I’m Back

I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger as I said “I’ll be back”, and well,  here I am! I am back in the 6ix (and just in time for a sweet Raptors win). I have no super crazy announcements to make…yet…so no need to rush out and purchase tickets to a play or schedule your DVR to record me on TV. However, I can say that I have been hitting the ground running, literally, since we have landed.
Toronto View at NIght
I have been lucky enough to reconnect with my previous agent, Scott Merritt, who has been sending me to multiple auditions a WEEK. Being back has brought on some new challenges, as auditioning in Amsterdam is quite different from Toronto, so that will take a bit to get used to again.  It has been refreshing to get my feet wet in the Canadian acting realm.

For those interested, I have also started to post more regularity on my YouTube channel (Mellie Telly). I took a small hiatus (to ship our editing computer overseas of course) but I am back, with so much new content that I am incredibly excited to share with you on a more routine schedule! So please head over to Mellie Telly and subscribe now to stay notified of my latest videos, I’d love your support. My most recent videos are on the 160th Queens Plate in Toronto, and Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery.

I am also excited to announce that I will now be blogging for Master Traveller, and continuing to share my love of travel! Check out my Q and A HERE.

There are a few more exciting new projects on the horizon, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
Melissa

Whimsical Winchester & Virginia

When you travel, you open yourself up to new food discoveries, learning a different culture, exploring an unfamiliar landscape and making new friends. To do this, you can prep, map out and plan until you are blue in the face, but things do not always go accordingly. You can not control traffic, border crossings, accidents, weather or restroom locations (don’t ask). Regardless if things go according to your itinerary or not, you need to remain flexible, adapt and overcome to get the maximum out of your trip. Pleasant surprises are often what makes a good trip great. Virginia was one of those trips!
Blue Ridge Parkway
We recently traveled to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and on the way made stops along the Shenandoah Valley, which borders the Blue Ridge Mountains. My time and experience there was short but sweet. The charming area left an impact on us as it was magical in every possible way (Are you a maple tree? Cause fawk that was sappy).
DInosaur Land
The Southern hospitality lived up to its reputation as we were greeted so generously by the locals at every stop. The scenery was gorgeous, the weather perfect, and the activities endless. To learn more about my must-see things to do while passing by Virginia, please check out my latest article at Master Travellr. There I provide insights into our short visit, along with a list of places that I personally recommend seeing. Let me know what you think!
Luray Caverns
I have also posted a video of our visit to Dinosaur Land (located in Virginia) on my YouTube channel, Mellie Telly. Watch it HERE!

Special thanks to the following for the generous hospitality and incredible resources:

Do you have any questions about Virginia? Planning a trip there soon? Have you been there before? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Exploring Allegheny

We may be back in Canada, but we are certainly not done with travelling!
At Rocky City Park
It will be different. We can no longer drive in pretty much any direction and end up in a multitude of countries. Although, we can explore our own country (and it’s prettttty big) or our neighbours to the South. Since we were itching to cross a border, we recently drove down to Allegheny National Forest and Park, which extends from Pennsylvania to New York.
Marilla Bridges Trail
There we explored the outdoors viewing waterfalls, hiking, visiting the largest dam I’ve ever seen, an old train track bridge that was demolished by a tornado, and so much more. If you want to read more about this, check out my latest article for Master Travellr HERE. There I outline my favourite stops that we made on our trip. I have also uploaded a new YouTube video on my channel Mellie Telly, all about our road trip! Watch me touch a waterfall, get sh*t on by a bird and eat the largest ice cream ever HERE!
At Kinzua Bridge, in Allegheny
Have you been there before? What is your favourite memory? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Road Trip Tips

