Where to Watch Wildlife in British Columbia, Canada

June 30, 2015 by  

In this article our guest author, A J Walton shares his love of British Columbia in Canada and the best places to watch wildlife such as seals, whales, eagles and grizzly bears.

British Columbia has some of the most exciting and diverse wildlife habitats in all of North America. As a child of the Canadian prairies, I fondly remember yearly summer trips to BC, where hiking & camping became familiar friends. Nothing has changed as an adult adventure seeker. In fact, I still consider British Columbia my top outdoor travel destination in the world.

In BC, with its sprawling forests, expansive coastline and mountainous peaks, you can expect to see all kinds of animals even just driving along in your car. For adventurous travelers who are ready to get a bit more up close and personal, these 7 wildlife watch tours will open your eyes to a world of natural beauty and the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Whale watching from Stevenson

This unique whale watching tour gives you a stunning view of the BC coastline. It’s the perfect way to watch the world’s largest creatures at home in their natural habitat. The tour meets in the historic fishing town of Stevenson, just South of Vancouver. From there, expert guides take you on a day trip in their 40-foot cruising vessel through the Gulf Islands in search of orca whales, sea lions, aquatic birds and much, much more. Tours from Stevenson Seabreeze Adventures are available from April 1st through October 31st.

A chance to view Sea Lions off the coast of BC, Canada Photo: Richard Gould on Flickr

A chance to view Sea Lions off the coast of BC, Canada

Nature Discovery Tours from Whistler

Offering a range of private and semi-private land rover excursions, Whistler Discovery Tours lets you experience the beauty of the Coastal Mountain Range like never before. With so many natural wonders to choose from, it’ll be difficult to pick just one. They offer morning and evening bear watch tours that let you get up close and personal to these gentle creatures. You can also take a ride through a 450-acre ancient rainforest, where you’ll see massive century-old trees and a host of indigenous wildlife. Any tour you choose, you’re bound to see stunning wildlife and rarely seen views in some of the most remote places on Earth. Tours from Whistler Discovery Tours start on May 1st and run until November 15th.

Rainbow Lake Trail near Whistler Photo: Iwona_Kellie on Flickr

Rainbow Lake Trail near Whistler

Wildlife spotting along the Fraser River

Perfect for a summertime adventure, Fraser River Safari is the ultimate tour of wildlife on the river. Starting in the town of Mission and ending in Harrison Mills, they take you on a wild ride up the Fraser River to see diverse animal life, scenic riverbeds and breathtaking views. You’ll board a cozy “Safari Craft” that’s perfect for those shallow waters, delicate natural habitats and close range glimpses at bears, bald eagles, seals, and the great white sturgeon. It’s ideal for couples, a small group of friends or adventurous families. You’re free to book a personal tour with Fraser River Safari any time during the year, but the busy season starts in July and runs until November.

Fraser River in BC, Canada Photo: John Bromley on Flickr

Fraser River in BC, Canada

See bears in their natural habitat

Based in Fraser Valley, you’re free to rent ATVs or hop on a guided tour as you explore the vast Coastal Mountain Range of BC. With its remote location and rugged terrain, Bear Country Tours gives you unprecedented access to the deep reaches of this wildlife reserve. You can take a two-hour tour or gear up for a multi-day excursion. They specialize in tracking down black bears, grizzlies, and bear cubs in their natural habitat. Don’t worry; these guides are safety experts. Plus, every tour comes with their famous BBQ lunch. Bear Country Tours are available year round. This is an experience that lasts a lifetime.

Bear watching in BC, Canada Photo: Stephen Mattucci on Flickr

Bear watching in BC, Canada

Explore the sea life around Nanaimo

If you love to scuba dive, then you’re in for a real treat. Sea Dragon Charters lets you explore the magnificent sea life in either Howe Sound or Nanaimo, just outside of Vancouver. You can kayak with the seals, go snorkeling with the fish, or sightsee from the boat. Experts take guests to stunning views of the coastline where you’re bound to see octopus, king crabs, wolf eels, and dozens of species of fish. If you choose to go kayaking, the seals love to introduce themselves by playing with the guests. Get off the boat and discover a world of wildlife up close and personal.

Whale Watching from Victoria

Departing from Victoria or Vancouver, this whale watching tour puts an educational twist on your big sea adventure. Guests get to board a mighty passenger vessel as it sets sail through the Gulf Islands, usually pointing out numerous orcas, humpbacks, and sea lions along the way. They refer to their cruises as floating classrooms with some of the finest wildlife tour guides on board. Every trip with Prince of Whales Whale Watching comes with valuable information that will only enhance your experience and knowledge of these spectacular creatures.

