We finally made it home - yep, back to Canada ... our first time since 2018. It was so awesome to see friends and family across Alberta, as well as to do some sightseeing, and also visit some of our favorite pubs and restaurants.
We will cover the details in 3 sections - Edmonton, Lake Louise/Banff, and Calgary as we go.
This video sums up the visits with our kick ass group of friends!
After running into our friends, the Coppages (returning from their holidays in the US and coming back to KSA), in the Amsterdam airport, it seemed fitting to kick off vacation properly - with several airport beers.
We woke up on the plane, landed in Calgary, and drove up to Edmonton. Due to Covid, there weren't any direct flights to Edmonton at that point. After checking into the airBnb, it was off to the Canadian Brewhouse for a lengthy shift with some great friends (Anita, Chris Reid, Dennis, the Gowers, and the Serights) who came out.
We spent the next day visiting some family in St.Albert, getting to visit with aunts Sue & Lynn, cousins Lana, Glen, Brad, and their kids. Great to see everyone! Thank you for arranging this.
Ran into our first cannabis shop in St.Albert - huge business in Canada and legal since we have been back. Time to support the local economy I suppose.
We met up with the gang and Jason W. on Whyte Ave for a special night of Bulldogs at Julio's Barrio. The night unravelled quickly and we ventured down the street to the Black Dog and Blues on Whyte. We love Edmonton!
Our last night was a special one, as we attended an outdoor concert with Anita, Dennis, and the Gowers. Captain Tractor, the Dead South (fucking unreal!), Alan Doyle, and Blue Rodeo lit up the stage as we drank, sang, and danced! Just watch Lisa's singing on the Lost Together video below. Amazing to be back at a concert! No cabs available so we rode home in a limo (under the negotiation that the driver would stop to get us beer and burgers, and that we could listen to DJ Chunky Luv on his stereo!).
An amazing few days in E-Town...miss this place....miss these people!
Lake Louise & Banff
We drove south from Edmonton and cut over to the mountains in the west, staying in a remote mountain lodge one night, doing some hiking and trying to avoid the bears.
Made it to the beautiful Lake Louise (at 2 degrees Celsius), as this was Lisa's first time to see the iconic Canadian lake. So beautiful. Got some pics, but beers (and warmer temps) in Banff were calling so we hit the road.
Managed to stop and see cousins Warren and Jenna (and their kids) for a couple drinks, as they were camping along the lake just outside of Banff. Was great to catch up in such a beautiful spot!
Met up with lifelong friends, Layne (better known as Vin) & Glenice, in Banff. It was amazing that they took time away from work to come see us and party together in Banff. We caught up over drinks, some mountain golf (beautiful!), and walking around one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Even stopped (for the first time) in Canmore for lunch and a couple pints!
If you ever visit Canada, DO NOT leave without seeing the Canadian Rockies!
On to our final stop - Calgary!
We made it to Calgary and were immediately invited to Avi's new house to see some old friends (Avi, Michele, Nicole, Jr, Vin)and their kids (holy shit, have the kids grown up!). Same old shenanigans, even including a nap from the host!
Calgary included visits to our favorite restaurants, visiting some breweries, doing some hikes at our favorite locations, running errands (Yes, Lisa finally got her drivers license renewed!)
Lisa's mom and Jeff's Dad & Joan arrived so we were able to catch up and enjoy some time with them. Great to see everyone doing well and to see that they still love their cards!
We took a day away from everyone to rest up for the upcoming days. That plan failed, as we hit the pub , ran into another friend, Stu, and the night quickly derailed - see the videos below.
Had a chance to golf with Vin, Jr, and their dad Lynn....this one got a bit wild as it was Lynn's birthday so it just made sense to indulge. Finally got to see Vin & Glen's new house (a beauty!). Ended the day at a gem of a place called the Beer Hall...damn good pizza!
We had a chance to catch up with another great friend, The Big Daver, at the Kilt & Caber for a couple drinks...great to catch up with him and see that he is doing well!
