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Elaisha Goes...To The Viamede Resort

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Pictures by: Desiree Thomas, Ted Baker Shoes, everything else GAP

After the recent and tragic passing of a very close friend, I was really looking forward to this trip. The Viamede Resort was a 2-hour drive out of downtown Toronto and just 20 minutes north of Peterborough. While I couldn't escape my problems and grief, I was happy to at least spend time in a quiet space and get out of my head a bit.

As we pulled up to the blue and white painted front of the resort, I instantly felt at ease. Desiree, however, was a bit nervous since we visited during the slow season at the resort and were only one pair of the few guests staying there. After an easy check-in, we brought our bags upstairs and took in the view of the ice-covered lake on our way up. Our spacious room was fitted with a full bathroom (with a shower) a sofa, two lounge chairs, the comfiest king-sized bed, a television and an office table. Two doors lead out to the second story balcony where we shot pictures and regularly insta-storied the icy lake-view.

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Breakfast and dinner were served in the main dining area of the resort, as Boathouse, the other restaurant would open later in the summer. In spite of the rustic feel, we were offered unexpected options of mixed green salads, flatbread pizzas and decadent desserts for our meals. For dinner on the first night, I satiated my week-long craving for honey garlic chicken wings and blue cheese dip. For breaded wings, they were delicious, the blue cheese dip wasn't my favourite though. The caesar salad was topped generously with cheese and bacon and tossed in a creamy dressing. I also loved the sweet potato fries and snagged a bite of Desiree's flatbread pizza (spoiler: it was amazing too).

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Before we ate, Desiree and I took a dip in the indoor pool. The pool area was conveniently fitted with lockers and was heated nicely. It lead to an outdoor hot tub that we sadly didn't take advantage of. Like many areas of the resort, the pool was fitted with huge windows so we could take in another angle of the gorgeous view outside.

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Hiking Boots & Jacket: Columbia, Leggings: Hyba

A slight break from the arcadian feel of the resort was Mount Julian, an Inn and restaurant just across the street from Viamede. Surrounded by the history of the Inn built in 1874, a 7-course feast presented to Desiree and I was served with another gorgeous view of the lake. Each of the courses sent our taste buds on a rollercoaster. Earlier that day, the resort manager asked us if we had any allergies or food preferences. It turned out that Mount Julian was the kind of farm-to-table place with no menu, but where the chef made food as he felt inspired by what was in season.  I listed the menu we were served below (but note, this won't be exactly what you would be served if you visit!)

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(A pre-course, course) 595 Pork belly, whole hog mustard, pork fat crouton, tomato and watercress (a fancy BLT)

  1. Asparagus, wild rice salad, wild leek vinaigrette, Ontario bocconcini, honey balsamic
  2. House smoked rainbow trout, candy cane beets, Blueberry gastrique
  3. Golden beet soup with honey and cream, warm bread and duck fat butter, apple walnut chutney, pristine soy oil and blueberry gastrique
  4. Pork tenderloin with butter poached blue potatoes and wild leek marmalade
  5. Beef tenderloin with mushroom confit and red wine jus
  6. Cheese board: Lindsay, Ontario ‘wrapped’ goat cheddar, rhubarb chutney
  7. Chocolate walnut brownie with chocolate whisky and orange and soy iced cream

My favourite dish was a tie between the Golden Beet Soup (I couldn't stop talking about the duck fat butter, Desiree wanted to hurt me), the pork tenderloin and the final desert. Each course was served with a delicious drink. I loved the Sortilège made with their own 595 Maple Syrup. After a lovely chat with Chef Jay Nutt about travel and the dishes he crafted for us, we retired to our room full and ready to sleep.

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Sweater & Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Ted Baker

Each night I went to bed full and excited to learn something new about the area. I can't wait to visit the Viamede Resort again and explore the trails a bit more and get some more of that elixir syrup.

Elaisha Goes...To The Beverley Hotel

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Staycations are the best. Amy and I had a little get together at The Beverley Hotel here in Toronto.

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Pants: EXPRESS Turtle Neck: ESPRIT Nail Colour: essie

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I climbed all the way to the top of the hotel stairs to a room 41 with a view of snow-covered Toronto below. I had frequently passed the underrated Queen West destination while on harried journeys across the city.

Natural light filled the room and the peek-a-boo bathroom (Amy and I could have totally watched each other pee...) and made for a Pinterest-perfect space.

(All pictures by bae, aka Amy at Bratty B

For a boutique hotel, the room was incredibly spacious (much bigger than my standard hotel rooms in Paris and London...). We ordered breakfast which arrived quite quickly (after our order was taken by a staff member who came right to our door to deliver a menu). Amy ordered the generous parfait while I enjoyed the lemon ricotta pancakes.

While I do love pancakes from Mildred's, with the first bite, these ones became my favourite in the city. The medley of lemon mixed with maple syrup and the light texture of the pancakes sent me for a loop. I'll definitely return for those again.

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I wholly recommend the Beverley Hotel for a budget staycation with a touch of luxury in the city. The prompt room service, space of the room and delicious food make me want to visit over again!

#ElaishaGoes to Hailed Coffee

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Next stop on my list of perfect IG spots is another east-end favourite, Hailed Coffee.

Pictures by Desiree of A Desired Journey

Hailed coffee was a welcome and warm escape from the wet and dreary day outside. It was a cute space with the classic coffee grinder and milk steamer noises sounding off here and there. The white washed cafe thankfully carried dairy alternatives! I ordered a decaf latte with almond milk and a hazelnut shot. The gorgeous drink was delicious. I don't drink coffee so this was a little treat for me! It was a super cozy space and I quickly found a spot to sit.

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Desiree and I split a super decadent croissant and chatted a bit of business over our snack. With only a few customers in and out of the space, the atmosphere at Hailed Coffee was super chill. I would definitely recommend one of the tables at the back for a work-day since the music wasn't blasting in there and it wasn't crowded.

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Wearing: EXPRESS Jeans, EXPRESS shoes, Missguided Top

Have you visited Hailed Coffee? Let me know in the comments below!

#ElaishaGoes to Versus Coffee

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It's not played out just yet! Versus coffee is one of several east end spots that I will be mentioning in my #ElaishaGoes series while I'm in Toronto. Desiree chose the spot and I'm super happy she did!

We were able to chat over our drinks and catch up after only talking on the phone for the past few weeks. It was pretty quiet on Sunday afternoon with only a few people milling about the shop just before it closed.

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All pictures by Desiree at A Desired Journey

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I wasn't the biggest fan of my matcha because I'm not used to the flavour with unsweetened almond milk (I try to avoid sugar and milk in my drinks). However, the aesthetic of the small space was to die for. The open concept blended well one into another and was filled with natural light from the floor to ceiling windows. We were able to catch some gorgeous shots while we huddled over our carefully crafted drinks.

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Visit if you ever get the chance (even if for the adorable cup filled with their famous s'mores drink). Have you been to Versus before?

#ElaishaGoes to Scotland: Photo Album and City Guide

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Scotland was incredible. I didn't visit any of the bigger and well-known cities like Edinburgh or Glasglow. We road tripped through Scotland from Aberdeen to Inverness then made a loop to Dundee before heading south to London. I spent most of the trip there gawking out of the car window. I couldn't believe that a place so beautiful wasn't listed on destination recommendations everywhere.I have so many pictures and experiences I want to share, but I won't bombard you. Keep reading for my must-see places in the land of rolling hills and sheep.

How to Get Around 

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My flight from London wasn't bad at all! British Airways spoiled me, and I was in economy. A hot breakfast of a cheese omelette with toast and a cup of tea (orange juice for me) were all served so nicely. I was thoroughly impressed. And our flight left on time!

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Buses aren't always reliable (or even available) in the smaller towns. If you can rent a car, do it. Driving through Scotland was like driving through a story book. I saw double rainbows, yummy restaurants and the cutest sheep. Cabs are not cheap in Dundee, so watch out for that. Oh, and there's no Uber in certain spots so watch out for that too.

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Fish and chips and mozzarella sticks. Life was great in Scotland. 

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Where to Go Inverness was my favourite stop on this road trip. The picturesque town wasn't too touristy when I went. First line of business after a quick nip into Tesco was visiting the castle, which also happened to double as a beautiful lookout point!

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Wearing: Old Navy Leggings, Uniqlo Vest, Uniqlo Shirt, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes, Champs Men's Shirt

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Another gem you need to pop into is Leakey's Bookshop...it was possibly the cutest place I had ever been to. I was in book heaven. It was dead quiet when I explored the library and I loved it. I wish I bought one of the vintage maps or paintings there (they were over 100 years old!).

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We took a quick stroll about the small 'downtown' area. There were several restaurants and more historic buildings to 'ooo' and 'ahh' over.

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Where to stay

Tigh Na Coin Beagan was the most memorable spot I rested my head in in Scotland. The owner was super pleasant and his Scottish Terriers were just as friendly.

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The house was located across from a gorgeous loch and decorated in tartan (carpets, pillows etc.). The view outside of my room was stunning. My window looked over the loch Mhor and the rolling hill behind it.

Where to Hike

Ben Nevis and Falls of Foyers were the two places I went hiking in Scotland. It was recommended to us by the owner of Tigh Na Coin Beagan.

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Wearing: Columbia Outdry™ EX Gold Trench Jacket, Columbia Leggings, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

Falls of Foyers was an easy hike because I took the 'easy' way. Otherwise, it would have been a 2-hour journey to the bottom. I prioritized being able to see Ben Nevis that day instead.

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Wearing: Columbia Leggings, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes, Columbia Hoodie Shirt, Uniqlo Vest

In Ben Nevis, we hiked for almost half an hour which lead to an incredible clearing that faced the falls. I was in absolute awe of its beauty!

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Be very careful and wear shoes with intense grip. The trek up was very slippery and wet which I didn't mind. Sadly my hiking shoes didn't arrive in time, but these kicks still came through.

Dundee

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Wearing: Stella Nova Jacket, Old Navy Leggings, Kooba Bag, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

Dundee was pretty cool. We swung by the Overgate Centre (which you've got to visit, it's huge) and the high street. I went a bit overboard in M&S, but #YOLO. There was this awesome lookout point too that gave us a view of the city.

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St Andrews I was nearly hit by a few golf balls, but other than that hazard St Andrews was incredible. It was cute hanging at the place Kate and William fell in love. We grabbed fish and chips and ate by the beach. While my chips were nearly stolen by greedy seagulls, I really enjoyed it there. With old boy's club establishments and grey stone buildings, I felt like I was in Johnny English or a James Bond movie.  It seemed like a super luxe spot (for a University town). I'd definitely visit again with more time to explore.

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Wearing: Zara Jacket, Thrifted Scarf Old Navy Leggings, Kooba Bag, Reebok Woven Furylite Shoes

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I can't wait to return to Scotland and tour the northern coast and also hit the bigger cities. Is there anywhere I visited that stood out to you? Comment down below with whether you'd like to visit!

#ElaishaGoes to Barcelona: Photo Story & City Guide

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Barcelona was a dream. I honestly feel like I woke up and couldn't possibly have been there. Travelling to Europe to visit some of my greatest friends (and making new ones) was a treat. I'm not picking favourites here, but Barcelona was a city I had the chance to really immerse myself in and explore. Thankfully my girl Katie rounded up her favourite places in Barca and my good friend Graeme and I were able to visit a lot of them. Keep reading for what to do in Barcelona Guide and Photo Story!

Where to BrunchPicnic is the spot. After strolling past the Arc and down a back alley I found the quaint (and popular) restaurant. I sat down and ordered a burrata and mimosa immediately. Both were sweet and amazing. I'm still dreaming about the tacos I got too. Graeme grabbed fluffy pancakes and a beer and we just ate the day away before exploring Barcelona.

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How to get around Cabs are pretty cheap, but as a city girl taking public transport was the way to go. I had a European data plan from three which worked all over the city (I didn't visit the outskirts, however). So this allowed me to just quickly use Google maps and plot out a trip using public transport. Grab a 3-day pass and wear comfortable shoes. Exploring a city by foot has always been my favourite way to learn the ins and outs of different neighbourhoods.

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Where to go dancing After a later dinner at midnight (yes, that's how late people eat out there) hit up the club district by the beach. At about 2am we noticed things were picking up and lines were immense at Opium especially.

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What to see There were so many historical places to visit so we decided to hit up as many as we could walk to within a day instead of tiring ourselves out too much.

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Where to Beach  We did not hit up the beach on the weekend but instead decided to settle on a weekday to beat the crowd. We went to what's considered to be the 'Gay Beach', which is an LGBTQ-friendly space with mostly men. What we didn't realize is that it was right next to the nude beach. I was unbothered and Graeme was entertained (but polite obviously). I felt comfortable and for the first time in days no men came up to me or cat-called at me. Then we hit up Xiringuito Escribà for a delicious meal by the beach.

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Where to go Shopping  There were so many spots dotted across the city. Of course, La Rambla (aka tourist trap) was the obvious option. However, we ducked down some little side streets and I was able to purchase some cute shirts. However, the salesgirl didn't let me haggle at all. I also hit up Glòries Centre Comercial. It had the stores I really wanted to see (Zara, H&M and Massimo Dutti) without the crowds of the most popular malls. It also had a Walmart-type store where I was able to buy gifts for some friends and pick up food for the weekend.

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Plan on visiting Barcelona? Leave me any questions you have in the comments below!

#ElaishaGoes to Paris for a Day

On my last weekend off before starting school I spontaneously decided to head to Paris for a day.

After landing I took the metro south from Charles De Gaulle Airport into Paris. We sped through the suburbs and I transferred at another station that would bring me to La Ville-Lumière.

I quickly Vined my first steps in Paris as I rose from the underground to a lush city square.

Getting to my hotel was a bit difficult since I didn't have any data on my cell phone. I relied on city maps and horrible screen shots of directions and maps on my iPhone taken before my flight.

I finally made it to Hotel Du Bois, an adorable boutique hotel right next to one of my favourite European stores, Massimo Dutti. I excitedly passed a Diptique as I journeyed on the cobblestone where I also passed a homeless man peeing right on the sidewalk. I vehemently avoided all puddles in Paris thereafter.

Coppola's indulgent food scenes in Marie Antoinette sold me on Ladurée (also recommended to me by my friend Olivia). On the way to the Eiffel Tower between wandering in and out of shops I made a quick stop in the luxe pâtisserie for a pain au chocolat and a few macarons.

When the Eiffel Tower finally came into view I was star struck; frozen in place my mouth agape in shock. The summer day gave a perfect view of the iconic structure across the water.

I got lost about 4 times on the way back to my hotel and retired to my room to rest. After being up for over 24 hours and touring the city I was admittedly burnt out. After a shower and power nap I began Googling dinner spots until finally deciding on one.

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After getting lost around the Arc de Triomphe round about I was 5 minutes late for my reservation but I finally found Brasserie Lorraine which was only a 30 minute walk from my hotel.

The night was definitely alive with guests ordering overflowing seafood plates (a specialty at the restaurant) and pasta dishes. Fresh bread, braised duck and handmade pasta left me stuffed and content. My server convinced me to go with the chocolate lava cake for dessert and I left full and in absolute bliss.

After a 5 hour sleep I was back on the metro headed to Charles De Gaulle; headed home to Toronto after my day in Paris.

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