Currently traveling
May 2018 - October 2020
Currently traveling
  • Day28


    June 21, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    We had a good flight, great seats at the back of the plane, even managed some sleep. Tony and I both went for intellectual films, Paddington and Peter Rabbit!, it was late at night and it had been a busy holiday. We cleared passport control quickly and even though luggage reclaim was slow, we caught an earlier National Express bus. We were in just in time to catch the no. 9 bus home - 19,000 miles travelled by plane, ship, train, car and boat and on the last 10 miles the bus broke down at Millbrook!!!!!!!!

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  • Day27

    CAPILLANO and back to Vancouver Airport

    June 20, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Last day! Ellie and Ross are off on a very early 'bear hunt' excursion. We are doing some final packing. We saw Els and Ross briefly before we left and they showed us some pics of a bear up a tree which definitely confirms you don't try to out climb a bear, this one was very high up.

    Last day in the mountains after almost 4 weeks of living with mountain views. We stopped for a few photos on the way down and a coffee at Britannia Beach which I thought was going to be a quiet little village on the sea but was next to a busy highway but the cafe and 'scoff' was ok.

    We arrived at Capilano (another place we had visited in the 80's trip). It is now much more commercialised, not just a bridge, and full of selfie sticks! We started off with a guided tour telling us of the history of the bridge, park and its owners (some were quite colourful!), this place has been thrilling travellers since 1889 and is yet another place that was originally 'owned' by First Nation people but never bought from them. The current owner's took over the park from her father and her son is now involved running the current enterprise. Our guide also showed us the totem pole park and explained that the tourist shop type totem poles are referred to as Hollywood totem poles as they don't represent the real thing.

    Next we crossed the bridge over 450 foot span along with many others (and selfie sticks!) then walked along the quieter boardwalk by the river and through the woods called Nature's Edge. We made one wild life spot - a snake. We then did the Treetop Adventure, selfie sticks multiplied at this point! We crossed back over the bridge and walked over the river on the Cliffwalk (I won't even mention selfie sticks at this point in case they take over!). We lunched in the Cliff House Restaurant which was much more civilised than the other options and had a pleasant shady terrace.

    We set off for the airport over Lion's Gate Bridge which we had sailed under just under 4 weeks ago. Tony drove and I navigated (skilfully even is I do say so myself!) through Stanley Park into downtown Vancouver and along Granville Street out to the airport. Car refuel, drop off and check in all went smoothly and then 'we were on our way' for the last time on this adventure!
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  • Day26

    WHISTLER (chairlift to 7th Heaven)

    June 19, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Today's itinerary is a visit to the peaks of Whistler and Backcomb mountains. Originally we had intended to walk on some of the hiking trails but the visitor centre told us yesterday all the trails are still snowbound which seems amazing with these scorching temperatures.

    We took the Village Gondola up to Roundhouse Lodge (1,850 m). We bumped into Ellie, Ross and mates and took photos of each other at the Olympic Rings (here from the 2010 games) with the great mountain back drop. We got inline for the Peak2Peak Gondola and opted for the glass floor cabin. Els and co. had ringo rides on the snow slope, a better location than Calshot ringos! The Peak2Peak ride did as it said and took us from high up on Backcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain over a valley. We were now at about 2,000 m, there were helicopter flights from here and, of course, a cafe so we stopped for a coffee break sat on the terrace overlooking the great view. A very charming Australian couple, from near Melbourne, invited us to share their table. We ended up having a very enjoyable chat for about 90 mins which facilitate us seeing the helicopter take off and seeing several Marmots.

    We then took a bus ride, on a winding mountain track, to the base of the 7th Heaven Express Chair Lift. The chair lift ride was very peaceful as we ascended to the top (2,284 m). We were gliding over the ski runs and at the top we were walking around in snow and people were 'doing' snow angels. We could overlook the ski run that had jumps and skiers were performing amazing tricks. We had another lunch stop with an awesome view.

    On our return journey on the Village Gondola we spotted yet another mama bear and cubs, mountain bikers were within metres of the bears on their trail but blissfully unaware!

