Tuscan Farm Gardens, Abbotsford BC

July 14, 2019

When you get the itch to go somewhere, you go, right?
Back to Tuscan Farm Gardens, that magical lavender place.
A few hours of heavenly bliss, just wandering around, enjoying….

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Exploring Vancouver: Art Galleries, Chinese Garden and Vancouver streets. June 21 2019

001-June 21 2019 Vancouver-wp
I grabbed my camera and headed for Vancouver, again. So much more to discover!
I got off the sky train at Burrard Station and headed for the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. As it was National Indigenous Peoples Day, this was a good enough reason for me to start my explorations here.


After this totally enjoyable experience I sat in the garden, adjacent to the gallery, thinking of my next move: What about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
I had been there years ago with my cousin. Time for a new visit. I wandered via Pender Street to the downtown East side, ending up in China Town and remembering the words of the bus driver, that time so long ago, on our way to the Garden: be careful! This time I was alone, enjoying the walk, minding my own business. Entering the Chinese Garden, the peaceful surroundings immediately enveloped me.


I meandered back, soaking up the Chinese environment, taking pictures of the old buildings. At one point a passerby muttered, loud enough for me to hear, as he most likely intended to: “Why not taking pictures of mountains instead”. I refrained from replying that I had plenty of those as well; wisely kept my mouth shut, but chuckled nevertheless.


Back in the main downtown area I headed for the Vancouver Art Gallery. My last visit, just a short time ago, was not that successful, but at that time they were setting up another exhibition so I might as well go and see what that one was all about.
A huge crowd filled the steps of the Art Gallery and my first thought was: a pow wow. It was Indigenous Day after all. But no, it was a skate boarding event. Of course I wiggled my way between the masses to get some pictures before going inside for some more culture 😉


The new exhibition was Alberto Giacometti’s “A line through time”. I loved it!


With tired feet and an enriched soul I made my way back to the sky train station.
A few more photos finished this beautiful day, although I doubt the homeless person shared this feeling.


Posted in British Columbia, Exploring Vancouver: Art Galleries, Chinese Garden and Vancouver streets. June 21 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fun in Maple Ridge. June 16 2019

This Sunday, June 16, Father’s Day, is filled with fun events here in Maple Ridge.
A pancake breakfast,  Race the Ridge Cycling races, a Repair Café, a vintage car show, a craft beer festival, a food truck festival, street vendors, roaming performers and live music.
We were early and they were still setting up. The pancake breakfast was being cooked and Hari tried it out. The cycling races had started, food trucks were still driving in, stalls were being readied. Fun to watch all those preparations.
It was nice to wander around before the big crowd ascended on the event (officially called “Car free day”) and the temperature was still very pleasant.

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Enveloped by the fragrance of lavender.

June 9 2019.
Tuscan Farm Gardens.
And later in the day a stroll through Fort Langley.

A beautiful day, nice temperature, peaceful, a very pleasant aroma of lavender filling the air, relaxing, gorgeous gardens, lavender lemonade, lavender almond cookies.
All this delight in Abbotsford, at the Tuscan Farm Gardens. A little pearl!

We finished the day by driving the country roads to Fort Langley where we had a leisurely walk through town and enjoyed an early dinner.


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Protected: Family time in Ottawa. May 18-28 2019

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Posted in Ottawa, family time

Toronto and Ottawa. May 17-28 2019

May 17
After we got off the train at Union Station in Toronto, we made our way to our hotel, the Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre – University of Toronto.
Taking some photos along the way and enjoying the warm temperature under a sunny sky, we reached our hotel.
We got a room on the 25th floor with a gorgeous view over Nathan Phillips Square.

May 18
After a generous breakfast buffet at the hotel (university cafeteria) we walked back to Union Station for our train to Ottawa.
An easy, relatively short ride: 4 1/2 hours.
Arriving in Ottawa we were met by our daughter.
Our vacation in Ottawa had begun!

