Category: Vlog

Under the Sea – Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

5.7 million litres of water, 16,000 species of marine animals with two very happy adults wandering around wide eyed with big smiles (and their cameras). 

(⬆︎ That was a description of Jon and I in Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.)

Who said you have to travel to tropical locales to get a peek at what swims beneath the sea? If you are in Toronto you don't have to splurge on the flight south, you can find almost every type of sea life imaginable right in the city, at Ripley's Aquarium! 

We took on the great task of conquering the Ripley's Aquarium as part of our CityPASS experience that we thrust on to ourselves. (For more information on the Toronto CityPASS, you can read our blog HERE.) We were NOT disappointed. And this wasn't even our first visit to the Aquarium!

Ripley's offers so much more than just "fish." It's an interactive experience. Education and Entertainment. With capital E's. 

Interactive with touch pools (I pet a hard shelled crab... it was hard. You can also pet a stingray or a shark, we passed). Education with dive shows. There are viewing "bubbles" where you can watch Nemo swim by feeling like you are swimming with him. Then there is the moving walkway that moves through North American's longest underwater viewing tunnel, as you watch the sharks swim around you. There's a kids play area, a cafeteria. But wait there's more - Friday Night Jazz on the second Friday of every month, they host birthday parties (for kids OR adults), yoga classes, Paint-Nites and SLEEPOVERS! Seriously, you can sleepover as a family, a group or a school trip for $99/person. For more information on the Aquarium and all that it offers, click HERE

Now immerse yourself in a thrilling underwater adventure with us:

Need advice on where to park? When are best times to go? If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask. We're here to help!

Toronto’s Top 5 Attractions and CityPASS

If you are reading this, I probably don't have to remind you --> WE LOVE TORONTO! We love Toronto in the day and in the night, in the hot and in the cold, in the good and in the bad. It's our favourite city in the world. 

Although Toronto flourishes in the summer, you aren't "out in the cold" in the winter. I grew up in Toronto surrounded by the idea that you were supposed to hibernate in the winter. In adulthood both Jon and I disagree with this, fully and completely. 

So far on our website we've covered some of the outdoor fun you can take advantage of in the city during the winter months, but for those of you who really do prefer to stay indoors, there is so much for you to see and do too!

Enter CityPASS - A pass that allows you to see 5 of Toronto's top attractions, for 42% off the regular admission price. I know that sounds like there's a catch, but there really isn't. You buy it, you use it and then brag about how much fun you had!

Attractions included (site links in orange):

CN Tower
Casa Loma
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Royal Ontario Museum
Ontario Science Centre (OR) The Toronto Zoo

Regular admission price: $126 + tax
CityPASS: $72 + tax 
CityPASS Children: $46 + tax
(please don't make me do the math tax, just add our ridiculous HST of 13%)

Even if you don't visit all 5 attractions, you can still be saving money. Wait there's more - once you have your CityPASS booklet, you skip most lines for entry! And let's not forget that you get to visit 5 of the top attractions in the city! 

You have 9 days to use the CityPASS.
(We took all 9 days to use it. We probably could have used it even quicker but we didn't in order to avoid crowds over the long weekend. Although 9 days seems like a long time, it goes by quickly. Especially if you will be using CityPASS with your children, so please be prepared. *Note* You will need a full day for almost all of the attractions.) 

If you are from Toronto, you may be thinking, 'Oh I've been there on a school trip in elementary school, I don't need to go again.' If I may be so bold as to say - YES, YOU DO. I have been to all of these attractions dozens of times in my lifetime. I have enjoyed them every single time and exhibits are always changing too, so there is always something new and exciting to check out. Jon and I had SO MUCH fun at all of the attractions. We learned a lot - about history, about science, about Toronto. Educational AND entertaining!

This was Jon's first trip to the Science Centre and he said this was his favourite stop in our adventures. As for me, Team CN Tower. Even though I used to work at the CN Tower, I never ever get sick of the views. I mean, #views.

We've put together a video highlight reel of sorts, of all 5 attractions. Either to sell you on the idea of CityPass or just entertain you with our charm.

You can find it here. Right below this writing.
See it? Click play and enjoy!

If you are planning a visit to Toronto or you already live here, we at J & C Toronto can now weigh in with our opinion.
JUST DO IT!

(If anyone has any specific questions about the attractions, how to get there, what's included in each place, etc... please let us know, we're here to help!)

Escape to Cuba!

It's that time of year again. That time when, if it is possible, most Canadians try to leave the country for at least a week. Game of Thrones warned us that this time was coming. We call it... WINTER. 

