Sunday, June 29, 2014

Exploring some of Banff's eye candy

While at the CVF convention in Banff we did several walks however for the blog I am going to combine a couple we did to showcase the highlights of the town site. One was done Friday morning and the other - with a huge group - on Saturday morning.   As I mentioned in a previous post we were so very very lucky with the weather - it can be a real downer when it rains in the mountains. 

So here we go off to explore the townsite and see the famous Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls and a surprise or two! 

We started off on the multipurpose path that runs along side the Bow River - conveniently right behind the hotel we stayed at - the Bow View Lodge

It's not every day you get piped off on a walk!

First surprise - an elk!!  They are a common sight around town.

The beautiful Banff Springs hotel
Crossing the Bow River
View from the Bridge - not a bad view anywhere in this town!
Bow Falls - it's not exactly Niagara Falls but hey, the setting can't be beat

Hanging out around the Banff Springs Hotel - I don't recall ever going in this hotel lobby.  We didn't today - that is the disadvantage of walking in a large group: no freedom to do your own thing. The advantage of walking in large groups -it tends to keep the things that eat you away!

Well hello there cutie, sorry to disturb you while you're eating someone's garden.  Well this used to my home before people came and built their McMansions and silly houses that all look the same and now where can I go?  Touche...keep eating!!!

I hope you enjoyed this walk - we will be going for a few more mountain walks so stay tuned!

Friday, June 27, 2014

To market to market, on a boat

Okay now we're back in three of the fun weekend Julie and I had together.  If you remember, Julie is my friend from Australia who I hadn't seen since the mid 80's when she lived in England.  We had such fun together and plan to meet up again somewhere else in the world in the next few years.  Anyway we decided to visit Granville Island and have breakfast at the market.  From real concrete plans...

We had a ten minute walk over to the Yaletown dock  and  I did something I had never done before in Vancouver  - took a small water bus over to the market.  Such fun!  Why didn't I do this before?  I don't know but I will sure do it again!

 Yaletown Dock - we tried to find a coffee shop but none other than Starbucks so we held off - and we were happy we did!!!
 Our water bus - isn't it cute? (I guess if you are a teenage girl or a cougar you might wonder what I am calling cute)  I believe it cost us four dollars to cross.  More expensive than a bus but so much more fun!!! 

 The dock at Granville Island

Definitely worth waiting for!

Lots of choice for meals at the Granville Public Market

You knew I had to hang around the baking didn't you?  I resisted!

Now that's the kind of bear I wouldn't mind running into in the forest  - I would  just eat him!

Oh my...

Julie busy purchasing her bread above.  Aside from breakfast and me purchasing a half pound of freshly roasted coffee beans (one of my "must do's" when I travel within North America) we restrained ourselves and got baguettes, cheese and a few slices of ham for a picnic later.  More on where we ate that picnic in the next Vancouver post.  Hope you enjoyed visiting Granville Public Market with me - if you are a lover of markets like I am you MUST go! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A walk to the Vermillion Lakes in Banff

 I recently spent a wonderful weekend in Banff National Park in Alberta.  Three of us from my local walking club did a nine hour road trip together to the Canadian Volkssport convention.  You may have read my posts about doing my 10 km walks.  This is what it's all about!  I will be writing an upcoming post (but don't hold your breath!) about Volkssport and how it has changed my life and there will be more posts about the convention coming up.  In the meantime if you want to read more information about it click here. 

Vermillion Lakes are a series of three lakes located west of the Banff townsite.  Archeological  evidence shows that there was human activity around this lake as far back as 10,800 years!

The weather was absolutely amazing - we were so LUCKY!  Everyone at the convention was overwhelmed at how beautiful Banff was - yes I do live in an amazingly beautiful country.

The first full day of the convention my friend June and I did an 11 km afternoon walk to the Vermillion Lakes and back.  I had been advised not to do this walk (I was going to do the 5 km version of it) alone as there were a lot of bears around.  The upper levels of Banff still had a lot of snow so the bears were at lower levels looking for food after their long hibernation.  Luckily June agreed to accompany me and I don't think she regretted it!!! 

We walked along the Bow river and then along a forested path and emerged onto a road that meandered beside the lakes.  

I don't need words to describe the beauty of our walk so I will shut up now and let you enjoy it. But keep a look out for bears.and especially keep an eye out for that very aggressive mama elk they say is around as well....

