February 13, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Apex Mountain Resort, Skiing & Snowboarding
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The ski and snowboard season has been very good in BC so far and it's only mid-february. After riding in Whistler a few times and a weekend in Sun Peaks, my wife and I crossed off our next resort in BC. We flew into Penticton and about 45 minutes by taxi later we arrived in Apex. Apex is smaller than some of the other resorts but that doesn't mean you'll run out of things to do. The information on HelloBC sums it up nicely.
We had ski-in/ski-out at the the Apex Mountain Inn & Spa and the gun barrel pub was next door. The snow is excellent right now and the runs vary from easy to very challenging. We also spent a great deal of time in the new terrain park.
We took the Sun Bus back to Penticton instead of a taxi and saved ourselves a few dollars. Now that I'm entering this blog from my Hotel in Penticton it has started snowing again so I assume a layer of fresh powder will ensure this season of powder will continue.
February 13, 2006 | Tips from Us >
North Vancouver, Attractions
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We've been having some beautiful weather in Vancouver lately. So, I decided to head up to Grouse Mountain on Friday evening to cap off a long work week with a group of friends. We decided to take the Skyride up to the top of the mountain. I have been on the Skyride countless times, but never tire of the amazing views. We had a great dinner in Altitudes Bistro in the Peak Chalet. Every Friday night, they have free concerts in Altitudes (the night we went, a fab local musician named Paula Toledo was playing), so it was a real treat to spend an evening up there. After dinner, we worked a few of those calories off by skating on the mountaintop ice pond. It's the only outdoor rink left in Vancouver and while it isn't very big, it is still a ton of fun. I only wish I had enough time to ski that evening too... the conditions are fantastic.
February 07, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Vancouver - Gardens
What a beautiful day! The sun is out, the air is crisp and I walked outside at lunch, along with all the other Vancouverites excited about spring coming. A perfect day to head to the park, I thought. Which reminded me that I wanted to tell you about a great park to visit if you happen to be in Vancouver
on a day not like today, but more like a blustery day in Hundred Acre Woods. Queen Elizabeth Park
is a 52 hectare (130 acre) park at the highest point in the city at 67m (505 ft) above sea level. If you stand above the garden you have a 360 degree view. On bad weather days, when my thoughts head to the Bahamas, I head to the Bloedel Conservatory
at the top of the park. It is a geodesic dome filled with tropical plants, free-flying birds and fish. In fact, I just read on their website that they are the second largest single-structure plant conservatory in North American. A little bit of warmth, rainforest and tranquility; I take off my jacket and stay awhile â?? in fact, I once hung out for a few hours playing cards inside. For less than $5 (depending on age) itâ??s a cool place to get, well, warm!
February 04, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Vancouver, Arts, Culture & History Tours
Find more information about Vancouver - Arts, Culture & History Tours
I watched a very cool short film featuring some of Vancouver's landmarks on an Air Canada flight recently. It's created with stills and put together in an unusual but very interesting way. I wrote down the name and after a bit of Googling I learned that the film was made by Guy Roland from Vancouver. He used a digital camera and a PC over two years. The film won the Zoom In Awards
. If you like to see Vancouver a little different, you you can view it here
February 02, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Victoria, Historic & Heritage Sites
Find more information about Victoria - Historic & Heritage Sites
I have lived near the British Columbia coast most of my life, and although I have seen them from near and far, I have never actually looked at a lighthouse lantern up close and personal – until I was in Victoria
earlier this week.
The cool thing about the Trial Island lantern house (as it is called) is that it is on the street - on the corner of Bastion Square and Langley Street to be exact. It kinda resembles a modern industrial street-art installation – picture a giant red robot helmet with a golf ball and weather vane on top.
The plaque on the lantern base states that it was first installed on Trial Island, 4 miles southeast of Victoria, in 1908. It was a beacon there until it was replaced by an acrylic lens in 1970.
The lenses themselves are enormous. I imagined that if I was an ant I wouldn’t want to get too close to this thing when it was working. Zzaaaap. Two flashes every ten seconds would fry me pretty quickly.
The Trial Island Light is on loan to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia
, just a few steps away.
January 30, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Vancouver, Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries
Find more information about Vancouver - Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries
I know that Vancouver
may not be Prague, and British Columbia may not be Ireland, but we do have plenty of great local beers, and places to drink them, just the same. I recently picked up a copy of the Passport to Beer
guide book which highlights all these great beers, and watering holes. It cost $20 and includes $500 worth of coupons for free beer tours (e.g., Vancouver Island Brewery, Gulf Islands Brewery), 2 for 1 admission (Granville Island Brewing Tours, False Creek Ferries), 2 for 1 appies at local restaurants and even a few merchandise and accommodation discounts.
Might be worthwhile if you are planning on hanging out for a while, or just plan to hit all the best brew spots during your stay. 2 for 1 tapas at Stella’s – let’s go!!
