Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad

Looking for things to do in Osoyoos, BC, the #1 thing to do on Trip Advisor was the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad I love taking trains when I travel, but I didn't think I loved them enough to spend time looking at model trains, so my initial reaction was to skip this spot. However, when we got to the town's visitor information centre, the guide there said that she wasn't so sure about the place either at first but changed her mind after she went there herself. I'm always up for unexpected, pleasant surprises so we decided to check the place out. I'm happy to report that it turned out to be my favourite stop of the trip!

The Osoyoos Desert Model Railway was created by Poul and Ulla Pedersen. Poul started collecting and building model railways as a hobby and over time his hobby became bigger and bigger, and eventually after moving to Canada, they opened up the Osoyoos Desert Model Railway - a magical, sort of surreal, and extremely detailed model world, with model trains running through it.

When we entered the place, we were told that the average time spent there was 25-45 minutes, but you could spend a lot longer there, studying the details of the landscape, trains, and people that they've created. There are underground and underwater scenes, and every now and then the lights dim and the lights on the model houses turn on to show a very beautiful night view of the model world. Here's some of my favourite scenes that I spotted.

I spotted a runner who was on the floor, on his back, looking like he had tired himself out from his run, so we told Poul, who was actually there making sure the trains were all running in order, about it. We also told him how amazing we thought his creation was, and he laughed and said, "it's my hobby and I've been working on it for over 45 years!"

Poul also very kindly showed us some of the scenes in his model world that we had initially missed: a nude beach, and the 'European way of using sunflowers' as he called it! We had a great laugh. There are so many funny scenes sprinkled amongst this model world - see if you can spot them on your visit!

I loved this place because it's such a great example of turning a hobby into a job you love. It's a real life example of the phrase 'love your job and you will never work a day in your life'. It's all so inspiring, and I'd love to be able to do that too some day! I also thought it was extra special, because Poul and Ulla's daughter and son-in-law work there too. It's so great when family and friends support you in making your dreams come true!

I highly, highly recommend visiting the Osoyoos Desert Model Railway if you happen to be at Osoyoos. It's 4000 square feet, over 1800 model houses, and 18,000 miniature people of awe-inspiring creativity and fun!

Want to get here?
Hours: Open Mondays to Saturdays, 10AM-5PM
Cost: $7.50 for adults, $4.50 for kids aged 2-12
Website: http://www.osoyoosrailroad.com/ 

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The Highs and Lows of Monaco (During the Grand Prix)

It's important to state that I've only been to Monaco during the Grand Prix, because I think my experience would have been quite different had I been there during any other time.

Monaco during the Grand Prix has its highs and lows (it's a pun - the city has lots of slopes so there a physical highs and lows. Get it? Bad joke, I know, but I couldn't help it!) For someone who is into the Formula One, it's amazing! But for someone who would rather see the city it isn't so great. My boyfriend is a huge Formula One fan, which was why we were in the city during this time. And yes, I got to experience my first Formula One race in person, which was pretty cool even though I'm not a big F1 fan. But I think if I have the chance, I'd like to visit Monaco again when the F1 isn't happening to see what the city is really like since I didn't enjoy my visit that much. I'd want to go again to see if my opinion changes!

So here were the highs and lows (haha, I can't help but laugh. Okay, I'll stop, I promise!) from a none F1 fan who visited Monaco during the Grand Prix.

The Highs

Monaco is buzzing during the Grand Prix. There are happy people everywhere, people sitting out on the restaurant patios enjoying their meals, rows upon rows of booths on the streets selling F1 memorabilia, and bands playing on the streets. After the races there are huge parties happening too pumping loud music.

Sitting opposite the pit stops
I feel like I'm going to anger a lot of  F1 fans, but to me, watching a race in person is not as exciting as it is on television. You're stuck in one seat so all you see are cars whizzing by one spot. At least on TV, you can see more of the bigger picture of the what's going on in the whole race. Luckily, my boyfriend had the insight to get seats that were opposite the pit stops so I could watch as the teams changed tires and the cars and drivers coming in and out of the pits, which made my Grand Prix experience much more interesting. If you can, get a seat opposite the pit stops. If you have a camera with good zoom, you can get a lot of great shots sitting here too!

