By Charlie Gillis - Monday, July 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
Those who get sick while on vacation may now be granted additional time off in lieu
Can anyone help Europe if it won’t help itself? The question seemed pertinent last week after the European Union Court of Justice ruled in favour of Spanish department store workers demanding the right to reclaim any holiday time lost to illness. The decision by Europe’s highest court is binding on employers throughout the EU, including Britain, and came as Spain put the finishing touches on a request for an EU bailout. No surprise, then, that the decision was met with hisses from economists and politicians. “Most employees accept that if they fall ill while on holiday, it is unfortunate,” said Norman Lamb, the U.K.’s employment relations minister. “But they do not expect extra vacation.”
Maybe not on Lamb’s side of the Channel. On the continent, things are different. The new rule joins a cornucopia of workplace benefits that remain even as troubled eurozone economies groan under crushing debt and staggering unemployment. Spanish workers get an extra two weeks off for honeymoons, and 20 days of severance even if they’re fired with cause. In France, companies must give extra paid leave to staff who work 39 hours per week instead of the statutory 35, even if the workers are paid for the overtime. In Italy, firms that lay people off during an economic downturn can face years of costly legal proceedings. By way of remedy, Rome is proposing a law requiring employers to pay laid-off workers a whopping 27 months in wages.
Gold-plated entitlements like these persist despite complaints from economists that they discourage companies from hiring at a time when one in two Spaniards and one in three Italians under the age of 25 are unemployed. They’re also adding to the burden on public-sector institutions, which had been the last redoubt of employment growth since the financial crisis took hold in 2008. Spain’s government-paid workforce actually expanded by 11 per cent in the three years that followed the meltdown. Last week, Madrid warned that mass layoffs of civil servants may be necessary to contain a deficit nearing $90 billion.
Are Europeans oblivious to the crisis before them? On one level, the recent decision reflects long-held views that benefits, more than just nice, are necessary, says Kurt Huebner, a professor with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for European Studies. To them, “vacation is like bringing in a car for maintenance,” he says. “It’s necessary to get basic repairs in order to function properly. Thus it is logical that if you become sick during this period, you should have the opportunity to recover.” And though the verdict “flies in the face of austerity,” Huebner adds, many Europeans believe workers have done their part in the past decade, as wages have decreased as a share of GDP while profits have risen.
By Rebecca Eckler - Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
Ever gone on vacation to find every chaise longue reserved by a hat or a towel or a book?
Torontonian Jasmine Miller went on a four-day jaunt to a family resort in Jamaica with a friend recently. But it wasn’t entirely relaxing, as she explains. “I was sitting on a lounge chair by the pool around 11 one morning. My friend and I had been there since 7 a.m. but she had moved to a chair in the shade. I was reading a book when suddenly I heard this woman calling my friend a bitch and screaming, ‘Did you put your book on my chair?’ ”
Miller’s friend retrieved the book from the chair, but not without exchanging words. “They started going at it. My friend argued, ‘You have been gone for four hours!’ ” The woman said she went for breakfast and had put five towels on five chairs to reserve them.
Everyone around the pool was watching the heated exchange. “All I kept thinking was, ‘Honestly? Is this really happening?’ I thought there would be a brawl,” says Miller. “Her anger was completely out of context with the beautiful surroundings of the sky and the sound of the ocean. She really was enraged.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM - 31 Comments
Beyond the Commons will be taking the next few days off. I assume the NDP will be by shortly to explain how this week wouldn’t have been possible without the organized labour movement.
Until we return, feel free to peruse the complete and unabridged archives of The Commons—including 50 sketches from the year so far—and recall that funny and/or distasteful and/or abhorrent and/or charming thing that backbencher and/or cabinet minister and/or member of the Royal family did and/or wore that one time.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
What you’re thinking
National: Fifty-six per cent of Canadians say they use profanity on a “regular” or “occasional basis.” That’s higher than those in both Britain (51 per cent) and the U.S. (46 per cent).
By macleans.ca - Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 12:40 PM - 0 Comments
What you’re thinking
British Columbia: Just 24 per cent report high confidence in the RCMP (that’s 11 percentage points below the national average and the lowest of any province). Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they would also feel uncomfortable reporting inappropriate conduct by RCMP members to the Commission for Public Complaints.
