Saturday, September 1, 2012
We decided it would be fun to be hometown tourists for the day. We parked in North Vancouver and took the seabus over to the city centre. We started our tour with a walk through the historic Gastown district and lazily looked around some of the unique and interesting shops we passed along the way. We made a point of stopping by Save on Meats, the meatshop featured in the reality TV series "Gastown Gamble". While there, we ran into Football Mike who was doing a fabulous job of keeping the sidewalk clean.
Following our visit to Save on Meats, it was time for afternoon tea and we stopped in at Apres Midi. The service was excellent and there is a great selection of loose leaf tea. The scones are freshed baked to order. Yummy! From here, we walked over to see the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch on display near Vancouver's new convention centre.
After reminiscing about the Vancouver games for a while, we took a walk along the Coal Harbour seawall to the entrance of Stanley Park and then turned back to end the day with gelato from Bella Gelateria, first place winner of the 2012 Florence Gelato Festival. The long line-up outside the store was a sure sign that we were in the right place and the gelato lived up to our high expectations. With our dessert craving satisfied, we headed back to North Vancouver on the seabus and agreed it was fun to be a tourist at home.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
While staying at the Westin Bear Mountain resort, we decided to hike the trail up to the top of Mount Finlayson. Finding the trailhead was no easy feat, but after asking for directions, we were well on our way. The hike started off easy enough as it meandered through the forest on the edge of the golf course. After a few minutes the trail got a little steeper and then our little hike turned into a full-on rock climbing escapade. 
We persevered and made our way to the summit. At the top, the view was fantastic as we looked over towards to the city of Victoria to the south-east and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the west. After a moment to catch our breath and enjoy the view, it was time for the downward descent. Slow and steady we headed back to the bottom and arrived at Bear Mountain to enjoy a refreshing cleansing shower.

All cleaned up, it was time to head out again. This time we decided to visit the town of Sooke. As we drove through the town, we turned off to follow the signs to the Sooke Harbour House - a highly rated Canadian hotel and restarurant. The hotel is right next to Whiffen Spit Park, where a spit extends into the mouth of the Sooke harbour and provides protection for the inner basin. We took a walk to the lighthouse at the end of the spit, where we were able to get some excellent views down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We headed back to the mainland and decided to take a peek inside the Sooke Harbour House ( The hotel looks to be very pleasant and restaurant is nicely situated with expansive views over the water. We asked to see the menu but the maitre 'd advised us that there is a new menu each day. Even though dinner was imminent, the menu was not quite ready. Clearly, the restaurant prides itself on the freshness of its ingredients. We will definitely be back one day to stay and sample the delicious cuisine. One of the neat features of the hotel is the artwork for sale that is spread throughout the corridors. We particularly liked the lighting effect captured in the following painting by Mark Hobson, an artist living in Tofino. Visit Mark's website ( for more samples of his excellent work.
As evening approached, it was time to head back to Bear Mountain. We decided to have dinner at the resort and had an excellent meal at the Bella Montagna Italian restaurant.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
We spent the last weekend of August at the Bear Mountain Resort on Vancouver Island, just outside Victoria. After a lazy morning and light lunch, we headed off to Point Ellice House for a tour of the house and afternoon tea ( The house is located on the Gorge waterway in Victoria and was built in 1861. The house belonged to the O'Reilly family before it was sold to the  Province of British Columbia in 1975. The O'Reilly family left all of the contents behind providing a rare opportunity to see one of North America’s largest collections of Victoriana in an original, privileged Victorian home. The house is now a National Heritage Site and the wonderfully maintained gardens present an excellent opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn.
As the picture shows, afternoon tea is taken seriously in Victoria!
The waterfront views at Point Ellice House aren't shabby either.

We returned to Bear Mountain in time for a swim and some time in the sun. As the evening approached, we headed indoors for a light meal in the bar where we watched the Whitecaps lose 2-1 to their rivals in Portland.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Arrived in Vancouver last night for the Vancouver Whitecaps inaugural MLS game against FC Toronto this weekend. Picked up our rental car and made our way to Oceanpoint, where we got settled for the night.

Woke up this morning to a grey overcast sky - it looks like the rain will hold off. Around lunch time, we put on the new scarves the Whitecaps had sent us for their inaugural season and then we headed out for a bite to eat at White Spot in West Vancouver before game time at 3.30 pm. 

Following an excellent lunch of Tuscan chicken pasta, chicken fingers and fries, and several butterscotch milkshakes, it was time to move on to Empire Field to get ready for the game.

We arrived to a very large, noisy and happy crowd of Whitecaps supporters. The fans were lined up way down Hastings Street with many of them singing Whitecaps songs developed by the Southsiders supporters club over the years. We parked the car and joined the line-up to get into the stadium, just as a long procession of fans from the Southsiders club marched past us in full colour and full song. It was really neat to see the excitement building.

