Sunday, 30 September 2012

Gourmet Dogs at Dougie Dog, Homemade Root Beer & Capilano Dam

Last week I got a job! and so a celebration was in order! We decided we would splash out and go out for our first proper meal in Vancouver. That meant my first trip to Downtown which was super exciting! There were shops, restaurants and skyscrapers galore - I can't wait til we can explore it even more! 

For months before we left I was trawling through Vancouver food blogs and bookmarking all the best looking restaurants so there was quite a selection for me to choose from...but when it came down to it I knew Dougie Dog was where I wanted our first meal to be! 

They combine gourmet hot dogs, you've never seen such an extensive variety of hot dogs, with Vancouver's biggest selection of Root Beer! Hello? That's like two of my very favourite things right there! On their website they claim that they will recommend which Root Beer will go best with the dog you pick! How cool is that! 

So true to form, we asked our server and he recommend their own homemade brand of Root Beer which is blended with butterscotch.  At first I wasn't so sure, I'm not the biggest butterscotch fan but we went with it and oh my goodness it was amazing! It tasted like a Root Beer Float in a bottle! I fell in love! 

and then we come to the dogs! Well, where to begin! It was so hard to choose one because they all sounded amazing! Luckily the owner, Dougie himself, helped us with our selections! 

So he recommended the bacon chilli cheese dog for By, as it's one of their top sellers, and he steered my Mexican loving self to the Mexicana - guacamole, salsa, cheese and bacon all on a tasty dog! 

and that wasn't all! We had our very first try of Poutine - Canada's most famous dish that I was super excited about trying.  It's chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds and Dougie Dog's Poutine did definitely not disappoint.  

It was an amazing meal out, and I have a feeling we'll be back there soon - we won't be able to stay away! I have my eyes on their poutine topped dog for next time! 

A few days later after stumbling into the food court at Metropolis, Canada's 2nd biggest mall, we wandered past New York Fries and I saw they were selling Pulled Pork Poutine! As you may well know pulled pork just happens to be my favourite all time meat so we just had to try some! They were incredibly tasty and certainly brightened up my day, although we do think they were a little shy with the actual pork! 

and then at the weekend we headed to North Vancouver, like we love to do and we ended up here at Capilano Lake.  It was a cloudy day but I think it added to the ambience! 

We also checked out the dam which was pretty impressive, 

and there were tons of different hiking trails all around so we picked a quick one and off we went, because we were running out of time as we had to meet a lady to pick up some ski's I was going to buy from her (so we're now all ready for when the snow comes, yay!)

It wasn't quite long enough and we're definitely going to go back to soak in some more of that scenery! 

The leaves are just starting to turn now, 'Fall' is officially here! and with thanksgiving next week and halloween right around the corner I'm more than excited! We've even started learning thanksgiving songs at the school I work at - I didn't even know there was such a thing! 

and I'm still in awe every time we take a trip to the supermarket! This week my best finds were Presidents Choice brand of ice creams which comes in tons of amazing flavours like root beer float! and peanut butter and jelly! how cool is that! 

and these crisps really tasted like hamburger - it was crazy! apparently they also have hot dog flavour so I'm going to have to try and track those down! 

and I let out a squeal of delight as I found key lime pie (my fave) and s'mores pie right next to each other! When pay day rolls around, you can bet that's the first thing I'll be adding to my trolley! 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Deep Fried Cheesecake, DE-FENCE & 1st Trip to Walmart!

Be prepared for another monster post - I just can't stop taking photos of this place! The friday before last we headed to Richmond Night Market, something I had read about on a blog ages ago and bookmarked for when we were actually here!

It was a lovely evening, with an awesome sunset - which we have been seeing a lot of around here!

It was a feast not just for our eyes but also for our tastebuds! 

There were over 200 different food stalls - now that's my kind of market!

I went for a hot dog piled with shredded pork and cheese, By got some crazy teriyaki chicken burger with yam fries inside the bun!

but all night I had my eye on this shaved ice stand so I got a mango shaved ice with coconut jelly mixed in! it was amazing!

When I saw the 'Cupcakes' stand, I knew I had to try my first Vancouver cupcake! Of course it had to be coconut! 

and we finished off the night here at this truck...

You know in North America they don't just deep fry hot dogs, they like to deep fry tons of stuff, and so we tried out a deep fried slice of Reese's peanut butter cheesecake! It was super tasty and the perfect way to end our fun night!

On Saturday I woke up SO excited because it was going to be our first time attending an American football game! I knew from when my sister, Mel, studied in Georgia that game days are crazy and you must show your support by turning up in the school colours!

