Old Montreal, Quebec

August in Montreal

Cover: Strolling through Old Montreal
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


What’s Montreal like in August? Rainy, breezy, muggy, sunny, cloudy … and that’s all before lunch. Weather fluctuations aside, Montreal is beautiful in August, with average daytime temperatures peaking at 81°F / 27°C and lows averaging 57°F / 14°C. So, for those wanting to escape the hotter summer temperatures of the U.S., August in Montreal is the perfect cooler getaway.

Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, Quebec
Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

August is also peak tourist season so, in the areas of the city where tourists are prevalent, such as Old Montreal and Downtown, it can be very crowded. Both districts are fun areas to visit, but preferring a less touristy neighborhood for daily life, we selected the Plateau for our home while in Montreal.

View of Downtown Montreal from Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall
View of Downtown Montreal from Champ de Mars, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Plateau and Mile End

Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Cocktails in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Plateau is the hipster, artsy neighborhood filled with color, life, and attitude. Our apartment overlooked Mont-Royal near Saint-Laurent Boulevard – a perfect perch above the bars, cafés, specialty boutiques, and resale shops that line the streets in abundance.

Morning, Mont-Royal in The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Morning, Mont-Royal in The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Mont-Royal divides the Plateau and Mile End districts, so technically we stayed in the Plateau and looked across Mont-Royal to the Mile End neighborhood, both of which are part of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

The best thing to do in the Plateau? Wander. Stroll the streets, have a coffee, take in the daily life, and admire the colorful buildings and the fabulous street art.

Street art in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
Street art in the Plateau, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Getting downtown from the Plateau is simple – it’s just a straight walk down Saint Laurent Boulevard. The journey from Mont-Royal to Rue Sherbrooke is about a mile / 1.6 kilometers.

A walk along Sherbrooke Street West

Queen Victoria statue, MISQA, Pollack Concert Hall, Montreal, Quebec
Queen Victoria statue, MISQA, Pollack Concert Hall, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rue Sherbrooke / Sherbrooke Street a major Montreal thoroughfare, with Saint Laurent serving as the divider between east and west. A stroll along Sherbrooke Street West is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to numerous hotels located along the street, including the Ritz Carlton Montreal, Sherbrooke West is home to galleries, boutiques, McGill University and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal museum.

Ritz Carlton Montreal on Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
Ritz Carlton Montreal on Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

From June 5 -October 29, 2017, Sherbrooke is also the site of a public art exhibition in celebration of Montreal’s 350th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Flags from the 13 Canadian provinces and nearly 200 countries flutter above Sherbrooke Street during the exhibition, named La Balade pour la Paix: An Open-Air Museum. The kilometer-long exhibition features 72 works of art from artists from around the world.

Art along Rue Sherbrooke Montreal
Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, La Balade pour la Paix in Montreal along Rue Sherbrooke Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Even if you can’t make it to Montreal during the exhibition, permanent works of art can also be found in the Sherbrooke West area, such as Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature, which evokes the Inukshuk, a symbol of Canada’s Inuit peoples.

Ugo Rondinone, Inukshuk amongst the buildings along Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec
Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature, evoking the Inukshuk, along Rue Sherbrooke, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Another interesting installation just off Sherbrooke on Avenue McGill College is The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason. The work is said to represent the flow of man’s emotion through space.

The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason, 1985, Montreal, Quebec
The Illuminated Crowd by Raymond Mason, 1985, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Downtown Montreal

Avenue McGill College, Downtown Montreal, Quebec
Avenue McGill College, Downtown Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heading along Avenue McGill College towards the heart of Downtown Montreal, the buildings turn into skyscrapers and the shopping begins.

Shopping in Downtown Montreal, Quebec
Shopping in Downtown Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the thousands of outdoor, above-ground retail stores located in Downtown Montreal, one can head inside to malls such as Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine or underground to access the 30+ kilometers of interconnected areas and passageways leading to hotels, shopping centers, and businesses.

Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine Montreal, Quebec
Complexe Desjardins on Rue Sainte-Catherine Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chinatown

Chinatown, Montreal, Quebec
Chinatown, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A vibrant area near La Gauchetière Street, Le Quartier Chinois de Montréal / Montreal’s Chinatown, is home to many Asian restaurants, import stores, and food markets. A great spot to grab a bite or take a stroll, Montreal’s Chinatown is one of the oldest Asian communities in North America.

Old Montreal

Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall at night
Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall at night, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dating back to 1642, Montreal, or Ville-Marie as it was first known, was established in the area that is now referred to as Vieux-Montréal / Old Montreal.  A major tourist attraction, Old Montreal is one of the oldest urban areas in North America.

Countless restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels, galleries, and shops line the winding, narrow paths of Old Montreal. Popular attractions include the beautiful Hôtel de Ville de Montréal / Montreal City Hall, quaint Saint Paul Street, the lively Bonsecours Market, and the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica.