Whale watching in BC Canada Photo: Natalie Tsang on Flickr

Whale watching in BC Canada

See Grizzly Bears in Knight Inlet

Cruising through the Knight Inlet in Northern BC, Tide Rip Grizzly Tours gives you an intimate look at the local wildlife throughout the many uninhabited islands, inlets, reefs, and rocky shorelines. You’ll see plenty of grizzly bears as they feast on salmon jumping upstream, plus dolphins, seals, and bald eagles. As one of the few sightseeing tours in the region, this is a rare experience that’s not to be missed. The action heats up in June, but Tide Rip Grizzly Tours are available from April to October.

Bear watching in BC, Canada Photo: Stephen Mattucci on Flickr

Bear watching in BC, Canada

Visit the #explorecanada official Canada Tourism Website for more information on things to do in British Columbia and Vancouver Island as well as their social media channels on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

AJ WaltonAuthor Bio: Thanks for this article to AJ Walton – a world traveller focused on traveling, learning languages and entrepreneurship.

More Canadian adventures:

Vancouver Island – Nature Lover’s Paradise
How to Enjoy a Great Day in Victoria, BC
5 Reasons to Put Canada on Your Bucket List

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Where to see wildlife in BC Canada

Photo Credits: Sea Lions by Richard Gould , Rainbow Lake Hiking Trail by Iwona_Kellie , Fraser River by John Bromley , Grizzly bears by Stephen Mattucci, Whale Watching by Natalie Tsang , Grizzly bear and cubs by Stephen Mattucci

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Places to visit in Bangalore if you only have one day

June 28, 2015 by  

If you’re visiting Bangalore (now known as Bengaluru), the chances are you’re just passing through on business or flying into the city before moving on. This was exactly my purpose when I visited Bangalore in January on my way to visit a charity project that I support – you can read about it here. Despite the snatched half day of sightseeing and shopping at the beginning and end of my trip, I found quite a few places to visit in Bangalore if you only have one day to spend there.

How to spend a day in Bangalore Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotels in Bangalore – Escape Hotel & Spa

For the first and last night of my stay in India I searched for a boutique style hotel that was moderately priced (it feels wrong to pay European prices in India), and everything pointed to Escape Hotel & Spa in the Indira Nagar district. Without realising it I managed to choose one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in Bengaluru with restaurants and bars that wouldn’t be out of place in any major European city. This is a popular area for expats to live and where the young and affluent of Bengalore come to play after a hard day at the call centre or office.

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

My room on the 3rd floor of Escape Hotel was very spacious with stark modern decor of black, white and grey with a couple of red painted chairs for a spot of colour. Full marks for the oh-so-British set-up of a  kettle to make your morning cuppa and a safe that would actually fit my laptop.  My only complaint was the angular wooden base of the bed, which seems to be a feature of these designer hotels, but only served as a place to bang my shins.

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Escape Hotel where we stayed in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

Since garden space is at a premium in the city, the roof terrace of the hotel was a welcome feature, with indoor and outdoor seating for drinks, and the Bricklane Grill restaurant overlooking the narrow rooftop swimming pool. The restaurant style is continental European, vaguely French with distressed painted white-wood furniture and pretty daisies on the table. The food was a mixture of European and Anglo-Indian and was well-cooked and pleasant although nothing extraordinary.

The relaxed atmosphere was only slightly marred by the thumping club music from the DJ that they have every Friday and Saturday evening until late. I’d certainly recommend Escape Hotel as a great place to stay in Bangalore if you’re looking for designer style at a resonable price. After a week in somewhat basic accommodation, I was thrilled to get back to it for a second night at the end of our time in India. For more ideas for hotels in Bangalore visit my hotel booking page where you can check for best prices and availability.

Vegetable stall in Indira Nagar, Bangalore Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vegetable stall in Indira Nagar, Bangalore

A night stroll around Indira Nagar

After dinner we took a stroll down some of the side streets around the hotel with interesting kiosk shops selling streetf ood. At one we watched rice flour dosas being made and sold wrapped in newspaper with dipping sauces in small plastic bags. Another kiosk sold Chinese style dumplings with a chilli dipping sauce, so we determined to go back the next day for lunch.

Just one block back from the main road, the atmosphere became much more local and residential with people chatting on the balconies or hanging around by the roadside. Although we didn’t see any other western tourists, no-one looked at us curiously, since Bangalore is such a cosmopolitan city. The lack of tourists had another advantage in that there was not much hastle, hussle and begging in the areas we visited.

Some cool places to eat in Bangalore

Although a little research brought up plenty of trendy restaurants in Bangalore we decided to stay close to the hotel and had lunch at the Black Rabbit on the ground floor of the Escape Hotel. This was a younger version of the Bricklane Grill with great burgers, small plates and cocktails and a DJ installed in the evening. I enjoyed my papaya noodle salad and fresh pressed mango juice and we sat in the outdoor area which was enclosed from the street.

