Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Stanley Park by Tandem!

I had been waiting soooo long for my first visit to Stanley Park! You hear such great things about it and I wanted to make sure we got there to enjoy it before the rainy season our public holiday on Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect occasion. I had read that you could hire bikes nearby, and when I saw you could hire tandems I was sold on that idea. A few years back when we cycled to Holland from Belgium on a Tandem we absolutely loved it! 

 So after posing for a quick pic we were off. There is a path that surrounds Stanley Park known as the Seawall. It has a double path, one for walkers and runners and one for cyclists and rollerbladers. On one side of the path is the ocean and on the other side is Stanley Park itself. It's really something. 

 We cycled around for a good few hours just taking everything in, The beautiful trees...that were just starting to turn for fall. 

 The skyscrapers of the city in the distance... 

 and then you turn a corner and find strips of sandy beach... 

 and turn another corner to find the infamous Totem Poles. 

 When my mom was 17 and 3/4 (she likes to emphasize the 3/4 bit!) she left South Africa to travel around Canada for a few years. She spent a lot of time in Vancouver funnily enough and told me just before I left how well she remembered the totem poles in Stanley Park, so it was fun for me to stand beside them thinking that 45 years earlier my mom probably stood in the exact same spot (although apparently she doesn't remember the crazy rain so maybe she was here in summer time!) 

 One of my favorite parts of our tour was seeing the Lions Gate Bridge. 

 I think I have a bit of a thing for awesome bridges and I could have taken photos of it all day long (much to Byron's delight!) 

I wanted to make sure I had it covered from every angle! It reminds me of a smaller, greener Golden Gate! 

 We cycled through the middle of Stanley Park too and came across the Rose Gardens which were just so pretty...

and I'll leave you with the craziest thing we saw that day...

That guy must have the best balance ever! 

It makes me a little bit sad looking back on those crazy blue skies! We haven't seen any of that since Thanksgiving.  The rain is certainly here to stay! and I'm beginning to realise it rains here even more than it did in North Wales - crazy I know! 

At least stumbling into the supermarket and discovering these can brighten any rainy day!

Candy Cane Oreos! The holidays are coming...

Dairy Milk crammed with Oreos and White Choc Chips, just what everyone needs to brighten up a rainy Tuesday night!

and my all time favourite Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark! This used to be so expensive when we lived in Turks and Caicos that we had to ration how much we could buy, of course it's still pretty pricey here in Canada but I'm thinking we'll be able to sneak a few extra bags than usual into the trolley this time around! 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Garibaldi Lake, Whistler & Thanksgiving Fun!

We've gone on a few hikes since we've been here but over thanksgiving weekend we wanted something more hardcore so we settled on Garibaldi Lake.  It was a 6 hour hike in total and one of the last really sunny days we had so it was certainly hardcore and I'm not sure I had been accurately informed abut how it was uphill the whole way! But it was worth it once we reached the lake and saw how beautiful it was!

It's about an hour and a half drive from Vancouver so we had our first car 2 go adventure as the buses don't go there.  We got to ride on the Sea to Sky Highway which I was pretty excited about, with the ocean on one side of you and the mountains on the other it makes for a pretty scenic drive!

It was such a gorgeous day to be out and about exploring! And we had so much fun zipping around in our smart car!

The night before we had road tripped to an even bigger Wal Mart Superstore in a town called Surrey and I had managed to by this patriotic water bottle, I was pretty happy about getting to test it out (yeah I know, I'm such a tourist!)

I love how still the water was, it made for some awesome reflections!

There was a dusting of snow on the mountains which made the view even more amazing!

and you can just see the fall colours starting to peek out! 

We walked around the lake for a while until we found the perfect spot for a picnic...

and managed to work some self timer magic!

By was brave enough to dip his toes in the water! It was super cold!

I'm not sure if you can see in this picture but By is wearing his UBC Forestry t-shirt!

Even as we left the lake and started our hike back down I kept turning to look over my shoulder and take in that view one last time! 

Since we were only 30 minutes away from Whistler, we thought it would be rude not to pay it a little visit!

There was actually some dirt biking going on and it was pretty busy, it was funny to see the runs with no snow! and funny to think in about a months time when we're next there we will be skiing down those runs - it's SO exciting!

We browsed around the shops, they were having a 'turkey' sale where loads of the clothing was reduced, it was still pretty pricey though so we enjoyed some s'mores ice cream instead from one of the cafe's, it was delish! 

and mostly I just LOVED soaking up all the colours of the trees!

and whipping the camera out every corner we turned!

By snapped this pic on our drive home as the sun was setting.  It was a great ending to the day!

