3 DAY WASHINGTON TRIP – DAY 1

We decided this year to celebrate Canada Day by visiting our neighbours down south 😊 We thought we would avoid a long line up by getting to the border at 8 a.m. but I guess everyone was thinking the same thing! It took us an hour to get through the border which was absolutely no fun, especially when you need to use the washroom!

I have been to Washington many times so it becomes more and more of a challenge to find places or activities that I have not done before. This time, we have decided to go visit the corporate headquarters of Starbucks and Boeing!

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Our first stop of the day was at the Restoration Center & Reserve Collection. Admission is $5 and can only be purchased at the door. The center holds the aircrafts and automobiles that needs to be repaired before being sent back to the Museum of Flight.

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Repair can take between five to ten years because the repairs are all done by volunteers! Volunteers are usually retired Boeing mechanics who come to repair aircrafts as a hobby. Unfortunately, there were no volunteers doing repairs the day we visited so there was not much to see.

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We stayed about 45 minutes before heading to our next attraction. It is a hit and miss with this attraction as you cannot find out beforehand if there will be volunteers coming in that day. I think you won’t miss out too much if you decide to skip this though.

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We decided to grab lunch before we visit the Future of Flight. With the help of Yelp, we found a Greek restaurant called Kostas close by. Despite the fact that it was lunch time on a weekend, the restaurant was almost empty. We were a little worried about the quality, but we decided to try it anyways.

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We ordered veggie wrap with soup and chicken delight from their lunch specials menu. To our surprise, the food was actually very delicious!

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My rice pilaf was cooked in broth which made it more flavourful and the chicken was marinated with a lemon spice rub. The chicken was also very juicy. They also provide complimentary bread with garlic butter spread. The food here tasted better than any of the Greek restaurants I have tried in Vancouver!

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After getting gas, we headed to the Future of Flight Aviation Center. It was quite busy here so we had to park a little bit further away in their free parkade.

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We made reservation for the 2 pm Boeing tour so we explored the Aviation Center Gallery first. Be sure to allocate at least 45 minutes here as there are actually quite a lot to see in this gallery.

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There are many interactive exhibits and displays where you can learn more about the different types of planes, the future of jet fuel and the parts of a plane. They also provide a complimentary photo that you can e-mail to yourself or print from the store with various backgrounds to choose from.

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The highlight of this aviation center is definitely the 90-minute Boeing tour. Make sure you reserve a spot a few days before because they sell out very quickly! You are not allowed to bring anything with you on the tour so you must store your personal belongings in the free lockers provided. Washroom breaks are highly discouraged, and photos are prohibited. Moderate pace walking is required so make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

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After a quick orientation, you hop on a tour bus that takes you over to the Boeing factory. The Boeing factory is the largest building in the world and they also hold the Guinness record for the largest painting in the world (painting of a plane on their sliding doors).  They employ over 30,000 people and has their own fire department and six cafes.

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Our tour guide took us around various viewing areas of the Boeing factory from the second floor as she explains about the different types of planes they assemble and the assembly process. We also learned which countries all the different parts of the plane are sourced from. It is definitely an information overload but it was very fascinating. The facility is top notch and well equipped with the manpower and technology to assemble these large aircrafts in a short period of time. It was interesting to see the 747, 767, 777 and 787 planes in various stages of assembly!

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After our tour ended, we browsed around their souvenir shop. There are lots to see there and the souvenirs are reasonably priced. We also took the stairs to the top floor which is an observation deck to get a better look at planes landing or taking off. In total, we spent about 4 hours at the Future of Flight Aviation Center and we had a great time.

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From the Aviation Center, we drove about 35 minutes to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room on Pike Street. Parking in the area is very limited so be expected to park on the streets a few blocks away. Boy, was it busy in there! Each area was flooded with people and there were no empty tables so we grabbed a drink and walked around.

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Towards the back of the café, there is a cold brew bar and the Princi bakery (Starbucks has a partnership with them). In the middle, they have the coffee bean station where you can see them roasting the beans and also kiosks to purchase Starbucks merchandise.

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On the other side of the café, there is another bar and a quiet reading area. This tasting room is the fanciest café I have ever been to; it looks like a collaboration between a high-end bar and a coffee shop.

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I don’t drink coffee but I loved the vibe here! I bought a coffee mug and some coffee beans as souvenirs. The coffee beans are sold in the Roastery only for a limited period of time before they are launched in the regular Starbucks.

