WTF (Welcome to France)

Salut mes amies! Greetings from France!

As some of you may remember from an earlier blog post, in a few short weeks I am moving to Paris! Yes, as of September 15 I will officially be Parisienne. Oh la la!

But before I call the city of lights my home, I am spending some time in a charming town called Vichy brushing up on my French. I must admit, before I left for this two week stint in Vichy I had what some might call a bit of a meltdown. Panic attack, tears in the airport…the whole thing. I was wondering why I made this decision to leave my wonderful home, with my amazing family and friends, to live in a foreign country? Things are weird in France. Now,  having arrived, I realize that France really isn’t so scary.

Not to say that things aren’t different. My colleagues have coined a term: WTF aka Welcome to France. Basically, it is a term you use while you live here to express all of the things that are crazy, confusing, amazing, and so not North American. I wanted to share with you a few of my WTF experiences in my first week here (I promise to keep adding to this list during my time here..)

People are ACTUALLY nice: Les Français get a bad rep. Always thought to be rude, I feel like some people are apprehensive towards them. Everyone I have met thus far have been oh so charming and very kind in a very French, reserved way. And that’s ok too.

Heathy food DOES exist: Craving baguettes and macaroons? This is your place, no doubt about it. But you can also find amazing fresh produce and produits bio (aka organic). Organic products are very popular and people are becoming more and more health conscious. Guys, I even found a Vitamix type blender for smoothies at the grocery store, along with protein powder. It was a thing of beauty.

People DO care about Fitness: Well, kinda. I have been very troubled by the fact that I might not be able to find my spin or yoga classes in France. I DID find a gym here (granted, it is closed for the month of August) and I did see a few fellow joggers when I went on a run (although people did still look at me like I was crazy). I will keep you posted on this one…

This country IS magical: The history, the joie de vivre, the food, the wine….FRANCE. I must say, I feel more at home in this place than I initially thought I would. I am so excited for what the next few years will bring…

That’s all for now. Can’t wait to keep you updated on this little adventure of mine.

Bisous,

ErinSignature

 

On top of the world – Hiking in Alberta

It is no secret that I enjoy escaping the city to go hiking, which makes sense since I’m blessed to live near the Rocky Mountains. Hiking is probably one of my favorite summer activities, nothing beats spending a day in the fresh air, hiking to a spectacular view only to enjoy lunch and cold beer. I remember how intimidated I was my first hike; I didn’t know where to start or really what all I needed to carry with me. Like anything hiking is one of those things that gets easier with time and experience. The more you do and the more people you talk to the more tips and tricks you’ll pick up along the way. Living in Calgary we have a lot of trail options that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to do. I tend to go off recommendations from other hiking enthusiasts, or check Trail Peak. I decided to put together a small list of hikes I’ve done to get you started.

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Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes – This hike is beautiful! It is family friendly and good for all fitness levels. We wandered off the path a little bit so we could get closer to the waterfall which was worth it. On a nice day, you will probably see some rock climbers.
Directions: From downtown Canmore. Take the route to the Nordic Center and follow the signs to the Grassi Lake parking lot where you will meet up directly with the trail head

Heart Mountain – I tried this one for the first time this past weekend. There are a couple variations to this hike. Heart Creek Trail; which a super easy family friendly hike good for all fitness levels. As you enter the 20140804-152927-55767517.jpgtrail head you’ll walk until you come to a sign then make a right towards Heart Creek Trail. The trail ends at a small waterfall where you can sit and relax. This trail is busy. We made it to the waterfall in no time and realized we went the wrong way and back tracked to the sign where the trail splits and went left to Heart Mountain. This one was not for the faint of heart. Lots of loose rock and with a fairly difficult scramble. Overall it was a great workout with a good view, so I’d do it again especially since it’s so close to Calgary.

Directions: take the Exit 105 for Lac des Arc. From Calgary, take exit 105 then turn left, go over highway, turn on gravel road that leads to parking lot. From Canmore take exit 105 & turn right onto gravel road into parking lot. Now you even have washrooms. It’s recommended NOT to park on the side of the highway as many people have been ticketed.


Ha Ling Peak
– This was my very first hike! It has an amazing view, and is definitely worth the effort. It’s pretty steep, and feels like a continuous incline with very little flat spots. The last bit to the summit is a scramble, and is a little scary when you come down as there is a lot of loose shale. Once you make the summit, there are quite a few nooks with outstanding views of Canmore which makes the grind completely worth it.

