Final Days in the Languedoc

Final Days in the Languedoc

So the week has flown by and we are busy getting ready to leave early tomorrow morning to go to La Ciotat on the South Coast of France. We are leaving here nice an early for some wine tasting at Chateaux Neuf du Pape, a stop in Aix en Provence and then down to the Mediterranean Sea.

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The past few days have been a blur of Chocolate Croissants, swims in the local river, great food wine and friends. It was Chris’ 45th birthday yesterday and we celebrated with a grand breakfast of pastries and fruit. We then went to Anduze, a nearby town that is stunning, located in the middle of many wine farms and rivers.

20100708_2749Afterwards we went swimming in the local river, it is crystal clear, full of huge fish and warm. Amazing. The kids spent hours going down the natural watersides and jumping off the rocks. I have never seen Sophie or Joshua so tanned as it is 35 degrees every single day. It is a little hot at night, we sleep with the windows open and the sounds of bugs, frogs and birds gives the kids all sorts of crazy dreams. Last night Joshua was convinced a praying mantis was on his arm and at 3:00 AM Chris had to get the flash light to show that there was nothing in the bed with him. 20100708_2736Being here in the South of France has been wonderful, we have all had a chance to pause, sleep, swim and eat. This is something we all needed.

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Snowshoeing in Haliburton and tips to the Graduating Class of 2015

Snowshoeing in Haliburton and tips to the Graduating Class of 2015

A little birdy recently told me that people wanted me to blog more. “I can’t cope”, I moaned, “I am teaching awesome classes, raising a beautiful family, trying to stay warm and studying an MBA! How can I blog?” He told me it could be worse.089

All week I have thought about that. It could be worse. Oh Man, yes it could.

096I had a pretty good weekend, I travelled to Haliburton Ontario, went hiking, tried Snowshoeing for the first time, ate some great food and enjoyed myself. But, after the two days of fun, it was time to pay the piper. I needed to catch up on my missed studying hours. Because my friends, if you play, you have to pay.

Actually being a student again has really shown me what it is like to be a student in the modern world. It is a juggling act, a fine balance between the many callings of life. Sometimes when I walk into the classroom, I notice the students faces are weary. Ready to learn, happy to be at the school but weary . I think this is because in 2015 we are all the Kings and Queens of multitasking. I get it guys! I to am a little weary right now, but education does open so many doors! It is important, so how do we get through the next few weeks of mid terms, assignments and activities? Here is what I am going to do…perhaps you want to join me?

1) Plan your study hours. Look at your schedule over the next three weeks and set aside times for study. Just like you would with your shifts at work. Make it a firm schedule and stick to it. Despite working full-time I am committed to studying 25 hours a week for the next three weeks.

2) Take care of your health. Make sure you exercise every day. Walking counts as exercise. If I give you a break in class, use that time to walk around the halls. I get to a Yoga class three times a week I find this really helps with my focus.

3) When you study, study smart. Practice writing the test. Don’t just sit with a text-book and read for hours, you will retain little. Rather sit with paper and pen and practice writing what you know. I found that I had forgotten how to hold a pen and write for long periods of time 🙂 I now practice writing for three hours blocks, once a week.

4) Eat well. Everyday make sure you have two pieces of fruit and two servings of vegi’s. If you are not make sure you are taking a multi vitamin. Give your brain and body the nutrients it needs.

5) Take time for your loved ones. Call your parents, tell them how you are doing, connect with your friends, connect with people. You will feel so much better knowing you are connected and loved, it is a basic human need.

6) Cut back your hours at work if you are feeling overwhelmed. I have a student in one class that has 9 hours of class in one day. This student can barely focus during the class. The student planned the class timetable around work shifts.  The problem with this strategy is that if you are not able to focus in class so that you can work, you are really defeating the purpose of going to school. You need to work, I get it, but if working prevents you from being successful at school, you are getting nowhere.

7) Sit in a sunny window. If we get a sunny day like today (okay it is minus 23 degrees in Ontario today but wow it is sunny! lol) sit by the window and let the sun warm you. Why, because it makes you feel good! That is Victoria science 101.

So, if you are feeling weary, remember, it could be worse. We are almost though the winter, spring is coming, the end of the semester is in sight. Just breathe, follow my tips and remember, there is always Coffee, lots of Coffee.

 

Swimming at Wailua Falls – Kauai

Swimming at Wailua Falls – Kauai

Kauai, Wailua FallsWailua Falls, located on the East side of Kauai was so alluring that we visited it twice. These waterfalls are extremely easy to access, you can literally drive right up to the top of them.  After we got out of the car and looked at the bottom of the falls we could see people swimming… way down there and this made me crazy! I wanted to swim down there too! How did they get there? I wanted to try it. If you look at the picture you can see them swimming (above) it looked so fun but how do we get there?

