Destination Canada - #ExploreCanada Campaign

Last week i've returned home from an awesome trip. Three of us were invited by Destination Canada and Canadian Affair to visit and experience Ontario, Canada. 

My flight was from London to Toronto with Airtransat took only about 8h and I was lucky enough to have all three seats for me so it was very comfy :) Toronto Pearson International Airport is large and busy airport and it took me a while to get my luggage. Airport WiFi is free but sucks as block any apps requiring locations, so to get Uber, load map or check-in was impossible. Also Airport signage is not the most intuitive either and took me a while to find place where my Hotel shuttle bus was waiting. That's about all complaints I have, rest was good stuff. 

It was almost 7pm when I arrived at Sheraton Centre Hotel, right in the centre of Toronto's downtown. As my pre-booked room didn't have free wifi and cost of that extra was almost the same as to upgrade room, I've decided to go for second option. My new Room was on 34th floor with totally awesome view of Toronto's City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square as a bonus. It was really huge and here was also massive flat screen telly, not that I planed to stay in but it's always a nice thing to have.

My room - Sheraton Centre

When I landed, sky was cloudy and raining however by the time I got to the hotel, it became one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. So after check-in I've dropped my bags in the room, grabbed my camera and went out to get few shots on the wet streets before Sun get down. 

When I came back to the hotel, my friend Jiří was already there. He was in Canada for about week by now and done the trip around B.C. He'll be my travel buddy for four days in Toronto before he'll fly back home and Allan will come to join me. 

First day wake me up with sunshine and temperature around 26C so we went to explore the city. Yonge Street is quite long street running from harbour front across the Toronto's downtown and by mistake it used to be called longest street in the world. It's still pretty impressive at 86km length and have plenty of shops, restaurants and at junction with Dundas Street is cool Yonge-Dundas Square that reminded me a bit London's Piccadilly Circus. Queen Street is also full of lovely small shops and restaurants and has amazing vibes. Tired after all day walking and hungry we started looking around for some dinner and found place called Beer Bistro that serves amazing and tasty food and their WiFi was just lightning fast. Great place!

On the Day two we've  had a pre-booked activity on Toronto's CN Tower called 'Edge Walk' where I guess the name says it all :) So after breakfast in the hotel restaurant we walked to the CN tower. After short training session we were transferred in special lift up to the platform sitting at 356m or 1168ft and then hanging on special security harness you walk around tower for about 30 minutes. View from top is breathtaking and scary at the same time :). There is also a restaurant, viewing platform and small Skypod in the CN Tower so if you don't dare to go outside then give a try to Skypod, views are also pretty stunning from there unfortunately through glass panels. 

Day three and another activity that we had pre-booked was Segway Tour around Distillery District. Gooderham and Worths Distillery used to be the largest Distillery in the world and these days you can find there plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants housed within old Victorian historical buildings.. I've never been on Segway before and what looked a bit boring on the beginning ended up as loads of fun :) Tour guides were also hilarious and told us plenty interesting facts about the district too.

Segway lads :)

This week Toronto hosted Hockey World Cup and Fan village was located at the end of Distillery District. It was pretty cool as the streets were full of fans in hockey jerseys. We've decided that after the tour we'll go to Air Canada Centre to find out if there are any tickets left for todays game CZE vs EUR. We were lucky enough and bought tickets and my dream of seeing ice hockey match in Canada was becoming a reality :). It was an amazing game in supercool arena and team Europe beat Czech so the day couldn't end better. 

Air Canada Centre - Hockey World Cup CZE vs EUR

Day four, last day in Toronto with Jiri so we decided to jump on the bus and visit nearby Niagara Falls. Greyhound Bus station was just few minutes from the hotel and the 120km journey took about 2 hours. To our surprise instead of getting of the bus right at the falls we had to walk for another 40 minutes till we could see them. But it was damn worth it, view we got was absolutely spectacular! While it may not be the largest waterfallsIt's it was still incredible to see that mass of water falling right on the front of you and makes you realise how powerful the nature is. Niagara's are actually three falls connected, two on US and Horseshoe Fall on Canadian side. There is also Skylon tower on Canadian side and if you pay extra 14CAD you'll get panoramic view of whole Niagara. 