It's also been one full year since Jon & I have been home from working on cruise ships. Which means it's been one full year since we have done any exotic travelling. (We DID travel to Halifax for Thanksgiving and Detroit & Buffalo for summer concerts, none of which really qualifies as, 'exotic'.) 

Before booking, we were searching any and all of the last minute travel websites for the best bang for our buck. We couldn't afford to spend a great deal and we knew we wanted there to be a beautiful beach with water that I (Cheryl) wasn't afraid, or too cold, to go into. (*Note* - I have a preference for warm clear water and powdery sand mainly because I can get a little queasy if I can't see the fish coming for me.)

After much TripAdvisor review reading, the Iberostar Playa Pilar in Cayo Guillermo, Cuba seem to fit the bill.

While we were experiencing winter warmth and sunshine in the wonderful hospitable country (and favourite Canadian beach vacation spot) know as Cuba, we turned our cameras on. 

Come join us as we walk around our resort and show you what the Iberostar Playa Pilar is all about. 

Iberostar Playa Pilar - Cayo, Guillermo, Cuba

We hope you enjoy our video!

If you have any questions at all, about the resort or the travel in general, please feel free to contact us. We're here to help.

(You can find our TripAdvisor review of the property HERE!)

Now back to winter...

Honest Ed’s Final Bow

If you live or have lived in Toronto, you likely know of the popular discount department store called "Honest Ed's". You know the one... at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, with all the saloon style marquee lights. The one that you go to for good deals on fabric, furniture, your dishwashing detergent. It's only been there for uhhhh, 68 YEARS!

As of December 31 this year, the chapter will end. Honest Ed's, an iconic landmark in Toronto, will be closing it's doors for good. But not before we went for one last jaunt around the place. And by jaunt, I mean JAUNT. We walked around the outside of the building a bunch of times (for our Fit Bit steps and Jon wanted to see how long it would take me to freeze in the +5C temperatures.) Then we walked around the inside of the of the massive two-block building a bunch of times. We wanted to discover Honest Ed Mirvish and his legacy one last time (and I needed to warm up). It was fun. And we bought a sign.

We documented said fun here (cue the video):  

In all of our fun writing and filming for this blog, we also learned quite a bit about the late great Ed Mirvish and how his era began. 

We learned that he lived and breathed his business until he passed away in 2007, at age 92. We learned that he cared about his community and his city, like it was an extension of his family. We learned that he had once said that he wanted his ashes to be put into an hourglass so that an employee could sit on a throne in the middle of the store and turn him. You know, so that people could see that even after he died he was still working in the store. 

Honest Ed was a character, like a dad, Toronto's dad. His vision seemed parental. He wanted to take care of us in the city and create an inclusive environment for all. Like when the city of Toronto reneged on permission for Ed to create a parking lot and he decided to build Mirvish Village instead. [Mirvish Village: an area of homes, shops and studios. Affordable studios for artists to create. Dare I say, a safe space?]

He thought outside the box and was a master at free publicity. He held 72 hours dance marathons at the store to defy Toronto's closing hour laws. He had a Noah's Arc Sale with live animals. He sold Robert Goulet as a dream date for 0.79¢. He hired picketers to picket his own restaurants on King Street. He was a character of the best kind. 

Before we say our final goodbyes and the building is being replaced with a "reimagined Mirvish Village",  there will be one more event. Maybe not so much of an event as a 'public experience'. It's called, Toronto for Everyone.  It will be a three-day community festival running Feb. 23-26, 2017. (For more information on this event, click HERE!)

Maybe saying goodbye isn't a bad thing. Maybe it's time for a change? Maybe he would be happy that we are evolving as a city. Either way, his spirit will live on and he will never be forgotten. 

“None of us own anything,” Ed once said. “We’re only caretakers. I have two million bosses who keep me straight. If I don’t satisfy the people of Toronto, I’m in trouble.”

Double birthday – What you can do for FREE in Toronto on your birthday!

November 9. It’s OUR birthday. A day we have also nicknamed, “First Christmas.”

After spending many birthdays together, it hit me. We exchange gifts and we try to make the other one feel (extra) special. It’s similar to what happens on Christmas, right? And only about 6 weeks before real Christmas. It’s almost as though Christmas happens twice for us. And so the nickname was born.

Yes, yes, Jon and I share the same birthday (one year apart). Seriously, what are the chances? They do say that ‘sharing is caring.’

