Tag Archives: Travel

Exploring Toronto’s Deer Park and the Don Valley Trails 

Alright so this post is a little late and is going to be brief, but I couldn’t help but share my experience while exploring Toronto’s Deer Park and the Don Valley Trails about a week ago. Even with living in Toronto for 20 years, it’s something I’ve yet to do.

Now I can’t take all the credit because the idea did come from my boyfriend Stevie while we had a bit of time off together. So we went out as a family, dog and all.

Essentially we started from St. Clair subway station on the Yonge Line (TTC) and walked East on St. Clair until we hit the valley. We then took the hidden paths into the forest and followed the creek.

What we found was stunningly luscious landscapes, cute waterfalls and interesting stone structures scattered throughout. By the time we had gotten to the DVP we started coming across cool areas of graffiti under the many bridges, and then A LOT of greenery. The entire walk took us about 2 and a half hours, and was time well-spent.

The entire time we travelled through the valley we felt like we were in a distant land, as if we had hopped on a plane and left the city. Usually you have to hop on a bus, GO train or take a drive outside the city to find this kind of landscape, but as we discover our city more deeply that has began to change. Though I doubt many people actually explore the vast area so profoundly because it isn’t marked all that well, but that should definitely change in the future; in my personal opinion.

I highly suggest setting aside some time to explore Deer Park and the Don Valley Trails if you have yet to do so. It’s especially nice if you need to clear the mind and forget about all the noise for just a brief little while. Heck, or even a photoshoot!

Charting New Territory,

pG. =D

Kids at Canada’s Wonderland

Happy Tuesday friends!

When was the last time you were at Canada’s Wonderland on a Saturday? If like me, you’re going to answer with something like, “not in the last 5 years.” 

Halloween Haunt doesn’t count, especially when comparing to Kid’s Day.

That’s right, me and my boyfriend accidentally ended up at Canada’s Wonderland on Kid’s Day. We thought going on a gloomy day was a good idea, which ended up turning into a gloriously sunny one and our worst nightmare ensued (maybe that’s a little drastic, but I’m trying to convey my message clearly…).

We got on the Wonderbus from Finch Station and got to the theme park at around 1:30 pm. Once we got our tickets and were inside we totally decided that buying the Fast Lane in order to bypass normal wait times was a good idea… so we paid the additional $70 for the Fast Pass on top of our $60 ticket. I’m not one to complain but SINCE WHEN is it $130 for a day at good ol’ Canada’s Wonderland? I remember when it was $40 a day, who else?

Anyhow, we decided to make the best of it.

We started with Shockwave and ventured on to Vortex, Flight Deck and a few other favourites. It got rather annoying when Sledgehammer and Psyclone went down at the same time and needed maintenance, so Stevie hopped on to the Dance Dance Popup while we waited, presented by Coca-Cola, which definitely gave me a good laugh and a smile. Once we got on Sledgehammer we hopped on two of the newer rides.

Firstly, Skyhawk scares the crap out of me and is a swing seat in the form of a plane that dangles you 135 feet in the air, while you flip two pannels back and forth to try and flip yourself mid-air. This ride is so not my thing, but my boyfriend who flipped 11 times would definitely beg to differ. I’ve tried to convince myself that I won’t die if I do it, but something else within me has a stronger hold on me than my better-thinking does.

Secondly, the newest addition to the park, Soaring Timbers, is unfortunately a sore waste of time. I hate to say it, but it is. The new feature that has two pods seating 16 people, 4 rows of 4, has an arm that swings the pods around, up and then down, as the pods sway back and forth. At some point one of the pods does flip and its not a 100% guarantee, so it’s a hit or miss when looking for a thrill on Soaring Timbers; especially if you wait 30 minutes for it.

Even with the Fast Lane we had to wait upwards of 30 minutes for our rides, which we didn’t expect for the money that was paid. Regardless we did our best to push through the busy day and get on a few of the rides we had intended to.

