Monday, 26 January 2015

Five Ways to Survive the Canadian Winter

If you live in Canada, as I do, you’ve probably had enough of winter by now. It’s been cold up here for what feels like forever. I know that’s a long time and perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but still…

We’re not known as, ‘Crazy Canuks,” for no good reason though. Some people really are. They embrace the cold, laugh in the face of the windshield, and squeeze the life out of winter. Good for them, I say.

Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/

Then, there are those like me.

I’m Canadian through and through. When I travel abroad, I carry a knapsack with the Canadian flag sewn onto it. I wear a baseball cap clearly displaying the red and white. I'm a proud Canadian, darn it! I love bacon, maple syrup, Dan Aykroyd, and I really, really love having two languages to choose from when I call my Federal Government, which of course, I never do, because the wait is too long, and I can't leave the gravy for the poutine on it's own for too long. But, if I were to call my Federal Government, oui, I have options. Or as the French say, les options. This makes me happy.

Anyway, you get the picture. I AM Canadian! Except when it come to winter. Then, I am a wooze, (that’s Canadian for "weak in spirit and even weaker in physical activity").

I'm not alone. There are thousands like me strewn across this great nation. We're a hush-hush group. We don't talk about it openly. To admit that you hate winter and more so, despise the folks who buy ski-hill passes (and wear them hanging from their ski-jacket zippers all winter long), is sacrilegious. We suffer in silence. Grin and bear it.

So, what to do if winter outdoor activities aren’t your thing? How exactly do you survive the long, dark nights of the cold winter months? Here are my favourite five ways.

Brrrrrrrr


Top Five Ways To Surviving the Canadian Winter: 



5. Talk About the Weather.



Talking about the weather is actually a Canadian pastime. Say things like:

“It’s nostril-sticking weather all right,” as goo drips from your nose like icicles on a chain-link fence.

“Jeez, it’s cold out there,” like the person donning the ear muffs and parka missed this part of the day.

“Cold enough for ya?” as if -40 celcius isn’t!

Canadians wear cold like a badge of honour. So talk about it. 

With anyone.



4. Surf the Internet and Find Your Place in the Sun


Find your chair

If you can’t afford to actually go anywhere, hit the internet anyway. Pull up a photo your favourite warm locale and make it your screensaver. When a blizzard threatens to whip snow around your head, like candy floss at the fall fair, and you’re told to stay off the roads, stare at your screensaver until you actually believe yourself to be there. For greater effect, add a heat lamp. You'll feel all warm, and toasty and it will cost you way less than the actual cost of a Caribbean vacation.



3. Go Away

Stocking up on vitamin D

Tell your friends you’re, “going south,” for the weekend, even if it's from Barrie to Toronto. Just saying, "I'm going south," will make your friends envious and they'll say things like, "Wow. That's amazing. I'm staying home and re-arranging my sock drawer." You'll grin and walk away fast. Then, return to work on Monday with a red glow (after spending hours under the heat lamp you bought to accomplish #4). No one will know and your friends will be totally impressed.



2. Eat


Bacon wrapped chicken and bacon chocolate. See a trend?


Wanting to look cool and slender in the summer, we merely pretend to eat. Don’t waste the winter. Eat your way through it. Elasticize pants have a role. Winter is it.



1. Roast Something on the Kitchen Table 



It doesn't matter what it is. Just light it up. We chose Portuguese linguiça, because, well, I just happen to have some around. Plus, it has lots of fat and the grease drippings keep the fire going longer (just a suggestion). Having a fire-fighter in the house (which we happen to have acquired), is recommended to ensure, "safety first."

With at least two months of winter remaining, fantasies abound on just how to survive the remainder. 

Rest assured though, we will. We also do. 

"Hot enough for you?"














Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville




Before 2015 rolled in I took my yearly pilgrimage to Yorkville, which, without a doubt, is one of Toronto's swankiest areas. It's also my personal favourite Toronto area.

Any time of the year Yorkville is trendy and glamorous. It maintains a small village feel within a large metropolis. But during the month of December, with the extra twinkling of festive lights, it is especially attractive (and romantic).

Downtown Toronto Hotels What's Hot
Photo: Henry Lin via www.toronto.intercontinental.com

In and around Yorkville, you'll find art galleries, bars, restaurants, cafes, night clubs and shopping, shopping, shopping. In other words, Yorkville has everything needed for a fab Toronto outing. But where to stay? There are options.

Photo via www.toronto.intercontinental.com
For my mid-December overnight in Yorkville, the luxury Intercontinental was my go-to place. Located on Bloor Street, just west of Avenue Road and directly across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, the Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville, is a great choice for all area activities.

Spinning through the hotel's revolving door landed me in the lobby, which feels more like a warm and welcoming entrance into a grand estate, than it does a hotel lobby. 

Showering chandelier over the lobby

“Welcome to the Intercontinental,” said Fabiana Briceno, Lobby Concierge, who seemed to personally be awaiting my arrival. I felt all warm and fuzzy. She directed me to the reception desk for a prompt and efficient check-in.

Luxury Yorkville Hotels Lodging
Photo via www.toronto.intercontinental.com
The Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville has 208 guest rooms and 33 suites. All rooms/suites come with standards like coffee and tea maker, bathrobes, hairdryer and a work-desk with enough electrical outlets around it to support today’s technological needs. WI-FI is available and is quick and easy to access. It’s free for IHG Rewards Club members.  Non-members have to pay a fee. 

Photo via www.proofvodkabar.ca

For a pre-dinner cocktail, drop into the hotel's own Proof Vodka Bar. I ordered a Grey Goose vodka martini. With the glow of a warm fireplace behind me, and long-sips of a cool martini, I warmed up quickly on a cold December night. The Grey Goose went down easily. 

My martini with a twist and very festive pop corn


Signatures, is the hotel’s award-wining restaurant, and it is where Chef de Cuisine, Andrew Frastacky's, culinary artistry can be sampled. To complement Toronto’s cultural influence in the cuisine, unique photographs of Toronto's landmark neighbourhoods decorate the walls of the restaurant. 

Downtown Toronto Hotels Dining
Photo via www.toronto.intercontinental.com
For dinner, I chose the three-course, festive fixed-price menu, which at the time was $45.00. I started with a luxuriously creamy pickled apple butternut squash soup, which was absolutely delicious. Next up came braised lamb shanks, served over carrot purée, and roasted root vegetables. Dessert was steamed pudding topped with vanilla ice cream.

Whether you find yourself in Yorkville for the shopping, the food, the art or just the beautiful-people watching, the Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville, with its easy access to the subway system, is the perfect spot to lay your head down.

And, oh yes, the martinis are just so darn good!