Now… What to do for our birthday? We try to come up with something a little different every year to kick off our next one. Something that will be for both of us, celebrating ourselves and each other. This was the first year we were celebrating together at home in Toronto too! We wanted to find something memorable to do.

I had once seen an online article outlining some of the things that are offered free - services, food and beverages - on your birthday. I asked Jon what he thought of this idea to celebrate us. What if we spent the day running around the city trying to find out what offers we could take advantage of? He didn’t even have to think about it, he was onboard immediately.

Turns out the answer to, “what you can get for free on your birthday” is – a whole lotta fat. You can get a bloated belly for free on your birthday. And you can have a lot of fun doing it…

 

We've put together a video to outline our day of free. Watch it here:

Breakdown of the video and how you too can get the free benefits of being born are as follows:

1st stop:
Starbucks
(multiple locations)

If you belong to the Starbucks Rewards program you are entitled to any free beverage of your choice, on your birthday.
I had a peppermint mocha and Jon tried the new praline chesnut latte.
Saved: $11

 

2nd stop:
The Works Gourmet Burger
(multiple locations)

Remember to sign up with your email for their Burgers with Benefits program. You will receive an email coupon for a sandwich of your choice, for FREE on your birthday!
Thanks to James Cambrian, our server, for having fun with us. His initials are our initials (JC/ J & C), so we think he was meant to be our server!
I ordered the Jalapeno Popper burger and fries (a jalapeno popper was cooked inside of the burger, topped with onion rings). Jon order the Reese PBC burger with chips. (Yes, the burger was topped with cut up Reese Cups and it was amazing.) We cut the burgers in half and shared. *Remember - Sharing is caring.
Saved: $38

 

3rd stop:
Rainbow Cinema
(Imagine Cinemas Market Square – 80 Front Street East)

All you need is your ID saying it is your birthday and you get any movie for free! We went to see Trolls (it was fun!) Jon ordered popcorn from Kalen, who he said was the nicest and friendliest movie theatre employee he’s ever encountered.
Saved: $20

 

4th stop:
Booster Juice
(multiple locations)

Sign up for BoosterNation and similar to The Works Burger, you will receive an email coupon for a 710ml smoothie of your choice. David, the lovely gentleman working the cash, told us jokes while we waited for our Funky Monkey and Brazilian Thunder smoothies.
Saved: $17

 

5th Stop:
Panera Bread
(multiple locations)

Sign up for My Panera for a free pastry on your birthday.
When we arrived, Matthew at cash informed us that we also receive a sweet welcome pastry for being a part of the club! Bonus! 4 pastries, for FREE!
Saved: $18

 

6th stop:
Yuk Yuks Comedy Club
(224 Richmond Street West)

If you visit their website (www.yukyuks.com) you can register for your free birthday show. No purchase required, just free.
Saved: $26

 

7th stop:
Denny’s
On your birthday you are entitled to a free Grand Slam Breakfast by joining the MyDenny's program at: www.mydennys.ca. Since they serve breakfast all day long and are a 24 hour diner, we thought 10pm would be the perfect time to get another free meal.

When we arrived, Denny’s was closed with a sign apologizing for their short closure. Of all the days Denny’s… it’s okay, we were feeling pretty full at this point anyway.

Saved: $0

 

Total Saved: $130

Other than what we have listed, there were other places that we never made it to. We literally ran out of time but thought we would include ten more of them for those of you looking for options on your birthday.

1. Body Shop – Sign up for the Love Your Body program and receive $10 towards any purchase in your birth month.
2. Sephora – sign up for Beauty Insider and receive a free gift for your birthday.
3. Jack Astor’s – free dessert in your birth month when you sign up for their Friends With Benefits program online.
4. Boston Pizza – sign up for MyBP online and receive a free dessert on your birthday.
5. David’s Tea – sign up for the Frequent Steeper program and receive a free tea on your special day.
6. Teavana – owned by Starbucks, same rules as Starbucks apply.
7. Menchies – Sign up for My Smileage and receive $5 towards a frozen yogurt on your birthday (valid 15 days before or after your birthday).
8. Marble Slab – Join their Slab Happy Rewards program and receive $5 towards a free ice cream for your birthday.
9. Medieval Times – Join their Fellowship and receive free admission on your birthday.
10. W Burger Bar (10 College Street)– Join the e-club and receive a free burger on your birthday.

*Remember that some of these programs need to be joined a month prior to your birthday, so get planning now!

Thanks for letting us share our day with you.
Until next year…

St. Lawrence Market

Join us as we show you around the St. Lawrence Market. One of our favourite places to visit in our neighbourhood in Toronto.