Though we only did a day trip to Hangzhou (an easy one hour train ride from Shanghai) it was one of the absolute highlights of the whole trip. We rented bikes from a service similar to Bixi and bikes around the giant lake that is in the city. It was a perfect day, with gorgeous weather (despite how it looks in the photos), great company and delicious food (which I was too busy scarfing to take a photo of).
We’re back in Vancouver after our fantastic trip to China! The jet lag is trying to kill me, but I’m trying to take it in stride and enjoy the early mornings and a reason to watch movies in the middle of the night.
Above are a few photos of the Beijing portion of the trip. I can’t really describe seeing the Great Wall adequately, which was one of the highlights of the entire trip. For some reason, it is a place that I never thought I’d visit in my lifetime, but had always wanted to. Seeing it re-enforced, as all good travel does, that North America really isn’t the centre of the universe, and maybe never has been.
N and I are off to China next week which is pretty darn exciting, in itself!
When we get back though, a big change for me. I’m heading back to school for a few months to study web design. This blog definitely started me on the path to web design and I’ve enjoyed it (and a few other projects) so much, that I wanted to learn more. So right after Victoria Day I’ll be leaving the wonderful job that I’ve had for the last four years to go expand my design horizons. I hope that in the short term it’ll mean more time spent in this space, and in the long term, more balance in my life and more fun!
Wish me luck.
Vancouver is a wonderful jumping off point for quick trips on the West Coast. You can get to plenty of places without a car. Many of the places around Vancouver are great to visit even in the winter and we all know a quick weekend get away can make the rainy winter weather seem much more bearable.
Victoria is a really fun place to visit from Vancouver. Once you’re downtown, you can walk almost everywhere in this historical city. The Empress Hotel is fun to walk around in and imagine you’re royalty! I haven’t done high tea there but it’s on my list to do soon. There are tons of great little shops and restaurants to explore. Don’t miss Red Fish Blue Fish. It has the best fish and chips and tacones (tacos in a cone shape), possibly in the world.
Denman and Hornby Islands (North Gulf Islands) hold a special place in my heart since my family and I spent a lot of time there when I was a kid. Hornby Island has the most beautiful beach in Canada that I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, in the summer, you can sit on a white sand beach and look over turquoise water to a mountain with snow on it. How neat is that? The beach is on Tribune Bay which neighbours Helliwell Provincial Park, a great place to hike. The island also boasts fantastic mountain biking. Denman has a great atmosphere and if you’re not feeling like sea water swimming, you can swim in Graham Lake. Take note that it is the Island’s water supply so you mustn’t wear sunscreen or other products when you swim there. Also, ask a local about fires on either island. Sometimes they’re allowed and sometimes they’re not. Starting an accidental fire on an island with a limited water supply is not something you want to do. Know what I’m sayin’?
BC is known for it’s wine. During the hot summer months visiting wine country can be really fun. You’ll pretty much have to have a car or bike (if you’re ambitious) for this one, or join a tour group. Do a little research beforehand to decide where you’d like to go and budget for a lovely lunch at one of the wineries. If you’re driving, I’d recommend only hitting two or three wineries and making sure you eat along the way. They don’t give you large helpings of wine at each place, but better safe than sorry. Also, something to note, some wineries will ask for a small donation in order to taste there.
Salt Spring Island (South Gulf Islands) is a wonderful island to check out for a weekend, or better yet, a long weekend. Salt Spring Island is known for it’s cheese and wine and has a not-to-be-missed farmers’ market. Take a bike, if you can, since the highways are bike friendly and pretty flat … for the Gulf Islands, anyway! Another sure bet in the South Gulf Islands? Pender Island. There’s a gorgeous, private campground there at Welcome Bay Farm that is walking distance from a coffee shop. What more could you ask for?
Seattle, Washington is only a three or four hour drive/bus ride/train ride from Vancouver. Seattle boasts the famous Pike Place Market and great coffee. There is plenty to see, do and eat in Seattle and you can walk to many of it’s attractions.
Portland, Oregon is probably more of a long weekend trip, than a weekend trip. It’s definitely earned it’s name as the hipster capital of the world but is a wonderful city, full of things to do. I found that the food scene was on par with Vancouver’s (not many cities can say that) and there are plenty of cute shops to wander into. Don’t miss the iconic food carts or the Screen Door restaurant and Powell’s Books is a must-visit for bibliophiles. I highly recommend taking the train from Vancouver to Portland. It may take 8-hours, but they seem to go by in a flash with free wi-fi on board and great scenery out the windows.