Category Archives: Road trips

Lake Louise: A luxurious trip in unusual times

By Karlie Marrazzo

The world has changed completely over the last six months, and travel as we know it will likely never go back to the way it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Like millions of other avid travellers, I had a trip planned before the pandemic broke out – a trip to Italy scheduled for April – and had to cancel. Of course, this is a minuscule problem compared to those whose health and livelihoods have been impacted by COVID. As someone who suffers from anxiety on a day-to-day basis, the outbreak of the pandemic made these anxieties skyrocket and added a large dose of paranoia as well. It has been a struggle for me to think about the huge and rippling impacts COVID will continue to have on the world, the fear of getting sick looming in my mind every day. Everything locked down seemingly overnight in Canada, on a dreary weekend in mid-March. I had been reading the news from China and Italy for weeks already and dreaded the day the virus would hit closer to home. It came as no surprise to me, and when Air Canada cancelled my flights to Italy, it became all the more real.

Alas, this is a travel blog, so this post will be focusing on my first mini-trip out of town since the pandemic hit. Opening up to the idea of going out of town for a day trip or a short weekend trip was not something that happened quickly or an idea that I approached lightly. I have been very serious about isolating myself over the past four months, only seeing a very limited number of people and making essential trips to stores, so taking the step of spending two nights in a hotel, while it seems insignificant and unimportant, was a big one to me.

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Calabria: Father and daughter return to the Old Country – Part Two

By Karlie Marrazzo

My father and I had been in Italy together for two days so far. It was my fourth trip to Italy, but only his first since my family left Calabria for a better life in Canada 58 years earlier, in 1958. Although I was born in Canada, I always felt a special connection and pull to the land of my ancestors, and pleadingly tried to get my dad to go back to the Old Country with me. He had been adamant about being happy to stay in Canada, seeing no need to visit the country he hadn’t seen in so long, until one day, he changed his mind. Our trip began in the toe of Italy, in the region of Calabria. A dusty and hot land with villages perched atop hills for the people who lived there to better see and attempt to defend themselves from the waves of invaders who came century after century. I was finally showing my dad the places I already loved so much; the place where he came from.

To read the first posts in this series, click here! This trip took place in August and September 2016.

A sweet day awaited us on our third day in Calabria. It was time for a road trip! After having a small breakfast at B&B Paparelle, we strolled over to a fruit stand outside of Cattedrale di S. Maria Assunta, the main cathedral of the city. There we loaded up on freshly picked peaches, plums and pears for the day ahead. I wanted to revisit Paola, a seaside town that I had visited briefly on my first trip to Italy in 2008. My sepia-toned memories recalled the pebbly beach and crystal clear water, and it always stood out in my mind as an idyllic spot. My memories were not wrong and reality was even better.

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Calabria: Father and daughter return to the Old Country – Part One

By Karlie Marrazzo

The day that I had been impatiently waiting for since my first trip to Italy in 2008 had finally arrived; I was taking my dad to Piane Crati, a small town in the hills of Calabria outside of the city of Cosenza. This sleepy town is where my father and his father before him (my Nonno), were born, and which he hadn’t seen since the family left for Canada in 1958. Neighbouring Piane Crati is the even tinier village of Donnici Superiore, where my Nonna hails from. It is likely that I had really been waiting for this trip for my whole life; although I was born in Canada, the passion and soul of Italy has always coursed through my veins, and I’ve always felt a deep-rooted connection to the land of my ancestors.

To read the introductory post to this series, please click here! This trip took place in August and September 2016.

My eyes snapped open at 2 am, a combination of excitement, jet lag and heat waking me from my light slumber. Today was our first full day in Cosenza, in Italy! I opened the window to let any hint of a breeze flow through and cool down my high-ceiling bedroom at the B&B Paparelle. I heard my dad awake in the other room at the same time; nervousness and excitement likely coursing through his veins even more so than in my own. Eventually, we drifted back to sleep, waking up again at 8:45 am and having a slow breakfast of coffee, fruit and packaged pastries.

It was 10:30 am by the time we got into our compact rental car and headed for the hills. As we drove through the old streets of Cosenza, so narrow that you sometimes find yourself involuntarily holding your breath in hopes that you’ll be slim enough to make it through, my dad exclaimed how cool and beautiful everything was, the word “wow” escaping his lips multiple times. To see him be so in awe with his country of birth, after describing my awe to him for years, brought me so much joy, and still does to this day.

Continue reading Calabria: Father and daughter return to the Old Country – Part One

Invermere, British Columbia: A weekend in the Kootenays

By Karlie Marrazzo

Have you ever had the feeling of a hazy memory, a faint image on the edges of your mind that may have really happened, or that perhaps was just a pleasant dream, but you have no way of distinguishing fact from fantasy? A remembrance so close that you can just about grab it, but then it just as easily slips away? The calm, wide lake, surrounded by mountains on either side, the water lapping at the shore with the sepia-toned sun kissing everything it touches has been that memory for me for years, and this summer I was finally able to grasp it again in Invermere, British Columbia.