Day five, my last day in Toronto before I'll move on more up north and there was still a few things to do on my list so i've started the day early with short ferry ride to Hanlan's Point at Centre island to take shots of downtown skyline at sunrise. It was pretty awesome and ferry is cheap, return ticket is only 7.50CAD. Next stop was Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, i've seen few aquariums before and this one was one of the better ones with large sharks and colourful jelly fishes. I would certainly recommend to visit at the morning to avoid crowds. I went there when they opened and I was there almost alone :) 

While strolling Queen St. West i've found cool looking burger place called Burger's Priest and as i was hungry and it was lunch time, i walked in. Seriously, It was the BEST BURGER i've ever had. Later on couple of my friends confirmed that fame of this place is running around the world and they have this place on their ToDo lists for a long time. Now i know why :) Later on that evening Allan, my other travel buddy arrived so we were ready to move on from Toronto next day.

Day six, we've check-out from Sheraton and went to find AVIS Car Rental to pick up the car. Their offices are well hidden on Bloor St. East and took us while to find it. After couple minutes wandering around we were in and collected our Jeep Patriot that gonna drive us around for next couple of days. I had to also show Allan that burger place i've found so we went for lunch before journey. 

Todays final destination was city called Kingston located at the east end of Lake Ontario near the Thousand Islands area and about 277km from Toronto. Unfortunately weather decided not to cooperate anymore and sky gets grey and cloudy with occasional raindrops. As it was fully raining when we arrived to our hotel, we just decided to relax and test hotel Spa features. 

Day Seven and sky was still cloudy and rainy so we've decided to find some cozy coffee place and get brunch before we will go to our Boat Tour. Kingston is lovely small town and it's called Limestone City as many of the old heritage buildings were build using local Limestone. We found an awesome place called Pan Chancho and I've decided to try typical Canadian speciality called Poutine. It's pretty much fries, cheese curds and gravy but this place added extra bacon and egg. It was absolutely DELICIOUS!  

Poutine from Pan Chancho

After brunch we moved to Kingston Harbour where we embarked on board of our boat called Island Queen and went on cruise around 1000 Islands. It's an area of 1864 islands on Canada/US border covering around 80km. They range in size from over 100km2 to a smaller ones with only one house. The tour took 3h and served lovely meals accompanied by live music. Shame it was rainy and cloudy otherwise the views will be even more stunning. 

Our next destination on itinerary was Ottawa, drive about 200km from Kingston. Along the way we've done a quick stop at Hill Island to visit 1000 Islands Tower. It was well worth the stops as you can see some of the islands from above. Views must be even more stunning few days later when the trees will be changing colour. From there we continued to our hotel in Ottawa. I went straight to bed as forecast for tomorrow was sunny and we had planned a lot to do. 

Day eight, Ottawa, capital city of Canada and home of Canadian Parliament. I've get up early to catch sunrise on Parliament Hill and once sun risen i went to get breakfast to The Ministry of Coffee. Nutella late was absolutely amazing :) At noon we had pre-booked tour with Paul's Boat lines so we walked to the Rideau Canal and embarked on lovely cruise around Ottawa River. Rest of the day we spent exploring Ottawa and as the sun was going down i went on place called Napean Point that have beautiful views of Parliament Hill and Alexandra Bridge. 

Day nine, another lovely warm and sunny day and we have checked out from hotel early in the morning and went on the road. Todays destination was 350km far town called Huntsville and Deerhurst resort where we will stay overnight, but there were few cool spots along the way we wanted to explore more. First we stopped at Golden lake took couple pictures and second stop was at Dorset Lookout Tower. It's pretty cool lookout tower with a panoramic view of beautiful Lake of Bay.

From there we continued to Deerhurst, massive resort in Ontario's Muskoka region. This place was voted as best place to see autumn collors in Canada but once again, we were here too early. Only around 15% of trees had started changing to red and orange yet. We've checked in to the hotel and get to explore area around the resort. 

Day ten, sun is gone and water is falling from the sky. We've had breakfast and as there was not a much to do in a resort in these conditions and as the forecast for next days wasn't looking promising we've decided to check out a day early and return to Toronto as city would look better in rain. So we went on another 230km drive back to The 6ix. I love that city and was really looking forward to explore it even more. As we arrived i drove Allan to his AirBnb place and obviously went for dinner to Burger's Priest straight after. With full belly i went straight to the hotel and as it was right on Yonge St. i went for little stroll around before bed time. 