The Prairies: Farmers here are more pessimistic than a year ago, with 53 per cent saying “things in agriculture are off on the wrong track” (31 per cent responded the same way in 2009). Some of their biggest concerns include the price of wheat (91 per cent), the cost of farm inputs (91 per cent) and transportation costs (86 per cent).
By Takeoffeh.com - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 1:57 PM - 1 Comment
Leader of The Pack
With the summer travel season almost upon us, airports will be filled with frazzled folks flitting far, far away. There’s nothing like a lost bag to put a cramp in your visit to the in-laws, so here are a few tips to help you avoid luggage letdown.
Do You Need It?
This is a two-part question. Part One: Most people pack way too much. Try to remember what you took last time and didn’t use, and eliminate it this time. Part Two: If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t bring it. Leave Grandma’s pearls at home.
Don’t Check It:
Let’s be honest. All those people who tell you they pack 10 days worth of stuff in a carry-on are rumpled, dirty and far too ascetic for our taste. They also clearly don’t have kids. That being said: take anything valuable as carry-on and a throw in a change of clothes too, along with medications, electronics and travel documents. With checked luggage couples and families should definitely cross-pack, so if a bag goes missing, they’ve all got something to wear.
Bag It & Tag It:
You want your luggage to be distinctive, so make sure it is well identified with ID tags and a sticker or ribbon so you can pick it out on the carousel. Don’t rely on old baggage tags as ID, or your bag could end up back at your previous destination.
Eyes on the Prize:
Don’t dawdle while heading to the baggage claim. Sometimes bags come remarkably quickly, and you don’t want someone else walking off with your stuff. Many people also prefer to keep their bags in sight as much as possible when checking in to a hotel or boarding a cruise ship. It’s often easier and more reassuring to carry your own luggage or accompany it to your room or cabin.
Spotlight on Norwegian Epic
What’s a new cruise ship without a superlative or two? Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic will set sail this month, and final fittings included installing the largest LED chandelier at sea. The massive piece is the focal point of the ship’s atrium and the Epic Casino — also the largest at sea. But they don’t make chandeliers like they used to – this one features 10,000 LED diodes allowing it to project all colours of the spectrum through 40,000 glass crystals. The monster light is the product of Vienna’s Kalmar, a leading glass crystal maker and specialist in chandeliers that make statements in hotels and palaces around the world. The 21-foot tall, 11-foot diameter chandelier weighs two metric tonnes and took a team of people three weeks to install.
Photo Credits: jocic, epic.ncl.com
By Takeoffeh.com - Monday, June 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM - 1 Comment
No-Grief Honeymoon Planning
Planning a wedding can be a serious test of even the strongest relationship, but if you make it through that stress-fest, organizing a honeymoon should be much easier. Most travel experts agree that no matter what the budget, a honeymoon is one trip that shouldn’t be left to chance.
With that in mind, the American Society of Travel Agents offers a series of tips on honeymoon planning. It starts with finding a good travel agent. If you don’t have one, look for either a honeymoon specialist or an agent who specializes in your desired travel style or destination of choice. Here in Canada, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies offers a database you can search by specialty, destination and location. (Look for the Weddings/Honeymoon tab in the drop-down menu.)
“Working with a travel consultant who specializes in honeymoons gives a couple much-needed breathing room when it comes to planning their wedding and everything it entails,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo.
Here are some travel agent honeymoon top tips:
- Do It Together: There’s always compromise in marriage, so get off on the right foot by making honeymoon decisions together. If one partner is less interested in the process, it’s important that they at least give input about their desires so the result is a trip attractive to both parties.
- Narrow The Field: What does your honeymoon mean to you? Is it a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? A fly-and-flop after the wedding whirlwind? A family-blending experience? The answers to these questions will help you cut through the vast number of travel choices.
- What’s Your Pleasure? Agents say many couples try to pick a destination first, but they recommend selecting the type of trip you want before choosing the setting. Popular choices include cruising and all-inclusive resorts, but you’ll also find honeymooning couples on European coach tours, African safaris and bespoke trips tailored to shared passions like art, culture, music and sport.
- Your Time: If the wedding was exhausting, make sure the honeymoon comes with generous amounts of free time. You can always fill your schedule once you’re there, but it can feel less rushed if you leave lots of room to enjoy each other’s company before heading back to the realities of daily life.
- Know Your Budget: For many, a honeymoon is a time to splurge a little. Others are saving for a home or other priority and seeking something more modest. There’s something for just about everybody, but if you know what you’ve got it’s much easier to figure out what you can get for it.
