Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge - 30th Dec 09

Today was an amazing day, perhaps one of my top 10 days since arrival in Vancouver. Cam had won some tickets to see the Christmas lights at Capilano suspension bridge. We had decided to go with Emily from work, as she was working around Christmas time, we planned to go on this evening for a friends Christmas Day.

The weather was pretty crappy today unfortunately but I think this added to the day in some way. We headed over to North Vancouver in the morning around 10am, initially we had decided to eat lunch up the mountain however it was booked out, so we went to another of our favourite winter/comfort restaurants, Burgoo. After another beautiful lunch here we caught the bus and went up the mountain. We decided to get an annual pass this time as we have now been here 2 times and pretty much would have made back our money by now. Anyway we jumped on sky-ride, its was raining down the mountain but as we got higher up it was snowing and quite heavy as well, it looked beautiful. They do sleigh rides up there, but these are sitting on a thing which is being towed by a tractor like thing, not very authentic but fun none the less.

Now it was snow fight and snow angel time, soooo much fun, even did a little woop woop woop Homer fun in the snow going round n circles, ah fun times being a kid. We walked around in the snow, this was pre snow-boots time and my feet were freezing and soaked, but it was well worth it. We headed up to the little cafe and sat down for a hot chocolate and beaver tail. A beaver tail is not actually from a beaver but this really nice, fried dough (pastry) type thing, covered in all sorts of things depending on what you feel like. I had a sugar and cinnamon one, delicious. Just beautiful, sitting on the top of a mountain in the snow drinking hot chocolate. Then it really started snowing and we decided to do some ice skating, well Emily and I ice skated and Cam watched again. It was so funny Emily was using the zimmmer frame (the type of frame the elderly use), very good when you are just learning though, she then left this behind and ventured out on her own, I thought she was pretty good for someone who has only done it a few times.

It was getting later, dark and really starting to snow now. We were all quite wet and getting cold so headed back down on the sky-ride, bound for Capilano Suspension Bridge. There weren't many people around which was nice, we got to take our time and walk around. It was really airy walking across the suspension bridge which is 70m high from the river below and 137m across, in the pitch black. When you look down you can only just make out the water and rocks below, it was also really quiet which made it more airy. We walked around for a while, looked at the lights twisted around up in the trees and then walked back across the bridge. Cam also won 2 tickets to try glass blowing. This is no easy thing, however we did have professionals there to try and fix the messes we were trying to make, well actually I don't think we did too bad they just had to help us out a few times. We got to keep the glass as well which was pretty cool. We had to hang around and wait for these to cool a bit so we sat round listening to the carol singers. As it was getting late and we were quite cold being wet, once we had our glass we headed back towards Vancouver.

On our way home we stopped for a quick drink and bite to eat at Doolins. What a fantastic fun filled day!!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas 2009 - 24th Dec - 27th Dec

So this year we were very excited about Christmas time, there is just something about North America and how they celebrate Christmas, there are lots of lights all over the place and fun events to go to. Well not so much at Christmas time but prior to Christmas as you may have seen in the last blog.

I finished work at 7am on Christmas eve and Cam finished at lunch time which gave me a short time to have a sleep while Cam was working. He managed to get home a little earlier which was nice, we checked skype to see if any family were online, however being Christmas Day in New Zealand I think everyone was having a good time and no one was there to chat. It was a beautiful day in Vancouver, a little chilly however the sun was out so we made the most of it and headed down to False Creek on the waterfront and went for a walk. It was beautiful and there were plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine.

This evening we had been invited to Paula's house (a friend from work), to spend the evening with her family for dinner. After a quick chat with family we headed out to Paula's, with a Kiwi Pavlova in tow. Paula went and picked up Emily from work while Cam, Chris (Paula's husband) and their 2 girls watched some old fashioned Tom and Jerry, wow what a blast from the past. We feasted on roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, and veges accompanied by a few drinks. Not to forget doing the North American thing and opening a present from each other. It was such a great evening and nice to be surrounded by great company, especially with other family and friends so far away.

The next day of course was CHRISTMAS DAY!! We got up pretty early at 6.30am, well early considering we had no younger children around. It looked like it was going to be another beautiful day in Vancouver, actually the forecast for the rest of Christmas looked pretty good. We turned on all our Christmas lights and sat down to the Jordan family tradition of Croissants and orange juice, unfortunately we forgot to get out the eggnog we had bought, oh well maybe next year, still haven't tried it yet. Anyway next we sat down and opened up a few presents from santa before opening several more presents while skyping the McConnochie's. Our pile of wrapping paper looked quite impressive for 2 people, however as that pile got higher the present pile got lower :( Thank you everyone for all your gifts and not too mention the chocolate we received, I think we'll be eating this for several months, we pretty much have a one shelf in the fridge and one shelf in the cupboard full of Chocolate, not that I'm complaining YUM!!

