Saturday, February 21, 2015

Vancouver, British Columbia

On our drive from Whistler to Vancouver, we first stopped by at Lynn Canyon Park. Inna read that most local prefer Lynn Canyon Park over the much more touristy Capilano Suspension Bridge. We have been to the Capilano many times (and liked it a lot), but were interested in trying something new. We really enjoyed Lynn Canyon Park (though Capilano also offers great views).

After a lunch at Tour de Feast, we drove to explore the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed the gardens and afterwards drove to the Canada Place in Vancouver, to enjoy the Fly Over Canada attraction. Fly Over Canada is identical to the Soarin' Over California ride in the Disney California Adventure Amusement Park.

Since we purchased tickets for a late show (around 7:30pm), we decided to enjoy the delicious flavors of our favorite gelateria in Canada - Bella Gelateria.

There were so many exotic flavors to choose from!

I tried the Akbar Mashti and was delighted with the unique taste of saffron, pistachio, and rosewater. I also liked the Matcha Green Tea. Some of the flavors were quite unique and I needed time to get used to them: Buko Pandan and Black Sesame (Japan) were quite exotic and unusual tasting.

Inna tried the Hazelnut flavor, which was very similar to Hazelnut gelato we make at home using California hazelnuts. We prefer to use Valrhona Chocolate when making our own homemade chocolate gelato. I think it's the best tasting chocolate (for use in ice cream or gelato).

Our favorite gelato flavor in Bacio (we make it at home whenever we can), It's a chocolate with hazelnut combination not unlike Nutella but so much more delicious. However, Bella Gelateria did not have it on the menu this day (or any previous time we were there).

After enjoying our gelato treats, we went back to the well decorated One Canada Place.

We enjoyed our Fly Over Canada rides, which included the Fly Over China also. I think the production of Fly Over Canada is shot on a better quality film, since it looks much sharper.

It is the Chinese New Year of the Wood Goat. We didn't spot any wooden goats but there was an over-sized panda.

After enjoying One Canada Place, we headed back to the Sutton Place Hotel. We have been lucky in finding reasonable rates for this fine hotel, so we were happy to stay there.

For dinner, we decided to try The Boulevard Restaurant in the hotel. We made a reservation for 9:30pm.

Alex ordered some fried chicken from the kids menu. Since he was tired and it was quite late, he went back to his room after eating.

Inna ordered a "Cauliflower Puree" soup. It was quite delicious.

I ordered the "Spaghetti Alla Vongole" and they were not bad at all.

Inna chose the "Roasted Sablefish". It is a local delicacy in Vancouver and was the best dish of the one we ordered. Highly recommended!

Since it was late, we went back to bed, but the nightlife in Vancouver seemed alive and well.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

In the morning, our usual ritual in Vancouver is to get coffee and pastries at our favorite eatery - Thierry. It was our last day in Vancouver (we had a late flight out of Seattle), so we were eager to make the most of the day.

We ordered lots of pastries and hot drinks. Resistance is futile, I must have this Apple Turnover.

Inna and Alex both had ham croissants. I didn't try them but they looked delicious.

Alex ordered the "Real Hot Chocolate" - not that fake stuff sold in the US.
It is real chocolate, melted - very rich! It's extremely filling.

Inna ordered her favorite London Fog - "Earl Grey Tea with Cream". She really liked it.

There were a few desserts on display and it was hard to resist not trying at least one.

We did decide to try a couple sweet desserts.

After eating desserts, we decided to spend some time in Stanley Park. It was a beautiful day to burn off all of those rich calories by walking around the park. It's so nice to have separate lanes for bicycles, cars, and pedestrians.

We parked near the Totem Poles and enjoyed our long walk.

We walked along the shore until we reached the "Girl in the Wetsuit" statue.

There were also nearby statues of Chinese Dragons.

As it was getting late, we decided to end our walk and drive back to Seattle, for our flight back to San Jose. We always enjoy our time in Vancouver.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens, British Columbia

After the hike at Lynn Canyon Park (and a delicious lunch at Tour de Feast), we drove to VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver. As the gardens closed at 4:00pm on Saturdays, we had just over an hour to explore it.

There were lots of plants to see in the garden, but majority were not blooming. Here is a map of the VanDusen gardens:

We followed the southern path, past the blooming Rhododendrons, to the maze (the southern course).