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal

Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal, Quebec
Notre-Dame Basilica, Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal was dedicated in 1829 and is located at the corner of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame West across from Place d’Armes Square. Notre-Dame was the first Gothic Revival style church built in Canada and was designed by New York architect, James O’Donnell. O’Donnell is the only person buried in Notre-Dame’s crypt.

Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal interior, Montreal
Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal interior, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Intricate wood carvings are set against a backdrop of gorgeous hues of blues, purples, and golds inside the grand cathedral. In 1982, Notre-Dame was raised from a church to the status of a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II.

Notre-Dame Basilica pipe organ, Montréal
Notre-Dame Basilica pipe organ, Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Casavant et Frères of Saint-Hyacinthe pipe organ dates back to 1891 and has 7,000 pipes, 92 stops distributed over four keyboards, and a pedalboard.

Candles in Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal
Candles in Notre-Dame Basilica Montréal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

St Lawrence River Cruise

View of Montreal from the St. Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec
View of Montreal from the St. Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After walking miles and miles exploring Montreal, we felt we needed a break and decided to relax aboard a river cruise on the St. Lawernce River.

City of Montreal viewed from the St. Lawrence River
City of Montreal viewed from the St. Lawrence River, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While there are multiple companies offering different cruise options, we opted for a late afternoon cruise that departed from Alexandra Pier in Old Montreal. Food and beverages were available with waiter service aboard the boat allowing us to sit back and enjoy the views while sipping on a lovely Viognier. Cheers!

Enjoying wine aboard Montreal river cruise, Montreal, Quebec
Enjoying wine aboard Montreal river cruise, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Olympic Park

Statues of adolescents wearing sports jerseys at Pie IX-Sherbrooke, near Olympic Stadium in Montreal
Statues of adolescents wearing sports jerseys at Pie IX-Sherbrooke, near Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The statues represent 1608 (founding of Quebec City), 1642 (founding of Montreal), 1967 (Expo 67) and 1976 (the Montreal Olympic Games). Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics, with 6,084 athletes participating from 92 countries. During the games, Nadia Comăneci scored the first perfect 10 in gymnastics and Bruce Jenner won a gold medal for the decathlon, setting a world record of 8,634 points.

Today, visitors to Parc Olympique de Montréal / Olympic Park can ride a cable car to the Observatory at the top of Montréal Tower, attend one of the many events held throughout the year, or visit the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Botanical Garden, Montréal Insectarium, or the Biodôme.

Biodôme at Olympic Park

Originally used as the velodrome (cycling stadium) during the Olympics, the building was converted to the Montreal Biodôme and opened to the public in 1992.

Penguin swimming at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Penguin swimming at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visitors to the Biodôme de Montréal explore four ecosystems found in the Americas – the Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Regions.

Atlantic Sturgeon at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Atlantic Sturgeon at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Montreal Biodôme replicates the different eco-systems, providing visitors an up-close encounter with over 4,500 animals from over 220 different species and thousands of plants. 

Jellyfish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Jellyfish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Fish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal
Fish at Biodôme, Olympic Park, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Eating in Montreal

Boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec
Boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants along Rue Crescent, Montreal, Quebec Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Montreal has a vast selection of dining options with cuisines from around the globe and available at all prices. We dined on excellent Greek, Italian, seafood and vegetarian fare, along with finding some fabulous spots for coffee and cocktails. Check out a few of our favorites in Eating (and drinking) in Montreal »

Know before you go to Montreal in August

Bring your walking shoes. While Montreal has good mass transit, it is a highly walkable city. If visiting during the warmer months, bring a good pair of shoes and enjoy the sites while getting some exercise.

Rainfall. August is typically Montreal’s most rainy month, with a historic average of 100 mm of rainfall over 15 days of the month. Comparably, the least rainy months are January-March, with an average of 60mm of rain each month.

Bring the sunscreen. Montreal averages almost 8 hours of sunshine per day in August.

Language: Montreal is a bilingual city, with French spoken as the primary language, but 56% of the population speaks both English and French.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

View of Miami & Miami River from Icon at Brickell,

Not a fan of South Beach? Try Miami Brickell instead

Cover: View of Miami and the Miami River from Icon at Brickell, Miami, Florida
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


We recently needed to be in Miami for a week and decided to stay in Brickell instead of out at the beach. We’ve never been a fan of the South Beach party scene and on our last visit, we stayed in quieter North Beach. However, we’d heard quite a bit about Brickell lately – it’s currently one of Miami’s hottest areas – so, we gave it a try.

Heineken boats on Miami River, Brickell, Miami, Florida
Heineken boats on Miami River, Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Brickell is located just across the Miami River from downtown and north of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. Known as the financial district, Brickell has a high number of banking institutions and is sometimes called the “Manhattan of the South.”

