Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Park’

Exploring Vancouver’s West End. Part 3. Beaches and Seawall.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

On Sunday evening the skies were clear and you could feel the warmth of Spring in the air, the breeze had a slight chill to it but nothing to make you uncomfortable or ruin the moment. It was the perfect evening to catch the Sunset at one of the beaches that hug the Seawall around the West End.

Beaches of the West End
Walk westbound for around 10 to 15 minutes down the hill on Davie Street and you will reach the western boundary of the West End district – here you will be greeted by the very popular English Bay Beach and the entrance to Stanley Park with the gorgeous Lost Lagoon dividing suburbia and nature – read our next Blog installment on the West End and we have more to say about the Lagoon.

As the Sun was setting on Sunday April 14th there were many many people who were gathering at the English Bay to see it, we were at the peninsula where the stunning Inukshuk is standing – which is an excellent area to watch the Sun set. The waters of English bay were quite calm and had a stunning metallic gold shimmer with dashes of blue reflecting from the stunning blue skies above. As the Sun was setting the crowds had swollen in size and there were lots of cheering and drumming as the spectacle came to its finale!


Photo courtesy of Kyle Pearce at Unifiedstream – visit their site at http://www.unifiedstream.com/

Inukshuk Monument at English Bay
Standing by the Inukshuk you really get to see the beauty that this city has to offer and also the realisation of what a wonderfully cute area that the West End is, the location of the Sunset Inn and Suites hotel is indeed a prime spot for us and our guests.
The Inukshuk itself looks very majestic overlooking the ocean and the North Shore mountains as a great backdrop, it is a great opportunity for some incredible photographic shots and memories of your stay in Vancity. It is also one of the most recognised landmarks in this part of the world and is a symbolic representation for the First Nations peoples and adopted for the Winter Olympic Games of 2010. Traditionally the Inukshuk were used as markers for a point of reference when navigating the land especially during hunting in the more northern climes of Canada- they were also used as Sign posts for settlements in the area.

Click Inukshuk and you will see a great video on the meaning of this symbolic monument is.

Looking at the map, you will find the Inukshuk is located at the South Side of English Bay at the mouth of False Creek – our Hotel is at the same spot marked where the HI Hostel is..

The Seawall
The Seawall is one of the most walked, run and biked paths in Vancouver and at 22km long it encompasses Stanley Park, and much of the Downtown peninsula with a plethora of sights to absorb and photograph- one things for sure you will certainly remember this part of your visit.

Balancing Rocks
We suggest that you walk from English Bay back South to South East where you start to follow the seawall along the opening of False Creek towards Burrard Bridge and Granville Island, along this path you will come across some really cool Rock structures balanced on the large boulders and rocks embedded among the pebbles and sand.
Everywhere you go along the beaches in Vancouver, if there are rocks, there are likely to be plenty that are balancing on top of each other, and as much as you may believe that they are glued on, well, you will be wrong, the glue that is holding them together is quite literally the natural force of gravity and the awesome art of balance!

Rock Pools and Sandy Beaches at Sunset Beach.
Further along the Sea Wall you will notice that there are more options to hang out at the waters edge, here the rocks make way for Sandy beaches and large Logs that have been lined up for you to hang out and have a picnic. This is called Sunset Beach the hotels namesake and is the quieter option in comparison to the popular English Bay.
As the Rockier beaches transition to more Sandy style beaches you can easily explore the area with your family, just be mindful of the tides of course. Along the beaches you can come across some cool Rock Pools and see some smaller fish, crabs and all varieties of colour from the Seaweed and Algae that adorn the rocks and pebbles. It is also a great area to watch all the local Birds such as Geese, Gulls, Crows and the majestic Herons, if you have a really keen eye, you may even catch a glimpse of a Seal popping its head up from the water…

Events that are best seen from Sunset Beach and English Bay during the Summer
There are lots of events that happen in Vancouver throughout the year, here we will highlight a couple of the major events that come to our neck of the woods.