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India

In the evening we tried a pan-Asian restaurant called The Fatty Bao which was close to the hotel and on the floors above Monkey Bar. Initially we were shown to the 4th floor which was fully enclosed and air conditioned but we wanted to feel the warmth of the night air so asked to be seated on the 5th floor terrace which is partly open, so you can eat almost al fresco.

At the Fatty Bao they serve small plates of Asian fusion food amidst greenery, fairy lights and slightly kitch surroundings. My plate of pork belly pieces was meltingly slow-cooked but crispy on top and the mango and papaya salad was like a coleslaw with fruity dressing. Our deserts like the ginger and fig cake with a dot of garnish were OK but didn’t quite match up in deliciousness. We really enjoyed the ambiance and as usual the drinks bumped up the otherwise moderate bill to around 3500 rs (around £35) for two.

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch at Black Rabbit restaurant next to Escape Hotel, Bengaluru, India

Shopping around Indira Nagar

We had planned to spend the first morning looking around the city but got sidetracked with shopping in the neighbourhood of Indira Nagar around the hotel. Close by was the Soma shop (100 Feet Rd) which sold hand printed textiles and I went a bit mad on buying sarongs, tablecloths and napkins for all my family. By the time I’d finished, a year’s worth of birthday presents was taken care of.

We moved on to the FabIndia store (522 CMH Rd) which also sold many different Indian handicrafts – definitely the place to buy clothes and household goods. By the time got back to the hotel our morning was gone, so we had to save the sightseeing for the end of our trip.

Shopping for handprinted textiles at Soma, Indiranagar, Bengaluru Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Shopping for handprinted textiles at Soma, Indiranagar, Bengaluru

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bangalore

Because we’d spent most of our first morning shopping we were determined to get back to the sightseeing in Bangalore. The Tipu Sultan palace is small but interesting enough and from our hotel we took a tuk tuk which cost around 130 rupees (£1.30). While on the topic of tuk tuks it’s best to check with your hotel roughly how much a journey is likely to cost. There is a meter, but the driver will inevitably ignore you when you ask him to put it on, so it’s a good idea to check the going rate in advance. The Indians are outraged at being cheated a rupee more than they have to, but of course we soft Europeans would rather not have the haggle over a few rupees that might make quite a difference to the driver’s day.

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India

Once we arrived at the Tipu Sultan palace we paid 100 rupees (£1) to get in and little extra for a camera licence. There were a few information signs but we decided to use the guide who approached us inside (it’s a pay what you think it’s worth system). By the end of his very detailed tour, we knew practically every fact and every date in the history of the place.

Upstairs we wandered through the faded grandeur of rooms painted in Mughal patterns and had our photos taken on the two different balconies. One faced the gardens from which the sultan hear pleas from his advisors, and on the other side he would conduct private business. A few of the ground floor rooms are open and have been made into a museum with information in English about Tipu Sultan. It was only at the end when I saw the small model of the famous mechanical tiger eating a soldier, that I made the connection with the life-size one in the V and A in London which growls and groans in turn.

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tipu Sultan Palace in Bengaluru, India

Visiting the City Market in Bengaluru

We had been told that the City market was right opposite the Tipu Sultan Palace but ‘right opposite’ was clearly a relative term in India. We set off in what we hoped was the right direction and as clueless British tourists were immediately approached by a tuk tuk driver who offered to take us around and act as a guide. Although we really didn’t want any more guiding, in the end the driver’s persistence wore us down and we accepted. In this case it was a good thing since he took us directly to the market and walked us right through the main areas that we might not have found.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The market was big and bustling with cows wandering around grazing on rubbish and vegetable stalls on the outside. In the inner area was the flower market where rose heads were piled high in baskets of bright red, orange and yellow. The flower industry here is not about decorating your home but for garlands which are used on all special occasions to greet honoured guests.

During our week in India we’d got quite used to being garlanded at every place we visited. In the market men sat crossed legged threading the roses and marigolds to make thick ropes of flowers, then winding them with silver thread for a bit of extra glitter.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The market was a photographer’s dream and everyone was quite good humoured although we heard that the market gets very busy and crowded especially at weekends. If you are a lady with long hair I recommend buying a jasmine string for your hair so you can walk around in a cloud of delicious floral perfume. This will help to overcome the less appealing exterior of the market where cows were rooting around in the rubbish and men urinating on the piles of rotting vegetable.