After about 5 hours, a few rides and some snacks we hopped back on the Wonderbus and headed home. Myself and Stevie mutually decided that unless it was Halloween Haunt we wouldn’t be spending much more of our time at Canada’s Wonderland, because it’s obviously not the same it was 10 years ago.

Fun fact, that’s where me and Stevie met a decade ago. Weird, huh?

What’s your most recent theme park experience like and where should we seek our thrills next instead? I hear Ohio has a great ride or two…

Stay Thrilled,

pG. 😀

Kayaking in the City & Ticket Link 

Happy Thursday humans, it’s almost the weekend… at least for some of us.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, I was taken on a two-hour Kayaking experience with my family, minus my father, to celebrate my youngest sisters’ birthday. We didn’t go too far, nowhere inaccessible via TTC, rather just over to the Humber River at Old Mill and Bloor.

For those of you not familiar with the city, that’s in Toronto’s Western hemisphere.

My mother found a wicked deal on Groupon, as mother’s do, which got us each a two-hour trip for $19.95. What a bargain, right?

Affordable, within the confinements of the city, and also a great way to enjoy a summer day; before it all comes to an end.

Yes? 🙂

Don’t get me wrong the water isn’t deep or crystal blue and there isn’t the craziest of scenery, but it’s honestly a good time that I’ll gladly enjoy again before the end of this season. There was a ton of cute wildlife to spot, the usual ducks and a few other birds hanging about like the Stork, as well as ridiculously gorgeous houses lining the steep banks of the Humber River.

We spent about an hour heading towards Lake Ontario, at which point we turned back and headed back up stream. It was a workout in and of itself but truly, I felt relaxed and distant from all the noise the city often produces. The temperature was mild with a light breeze and a cloud-cast sky as well, which made it an enjoyable environment to Kayak in. 

It was also a great treat to spend that time with my family (hint hint), we don’t do things like this often enough anymore. When in reality, we really should be!

Remember to buy your ticket off the Groupon link before it expires, and then make the booking for your excursion on Torontos’ Humber River.

Toronto Adventures Inc. Tickets 

I know I will be soon, again.

Always Exploring,

pG. =D

NYC with Kiehl’s || The Highlights 

Last week I took off to New York City with the Kiehl’s Since 1851 family alongside 70 other Kiehl’s Customer Representatives from around the world. Some of these countries include: Canada, China, Korea, USA, England, Scotland, Germany, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, Mexico, Russia and Maylaysia, to name a few.

Together we celebrated the 2017 Kiehl’s Legacy Awards where each KCR selected to attend demonstrated outstanding passion, commitment and sheer dedication to the brand and its’ philanthropies. You can imagine how excited I was to be chosen for such a trip, 5 days in NYC with some of the most passionate Beauty Buff’s from Kiehl’s stores around the world; a once in a lifetime opportunity I dreamed of since starting with Kiehl’s last February.

On Monday, April 3rd I flew out of Toronto Pearson International airport into La Guardia, NYC. Over the 5 day span there were many memories created and experiences produced, right up until my flight out on Friday, April 7th. The trip was full of laughter, inspiration and connection which means I have a ton to talk about. However to keep it interesting I want to reminisce on some of the moments that really took this trip to a new level, experiences that aren’t too often easy to come-by elsewhere.

Like I said, this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opporunity and here’s why it will live on in my heart forever…

MONDAY, APRIL 3RD: 

Getting in to New York City via flight was as smooth as it could have ever been, we got to our hotel pretty quickly by our chaffeur which left us enough time to explore the city. 

Our first stop was the Kiehl’s Original Flagship store located at 13th and 3rd, Pear Tree Corner in New York City. Now could you expect anything esle from three Kiehl’s employees on their Legacy Award Trip in the home-city of their favourite brand? Absolutely not. We explored the store and all its’ history while mingling with the always enthused and charismatic staff on-hand.