Celebration of Light Fireworks Display.
These Fireworks come to Vancouver every single year and draw in very large crowds of locals and tourists alike every year, the display is a competition that travels the world each year and our turn comes at the end of July and the beginning of August – the masses love to get their prime seat down at English Bay, but for us, we feel that Sunset Beach will do the job and is quieter too, so if you do not like the crowds – Sunset Beach it is!
Celebration of Light: http://hondacelebrationoflight.com/

Pride Parade and Festival.
Davie Village which is adjacent to the Hotel is home to the Gay District of Vancouver so naturally that means we have fun with the annual Gay Pride Parade. This event always happens on the final weekend of the Celebration of Light fireworks.
The Parade winds it way from Robson St through to Denman where the procession ends at Sunset Beach and then the party truly begins!
Vancouver Pride Parade: https://vancouverpride.ca/

For further information on other Vancouver Top Attractions – click here: http://www.sunsetinn.com/leisure/attractions

Exploring Vancouver’s West End. Part 2 – Historical buildings of the West End.

Friday, April 11th, 2014

When exploring the West End pay attention to the buildings and architecture that is a mixture of young and old, Victorian among modern era which makes the West End one of the most unique districts that Vancouver has to offer. As you wander around the area you will find an interesting mix which makes the West End stand out very strikingly, it really sets up your imagination where you can wonder what this area actually looked like around the end of the turn of the century, it also coincides with the incorporation of the city of Vancouver (April 6, 1886 – looking good for 128).

HISTORICAL BUILDINGS AND COLOURFUL STREETS
We wholeheartedly encourage you to meander around the suburbs of the West End and more specifically we will guide you to some of the more notable buildings and streets to visit.

Bute Street
This is one of our most favorate streets to walk along as it has plenty of history and some really quirky looking buildings that are awash in colour, at different times of year these properties (specifically Ashby House) are decked out in plenty of festive cheer depending on what event is happening at the time of year. As you wander further along Bute Street you will see some pretty large impressive buildings all the way up till Robson St many of these were built at the turn of the century and were residential buildings for many of the large Corporations that were making homes for themeselves and staff alike, nowadays these buildings are purely residential.

Check out the Google Street-view of this area: https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.284092,-123.129884,3a,75y,287.02h,85.53t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sKefKwZHuWqY_B3x2BCwkVw!2e0

Roedde House Museum and Barclay Square
Coming to visit the famous Roedde House which is part of the Barclay Square complex you will immediately find yourself back in time to the late 1800s era. The house is named after the very first Bookbinder in Vancouver named Gustav Roedde and the house was built in 1893
The house is under the property of the City of Vancouver and way back in 1976 it was decided to be placed under the Heritage building list.
The most unique aspect about this museum is the fact that none of the Artifacts are behind Rope or a Glass box – the idea is that you are literally meant to realistically take a step back in time so you experience the House as it was in 1893.

Website: http://www.roeddehouse.org/

Barclay Square Gardens
The Roedde House museum is one of a few properties that are built around the gorgeous Barclay Square gardens The gardens are tended by the city and are open for not only the visitors to Vancouver but West End residents alike. The park opened up in 1985 a year before the Roedde House opened for the public – the reasoning behind the park was to encourage more Green spaces in the already congested downtown core, even though there is Stanley Park which is not too far away and is pretty huge, it is still a nice surprise to find a little Oasis among the smaller older properties and the towering high rises.

The Gabriola House
This was built for a Mr B.T. Rogers who was the founder of B.C. Sugar Refining Co. This Queen Anne style grand mansion, is located on Davie Street and Nicola Street.
This is a gorgeous building that really stands out in the neighbourhood, however unfortunately it is standing derelict at this time with rumours that it will open as a Keg restaurant. Even though the property is currently empty the stunning gardens are still maintained and certainly worth a visit on lovely Summer days.

Heritage Vancouver Society
For further information on the West End historical buildings click on this link:http://www.heritagevancouver.org/topten/2013/topten2013_08.html

Want to see Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler but short on days….Follow our lead here….

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

As the seasons starts to get that little bit busier throughout April we find that many of our visiting guests are generally here for a few short days. In most peoples minds there is never really enough time to get any sort of sightseeing done, and, if the weather is not too good is it really worth it? Well, in all honesty we think YES!

The Staff at the Sunset Inn and Suites really do pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of the city and we feel with our direction and expertise that we have to offer, we will be able to figure out the very best way you can enjoy the city.

