Canadian Rockies

I was born in the mountains of Poland, and I’ve always felt like the mountains are calling my name. That’s why I was super excited when I was finally able to organize a trip to Banff and Jasper. It had been at the top of my travel bucket list for about a year now. I’m so glad I had a chance to go with two girlfriends – and you better be sure I’ll be returning soon! We went for 4 days/three nights with the intention of hiking, relaxing and taking in the sights. If you’re planning on going here are some suggestions as well as my ideal itinerary for a getaway.

    · Transportation – renting a car is a must! The closest airport is Calgary and we rented a car there.

    · Lodging – Banff and Canmore are the closest cities to stay in. Banff books up pretty fast so Canmore is where we stayed (only about a 25 min drive from Banff and cheaper!). We stayed at a super cute cottage from AirBnb

    · Currency – all places take credit cards and even USD. If you pay in USD, they will give you back CAD.

   · Gear – Bear spray is a must (luckily we didn’t have to use it)! Hiking shoes will be your best friend. Depending on what time of the year you go – make sure to check the weather because it can get pretty chilly!

   · Places to eat – We loved the Grizzly House in Banff. Both towns have tons of breweries and pubs.


China Part II: Shanghai

And our China journey continues!!! For the second part of our China adventures we flew to Shanghai. Shanghai is more modern than Beijing, definitely less polluted and you will run into twice as many English speakers (thankfully!). Here are the highlights and to dos!

1. The Bund  - This was the first stop on our adventure. This is a river walk along the Huangpu River, and is one of the most famous tourist spots in Shanghai so prepare yourself for crowds of people! As you can see in some of the first few pictures, there is a great view of the Pudong and the Pearl Tower. 

2. Lingering (Liuyuan) Garden - this is a beautiful Chinese garden in the city of Suzhou that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The garden is located just out side of the city of Suzhou. If you're in Suzhou, it's a must do! It is also one of the 4 most famous gardens in China.

3. Silk Spinning Factory - This was unexpectedly a very interesting stop in our itinerary. Surprisingly Suzhou is the silk capital of china and actually the source of silks for many international designers. The tour provides you with an overview of the whole life a silkworm! Then you will see how the people produce silk with the old style machine, and the making process of hand made silk quilt. 

4. West Lake- Marco Polo called Hangzhou the most enchanting city in the world. This charm is most evident in the West Lake (also known as Xihu) area which effectively functions as the center of Hangzhou. The lake is huge and we took a boat tour around it. The West Lake is one of the famous China attractions and is actually pictured on one of the Chinese bills. 

5. Dragon Well - Just south of the West Lake is the beautiful, lush, green Dragon Well Lonjing Green Tea Village.  It is filled with many teahouses that serve Chinese Green Tea. The villagers pic the tea leaves by hand in the fields. You can bet we brought back several bags of both green and white tea!

15 Reasons to Love Helsinki

One of my secrets to seeing as many places as possible is to try and get a longer layoverwhen you book your flight. This way you can knock out more than one place at the cost of one flight. When we were looking for our flight to Poland this summer (ps - you have to check out our blog posts about WYD, Zakopane and Warsawa for all the deets!) I found a flight that had a 24hr layover in Helsinki, Finland both ways. So I thought - why not?! I've never been to any of the Nordic countries so I didn't know what to expect. And I definitely didn't think I would fall in love with this adorable city. There's so much to love about this city and country so I figured I could share my top 15 reasons. 

1. Ports - The city is located on the edge of Finland right on the Baltic Sea. In Helsinki you can sense the proximity of the sea everywhere, as the city has over a hundred kilometres of shoreline and around 300 islands in its archipelago. Maritime attractions are a must in the summertime!

3. Style - If i had to describe Helsinki in one work it would be "stylish". Finland’s world-renowned modern design heritage can be seen everywhere in Helsinki. We stayed at the Klaus K Hotel right in the center of the city. The designs and interiors were amazing - even my dad was amazed and loved it!

4. Daylight -  One of the best things about summer in Helsinki is the long days. You have so much time on our hands to enjoy every bit of the city. One of the locals told us that there are 2/3 days during the middle of the summer in the northern part of the country where the sun does not set at all - how crazy is that! 

5. Blueberries - Blueberries all day every day! Finland has an abundance of blueberries so of course the Finnish make almost everything out of them! We had delicious blueberry ice cream. There are all sorts of pastries, to chocolate and even just straight up blueberry juice! Soo much blueberry goodness everywhere!

6. Seafood - Being a port city, in Helsinki you can get the most delicious and fresh seafood you can imagine. If you love seafood as much as I do, this is definitely the city for you!

7. The Locals - Helsinki’s locals are extremely open and hospitable, and most speak English fluently, so don’t be afraid to ask us for advice. When we were taking the train to the airport, we originally had one the wrong the directions. Luckily one of the locals gladly helped us and point us in the right direction. 

8. Transportation - Although it is a treat to see the city on foot, Helsinki is also very well connected via the tram system. Not only are the trams very efficient and every, they are also very charming and make navigating the city a breeze!

9. Serenity - One thing that definitely struck out at me was the quietness of the city. Surprisingly, Helsinki is not very heavily populated. The roads are not extremely busy and the streets are not crowded. 

10. Coffee - The Finnish loove their coffee, and they make it almost as good as the Italians! It's probably due to the long and cold winters they have to endure, but be sure to step into a coffee shop - you won't be disappointed!

11. Market Square - In the heart of the city and right on the Baltic sea is the central market square. Here you can find vendors who sell everything from delicious Finnish food, flowers to had crafted souvenirs. I definitely purchased some gorgeous sweaters and socks. They also sell a clothing with beautiful food. Talk about a full day of shopping!

12. Spas & Saunas - Being the capital of Finland, it should be no surprise that Helsinki has some great public saunas. There’s no better way to get to the heart of the Finnish identity! Unfortunately we did not get a chance to visit them but it's on my list for the next time for sure!

13. Architecture - The At Nouveau buildings are the highlight of the architecture of Helsinki including the grand Central Station and the imposing Kallio Cathedral. Be sure to also check out the Capital hill along with the Uspenski Cathedral - some pictures below. You can definitely see all the changing architectural styles of the past centuries. 

14. Bicycles - I absolutely love and applaud cities that offer public bicycle rentals. I'm happy to see that more and more city across the world are offering this. Cycling is a great way of getting around the city and getting a taste of the local life. 

15. Nature - Finland has the most water bodies and forestland of all European countries. This is definitely evident in Helsinki. There are parks everywhere!

NOLA Minute

Sometimes all you need is a weekend and a cheap plane ticket for a great mini-vacation! Last weekend we had an amazzing time in New Orleans. A few months back we decided to go and check out this city, since we have never been. We found the cheap flights and took advantage of them. We arrived to NOLA on Saturday morning a little before noon and took a cab from the airport straight to the french quarter (25 min/$30 ride). Here is where our adventure begins!!

Prior to coming we definitely did our fair share of research. Since we were going to be here for only about a day, we wanted to make the best of it and make sure that we got to see everything we wanted. For the most part of we found that the two main things to do in New Orleans is to eat and drink. We did just that - a food/drink tour of NOLA! When in New Orleans, here are the foods they are famous for and you should try:

1. Beignets!! These are amaazing - I could eat about 10 of them! they are basically mini fried doughnuts covered in powdered sugar (there is a picture of them below). The famous place to get these is at Cafe du Monde 

2.  Gumbo - this is a typical Louisiana Creole dish that consists primarily of a strongly flavored stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables. Gumbo is a must when in NOLA and we went to The Gumbo Pot to get some! 

3. Alligator on a stick! Despite what you're first thoughts may be - this is actually one of the most delicious foods i ever tried! We headed over to the French Market to try ours. 

4. Jambalaya - one of the traditional ride dishes of New Orleans. This dish consists of chicken, sausage, seafood and a bold flavor and spice. In one word - delicious! Stop by Coops Place to try some amaazing jambalaya

5. Oysters, oysters and more oysters! If you're a fan of oysters - this is the place for you! Even if you're not - I encourage you to live on the edge and try some fried oysters! You can get them just about on every corner of the French Quarter. We tried some at Corner Oyster House. They were delicious and we had a great time people watching along the street!

Over all, the trip was a great success! Even though we didn't get much sleep we definitely saw a lot (and ate a lot too :)) Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street were alive all night long with live jazz music and entertainment. Traveling abroad has made me realize that America has a ton of great places to offer as well and sometimes all you need is a cheap plane ticket and a weekend!

~~xoxo Vita É Belle sisters Dominika, Ola + Ania

SHORTS: Old Navy // SHIRT: Old Navy // NECKLACE: J.Crew Factory //  SANDALS: DV by Dolce Vita // SUNGLASSES: Dolce & Gabbana

Croatia - Dubrovnik

What is called "The Pearl of the Adriatic" is truly a remarkable sight to see.  Dubrovnik is one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. Known for its amazing seafood and beautiful, ancient architecture Dubrovnik is a sight to see. For us seeing this immense, yet welcoming city was amazing. The rooftop (cliff-top) cafes and bars are most definitely worth experiencing. It is an amazing place to go for a romantic week with your significant other, or even a nice family vacation to plan. We most definitely recommend this one!!

"Air BNB" was our best friend the entire trip in Croatia. The best way and cheapest way is to stay in hostels. All the locals are really friendly and sometime even cook you breakfast!

Yelp was also very useful! Surprisingly it works in Croatia. Here are a few of our favorite places we ate at. 

Buza Bar: 

~xoxo Vita É Belle Sisters Dominika + Ania


Dubrovnik all day long 

Nightlife in Dubrovnik