This post is definitely long overdue. With the closing of our house, diving into renovations, my best friend’s bachelorette in Saratoga Springs, NY, her gorgeous fall wedding in Quebec, and my new job being busier than ever we have definitely had our hands full. That being said, I’ve been dying to share about our adventurous family holiday in Portugal.
I am certainly not your typical wunderluster. Although I possess certain qualities of a travel junkie like the urge to see the world, love of the outdoors, passion for adventure, and desire to soak in as much culture as I can, there has always been a side of me that worries about uncertainty. Throughout my short life so far, I have had sudden gusts of bravery where in which I have ignored my comfort zone, and gone wherever the wind has blown me. However, when it comes to traveling, I have always aired on the cautious, or shall I say, comfortable side.
When I was young my parents took me to the Dominican Republic for spring break, and I fell in love. The beaches were beautiful, the water was crystal clear, and the resorts were loaded with fun things to do. When I started traveling on my own a few years down the road, although the urge to travel was strong, I stuck to what I knew best. All of my vacations were in controlled resorts in the Caribbean, trips to NYC where I had also previously been with my family, or road trips to big cities in Ontario and Quebec. Year after year, I continued to play it safe despite my lingering travel bug. It wasn’t until I took a huge leap, and moved to and from Vancouver that I decided to venture out and fulfill that longtime feeling. After all, I had finally lived on my own in a new big city, and concurred my fear of uncertainty and the unknown.
I knew it was time to finally step foot on European soil, and I knew exactly who to do that with. My good friend, Caity, had not only traveled most of Europe, but she had lived there too! I knew that as soon as I mentioned traveling abroad her bags would be packed, and she would be ready to hit the opens skies right by my side. Her and I discussed countless locations until we discovered one of the only hot spots in Europe Caity hadn’t been to, the South of France.
Caity is a phenomenal travel buddy. She is super relaxed, and likes a good mix of both adventure and leisure time. We boarded the plane in Ottawa with very few set items on our travel agenda, but we knew the plans would more or less make themselves once we arrived. Our trip was divvied up by two destinations; Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet (a gorgeous marina-side village in between Antibes and Nice). Both gorgeous; both perfect, but in different ways.
Cannes was the most fantastic starting point. It was lively, full of people, and was more gorgeous then I ever could have imagined. Our hotel was right by the water, so most days were spent lounging in the sand at one point or another. We visited the steps of the Cannes Film Festival (which I was beyond excited about given my obnoxious love for celebrities), roamed Le Suquet (the old town in Cannes) which is covered in cobble stone and has mind boggling views of the bay, visited little shops and quaint restaurants, tandem kayaked at Palm Beach, and ogled over the mansion-sized yachts parked at the harbor. Cannes is certainly a hot spot, and I can see why Europeans vacation there any chance they get. It is truly a slice of paradise.
Caity and I chatted about a few different sites we wanted to visit while on our holiday. Top of my list was visiting the steps of the film festival and seeing Monaco (which we did, and i’ll certainly come back to later!), and Caity wanted to visit the Lavender fields in the French countryside. Seeing as how her absolute favourite colour is purple, and these were gigantic rolling fields of the most gorgeous purple you’ve ever seen, this was certainly a must see on our list. Lucky for us, late June was the PERFECT time of year to witness the lavender in full bloom, so we rented a car and hit the open road.
A little confusion, some wrong turns, and a lot of laughs later, Caity and I halted to a stop when we noticed our first field. It was more breathtaking than one can describe. The colour was radiant beyond belief, and the linear patterns were absolutely majestic. We delightedly squealed running back and forth through the bushels of lavender taking pictures, and the further we ventured into the country, the more lavender we came across. Each field was more picturesque then the last, and it was worth every minute of the long drive.
Straight from the lavender fields we headed to our new destination; the seaside town of Villneuve-Loubet. Our hotel was gorgeous, and our balcony was literally perched over the rolling ocean waves. Villa Azur was a modern, sleek, and very friendly hotel with an incredible daily brunch spread every morning on the impressive ocean front deck. During our stay, we spent a lot of time listening to the waves while indulging in wine and cheese, enjoying the sunshine and the pebble beaches, strolling along the marina, and taking the train to visit both Monaco and Nice.
