Tag: ontario

Travel Swellness: Road-tripping to Niagara with Chevy Equinox

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Last week, I was invited on a road trip to the Niagara region with Chevy Equinox. It’s an area that I haven’t spent time in for more than 10 years (although I have been to Niagara on the Lake via GO train about two years ago), I think, so I took them up on the chance to explore it for a couple of days.

The trip started by Toronto’s Pearson airport, and it took about an hour to drive from there to our hotel, the Inn on the Twenty. I had no idea that this was so close to Toronto. I’ve had dinner at the Inn many years ago as part of a Niagara on the Lake getaway, and in my mind it was more than a two-hour drive. I didn’t get behind the wheel for the drive up, but instead took advantage of enjoying the view, and Instagramming the drive without fretting about my data plan since the Equinox is equipped with wifi for up to seven devices.

After a lovely lunch at the Inn, we set out on our chosen adventures, and I’d selected the Whirlpool Jet Boat outing–I’d done this many years ago and  loved it so was eager to do it again (although, truth be told, I had envisioned a warm, sunny day). Suited up in about five extra pieces including a jumpsuit, thermal fleece, poncho and a lifejacket, our small group boarded the jetboat and swirled around in the powerful jetboat in Class V rapids in the Niagara Gorge. We also ventured towards the whirlpool. While the cold water swooshing onto the jetboat and soaking us to our skivvies was exciting, for me what I loved most was just the views of the rapids–the swirling water is mesmerizing. I found myself jealous of the hikers we spotted sitting by the Gorge.

The drive to get to the jetboat tour was an adventure in itself. I was driving, and we came across a road closed except for local traffic, as it was basically washed out. We had to go through it, though, to get to our destination, and although I was a little nervous, I took the car straight through it, and it was a splashy little drive but the car drove smoothly through. Nice job, Equinox! (Coincidentally, the Equinox is actually produced in Ontario, not far from where we were, in Ingersoll).

I’ll add a video soon here (once my technical difficulties are sorted out!) that I took of us going through it as we left the jetboat HQ. I was in the back seat when I recorded it and very appreciative of the  heated back seats (yes, the back seats are also heated!) since we’d all caught quite a chill after being drenched on the jetboat. And by the way, the  Equinox also has ventilated seats, and if you know me, I hate the summer’s overwhelming heat and humidity, so ventilated seats are possibly even more of a draw for me than heated seats and heated steering wheel. No pics taken on the jetboat as the Go Pro I had been given didn’t have any space on its memory card, so this is afterwards, once I’d taken four of the five non-waterproof layers off (I don’t know why they provide non-waterproof pieces…!). You can see a pic of us in all of our enormous yellow poncho glory on my Instagram.

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From there, we made a quick pit stop at Niagara Falls. Even though I’ve seen the Falls many times, it has been quite awhile, and I swoon over its power and beauty each and every time.

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For dinner, we were treated to a decadent meal at Redstone Winery, where I ate possibly the most delicious pork loin I’ve ever had. Juicy and so flavourful. You know it’s a good meal when you ask everyone else what they had after the dinner so you can either revel in the deliciousness of the pork (or share a #sorrynotsorry look with those who did not have the pork dish!).

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On day 2, we did a scenic drive to Ball’s Falls and stumbled across so many fields of the prettiest trees. I loved how well the car (even with me, the infrequent driver) handled the winding roads of the area. I”m also a fan of the size and feel of the car. Car interiors I find can often easily seem flimsy but the Equinox feels luxe, and as someone who always craves natural light (most of us do, except for one of my besties, she may be a vampire…), the enormous sunroof is incredible. And as for the size, when a car is too big for me, I feel nervous about nicking things (and forget about parking!); when it’s too small, I feel like I’m going to be swallowed whole by the big trucks on the roads. But like Goldilocks, I’m looking for the one that is not too big, not too small, but just right, and size-wise, that’s the Equinox.

