Czarina’s Getaway to Sweden – Part 2

67879760_2420365058288666_1798394006170763264_n.jpg

Travelling further north in Sweden is like travelling further north in Saskatchewan… Everything gets a little greener with dense forests and you are surrounded by beautiful lakes. It never gets completely dark here, even when you are still adjusting to the time change at 3am.

The journey to the wedding required a stop in the beautiful city of Gavle. A small, historic city with a river running through it and amazing gardens surround everything! As we walked the river path, we passed Gavle’s lovely concert hall, Konserthus. Sweden is home to some of the best music acts around. We happened to be here during a heavy metal festival. Sadly, I left my leather pants at home.

Walking around can make a gal hungry. Thankfully, we found a riverfront restaurant called Bryggan. I was pleasantly surprised by the view, food and service. Everything is a bit high on the cost side in Sweden but the mussels and fries were amazing! Swedes have it made with delicious seafood. Highly recommend this place.

68589471_459120238274847_562590546263015424_n

After a night in Gavle, we journeyed on to Hogbo, the sight of the wedding. Hogbo is a nature lover’s paradise! The Swedes love adventure and Hogbo has many biking and hiking trails, mini golf, beach area with beautiful lake, tennis and more. It felt like their version of Waskesiu. There was plenty to keep busy at the resort Hogbo Brukshotell! I’m not much for “roughing it” so I’m sure glad we were in the main hotel compared to the cabins which were a fair distance from the ceremony and reception sight. Unfortunately, mosquitos there enjoy Canadian blood too but it didn’t stop me from working on my tan! The weather was been perfect there.

What to expect from a Swedish-Canadian wedding? Lots of cheer, drinks and singing! The Swedes attending wished the happy couple best wishes with lots of Swedish songs. It’s a beautiful tradition that Swedes incorporate into every wedding. The couple looked beautiful and we were blessed with a fabulous sunny day!

68681472_500904040660980_242201456453615616_n

A great way to end our beautiful adventure! Back to reality…


Interested in planning your own trip to Sweden or Amsterdam?  Czarina would love to help!  You can reach her by calling 306-934-3400 or emailing czarina@uniglobevacation.com.

uniglobe-basebar

Czarina’s Getaway to Sweden – Part 1

Not everything can go smoothly on every trip. On this trip I learned the value of packing a good carry on with all the essentials when I learned that my checked luggage did not make it on my direct flight from Amsterdam to Stockholm. Did Scandinavian Airlines give me a reason for the loss? No. Was I going to let it ruin my Swedish experience? Heck no! So I filed a baggage complaint at the airport, called my insurance provider and carried on with my day.

67354426_2490503160981119_5207076010159243264_n

Sweden is a beautiful, lush and sunny destination filled with the most beautiful people! Everyone looks like a super model. There are some good genes in these parts. The terrain here really reminds me of home. I forget sometimes how far North we are.

We are staying near the Stockholm Central Train Station in the heart of their central business district. Convenient if you are dragging your luggage off the direct train from the airport. Not me though!

67802691_461934667963634_6422583640764448768_n

My first goal is to view the Royal Palace and hopefully catch a glimpse of Europe’s best looking royal, Prince Carl of Sweden! Just a short walk from the downtown core is the area known as Gamla Stan best known as their historical area. This is where the Royal Palace is located and where I find my first taste of Nordic eateries. The Palace is grand and opulent with beautiful views of the waterways. Sadly, no Prince Carl but we do get to meet a friendly castle guard who kindly allows us to take a selfie with him!

 

Sweden is so ahead of the game. A lot of businesses do not accept cash at all. This is a destination where you must prepare to swipe your card everywhere you go for every purchase. Leading to large bills as it is expensive! But when in Sweden, you must do as the Swedish do… We had a wonderful evening having drinks and delicious appetizers at a local bistro called Osterlanggatan 17 Bar & Kvarterskrog. Friendly service matched with great dining in old town was everything I needed after the long day I had.

My luggage finally made it after a 24 hour adventure and I am so very thankful. I need everything in there as we travel further north to an area called Gavle. This small quaint city is home to my dear friends who are getting married in the next few days. Can’t wait to experience a Swedish/Canadian hybrid wedding!