Skyscrapers under construction in Brickell, Miami, Florida
Skyscrapers under construction in Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Brickell is also one of the densest areas in the United States and is home to a vast amount of high-rise condos, with numerous more under construction. The buildings offer amazing views of either downtown Miami, the Biscayne Bay, or both and typically have rooftop or elevated pools and common areas. We rented a condo in one of the towers with city views and lived like a local. There are also a few hotels in Brickell, including the JW Marriott and East at the newly opened, Brickell City Centre.

Rooftop patio view of Biscayne Bay, Brickell, Miami,
Rooftop patio view of Biscayne Bay, Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was a particularly rainy week during our stay and each day we’d watch the clouds roll in from our Airbnb in one of the towers. To that note, it rained nearly every day, which is not that surprising in south Florida in the summer. What was surprising was that during our stay Brickell flooded. It had been raining most of the day and while walking home from Mary Brickell Village in the afternoon, the streets were flooding. Over the next few hours it grew worse, cars stalled in the high water, and traffic was at a standstill for hours.

Storms approaching Brickell, Miami at sunset
Storms approaching Brickell, Miami at sunset, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Speaking of Mary Brickell Village, it is the heart of Brickell, with boutiques, restaurants, bars, and a Publix grocery store. While we tried out quite a few of the Brickell Village eateries, a couple of our favorites included Rosa Mexicano and Toscano Divino.

The Scorpione Fuoco: Vodka, basil, grapefruit juice, jalapeño & ginger at Toscana Divino, Brickell, Miami
The Scorpione Fuoco: Vodka, basil, grapefruit juice, jalapeño & ginger at Toscana Divino, Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Toscana Divino is a lovely Italian restaurant with good service, delicious food, and creative cocktails. The Scorpione Fuoco is fabulous – a mix of vodka, basil, grapefruit juice, ginger, and jalapeño.

Chile relleno at Rosa Mexicano, Brickell, Miami, Florida
Chile Poblano Relleno at Rosa Mexicano, Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Another good option is Rosa Mexicano. Try the table side guacamole, margaritas, and the massive Chile Poblano Relleno – a roasted poblano chile filled with goat cheese, rice, sautéed mushrooms and grilled chayote. Tasty.

View of Heineken boats on the Miami River, Brickell, Miami
View of Heineken boats on the Miami River, Brickell, Miami, Florida Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Redsox vs Mariners, Safeco Field, Seattle

Buy me some peanuts and…

Cover: Redsox vs. Mariners, Safeco Field, Seattle
Photo:  Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Move over peanuts and Cracker Jacks, food at MLB ballparks has definitely improved in recent years. Sure, peanuts are still readily available (and consumer), but these days going to a ballgame doesn’t have to mean abandoning food preferences or simply not eating at all.

Bags of peanuts at Safeco Field, Seattle
Bags of peanuts at Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We stopped by Seattle on our way to Miami from Vancouver and ventured to Safeco to watch the Redsox lose to the Mariners last night. Fortunately, the food was better than the outcome :).

We attended the game with our son, Ryan and his friend, Kate, so we split up and sampled several of the many drink and food options at Safeco Field. Here’s how it went…

Edgar’s Cantina and Edgar’s Tacos in The Pen

Safeco Field fans are welcomed to The Pen area of the stadium early during batting practice, so we started the evening a little early with margaritas at Edgar’s Cantina and Edgar’s Tacos in The Pen during batting practice.

Margaritas at Edgar’s Cantina and Edgar's Tacos in The Pen, Safeco Field, Seattle
Margaritas at Edgar’s Cantina and Edgar’s Tacos in The Pen, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Edgar’s is also home to the newest food offering at Safeco Field in 2017, Chapulines or toasted grasshoppers. We did not partake of any insects and, although the person at the next table ordered some, I thought it would be rude to ask her if I could take a photo.

View of the bullpen from Edgar’s Cantina in The Pen, Safeco Field, Seattle
View of the bullpen from Edgar’s Cantina in The Pen, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Ryan Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Edgar’s is located next to the bullpen, providing an up close view of any activity during the game – as you can see captured during the 5th inning by Ryan and Kate.

The Natural

Healthy eats at The Natural at Safeco Field, Seattle
Healthy eats at The Natural at Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As Greg and I are mostly vegetarians, eating only a bit of fish here and there, we chose to dine on food from The Natural which offers hummus, salads, fresh fruit, veggie trays, sandwiches, cheese trays and veggie dogs.

Veggie dog at The Natural at Safeco Field, Seattle
Veggie dog at The Natural at Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The dogs are reportedly Field Roast vegan dogs and were quite good. The fruit was fresh and the line was short at the Natural.

Hit it Here Café & Bar

View from Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle
View from Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Ryan Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ryan and Kate made their way out to center field to the Hit it Here Café & Bar, which offers dining in a restaurant-style environment overlooking the field.