The store itself is full of history, like the motorcycles driven and collected by Aaron Morse or the old fire doors used to keep back flames and explosions while products were being formulate in the stores’ original back-end laboratory. You can feel the energy when you’re browsing the products between both the newer and older sides of the Flagship, especially when seeing timeless aspects that are shared across the Kiehl’s family worlwide; such as the wall of customer baby photos and the numerous Mr. Bones scattered throughout the space.

In preparation for the Private Shopping Experience being hosted by our Global team on the Tuesday evening I scoped the store for my purchases, which ended up being:

  • The Clearly Corrective Brightening and Smoothing Treatment,
  • The Butterstick Lip Treatments with SPF,
  • The Original Musk Roll-On Scent.

Basically products I can’t get my hands on in Canada just yet, of course. Now once we left the Flagship we actually went shopping in Times Square and I was personally gunning for the Sephora I fell in love with during my last visit to NYC.

It was my every intention to scope-out and purchase it Costmetics while on my trip and that’s exactly what I did. I had heard such great things about the CC Cream with SPF 50 and the Bye Bye Pores finishing Powder so that’s what I ended up purchasing, and I love them so far.

Being quite tired and slated for an early start on the morning of Tuesday, April 4th, we got a quick bite after our shopping trip and hit the hay for the night in preparation for a surely exciting day to follow.

TUESDAY, APRIL 4TH:

The day started at 6:30 am with an early meditation followed with an 8:30 am car pick-up outside The Dream Hotel at 16th and 9th. I was headed to a very exciting professional photoshoot for a 2018 Kiehl’s campaign at Pier59 Studios. Seriously, a dream come true.

It was there that I got my hair and makeup done by a cast of fabulous men and women out of Brooklyn. We shared laughs and got to know eachother while they did me up WELL. Now that wasn’t the most exciting part of course because if you enjoy being in front of the camera as I do, what follows next is a thrill.

As a Kiehl’s employee it’s always fun to see other KCR’s from around the world in photos and vidoes featured by Global Education, so when it comes your time the excitement literally pulses through you. I was paired up to do two photoshoots, a video recording and some additional stills as well that will eventually be used for marketing materials throughout the brand. You bet that I brought the energy necessary and took full advantage of my moment of pride while at Pier59 Studios; embracing the other KCR’s from around the world on set with me, as well as those working with our Global team.

Once we had wrapped up our portion of the day there two of us went exploring Times Square and we made some fun purchases at a Uniqlo pop-up that was featuring Limited Edition wear as per the Museum of Modern Art. I love my Limited Editions, who doesn’t? While on our excursion we also stumbled upon another Kiehl’s at 9th and 47th that also contained a Men’s Grooming Studio. Now it had been on my bucket list during my last visit in New York City to find this place and check it out, but it never happened so I was glad that fate brought us together this time.

It was there that we spent a brief half hour with the Store Manager, Tyler, whom demonstrated to us a new piece of technology being tested at his store. It was somewhat of a Skin Graphing/ Analytics device that provides a more in depth consultatiom for the customer. I was astonished at the device and how it worked! We explored the store a little more before leaving and then headed up 9th towards our hotel, The Dream.

We were scheduled to meet the rest of those meeting us from around the world at the Flagship store for 7 pm. It was then that the Private Shopping Experience was held and the welcoming ceremonies began. We had Cammie Canella, our Global VP of Customer Service and Education, begin the Legacy Awards Trip with a welcoming speech and introduction to our teams. I was on #TeamLuxuryBlue paired with the rest of Canada, the UK, Czech Republic and Croatia.

Once we had made our purchases we all split for food and to bed in preparation for a 7 am meet-up at the Flagship store on Wednesday, April 5th; where we would then venture out as two tour-busses for the day.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5TH:

At 7 am we were up and at the corner of 13th and 3rd yet again but this time boarding the two tour-busses that we would spend until 6 pm on, exploring the day.

