Nicole Zoe Singh                                  

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July 20th, 2018

My Trip to "Sincity"

This time last year, I was prepping for my first trip to Las Vegas! I hadn’t been on a plane in a decade and was nervous to fly again. The last time I flew on a plane, it was a 13-hour flight and I ended up getting my usual motion sickness and threw up beside a complete stranger. All I needed was to get sick during my first time in Vegas. The saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” would really apply to this particular scenario. So, I loaded up on Gravol and Ginger ale, blasted music in my headphones, and sucked it up!

Flying is my least favourite thing to do in the world, yet I love travelling… (how convenient) It’s not so much the fear of flying and the plane itself, it’s the feeling I get while on a plane. It’s like having the worst hangover in your life but without actually drinking alcohol. Also, the thought of sitting in a chair, while being stuck in closed quarters with strangers for so many hours is not my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I suck it up, just so I can experience a different part of the world.

The reason for choosing Vegas, after not travelling in 10-years was actually my mom’s and yiayia’s (grandma in Greek) idea. My yiayia turned 70 last year and my mom wanted to do something big for her birthday. If you want big, Vegas is definitely the way to go!

I’ve never had the desire to visit Vegas before, even though the movie scene makes the city look like party central, but after doing a little pre-trip research, I found out that going to Las Vegas is actually like taking a mini trip around the world. The main strip in Vegas is filled with replicas of all the major international cities. Eiffel tower? Pyramids? Statue of Liberty? I instantly got excited! This was my opportunity to experience a little bit of everything, without having to travel far.

During our drive to the hotel from the airport, I was instantly mesmerized by the scenery. I was surrounded by huge palm trees, sandy dry dessert grounds, and a cozy warm heat, which was hot but tolerable. I felt like a kid in a candy store! I hadn’t been outside of Canada and its dreary climate in what felt like centuries and this was like diving into paradise.

As we drove further into the city, I was in awe of everything. Bright flashing lights, loud music, and thousands of people, there was something to see everywhere. My eyes didn’t know where to look or where not to look. There was so much to see that I could only keep my eyes on an object for a split second in fear of missing out on seeing something better. It felt like we came to a completely different world. I wanted to scream “I’m in Vegas Baby!”

I had been to casinos in Canada before, but never anything like Vegas. Each one seemed to be better than the last. Every casino is connected to a hotel and each hotel has its own theme. The best themed hotels that I had a chance to experience were: Circus Circus, The Venetian, The Palazzo, The Mirage, Excalibur, Caesar’s Palace, Paris, The Luxor, New York New York, The Flamingo, and Treasure Island, where we stayed during our vacation.

Imagine walking the streets of Manhattan, coming across the Egyptian pyramids, then taking a ride in a gondola through the Grand Canal in Venice, taking some “Instagram-worthy” photos with pink flamingos, making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, boarding a pirate ship, and kissing someone special under the Eiffel Tower, without having to leave a single street? You can do all this and so much more in Las Vegas. 

Was there something I didn’t like about Las Vegas? The smoking!!! You’re pretty much allowed to smoke anywhere and everywhere in Vegas, including the casinos and hotels. This was a big culture shock for me, because public smoking is banned in Canada and has been for over a decade now. The other culture shock was public drinking, and I don’t mean in a bar or restaurant, I mean on the streets. Like smoking, you can also drink anything, anywhere and everywhere in Vegas. The streets are basically like a huge public “mardi gras.

Vegas was probably the most memorable trip I’ve ever taken. Would I go to Vegas again? In a heartbeat! It’s almost been a year since we went, and I remember the trip like it was yesterday.

 
 
 

