Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes is a must if you’re ever in British Columbia. It is past Pemberton, which is north of Whistler. It takes a couple of hours to get there from Vancouver but it is worth the drive. Plus the journey is very scenic.

The car park is questionable. I went on a Wednesday and it was busy. There’s no spaces marked on the floor so people park all over the place and not in a sensible fashion. Anyways after perusing the car park for a while, we managed to park safe and sound.

Joffre Lakes consists of three very blue lakes. The hike is 10km and takes about 3 hours. The first lake is a short walk from the car park and I’m pretty certain those were the people crowding the car park with their expensive cars. The second lake is about an hour away and it is uphill for the majority of the way. I realised how unfit I was during this part. You are then rewarded with the most unrealistic blue lake you’ll ever see.

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The second lake is a popular spot for those Instagram-worthy pictures. You can walk along a log in the lake and get the selfies in. We walked straight past, heading towards the third and final lake. We perched on a big rock and ate our lunch in a secluded spot. I did bring my swimsuit but I chickened out. I put my feet in, that was enough. It is a glacier fed lake so you can imagine how cold it is. You lose the feeling in your feet pretty quick.

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After chilling and relaxing by the third lake, we headed back to the car. You walk back the way you came so it is downhill the majority of the way. Every time I saw the lakes I was completely blown away. They just do not look real. It is something I’ve only ever seen in pictures.

A hike would not be complete without me falling over. So yes I lost my footing and fell. In the process of falling I bent my sunglasses. Luckily Rachelle is the queen of fixing sunglasses so I didn’t have to repurchase.

On the way back we stopped at Mile One Eating House in Pemberton. I had a really good mac and cheese here, so you should go. We also stopped in Whistler for a wander round the shops. I love Whistler at any time of year.

In other news I got a job for winter in a ski resort. I’ll be working in the rental shop at Big White in Kelowna. I cannot wait to share it with you guys.

 

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One Day in Seattle

When my good friend Amy and her hubby were in town, we did a day trip to Seattle. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. Unplanned trips are always the best. We went on Wednesday 9th August. It seems like ages ago and that’s because it was.

I hired a car from the trusty people of Enterprise, I really can’t blow their trumpet enough. I have never driven across a border before so I was little apprehensive, even though I had nothing to hide. We did have to fill some forms in and pay a fee to get into the US. However we arrived at a good time and the queue wasn’t crazy. Setting off at 6:30am had its benefits.

The original plan was to park downtown, however close to Seattle I saw a sign for park and ride. We parked up and hopped on a double decker bus into downtown which was hassle free and bank balance friendly.

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Taken from the top of the park & ride bus

The first thing we did was visit the Pike Place Market. It was heaving but cool to explore the various levels, sloping corridors and stalls on offer. You can literally buy anything your heart desires there. It is a must see when visiting Seattle. I wish I bought flowers. The florists featured in the market were so cheap and beautiful.

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Close to Pike Place market is the very first Starbucks, however the huge crowd flowing out the door made me not want to step inside. I must see over 10 Starbucks a day in Vancouver so I wasn’t completely blown away but cool to say I’ve seen the very first Starbucks in the flesh.

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Also at the market is the famous Gum Wall. I’m not sure how this started but it is basically a wall filled with various types of chewed gum. It was pretty gross but have you ever seen a gum wall? It also makes interesting photos.

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After stopping for a beer and a coke for Amy we headed to the monorail which takes you to the Space Needle. I’d say the monorail is more of a tourist trap rather than an actual mode of transport. It’s a fun way to see the city from the sky and even better when you get a seat at the front sat next to the fat controller. He wasn’t fat, it just reminded me of Thomas the Tank Engine for some weird reason.

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Due to forest fires in BC, the visibility in Seattle wasn’t great so we decided against going up the Space Needle. We did have a wander in the gift shop, yes I love a gift shop. There’s a few things around the Space Needle, like the Museum of Pop Culture, Pacific Science Centre and Seattle’s Children’s Museum. I was pleased to see the Chihuly Gardens and Glass which exhibits Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures.

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I studied Dale Chihuly in my art class at school so I was happy to have a look around. The $24 entry fee isn’t bank breaking and you can also get packages which include entrance to the Space Needle and other tourist attractions. It blows my mind how you can create such colourful and interesting shapes with glass.