Walking the track
If you wait for a couple of hours after the race, they open up the track for you to walk on. It's pretty cool to be able to do that, especially if you are a fan, and know the track pretty well. My boyfriend was all sorts of excited while we walked down the track. I heard lots of, "this is where so and so crashed!" You can take photos by the starting grids, and see some of the debris left behind by the tires.

The Lows

Road closures
Not only are roads closed during the F1 in Monaco because some of their roads make up the track, they close off a lot of other roads too. This makes it really hard to explore the city because if you follow a map or road signs that should lead you to your desired destination, you'll often end up at a dead end... which gets really frustrating after a while!

When the races are happening, you can hear the cars whizzing by even if you're not there to watch the races. It's quite loud, so if you happen to be in Monaco when the Grand Prix is in town, bring ear plugs even if you're not there to watch the race!

Other attractions in the city are closed
The one thing I really wanted to see in Monaco was the Oceanographic Museum. But when we got there (eventually, after having to make quite a few detours because of those darned road closures), it was closed. I think a lot of the other attractions in the city end up closing because of the Grand Prix so if there's something you want to see in particular, I would recommend that you check ahead of time to see if they will be open. The Casino de Monte Carlo was open though (again, took a while to actually get there due to road closures) but I personally didn't think much of it. Then again, I'm not into gambling so that might be why.

Want to see some footage from the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix? Check out my video below!

Have you visited Monaco when the Grand Prix wasn't happening? How did you like it? Is it worth it for me to go back?

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Making Friends With Wallabies

My weekend in the Okanagan really exceeded my expectations - there were just so many highlights! In amongst visiting the wineries where I learned that I do actually enjoy wine, and hiking in the dark at Myra Canyon, making friends with wallabies at the Kangaroo Creek Farm really stood out for me.

What will you see at the Kangaroo Creek Farm? Once you enter, you'll see wallabies, kangaroos, emus, and capybaras, all hanging out together. The best thing is that you can go right up to these animals and hang out with them too! You can pet them, and take photos of and with them. It's an animal lover's heaven.

While I was there, there was one lone wallaby just sitting on his own, so I went up to him to pet him. He got really comfortable, lay down on the grass, and shut his eyes. A kangaroo came inching closer and closer, and before I knew it, they started fighting! A farm employee came to keep people safely away from them and told us that this was the alpha wallaby and the alpha kangaroo, so there's a little bit of tension between the two of them.

The alpha wallaby and kangaroo

Kangaroo Creek Farm is home to a number of goats too. They are kept in a separate enclosure and boy, they were a lot of fun! We had one goat get up on a log that was higher up to try to eat my friend's hair. Then another one tried to eat her shirt while she was getting her picture taken. We got a great shot of her making a face when she realized the goat was making a meal out of her shirt! Then as we were leaving the goat enclosure, a determined goat stuck his head through the gate as we were closing the door wanting to escape. It took quite a bit of coaxing to get the goat to get back into its enclosure.

While duking kangaroos and wallabies, and escaping goats were fun, my favourite part of my time at the Kangaroo Creek Farm would be holding a baby wallaby. Here's me, falling in love with baby Megatron. My heart melted when I held him. He was just so tiny and adorable, I couldn't take my eyes off him. I've never held a baby human before, but I imagine that's how people feel when they hold them!

If you love animals, and would love to befriend some, give the Kangaroo Creek Farm a visit! I think you can spend a good hour or two here. I definitely didn't want to leave!

Want to get here?
Hours: Check the bottom of this page for their current hours
Cost: $5 per person over 5 years old
Address: 3193 Hill Road, Lake Country, British Columbia

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A Wine Amateur's Top 3 Wineries in the Okanagan

I was never a big fan of wine, so when my friends wanted to go to the Okanagan for the long weekend to visit wineries (among other locations), I tagged along because I'd never been to the Okanagan before but I wasn't too excited about the wineries. Yes, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, is known for its many vineyards, but I just never liked the taste of wine very much, and preferred a Radler or a G&T.

After that weekend though, I can now say that I'm a changed woman. I've discovered my love of sweeter white wines (not ice wines, which I find a way too sweet) and the wineries themselves are actually very scenic! Since we visited quite a few wineries on our trip, I thought I'd share my top 3.

