The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas! The last time I was in Sin City, I was 15 years old. I went on road trip with my parents across the States and this was one of the stops. We had a great time, but being a minor excluded me from a lot of the fun.

Fast forward 18 years, and I finally made it to Vegas as an adult. Our real destination was Utah, but we flew into Vegas and thought we would stay a couple nights.

If you follow my blogs, you will know that I like to stay in homes when I travel, but for this trip there was no other option than to stay in a hotel on the strip. I really wanted to have a unique view of the Bellagio fountains and Vegas skyline. After a long search, I narrowed it down to The Cosmopolitan. The main draw for me was their balconies with fountain views. All the other hotels that I looked at (Bellagio, Aria, Vdara etc.) did not have balconies. I booked the hotel through Expedia.ca and got a 15% discount in the process.

We arranged a shuttle service through the concierge prior to our arrival. When we got to Vegas, we could not locate the shuttle and ended up walking around looking for them for about half an hour. I would recommend just grabbing an Uber or taxi instead of pre arranging transportation.

We arrived at the hotel at 10pm on a Saturday evening. Check in was quick and painless. I asked for a lower floor, since I don’t like elevators and they were very accommodating.

At first glance the hotel was very glam and avant garde. The guests in the lobby were dressed to the nines, as it was a Saturday night. I heard that the clientele here could be described as Millenial Yuppies, and I would have to agree with that statement.

We checked into our room on the 32nd floor, which was a One Bedroom Terrace Suite (room number 3223). The suite is quite spacious with a large sectional couch in the living room. There is a dry bar across from this with enticing mini bar snacks and a separate mini fridge to store your own groceries. The snacks are pressure sensored, so if you lift it, you own it!

One of my favourite parts of the room was the closet area that leads from the living room into the bedroom. There are spacious closets here that light up upon opening and had full length mirrors on the exterior. A full length mirror is a must if you are going to be dressing up for a night in Vegas!

The bathroom has a huge walk in shower with a bathtub overlooking the fountains. This was such a unique feature that created an amazing backdrop for Instagram photos.

The bathroom has double sinks with ring light mirrors, which is great for applying makeup. There is a separate water closet, which can be tough to get into if someone is standing at the vanity.

The king sized bed was nothing to write home about. The linens were decent, but the mattress was a bit lumpy. It almost felt like they had put one of those egg carton sponge things on top of the mattress.

The most impressive part of the room is the unobstructed view from the balcony. You really feel like you have Vegas all to yourself. This is something that would bring me back to this hotel.

The hotel itself has a lot to offer with it’s casino, nightlife, restaurants and pool bar. You will have to check out their secret unmarked pizza joint between Blue Ribbon and Jaleo. Eggslut is also a very popular breakfast spot. Expect to wait at least half an hour as there is usually a line up. While you wait, you could get a photo by the over sized Louboutin shoe!

We used the pool and hot tub and there were many loungers available. It was not too crowded in late October, but might get busy in the summer. We wanted to use the gym, but it closed too early (8pm).

Check out was just as easy as checking in. There were a bunch of people in line, but they allowed us to do a mobile check out, which only took a minute.

Our stay at The Cosmopolitan was enjoyable. I would recommend it and stay there again in the future. I just wish they had comfier mattresses! That was the only negative part of our stay. If you have any questions about this hotel please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Kira

Instagram Guide to Atlantic Canada

The east coast of Canada is filled to the brim with beauty. This summer we visited for our very first time and tried to pack in as many destinations as possible. In the week that we were there we put 3000 km on our rental vehicle! I honestly believe that you could live in Atlantic Canada for a lifetime and still not see everything. Here are some Instagram worthy spots that we discovered on our vacation:

1. Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is one of the world’s most visited and iconic lighthouses. There is usually a sea of tourists here, but by some miracle we were able to get some unobstructed shots of her. We went very early in the morning on a cold, windy and rainy day. That was enough to keep the crowds away I guess!

2. Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick is also a very popular tourist destination. This amazing spot in the Bay of Fundy is home to some of the greatest tidal ranges. You can see the rock formations fully submerged at high tide or walk on the ocean floor at low tide. The tide table website outlines the times of low and high tide. We went at closing time (8pm); there were less tourists to obstruct our shot.

3. Anne of Green Gables

When you think of Atlantic Canada, Anne of Green Gables may come to mind. Cross the Confederation Bridge and you will find yourself in the land of Anne on Prince Edward Island. We visited the Anne of Green Gables museum and it really transports you into her world.

