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26 June 2016

British Columbia Field Report 16 – Meal Quest

Usually departure day doesn’t merit a post, there is rarely more to the day than: Wake up, Shower, Finish packing, Check out, Go to the airport, Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait, Wait, Fly home.

Of course, with me, you know there is food involved somewhere in that plan!

Driving ourselves to the airport was fairly straight forward – it’s a straight shot north… except we missed the exit and had to keep going for a while further before we could turn back.

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Knowing we’d have a layover of a few hours in Vancouver, my idea was to have loungy lunch there and so I didn’t want a big breakfast. We went to Spinnakers on the Fly for a small bite.

It was the HUGEST “small bite” I ever had!!! And I even asked them to hold all the sides. I should have put something in the picture to help get an idea of the scale. I had trouble wrapping my hands around it if it helps…

Airport Breakfast in Victoria 

Building my appetite up again for a loungy lunch was going to be a challenge!… so, I walked circles in the terminal for about an hour.  Just back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.

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The flight from Victoria to Vancouver is 15 minutes of flying time – shortest flight of my life!

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Interestingly, according to Google, you can’t even fly! But you can drive on the water to get there in less than 30 minutes! WOW! Had I know water-driving was an option I would have liked to have tried it!

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We arrived at the Vancouver airport a little too early to eat, it wasn’t even 11AM, but that’s not too early to explore the terminal’s eateries and see what venue looked the loungiest for lunch.

Our Gate was # 29, and we discovered they had a Vino Volo nearby. There is one at our home airport in Montreal too, but we haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.

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11AM came and went, and the place never opened -  Why the delay? My wine & cheese were trapped behind the gates!!!! We said we’d give it until 11:30 and if not we’d go somewhere else.

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11:30 came and went so we went to the other end of the terminal to Palomino Bar @ YVR

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It was total crap! Crap on crap, served with crap on the side with a sprinkling of crap.

Looks pretty… but it wasn’t good.

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So much for a good food day! Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all.

After this, we were officially on our way home.

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Great vacation!

25 June 2016

British Columbia Field Report 15 – Day 10

Walked 13.79 km / 20 868 steps

Our last day started with a visit to Goldstream Provincial Park. My guidebook sold us on the plan when we read things like “Majestic Trees” and “Old Growth Forests”.

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As soon as we parked the car and set out, we were excited! It was amazing!

Here was our attempt at showing how big some of the trees were  (little blurry)

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We were in our element, we love nature-walks like this. We walked the Visitor Center and Lower Goldstream Trails

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Then we somehow missed the Bridge Trail and finally decided on the Prospector’s Trail.

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I wanted to at least get to the lookout point on the map, but we didn’t make it that far. It was a great trail, but we were dressed and equipped for a nature walk, not a hike. Had we been better dressed: exercise clothes that we could sweat in and not try to keep clean, and in my case specifically rugged shoes… and not carrying a purse!! we would have continued.

Still, I loved the part we did do but I’m disappointed we don’t have better pictures. I kept stopping to take some with my IPhone and to soak up the amazing surroundings, but my husband who had the camera didn’t care about taking pictures because he was sweaty therefore grumpy…  I’m still annoyed at him! LOL.

Here are some shots of the walky parts – I didn’t get any of the hikey parts:

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All in all we spent about 2 hours there.

Next on the agenda was to explore Mount Douglas, and we just experienced the down side of having a car instead!

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We got there roughly around 11:30, and before noon the main road (Churchill Drive) is closed so people can walk up to the summit with kids and strollers or bike up etc. instead of hiking up the trails. Great idea. Normally we’d love the walk up but there was nowhere to park! The parking area was packed and even the streets around were full of parked cars.

We decided to go have lunch, and come back after to see what the situation would be, maybe all the cars belong to people enjoying the walk and they’ll be gone when the main road opens up?

Ah the politics of where to eat on vacation!! Because I dragged a tired reluctant husband back to Bard & Banker for a nightcap the night before, I felt I owed him all he decision power food stops today in exchange for his sacrifice. He LOVED the pizza at Famoso's so we went back there breaking the "no repeats" rule. 