The final encore was the Labor Day game between the Riders and Bombers, hosted by Avi once again (this guy is a hosting machine). First things first, the Riders got their asses kicked. But honestly, the game was secondary compared to the celebration of seeing everyone in one place. Gowers and Dirty Den came from Edmonton, Hautas came from their lake, and a shitload of people came out from Calgary. It was so cool to see everyone saying to each other "we haven't seen you in so long"....so happy this event could connect the gang again! Avi and Michele had a taco bar that was outstanding, we played games, we drank, we hugged, we drank more. Then we paid the price the next day. All worth it and would do it again in a second!
Final day tradition - Keg dinner with friends.
And we are off. Miss this group!
We have a couple long weekends coming up in September and October - will most likely just visit Bahrain for some golf, brunches, and pool time. Saving it for November,
November 10-15 - Amsterdam...can't wait to get back and have some fun here!
November 29-December 8 - Vienna and Budapest. We are excited that Anita is flying out to travel with us. Should be some amazing excursions, Christmas markets, and a Sparty fun Budapest (videos to come!)
2022 vacation requests are due soon. Still to be determined.
Hoping to make it for the Feb 12-19 T&A trip in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico.
Stay tuned for more...
We have been so lucky to have such an amazing summer - 3 weeks in Croatia, 4 weeks with everyone in Canada. We are blessed and so grateful after everything in 2020.
THANK YOU to everyone who came out to see us while we were back in Canada.
Sending you all love....hope you all have an awesome fall season.
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It has been a while since we posted, so thought we would get an update out to everyone on some recent travels and stories from the amazing summer we have had.
We spent a few weeks back in Canada seeing friends and family, and then took a 3-week vacation in August to visit 4 countries in Europe alone the French Riviera. Literally, travelled via planes, trains, and automobiles...combined with some boating and bicycling. Loved the new experiences!
There are also a few random pics from fun we have had in the Middle East throughout the summer.
Enjoy the stories and pics...
Back to Canada
We went back to Canada in July. Lisa spent a week in Ontario with her Mom, enjoying Canada Day, a Blue Jays game, and a Shania Twain concert.
Lisa then flew to Calgary and got to spend a few days in Calgary, going to the Calgary Stampede with friends before Jeff joined the party.
It was great to catch up with our great friends and to even get a visit from Jeff's dad, brother, and nephew.
Miss all these amazing people!
August vacation - Barcelona, French Riviera, Milan
We spent 3 days in Barcelona. We had heard many great things about this city and it did not disappoint!
It has so many amazing places to see with great architecture and history, combined with some fantastic restaurants and bars.
Jeff loved the paella that is available at almost every restaurant!
We stayed on La Rambla street, which is busy as hell, loaded with tourists so the people watching is great and it is very central to all the sites and areas you want to visit. We took the Hop On, Hop Off bus to visit many beautiful areas of the city.
Some of our favourite highlights include:
- Sagrada Familia basilica - part of a UNESCO world heritage site, construction started in 1882, estimated to finish in 2026
- Park Guell - a beautiful park with many mosaic artworks from Gaudi that began construction in 1900
- the Gothic area - it's Cathedral and some great bars (La Burnessa mojitos)
- MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) and the Magic Fountain
- Olympic stadium
- Barcelona beach
Marseille is a beautiful port city with an incredible marina surrounded by bars and restaurants. Up on top of the hill overlooking the city and port is the incredible Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. We just stopped for lunch and a couple beers but definitely a place we want to visit again!
After Marseille, we drove along the French Riviera coast to St.Tropez. It is quite a place. Like what you would expect - lots of massive yachts in the harbour and on the water, lots of expensive shops, but some beautiful scenery, amazing seafood, nice beaches, and several wineries. We stayed at the Toison D'Or resort, which had a private beach, for a couple days. Visited the Chateau Minuty winery for some tasty breakfast samples.
After driving along the coast, we stopped in Cannes for lunch, beers, and some sightseeing. We walked along the famous boardwalk called Boulevard de la Croissette and saw the hotels where all the Cannes Film Festival stars stay. Even got some pics on the red carpet for the theatre. Also, a classic story where Jeff was called an "asshole" by some asian tourists.
Nice instantly became a favourite of ours. It is a beautiful place, filled with incredible buildings with French and Italian influence. There is a kick ass Old Town area filled with many great restaurants and bars.
We enjoyed both the Hop On, Hop Off bus and Le Petit Train, which took us to the cool tourist areas of the city, as well as neighbouring Villefranche-sur-Mer. Jeff even got in trouble on the public beach...once he realized it wasn't a "clothing optional" beach! Jackass!