- Get A Room: Agents say cutting corners on accommodations is a poor choice for most honeymooners. Splurging on a room with a Jacuzzi tub or a cruise ship cabin with a balcony can significantly improve the ambience. Honeymoon specialists have lots of knowledge on popular choices, and review sites are also a good source of firsthand information.
- Fair Maiden: Brides taking on their husband’s surname should take into account that there often isn’t enough time to change the name on documents like passports and driver’s licences, so it’s best to use the maiden name for booking. Let them talk.
Photo Credits: Turtle Island – Nadi, ourcaymanwedding.com
By Cathy Gulli - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 10:49 AM - 28 Comments
Two Canadians in Peru face earthquakes, landslides, floods, near-death—and death
“You’re cursed now,” the Peruvian guide chided. Nakita Haining had just picked up one of dozens of skulls and bones strewn across ancient burial grounds in Peru when the guide offered this ominous message. She looked over at her travel partner Daryl Buchanan, who had done the same. “You’re cursed now, too,” the guide said, nodding. Haining and Buchanan smiled nervously, set the skulls down, and carried on with their hike. But ever since that warning, recalls Buchanan, “All this stuff happened.”
“Stuff” is Buchanan’s characteristically unadorned way of describing what ensued: earthquakes, landslides, ﬂoods. Near-death, and death. A state of emergency declared in several regions of the country. At least 30,000 people affected. He and Haining had arrived in Peru from Edmonton on Jan. 14, for a two-week vacation that would culminate in a four-day trek through the Amazon jungle and along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. There, the pair, who describe themselves as best friends, bandmates and co-workers in a vinyl siding business, would celebrate Haining’s 23rd birthday.
By Takeoffeh.com, Nina Slawek - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 4:55 PM - 2 Comments
Brand new beach packages are now on the shelf – ready for purchase
Tour operators are launching each season’s product line earlier and earlier. For years, the new winter designs went to market in September. This year, Transat has taken the lead by announcing their line-up in April. According to Transat’s Commercial Director, Nancy Jackson, “some consumers like to plan early. We felt that by being first to market with the winter product, we give them the opportunity to have first crack at some amazing savings.”
Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations at the Sunwing Travel Group, who also launched early, offers a similar observation: “The early bookers get to reap the rewards of some really aggressive advanced booking discounts we’ve negotiated”.
What’s hot for next winter? Well, besides the Caribbean sun, a few new spots are hitting the runways and bound to get some rave reviews. The season runs from November 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011.
El Salvador – [Nolitours]
Certainly not what comes to mind as the traditional winter getaway destination. But the Pacific coastline of El Salvador harbours some beautiful beaches which offer uniformly hot temperatures. Surfing is gaining popularity in recent years as more surfers visit many beaches on the coast of La Libertad and the east side of the country, finding surfing spots that are not yet overcrowded.
The eastern part of El Salvador is where you’ll find a more rural atmosphere. This is also the country’s hotbed of ecotourism. To the north are several hidden natural beauties which should be discovered before the area’s tourism industry catches on.
Margarita Island – [Nolitours, Sunwing, Signature]
Margarita Island is situated in the Caribbean sea, off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The island is formed by two peninsulas joined by an isthmus. There are at least 50 unique and magnificent Margarita beaches which are scattered along 106 miles of coastline. Its location as an island in the Caribbean Sea offers lots of beaches to explore which range from crowded to solitary and most of them virgin.
All beaches are open to the public, including those at the luxury hotels. The east coast beaches that are swept by the trade winds from El Yaque to Playa El Agua are famous for windsurfing, while Playa Parguito and El Tirano mainly attract bodysurfing enthusiasts. Swimmers will particularly enjoy the clean, clear waters of the beaches that lie to the east of Pampatar, including Playa El Terminal, below the La Caranta fort.
Mazatlan – [new for Westjet, Sunwing]
According to WestJet, Mazatlan has qualities that embrace old and new, luxurious and down to earth, activity and soothing tranquility.
The Pearl of the Pacific boasts serious sailfish and marlin fishing, traditional colonial architecture and a lively Mexican culture. Meander along delightful esplanades on balmy evenings, feast on freshly caught seafood or laze on golden beaches to the sounds of crashing waves.