Kyra’s Amazing Alaska Cruise – Part 5

Kyra Tristan Glacier edit

A popular belief is that an Alaskan cruise is a trip to take if you’re looking for a slower paced vacation; and for some this can be true. However, I am here to tell you that I believe it is a perfect trip for all types of travellers!

For the adventure seekers, there are tons of fun and exciting excursions available at each port. Some of these include the ZipRider zip-line in Icy Strait, ATV adventures, tree-top climbing apparatuses, helicopter tours, railways, boating trips, hiking, gold-panning, dog-sledding, gondolas, and wildlife spotting.

For the foodies, there are so many delicious food venues and options onboard you’ll be in heaven! Bordeaux or Provence for daily changing menus, the Pizzeria for delicious pizza made right in front of you, The Grill for burgers and hot dogs, and of course the buffet Horizon Court. There are also a couple of specialty restaurants onboard such as Sabatini’s for Italian food and Bayou Cafe for New Orleans inspired cuisine! All food was delicious and beautifully presented! Plus there’s room service or you can splurge on a balcony dining experience like we did for a super special meal. Did I mention, the dessert options are just endless??

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For those interested in wildlife and scenery, I can assure you that you will get your fill of beautiful and stunning views of mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, valleys, etc.! There’s lots of exciting wildlife spotting opportunities throughout the entire trip! We saw whales, lots of sea otters, and tons of bald eagles right from the ship especially in Glacier Bay and College Fjords!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Onboard the ship, they have activities that may appeal to all guests such as trivia games, dancing contests, karaoke times and contests, gambling and gambling contests, dance parties, Movies Under the Stars, and so much more to keep yourselves entertained while at sea! This is in addition to the pools, hot tubs, spa, salon, shuffle boards, foosball tables, mini golf course, etc. onboard as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I believe Alaskan cruises are a great trip for any type of traveller! I have been to Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe and various other places but my Alaskan cruise with Princess has now become one of my favourite trips so far even as a traveller in my 20’s!

Ready to start planning your own Alaskan cruise?  I would love to help get you there!  You can find me at our Sutherland office or call me at 306-955-1449 or email kyra@uniglobevacation.com.   I can’t wait to help you see Alaska too!

Jamie’s Working Vacation in Vienna

Here we are, on our new Air Canada Dreamliner service from Vienna to Toronto, having just completed our 4 nights in Vienna, following the 2 nights we spent in Budapest.

We took the train for almost 3 hours from Budapest to Vienna and arriving in Vienna was almost like arriving in an entirely different land. It surprised me that Budapest and Vienna were so very different, given their close geography and sometimes intertwined history. Where Budapest has the twin cities of Buda and Pest, both centered around the Danube, Vienna is not intersected by the river. Where Budapest is still showing signs of the communist era and there is a drastic mix of beautifully restored buildings and buildings that haven’t been touched and are still riddled in bullet holes, Vienna is pristine with every building restored and perfect – not a paint colour out of place and not a single piece of cobblestone broken. I was very glad we had the chance to experience both beautiful and diverse cities and I was even more thankful that where Budapest rained for us, Vienna brought out the sunshine.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna and it is outside Stadpark on the edge of the downtown, historic core area of Vienna. It was a very nice hotel with a beautiful hotel lobby bar and very comfortable rooms. It was a great location to have for a home base. We attended a conference for a couple of days and their conference facilities also seemed in good order – a good choice of conference rooms, food and beverage, audio visual and friendly staff.

When we had some free time in Vienna, we made the most of this beautiful city:

Top attraction highlights:

*Kursalon Concert Hall
Located right across the street from our hotel in Stadpark the Kursalon Concert Hall has a concert every night featuring Strauss, Mozart, Ballet and Opera. The performance was just under 2 hours.  We paid 69EUR for good seats and found it quite entertaining for casual music lovers like us. I would have loved to have seen an opera at the Vienna Opera, but there was not one playing when we had a free evening.

