Travel Destination – Mykonos and Santorini

2 women, the sea and blue sky

Oia – Santorini

There are a ton of reasons to visit Greece: explore world famous archaeological sites, enjoy a honeymoon, healthy and tasty cuisine, walking on sunshine, admire breathtaking landscape, the high level of hospitality, the safety and much more. Before traveling, identify the main purpose of your trip to make sure to do the most while you’re there.

Greece offers several options for exploration and enjoyment. As true lovers of food, wine and azure blue water, let us introduce two major islands of Cyclades region: Mykonos and Santorini (Thira).

1. MYKONOS
beach, crystal water, blue sky and boats

Ornos Beach – Mykonos

The adjective that would describe the life in Mykonos is hedonism. That being said, there is a bit more to do in Mykonos than chasing pleasure.  While there, you can visit the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, the Lena’s House which is a typical Greek home, and the Folkore Museum. Most of those activities are free!

There are several beaches where you can spend your day in Mykonos. Ornos Beach, located in the southwest of Mykonos, is ideal for groups of friends, family or solo. We did some of our favorite activities, which consisted of enjoying local wine, scuba diving for our daily intake of vitamin “sea”, and taking sun bath for vitamin D!

greek food in Mykonos

Bakalo Restaurant – Mykonos

During our stay, we went to Bakalo which is one of the best restaurant in town. Yanis, the owner, welcomed us with delicious food and made us discover Kanenas wines. It was love at first sight!

Mykonos has a CRAZY nightlife and we enjoyed every bit of it. Whatever the kind of parties you are looking for, you will find it in Mykonos. If you don’t enjoy packed nightclubs, avoid the Skandinavian Bar and head to Argo Bar for a more intimated but still crazy party time.

hotel and pool

Rhenia Hotel and Bungalows – Mykonos

As for Venice in Italy, it was quite challenging to find an hotel in Mykonos. If you want to have a large choice, make sure to book as early as possible. We chose Rhenia Hotel and Bungalows based on their very good ratings and also because it was located close to the New Port which is practical when you have to take a ferry to go to another island.

We highly recommend this place for the comfy Greek bungalows, the pool and the incredible ocean view. Greek hospitality is not a myth, we were welcomed by the couple owner who took good care of us. No wonder why their guests come back to see them every year.

2. Santorini
Greek Church in Oia Santorini

Ekklisia Agios Onoufrios – Oia (Santorini)

Oia, the symbol of Santorini, is the most photographed place on the island due to the breathtaking views over the Caldera. Even if the path is not marked, you can reach Oia by hiking from Fira, the capital of Santorini, just by following the edge of the Caldera (allow 2 to 3 hours).

We went to Oia in early morning to appreciate its oasis of peace, explore its pathways and visit its charming little churches. We came back at night just in time for watching the sunset while enjoying homemade ice creams from Lolita Gelato.

glass of wine and food in a Vineyard at Oia Santorini

Domaine Sigalas – Oia (Santorini)

Wine tasting is a popular activity in Santorini, if you don’t know where to go you can follow the wine roads, visit the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum or book a private tour with an operator. 

As suggested by Lonely Planet guidebook, we decided to try Domaine Sigalas for its refined atmosphere. We had an amazing guided private tasting with experienced sommeliers and were introduced to 15 different styles of wines. If you are looking for a memorable experience, this is the place to try!

greek food in a plate at Skala restaurant in Santorini

Spanakopita – Skala Restaurant (Oia, Santorini)

We had notable culinary moments at Pelican Kipos and Skala restaurants. According to our taste buds, Pelican Kipos is the best restaurant in Fira offering a fine Greek cuisine. The terrace is a beautiful Mediterranean garden and there is also a vineyard for wine tasting workshops.

In Oia, we were delighted by Skala restaurant which has a terrace and an amazing view over the Aegean Sea. They serve generous portions of food, the service is attentive and the house white wine is lovely. We ordered most of the vegetarian and vegan dishes, everything was delicious.

glass of white wine at Kamari beach Santorini

Hook Bar Beach – Kamari (Santorini)

If you plan to go the beach in Santorini, make sure to bring a pair of water shoes to protect your feet from the black sand, your snorkeling kit to admire fishes, and around 7 euros (10 $CAD)  to rent a beach umbrella and a seat.

We went to the famous Red Beach situated in the historical village of Akrotiri but didn’t get the chance to go the White Beach. We also enjoyed Kamari Beach located in southeast of the island and the quieted Exo Gialos Beach at 3 km from Fira.

hotel and pool view in Thira Santorini

Evgenia Villas and Suites – Thira (Santorini)

Depending on the experience you are seeking, there are several sort of accommodations in Santorini: luxury boutique hotels, resorts, villas, hostels, etc. We had a wonderful stay at Evgenia Villas & Suites, loved the warm welcome from the hotel staff and amenities (pool, bar and panoramic view). Moreover, the hotel is well located in Fira, less than 10 minutes walk from the city center.