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Our next stop was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. We purchased the Museum of Flight 3 Pack which includes the admission for the Museum of Flight, the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle which is cheaper than purchasing them separately.

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You can purchase the tickets a week in advance of your visit on the Space Needle website.

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Remember that you must visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle on the same day!

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I am not a huge art fan but I enjoyed my time at this gallery. The blowglass artwork is beautiful and colourful. I am amazed at how malleable glass can be and how it can be molded into so many different shapes and sizes! Don’t forget to check out the garden as well!

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Like the Future of Flight, they provide a complimentary photo which you can e-mail to yourself. The gift shop is a little pricy but I think it is still worth taking a look.

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We asked he cashier at the gift shop to recommend us a good place to grab dinner nearby and she suggested the Seattle Center Armory. This is a performing center for shows or events held in the city with many eateries to choose from.

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My friend decided to try Mod Pizza which was highly recommended by the cashier and I decided to try this place called Skillet Counter.

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My friend waited almost an hour in line but he said it was well worth it. He said it was one of the best pizzas he’s had as the price was good and they were generous with the toppings.

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I ordered the salmon burger with tomato bisque. My food was freshly cooked and tasted delicious. The salmon patty was juicy and the rest of the ingredients were very fresh. It was a little pricy for a food court but it was worth every penny.

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There was also a stall selling kettle popcorn outside and we grabbed a mixed bag (salty and caramel). It was pricy for $7 but I was craving it since last summer so I bought it anyways!

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After dinner, we headed up to the Space Needle to see the night view of Seattle from up top. It was cloudy that day so the view was not the best.  However, it was still pretty busy as everyone was trying to catch a selfie of themselves near the glass windows.

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The restaurant was still under renovation so everyone was hanging out in the open area. You can also get a complimentary photo here and you can e-mail it to yourself using the kiosks in the gift shop. Although the view wasn’t the greatest, I had a good time chatting with the staff working there.

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They were very helpful in answering the questions we had regarding the various landmarks of the city. It is always nice to learn something from the locals! We headed back down and walked around the souvenir shop.

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The souvenir shop is actually quite big so we spent almost 30 minutes here looking at the merchandise. By the time we finished, it was already dark outside so I was also able to snap a night view of the Space Needle. The Space Needle looks great both at day and at night!

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My friend did not want head home yet so we decided to make one more stop at the Pike Place Market.

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It was my first time visiting the Market at night which was much quieter than the day. We went to check out the famous Gum Wall which I find personally a little disgusting… The Gum Wall has grown quite a bit since my last visit many years ago!

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We then drove down to the pier to get a picture of the Seattle Great Wheel at night. It’s too bad that it doesn’t change colours! It was 11 p.m. and we finally headed to our AirBnB. It has been a long day so it was time for shower and a good night’s rest!

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VICTORIA BUG ZOO AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS!

We made our second attempt to Victoria this weekend and thankfully the weather was much better this time! The weather was still pretty windy but at least we had some sunshine in there! I’ve blogged about my past Victoria trips before so I’ll just focus my review this time on the Bug Zoo which I visited for the first time and also on the new restaurants that I tried in town.

Victoria Bug Zoo

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The bug zoo is located in downtown Victoria so it is very accessible. The admission is a little pricy for $12.60 per adult and operating hours are not very long (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) but it is definitely worth a visit if you are into bugs. The zoo is not very big but if you do look at each exhibit, read up on the facts and touch the bugs, you will need at least 2 hours. The guide is very friendly and knowledgeable about the insects.

She took us around to the different exhibits and let us touch the insects that were gentle and did not fly away (i.e. prying mantis, Australia stick insect, hissing cockroach).

I was very scared at first but after a while, I was feeling much more comfortable to actually hold a few of them in my hand. I am not a huge bug fan but I still had a good time learning about the different types of insects and the warm enthusiasm of the staff working there touched my heart. I was sad to hear that their ant exhibit was dying as one of their queen ants had died. I hope it will pick up soon! They also have a gift shop as well but we did not get a chance to visit as they were already closed.

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Il Terrazzo

We had dinner here the first night. I picked this restaurant as it was rated the #1 Italian restaurant in Victoria on Yelp. The restaurant is located on the outskirts of downtown in an area similar to Gastown in Vancouver. The main entrance of the restaurant is a little hidden in the alleyway so it was difficult to find. The restaurant was relatively busy for a Sunday night at 8 p.m. We made reservations but there were still tables available.