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At Ball’s Falls, we did the very short “hike” (it’s really more of a short walk) to both the Upper Falls and Lower Falls, and took in the heritage buildings, too. I don’t often get to trails and to hike when I’m home in Toronto, so it was nice to make the quick drive and get in a quick dose of forest bathing.

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Our road trip ended with a phenomenal lunch at Good Earth Food & Wine, and I feel  like a failed foodie as I wasn’t familiar with this resto. I had the prettiest and most delicious salad there, full of bright and beautiful ingredients with a hefty helping of Guernsey Girl cheese, too. This was followed by a decadent tartine that was more of a gourmet open-face gyro, and a gorgeous lemon rhubarb tart. If you’ve noticed a theme here it’s that everything was so, so pretty and beyond satisfying. I will most definitely be back to eat at Good Earth.

One quick drive back to Toronto, and our Chevy Equinox road trip came to an end. We easily unpacked our trunk thanks to the hand-free power life gate feature (another fave feature — I’m forever carrying a ton of packages or groceries and now with my dog, Billie Jean’s leash often occupying one hand, freeing up my hands is always a plus). A slight wave of the leg underneath the back of the car and up (or down) goes the trunk door.

I’ve been living in Toronto since 1999 and I love that, thanks to Chevrolet Equinox, we were able to find new roads pretty much right in the city’s “backyard.” That is what makes me wish I had a car–not so much for living downtown, although it would make certain errands easier–but for the opportunities to venture out and discover the fun adventures that the world has to offer.

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Leave a Comment May 18, 2017

Travel Swellness: GO getaway to Niagara or Barrie

Inniskillin Winery

As much as Toronto is lovely during the summer (well, minus the humidity), sometimes you just gotta get out of the city. But visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) or Barrie isn’t an easy option when you don’t have a car. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been on my own to either destination since that last time I had a car. Add to this that you’re probably going to be drinking on your day trip, which then forces someone to take the role of designated driver. Le sigh…

But wait, did you know that the GO train has service to NOTL and Barrie? I didn’t. Now, this opens up all sorts of day trip possibilities for the summer! And it’s affordable: round-trip to NOTL from Union Station costs $36.30 for an adult, and it’s $26.90 round-trip to Barrie.

GO bus to NOTL

For NOTL, you get off the train at St. Catherines, then you hop on a GO bus that’ll bring you to downtown NOTL (and from there are some wineries that offer shuttles). Or, and I love this option, there are specific cars on the GO train that are equipped with bike racks, so you can bring your bike to St. Catherines and pedal to NOTL and from winery to winery. Throw a blanket, baguette, charcuterie and cheese in your bike basket and what a charming little outdoor summer day you have in store for yourselves.

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I had the chance to try this GO train service to NOTL (however, we had a private bus take our group from St. Catherines to a couple of wineries rather than bike), and we stopped into Jackson-Triggs for a tour and lunch, and then a tour at Inniskillin. We learned much about the wine process (like how ice wine is produced, and what the windmill-like towers in the fields are actually used for — to find out, get yourself out on a wine tour!) before we hopped back on a bus for our group that took us back to the 6, bottles of wine in tow. And from these pics, you can probably tell we got a lovely little day trip out of it!

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This GO service made the getaway easy breezy and I’m already hoping to do it again soon.

Will you use the GO service for a getaway? What’re your fun summer plans??

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Oh, and here are the details of the dates of service:

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Friday, July 3 to Monday, September 7

Friday, October 9 to Monday, October 12 (Thanksgiving weekend)

(once-daily on Fridays and three-times daily on Saturdays, Sunday and holidays)

* As a part of the summer service there is a connecting GO bus from St. Catherines to NOTL; check the GO Transit website for that schedule.

Barrie

Saturday, June 27 through Monday, September 7

(four times daily on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays)

Jackson Triggs

Leave a Comment June 4, 2015

Travel Swellness: Exploring the hills of Headwaters, Ontario

Alton, Ontario

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a little road trip up north to the region of Headwaters. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but I learned on the trip (as I was invited and host by the tourism board) that it’s named after being the source of Ontario’s biggest rivers and encompasses the communities of Erin, Caledon, Dufferin County, Mono and Shelburne (most of which I had heard of, but had never had the chance to visit). It was great to get out of the city for a couple of days, and it’s incredible how it feels like a different world there, even though it’s just about an hour away by car from Toronto.