We decided the weather outside was too nice to be sitting inside for the rest of the day so headed out ice skating, well I did some ice skating and Cam just watched/video'd the fun. This was probably my 2nd or 3rd time Ice skating and considering this I thought I did pretty well. I did have to hold on to the rail for several trips around, but never fell over so thats a bonus. Cam went to do some videoing somewhere else which gave me the opportunity to pick up some snow to surprise him with on the next trip round, ah don't think I ever get tired of snow fights. It was a bit busy to really feel comfortable but by the end I didn't have to hold onto the rail, until next time...

We were lucky enough to be invited around to Mel's (a person from work) house for Christmas dinner. She is from Ontario and invited a group of people who don't have family or know a lot of people in Vancouver around to her house for dinner. She had cooked up a huge turkey and veges and everyone bought something along to share. It was a huge feast!! there was soooo much stuff left over that Mel had to give stuff to everyone to take home. It was a beautiful meal and time to spend with new friends. Everyone headed off reasonably early, as some had to work the next morning. Cam and I didn't drink too much as we were off early to Whistler in the morning, how ever we did stick around to play some board games with Emily, Mel and another person who's name I forget. As always we were one of the last ones to leave but it wasn't too late after all. Overall a great first Christmas day in a different country.

We were wishing for a white Christmas in Vancouver however once we realised that wasn't going to happen we had to go and find the snow ourselves. We booked a night in Whistler and headed there early on Boxing Day morning. This was our first visit in Whistler in the Winter, the trip up there was just amazing. There was snow and icicles in the trees and the sun was shining, we couldn't have picked a better day to travel on the sea to sky highway. We took our snowboards with us but once we got to Whistler and had brunch it was already midday or so, price of a pass vs amount of time on the snow was the decision, we decided it was going to cost too much for the amount of time we were going to get so the snowboarding would have to wait till another time. A very tough decision to make.

We headed up to the tube park on the mountain instead. Imagine going flying down the mountain on a large plastic tube, kind of like a sea biscuit. It was awesome!! They push you from the top and you go down either straight or they make you spin around, the track is calved into the snow. I felt like a little kid again, great fun!! We headed back to our hotel after this for a nice swim in the spa pools, theres something about sitting in a spa, with snow surrounding the spa pool, where its freezing cold outside and your toasty and warm in the pool. The only downside is having to get out. Unfortunately we had to do this at some point, so thought we would head out for dinner, can't remember where we went but I'm sure it was nice anyway. Another great day.
Th 27th we just chilled, slept in and then went for brunch. We got the earlier bus back to Vancouver as Cam was going round to someones house from his work for a boys night of Ice Hockey and pizza. The Canucks won that night in a good game. The end to an awesome 4 days over Christmas, back to work for me tomorrow and more holidays for Cam.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas Lights and leading up to Christmas - 14th Dec - 20th Dec

Well the week and a half leading up to Christmas was mostly full of food, drinking and looking at Christmas lights with a few days of work for me and normal days working for Cam. That's ok though as he gets 11 days off over Christmas and New Year.

Monday 14th I headed over to North Vancouver with Emily to meet Paula who picked us up from the sea bus. We headed up towards her house which is near Edgemont village in North Vancouver. This is a really neat little village full of cute little stores great for finding gifts and unique stuff you can't find in other places. Somewhere I will have to remember, to pick up special birthday gifts and other gifts. We sat down for a coffee here and then headed round to Paula's house for a look. It was very exciting as had been snowing the week before that and there was snow around this area on the ground as its higher up and closer to the mountains. There is something about walking around a rural community, up near the mountains with snow all over the ground. Emily and I were jumping up and down in the snow as it crunched underneath us. After this we headed to one of my favourite restaurants, Burgoo, this place is great in winter, it just feels so homely and cosy. Full of comfort food. A nice relaxing day with friends.

This evening Cam and I headed to a Canucks Hockey game, tickets care of someone from his work. My second hockey game and Cam's third, however my first NHL game. To be honest it was a great game and the Canucks won but as Cam mentioned in one of our other blogs, not as good I thought as the Giants (minors) game that we had seen about a week or so before. People just didn't seem as into it as they were for the other game. Think I will still have to go to another one before I make up my mind though. I'm sure it could be better depending on who is playing and what they are playing for, this game was near the beginning so it may get more exciting.

Tuesday evening we decided to head out for some drinks at our local Doolins, was just going to be a few drinks and then we were going to head home for dinner. Emily, Cam and I decided that we couldn't be bothered cooking dinner so we all headed to Sanafir, a Tapa restaurant on Granville Street. This place was great and I can't believe we haven't seen it before. When we arrived the lady at the door said "sorry but we only have a bed available". We were like, "what do you mean a bed?" She said "you haven't been here before have you?" So we headed up the stairs to find that when she said bed this was actually what she meant, so we sat on a bed with net curtains around it and everything and shared a selection of Tapas, it was a very unique and fun experience.

Friday the 18th we headed to Stanley Park to look at the lights that they set up annually for Christmas. We walked around and looked at the lights, listened to singers/musicians singing Christmas carols and looked at the animals, luckily we managed to get a ticket on the train just in time, as it sold out not long after. This turned out to be well worth the money, the train ride goes for 15 minutes all through the forest area with lights, actors and music all the way around. It was very festive and nice to see children running around the place. I only wish they would do more of this sort of thing in New Zealand, really make you excited for Christmas, as I was of course already, for some reason more than normal.

On the Saturday we went to do some more shopping at one of the malls in Vancouver, for some work shirts I think for Cam, can't really remember now. All I know is that we came back with a few things each. This evening we headed for a walk down to false creek to look at the lights along the waterfront which was really nice, we headed down toward English bay and stopped for a drink at a pub down there, then walked down Denman Street and toward Canada Place to look at the light show that was supposed to be happening there. We think that maybe we were too late as it wasn't really doing anything, just different colours. Still a nice evening stroll, its just so beautiful down there at night time with the lights reflecting on the water.

The Sunday was a wet day so what better to do than to go to the Maritime Museum. It was quite interesting actually. So far I have really enjoyed all of the educational places we have been to. Here you get to go on an old boat called St Roch which has been restored, it used to be used by the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) AKA The Mounties, to serve as a supply ship for isolated arctic RCMP detachments. It was quite fun to walk around the ship and see the small confinements that the people used to sleep and live in for days on end. Think they would get to know each other pretty well in these sort of conditions. A good way to spend a rainy day.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Giants Game 9th Dec

Through one of my work mates I was able to score a couple of free tickets to see the Vancouver Giants play Chilliwack Bruins. This was Rach`s first Canadian Ice Hockey game... and she was lucky to get there. The bus out to the Coliseum has a stop at the West and East end of one street, Rach wanted the east end... but got off the bus at the west end. Being still a few kilometres from the coliseum she had to wait 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive. She eventually made it 15 minutes before puck drop, just enough time to grab some food and find our seats - We ended up in nice seats, about half way up, right on half way.

Rach and I both found the Giants to be a more genuine Hockey experience. Sure the players on the ice weren't playing to the same standard but the crowd was there to support and enjoy the game. The result was great too, the Giants won it 5 nil.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Chirstmas Preaparations. December 2 - 6

Given it was now December and we could see Christmas lights going up in apartments around us we decided we should do some decorating ourselves. For obvious reasons we didn't bring a lot of decorations with us from NZ so on Wednesday night we did a trip out to Canadian Tire (For Kiwis - Its like a Warehouse with a Repco attached, and yes, they spell tyre wrong). After spending just under $100 we had a small tree, lights and some decorations. We spent the rest of the evening blasting terrible Christmas music and decorating the apartment. We were very happy with the results.

Thursday night we decided to appreciate someone else's work and went to the waterfront and back through town enjoying all the Christmas lights setup around the city. The large Christmas tree in front of the art gallery was great, especially with the lights on the Fairmont Hotel in the background.

With decorations up the only thing left to do was shopping. Fortunately we had an early start on this sending things back to NZ with Rach in November. Rach carried on with the shopping both Thursday and Friday, I however, had to wait for the weekend - and the chaos that involves.

On Saturday Rach's work had their Christmas party. 80 Doctors and Nurses took over Chivana Restaurant and Lounge in Kits. The food was great, the place was great. There were a lot of prize draws; a lot of the management staff and doctors had donated the prizes. Rach did well and got a basket full of chocolate, it's going to take us a long time to get through it all. I think everyone had a fantastic night.

On Sunday Rach managed to get an LOA (Leave of absence) from work so we decided to take a break from all the Christmas festivities and head up Grouse Mountain for some snowboarding. We got there early afternoon and stayed till afterdark. The sunsets are spectacular from up there and view while night snowboarding is breathtaking...