4. Thunder Cove Beach

While you are on Prince Edward Island you must stop at Thunder Cove Beach. It has amazing rock formations that look like they are from another planet. They call this one the Teapot rock.

5. Lunenburg

Lunenburg is a quaint little town west of Halifax. It has a beautiful waterfront with lots of dining and shops to enjoy. There are colourful historical homes here as well as a piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

6. Blue Rocks

Blue Rocks is a little fishing village just outside of Lunenburg. It is a great spot for kayaking or photography. We drove down a bit away from the place that people usually photograph. There was not a soul around at sunset. I could see this as a beautiful place to propose.

7. Mahone Bay

This little waterfront town is close to Lunenburg and also has shops and dining. If you are a photographer, you will want to get a picture of the three historical churches across the bay.

8. Baxter’s Harbour

I always need to find a waterfall on vacation. Baxter’s Harbour in Nova Scotia delivers this, what an amazing place! It is on the Bay of Fundy, so has similar rock formations as Hopewell, but without the crowds. The waterfall has some of the brightest colours of algae that I have seen. Lots of snails and slime in this one. Not the best for swimming.

9. Cape Split

If you are into hiking and heights, then this one is for you. To see the stunning cliffs over the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia you must do a 12 km round trip hike through the woods. I would consider the hike beginner to intermediate level. You have to jump over a couple streams and navigate through rocks and tree stumps, but nothing too difficult. Make sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks. The hike is worth it as the views at the end are stunning. I was chicken and didn’t get any great cliff photos. If you are taking a dog with you be careful as some have gone over the edge.

10. Halifax Waterfront

You can not visit Nova Scotia without seeing the downtown Halifax waterfront. You need a day to do this one as there is so much to see and do. There are lots of shops and dining options, old ships and historical landmarks to see here. I preferred the waterfront at Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, as they were less commercialized.

11. Citadel Hill

The Citadel is a historical fort in downtown Halifax that was built in 1749. If you are a history or war buff, then this is your place. They have recreated the trenches from World War 1, which I found very meaningful and moving. We went on a Saturday when they were changing the flags, so admission was free, which we weren’t expecting.

12. Crystal Crescent Beach

This white sand beach is just outside of Halifax and is one of the nicest in Nova Scotia. There are hiking paths here that lead to cliffs, which are a great place for photos. If you want to avoid tan lines, there is a clothing optional beach here as well. We went in late July and the water was freezing! Felt like the polar bear plunge!

This is the extent of our trip to Atlantic Canada. We stayed in Nova Scotia, so most of our photos were taken there. We ran out of time and didn’t make it to Cape Breton or Newfoundland, which we will do another time. I think we saw a lot in a week. If you are interested in seeing more photos of our trip please check out my Instagram page.

Happy Travels,

Kira

Peacock Wedding Shower

This weekend I hosted a wedding shower for my sister. She has always loved peacocks, so I thought it would be the perfect theme. Apparently unicorns are a much more popular party animal. It was difficult to find peacock related party items, so some creativity was needed to pull this off.

I scowered through the internet to find invitations. Most of the peacock ones I came across were pretty tacky. I finally found some simple and clean looking invites through Minted.com. The invitations are designed by an independent artist and are on recycled paper, which my green realtor sister would approve of!

For decorations we added peacock feathers to floral arrangements. It was tough to find flowers in our colour scheme so we sprayed some of the flowers with turquoise floral spray that my mom picked up from Michaels.

I am not a baking master, but luckily I know some people that are. My sister in-law got really creative and made some mini donuts, cake pops, love cookies, dipped Oreos and cheesecake bombs, all with the peacock theme in mind. If you are interested in her baking, her link is here.

A former dance student made the sugar cookie favours, which were so intricate and eye catching. Each cookie had unique details which made them extra special. You can check out her other amazing creations here.

The cake was made by a former classmate. The edible gum paste feathers and peacock topper were handmade in Poland and can be found on Etsy. I opted for buttercream icing instead of fondant for a change. The cake itself was teal and blue on the inside. If you are interested in Ashley’s cakes you can see more here.

I prepared my favourite kale, goat cheese and berry salad with homemade red wine dressing. It was a huge fail though as I forgot to put it out! I guess in all the commotion it slipped my mind. I plan on eating salad for the next week!

Instead of salad, one lucky guest went home with 689 gummy candies, which was part of a candy guessing game. For a dentist, I sure had a lot of sweets at this party. Hopefully everyone brushed and flossed that night!