Out Islands, Bahamas – [Air Canada Vacations]
The Out Islands of the Bahamas are some of the most beautiful in the Caribbean and Air Canada Vacations recently launched service to the area. Many of the unnamed beaches and coves of the islands, including extensive offshore reef areas, are protected. There are over 55 world class resorts and boutique hotels which range from five star luxury to fishing lodges.
The Exumas are a 120-mile-long island chain-within-the-chain of the Out Islands, with the Exuma Cays scattered in a long line extending north. These Cays are the most exotic of the Out Islands – soft pink sand and storybook aquamarine waters.
By Nina Slawek
Nina Slawek is co-founder of TakeOffeh.com and Canada’s number one travel trade website, OpenJaw.com
Photo Credits: elsalvador.travel, upload.wikipedia.com, top-things-to-do.com, bahamas.com
By Chris Robinson, Takeoffeh.com - Monday, May 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 10 Comments
Chris Robinson’s Top Ten Favourite Places
Having met so many wonderful, giving people during my travels (I’ve even been offered a bride) I take the liberty of sharing my favoritism towards the friendliest cultures. Here is my top ten list of friendliest destinations.
Emerald Isle, diamond people – without question, it’s the warmth of the Irish people that stays with you long after you return. Total strangers treat you as close friends and the ‘craic’ – party spirit – of the Irish pubs is legendary. Maybe it’s the magical properties of a pint of Guinness?
The most gentle people on the planet. The Thai Buddhist culture underpins their genuine desire to please travellers. They naturally offer up their cultural heritage and make it easy for visitors to experience. I was once picked up on the streets of Bangkok by a local who took me to his family temple and then to his home to meet his family – all without a word in common.
What makes people who live on a rock so friendly? Could be their Celtic heritage, their self-reliance or their remoteness from stressful big cities. Whatever the cause, their spirit is irresistible. If you survive being ‘screeched-in’ and kissing the cod, you are ready for anything.
4. New Zealanders
I probably relate so easily to The Kiwis (or they to me?) because they are the closest people in spirit to Canadians: they, too, have a beautiful homeland, a big brother neighbour, and they take great delight in showing off their home to travellers…but always, as befits a kindred Canadian attitude, in an understated way.
The best way to describe the overwhelming friendliness of Tahitians is with this example: my wife and I were travelling with our ten week old baby and treated ourselves to an upscale dinner in Papeete,Tahiti’s capital. Just as our meal arrived, baby Pip started to cry. Without hesitation, our Tahitian server scooped Pip up in one arm and served meals with the other until we had finished our dinner…much to Pip’s delight.
Nature has provided Barbados with many attractions, and the people of this Caribbean island complete the package. I have run the Barbados Marathon twice, and the enthusiastic support of the Bajans lining the route is what carried me both times. The amazing part is that they clearly thought we runners were crazy, but they cheered nonetheless.
Have you ever tried to visit a Greek home and not end up eating with your host? It’s impossible! They are possibly the most hospitable people in the world – in Greece or wherever in the world they have settled. And, yes, I have actively participated in a crazy, plate-smashing dinner party at a Taverna on the island of Kos that I will never forget.
8. Bolivian Aymara and Quechua Indians
I once spent many weeks trekking around Lake Titicaca high on the Bolivian and Peruvian altiplano. I had no tent, nor were there any hotels to speak of. I simply staggered into a village at the end of each day and the wonderful locals shared their homes and their food with me.
Years ago, a small group of us were camped out near the Turkish/Iranian border. A band of armed Kurds surrounded us and invited us to join them at their camp, where we were feted until dawn. Their spirited hospitality was overwhelming.
In the Himalayan valleys of Nepal live a self-reliant people unlike any others I have encountered. They help Westerners who come in search of high altitude adventure to feel welcome. They seem to rise above hardship. Their quiet nobility literally embraces travellers who journey there. When I trekked in the Helambu region north of Kathmandu, their hospitality was simple, gracious and oh so appreciated.