Day eleven, last day in Canada and surprisingly sky cleared out and sun was shining. I had few things planed before i leave so i went straight to Toronto City Airport where i had booked Heli flight with Toronto Heli Tours. Highly recommended as it's quite cheap to compare with London and other cities. For 100CAD they will fly you for about 10min around Toronto's downtown and CN Tower. Check their page and if your lucky  you may get Last minute special with 50% off the price. I guess it was my best spend 50 bucks :) 

From the Airport i went to check Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame where as a big hockey fan I wanted to see and touch the Stanley Cup. Loved that place thoroughly. From there I went to check Royal Ontario Museum but unfortunately i haven't got much time left and I had to come back to the hotel, pick up my luggage and get to the Pearson Airport for my flight back home. 

Thank you Canada, you are amazing country and i'm sure i'll be back to explore even more!

Instagram takeover - Mercury Hotels

This Friday at Somerset House, Mercure Hotels together with National Picnic Day organise "Mercure Hotels Picnic at Somerset House" and they asked me to takeover their instagram account during the event. 

So if you are free, come over to this Gigantic Picnic at Somerset House! It's free and there are slots available throughout the day. There'll be fantastic range of Picnic goodies from Tom's Kitchen to purchase on the day and plenty of Mercure "Perfect Picnic" Prosecco.

For more info how to secure spot click here.

See you there...

Win a stay in Hotel for two with @ThompsonHotels

Do you have your holidays booked? Are you still thinking where to go and what hotel? Don't think any further and join the competition to win a 2 night stay in Thompson Hotel of your choice and i can tell you that they look awesome!  

There are three simple steps. 

1. Follow @ThompsonHotels

2. Tag a friend you want to take with you in comments

3. Share your best summer travel or summer eats image with the #SuiteSummerWithThompson hashtag

St Pancras International, London

Good Luck!  

Winners will be announced June 17th, June 24th, and July 1st






Pitchfork Radio & Tribute Portfolio - #independentmoments

Pitchfork Radio was broadcasting live from Great Northern Hotel in London this weekend. I was lucky to be invited to shoot and cover the #independentmoments event on snapchat and instagram on Saturday. It was pretty cool afternoon party with DJ's and live music. Fancy cocktails and food  couldn't miss there, my favourite was Cuppa Rosie Lee cocktail and that little egg in egg something. Was also nice to meet and talk to familiar faces who came down to party. Well done Tribute Portfolio!

Thomson Cruises TUI - Paradise Islands #notforme Campaign

One of the best trips of this year so far was organised by Thomson Cruises. Their NotForMe campaign was accompanied with cool webpage and launched early February. With main focus to bring younger customers to their cruise ships, they hired several photographers, bloggers and other influencers and sent them to a different cruises. Mainly around Caribbean but also in to Greece.

Mine trip was most likely the best one, it's called Paradise Islands and started in Barbados and then we've been cruising for next seven days around Caribbean islands. 

The flight from London to Bridgetown in Barbados was supercool on it's own, we flew in beautiful Boeing 787 Dreamliner and except very comfortable seats we had also champagne served during flight to make it even more pleasant. I had free plus one so it took my colleague and friend Alex with me and in place we met the rest of our influencer group. I was happy to see again Sean, Patrick and to meet finally with Ady and Sophie. Probably mostly because of the bubbles, flight was smooth and fun.

Once landed in Bridgetown, we've been transferred directly from Airport to the Cruise Terminal and for a first time had opportunity to se our ship Thomson Celebration in real life. It's not one of the gigantic Cruise ships but was still with it's 9 decks and capacity of 1250 people big enough :) We got into our suits and then the evening we embarked from Bridgetown towards British Virgin Island. Our suites were the best on Ship and exceeded my expectations. Celebrations is not a new ship but it has been recently refurbished and as Sean said and we all agreed, it had "character". The only issue was as expected with WiFi connections. 

Second day of our trip was on boat, we had chance to look around and as i mention earlier, it wasn't the largest ship but for me it was first time on Cruise Ship so there was a lot to explore. Several restaurants, shops, coffee bars, fitness & beauty facilities and obviously as the sun was shining Sun decks, pools and Jacuzzi. Also i don't normally suffer from motion sickness however after couple of hours on board everything was moving and my stomach wasn't happy. Luckily some sea sickness pills worked well and then i stick with recommendation from staff and i was drinking for the rest of the trip mostly ginger ale. Not sure if it was placebo but it worked :)

Oh i almost forgot to mention dinner with captain as they called it and even actual Captain wasn't sitting at our table, (we met him and was introduced before) we had dinner with lovely Staff Captain Alex. It was spectacular culinary experience and we had lovely chat about ship and our next couple of days on board of Celebration. 