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

City Market (Krishnarajendra) in Bengaluru, India

The Botanic Garden in Bengaluru

Last stop was the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens which was around 20 minutes from the market by tuk tuk costing 10 rs (10p) to enter and 50 rs (50p) per camera licence. The large gardens are a good place to escape the noise and traffic of the city, although this being India everything was very dusty. We walked up the earth paths lined with different trees and botanical specimens to reach a floral clock which was ornamented by figures of the seven dwarfs and seemed to have a Snow White theme. By the clock was a man with a whistle who was not afraid to aim a short blast at anyone committing some misdemeanor, although what these might be we couldn’t tell.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

The gardens seemed a popular place for young couples to walk under the trees and groups of friends to sit and have a picnic. We were disappointed to find that many of the water features were empty of water which made them rather unattractive and the rose garden although pretty was fully enclosed. We had to peer at the roses from a distance, although I suspect that otherwise all the flowers might be picked for a home-made garland or flower ornament.

We skirted around the edge of the park and found the Victorian glasshouse which was a bit like those at Kew Gardens. The design was more of an open sided canopy and the glasshouse appeared to be more ornamental than anything else. Returning to the main entrance, since the park was now closing, we found our tuk tuk driver and returned to the hotel in nose to tail traffic and clouds of traffic fumes.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bengaluru / Bangalore, India

In this busy, vibrant city there are plenty of things to do in Bangalore for a day or two, if you’re there on business or passing through. It’s more of a place to hang out than to tick off the tourist sites, although there are places worth seeing while you’re there. If I went back I would try and connect with some of the locals to see beyond the traffic fumes and dust since there’s clearly a thriving entrepreneurial spirit going on here with all the trendy bars and restaurants and people with money to support them.

More stories about India

13 stories from my charity visit to India – going off the tourist trail
Flying Première class to India on Jet airways – is it worth it?
Meeting my Indian Sponsor Child

Planning a trip to India?

Thanks to Jet Airways for providing Heather’s flight to Bangalore/ Bengaluru. Jet Airways is the second largest airline in India, operating over 300 flights daily to 73 destinations worldwide and fly to Bengaluru via Mumbai and Dehli twice daily from London Heathrow. For more information: Jet Airways website | Twitter @jetairways | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | Flickr |

Need Airport Parking?

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service booked through APH Parking and Hotels. APH is a multi-award winning company for airport parking & airport hotels, offering airport parking at a range of airports across the UK. APH also offer airport travel extras such as Meet and Greet parking, airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays so you can start enjoying a stress-free holiday before you even take off. Thanks to APH who provided Heather’s airport parking on a complimentary basis. For more information: APH website | APH Blog | Twitter @APHParking | Facebook | Google+ | YouTube |

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Join me on our Venice boat tour – with Walks of Italy

June 8, 2015 by  

The crowds of St Mark’s square swirled around us as we waited at the Lion of Venice column for our Venice boat tour to begin. What a fabulous spot for people watching; the brightly clothed Chinese with every inch of skin hidden from the sunshine, the couples with their selfie sticks and the children chasing pigeons. Close to us was the line for the Doge’s palace, a little further the queue for the Campanile, while on the far side of the square, tour groups were being herded towards the entrance of St Mark’s Basilica.

Venice Featured

Thank goodness that our guide Jennifer soon led us away from the noise and crowds towards the water taxi, and we were off to see Venice by boat on our Walks of Italy tour. Our small group comprised a couple from San Diago, Sandy from Australia as well as the four of our family and in moments we were following the Hotel Cipriani launch across the lagoon towards the island of San Georgio Maggiore.

The Hotel Cipriani launch in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Hotel Cipriani launch heads across the lagoon in Venice

Ten minutes later and we stepped onto the landing stage in front of the pure white facade of Chiesa San Georgio, designed by the architect Palladio at a certain angle so that it would glow in the afternoon sun. This is the spot where every bride and bridegroom will come after their wedding, to have their photo taken with the view of St Mark’s square in the distance across the lagoon. There is no-where to stay on the island but it’s not much of a hardship posting for the handful of monks who still live in the Benedictine monastery.

San Georgio Maggiore in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

San Georgio Maggiore in Venice catches the afternoon light

Jennifer led us through the chuch and to the lift which took six people at a time up to the top of the campanile with 360 degree views over the lagoon – the cost of €6 was included in our Walks of Italy Venice boat tour. From here we could look down into the monastery gardens, towards the outer islands and clearly see the channels of the lagoon that are under heated discussion in Venice. The big debate is whether to reduce the number and size of the cruise ships going through the channel in front of St Mark’s square, since this would mean dredging deeper channels in other parts of the lagoon which could cause just as much environmental damage.