Our first stop was the L’Oréal USA Piscataway Production Facility where Kiehl’s products are manafactured. It is an honour to get a tour of such a faciltity, especially as a a Kiehl’s employee and product lover, but also to learn about the many ways in which the production quarters is handled to minimize the impact it has on the environment. Which is also a Kiehl’s philanthropy, commitment to sustainability.

We had each section of the facility explained to us in-depth by its’ own employees and mamagement staff, which left me with a feeling of joy and comfort. To know that the employees operating the facility are just as passionate about product development as we are about the results the products produce makes me happy to work for such a genuine and unique entity, because it’s not easy to come by. It also makes it easier for me to now sell the products to my customers with even more knowledge about each positive story behind the products’ formulation AND production. I had never felt more connected than I did at the Piscataway Production Facility, and still do.

Following the tours we hopped back on the tour busses and were treated to an excusrion to the Statue of Liberty. 

The Statue of Liberty is another attraction I had yet to visit on my previous trip to NYC so I was overjoyed when we were told that this is where we would be going. With blue skies and 18 degrees celcius as our temperature I was certain that it would be the perfect day to explore Lady Liberty herself.

After a short ferry ride, which produced an incomparable view of the Manhattan Skyline, we arrived at Liberty Island where we had the opportunity to jump inside the monument and crawl up its’ many stairs to the pedastel outlook. With a heavy climb we finally reached the outlook portion and the views were just stunning. A walk around the podium gave us a clear view of the Manhattan Skyline and some of the aircraft also hovering in the area, including the military helecopters circling; which undeniably added to the entire experience.

We were tired by the time we had gotten down from the statue and so grabbed a quick nibble at the café on the island before heading back in to New Jersey where our busses would meet us to take us back into the city. The plan for the rest of the day was to enjoy our evening of free time and grab a delicious NYC meal, which we did.

At about 8 pm a few of us ventured to Crispo Restaurant, at 8th and 14th. I had the Ravioli which I must say blew my mind. It was cooked to perfection and had obviously been made fresh not long before we arrived. I could not help but think how similar it tasted to the Ravioli that my Nonna used to make, it brought back all sorts of feelings and emotions. We enjoyed our dinner and some laughter over a glass of wine or two before heading out to our next stop, The Empire State Building.

Yes, but yet another attraction I had yet to visit during my last visit in NYC. Mainly because it was so busy last time that we could not bare to wait, and this time that wait was next to nothing so we made our way up the building at 11 pm.

The views were breathtaking and the photos say it all. Overlooking the cloud-cast skies over NYC with the streets lighting up the fog hovering over the city, and then of course a huge glowing square at the center of it all; Times Square. With about 15 minutes of view-time the fog then came over and covered our view of the entire city leaving us with no choice but to head back down to solid ground. Regardless we were satisfied with our decision to be explorative and it is an experience I won’t ever forget.

Once back down the elevator we hopped into a cab and back to The Dream for another good nights’ sleep before the Kiehl’s Insider Workshop the following morning.

THURSDAY, APRIL 6TH:

Up and out at 8 am for our 8:30 am start at the Manhattan Penthouse at 80 5th Avenue for the Kiehl’s Insider Workshop, no hastle.

The day was to be kept more of a private session as we discussed new ideas for potential product development and services that we can offer to our customers. But, also because of the sneak peek at new product launches later this year AND next, as well as due to the new and exciting partnership that Kiehl’s will be launching later this year on a global scale.

There was also an opportunity for a Social Media photo opp where we were invited to pose and shoot with our favourite Kiehl’s products, meaning you may or may not see my face on the Kiehl’s platforms sometime over the next while. Not only myself, but all of the other awesome KCR’s in attendance too. Following the photo opp there was also a video booth where we were to stand in front of a camera while applying one of the new launches on to our hands and commenting on certain aspects we enjoyed about it. To boot, I got asked to do this video a second time because they enjoyed the first so much that they wanted it to be perfected, how awesome is that!?

Once we had our lunch and wrapped up the workshop we were given 4 hours of free-time to do as we pleased, as well as to prepare for the Gala Dinner later in the evening; also being held at the Manhattan Penthouse.