Luckily, that wasn't a problem as a few days before we had joined up to become members of the blue crew, where we paid a small fee to get into every sporting match year round at UBC and we got this cool free t-shirt! which you can't really see here but you can see it on Byron later on!

We turned up early because they were having a free BBQ, seriously there are so many freebies here, it's awesome! so we stocked up on hot dogs and drinks and I got my school colours painted on for free and we were ready to head inside the Thunderbird stadium!

At this point I should probably mention that I know nothing about American football and really had no clue what was going on most of the game, but I just clapped when everyone else clapped and cheered along.  The only thing I really do know is that when you kick the ball, as the guy is doing in the photo below, and it goes through the posts it's a goal!

Their mascot was keeping everyone in check and was pretty good at drumming up support and enthusiasm from the crowd!

My favourite part of the day was chanting 'De-fence, De-fence' just like I've seen people do in movies before! We also chanted 'T-Birds, T-Bird's' which took me back to my Grease days so that was fun too!

We were playing a team called The Huskies who had come all the way from Saskatchewan University.  I asked the lady sitting next to me how far they would have driven to get here, she said it's 2 provinces over so they would have flown! how crazy is that!

This is the scoreboard to show we were actually winning for quite a while, but in the end The Huskies pipped us by just two points and won the game!

It would have been sad times, except we had been given a free code app for attending and guess what they were giving away that day - cupcakes! So we hot footed it down to the Cupcakes location in Kitsilano and had a brownie pop and a cupcake!

By would like to point out that he didn't choose that pink frosted one, it was the one that came with the deal!

Later that evening we hopped on the sea ferry which was rather exciting and took a trip across the water to 'North Van' as the locals say! There's a bakery that doesn't keep it's baked goods for more than a day so at the end of the day they donate everything to local charities and churches within the community.  We went with a few people from our church and stocked up on tons of yummy baked goods! Did we luck out or what?

As usual, there was a rather nice setting sun so we were able to snap these pictures looking back towards Van City's skyline!

That funny shaped building on the left hand side is actually a revolving restaurant which is meant to have spectacular views of the city...we may even make it there one day!

The other most exciting part of my week was going to Wal Mart for the first time!

I promised a few people I would document it thoroughly, much to By's embarrassment! so hear are all the details...

Ice cream aisle heaven...yes that's Oreo ice cream and Reese's peanut butter cup ice cream!

Not only can you buy 12 packs of A&W for super cheap...but you can also buy it in these huuuuge bottles for when you really need your root beer fix!

The baking aisle was especially exciting! apart from it was waaay too big to fit it all in just one little Instagram picture so this is just a snapshot of sprinkles, peanut butter chips and shredded coconut fun!

Pop Tarts in any crazy flavour you can think of....we got the strawberry milkshake flavour! plus they were only $1.88 a box - bonus!

Having graham crackers at my fingertips makes me more than happy! I cannot wait for camping trips in the spring with s'mores around the campfire...I just hope bears don't like marshmallows too!

Goldfish crackers are one of the first foods I tried in America...they remind me of all the fun bus tripping coast to coast me and my sister did! 

Unfortunately my phone died mid shop, sad times! but probably good for all the people trying to reach the bottom of this post! so I'll leave you with this one final pic...if you ever need to stop in and pick up some milk and eggs...and a hockey stick?!

yeah...only in Canada!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

We've arrived!

8 Passport Photos: £10
2 Police Checks: £70
Certification of 2 passports and one marriage licence: £36
Bankers Draft Fees for the visa: £50
Study Visa: £80
Open Work Visa: £100
2 International Student Cards: £30
2 Flights to Vancouver: £1520
46kg extra baggage allowance: £64

Living in Vancouver for the next year: PRICELESS!

We finally made it! It wasn't an easy road, and for a while there after our visas just rejected it seemed like it might never happen! and then a definite answered prayer led to some complete stranger messaging me on an immigration forum giving me a direct email contact of someone at the Embassy, which is like gold dust! and as a direct result of that email our visas took 1 day to be processed instead of 4 weeks! So on the same day our visas came through we booked our flights and 7 days later we were on an aeroplane on our way to Vancouver!