Another month means another travel tip – this month let’s talk road trips. I find this very fitting as I have just journeyed to the States via car twice in the past month, accumulating over 5000 km! If you follow my socials then you’ll know that we spent the May long weekend in Allegheny National Forest (in Pennsylvania and New York), and have just returned from a beautiful drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains (spread between Virginia and North Carolina). So here are some tips that we learned along the way…
Travel Trip Tuesday
Bring a cooler
A cooler is a great way to save money by purchasing groceries and limiting the number of times you eat out at restaurants. We also find that pulling over for a scenic picnic is much quicker than stopping at a restaurant and ordering a meal. One caveat is that import laws forbid from bringing in our go-to nutritional snacks through the border. Instead, recommend to stock up on vegetable chips, chocolate, and cold refreshing drinks. Then once you make it past border control, stop for groceries and ice and voila you have meals for the next few days. Having a cooler allows to save on time and money and enables to be more efficient to see more attractions and purchase more fridge magnets!
GPS
Buy a GPS
Everyone has a phone with Google maps, though a good quality GPS unit is a godsend for traveling. I’ll admit, at times we used our phones to find the address of the location to type it into the GPS, as the GUI is not as clean as Google Maps and it had difficulty finding desired locations. A GPS screen is much larger than most cell phones (our GPS has a 7” screen), does not have distracting pop-ups of incoming messages, does not burn through your data (which is important to note when traveling abroad) and does not lose signal as frequently as cell phones in the mountains. Our GPS allows changing the notification defaults, such as when you are speeding. Example, it is possible to set the limit to only provide an audible alert when you are 9% over the speed limit. This is helpful if you have a lead foot or if you are traveling in an area where the speed limit is better reported as the speed minimum and you do not want the GPS reminding you every 30 seconds that you are speeding. After using the GPS for the last two trips, I do not know how we traveled without it before. I like knowing what percent of the trip we are at, estimated arrival time, the speed limit on the road and our real-time speed – this helps me with being the Nav-o to make recommendations to speed up or slow down to avoid those marked speed trap cameras.

Play Music
You can only play ‘guess the license plates’ for sooo long (turns out I don’t even know the game I am playing, it’s counting not guessing). After a while, you will need some tunes as caffeine for the mood. So have a pre-set playlist, such as THIS ONE from Spotify. You can rely on the radio (so many rental cars have nowhere to insert a CD anymore), but you may end up with less than ideal stations. Our options were country, religious, or static. At times there was only one station and it seemed like the DJ was juggling plastic bags as he was playing music.
Navigator or Photographer?
Know your Role
Before heading out into the sunset, make sure everyone in the car has been assigned a role and knows what it is. That way there is no confusion with navigation, arguments over who is DJ, snacks captain, or knowing who is going to keep the driver entertained while the rest of the car is napping. The whole part of a road trip is enjoying the journey, so do so without conflicting ideas or expectations of what is to come.
Washroom Break & Photo Op
Pit Breaks Rules
We have an unwritten rule (well until now I guess), that we fill up the gas when the tank is ¼ full (or empty, depends on which way you look at the glass). I digress, the reason we do this is incase we end up going off the beaten path unexpectedly, or go longer than anticipated. It has come in hand a few times when we had no cell service and the GPS was no help in finding the next available gas station. Since we are on the topic of stops, always use the washroom when you can. You never know when the next stop will be. Don’t have to go? I don’t care, force it! Multiple bathroom breaks are annoying and frustrating. It takes so much longer to reach your destination, and you have to re-pass all the traffic you just passed. In our car, if one person goes, we all go, and it reduces the number of breaks.

Emergencies
I know, I know, I constantly preach about packing light. But don’t skimp on the necessary precautions that could save you in unpleasant situations. If you are road tripping always be sure to have a first aid kit, flashlights, a warm jacket, a snack, some cash, a car charger for electronics and lots of water. Not to sound like a negative Nancy, but you really never know.

Do you have any road trips in your near future? Agree with my tips or have your own to contribute? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Do you want to watch some of our road trips? Check out these new videos on my YouTube channel, Mellie Telly:

Cheers,
Melissa

Sweet Dreams

Travel tip Tuesday - Getting Good Sleep
Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! This month’s tip is nothing to lose sleep over. I want to help you feel well rested after your free walking tour in your city of choice. I know it can be quite difficult to catch some Z’s when you are traveling in an unfamiliar setting, flying in and out of different time zones, getting stuck with pancake pillows (the worst), a lumpy mattress, or itchy sheets. Add in some AirBnB roomies and a new environment filled with creepy sounds, and you have a recipe for disaster for your sleeping schedule. So here are some tips to try on your next trip!