This blog will explain some of the major attractions that you can see in a short space of time. Ideally if you are planning on visiting Vancouver for a few days make it 3 if possible. That way you can dedicate one day to getting around the city of Vancouver and then the remaining last few days you can venture further by checking out Whistler and/or Victoria.

There are many Tour operators here that are on hand to chauffeur you around the city and many of them are an excellent way of getting around where you can effortlessly see some spectacular sights without having to think too much! The best part of using these tours is that they generally have some excellent rates set up directly with the hotel so you can even save some money by booking through us, as opposed to booking ahead of time, this is a good idea for organizing for sure, but you can save more in the long term by asking for deals at the Front Desk.

Sightseeing in Vancouver
There are plenty of tours to choose from that will get you to see the city efficiently and with some fantastic guides to help you on your way. Our favorite pick for Sightseeing is undoubtedly the Big Bus – Hop on Hop off sightseeing city tours.

BIG BUS – HOP ON HOP OFF CITY SIGHTSEEING.
Big Bus are a cool bunch of people, they have extensive knowledge of the city, they have a fantastic team of dedicated staff that will make your excursion around the city memorable.

“What better way to see the sights of Vancouver than from a seat on one of our unique sightseeing buses! When you select a BIG BUS tour, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time at any of our stops, including major attractions, shopping areas, and many of Vancouver’s fine restaurants. On BIG BUS, there’s no need to rush!

When purchasing your ticket from the Front Desk, the ticket will be valid for 2 full days at a value fo 2 for the price of one and the Big Bus Hop-on/Hop-off policy means you can spend as much time as you’d like at any particular destination. We stop at Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Robson Street Shopping District, English Bay, Entertainment District and more.”

Operating Hours
April 15 – September 30 – 7 days/week
9:00 am – 6:30 pm

Big Bus Route.

We recommend that you do a full circuit tour of the city first so you can get to see everything, and then start to do the Hop on Hop off – also, you do not have to use the tickets in 2 consecutive days, you have a 3 week window in which you can fulfill the 2 days sightseeing – perfect if you are stopping over in Vancouver at the beginning and end of a nice Alaskan Cruise!

Big Bus Website: www.bigbus.ca

Biking around the city.
What better way to really get to see the city on your own time than by hopping on a bike and taking advantage of all the bike paths that are spread out all over Vancouver. Cycling is a very efficient way of getting around the perimeter of the gorgeous Stanley Park too! If you are adventurous enough you can even bike the whole Seawall (all 22km of it) from Downtown Coal Harbour area right through to Kitsilano and Kitsilano Beach via Granville Island.

ENGLISH BAY BIKE RENTALS
These guys are our preferred choice for Bike Rentals. They have a great selection of different types of bikes to choose from, they also do bike repairs and buy and sell bikes too!

English Bay Bike Rentals is pleased to announce that they will be working with Vancouver Bike Tours, an interpretive guiding company that offers daily bicycle tours of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. The tours make use of Vancouver’s picturesque seawall, Stanley Park’s vast network of forest trails and the City’s ever-expanding grid of bike lanes. Along the way you will hear local stories, receive historical information and experience the thrill of cycling through a living rainforest.

English Bay Bike Rentals Website: http://www.englishbaybikerentals.com/

Please click the following link for the Vancouver Bike Tours website for booking information if you wish to join a tour. http://biketourvancouver.com/tours-offered/

Tours to Whistler and Victoria
It really would be shame to miss out on taking a quick visit to see Victoria and Whistler as these smaller towns are really not too far away at all. There are various ways you can get here. Here are our 2 preferred Tour Operators.
The following two options work on the same principle, you will be picked up at the Hotel and then they will drive you to various scenic locations as well as the towns that you wish to see, you will also have time to walk around Whistler/Victoria too. We highly recommend that you book this with us as it is a good tour to book last minute, you will get to see way more with a guide and time will be something that you do not have to think about, and when you bundle the price it will be so much better for your wallet in the long run.