I had noticed a bunch of cars back about half a km down the road so we headed that way and found a little trail down the hill. This trail was CRAZY steep. You literally had to use tree roots as a ladder to inch you way down the hill. It took us about 40 minutes to climb to the bottom but we made it, BUT then we were faced with the river. (picture below)

River at WailuaAt first walking along the river seemed like an easy task. We were wrong! After slipping and sliding we decided to turn back. At that moment we came across of group of young Australians who told us that we had chosen the “hard way” and there was an easier way than walking along the river.

As it was getting late in the day so we decided to head back to the hotel and try again tomorrow. Climbing up the hill was actually easier and faster than climbing down. My kids were exhausted and so was I. The next day we returned and looked for the “easy” trail that the Aussies had told us about. It was right near the parking lot at the top of the falls. It was not marked, there was a “keep out” sign and just a little indication of a path. For those of you looking for the way down, if you stand and look at the falls, the path is just at then end of the guard rail to your right.

When you get down the hill, which is extremely steep, probably steeper than the trial we used the previous day, the deafening roar of the falls tells you how close you are. When we got to the bottom there were some local Hawaiians there, they had climbed down barefoot! They said it was the way they always did it and laughed at us all covered in mud from sliding down on our bottoms.  We had a beer with them and celebrated our victory in making it to the poolkauai waterfall

Swimming in the pool at the base of the falls was one of the greatest travel experiences I have ever had. It was beautiful. The water was cold and refreshing after a grueling hike down. The waves from the tourists way up above reminded me of how I had waived to the swimmers the day before as I looked down and hoped I could do the same.Wailua Falls at the bottom2

Wailua Falls, was a definite highlight for our family. The thrill of swimming beneath such amazing beauty is something I will never forget.

TIPS: Must be strong on your feet, strong balance and able to climb.

The second time we did the climb, we literally wore bathing suits and T shirts only. That way we could scoot down on our bottoms when needed.

Leave your valuables in your hotel!

Take some drinks for a victory celebration when you get to the bottom! Aloha.

Queen’s Bath, North Shore Kauai

Queen’s Bath, North Shore Kauai

Queens bath 4I heard about Queen’s Bath from a friend of mine. It is located on the north shore of Kauai in Princeville. It is pretty hard to get to and I would not recommend a visit for people with kids under 7 or Adults who are not strong hikers.

On the day we went it was a little rainy and the trail down to the Queen’s bath was slippery and pretty treacherous. My husband and son had to help carry  a women back to the top of the hill when she discovered half way down that she couldn’t mQueens bath waterfallake the decent without falling. It really made me think that you have to get out and explore the world while you are still able to do so. That is why if you are reading this blog and are heading to Kauai and are still fit and able to, visit the Queen’s bath! Walking down to the Queen’s bath you pass some gorgeous waterfalls.  You also pass this scary sign…

Queens bath 5The day we visited the Queen’s Bath the tide was low but there was still some crazy wave action in the nearby inlet. Basically this is a place you should not visit October – April or when the waves are high as high waves that have literally washed people out to sea.  Disclaimer! While I think the Queen’s Bath is an amazing experience it is DANGEROUS so don’t go if the conditions are not right. We were there in August and it was nice and safe that day.

So what is the Queen’s bath? Basically it is a natural tidal pool that is formed in a lava shelf on the side of a hill. When the tide is high the surf comes crashing in through an inlet, refreshing the pool and bringing fish, and crabs and other marine life into it. It is basically a natural saltwater swimming pool in the most beautiful setting ever. It is called the Queen’s Bath because the Queen of Hawaii used to bathe here. Below is a picture of me snorkeling in the pool.

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Queens bath 1The water is clear and filled with marine life. (Left) We took masks and snorkels so that we could have a good look. Other people there borrowed ours. Remember to take yours with you. Queens bath 2

Queen’s Bath is one of those special places that takes a bit of work to get to but because of this it is not over run with tourists and feels like a private paradise.Queens bath 10

Tip:Take water, towels, mask. Please leave no garbage!

Not for those with out strong mobility and balance.  We came across many people halfway down that were turning back. Be aware of your hiking ability.

Location: Princeville, Kauai.

ALOHA!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise- Hotel Review

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise- Hotel Review

Blog FL 2In a word,  FABULOUS! This hotel absolutely ranks on my top ten list and I would say is a must do for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Banff National Park in style.

I think there is no doubt that I will be back. There are some small issues, mainly with the fact that you are in a very beautiful part of the world and there are too many people at the hotel in the day time. Here is my breakdown of the resort.
The Rooms

After going on Trip Advisor I was concerned about the rooms. I had read all sorts of negative comments and had pretty low expectations.

