2019 – The Great Canadian Travel Co.

STAFF PICKS

November 8, 2019 | John Lelis

  Travel With a Purpose is the new trend in travel that is changing the industry and bringing people together. Besides a holiday or a well-deserved rest, when was the last time you traveled and asked yourself why? Why that destination, why that route, why those activities on the road? Traveling …

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September 19, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

The serenity of standing on the bow of the small expedition ship, watching the Southern fulmars fly back and forth over the wake of the vessel. Enjoying a morning yoga class where the gentle rocking of the ship puts you deeper into the stretch, followed by the silence of meditation. …

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July 25, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

One of the best parts of my day is learning where clients want to travel, and what piqued their interest in a certain destination. It is becoming more popular for clients to choose a destination or experience that will inspire them in some way. Experiential travel is where people focus …

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What’s New

November 13, 2019 | Lois Farley

Company News:

Great Canadian Travel Group signed a partnership agreement with Indigeno Travel, 13 November, 2019: Ian Kalinowsky and Allison Silvaggio are attending the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Kelowna, BC. It is the largest Indigenous conference in the world. Today, Great Canadian Travel Group signed a partnership agreement with Indigeno Travel, a Winnipeg-based, Indigenous-owned travel agency, Continental travel Group and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) to act as the travel agency for Indigenous experiences across the country. For 40 years Great Canadian Travel has been operating in  Indigenous communities and we are very excited to be recognised for our knowledge and capabilities. We look forward to exciting growth possibilities with this new partnership.
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Our 2019 Consumer Events calendar:
November 27 at 7:00pm – Collette Tours, Black Friday Sales Event

If you would like to attend a consumer event please RSVP by email to margot@gctravel.ca (with RSVP and the presentation date in the subject line) or call us at 204 949 0199.
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Newsletters:

August 28th newsletter featuring Group Travel.

August 14th newsletter featuring Northern Lights.

July 31st newsletter featuring the stunning South Pacific.

July 17th newsletter about award-winning Portugal.

July 4th newsletter and Let’s Celebrate Canada!

June 19th newsletter for some Fun in the Summertime ideas and our featured destination, Iceland.

June 5th newsletter for trips, tips and blogs on taking an escorted African safari.
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30 May, 2019: Today marks the 70th anniversary of KLM’s inaugural flight between the Netherlands and Canada, a milestone occasion that the carrier marked with an official water salute by firefighters at Montréal-Trudeau airport. The ceremonial salute was a touching reminder of how 70 years ago, on May 29, 1949, members of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines crew boarded a Lockheed Constellation 747 to welcome passengers on the first-ever Amsterdam-Montreal flight. The ‘Batavia’ touched down at Dorval airport on May 30, following two stopovers.
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Company News:

New Location: We’re nicely settled into our new office at 1349 Portage Avenue (north side of Portage between Valour Road and Ashburn Street) and the weather finally warmed up enough for our signs to be installed. We’re no longer that nameless, light brown brick building on Portage Avenue! If you live in the Winnipeg area we invite you to pop in and see our new digs!

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If you want to keep up to date on product news, promotions and specials we send out an e-mailer every couple of weeks. If you want to be kept in the loop just sign up from our website, at the bottom of each page in the red “footer” or email us to be added to the list to receive updates from us. You can always unsubscribe at any time!

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Our Winnipeg office is moving! Effective November 30th our new address will be 1349 Portage Avenue. We’ll be on the north side of Portage Avenue between Valour Rd and Ashburn St. Our phone number, fax number and email addresses will all stay the same. We’ll be having a Grand Opening once we’re all settled in our new digs, so watch this space for updates.
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Top 60 Canadian Travel Blogger sites: Great Canadian Travel was just named as one of the top 60 travel blog sites in Canada by Feedspot.com. Blog sites are judged by their search engine ranking, social media influence, social media buzz, Alexa ranking (a division of Amazon that measures web searches and visitors), post frequency and quality scores. We try hard to keep providing interesting and relevant content and it’s nice to see that our effort is being noticed. So, if we keep blogging, will you keep reading?
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And the Michelin Stars keep coming to our favourite places! Dill has been named the best Icelandic restaurant on numerous occasions and can now boast a Michelin Star, the first every awarded in Iceland – way to go, Dill!  “Dill builds on Icelandic traditions and Icelandic and Nordic ideology, and we use only the best and purest of Icelandic ingredients in our cooking,” said Head Chef of Dill, Ragnar Eiríksson. “It’s an enormous honor for all of my fantastic coworkers.” Dill is a small restaurant that sits between 20-30 people, so book your reservation today before the rest of the world hears about one of Iceland’s (and the world’s) best restaurants!
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Congratulations to KOKS restaurant, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands on winning your first Michelin star, the first restaurant in the Faroe Islands to do so!  Makes the short drive to this stunning seaside town even more worthwhile (like we needed another reason)!  Run by 26 year-old Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska, the young avant-garde team at KOKS use Faroese produce, focusing on innovative, but at the same time, traditional cuisine.  The menu is determined by the season and what they have to offer, transforming the food by using ancient culinary traditions such as drying, fermenting, salting and smoking, into modern delicacies.  Way to go, Poul and your fabulous team at KOKS!