For the decor outside, I blew up a bunch of balloons in jewel tone colours, attached them to a wedding arch and topped it off with a 3D love balloon. It took about 100 balloons to fill the arch and I have the blisters on my fingers to prove it! If anyone has a solution to this please let me know!

We also brought out Pricilla the inflatable peacock. I tried to find live peacocks to rent for the party, but there was no such thing in the area so Pricilla came to the rescue! The kids loved playing on her, but she did sustain an injury and will have to be patched up soon.

The shower ended up being a success. So many hours go into something that is over in what seems like an instant. My sister has always been a party girl and loves planning elaborate events, so I wanted to have something special for her. Everyone dressed up in peacock colours, drank sangria and showered my sister with beautiful gifts. If you are here to find inspiration for your peacock shower, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Hope this gives you some ideas.

Happy Day,

Kira

Dream Vacation Rental in Nova Scotia, Canada

Who wouldn’t want to be in a living postcard? Atlantic Canada has been on my list for years and this summer I was able to check it off. We wanted to have a true east coast experience and stay in a quintessential coastal home. I scowered through the vacation rental websites and stumbled upon the perfect property through AirBnB.

This oceanfront Cape Cod style home has everything you could dream of for your east coast adventure. It is located in Sea Bright, Nova Scotia, which is a coastal community 25 minutes west of Halifax. It is also a short 15 minute drive to Peggy’s Cove, which is a must see.

The house sits on a peninsula and has ocean views from the front and back. Whoever built this home took advantage of this, as every room has an ocean view. One of my favourite spots was on the bench in the master bedroom, which overlooks the bay. A perfect place to sip a cup of tea in the morning.

The dreamy kitchen in this home is well stocked and absolutely stunning. One of the brightest kitchens I have been in with widows overlooking the ocean on three walls. We cooked most of our meals on the gas stove and found that we had everything we needed to do so.

The kitchen opens up onto the great room, which has a large sectional and gas fireplace with a TV mounted above it. The views from this room are spectacular! A perfect spot to relax after a long day of activities.

There is a cute dining nook just off the living room, which is a great place to eat or play games in the evening.

There are three bedrooms in the home, which are all on their own floor and have their own bathroom. This would be a perfect rental for three couples as each couple would have their own space. One of the bedrooms is like an in law suite. It has it’s own staircase off of the entryway and is situated over the garage.

The master suite encompasses the entire second floor and has a large daybed for children in a common area. There is a laundry room, walk in closet, tanning deck and master bath off of this area as well. Did I mention the free standing bathtub in the master bath? Stunning views!

The real showstopper of this property is the multilevel deck complete with hot tub, outdoor shower, dining set and adirondak chairs. There is a beach area and expansive dock, which are both good places to swim. The water here was surprisingly warm, but refreshing on a hot day. There are lots of boats parked in the bay; none of them ever moved so it is very quiet here.

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to stay in Nova Scotia. This house seemed too good to be true when I found it, but I assure you it is the real deal. There was a heat wave while we were there and it was nice to have a home with air conditioning. I have nothing negative to say about this property. The only bad part was having to leave. The house next door is for sale, which is very enticing!

Here is the link to the AirBnB listing for this property:

Oceanfront Oasis

Happy Travels,

Kira

Proud Not Loud: What Makes us Canadian

With Canada Day upon us, I couldn’t help but reflect on what makes this country such a great place to live. I am definitely a proud Canadian, but not one to shout it off a rooftop. We are not loud or boastful when it comes to our patriotism, it just isn’t the way we roll. Instead, we are a humble group of people that are just grateful for being able to enjoy a vast and beautiful landscape.

When we travel, people always greet us with open arms. Our reputation of being a nice and polite group of people precedes us. Now, we don’t want to get too proud about this or we may develop a big head. That would not be very Canadian!

If you come to visit us, you will learn that we are an accepting group of people. We do not discriminate based on colour, religion or sexual orientation. Our country has been built on immigration and continues to welcome those from war torn countries. Because of this, the face of Canada is always evolving. There just isn’t one stereotypical Canadian look.

What attracts people to our country are the freedoms and opportunities. The sky is the limit in terms of how high you want to set the bar for yourself. As a woman, I have taken advantage of every opportunity that has been given to me. I could not imagine things any other way.

Canadians are a caring group of people. We like to open doors for one another, wave when people let us in on the road and pay it forward in the Tim Hortons drive through. We try our best to care for one another through our Universal Healthcare system, assistance programs and the Treaties.

To sum things up about what it is to be Canadian, I can say that we are a proud, polite, caring and accepting group of people. I forgot to mention that we are also resilient given how cold things get in the winter. Can I say that we are cuddly too?! Hope you have a wonderful Canada Day weekend!

Happy Travels,

Kira

Do You Believe in Angels? What Made Me Believe

Do I believe? A question I have asked myself since confirmation class two decades ago. I have always been a bit of a science nerd and felt like I needed proof in order to believe. I remember asking the minister to discuss science and religion, but unfortunately it did not make it into our discussions.

Throughout my life there have been reminders of a higher power. My mom surviving cancer, my dad nearly escaping a drowning incident and the sight of my Opa after he had passed away.

It was not until 4 years ago, with the passing of my Uncle Dennis, that I feel I had gotten proof that angels are amongst us.

My uncle was a talented basketball player during high school and coached throughout his life. His number was 11, which is also known as the number of angels. When he passed, the numbers 11 and 22 (double 11) started popping up in our families lives.

Shortly after his passing, our family travelled to Las Vegas to celebrate an anniversary and this is where it started. My Uncle Dennis would have loved to have been there and he reminded us of his presence through his number. My cousin was given room 11D, 11 kept coming up at the tables, my mom was given 11 cents change when she cashed out and the list goes on. The appearance of this number went beyond coincidence.

At first the number popped up often. At Christmas my mom and I stumbled upon a poem about angels that was stuffed into an advent calendar and sure enough it was in the number 11 slot. All the other slots were empty. Every time I buy a lottery ticket the numbers 11 and 22 appear.

The number started to appear less and less with time, until a year ago when my uncle was inducted into the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. He would have been so ecstatic about this honour. Sure enough, his number appeared. There was a prize draw at the event and our table won prize 11!

It is occurrences like these that have made me believe in angels. I truly think that my Uncle Dennis is still present in some way. He was our biggest supporter in life and was always there for every recital, competition and graduation. It is no surprise that he is still cheering us on from above.

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? Do you believe in angels?

In Memory of Dennis Alvestad

September 12, 1942 – September 26, 2013

Happy Day,

Kira

A Visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Canada celebrated it’s 150th Birthday this past summer. Since it’s birth, there has been an incredible amount of progress within our country. There has also been a lot of struggles, hardships and injustices. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights reminds us of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.

The museum was constructed in 2008 in Winnipeg, Manitoba; arguably the heart of Canada. The location is fitting, as it sits at the Forks, where the Assiniboine and Red River meet. The area is rich in history and has been used as a trading point and immigration hub for hundreds of years.

This is the first museum in the world to focus solely on human rights and every effort was made to ensure that it was world class. If you visit Winnipeg, it is hard to miss. It truly is a beacon, and while not everyone enjoys the sight of it (much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris), it commands your attention.

The architecture of the building is truly awe inspiring. Some may say that the space is cold and empty, but what it allows for is a clear mind and time for contemplation. Less is more is definitely how I would describe the space. Clean, uncluttered, with beautiful lines and rich natural materials.

The museum spans across 7 levels, which are accessible by gorgeous marble walkways. Each level has a theme that eventually leads up to the top. This is known as the Tower of Hope, which has beautiful views of downtown Winnipeg.

I recommend starting from the bottom and working your way up. The first level is an introduction to human rights with some interactive displays that are meaningful and moving.

The second level contains the temporary exhibits. Two of my favourites were the red dress display, which honours the missing and murdered women of Canada and the gay rights exhibit.

As you move up through the levels there are many issues that are addressed. Everything from women’s rights, the holocaust, residential schools, the environment and the list goes on… You will need at least 3 hours to take everything in. We spent about 5 hours and I still feel like we just scratched the surface.

There are guided tours that you can take for an extra fee (about $5). This allows you to get an in depth look at the displays and the building itself. The tour takes about 2 hours. On the first Wednesday of the month they have free admission and every other Wednesday has a $5 entrance fee. We went on a Saturday and a Wednesday. Saturday was a lot quieter and allowed us to get unobstructed photos.

I could go on and on about the displays and exhibits, but it is best to experience it for yourself. A very relevant place to visit if you are in Winnipeg. It reminded me of the struggles that people face and that we need to be a bit more understanding of one another. Definitely gave me hope for the future as we have come so far. This museum is thought provoking, meaningful and an absolutely beautiful space. So proud that it resides in my hometown of Winnipeg!

If you are interested in visiting the museum there is more information on the CMHR website.

Happy Travels,

Kira