View of San Marco from the bell tower of San Georgio in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of San Marco from the bell tower of San Georgio in Venice

Once we were back on the boat, our guide Jennifer fed us a steady stream of stories about Venice – a mixture of celebrity, history and money just as Venice has always been. Soon we could point out the house owned by Elton John on the nearby island of Giudecca and the church where Verdi was the choir master.

Our guide on the Walks of Italy Boat tour in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Our guide on the Walks of Italy Boat tour in Venice

Skirting around the Arselale district we rounded the far side of the lagoon with a view of San Michele, the graveyard island. It was Napoleon who ordered all the graves to be moved to this island since it was becoming insanitary in Venice and it is still used as the burial place today.

Beyond San Michele is the island of Murano known for the glass blowing – the glass industry was moved there due to the risk of fire and to keep the closely guarded secrets of the art of glassmaking. The Venetians were the first to perfect the making of coloured glass through the addition of gold, mercury and copper and of making mirrored glass to replace the polished metal looking glasses.

Check out the dog we saw standing at the prow of the boat alongside us as we passed the island – typical of Venetians going about their business by boat!

San Michele island in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Passing San Michele island in Venice

Next our Venice boat ride took us through the pretty backwaters of the Cannaregio district, with much more of a local feel, where the tide of cruise ship guests rarely reaches. This is the neighbourhood I’d choose to stay if I ever go back to Venice, in some crumbing but atmospheric house with a balcony overlooking a small side canal.

Cannaregio district in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cannaregio district in Venice

We passed the famous church of Madonna dell’Orto that we had already visited on our wanderings, with the huge paintings by Tintoretto who had a studio nearby. Jennifer pointed out the more mundane necessities of daily life in Venice; the hospital with yellow ambulance boats moored outside and the sports centre close to the station where the train tracks end. You’ll know you’re nearby if you see a large H for hospital on a bridge to warn you to keep the noise down.

Yellow ambulances outside the Hospital in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Yellow ambulances outside the Hospital in Venice

There are only a couple of places that the famous gondolas of Venice are made and we passed one of them on our boat tour. Check out the Alpine looking buildings made of wood, since the first boatmakers came from the Tirol, north of Venice.

Gondola workshop in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gondola workshop in Venice

As we entered the Grand Canal, we heard more stories of life in Venice, and learned how there were originally far fewer streets, which since they were likely to be muddy and smelly, were only used by servants. The main house entrance was always on the canal side and everyone who was anyone would go about their business by gondola. The bridges and pavements alongside the canals were only built later and if you see a street called Calle Terre it means the canal that was once there has been filled in and paved over.

On the Grand Canal in Venice on our Walks of Italy Tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On the Grand Canal in Venice on our Walks of Italy Tour

Now the celebrity stories were coming thick and fast as we passed the Gritti Palace hotel where Gwyneth Paltrow celebrated her birthday, the Mayor’s office in the Cavelli Palace, where George and Amal Clooney had their civil marriage ceremony and the ultra-luxe Hotel Aman Canal Grande where they held their wedding party.

A little further on and Jennifer pointed out the house that Angelina Jolie rented when she was in Venice to film The Tourist, as well as the building in the Rialto market where Jonnie Depp is chased along the terrace in the same film. Right next door to Angela’s house is the Palazzo where Lord Byron lived for a few years in the early 1800s and since he had a club foot, liked to exercise by swimming in the Grand Canal behind his own private gondola.

You’ll also pass the building that featured in the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, where the magic of cinema makes it look as if the whole front of the building collapses into the canal.

Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice

Beyond the celebrity gossip, our tour of Venice helped us to understand how wealthy Venetians lived in the past, since all the Palazzos, whatever their outward style, share the same internal arrangements. While the ground floor was for coming and going by gondola, the first noble floor was where the wealthy family would live and entertain, the second and third floor housed their bedrooms while the servant’s rooms and kitchen were on the top floor allowing easier evacuation if a fire broke out.

Palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice

Since all the waste went into the canal, the ladies would go go up to the roof terrace to get away from the smells of the canal in the hot summer months. If you look up at the roofs of many of the buildings, you can still spot these terraces, where they would go to create the Venetian ideal of beauty, a fair complexion with strawberry blonde hair.

What you may not realise is that to achieve the look they would sit in the sun with their face shaded and their hair spread out across the wide brims of special hats to bleach it with horse urine. Lovely! Look at the picture below and you can spot one of these roof terraces on the right.

Passing the Rialto bridge on our Walks of Italy Boat Tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Passing the Rialto bridge on our Walks of Italy Boat Tour

There are only a few bridges that cross the Grand Canal and the oldest is the Rialto bridge, set on the narrowest part of the Grand Canal. While the Rialto is a single arch stone bridge, it replaced older wooden bridges of the same design, always with shops above so that the rent would pay for the upkeep of the bridge.

Before other bridges were built, the Rialto was considered the heart of the financial and commercial district. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock says, ” Ha’ what now on the Rialto? ” since this is where you would come to hear all the news and gossip. Until 1860 it was the only bridge across the Grand Canal and at other places you would cross on a gondola. You can still find these gondola stations in a few places on the Grand Canal and take a short gondola ride without the €100 bill.

 Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Accademia bridge on our Walks of Italy Boats Tour

The next bridge we passed was the Accademia bridge, constructed of wood in the 1930s as a temporary solution, although since people like it, it keeps being restored. A little beyond the Accademia bridge was the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the low building of the unfinished Palazzo housing a fabulous modern art collection that we had visited the day before – highly recommended!

The Old Customs House on the Grand Canal in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Old Customs House on the Grand Canal in Venice

Now our two hour boat tour of Venice was nearly over and we reached the Old Customs House with the dome, on top of which the golden goddess Fortuna stands, holding a sail. She acts as a weather vane, twirling around in the wind and as Jennifer told us, “who needs a weather app when you can have a weather goddess?”

Heather & Guy on our Walks of Italy Boat Tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather & Guy on our Walks of Italy Boat Tour

We reached the landing stage at San Marco again, and sadly our Venice boat tour was over. I’ve not even had time to tell you why the chimneys look like upside down cones, how Venice showed the world how to make money out of gambling and where you find the gas station to fill up your boat.

If you want to feel a touch of that George & Amal glamour on your private water taxi while soaking up the stories and atmosphere of Venice, I guess you’ll just have to take the tour!

More information about our boat tour of Venice

We took our Venice boat tour with Walks of Italy who offer a number of different tours of Venice and other parts of Italy. Other tours on offer that looked interesting were a Venice Food Tour with a visit to the Rialto market including cicchetti and wine tasting, a Welcome to Venice Walking Tour with a gondola ride and a Venice in a day tour with St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and a Gondola Ride. You can see all the different Walks of Italy Venice Tours here.

Our Venice Boat Tour took 2 hours and cost €98 per person which included;

  • A 2 hour private motorboat ride
  • A small group (9 or less) with an expert guide
  • Headsets so we could listen to the guide
  • Entrance tickets to the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore

Thanks to Walks of Italy who provided a complimentary tour for Heather and her family

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Read about my Venice Boat Tour with Walks of Italy

Where to stay in Venice

For our 3 day stay in Venice I rented an apartment with Go with Oh and was able to use the voucher that I won with Passports with Purpose blogger fundraiser. We chose this apartment in the San Marco district since it was so well located for all the main sites.

Thanks to Murissa from The Wonderful Traveller who hosted this prize contributed by Go with Oh and and for her tips on what to see in Venice. Passports with Purpose is a really worthwhile organisation which supports a different cause each year and you can win some really fabulous prizes so it’s definitely worth participating.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Enter my £200 giveaway from Zalando – with Venice inspiration

May 31, 2015 by  

To celebrate the spring weather and my recent trip to Venice I have a very special giveaway to share with you in partnership with online clothing retailer, Zalando. If you’ve got a holiday planned in the next month or two, you won’t need any excuse to look at a few new items for your spring/summer wardrobe and I can provide just the inspiration you might need from my Venice weekend. Read on to find out how you can win a £200 Zalando voucher to spend on clothing for your next holiday.

Gondolas in St Mark's square, Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gondolas in St Mark’s square, Venice

Inspired by the blue gondolas and the lagoon in Venice

Inspired by the blue of the lagoon and the gondolas moored on the edge of St Mark’s square, I’ve chosen some pieces that will keep you stylish but cosy in the breezes on the lagoon as you take a water taxi to explore the backwaters of Venice. Clambering in an out of a boat is not the place to wear your tottering heels, so for that gondola ride, choose jeans and flats and take your fashion cue from the navy striped t-shirts of the gondoliers.

Slide1Michael Kors Navy trench coat £250, Michael Kors Camila Tortoiseshell sunglasses £90, Michael Kors Jet-set travel tote bag £250, Boss orange Isabelle blue cardigan £150, Repeat blouse £160. Find them all in the Premium section of the Zalando website.

Inspired by the mellow teracotta palazzos on the Grand Canal at sunset

One of our favourite places to visit in Venice is the Peggy Guggenheim collection in the Dorsoduro district, with a beautiful sculpture garden and a long, elegant building filled with all the greatest modern artists. There is a wonderful terrace from where I took this photo where you can sit and watch the traffic on the Grand Canal, with waterbuses, taxis and gondolas all passing by.