I ordered the paella della casa and K ordered the fusilli con sugo di manzo. Our two friends ordered the linguine con fruitti di mare and another pasta dish. The food was served very promptly; it felt like we waited less than 10 minutes! I was very surprised as most Italian restaurants actually take longer than typical restaurants to cook their dishes. The proportions and prices were very decent. They included a generous portion of seafood as well.

The server was prompt to ensure our waters were filled. However, it was a little annoying how he checked with us a few times to see whether we were ready to pay. Perhaps the restaurant closes at 10 p.m. so he was ushering us out. Overall, I had a good dining experience so I do recommend this restaurant for others to try.

 

John’s Place Restaurant

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We came here for lunch on Monday afternoon. The restaurant was not too busy as we had a late lunch at 1:30 p.m. We also picked this place as it had great reviews on Yelp. The restaurant‘s walls covered with signed photos or posters by various celebrities. It was neat to go around and see the owner’s collection.  I love how the restaurant serves all day breakfast so I could still order my favourite breakfast item, Belgian waffles! The restaurant was showcased on Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” in 2011 and they highlight on the menu which items were shown on that episode.

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I ordered The Odd Couple which is a Belgian waffle with two eggs and three piece chicken strips. This dish was showcased on the Food Network. The chicken strips had a good amount of batter, the eggs were buttery and the waffle was crispy. Overall, the dish was well prepared. K had the Nemo’s Fish Tacos which came with a side of fries. He also ordered a cappuccino which tasted quite delicious as well. Proportions were decent sized and well priced for a restaurant downtown. The servers were very nice and they seem to know all the regular diners there by name. Parking in the area is a little difficult to find but if you circle around a few blocks, you should be able to find a spot. If you are downtown, I do recommend grabbing a quick lunch here.

Nautical Nellies Steak & Seafood House

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Originally we had plan to go to Ferris’ Upstairs Seafood & Oyster Bar but since they were closed on Mondays, we decided to give this restaurant a try since it was rated the top seafood restaurant in Victoria on Yelp. The ambiance of the restaurant was decent and we had a nice booth seat by the fish tank. It is not right on the water so there is no view of the pier unfortunately. Service was prompt and friendly.

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However, the most disappointing was the food!  K ordered the one piece Atlantic cod fish and chips. The fish and the fries were both over-fried. In fact, they were over-fried to the point where you can simply tell by looking at the colour even before eating it. After trying it, the fish and fries were both very dry and the fish became crispy and shrunk half the size. We sent the dish back to the kitchen and the second attempt was better but still over-fried. When you are paying $17 for this dish, you would definitely have expected better quality from the top seafood restaurant in Victoria!

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I ordered a bowl of the lobster bisque and the blue crab brioche roll. The lobster bisque tasted decent but the texture was a little gritty which is odd for a bisque.Usually a bisque is creamy.

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As for the brioche roll, the roll was really delicious as it was very soft and buttery. There was a generous proportion of the crab meat but they seasoned it way too much. They put so much black pepper on it that it made it way too hot and covered the freshness of the crab meat. We had such high expectations for this restaurant and it simply just did not live up to its ratings on Yelp. If you had to pick a seafood restaurant in Victoria, I would highly recommend trying Ferris’ instead!

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VANCOUVER LOCAL GETAWAY

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K and I had originally planned to do 2 days, 1 night trip to Victoria but our ferry got cancelled last minute because of the windstorm! We had already packed our bags and were really anticipating our trip so we decided to find a local hotel to spend the night so we can still make a trip out of it! I went on Airbnb and various hotel websites to see what good deals we can find. I was shocked to see how expensive accommodation is in Vancouver even when it’s low season! Even crummy inns and hotels downtown were priced at $120 plus for a night! In the end, we decided to book the River Rock Casino Resort since it was the best bang for the buck – $183 a night for a 4 star hotel with free parking and an awesome swimming pool!

Check in time was at 3 p.m. so we went out for lunch and did some shopping at Richmond Center before hand. We parked our car in the West Parkade and went to the front desk to check in. We got our room keys shortly and headed over to the South Tower. The room had a nice scent and the bed was very spacious. We were on the 10th floor and you could see the Canada Line station as well as the skyline of Richmond. My only complaint about the room was the bathroom. The tissue papers were damped for some odd reason and our white shower curtains had black stains. However, these were quickly taken care of after we complained to the front desk. I also didn’t like the fact that all restaurants on premise are closed after 11 p.m. You could only get snacks at the gift shop or alcohol and savoury food through room service. The staff also did not seem well trained as they had difficulty answering some of our basic questions regarding the premise.

After we relaxed for a bit, we headed downstairs to the Buffet restaurant for dinner. The buffet dinner on Sunday costs $33.95 but you get a 10% discount if you have the Encore point card. The buffet had a good selection of food and beverages that caters to everyone’s taste. They also serve all day breakfast on Sundays.  My favourite savoury dishes were the roast beef, salmon sashimi and wonton soup. Make sure you also make space in your tummy for desserts as they also have a large selection and taste pretty decent!

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After dinner, we headed down to the casino to do some gambling. The casino was doing a special promotion until the end of the month where you can sign up for membership for free and you also get a free buffet voucher and $10 free play money. I signed up and used the free money right away on the slot machines. For a Sunday night, the casino was pretty busy.

We played for a bit and headed over to the swimming pool. The swimming pool is located in the East Tower so it did feel a little awkward walking through the lobby in our bathing suits. This swimming pool is one of the best ones I have visited before! It is an indoor pool with a hot tub and a 7 feet slide! The pool was clean and had very nice décor. It is also opened until midnight so we had sufficient time to play after dinner.  K and I had a great deal of fun on the slide as it has been ages since I have gone on a slide. We enjoyed ourselves as much as the kids who were there! After swimming, we called it a night and headed back to our hotel room for a good night sleep.

We had a good night sleep and lazily headed down to the lobby to check out and grab brunch at the Curve lounge. K ordered the kimichi brisket burger and I ordered the prime rib beef dip. The French fries came in a cute little deep fryer basket. Both sandwiches were pretty delicious and I don’t think I’ve ever had a beef dip with red cabbage before. The lounge was pretty dead considering it was lunch hour but I guess it was a week day after all.

After lunch we headed over to Cineplex Marine Gateway to watch Molly’s Game. The movie was 2 hours and 21 minutes long so we made ourselves comfortable with pop and popcorn. This has now become my go to movie theatre as it is less busy than Riverport but I hate that you have to pay for parking. The movie is based on the memoir of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran one of the world’s most high stakes poker games. I won’t spoil the movie for the people who haven’t seen it yet but I do recommend checking it out in the theatres as it is up for 11 Academy Awards nominations!

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It is time for Dine Out again! We had our first one that evening at Wildtale Coastal Grill in Yaletown.

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Traffic wasn’t too bad that day so we were able to find parking close by. We were seated at the back of the restaurant where there were fewer tables so it was relatively quiet. There was a funky bathroom smell as we walked in but the smell went away after we got seated (not sure if it was because we just got used to it…). For $30, I felt like the menu was a really good deal.

I ordered the lobster bisque, wild mushroom and braised short ribs pappardelle and chocolate tart.

All three dishes were decent proportions and tasted really delicious. K ordered the AAA beef carpaccio and the duo of lamb. I tried the carpaccio and it was one of the best I’ve had before! The meat was very tender and fresh. It was paired nicely with small pieces of pita bread and arugula.

For entrée, my mom ordered the steelhead trout and I got to try that too. The fish tasted a little like salmon and did not taste fishy at all.

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Food came promptly and the service was really good. We finished within the 1.5 hours allotted time and the next table was already waiting at the door. Dine Out was off to a good start this year! I can’t wait to try the next one on Saturday!

And that concludes our 2 days’ local trip in the city! Although we did not end up leaving town, we still had a great time exploring locally. We’ll try again for Victoria next month!

 

WHISTLER – DAY 2

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After a good night’s rest, we packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel. Then we headed over to Crepe Montagne for breakfast around 9:30 a.m. We wanted to sit inside as it was a little chilly so we waited outside in the outdoor seating area until a table was freed up. Options are relatively limited for this restaurant and prices are moderate but the crepes are absolutely delicious! At first, I was a little skeptical about how good the crepes could be given that it is a French dish served by a Japanese owner…

However, I completely fell in love with the crepe after my first bite! I’ve had crepes in Paris and Quebec City before but I think this one was by far my favourite! I ordered the Rockies which comes with 2 free range eggs and a choice of ham or bacon with a side of chicken. What makes this crepe so unique and fluffy is the touch of green onions that they sprinkle on top and the positioning of the egg as a layer in the folds of the crepe. It is also made with buckwheat and white flour which I’ve had elsewhere but the texture of this one is a lot smoother unlike the ones which have a grittier taste.