By Chris Robinson
Chris hosts Canada’s top rated radio travel show – the Chris Robinson Travel Shows on Newstalk 1010 CFRB in Ontario and CJAD 8000 Montreal in Quebec. www.chrisrobinsontravelshow.ca
Photo Credits: Chris Robinson
By Bruce Parkinson, Takeoffeh.com - Monday, May 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 5 Comments
Will The Next Cancun Please Stand Up
Plastic Only Please: Air Canada Moving To Cashless Cabin
As of May 1 passengers will need a credit card for on-board purchases on Air Canada including food, alcoholic drinks, headphones and duty-free items. The airline is moving to a cashless cabin and debit cards won’t be among the options. For both the airline and its flight attendants it is good news. Retired Air Canada flight attendant Alexandra Ludgate says handling cash was one of the most time consuming parts of the job. “Running back and forth for change and waiting for passengers to rummage through their wallets was really impractical.” Passengers will also have the ability to purchase vouchers before boarding a flight. However, vouchers are only available online and will also require a credit card for purchase. Reacting to the news on TakeOffeh sister site OpenJaw.com, one travel industry member wrote: “While I agree going cashless cabins will make things more efficient, it seems to me that they might have also included debit cards. The transaction takes about the same time, and some people may not have a card or wish to use a credit card on board.” WestJet says it is considering a similar move but has not yet made a decision.
You Have The Right To Remain Prone On A Sun Lounger
It’s not enough that Europeans get weeks and weeks of paid vacation every year. Or that whole countries slap up a ‘Closed’ sign for the month of August. Get ready to go green with envy, my vacation-deprived North American friends, for the worst is yet to come: The EU has declared that vacations are a human right and plans to subsidize holidays for those who can’t afford it. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” EU commissioner Antonio Tajani said recently. Under Tajani’s plan, taxpayers would foot up to 30 per cent of the travel bill. Expected to cost hundreds of millions of Euros, the plan will be open to pensioners, young people between 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances. No doubt you can find one of those categories to apply to you, but there is little hope North American government will subsidize our annual pilgrimages to a swim-up bar.
Lots Of Car Rental Brands, Few Car Rental Companies
If anyone’s keeping score, Avis and Budget are one company, National, Enterprise and Alamo are owned by the same group and now Hertz has swallowed up Dollar Thrifty, which was already a dual-brand car rental company. With all the car rental brands out there, there are surprisingly few car rental companies. The announcement of Hertz’s $1.2-billion Dollar Thrifty purchase raises fears that rental prices will climb even further — after a year in which they reached historic highs. Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News, told CNN: “We’re in an era of higher-priced car rentals and that era is probably going to stay in place for a while. I’m not sure that Hertz buying Dollar Thrifty [will be] a driver of a rate increase.” Insiders say that the main cause of higher prices is tighter lending, which means car rental companies can’t buy as many cars.
Will The Next Cancun Please Stand Up
You may have never heard of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, but odds are you will soon. Like Cancun, Loreto, Huatulco, Ixtapa and Los Cabos, the coastal region of Mexico’s sixth-largest state is going to be another of the country’s “Integrally Planned Centers” — in other words, a massive new resort area. Located on the Gulf Coast with Texas as its northern border, Tamaulipas will be home to ‘Megaproject Costa Lora,’ which in its first stage will be home to 6,900 hotel rooms and 11,500 condominiums and tourist villas. The federal government, through tourism arm Fonatur, has agreed to fund up to 90 percent of the $5.5 billion project. Despite its well-publicized drug war and last year’s struggles with swine flu, Mexico is one of the world’s leading destinations, and continues to build a tourism product highly regarded for quality and value. Here’s an idea of the scale of the new project: it begins with the provision of basic services followed by the development of golf courses and water sports facilities, a central marina, a residential area with housing for 150,000 and a new international airport. No doubt there’s a Senor Frog’s in there somewhere too.
By: Bruce Parkinson
Bruce Parkinson is a travel industry journalist and regular contributor to Takeoffeh.com as well as sister company, OpenJaw.com
Photo Credits: aircanada.com, cdwheatley, tourbymexico.com
By Joanne Latimer - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 11:20 AM - 2 Comments
What kind of man brings the Other Woman along on a summer road trip with his wife?
It’s road trip season. Every summer, women across Canada plan itineraries and organize the kids. We pack snacks for the car. What do we get for our efforts? The hubby brings his mistress. She sits in the front seat, between us, as he listens to her every word. She is the GPS. And I, for one, hate her. “Shushhhh,” says Husband, when she speaks. I am the idiot to her oracle. She has the power to override his inner compass. I cannot say a thing about her without making him defensive. He shoots me a look of contempt when I point out the irrationality of making a U-turn in the Prairies. My printouts from MapQuest are considered traitorous.
