Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
On our flight home in April 2017 from Stockholm, we had a 20-hour layover in Amsterdam. We enjoyed Amsterdam on our last visit, so decided to splurge on our hotel stay since it was the last night in Europe. It was a pretty last minute booking, but we ended up choosing to stay at the W Amsterdam due to its close proximity to the downtown core. Out of all the hotels available, I chose this hotel as the W brand is pretty synonymous for luxury hotels, and caters toward a more younger generation.

DISCLAIMER: This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

We arrived at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol with the worst news ever - all trains were stopped. A man decided to get super drunk and passed out on the train tracks. He was grazed by an incoming train, so they had to stop all service to assist him. Most trains in the city share the same tracks, so this man's action stopped all incoming and outgoing trains. Luckily, he wasn't severely hurt. Anyway, we didn't arrive at the hotel until a little after 4 pm and didn't get to really enjoy the amenities like the pool or lobby as we wanted to eat lunch (a very late one).

W Amsterdam is a modern and hip upscale hotel located near Dam Square. The hotel is split into two buildings, a former telephone exchange building, and a bank. We stayed in the bank building, which was an intriguing design mix of heritage and contemporary style. Our room was the Wonderful Exchange room with a King bed. We opted for the Atrium view in the Exchange building, and it was €322 for the night. That converted to $481.80 CAD a night. For a few euro more, you can get a city view for €340. At the time, I didn't really take many pictures for my Instagram (and I don't think stories existed yet), so I didn't care to have a city view or not.

The hotel room was pretty well-stocked with all kinds of amenities and drinks. Some were free, while others you had to pay.

Two cons - it can get loud on weekends and the layout of the hotel was a little confusing (a lot of different glass doors on each floor). While it is a luxury hotel, the above outdoor pool turns into a lounge on the weekends. So, it can get loud as the lounge goers come/go. We stayed there on a Saturday, so it was pretty bustling. Luckily, we were exhausted after a day of exploring and shopping, so we slept pretty well despite the noise (you don’t hear the music too clearly, but the beats were noticeable).

Just a heads up that upon checking out, there is also an additional 5% city tax (of the room) collected by the hotel on behalf of the Amsterdam City.

This particular stay in early 2017 was very memorable to us, as it was our first luxury hotel experience. Our logistics and e-commerce business was starting to do well at the time, and it really made us believe that we were heading in the right direction. We no longer regretted quitting our full-time careers to become entrepreneurs. It was the right decision! To this day, I still believe in experiences over materialistic goods, so I do think it was money well-spent. My parents would contradict that though cause you know ... Asian parents =)

Address: Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN Amsterdam, Netherlands

[Hotels] W Amsterdam

by on Wednesday, June 26, 2019
On our flight home in April 2017 from Stockholm, we had a 20-hour layover in Amsterdam. We enjoyed Amsterdam on our last visit, so decided ...
 In the early afternoon of a weekday back in December 2016, we headed to Ikebukuro to check off one of my bucket list items - visit an Owl cafe in Tokyo. I researched a bit before our visit, and found one that was easily accessible by metro. We went to Ikebukuro Cafe, and put our names on the list to return at 4:30 pm. You don't need a reservation, but it is highly recommended. We went on a weekend and it was ¥1600 an hour and the price includes a drink of choice.

Upon entering, we were given a laminated sheet with the cafe's request and rules.

Request and Rules

Then we were escorted to the play area, where we were greeted with various owls of different shapes and sizes. Most of the smaller owls were pretty playful, and seemed OK with the constant light petting from guests. Unfortunately, each owl had one of their legs tied with a long string, but I read somewhere that they do get breaks to fly.

Although not pictured, I also got the opportunity to have one of the larger owls sit on my arm. I was a little hesitant, as I saw this very same owl flapped its large wings at a guest before me. That owl also ended up attacking me a little bit lol. Overall, it was still a fun and memorable experience. 

Address: Japan, 〒171-0022 Tokyo, Toshima, Minamiikebukuro, 1 Chome−17−1


If you are an animal lover, why not check out the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto? Read my experience here.

[Tokyo] Ikefukurou Cafe

by on Friday, February 01, 2019
 In the early afternoon of a weekday back in December 2016, we headed to Ikebukuro to check off one of my bucket list items - visit an Owl ...
Port Hope is a small yet idyllic city about 1.5 hours away from Toronto. It is located at the mouth of the Ganaraska River on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in the west end of Northumberland County. My first time in Port Hope was back in 2012, where we made a quick pit stop at Trattoria Gusto for lunch.

Photo Credit:
Earlier this summer, we had the pleasure of exploring the city more extensively and got to really know what Port Hope is all about.


Olympus Burger:

After treetop trekking, we drove about 26 minutes to downtown Port Hope for lunch. Lunch reservation was made at Olympus Burger, so our table was ready once we arrived. Additionally, the burger joint was featured on an episode of The Food Network’s television show ‘You Gotta Eat Here’, and topped Canadian Living magazine's list of best burgers in Canada.