I have to admit that it really is EXCELLENT pizza; very high on the best ever list so I really didn’t mind it that we broke the rule again. (And here’s a repeat picture since I ordered the same thing both times)

Lunch at Famoso 3

So now, back to Mount Douglas!

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And the parking was just as packed as before, but the main road was open now so we drove up instead… lost of parking at the summit!!  We would have enjoyed walking, but those are the breaks.

Great views from up there so it was still a fun activity overall (but to this day I wish we could have hiked it)

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That’s downtown Victoria in the distance…

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After this (around 3PM) I was fed up with the car. That was enough sitting for me, it was putting me to sleep! I wanted to park it away for the rest of the day and go back to exploring Victoria on foot.

We had neglected the Parliament Building “The Leg” over the last few days, so we set off to explore it and the area around. (I don’t remember anymore why the flags were at half mast)

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After this, it was cocktail hour!

Drinks at Steamship Grill & Bar 2

This place was nice because they had a nice open terrace and I was able to gaze out over the marina to the Empress… even it was under construction, it’s the way I saw it and the way I’ll remember it!

Drinks at Steamship Grill & Bar 4

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For supper, we went to The Irish Times Pub – same owners as Bard & Banker

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Dinner at Irish Times 3

Delicious nachos!

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That was it, our final vacation meal -  I didn’t want it to end!!! I didn’t want to let go of that vacationny feel!

I didn’t suggest a night cap because I knew that wouldn’t fly, my poor husband was exhausted and just wanted to sleep, but he did agree to a SHORT walk around Chinatown since it was so close to the hotel!

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After this, it was back to hotel to start packing Sad smile

21 June 2016

British Columbia Field Report 14 – Day 9

Walked 13.28 km / 20 096 steps

Day 9 started off with a small sandwich & coffee for breakfast, then off to pick up our rental car.

Breakfast at Dolce Vita 1  Breakfast at Dolce Vita 2

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The original plan was to rent it for 2 days / 1 night so we could do 2 full days of excursions – just like we did in Vancouver, but we changed our minds and decided on 3 days / 2 nights instead.

When I started looking up how to get to the airport using public transportation, I was surprised to see that is was not so simple! Perhaps it was because of the time of day we were planning to leave (crack of dawn) but the results showed busses only coming once an hour and dropping us a kilometre away from the airport.  I don’t mind walking that distance with my suitcase – as you know it’s on wheels and I pack light – but I couldn’t quite tell in the Google images if there was even a sidewalk along that route! I didn’t want to walk along the side of the road.

So next I looked up shuttles from the hotel to the airport, but the price was insane: 50$ for 2 adults! This is what made us decide to keep the car an extra night and just drive ourselves to the airport; it was the simplest solution, and a cheaper one too!

Our first stop that day were the Butchart Gardens

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What can I say? Beautiful doesn’t begin to describe it! It was too early in the season for roses, but the tulips (which happen to be my favourite flower) were out in full bloom – it was gorgeous.

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I always say that flowers are good for the soul, who can’t admire a beautiful bloom and not marvel at the wonders of nature?  This is when I really wished I had a better camera than my IPhone (I have an IPhone 4, it’s old!) My husband took lots of nice pictures, but the flowers put me in the mood to be creative with close ups and filters etc. Ah well – I don’t care enough overall to invest in anything better, so I shouldn’t complain… and I am happy with the ones I took.

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The next activity was lunch. I wanted to eat in their fancy dining hall but it wasn’t open yet and as you know -cafeterias, fast food and quick sandwiches for lunch are not what I want when we are on vacation! 

I am not sure anymore how we decided on getting back in the car and driving around for a place to eat, but I am glad we did because we ended up at the Seahorses Café and had THE. BEST. BURGER. EVER. OMG.