    We meet up with Ellie and Ross for a final meal together before we set off tomorrow for Vancouver and home. We had to wait for a table so we did a little retail therapy in the part of the village we hadn't explored. After dinner we went to a great ice cream shop Ellie and Ross had discovered and did some more pics by the village Olympic Rings.
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  • Day25

    WHISTLER (from the air)

    June 18, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Today we are taking to the skies in a 6 seater float plane. We drove to Green Lake to check in at the 'airport', a stylist wooden shed on the pontoon. Our little plane was moored up and a larger regular service float plane was waiting to depart to either Victoria or Vancouver, the passengers boarded and the flight attendant untied the rope and climbed the ladder, hopped in through the cabin door and 'they were on their way!'.

    Washrooms were located in the very swish Whistler Golf Club house nearby, so we took advantage of these before meeting Captain Tim who was flying us up to the Alpine Lake. Whilst we waited to board the plane we watched a 'lovely' assistant fill the plane with fuel and a group of toddlers from a daycare facility came to watch the planes take off and they were very co-operative about covering their ears when planes were moving.

    Eventually we boarded the plane, Tony sitting in the co-pilot's seat, Captain informed us they hadn't landed on the lake yet this year so he would do a recce before committing to land as the water level might be too high. We set off, clear blue skies, up, up and away with great views of Whistler Village, Whistler and Backcomb mountains. We flew between snow covered peaks, saw blue glacial rivers bubbling through the valley, spotted Squamish in the distance. At times it felt like we were going to fly into the mountains but the captain seemed to know what he was doing! The scenery was breathtaking. Finally we spotted a beautiful Alpine lake between the jutting peaks, we circled over waterfalls whilst the captain was assessing if it was safe to land. Yes we could so down, so we descended very gracefully onto the lake, the captain kicked off his shoes, jumped out, pulled the plane into the beach and we 'debarked' (American for got off!), for photos and a picnic on the beach in a most idyllic location. The beach was quite small as the lake was very full from the winter snow melt so we had to partly walk in the lake to get to the picnic spot, the picnic blankets were laid out on the beach next to the snow cover grass (yes snow and sand in one place even when the temperature is 80 degrees plus). We really didn't want to leave this gorgeous location but, of course, we had to. On th return journey Gill was in the co-pilot's seat and was very careful not to touch anything or get in the way of the captain's view as, in these little machines there didn't seem to be many fancy gadgets so I assumed things were done by sight not all on instruments. Again fabulous views as we glided between snow covered peaks with views of Garibaldi National Park and eventually descended into Green Lake for another great landing (much smoother than Air Canada and Air Alaska managed!). We all agreed it was a great experience.

    We returned to the hotel and Tony and I decided to take a dip in the hotel pool before hiring bikes (no not to go mountain biking) but to cycle around the Valley Trail. They weren't the best bikes we have hired this trip but it was a good paved route around the golf course, along the river joining the lakes and by Altura Lake and a loop back into Whistler. There were the usual signs about beware of the bears but we only saw 2 very cheeky beavers walking on the golf course - I'm not sure what their handy cap was!!!!
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  • Day24


    June 17, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    The hotel included breakfast so we joined the other guests which were mainly men involved with some kind of racing in the breakfast rooms. The 2 servers were definitely western country cowboy women and one delivered a mean hit on unsuspecting mosquitos with a fly squasher!

    We set off back to Hope then along the Fraser Canyon through Yale up to Hell's Gate Airtram. It was a scorchingly hot day. Fortunately we arrived just before a French coach party and made it through the ticket office and across on the gondola before them. The raging Fraser river narrows to a 33 metre wide passage at this point and 800 million litres of water per minute thunder through below the airtram. There are railway lines on both sides of the gorge. There are salmon ladders to help the spawning salmon through these challenging rapids. One can only imagine what a daunting scene this section of the river must have been to Simon Fraser in 1808 when he first caught sight of it. For us latter day travellers we can easily walk across the bridge to get great photo, enjoy the cafe, gift shop, locally manufactured fudge and informative areas depicting the history and ghostly spirits that linger through out the attraction.

    We set off up highway 1 following the Fraser River. We had a brief photo stop in Lytton to observe where the Fraser and Thompson rivers flow into each other, more mountains scenery and the odd goat, then on to Lillooet to sit under a cafe's shady canopy for some refreshment. Gemma face timed whilst we were in the cafe to show us their Postman Pat themed rooms at CBBs Land - very cute! We didn't get to talk to Max as he was sleeping as it was late at night in the UK.

    Lillooet is billed as being scenic like Banff and as we left the town the mountains were more imposing, the rivers gurgling more blue glacier water and the road winded its way upwards giving us some great scenic views.

    As we were approaching Pemberton, a keen spotter in our car saw a black bear by the road, we could not stop but as we looked back we could see her walk across the road with 2 cubs.

    We arrived in Whistler, mountain bikers Mecca (!), sort of Disneyland for bikes (!), the town was buzzing and baking hot. We checked into our hotel, Mountainside Lodge, did a little unpacking and headed into town. Our Whistler map seemed to confuse us all but we eventually found Ellie and Ross's friends who had arrived earlier and had supper in one of the many restaurants. There were still a few bugs around taking a nibble out of us but only outside not in the hotel with AC.
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  • Day23


    June 16, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We must have looked a strange set of travellers trudging up West Pender Street with Ross out in front pulling 2 very large bikes bags followed by Ellie wheeling 2 suitcases, giving one bike bag the occasional kick when it didn't run straight and Tony and I following up the rear with our luggage. We successfully reached, the now familiar, Waterfront Station, caught Skytrain to the airport where we collected our mini van which would be our means of transport for the final sector of the holiday.

    We successfully navigated our way out of Vancouver through suburbs with familiar sounding names such as Surrey and Langley and eventually joined Highway 1. Back in the day, our memory of Highway 1 was a one up, one down road with opportunities to drop off at little road side diners but now it is a busy major 4 lane highway and you need to turn off to service areas so no quaint diners for a coffee stop. When we reached Hope we stopped for lunch, unfortunately there was too long a line to get seated at the first restaurant so the only other option was Tim Hortons. Ellie was keen to take a mini detour to visit the first "Dewdney site" which was Dewdney Avenue, just a regular residential street, the locals must have wondered why a car full of tourist turned up taking pictures at their road sign, Japanese style!!!! For old time's sake we left Hope via the Main Street which was the only street on our 1st visit.

    We turned off onto Highway 3 and the road narrowed and had less traffic, of course we still had lovely scenery. We entered Manning Park and stopped off to speak to Mr Ranger and get a map. We had a few more miles to get to the Cascade Recreation Area where a walkable section of the old Dewdney Trail began. When we reached the parking lot we weren't disappointed there were signs and notice boards about Edgar and his trail so lots of photo opportunities for us latter day Dewdney's! The Dewdney trail came about as in 1894 the 49th parallel was established as the United States/Canada border and most of the trading routes originated in the United States and there was a lack of good routes from the Canadian Coast into the Interior of British Columbia this was of little concern until gold was discovered in the late 1850's. In order to maintain British control over the mining it was decided to build a trail within Canada and the contract for building it was given to Edgar Dewdney, a civil engineer. The trail was hoped to be large enough for a wagon but in places it was only suitable for pack mules. It seemed as each section was completed, gold or other minerals were found farther into the interior and the trail need to be extended. We walked a short section of the trail, initially down to the fast flowing river then farther into the wooded area. We found some fur scattered on the ground which we wonder if it was the remains of a bears breakfast! The trail seemed to fork and the Dewdney section seemed more overgrown but, what could have been the Whatcom trail, was clearer, but by this time we did seem to be lunch for the local mosquitos so we decided to head back to the car.