60700073_518407028693710_2206993276039331840_n

*Lipizzaner Stallions
Lipizzaner Stallions perform at the Spanish Riding School. You can either purchase seats that are “seated” or “standing”. Our seated tickets start around 100EUR each. The performance is just over an hour and the horses and riders go through the different skills the horses learn over many years. It was impressive.

61273166_348331439200614_3031059056165912576_n

*Hofburg Palace
Adjacent to the Spanish Riding School, the Hofburg Palace has a tour of the Silver Collection, the SISI Museum and the Imperial Apartments for 15EUR per person. The self-guided audio tour took about 1 1/2 hours.

60878306_2386148771617670_3153425358783512576_n

*St. Stephens Cathedral
This is an amazing Gothic structure in the middle of the main square in Vienna. You can go in and view the main cathedral, plus there are options to go up the tower for 5EUR for views over all of Vienna, or for 7EUR you can go down into the Catacombs beneath St. Stephens. Mark climbed the tower while I was at the conference, so together we chose to go beneath St. Stephens to the Catacombs. The Cardinals and Arch Bishops are buried there – It is still used today, so there are some new graves as well as some that are over 400 years old. The Hapsburgs and Imperial family had their internal organs buried there and the main chambers were full of all the ordinary people, including one chamber that was filled with those who didn’t survive the last bubonic plague…a little creepy, but interesting.

60703279_578760839283353_8827969861457018880_n

*Stadpark
This is a beautiful green space with walking paths, food vendors, outdoor restaurants and a nice place to unwind, relax and rest your weary feet. You can anything from a hot dog, to fine dining and Biergartens.

Restaurant Recommendations:

We ate at many good restaurants from small local coffee shops to upper scale Italian and Austrian restaurants. One highlight was Lugeck – located in a historic building, just off the main square. It serves local Austrian food with a bit of flair. The service was great, as was the food and for four of us, with wine, beer and dinner, the bill was 150EUR, which seemed very reasonable. The Wiener Schnitzel was particularly good and with two huge pieces, big enough for two to share!

60885403_2385326378367738_8704487185170038784_n

 

One afternoon we happened into a Keller – a Viennese tradition of historical underground vaults used for bars/restaurants. This particular Keller had been used for almost 1000 years – called the Zwolf Apostelkeller. It had several rooms, vaults, traditional Viennese dining (think upgraded pub food), Austrian wines and beer and local entertainment. It is a very unique and Viennese experience not to be missed when you are in Vienna. The location is right around the corner from the Lugeck restaurant.

There is an outdoor restaurant; just inside the Stadpark entrance, across from the Intercontinental called the Kleinod Stadtgarten meets Cafe Francais. They had the most amazing “tarts”, which to us North Americans is a very thin crust pizza with toppings like bacon and spring onions, apples and Brie, etc. It was the most enjoyable lunch, outside in the sunshine and green space of the park with wonderful food and a nice Rose Garden.

60951182_2133201110305119_3669607885765083136_n

I look forward to returning to Austria one day to see more outside of Vienna, but for the short time period we had, Vienna did not disappoint.

Get Social With us @UniglobeCarefree on Facebook and @uniglobeYXE on Instagram and Twitter

Jamie’s 48 Hours in Budapest

We arrived in Budapest just over 48 hours ago.  It feels like much longer!  As I write this blog, we are on the train, already leaving Budapest and heading for Vienna.  We really enjoyed our quick and jam-packed time in Budapest.

Intercontinental Hotel 2

View of river and Castle Hill from the room

When we arrived in Budapest, we hopped into the private car we had pre-arranged for 40 EUR to take us to the Intercontinental Hotel.  It was about a 40 minute drive, so I think the 40EUR was quite reasonable.

The Intercontinental Hotel is right beside the Chain Bridge in the heart of downtown Budapest.  The location could not be better and we were lucky to get a River View room with a view of the Castle Hill.  It was amazing all lit up at night and being able to watch all the River Cruises sail by.

 

Our first afternoon in Budapest was spent wandering around the Castle Hill District and taking a 1 hour tour of the Hospital in the Rock Museum.  For $18 CAD, it was pretty reasonable and worthwhile if you have extra time.  The tours run every hour.  The underground hospital was used in WWII and during the Civil uprising in 1956.  They have some exhibitions set up to show you what the conditions would have been like at the time and also some exhibitions set up for later, when it was used as a bomb shelter during the Cold War.  The museum is found on the far side of Castle Hill, about a 20 -30 minute walk from the Intercontinental Hotel.