Get Active
First, I try to stay active all day long (8am-10pm), which is not very hard to do in a new place. If you spend all day exploring, going on adventures, hiking, climbing to the tops of cathedrals or walking around endlessly in museums, you will naturally be pooped at the end of the day. Trust me. If you are more of a vacation lounger, this may be a bit more difficult unless you are soaking up a lot of the suns rays all day – that alone can make you a bit sleepy. However, try not to nap while resting on that beach, as tempting as it is, as that can affect your sheep counting ability in the PM.
Pink PJs
Cut the Caffeine
I need a coffee IV to function in the morning, ask my husband. It is NOT a pretty sight until I’ve had my caffeine fill. But when traveling I cut myself off by mid-afternoon, as caffeine can stay in your blood for 6 to 8 hours! This is to ensure I’m not all hyped up on my second wind when I should be dreaming of my early morning excursion. (Find out why getting up early is essential when traveling HERE).
Morning Java
Just Ask
Whether you are in a hotel, motel, AirBnB, bed and breakfast, whatever, don’t be afraid to just ask for what you need! Prefer having 3 pillows? More blankets? A fan on (whether for just the white noise or the gentle breeze), ask the host/concierge. It doesn’t hurt to inquire about what will help you reach your sleep goals. Worst case – it’s a no. I find I sleep best when there is a window cracked open, as often it’s hard to get comfortable when the room is too hot and stuffy. If you know you may need certain items in your room beforehand, make a special request so you don’t have to ask after check-in when you just want to hit the hay and put your head down.
Good Night
Other Options
When in doubt, put your phone down and your screen away, pick up a book, relax, have a glass of warm milk (not wine – that can affect your hormones and disrupt your sleep) and pop some melatonin. This is a non-prescription drug that aids in rising your melatonin hormone levels and gives you a little nudge towards sweet dreams. However before taking any drugs or sleep aids, I highly suggest consulting with a physician or doing your own extensive research, I’m not a doctor, clearly!

Do you have issues sleeping when you travel? What do you do to aid it? Any questions for my next monthly travel tip? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Why you should travel with a Backpack!

Travel Tip Tuesday
Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! After a 2 month hiatus to return to life back in Toronto, from Amsterdam, I am back with more monthly tips and tricks for your next travel adventure! After binge-watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, purging through our stuff to move back, and sifting through any unnecessary belongings that had accumulated over time, I want to take a moment to focus on the effectiveness of packing light.

I love having wardrobe options with matching jewelry, day and night shoes, and numerous hat options; but after spending many weekends living out of a backpack, I’ve learned how unnecessary it can be. I’m not saying to wear the same outfit all weekend (you do want some variety in your Instagram photos, and need to be prepared for all weather types), just find articles of clothing that can be mixed, matched and layered (if necessary). Pairing this plan with different accessories each day can refresh your look, but more importantly, leave more room in your backpack or reduce weight – your back will thank you.
Wearing a backpack in South Africa
Traveling with just a backpack means that you don’t have to wait for checked luggage and won’t have to stress about lugging around a bag with wheels up long staircases, or wish you had additional arms to carry more stuff. This is ideal if you have an early or late flight (as you can stroll in a bit closer to your flight, and not waste time in a line to get your luggage weighed and tagged). It also means that you can walk a bit faster with just what you need on your back, and cover more ground seeing more landmarks on your trip. Perhaps the most important of all, with a well-balanced bag that fits you properly, it greatly reduces the strain on your body and you may even forget you have a bag on at all! – great for stairs, terrible in antique shops.
Wearing a backpack in Bordeaux
When packing your knapsack, I find it’s ideal to roll up your clothes. I’ll pre-steam the wrinkles out, and then neatly and tightly roll everything so I can pack more. That also leaves space for your toiletries, makeup, an empty water bottle, socks, undergarments, accessories, etc. Always leave a tinnnny bit of room for any souvenirs you may pick up along the way, optional if that’s not your jam. Also, a hot tip, since this is your carryon item on flights (so you don’t need to be separated from your belongings), you usually also get a personal item. For us, that usually means my purse, my husband’s prized procession (his camera) or a fragile purchase from an antique market.
Travel with a Backpack
So next time you are luggage shopping at The Bay or Bently, don’t forget to consider a nice sturdy backpack. For ample back support get one with straps that clip along the chest, they don’t look nerdy or touristy at all, says my husband. Or go for the Eddie Bauer stowaway packable backpack. I love that you can use it all day and then fold it up into a tiny bag and store it when you don’t need it! For more tips on how to make the most out of the space in your knapsack, check out my tips on travel makeup options HERE, or learn how to cut down on hair appliances HERE.

