Tips from Us
July 31, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Victoria - Gardens
Saturday nights at the Butchart Gardens
are truly amazing; in addition to viewing some spectacular display gardens at a National Historic Site, there are pockets of live entertainment
spread throughout the property. As you wander the grounds, your ears drift from one musical venue to another. Then comes the fireworks
: spinning, whirring, whistling and popping. It is more than your typical, shoot-in-the-air and pop-open-like-an-umbrella-type of fireworks. This is a light show to overload your senses. Figurines move and bursts of light shoot up, down and sideways. My favourite is the waterfall of fireworks pouring down into a pond below where the sparks seem to dance along the water’s edge. Imagine this with seating so close to the centre of it all that you feel the fireworks are raining down all over you. Tip:
go early and spend a few hours here; there is plenty to see, hear, taste and do and you’ll beat the lineups. Did you forget your blanket? They’ve got those too.
July 18, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Tofino, Surfing & Watersports
Find more information about Tofino - Surfing & Watersports
After watching the video Jeanine submitted last week, I started searching YouTube for more videos we can post on this blog. When searching for Tofino I can across the video below by Planet Smashers
, a Ska band from Montreal who dedicated a song to the surf culture in Tofino
July 14, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Lillooet, Sightseeing Tours
Find more information about Lillooet - Sightseeing Tours
On June 25 and July 1-3 I had some friends of mine visit Mount Seymour, Joffre Lakes and Lilloet and here is what they thought:
July 14, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Vancouver, Theatre & Performing Arts
Find more information about Vancouver - Theatre & Performing Arts
If you find yourself in Vancouver's Stanley park late one evening, and suddenly a crowd of 100 emerges from the forest and a man comes crashing down from the tops of the trees, don't worry... you've only stumbled across Vancouver's newest midsummer ritual. Boca Del Lupo
is one of Vancouver's outdoor theatre experiences, and this summer they're performing The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces
, a roving play that unfolds in the canopied forest of Stanley Park. My husband and I went to the opening performance last night and had a great time. I went not knowing what to expect and was charmed by the light and tongue-in-cheek tale, of 10 princesses who emerged from their bedroom each night with their shoes in tatters. A hapless 'poor guy' takes on the task of discovering what happens, even though he is under threat of beheading by the daddy-king if he doesn't discover the truth ("Harsh," as the princesses say). I loved it. Even a little light rain and a few pesky mosquitos (complimentary bug spray can be found at the check-in table) didn't dampen the audience's spirit, as we were drawn into the story. The whole crowd was invited to troop into the princesses' "bedroom" to help solve the riddle, while kids as young as one and two (and as old as 62) enthusiastically yelled helpful advice to the 'poor guy'. If you're interested in going, move quickly: this season's performances are almost sold out, and a handful of additional shows have just been added (and are sure to go quickly as well). Keep an eye on their website
, because future seasons will likely be as much fun... and as popular. And if you're interested in other outdoor theatre in BC, check out Bard on the Beach
and Theatre Under the Stars
, both in Vancouver, and Armstrong's
July 13, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Sidney, Cruises & Boat Tours
Find more information about Sidney - Cruises & Boat Tours
While most tourist who board BC Ferries for the first time find their voyage busy with exploring the ship and gawking at the passing scenery, BCers who regularly travels on BC ferries finds they develop a system for their own journey. Here's a few tips, starting with the food options. On the bigger boats, the cafeteria is a popular place to head. In fact, most people head straight for the food lineup upon boarding. I usually wait a while, 'cause I really hate lineups, and wait for the crowds to pass by about 1/2 way through the journey. Two reliable staples from the cafeteria are the fries, and the self-serve soft-serve ice cream. The fries are pretty standard, but happily so: crispy outside, soft inside. As for the ice cream, my husband and brother-in-law can't get enough: they tend to test the boundaries of gravity with the height of ice-cream spirals. Now, my personal favourite food option is being prepared in advance. Last weekend we cruised from Vancouver over to the Gulf Islands on one of the smallest ferries, the Bowen Queen
, who's cafeteria is only stocked with the basics (ie hot dogs; a classic, appropriate in the right context, works in a pinch). But we had other plans: we brought along a picnic backpack filled with cheese, pate, crackers and fresh blueberries. We set up camp on the top, outside deck (north side to take advantage of the setting sun's rays) and had one of the best, most scenic meals I've had in some time. Here's some of my other ferry tips... although keep in mind things can change from ship to ship, and route to route: *If you have kids, head for the mid-section of the boat, there's usually a play area for the kids. If you have no kids, stay away from the mid-section of the boat, it can be filled with noisy kids. Head instead upstairs towards the stern / back of the boat, there's usually a relatively quiet lounge somwhere around here. If you're feeling flush, there's a new 'first class' lounge on some of the Tsawwassen-
July 12, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Victoria - Dining
That was the question Sunday morning after Canada Day. We chose to benny, and by this I mean indulge in heart-stopping eggs benedict for breakfast. I am a big fan of breakfast, and when I travel I like to eat in unique, greasy-spoon joints. You know the place I mean – long line-ups, stuff on the walls, old music and an endless flow of coffee being poured by a woman who calls you “honey.” In the case of our Canada Day weekend trip to Victoria
, we found two delightful diners.