 

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Before leaving Seattle we were hungry so we made our way to Serious Pie for some tasty pizza. We were not disappointed. I even had two because it was cheaper than one. In my defence they were small pizzas.

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I would love to go back and stay over night. And then head towards Portland because it isn’t too far from there. I’ll see you soon Seattle.

Closer to 30 than 20

I turned 26 on 30th July 2017 and I spent it with a group of people I now call friends on Sunset Beach with pizza and a few alcoholic beverages. You know what, it was one of my best birthday celebrations to date. So thank you to those who showed their face and shared my day with me.

I decided to create a list of 26 things I’ve enjoyed in Canada so far…

  1. When my Dad came to visit – I loved seeing my Dad after nearly 6 months.
  2. Standing on a frozen Lake Louise – that was pretty awesome.
  3. Sunsets – I love a sunset these days, especially with the mountains/Vancouver in the background. I sound old.
  4. Our winter RV trip – gosh it was cold but I loved driving around in an RV. That would be my dream trip.
  5. White Water Rafting in Chilliwack – one of my best days in Canada, you should all do it!
  6. Biking – I didn’t own a bike in England so biking in Vancouver was new to me. Luckily it is a super bike friendly city and so scenic. Best way to travel downtown.
  7. My new friends – they have made my time the best so far.
  8. When the Corson’s came to visit – I thoroughly enjoyed showing these guys my temporary home. I hope you had as much as fun as me.
  9. Whistler – before I came to Canada, I was extremely excited to ski in Whistler. Although now I realise it doesn’t differ too much to the French Alps, it will always have a place in my heart.
  10. The Food – I have become an even bigger foodie in Canada than I was in England (not sure that is possible but it has happened). I am forever eating out and trying new places. That’s where my money goes.
  11. Coffee – I’m still a latte type of gal but I drink more coffee and I love going for coffee. After work coffee Monday’s are a thing.
  12. Being by the water – I live right by the water and that’s what I will miss the most. It is so peaceful and calm, even in the middle of Downtown Vancouver. I love biking along the seawall.
  13. The Aquabus – following no.12, travelling by boat is my new favourite mode of public transport. The aquabus connects various points along False Creek in Vancouver and it’s a great way to travel.
  14. The Mountains – I don’t think I can ever get bored of seeing the mountains every day. I’m so excited to see the snow on the tops soon.
  15. The Seawall – The views from the seawall are out of this world. It doesn’t seem real as you bike along. It runs around the whole city too and I get to call it my route to work.
  16. Stanley Park – Crazy to think such a large park lays right next to Downtown. It’s bigger than Central Park in New York. Home to a hell of a lot of squirrels.
  17. Calgary Stampede – Definitely one of my highlights in Canada so far. I loved the cowboys, horses, fireworks and deep fried food.
  18. Night Skiing – There’s so much night skiing to do in Vancouver and surrounding areas. I loved skiing at night in Big White, Seymour and Cypress Mountain.
  19. Golden Campsite – This is a strange one but it deserves a mention. We stayed at this random campsite in Golden during our RV trip. It was white over, by a river (I believe) and a train line. It was just the epitome of Canada, or what I imagine when I think of traditional Canadian scenery.
  20. Poutine – Who knew I would grow to love cheesy, gravy soaked fries. It’s different to your cheesy chips with gravy in England. They use cheese curds, yum. So delicious, I want some now!
  21. SWAP (working holiday organization) – They have been so supportive and a helping hand when needs be. They organize events for us, they listen to our silly stories and they answer our stupid questions. I’m so glad I went through Bunac to get here.
  22. Skiing – I wish I skied more last season but I am so excited at the prospect of living and working in a ski resort this coming season. Big White is probably one of my favourite places I’ve skied in Canada.
  23. Snowmobiling in Sun Peaks – What an experience, I don’t even know how to describe it. I loved seeing the frozen trees covered in snow. I loved the pink sky at the end. I loved having free time to do what you wanted. Do it if you get the chance.
  24. Spokes Bicycle Rentals – Of course I have to include Spokes. It’s been my workplace for the past year and a bit. I love it and hate it. I’ve met some really great people, including Eva Longoria and Liam Neeson.
  25. The Summer – I wore jeans for the first time yesterday since June. In England you tend to get a week of summer (if you’re lucky). Here I got over 2 months. It was hot hot. I’m thankful for rain right now but I’m hoping for more sunshine.
  26. Stand Up Paddleboarding – Deep Cove is the best place to do SUP in Vancouver. I technically did this after I turned 26 but it was a lot of fun and something I want to do again before winter begins.