June 18th, 2018

My Caribbean Cruise Story

  • Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Trip Advisor
    Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Trip Advisor
  • Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Belcove
    Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Belcove
  • El Castillo, Belize City, Photo Credit: Dreamstime
    El Castillo, Belize City, Photo Credit: Dreamstime
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Sandusa
    San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Sandusa
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Time Out
    San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Time Out
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Dreamstime
    San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: Dreamstime
  • Cozumel, Mexico, Photo Credit: Hotel-R
    Cozumel, Mexico, Photo Credit: Hotel-R
  • Cozumel, Mexico, Photo Credit: Travel Pirates
    Cozumel, Mexico, Photo Credit: Travel Pirates
  • Celebrity Cruises Ship, Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises
    Celebrity Cruises Ship, Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises Ship, Photo Credit: Palm Beach Lately
    Celebrity Cruises Ship, Photo Credit: Palm Beach Lately
  • Western Caribbean Cruise, Photo Credit: Cruise Deals
    Western Caribbean Cruise, Photo Credit: Cruise Deals
  • Photo Credit: Future Travel
    Photo Credit: Future Travel
  • Caribbean Beach, Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises
    Caribbean Beach, Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises
  • Belize City, Photo Credit: Teleport
    Belize City, Photo Credit: Teleport
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: BBC
    San Juan, Puerto Rico, Photo Credit: BBC
Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Trip Advisor
Belize City, Belize, Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Imagine having the opportunity to be transported around the world with one simple arrangement? Like Celebrity Cruises would say, “If only there were 25 hours in the day!” If you haven’t taken a cruise yet, what are you waiting for?

A cruise gives you both the cultural enrichment and relaxation all in one incredible experience. It’s like the perfect vacation package!

To tell you the truth, I haven’t been on a cruise myself (I know, I’m a hypocrite!) You can partially blame the ‘Titanic’ for the lack of cruising in my life, but I’ve always wanted to and would begin my first one with Celebrity Cruises.

Since I do see a cruise happening in my near future, it doesn’t hurt to start planning one now, right?

 
If only there were 25 hours in the day!

Celebrity Cruises

 

The thing that intrigues me the most about a cruise is the care-free aspect of having a pre-scheduled vacation, allowing a chance to get a taste of each part of the trip. You essentially don’t have to worry about anything. A popular slogan of Celebrity Cruises’ is “Let’s plan your clients’ trip from the tarmac to the top deck!” A cruise also offers so much more variety than any ordinary package or tour because it enables travelers like myself to visit different destinations in a single voyage.

Why Celebrity Cruises? After doing extensive research, they appear to be the perfect cruise company for me! I was really impressed by the numerous awards the company has received, I was also intrigued by the personalized luxury they offer their travelers. Their fleet includes so much more than just ordinary ships, when you step onto a Celebrity Cruises’ ship, it’s as if you’re boarding a posh city that floats on water. “As if traveling the world wasn’t amazing enough,” Celebrity Cruises. Why the Caribbean? It’s a part of the world I haven’t ventured to yet.

Since I’m ready for my cruise, let’s begin my expedition!

My ideal Caribbean cruise story begins with boarding one of the Celebrity Cruises’ ships and heading off to Belize City. The thing that captures my attention about Belize City is how different it is from other Caribbean destinations. Belize City looks like a city built on water and reminds me of the Caribbean version of Venice, Italy. Who doesn’t have amorѐ for Italy?

If you’re into city life and adore the beauty of water, Belize City might just be the perfect destination for you. It’s not known for its sandy beaches like other Caribbean destinations, but it’s a port city that is connected to the Caribbean Sea and is filled with tons of history, ancient culture, and museums/exhibits.

While in Belize City, the number one thing on my “to-do list” would be to climb to the top of El Castillo, also known as the temple of Kukalcan. This step-like pyramid is 135-feet and one of the tallest Mayan structures in Belize. I have always been mesmerized by the pyramids in Egypt and would love the opportunity to visit such a unique structure.

The cool thing about Celebrity Cruises is that it incorporates a day of exploring in Belize City with its Western Caribbean Cruise itinerary.

 

As if traveling the world wasn’t amazing enough!

Celebrity Cruises

 

My next port stop is San Juan, Puerto Rico. This colourful city is considered to be a vacationer’s paradise and is known for its landscape, lush green mountains, underground caves, white sandy beaches, warm water, and delicious rum.

San Juan, Puerto Rico is part of Celebrity Cruises’ Eastern Caribbean Cruise itinerary, which concludes its voyage with a day of exploring this lively city.

While strolling the vibrant streets of San Juan, you can expect to find roadside food carts offering a culinary fusion of local snacks, the Bacardi Rum headquarters, where you can learn about the world famous rum-making process, and lots of colourful architecture.

To conclude my ultimate Caribbean cruise story, my destination of choice would be Cozumel, Mexico.

