Happy International Women's Day

Saturday, October 19, 2013

“Whether you are a woman or man, you must know that International Women's Day celebrates your emancipation. Had it not been for women's emancipation, free thinking would be impossible. An educated woman can raise intelligent children, which in turn creates a self-reliant society.” - Simran Khurana

On March 8th - International Women’s Day – women in Italy and other places in the world are given sprigs of Mimosa to commemorate this day that celebrates the accomplishments of women. 

Each year, on this day, being a woman takes on greater significance. I am so blessed to be a woman of this century who is able to live a full and privileged life thanks to the sacrifices of the women who came before me. I am only saddened that this does not hold true for all women around the world, so today, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the women who continue to fight for the same rights as men. My hope is that one day women everywhere will share the same freedom to stand together, united and strong, to celebrate the beauty and blessings of being a woman.

Thank you to all the women who paved the way. Without the hardships, struggles and sacrifices they made, I would not be able to enjoy my love of travel and writing as I do today. I would not be able to travel freely and confidently through the world and through life. And I definitely would not be able to share my voice through my writing, so thank you from the depths of my soul for I would not be the same woman who stands before you today. 

Positano Bites Deep

As our boat made its way through the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea towards Positano Bay, I inhaled the warm breeze and gave gratitude for this blessing.

There, like a crown jewel amidst the steep rocky cliff of Italy’s Amalfi Coast laid Positano, a place so enchantingly beautiful that its memory remains etched upon my heart. Sun drenched homes built on a series of cliffside ledges cascaded down to the shore in a panorama of pastel hues, ocher, and vermilion. The gold and green mosaic dome of the legendary Church of Santa Maria Assunta glistened underneath a crystal blue sky. Tropical flowers and lemon and olives groves beautifully displayed in harmonious union. A landscape so romantic it has inspired painters and photographers the world over.

Ever since watching the romantic comedy “Only You” I have dreamed of visiting Positano and its renowned hotel - Le Sirenuse - a Moorish Baroque 18th century villa with spectacular views of the sea and the famed Costiera Amalfitana. Once the summer residence of the Marchesi Serale family, members of which still manage this luxury property, it is now the place where dreams are made. And on this special day they happened to be mine.

The moment you enter the glass doors of Le Sirenuse you are enveloped in a world of understated elegance and serenity. The impeccable grounds boast white washed walls, arched and vaulted ceilings and gleaming handmade ceramic tiles. Antique paintings and prints framed in handsome mouldings hang on the walls, while a stylish combination of traditional and contemporary furnishings decorate the interiors and rooms. 

A handwritten welcome note, fresh fruit and nuts, and a bottle of Champagne awaited our arrival. Frette bed linens of the finest quality were perfumed with lavender. The bathroom was made of prestigious marbles with a Jacuzzi tub fit for two. Luxurious Eau d'Italie bath and body products imbue their lovely scent throughout. The terrace, with its glorious views, was the perfect place to sit, sip Champagne and relish this moment.

The pool, perhaps my favourite space on the exclusive grounds, was surrounded by lemon trees and breathtaking vistas. Our days were spent relaxing poolside enjoying our favourite Italian aperitivo “Aperol Spritz” and marvelling at the beauty that surrounded us. This small corner of paradise was the perfect place to bask in the final days of summer.

Everywhere staff greeted us by name. This special touch provided a sense of being among family and friends, and maybe it was in this spirit of home that on our first evening we decided to dine on our terrace. Positano glowed under the night sky, a vision so heavenly I wished time could stand still.  

The following evening we enjoyed fresh oysters and a glass of champagne millĂ©simĂ© on the candlelit terrace of the Champagne & Oyster Bar. The soft music and balmy summer night lulled me into a state of utter relaxation before heading for dinner at La Sponda, the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant.

What an unforgettable experience and atmosphere dinner provided! The space was lit by four hundred candles as musicians played old Neapolitan love songs. We dined on a selection of Mediterranean inspired dishes and sipped wine. It was one of those rare moments when everything in the universe seemed to conspire to remind me of the infinite beauty of life and love. It was a moment to be savoured slowly, passionately, and with every ounce of my being.

John Steinbeck said it best, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” And as the memories of Positano permeate my soul, I am filled with nothing but thankfulness for the unforgettable memories. 

Toronto’s Distillery District – The Best-Preserved Collection of Heritage Architecture

Friday, October 18, 2013

Toronto’s restored Distiller District has undergone some exciting changes in recent years. Once home to the largest distillery in the British Empire, this pedestrian-only village in Toronto now features the region’s best-preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture. Devoted to promoting arts and culture, the Distillery District provides a charming backdrop for the local one of a kind restaurants, design stores and art galleries; many of which feature original high ceilings and exposed finishes. To ensure the area keeps its unique charm, chain stores and franchises are forbidden in the area. Now isn’t that a refreshing concept! So the next time you’re visiting Toronto and want to get away from the usual city attractions, take a stroll through the Distillery District and explore a fascinating new area of Toronto.