Most of the Rhododendrons were just beginning to bloom - as it was still winter in Vancouver.

There were a few contemporary statues sprinkled in the garden.

The maze was quite fun and easy to get lost in.

In the center of the maze, is a tall plant that mark's the maze's center.

To get out of the maze, we followed a group of other people who knew the way out. There were a few kids in the maze who were using the following way to making decisions:
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers, let him go
My mom says pick this one 
It was quite amusing seeing kids picking different paths through the maze and hitting dead ends.

There were supposed to be some waterfalls right around the corner but there was no water (it was a dry winter in Vancouver).

We walked by the Heron lake, where saw a large carved "Black Eagle Canoe".

Here is an article from VanDusen Bulletin that explains the origins of this canoe:
Now another piece of significant art has found a home here – Black Eagle by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid (1920 – 1998). Black Eagle is a fiberglass cast of Lootaas (Wave Eater), an original wood and polychrome canoe created by Mr. Reid who was commissioned by the Bank of British Columbia to carve an ocean-going canoe for Expo ‘86, the theme of which was transportation. 
Made from a 750-year-old cedar log, Lootaas was the first ocean canoe of this size to be carved in nearly a century. The Canadian Museum of Civilization later commissioned Mr. Reid to create the Black Eagle fiberglass canoe from a mould of his original Lootaas dugout canoe. Black Eagle was later acquired by the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, with financial support from Charles and Gail Pancerzewski. The canoe’s eagle design represents one of two main social groups of Haida culture; the other being raven. At 15.2 meters in length and weighing 4,000 lbs., a special crane was required to move the canoe from the storage facility to its present location on the peninsula on the south west side of Heron Lake. There it sits, on long-term loan from the Bill Reid Gallery, looking as if it is just about to launch. The intricate paddle designs and traditional sails for this canoe were also painted under the direction of Mr. Reid, and are on display at the Bill Reid Gallery – a public gallery for contemporary Aboriginal Art of the Northwest Coast, at 639 Hornby Street, Vancouver.

After examining the canoe, we continued our stroll through the rest of the garden.

There were a few trees from South America that had a very peculiar cone shape/look.

It was closing time, so we headed back to the entrance. Alex was a bit cold, so we ordered him some tea.

The VanDusen building has a very modern look that suits the gardens well.

Lynn Canyon Park, British Columbia

After our last breakfast in our Pan Pacific Mountainside Whistler hotel room, we loaded up our Kia Sorento rental and drove to Vancouver, BC.

On the way to Vancouver, we decided to stop at Lynn Canyon Park - instead of Capilano Suspension Bridge. We have been to the Capilano Suspension Bridge many times before, but heard that Vancouver's natives prefer to relax in Lynn Canyon Park instead (plus it's free).

Lynn Canyon Park has a much shorter suspension bridge, but it's also quite nice. There was a cafe nearby (with free Wifi) and Inna and Alex warmed up on some coffee and tea prior to the hike.

Lynn Canyon is a popular place for locals, as we had hard time finding parking. It was obviously much less touristy than Capilano.

We decided to take a short hike in the area.

There were some beautiful overlooks at the river below and I ended up taking lots of photos. Unfortunately, I had the ISO set on my Canon G15 incorrectly, so most of my photos came out a bit noisy (taken at ISO 3200).

The hike in Lynn Canyon is paved with wooded boards, so walking was very easy.

The vegetation all around was very green and there were lots of mosses growing all around. It reminded me a bit of the Olympic National Park near Seattle.

We decided to hike the loop between the Suspension Bridge and Twin Falls bridge, along the Baden Powell Trail.

Here is a map of Lynn Canyon Park:

We enjoyed a leisure 45 minute hike to the Twin Bridges overlook.

The trail began to ascend upwards at the Twin Bridges and then it leveled off on the way back.

There were a deep ravine below with a shallow stream running through it.

As we ascended upwards, we had a nice overlook of the green mossy forest below.

After we finished our hike, we were a bit thirsty and famished.

We made reservations for lunch at Tour De Feast Restaurant, and decided to drive there next. It was only a short drive away from Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver.

Alex had a "Cured Meat Panini" sandwich with potato chips.

I decided to be healthy and ordered a vegetarian dish - "a Veggie Panini". It was quite tasty.

Inna ordered a "Cured Meat Panini with salad".