VANTAGE WHISTLER TOURS
Vancouver to Whistler sightseeing van tours.
Experience the best in Whistler sightseeing. A full day, 11 hour tour, which includes 6 stops. The stops include Prospect Point, Cypress Mountain, Porteau Cove, Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls, and Whistler Village. The tour starts with a pick up from your hotel, followed by a scenic drive around Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate Bridge, onto the Sea-To-Sky Highway, through Squamish, and ending up in Whistler. In Whistler, enjoy 4 hours of free time to explore the village, which is full of great restaurants, shops, and attractions. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the new Peak-To-Peak Gondola or a Zip-Line tour or even Bungee Jumping! Vantage Whistler operates all tours using Mercedes_Benz Sprinters.

Website: http://vantagewhistler.com/

LANDSEA TOURS – Great for Victoria Excursions.
Like Vantage Whistler they pick you up and drop you off at the hotel. They have a great day trip to Victoria that includes the ferry trip too!

Victoria and Butchart Gardens; our most popular excursion, is the best if you want to visit our provincial capital and the world-renowned gardens in just one day. Maximize your time and save money, by turning a potentially difficult transfer between Vancouver and Victoria into an easy, fully-narrated day tour. With plenty of free time in downtown Victoria and at Butchart Gardens, this will be a day you will never forget.

The bus drives onto the ferry for a 1.5 hour cruise to Vancouver Island. Full restaurant facilities on board.
A scenic drive through exclusive residential areas and parks surrounding downtown Victoria.
See the Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel and more of Downtown Victoria’s vibrant harbour front during your free time to explore.

Landsea Tours: http://www.vancouvertours.com/victoria-tour

Dining out with a twist – experiencing the unusual in Vancouver…

Friday, March 7th, 2014

After a reading an interesting article courtesy of the BBC news website about restaurants that thrive on rude service the ELBOW ROOM immediately came to mind. The Elbow room is quite the experience for people who want to have a good hearty breakfast, but be warned, you will not only need a strong stomach to enjoy their excellent food but a good open mind and a sense of humour is a necessity here…

Before we delve deeper on the Elbow Room experience take a quick look at the article from the BBC here that inspired this particular blog:
The restaurants that thrive on insulting their diners http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26468295

THE ELBOW ROOM
To dine here you will definitely need to have an open mind, a great sense of humour and more importantly quick wit. The Elbow room prides itself on the rudeness of the staff and if you can dish it out as good as they can – they will likely up the ante and give you a run for the money. If this is something that you feel will ruin the breakfast then we advise that you dine in the many other breakfast diners in the city, but, just remember, this is all in the name of fun and no harm is intended – it IS absolutely part of the experience that is the quintessentially the Elbow Room and most who dine here do so with roaring laughter!

The Elbow Room Website: http://www.theelbowroomcafe.com/

Other Dining experiences that are not the norm….
The following establishments that we feel you should try have nothing to do with being rude, they just have their own unique environment and we feel you should give them a whirl as they offer a different experience

TOP OF VANCOUVER – REVOLVING RESTAURANT
If you spend more than 60 minutes inside this revolving restaurant then you will have noticed that the restaurant itself had revolved a full 360′ turn. Located at the western end of Robson St, the Top of Vancouver restaurant has views of Vancouver like no other, so if you are feeling hungry yet still want to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Vancouver and its surroundings then this will be the perfect spot, with incredible views that overlook the city, Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains and out over the sea and Vancouver Island……we suggest you get there say a half hour before Sunset, it will take your breath away!

The Revolving Restaurant: http://www.topofvancouver.com/

DARK TABLE
The Dark Table idea may be unique to Vancouver but it is a concept that has been happening in various other cities around the world. The premise is built around what it is like to live and dine as a someone whose vision is impaired. Once you enter the establishment you will be in a lit room first where you can choose what you fancy from the menu, thereafter you will make your way into the restaurant itself. The staff that work at the Dark Table are blind or visually impaired and will guide you to your table into the dark dining space where the experience begins now.
The concept was inspired by a Jorge Spielmann who would blindfold his friends when they would dine at his home so they could understand what it is like to live in the moment as a blind person. We think this is a fantastic idea that will really alter your concept and perception of how people get by while visually impaired.