    We headed into the unincorporated small 'town' of Dewdney, found the historic pub called The Dewdney Pub and checked we had a reservation for dinner tonight. We then took a photo of the Dewdney Elementary School followed by a visit to the Dewdney Store. The store, which dated back to 1891 and became a post office in1917 and is the oldest Post Office in BC, was a little down at heels looking, with a broken electric sign flapping in the slight breeze and paint peeling off the sidings but the lady inside was most helpful and gave us information on films that has used the store as a location (including one with Richard Gere), she also agreed to give 2 postcards to the post mistress the next day so they would have a Dewdney stamp on them and finally she served us some delicious ice cream. Thinking we had found everything Dewdney, we set off for the hotel in Mission but then came across Dewdney Recreation Park and boat launch which we had to visit and en route we found a few more houses in the 'town'. We took a few more pics and received a few more mosquito bites before retiring to the car for protection.

    We did a quick change in the hotel then set off to the Dewdney Pub for supper and some country music played by The Dusty Something Band! The pub had a charity event on so it was packed out with 'locals', no ethnic mix here, just down to earth cowboys enjoying the food, booze and country music. The band included a lady wearing cowboy boots and some of the guys had cowboy hats on. Their first number was an Eagles song but before they could finish their amplifiers had caused a power cut but they got the show back on the road and the music continued. The food was good and Els and Ross enjoyed the local beer. We found out from our very helpful waitress that the Liquor store attached to to the pub sold Dewdney Pub tee shirts so Ellie and I both bought one. Great evening, pub lived up to expectations and we felt we had experienced 'real' rather than tourist Canada.
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  • Day22


    June 15, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We know our way around the immediate district quite well now so were able to navigate into Gastown passed the steam clock and a few souvenir shop stops en route to Sky tower. Downtown Vancouver has filled up with so many tall buildings since Tony and I were here 36 years ago and we didn't realise we had been up in the outside glass elevators then when it was owned by Sears and there was no viewing platform at the top. I know this is getting boring, but it was another sunny day with clear blue skies and a great view. We were able to spot the Church where we were meeting for the evening tour, the location of our hotel, the 'pizza' shape building we remembered from our visit in '82, Canada Place, Stanley Park, the Marine Building and Trump Towers (!).

    Next on the agenda was lunch at the Art Gallery (a suggested venue from Ellie's guide book), also it is in Hornsby Street close to where our bike tour begins. After a tasty lunch, sat outside on the patio, we set off to meet our mean machines for our afternoon Epic Electric Bike Tour. My 'boy' was named 'Wally'. Our tour took us up to Canada Place which was built for the Expo Exhibition and was a catalyst for a lot of development in the city. We cycled along the seawall towards Stanley Park and saw an area which is a naval base, originally it was a first nation burial ground, it was taken by the Crown and later sold by them even though they had no right of ownership and it's ownership is an ongoing dispute. We visited the totem pole park and were told about how they were story poles. We headed across the park through a shady, fern and tree area and it really didn't feel like we were close to a major city. We saw Beaver Lake covered in water lilies and a big dam that just 2 beavers had built. We headed up to Prospect Point, close to the Lions Gate Bridge and appreciated our electric power. There were some fabulous views which Tony and I had seen from Westerdam when we passed under the bridge on the way out of Vancouver en route up to Alaska a few weeks ago. Next we descended into English Bay where the locals had all headed after work as it was a sunny afternoon. We continued along the seawall across from Granville Island. We continued on to the Olympic Village, then through China Town and Gas Town and finally back to Hornsby to say goodbye to our bikes and very good guide.

    We had a quick supper in a very noisy bar/restaurant before joining our guide Roxanne on the Forbidden Vancouver Tour.
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  • Day21


    June 14, 2018 in Canada ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    We are now 'experts' at the BC transit system and website so set off, with confidence, to catch the bus to Saaswach and the 10 am ferry to Vancouver but when we arrived at the port we found the 10 am was cancelled so we had a 1 hour wait for the next and the coffee machine was broken. It was another beautiful sunny day and the 90 minute ferry ride through the Gulf Islands was lovely with yet more great scenery and cost just $17.50 each (£10 ish). When we arrived at Twaseen the bus was waiting and there was an easy connection to Skytrain.

