Totally Pampered!

This post has also been published on Clapway.

I have been adventuring a lot lately, discovering dirt roads, camping new grounds, surfing new waves, hiking new peaks. But this time, for my friend Julie’s birthday, I decided it would be nice to get a little less dirty, and a little more sassy.

Starting off the day with a scenic flight to Vancouver from Whistler aboard one of Harbour Air‘s float planes, seemed like the ideal start to a day of indulgences. So on Saturday morning, after breakfasts of delicious omelettes and mimosas on the patio of Table Nineteen, at Nicklaus North Golf Course, we boarded our Beaver aircraft.

We took off from the calm glacier-fed waters of Green Lake and flew over the town of Whistler, hugging the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. As we ascended in a cloudless sky, we noticed below the familiars: the lakes we swim, the trails we hike, the roads we drive. I even spotted my house!

We were left in awe and wonder as we aviated over the Garibaldi Range of the Coast Mountains, flying up close to the mighty Black Tusk, a pinnacle of volcanic rock erecting 2,319m above sea level.

As we travelled south towards the big city, we looked upon the magnificent Stawamus Chief, a granite dome towering over 700m above water. Ahead laid a picturesque image of the majestic Howe Sound.

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We approached Vancouver, and admired the sailboats soaking in the sun in the Burrard Inlet, between the city and the North Shore Mountains. We commenced our descent in the downtown’s harbour, where we glimpsed at the spectacular Lions Gates Bridge on our right, and two massive cruise ships on our left, preparing to set sail to Alaska. Our eyes were pleased with splendors, and our hearts filled with joy and gratitude.

Once we landed in Vancouver’s downtown, we decided to rent bicycles and play tourists for the day. We pedaled around the famous Stanley Park‘s SeaWall, a 9km waterfront paved path, looping around the urban park. We paused for a quick refreshment where we made friends with geese grazing on grasses in the field.

After a couple hours of cycling and wandering, it felt right to head to a nail spa to rest, relax and simply get pampered. We went to Robson Nail & Spa where we had “manis & pedis” while sitting comfortably in a massage chair and sipping on green tea.

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After our beauty treatments, we walked up Robson Street. We chose Ebisu for dinner where we splurged on delicious cocktails and wine and regaled on very unique sushis.

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With our palates pleased and our bellies satisfied from a great meal, we headed to our hotel room at Executive Hotel Le Soleil, a 4-diamond luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown, a complimentary birthday gift from a friend of Julie’s. We popped champagne and cheered for a spectacular day of indulgences.

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We live in a world where we tend to spend more time working than living, and find ourselves guilty of forgetting to take care of our own heart, mind and body. Never forget to reward yourself occasionally. Whether they are daily little pleasures, or sporadic extravagant expenditures, pampering ourselves allows us to re-emerge into our daily routines with extra confidence, boosted self-esteem, and increased energy. Not only does pampering enhance our inner glow, but it also makes us feel special and worthy. Every boy deserves to be spoiled once in a while and every girl deserves to feel like a princess from time to time. So go ahead and pamper yourself, not only because you deserve it, but because you are worth it!

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Do’s and Don’ts in Amsterdam During a Night Layover

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Photo by Barry Carroll

A night layover in Amsterdam is a great opportunity to have a quick taste of this romantic and beautiful European city. Within only a few hours, you’ll be charmed by this famous, small city of the world.

When I booked my return flights from the Canary Islands to Canada, I opted for the 16-hour-night layover in Amsterdam. As well as being the cheapest option, it was also an exciting and convenient opportunity. Here are my list of Do’s and Don’ts in Amsterdam during a night layover: Do look at the seasonal weather temperatures at the time you are going. Amsterdam is charming all year round, whether you visit under a warm sun of July, or under the chilly drizzles of a November sky. However, since you are here because of transit flights, make sure you are aware of the seasonal temperatures and dress appropriately. Don’t rely on the weekly forecast. Weather in Amsterdam can be unpredictable, meaning a sunny morning can soon change into a rainy afternoon. Come prepared with a light jacket if in the summer, or a warm coat during the winter Do book accommodation in advance. Amsterdam is a year round destination, with peak times in the Spring and Summer. However, most weekends are full capacities. Don’t trust hotel runners. Tourists are often approached by runners offering them a good deal on rooms. Upon arrival at the site, in an unfamiliar place, the rates tend to go up radically and they won’t take a “no thanks” for an answer. There are a few illegal hotels with runners trying to scam tourists. Don’t be a statistic. Do take advantage of the nightlife. There are plenty of venues, dance festivals and clubs to please every taste. Don’t get too drunk. Remember you have a flight to catch in a few hours. Do bring enough money. A lot of money: We all know the Euro is highly expensive. So be smart and plan a decent budget for your trip. Be ready to spend 10euros for a vodka, plus 5euros for a side of soda or juice. Don’t expect all establishments to accept credit cards. I’d say 8 out of 10 places we patronned took cash only. Some hostels will also refuse the plastic cards. Have enough cash money on you to cover the bills. Do rent a bike for an authentic local experience. Biking in Amsterdam is a safe and easy way to explore the city thanks to the flat landscape and the panoply of cycle trails. Take a map, understand the rules of safety and use, and enjoy the ride! Don’t walk on the bike paths. Amsterdam is known as the most bicycle-friendly capital of the world. In fact, over 60% of trips in the inner city are made by bike. Due to the high cycling traffic, designated areas have been made to avoid accidents. Make sure you stay in the right one. Do get stoned. Legal coffeeshops are marked with a small green sign in the window. You can buy a gram or more, but most will let you purchase only half a gram (which might be just enough for a layover). Most shops will let you smoke your own weed, but remember they are running a business, so buy something from their shop, like a coffee for example.Don’t get too stoned. You are a tourist in a touristic place. Pickpocketing and scamming happen mostly to the vulnerable tourists. Remember you are also flying in a few hours. Be a smart tourist. And most importantly: don’t buy drugs from strangers. Here’s an interesting link on the subject: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/17/travel/amsterdam-travel-legal-parameters/All. Do stroll through the Red Light District, Amsterdam’s most famous tourist attraction. Hosting brothels, sex shops and museums, this neighbourhood will confirm all the rumors you probably overheard back home. The Red Light District is a necessary check while having a layover in the Amsterdam. Don’t act like a desperate teenager. What saddened me the most was to see groups of young and olden men salivating in front of the girls. This legal prostitution involves real human beings, be respectful of the ladies. This neighbourhood can be shocking for a lot of people, so if you can’t control yourself, go take a hike. Do take photographs. Amsterdam has beautiful historical sights and romantic cobbled-stoned streets filled with restaurants, coffeeshops, bicycles and people to photograph. Also considered the ”Venice of the North”, the city has kilometers of attractive canals and bridges. Taking a cruise on the canals is a perfect way to snap great photographs. If you are there in the Spring, don’t miss the colourful tulips blossoming. Don’t take pictures of the girls in the Red Light District. Once again, respect the girls. Don’t even attempt in taking a slick picture, most likely someone will see you and might take away your device. Do visit a museum. The city has a rich collection of museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House. Don’t feel you have to go to a museum. If those establishments don’t normally excite you, there are many more things to do in Amsterdam. You only have a short period of stay, so do things that make you happy. Do taste the Dutch cuisine. Explore Holland’s best dishes, cheeses, sweets and bread spreads. Have a sit down dinner at one of the local restaurant or eat on the go at the street stalls. Don’t go for the traditional fast food. Be adventurous! You’re in Amsterdam after all! Hope you have a memorable night layover in beautiful Amsterdam. Have a great time, be a smart tourist and enjoy responsibly 😉