It's been 6 days now since we've been here and we are just LOVING every minute! Let's just talk for a moment about how awesome it is to be a Mormon! We found our accommodation through a lady at church who is known as the relief society president, she oversees all of the women in our church aged 18 and up.  I told her we had been hoping for a furnished place since we wouldn't be bringing any of our belongings with us, and she said to leave it with her.  When we arrived we had sofas, dining room tables, the most amazing bed, dressers, bed side name it! and she's not done there, she has told us not to buy a thing and she will find us the rest of what we need! She was away the day we arrived so she had her husband come and pick us up from the airport and take us to our new place.  Someone at church that day who we don't even know had made us a meal for dinner so we wouldn't have to do it when we had just arrived! Maria-Elena, the relief society president, had also made us some homemade jam and sent along some loaves of bread so we would be sorted for breakfast! Her husband had handpicked us some apples too, and on the way to the airport he'd heard of someone getting rid of stuff from their place so he'd stopped by and picked us up a toaster and a slow cooker!! The kindess of the people here has just been so overwhelming!

I've also spent every day this week as we've been out and about exploring with that song from Annie going round in my head 'I think I'm gonna like it here'!

Being surrounded by the mountains and the ocean makes every inch of this city completely beautiful! Sometimes I look out the window on the bus at such amazing scenery and I look around and wonder why the other passengers aren't taking notice and aren't as mesmerised as I am!

On Wednesday when By was at lectures and I had no plans I hopped a bus and ended up here at Queen Elizabeth Park.

It's known as Vancouver's horticultural jewel, and I think these pictures make it pretty easy to see why!

I thought this was a pretty cool view with the mountains peeking through in the background,

and then I turned a corner and came across this view! Wow!

They also had these fun fountains that did little routines so I stayed and watched them for a while.

I loved how vibrant all the flowers were,

and this little mini waterfall was cute with the bridge above it! After my little trip around the park I headed to UBC to meet up with By.

This roundabout welcomes you to campus.  When I say campus though I'm really meaning town because UBC is probably bigger than the whole of Bangor town put together! It is enormous! and we haven't even probably explored half of it yet because it's just so huge!

I went snap happy on campus! They have totem poles everywhere that I just love!

and this flagpole has a rather fantastic view behind it...

All of the blue in front of the mountains is the ocean! Isn't it just so amazingly beautiful!

This clock tower is pretty cool, and a good indicator of where you are on campus since it's so tall! and can help you when you get lost, which happens often!

The campus is so green and leafy, but I'm also so excited for when all those leaves will start turning red and orange when 'fall' comes around!!

This is the library! It's an amazing building, and is also just one of the libraries - there are tons on campus! but this is my favourite one, it is all glass fronted and if you go up to the 7th get this view looking out the front:

and this view looking out the back! I've told By I think it would be the most idyllic study spot on campus!

They also have lots of old style stone buildings that you always say in films and they're how I was expecting the campus to look!

If any Bangor people are reading this...think for a moment about what Thoday looks like (that's the building all of By's forestry lectures were in at Bangor) and now look at his forestry building at UBC...

It's more than a little bit snazzy! He does most of his lectures here, and he is totally loving his course! 

After his lectures were done on Thursday we hopped on a bus and headed up to North Vancouver, which took just under an hour, to Lynn Canyon.  The bus system is really so great here and we can get to anywhere in the city and beyond from the little bus stop that's just two blocks from our house! 

We walked across this crazy suspension bridge! 

with this waterfall running beneath us.

The skies were so blue, as they have been every day this week and the sun was glowing through the trees! 

We hiked along the path to Twin Falls.

and found this super clear water! 

It was actually a really hot day, I even got a bit sunburnt! and so this water looked so inviting for a dip, but we felt it and it was pretty chilly! 

and we finally found the falls, love the colour of that water! 

The forester in By loved checking out all the tree species with his new little B.C trees book! and we found these enormous shrooms! 

We made sure we made lots of noise as we walked to scare off any bears nearby!! 

Then we took the trail to Rice Lake, and these beautiful views awaited us.

I love the reflection of the trees in the water! 

This is my 'isn't Vancouver the coolest' face! 

Everywhere we went we saw super cute little black baby squirrels, we kept trying to snap pics of them but they were just too fast! By pursued this little cutie below for quite a while until he finally got the perfect shot! 

Luckily he was so into his nut, he didn't mind posing for a few pics! 

As we waited for our bus to take us back home, we found this cute little general store which had amazing flavour ice creams! By got the maple walnut, and asked for one scoop - when he got given it, it was about twice the size of what you see in the picture below! It was so funny, but super tasty!

I forgot to mention too that there is an A&W restaurant right on By's campus! so we enjoyed some root beer floats while strolling around campus one day this week! We also had some amazing burritos from a place called Red Burrito, also on campus! We went on our first supermarket trip, which I was SO excited about, and I managed to fill our trolley with s'mores everything! 12 packs of A&W are $3.50 which is like £2.20, you couldn't even buy 2 cans of A&W for that price back home! and last night we went to an amazing night market! Pics to come on that soon!!

Yes, I think we're gonna like it here!