This exotic destination is part of several cruise itineraries with Celebrity Cruises and is included in their 11-night Ultimate Caribbean Cruise itinerary.

With Cozumel, Mexico, you can expect a very relaxing, laidback experience surrounded by bright turquoise waters, snowy beaches, and exotic in-water bungalows.

What captured my attention with Cozumel, Mexico, was the way it resembled Bora Bora, French Polynesia. I have always been fascinated by the picturesque scenery of Bora Bora and would be thrilled to visit a destination with similar landscapes.

While vacationing in Cozumel, you will probably find me lounging on the beach, basking in the hot sun or exploring the Caribbean Sea for coral reef and tropical sea creatures.

This is my ultimate Caribbean cruise story and it begins with Celebrity Cruises. I can’t wait to enjoy an adventure beyond my imagination and build memories to last me a lifetime.

 
 
 

March 8th, 2018

WestJet’s No-Frills Airline Here to “Swoop” You Away?

To A-la-Carte or Not to A-la-Carte? That is the question!

You visited a travel agency, set your mind on a destination, booked your trip, and got your ticket. You’ve been anticipating this vacation for months! Your luggage is all packed, you even went out and bought a brand-new, shiny suitcase. You arrive at the airport, ready to check-in and hand over your luggage to the baggage counter when you’re informed that your suitcase and carry-on bag are not included in your ticket. The question us travelers need to ask ourselves: is a bundled ticket the cheaper and more convenient way to go, or, would an a-la-carte ticket be the best choice in certain circumstances?

Swoop, the sister airline of WestJet, has recently flown into the travel market and taken social media by storm with its ultra-low-cost rates and being Canada’s newest discount airline, but who is the airline behind the bright pink hue?

The new discount airline swooped into the market with an on-point marketing game and initially offering air-fare rates as low as $7.50 CAD, targeting travelers looking for the best deal on flights.

The secret to Swoop’s ultra-low-cost rates is a personalized travel experience, which allows the passenger to select a-la-carte options, according to their preference rather than paying for options they would never use. According to Swoop’s website, their goal is to offer passengers a minimal, no-frills flying experience, that puts the traveler in the driver seat. When booking a flight on Swoop’s aircraft, the passenger’s base price will only include the cost of their seat, with the option of adding on a snack, checked-baggage, and in-flight entertainment at an extra cost. The question is: will this be cheaper and ideal for everyone?

Let’s look at some of Swoop’s add-ons:

Luggage

This is where things can get a little pricey! The only free bag Swoop allows is a personal item that can fit under the seat. A purse, backpack, or a laptop case would qualify. The prices for carry-ons and checked-luggage are listed below. Another thing to keep in mind is Swoop flights are not pet-friendly.

Seat Selection

This is where Swoop’s personalized experience comes in. The airline offers seat selection starting as low as $6.00. This gives passengers the option of grouping everyone together, getting that extra leg room, or even choosing the window seat. Swoop also offers four different options of choosing the desired seat, either during the initial booking, before checking-in, one-hour before departure, or being assigned a seat three-hours before departure.

Priority Boarding

Swoop offers passengers a VIP experience with three different options of boarding their flight. The options include pre-boarding, priority boarding, and general boarding. Families with small children and elderly passengers are always the first to board the plane. All other boarding types are free unless priority boarding is purchased. Depending on when the priority boarding is purchased, this option does vary in price.

While most airlines offer a bundled flying experience, which can be convenient for most people, it may end up being a little pricier than expected, especially if you don’t need the extra add-ons. A custom flying experience does seem like the ideal way to go, but it may also not be the cheaper and most practical option for every traveler. Depending on the type of traveler you are and the trip you take, Swoop could work for you. Considering all of Swoop’s flights are shorter distanced, domestic flights, their a-la-carte concept may just give you that tailored experience without breaking the bank!

 
 

March 14th, 2018

Why You Should Visit Croatia!

Croatia is the hottest European country right now! It’s become one of the most popular destinations among U.S. travelers and is trending for 2018.


Why Croatia? When it comes to national parks, amazing food, and mellow wine, Croatia is your one-stop-shop. It has become a top country to visit for its old-world charm mixed with extravagant glamour.


It also might have a little something to do with the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones. Yes, GOT fans, you read that right, Croatia possesses many of the filming locations for the wildly popular drama series, with the city of Dubrovnik home to the biggest film set.