Directions: Drive to Canmore Alberta. Drive up highway #742, the Smith-Dorrien-Spray Lakes Trail towards the Canmore Nordic Centre. Continue past the turn-off for the Nordic Centre, keeping to the left. Continue on the gravel and park in the Goat Creek Parking Lot

 

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Entering the cave at Crypt

Crypt – My favorite hike to date, it blew my mind and lived up to expectations. We headed to Waterton for a camping weekend with the sole purpose of doing this hike. This hike has everything you could ask for in a hike – several waterfalls, a beautiful lake, cave and scaling a cliff. I am not going to lie I found the cave and scaling the cliff to be a little scary. Doesn’t help that I am terrified of heights, but there was no way I was going to let my fear keep me from reaching Crypt Lake. You access the trail head by taking a ferry, round trip tickets are $20. There are two ferries that run daily. This is a full day hike so be prepared, the day we went was quite warm and we ran out of water on our way down, which is never good. Definitely pack a bathing suit, we didn’t know that you could swim and were surprised to see everyone else seem to have gotten that memo and were jumping in to cool off.

Directions: From Calgary take highway south 2 to Fort MacLeod (183 km/115 mi.). From Fort MacLeod, go West on Highway 3 (50 km/31 mi.). Head south through Pincher Creek on Highway 6 (56 km/35 mi.).

A couple things you should check prior to heading out:

  • Weather conditions; you’ll want to make sure you pack plenty of water for warm weather especially if the trail is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Layering your clothes is never a bad idea, the weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared.
  • Trail report; it is a good idea to check the trail report for a couple reasons. Post 2012 flood some of the trails are still damaged or being worked on. You’ll also find wildlife warnings and potential trail closures due active wildlife activity in the area (bears & cougars). It’s not a bad idea to pack bear spray.
  • What you take up, take down with you. Do not leave your trash!

Have fun & be safe out there
Crypt 2

AmysSignature

 

 

Vacation in PEI

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Confederation Bridge

I came home last Wednesday for one of my best friends wedding and to visit family. I love coming home for a visit… especially in the summer. PEI is a must see this time of year. My summer growing up was filled with trips to the beach, playing soccer, lots of biking and meeting my friends at the local bridge for some good ol’ bridge jumping. I thought I’d put together a list of must do’s if you ever head this way for vacation.

1. Eat to your hearts delight
Let’s be real, being an Island we have amazing seafood! And I take full advantage of it when I am home. Lobster, oysters, and mussels are my favourite, and believe nothing tastes better than fresh from the water.

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West Point Beach

2. Get your beach on
The beaches here are lined with red sand that seem to go on for miles. Build a sand castle, look for sea glass, jump into the ocean and cool down in the salt water. To me there isn’t much better than relaxing on the beach.

3. Tee time
It’s no secret that.. PEI has amazing golf courses. It’s home to over 25 golf courses all located within 45 min of each other. “ScoreGolf Magazine rated Prince Edward Island as Canada’s top golf destination for the second straight year, but Travel+Leisure magazine rated PEI the top island destination in North America, and one of the Top 10 in the world.” Pretty cool for a little island nestled on the East Coast.
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4. Anne of Green Gables
We’ve all read the books, you can visit Cavendish and see where L.M Montgomery got her inspiration. While you’re in the Cavendish area there is plenty to take in so be prepared to spend the day in the area.

5. Bike the Confed
Did you know, the Confederation Trail where there were once train tracks is now almost 300 kilometres of groomed trails, perfect for biking. Many cyclists consider PEI an untapped treasure. The trail takes you through many of the towns and villages, a perfect way to take in the island. Personally, this is on my bucket list and I’m very much looking forward to scratching it off.

That’s just a snap shot of some of the many things to do while visiting, check out Tourism PEI  or PEI 150 and other sites for some more ideas.

XoXo

Amy

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: A strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world; to discover one’s very existence.

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Those that know me know travel is one of the most important things in my life. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a backpacking adventure half way around the world – I live to plan trips! Beyond visiting other places, one of my life long dreams is to live abroad. AND.NOW.IT.IS.HAPPENING.

Yes, it’s true! I have recently been offered a job in la belle Paris and I moving there in September. Of course, I am delighted to live in the land of croissants, berets and macaroons, but as I get closer to the departure date…certain realities are starting to set in.

Will I make friends? Is this a mistake? Do I even like French people? Is this the right decision for me and my fiancé? WHAT IF I GET FAT FROM EATING TOO MUCH CHEESE? Anxiety attacks are happening left, right and centre.

Everyone tells me this is normal. However, the optimist in me wants to soak up every little bit of this adventure. So while I go through this experience, I have made a few promises to myself:

Remember that intuition is key: All of the best decisions in my life have not necessarily been rational. Follow your gut and everything will fall into place. Trust the process.
Remain grateful: Every experience I have, good or bad, makes me a stronger person. Love and cherish your support system – always, always, always.
YOLO: Yes, I know this term is cheesy and overused but I think the message is great. You owe it to yourself to respond to any call that excites your spirit. You. Only. Live. Once.

And, to conclude, I will share some of the best advice I received from my fellow shebetties: If it is both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it. Indeed.

I will keep you posted on this adventure of mine. Stay inspired, my friends!

xo Erin

Fall in Love with Hoi An

Happy Wednesday my travel loves! The sun is shining and it is a beautiful spring day. I feel inspired by this gorgeous weather, which takes me back to one of the places I fell in love with on my recent travels to Vietnam. Hoi An is an amazing destination and a MUST SEE if you are headed to ‘Nam. Not only are there tons of activities (biking, beaching, tailor shops and site seeing anyone?), the quaint, lovely vibe of the small city will instantly relax you.

