Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wine Country for a Special Anniversary

It feels like summer in Southern Ontario. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the air is hot. Perfect weather for celebrating my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary!

We rented a stretch limo and took the family for a tour of the wineries around the Niagara Escarpment. My sister and I had scouted out the area and chose three beautiful locations: Angels Gate Winery, Stoney Ridge Estate Winery and Vineland Estates.

We had chosen Angels Gate because of its beautiful landscape and pond. The pond was filled with frogs and animals which we knew would keep the kids interested while the adults sipped their wine. The estate also had a lovely patio overlooking the vines. Unfortunately, due to traffic, we had to miss this stop in order to keep to our schedule.

TIP: If you’re on a schedule, always build in extra time for QEW traffic.

Our first stop was the privately owned Stoney Ridge Estate Winery which just happened to have a complimentary chocolate, cheese and wine sampling weekend event scheduled. We called ahead to make a reservation for our group of ten. The gardens were lovely and the friendly staff outdid themselves. Three umbrella covered tables in one of the gardens were prepared for us. Mike, our knowledgeable host, paired our wines with three different types of cheese and chocolate. He instructed us on the best way to enjoy the qualities of the white, rose, red and ice wine. Delicious!

Our next stop was the elegant restaurant of The Inn on the Twenty in the town of Jordan. The lush escarpment view from the restaurant added to the pleasure of a good meal.

Our last stop was Vineland Estates Winery where for $3.00 per person you can sample four different wines. Once again, we were surrounded by breath-taking views of the vines and countryside.

One can easily spend a whole weekend in this winery filled area. It’s the perfect place for a romantic weekend or to celebrate a special occasion. For more information check out the Wines of Ontario web site.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eiffel Tower or Awful Tower: You Decide

When in Paris, you can’t miss the Eiffel Tower. However, there’s more than one way to see this famous landmark and not all of them are enjoyable.

Take our trip for example. My husband and I were visiting the City of Light with our then seven and ten year old boys. Of course they wanted to go to the top of the Tower. It was July and we knew there would be line-ups but a web site suggested going either in the early morning or at night for shorter waits.

At 8:30pm we stood in a long line-up to buy tickets. Over an hour later, we finally purchased tickets to go all the way to the top floor. The kids were already restless.

Packed like sardines, we waited in line again to catch the elevator to go to the second floor. The view was great from the second floor but our enjoyment was spoilt by people butting in line and shoving to get to the top floor. By 11:00pm the whole family were downright cranky and we hadn’t made it to the top. I looked at my husband and said, “Why are we standing here. This isn’t fun anymore. Let’s go home.”

To add insult to injury, we had to stand in line for the elevator to take us down!

That night we dubbed the tower, The Awful Tower.

Not wanting to leave Paris on bad terms with the Eiffel’s masterpiece, we decided to try one more time. We packed a picnic snack with a nice bottle of wine and at 9:55pm, went to watch The Eiffel Tower’s light show from Trocadero.

Other people had the same idea and the decks were packed.

About three minutes before the light show began, the sky opened and warm rain pelted down. That cleared the place out fast. Only our family and another couple remained.

Through the downpour, the lights came on and the Iron Lady twinkled like a diamond beacon. Lighting flashed around the tower, adding extra drama. What an intoxicating sight! Although soaked we laughed, sipped wine and the boys danced in the rain. It was magic.

In 2008 almost 14 million people visited the tower. The 10 minute light show takes place once an hour from sunset to 1:00 am, (2:00am in the summer). Check the website for times.

Finally, the Eiffel Tower added the option to buy tickets on line.

Go to the official Eiffel Tower website to check out Tower facts and history, show times, ticket prices and to buy your tickets on line.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lilac Festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens

Lilacs are a sure sign that spring is really here. Who can resist the sweet smell as these bushes show off their beautiful blooms?

One of my favourite places to enjoy the blossoms is at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. These gardens offer the world’s largest collection of lilacs and this weekend is the beginning of their annual Lilac Festival.

Enjoy entertainment, food and much more as you explore the dell on May 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24th from 10am-5pm. You can purchase tickets at the RBC or buy them on line.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Three Day Air France Sale

For three days only, Air France is offering round-trip flights from Toronto or Montreal to Abu Dhabi, Beirut or Cairo including all taxes starting at $850.00. The best part is, you can even take advantage of a free stop-over in Paris, France.

Travel must be taken between September 10 and December 10, 2010. This offer is only available if booked by May 10, 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art Gallery of Ontario for Free

Looking for something free and cultural to do in the heart of Toronto? The Art Gallery of Ontario may be just the ticket.

Permanent collections at the gallery are free to the public on Wednesday evenings between 6-8:30pm. If you are an Ontario high school student, with valid ID you can see the permanent collections for free, daily from 3-5:30pm. Ontario Teachers with valid ID are always free.

To find out admission fees, hours of operation, current exhibitions and see gallery layout just go onto the AGO website.