Liberty Village – A Hidden Gem in Toronto

Liberty Village is the hottest growing neighborhood in Toronto. Located in the city’s west end, this old warehouse district, has now become an artist’s burrow.  Television production companies, music executives, trendy clothing lines and specialty boutiques have all chosen to keep their offices in this beautifully restored area. 

Quaint cafes and coffee shops are dotted throughout its few square blocks.  Eateries from greasy spoons to pubs and Vietnamese pho or slick urban lounges will satisfy all palettes. The Liberty village Café has been around the longest in the area and it has a market selling fresh fruit, vegan cookies and fresh homemade soups. The dining area has a full menu and patio but it is the Academy of Spherical Arts that takes top honors.  Matt Damon has been spotted in this hidden gem of a dining experience. Its sophisticated pool hall offers Cuban cigars and an extensive selection of scotches in an elegant setting. Warning, it will not remain a secret for long. 

Music nightclub is just around the corner and you can enjoy a stylish night out at this new and hot club located right on the grounds of the historic CNE.  But nightlife and dining are not the only things to do in Liberty Village.

The exhibition grounds are close by and maybe you will catch a game at the Kodak Center to see the hottest sporting event in town, the Toronto FC.  Soccer isn’t just for Europeans anymore.  Torontonians have embraced this sport and its giving hockey a run for its money.

Sunnyside pavilion is just down the street and it houses a giant public pool waiting for residents to cool down in the hot summer months. Sit outside on the beach patio facing Lake Ontario and watch the day unfold as you sip a cold Canadian and munch on calamari.

Situated next to the Argonaut club, boaters are a plenty. Maybe you will take a course this year and learn how to sail or join the ever-growing number of dragon boaters that practice along this route.

Running along the boardwalk is a little piece of serenity in a large urban centre.  Teams of rowers slice silently through the calm water sheltered from the lake by a break wall.  Snow-white swans have endured the harsh winter and now bask in the sun as they bob close to shore.  Cyclists whiz by but stay to their designated path and dogs run on the grass enjoying their hours of freedom.

One can go for weeks without having to step foot in downtown. Everything you need is right there in the West End.

The Benefits Of Staying At A French Residence De Tourisme For Your Ski Holiday

France is unique in having the Residence de Tourisme concept – this is self catered chalets and apartments yet with hotel/chalet services optionally being available on site – such as breakfast, someone for help and advise, etc.

Many of us are now choosing self catering accommodation in these times when we are all trying to reduce our costs. Many also prefer self catering for groups and families, as you have your own personal space. However, there are also many disadvantages of self catered accommodation:- you usually collect your keys from an estate agents office and you are on your own for the week, no one is on hand to help with advice about the local area, if there are power or water cuts (which do happen quite often in mountain villages) there is no one on hand to help, and if you find at 8.00 in the evening – that you don’t have enough dishes for everyone at the dinner table – you just have to manage. A Residence de Tourisme addresses the down sides of self catering accommodation, whilst retaining the benefits of both having your own personal space and lower cost than a hotel or fully catered chalet.

When going on a family ski holiday, you often want to have help from someone who knows the local area well or help with various aspects of your holiday, for example: collecting ski passes, arranging ski/boot fitting, arranging lifts to ski school, advice on mountain restaurants, help with organising child care, etc, this help is often available at a Residence de Tourisme – whereas in self catering you would be on your own.

The French created the Residence de Tourisme category to provide good holiday accommodation yet with all the services you would normally only get in a hotel. The cost is usually a little more than basic self catering, but the benefits are considerable. The French government encourage this by giving tax relief to people buying chalets and apartments under this scheme – this effectively saves them almost 20% of purchase price, the accommodation has to be operated by a management company and there is a requirement for the accommodation to be marketed for holiday use and it is not allowed to be used as a permanent dwelling.