Prosciutto and arugula flatbread pizza, Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle
Prosciutto and arugula flatbread pizza, Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Ryan Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Selections include a variety of burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizza, as well as nachos, fish and chips, and hot dogs. Ryan and Kate enjoyed the prosciutto and arugula flatbread pizza and a bánh mì sandwich.

Bánh mì sandwich, Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle
Bánh mì sandwich, Hit it Here Café & Bar, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Ryan Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thanks go Ryan and Kate for the assist with the article and pictures. See you soon at Fenway!

Ryan and Kate, Safeco Field, Seattle
Ryan and Kate, Safeco Field, Seattle Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

July in Vancouver

Cover: Downtown Vancouver at night
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


View the Vancouver photo gallery


After 45 days of roaming around England, Scotland, and Ireland, we were ready to settle in one spot for a month. Seeking cool temperatures to avoid the summer heat and some good dining options, where better than Canada?

We found a great Airbnb in the heart of Vancouver with stunning views and settled in for a month of relaxation. We arrived the last of June, and with a little over a month to explore the bustling, diverse city that frequently makes livability top five lists, we planned on taking it slow, simply experiencing Canada’s west coast jewel at our leisure.

Downtown Vancouver at sunset
View from our balcony in downtown Vancouver at sunset Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival was running the weekend we arrived, with the main stages in Robson Square, which our balcony overlooked. While the sounds faintly wafted into our apartment along with the breeze, we decided to pay the festival a visit for a closer look and headed downstairs.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Vancouver International Jazz Festival Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Produced by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival actually occurs over two weeks each year at venues in and around Vancouver, with free public performances and paid shows at clubs throughout the area. While it was unseasonably warm during the event, the cool sounds and cold beverages kept the crowds chilled out and entertained throughout the event.

Happy 150th birthday Canada!

Canada 150 celebration

Canada celebrated its 150th birthday on the 1st of July with country-wide festivals, fireworks, events, and exhibitions.

The second largest celebration in Canada was held in Vancouver at Canada Place, with music, food, parades, and fireworks. Vancouver’s official celebration, named “Canada 150+,” recognized the much longer history of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations peoples of the area. Proud Canadians turned out in red and white attire and Canadian flags were in abundance throughout Vancouver during the celebration.

Canada Day 150, Vancouver, Canada
Canada Day 150, Vancouver, Canada Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver’s neighborhoods

As the most densely populated city in Canada and the fourth most in North America, towering skyscrapers loom above in much of the downtown area – yet tree-lined streets below soften the city and beckon strolls. We spent hours walking in the beautiful city under bright blue skies, enjoying the summer days.

Holy Rosary Cathedral
Holy Rosary Cathedral Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Along the way, we’d pop into an antique shop, grab a coffee, or stop to admire the flowers, gardens, and fountains so abundant throughout Vancouver.

Fountains in Yaletown, Vancouver
Fountains in Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

All that walking can work up an appetite and Vancouver’s diversity provides the backdrop for a dynamic food scene. From high-end restaurants to sidewalk cafes to a vast amount of food cart options, we found creative, tasty dining in each neighborhood we explored.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is filled with restaurants, bars, theatres and a wide-range of shopping options. From Gucci to independent boutiques to department stores – you’ll find it in Vancouver. CF Pacific Centre is several blocks long and offers indoor shopping and a good food court that even has some healthy options like Living Foods, which offers fresh, creative salads.

Robson Street, Vancouver
Robson Street, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Robson Street is a vibrant, three-blocks of boutiques, restaurants, and bars. A great spot to spend a few hours and grab a bite and/or a beverage, we liked the Robson Street Cactus Club – especially the patio for great happy hour fish tacos, cocktails and people watching.

Fish tacos at Cactus Club, Robson Street, Vancouver
Fish tacos at Cactus Club, Robson Street, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Yaletown

If you want to eat, drink, get your hair styled or do a little shopping, head to Yaletown.

Yaletown, Vancouver
Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In a former warehouse and railyard district, Yaletown is located between Homer Street and Robson Street, along the north side of False Creek. A fun area, Yaletown is a great spot for lunches, with an abundance of restaurants with patios.

Wildtale Coastal Grill in Yaletown, Vancouver
Friday Fish special at Wildtale Coastal Grill in Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After a leisurely lunch, a walk along the waterfront is a perfect way to work off those extra calories. A multi-use path runs right along the water, with splendid marina views, and access to David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park along the way.

False Creek waterfront Yaletown, Vancouver
False Creek waterfront Yaletown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Granville Island

Downtown Vancouver at nightHome to the massive Public Market, restaurants, shops, galleries, artist studios, theatres, waterfront activities and boat tours, Granville Island is a must visit when in Vancouver.

Vancouver Fish Company, Granville Island, Vancouver
Cioppino, West Coast Super Salad, and Sockeye Salmon Burger, Vancouver Fish Company, Granville Island, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We arrived in time for a late lunch  – the only issue was choosing which restaurant. Public Market has a large selection of vendors and an outdoor dining area for enjoying the food along with some sun, and there is also a huge variety of restaurants ranging from casual to upscale within the community. We decided on the beautiful patio of Vancouver Fish Company and enjoyed a fabulous lunch overlooking the harbor.