May 19
We enjoyed the Ottawa tulip festival, went for a pedal boat ride and admired the Victoria Day fireworks at night.

May 20
After a walk with our grandson in the morning, we all hopped on a city bus in the afternoon to explore ByWard Market and surrounding area.
The boys, young, medium and old, went for a miniature train ride while the girls checked out a few stores. The ride finished and sightseeing done, we headed for Zak’s Cantina, a Mexican restaurant with a full size bus inside! After dinner we had beaver tails for desert 🙂

May 21
Today we checked out Parliament Hill. The parliament buildings are closed to the public due to renovations. Due to be re-opened in 10 years!!!
We walked down towards the river. It was so windy that we saw the water blow back over the locks. Hiking/biking paths along the river were still closed due to flooding.
No boats, not even the amphi bus, were allowed on the water yet. One planned excursion cancelled. No problem. There was enough to be seen.

May 22 and 23
On Wednesday we had an easy day, playing with our grandson, having lots of fun.
Thursday we went for a walk/bike ride (I walked, he rode his running bike) to Strathcona Park. A tuba player on a park bench played “Edelweiss” for us. We continued our walk/ride to Stephen Brathwaite Strathcona’s Folly. That was fun.
In the afternoon we took the bus (2 buses rather) to the Children’s Museum, part of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. It was still dry, arriving there but that didn’t last long. Pouring rain while waiting for the bus back later in the day. The parliament buildings, so clearly visible when we arrived, had all but disappeared from view by that time. After bus one (the number 44) we had dinner in the Rideau Centre before taking bus #85 back home.

May 24
After dropping off our grandson at his daycare, or what he calls his school, I ventured into the city. Wandered around, found the National Art Gallery, checked that out and enjoyed it, roamed the ByWard Market again, had a great time. Then it was time to pick up the young one and home we went.

May 25
Today we drove to Merrickville for lunch with our son-in-law’s parents. A pretty little town but unfortunately it rained. We enjoyed a great lunch at the Yellow Canoe Café. After lunch we drove to Almonte where the rain eased up enough for us to walk around.
An interesting town, surrounded by raging water.

May 26
Swimming lesson for our grandson and of course we came along to check on his progress. A cousin came over from Toronto so this day turned into a wonderful family day.

May 27
Another day spent sight-seeing in Ottawa plus another visit to the Canadian Museum of History. Not the children’s section this time though!

And then, on May 28, it was time to go back home.
We experienced an amazing train ride across Canada, had a nice evening in Toronto and a fantastic time in Ottawa.

Thank you, Kiran, Geoff and Kingston, for making our Ottawa time so special!

Posted in Ottawa (and Toronto) May 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Canada by train, May 13-17 2019

A cross country train trip, long on the bucket list, now crossed off as “DONE”.
We headed with our carry on luggage by bus and skytrain to Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, where we boarded “The Canadian”.
The Canadian is a transcontinental passenger train operated by Via Rail Canada with service between Union Station in Toronto, Ontario, and Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, British Columbia (Wikipedia).
We were directed to our car and our seats which would be turned into beds in the evening. We had opted for upper and lower berths.
I will get to the layout and all that first. A lot of research had gone into this trip on my part and I didn’t find everything on line I had questions about. Not on the Via Rail site. Other blogs gave me lots (but not all) of information.

The railroad system in Canada has come a long way.

As Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada said on January 17, 1881:
Our plan is to connect the great counties composing the Dominion from sea to sea by one vast iron chain, which cannot and will never be broken.”
Creating a railroad system in Canada, with its diverse geological nature, has been a challenge for sure, costing many lives over time, but it was done, eventually.
As I mentioned above, we opted for berths. Affordable and comfortable. Bunk beds: the upper berth not advisable for claustrophobic travelers or for those with fear of heights. Of course another option would be to go for 2 lower berths if traveling with a partner but then you have the chance that the bunk above you will be occupied by a stranger. No problem really, as each berth is individually closed off with curtains at night but you will have a “seat companion” in daytime. Another option is a cabin for 2. This one has more privacy (door) but the beds are still bunks. The one person cabin is something I personally would not go for. It has a curtain for privacy, and within the compartment you have a seat (like we had in the berth section) and a toilet. Yes, seat and toilet, in one tiny space, together. At night, when the bed is opened up, it covers the toilet….
The deluxe way to travel is in a Prestige cabin. A very spacious bed (no bunk), comfortable chairs, free drinks, super service, priority seating in the Prestige dome car etc. This comes with a big price tag.
I had wondered about storage of our luggage. Checked luggage went in a bagage car. But where was the carry-on to go? Well, that question was answered soon. Our small suitcases fit perfectly under our seats. Before going for dinner at night (and at which time the beds are going to be prepared) you take what you need out of your suitcases.
The upper berth has a net for small items. The lower berth has a shelf. All very practical.
We also checked out the washrooms and shower. Spacious washrooms (separate ones for ladies and gents) and a compact shower. No need to be afraid of falling in the shower in the forever moving train (except the times we had to wait for freight trains to pass) as it was a tight fit 😉
All meals on board were superb. Lots of gourmet choices!
Live entertainment was provided during the trip. We enjoyed the beautiful voice of Diana Braithwaite accompanied by Chris Whiteley on the guitar, trumpet and some other musical gadgets.
There were talks, games etc. throughout the day as well.
The dome cars were great for relaxed viewing of the Canadian country side.
All in all a wonderful experience!
Here is a photographic view of accommodation and amenities on the Canadian.
Mind you, taking pictures on a moving train is a challenge!


Monday, May 13
Off to Vancouver to start another adventure: traveling by train through Canada.
We left pretty much on time (3:00 pm) but got sidelined soon by freight trains (passenger trains in Canada have to yield to freight trains). On our way again it was fun to watch cities, well known to us, pass by. At 4:45 pm we rumbled through Fort Langley.  In Mission we stopped for quite a while right on the bridge. I had hoped for daylight while going through the Fraser Canyon but that was not to be. But next morning showed us the Rockies!


May 14
We had passed through Kamloops, Clearwater, Blue River and Valemount under cover of darkness. Next morning we saw Mount Robson looming ahead of us, rode along Moose Lake and  arrived in Jasper around noon. Here we got to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. Hari opted to check his emails inside the station but I wandered around a bit until it was time to board again.


May 15
We approached Edmonton very late so we decided to stay on the train. We were getting used to the movements of the train so falling asleep was no problem anymore (first night was not that easy). Early morning we arrived in Saskatoon where some passengers got off and others got on. New travel companions in our compartment. We enjoyed traveling through the prairies under immense skies. It was interesting to still see grain elevators. Not as common a sight anymore as it used to be, but those typical structures were definitely still visible to us. Another stop we made was a brief one in Melville, still in Saskatchewan. We were, since a bit before Jasper, also 1 hour ahead of BC time.


May 16
Winnipeg we passed through (and stopped at) during the night. The crew changed here as well as the time. We gained another hour. Some time in the morning we entered Ontario, where we saw many more trees and lakes and even left-over snow patches. We also passed an ice covered river. It was also a rainy day!
Our first main stop was at Sioux Lookout.


May 17
Our second day in huge Ontario. Heading for our destination: Toronto.
We were making good time today. Delays had been made up for. We arrived in Toronto ahead of schedule! Lucky for some people who had made ongoing reservations for this day, against all advise not to do so.

We exited what was our “home on rails” for the last 4 days, stepped onto the platform at Union Station.
The end of our cross country train trip.
One more train ride to come: tomorrow, to Ottawa. Just 4 1/2 hours 😉




Posted in Train trip through Canada by Via Rail May 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments