travel

Putting Myself First: Why I Travel

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This August I was fed up. In a previous post, I shared that I got back into the driver's seat of my life. That I decided to take charge of the chaos around me by changing the course of my life's direction. Part of that transformation involved choosing myself. Keep reading for how I did and to see some cute pics from my adventures in St Andrews and Fredericton New Brunswick! (More to come on those soon!)

When did being selfish become a bad thing? When did picking my needs over someone else's make me a monster?  I looked back at certain parts of my life I can see where I put my needs and desires for my future on hold. My desire to finish school, the urge to live abroad and my need to live alone. These were all things I battled with on a deep level.

For months I felt that I was running on a treadmill. Tired from the excruciating journey but not actually getting anywhere. Just spinning my wheel hoping that soon I would be where I wanted to go. But hope wasn't enough. I listened to the audiobook version of, 'Adventures for Your Soul' by Shannon Kaiser. This book was amazing. It really opened my eyes to why I was travelling so much. I was running away from my grief, from making a decision about my life and from what it would mean if I faced both of them.

Then I made a plan. This plan involved everything I wanted to do. At the top of the list is my desire to move to a city I've wanted to call home for close to 8 years. Instead of staring forlornly at Instagram shots of this city I started researching neighborhoods. Cost of living. Taxes. Anything I could get my hands on. If you fail to plan you plan to fail right?

The plan is to move there next year in January or February! This is all a part of a grander scheme that I can't wait to unfold. The plan is to continue to travel, but not so I can escape. I want to travel to explore and really enjoy where I am, not rue the countdown to coming home.

Thanks for being a part of this journey guys. I can't wait for what's to come.

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Shoes: Mark’s & Spencer, Dress Tobi, Purse Urban Outfitters

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Dress: Tobi, Purse: Urban Outfitters Shoes: Steve Madden 

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Dress Tobi

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Shoes: Mark's & Spencer, Dress Tobi, Purse Urban Outfitters

Great Wall of China Photo Diary + Guide

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When I visited the Great Wall I felt so privileged to be a part of something so big! Keep reading for my guide on the Great Wall of China.

When to Go

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As early as you can especially on the weekend. Beijing traffic was no joke. We luckily left at a great time (8am from Qianmen) and even then we ran into traffic. I took a little nap while on the drive up and listened to an audiobook.

We got there at about 9am and people were already on their way down as we headed up! They avoided the humidity and crowds.

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Where to Go

Did you know that the great wall wasn't just one huge wall?  I learned a few years ago in my Chinese studies course that the Great Wall was several sections built over many centuries.

According to our guide, we visited the prettiest and most quiet part of the Great Wall. The Mutianyu (or Mu Tian Yu) section was further out than the most popular part of the wall. So, we beat the crowds when we got in early and got some amazing pictures. As well that part of the wall was restored beautifully!

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What to Do

Take the Cable Car

A nice warm up to the grandeur of the Great Wall was when we took the cable cars up. We viewed lush greenery below us as we ascended to the top.

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Hike the watch towers

If you won't have a guide, before you go, ensure that you check out which area of the wall you'd like to explore most then prioritize it. The humidity was intense as we trekked up the steep steps between each watch tower. It made each step hard as brick path wove into each check point. I loved it!

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Take the Slide Down

The most fun part about the Great Wall for me wasn't actually the wall. It was when we left and took the slide down the Great Wall to the bottom. It was an absolute blast and I would do it again. The loops, hills and turns in the middle of the green landscape felt like a dream. On some parts we moved so fast it felt like a roller coaster. It went by pretty fast but I was happy we did it. *Tip: get on the slide before 11:30. The line up got pretty full as everyone was ready to trek down the wall for lunch.

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What to Eat

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After our descent down the slide, we were super hungry. Our lovely guide called ahead and ordered us an amazing lunch. We drove for 10 minutes to Xiao Long Pu a

She ordered us a spread of sweet and sour pork tomatoes, greens, cod and fried rice.

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I was beyond excited to have crossed the great wall off of my bucket list.

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Are you planning on visiting the Great Wall? Let me know in the comments below.

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.

Get a quote for this trip

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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.

5 Protective Styles You need to Try on your Next Trip

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If your hair is having a bad vacation, so are you. One of the first things I think about when considering my trip is what I'm going to do with my hair. For those of you not in the kinky/curly club, you've got to understand, it's more than vanity. Tangled curls can be painful to detangle and take the fun and joy out of any day. I avoid having to do anything more than shaking my mane and getting on with my day.  Here are my go-to protective hairstyles when travelling.

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London calling | #curlsunderstood #protectivestles #BGKI | #ElaishaGoes #BlackTravelFeed

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Jun 25, 2016 at 5:10am PDT

Obviously, I'd start with my new favourite hairstyle! Crochet hair is BOMB! It takes less application time than similar looking styles (see: box braids) but looks just as good. Just get your braiding pattern right and you're set.  Actually, now you don't even need to know how to cornrow to get it right.

Patty King > Cold Tea | @taylorbrycemcdermott #ProtectiveStyles #CurlsUnderstood

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Jun 12, 2016 at 3:37pm PDT

There are a variety of styles from box braids to curls. This is a great choice when you're pressed for time but want a long-lasting style that you can customise.

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LA #Vlog 1 is up {link in profile}

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Jul 19, 2015 at 10:28am PDT

I remember seeing my grandmother come home from the hair dresser's with this style and knowing she was going on a trip.  The advantage of this style is, when taken care of properly, they can last a long time.

Now on the #blog: how to look cool when it's #ElaishaGoes {link in profile}

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Aug 7, 2015 at 7:23pm PDT

I remember travelling to California with my already well-worn box braids and only needing to refresh the front once after 2 weeks. While the application can take a long time (sometimes days depending on the size), the result is priceless. This is a great style when in humid and wet climates.

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So... because of Valentine's Day I wrote a super personal piece on why I'm single. #OnTheBlog

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Feb 17, 2016 at 8:48am PST

I remember rocking this style and feeling so cute. However, if you want to try it, get your hair bonnets and head scarves ready. This style, while gorgeous and slick requires extra care to ensure that it stays neat. It's a great style when you're going to be very active and need your hair out of your way.

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Curls on nana @kerastase_official Ultimate Elixr products came through for my #naturalhair/#twistout. Visit YouTube.com/c/elaishajade to enter to win these amazing products for #Laishmas!

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Dec 23, 2016 at 6:45pm PST

There's truly nothing better than a classic twist style. If I'm travelling with this hair, I know I can take it out and separate my curls for a special occasion then get then right and tight that night by re-twisting it. Just make sure you bring along your favourite twisting products and detangling tools if you will be re-twisting frequently. This is a great style for more controlled (and dryer) climates.

Pulled Back Bun

When all else fails, I can't go wrong with slicking my edges and pulling my hair up into a classic bun! On trips, I usually bring along some hair gel to ensure that my edges are tame throughout my adventure. This is essential when I'm rocking this hairstyle.

I was smiling 'cause I just ate | @sephoracanada matte lip in #13 didn't budge even after my

A photo posted by E L A I S H A J A D E (@elaishajade) on Sep 26, 2016 at 7:44pm PDT

I dampen the outer edge of my hair, grab a bristle brush or toothbrush then style away. I use a headscarf to quickly manage the drying process into a flat style (and to avoid fly aways). Then voila! The perfect bun. If my hair is battling shrinkage and I want a fuller looking bun, I'll bring along some synthetic kinky curly hair (that matches my own) and shape a natural looking bun!

What's your favourite protective style when travelling? Did it make the cut on my list? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 2017 Bucket-list Destinations

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I love travelling and it's my mum's fault. I can remember my first time flying at 7 years old. The excitement I felt about taking off  to New York City and how cool I thought I was with my Minnie Mouse luggage. img_4919

All photos Bratty B

I'm currently deliberating where I want to visit next year. The questions I keep asking myself are, 'Do I want to hit the tropics?' 'Should I visit a new city?' 'Is 2017 the year I visit Asia?' Well, keep reading to find out where I want to go in 2017.

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Wearing: Rag & Bone Jeans from Aritzia, Zara Jacket, Banana Republic Purse, Uniqlo Turtle Neck, Urban Outfitter booties, Kate Spade Bow Bracelet

Las Vegas I know, I know, I already went this year! But hear me out. My favourite boy band, Backstreet Boys will have their own residency in Las Vegas. Obviously, your girl has to support and cheer them on. Plus I still have some exploring to do in Vegas. The museums, the desert and restaurants...there's so much more to do that I can't miss out on.

Alaska I like active vacations and I really want to go on a cold vacation. The chance to go dog sledding or snowmobiling really gets me going. So Alaska obviously made it on to my list. Apparently, there are cruises that you can go on to see whales as they migrate. I would probably bawl the entire time. Sign me up!

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Alberta Have you seen the pictures? Someone could post a picture of a garbage can in a field and it would look like a postcard or a painting. It's ridiculous. And I can't wait to get my own shots while marvelling in awe of the gorgeous scenery. I'm getting excited thinking about all of the hiking opportunities.

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Iceland From the lagoon to the black sand beaches, Iceland seems like a world of its own. While there has been an uptake in popularity, Iceland still seems like a cool spot to explore. When I connected to Europe from Iceland I was impressed with the washrooms in the airport alone! Should I write about my WOW Air experience?

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But for now, this little bird is grounded until the travel bug bites me again.  Comment below to let me know where you will or want to be heading in 2017.

#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.

Get a quote for this trip

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