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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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September 12, 2019 | John Lelis

I am an all-inclusive addict, I confess! I tried an all-inclusive for the first time in 2014 and I have not been able to quit. What makes it even worse is that I am a travel consultant and I keep receiving news almost every day about new resorts opening, new …

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August 1, 2019 | Lois Farley

I’ve been lucky enough in my lifetime to see the Northern Lights in my home province of Manitoba, Canada as well as while visiting Greenland and Iceland. They really are spectacular! Have you ever wondered how those bright dancing lights are created? They are actually collisions between electrically charged particles …

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Yoga from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica

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. Snowshoeing among hundreds of wandering penguins, as they examine us with curiosity. Standing on the sea ice at the Floe Edge and staring out at the open ocean, hoping for a glimpse of marine life. Just a few of my ‘best vacation days ever experiences.’

Twenty-two years in travel has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people, and travel to some exciting and remote destinations. For fifteen years I have been specializing in polar destinations such as Arctic Canada and Antarctica, Iceland and Greenland.

     

From my first visit, my passion exploded and it’s exciting to plan a complicated itinerary for clients who are more invested in the culture and activities than how strong the WiFi signal will be.

I have been practicing Yoga for over thirteen years, which has tied in quite nicely with travel. From some of my early travels, I would return home with thousands of images, however, lacking the connection with the destination. I now return home with fewer photos but more satisfied with the experiences. Yoga has taught me to slow down, take a breath and absorb our surroundings.

I believe that the combination of travel and yoga have made me into the person I am today. Our world is extremely hectic and bombarded with technology. I find myself more at peace when I am traveling and try to bring this tranquility into everyday life.

Take a look at the piece I wrote for Wander Magazine about how I feel that yoga has enhanced my travel experiences from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic!

It’s the People You Meet!

September 19, 2019 | Allison Silvaggio

Every time I am wandering through the airport, the world seems massive!  So many people; where are they going, and where have they been?

One of the highlights when travelling, is the people that you meet.

    

Whether it’s the person you chat with while waiting to board the plane, the couple you enjoy a cup of coffee with after your horse back riding tour or the person sitting next to you on a zodiac excursion; these are the relationships that are built while exploring and then sharing the memories afterwards.

I still keep in touch with people who I met in Australia 22 years ago, in the Arctic 7 years ago and in Antarctica 2 years ago.  This is definitely a positive when travelling alone.

One of my fellow travellers during an Antarctic expedition will be travelling from Australia to Canada next month. I’m very excited to spend a few days with her before she heads north to Churchill for a Polar Bear excursion.   And, you never know who you may meet again one day during your travels!

All-inclusive Addict

September 12, 2019 | John Lelis

I am an all-inclusive addict, I confess! I tried an all-inclusive for the first time in 2014 and I have not been able to quit. What makes it even worse is that I am a travel consultant and I keep receiving news almost every day about new resorts opening, new locations, more Islands and beaches and properties to add to my bucket list. It almost makes me sad that I don’t think I’ll live enough to visit all the ones I want to visit. I am so addicted that when asked a suggestion for this week’s newsletter I immediately responded I wanted an all-inclusive themed one, so that’s why you’re reading this (and thank you for reading it, by the way).

“Why all-inclusive?”, is usually the question people pose to me.

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Portugal is #1 best tourist destination, part 3!

August 19, 2019 | John Lelis

As I wrote at the beginning in part 1 of this blog, it would take a book to tell you everything I wanted about my beautiful country. Even the people are amazing, you’ll see once there, but I am aiming for the young at heart now. Hardly anywhere else in Europe will you find a place with such a vibrant night life as Lisbon. Night clubs and discotheques are all over the city. Each caters to a different crowd and music preference, from the amazing Gothic decor of Kremlin, playing hardcore techno, sometimes with celebrity DJ’s featured to the literally hidden (you won’t find it listed in any Fodor’s guide) Incognito, only playing alternative and dance music. There’s always something to appeal to everyone when it comes to letting go and enjoying the music.

