Western Living Magazine
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We're a globetrotting bunch over here at WL and this past year was no exception. Here's a list of our favourite trips from 2015, both near and far.
As a travel editor I spend a disproportionate amount of my time in hotels—which is great—but it means that I’m woefully inexperienced in phenomena like Airbnb, because the personalized nature means they’re of little use when you’re writing a story about a destination for a broad audience. But earlier this year, a work trip to Paris coincided with the world’s largest airline show—an event that left the City of Light practically devoid of vacant hotel rooms. So out of desperation, I turned to Airbnb. I found an apartment in the SoPi neighbourhood and, while it had hardly any reviews, it was owned by an architect and looked somewhat cool. I was nervous of the price: at $173/night it was suspiciously low in a city where hotel rooms in June routinely top $600 (and take off from there). But what an amazing surprise. After a hike up five elevator-less floors, we were treated to two levels of space, a peak-a-boo view of the Eiffel Tower and a place fully decked out to help us live like a local. It was the perfect spot for a perfect trip. (For more on SoPi, check out our stop-by-stop guide to the hippest neighbourhood in Paris, here.) —Neal McLennan, Food and Travel Editor
There are many places in the world that I love (a recent trip to the Riviera Nayarit has now put that paradise on my must-return list), but there’s one spot that tops my list every year, and it’s a local destination: Powell River on the northern Sunshine Coast. The two-ferry journey might be a deterrent, but I see it as part of the adventure (and a cold Zunga from Townsite on the deck of the Cove Café makes the wait for the Earls Cove ferry pretty sweet). It’s an “unplug” kind of place—rent a cabin on the water, come with a stack of books—but the grocery store is a few minutes away, as is the free-range Berkshire pork ranch, the aquaponics dude for lettuce, Townsite for your growlers, the fish guy for your prawns: you get the picture. Tuesdays, head into town to catch a flick at B.C.’s oldest operating movie theatre, the Patricia, where popcorn runs you about $3. In the words of one Powell River Tourism-designed bumper sticker: Powell River, I had a good time actually! —Anicka Quin, Editor-in-Chief
I spent three weeks hopping around Japan this past fall. Sure, I loved exploring the art houses of Naoshima, feeding wild deer in Nara, and sand-boarding the dunes (did you know Japan had dunes?!) of Tottori. But the highlight of the trip was much simpler: wandering the buzzy, neon streets of Osaka, indulging in the staggering selection of street food.
We bounced from crispy crab legs, to fresh, steaming gyozas, to deep-fried skewers of eggplant and prawns—all served with tall, frosty, too-foamy mugs of beer, of course. And when we needed a break from the beautiful chaos of the streets, we would pop in to a tiny, baseball-themed bar to fry up our own takoyaki (octopus balls) right at the table, or climb a steep flight of stairs up to a busy fourth-floor izakaya to watch the crowds from a comfortable window-side booth as okonomayaki (a green-onion and seafood pancake) bubbled away on the grill.
Writer Steve Burgess took the trip himself and wrote about Osaka for us a few years ago. Reading it now, after my own time filling my belly and marvelling at the lively streets, I can agree with his sentiment: it’s a culinary experience well worth the 4,907-mile journey. —Stacey McLachlan, Associate Editor
Whatever funtivities you sign up for on your next city trip, make one of them a bike tour.In April, I was sent to NYC for work and signed up for a five-hour bike tour of its Brooklyn borough on my day off. A gang of us hit the streets with a guide (our instant Friend, legitimately named Chandler) and secret-service-style ear pieces, cycling through hipster hoods like Williamsburg one minute, and a bustling community of Hasidic Jews the next. We even stopped at the Brooklyn waterfront and got a full view of New York and its infamous projects. En route we frequented many a local haunt like “Best Pizza” (order the White Pizza), and Brooklyn Roasting Company, which was a coffee shop that looked like it was once a bike repair warehouse (the industrial-chic kind from the turn of the century). They served Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic certified and sustainable coffees of course and I truly regret not purchasing an ‘I Got Mugged in Brooklyn’ mug when I had the chance. In the end though, the best part of the whole tour (and my New York trip) was that total freedom of exploring the city by bike, feeling the wind in my hair, the sun on my face—free to stop, and engage, and be among the people with not a care in the world and no place to be—just taking in street after street of gorgeous brick buildings and painterly graffiti. It was only an afternoon, and it was only a touristy bike tour, but I feel like I got a real taste of the city. (For more New York, see our Design Lover’s guide). —Julia Dilworth, Staff Writer