Thursday, 4 August 2016

Canada || Whistler

Following on from my previous post, this is part 2 of my trip to Canada. I've been dying to share this part of my adventure with you, and I apologise in advance for the amount of photos I'm about to spam you with.

So after a few days of exploring Vancouver and Victoria via train, bus, ferry and bicycle we decided to hire a car for the next part of our journey. I have been driving for the past 7 years, where as Neil on the other hand passed his test 2 years ago and hasn't driven since, so naturally you'd think I'd be the one to drive, oh no not this time! We signed the car in Neil's name and he jumped in behind the steering wheel of 'The Grasshopper'. I must admit I did feel really sick when we were actually getting in the car. Yes, Neil is legally allowed to drive, but he hadn't driven for 2 years, we were in a different country where they drive on the opposite side of the road, the steering wheel is also on the opposite side and they have different road signs and rules. What were we thinking! Nevertheless after a couple of nervous glances and thinking 'Oh we are actually doing this, this is happening' Neil pulled off the car park and onto the busy city center streets. Well I survived to tell the tale... in fact Neil was really good and probably did a better job than I would have!

One of the main reasons for hiring the car was to make to most of the famous drive from Vancouver to Whistler, aptly named the Sea to Sky Highway. This is one of the most picturesque routes you could imagine, from sea views, to expansive lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and miles and miles of forest; it has it all.

Lions Gate Bridge

The Grasshopper

Hard to keep your eyes on the road with scenery like that!

Being a typical tourist and hoarder I pick up literally every map, guide and promotional leaflet when visiting places, and the one above came in handy for our journey up to Whistler. There are various points along the Sea to Sky Highway which you can stop off at and we chose to stretch our legs roughly half way into the journey at Shannon Falls, the third highest waterfall in British Columbia.

We reached Whistler and were served up a welcome meal by Neil's two Australian housemates, and enjoyed a relaxing evening with some beers after all that travelling.


Waking up in Whistler to glorious sunshine we headed out early as Neil wanted to show me Lost Lake, and you can see why...

Our first walk in Whistler, I hadn't even got down the road and I was already in love with the place. Afterwards Neil took me into Whistler Village, and I got the classic tourist photo with the Olympic Rings.

After a wander around the village, stopping for a coffee & a cake at Purebread where Neil worked part-time, we finished the day off relaxing by the pool.


The joys of renting the car meant we could venture a bit further than Neil normally would day to day and during a drive out we came across what turned out to be my favourite spot of the whole trip, Rainbow Park at Atla Lake.

We didn't stay for too long but agreed we would pop back at some point during my stay.


Neil went over to Canada to experience the skiing, so had spent most of his winter up Whistler Mountain and had always wanted to share the view up there with me and also take me on the Peak to Peak Gondola. So on one of the hottest days during my stay we headed up there to explore and we even managed to get a glimpse of some bears too, which was something I wanted to tick off my list!

Experiencing 'Poutine' with one of the best views you could wish for!
We stopped for lunch up the mountain and Neil had been banging on about 'Poutine', a simple Canadian dish which comprises on French Fries, Cheese Curds and Gravy, to be honest I didn't like the sound of it, but we had ours topped with Pulled Pork, and it was amazing! For me I definitely think the view added to the experience of Poutine, its probably one of the best views you could have whilst eating lunch.

After refueling we set off on a Black Trail Hike through 30 foot ice walls to the top of the mountain!

Now I'm not going to lie this hike was really tough, and there was various points during it where I didn't think it was worth it; every corner you turned there was another steep path and it seemed to go on forever; Neil pretty much had to drag me to the top, and I was so glad he did!

This is one of my all time favourite photos on us!
Black Tusk

After recovering from our walk with an evening in the hot tub, the next day I was ready for another adventure.

We headed to Cheakamus Lake stopping of at Brandy Wine Falls on the way capturing more glorious photos...

Brandywine Falls

Daisy Lake

King of the Woods


I mentioned above Alta Lake, which we had promised to head back to, well we did, in our swim wear and spent the afternoon wild swimming.

I have loved swimming from an early age and wild swimming is something I have always wanted to get into. I definitely made the most of it on this trip, and it has really sparked an urge in me to do it more; I even headed over to the nudist pier at Lost Lake to embrace the hippy in me!

