Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016 - Black Friday (day 3)

Today, we return to Great Lakes Crossing to do some returns and visit Hobby Lobby and Walmart before heading back to Toronto.

Breakfast was similar to yesterday, however the ham and potato stars was replaced with turkey links and french toast, we opted to just have the waffles instead.

Great Lakes Crossing was pretty quiet when we went and Allison was able to quickly do her returns and she noticed that it seems like by Saturday, all the really good deals are over and they go back up in price. So we know what to do next time.

Hobby Lobby was next and the place is huge, reminds me of a Michael's in Canada. Everything was 50% off, even Christmas decorations! While she was at Hobby Lobby, I went to Walmart to see if I could pick up some games and when I got there, I found out that all the deals for them were already over. This confirms that we should do our major purchases on the Thursday / Friday and if we wanted to see anything else, we should try to do that on Saturday instead.

After that, we grabbed a bite at the nearby Burger King. Two whopper combos was only $10! We ordered some Cheetos chicken fries since we saw them, it tasted like chicken tenders but in fries form, nothing special. With lunch finished, we headed back home and we got back by around 5:00pm. The border had a line but I think we only took about 10 minutes.

Until our next trip!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 - Black Friday (day 2)

Today, we head to Great Lakes Crossing and visit Crossroads Village.

We got up for breakfast at around 7:15am which had the usual items like eggs, ham, toast, bagels, cereal, some fresh fruit, and they had a waffle maker. Nothing fancy, I think the waffle maker saved the breakfast for me since it is somewhat a reliable and known breakfast item versus mystery eggs and meat.

After breakfast we headed to Target first to get some water and see if there were any videogames still available and I lucked out and got everything that I wanted, Allison also found Finding Dory which was only $10.

Made it to Great Lakes Crossing at 8:45am and we finished by 12:00pm. Kate Spade is new to Great Lakes (Allison says, I wouldn't know) and the deals were pretty good, 70% off regular price. Ended up with some items from Kate Spade, GameStop, and Limited.

Lunch was at Buddy's pizza, near our hotel and we ordered the club salad, a four square pizza, and a pop. The pizza was half Florine Mark and half Detrioter, it reminded me of Pizza Hut, but not as greasy. The salad came with a lot of turkey and bacon, but not that much salad, weird. Came out to $32 USD after tax and tip. I wouldn't come back here, however, it seems like the locals like it here because it is ranked 8 for best pizza in the United States (I'm not sure how this happened).

Florine Mark on top, Detrioter on the bottom.
With lunch over, we went back to the hotel to rest before heading to Crossroads Village since we didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Crossroads Village is a small local attraction that features history buildings and made the area into a small village, similar to Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. Today was the first big day for Crossroads Village since it would be Christmas themed with lights, Santa, and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony which would have fireworks after.

Crossroads Village's train.
We paid for admission and a train ride, which lasts roughly 40 minutes and the train is heated, even though it is really old. Make sure that you don't get motion sickness easily because the train does sway side to side. During the ride, there is Christmas themed music and the conductor talks to the passengers, and there are Christmas themed lights all around and some live people as well including a soldier and Santa. Based on my experience, I would say, sit on the right-hand side of the train. I would say that the cost is not bad for what you get, I wouldn't do it again, but it seemed like it was for family since we saw a lot of kids and they all seemed to enjoy it.

Crossroads Village's printing press.
Crossroads Village's show.
Our initial schedule was to wander the grounds and make it to the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, so with some time to spare, we went to see a show at the Opera House, located near the entrance and it seemed to have a showing every hour on the half hour (5:30pm, 6:30pm, etc).

The show was a neat experience, I would say that it is worth stopping by for this if you are there. Make sure that you keep going up the stairs since there are actually two levels, level one is up one set of stairs, level two is accessible if you walk up another flight of stairs after that. Prior to the show, we chatted with a local who told us about the village, the show that we might be watching and the local area. I always seem to forget that Americans are very passionate about their country. The show itself lasted about 15 minutes and I thought it was a good experience, I can't say what you will end up seeing, but ours was about two girls and how they were ready to celebrate Christmas, however, the local lawyer was trying to swindle them.

After the show, it was raining, so we went to get our umbrellas and returned to see how we would brave the elements. We lined up and got a picture with Santa Claus, and wandered the village afterwards and saw the carousel which was made in 1912! Tickets for the carousel have an additional cost, but we didn't go in, so I don't know how much it cost. In the end, we decided that we wouldn't stay for the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony since it was raining and we were getting a bit hungry. We left and made it to Alfoccino's for dinner.

Pasta al pesto
We ordered the ravioli that was on special which had three types of ravioli, a cheese only one, a portobello mushroom one, and a sausage one. And I got the pasta la pesto. Both dishes were okay, nothing special, they did come with unlimited salad, which I guess is to compete with Olive Garden. Overall, not bad and probably about the same price that we would pay at Olive Garden for dinner, roughly $42 USD after tax and tip.