Now just a quick disclaimer, I am by no means a sommelier- I am FAR from it! I can't tell you about the undertones there are in a wine, the quality of the wine, or name the wine from a sip. I just like what I like! Also, I didn't visit all the wineries in the Okanagan (there are so many I'm not even sure if that will be possible) so these are just my favourites from the ones I visited.

So without further ado, here's my top 3 wineries in the Okanagan, AKA a wine amateur's top 3 wineries in the Okanagan.

3. Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

If you're looking for grandeur, Mission Hill is the winery for you. The whole time I was there, I was thinking that a wedding here would be beautiful! There's a lot of impressive architecture, statues, and stunning views looking down towards the Okanagan Lake. Their shop is quite extensive too, selling not just wine, but decor, jams, and glassware as well.

At Mission Hill we tried (and ended up purchasing!) the very delicious Reserve Late Harvest Vidal, a sweet wine that has hints of mango and lychee - yum!

2. Quail's Gate Estate Winery

Quail's Gate was the first winery we visited and we went right when they opened that morning which, I found out afterwards, was a smart thing to do. We were the first ones to get a tasting that day, and the lady who guided us through the tasting was very friendly and took a lot of time to explain the wines to us. She even let us taste a little extra for free! At Quail's Gate, you'll get two complimentary tastings, and you can pay a small fee for more tastings, which is then waived if you buy two bottles of wine. We went back a second time in the afternoon as a friend wanted to buy more wine (Optima a delicious, sweet late harvest white wine) and it was packed!

I loved the views at Quail's Gate. You can walk down through their vineyard as well, to get a good view of the Okanagan Lake.

My coworker highly recommended eating at the restaurant there (something about really delicious truffle oil fries) but unfortunately we couldn't get a reservation. So if you want to eat here, book well in advance!

1. Gray Monk Estate Winery

Gray Monk was highly recommended by a friend of mine, who LOVES the wine 'Reflection' that is only sold at this winery. I kept hearing her rave about it and was worried that she was over-selling it to me, but the moment I tried it at the wine tasting (you get four complimentary wine tastings), it won me over. It's a white wine that is sweeter, but not as sweet as the late harvest or ice wines. For me, it was just the right amount of sweet and I ended up buying two bottles to bring home!

We also made reservations to have dinner here on our last evening in Kelowna, and it was wonderful. We were on the patio, and were able to enjoy a spectacular view of the sun setting over the Okanagan Lake while having a delicous dinner. It was a perfect end to our trip!

Some other wineries that you might want to visit in the Okanagan, that didn't quite make it to my top 3:

Red Rooster Winery
We decided to visit this winery purely based on a beautiful photo of it in a tourism brochure. Located in Naramata, near Penticton, this winery has some interesting statues, and stunning views. I can't comment on the wine because I didn't try any, but its shop did sell some cute knick knacks including very adorable cork art!

Summer Hill Pyramid Winery
Everyone takes a photo by the sculpture of the big glass and wine bottle. It's just a must. Having been warned in advance by a coworker who had a negative experience here (they were asked to move to a table in a corner in the middle of their wine tasting to make room for an incoming tour bus), we weren't planning to visit this winery, but ended up stumbling upon it anyway after taking a wrong turn.

I can't comment on the wine since we didn't have time to try it, and it was packed with tourists, plus there was a wedding happening there when we visited. But I have heard good things about the restaurant. It's an organic winery too! If you plan to visit, they are very busy (a staff member told my co-worker that they get 19 tour buses visiting them a day!) so it might be best to get there early to try to beat the crowds.

We went to Tantalus purely because a friend's friend recommended the views. It's a smaller winery, that features a big window showcasing a fantastic view of their vineyard, as well as some cool art around the building. Their shop was a bit bare, but my friend did buy some honey. I didn't try the wines so I can't comment, but the views did not disappoint.

And there you have it - the wineries (and wines) that have changed my opinion on wine forever! Now you may find me on a weekend night with some good tunes, an adult colouring book, and a glass of wine!

Have you visited the Okanagan and have a favourite winery that I missed on my list? Let me know since I'm sure I will be heading back there!

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