As we entered the stadium, we were each given a Whitecaps drum and  we made our way to the Whitecaps store to buy our supporters shirts and souvenirs. With kick-off approaching, we went to our seats and joined the other 23,000 excited fans for the pre-game celebrations. The crowd went particularly crazy when Steve Nash came onto the field. By this time, the grey skies from the morning had long passed and the field was bathed in brilliant sunshine. It turned out to be a beautiful spring afternoon. 

After the national anthem, the game started and the teams looked quite even until Vancouver scored their very first MLS goal at the 15 minute mark - a beauty from Eric Hassli. The place went wild and hundreds of people started throwing the white rain panchos they were given to wear on to the pitch. After a five minute delay to clean up the field, the game restarted and Toronto came back to tie things up five minutes later with a goal from Dwayne De Rosario. Shortly after that, Vancouver took the lead again with a goal from Terry Dunfield.

After their second goal, Vancouver never looked back and completely dominated Toronto for the rest of the game. The Whitecaps scored two more goals - one from Atiba Harris (our brother from another mother!) and a second from Eric Hassli. Toronto got a late goal but it was too little too late and Vancouver had sealed the win. A historic day of football for Vancouver and hopefully a sign of many fun years to come. We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go to our next game. Go Whitecaps!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Woke up in time for a last Ramada breakfast before getting ready to check-out. Squeezed in a few waterslide runs and a swim before heading off to Starbucks and then the 90 minute drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Just outside Drumheller, we followed signs on the highway to the Suspension Bridge. We had no idea what this was but it sounded interesting. Turned out to be the Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Rosedale. We walked across the bridge and explored the old mine workings in the badlands on the other side. After scrambling up and down some sandstone slopes, we headed back across the bridge and finished the drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Museum is really well done and is a world class tourist attraction. The dinosaur fossils they have here are outstanding specimens and it is particularly interesting to see the museum after visiting the dinosaur excavation sites in Dinosaur Provincial Park the day before. We recommend seeing the provincial park before the museum so that you have a better appreciation for the exhibits. After the obligatory stop at the gift shop, we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed back to Calgary. A fabulous weekend!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An early morning wake-up to watch Germany advance to the World Cup soccer semi-finals at the expense of Argentina followed by breakfast at the Ramada and a trip to Starbucks. With coffee and tea in hand, it was time to head to Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Alberta, about 35 minutes from Brooks. As we entered the Park, the Alberta prairie gave way to the badlands, where the earth opens up into sculptured canyons and bizarre landscapes. The vistas from the top were stunning and we descended into the canyons to the Field Station visitor centre. After a quick lunch, we checked in for our two-hour bus tour, which we had reserved a few weeks ago. This is highly recommended since you can’t get to the most interesting sites unaccompanied. The bus headed into the badlands and we made several stops to explore the natural surroundings and look for dinosaur bones. We were amazed at how many bones we found scattered all over the place. This place is treasure trove for palaeontologists. One of the highlights was a stop at a site where we able to see an entire hadrosaurus that had been excavated. A very impressive and worthwhile tour. We learned a lot. After the bus tour, we visited the Field Station and looked at some of the exhibits, then headed off for a self-guided tour of the badlands. We stopped on the way to try some of the mini-hikes. While these hikes were good, they were no match for the sites we saw on the bus tour. We visited dinosaur houses on the self-guided tour. These are houses built on top of uncovered dinosaur skeletons that have been left for the public to view. As we headed off on our last mini-hike to see the cottonwood trees along the banks of the Red Deer River, we were attacked by mosquitoes who did not care about the deet repellent we were wearing. We decided the hike wasn’t worth the hassle so we ran back to the sanctuary of the car and headed back to Brooks. We rewarded our strenuous day with a visit to the hot tub and pool, and then it was off to O’Sheas for a bite to eat. This was followed by the daily ice cream competition. Today’s contenders were a caramel Aero McFlurry, a mint Aero McFlurry, an Oreo McFlurry and a Smartie McFlurry. The winner was Smartie McFlurry with last place going to mint Aero. And so ends another great day in the badlands!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A quick drive from Canmore to Calgary to pack and get ready to head out to Brooks. After a two hour drive, we arrived and checked in to our hotel, the Ramada. Very impressed with the hotel, the room and the facilities. We unpacked our gear, grabbed some free popcorn and went out exploring. All the usual fast food joints - Tim Hortons and Wendy’s right next to the hotel, McDonalds across the road - but we went to find the only Starbucks in town. We found it three minutes later - in the local Safeway. With that achievement duly noted, we headed back down the main road and stopped in at Pizza Hut for dinner. Fully fueled we went back to the hotel to check out the pool and waterslide. A fabulous pool area - hot tub, waterslide and steam room. We checked them all out and confirmed they worked well. Given that this was very hard work, we decided we needed a treat. Off to Wendy’s for frostys - between the four of us we nailed a chocolate frosty, a vanilla oreo frosty, a toffee coffee chocolate frosty and a root beer float. First place went to the oreo special, last place was awarded to the float! With our bellys full, it was time to go back to our room to rest up for our trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park in the morning.