We also ordered a maple sweet crepe, a side of toast and hashbrown (actually potatoes) and they were also very good! The house coffee is also amazing and there are free refills! As the restaurant is very busy, we quickly left after we finished our food and headed over to Nita Lake Lodge for our massage appointment!

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I came to Nita Lake Lodge two years ago for their massage and I had a great time so we decided to come back. The prices are very reasonable (by Whistler standards!), they have a selection of massages to choose from and I love how you get unlimited time access to their sauna and Jacuzzi. Parking is free and also the view from the Jacuzzi is amazing! Just make sure you reserve online at least two weeks in advance so you can get the time slot you want. They will send you an e-mail to confirm your reservation a few days before your appointment as well.

After you arrive, they give you a key to their changing room where you can change into their robe and slippers. They also give you a free locker for you to put your personal belongings. After you get changed, you can sit and relax in the lounge area until they call you for your appointment. My friend and I both wanted to do the RMT and since they had only one massage therapist, we had to take turns. I was up first! I had a kink in my neck from my poor sleeping posture the night before and the massage therapist really helped to loosen it. The 60 minute massage was really relaxing that I think at some point I probably fell asleep…After I finished the massage, I changed into my bathing suit and spent some time relaxing in the sauna and then the Jacuzzi. The spa was not busy at all that day so I had the sauna and Jacuzzi all to myself. It was a busy week for me and I was really glad I could unwind here!

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After receiving a relaxing, pampering treatment, we headed off for lunch at La Cantina back in the village. The taco bar was very busy so we waited a bit to get a spot. Since it was casual dining, you have to order up at the front and they will bring the food to you.

My friend ordered the tofu burrito with added guacamole and a Cubano taco. I had the pork cochinita, pork carnitas and sweet pork tacos with a side of guacamole. I am not a huge fan of pork but the reason why I only ordered pork tacos was because they were the only ones that were not spicy!  Proportions were not very big for the tacos and it can become a costly lunch when you add it all up. Food was decent but we paid close to $20 per person!

After lunch, we started our journey back to Richmond! Our last stop before heading home was the Shannon Falls Provincial Park. The Park is closed after this long weekend so we decided to go see it before it was shut.

The Park is located right next to the Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish so it was about an hour drive from Whistler. The Falls was a little disappointing as there was so little water and you can only see it from a faraway distance. I suppose that the Falls would look much nicer in the summer when the water is flowing more abundantly! We spent about 30 minutes here and headed home.

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The drive along the Coquihalla Highway is very scenic so make sure you stop at the stopping points to get pictures of the beautiful mountains, lakes, and blue skies.

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Just a reminder that effective October 1, 2017, you must have winter tires installed on your vehicle to travel on designated highways such as the Coquihalla Highway, around the province. This requirement is mandatory until Spring!  Although the trip was a short one, it was just enough for a quick getaway for the long weekend and relax for a bit until the chaos pursue the week after!

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WHISTLER – DAY 1

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For the Thanksgiving long weekend in October, I did a quick trip up to Whistler as I got a pretty good deal for a hotel room.  We left Richmond around 9:30 a.m. and got to Squamish at around 11 a.m. Our first stop was the Sea to Sky Gondola. You can save $3 by purchasing online but you need to purchase the tickets one day in advance. The gondola is a little pricy so another option is to hike up the mountain which I would only recommend if you are an experienced hiker…For lazy people like myself, I like to stick with the easy way out J As it was a nice day and a long weekend, the line-up for the gondola was a little longer than I expected but it was moving quite fast. The 10 minute ride up to the top is very scenic but make sure you get the side facing the water because there is nothing to see if you are facing the mountain.

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This is my second time going up the gondola but last time I did not do any of the trails. I am so glad I did this time because the views are breathtaking!! After you get off the gondola, you will need to cross the suspension bridge to get to the trails. The view on the suspension bridge is amazing but it is super hard to get a photo without being photo bombed as there are always people crossing from both ends.

There are several trail options for you to choose from and the big map in the center tells you the level of difficulty and approximately how long it takes to complete the trail. I love how they place look out points in various points on the trail so you can get a really nice view of Howe Sound. If the weather is good, you get blue skies against blue water!

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After we finished “hiking”, we grabbed lunch at the café. There is only one café up top so it can get busy during lunch hours. There are plenty of food and drink options and prices are relatively reasonable. There is a large sitting area both inside and outside but I would highly recommend getting a seat outside so you can enjoy your lunch against a beautiful backdrop.