It's a very casual atmosphere, where customers would order the items and pay upfront at the counter. However, they provided table-service to us and our fellow bloggers that afternoon. The menu was a two-pager featuring a good selection of burgers. Given the branding, all the menu items are themed around Greek mythology. Psst ... they also have a secret menu, which is available for viewing online. I highly recommend that you try Olympus Burger if you're ever in Port Hope.

Read the FULL blog post here.

Address: 55 Mill St S, Port Hope, ON, L1A 2S7

Ares Burger ($9.95)

Local No. 90 Bar + Kitchen:

Prior to making our way to Capitol Theater, we had dinner at Local No. 90 Bar + Kitchen. It's a new local joint on Mill Street and Ontario Street. We were greeted by Dana (the owner of Local No. 90) who serves a very hands-on role in her restaurant. She was helpful, and personable. The level of service reminded me of the hospitality that we received at Olympus Burgers.

Their menu changes daily, and all ingredients are all locally sourced. We started off with a few oysters from P.E.I, and steamed mussels. The appetizers were good, and I really liked the Steam Mussels. The mussels' natural juice came together with the help of white wine and garlic.

For my main course, I got the Pan Seared Duck Breast ($24). Comprised of current, red wine jus, sautéed with medley of potatoes, heirloom tomato, beans and kale. The duck was enjoyable, as the meat was tender and its skin crispy. Local No. 90 Bar + Kitchen would be a great place for casual dinner, dates and group dinners.

P.E.I. Oysters ($3.25 each)
Pan Seared Duck Breast ($24) 
Seasonal Meatballs ($15)

Steamed Mussels ($13)

The LocalNo90 Bar + Kitchen is open Sunday – Thursday from 4 pm – 11 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 pm – 11 pm.


Nookie's Soul Kitchen & Bar:

On our second visit to Port Hope, we visited Nookie's Soul Kitchen & Bar for dinner. The restaurant is a cocktail bar offering a variety of dishes including bar food and Asian-fusion dishes. What stood out to me about the restaurant was the generous portion given its competitive pricing. I got the Rib & Wing Combo ($23), which was more than enough food for two people.

Seafood Linguine ($20)
Calamari Fritti ($11) 

White Wine and Garlic Mussels ($12)
Rib & Wing Combo ($23)
The dinner didn't go extremely smoothly, as there were several kinks throughout the entire meal. Mine was a minor mistake compared to what some of the other bloggers personally experienced - as I received sweet potato fries instead of regular French fries. We are a larger group, so the waitress appeared a little flustered throughout the meal. Nookie's Soul Kitchen & Bar seems like a popular local joint, so I do recommend making a reservation during the busy dinner rush. 


Trattoria Gusto:

On the main floor of The Waddle Hotel is Trattoria Gusto, where they offer Italian cuisine in a beautiful historic setting. In the morning, they do offer breakfast for hotel guests (complimentary with some rooms). We actually dined at Trattoria Gusto back in 2012, but this was the first time we stayed overnight. They don't serve breakfast to the public, but it's open for brunch, lunch and dinner.

We didn't get a chance to dine in this time around, but we have enjoyed a delicious lunch a couple of years back. The lunch menu selection was fairly minimal, but it did offer the usual fare of Italian pasta. I wanted something filling so I ordered the penne rosé ($16.00). It is a dish of penne pasta with tomato sauce and mussels. Although the pasta was a simple dish, it was wonderfully made. They did not skimp on the mussels and it was fresh. I asked for some cheese and was given a full bowl of non-grated Parmesan cheese, which surprisingly blended very well with the pasta.

Read the FULL blog post here.


Annual Salmon Migration:

The Annual Salmon Migration occurs every year, along the Ganaraska river from the Lake Ontario. In the spring, between late March and early May, you can witness the annual rainbow trout (steelhead) migration. Up to 8,000 rainbow trout fish make their way up the Ganaraska River to spawn. In the fall, between late August and early October, you can watch the chinook and the silvery coho salmon migration. 

Primitive Designs:

Primitive Designs is a popular tourist attraction in Port Hope. They import exotic & unusual antiques & crafts from around the world. There are also tons of giant metal rots on the property, which are great photo opportunities.

Barn Quilt Barn

The Barn Quilt Barn is a scenic trail of 23 heritage barns throughout urban and rural Port Hope.

Laveanne Lavender Fields

If you're planning on visiting Port Hope in July, then you must make a visit to the Laveanne Lavender Fields. July is when the lavender fields are in bloom. Here you can stroll through four acres of landscaped fields, and there is also an on-site boutique selling lavender inspired home accents and gourmet bakery items.

Haute Goat Farm

The Haute Goat Farm is a breathtaking 200 acre farm where you can discover the magic of their Nigerian Dwarf goats, Icelandic horses, alpacas, chickens and Livestock Guardian Dogs and take a stroll through the shiitake forest! This place is a great family activity.