Hospital in the rock

Our one full day in Budapest we managed fit in two walking tours, 30,000 steps that covered the majority of the main sites of central Budapest.  Our first walking tour was a “Hidden Gems” Tour with a private guide.  We started by taking the oldest metro in mainland Europe from near our hotel to Hero’s Square.  We had a quick walk to the Szechenyi baths (very near Hero’s Square) for a quick look around.  I wish we had an extra day, the baths looked wonderful.  There is a combo of indoor and outdoor baths, you get massages and VIP tours.  That would have been VERY nice after a long day of walking.  They open early in the morning and that is the quiet time to go.  It gets busier later in the day.  After that, we went through Hero’s square with our guide, Gabor, talking about how Hungary was settled by Pagan Nomadic Tribes and later “civilized” and “Christianized” by St. Stephan. The Hero’s square pays tribute to them all.

 

We continued walking past the Opera House, with a quick look inside at the amazing opulent interior.  We walked through the Jewish Quarter with a Secret stop in a hidden courtyard to view the last remaining piece of the Jewish Ghetto Wall from World War II.  It still had some of the barbed wire on top and at one time 70,000 Jewish people were imprisoned inside those walls.  It was quite moving.  We had a stop for Kosher Cake and Coffee in a Jewish Bakery and continued on to the Holocaust Memorial, past the Terror Museum (which used to house the Secret Police) and back to the Riverfront.  This completed our “pest” side of the tour.

 

We walked across the Chain Bridge and up to the top of Castle Hill.  There is also the option to take the Funicular Train to the top, if you prefer not to walk.  There were some amazing lookout points from the Castle, across the Danube to Parliament.  We wandered past some of the artifacts in the castle and past the Presidents offices.  We viewed some more of Castle Hill’s “must sees”, some churches, lookouts and an 800 year old Church Tower.  The Church survived the Turkish invasion, but only the tower survived the bombing of WWII.

 

That concluded our first walking tour.  We had a couple of hours to rest our weary feet and change into dry shoes and clothes (it was quite a rainy day!), before we headed out on our second walking tour.  The second tour was arranged with Secret Food Tours and included many stops for authentic food and drinks.  This was also a private tour and we

Folodni cake

Flodni Cake

met up with our tour guide first for coffee and traditional Flodni Cake, then walked through Liberty Square, past some of the Embassy’s to the Downtown Market for an amazing arrangement of local sausages, meats, cheese, pickles, baguette and chutneys.  This was my favorite stop.  The Rosemary and Pear Chutney was so good, I had to buy a couple of jars!  We also received a traditional favorite chocolate treat of Hungarians.  It was a cottage cheese/lemon filling covered in dark chocolate.  It was surprisingly good and tasted like chocolate covered cheese cake.

We rolled ourselves to a food truck for Langos (fried bread covered with garlic, sour cream and cheese SO good!) and on past St. Stephens Cathedral to another food truck for cinnamon covered funnel cake.  By then we are so full we can hardly move, but we aren’t done yet.  The Hungarians take their food seriously.  We went to Cupakos in the Jewish district for Goulash Soup and toasted bread with Chicken Pate topped with warm Apple Chutney (their Secret Dish).

 

Finally, we moved on to the best part of the evening, the wine tasting at a local wine bar, which only serves Hungarian wines.  We sampled three, our tour ended there and we decided to stay on for another bottle of wine.  It was a nice little spot with live entertainment.

wine time

Finally, we called our very full day in Budapest to an end with a quick walk back to the hotel for a well-deserved good night sleep.  The main train station is under construction for a couple of weeks, so we took a taxi (17 EUR) to the Kelenfold Train station.   It was quite old and dilapidated but it did the trick and our train was pretty easy to find.  First class train tickets Budapest to Vienna were about $100 CDN per person.  Sandwiches on the train, which were surprisingly good were only $3.50 EUR each and there is free WIFI.  The three hours is passing quite quickly with some nice countryside and green rolling hills and villages to look at on our way.  We are looking forward to our few days in Vienna!

on the train

Kyra’s Amazing Alaska Cruise – Part 1

60072570_2147004458753478_4506507114071457792_n

All aboard as we set sail for Alaska on the Island Princess ship with Princess Cruise Lines! This is my very first cruise and so far everything has been amazing! From an easy and quick embarkation in Vancouver to first impressions of the ship and food, I can tell this will be a fantastic cruise and vacation!