Farmers Market, Granville Island, Vancouver
Farmers Market, Granville Island, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following lunch, we wandered through the Granville Island galleries and stores and shopped at the Farmer’s Market, which is held on Thursdays in the summer, with plants, fruits, vegetables and local artisan crafts, before heading into the Public Market.

Double smoked salmon, Granville Market
Double smoked salmon, Granville Market, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A foodie’s dream destination, Granville’s Public Market is internationally recognized as one of the top markets in the world. Aisles and aisles of fresh produce, baked goods, gourmet items, meats and fish of every type are available. Our favorite find – double smoked salmon. Absolutely heavenly.

To get to Granville Island on foot, head down the end of Hornby or to David Lam Park in Yaletown and take the Vancouver Aquabus across False Creek.

Gastown

Gastown clock, Vancouver
Gastown clock, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, Gastown, dates back to 1867 when “Gassy” Jack Deighton began pouring drinks in a tavern there. Today, the district is one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Unique boutiques, souvenir shops, jewelry designers, galleries, artisans, bars and tasty restaurants line the streets, some of which are still cobblestone, in Gastown. The centerpiece of the community is the musical steam clock, which draws tourists every quarter hour as it comes to life steaming and whistling.

Hungry? Head across the street to the Water Street Cafe on the corner and grab a table on the patio. Start with the warm Mediterranean olives, then move on to the Linguine Alle Vongole. Splendid dining – and you’ll have a front row seat to watch the clock and the Gastown happenings.

Linguine Alle Vongole at Water Street Cafe, Gastown, Vancouver
Linguine Alle Vongole at Water Street Cafe, Gastown, Vancouver Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go to Vancouver in July

Temperature: The average temperature in Vancouver in July is 17°C / 64°F, with an average high of 21°C / 70°F and an average low of 13°C / 55°F.

Rainfall. July is typically Vancouver’s least rainy month, with a historic average of 40mm  of rainfall over 9 days of the month.

Plenty of sunshine. Bring the sunscreen – Vancouver averages 13 hours of sunshine per day in July.

Watersports. Water temperatures average 14°C / 57°F in July.

Air-conditioning (or lack there of). As with many locations where the highs are generally pleasant, unseasonably warm temperatures may occur, as they did during the first two weeks of our stay. Many apartments do not have air conditioning. When booking an Airbnb, check if fans are available in case you need them.


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Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

The beautiful, historic city of Winchester, England

Cover: River Itchen flowing beneath the City Mill in Winchester, Hampshire, England
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


View our Winchester photo gallery


Winchester, England is a charming city in the county of Hampshire about an hour southwest of London and was our first stop on our 45 Day U.K. and Ireland Roam About.

Minster Street, Winchester, EnglandMinster Street bends through well-kept properties. Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Winchester is a filled with gardens, parks, flowers, and rivers, and was one of the most beautiful cities we visited in England. A wonderful spot for spending a few days or longer, as we did, Winchester is highly-walkable, has a vibrant food scene, is home to many events, has a rich historical past and, of course, is the location of the magnificent Winchester Cathedral.

Riverside walk along River Itchen, Winchester, EnglandAlong the walking path next to the River Itchen, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dating back to 150BC, Winchester’s beginnings have been traced to an Iron Age settlement just outside the current city. Over the centuries, Winchester has been home to many historic figures including King Alfred the Great, who rebuilt the city after the Dark Ages and made it the capital, St Swithun, Bishop of Winchester and patron saint of Winchester Cathedral, and the world-famous novelist, Jane Austen, who is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Statue of King Alfred the Great, Winchester, EnglandStatue of King Alfred the Great watching over the city, Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While one might think a historical city so closely tied to a cathedral might be a bit stuffy, but Winchester is not. The people are friendly, the festivals lively, and the city has an appreciation for life, beauty, and culture, in addition to treasuring its heritage.

Headstone of Thomas Thetcher who died after drinking a small beer, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, EnglandThomas Thetcher headstone found outside the Winchester Cathedral. According to its inscription, he died of a fever after drinking a small beer when hot. Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Top points of interest in Winchester, England

Wolvesey Castle ruins

Woodman's Gate at Wolvesey Castle, Winchester, EnglandWoodman’s Gate at the Wolvesey Castle ruins, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Wolvesey Castle was the residence of the bishops of Winchester and today’s remains date back to the 12th-century palace of Bishop Henry of Blois, brother of King Stephen. The last grand gala held at the palace was Queen Mary and Philip of Spain’s wedding banquet.