The next day we started our Thanksgiving celebrations a little early at Cassie and Peter's, some friends from church.  Last year we celebrated American Thanksgiving in England, the year before we did it in the Caribbean so it was fun this year to be celebrating our first ever Canadian Thanksgiving!

Here we are with the whole group: Jen and Sterling and Mercedes and James too.

Cassie and Peter cooked up an absolute feast with all the trimmings! and we had some yummy bread rolls from Jen too.

Mercedes and James wowed us with the drinks and made these tasty virgin mojito style drinks!

and of course no Thanksgiving is complete without pie! Cassie, outdid herself by making a trio of pies: Coconut Cream, Apple and of course Pumpkin! We rounded off the night by playing some competitive scattergories!  

and we enjoyed it all so much that we decided to do a part 2 the next day on actual Thanksgiving! By cooked us up our own Turkey dinner complete with Kabacha squash which may just be my new favourite kind of squash! 

and of course we talked about the things we were thankful for...number one being that we get to live in this awesome place! and for all the super cool people we have met!

So now we've celebrated our first holiday here I'm crazy excited for the next one...people have already started decorating their porches and the front of their houses and there's halloween things popping up in every store - I can't wait! 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Granville Island & Spaghetti Factory!

This past weekend was Thanksgiving which meant a 3 day weekend! And it also meant the last public holiday I get off from work until Christmas so we really wanted to make this weekend count!

So we packed in as much as we possibly could and it was awesome! On Friday night we headed to Granville Island as I've been wanting to check it out for a while. It has a large public food market amongst other things. Whilst it was fun to browse around, it didn't quite live up to the hype for me and I think London's food markets are better...but I did enjoy seeing all the pumpkins....

and all the different kinds of squash you get here, there are around 10 different varieties and since butternut is one of our fave veg we have been experimenting with them all!

And gourds...

Their flower stalls were also eye catching...

Calla Lilie's in very variety...

And even white Protea's which I never even knew existed! (Protea is the national flower of South Africa)

I'm also a little bit in love with the pumpkin tree flowers they sell here!

Their fruits looked so inviting...

and I loved their cherry mounds!

I couldn't resist taking a peek at their sweet treats which included super cute lemon meringue pies

lemon meringue and coconut cream pie as big as your head! I am definitely coming back one day for a slice of that!

and of course some cupcakes! I was loving the look of the peanut butter filled choc cupcakes at the bottom, but when you see the size of the meal we ate after this you will see why I didn't try one of these!

Of course it was blue skies as always, I'm beginning to think grey rainy days are just a myth here! (note: I started writing this blog post earlier in the week, the grey rainy days have since come!) and so we snapped some shots down by the water.

I love this cute water bus that takes people from the mainland across to the island.

After looking at all that food we had built up quite an appetite so in By's mind there was only one option...dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory.  A few years ago I asked By where the best meal was that he had ever eaten and he told me it was at Spaghetti Factory in Banff when he was 15.  I asked him what was so great about it and he told me they served spaghetti with their ribs! So a few days ago when we were strolling through Gastown we were pretty excited to stumble upon one! and By requested we eat there that night...

We stopped to check out the old steam clock on the way.  It is apparently one of Vancouver's most famous landmarks! I love the whole feel of Gastown, it's the oldest part of downtown and has quaint cobbled streets and those cool lamp post lights you can see in the pic below!

The Old Spaghetti Factory was even better than By had remembered!

because we got brought this complimentary warm loaf of bread with garlic butter and free salads! We love a freebie! especially ones as tasty as these!

Of course By had to go with the same meal that had wowed him so much over 10 years ago and it didn't disappoint! In fact it was so huge we ended up not even being able to finish our mains, I guess that's what you get for stuffing your face with a loaf of bread just before!

I had an amazing chicken parmesan thing, with of course, a side of spaghetti! 

and then we even got free ice cream, which I had to politely decline because seriously I had been defeated! (see why we didn't try out any sweet treats at Granville Island?!)

By opted for 'spumoni' flavour since we'd never heard of it before! it's a layered italian ice cream and the one he got consisted of vanilla, chocolate and pistachio.  I got to sample some too and we were very impressed with our free dessert! 

All in all it was the perfect start to a super fun weekend which by the looks of things needs to continue in a different post before I bore everyone to death with a picture overload! So stay tuned for mountain roadtrips, thanksgiving and a bike ride around Stanley Park!


We snapped this as we left, it's the revolving restaurant downtown! I've heard the food isn't amazing there, but we may just have to check it out one time for the novelty factor and of course the view!