Monaco was even better than we could have dreamed it to be. The streets were pristine, the buildings had a gorgeous and distinct Mediterranean feel, and around every corner was a million dollar view. Monaco is truly a tiny heavenly pocket in between France and Italy. On our way back from the scenic Mediterranean micro-state, we hoped off the train in Nice to quickly check out the area. Caity and I were able to enjoy a quick dinner on a cobblestone terrace, and before heading back out we made sure to pop into a few wine and cheese shops. It was quite different from Monaco and Cannes, but boasted it’s very own unique French charm. The shops were adorable, the ocean front was amazing, and the streets were filled with excited tourists. Although we weren’t there long, it was worth the detour en route to Villneuve-Loubet.
Overall, our trip to the South of France was a week long whirlwind. We flew home just in time, as the coastal towns were being hit with a HUGE storm, and it was getting a little scary to be in our ocean front room. Plus, it was Caity’s 30th birthday, so when we arrived back on Canadian soil, her and I quickly showered, and headed out to celebrate! Since the day wasn’t busy enough, Mike and I hopped into our truck after the party, and drove to my parents place in the Thousand Islands for the remainder of the weekend. Needless to say, it was a quiet drive for poor Mike because the last thing I remember was the click of my seat-belt.
I cannot wait for my next European adventure, and lucky for me it’s coming up sooner than later! This time around it’ll be the whole Sousa clan, sun and sand in the summer of 2016! The destination will be revealed at a later date 😉
Until next time friends!
The Caribbean islands are all picturesque, and unique in their own way. I have been to a few of these tropical destinations, but the Bahamas has always been a must see hovering at the very top of the list. Obviously one big reason had to do with the world class beaches it boasts, but my main reason was to visit the secluded island of Eleuthera, and the incredible Rainbow Inn! Years ago, my friend Eve’s lovely family picked up, and moved to Eleuthera to start a family business, which they called The Rainbow Inn. Eve and I worked together at the airport, and year after year she would travel to visit, and work with her family for a few weeks during their busy season. Upon her return, Eve would always come home beaming, sun kissed, and full of incredible stories from her time on the islands! We would chat for hours about how her family is doing, the gorgeous weather, friends and celebrities she saw during her stay, and all of her wild adventures. After every long chat there would always be an open invitation for me to join them down there sometime. Finally, in 2013, I was able to pack my bags with our mutual friend, Caity, and head south for a few days.
Getting to Eleuthera isn’t the easiest as you have to fly into Nassau, and then board a tiny aircraft with only a few seats that takes you over to the exotic island. That said, it’s well worth the journey! We were greeted by Eve and her beautiful mom with huge smiles and open arms. They were both so excited to have us visiting, and show us around their second home! We drove up the coast as the sun started to set, and it was absolutely magical. The skies were pink, and the ocean was more turquoise then you can imagine. We arrived at the scenic Rainbow Inn just in time to enjoy a glass of wine, and watch the sun settle in for the night. It was amazing to see Eve’s whole family, and check out their amazing restaurant and inn.
The next morning we were a little bummed to see that the skies were overcast and rainy, but it didn’t stop us from venturing out and touring around the island on foot. One of the coolest things about Eleuthera is that one side of the island faces the Caribbean Sea, and the other, the Atlantic Ocean. The long slender island literally looks like a divider between the crystal clear sea water, and the rich blue ocean. Even through the cloudy skies it was truly an unbelievable site.
There were so many highlights during this trip that it’s hard to name just one. We paddle boarded in the sparkling sea waters off of a private beach, toured Lenny Kravitz’s music studio (side note: Eve’s family is personally friends with him and his crew – SO COOL), boated to Harbor Island and strolled along the Pink Sands Beach (which is actually flecked with coral and has a pink hue!), lounged by the infinity pool at Sky Beach, and of course, partied at the Rainbow Inn, and enjoyed their famous wood burning pizza!
This trip was truly spectacular thanks to Eve, and her incredibly kind family. It was an absolute treat to visit their Bahamian home, and see their amazing family business in action. I certainly hope to visit the Bahamas again, and hopefully spend time in The Exumas where wild pigs actually swim by your side (cutest thing ever)!!! For those of you who don’t believe me, check it out here!
Here are a few photos from our trip that will have you dreaming of warmer weather during this brisk winter day…
Until next time friends!
I'm Jessie, and welcome to Cool, Calm & Cozy!
This space is an outlet for me to connect with my creative side and keep long lasting memories with my family. Writing and making videos of our adventures together is a passion of mine, which I hope brings joy to my whole family presently and in the future!
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