    We drop our luggage off at the hotel and headed for the police museum. In Vancouver's early days there were just a few policemen with very English style uniforms but as time progressed and the prospectors and then the railway workers arrived the town became more lawless and the police force increased. There were interesting exhibits on unsolved murders, forensics, compiling computer identification profiles and some moving stories about officers killed in the line of duty, ironically one murderer studied law during his prison sentence and became a lawyer.

    We went for a wander around Gastown and reacquainted ourselves with Gasey Jack's statue, (Gasey was responsible for introducing bars in town to occupy all the men who flocked into town during the gold rush days). We also saw the steam clock and we located the restaurant, Steam Works, where we were going to meet our friends Steve and Sandi for supper in the evening. I was anxious to find a route which wasn't too seedy and full of street folk when we walked back later. We had an excellent meal in Steam Works and I even enjoyed half a pint of local beer! Steam Works is a local brewer so it would have been rude not to sample the local brew! It was great catching up with Sandi and Steve who live in Vancouver but are expats and we meet them 2 years' ago when we cruised on the Danube.

    We returned to the hotel and enquired if Ellie and Ross had arrived, they hadn't, so we checked BA arrivals and found their plane was delayed, apparently someone decided not to board and their luggage had to be removed. A little later we heard them and their luggage arrive (2 suitcases and 2 bikes in cases!). We did the welcoming chat (made a change to give it rather than receive it!) and made plans for tomorrow.
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  • Day20


    June 13, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    It's another 'on yer bike' day for us so we set off walking to the seaplane harbour to get fitted up for our bikes at Seawall Cycles and were transported, again by Roger, to Sooke Pot Holes. Today we were joined on the bus by Kathleen from Australia but she was on a speed run as she had to complete the 50 km of the Galloping Goose Trail and be back by 3 pm to catch a ferry for Seattle.

    The pot holes were very impressive and it was interesting to read the signboard at the potholes which explained about the large chimney and part complete building, apparently a business man had purchased the land with the vision of building a luxury vacation lodge on the river but he ran out of money and the part build structure has just been fenced off and left.

    We had a slight problem at the beginning of the trail as one of the bridges had been closed and the suggested alternative route was really only for walkers and horse riders, we pushed the bike up the first very steep hill but didn't like the look of the very steep mountain bike type downhill so doubled back to the little but undulating road that ran along the river. We joined the proper trail again, which is another disused railway line, and it was an extremely pleasant, rural track through forest and along lakes. We saw several deer and one snake, the only thing missing was a coffee stop so we were very pleased we had bought a picnic. In mid afternoon, as we were getting closer to Victoria, we did come to an area where they are building a lot of new housing and there was a shopping plaza with a bar that served coffee. From 4.30 pm onwards our very quiet track with few other riders turned into the bike commuter route out of Victoria with a continuous stream of riders coming in the opposite direction. It was still a very good path over rivers and parks and a great commute.

    We returned our bikes and returned 'home' to pack our bags for tomorrow's bus and BC Ferry journey to Vancouver.
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  • Day19


    June 12, 2018 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We caught the bus out to Butchart Gardens and our first stop was, of course, at the coffee shop and we bumped into a couple from Australia who had been on the cruise with us (fancy that!). We thought the gardens were magnificent and we loved some of the planting designs which were simple but effective. Many of the plants were ones we see in our gardens in England but beautifully maintained. The ethos of the garden is a Victorian planting scheme of replacing the flowers every season, apparently they plant over 30,000 daffodils and 80% are composted at the end of the season.

    Jennie Butchart created the gardens over a hundred year's ago. The gardens were created out of the worked out lime quarry which had supplied her husband's nearby Portland cement plant. The gardens are still operated by the family and a team of 70 gardeners. The garden receives over a million visitors every year.

    When we returned to the garden we had a quick whirl around our apartments neighbourhood which is China Town. The Chinese came to Canada in the gold rush days but were treated very much as second class and were not allowed to make claims. Some worked on the railways and were paid much less than other workers, when the work was done they were sent back to Victoria where they had entered Canada. They didn't have enough money to return home so wooden houses were erected and that was the birth of China town.
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