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Whisky sampling and a William & Kate tour in St. Andrews




St. Andrews has been a pilgrimage destination for nearly 2,000 years. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims came to venerate St. Andrew, whose bones were likely moved to town in the fourth century. Wearing capes and large hats with badges bearing images of the saint, they came seeking forgiveness, to find cures, or as punishment for crimes they had committed.

Today, St. Andrews attracts a different kind of pilgrim — golfers who want to play in the sport’s birthplace. Besides the legendary Old Course, the world’s oldest, there are more than a dozen other world-class golf courses in the area, not to mention a fascinating golf museum. But St. Andrews is much more than a haven for golfers. It is a welcoming place where even introverts will want to mingle with the locals; savour their wit and glorious Scottish accents like a wee dram of fine Scotch whisky. The old seaside town is packed with history and charm, not to mention a venerable university where Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, met Kate Middleton. You can roam the same streets they did during their courtship; chances are, you too will be seduced.


4 p.m.: In Scottish style

The kilt has been both a practical garment and an important part of Scottish culture since the 16th century. A good quality kilt can set you back $1,000 (U.S.) or more, but you can be an honorary Scot for the weekend by renting one at the nearly 50-year-old, family-run Kirk Wynd Highland House (adults 65 pounds, or about $86; children 35 pounds per weekend.) They have more than 40 of Scotland’s 16,500 recognized tartans to choose from, and you can rent or buy a full outfit, including jacket, sporran (pouch), garter flashes, sock knife and more. Women can also find tartan-style handbags and other Scottish accessories.

6 p.m.: Primal pleasures

A smoky, intoxicating aroma will draw you into the Steak Barn, a former sawmill that is part of the popular Balgove Larder farm shop and cafe complex. The Steak Barn serves up juicy steaks, burgers and sausages (along with vegetarian options) made from grass-fed cattle that have been reared and butchered on site in a smokehouse-style setting with communal tables and sawdust covering the floor.

8 p.m.: Dessert, Scottish-Italian style

It’s easy to find Jannettas Gelateria — just look for the lines, which often stretch well outside the door in summer. The Jannetta family has been serving up gelato at 31 South St. for more than 100 years, and with 54 delicious flavours to choose from, even decisive types will have a hard time narrowing the options. (If the lines at Jannetta’s are too long, walk five minutes to the Burns Sweet Shop, which carries a limited selection of Jannetta’s flavours.)


7:30 a.m.: Sword of fudge

For a big, rectangular slice of heaven on earth, treat yourself to a decadent fudge doughnut at the Church Street branch of the Fisher and Donaldson bakery. This local favourite is made with a thick layer of creamy fudge on top and a river full of confectioner’s custard inside. The recipe is kept in parts hidden across five locations, and the owners claim that the secret is only revealed to their “pure-bread Viking bakers” who are equipped with their delectable “weapons of dynasty”: a shield of custard and a sword of fudge.

9:30 a.m.: In the footsteps of William and Kate

Just outside town, at the stunning Fairmont St. Andrews Resort, you can see where Kate Middleton caught Prince William’s eye on March 27, 2002, while modelling in a transparent dress at a charity fashion show. If you would like to see where they lived, start as they did their freshmen year at St. Salvator’s Hall, in the heart of University of St. Andrews, and then take a short walk off campus to 13A Hope St., where they resided with two other friends in their second year. (They lived their third and fourth years at Balgove House, a four-bedroom cottage near the Balgove Larder farm shop, but it is largely hidden behind a stone wall.) Other William and Kate haunts include West Sands Beach (where the opening scene of the film Chariots of Fire was filmed) and Northpoint Cafe, where they often met for coffee.

Noon: Royal curry

Wind up your William and Kate tour at Jahangir, an Indian restaurant that was reportedly one of their favourite places to eat (Note the photo of William eating curry on their wall of fame.) It is hard to find a better value in town than the 6.95 pound express lunch, which comes with three courses and freshly baked naan bread.

2 p.m.: The home of golf

Golf developed along the east coast of Scotland in the 15th century, and the rules were laid down in 1744. Check out the British Golf Museum to learn how the sport evolved and flourished despite opposition from a succession of Scottish kings. Getting a tee time across the street at the Old Course at St. Andrews, arguably the world’s most famous golf course, requires patience, luck and no worse than a 24-handicap (36 for women.) Your best bet is to enter their ballot lottery, the results of which are posted two days prior. Single players can also queue up in the morning to join groups of two or three (the lines often start the night before, so be prepared to camp out if you are determined).

If you strike out, do not worry: St. Andrews Links has six other public courses, each with its own attributes. And, then there are a host of other great options in the area, including two sea-view courses at the Fairmont where you can surf the course on a Golfboard; Kingarrock, a throwback nine-hole course where you play with 1920s-era hickory golf clubs and get free shortbread and ginger beer; and Carnoustie Golf Links, a challenging course 40 minutes outside town.

8:30 p.m.: A ceilidh with your supper

Forgan’s, a smart casual restaurant with an emphasis on local produce and meats, is a local favourite where you can wind down with a nice meal and then blow off some steam with Gaelic music and dancing at the 10:30 p.m. ceilidh. If you have a group of eight to 12, book ahead to score one of the intimate bothies, semi-private dining alcoves named after the unlocked huts that are common in the Scottish Highlands. Try the duck shepherd’s pie or beef bourguignon with a pint of Forgan’s Ale, and save room for the rich and malty sticky toffee pudding.


9 a.m.: Life affirming cheese scones

Turn up at the Balgove Larder Cafe when it opens and feast on melt-in-your-mouth cheese scones while they’re still hot from the oven. The Fife muesli with fruit, and the hot, filled morning roll with house-made sausages and free-range eggs are also superb. The adjacent farm shop is a great place to stock up for a picnic and buy local souvenirs.

10:30 a.m.: Marching orders

The Old Course is closed to golfers on Sundays, and walking the course has been a popular Sunday tradition for centuries. Do not miss the photo opportunities at the famed Swilcan Bridge and at the appropriately named coffin and hell bunkers on the 13th and 14th holes. Afterward, try your hand at the Himalayas putting course (3 pounds for adults, 1 pound for children), smack a bucket full of balls with a view of the city at the St. Andrews Links Golf Academy (25 balls for 3 pounds and 2.50 pounds per club rental), or have a friendly local teach you how to play lawn bowls at the nearby Kinburn Bowling Club (3 pounds an hour, per person.)

1 p.m.: History and a dram of whisky

16 kilometres south of St. Andrews, you will find the Kellie Castle & Garden, a lovely, child-friendly place to spend the afternoon. The oldest part of the castle dates to 1360, but the Victorian-era furnishings and the traditional walled kitchen garden are the highlights here. After your tour (guided or self-guided), take the scenic route back to St. Andrews with a stop at the Kingsbarns Distillery, where you can take a tour or simply sample single malt whiskys in the cafe. Wind up your country excursion with a short drive to Crail, a quaint fishing village where you can take a scenic afternoon constitutional along the Fife Coastal Path.


The 520-acre, waterfront Fairmont St. Andrews is a luxurious resort with a maritime theme that was renovated in 2015. The spacious rooms feature separate marble bathtubs, and the hotel has two championship golf courses, a pair of fine restaurants, a high-end spa and swimming pool and friendly bellhops in kilts. Bed-and-breakfast from 199 pounds.

The cosy Dunvegan Hotel is a good option for those in search of quality, budget accommodation within walking distance of the Old Course. The Dunvegan has five rooms above their popular bar and restaurant and a spacious three-bedroom apartment across the street. Bed-and-breakfast from 80 pounds.


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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)




(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel




(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!




Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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