So that’s it. I have loved every moment on this list and so much more. Enjoy a photo of me on my 8th birthday (I presume I was 8 with 8 candles on my cake).

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The Corson’s Take Canada

On the 29th July, my good friend Amy and her hubby flew to Vancouver to stay with me. Amy is my friend from high school and she’ll follow me around the world, words from her mouth. She flew solo to Poland when I did a study exchange for 6 months nearly 5 years ago. This time round she brought her husband (I missed their wedding in January) and a little bump with her. Let’s call it a “baby moon”.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get much time off work however my list of suggestions left them with little time to sit down and relax. They certainly saw a lot of Vancouver and its surroundings. We also made a trip to Seattle and Whistler. Here’s how their days were filled…

Day One – Airport meet and greet, followed by a visit to the New Westminster Food Festival.

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Day Two – Granville Island and my birthday get together at Sunset Beach.

Day Three – Vancouver Aquarium and the Vancouver Lookout.

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Day Four – Capilano Suspension Bridge, burgers at Red Robins and a night at the Comedy Mix.

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Day Five – A classic diner breakfast at Denny’s, a bike ride around the seawall and the UK fireworks for the Celebration of Light.

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Day Six  – BC Sports Hall of Fame at BC Place, Gastown and Canada Place.

Day Seven – Lynn Valley, followed by a night in with fajitas.

Day Eight – VanDusen Botanical Gardens and a tasty meal at the Mongolian Grill.

Day Nine – Breakfast at Yolks and Richmond Night Market.

Day Ten – Pitch & putt, Stanley Park and Steak at the Keg Steakhouse.

Day Eleven – Day trip to Whistler.

Day Twelve – Day trip to Seattle (come back soon for a whole post about all things Seattle).

Day Thirteen – Flew back to England.

This is a great guide to seeing the best of Vancouver in under 2 weeks. I believe they had a fabulous time, despite only 3 days of blue skies and 10 days filled with smog from the BC forest fires. I really love having visitors and showing people around. I also enjoy planning and creating itineraries. I’d be a great tour guide, although I do lack some knowledge and my memory is shocking. My next visitor is my Mummy, 66 days to go.

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To Amy, Greig and Bump…

Thank you so much for making the trip to Canada. 6 months pregnant and you sat on a plane for 10 hours twice, well done. On a serious note though I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my home with you and showing you the sights of Vancouver. I even got to do things I’ve never done before too. I have missed you guys so much since you left. I look forward to seeing you next year with a 6 month old baby boy.

Calgary Zoo

We didn’t fly home until late on our final day in Calgary so we needed something to do. For $25, it seemed like a cheap way to fill a day and it worked well. It was fairly quiet and the site is huge. We got the c-train (tram) which is conveniently en route to the airport.

I don’t normally choose to visit a zoo in a city I’ve travelled too. I don’t find enjoyment in watching animals looking sedating in their small cage. I’m not very educated about the negatives of zoos but I will say Calgary Zoo is definitely worth a visit.

My favourite parts were the penguin exhibit, seeing the giraffes and witnessing two hippos having a snooze together. Oh and of course the gift shop, who doesn’t love a gift shop? Here’s some photos from the day…

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I did want to see my first bear in Canada in its natural habitat

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I’m on a mission to write about all my activities in the past few weeks. I’ve taken a back seat with my blog but I have so much to share with you. My friends came to visit from England (I miss you), we did all the tourist bits and more. We drove to Seattle and crossed the scary US border. Last week I hiked Joffre Lakes and have some pretty photos to show you guys. Come back real soon!

 

 

 

Calgary Stampede

I can’t believe this was over a month ago already and I’m only just getting round to writing about it. I had the best time and would definitely go again. The Stampede is what makes Calgary famous, well there’s not much else to do there. It lasts for 10 days during July. It even calls itself the greatest outdoor show in the world. That alone must make you want to go next year.

I really didn’t know what to expect, I wanted tacky cowboys and delicious food trucks. I was not disappointed. I have never seen so many cowboy hats and boots. Some guys pulled the boots off, some didn’t. And the food was so varied but they all had one thing in common, deep fried.