The Dark Table Restaurant: http://darktable.ca/

12B
Is it a restaurant? Someones living room? An Underground secret that only the special few need know about? Well, in all honesty it is a bit of everything really.
12B is a concept that has been labelled by some as a Guerrilla restaurant, an underground restaurant, one that is only known by word of mouth – the latter being quite true.
The restaurant is run from home by a great host and chef known as ‘Todd’ and the idea is simple, get a big enough group of people to come by, you can bring your own wine and beer and you give a generous donation. Todd will welcome you into his home where you will gather round the dining area and be greeted by Todd before he gets on with finishing the preparations for your meal. After the dining part is over you are more than welcome to stick around in the living area where you can enjoy yourself in the company of friends and Todd who is indeed an excellent host and an incredible chef.

The address is a secret so email Todd here if you are able to get a big enough group: 12breservations@gmail.com.

Spring time in Vancouver – Part 1…Gorgeous Wildlife and Plantlife

Monday, February 24th, 2014

For many of us who live in Vancouver the Season of Spring is by far one of the best, with the longer days becoming more noticeable and the weather slowly but surely warming it is a time where the city and nature start to wake from the long long nights of Winter.

There are many reasons to come to Vancouver between March and June not just because is it still a relatively cheaper time to stay in the city. The tourist season will generally start to really kick into gear during the latter half with the volume of Cruise Ships increasing, Spring break and so on, so if crowds are not your thing then very likely this season should really appeal to you as the city is not too too busy.

Many of us love Vancouver in the Spring for one thing overall and that is for the blooming of the plants and the explosion of colour because of this. As the leaves begin to unfold and the increase of the local wildlife who are during their rounds, where they will be getting ready for the mating season and need to fill their hungry bellies – so much to choose from that will no doubt grab your interest.

We will break down this blog into 2 parts so that there is something for everyone to be interested in, and, as always we will have further blogs that will keep you up to date on all the major events over the coming months.

CLIMATE
The Climate in Vancouver is very well known as soggy, mild with lots of rain! However, this year has been different, admittedly this particular Winter has not played ball as normal as it has been predominantly dry, it has had the odd blast of the Arctic air licking our shores (albeit brief) and its snowing as I type so we are still reminded that it is still the Winter season.

It has also been a remarkably sunny winter so therefore that means it has been very very dry. This area of the world is known as a temperate Rain-forest and we do normally average quite a few inches of rain each month during November and May respectively, in fact, the crazy weather that has been occurring in Europe and more specifically the UK is what we would call typical. So in a year that has been anything but normal we have to admit – it has has been quite nice to be able to get outdoors when we normally bunker down.

So what remains for the rest of 2014? Of course we will never really know, but many are predicting that it could be a year when we may get water advisories due to the lack of the precipitation, it could also mean that for all the visitors coming here in the Spring and Summer it could very well be an outstanding season to come. Meteorologists who are looking at the El Nino and La Nina fluctuations in the Pacific are seeing a possible transition to a mild El nino pattern which we has not been present in the last few years, if and a big if as always this is the case, this area of the world could expect a dry and warmer pattern -top that with the effect of this dry winter Summer 2014 may seem warmer than usual, only time will tell.

Spring in Vancouver is typically changeable with the rains becoming more showery with the odd brief cold spell, there is always an outside chance that snow may fall even as late as the end of March and at a push April – due to its topsy turvy nature, either way the great thing about Vancity is that you can get some late season skiing in on the slopes and then come back down to earth for a nice stroll down the beach – the Sun is starting to have an influence so it may be pleasent and warm down at sea level. In turn that means the world around us is waking up so the next section will explain about the blooming of the Plants and what wildlife to expect here.

TREES AND PLANTS
It is fair to say that the Spring season is one of the most colourful and stunning of all seasons and in Vancouver it is very visible- what you will also notice is the many varieties of Plant-life that hail from areas such as the Far East Asia with the main feature dominating are the Cherry Blossoms, they seriously show off what they have got especially during late April and May – there is a great Festival and Website that is dedicated to the Cherry Blossoms it gives you a comprehensive guide as to where the blooms are occurring around the city, what kind of blossoms they are, and what to expect over the next few weeks as they progress.
A major highlight of the Cherry Blossom blooms are the trees that line the square at Burrard Street Skytrain station – here there are so many Blossoms in bloom that they create a stunning pink and white canopy ceiling above you, its gorgeous.