Myself and two others actually spent the manjority of our free-time at the Sephora in the Meat Packing District, at 9th and 14th. To be honest we went in for one thing and became so engaged with one of the employees that we lost track of 2 hours. Paulette, or @mintmacaron88 on Instagram, was by far the most accomodating and helpful Sephora employee that I had ever interacted with. She listened to our every request and displayed great empathy as well as service, so it should not surprise you that between 3 of us we spent over $500 USD during that one visit on cosmetics alone. Did we feel bad about it? Heck no. We were thrilled!

Thank you Paulette for your incredible compassion and skill!

We used the last bit of time we had left to prepare ourselves for the Gala and headed back over to 80 5th Avenue for an evening od dinner, drinks and dancing.

We began with a light Goat Cheese Salad followed by a delicious Fillet Mingon, how classy! The rich Molten Chocolate Lava Cake was a perfect finish to a great meal, and then we danced the night away together around the Manhattan Skyline from our sky-high Penthouse in the centre of it all. It was dreamy.

Now what followed next was a trip to PHD, the nightclub on top of The Dream Hotel, with 20-25 of the other KCR’s also on the trip. We casually drank, danced and made memories on the dancefloor also overlooking the Skyline, again. We all knew how to have fun together and make the best of our short time in eachothers presence, so that is exactly what we did.

I won’t comment on what time we went to bed in order to withhold judgement, but we we got our packing done and made it to bed in once piece anyways, for another early morning rising and start at the Manhattan Penthouse again; for what would be our last portion of the 2017 KCR Legacy Awards Trip in NYC.

The awards ceremony itself.

FRIDAY, APRIL 7TH:

This was our final gathering of the 2017 Legacy Awards Trip where we were joined by not only our respected Global team, but also the General Manager of Kiehl’s, Cheryl Vitali.

It is certainly an ambiton of every Kiehl’s employee to meet both Cammie Canella and Cheryl Vitali and so having both in a photo at once while receiving my Legacy Award was an incredible honour. Cammie led each individuals’ award ceremony with a heart-warming speech about why each of us was chosen as an award winner and it ended with tears of joy and happiness in almost all cases.

For me, having Cheryl Vitali say to myself, “What an impressive year you’ve had,” as we hugged and exchanged hand shakes was incredibly inspiring and touching. It was enough to ensure that my second year with Kiehl’s would be just as impressive, if not moreso.

We wrapped up the ceremonies with a bite and opportunities to take photos as we said our final goodbyes. It was hard and I cried profusely as I said ‘See You Later’ to the people I had fallen head over heels for over the last 5 days. Regardless I knew it was time to go home and get cranking on producing new experiences and learning opporunities for my customers with all the knowledge I just had instilled upon me. 

With haste we made it to La Guardia airport for our 6:30 pm flight back but ended up back in Toronto 3 and a half hours later than expected because of ridiculous airport delays and flight cancellations. We almost didn’t think we were going to make it home but boy am I ever happy that we did.

My boyfriend was waiting for me at the arrivals of Pearson International Airport with roses and a smile on his face, obviously after missing me for a few days. I must say I missed him as well, but when you’re so caught up in what you’re doing sometimes you do tend to forget about your life back home; and no one is ever to blame for that. We spoke a few times during my trip but it was hard to keep tabs on two lives at once, and he’s super understanding of that; thankfully.

We hopped on the Union-Pearson Express to get us back into Toronto’s Downtown Core, where we currently live. This got us back downtown around 1 am, and you bet our bed was right where I went when we got in.

There are moments where I can’t help but want to time-travel back to last week and re-live each experience over, and over again.

To all of the KCR’s and Staff who made this one of the most memorable trips I will ever enjoy, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And to all of you working hard in your fields, I hope your hard work and commitment is rewarded just as graciously as ours is at a Kiehl’s.

Remembering Fondly,

pG.