Do you travel with a backpack? Do you have any travel questions that you want me to cover in my next monthly post? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

A Day in Delft

Since King’s Day, an epic celebration of the King’s Birthday that attracts over a million people to Amsterdam each year (more on this HERE), is just around the corner, let’s celebrate by talking about one of my favourite cities in The Netherlands!
Walking Around Delft
Delft is a city in the province of South Holland, between Rotterdam and The Hague. It is definitely a tourist attraction; however, if you go in the offseason it will be pretty quiet. This city is home to the Delft University of Technology and is also more historically known for the Delft Blue Pottery (Delfts Blauw in Dutch). Delft is presumed to have started around the 11th century and was once the residence of William of Orange (from the House of Orange, the leader of the Dutch revolt against Spain, also known as William the Silent) in 1572.
Royal Delft
Since we didn’t get a chance to visit Delft until we were already arranging plans to move back to North America, we had to fit it all into one day. It’s totally possible to do, and here are my top 5 things you should include on your itinerary if you decide to do the same!
Delft City Hall
1) Delft City Hall: Okay, I admit, we did not go in. It was closed (as much in Europe tends to be on a weekend). However, it is super cool to look at when standing in the middle of the market square! (Tip: If you turn around you can also check out Nieuwe Kerk on the other side of the market). This renaissance style building is the seat of the city’s government and a popular venue for weddings for all you engaged folks out there! The red shutters on the outside of the building date back to 1618, holy moly!
Delft Eastern Gate
2) The Eastern Gate: This piece of Gothic architecture was built around 1400. A few additions were made in the 1500’s such as a makeover to the floors, the high spires, and some enhancements to the towers. At the moment it is an art gallery and residence, however, you can walk around it, or through it, and take lots of great photos. This is the last one in the city as the others were demolished in the 19th century.
The Delft Experience
3) Experience Royal Delft: Though this museum is a tad overpriced, and not included in your Museum Card, I would say it’s worth it. You can’t go all the way to Delft and not go to this museum. It will give you an in-depth history lesson into the world of Delftware, with lots of famous and unique pottery examples on the way. There you can also visit the original factory, and then make a purchase in their gift shop. The original factory was established in 1653 and is the only remaining Royal Delft pottery factory from the 17th century.
Delft, The Netherlands
4) Walk Around Aimlessly: You must be sick of hearing this from me, I suggest it a lot. Delft is so cute and charming, that if you don’t walk around you’ll miss the tiny characteristics and treasures that make it what it is. This city is so old and unique, lined with canals, cute homes, traditional restaurants and lots of shops to stop in, such as the tiny antique shop we found that was selling old Dutch tiles (something we now collect)!
Museum Prinsenhof
5) Museum Prinsenhof: I was very impressed with this museum. If you only have time to visit one, this should be your top pick. It was very interactive and informative about Dutch history, Delft, and The House of Orange (it even had family photos leading all the way up to present day). A unique aspect in this museum is that you can walk up the steps that William of Orange was murdered on, and even put your fingers in the bullet holes in the wall. William of Orange was assassinated just after having lunch with the Mayor, by Frenchman Balthasar Gerards. His tomb is now in Nieuwe Kerk. This building was built in the middle ages, originally as a monastery, later becoming a palace.
Close Up of City Hall
A day in Delft is sufficient, but if you have more time there is still lots more to see and do in this picturesque city. While you’re there be sure to pick up some postcards (they were actually quite cheap, I picked up 10 for only a few Euros), and stop for a tasty traditional Dutch meal!

Have you been to Delft? What did you think? Any suggestions on what to do there? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

To travel, or to vacation? That is the question!

Do you enjoy travel? Or would you rather go on a vacation? Confused? Well, I truly believe there are fundamental differences between both, making it a relevant topic for this month’s Travel Tip Tuesday!
Travel Tip Tuesday
The great thing is that both options are fun in their own way, and each has its time and place. It really just depends on how much you like to relax and explore. So let’s compare!

What vacation means
A vacation typically includes room service, an all you can eat buffet or menu designed specifically for tourists, access to an open bar, and multiple bikini options packed in your suitcase. Your vacation may include soaking up the sun on a beach, relaxing in the spa, and a never-ending drink at your side. This could be on a large ship or on an all-inclusive resort, with not a worry in the world. It is a huge battery charge for yourself, a well-deserved treat away from your busy demanding life. Simply, vacationing is spending a lot of money to do nothing, typically in warmth.
Cuba
Vacationing means leaving your stress at home, relaxing, indulging, maybe finally catching up on some reading and enjoying the luxuries in life! It consists of eating as much as you’d like, and maybe even turning off your cell phone for a bit! This can be costly but often you can find great getaways that do not break the bank.
Relaxing in Santorini
There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, from time to time we all need this. Not just for the ample amounts of vitamin D, but for our cortisone levels, the bags under our eyes, and our overall health. Studies have proven that those that take the time to vacation have a better outlook on life, more motivation to achieve their goals, and less risk of heart disease! Put that in your next vacation submission. This is will actually benefit your workplace!

