Category Archives: BC

Canada, Whistler – the last stop on this trip:(

Many of you will know Whistler as one of the best ski resorts in the world. Well if you know me you will also know that ski-ing isn’t really my things (although the aprés bit is quite fun). So I convinced my friend Karen to go up for a couple of days and enjoy what has also become a great summer destination. The downside was the constant haze caused by the forest fires in Kamloops which are impacting much of Western Canada and the US – you could have believed there were no mountains surrounding Whistler at all – but luckily I have been before so know better. Real shame for first time visitors though. Poor air quality score of 10 – so memories of my time in China. 

Never daunted we walked around the town and also took gondolas and chairlifts up Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and the Peak to Peak gondola built for the Winter Olympics – it is the single longest unsupported structure in the world and the highest – so essentially you sit very high up and cross from one peak to the next in about 12 minutes. It is pretty impressive engineering and a must for visitors. We also took a hike (yes me) and you will see that even in Summer there is snow about and some cool ice walls too.

So sad to leave Canada as have had a fantastic time – not just seeing the country but catching up with many of my old ex HSBC pals – we spent a lot of time reminiscing about the “good old days” as you do! 

Until my next trip – I’m signing off as just back in Melbourne ready to enjoy all the fun things going on here – especially two next exhibits at the NGV – Hokusai and Dior. Can’t wait.

With Karen hiking and trying out the many chairlifts in Whistler

Whistler in summer – well worth a visit.

Canada, BC and Alberta – Great railway journeys of the world – I ride the Rocky Mountaineer

I am definitely getting a thing for train travel. When I lived in Vancouver I was always waving people off as they took this journey but I never found the time to do it then so this time I finally got to ride the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff. 

This is a full two day journey with an overnight stay in Kamloops BC. The train is a double decker if you travel gold leaf with an oval glass roof so visibility is excellent but it is cleverly tinted to ensure easy viewing but no roasting under the sun. Seats are large and comfortable and even have heating should you need it. The train does not stop along the way but does slow down around the most scenic areas and each carriage has an open air vestibule you can stand on to get an outdoors perspective. Food is excellent and plentiful with a separate dining car on the lower level of the carriage you are in and drinks are in plentiful supply. Each carriage has two hosts who point out what to look at and historical info. 

These photos will give a flavour of what you see from your window – the train itself and then bridges, scenery, trees, rivers and lakes. A good experience although slightly marred by the impact of smoke haze from the bush fires in BC.

The world famous Rocky Mountaineer

Below include Doris whose dog always barks when the RM engine goes by (But not when the freight trains go by – and there are loads of them. This brings Doris out to wave and we all waved back. Actually a lot of people wave at the train – Canadians are very friendly:)

Rivers and Lakes are on the “doorstep” of your train carriage.

Rivers and lakes along the the Rocky Mountaineer route

Canada, BC- I love Chemainus. Where is it? On Vancouver Island

I have finished a wonderful week with my great friend and fab host Marjory in Chemainus, Vancouver Island BC. The island which houses the capital of British Columbia (Victoria is situated there) is,  contrary to what a lot of people think, is a big island – slightly larger than Ireland I’m assured – but with a population of about half a million. So loads of room for everyone. 

A while back Chemainus decided to reinvent itself and one of the things they did was to create a town of murals – they are wonderful and it is a great way to spend an hour following the yellow footsteps through the older and new parts of town checking them out. See below for some samples.

Murals in Chemainus

The town itself is also cute and like many places in BC has its own marijuana shop on the High Street – all legal of course:). It is also home to a burgeoning wine industry in the Cowichan Valley.

The Cowichan valley and cannabis for sale in the corner shop

And not very far away in Cathedral Grove are some of the loveliest giant trees I’ve ever seen  – some are 800 years old – and fairy-like glades created when the sun filters through the tree.

Trees in Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

I will be back for sure……

Canada, Tofino, BC – the wild Pacific, temperate rainforest and goats on the roof

The tag line for British Columbia is “BBC” – standing for Beautiful British Columbia. For once this is not a superlative but a truism. I’d forgotten how gorgeous it is and having just spent three days in Tofino – the very west of Vancouver Island which itself is the west of Canada – well suffice to say the sunsets are always fab.

We stayed at Pacific Sands Lodge right on the beach where the temperate rainforest meets the ocean – reminds me a bit of the Margaret River area which may be why I like it so much. Here’s what I can see from my deck.

And here is the rainforest as well as the town of Coombs – and yes those are goats on the roof.

And of course we tasted a few excellent cocktails – as you do – including my favourite “the Caesar” (a Canadian Take on Bloody Mary but with Clamato juice) and a horseradish infused vodka. Yum

Canada, BC, Chemainus

Having a great time staying at my friend Marjory’s beautiful house in Chemainus, BC. I was relaxed the moment I walked through the door.

And yes, we may have the Big Pineapple in Australia but Duncan, BC can certainly compete with its very own “Big Hockey Stick” don’t you think??

Marjory’s place and the big hockey stick

USA, Alaska – After some more scenic cruising – flew on a spectacular 90 minute seaplane journey. 

Cruising in Alaska

Views from our seaplane in Alert Bay BC. Quattoon waterfalls

Yes it is small but a seaplane is a perfect way to view Northern BC

Cruise now over. Looking forward to reunion with my old Hong Kong Bank of Canada mates in Vancouver and next stop is Chemainus and Tofino on Vancouver Island. 

USA and Canada – All things native Alaska and Canada 

Managed to see a lot of native and traditional indigenous art and culture in both Alaska and British Columbia. These totem poles are very old but still great pieces of art and they stand about 20 feet high. 

Totem poles – very old ones

And here are some nightmarish masks to keep away marauders and unwelcome visitors – not to mention providing a few nightmares. 

And below are some much friendlier welcomes from two Mounties on Prince Rupert Island, BC. 

Canada – Victoria, BC

Great first couple of days visiting my dear friends Daphne and Mark and their cute Havanese dog Monte in Victoria.

Coming in to land I knew it was going to be a special visit – the view from the plane was perfect. 

Coming in to land at Victoria , BC airport

Daphne and Mark have a boat called “Three’s Enough” (long story!) and they kindly took me out for a day and night (it has two bedrooms!) on it. Here is the boat and crew (excluded me as I’m not really crew material but I make a great passenger!) – including Monte of course. 

Three’s Company plus Mark, Daphne and Monte

First stop Salt Spring Island where my vision was boggled at the Farmers’ Market by rainbow stalk kale, red and orange carrots and garlic-scapes (plus cute guy with amusing t shirt). 

Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Market

And then to top it all we had a wonderful dinner at the Relaise and Chateau restaurant- Hastings House. Last time I visited was with Trudy and Alan back in the mid 90s. It is still as good as I remembered and idyllically situated on a hill by the waterfront. 

The track to Hastings House, a sample dish and Daphne, Mark and I having a great time