January 27, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Vernon, Skiing & Snowboarding
Find more information about Vernon - Skiing & Snowboarding
Just got back from Big White
& Silver Star
, and the skiing was phenomenal! Both the resorts have an impressive base and as a bonus we woke up to fresh powder every day. In fact, one morning at Silver Star there was a dump of a foot and a half overnight - we were in snow heaven!! One of the locals suggested getting to the lifts 10-15 minutes before they open in the morning to get ‘first tracks’. They start lining up early after a dump like that – it was fantastic!
Some other fun things we did were tubing and skating at Big White. I especially enjoyed the tubing (the fast side). It’s fun to get some friends together and hold on to each other and spin. The outdoor skating rink is enormous!
Another highlight of the trip was having a gun barrel coffee upstairs at Snowshoe Sams (Big White) where they actually pour flaming liquid (coffee and liqueurs) down the barrel of a gun into a glass. Also the snow-cat dinner tour to Paradise Camp at Silver Star was really fabulous. The trip to and from was fun and the cuisine, service and wines were first-class.
For dining recommendations at Big White I suggest the Kettle Valley Steakhouse in Happy Valley (lower area) and the Soup Stone Café which has a wonderful selection of soups, homemade daily (near main village). For Silver Star, I’d recommend Clementine’s Restaurant for fine dining, Long John’s Pub for delicious pub fare (and a fun atmosphere), and Francucinnos for yummy croissants and cinnamon buns.
It’s an ideal time to visit right now so get up while the snow lasts!atmosphere), and Francucinnos for yummy croissants and cinnamon buns. It's an ideal time to visit right now so get up while the snow lasts!
January 27, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Sun Peaks Resort, Skiing & Snowboarding
Find more information about Sun Peaks Resort - Skiing & Snowboarding
I spent last weekend at Sun Peaks
with some friends. I skied at Sun Peaks for the first time last winter, but didn't get a great impression as the weather was cold and the slopes were icy. This time was completely different though as we were lucky to get fresh powder and sunshine one day. I'd always heard about the dry Interior powder (often marketed as champagne powder in the Rockies), but you have to experience it to really appreciate the difference! We found some incredible untracked powder off the West Bowl t-bar, which led to an epic run through the trees. I don't always enjoy big powder days at Whistler as the snow can be heavy, but it's way more fun when the snow is light and fluffy. I was also impressed with the village, which is located at the base of two of the mountains (the resort actually spreads across 3 mountains). The village is fairly small and carries off the faux European look well. There are several ski in/ski out hotels & condos and rates are affordable. It definitely lacks the scale of Whistler, but that's part of its charm. There's something nice about being able to ski into the village for a coffee or a piece of pizza rather than paying too much for mediocre food at a resort cafeteria. Besides the skiing, the big attraction was the Ice Wine festival
, which is held at Sun Peaks each January. Fifteen BC wineries participated this year and the tasting areas were spread around the village. There's something satisfying about walking around a ski resort with wine glass in hand (not normally tolerated under our archaic liquor laws). It's difficult to drink alot of ice wine because it's intense and sweet, so the wineries were also pouring whites and reds. In summary, I'd recommend Sun Peaks if you're looking for a smaller scale resort, with a range of accommodation and amenities, a good mix
January 26, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Whistler, Festivals & Events
Okay, really now, any week in Whistler
is an entertaining week - especially the après-ski part of the week! That being said, Whistler has sent me a notice about two upcoming weeks that sound a bit more exuberant than the normal amount of high-spirited fun.
First, from February 6 to 12, Gay Ski Week will be in full swing. The headlining acts are the guided tours and a “fabulous” martini party. And, as my favourite CBC radio Stepping Out host Fred Lee says, “How much fun will that be! Xciting with a Capital X.”
Second, from March 5 to 11, Women’s Week features women-only clinics, seminars and what I might call “gear for grrls” specials offer. “I am women. Hear me roar. And Watch me Ski!”
January 21, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Vancouver - Dining
I took Susan's advice and did a "Dine Out
" in Vancouver last night. I was staying at the Marriott Residence Inn on Hornby Street by myself and couldn't bear the thought of take-out so braved the stares of a woman eating alone and went down to the hotel restaurant Mi Bar and Grill. It was the first night of Tourism Vancouver's promotional campaign featuring a wide variety of restaurants, set menus and wine parings and as its a very popular promotion, the restaurant had a full list of reservations. The maitre de was very welcoming however, and invited me to sit at the bar and enjoy my dinner. For $15 dollars I had a choice of 2 appetizers, 3 entres and 2 deserts. I chose Dungeness Crab Cakes, Beef Short Ribs with Black Bean Cake and Corn Salsa, and White and Dark Chocolate Mousse for desert
. The meal was delicious, the crab fresh and light, the short ribs, albeit a bit on the fatty side, tender and tasty, and the desert, heavenly! I enjoyed a lovely glass of recommended Penfolds Semillion Chardonnay that was smooth and light, a great addition to my meal. Not only did I have a great meal for a fabulous price, the service at Mi Bar and Grill was tremendous. The staff obviously like working there and the restaurant is small enough to give them time to attend to each and every guest. Hope you get a chance to try some new restaurants and some new dishes over the next few weeks. And if you have to go by yourself, trust me, its much better than take out!