Closeup of stonework at Wolvesey Castle,Closeup of stonework at Wolvesey Castle, Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Great Hall and the legend of King Arthur’s roundtable

Inside the Great Hall, Winchester, EnglandVisitors browse a temporary art exhibit Inside the Great Hall. Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dating back to the 13th century, the Great Hall is what remains of Winchester Castle and is home to the iconic symbol, King Arthur’s Round Table. The table is believed to have been built in the 13th century and painted as it currently appears for Henry VIII.

Statue of Queen Victoria in the Great Hall at Winchester CastleStatue of Queen Victoria with The Round Table in background in the Great Hall at Winchester Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Winchester City Mill

Water from the River Itchen rushing under the Winchester City MillWater from the River Itchen rushing under the City Mill in Winchester, Hampshire, England. Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Winchester City Mill is located along the River Itchen in the center of Winchester and is the oldest working water mill in England – the first recording of the site listed it as a corn mill in 1086. Visitors can experience the power of the River Itchen as it passes through Mill and participate in hands-on activities to gain an understanding of the milling process.

Water rushing into City Mill, Winchester, EnglandThe River Itchen, rushing through a City Mill raceway, was used to turn wooden water wheels for milling corn. Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral against a blue sky with scattered cloudsWinchester Cathedral against a blue sky with scattered clouds, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Founded in 1079 and consecrated in 1093, Winchester Cathedral has the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. An extraordinary cathedral, Winchester Cathedral is the pride of Winchester and a centerpiece for the charming city.

Tomb of Bishop Charles Richard Sumner, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, EnglandImage of Bishop Charles Richard Sumner carved in stone upon his tomb, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Throughout the fifteen centuries of its existence, Winchester Cathedral has been the site of numerous historical events including the funerals of King Harthacanute in 1042 and King William II of England in 1100, the coronation of Henry the Young King in 1172, and the marriages of King Henry IV of England and Joanna of Navarre in 1403 and Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain in 1554.

Lighting in choir stalls of Winchester CathedralLighting in choir stalls of Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Today, Winchester Cathedral celebrates over 1,500 holy services, hosts over 130,000 visitors and has over 61,000 attend concerts, cultural events and festivals, and seasonal celebrations each year. During our week in Winchester, we were fortunate to attend a wonderful organ recital by Geoffrey Morgan, Organist at Christchurch Priory.

Joan of Arc, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, EnglandStatue of Joan of Arc, Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, England Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media


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Water near Abbey Gardens, Winchester, EnglandWater near Abbey Gardens, Winchester, Hampshire, England Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

February in Venice

Cover: Sestiere of Castello, Venice, Italy
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


We shouldn’t love Venice. It’s touristy. It can be very crowded. It can take forever to go a short distance as packed water buses slowly navigate canals. Yet, as our train pulled out of station toward Milan as our month in Venice ended, we were leaving somewhat reluctantly as we departed the charming city that had stolen a place in our hearts.

We’d chosen February for Venice for one reason – Carnival. The world-famous pre-Lent celebration is said to date back to 1162 and has always been a source of fascination.

In the end, Carnevale di Venezia was magical, but it was the quiet time before Carnival and chance to live amongst the Venetians that had us yearning to stay a bit longer.

Leaving one City of Love for another

We arrived in Venice after spending January in Paris and were ready to get out of the bustle of a big city. While stunningly beautiful and always overflowing with activities, the City of Love is still a major city with noise, pollution, a high cost of living.

Arriving to an exceptionally empty Venice, the first 10 days of our stay were filled with quiet strolls under an umbrella on rainy days, un-crowded vaporetto rides, and stops in tiny cafés for a spritz or cappuccino where the only other patrons were locals.

Our previous Venice visit was a year and a half ago during the summer, so the contrast was quite amazing. The quieter side of Venice was a delight and a reminder of why Venice gives Paris a run for the money for the title of the City of Love.

Living as Venetian

Slow travel is very different from the experience of visiting a place for a few days or a week. For a vacation, more expensive options may suffice for convenience sake, but when one is a “resident,” finding the less expensive transportation, communication and dining options becomes a series of tasks to be completed soon after arrival.

Venice pocket WiFi

Our customary day one schedule in a new location includes acquiring a pocket WiFi and evaluating long-term local transportation options. In Venice, there are several pocket WiFi providers available and the one we selected provided the ability to pick up the device at a hotel near the train station. Our plan included unlimited connectivity for a month for about 100 euro – a much cheaper option than the $10/day plan + standard plan pricing and data usage available through our US carrier.

Venice transportation

Our next stop in Venice was at the Unica Venezia office at Piazzale Roma, which is the transportation hub near the train station.

Whether getting around central Venice on the Grand Canal or venturing out to one of the numerous outer islands in the Venetian lagoon, transportation options hiring a private or shared water taxi or taking a water bus, called a vaporetto, operated by the ACTV. Water taxis are very expensive, so vaporetti (plural of vaporetto) are heavily used in Venice.