The French regulations require that, as a minimum, three of four of the following services must be provided by the operator: at least one person available on site 24 hours a day, a breakfast service, linen and the option for cleaning more than once a week. The large operations will comply with these requirements by having a massive apartment block and minimal staff. The smaller Residence de Tourisme operations, by their nature will typically provide many other additional services, for example: lifts to ski school, grocery/shopping service, ski/boot fitting services, chef services, etc. They will also provide a high level of personal service that you normally only get from a private chalet holiday.

By choosing the right residence de Tourisme for your ski holiday, you can have the benefits of a private chalet yet at a much lower cost – paying only for those services which are really important to you.

So how do you find a Residence de Tourisme – the large ones are easy to find, however, the small ones not so easy – also – as the English don’t generally understand the benefits, they often don’s market these benefits in the UK – this means that searching using Google may well not produce the results you are looking for – unfortunately. The best way is to ask at the tourist bureau of the resort you are planning to stay at – they usually actively support the Residence de Tourisme’s – as the French understand the benefits. There is usually a section on the resort web site for Residence de Tourisme accommodation.

The Village of Salado

The village of Salado, between Austin and Waco on Interstate 35, is a very historic community that emphasizes an interest in the arts, education, natural beauty and scenic attractions. The longest continually operating hotel in Texas, the Stagecoach Inn, is in Salado, and the hotel is known for its excellent restaurant and historic setting. Salado is also proud to have eighteen of its oldest buildings included on the National Register of Historical Places and twenty-three Texas Historical Markers.

Salado was not incorporated until the year 2003, and the town boasts a population of just under 5,000 residents. Salado was founded in 1859 on the Old Military Road crossing of Salado Creek, and was originally an agricultural and industrial center. Salado College operated in the community until 1895, and was considered a very prestigious school at the time. However, when the railroad built tracks to the east and north of the town after the decline of the cattle trade, which was a thriving industry in Salado since the Chisholm Trail ran directly through Salado, the population began to decline.

In the mid-1900s, a revitalization of the city began, when Salado Creek was designated the first recorded Texas Natural Landmark in 1966, and the city developed an interest in an arts community based on historic businesses and homes. Two of these businesses were the Central Texas Area Museum, constructed in 1959, and the Stagecoach Inn and its famous dining room, which had always retained a following of loyal customers.

Salado, which is currently known as the Best Art Town in Texas, began the incorporation process around the year 2000, when the residents of the town became concerned about annexation from nearby Belton. Incorporation of the city ended 120 years of local history with no official town government, during which time the town flourished by catering to the tourist trade and affiliated businesses, which included 2 hotels, 2 blacksmiths, 7 churches, and 14 stores, along with a Masonic Lodge, in 1884.

Today, Salado has about 130 small businesses, many of which are art-related, and is also known for its UIL academics in the public schools, which are administered by the Salado Independent School District. Salado is the home of the academic team named the Salado Eagles, which won a five year streak of academic titles, and is also proud of their excellent sports program which includes the Salado Baseball Team, which won the State Championship in 2008, as well as Salado High School’s 2008 victory in the Lone Star Cup.

Salado has been home to many notable residents over the years, including authors Liz Carpenter and A.C. Green, and Texas governors James Ferguson and Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, among others, including the infamous outlaw Sam Bass.

Today, Salado offers residents and visitors many choices for lodging, including hotels, bed and breakfast inns, and R.V. campgrounds, including the Stagecoach Inn, a Residence Inn by Marriott, a La Quinta Hotel and a Holiday Inn Express. Some of the amenities of the historic Stagecoach Inn include 82 guest rooms and four town homes at Mill Creek Golf Course, and the award-winning restaurant, which specializes in prime rib and other delicacies. Other choices for diners in Salado include the Ambrosia Tea Room and Browning’s Courtyard Café, and the Range at Barton House, among many others.

With its unparallel historic pedigree and natural beauty, as well as its numerous amenities and opportunities for shopping or just strolling down Main Street, Salado is a sure-fire place to visit!