Here is a list of my top things to eat, see and do in Hoi An:

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WHERE TO STAY

Two words for you: Sun River. This magical place just opened when we visited Hoi An and I have no doubt it will get popular really quickly. It is an unbeatable price point (about $35 dollars a night for a water view), fantastic service and beautiful clean rooms. The location is about a 5-10 minute bike to old town and it is right on the river. Very peaceful but close to the action! Did I mention it has a pool and the bikes are free!? Need I say more…

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WHERE TO EAT

In Hoi An there are so many restaurant options, it can be overwhelming! If you are looking for yummy Vietnamese food in a laidback atmosphere, Coco’s in the place for you. Situated on the river on the way to the beach, you will enjoy a wide variety of local food! Try the seafood noodles….mmmm….

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WHAT TO DO

When in Hoi An, one MUST get clothes made. Famous for tailor shops lining the streets, you can get some amazing items made for a great price! I got an amazing J Crew inspired jacket, a fur vest and a leather skirt made, just to name a few (I may have gone a bit overboard). We used Quoc Huy Tailor in old town – they were great. Very helpful and decent prices. One recommendation: look around quite a bit before settling on a tailor. Lots of hotels get paid a commission for recommending tailors so don’t go to the first one! Take your time…

I hope you are feeling inspired after this post! Happy Travelling, my loves.

Erin

I fell in love… with Boston

I came to Boston for a Risk conference and ended up falling in love with this city. I’ve been here since Tuesday night and minus a luggage snafu it’s been great. I am actually shocked how much I enjoy it here. So much green space!! Seems like every few blocks there is a small green space or a park. People here seem to be quite active which I suppose makes sense, as home to one of the world’s largest and most recognized marathon’s I really shouldn’t be surprised. The people here are beyond friendly which I wasn’t expecting. They remind me of people from back home, must be an East Coast thing 😊.

This city is rich with history and we got a glimpse into some of it via the local Duck Tour, which is hilariously educational if you haven’t heard of it. It’s a land/sea tour aboard a “duck”, a W.W.I.I style amphibious landing vehicle that cruises by many of the historic landmarks here.
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As a non baseball fan I must say that there is just something enchanting about Fenway Park. I’ve been to other MLB games but this one was a neat experience for sure.
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BUT on-top of everything I’ve already mentioned it’s the food here that really makes this city a home run. I haven’t had one bad meal since I’ve been here. Mike’s Pastry’s PB cannoli are so good they ought to be illegal. I haven’t had any left overs from any restaurant on the North End which is a feat because the portion size of the homemade breads and pastas are gigantic. (Definitely going to have to have a mini detox when I get back home)

There was one spot in particular we tried in the North End called Giacomo’s, a local favourite as judged by the line outside. This gem of a spot has no words to really describe it. Don’t let the line out front deter you because this is a spot is not to be missed on your trip. Italian and delicious, loud, a little chaotic, and obnoxiously amazing. The portions for the price they charge are insane, we’d never see something like this in Calgary. We ordered the chicken and cheese agnolotti, and the 1/2 lobster mussels clams over linguini which my boyfriend described as “fucking delicious” his words not mine. This no frills cash only restaurant with bottles… Yes Bottles of wine starting at only $18! Boston you my friends know food.
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With a couple days left of my visit there are still quite a few things I want to see, Harvard Square and Frost Bar to name a couple but obviously as Canadiens and hockey fans were are clearly busy Saturday night when game 5 rolls into town.

AmysSignature

Hong Kong Style: Day to Night

There are two things in this world that make my heart sing: 1) traveling the globe and 2) soaking up all things style. For me, the two go hand in hand. Nothing gets me more excited than putting together outfits for my next adventure. That’s why I am thrilled to share with you some travel style in my very first SheBettie post!

On my recent trip to Asia, I fell in LOVE with buzzing city of Hong Kong. Roof top bars, lush green landscape, city views, unreal dim sum…need I say more? The vibrant energy of the city is infectious; day or night there is always SOMETHING to explore in the city. To top it off, I absolutely loved embracing the Hong Kong street style. Check out my go-to day and night looks during my recent adventure, full of playsuits, pops of colour and fun accessories!

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DAY LOOK…
Wander the streets in a breezy camisole with fun high waisted shorts. Pair it with blue, mirrored Ray Ban aviators plus a chic top bun and you are good to go! This look is perfect for cruising the Ladies’ Market in Hong Kong.

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Camisole and Shorts from Aritzia.
Aviators by Ray-Ban.

…TO NIGHT LOOK
Enjoy drinks at the Peak in a saucy, pink playshuit (check out the lace details in the back!). Pair is with a sparkly Tory Burch cross-body bag and a glass of bubbly!

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Pink playuit from Top Shop and purse from Tory Burch.

Lots of love!
Erin