The first day we stopped at John’s Place
. The lineup was 20 minutes long, the walls were filled with celebrity (and not-so-celebrity) pictures, posters of rock stars and sports memorabilia, and the music stuck with us for the rest of the day. The waitress kept filling our coffee cups even though we said we had enough… a few times. She addressed us as “daahh-lings.” My veggie benny was $8.95, came with a heaping mound of hash browns, and could have used a bit more hollandaise sauce, but really, isn't that a given?
Superman, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe all grace the menu at our second-day stop, Floyd’s Place. The building is appropriately painted pink. My stomach couldn’t take another benny, so I ordered the $3.95 traditional – eggs, hash browns and toast – which also came with a heaping mound of seasoned oh-so-yummy carbs. Floyd’s has a sunny outdoor patio and the inside is comfortably decorated with deep couches, bright walls and a lively fish tank for the kids. I dare you to order the Mahoney – you get what the kitchen prepares and you can either pay the original price or flip them for it – double or nothing! No lineup that day and located at the corner of Pandora and Yates.
July 12, 2006 | Tips from Us >
The kids and I woke up last Saturday to a beautiful sunny day, and decided to go on a spontaneous overnight camping trip. Knowing that many of the BC Parks camping grounds would be full, we headed out on one of the logging roads just north of Squamish
, and camped for free along the Squamish River. We drove past our usual camping locale and, lucky for us, found a campers dream come true – a perfect spot equipped with leftover firewood, a raised fire pit, easy access to the glacial-fed river and its sandbars, complete privacy, and a mountain view of two receding glaciers complete with waterfalls. Not bad for a 2 ½ hour drive from Vancouver (not counting the stop in Squamish to watch rock-climbing on the Chief and to fill our cooler with marshmallows, popcorn, hot dogs, ketchup, hot chocolate, and other mandatory camping fare).
Camping along B.C.’s logging roads doesn’t require a 4x4 – our little Mazda Protégé did just fine going 60 km/hour on the relatively smooth gravel road (I was pretending I was on a road rally!). Ironically, I got a flat tire on the newly paved highway on the way to Squamish (putting on spare and mandatory stop at Canadian Tire also not counted in our 2 ½ hour timecount… and thank you to the two cars who stopped to help), and yet made it through 40 miles of logging road unscathed. Check out this link for more info on free camping in B.C
If you are interested in seeing the mountains and glaciers on-the-move, the Squamish River has also become quite the hot spot for river rafting
. We saw four expeditions heading to the river as we were heading home.
July 05, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Queen Charlotte City, Historic & Heritage Sites
One of the most magical days of my life was spent last summer in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Before dawn, we arrived by boat at S'gang Gwaii, previously known as Ninstints, home to a first nations village for hundreds of years until the late 1800s. Today, a collection of totems and the remains of longhouses are slowly disintegrating back into the ground, completing their life cycle. The remarkable carvings can still be seen in the aged wood, and it's not difficult to imagine what a settlement here would look and feel like, when it was filled with families and houses. We stayed for the sun rise, and watched the light hit the front of the poles. After soaking up the silence, we wandered down the path to meet the Haida Watchmen who care for the site, and heard some of the stories of their culture - both past and present. Later that same day, sailing north towards our next site, Hotspring Island, we spotted a couple of long fin whales swimming not far away. We trailed along behind them, until we were joined by a pod of at least two dozen humpback whales. We watched in silence and awe as they splashed around us, feeding on the tiny critters they eat in these waters. And as we reluctantly turned the boat to leave (some hours later) we were joined by a huge pod of about 50 or so exuberant porpoises, who played energetically in our bow wave and jumped through our wake. Haida Gwaii - also known as the Queen Charlotte Island - tops lots of people's list as a dream place for a vacation. But it's a unique place, and can take a bit of time to understand it's extraordinary virtues... as well as it's limitations. For one, it's remote and can be expensive - and time consuming - to reach. And if you're the type of traveller who likes to find a Four Seasons hotel at the end of the journey, it's probably not the place for you! With the exception of a few fly-in fishing lodges, the limited accommodation on the islands is comfortable but basi