Nothing comes to mind more when you hear London than trains steaming off into the early morning. In the glory days of trains in the 1800’s riding a train was a grand experience for wealthy individuals. The St Pancras is a paragon to that bygone era and was thankfully restored in 2011 by MLC and Whitbread, franchisee of Mariott Renaissance hotels.
The most iconic spot is the Grand Staircase with its amazing High Victorian architecture with Gothic decoration from vaulted ceilings to carpeted stairs that exude a timeless luxury. If I ever built my own dream house this would definitely be its heart.
The walls were adorned with crests much like the Fleur-de-lis of France
Traveler tip #1: In order to see the best view of the stairs you need to be a guest of the hotel to reach the upper floors however you can take a picture of the ground floor without being a guest.
Traveler tip #2: If catching a train from St Pancras the Renaissance Hotel is the best place to stay with a literal direct connection to the station in minutes. The doorman will even bring your luggage to the boarding area (We felt like travellers of old). The rooms were amazing with high airy ceilings and large windows making you feel like being in a palace (but with modern amenities)
We ate in the Gilbert Scott under a package with the room. Unfortunately the food was uninspired perhaps due to being part of a 3 course set menu, I would prefer that they offer a chance to upgrade to other dishes if you wanted something else. For a fine dining area it was not strict dress code and seemed to try very hard but fail to be the fine dining spot of the hotel (Oh how we miss Le Cinq in Paris)
My son is going off to school in England so we took a farewell photo for our memory as we wish him all the best. It was his choice to study in England and we feel he made the right choice.
As the daylight ebbed amid the bustle of the people coming in and out of the busy station, we caught the classic outline of this great building. It more than made up for the Big Ben that is presently under rennovation.
Travel tip #3: Take a moment at night to stop by one of the arched hallways to soak in the moment and imagine life back then.
Just got back from my Christmas holidays sorry had no time to post while traveling with kids. While California will always be my first love as I grew up there, I realised the Pacific Northwest has its own natural charm and cool relaxed vibe with the friendly people and less traffic and hustle and bustle.
First stop Seattle which amazingly was sunny for once!
Finally got a seat in the Portage Bay Cafe Sunday brunch as last year we couldn’t get a seat at all Travel tip: Always reserve at least 2 hours before by calling them and if traveling with a group of 10+ then go to south lake union
The avocado toast with Dungeness crab was not only healthy but delicious. You can really taste how fresh the ingredients are. Pancakes are AMAZING! I had the buckwheat Pancakes. Loved it!
Pancakes have unlimited berries called the BREAKFAST BAR. Travel tip: You can also do 6 single trips if you want to go light without an entree.
My husband ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast which he said was sweet yet not overwhelming. The kraken rum blended nicely with the caramel sauce to balance out the sweetness.
On to Oregon…
Just 45 minutes away from Portland OR is the Silver Falls State Park has 10 waterfalls all within walking distance of each other! A truly undiscovered gem in my opinion. A great place to spend Christmas holidays.
Finally to cap off the trip literally! We went up to Mount Hood which is only a few hours from Portland, OR
Grab a big breakfast and hot cocoa from Zigzag mountain store before hitting the slopes at very decent prices and great service!
No skiing for us this year as we had the little ones but will definitely be back next time!
The sign board below says it all… AMAZE! Mount Hood stands out and dominates the skyline for miles as the only mountain in the area. Travel Tip: Check snow conditions before going up but per my husband if you can book an AWD (Yukon XL was what we used) then you usually do not have to worry about snow chains. We did not see any check points though.
The beautiful medieval city of Toledo was the former capital of Spain and is surrounded by a river and crowned by the Cathedral at the top. Our first stop for our cousins trip.
Inside the town, Mudejar architecture permeates everything from doors to windows and arches all of which is heavily influenced by the moorish culture.
Despite days of bad weather we were lucky enough to be on the first dog sledding tour with our kids. ( Sorry no babies allowed ) After a wonderful thrilling flight via helicopter we landed on base camp amidst the fresh white snow in the middle of the Mountains.
Beautiful huskies who are trained and bred all year round.
Enjoying the crisp fresh air at the mountain top… well worth the cost for a once in a lifetime experience. There is nothing like fresh fallen snow crunching under your boots. It was surprisingly not cold because of the bright sun.
Our daughter Sierra with the dog of the same name. The lead husky that pulled our sled. Soulmates indeed! What an amazing experience for the kids!
Every mountain and lake in the Rockies are simply stunning! This is Moraine Lake and picture was taken at the top of a little hill. Definitely worth the climb to get this view just be careful along the sharp rocks
The great outdoors and clean air really make you appreciate how small we are. Quarry park is named after a old quarry that was converted into a swimming pool (Outdoor bathrooms in National Parks are just holes in the ground with a cubicle on top so make sure to go ahead of time please put pay toilets Canada!)
The highlight of any trip to the Rockies is surely Lake Louise… and the best place to stay is the Fairmont Chateau. My girls were so excited to walk along its lovely banks and the lake was just starting to melt into aquamarine brilliance. I heard they have an ice castle in Winter…. I would love to go back for that.