Some highlights included:
- Castle Cremat - mountaintop winery in a church
- Parc de la Colline du Chateau with beautiful hilltop waterfalls
- the Acropolis statue
- Cathedrale Russe St.Nicolas - a very cool Russian cathedral in the middle of Nice
Monaco is the 2nd smallest country in the world and has just under 40,000 people. It's famous city is Monte-Carlo, home of the famous Monte-Carlo Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Casino. The casino was insane. Gold all over the place! Quite a place to see...nothing but money here! Could not believe the yachts here - many with helicopter pads and additional speed boats on them. Crazy! We took a boat ride in the harbour to check it all out.
We took the train from Monte-Carlo to Ventimiglia and up to Milan for our last couple of vacation days.
We arrived at the Milan train station (Stazione Centrale) and saw another incredible building. Could've been a museum or cathedral with how impressive it was. We quickly checked into our hotel and went out to check out the city.
We took a bike tour and saw:
- Milan Cathedral - 3rd largest church in the world, took over 6 centuries to build
- Castella Sforzesco - a 15th century castle
- Arco della Pace - the city gate to Milan
- the L.O.V.E. statue in Piazza Affari - a middle finger salute to the bankers
Finished the day in the local area called Brera with a kick ass meal (and massive calzone) at Il Kaimano.
Other summer stories...
We had lots of fun this summer while in the Middle East. Some highlights include:
- a fun yacht adventure in Bahrain in early July
- 2 going away parties (Masalama) for our Aussie friends Toni & Jim who have left Saudi to go home
- many pool parties, both at our place and in Bahrain
- visits to The Hydration Station
- we even found a way to get over to Dubai with friends for our September long weekend
We have a few trips booked - hoping to have some friends come join us...
November 2018 - Thailand - spending a couple days in Bangkok, then on to Phuket to celebrate Lisa's birthday with friends from Canada, Anita, Nicole, and Dennis. Should be some wild times, including some island pub crawls.
December 2018 - We are heading to Frankfurt, Germany and area for an extended long weekend at the end of December. Very excited to do a tour to Neuschwanstein Castle near Austria. This is the castle that inspired Disney's famous castle. May have to break out the winter coats!
May 2019 - Greece - booked into Santorini for a few days, then over to Crete
June 2019 - Uganda - going to do a day of gorilla trekking, a day of chimpanzee trekking, and then a carnivore trekking day. Should be quite an adventure.
August 2019 - still finalizing plans but it's looking like Portugal, south France, and Croatia.
November/December 2019 - South Africa - wine tasting, shark cage diving, safaris, and enjoying Cape Town.
Thanks for checking out our summer stories and pics everyone! Will post an update once we return from Thailand.
Have a great US Thanksgiving everyone!!!
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We have just returned from the longest vacation we've ever had - 4 weeks!
Wow, what a feeling! It was such an incredible and emotional trip:
First, it was great to get back to Canada and see the stores, restaurants, and pubs that we are familiar with.
Second, it is fucking Canada! What a Country. Beautiful scenery. Friendly people. And to be back for Canada's 150th birthday. Awesome!
Third, and most importantly, it was a trip to get back to the best friends and family one could ask for.
Yes, we honestly are so lucky to know and love these amazing people!
So, how was the trip? Check out the pics and stories below...
Amsterdam (June 23-28)
Amsterdam and Frankfurt are the two main pit stops on the way home from Saudi, so we chose to stay in Amsterdam for 5 days to flirt with the debauchery and see if all the stories are true. Yep, they all appear to be the real stories.
Just a few things about Amsterdam:
- we stayed right near Dam Square, which was a perfect 'home base' for us. Close to all the areas, the train station, the ferry station, shops, great people watching, and most importantly, right next to the Red Light District
- There are bicycles everywhere! They have right of way and Jeff came very close to being run down by them many times each day. There are parking lots all over designed for bikes. See the pics below.
- Amsterdam is also known for the beautiful canals filled with riverboats touring people around and houseboats that people live in and also rent out
- Amsterdam has legalized prostitution and marijuana and is home to the world famous Red Light District. You will see girls in windows with a red backlight, showing their bodies off, and trying to lure their prey inside. We did make a game of it one day...sitting on a pub bench sipping beers, we watched to see which lady could 'close the deal' first, and then how long the guy would stay inside. The first guy was only 4 minutes. Not an Amsterdam record, I'm sure!