On the morning of day three we arrived to Tortola, largest of British Virgin Islands. We haven't got any excursions for that day so plan was just find beach and light down to white sand. Long Bay beach was perfect fit. Sea was really rough apparently there were some storms in US and that caused quiet huge waves. There wasn't more needed for me and Pat and we jumped straight to the sea. It was really powerful but also a awesome fun. After lunch on beach we had small walk around trip around capital Roadtown. 

Day four and island i was looking forward to visit for a long time, St Maarten. We arrived in Philipsburgh and went first to Mullet Bay beach. Beautiful white sand and blue ocean, still pretty rough. Again, me and Pat jumped straight in but this time Ady and Sean joined us too. It was great fun again, very powerful waves again :) Plan for afternoon was Maho beach, yes, that's the beach where planes are landing and taking of just above your head in incredible proximity while you swimming in the ocean. It's something that's hard to describe with words. The only down was that in the internet age, beach was packed with tourists with every kind of cameras so it was hard to get nice clean view :) I would stay and shoot there for all day unfortunately our ship wouldn't wait. 

Day five, St Kitts and Nevis, weather was a bit overcast so we went to explore capital city Basseterre. It was quiet small and while it was still cloudy, we decided to visit Sand Bank Bay beach, so we jumped to taxi that took us there. On the beach was small rusty shipwreck but absence of sun make it less attractive at least for me. Late afternoon we had pre booked snorkelling trip. Two guys on speed boat picked us together with another few from our ship and we wen't to place where "sometimes" you can spot large sea turtles. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't spot them. This island was probably least attractive for me personally, but i'm sure that sun will makes a big difference. 

On Friday early morning we arrived at Antigua's port St John's. This was another island i was looking forward to visit mainly because we had booked 30min helicopter flight above Antigua and Barbuda! Weather looked promising in the morning so myself, Pat and Sean went for walk around city. People wasn't really willing to stand as models for shots but it was still very bustle and colourful. Back to port and there was already bus waiting to drove us to heliport. Sean, Pat, Ady and Sophie were lucky to go first while there was still quiet sunny. Me and Alex clouds for most of the flight, however it was spectacular experience. It was quiet challenging for me to sit and look through viewfinder for 30min and i won't lie, i was happy when we landed :). We spent some time on Fort James beach but as weather was still against us, we decided to explore island more. Pat used to visit it few years ago so he knew few cool places. We hired a taxi and went towards Dark Wood beach and Shirley's Heights. Quiet spectacular views, be much better on sunny day. I know i'm complaining a lot about weather but c'mon we are in Caribbean :)

Luckily sun probably heard me and we had amazing sunset while we enjoyed private party on the top deck with captain.

Saturday noon we arrived at Kingstown, capital of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This is the island where Johny's Depp Pirates of Caribbean was filmed. Sounds cool, we had also booked catamaran trip to the beaches from movie. Finally sun was out and it was quiet dangerous combination together with Super Strong Rum (85%) that was served on our catamaran trip :) We had great time and visited few beaches, one of them was gorgeous with black sand. Unfortunately we haven't got much time left on island as we had long way back to Barbados.

Our last day was again back in Bridgetown. Last booked trip was also pretty exciting, swimming with sea turtles. Absolutely lovely creatures, and also Barbados is definitely one of the wealthiest Caribbean islands and you can see that. Amazing private beaches and houses that hosted Oprah, Rihanna, Simon Cowell etc. After swimming we went back to ship to pack and get ready to be moved to the airport.

It was amazing sunny day and i shouldn't just sit and wait so used last two hours and went to explore the town. To my surprise it was completely empty, no people, all closed. Finally when i met lonely street jewellery seller and asked what's going on and where is everyone, he just looked at me and with very surprised face answered, it's Sunday, everyone is at the beach having BBQ :) 

Anyway, last thing was to get back to the Bridgetown's airport from where our Dreamliner flew us safely back home to London.