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Our one bedroom suite  was simply wonderful, spacious, well ventilated and very nicely appointed. The huge bathtub had spa jets that worked well and were not too noisy and the bed was very comfortable. Despite being located quite close to the elevators There was no noise at night and we slept like babies.  Despite the best attempts of  Alexander in Reservations to secure us a Lake View Room, the hotel was completely sold out. I can only imagine how amazing a lake view would have been…..perhaps next time.

The Public Areas and Restaurants

When we arrived it was raining. The lobby was packed with day tourists that had probably just arrived to view the lake. They were noisy, carrying large amounts of take out from fast food restaurants and generally being unpleasant.

Blog FL 1It was a pretty grim scene and not the first impression I had hoped for. The lobby itself is beautiful and grand and while I understood that this was probably not a normal issue,  I cant help but wonder if the hotel should implement some kind of guests only areas in the hotel.

After we checked in, we went immediately to the “Lakeview Lounge” We were told it was an hour wait for a table (no doubt due to the hordes of day tourists on a rainy day) Because we were guests of the hotel, we were put on a fast waitlist. We went up to our room to unpack and by the time we were done the pager was alerting us to the fact that our fabulous table, right at the window overlooking mind-blowing Lake Louise was ready.

The Lakeview Lounge is fabulous restaurant offering incredible views of the lake, a very nice wine selection and some absolutely great food. Chris and I ate here twice during our stay. The staff was attentive, friendly and charming. After some delicious pasta were ready for our first hike.

Here is the link to my Blog posting about the hike: http://wp.me/p3e36V-93

Lake Louise
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At the end of the day, and first thing in the morning, Lake Louise becomes even more magical.

At this time the day tourists are gone and you have the Lake almost to yourself, this alone is worth staying at the Fairmont. The picture above was taken at 7:30 AM. The lake was absolutely smooth, the reflection of the surrounding mountains was spectacular. This is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I am stunned that I was not truly aware of how beautiful it was, despite the industry I work in.

The Chateau Lake Louise is one of those rare hotels  that offers its guests access to incredible natural beauty right outside its doors. The staff at the hotel does a very nice job making you feel pampered. While we were sitting enjoying a glass of Champagne on the veranda a thunderstorm hit. As guests ran inside to avoid the weather, they were given robes and towels to dry themselves. A very nice touch by the hotel indeed. Overall, I would give the hotel a 9/10 for my stay, its was near perfect.

To Alex, who secured my room at the very last-minute I would like to say thank-you! It is because of you that I am now a HUGE fan of the Chateau Lake Louise. I will be back for sure.

Hiking in Banff. AKA how many times can I say… “Wow! This is beautiful!”

Hiking in Banff. AKA how many times can I say… “Wow! This is beautiful!”

Blog LL 2Lucky me! I was able to visit Alberta and even more lucky I got to visit the incredible Banff National Park.

I have travelled to Calgary, YYC, on business many times but this was the first time I was able to visit the Mountains and WOW, was I ever blown away.

Here are a few pictures and tips of my two days of Hiking in Lake Louise. We stayed at the gorgeous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, so after our first climb I was able to retreat to sheer luxury and sip champagne. (Click here for Blog Posting with Hotel review http://wp.me/p3e36V-8J )  If you are in Banff or staying in the town of Banff you should absolutely make the trip to visit Lake Louise. Even if you have just one day to visit, you have time to see the lake and climb a mountain, trust me, its worth the sweat to get to the top.

Please note! I was there in the middle of summer, temps dipped to zero at night time so if you are travelling in winter you will likely have a totally different experience. These suggestions are based on my time in August.
Lake Agnes Climb. (Time needed 4 hours)

Blog hikeBlog hike 2The Lake Agnes hike leaves from the base of Lake Louise and takes about 4 hours in total. We were told it is an easy hike, ya, easy for an Olympic hiker maybe. For us 40 year olds, lets just say it took some cardio. The hike itself is about 7 km’s and you gain 385m/1260f in elevation. On you way up you pass a waterfall, another lake called Mirror Lake and simply stunning scenery of Lake Louise. There were a few people that started the hike and then turned back because it was pretty challenging so be sure to take water with you and wear proper footwear. I wore running shoes and wished that I had hiking boots.

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At the top of the Trail is the Lake Agnes Tea house. This is a family run tea house that serves much need refreshments to weary hikers. No pop or junk food here, just water, tea and baked goods. We had a pot of tea and enjoyed the fabulous scenery. Here is a picture of us, to the right of the picture is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The tea house was pretty empty when we went, but we were told it can get crazy busy. make sure you bring cash, its a little pricey but what do you expect, they have to carry all the supplies up the mountain that you just climbed. I thought it was a bargain! To some people the Tea House is just a stop and then they continue to hike but for us it was time to return home.

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