After lunch, we took a few more pictures and headed down the gondola. The line up to go up was much shorter now since it was later in the day. It can be quite chilly and windy up top so make sure you dress warmly! There is a gift shop at the bottom of the mountain but I did not see anything that was particularly interesting.

 

From Squamish, it was another hour drive up to Whistler. Our first stop was to check in to our hotel. Finding the hotel was like a scavenger hunt. The google map address took me to their sister hotel’s lobby where there is a phone you can call on to get directions to where their actual lobby is. They guided us to this back alley and told us we can park there while we check in. Once we got the keys, we had to drive somewhere else again to park our car! Even the signs for the hotel elevators were so confusing because several hotels share the same parkade! After 45 minutes, we finally made it to our hotel room. The hotel could really use a renovation as the décor looks really dated and the furniture looks worn out. However, the location is very convenient as it is located in the heart of the Village. For $89 on Social Shopper, I couldn’t really ask for more though! The room comes with a queen bed, fireplace, small balcony and a full kitchen. Although their website says my room comes with a view of the Village, all I could see from my room was the back alley where we checked in!

After we dropped off our stuff, we went for a stroll in the Village. Since I visited Whistler 2 years ago, many new stores have opened including supermarkets, restaurants and liquor stores which makes Whistler a lot more accessible. Although it was very cold, we still got ice cream at Cow’s which you must visit if you love a treat! Another popular store is Purebread which sells baked goods and coffee. They have a very interesting and large selection of baked goods and I always want to try everything! There is always a line-up here and is a little pricy!  I got two pieces of cakes and they were completely devoured before I had a chance to even take a picture…

There are also souvenir and retail shops along the way which I think are worth visiting. Make sure you also visit the famous Olympic rings which are a landmark commemorating the 2010 winter Olympics. Behind the rings, you will find a large kids’ play area which is always quite busy.

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It was very busy in the Village today as it was the last day for mountain biking. Many people were just heading down the mountain as it was getting dark. By chance I ran into a friend of mine who lives up in Whistler! We chatted for a bit and made plans to grab breakfast together the next morning. As my friend and I finished our stroll in the village, we headed back to our hotel room to change into our bathing suit for the hot tub. The hot tub was apparently located in the sister hotel so we had to run to the next lot in our bathrobes which was quite embarrassing…and what was even more weird, was that the hot tub and swimming pool was located right next to the restaurant so the diners were basically just staring at us while they eat their meal.

The swimming pool was also heated but it was just too cold to be switching back and forth from the hot tub. It was quite breezy that night so we had to submerge our whole body under water to stay warm. It was my first time sitting in a hot tub when it is only a few degrees outside! The walk back to the hotel was even more brutal as we were now soaked so the cold was so much more unbearable! We quickly changed and headed out to grab dinner at Stonesedge Kitchen.

The restaurant was not too busy that evening so we were seated right away.

My friend ordered the daily soup and a Caesar salad while I had a duck confit bruschetta and scallops entrée. We shared the London fog cream brulee. The soup of the day was a Thai coconut soup and my friend said it was very delicious.

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My duck confit bruschetta blew my mind because it was loaded with duck meat and I never realized how well duck meat pairs with salsa and flatbread! I tried my best to salvage this picture but had no luck! However, I still wanted to throw it in there so you can get an idea of how it looks like! :p

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We had to send back the Caesar salad and the scallops back to the kitchen though because they forgot the seasoning on my friend’s salad and my scallops were just way too salty!

However, their customer service was really good and they had our dishes corrected immediately. They were even nice enough to give me a 15% discount on my bill because of the screw up! The London fog cream brulee was also pretty decent.

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Despite the little mess up, I would still highly recommend this restaurant as the prices are very reasonable, restaurant is very beautiful and it’s conveniently located right in the Village! After dinner, it was already 10 pm so we decided to go back to the hotel and call it a night!

 

QUEBEC CITY – DAY 8

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Last day of the trip! We checked out from our hotel and headed back to Old Quebec City to catch the change of guard at La Citadelle. The ceremony happens at 10 a.m. sharp so you need to arrive 15 minutes early before they close the gates. ! The ceremony lasts for 35 minutes and is narrated in both English and French. If you are planning to visit La Citadelle, the change of guard is a must see as it is the only brigade march in Canada that is still done in French!

After the ceremony finishes, you will need to join one of the tours to visit the attraction as you are not allowed to navigate on your own. The tour runs for one hour and they take you through the various buildings on the lot. The tour ends at the gift shop where you can purchase some souvenirs before heading out. There is also a small museum adjacent to the gift shop which showcases the 100 year history of the Royal 22 Regiment.

