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Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk

Top Food and Drink Festivals in Toronto

December 17, 2014

food and drink festivals in torontoIn the past couple of years, Toronto has become a destination for food and drink enthusiasts. In addition to the number of innovative and ethnic offerings available (not to mention those cheap eats), there have been just as many creative food festivals and events. Here are a few of our favourite food and drink festivals in Toronto that’s happening this holiday season into 2015:

Drake Does Chrismukkah
December 19, 2014 6pm
Before the Christmas crunch, feast on the best of various cultural traditions of the holiday season at The Drake Hotel. The hearty meal (including prime rib, yorkshire pudding, latkes, and apple crumble among the samplings) is only $29.95. Reserve in advance before December 19 to participate in this cheerful occasion.

Guest Chef Pop-Up Series at Drake One Fifty
January 20-21, 2015
This fun injection of the Drake Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District hosts some of the best chefs from North America and beyond. The first pop-up dinner of 2015 will feature a Portuguese fusion menu from David Santos, ex Per Se, and now of Louro in NYC.

Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival
January 31, 2015 11am-5pm
Just steps away from our 300 Front Street property, sample craft brew from over 20 breweries at the Winter Craft Beer Festival. Hosted by the Steam Whistle Bfood and drink festivals in torontorewery and just outside its doors at the Roundhouse Park, warm up over the outdoor fires with beer in glass sample mugs from great breweries like Oast House Brewers, Flying Monkeys, and Lake of Bays. Food trucks will also be on site if you get hungry. The first 500 attendees at the gates will get a free festival toque.

Recipe for Change 2015
February 26, 2015, 6-9pm
Recipe for Change is FoodShare Toronto’s annual fundraiser for innovative school food programs and sustainability within the food industry. This party brings together over 30 exciting chefs, two craft brewers and four wineries at the historic St. Lawrence Market. It’s a fun party for a great cause.

Whether you’re in town for a quick visit or on business, or you are staying in a furnished apartment rental or suite for the long term, these festivals are a tasty way to stay warm throughout the winter.

Business Travel, Customer Service Experience, Downtown Toronto, Feedback and Reviews, Insurance Housing, Relocation

DelSuites Review: 300 Front Street West

December 3, 2014

Our resident blogger, Natalie Taylor, recently stayed at our 300 Front Street West location. Here’s what she had to say.

300 Front Street WestYou never know when you’re going to need an apartment until you least expect it. In my case, my home is undergoing renovations and I needed an alternative place to stay. Luckily, DelSuites invited me to stay at their newest furnished rental at 300 Front Street West. Before I got into the building, I was impressed by its location. Located at the corner of Front and John, the condominium is across from CBC’s headquarters, a ten minute walk from Union Station and five minutes from the trendy King Street West strip at King and Spadina. On the weekends, you can walk over to the Rogers Centre for a game or a concert; or walk over to the ferry terminal to explore the Toronto Islands. In the detailed booklet provided on the living room table, there are recommendations for local activities, services, and how-to’s for TV repair, garbage instructions, etc.

The building is very secure and you need key access to get into the building. The concierges are friendly, helpful, and 300 Front Street Westavailable 24 hours. Once I got into the apartment, I immediately felt at home. Everything is not only furnished but nicely decorated in a modern and minimalist style and it all felt so comfortable. From the modern artwork and orchid in the living room to the rock and grass filled glass vases in the dining room, I have gotten some inspiration to decorate my renovated space at home. The separated desk area was ideal to get work done. After a long day, it was nice to kick back and watch the Food Network under a provided blanket on the sophisticated yet soft couch. The bedroom is a private oasis and also has a TV if you want to watch a movie late night under the covers. One of my favourite features in the bedroom was the option to open up the screened lower window to the balcony for fresh air. Usually most condos are enclosed glass cases so this was a welcome attribute!

300 Front Street WestI was surprised at all of the little details that were provided in the kitchen, especially. Utensils, plates, cups, bowls, baking items (mixers, baking sheets), a kettle, bowls, dish soap, dishwashing detergent, and towels are all available so you don’t have to worry about buying cooking equipment. I didn’t have to bring anything with me! I think my favourite feature had to be the red magnetic cabinets that close on their own. All you have to do is push the door.

The bathroom was just as relaxing. An advanced shower head has a massage feature, and there are plenty of extras like towels and toilet paper so you don’t have to call on housekeeping (which is provided once a week). DelSuites even provides you with a shower kit filled with shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soaps, and body lotion. They even provide a bathrobe for you in the bedroom closet, which I now want to purchase for myself. In that sense, it felt close to staying in the hotel. That said, you don’t have to pay for any laundry service because there is a washer and dryer (with a starter laundry detergent kit provided) available for your use right beside the bedroom.