- And yes, there are many 'coffee shops' with menus for you to purchase much more than coffee. We did have an interesting experience at the Bulldog Coffee Shop - amazing people watching, especially the guy with the orange cowboy hat. See the pic below and ask us for the story.
- The Red Light District is filled with sex toy museums, prostitution museums, marijuana/hemp museums, sex toys shops, and then of course, many strip clubs, live sex shows, and some interactive sex houses. There were also some where there talented artists chose to incorporate cigars, fruits (Bananenbar), and large black markers (see our personally signed post card pic below - definitely a keeper!)
- because of the 'anything goes' type of vibe, Amsterdam also hosts many bachelor/stag and bachelorette/stagette events. We saw many events - groups riding pedal taverns and boats drinking their day away, people in costumes, and many singing and having fun! Awesome!
- we did have a pretty cool excursion one day...for $25 euro each (about $25 US), we went up the A'Dam Lookout to overlook the water, Amsterdam, and see an overhanging swing, then took a 45-minute canal cruise filled with Heineken, and then tour the Heineken factory. Not a bad deal!
- there is a cool new area called NDSM. It is a short ferry ride from the main area and is an old shipping area. They have converted all the old metal shipping containers into residences, apartments, restaurants, and bars. There is a huge arts community there and if you're luck enough, you can even get a "Barbie Peepshow". Ask us and we can tell you all about it! A place called Sexyland had a unique concept. It is a small building made of 3-4 metal shipping containers. It has a bar, a stage, a dance floor, and speakers. They rent it out to people for parties, games, events, and concerts, with the tenants getting use of the bar/stage, etc. They catch is that you can only rent it once a year so they have 365 events each year, with someone different renting it each day. Different! Not what we expected when we walked into Sexyland.
- in terms of foods to try, there are fries everywhere. They also do have a unique food called Bitterballen - chopped up beef, beef broth, flour, spices, herbs, butter, then battered and deep fried, served with mustard. Good pub snack.
- our two favourite pubs - the Old Sailor was always packed and good people watching. We also found the Louis Bar Cafe de Dam, a small pub near our hotel. That was the perfect spot for a night cap that often turned into many more. Met an amazing couple, Ian and Ann from Melbourne and chatted with them quite a bit about their travels, as they were on a trip that included Ireland, UK, Prague, Germany, and a few other stops. Great people!
- some good neighbourhoods to check out - Jordan, Leidsestraat Square, and Rembrandt Square
Note - Canadian friends - Amsterdam is a great party place! It is a direct flight for us from Saudi and also for you from most Canadian cities. Hint, Hint!!!
Enjoy the pics...hope you're not easily offended.
Canada 150 in Calgary
As we said, it was incredible to fly back and have Canada150 absolutely everywhere. Talk about fueling the patriotic fire we already have...here's a few pics from our flight, as well as some of the cool Canadiana we saw.
Woke up on Canada Day (July 1st), took one look at the forecast. This was the forecast:
We were all fired up to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday with an epic party.
Our friends Avi & Michele Patel were throwing a 2-themed party for a bunch of us.
1 - RED & WHITE - They had decorated their house and backyard in red & white for a Canada Day party...flags, red & white lights, red & white flowers. You name it - they are AMAZING hosts! The bash would start around noon. Everyone would be dressed in red & white.
2 - GREEN & WHITE - Around 6:30pm, everyone will switch into green and white to cheer on our Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.
The adrenaline was rushing.
It was Canada's 150th.
The Patels know how to throw a killer party.
We had friends travelling from all over to come celebrate the day - Layne, Glenice, and family flew in from San Diego, Jeff flew from Vancouver, Vern & Noreen drove in from Saskatchewan, Shane & Dennis came from Edmonton, and we had the Hauta's, Juniors, D'Amours who came in from all over Calgary. Our friend Nicole was able to join as well as new friends, Jody & Nick.
This was going to be a day to remember. And it was! At least the parts that we remember. WOW!