Mellow teracotta palazzos on the Grand Canal Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mellow teracotta palazzos on the Grand Canal – view from the Peggu Guggenheim in Venice

I love the washed out ochre and teracotta shades of the palazzos that line the Grand Canal, colours that you will see along all the side canals too. In the evening you’ll want to find the small wine bars where the locals go for an Aperol spritz, glass of prosecco and a few cicchetti to nibble, followed by dinner in a quiet square well away from San Marco and all the tourists. I’ve chosen some dresses that will be perfect for your evening inspired by those sunset colours of the aperitivo and the teracotta facades and rooftiles.

Versace jeans maxi dress in rosso £145, 2nd Day Vega silk sleeveless top £100, Michael Kors Kathumar summer dress in grenadine £160, Rayban Erika sunnies in red/silver £95 – available on the Zalando website

Inspired by the white facade of San Georgio Maggiore

If you want an alternative view of Venice, take the short water taxi ride from St Mark’s square to the church of San Giorgio Maggiore where you can climb the campanile without the long queues you’ll find in St Mark’s square. This is where every bride and groom who marry in Venice come to have their wedding photos taken with the familiar view of the lagoon and San Marco in the background.

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice

The church of San Giorgio Maggiore was carefully positioned so that its facade is lit by the evening sun, glowing white across the lagoon. Inspired by the white frontage of the church I’ve chosen some pieces that will be elegant for sightseeing and take you through to evening for a stroll and a drink as the sun sets.


Boss Orange Coolettee white mesh dress £150, Kartell SOK gold sandals £60, Burberry nude/black sunnies £135, DKNY Heritage rucksack £195, True Religion Halle Slim fit white jeans £170 – available on the Zalando website

If you’d like to win a £200 voucher to spend on your new spring wardrobe from Zalando here’s what you need to do;

  • Leave a comment below this article telling me what item from the Zalando website you’d love to buy if you win the £200 voucher and where you’ll be wearing it

For additional chances to win you can use the Rafflecopter widget below to;

  • Tweet about the giveaway (you can do this once a day)
  • Follow me on Instagram
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Follow Zalando on Twitter
  • Follow Zalando on Instagram

Please note that unfortunately this giveaway is only open to readers who can meet the delivery restrictions of the Zalando.co.uk website – orders with a UK card and delivered to a UK address – please see T & C below for more details.

Planning a trip to Venice?

I can recommend staying in an apartment which gives you more space and flexibility for your money – we found ours through Go with Oh using the voucher that I won in the Passports with Purpose fundraiser that was hosted by Murissa at The Wonderful Traveler. I can also highly recommend taking a tour with Walks of Italy – we took their boat tour of Venice which included a visit to San Georgio Maggiore.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

  • This giveaway is a prize draw/sweepstake
  • The prize is a £200 voucher that may be spent at Zalando.co.uk
  • The giveaway is open to UK readers who can place an order through Zalando.co.uk which requires a UK billing and delivery address and a credit card or PayPal account linked to a UK bank account. Additionally the order must be placed from a UK IP address
  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • The giveaway runs for 2 weeks and ends on Monday 15th June 2015 at midnight
  • The winner will be notified by e-mail within 7 days of the draw ending and must confirm their acceptance of the prize by e-mail within 3 days or the prize will be allocated to another winner.
  • The giveaway is restricted to one entry per individual and any duplicate or automated entries will disqualify the entrant from this giveaway.
  • Entering this giveaway gives permission for you to be added to the e-mail list of Heatheronhertravels.com and Zalando.co.uk but we will never spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time.
  • Minimum spend of £100
  • Voucher code is one time use only and can be redeemed on step 2 of 3 of the secure payment process.
  • If under £200 is spent the remaining amount will not be left on the Zalando account.
  • For UK shop only.
  • Valid until December 2, 2015.
  • Brands and items not included: BOSS, BOSS Green, CK Calvin Klein, Calviin Klein, G-Star, Gianvito Rossi, Giuseppi Zanotti, HUGO, Lauren Ralph Lauren, MCM, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, RLX Golf, Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, Tommy Hilfiger, UGG Australia, Vilebrequin.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Vancouver Island – A Nature Lover’s Paradise

May 29, 2015 by  

Our guest author, Leigh McAdam shares her love of Vancouver island, British Columbia, where you can explore the temperate rainforests, go kayaking along the rugged coastline and hope to see bears, orca whales and bald eagles.

Vancouver Island dependably ranks as one of my favourite places to visit. I love it for its wild spaces and easy access to nature. Many visitors don’t make it past Victoria, and though it’s a delightful city, it’s the places where Mother Nature reigns that strike a chord with me. Vancouver Island is home to one of the world’s temperate rainforests; it also boasts over 3,400 kilometres of coastline, a coastal mountain range often shrouded in fog and countless islands. For a memorable trip to Vancouver Island include as many of these experiences as possible.