Headwaters, Ontario

Loads more people are going to discover the Headwaters region, though, soon, as it is hosting the jumping and dressage equestrian events for the Pan Am games. We got a chance to take a tour of the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park and although I haven’t watched many equestrian events, I think it’d be incredible to attend some of these events and witness in person the skills of the athletes and the power and beauty of the horses. While there, we also saw the Headwaters Parade of Horses in the works: more than 25 life-size fibreglass horse sculptures will be transformed by artisans and then displayed around the Headwaters region during the months of June, July and August. Hello, Instagram opportunities! Haha

Caledon Equestrian Park

Tied into the Pan Am games is the Pan Am Taste Trail from June 13 until August 15th. The 20 participating restaurants and producers will be offering signature food or drink items. You can find the list of participants here.

There’s delicious food all the time here, of course, not just tied into the Pan Am games. We had dinner at Cabin at Hockley Valley and I’m pretty sure my new friend beside me at dinner was tired of hearing me exclaim with every bite how delicious the meal was. Everything was just right, the only thing I would’ve changed would be doubling the number of ravioli on my plate (not because the portion was small by any means, but because the dish was that good). It was lobster ravioli with fiddleheads (local, of course), asparagus, ramps and peas (and there was some ramp crema on the plate). So seasonal and fresh, I was in heaven…only to then be served a  perfectly tender, juicy beef filet that I devoured with glee. I would make the trip to Headwaters just for dinner here.

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While Cabin is quite upscale and chic in ambiance, for something casual but just as yummy, we enjoyed a lovely buffet lunch at Landman Gardens and Bakery. Charcuterie, salads, sandwiches, fresh veggies and fruit and cheese (including a phenomenal goat cheese Rebecca, our lovely host, had made) and with a dessert of raspberry crumble. All made even more delightful by enjoying it inside their charming blackhouse, where they host meals and events from May to October. I felt like I was in a fairytale.

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It’s hard to say, though, if the meal was the best part of this visit to Landman, however, because I have two words for you: baby goats.

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Yes, Landman Gardens and Bakery operates a goat farm and we got to get up close and personal with them, including some beyond adorable two-week-old goats. I had no idea baby goats were so affectionate but they were all vying for our attention and when I would pick one up, I could feel their heart beating so fast, but they’d soon calm down and just rest calmly in my arms, happy to be cuddled.

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I wanted to bring a baby goat home, but left instead with six of the Landman meat pies. Which I’ve since dug into and they are as fantastic as the lunch (I picked up a variety, from shepherd’s pie to steak and farmer’s pie and the crust is flaky and the fillings are savoury hearty deliciousness).

Over at The Friendly Chef Adventures, though, it was our turn to have a hand at cooking the food we were to eat. Our class was a quick one given our time constraints, so Chef Pam taught us how to make cold spring rolls and we prepped ingredients for a Thai stir-fry. Most useful tip I gleaned from class? How to quickly and easily seed a pepper. I’ve got a video Chef Pam’s technique on my Instagram feed if you want to learn (sorry, you’ll have to scroll back to early May!).

Last but not least, a visit to Glen Williams Glass is a must when you’re in the region so you can try your hand at glassblowing (register online for a class). Even with our very quick stop here, I had time to be carefully lead through the process of making my own cup, from initially turning the hot glass, to blowing to make the glass shape, and finally opening it up to make the top of the glass. I can’t wait to see the finished product (we had to leave our masterpieces there to be baked in the oven)!

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It was a whirlwind two days and there’s so much I feel I didn’t get to explore in the Headwaters region that I think I should plan another road trip soon. Although even just revisiting the sweet goats would make it worth it…

into the woods at Plant Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment May 21, 2015

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