Okanagan - Kelowna & Vernon, BC
We flew to Kelowna to go visit Jeff's brother Jason and new nephew Jakobe in Vernon. Jeff's dad had also driven in from Saskatchewan. Spent some awesome time with them at the hotel, visiting the Predator Ridge golf course, and the Kangaroo Creek Farm. It sure was nice to catch up with them, as it's been over a year since we all have seen each other. And now there's a new Tycholiz boy to deal with. As if three of them wasn't bad enough.
The Okanagan area is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Jakobe needed an afternoon nap, so we decided to hit some wineries and enjoyed some BC wine and some amazing views! We finished off the trip with a visit to one of our favourite restaurants, Ricardo's Mediterranean Kitchen, in Kelowna. This is a 'must stop' for us every time we are in the area. Went with Jason, Tera, Jakobe, and Tat but also had a chance to meet up with our 'wedding crashers' and good friends Dena and Dallas (with their two girls). Awesome food, awesome people!
Sure hope we can see Arn and Tone next year!
We flew from Vernon and arrived in Edmonton to see some more great friends and family.
Immediately went to the Canadian Brewhouse on Ellerslie and racked up one of the largest bar tabs I can remember. Thanks for coming out to see us Shane & Sara, Dave & Melissa, Jesse & Mallory, and Jason (aka Big Willmsy). And of course, thanks as always to our gracious host Dennis!
Had a chance to meet up with our Aunt Sue and Aunt Lyn for breakfast and to catch up. Always fun to chat with them!
We were so excited to get back to Whitefish, Montana after missing it last year. We've been going there with family & friends since 2009 and love it every single time. There is some good shopping, nice restaurants, and some outstanding pubs and breweries, but this trip is simply about getting to a cottage and hanging out with some of your best friends and their families!
It's a pretty simple week. Wake up, breakfast, spend the day at the lake floating and sipping beers with your floating bar. Enjoy the 35 degree sunshine. Then go up, shower off, BBQ up some meat, drink some more, and sit by the camp fire.
Honestly, the biggest task you have all week is the constant battle to keep the coolers filled with cans and ice. Not a bad problem to have! They even made it easy this year with a motorized tram to haul things up & down the hill to the lake.
The week finished off with a scenic drive through Glacier National Park and then a group steak dinner at the Keg in Calgary!
Thank you to the Vinny's, Patel's, and Junior's for an amazing week, and also to Nicole & D for the happy ending!
Jeff flew back to Saudi via Seattle and Dubai - brutal jet lag. Got home about 12:30am Wednesday, slept most of the day and worked Thursday. Came home after work, went to bed at 5:30pm, woke at 2am. Finally got back to sleep at 4am and woke from his coma at 3pm. What a write-off that weekend was.
Lisa enjoyed a week in Ontario, visiting her mom in Woodstock. She had a chance to visit with her, as well as aunts, uncles, and her grandmother. She is now back in Saudi working on her jet lag recovery!
We will conquer this jet lag next time!
We have a few more trips coming at us soon - hoping you can join up on any of them:
August 30 - September10
We will be in Kenya doing our African Safari for the Great Migration - stay tuned for some stories and pics. Jeff now has one month to figure out his new camera and zoom lens!
This is a long weekend - just finalizing our getaway. It's narrowed down to either Oman or Abu Dhabi.
October 30 - November 9
Off to Dublin for 3 days and London for 6. Looking forward to the Guinness and Jameson factories, as well as some authentic Irish and British pubs. And maybe more.
We'll be in Dubai for Lisa's 40th Birthday. An Ed Sheeran concert, followed by a fun weekend!
February 15-March 4 - T&A2018
We will be meeting up with our T&A friends in Negril Jamaica for a couple weeks of sun, Red Stripe, jerk chicken, and other Jamaican delicacies. This trip is always a wicked time. Will follow it up with a few days in Miami.
Our task over the next 2-3 weeks is to plot out travel for our 2018 calendar and get the vacations booked - they are due by Sept.11. Fingers crossed for another trip back home - stay tuned for vacation dates & locations and we hope we can see you all!
These next two images pretty much sum up our summer vacation. THANK YOU to everyone who came out to see us and touch our hearts once again! You make it so hard to leave! Love you all!!!
This pic is just random but we got a kick out of it. "Peace of Mind" is good.
Cheers everyone...be safe!
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa