Dog Friendly Florence – Part2 | Dog Travel Italy

Following up from our first few days in Florence (part 1 here), the second half of our stay took us to a few different parks while we explored the Mercato Centrale, Oltrarno and Santo Spirito.

Our mornings continued with an early walk – easy to do when you are awake with jet lag. Coming from the lush rain forest of Vancouver, Tikka was perplexed with the lack of available grass and often gave us a look of ‘you expect me to pee on the street like an animal…?’ A male dog would have jumped right into marking the buildings and spots where dogs  came before him but it took Tikka a bit of time and a full morning bladder to finally go with the flow like her Italian counterparts. There are some lovely dog friendly parks in Florence, but not necessarily outside your hotel when you are staying in the thick of the old city and need a pee.

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Looking over Florence and deciding where to go next.

Our ‘go to’ place just 5 min from our hotel was the grass in front of the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. It’s not too glamorous and was a busy area, but it was nicely maintained and everyone is really good about picking up dog poop. It was also a block from the more eye pleasing view of Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, famous for it’s decorative frescoes.

We also visited Piazza della Indipendenza in the San Lorenzo area, which has some nice open areas and a bit of grass and we had a lovely chat with a local lady while Tikka ‘conversed’ with her Dachshunds. This was the first time we were asked the reoccurring question throughout our trip in Italy. ‘Femmina o Maschio?’  Dog park conversations always begins here and I gather it’s from the amount of intact dogs, male and female. No matter the city, this was the icebreaker to chatting with a local on the street or in the park.

A good romp in the park left us with rumbly stomachs so a stop for lunch at the Mercato Centrale close by was a no brainer. This is an amazing dog friendly indoor market with vendors selling everything from apples to zabaglione on the bottom floor during the day and whole top floor is alive with little restaurants serving amazing food well into the evening. Tikka approved as it was a feast for her little eyes being close up and personal to the huge Florentine steaks and freshly caught fish.

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Checking out the goods at Mercato Centrale

 

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And one of those for dessert. Make it two.

You can stop for quick street food or sit down for a longer lunch. We settled on a huge array of salami and cheese, Tikka eyeing the goods across the aisle from under our table. Lunch conversation was all about how incredible it would be if our markets back home in Vancouver were as accessible for dogs. One can hope…

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Tikka ever hopeful for something to come her way at lunch

Another fun walk took us along the river, west of the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci. Upper part was a long peaceful path with quite a few dogs casually strolling along with their humans and on the way back we dropped to the bottom part to walk closer to the river. Not as tidy, but a good off leash area.

This side of the river, Oltrarno, is much less crowded, but a must for exploring. We took some time to check out the Santo Spirito area and stopped for drinks in Piazza Santo Spirito under the shadow of the Basilica of the same name. This area was highlighted in a great post from A Girl In Florence and we were glad we took the advice to visit. It is very much a local, artisan area with cheaper drinks and eats and more laid back than the squares around the larger tourist areas. Perfect for a dog to settle in for an afternoon snooze away from the crowds.

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Ready for a pillow in Piazza Santo Spirito

On our last morning in Florence we headed out for a good walk in the Santa Croce district before hitting the road. We stumbled across Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi, a cute neighbourhood dog park just a couple blocks south of Piazza dei Ciompi. Not a lot of grass, but a decent size, fenced, shady, and a really fun group of regulars. Very well maintained and there was even a modern statue to honour the canines that frequent this park. Lots of antique shops in the area, so spending a day window shopping in the area wouldn’t be hard to do.

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Respect in a dog’s world. Statue at Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi.

After a decent visit with Tikka’s new friends we wound through the streets to the river and came to Parco Vita, a big green park with lots of shade next to the Ponte Niccolo bridge, right beside the water. A great place to have a really good tear around in the grass and some great views of the Arno River.

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Posing along the Arno River in front of the Tower of San Niccolo.

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View down the Arno River from Parco Vita.

Energy depleted and ready for a nap in the car, we headed out of Florence late morning for our lunch date with a winery in Chianti. Wine tasting, full lunch, tour, all with Tikka right there with us… check out our amazing visit to Castello di Verrazzano.

 

 

Copper Toned Basil | Dog Photography

I recently had a scrumptious morning romp with Tikka and her new friend Basil at the Derby Reach park in Langely, BC. I’ve been looking for opportunities to get my camera pointed at something other than black fur and Basil was up for the job! This guy found a wonderful home with Kristy and it was a pleasure spending the morning with them both.