Located in Central and South-Eastern Europe, Croatia runs along the Adriatic Sea, encompassing over a thousand islands, which borders Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro.


If you’re nature obsessed, Croatia is considered one of the most ecologically preserved areas of Europe, boasting eight national parks throughout the country, 11 nature parks, and two arboretums. It’s the land where the warm Mediterranean Sea meets the fresh mountains and creates utter bliss.


Croatia is not only known for its stunning nature, but visitors can be sure to enjoy the country’s culture, history, events, food, wine, and beautiful beaches. The diversity and beauty of Croatia is endless. Imagine enjoying sightseeing during the day and fabulous soirees at night?


For all the music lovers, Croatia hosts the biggest electronic music festival in the world, The Ultra Europe Festival, attracting large crowds from all over, which is one of 90 festivals the country hosts every year.


Foodies, come prepared! Croatian cuisine is to die for! It’s one of the most diverse cuisines and known as “the cuisine of the regions,” taking its influence from Greek, Italian, and French cuisine. When it comes to wine, Croatia has over 300 geographically-defined wine-producing areas throughout the country. Although Croatia’s food and wine seem to be a favourite among travelers, Rakija, a strong fruit brandy is what the country is famous for. It’s the secret weapon against all that is enemy to man and is said to kill bacteria and relieve pain. (Yikes!)


Croatia is also known as the “land of the islands,” 1244 to be exact. With that many islands, the country is bound to have the perfect beach to bask in the warm Summer sun. The beach scene in Croatia is quite heterogenous and is available at every tourist destination along the coastline. Croatia’s beaches vary from pebble beaches, rock beaches, and even include themed beaches that are comparable to the famous Ibiza, Spain.


Whatever your reason is to adventure to Croatia, this country will steal a piece of your heart. The extra special thing about tourism in Croatia, is that it offers different organized tours to meet everyone’s taste in travel.

Some of the themed tours that Croatia has to offer are “The Best of Croatia on Land & Sea,” The Game of Thrones Tour,” (For the GOT lovers!) “The Food & Wine Tour,” and “Croatia Highlights & UNESCO Heritage.”
This country is filled with so much rich culture and history, it’s no wonder why the directors of Game of Thrones chose Croatia as its top film location! If you can’t decide on your next travel destination, look no further than Croatia, you won’t be disappointed!
 
 

January 4th, 2018

Winter in Greece

When one thinks of Greece, they imagine islands with small villages consisting of white stucco homes with bright blue rooftops, beautiful crystal-clear, white sandy beaches, and an exotic climate anyone could fall in love with.


Summer in Greece is obviously breathtaking, but their winter is even more spectacular, and a season a frequent tourist of Greece should never miss!


Greece is famous for its mountainous landscape and a little dusting of snow makes for the picture-perfect view for locals or first-time visitors to Greece.


Northern Greece is by far the most adventurous and magical part of the country during the winter months and below gives you a list of the top three must-see places!


Agios Athanasios Pellas 


Agios Athanasios is an old village located in the Pella Regional Unit of Macedonia, Greece and was built in the late 16th Century at an altitude of 1200 metres.


This fairytale-like village offers a traditional experience with a modern twist. Visitors can expect to find local and original architecture, cobblestone roads, and sloping rooftops.


Agios Athanasios is also known to have ancient treasures, Macedonian tombs, and jewelry, buried throughout the town.


Whether you’re a ski enthusiast or foodie, Agios Athanasios caters to all personalities and tastes and has one of the most state-of-art ski resorts in all of Greece, called the Kaimaktsalan.


Hidden Gems: Wetland Agra-Vryton-Nisiou, The Archangel of Mt. Paiko, The little church of Profitis Ilias

Where to Stay: Siantis Guesthouse

Where to Dine: The Hut Tavern, Tsegani, Tavern Katafigio


Arachova


Arachova, is also known as the “Queen of Winter” and offers visitors the ultimate winter escape. It is a unique mountain village, which was built on the slope of the Paranassos Mountain, at an altitude of 950 metres.


It is considered one of the most glamorous winter destinations in Greece and a cosmopolitan for celebrity spotting, idyllic landscapes, lively nightlife, and boasts one of the best and biggest ski resorts in the country.