While single ride vaporetto tickets (biglietto) are available, a pass can also be purchased at a much better rate for multiple days, such as 2, 3 or 7 days. The tickets are available at most of the ACTV stations at counters or from the vending machines.

For longer stays, the Venezia Unica card is a bargain. We obtained our cards at the Hellovenezia ticket office at Piazzale Roma. Purchasing the Venezia Unica card itself requires a passport, completing a form and paying 50 euro. The card is good for 5 years and can have fares loaded as needed (stored value). At the time of our visit, the rate for Unica card fares was 1.5 euro per fare or 37 euro per calendar month for unlimited use, which we opted for.

While most visitors things of the vaporetto as the #1 or #2 on the Grand Canal, however, there is an extensive network of boats covering the Venetian lagoon, including lines to the outer islands such as Murano, Burano, Lido, and Giudecca. The card can be used on any of the vaporetti, as well as on the buses and the train that run between Roma and Mestre. So, for 87 euro you have unlimited transportation for a full month.

Markets

When living somewhere for a month, one quickly discovers the market/grocery store situation. Our Airbnb apartment was on Giudecca, with a couple of small markets on the island. As we speak some French, but little Italian, the WiFi, and Google translate frequently came in handy when shopping. Compared to the US, food and beverages at the market are much less expensive, but the selection is also more limited.

In addition to the grocery stores like Coop and Prix, there are many small neighborhood specialty shops, such as pasticcerie (pastry shops), salumerie (delicatessens) and produce stores. There are also outdoor markets, with the Rialto Mercado being the largest.

Shopping at Rialto Market is an experience not to be missed and definitely worth the vaperetto ride. With a huge fish market, countless produce stands, and vendors offering everything from lentils to nuts to dried peppers, Rialto is the place foodies head to in Venice.

The prices are very reasonable as well. We picked up items for a couple of days’ meals, including nice cuts of salmon and tuna, for about 20 euro.

TV and streaming

When vacationing for a few days or a week, television is generally not a consideration – it can be a pleasant escape from day to day events. However, when on the road for extended periods, it is nice to catch the news or a movie or show in English now and then. While many hotels have extensive cable offerings, many Airbnbs have limited options or just local channels.

AppleTV to the rescue. A vaporetto ride to Piazzale Roma, a train to Mestre, and a bus ride to the Nave de Vero, home of the Venice Apple store, and we were in possession of an Apple TV.

Couldn’t we have just brought ours from the states? Yes, but ours was an older version and we didn’t. So, we are now owners of an Apple 2 with an Italian power cord. Streaming from the US doesn’t work in Europe, so you can use a service to make it look like your IP is in the US or simply sign up for Euro Netflix. We also used one of our iPads to access news sites. And – kudos to CBSN for streaming news around the world.

Where we stayed

We chose an Airbnb on Giudecca (pronounced joo-dek-ka) and it was one of the nicest apartments we’ve rented through the service. The décor was beautiful, the apartment was bright and cheerful, and the views from both the couch in the living room and the bedroom were amazing. On clear days, you could see all the way to the Dolomites and Alpes and every day we fell asleep watching the vaporettos and ferries going back and forth on the canal below.

The apartment was in a building attached to the Hilton Molino Stucky on the island of Giudecca. With the exception of the hotel and a few small businesses, the island is primarily a residential community and very quiet. Access to central Venice is via the Hilton shuttle that runs to and from San Marco or by using the #2, 4.1, 4.2, or N Vaporetto lines from La Palanca.

The pros of staying on Giudecca – it is a quiet escape from touristy central Venice and you get more for your money. The cons of staying on Giudecca? The constant boat/vaporetto rides. Would we recommend it? In high season or during carnival – if you want to escape the tourists and chaos of central Venice – yes. However, if you are only visiting for a few days, you will spend a good deal of time waiting for and riding boats back and forth. Additionally, far more hotel, restaurant, and shopping options are in the Dorsoduro, San Polo or San Marco districts, or sestieri as they are called in Venice.

The Castello district

After a few days of rain, we awoke to a brilliant day, gathered our camera gear and headed to the vaporetto. First stop, the Castello district.

The largest Venetian sestriere, the Castello district reaches from San Marco to the eastern tip of Venice. As many times Venice is described as shaped like a fish, the Castello district is located in the tail.

The Castello district has a bit of everything – residential building, the Giardini Pubblici (public gardens), the Arsenale, neighborhood cathedrals, the impressive Santi Giovanni e Paolo, restaurants, bars, shopping and the hospital. It can be reached by walking east from San Marco square or by Vaporetto 4.2 and take the Fondamente Nove stop.

While in the Castello district we stopped in a mask making shop, L’artista della Barbaria, which is operated by a couple that make handmade paper mache masks. They took the time to explain the mask making process and the difference from the cheap masks found throughout Venice and those made by true artisans.

Upon selecting my mask, they sign it and dated it. Very cool!

Murano & Burano

We’d been to Murano and Burano before but didn’t have as much time as we would have liked and wanted to return.

