Tag Archives: Empress Hotel

It’s a Canadian Thing

O’ Canada, land of the First Nations people, the Looney and the red maple leaves.

Home of good friends, good bands and good parties. Where I learned what a dyke was, got my belly button pierced and went drinking at The Keg after dinner at White Spot. Where my cousins introduced me to real maple syrup, maple walnut ice cream and bagels with real salmon.

Land of Arby’s, the Dairy Queen Skor Blizzard, Tim Horton’s and as many flavours of ice tea that you can think of. Home of Totem Poles, Le Chateau, ice wine and the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations I have ever seen.

Downtown Vancouver where you can see steam coming out of a clock in Gastown, pick up some lovely First Nations jewellery on Granville Island and dream of owning a house in West Van on the other side of Lions Gate Bridge.

A city so beautiful that it is blessed with both waterways and a surrounding trio of snow capped mountains. Where you can go tubing on Mt Seymour followed by a dip at Kits beach. Where you can walk the wires in Lynn Canyon by day and see the twinkling city lights from Grouse Nest restaurant by night.

The city which has one of the best aquariums in the world in one of the best parks in the world. Where I fell in love with otters, white Beluga whales and Canada Geese. Where I discovered UBC, the Pitt Pub and the mosh pit at Arts County Fair.

Vancouver Island, home of the capital of Victoria, the Empress Hotel and China Beach. Where a trip through the Gulf Islands becomes an adventure in killer whale spotting and you never want to leave.

Seeing snow banks bigger than houses, making snow angels and going tobogganing. Discovering the real beauty of snow covered fir trees, the taste of hot toddies and learning how to snow plough.

Taking a trip on the Sea to Sky highway to go skiing at Blackcomb, only to find out that Big White’s better. Staying in a real log cabin, drinking with folks from the Yukon and meeting American snowboarders at Mt Baker.

Land of moose, black bears and a white rock a stones throw away from Seattle.

And that’s just the west coast.

The enchanting Casa Loma in Toronto, the icy blue Niagara Falls and the unexpected beauty of Niagara on the Lake.

Where you can dance with a cowboy in Calgary, find out what a cold nose really is in Saskatoon and go ice-skating inside West Edmonton Mall.

And I know there is so much more to explore.

Montreal, Quebec City and Lake Louise. New Foundland, Christina Lake and the Rockies.

One day…

Related posts: New Year’s Eve on the Island, 2007, Christmas in Canada, 2007, Canada, 2005, Canada, 2002, Canada 1997-1998, Canada, 1997, Canada, 1990

New Year’s Eve on the Island, 2007

The day after Boxing Day, my husband-to-be (HTB) and I caught the ferry to Vancouver Island. We were met in Victoria by Geoff and his brown Labrador Ruby. After a walk on the beach, we met up with Genevieve, who was now Geoff’s wife, at a local bar to catch up. They were kindly letting us stay in their house for New Year’s Eve and we were very excited.

Celina and her friend Balki took us up Bear Mountain the next day for a view of Victoria and to see the outdoor skating rink at The Westin. The boys then dropped us in town to meet up with Genevieve for a girl’s shopping trip while they played golf. They saw wild deer on the course!

My HTB and I did the usual sight-seeing round of Victoria- the Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel, Hemlcken House, St Anne’s Pioneer school house, a totem pole and a squirrel. There were lots of statues of killer whales, bears and moose around town that we liked posing in front of.

Celina and Balki drove us to Jordan River and to see the iconic China Beach one day. It was cold on the beach, but beautiful.

We met Kim and Jeanette for dinner and ice tea one night and met Geoff and Genevieve’s friends Lisa, Rochelle, Kayla and Sean one night at their house.

And then, before we knew it, it was the night before New Year’s Eve and a mini Heineken practice keg was purchased. Not deemed big enough, a 40-litre keg was bought in preparation for New Year’s Eve, which was consumed in entirety by 8 guys on the night.

Also at the New Year’s party at Geoff and Genevieve’s house were Celina, Balki, Kim, Nina, Kayla and Sean, Lisa, Rochelle, Rob and his girlfriend and a random New Zealander called Steve. It was Lisa’s birthday on the night so we had cake to go with our drinking games.

We played a funny game of Twister, had lots of dancing and the countdown to New Year’s Eve on the oven clock. People kept passing out on the bed and then getting up to drink more- that 40-litre keg had to be finished!

All in all, my HTB and I agreed it was one of the best New Year’s Eve’s we had ever had (ok- it was THE best, just don’t tell anyone else we have ever spent New Year’s Eve with alright?).

Related posts: Christmas in Canada, 2007Canada, 2005Canada, 2002Canada 1997- 1998Canada, 1997Canada, 1990Seattle, 2007, People vs PlaceThe Seven Year ItchFriendship: Great Expectations?

Canada, 2002

For my post university trip I decided to go to Canada for a bit of fun, England to visit my ailing grandfather and Thailand to meet up with my boyfriend for a holiday on the way back.

My aunt and uncle in Richmond were kind enough to take me in again and I revisited the usual haunts with my cousin Kate- Steveston, White Rock and Gastown.

I saw the otters, belugas and sea lions at Vancouver Aquarium; but the killer whales were no longer there- the last one having been re housed in 2001. So I went to see the killer whale totems on the totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park instead.

Celina and Geoff’s girlfriend Genevieve took me to the lookout tower in downtown Vancouver where we had a great view of the University of British Columbia (UBC) where they were both going to school.

We all visited the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and I saw some more totem poles and learnt about the First Nations people. By night we went to the Pit Pub and to see Geoff’s new band The Malchicks play.

I went to Whistler with Genevieve and a bunch of her nursing friends from university for a night. Not to ski- but to drink. We started drinking on the bus trip up and arrived in Whistler village just before nightfall. There were ice sculptures, it was snowing and we made snow angels. Those nurses sure could drink!

The next day, after a queasy bus ride back to Vancouver, I met my aunt and uncle to visit Lynn Canyon Park. All I could manage to keep down for breakfast was a raspberry iced tea- which promptly came back up. I barely appreciated the beautiful waterfalls and clear blue pools under the suspension bridge.

I went to Vancouver Island to catch a top view of Victoria from Mt Tomlie and high tea at the Empress Hotel; catching sight of Mayne and Galliano Islands from the ferry on the way back.

My cousin Glen now lived in Calgary so I went to visit him. It was the middle of winter and the coldest weather I have ever experienced of 40 degrees Celsius below zero. It was so cold that Glen’s house had ice cycles on it and he had to plug his car into electricity to keep the engine from freezing.

We went to the Calgary tower to get a view of the city and to the half frozen Bow River in Princes Island Park. We played snooker at the Heritage Park Historical Village and went to a bar that had real cowboys line dancing.

Glen’s job was as a pilot for freight planes. So he took me to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to see the Delta Bessborough Hotel and experience what it was like for my nose to freeze. We also flew to Edmonton to see Parliament House and visit the famous indoor water park at West Edmonton Mall.

Related posts: Canada, 1997-1998, Canada, 1997, Canada, 1990, Travel rememberings