Smart Car Cabrio in the valley in Santorini Island

Smart Fortwo Cabrio – Akrotiri (Santorini)

To be able to visit at your own rhythm, we highly suggest to rent a quad (35 euros/50 $CAD per day) or a car (65 euros/95 $CAD per day) even if bus is the cheapest option (2 euros/3 $CAD per ticket). Taxis could be very expensive if you don’t know how to negotiate. This is why we opted for a Smart ForTwo and were extremely happy to appreciate AC when it feels 35C outside. Think smart and enjoy your stay 🙂

MAC Montreal – 3 Art Exhibits To See This Summer

MAC Museum in Montreal

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) – Photo credit: Sébastien Roy

Spending summer in Montreal keeps your agenda busy throughout the season! Indeed, summer is festival season in Montreal during which lot of art disciplines are represented: film, music, comedy and much more.

Located in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles, where most festivals are held, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) welcomes you with major art exhibits this summer. Among them, here are 3 exhibitions you don’t want to miss…

1. In Search Of Expo 67
Woman wearing a blue coat and reading a book

One Day – Photo credit: Cheryl Sim

To honor the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, the museum is presenting In Search of Expo 67. This exhibition unveils new artworks by contemporary Québec and Canadian artists on the theme of Expo 67.

As part of the official program celebrating the 375th anniversary of Montreal and Expo 67 – 50 Years Later, this exhibit showcases 19 works including sound art, film, architecture, visual art and music by bringing an innovative perspective.

In parallel with the exhibit, MAC proposes several events in the presence of artists to better discover their approach. Find complete activities schedule at cinemaexpo67.ca.

2. Multiple Shadow House – Olafur Eliasson
women and shadow

Multiple shadow house by Olafur Eliasson – Photo credit: Sébastien Roy

Let me tell you that you have never seen something similar before! Multiple shadow house is the first solo exhibition in Canada signed by talented artist Olafur Eliasson, who applies scientific principles in order to invite us to explore our relationship to time and space.

In this exhibition, water and light are among the key components of the installations. Olafur Eliasson plays incredibly well with weather elements, optical illusions and scientific principles. Thanks to an exceptional process, your body will be the center of the artist creation. Instead of observing, each visitor completes the artwork and becomes a major element of it.

Over the course of this exhibit, the MAC is also organizing a series of Gallery Talks: art historian Anja Bock on Thursday, August 10 (in English), and artist Michel de Broin on Wednesday, September 13 (in French).

3. State Of The World
flowers artwork in museum

Paperwork and the Will of Capital by Taryn Simon – Photo credit: Gagosian Gallery

As a tradition since 1981, a report titled L’état du monde has been published every year summarizing the economic and geopolitical state of the world. The edition 2017 features 3 topics: the end of communism, globalization and the digital revolution.

By creating images that reflect the state of the world, art is used to give responses to the questions addressed in the report. In Paperwork and the Will of Capital by artist Taryn Simon, the photographs portray flowers symbolizing political and economic agreements between nationsIronically, each photograph represents an “impossible bouquet” because the flowers could never grown naturally in the same season and geographic location. The artist highlights the artifice underlying politics.

MAC offers interactive tours (include in entrance ticket, no additional charges) on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This activity helps participants to develop their eye for the art object and acquire a better appreciation of contemporary art through discussion.

Become a MAC member for unlimited access to exhibitions and the Nocturnes. Find out more at mac.org.

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

185 Ste-Catherine W, Montreal

Travel Destination: Venice, Italy

Grand Canal Venice, boat, water and blue sky

Grand Canal – Venice

Venice (Italian: Venezia) is very famous for its numerous canals, bridges, gondolas, and urban legends of many of its inhabitants, one of the most famous of them, Giacomo Casanova. One thing we really loved about Venice is that it is car-free. Walking is an option to consider to get from one point to another otherwise taxi boats and gondolas are also very useful.

For an authentic immersion in this mysterious and magical city, climb aboard a gondola! A private tour is around 80 euros (115 CAD $) for 2 people but we found out that some companies like Ceetiz offer group discounts. Each participant pays 30 euros to share a gondola with a maximum of 5 other passengers for a duration of 30 minutes which sounds pretty fair.

bridge, canal and water in Venice

Bridge and Canal – Venice

We saw thousands of impressive spots simply from wandering around the streets. Venice is truly an open-air museum. For example, after crossing over the Rialto Bridge and passing along the Rialto Market, we saw the recent modern piece of art Support by Lorenzo Quinn.

We were touched by the meaning of this artwork representing two hands emerging from water and holding the Ca’ Sagredo luxury hotel. The artist highlights the rising sea level caused by climate change. This is particularly relevant for Venice which is concerned by the ocean level rise.

two hands holding a bulding in Venice

Support by Lorenzo Quinn – Venice

Among our favorites sightseeing, let’s talk about Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark’s Basilica. For those who like to take pictures with nobody around, be aware that there are a lot of people so the best way to avoid the crowd is to be there at the sunrise…

Place with people walking around in Venice

Piazza San Marco – Venice

Saint Mark’s Basilica – Venice

The entrance of St Mark’s Basilica is free so the queue is very long before entering into the Cathedral. Your two choices to save time is to opt for a guided tour or to book your reserved access “skip the line entry” on Venetoinside portal. This service costs 2 euros (3 CAD $) per person and is available from April 1st to November 2nd. Moreover, the online reservation can be made up to 10 minutes before the chosen visiting time.

We highly recommend to visit the Saint Mark’s Museum (entrance fee: 5 euros/7 CAD $) to be able to admire the Basilica from above, access the external lodge and capture new details. During the visit, you will learn about the techniques used in laying the precious mosaics and contemplate the four original bronze Horses of Saint Mark’s Basilica which came to Venice from Constantinople.

St Mark's Basilica church in Venice

Saint Mark’s Basilica – Venice

4 horses in a basilica

The Horses of Saint Mark’s Basilica – Venice

After long walks in the city, reward yourself with an Italian gelato! Make sure to try one of those two artisanal spots: Suso Gelatoteca in San Marco and Gelateria Alaska in Santa Croce. If you crave for a pizza, note that it’s not a Venetian specialty but we were able to eat delicious vegan pizza at Pizzeria Il Refolo in Santa Croce and at Pizzeria L’Angelo in San Marco.

gelato ice cream in Venice

Suso Gelatoteca – Venice

A perfect way to end a day in Venice is to opt for one of the many classical music concerts. We booked with Virtuosi di Venezia located close to the Saint Mark’s Basilica and we assisted to a representation of the 4 seasons of Vivaldi.

Also, if you are wondering where to stay in Venice, we suggest you to book a central location hotel even if It can be quite challenging. In fact, many hotel in Central Venice have been built few centuries ago, which make them very charming but not cozy.

We stayed at Ca’Mariele luxury apartment hotel, which is located 10 minutes walk from the Piazza San Marco. The location is ideal to visit the main city attractions cited above and places such as Scuola Grande di San Rocco or Gallerie dell’Academia just to mention of few. At the hotel, the rooms are very spacious (which can be quite rare in Venice) and we got a 2 floors luminous apartment with a lovely bathroom and bedroom.

luxury apartment hotel

Ca’ Mariele – Venice

Since Venice is a destination constantly on demand, it’s pretty easy to find good flight ticket deals and even more if your travel dates are flexible. At the departure from Paris, we chose to flight with EasyJet but did not get the chance to experience their brand new A320 NEO aircraft. If you arrive from Montreal, Air Transat offers direct flights at a fair price. Have a good trip!

3 Things To Do at Montreal Bota Bota Spa This Summer

Spa water and blue sky

Bota Bota Spa

Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau is anchored at the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal and easily accessible by Bixi and public transit. Surrounded by a unique decor, this atypical floating spa offers proximity to the St Lawrence River. When you come aboard, you feel the natural lulling movements of the river.

Relaxing at spa is one of our favorite activity for all the healing benefits that it brings to the body such as improving circulation and releasing stress. When combined with healthy lifestyle habits, spa makes a positive difference over the time.

Bota Bota consists of five decks which include: two saunas with incredible views onto the river, three outdoor whirlpool baths, two eucalyptus steam baths, four cold showers and baths, resting areas, a restaurant, terraces and a garden.

This summer, Bota Bota invites you in its enchanting space with new weekly and monthly activities at affordable prices. Come enjoy the following events…

1. 5@7 Tuesday’s With Live Music
live music band in a spa with garden

5@7 Tuesday’s Live Music – Bota Bota Spa

In the heart of the Bota Bota Gardens, enjoy a mix of live music, pools, and spa facility. Every Tuesday from 5PM to 8PM until September 26th, live music sessions feature a variety of musicians such as pianist Charles Trudel, House of Jazz, and many more.

During the 5@7 Tuesday’s Live Music, you also have access to the water circuit until 11PM. Tickets can be booked online in advance  for 45$ including: live music event, a journey water circuit (valid from 5PM to 11PM), bathrobe, towel and locker.

2. LolË Yoga @ Lunch Pose
Yoga class in a Spa

Lolë Yoga @ Lunch Pose – Bota Bota Spa

The Lolë Yoga @ Lunch Pose happens every Thursday until September 28th at the entrance of Bota Bota Spa! While overlooking the Old Port of Montreal, relax your body and mind by joining a free 45 minutes yoga class.

Looking for more reasons to try yoga? Among the list of benefits to practice yoga let us share our top 5: helps you focus, improves your balance, helps you sleep deeper, perfects your posture and builds your muscle strength.

No reservation is required for this free event but you have to bring your own yoga mat. Since it is an outdoor activity, note that in case of rain the event will be unfortunately cancelled.

3. DrifT Away After Dark
pool party at spa

Drift Away After Dark – Bota Bota Spa

Every first Friday of the month until September 1st, Bota Bota is offering an evening experience with an exclusive after hour access to Bota Bota Gardens. For this occasion, relax by the water while listening to the sounds of a DJ, enjoying cocktails, and delighting your taste buds with food prepared by restaurant La Traversée.

During Drift Away After Dark event, silence policy is exceptionally relaxed from 11:30PM to 2AM. Tickets cost 35$ and give you access to the event in the gardens including a towel and a bathrobe. Places are limited for this monthly event so it is highly recommended to reserve your ticket online.

Bota Bota Spa

Corner McGill and De La Commune W., Montreal Old Port

Wines of Provence – 5 Things You Should Know About Rosé Wine

bottle of Rosé wine - bouteille de vin rosé

Wines of Provence – Rosé Wine

Vineyards in Provence are blessed by nature to produce a variety of unique wines from Red to White. Due to the climate, the main production of the Provence region is Rosé wine. From the French Riviera to the Hamptons, Rosé wine is the it wine of the hottest summer parties!

Having recently been invited to a Rosé wine tasting held by Wines of Provence, I had such a great time learning interesting facts about the pink drink in the presence of Marie-Hélène Boisvert (founder of L’Apprentie Sommelière). Let me share with you 5 things you should know about Rosé wine…

wine glasses

Wines of Provence – Wine tasting

1. temperature matters

Warm or chilled? The optimal temperature to serve Rosé is between 8°C and 12°C. Rosé from Provence is light yet rich in aroma which is explained by the diversity of vines used in its making. The assembly of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes gives scents of small red berries, black fruits, citrus fruits, flowers, and spices with mineral and saline notes.

If you have left Rosé in the fridge for many days, do not panic! 20 minutes before serving, put your bottle on the counter so the wine will slowly reach 8°C to 12°C.

2. the newest vintage, the freshest wine

Unlike Red or White, most Rosé wines do not improve over the years so it’s totally fine to drink a bottle from 2015 or 2016. The grapes are picked early to preserve a nice acidity, and the fermentation at low temperature is practiced in order to increase the fruity and floral aromas in the wine. To really experience these flavours, it is recommended to opt for a recent vintage.

3. Drink Rosé with food
food black olive tapenade

Wines of Provence – Black Olive Tapenade

Rosé is not reserved only for cocktail hours! Thanks to its versatility you can definitely bring your bottle to the table. With the crisp side of some dry White, and delicate tannin aftertaste of light Red, Rosé pairs well with Mediterranean dishes including fish and spicy Asian foods. Moreover, due to its acidity, Rosé will balance out the taste of tomato sauce which means you can drink Rosé with pizza.

4. Drink rosé All Year Long
picnic basket with bottle of rosé

Wines of Provence – Picnic

Even if Rosé is your favorite wine for picnics, be aware that Rosé season is year-long! According to SAQ Cellier blog, sales of Rosé slow down in August. That being said, this situation seems to be changing as exports of Provence wines to Canada increased by 38% in 2016. So why not break the gloom of winter with a sunny glass of Rosé?

5. Cook with Rosé
red fruit basket

Wines of Provence – Red fruit basket

Did you know that you can cook with Rosé? Here are 2 recipes to try this summer:

  1. Strawberry salad, kiwi, spinach and Rosé vinaigrette

List of ingredients: local fresh strawberries, fresh kiwis, baby spinach and soft goat cheese.

Rosé vinaigrette: 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup of Provence Rosé, 1 pressed lemon, half of a pink grapefruit (pressed), finely chopped shallots, 1 tsp. sugar, salt and pepper.

Preparation: cut strawberries, kiwis, and cheese. Put all ingredients in a bowl, add the Rosé vinaigrette, and mix. Leave the salad in the fridge and serve at your convenience.

2. Rosé popsicle

List of ingredients: 1 ½ cups of ripe strawberries and/or raspberries, juice from half of a lemon, white sugar (dissolved in hot water), and 500 mL of Provence Rosé.

Preparation: mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Sieve to remove seeds. Add more sugar if needed. Fill your popsicle molds and leave at least 6 to 8 hours in the freezer. This recipe gives about 8 to 10 popsicles (depending on the size of the molds).

wines workshop, wine bottles and food

Wines of Provence – Tasting Workshop

More than 40 wines of Provence are available at SAQ but if you are not able to find THE Rosé, proceed with a private import. Journalist Ève Dumas explains the 3 easy steps to follow in an article published in La Presse.