After visiting Costello, we continued on to Murano and spent the afternoon exploring the magnificent glass shops on the island. All glassmakers were moved to the community in 1291 and, since that time, Murano has become synonymous with fine glass making.  is a charming collection of islands connected by bridges and home to some of the world’s finest glassmakers.

Murano is actually a collection of islands connected by bridges and a wonderful place to visit while in Venice.

On another sunny day a few days later, we headed to the Burano, where the homes are brightly colored and highly skilled ladies create exquisite lace products. One of the most photographed spots on the planet, Burano’s colors are said to be a result of the fisherman painting their homes in a specific color so they could easily make their way home after a day’s hard work at sea.

Whether the legend is true or it is simply a charming fable of Venetian lore, Burano is a must visit spot, especially those with an interest in photography.

Venice Carnival – Carnevale di Venezia

By the second week of February, the quiet pathways where we strolled began to fill as tourists arrived for Carnival, or as it is called in Italian, Carnevale.

Amidst the revelers, mysterious masked characters appeared in the crowds. Elaborately costumed Venetians strolled the winding pathways of the floating city, usually with a trail of selfie-seeking tourists following nearby.

Numerous events are held throughout the Venetian islands during the celebration, but the main events such as the Flight of the Angel, the Eagle Flight, and the mask contests occur in St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), the center of Carnevale di Venezia activity.

While official Carnevale events are held throughout the 10 day period, the majority occur on the weekends, when the crowds are the largest as well. Many visitors from Italy and France arrive on Fridays and depart on Mondays to experience the major events held on the weekend.

Know before you go to Venice in February

Temperature: The average temperature in Venice in February is 5°C / 40°F, with an average high of 8°C / 46°F and an average low of 1°C / 34°F.

Rainfall. February is typically one of Venice’s least rainy month, with a historic average of 50mm of rainfall over 6 days of the month. By comparison, April generally sees the most rain, with 90mm and 11 days.

Hotels and Airbnbs. If you plan to visit Venice during Carnival, book early. The best hotels and Airbnbs sell out months in advance.

Cost of Venice during Carnival. Carnevale official events are free. Lodging prices are at some of the highest prices of the year. Balls and parties can be very expensive.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Weekend getaway to Prague in January

Cover: Prague Castle at night
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


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You are probably thinking, “Prague in January – are you crazy?” Yes. It was quite cold, but we were rewarded with incredible discounts on hotel rooms and far fewer crowds.

We’d never been to Prague, so when a friend stopped by Paris to visit on her way to the Czech Republic, we tagged along for a long weekend in Prague.

DN7R9723Municipal House, Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dating back to medieval times, Prague is stunningly beautiful. Walking through Staré Město (Old Town) with its castles, towers, colorful buildings and cobblestone streets is like walking through a fairy tale.

Home to the Astronomical Clock, the Town Hall Tower, the Church of St. Nicholas, and Týn Cathedral, Old Town Square is one of the most beautiful squares in the world and is a hub of activity with musicians, street artists, food vendors, and tourists.

The third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest still in operations, the Prague Astronomical Clock was first installed in 1410. The four figures next to the clock face come to life each hour and represent vanity, death, lust, and greed who are greeted by the 12 Apostles. The performance ends with a crowing rooster and the ringing of the clock tower bell.

For a bird’s eye view of Prague, visitors can ascend to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower

On the other side of the square, Týn Cathedral majestically fills the sky with its high towers and spires.

While it was a whirlwind of a weekend, we managed to take in many of the top Prague destinations.

Strolling from Old Town across the Charles Bridge, we stopped to rub the 30 statues that line the bridge for good luck.

DN7R9830
Tredelnik shop in Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We stopped along the way for a Trdelník, a rolled pastry wrapped around a stick and baked, then topped with cinnamon and sugar. They serve them plain, filled with ice cream or, how we had ours, filled with Nutella.

DN7R9831Tredelnik, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Moving on, we climbed the steps up to Hradčanské square with the Gate of Giants – the entrance to Prague Castle. In addition to helping work off the calories in the Trdelník, the stairs offer a stunning view of Prague. As we reached the top, it started to snow, so we moved on to the shelter of the castle.

DN7R9904Stairs to Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world with courtyards, palaces, museums and St. Vitus Cathedral. Architectural elements where the cathedral now stands date back over 1,000 years.

DN7R9972Statue of Friedrich Johann Joseph von Schwarzenberg Cölestin, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Returning to Old Town, we wandered the winding shops that offer a wide variety of items, including stunning glass creations.

DN7R0112Statue of Friedrich Johann Joseph von Schwarzenberg Cölestin, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In Prague, English is spoken nearly everywhere and it is a highly walkable city. We would love to return to Prague and spend a month when it is warmer, giving us much more time to explore the city of a hundred spires.

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Prague skyline along the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media


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Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.