300 Front Street WestThe balcony was also another favourite feature of mine. Not only could I get a birds eye view of the pool area but I was face to face with Toronto’s icon, the CN Tower. As a local, there’s something that makes me feel proud about that. The recreation area, complete with a pool, cabana, billiards area, and fully equipped fitness area (including yoga and spinning rooms) added to the impressiveness of my stay.

DelSuites furnished apartments and suite rentals took care of all of the small details. I have never felt more at home at 300 Front Street West! Whether you’re in town for business, or are displaced and covered by insurance, they are their to take care your living needs.

Feedback and Reviews, Lifestyle talk

Ten Tips for Travel Writing

November 20, 2014

Tips for Travel WritingTravel writing seems like a dream: you can travel to any possible location–your dream destination–and write about it! But it is also hard work and requires strategy, like any other job. If you are looking to take the next step in your travels and write about your journey, here are a few tips.

1. Travel! I know this sounds like simple advice but the best way to get into travel writing is to actually travel. Pick your dream trip and your topics of interest (this is key) and go on a quest in search of those topics. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find and who you will meet. When you travel your own way, your story becomes more interesting because it’s genuine.

2. Read. To be the best writer you can be, you must read. Whether it’s a guidebook about your destination/topic or fiction related to your destination, you’ll become more enriched in your trip by reading everything you can about it. Reading all types of genres also enriches your vocabulary. Read great travel writing if this is your chosen genre. By reading magazines or books like The Best American Travel Writing, you will get a sense of what a good story is and this could help you with your style or give you ideas.

3. Have a quest. When you pick a particular focus, this will help shape your story. Looking for a story in your destination and taking a vacation are two very different trips and unfortunately, often get confused with each other.

4. Try to pitch your story to a publication before your trip. Having a secure outlet or publication will help you with deadlines and also help you if you’re trying to find interview subjects for your story. Pitching your story will also help you focus on what your story is.

5. Observe. Take a step back and observe every detail when you’re on the ground. Whether it’s the cuff links on the waiter’s sleeves, the sound of someone’s voice, or the smells in the air, tapping into your senses will really help bring your story to life.

6. Ask Yourself “What am I learning?” As veteran travel writer, Don George, says this question is another way of asking yourself “what is the story?”

7. The Four Pillars of Engagement. As Don George mentions, these are the points of the story where you check in with your subject, with yourself, with your audience, and with your writing. What is your subject? Who are you writing for? Who do you want to see this piece? Why is this story personal to you? Is your story touching on these points? Is your story precise? Is your story meaningful? Does the story flow?

8. Keep a notebook and write during your trip. When to write will vary for everyone but writing down the details as they are happening or soon after they happen will help Tips for Travel Writingyou remember the vivid details that will make your story pop. When you are in the moment, jot down those notes. Having a notebook with you or an app like Evernote will help you with this. Use your smartphone to record conversations as well, so you can go back and transcribe them later. Try to make the time during the trip to write down what you have learned and try to write your story right after your trip so it is fresh in your memory.

9. Step away from your story. After you have finished writing, take a day or a few days to let your story breathe. When you go back to it, you may have a different perspective and you may also catch details that you want to remove or add to.

10. Kill your darlings. The editing process is an essential process of making sure your story comes together in the best possible way. The first draft will never be perfect and though there may have been a great anecdote or detail, if it doesn’t fit in with the overall theme or big picture of the story, as difficult as it may be, it must go. Get someone to read over your story and edit it and then go back and edit it again if you have the time. This will make your story stronger and the best possible version of itself.

Travel writing is about research, observation, and telling a great story. Hopefully, these tips for travel writing will help you in getting your stories –travel or non-travel related–published.

Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

The Great Canadian Road Trip Playlist

November 19, 2014

Canadian Road TripCanada is the ideal country for a road trip. Connected by the Trans-Canada highway, between British Columbia and Newfoundland, there is no greater expanse of road or great musicians to listen to along the way. From classic Canadian folk to more modern pop-rock and electronic-infused songs, Canadian musicians are just as diverse as each province. Below is our eclectic songlist inspiration whether you’re driving to another province or cruising across to a few provinces. If you’re in Ontario, don’t forget we offer the comfort of home away from home in our furnished apartments across the Greater Toronto Area.

Our Canadian road trip playlist is an assortment of some popular bands and indie bands and artists. We didn’t list popular artists like Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, Anne Murray, and Justin Bieber as their music is already well known. This songlist is in no particular order. You can also find the playlist on Grooveshark to add to your own collection.

