Lovely, pricey, Lake Louise

Lake Louise is famous – and justifiably so – it is gorgeous. However, it is also totally overrun with tourists, so don’t expect much tranquility along with the wonderful scenery. We were lucky enough to stay there – not in the famous, huge Chateaux, but the rather homey lodge behind it. So we didn’t have to day trip. I’m still staggered by prices for canoeing on the lake – $105 (plus GST) for an hour on the lake, or $95 for 30 minutes! And just about every canoe was out on the first afternoon we arrived. Wow. But wow, what a place.

20170904_174242IMG_6714IMG_6716

IMG_6707
View from the lodge
Advertisements

Invermere

We drank local beer, watched the golfers heading out in their buggies and wondered if we could commandeer one, and got to see some northern lights.

20170901_125615
Local Arrowhead beer
20170901_150257
A taste of Canadian Germany
20170902_114008
Groovy moose sculpture, Invermere

Manning Park to Oliver

From Manning Park we headed to Oliver, the ‘wine capital of Canada.’ As we only had one night in Oliver we could only fit in visits to three of the multitude of wineries in the area. These looked very much like Aussie wineries – except that sometimes you can’t go walking in the vineyards due to bear alerts.  Apparently most BC wine is purchased and enjoyed by BCers so no need to find markets elsewhere. We had no idea. We tried Tinhorn Creek, Gehringer Bros and Hester Creek – all excellent.

IMG_6538
Vaseux Lake, Okanagan Valley. Bears had been sighted earlier in the day. 

IMG_6539

IMG_6544
A 15 year battle still ongoing to establish a park in Okanagan Valley – preservation v productive farm land
IMG_6547
Okanagan Valley vineyards

 

Port Hardy to Nanaimo

After our fantastic Great Bear Lodge adventure we had another night in Port Hardy before driving to Nanaimo so we could catch the ferry from Vancouver Island back to the BC mainland. Nanaimo is famous for a rich creamy chocolaty slice with a sugar kick to boot you into next week. I recommend you try one. Fortuitously, the town also had a good local brewery, White Sails. We tried a couple of brews before eating and then heading home to get a good night’s sleep so we didn’t miss our early ferry departure. IMG_6499

IMG_6353
We did see an elk but I wasn’t quick enough to snap it. Also a bear running across the road. O adventure.
IMG_6354
Miracle Beach – somewhat different to your usual Aussie seaside view
IMG_6370
Nanaimo at dusk
IMG_6375
Understated food advertising at The White Spot restaurant – it was pretty good though…

 

Courtenay spa life

We had one night in Courtenay, at Kingfisher Spa, which turned out to be a beautiful location. M was so disappointed we didn’t have time for any spa treatments, but the cafe/restaurant and view from outside our room was excellent diversion for one night. From the beach and then from the restaurant we could see seals popping up their heads. The mountain backdrop behind was very impressive.

IMG_5940IMG_594520170815_181356

20170815_204756
Hopeful menu item

 

Some more Vilcabamba

Around the town there are plenty of walks you can do to enjoy the local wildlife. We took an easy walk in Rumi Wilco (aka Rumihuilco), a large reserve and ecolodge which is about a 10 minute walk from town. We saw many birds, camera shy butterflies, a couple of squirrels, and some nudists. Something for everyone.

IMG_5008
View from the hammock

IMG_5010

IMG_5013
River view on the walk to the reserve
IMG_5015
Rumi Wilco – main track
IMG_5045
Accommodating butterfly
IMG_5047
Coffee drying

For a great view, you can climb Mandango. Or you can catch a taxi to Sol de Venenado Cerveceria in San Pedro.  We chose the latter.

IMG_5069IMG_5073IMG_5075IMG_5077IMG_5087

So much to see in Tokyo

A week in Tokyo is going so fast! Over the last couple of days we’ve checked out Ueno Park and surrounds, Shinjuku shopping, and a few of the local craft brew bars.

Ueno Park was in full cherry blossom frenzy, even though there was not much blossom actually out yet. People were picnicking and taking photos and having a good time regardless. A wonderful atmosphere. We detoured to Benten Hall, and on the way there was a kind of flea market and various street food stalls which was interesting viewing. We also stopped in at the Toshogu Shrine and Daibatsu before picking up some street food lunch – on the way to the fabulous Tokyo Museum. So much to see at the park and Museum, but we gave it a good try and enjoyed everything we saw. On the way home, we tried out the Irish Pub ‘World End’ and it’s sister venue, Towa. Towa has Japanese craft beer and soba noodles. I liked both places. World End was a trip back in time – punk music playing and the venue smoky and dark. Towa was much more sophisticated – with the added Tokyo element of trains rumbling over head every 5 minutes or so. We finished off the evening with a walk around some of the Ueno sidestreets. Venturing into some pachinko and slot machine venues was an experience – the volume was incredibly loud with music and machine noise, and the venues were busy, with young/old/male/female playing.

 

Pinch me, I’m inTokyo

I am so excited that after many many years of wanting, I am finally here in Japan. We arrived at Narita Airport and easily caught the Shinjuku Limousine bus into Tokyo (an hour and a bit), then a taxi to our apartment. A quick exploration of the neighbourhood and dinner out at a local ohitzuen diner set us up well for our next day. We decided to take it relatively easy – so started with a late breakfast at a noodle joint (tix paid via machine), then checked out the Japanese Sword Museum. In the afternoon we ventured to Shinjuku Gyoen Park for a walk for our first experience of cherry blossom frenzy, finishing off the day with a craft beer or two at Watering Hole and then Japanese Italian at Buona Vita (established 2016) for dinner. A pretty good day 1.

IMG_2178
Choose your food before you buy your ticket at Fujisoba
IMG_2185
The Sword Museum was a wonderful insight into the importance of these artworks for Japanese culture
IMG_2208
A taste of cherry blossom madness at Shinjuku Gyoen Park
IMG_2264
The greenhouse at the park is well worth a visit
IMG_2280
Cherry blossom with bird
IMG_2285
Strike a cherry blossom pose
IMG_2308
Everything blooming and when

 

 

 

Singapore over easy

A few of my favourite Singaporean things: yum cha at Tak Po (newly discovered); wandering around Chinatown; a visit to the Peranakan Museum; checking out some craft brews at Clarke Quay Brewerkz (where that afternoon torrential downpour doesn’t matter); dinner at The Blue Ginger Restaurant (Peranakan menu, good food and great service).

On to Chiang Mai

From Mandalay it’s an easy flight to Chiang Mai – just over an hour. Not a lot of leg room on the Bangkok Air ATR72500 (little plane), but luckily there was no one sitting in front of us so no danger of reclining seats causing knee incapacitation.

For our first few nights on this return visit to CM we stayed on the Thapae Gate side of the city – which which just happens to be the right side for some craft beer venues. We enjoyed good food, beer and people viewing at Riverside Bar and it’s sister venue across the road, Craft Beer Factory. And riding and wandering around the streets of the Old Town.

img_1100img_1107img_1115img_1122