From La Citadelle, we headed over to the Battlefields Park which is where the Plains of Abraham resides. When you visit the Plains now, it really looks no different than any other parks but in 1759, this is where the pivotal battle took place in the Seven Years’ War between the British and French armies.  The battle lasted for one hour and both generals died shortly after the battle ceased.

After walking around the park, we took an Uber to Le Billig for lunch. We had made reservations online but the restaurant was not very busy when we got there around 1:30 pm. Le Billig is a French restaurant that specializes in crepes! We knew we would be having poutine later so we had a light lunch. We ordered accras du moment (oyster fritters), canard confit crepe (duck confit) and a beurre et sucre (butter and maple sugar) dessert crepe to share. The fritters are pretty much the same as hush puppies but were savoury rather than sweet.  Both the crepes were very delicious and are flavours that I have not seen offered elsewhere! Prices were also very reasonable given the ingredients used.

From Le Billig, we headed over to Le Chic Shack which is famous for its poutine. The line ups for dining in were very long so we ordered take out instead. We ordered the la Braisee (red ale braised beef) and the la fumee (smoked meat) poutines to try. I personally found the poutine a little too dry for my liking and I prefer melted cheese rather than the block of cheeses that they provide. Nonetheless, the flavours of the poutine were interesting and I would definitely recommend trying this restaurant if you are craving poutine!

We still had some time before our flight so we went to check out a few more attractions. The first one was the Morrin College which was a prison previously but now converted into a library. They offer a paid tour but we did not join as we did not have sufficient time. It is a quaint little library that is worth checking out if you have a few minutes.

There is also an artisan market near the Cathedrale Holy Trinity which has about 10 stands selling local art and handcrafts. We bought some magnets and jewelry boxes for souvenirs.

On our way back to the car, we also saw the horse stable where all the horse carriages are parked. It was neat how you could get up close with the horses to pet them and take photos.

After we picked up our car, we headed over to the airport to catch our transfer flight in Montreal. Our departure gate for the Vancouver flight was on the other side of the Montreal airport and we only had 45 minutes before departure time. We rushed there and fortunately we still had a little bit of time to purchase our dinner before boarding.

I forgot the name of the food cart that we purchased the lobster sandwich since I did not get a chance to take a picture but the sandwich was sooo good! The sandwich was $15 but it was packed full of lobster meat and the bread was very crunchy and buttery.

20170826_195538 2And that concludes my 8 day Eastern Canada trip! It was a busy trip but it was definitely a great deal of fun. I am not a huge fan of the heat so thankfully the week that we were there it was unusually cold! It is nice to travel within Canada so you did not have to worry about foreign exchange and roaming on your cellular phone. You can always find delicious food and interesting activities to do regardless where you are in Canada!

QUEBEC CITY – DAY 7

Breakfast options at our Quebec City hotel were unfortunately not as diverse as the one in Toronto but since it was free, it was good enough. They had an actual grill for you to grill your toast rather than providing a toaster oven. After breakfast, we drove down to Old Quebec City which we learned was a big mistake!

Street parking is extremely limited in the old city. We drove around a few times and did not find a spot. We ended up parking the car about 15 minutes’ walk away and paid $20 for all day parking. In hindsight we should have just stuck with Uber and not rented a car!

The weather was cloudy and windy that day so my pictures look a little gloomy! The pictures do not do justice to showcase how beautiful this little city looks like! It really reminds me of the European towns that I visited a few years ago except that Quebec City is much cleaner and washrooms are way more readily accessible. Our first stop was the Notre Dame Basilica which is a bright, well-lit church in Upper Quebec City. From there, we walked down to Parc Montmorency where you can get some nice photos with a row of black cannons facing the water.

A few minutes’ walk away from the Park is the infamous Terrasse Dufferin where you will find the most photographed hotel in the world, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. We took a few pictures outside and went inside to take a look as well. We were only able to access the lobby as we were not staying at the hotel and there was nothing special to see.

In the plaza close to the hotel, street performances are held throughout the day. We stopped to watch two performers perform dangerous fire and dagger stunts which were quite entertaining.  In the area, there is also a free underground museum that you can visit but we chose to skip it. They also have a long sled slide that is opened during the winter. You can also snap some nice photos of the water from here and take the funicular down to Quartier Petit Champlain.