Black Friday loot after two days.
With dinner finished, we went back to the hotel to take a look at our purchases and rested for the evening. Tomorrow, we will visit Allison's much anticipated Hobby Lobby and I will go to Walmart to see if I could find my remaining purchases.

Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 - Black Friday (day 1)

Another year, another Black Friday! We will be going to our usual area, Michigan, which has two big outlets, Great Lakes Crossing and Birch Run. As usual, we started shortly after lunch and left at around 1:30pm with us arriving at the border in Sarnia at roughly 5:00pm and there was no line. Off to a good start!

For this trip, we will be going on Thursday and returning to Toronto on Saturday since we normally run out of things to do, the deals don't last until the end of the weekend and we figure that the border won't be as busy when we come back.

This time, we will be staying at Hawthorn Suites in Auburn Hills, the same area where we normally do. The exterior is alright, with the interior being a bit nicer. We got to the hotel at roughly 6:00pm, however, the first room that we were given did not have heat and so with a quick phone call, we got relocated to the next room over and we were good to go.

Dinner was at the nearby McDonald's which we where also had our dinner at last year. And again, this McDonald's only had the drive-thru open, so we ate in the car, nothing exciting here.

We made it to Birch Run by around 8:30pm and it wasn't too busy in my opinion. Parking was easy to find, and I think like always, I mention that we should just eat here since it seems like things are actually open, but always forget.

Shopped here until 1:00am and left for Great Lakes Crossing and arrived at roughly 1:40am, but, it was actually closed! It closed at midnight, which seems odd since we were sure that we came here last year with no issue. I guess we need to plan a bit better next time and check when things open AND close. So that meant that we just went back to the hotel and rested with the plan to continue tomorrow.

By the end of the evening, we got various clothes from Banana Republic, New York and Co, a winter jack and boots from Columbia (which gave us a $30 USD gift card that was good for December). Not too bad for one mall and we got a few items from our to-buy list.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, we didn't take a day 1 loot picture. Tomorrow, we will visit Great Lakes Crossing, and visit Crossroads Village.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Past POIs - Cave of Hercules [Tangier, Morocco]

During our trip to Morocco, we stopped at the Cave of Hercules, rumored place where Hercules stayed during his 12 labours.

It is said that the opening looks like Africa, can you see it?

If the pictures don't look too interesting, just outside is a very nice view of the coastal area surrounding this site. Like most tourist attractions in Morocco, know that there is a small fee to enter and the local washrooms are pay to use.

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Past POIs - Tree Goats of Morocco [Morocco]

Tree Goats of Morocco, not a name of a type of goat, but rather, a gathering of goats that like to climb up Argania trees which are commonly located in southwestern Morocco.

Argania trees produce argan which are commonly used for argan oil which is used to food as well as cosmetic products and these goats are attracted to them. So much so that they actually climb up the trees to eat them.

When we visited Morocco, we hired a private driver who would drive us around based on where we wanted to go and we stopped at a random tree and we saw the goats along with what looked like a shepherd. We got to take some pictures and ended up on our way, however, the shepherd was actually expecting to get a tip from us for taking pictures of his goats in the tree. It made me wonder whether this was staged or not, but accordingly to Google Searches, these goats do climb up trees, so I'm not really sure what to say.

I thought it was very neat to see since I have never seen anything like it before and if you are in the area, maybe you will see this as well.

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Past POIs - Louise Bourgeois' Spiders [Ottawa, Ontario, Canada]

While I thought this was a cool sculpture when I visited during Winterlude, little did I know that it is actually a part of a limited edition set of sculptures!

Created by Louise Bourgeios in 1999 is the Maman, a set of six spider sculptures was created and installed in England, Doha, Japan, South Korea, United States, and Canada!

When you visit, make sure to look at the sac, which apparently contains 26 marbles eggs! Unfortunately I didn't do this or didn't even think to do it, I just took some goofy pictures with it...

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Past POIs - Hallein Salt Mine [Hallein, Austria]

While near Salzburg, make sure that you don't miss the salt mines that are available for tours here! We went with the one in Hallein since it matched our itinerary, however there is one in Berchtesgaden if that is preferable. Based on our experience, I would say that it is a fun activity and you should definitely check it out for both the slides, the train, and the history.

There are plenty of things to see and do here which maps the trip worthwhile. Included when we went in 2015 were 2 slides, a showcase of the oldest wooden staircase in Europe, a mine train that takes you out of the mine, and a small museum. In all, it took us about 1.5 hours from start to finish of the tour of the salt mine. After the tour, you are free to wander the grounds and for the look-out point that is not to be missed.

When you go, I would suggest that you avoid heels and nicer clothes. When you arrive, you are fitted in a jump suit that is included in the tour to keep you from getting dirty, however, they don't provide full protection and since the ground may be muddy, wearing some shoes that you don't mind getting dirty is probably a good idea.

Fun fact, 'salz' is actually 'salt' in German and in the past, salt was an important commodity, so important that cities where named after it, examples being Salzburg and Salzkammergut.

For more information, visit the official website at

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!