Lois’ Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Lois Farley

Over my many years of travelling, both for work and on vacation, there have been lots of Best Days Ever. But, this is definitely one of the best!

My two daughters and I recently took a trip to Ireland. We started out in Dublin, and had a couple of days in that fun city, where’s there’s so much to see and do. Then, we picked up a rental car and off we went, road warriors! The self-drive trip itself was great, although I admit to being a bit too ambitious in my planning. Trying to fit in everything that all three of us wanted to see was just not possible. We did manage to see a lot of awesome places, though (and even some we didn’t intend to, thanks Google maps!) But, I always say, when you’re on holiday you never get lost, you just take scenic detours. And sometimes those detours work out great. Note to self, just because a road in Ireland looks straight on the map (there are one or two, but that’s probably it) does not mean it’s flat (as our Prairie brains automatically equated it to be). There was one in particular that was a real roller coaster!

The day that stands out in my mind is the day we spent at the Giant’s Causeway with my friend Mark Rodgers, a fabulous local guide and Causeway native. His stories and good humour made the ground speak to us and the stones sing, all the while with the wind whistling around us and waves crashing onto the rocky shore. Magic!

After the Giant’s Causeway we drove along the Causeway Coastal Road and then headed inland through the Glens of Antrim to the Ballymena area. Our quest was to find a small farm nestled at the foot of Mt. Slemish, and find it we did!

And that’s where my heart and my soul really soared. Because, on this land, my Grandma Hannah Muirhead was born and raised, along with her many, many, many brothers and sisters, my great aunts and uncles, and their parents. To think that my Grandma’s feet walked these pathways and her hands helped build the stone fences surrounding the fields, was a palatable link to my past.

 

 

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Ian’s Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Lois Farley

Iceland Scuba Diving – one of my Best Days Ever!

I am a Scuba Diver. I have dived hundreds of times in Mexico, Roatan, Belize, Cuba, Thailand and Canada. But, my single best dive was at the Silfra Dive site in Iceland with my eldest son David.

  Silfra is a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park. It was formed by earthquakes in 1789 when the tectonic plates tore the earth apart and created this fissure. It is a “living” dive site in that the continents drift apart at a rate of 2cm per year. Silfra is the only place in the world where you can dive (or snorkel) directly in a crack between two continents.

The Silfra fissure cut into the underground spring and filled with glacial melt-water from the nearby Langjökull glacier. The water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years before reaching the spring that feeds into Silfra. The water is therefore extremely pure by the time it reaches the north end of Thingvellir lake and it allows for underwater visibility of over 100 meters in Silfra. For reference good visibility in the ocean is about 100 feet (33 meters). The underwater visibility of the water in Silfra will rarely, if ever, be surpassed. Silfra is said to have the clearest water in the world. Read More >

Lindsay’s Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Lindsay R

Disney World truly is the happiest place on Earth!

Their tagline says it’s the happiest place on Earth, but you don’t really understand what they mean until you visit it for yourself. I’m so in love with Disney World, I wish I could return year after year, as I would never get bored! There is always something new to experience.

Growing up I was lucky to be able to take a vacation every year, and usually that was Disney.  The first time I visited Disney World I was 7 years old.  From that moment, I knew it was going to be my favorite place to visit. Everyone always says “Disney is just for kids”.  Let me tell you…it’s for everyone, which is why I chose it as my honeymoon destination!  My husband thought the same thing, it’s only for kids, I won’t like it etc. Now he also think’s that it’s truly the happiest place on Earth!

There are so many different things to experience: parades that make their way through the streets, characters waiting to meet & greet you, some of the best fireworks displays you will ever see & much more! Read More >

Shauna’s Best Days Ever!

November 12, 2019 | Shauna Cook

My best day ever started as one of the final days of an Iceland Circumnavigation cruise.  We were set to arrive into Heimaey, Westman Islands for a full day port stop.  The crew made sure to tell us what time to be on deck as pulling into the harbor is one of the highlights of this stop.  They were not wrong.  On approach we see green and rock, and hundreds, possibly thousands of seabirds using the rock for nesting.  An overwhelming feeling of familiarity came over me, and I felt very calm.

      

Prior to this, I had never visited the Westman Islands, however I felt like I was being welcomed home.  Walking around the village felt comfortable and familiar, it was like my feet and my memory knew exactly where to take me.

I feel that Heimaey was my home in a past life.  There is a wonderful cliff at one end of the island that allows for incredible views, and I sat on this cliff and cried. Surrounded by the stunning blue ocean, the incredible green cliffs, and the sunniest day we had experienced so far in Iceland (on day 12!). My tears came from nowhere, but I was overwhelmed with emotion of being in this place that I felt so connected to but had no connection to at the same time. Prior to this, I had never felt this emotion and connection to any place, and I have not had such feelings since.

                                 

Heimaey is the largest and only populated island in the Westman Islands and the largest and most populated island off the Icelandic Coast.

It is well known for the January 1973 eruption of Mount Eldfell.  The eruption started in the middle of the night and all 5000 residents were evacuated to the mainland, with only 1 single casualty.  Most of the village of Heimaey was destroyed and the eruption caused the island to expand in length.

My short time in Heimaey in the Westman Islands truly changed my life, and it remains my absolute favorite place in the world.

Allison’s Best Days Ever!

November 11, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

‘Arriving on my 7th Continent’

With so many fantastic travel experiences, its hard to choose just one.  However, I think of this day often.

After a two-day sailing across the Drake Passage, I have finally arrived; my 7th continent! The anticipation of stepping onto the Antarctic  Peninsula for the first time……solid ground is wonderful!

Not long after our arrival, we experienced the true Antarctic greeting, as some curious penguins waddled by along the shores.  We enjoyed a snowshoe with the most breathtaking scenery surrounding us.  The peacefulness was so serene, that we decided to stop and sit for a bit.  To take the time to absorb our surroundings and appreciate the silence.  The only sound was the waves against the shore and our penguin friends.  The weather was perfect, with a cool breeze on your face, and the sun trying to peak through the overcast clouds.  Light flurries were falling, which made the experience even better.

After returning to our expedition vessel, I enjoyed a warm beverage and some wonderful conversation with our fellow travellers.  Followed by an amazing dinner, paired with some fantastic wines from Argentina.

The solitude, serenity and scenery make this my best day ever!!

 

Corina’s Best Days Ever!

November 10, 2019 | Corina Parisien

One of my Best Days Ever was at an all-inclusive resort in Cuba. We booked a Swimming with Dolphins excursion. We started the day on a catamaran and sailed out to a beautiful spot where we stopped and went snorkelling.  I absolutely loved snorkelling!  I think I was one of the last people back to the boat.  I just found it so beautiful and relaxing.

From there we went to an island and had a lobster lunch with time to go relax on the beach and have a swim.

After that, back onto the catamaran and to the dolphin swim where I met Oscar.   Oscar the dolphin swam around and showed off his skills and swam up close so we could all say hi.

As we were coming out of the water, the trainer asked if I wanted to swim with Oscar and, of course, I did!  I got back in the water and I got to go for a swim with 2 dolphins.   The swim ended with dolphin hugs.  It is an experience I will never forget.

Nicole’s Best Days Ever!

November 10, 2019 | Nicole Fell

Vancouver Island – a west coast beauty thriving abundantly with lush greenery and flowers blooming effortlessly. An oceanic coastal scene mingled beautifully with deep forests and soaring mountains. I visited for my first time last year for my best friend Amelia’s wedding. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I landed in Nanaimo, but I did not expect to be as overwhelmed and taken aback by its tucked away charm as I was. Growing up on the Manitoba prairies and never really travelling to any of my neighbouring provinces did leave me wondering. and unaware, of the vast diversity of our country from one province to the next.

I returned to Nanaimo again this May for another visit. I am going to highlight just one day I spent on the island. We started off by picking up a coffee in Nanaimo and sitting by Departure Bay, where we watched the ferries coming and going from the port. Once we were caffeine infused we headed out on the road, passing by town after town down the coastal highway. I remember staring out the window as we drove down the winding highway, passing towering trees that went on for miles and, when there was a break in the trees, ocean and mountains. It was completely serene and peaceful.

One of the moments that stood out the most was visiting Cathedral Grove, an old forest in MacMillan Provincial Park with towering ancient Douglas fir trees. Some of the trees are over 800 years old – their trunks are broad and thick, they almost looked wise with their weathered and strong bodies upholding for so many years. It was one of those rare moments where I felt truly small, surrounded by these giant trees that towered overhead, with their branches creating a blanket of leaves high above.

There was bright green moss that grew freely over branches and broken down logs, the sun light filtered through the leaves and the spaces between the trees, washing over every surface. The forest had a very mysterious and whimsical feel, you cold easily get lost in your thoughts wandering and admiring its magnificence and raw beauty.

After, we stopped at a farmer’s market where we bought fresh produce and sipped on iced coffee from a hole in the wall coffee shop by the side of the road. We hit two different beaches and ending up in several towns. We took time to explore and embrace the fresh air by the water and watch the mountains in the distance. We wearily made the drive back to Nanaimo and ended the day with a glass of wine.

My experience of Vancouver Island was one of wonder, fascination, and happiness. I am always looking for an adventure and a new place to discover. The island gave me all of this and more which is why I can say this was one of my best days ever.

Natalie’s Best Days Ever!

November 10, 2019 | Natalie Rozière Hébert

My “Best days ever” started was when I was 18. It was the year 2000. I was fresh out of high school and ready to conquer adult life, move out of province and go to law school.  My Church had opened registrations to join the St-Boniface Diocese to send 75 youth to Italy for the World Youth Days and lucky me, I was chosen from my community.

Close your eyes and picture yourselves among a few million people in St. Peter’s Square.  You’re squished, you’re holding your travel partner’s hand and back pack very tightly so as not to get separated and your eyes are locked on the flag overhead held by your flag bearer, a.k.a “group master”.  Do this successfully and you won’t get lost.

So, there we all are, in the middle of chaos and Pope John Paul II is miles away, like a little dot you can kind of see, waaayyy over there.  Suddenly, the crowd parts just like Moses parting The Red Sea and our group is standing there in the middle, on the cobblestone pathways to the Vatican. The guards are yelling at us and they take our group master’s flag pole away!  OMG, what is happening?  The guards start to move us and, just like that, we are ushered on stage to sit with Pope John Paul II. Thus was the start of the World Youth Days opening ceremonies and my travel career!

I never went to law school…I became a travel agent!

By the way – the flag pole that was stolen from us, well Sister Norma dared me to jump the iron gate to retrieve it, which I did. I saved the day, something I always seem to end up doing when I travel (see other blogs).

We were four sharing that tiny room together in Rome: Sister Norma, Monique, Mariève and I.  For the past 19 years we’ve been getting together every few months for lunch.  We lost Monique a few years ago to a long battle with MS and other health issues, but when I close my eyes, I see the four of us right there in the middle of all the chaos, and I am filled with so much peace, love, and desire for my next adventure!

Pearl’s Best Days Ever!

November 10, 2019 | Pearl McCallum

What comes to mind when you think of your Best Day Ever?  Achieving a lifelong goal?  Your wedding, or the birth of your children?  A once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity?

When it comes to travel, my list of best days ever includes my honeymoon.  Following a fabulous wedding with family and friends, my new husband and I flew off to spend a week at the romantic El Dorado Resort on stunning Maroma Beach.  This charming property caters to couples and was the perfect getaway for us after a busy time.  The best way to unwind?  A couple’s massage in a palapa on the beach, where the sound of the water heightens the sense of relaxation.

    

A favourite activity for us was enjoying the gourmet offerings at the resort.  From an outdoor feast of freshly-prepared paella to the delightful variety of international cuisine, there was no end to the culinary delights.  A highlight and our best evening ever included a private candlelight dinner on the beach.

A vacation on the Mayan Riviera offers a dizzying array of activities, from nature parks to ATV adventures; camel rides to shopping.  We chose to tour the magnificent Tulum ruins, perched atop a cliff on the Caribbean Sea.  Our guide wisely planned a morning visit to beat the full heat of the day, but we were still grateful our time ended with a refreshing dip in the cool waters of a cenote.

The Mayan Riviera, and specifically the El Dorado Maroma, holds a special place in my heart where I have spent some of my best days ever.

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