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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Cherry Bloss PR icon for Ueno Park
Picnics under the buds
Daibutsu – where students pray for exam success
Love those okonomiyaki pancakes
Amazing hairpin from the fabulous Tokyo Museum collection. Go there.
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.
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).
Tak Po in Chinatown – excellent yum cha start to the day
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.