So from Vancouver, you can fly or drive. Victoria and I opted for a 1 hour and a half flight rather than a 10+ hour drive. Also Uber operates in Calgary so it is super easy to get from the airport to where to you need to be (without a big price tag). We got delayed so took an Uber straight to the Stampede to catch the evening show.

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We were greeted with a huge line up to get into the Stampede grounds. Luckily we were through the gates in no time, as they quickly checked tickets and bags. We sped through the grounds and found our seat in the grandstand. The evening show is a series of chuckwagon races, followed by a huge performance on a stage that is wheeled out by an even bigger tractor. Oh and then fireworks, a lot of fireworks.

I had no idea what was happening when the chuckwagon races was on but it was fun to watch. The show was the most random thing I have ever seen but it was obvious how much effort was put into it. The night ended with a massive firework display. Pretty impressive start to my stay in Calgary. The evening ticket was $59, (plus Ticketmaster’s rip off fees) it includes your entry to the Stampede grounds.

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Whilst in Calgary we used the C-Train, or a tram. During the 10 days of the Stampede, it runs 24/7 which is great as we were staying out of the city centre. It is also at a reduced rate, just $6.50 for a full day. What a way to welcome guests, cheap transit! It was just one line to our hotel, I hate having to change or use various methods of public transport so it suited us perfectly.

Our only full day in Calgary was spent exploring every inch of the Stampede grounds. We watched the rodeo show at the grandstand. It didn’t blow me away and I will admit, I nearly fell asleep. It just didn’t grab my attention the way the evening show did. Victoria and I decided to leave early and just walk around the grounds, eating and catching the free shows. The rodeo cost $39 which also includes your entry to the Stampede, so overall not too bank breaking.

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We rode on the Skyride, a chair lift which runs from one side of the grounds to the other. This is great for getting a birds eye view of the place. It is so relaxing too, yet you can see the chaos unravelling below. We saw a miniature horse show, experienced a fake auction (think Storage Hunters), wandered round the animal barn, watched an adrenaline motor show, ate a lot of deep fried food and browsed very expensive Cowboy boot stalls.

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The dog show needs its only little paragraph. I’ve developed this love for dogs since being in Vancouver. I’ve always liked dogs but never wanted one of my own, until now. So when I saw a free dog show on the schedule, I needed to see it. It was produced by Canine Stars and it was fab. The doggie stars did tricks, relay races and jumps. The host really got the crowd going and the dogs were adorable. I found a promo trailer on YouTube.

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The only thing we didn’t do much of was drinking. It was hot, over 30℃ and a very long day. The heat and walking all day was draining so we didn’t consume hardly any alcohol. If you wanted to get drunk drunk then it would have cost you an arm and leg. It was ridiculous money for a small can of Palm Bay (which is barely alcohol).

The Calgary Stampede has a big thumbs up from me. I loved it and I would definitely go back. I urge you all to go at least once in your lifetime. Get your cowboy hat and boots ready!

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Movie in the Park

A few weeks ago I went along with SWAP to the movies in the park. This is a free event during the summer in Vancouver. They show classic movies in Stanley Park on a huge inflatable screen. I never went last summer so I had to go this year and the line up is pretty decent.

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I went to see The Goonies, which I love. Although I must admit I didn’t enjoy the full outdoor movie experience. As you can see it tells you above that the movies begin at sunset. I met SWAP at around 7:30pm. For those of you who don’t know, the sun sets around 9pm here. If you want a decent viewing area, I recommend getting there early. Even at 7:30pm I was surprised to see so many people there.

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Image taken from freshaircinema.ca

Now the movie didn’t start until 10pm, or even later actually. Sitting on the grass isn’t so comfortable and I already had a numb bum before the film even started. You are allowed to bring chairs, which I wish I did. However I wasn’t too happy about people with chairs sitting in front of you. They should definitely have a chairs only area.

I don’t mean to complain about the whole night, it was nice to meet new swappers and chat before the film started. Victoria made me a small bag of sweet popcorn which I really appreciated after only being able to get salt popcorn here. And I did enjoy the film, I haven’t seen it in forever.

I will go back, with a chair or upgrade to the Gold Circle VIP Reserved seating area. You have to be comfortable to sit somewhere for nearly 5 hours. I brought snacks too, snacks always go down well in these situations. Also it is hosted by Evo, the car share scheme in Vancouver. If you aren’t a member already, you can sign up for free. If you are a member, you can get 15 free minutes. Win win!

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