Fellow passenger Beatrice Alain feels my pain. She and her husband returned recently from three years in Turin, Italy. “He looooved his GPS, with her Carla Bruni voice. She sounded like she was about to pass out from breathlessness,” recalls Alain, a project manager in Montreal’s non-proﬁt sector. “He would go anywhere she said. We even changed our route to the airport because she knew best. I was convinced she was trying to have me knocked off and take my place, because she was always directing me to the middle of nowhere.” Eventually, Alain changed the GPS’s setting to something less threatening to the relationship: a bossy male voice. Continue…
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 8:45 AM - 4 Comments
Canadians do. We’re the fourth-hardest workers in the world.
If you’re not proud enough of your country already, here’s another reason to stand tall: we Canadians work harder than almost every other country in the world. Thanks to BlackBerries and cottages wired for the Internet, we check voice mail from the beach and snatch holidays on the run. We’re so dedicated, Forbes magazine recently ranked us as the fourth- hardest-working country in the developed world. When you take into account both hours worked and employment rates, we handily beat out the U.S., Germany, Sweden, Japan and most of the rest of Europe. The only countries that out-work us are Iceland (which ranked at No. 1), New Zealand and Switzerland (which tied for second), and Denmark (which ranked third). In fact, some say, it’s starting to look like Canadians may be working too hard.
Given our proclivity for work, it won’t be much of a shocker to discover that Canadians get less vacation time than almost any other country. We now get 19 days of paid vacation time a year, on average, while our French cousins receive a staggering 7.6 weeks of paid leave per year. Spaniards get 30 days, Italians get 31, those famously industrious Germans get 27, and the Brits—who helped birth the Protestant work ethic—earn 26, according to a recent global survey by travel website Expedia. Continue…
By Brian Banks with Tom Henheffer - Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 6 Comments
From coast to coast to coast, Maclean’s presents the best that Canada has to offer
Canadians don’t generally think of their own country among the world’s great vacation spots. Ask a Vancouverite or a Montrealer about an ideal place to spend some downtime, and you’ll likely hear about sunny Caribbean beaches, exotic Asian locales or Europe’s historic capitals. But ask people elsewhere, and Canada ranks among the most appealing vacation destinations in the world. In fact, a new global poll asked 1,000 people where they would most like to visit if money were no object—Canada came first, just ahead of Italy and Australia.
Unspoiled nature, vibrant cities, fascinating history and warm hospitality—that’s how the world sees Canada. It’s a vision that Canadians might soon better appreciate, too. Vacationing close to home is looking like a good option for many this year, and so Maclean’s has assembled a collection of over 50 of the greatest attractions this vast and varied country has to offer this summer. We hope the great Canadian vacation guide might provide a reminder of just what the rest of the world is so excited about. Continue…
By Brian Banks - Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Sea, sky and everything in between
Okanagan Summer Wine Festival/Vernon (Aug. 7-8) This is the eighth year for the Okanagan Summer Wine Festival and, like a quality wine, it’s improving with age. Hosted by the Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon, the two-day festival’s scheduled events include wine tasting and wine education as well as art, music and outdoor recreation. Tasting sessions are geared to both connoisseurs and novice drinkers alike. The program also offers “wine masters’ dinners” hosted by four resort restaurants and eight local wineries. Toss in some customarily hot, dry, midsummer Okanagan weather, and you’ll have yourself a perfect summer weekend in the province’s largest and most popular wine-growing region.
Hornby Festival/Hornby Island (July 30—Aug. 8) You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more charming B.C. summer activity than this nine-day cultural festival on one of the province’s more laid-back Gulf Islands. First held in 1982, the Hornby Festival features a modest lineup of nationally known musicians, singers and dancers alongside an undercard of talented local acts. Primary venues are the Community Hall for indoor shows and Olsen Farm for outdoor performances. During the course of the festival, main-stage acts also perform short sets at unusual outdoor locations. Hornby’s summertime population has increased substantially in recent years, and the popularity of the festival continues to grow right along with it.
By Paul Wells - Friday, September 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM - 32 Comments
I returned from overseas at the end of March, hit the ground running with a profile of Stéphane Dion and have not paused for long since then. So one of the dilemmas this election campaign posed was whether I should cancel a brief vacation I had planned for some months. It was easy to decide against cancelling, because I know Maclean’s election coverage, led by John Geddes and Andrew Coyne, and our bustling family of blogs will thrive while I’m away. Not knowing how to cut bait, I am off fishing for a week. See you after Sept. 26.