Treetop Trekking Ganaraska:

While in Port Hope, why not spend a couple of hours enjoying tree top trekking at the Treetop Trekking Ganaraska? We started our morning partaking in the zip line and aerial game treks ($59.99 per person), which is one of their most popular activities. Guests have up to three hours to complete the treks. Treetop Trekking consist of fun games like suspended bridges, Tarzan swings, swinging logs, cable traverses, and zip lines. Don't fret if you're new to this - as the park has a variety of courses ranging from beginners to advanced. 

Read the FULL blog post here.

Address: 10585 Cold Springs Camp Rd, Campbellcroft, ON, L0A 1B0


The Capitol Theatre:

The Capitol Theatre was constructed in 1930, and is one of the last fully restored atmospheric movie theatres still in operation in Canada. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 2016, and still used for performances. Seating for approximately 380. We were invited to watch the production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (ran from August 14 to September 9, 2018). I was really looking forward to this production, as The Little Mermaid is my second favorite Disney film (after Cinderella), and it did not disappoint.

What's coming soon? The production of King Arthur The Panto will be playing at The Capitol Theatre from November 15 to December 23.


Trickle Creek Farms:

On our second visit to Port Hope, we visited Trickle Creek Farms where we enjoyed a scenic trail ride adjacent to the beautiful Ganaraska Forest. I was a little hesitant at first, as my past experience with horses haven't been that great. My horse got scared by a loud sound and ran wild, while I was riding one in Cuba. Each riding group was kept small with about 6-10 people for a more personal experience. We were given a quick lesson on how to control our horse, and then went on our way to the trail.

My horse was really hungry, so it stopped a few times to munch on leaves. Overall, it was a lot of fun! It's an ideal family outing at a leisurely pace for everyone’s safety and comfort. One hour is $40 per person.

Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny:

The Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny is a 10 km race along the Ganaraska River to commemorate the 1980 flood that crippled Port Hopes downtown area. It happens around April. Visit for more details and exact date each year.

Port Hope Farmers' Market (May to October):

The Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from the beginning of May till the end of October, from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, and is located at 56 Queen Street, directly behind Town Hall. Here you will find an array of farm-fresh produce and meats, home-made preserves and baking, as well as hand-made crafts and artwork.


The Port Hope Conservation Area is a popular fishing location. You can also fish (catch and release) in the shallow waters of the Ganaraska River.


The Waddell:

We stayed overnight at The Waddell in downtown Port Hope, ON. The hotel sits on the banks of the Ganaraska River in heritage-designated downtown area of the city. The Waddle is conveniently located a couple of minutes walk away from the Capitol Theatre, and overlook the Ganaraska River. The bedroom features a Queen sized bed, air conditioning, private bathrooms, complimentary high-speed internet, and in-room Keurig coffee.

We checked into the hotel around 8:30 pm, which was quick and pleasant. Luckily, we checked into the hotel on time. Since it's a smaller hotel with no 24-hour reception desk, they do lock the doors at around 9:45 pm. I am not sure if guests are allowed to leave/enter past that time though. Anyway, we took the elevator to the second floor, and was greeted with a cozy hotel room. The hotel was beautifully restored, and each room features custom-built cherry or mahogany furnishings, and period features such as high ceilings and large windows.

Read the FULL blog post here.

Address: 1 Walton St, Port Hope, ON, L1A 1M8

Other accommodations available around towns are Haute Goat Farm B&B, Moonlight and Pines Bed & Breakfast, Hotel Carlyle, and Summerhill Manor B&B.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trips to Port Hope. It's such a charming heritage town with a lot to offer. Until next time!  

Social Media:

Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || Website

Disclaimer:  This post is in collaboration with the Municipality of Port Hope. Thank you for sponsoring the visit to Port Hope. All of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Prior to booking, I knew that the flight from YYZ to HKD was going to be a brutal one. Even though, it was a non-stop flight with Air Canada, it was still going to take 15 hours. So we opted to upgrade our seats to Preferred Seating. It was probably one of the best $270 we have ever spent on a flight, and totally worth the money! We arrived in Hong Kong well-rested, and our legs weren't cramped unlike the last time we went to Japan.

[HKG] We had a 5 hour or so layover in HK. Prior to my trip in April 2018, a few people on IG recommended that I don't leave the airport as there wasn't enough time to go downtown and back. I took their advice and J and I decided to stay in the Plaza Premium Lounge to kill time.

We both have the BMO Mastercard World Elite credit cards, which provide us with lounge access. The credit card does have a hefty yearly fee, but it's pretty good to use for business and travel expenses (#notsponsored). 

HKD is a very busy airport and the lounge was pretty much bustling with lounge-goers. However, the space was nice and spacious with private showers. Given the humidity in HK, the showers station was great and came with full amenities (comb, towel, shampoo, body wash, hair dryer, and beauty kit). If you're not a member or don't want to pay for the lounge, you can just pay for shower usage (I think it's $20 per person).

 Food was pretty decent with different options and drinks (pop and beer) were self-served. We weren't planning on staying too long, but our flight to Kaohsiung was delayed from its initial 4:15 pm flight time to 8:05 pm. Good thing - the staff didn't kick us out despite us staying longer than 4 hrs, which was nice cause the waiting gate areas were super overcrowded.