TV Presenter & Journalist, Marietta Chrousala, claims “Arachova means nightlife, winter sports, and good food!” No one should ever leave Arachova without trying their local specialties, such as the handmade pasta and Formaela cheese, which is made by producers in Central Greece, from traditional sheep’s milk.


Hidden Gems: National Trail 22, ‘Unknown’ Parnassos and its secrets, The Panagyraki Of Arahova

Where to Stay: Hotel Paransassos, Nefeles, Elafivolia Arachova Suites

Where to Dine: Taverna Christos, To Arhontiko, To Tsoukali


Florina


Even the Mediterranean sun needs a break during the colder months to allow for the magic of winter to blanket the villages with its seasonal sparkle.


Florina is one of those lucky cities in Greece that has the chance to flaunt its natural beauty the most during winter. Located in Northwestern Macedonia, Florina is considered the “land of the lakes,” with six prominent lakes surrounding its landscape.


Florina is a charming, stone-built city that even the most renowned director Theo Angelopoulos considers to be his favourite film-making spot.


Travelers to Florina can expect to enjoy amazing architecture, with houses reflecting elements from the 1930’s, ranging from neo-byzantine to art deco.


Hidden Gems: Archaeological Museum & River Sakoulévas

Where to Stay: Boutique Hotel Philippion & King Alexander Hotel

Where to Dine: Terpsi, Aposperiths, Kontosoros

 
 

December 1st, 2018

 

Top 5 Christmas Market Picks!

The sweet aroma of hot cocoa fills the air, laughter can be heard from children on the carousel, while bright light canopies give warmth to the winter sky. 

Christkindlmarkt, also known as, Christmas market, brings the magic of Christmas to life in cities all over the world, with a trendy outdoor street market during the month of December.

The history of Christmas markets date back over 600 years ago to the Late Middle Ages. Originating in Germany in 1310, the wildly popular holiday festivity has now become one of the most “Instagrammable” events in the world and an annual Christmas tradition in cities across every continent.

Christmas markets bring the fun and fantasy of the old world to the modern day. Let’s have a look at my top 5 choices!

Being the country of origin when it comes to Christmas markets, of course Germany had to be number one on our list!

Located in Frankfurt, this Christmas market is commonly known as one of the most beautiful markets in all of Germany, attracting both locals and travelers from around the world.

Frankfurt’s town square is transformed every year into a winter wonderland, with lots of lights, festive decorations, and traditional wooden stalls filled with Christmas-themed delicacies.

The Toronto Christmas Market made it to the number two spot on our list and was ranked one of the world’s best Christmas markets by Fodor’s Travel.

Even with all the hustle and bustle of this huge metropolitan, Toronto manages to provide a picturesque setting right in the heart of the city.

Located in the Victorian-themed Distillery District, along cobble-stone streets, this annual event has something for the whole family. Visitors can sip on hot seasonal beverages while shopping for locally hand-crafted gifts and taking pictures with Instagram-worthy scenery.

The capital of Croatia, Zagreb, received the most prestigious award for having the best Christmas market in all of Europe for two years in a row by European Best Destinations, and is the third market on our list.

Nestled in the middle of the city, Croatia celebrates four weeks of Advent with its cultural heritage and magical scenery.

Vacationers to Croatia can take in the country’s traditions, while enjoying Christmas concerts, festive light displays, and various food specialties.

The Strasbourg Christmas Market was ranked number one by CNN Travel and has made it to the number four spot on our list!

This market is in Eastern France and is considered one of the oldest Christmas markets in all of Europe, with it’s first event taking place in 1570.

Strasbourg makes last minute Christmas shopping easier with its 10 different locations, and over 300 booths, packed with gift ideas and festive decorations.

Brussels’ Christmas Market, officially known as, “Winter Wonders,” was named one of the biggest Christmas markets in the world on The Culture Trip’s Top Ten List, and is ranked number 10 on CNN Travel’s list of the world’s best Christmas Markets.

“Winter Wonders” is considered one of the most impressive holiday markets on the European scene, which runs until New Year’s Eve.

Visitors to this market can expect to find over 200 vendors, a 200-foot-long ice rink, a Ferris wheel with over 18,000 illuminating lights, and a huge Christmas tree at the Grand-Place, towering at 22-meters.