(I have NO CLUE which route we too k to get there)

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Lunch at Seahorses Cafe 3

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I don’t think I am a picky or fussy eater, but there are some things I simply don’t like: like condiments on a burger, especially ketchup! I like cheese and lettuce – that’s it - so there is always a little discussion that has to happen when I order a burger. I think maybe the waitress had dealt with difficult customers in the past because the order turned into an interview! Do you like this, that, the other thing? Do you want to replace this with that? Do you want the other thing on the side? Is it ok if this is on it? She was very nice and I think was really just trying to make sure I got what I wanted, but it just left me feeling like I was complicating the process. Smiling politely I simply replied : “I just like a dry bun”.

MAN was the end result delicious! My husband who also had a burger (the non-stripped down version / and I had mine with salad while he had his with fries) also commented that this ranked in the “best ever” category. 

I made EXTRA sure to tell the waitress so after unintentionally stressing her out with my order!

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After lunch, I wanted to go visit the Butterfly Gardens.

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My husband was not that into it, and it wasn’t until we entered the hot house that I realised he sort of sees them as bugs and was shoeing them away when they got to close.  I was having fun trying to photograph them; it was almost a game!

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There was one particularly beautiful kind that when it’s wings were open was a bright blue - I drained most of my battery chasing them around and when I finally sat on a bench and turned the phone off to conserve what little power was left you can guess what happened: it landed right next to me. I didn’t get the phone open in time to get a shot, but my husband got one.

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My husband likes driving - I don’t DISlike it but I find long drives extremely boring; I want to get out there and see something! When we got back to Victoria, my husband  suggested we “taking a drive” before parking the car at the hotel and so we ended up at Ogden Point and walked the breakwater, it was great – but crazy windy! (From the car to the tip of the Point and back it was about 2 km walk)

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I was happy that he too was in the mood to stretch his legs, I find that the inertia of driving tires him out and he’s less willing to get out of the car again and again and again. Each idea I suggested “want to walk over there?”, “want to go see that?” was uttered in a calm easy going tone – low on scale of hectic excitement all to get him feeling willing to come along.  It worked…  until it didn’t.

Near by, I wanted to see the Tallest Totem Pole in the World (38.8-metre / 127 feet). I’ve said before that we are not into Inuit Art, but slap a “blankiest in The World” label on something and I’ll want to check it out!  My husband didn’t want to get out of the car anymore so he parked and waited for me while I walked over to take pictures myself. I took a really neat one with my IPhone-cam, standing right at the base of it and looking up until the top disappeared into a point. Something happened and I lost the pictures so this is the only one I have left. Why didn’t I take my husband’s camera??  It’s too long ago now, I can’t remember.

After this we returned to the hotel, parked the car and set out back on foot.

It was cocktail hour, so stopped for drinks at Commons /10 Acres Bistro. I love Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry so when I saw they had some, a pre-dinner drink was definitely in order! 

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Dinner that night was easy: on our walk to Fisherman’s Wharf the other day, we came across a cozy looking place that had a big closed-in Terrace facing the water…  it wasn’t really near the water, but it still had all the atmosphere of a place that promises a nice night out. 

(in hindsight, I’m surprised I don’t have a better picture)

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Dinner at Harbour House 1

I tried Oysters Rockefeller for the first time! I’ve always been curious.  I’m not sure how authentic their version was, they were alright as long as I didn’t look at them after I sliced them…  ugh. I could not finish, I ate 2 out of 3 – they were HUGE!  Dinner was a thick creamy soupy dish with shrimp, crab, lobster and scallops covered with a pastry lid.  Looks like a small portion, but it was FILLING!

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My Good-Sport of a husband was willing to indulge me for a nightcap; I think I might have had to beg a little… or promise it would just be a “quick drink”.  Are you ready for this…. : I KNOWINGLY BROKE the no Resto-Repeat-Rule and we went back to Bard and Banker!

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I just HAD to! I loved it SO SO much!!

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Although I had to drag him, he agreed it was a nice place and he enjoy it too – plus, it was on the way home!

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