We started out in an Obstructed Ocean-view cabin and ended up getting upgraded to a Balcony cabin due to a big wet spot on our stateroom carpet. It is definitely worth it to spend the extra money and treat yourself to the balcony cabin especially when sailing in Alaska. The room is bigger, some amenities are upgraded, and the balcony is huge and perfect for watching the mountains and cities go by!

There’s so much to do onboard such as the Princess Theatre, casino, fitness room, pools, hot tubs, spa, lounges, art gallery and actions, Movies Under The Stars (daytime showings as well), The Library, lounges, and a bunch of daily scheduled activities! You won’t get bored while onboard!

Food venues include a pizzeria and grill located on the pool deck (Lido Deck 14), Horizon Court buffet (Lido Deck 14), Bordeaux (sit-down restaurant for Anytime Dining) and Provence (sit-down for Traditional Dining). There are also paid dining options such as Sabatini’s and Bayou which both have a cover charge of $29USD per person. 24hr room service is also included and very convenient. All food has been delicious!

Stay tuned as we sail Alaska up to Anchorage!

Get Social With us @UniglobeCarefree on Facebook and @uniglobeYXE on Instagram and Twitter

Travel Agent Day 2019

Happy Travel Agent Day!

This year we celebrated with a surprise for the members of our team every hour!  Check out some of the things they received.

59422918_362145364406361_4068840871343161344_n

We also asked each of our agents to share something about themselves that our customers and their co-workers may not know.  Here is what they had to share:

  • Joanne Pidwerbetsky – I always buy limited edition food items.
  • Karen Katelnikoff – My grandfather was Harry Bailey and I used to compete on the Goldfins.
  • Annette Frey – I lived in Kamloops BC from age 3-16. I still have a fond place in my heart for BC.
  • Kyra December – Two of my toes on each foot are webbed.
  • Jamie Milton – I learned how to do the Flying Trapeze at Club Med.
  • Amanda Campbell – During my free time I enjoy my Zumba and Pilates classes.
  • Marcy Melnyk – I am the first born grandchild on both sides of my family. My maternal grandmother has 15 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren and still growing…… We have to host our family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings in a hall.
  • Czarina Sastaunik – One of my goals in life is to make it to all the destinations in the song Kokomo by the Beach Boys! So far I’ve made it to 7 out of 10.
  • Stephanie Afseth – When I was 15, I received my 1st Dan Black Belt in Taekwon-Do. I used to teach classes at a school not far from our office. I’m secretly a ninja 😉 *Stephanie is currently on maternity leave but she’ll be back later this year.*
  • Correna Tymchen – My first plane ride was when I was 35 years old and to Vancouver. First All Inclusive trip was when I was 39 and we travelled to Puerto Vallarta
  • Colleen Lorenzen – We have 2 sets of twins in our family and I am the middle of both. My older sisters are 4 years older and my younger sisters are 4 years younger.
  • Cordell Strachan – I have a bachelor of arts four year Anthropology degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Helen Klassen – My grandparents were some of the 1st pioneers to settle in the Muenster area here in Saskatchewan. Because of this our family was featured in the May edition of the National Geographic Magazine in 1979 including a photo of all of us in front of the original house they built.
  • Casie Schmidt – When I was a kid I ate tomatoes like they were apples

 

We hope you had fun learning a little more about our team.  If you haven’t met your travel agent face to face, here is a little video showcasing each of them.

Want to know how to show some love to your travel agent?  Why not leave them a review on Google or Facebook, refer your friends and family to them or simply send them an email telling them that you appreciate them!

Get Social With us @UniglobeCarefree on Facebook and @uniglobeYXE on Instagram and Twitter