We walked out and back on this road - definitely not a shabby view..
Starting to head back

Back through the forest

I hope you enjoyed taking the walk with us - it was a beauty.  But there are more of these to come....there is no such thing as a boring walk in Banff!!! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A fun day out on Bowen Island

The next day after Grouse Mountain Julie wanted to visit a nearby island and Bowen Island seemed the ideal fit.  Bowen Island is a small island of 20 square miles and with approximately 3300 residents.  It lies 25 km north west of Vancouver - a twenty minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay.   We took the express bus #257 to Horseshoe Bay and just made the 9 a.m. sailing. ($12 dollars which covers both ways - you pay going over)

I love the cloud covered mountains and ocean views on the way over.

Almost there!  Need I add that we stayed on the open deck the whole way over?  

We're here!  And we got to unload before the cars!!!

First things first and it was time to get some breakfast...

The Snug Cafe - my kind of place! Doggie central on a lovely sunny day and a wonderful place I am sure to sit inside on a rainy day. 

Ham, cheese and egg on a croissant

Lots of goodies and freshly cooked meals.
Fully sated we headed off on the bus to Killarney Lake ...there are a couple of small buses that service the island. We then walked back to Snug Harbour through the forest - only about a half hour walk. 

Beautiful Killarney Lake

We headed off on this path - wonderful! 
Not what you see walking through the forest every day - donkeys!  On their way to a festival...more on that later.  Later that day we saw the donkeys crossing the road with flowers around their ears.  No time for a photo op though!

Pretty little waterfall into Killarney Creek

When we arrived back into town we found out the Green Man festival was taking place in front of the "castle" (the library - being a total library nerd I had to visit it - wonderful!) - the battle between Green Man (summer) and the Ice Queen (winter).  Both were accompanied by their tiny "buds" and "Icicles".  It was the first Green Man festival on Bowen so we were so very lucky to be able to enjoy it.  After the battle (the Green Man won of course) a dance followed around the Maypole.  Delightful!!!  I found out later that participants included the Bowen Black Sheep Morris Dancers!!!  So much fun!!!

Looks like the Snow Queen is winning there - well let's face it winter IS a bitch - but not to worry...the Green Man won!!! 

The triumphant  Green Man
Setting up for the May Pole dance

Black Sheep Morris dancers

May Pole dance

 I didn't take as many photos as usual as I was busy using the video on my small point and shoot camera.  The festival was fun and made the day even more special.  There was entertainment in a nearby park afterwards but we had other things to do - one regret - missing the donkeys with flowers in their ears. (I LOVE donkeys!)

After an ice cream we then headed off on the Blue Water bus (same bus driver) to the West beaches.  However due to the schedule we could not get off as the next bus was not due back for two hours - so just went for the ride.  No view of the beaches.   We did have the driver drop us off at the Artisan Square which is a series of "artsy" shops.  And a sweet looking cafe  (I love unique coffee shops)  - however we knew we were going to be having fish and chips soon so didn't indulge.  I was proud of myself - walked into a chocolate shop and walked back out empty handed!!!  Neither Julie nor I are big shoppers and this year is a "needs not wants" year so I resisted.  We could not resist getting a photo of this gorgeous girl though!!!  I have to say I think Julie is crazier over dogs than I am and believe that is saying something!!!

I think she had been up to some naughty stuff!

  We then walked back down the hill stopping to admire the home made bird houses hanging on trees.  We stopped at a coffee roasters so I could buy a pound of beans.  Buying locally roasted coffee beans while traveling is one of my "things".  I also have the same "thing" about tea but I am on a ten step recovery program for that being as I have enough tea in my cupboards to start my own shop. (and I am proud to say I resisted buying any even if there was a Murchies tea shop in Vancouver!)   It doesn't clutter up my small apartment and I have the pleasure of remembering where I got the beans while I am grinding them and enjoying my morning coffee.

 We then headed down to the boardwalk area - we knew we wanted to have fish and chips so we made a beeline to  Doc Morgan's Pub.  We sat outside on the patio (LOVE that smoking is not allowed on restaurant patios and decks in British Columbia) and well guess what drink I had?  

It was very good...I made some rather vulgar comments to Julie about how much I enjoyed the drink which I won't repeat here!!!

We also enjoyed some good fish and chips - not the best I've ever had but pretty darn good.    

I know I know, fish and chips look like and chips....but indulge me, I like to post photos of my food

 There was still time until the ferry so we found out we could easily walk to an area to see our ferry come in and there was a pretty view.  So off we went.  Poor Julie - I think I wore her out that weekend with all the walking but I figured it was good training for the tour of the Rockies she was about to embark on. 

Have I convinced you to visit Bowen Island yet?

All too soon our ferry was there to whisk us back to Horseshoe Bay.   I hope you enjoyed visiting Bowen Island with me - it is definitely on my "must return" list when I next visit Vancouver. 

Bopping around Budapest - The Old Town of Buda

F riends had raved about Budapest and having read quite a bit about it I knew it was on my "to visit" list. And I knew it was goi...