Although the Cherry blossoms tend to take the most accolades in the area there are more amazing plants and trees to check out.

Cherry Blossom Festival: http://www.vcbf.ca/

Deciduous Trees
Vancouver is also home to some pretty stunning Deciduous trees in the area and in the Spring they really show off the very best of their Spring Blooms, trees such as Magnolia Vulcan this tree dazzles with a brilliant ruby-red 20-cm flowers. It thrives in every soil type and has sturdy upright growth. You can find this on the Corner of Beach Ave and Burrard St nearby, Magnolias are found all throughout the West End and vary in size and shapes.
Found all over but you can see it in the Rose Garden in Stanley Park The Prunus ‘Akebono’ (ornamental cherry) its pink blossom slowly turn to a soft pink-white from mid-March to early April.

Just around the corner from us is a wonderful Magnolia tree that is getting ready to put on its own Spring show, take a left turn from the Hotel and Burnaby Street onto Thurlow St and you will see this gorgeous tree!

WILDLIFE and STANLEY PARK
Spring is also the season when you notice the influx of the migrating birds and of course the critters that are now waking up from their deep winter slumber.
We recommend that when you do visit the parks (Its our stunning oasis in the city) we really do encourage you to keep your eyes peeled as there is plenty of wildlife to spot on the ground and in the skies.

The Great Blue Herons.
These majestic creatures have made a small area in Stanley Park their natural home for nesting and it is in surprisingly large numbers – it seems that in many other areas of the world the Herons are found to be dwindling in numbers, thankfully this is not the case in Vancouver, we hope that this is a healthy continuing trend.
During March we will see the return of the male Herons, the best place to see them are down by the Tennis Courts on Beach Avenue (Which is not too far a walk from the Sunset) the male herons will return to their designated nests where they will hope to attract the females whom arrive a short while later.

Once they do arrive the usual courtship ritual begins, you can spot this when the couples are in their nests and will cross their bills regularly, together they help maintain their nests (some return to the existing ones and like to modernise and spruce them up too).
Come the end of April and early May you will start to see the chicks hatching from their nests, it is quite a sight to see. At the last count there are around 165 to 170 nests, this location has been a regular home since 1921 there were many nests across the creek in Vanier Park, but now, only a handful remain.

Heron Colony of Stanley Park: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/StanleyHeronColony01.html

Here is a video of the Herons in the Park
Blue Herons of Vancouver

The Elusive Coyote
Coyotes breeding season occurs from January through April and there is always a chance that you will catch a quick glance of them as Spring progresses to Summer. Cubbing season will be well under way by then so the Coyotes will be busy looking for food not only for themselves but for their new offspring too. If you do manage to see them – just let the Coyotes be, they may look a little under nourished but don’t be tempted to feed them as these critters are more than capable and happy to forage by themselves.
An interesting fact about the Coyotes, they were introduced into Vancouver in the 1980s and very quickly established themselves into the urban setting. They are a little fearful of humans when they are not treated or respected as the animals that they are, however, this is not a cause for alarm, just leave them be and they will carry on their merry way as long as they are not distracted – it is not unusual to find them wandering the street or even venturing deeper into the city, Coyotes live where ever they can get comfortable, they only make Dens for the purpose of bringing up the cubs, otherwise, leaves and shrubs will be more than fine for a home sweet home.

Living with Coyotes: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/conservation/co-existing-with-coyotes/

Migrating Birds
A sure sign of Spring is the sound of the Birds that are making their way around the globe and at this time of year start to make their presence known in the city, this is really noticeable by their chirping, whistles and regular songs that become more and more familiar, and of course the plumage, they really do begin to get more and more colourful!
The birds that arrive come in all shapes and sizes of course and there are far too many to mention here, but we will note a few to look out for, and please click on the link below so you can read in depth of the many other species not mentioned here. Keep an eye out for Hawks, Bald Eagles, Chickadees, Hummingbirds and of Canada Geese – easily spotted by their famous flying V formation!

A cool occurrence that happens everyday is when the Species of Gulls and Crows make their way home to their respective nests and roosts, if you look up at the skies roughly an hour before and up to Sunset you may get to witness a very large Murder of Crows heading east to their roosting spot in Burnaby, its is quite a sight to see – at the very same time, you will see the Gulls making their way home from inland out to the coast where their nests are.