On one of my final days in Whistler Neil and I decided to spend some time together at the Scandinavian Spa, having never been to a spa before after visiting this my standards are now pretty high. Unfortunately we were no able to take our phones with us so I wasn't able to get any sneaky pictures, but their website has some gorgeous photos and the Summer Promotional Video will give you an idea as to how relaxing and romantic it was there!

We spent our final night together in Vancouver, staying at a hotel in Gastown which was a fantastic part of the city to explore. Wandering around the independent bars and shops there is a really young feel to that area of town and we found an amazing seafood restaurant for our last meal together. Rodney's Oyster House had a great atmosphere as soon as we walked in, and we were not disappointed by the food. Neil treated me to oysters to start, which he has done previously from a restaurant in Sheffield and too be honest I wasn't that fond of them then, but the oysters from Rodney's were something else. The taste and texture was incredible, so fresh, I could have eaten a whole tray of them! We both then went for the New England Chowder and the Scallop & Prawn Pasta. Completely over facing ourselves, we headed/rolled back to the hotel!

Well after two blissful weeks it was time to say another heartbreaking goodbye to my Geordie man and head back to reality.

Things I loved...
-Location: Rainbow Park, Alta Lake
-Activity: Wild Swimming
-Food: Oyster's || Rodney's Oyster House
-Photo: Peak of Whistler Mountain


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Canada || Vancouver & Victoria

Going on holiday is always exciting, but when that holiday also means seeing your boyfriend for the first time in 6 months, it's excitement on a whole new level!
Neil has been in Canada since last November and after a hard winter without one another I decided it was time I packed up my bag (inconveniently large suitcase) and headed out there for a couple of weeks.
I'd never flown by myself before, any other holidays had been with my family or trips with college and university so I was pretty nervous, mainly about navigating my way through the airport and getting on the right plane, rather than the flying alone part.
My parents drove me to the airport and checked my bag in with me, then it was time to go it alone. Once I'd gone through security and found where my gate was I felt fine, and had a few hours to kill so just spent my time looking round the duty free and drinking coffee.
The flight was nine and a half hours long and went quite quickly, though I'd forgotten how cramped airplanes were, in your head you always imagine them being more spacious.
I landed in Canada just after lunch time and after collecting my suitcase headed towards the exit... and there he was, my Geordie man, holding a hand written sign which read 'Miss Alexandra Norcup'.
Yes, it was like a scene from a rom-com!
After our emotional greeting we jumped on a train and headed into Vancouver city center to start our adventure!


Once we'd checked into the hotel we headed out to find somewhere to have dinner and stumbled upon Home St. Cafe & Bar. The food was incredible, and we sat outside on their heated terrace for a couple of hours before the jet lag kicked in and we headed back to the hotel.

Continuing to dine like Kings, the next day Neil took me for breakfast at a place he'd been to before, Medina. I can honestly say its the fanciest breakfast I've ever had! I went for the Wolves Breakfast, In-House Cured Peameal Bacon, Double Smoked Medina Bacon, Andouille & Merguez Sausage adding a fried egg, and we both finished off with a waffle for desert! Both courses were incredible, so tasty; if you are ever in Downton Vancouver you have to visit this place!

After all that indulgence we decided we had better burn off some calories, so what better way than hiring some bikes and cycling around Stanley Park.

Lions Gate Bridge

We stopped off at 'English Bay' to feel the sand between our toes, before heading into the forest down 'Lover's Walk' trail to the beautiful, lily pad filled Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake

So after a glorious couple of days exploring Vancouver we decided to hop on a ferry and head over to Vancouver Island for a night in Victoria.

This is my fisherman's wife look.

Victoria is the most British influenced part of British Columbia, and it definitely had a feeling of familiarity as we wandered round the city and through the parks.

The tallest totem pole in the world.

 After a lovely walk down to the drift wood covered beach, back dropped with mountains we were feeling a bit peckish. We'd been using Neil's Lonely Planet Canada Book a lot for places to visit on our travels, and one of the recommendations for places to eat in Victoria was a little fish and chip bar right on the dock called 'Red Fish Blue Fish'.

Possibly the best fish and chips I've ever had, and the added factor of sitting looking out at the sea whilst eating, just topped it off perfectly. The food was so fresh, with a twist on traditional fish and chips; I absolutely loved this place.

Saying goodbye to Vancouver Island we headed back on the ferry to Vancouver to start the next part of our adventure... Whistler.

To be continued...

Sorry to leave you on a cliff hanger but there is much more to come and I simply couldn't fit it all in one post!

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