HONOLULU – That was fun. Air Canada rouge celebrated the return of non-stop service between Toronto and Honolulu on Wednesday with celebrations in both cities. As a winter storm started to develop near southern Ontario (damn, I hate to miss those), the crew on the first Toronto to Honolulu Air Canada rouge flight was gathering at Pearson International Airport with plastic flower leis, papier mache pineapples and other Hawaiian-inspired goodies to get ready for the 3:55 p.m. departure. They cut a ribbon to celebrate the occasion and generally fussed and fawned, catching a few folks by surprise. “We didn’t know ... continue reading →

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Prices at the gas pump haven’t been so low in a long, long time. You can buy gasoline in Toronto these days for a buck a litre, which is a huge drop from a while back. Not surprising, with oil selling for about $65 a barrel. Yes, it’s a great time to buy gas. That goes for the airlines, too. But while your local Shell or Esso station has lowered prices, that’s not the case for the major airlines. Nope, they’re soaking up the sudden windfall and lining their pockets with unexpected cash. And we’re not saving anything on our ... continue reading →

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Carmel and Carmel Valley California are blessed with more wonders than any area should be allowed. The food and wine are superb, the hotels exceptional and the scenery – and golf – unsurpassed. Carmel Beach is a luscious, white sand affair that goes on forever. The fact that Pebble Beach Golf Course is on one end doesn’t hurt. The 17-Mile Drive is one of the great drives of the world. Be sure to stop at the Lone Cypress for an iconic photo. And be sure to drive all of the coastal route. The inland portion is lovely but can’t compare ... continue reading →

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The city of San Francisco never fails to impress. But she’s even prettier at Christmas, with decorations galore and plenty of holiday spirit. The “bridge to bridge view” rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco have stunning vistas, with guests able to take in both the Golden Gate Bridge (in the background here) and the Bay Bridge, with its fantastic lights. Rooms at the Mandarin Oriental, located in the financial district, also offer lovely designs and supremely comfortable beds. You’ll also find huge, well-appointed bathrooms and a renowned spa. Some of San Francisco’s famous cable cars get gussied ... continue reading →

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Canadians don’t hear a lot about the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills, but it’s a marvellous part of California, with pine-scented hills, great driving trips, fantastic wineries and fun towns such as Angels Camp, Murphys and Sonora. Ironstone Vineyards is a popular winery in the Sierra foothills in Murphys, California. The vineyards turn lovely shades of yellow in the fall, as you can see in the photo above. The floral displays at Ironstone Vineyards are part of the draw. They have a small deli making good sandwiches and soup, and the wine shop/wine tasting room is a ... continue reading →

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I’m constantly getting scrunched up faces from people at cocktail parties or dinners. I shower a lot and try to get to the laundry when I can, so it’s not that. No, what surprises some folks is that not even travel writers and former newspaper travel editors get to go everywhere they want. When I tell folks all the places that are still on m to-do list (Portugal, Poland, pretty much all of Africa, all of Central America and definitely all of South America) they look at me like I’m a little crazy. Some of it I can explain. Some ... continue reading →

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How’s this for a sweet holiday treat? I’m giving away a two-night stay (count ‘em, TWO NIGHTS) for two in deluxe accommodations at the swanky, newly renovated Eaton Chelsea Hotel downtown! It’s a beautiful property, complete with a terrific indoor pool and lots of other amenities. And they’ve done a great job redoing the place and adding lots of classy touches. The deal also includes, wait for it, free hotel parking, dinner for both of you at the onsite restaurant T|Bar AND a $100 SHOP! Card to the nearby Toronto Eaton Centre. That’s a massive holiday deal. Reservations have to ... continue reading →

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