Ten places I'd rather be today ... Bogart festival in Key Largo ... Deal of Day: Italy
I've just about had it.
I love this city. I really do. But I HATE WINTER AND I'M SICK OF THE COLD. I mean, has anyone looked at the forecast for the next couple days? Two degree highs from now til the end of the weather page on the back of the Star's sports section today.
TWO DEGREES? IT'S ALMOST APRIL!!!!!
The Weather Network forecast this morning shows the temperature climbing all the way to six degrees by next Thursday. Woo hoo!
Geez, I know it'll warm up eventually but I could really use a blast of heat. Which brings me to this list of 10 places you should check out if you feel the same way; all of them places I've had the good fortune to visit in the last few years.
1. Tahiti. Okay, it's expensive to get there, but it's one of the most beautiful places on the planet; crystal clear lagoons, green, jungle clad mountains rising into an impossibly blue sky, great food and warm, friendly people. The most romantic place I've ever stayed in my life was an overwater bungalow (alas, I was on my own) at Le Taha'a Resort. Unbelievable. Bora Bora is a prettier island, as is Moorea (see photo at right at the fabulous and affordable Club Bali Hai resort) But I liked that bungalow the best.
2. Dunedin, Florida. Last chance to catch the Jays in person before they fly north for their home opener. Maybe the last chance to see Ricky Romero in a big league uniform for a while, too, given talk that he might start the season in the minors.
3. Jamaica. You could try one of the all-inclusives but I had a fabulous time at Jake's at Treasure Beach a couple years ago. There's not much in the way of a beach, but the coastline is beautiful and there's a small pool. Best of all is that fun, funky spirit of the place, which has rooms that feel like Morocco meets the Caribbean and great staff. Dougie the bartender is a treasure.
4. New Zealand. It's just turning fall down there now, but the weather is still pretty great. It's supposed to be 23 degrees in Auckland tomorrow. It's a cool city with a great harbour and excellent food. Tremendous beaches are close by, as is Waiheke Island, which has not only great beaches but world-class wineries, olive orchards and inventive, local cuisine. It's still pretty warm down on the South Island these days, too. Queenstown lies on the shores of one of the prettiest lakes you'll ever see. And the Pinot Noir they make at nearby wineries is to die for.
5. Santa Barbara, California. Great wineries, terrific food and beautiful scenery. The beaches are long, the hotels are terrific and the red tiled roofs and towering palm trees paint a pretty picture (see photo at left).
6. Corsica. Okay, it's only 16 degrees today but it's a lot better than here. It's a great part of France, with historical ruins, glittering beaches, great local wines and absolutely tremendous food. An easy flight from Paris or Marseille.
7. Hawaii. Anywhere in Hawaii. I prefer Maui because it was my family's semi-annual vacation spot for years, but Kauai is beautiful and the Big Island has tremendous variety, including the volcanoes and huge ranches with cowboys, called paniolos. I recently wrote about Lanai, which is tons of fun. And don't forget Oahu. Waikiki is fabulous, and Honolulu is a fun, cosmopolitan city with great food and culture. There are great hiking trails and incredible beaches all over the island of Oahu, which doesn't get enough exposure in my book.
8. Barbados. Terrific golf courses and endless, sunny beaches in the west. On the east side, you can find casual restaurants and rum shacks and windswept beaches that go on forever, often with big surf. Don't miss a chance to visit the eccentric and highly entertaining Hunte's Gardens.
9. New Orleans. Again, absolutely killer food and a great cocktail scene. But also tremendous history in this whirling melting pot of a city (see photo at right). I've got a story on New Orleans in Star Travel tomorrow.
10. Australia. Sydney is one of the great cities of the world, with picture perfect beaches like Bondi and Manly, an outstanding harbour, great architecture (well, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, anyway) and great food. I had a great visit to Dunk Island, up near the Great Barrier Reef, after the Olympics in 2000. And I was lucky enough to take a trip to Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and the outback a couple years ago, a near religious experience. A country with a little bit of everything.
VOGUE PUMPS UP TORONTO
Despite the weather, Vogue Magazine is touting our fair city. A story I spotted on their website (via Twitter) talks about taking urban trips for March break and names Toronto, Istanbul, Dallas and Lisbon as "four of the buzziest cultural capitals."
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID
Nice item here from Associated Press on a cold, dreary morning. (Wait, did I mention that already?)
Key Largo will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the movie "Key Largo" with a film festival honouring the movie's late star Humphrey Bogart.
Bogart was married to Lauren Bacall, who also starred in the movie. Their son Stephen Bogart is scheduled to headline several events at the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo May 2-5, including a May 2 cocktail reception that he will host with film critic Leonard Maltin. The reception will be followed by an outdoor waterfront screening of the movie.
The festival will feature screenings of additional Bogart films and other classics. Cruises will be offered on the original, century-old African Queen, the boat used in the Bogart film of the same name. Registered as a national historic site, the vessel was relaunched in 2012 following a $70,000 restoration.
Stephen Bogart will also host a "Casablanca"-themed Bogart ball May 4 at the Hilton Key Largo Resort with a Moroccan-themed dinner where Maltin will speak about Humphrey Bogart's contribution to the film noir genre. Tickets to the ball are $175 per person.
Tickets to individual screenings are $10 each. Details at http://www.bogartfilmfestival.com.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a deal on offer for fabulous Tuscany for $2,647, including $498 in taxes. As a guy who met his wife in Florence, I highly recommend this part of Italy for a romantic getaway. Even if you don't drink wine.
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- 9-Day/8-Night Dolce Vita in Tuscany, Italy Coach Tour, featuring visits to Cinque Terre, Florence, wine tastings, a cooking class, and much more!
- Includes departure airfare from Toronto to Florence (via Rome) and return airfare from Rome to Toronto, both on Alitalia, plus airport/hotel transfers in Italy
- 8 Nights' accommodation at 4-Star Hotels featuring rooms with private bath or shower, 2 single beds or 1 double bed. Hotels include NH Hotel Excelsior in Siena, Italiana Hotels Florence and the Grand Hotel Beverly Hills in Rome.
- Includes transportation via motorcoach, boat and train, services of an English speaking guide, and all entrance fees as per itinerary
- 16 meals including daily breakfast, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, one including a ¼ litre wine & ½ litre water
- Experience a real Italian cooking lesson in Tuscany
- Sample the robust taste of Italian wines in the countryside they're created in
- Stay in luxurious 4-star accommodations
- Valid for travel on June 6, 2013
- Pricing (rates are per person, plus tax):
We also offer other departure DATES and GATEWAYS.
Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
- Includes all taxes and service charges
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking