Pro tip: getting the quintessential cute photo, no life jacket looking like you’re the only one in the canoe shot is not the easiest. Go for a two-person canoe and then you have to row out pretty far. The lake isn’t that small. We did an hour canoe ride with three of us. The views of the glacier and the Fairmont are beyond anything you can imagine.

Lake Moraine– This lake had the best coloring I’ve ever seen. The blue was brighter than even Lake Louise, and when we were there, there were just a few canoes out, but they looked amazing. You can take the short little walk up Rockpile Trail to see the lake from a higher vantage point. It is everything these photos say it is. And then this log. Can we talk about the log? A little slippery but once you out there, it’s defiantly worth it.

Takakkaw Falls– Everything about this place was absolutely astonishing. We were here just as the leaves were starting to change colors, so the drive out to the falls was beautiful in itself. The road is much different than the highway or Icefields Parkway. The road is much smaller and it feels like you are driving through the tress. Once we got there, the small river that the falls lead into was gorgeous. The water was icy blue and there were so many places to get down into the water to get a great shot from a different angel. But what I loved the most about Takakkaw Falls was the view from the top. And this shot from the top of the rock, at the top of the falls was my favorite.

Trader Joe’s Fall Finds

It’s here!!! Some people count down until the day Starbucks releases their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or the holiday menu in November. I count down until Trader Joe’s bring out their harvest treats. I love pumpkin. I am a believe that you can add pumpkin to anything and I t will taste good. So, this year I super stalked my local Trader Joe’s until someone would give me the release date on all of the pumpkin products.

Last year I thought I did good on stocking up on some of these products but I was all out by the new year so this year. With the long winters we have here in Connecticut. I need my pumpkin coffee 5 months out of the year, but damn is it hard to come by. When I went to my local TJ’s there was only ONE pumpkin coffee left in the tin. I always try to get coffee grounds rather than pods just because it goes so much further. But in this case I had to grab some boxes of pods for back up. Someone behind me even got upset that I took the last one… sorry about it.

The pumpkin bread and muffin mix is another awesome go to. Actually I’m a big fan of their corn muffin mix too. I am not a baker so this is the perfect, easy mix to have one hand for a quick breakfast or to bring to a brunch when you’re in a pinch. And you can always add chocolate chips to the pumpkin mix to make it a little more of a dessert.

Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurts are by far my favorites. Again another quick breakfast idea so I had to pick up a few of these along with some new tries. I’m not sure if this Pumpkin Soup is new or if I’ve just never seen it before but I can’t wait to try that. Something else that I saw for the first time was this Harvest Spice Trek Mix. It looked perfect for my flight tomorrow. I am off to Canada and with a whole day of travel, you know I like to have something in my back pocket to snack on. What are your favorite fall finds at TJ’s?

Friday Five – September

I just noticed, my last Friday Five, I only did four…. What!? What a mess! So this month I am going to have six fabulous spotlights to make up for skipping out on you before.

September may be my favorite month of the year. I love the spring but back and forth weather here in the northeast can be a little much. You know exactly what you’re going to get with September. Sunny and warm days and cooler nights. Perfect firepit and wine on the patio weather. Swoon.

New favorite TV show to binge
Binge watching season is upon us folks! One of my favorite things about the fall and winter is the built in acceptance to stay home on a Friday and Saturday night to watch up on shows from the week, or start a whole new show you haven’t seen before. This month I just caught up on the new Kevin Costner show on Paramount Network, Yellowstone. I am obsessed and cannot recommend it enough, but it defiantly has a specific type of audience. It’s pretty graphic on the violence and sexuality. It also swears a lot so if that’s not your cup of tea I’d opt out. But you can always binge this month’s option for Netflix show, Hart of Dixie. So cute, so happy, and such a good before bedtime watch.

Soaking in the summer nights
September nights are what I live for. Crazy humid days, bring either wild thunderstorms (like tonight) or insane sunsets. Last weekend we had a fire at my friends beach house and the weather was perfect. Then this week I had a midweek glass of wine down at the beach to soak in the amazing sunset that is the month of September. And tonight I’ve been stuck on the coach listening to this crazy rain storm.

Book club book of the month
Its been a while since my A.D.D. was able to give into a good book. I could barely put this one down though. The Couple Next Door was really the first thriller that I truly loved. I love horror movies and thrillers when I watch them, but its always been hard for me to read a thriller. This had so many twists and turns and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to end, even when I had figured out who was the antagonist was.

Me time
My goal for September is to really get back into a routine. It is so easy to let all senses of a routine get pushed aside during the summer, as you can see from my lack of posts this summer. I’ve been scheduling myself a me night once a week. I take my laptop to a local coffee shop, turn on my favorite podcast (hey Straight up with Stassi) and write. This year, I got not one, but two promotions at work, so this fall is about putting myself out there, and diving deeper into my passion projects. And a little bit of people watching once a week doesn’t hurt either.

Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick
These aren’t new to me, but they are perfect for fall. Last year one of my girlfriends introduced me to Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick. Their shades are everything and best of all: they stay put! I can wear these all day and I barely have to reapply. These three are my current favorites (here, here, and here) and perfect for the fall. Because my complexion is so fair, I can’t really get into the dark maroons, browns and purples that scream fall so these are great for the pale skinned girls out there.

Finally getting sleep with the help of Young Living
I’ve officially drank the kool-aid and got myself a Young Living starter kit. If you’ve been on Instagram for even a second, you know that these essential oils are everything right now. I’m not going to lie, I can’t get full on into them. I’m not here to switch up every product in my house, stop buying candles, and say that an oil can fix everything. But for me, it’s fixed my sleep problems for sure. I’ve always had problems sleeping. Whether it’s getting to sleep or staying asleep, it’s been a struggle for a long time. Diffusing Cedarwood, Frankincense, and Lavender has helped so much. I sleep throughout the whole night, I sleep deeper, and I was up feeling rested. I even made a spray to bring with me this week on my trip. If you’re interested, definitely reach out to me, I’d love to talk more oils with you.