So what is the difference?
Travel is not always about the relaxing, it can even be stressful! Travelling is about integrating yourself into the new culture. Often we will fit in as many churches, museums, or palaces as we possibly can in one day. If we are not tired by the end of the day, we haven’t seen enough and will work harder to ensure we try more traditional food and drinks, talk to the locals, walk around and go off the beaten path. It can be less focused on regenerating yourself and more on pushing yourself to make new discoveries both personal and trip-related. Encompassing a “travel trip” means less time on a beach or ship, and more time, well, traveling. Although you may actually sleep less, and eat less than you would at the buffet, it can be incredibly transforming. You get to learn all about new cultures and can develop new friendships that last a lifetime.
Exploring in Trinidad and TobagoOur choice
Over the last 2 years, we have traveled all around Europe and have been on at least 30 trips in that time. But we have yet to vacation since visiting the Caribbean prior to moving to Europe. I prefer it that way. I love creating a jam-packed, colour coordinated itinerary and experiencing new places to the fullest. I get enjoyment out of guessing a new transit system, finding a new favourite food spot and learning about the history of that region. Don’t get me wrong though, I am always up for lying at the beach with a margarita by my side! We find that on a 4-day trip, we like to have 3 of those days itemized to the half hour, and one day more at leisure to slow down or revisit areas that we thought were special.
Travel or Vacation? Palma De Mallorca
So what do you prefer? What is your trip style? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Frankfurt!

Frankfurt, Germany
Before we left Europe to return back to life in the Six, we enjoyed one last weekend of traveling. We made a final stop in the financial capital of Germany, and arguably Europe, Frankfurt. This charismatic city is the 5th largest in Germany, and a global hub for tourism, education, and transportation. Frankfurt was so surprising, that I want to share with you all the interesting finds we made on our trip!
Frankfurt At Night
1) It is tall! Like really tall – 14 out of the 15 tallest skyscrapers in Germany reside in Frankfurt. After being surrounded by so many flat buildings in Amsterdam, it was a nice treat to visit a city filled with high rise beauties, similar to what we are used to in Toronto. Though Commerzbank Tower is the tallest at 259 m, Main Tower (200 m) was my fave because of the 360 panoramic views! Highly recommended. Since Frankfurt is often referred to as Main-Hattan because of its rockin’ skyline resemblance, there are 7 Spiderman hidden all over the city. An artist set them up randomly to ensure that Frankfurt gets its fair share of comic book characters as well. We could only find two. How many have you found?
Spiderman
2) Red lights are not just in Amsterdam. That’s right, you can stroll the red light district in Frankfurt as well. Reminder to tourists, no photos are allowed to protect the privacy of the workers. Don’t stray too far at night, it’s pretty close to the train station where the safety levels are in line with Chicago at night (it was really sketch – times 10). They are making efforts to clean up the drugs and crime, though it is recommended to just stay clear of the area.
Red Light District
3) Fake it until you make it. The famous Instagram spot, Römerberg, is picture perfect with its old row houses (now converted into shops and restaurants). Going to burst your bubble here, these are not actually authentic; they were reconstructed after being destroyed in WW2, to bring in more tourists. You can find this charming area in Altstadt (old town).
Römerberg
4) When life gives you apples, make apple wine! In Frankfurt, you can find lots of German beer and unlimited sausage, but don’t forget to sample some authentic apple wine (apfelwein)! Yup, that’s a thing. I wasn’t a big fan of it; it tastes just like cold apple cider vinegar to be honest.
Apple Wine
5) When we travel around Europe there are usually numerous amounts of tourists on the weekends. Frankfurt was not the usual. Most people drive into work during the week; therefore on weekends, the streets are pretty empty. Comparable to the financial district in Toronto. I’m not complaining. It was a nice change to stroll and window shop without feeling overcrowded! On the other hand, that meant lots of buildings were closed.
Flea Market Finds!
Apart from all these cool facts, there are more than enough activities in Frankfurt to keep you occupied for a weekend. They have ample museums (most closed on Monday’s, so watch out), free churches, The Eschenheim Tower (the oldest and most unaltered building in the city center, from the 15th century, and you can go to the top for free!), archaeological finds, shopping malls and an awesome flea market on Saturdays along the Main river!

Have you been to Frankfurt? What did you think? Let me know of your German travels in the comments below! Auf Wiedersehen!

Cheers,
Melissa

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