  

And here is an inside secret, clubs in Portugal open around midnight (even if it is considered lame to arrive so early) and are usually open until 4, 5 or 6am. But, if you are an hardcore fan of partying, ask the doorman about the after hours party. Most of them have a secret after hours party (usually on Saturdays) that starts around 7am and goes until there is no crowd there, asking for more. Sometimes the partying may go until after noon!

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about doing some partying while you’re in Portugal for holidays. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Our Top Five Places to Watch the Northern Lights

August 01, 2019 | Lois Farley

I’ve been lucky enough in my lifetime to see the Northern Lights in my home province of Manitoba, Canada as well as while visiting Greenland and Iceland. They really are spectacular!

Have you ever wondered how those bright dancing lights are created? They are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. In the northern hemisphere, they are called Aurora Borealis; in the southern half, Aurora Australis.

The colours can appear as green or pink, but have also appeared as shades of red, yellow, green, blue and violet. They can look like patches in the sky, scattered clouds, light streamers, arcs and rippling curtains. But I’m sure we can all agree, that no matter what colour they are and what they look like, they will always be a magical sight. Read More >

Portugal is #1 best tourist destination, part 2!

July 31, 2019 | John Lelis

Picking up where I left off in my previous blog (I was talking about food), if you ever go to Porto, it’s a must to have a “Francesinha”, (meaning Little Frenchie or simply Frenchie in Portuguese) originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat, and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick sauce (secret recipe). It is typically served with french fries.

  

If desert and sweets is more your thing, then head to Lisbon, to the pasteis de belem (Portuguese Custard tart) factory, founded in 1837 and keeping their secret recipe so well guarded that only they know where it is (beat this Coca Cola), and of course, ask for your espresso while at it, the combination is more than perfect, personally my record eating these babies is 18 of them in one hour, but I have friends who put me to shame.

And of course, one can’t even start talking about beverages without dedicating time to what for me is the best Portuguese secret (and it shouldn’t be), green wine (vinho verde). Portugal is the only country in the world that produces it, most people would never have heard about it, but once you try it, your life changes. Vinho Verde is a crisp, aromatic, low alcohol, and often slightly spritzy wine from the North of Portugal. Despite the translation, Vinho Verde is never green: it’s usually a white wine, although it’s possible to get red and rosé Vinho Verde as well. Green, in this case, means young rather than anything to do with its colour. In fact, the only thing that really makes a Vinho Verde a Vinho Verde is that it comes from the Vinho Verde region. You’ll find Vinho Verde in every supermarket in Portugal, and just about every menu in every Portuguese restaurant. It used to be hard to get outside of Portugal, and often you would have to seek out a specialty wine shop. These days most decent wine shops will stock a bottle and it’s increasingly being stocked by supermarkets as well.

 

 

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about going to Portugal for holidays to try some of the delicious food and wine. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Delta, Charlie, Echo – we have a runner!

July 31, 2019 | Natalie Rozière Hébert

“Delta, Charlie, Echo – we have a runner!”

Do you think 35 minutes is enough time to connect in Minneapolis from Atlanta? Well, let me tell you, that it is a true, valid connection time sold by Delta. I know now it’s enough time, as I did it in 13 minutes flat, from Terminal G to F.

On my past business trip to Puerto Vallarta (yes – it was business!), the only option to come home was with Delta via Atlanta and Minneapolis. A long travel day, but it would get me home at 11.50pm and in bed by 1.30am (I live 45 minutes east of Winnipeg).  All systems go, until my Atlanta departure is delayed by 40 minutes and I start to question if I’ll make my Minneapolis departure. I’m doubtful. I email my travel agent (yes, I have one too) and tell her to protect me on tomorrow’s morning flight from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, disrupting her dinner party. But, I get the confirmation before I get on my delayed flight in Atlanta –  at least I have a Plan b.

We arrive in Minneapolis, and the pilot gets on the intercom “Folks, we have some runners on this flight. If you’re not having to connect within the next 30 minutes please let them pass”.  My first glimpse of hope!  Of course, I’m praying they can get the door open, as when I landed in Puerto Vallarta there was some malfunction. The door opens, I make it out of the airplane and start on a mad dash in what I hope is the right direction. The mechanical walkways are broken, could have saved me a breath or two, but I’m doing OK and my roller bag keeps up.

Airport, Travel, Flights, Times, Transportation    Image result for minneapolis airport

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hebert?” – says the gate agent, with a question mark, in the middle of the very empty terminal.  I can stop running, the door hasn’t closed yet and I’m on my flight. There’s even room in the overhead for my bag.

I send a quick email to my agent, “Abort, I made it!”

Transformative Travel

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 on experiencing a country by actively engaging with its history, people, culture, and environment. Sailing the North West Passage and learning the history of the Franklin Expedition, or engaging in a culinary experience in Italy.

   

Transformative travel is when you travel with intention, openness and mindfulness.  Engaging in a challenging physical or cultural experience. Finding tranquility at a yoga retreat in India, or visiting with the Elders in Arctic Canada to learn their history.

Arctic Canada Inuit Elders

Whatever piques your interest, contact The Great Canadian Travel Group and let us plan “your best days ever!”

Portugal is #1 best tourist destination!

July 17, 2019 | John Lelis

Our latest newsletter has Portugal as the featured destination. When asked to write a blog to feature in it, I thought it would be easy! After all, I am Portuguese and lived there until I was 39 before moving to Canada. But in fact, it isn’t that easy! There is so much to tell and so many stories to choose from that I found myself wondering where to start.

I guess a great way to start would be by saying that Portugal has been voted the best destination in the world for two years in a row in the World Travel Awards, the “Oscars of world tourism”. Everyone should go there! 

Portugal is the European country with oldest borders (I didn’t say oldest country in Europe, those are different things) and it has an amazing coast line that extends for 1.794 km (1115 mi). Of course, the main attraction must be the amazing beaches and, believe me, some of them are amazing. But a country with almost 900 years of history has, in fact, much more to offer. Its rich culture results from many influences including Roman, Celtic, Lusitanian, Phoenician,Germanic, Visigoth, Viking, Sephardic Jewish, and Moorish. All of these influences are still visible from the north to the south in many ways, even if the Roman and Moorish are the most visible, being also the most recent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Portugal has the allure of a 2 in 1 Holiday. You may opt for spending your time visiting the historic centers of Lisbon or Porto, the country’s two main cities. Both have contrasts of the modern and comfortable cosmopolitan places they are, while keeping the old traces and vestiges that built their histories and are still preserved physically ans well as ingrained in the peoples’ culture.

If you are a sun lover and a holiday without beach, sun and amazing drinks isn’t a holiday for you, Portugal is also the place you want to be! From the northern point near Spain, going down to the most southern point of Europe; Sagres (in Algarve) bathed by the Atlanctic Ocean and then East towards Spain, bathed by the Mediterranean sea; with beaches, amazing fish, prize winning beers, typical dishes and bread, Portugal has it all. And, believe me, we the Portuguese love to enjoy it!

There’s so much more to tell, but I hope to have at least made you think about going to Portugal for holidays. If you would like me to assist you in creating an unforgettable Portuguese experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at John@gctravel.ca.

Drum Dance Ceremony in Naujaat (Nunavut)

June 24, 2019 | Ian Kalinowsky

Margot (my spouse and tour director for Great Canadian Travel) and I were escorting a group of clients to venture out to the Floe Edge in the community of Naujaat, Nunavut (formerly Repulse Bay and translated as “seagull nesting place”) and to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on the summer solstice – June 21, 2018. Naujaat is considered to be a “traditional” community in that they rely on hunting and fishing for their sustenance.

The Naujaat community has built a wonderful “elders’ retreat” outside of the community. It is away from the hustle and bustle of the community and allows for contemplation, quiet enjoyment of each other’s company and celebrations. Our group was invited into the retreat to experience and learn about drum dancing.

  A Qulliq – a traditional, soapstone oil-lamp filled with sealskin oil – was ceremonially lit and placed on a table by a window overlooking the rolling hills and Hudson Bay in the background. It was very calming.

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