Invermere is 585km southwest of my hometown, Edmonton, or, in Canadian terms, an almost-6-hour drive without stops. My boyfriend E and I had been dating for a couple of months and wanted to take a fun summer road trip together, but not necessarily to the typical hot spots of Banff and Jasper that are closer to home for us. I had been to Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs, nestled in the Kootenays, in the summer of 2005, and had a feeling that my mystery dream lake was out that way. Planning a trip to the mountains in the summertime typically requires a bit of advanced planning, at least in terms of booking accommodations before everything sells out. Since we were booking only three weeks out, we let the availability of reasonably priced rooms guide us and ended up booking an Airbnb in Invermere. Invermere is tucked in between the two resort towns, but not yet a tourist destination in its own right.

*Read my posts on Banff and Jasper here.

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Vancouver Island: BC’s island gem sparkles

By Karlie Marrazzo

If you look up the definition of ‘travel bug’ in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of my face smiling back at you, guaranteed. Whether I’m flying halfway across the world or driving to a small town one hour away, send me on a trip and I’m the happiest I can be. This past August long weekend, I had not one but two incredible reasons to visit somewhere new – my dad’s 65th birthday and the wedding of my best friend from junior high whom I’ve known for over 20 years.The wedding was being held in the city of Parksville on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, a place I hadn’t even heard of before the invite came in the mail. I had only been to the Island’s capital, Victoria, once before nine years prior, so I was very stoked to explore a spectacular, renowned part of my country that I hadn’t yet seen.

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Curating Calgary’s hidden gems and classic icons

By Karlie Marrazzo

Alberta, the province that I call home, is the land of diverse and gorgeous landscapes – the Rocky Mountains in the West, the Badlands in the South, and vast fields of canola throughout. Dotted randomly somewhere in the midst of all this natural beauty are Alberta’s two major cities, Edmonton, my hometown, and Calgary, 300km to the south. Although Calgary is a 3-hour straight shot down Highway 2, I hadn’t visited the city since 2011, always passing by on my way to the Rockies but rarely stopping. When I was invited by the Ramada Plaza Downtown to check out their Calgary Made Guest Room Package, I was eager to head south to discover some of Calgary’s best local businesses.

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Lacombe Days festival shines spotlight on rural Alberta

A small blacksmith shop features a wooden Lacombe Days sign in the foregroundby Karlie Marrazzo

Central Alberta is a glorious place to be in the summertime. The blue sky above seems never ending, as do the blooming yellow canola fields all along the side of the highway. Communities all over the province come together to celebrate the bounty of the land, enjoying the fruits of their labour and looking forward to harvest time. Each year in July, a major celebration takes place in the small city of Lacombe, simply called Lacombe Days. Nobody quite knows when the first Lacombe Days was held, but it has been running for over 20 years and is a highlight of the summer festival calendar in Alberta.

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Las Vegas exotic driving experience one-of-a-kind

A black Audi R8, a red Ferrari 458 Soider, a white Mercedes-AMG and a McLaren 12C in a row at Lake Mead, Nevada

By Karlie Marrazzo

Las Vegas, as most people know it, is a city of excess. Anything you want can be bought or done in Las Vegas, for a price. From thousand dollar meals to hundred thousand dollar watches, gun battles with real bullets to a little friendly companionship, just open up your wallet and it’s yours. On this 4th of July weekend, the extreme Vegas experience I chose mixed heart-pumping adrenaline and my favourite landscapes; driving high-powered super cars through the dusty Nevada desert with Exotic Driving Experiences.

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Beyond the bunny hill: Getting outdoorsy in Banff

johnston-canyon-hike

By Karlie Marrazzo

Full of spectacular and abundant natural beauty, Banff is Canada’s outdoor playground, nestled in the Rocky Mountains and busy with visitors from around the globe all year round. In the winter, the town is full of people who love to hit the slopes at one of the three world-class hills in the area. Since I am not even close to proficient in skiing or snowboarding, I tend to save my trips for the summer, when the days are warm and the sun doesn’t go down until late at night. Expedia.ca encouraged me to see what I was missing, so I made the four-hour drive south at the beginning of March to experience what the area has to offer in the chillier months.
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Exploring Jasper: Icefields Parkway and Rocky Mountain helicopter ride

jasper-helicopter-tours

By Karlie Marrazzo

This is the third post in a series on Edmonton and Jasper. Click here to read parts one and two.

The Icefields Parkway, which connects Jasper and Banff National Parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is arguably one of the most gorgeous drives in the world. Two hundred and thirty kilometres of smooth asphalt pass by the feet of towering mountains, ancient glaciers, and crystal clear streams and, lined with wildlife, it makes every list of ‘Best Drives in the World.’ It was on this road that our rag tag group of writers and bloggers traveled on the last day of our Rocky Mountain exploration.

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