Beaches along the West Coast trail on Vancouver Island Photo: Hikebiketravel.com

Beaches along the West Coast trail on Vancouver Island

Coastal flora & fauna

Visit wild west coast beaches especially the ones along the Juan de Fuca Trail, northwest of Victoria as well as those in the Tofino area. Botanical Beach, near Port Renfrew is a standout and easily visited as a day trip from Victoria. (Or stay in Point No Point Lodge and head north from there.) Although it’s on the Juan de Fuca Trail, it’s accessible to day trippers. Check out the tide charts before you go so your visit coincides with a falling tide. Bring your rain gear and a pair of shoes with some traction. Then plan on a few hours peering into nature’s potholes – filled with all manner of animal life – sea urchins, starfish, mussels, sea cucumbers, shore crabs and hermit crabs, octopus, chitons, limpets, sculpins, barnacles, periwinkles and sea anemones. When the tide starts to rise, pull out a picnic lunch and relax on a nearby sandy beach.

Botanical beach and Point No Point Photo: Hikebiketravel.com

Botanical beach and Point No Point on Vancouver Island

And on the way to Port Renfrew – or anywhere else on Vancouver Island for that matter, keep your eyes peeled for black bears at the side of the road. But use common sense and take your photographs from the safety of your car.

Spotting black bears on Vancouver Island Photo: Hikebiketravel.com

Spotting black bears on Vancouver Island

Hike & kayak to spectacular views

For one of Canada’s best day hikes, head to East Sooke Regional Park and plan to hike the Coastal Trail. You get the full west coast experience, yet it’s only 45 minutes from downtown Victoria. Like many trails along the coast, its 10 km length belies its difficulty. Expect to be challenged by non-stop ups and downs but there is a reward – spectacular, rugged coastline broken by a cedar and fir filled rainforest, with swaths of wildflowers in season. From your resting spot, be it a bench or a beach, enjoy the views of the Olympic Mountains over in Washington State.

East Sooke on Vancouver Island Photo: Hikebiketravel.com

East Sooke on Vancouver Island

Clayoquot Sound accessible from Tofino deserves a visit. It’s popular as a kayaking destination – for one day to multi-day trips. If you only have a day, you can join a guided tour and head for Meares Island where you’ll see some of the oldest and biggest trees in British Columbia. The most famous tree – the Hanging Garden Tree – is a western red cedar with a massive 18.3 metre circumference. Otherwise join a tour and head out for one of the islands, some of which boast beautiful, white sand beaches. Expect to see seals, whales, otters and lots of sea birds.

If you’ve dreamed of seeing Orcas (killer whales), head for Telegraph Cove at the northeastern end of Vancouver Island. Not only is it one of the best places in the world to see these whales, you’re also likely to see bears and bald eagles. Adventurous travelers should consider joining a multi-day kayak tour in the area but note that the waters can be challenging because of the currents.

Gulf Islands kayaking Photo: Hikebiketravel.com

Gulf Islands kayaking on Vancouver island

Adventure for everyone

If you’re already in Telegraph Cove, then try to include a boat ride to Knight Inlet to see the grizzly bears. June is the best month to visit but in the fall you’re treated to the sight of the bears catching and eating salmon. For the truly adventurous there are several excellent backpacking trips including the famous West Coast Trail that takes most people four to seven days to hike its 75 km length. Although tough, it rewards with incredible beach camping every night. Other choices include the Nootka Island Trail and the North Coast Trail.

There are loads of other kayaking options. Near to Victoria you can kayak in the waters around the southern Gulf Islands. The Discovery Islands near Campbell River are beautiful, but challenging with currents and the lack of campsites. The Broken Group of Islands in Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino offers amazing kayaking – and it’s perfect for novices.

No matter what adventure you choose, Vancouver Island will charm you. And despite its reputation as a rainy place, it can be sunny and dry for weeks on end come summer.

Visit the #explorecanada official Canada Tourism Website for more information on things to do in British Columbia and Vancouver Island as well as their social media channels on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Leigh McAdam bio
DiscoverCanadaBook by Leigh McAdamAuthor Bio: Many thanks for this article to Leigh McAdam, a Calgary based blogger writing about outdoor and adventure travel at HikeBikeTravel.com. Recently she completed 100 adventures across Canada and wrote the ebook – Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures.


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Read about Vancouver Island, a nature lover's paradise

For more Canadian experiences:

How to enjoy a great day in Victoria, BC
5 Reasons to Put Canada on Your Bucket List
Adventurous Canada With a Twist

This article by Leigh McAdam is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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