Basil in the Fraser River

Basil in the Fraser River

Basil at Derby Reach Park

A healthy romp through the high grass

Basil running along the Fraser River

Serious case of the Zoomies

Kinda loving this last picture – Basil mid way through a round of wave chasing. Half of the dog park visit was spent running up and down the river chasing the mini waves coming in from the boats heading out for the day.

 

A Dog’s Paradise Found In Cox Bay, Tofino B.C. | Dog Travel Canada

 

Cox Bay February Sunset with Tikka

Cox Bay sunset

An exercised dog is a happy dog so Tofino must be one of the happiest places on earth. The beaches and trails rebalance the mind and body, meeting the needs of a water obsessed Retriever, a trail hogging Terrier,  or a beach dawdling Dachshund. There are so many things to enjoy with your canine companion here, and our recent trip to the tip of the Esowista Peninsula brought us to Cox Bay.

At almost 1.5 kilometers long, it’s the perfect dog walk length, with open ocean on one side and thick rain forest on the other. Soaking wet labs can bounce through the waves retrieving sticks while scent hounds can run along the piles or driftwood and all you have to do is walk right down the middle checking out the sand dollars.

Tikka and the Sand Dollar VanDoggo

The sand is smooth and packed nice and hard so that ball will skirf (new made up word, don’t use it in Scrabble unless you have a fantastic poker face) down the beach for an endless amount of time, giving your ball loving dog a run of ages.

Have a surf hound? Cox Bay is one of the most popular surfing spots in Canada and dogs are not left to pine at home. You will often see a content canine stretched out on the beach at the water’s edge, watching their human play in the ocean and then jumping on them with the warmest of greetings when they return. And they need it, surfing the Pacific at this spot is chilly but boy it looks like fun!

As well as the beach, there are rocks to climb and explore for star fish and other creatures living in the inter-tidal zone. There is a short but very rewarding trail out to Sunset Point with handy benches to stop and soak in the, you guessed it, sunset. And during the day the wave watching here after a storm is magnificent. The photo below was taken at a very safe distance, all a trick of perspective and a longer lens.While exploring the rocks, be careful of anything too slippery or too barnacled for your dog.

Tofino wave and Greg Tiernan at Cox Bay Tofino

No husbands were harmed during the making of this photo

Photo opportunities are at their best in Tofino and what a fantastic place to get some great shots of your pooch, no matter your skill or what camera you have brought with you. I’ve included photos from both my iPhone and Canon DSLR in this post.

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No matter the camera, make sure to check it out after you come back from the beach, as that Pacific sand gets everywhere. Let it dry and then brush it off or use a blower. Don’t let it stop you from going out and getting some great pics, just be aware of it. And if it’s a cool morning and your lens is fogged up after coming back from snapping your dog running during the Tofino sunrise, all your camera needs is to set be down outside of it’s case in your warm, dry room and will clear right up. Best piece of camera advice? Don’t drop your camera in the ocean, it sucks.

 

Tikka looking at Sunset Point at Cox Bay TofinoA note on shore birds. They live here because it rocks, but it doesn’t rock to be chased. If you have an inquisitive dog keep them away from the birdies.

This is the ‘wet coast’ so be prepared for rain in the winter months. That’s why I love Tofino, it’s beautiful in the rain so even if the forecast is a wet one, it doesn’t stop anyone from getting outside with their dogs. Storm season is incredible here, big crashing waves and watching the surfers while throwing a ball over and over again. Bring rain boots if you want to walk along the water edge or good waterproof walking shoes for beach walking. Soles with a good grip keep you upright if you are exploring the rocks. A raincoat is a must if rain is in the forecast and the lodges at the beach supply them if you forget yours or you are packing light. And if you have a short haired dog, they may appreciate having one on as well.

Tofino VanDoggo Cox Bay ForestThe resorts at the north end of the beach supply a plenitude of bio-degradable poop bags, so jam some in your pockets if you forget to bring them on your walk.

There are lovely accommodations right by the beach and there are many lodges, motels and airbnb places  throughout the peninsula. (Stay tuned for an up coming post on staying at Pacific Sands Beach Resort). If you aren’t staying right at Cox Bay you can walk, bike or drive over to one of the two public parking lots. One is located across the highway from the tourism information center, and there is a second lot and entrance at the end of Maltby Road. There are handy restrooms located at access points.

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Pull on those boots, grab your dog and hit that glorious beach….Check out these links to get you started on your doggy trip to Tofino and Cox bay!

http://www.tourismtofino.com/

http://www.hellobc.com/tofino.aspx

http://www.tofino-bc.com/

http://www.tofinotime.com/