1. Bobcaygeon by the Tragically Hip
2. The Old Apartment by the Barenaked Ladies
3. Comin’ Home by City and Colour and their cover of Kimbra’s Settle Down
4. Soft Offering by Hey Rosetta! (The video was produced on the stunning Fogo Island in Newfoundland and Labrador.)
5. I Feel It All by Feist
6. Closer and Body Work by Tegan and Sara
7. Red Barchetta and YYZ (for the drive from Toronto to Winnipeg) by Rush
8. Sunday Morning and Superstarr, Pt. Zero by K-os
9. Comme Des Enfants by Coeur De Pirate
10. Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire
11. If it Feels Good Do It by Sloan
12. My Friend by Paper Lions
13. Good Mother by Jann Arden
14. Try by Blue Rodeo
15. Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian Road TripTell us: what are your essential songs by Canadian artists for a Great Canadian road trip? What did we miss?! Do you have a favourite song on this list?

Lifestyle talk, Vacation Travel

Ten Tips for Travelling Solo

October 14, 2014

Tips for Travelling SoloTravelling alone, especially if you haven’t done so before, can be an intimidating experience. What if you don’t meet anyone? What if you forget something? What if you’re lonely? However, solo travel, whether for business or pleasure can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of all. Here are ten tips to ease into the transition of solo travel.

1. Safety first. One of the biggest myths – especially for women – is that solo travel is not safe. As at home, use common sense. Research your destination. Don’t go down dark alleyways alone at night. Stay in public areas if you don’t feel comfortable venturing out. Don’t drink excessively if you’re alone. Keep your valuables at home. Trust your intuition. You can go anywhere if you are alert and keep your wits about you.

2. Try a solo weekend trip. If you’ve always wanted to take a longer vacation or self-exploration period but are afraid of being lonely for an extended period of time, try a weekend away. This short escape can ease you into feeling comfortable Tips for Travelling Soloalone in another place. Big cities are great because there’s always so much to do and you’ll be so busy exploring and having fun that you’ll forget you’re alone!

3. Try a Tour. If you want to socialize, tours are a great way to combine your interests with meeting new people. Most big cities have bike tours, walking tours, or general interest tours. You can also find niche tours like the Sex and City Tour in New York City or cooking classes in Italy. If you’re more adventurous, there are entire trips dedicated to interests, like surfing or yoga where you’ll meet new like-minded souls. And group tours (like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, and Trafalgar) are a great transition into a longer solo trip. Don’t forget to chat up your tour guide: they are a wealth of information and can point you to other tours or points of interest/people, or even accommodation in your cTips for Traveling Solohosen destination.

4. Try Furnished Rentals. Staying in a furnished rental is a great way to connect with the residents and locals and not feel as alone on the road. If you are in the city, we have a variety of furnished suites and apartments for rent in Toronto. If you are in a condo, try to look for social mixers to meet those in the building.

5. Sit at the bar. The bar is not only where the drinks are, but it’s where the singles and other people solo are, and easily one of the best places to meet others who are solo (mainly because the other solo diner is sitting beside you). Talk to the bartender. They are the invisible tour guides who are always on the pulse of restaurant and bar openings, trends, and of course, the best places to eat and drink in your chosen destination.

6. Pack Light and Smart. The best tip is to figure out how long are you are travelling and create outfits out of the least possible items of clothing you have. Pack garments you always wear that can easily be rolled in your carry-on/backpack that you can use more than once. Packing smart will enable you to get around your Tip[s for Traveling Solodestination more easily and safeguard you against the loss of luggage. For instance, in Europe, many train stations don’t have elevators, so the easier it is to carry what you have, the more seamlessly you can navigate your locale. Another tip: if you have a bag and a carry-on, make sure you have at least one night’s worth of clothing in your separate bag in case your luggage is lost or stolen. Keep your cash in more than one place (your wallet and a money belt, for example).

7. Plan but don’t Overschedule. Planning will help you get excited about the activities, attractions, and restaurants that interest you. However, you never know what you’re going to find or who you’re going to meet when you allow yourself to just wander.

8. Be a Good Samaritan. Even if you’re opening the door for a stranger, or venturing out on a volunteer vacation, random acts of kindness go beyond the borders of language. It may even help you meet new people.

9. Build a Vacation withiTips for Traveling Solon your Vacation. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about the day-to-day tasks we need to catch up on after our vacation or during a long trip. Schedule in “off-days” to do laundry, send correspondence, or just relax and breathe. This goes for those on business travel too, and really helps if you need to recharge before tackling that email inbox.

10. Just Go! As cliche as it might seem, abide by Nike’s mission: “Just do it.” There may be doubts, or naysayers (including yourself) but you don’t know unless you try. Best of all: you don’t have to wait on anyone else. You can travel when you want and how you want. Who knows? You might meet someone along the away. You might even enjoy solo travel!

We hope these tips helped. What are some of your tips for travelling solo? Do you perfer to travel alone or with someone else? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

For sites on solo travel, we recommend solotraveler.com and legalnomads.com