How to do it up in Prince Edward County!Jul 25, 2017
Every now and then, a travel experience will blow me away and I’ll feel super compelled to share more with you about it. Prince Edward County (PEC as it’s fondly known these days) is one of those spots – a hidden gem practically in my own backyard (alright not exactly a hop, skip and jump away but a two hour drive is really no biggie!).
I was born with a travel bug inside me. So much so that I’m inclined to make impulsive decisions when it comes to taking off for trips. While I’ve slowed down a tad in that department, I can’t say I’m not tempted by pretty places and the potential for new connections. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard the latest buzz around PEC. Not quite Napa, but pretty damn good for Ontario.
Just because I am bursting at the seams to share this hidden gem (well, maybe not so hidden anymore), I’m just going to blurt out that the June Motel –a crazy idea two friends had-is the best spot on this planet! I know that the word “Motel” threw me off a bit because let’s get something straight here, I do NOT do motels. But wait till you see the photos of this gorgeous place and you too, will convert into a “motel loving” junkie.
There are so many things that make me smile when I think about the June Motel and I’m not sure where to begin. For starters, you’re greeted with a welcome drink of sparkling Rose wine as you check in….ummmm…hello! I thought that only happened after you’ve spent your entire life savings on an all-inclusive vacay in the Caribbean. So this was a delight! The check-in area is set up as a bar – another bonus. I knew right away that I was going to head back here for a cocktail before dinner and perhaps, run into some interesting peeps. The entire lobby had me feeling Palm Springs vibes. Just next to the lobby/bar area, was an outdoor fire pit! The perfect spot to catch up on some reads while soaking in the divine sunset overlooking the lake. Imagine a chilly fall night cozying up to the fire with a loved one. I know I’m making you jelly!
I dashed to my room as soon as I received my keys and omg, there are actual wine glasses in there (sure beats the plastic cups), a nespresso machine with real cream (none of those creamer packets-yuck!), best décor ever and get this, herbal bath products that I actually used! So here’s the thing about me. I NEVER use bath products in hotels because I’m super fussy about what goes on my body. The June Motel’s products were so yummy and they even had a whole bottle of lavender body oil guys! Who has body oil in motels or hotels for that matter?? The brilliant brain behind the apothecary is a local Ontario company called Sunday’s Company and you can check them out here. So needless to say, I wanted to take them all home and guess what, I did! Beside my bed was a tiny travel size tin of the Calming Salve with the most decadent scent ever – a gift for guests. Talk about the small touches that go a long way. Way to go June Motel. You guys did good!
If you let me, I could go on about the June Motel forever so let’s stop here and I’ll let its website do all the talking. Better yet, you should definitely book a night or two to see for yourself but let me warn you, it’s pretty booked up these days *sigh*.
By the way, did I mention that this was entirely a SOLO trip that I braved on my own? Perhaps that’s why I was fully immersed in the experience and made note of all the details so intricately. To learn more about why I’m passionate about solo time, read this.
Next on my list of course are the wineries! Now if only I can recall all the ones I loved! My favourite ones are typically smaller, boutique style anything. I enjoy character and eccentricity so it goes without saying that you’ll never find me falling in love with the big wineries. The drive along the Loyalist Parkway in itself was a gorgeous one because Mother Nature blessed me with some amazing sunshiny weather for the two days I was there.
My first stop was at By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyards and I knew right away this was my kinda winery-quaint, full of life with a beautiful view. I learnt something new as soon as I walked in there-PEC is known for its pinots. Go figure. As much as I consider myself a wine lover, I am by no means an expert and so picking up on all these tidbits just makes me feel that much wiser. Intentionally taking the time to slow down, I probably hung out in the patio a tad too long before reminding myself that I won’t make it to the other wineries if I don’t pull myself outta there. The nice gentleman there told me that the barn across from the shop hosted concerts and special events-I made a mental note to check out the festival schedule for PEC, already planning my next visit-it’s just how my Virgo brain functions.
What followed next were a few more pit stops to more wineries. I basically followed the Trail Taste Guide and visited the Grange of Prince Edward Winery (order the picnic baskets!), Closson Chase (amazing pinot and a beautiful patio), Rosehall Run (with a food truck!) and didn’t quite make it to the Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard (although, I heard lots about it). Phew! Think I packed in quite a few for an afternoon and now you know what that means? Nap time!
Having the luxury of time allows me to really soak in and savour the simplicity that is summer. In that moment, over the course of the effortless day that unfolded, I felt super grateful to be able to enjoy the warmth of the sun which would have been plenty enough on its own. With this vibe, I easily drifted off in the quietness of my room with a soothing view of the lake waters.
Who doesn’t enjoy a pre dinner aperitif? Am I right? Refreshed, I headed back out to the lounge at the June Motel to enjoy a glass of pinot with local cheese and gluten free crackers which were made of beets and so delish! I barely had time to delve into my book though because suddenly, I found myself surrounded by peeps who were in the mood for laughter and chatter. Making new connections is something I enjoy immensely and in those couple of hours, time passed us by and of course, true to style, I was late for my dinner reso at The Drake Devonshire.
For months and months now, I’ve been meaning to check out the Drake Devonshire. In fact, it’s where I wanted to stay but luckily for me, this hotel books up months in advance and hence, my stumble upon the June Motel (did I mention yet for the umpteenth time how much I love it there?!)
I followed the hostess to my single seat next to the lake. It was a beautiful summer night, with a breathtaking view of the sunset. You may wonder at this point if I missed having company? Well, apparently so did the feisty, tipsy, and tiny yet fierce older European woman next to me who demanded to know why I was having dinner alone. What followed was a very entertaining conversation before she headed off with her latest boyfriend – a detail that she deliberately shared with me – goodor her I say! If I have half the energy she has when I reach her age, I’ll be very impressed. At that point I realized that I likely would not have had conversations like this if I hadn’t been alone. So the answer is no. For there mere 36 hours that I was in PEC, I actually loved my own company and the company of absolute strangers.
After enjoying a nice meal of local trout and a glass of red, I rushed indoors to have a seat by the bar because as much fun as it was being out in nature, al fresco, the mosquitos were eating me alive! Note to self: insect repellent next time and lots of it. A night cap and an enlightening convo about moving away from the city with the friendly bar tender had me yearning for a deep restful sleep to close off this perfect day.
The next morning, I had to check out The Vic Café. If you know me, you’ll also know that one of the first things I do when I’m in a new city is scope out all the cafes for my morning cup of java. That time is sacred people! and so I’m super picky about where I start my day- go ahead and call me a coffee snob if you’d like because it’s true. Vic Café was perfect in the sense that it had a delightful lil patio adjacent to it, all dressed up in sparkles and situated under a magnificent tree. I decided to sit indoors because I had plenty of work to catch up on for the morning (it’s the only way to combine work and play) and went to it. I ended up having a conversation with the owner, Sonya, who shared with me her experiences and challenges as a female entrepreneur (saving that convo for another post!). It seems to me that PEC and surrounding areas are booming with female entrepreneurs what with the likes of The Vic Café, June Motel, Sunday Company and more popping up in the vicinity. Must be something in the water! Me thinks I may need to open up shop there just because of this tribe!
After lazing around for hours over way too many cups of coffee and a nourishing bowl of millet oatmeal with all kinds of nuts and fruits (and gluten free!), I headed back to the motel and grudgingly started to pack up my belongings for my ride home. The drive back home was just as sunny and promising that day as the day before. I rolled down the windows and blasted the tunes, all the while making a pact with myself to return back to this oasis very soon and this time, with company.