Since the funicular costs money, we decided to walk down instead. Quartier Petit Champlain was my favourite area in Quebec City because it reminds me the most of Europe – small and narrow alley ways paved with cobblestone and small boutique shops along the streets.

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It was lunch time so we decided to eat at Cochon Dingue which was a highly recommended restaurant on Yelp.  Based on reviews, we ordered their poutine tout cocho and their sugar pie. We also ordered a seafood gratin and fish filet to share. Food took a little while to get here which was reasonable given that it was prime lunch time and the restaurant was very full. The poutine was very interesting as I have never had bacon wrapped sausages and pulled pork with poutine before! It was pretty delicious but my favourite was definitely the sugar pie which was also something I’ve never had before. The pie was not too sweet and came with heavy whipping cream on top. The texture was mushy, a little like an apple pie.

After lunch, we visited the Museum of Place Royale which begins with a 20-minute English video talking about the history of Quebec City and features exhibits of artifacts discovered from the area in the last century. They give you a small pin after you pay admission and they museum staff are very adamant about you wearing the pin for the duration of your visit…One thing really neat about this museum is that you can try on outfits from the pioneer days and take pictures for free. They have a very large wardrobe to select from. We spent about an hour here but we did a quick skim of the exhibits only.

We continued to stroll along Place Royale and checked out some souvenir shops along the way. The shops were not too busy and most of them sell the same souvenirs so you do not need to rush to buy them right away. I would recommend going to a few shops to compare prices before you buy them! We also saw a shop selling maple syrup snow candy which is a unique snack in Quebec. We didn’t buy any since I thought $10 was quite pricy!

From Place Royale we walked to our next attraction, Marche Du Vieux-Port. It is a public market where the locals shop and they sell fresh fruits and produce. There were lots to see, buy and eat at the market. Prices are very reasonable and we did most of our souvenir shopping here.  We bought some honey, apple cider, foie gras, maple butter and macaroons. We spent an hour here as the market was about to close but probably 1.5 hours would be better.

With our bags full of goodies, we headed back to Upper Town as we had made dinner reservation at La Chez Jules. It was already past 5 pm so most of the shops were now closed. We were walking along the smaller alleyways so there were evidently less tourists.

We had some time to kill before dinner so we went to check out the Notre Dame Des Victoires. It is a smaller and less grand cathedral compared to the one we saw earlier in the day. However, it was still a neat place to visit as they show a life size wounded Jesus in a glass coffin and you can take a St. Genevieve’s little breads home for keepsake.

After visiting the cathedral, we headed to La Chez Jules for dinner. The restaurant was already quite busy at 6:30 pm so it was a good thing we made reservations online on OpenTable. We were not too hungry so we only ordered escargots, duck confit and sole fillet to share. Prices were very reasonable but I thought the food was just alright.

From the restaurant, we walked to Erico which is a famous chocolate shop in Quebec City. We also bought some chocolate caramel popcorn from Mary’s Popcorn Shop along the way. It was a little on the pricy side but at least you can sample for free before you purchase. Erico is unique as there is a chocolate museum next door where you can learn about the evolution of chocolate and how they are made. We spent about 30 minutes at the museum and headed next door to buy some of their products.  They sell a wide range of products from chocolate bars to hot chocolate to chocolate ice cream. Their most popular product appears to be their chocolate dipped cone which looked very delicious. There were many people lining up even though it was already so late in the evening!

After such an eventful day, we were not ready to go back to the hotel yet! Gare du Palais, which is the main VIA rail station in Quebec City, looked so nice in the photos so we decided to go check out. Although it was a bit of a walk, it was definitely worth it. The station was pretty deserted as it was already past 10 pm at night but the architecture of the building was very beautiful. Like other buildings in Quebec City, the station has a very European feel to it.

Walking back to our car in Upper Town was quite brutal. Google Map led us to these very steep stairs and I seriously thought I would pass out after walking up to the top!

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After catching our breath, we took many pictures of the beautiful night view of Old Quebec City as we walked back. The city was very well lit at night yet it was so peaceful.

It has been a busy yet productive day! We had to jam pack a great deal of attractions into one day to make room to see La Citadelle tomorrow as we had missed it this morning. Last stop before heading back to our hotel was…Burger King! Never realized how hard it was to order a sandwich until you try to order it in English at a French-speaking drive thru…After 10 minutes of trying to describe what I was trying to order, I gave up and just gave her a picture of what I wanted to order. Should have just done that at the beginning! *Face palm*

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