Birds of Vancouver: http://birdvancouver.com/blog_april12.html

Valentines Day in and around Vancouver…..

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

BUY SOME YUMMY FOOD AND GROCERIES FOR A ROMANTIC MEAL AT THE GRANVILLE ISLAND MARKET
Granville Island public market has an amazing amount of variety of produce, fine artisan foods and delicacies for you to enjoy. If you want to do something special and romantic – head down to the Island where you can purchase some really amazing food items and you can prepare the meal here at The Sunset Inn using our fully equipped en-suite kitchen.

WINE AND DINE YOUR LOVED ONE
If you decide to make the small trip to Granville Island you should also check out Liberty Wine Merchants, here they have an excellent selection of Wines for you to splurge and enjoy with your loved one. Valentines day needs to have a nice tipple – so here you can find a yummy Champagne or Sparkling WINE, or how about a nice Rose to accompany your romantic meal together.

Liberty Wine Merchants – Granville Island http://libertywinemerchants.com/

Closer by to the hotel is MARQUIS WINE CELLARS – they have a very large selection of high End wines for you to enjoy. Website: http://www.marquis-wines.com/

JUMPING THE BROOM – GRANVILLE ISLAND BROOM SHOP
While you are down there – is there a chance that you may be popping the question to your loved one? You can always follow the tradition of Jumping The Broom, which, on a personal note is a tradition that is closely connected to my Welsh Roots – This is an old age custom that has its roots in the United Kingdom and more specifically in Wales where it would take place at the wedding ceremony. The term derives from the expression of a ‘Broomstick marriage’ it basically implies that the ceremony is being used for reasons that make the marriage seem illegitimate – so it is custom to ‘jump the broom’ as a way of expressing that the marriage is not null and void. If you were known to have performed a broomstick marriage it would likely mean that your wedding was not performed within the Anglican church and therefore classed as an illegitimate marriage – oh the Welsh!

So on that note, please check out this awesome cute Shop called The Granville Island Broom Company. They make their own brooms on site and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and many of these cute artsy brooms have a very Pacific north West Vibe to them. A perfect and cute gift that may well be the biggest moment of the day…..if they get the hint that is!
Granville Island Broom Co http://broomcompany.com/

GO AND SEE A QUIRKY VALENTINES DAYS SHOW – THE TRUE HEROINES VALENTINES DAY CABARET
TWO NIGHTS ONLY.
FEBRUARY 13th & 14th 2014 @ 8 PM

IT’S THE SAME CABARET YOU KNOW AND LOVE, BUT SEXIER…
After playing to a sold-out house last March at The Rio Theatre & again in August at The Anza The True Heroines are back with a brand new show at a brand new venue.
In this episode of the True Heroines live cabaret; you’ll think you’ve taken a step back in time to Paris 1946. Immerse yourself into the secret lives of these wartime entertainers as they infiltrate the Corporation in order to save one of their own. The leggy ladies of this classic cabaret combine burlesque moves, Fosse-style choreography and story lines from their web-series, to put a shiny new coat of gloss on their classic romp.

FOR TICKETS TO THE FEBRUARY 13th SHOWhttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/555750
FOR TICKETS TO THE FEBRUARY 14th SHOWhttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/560637

The True Heroines are best known for their online Podcast series, they do not do many performances live so it is something we highly recommend you see, check out their website for further information: http://thetrueheroines.com/

VALENTINES DINNER AND DANCE CRUISE
Enjoy the romance of the sea at this dinner and dance cruise, including a gourmet buffet and a complimentary glass of champagne. Sail the Pride of Vancouver, 450 Denman St $64.95/person, 604-687-5533, vancouvercharters.com

ROMANTIC STROLL IN AND AROUND STANLEY PARK
Stanley Park is a really nice place to visit for a romantic stroll, If you like, you can even get a tour using the Horse and carriage tours around Stanley park – and for an extra romantic vibe take a nice wee stroll down the Lovers Walk in the Park.

Horse and Carriage: http://www.stanleypark.com/

How to see the very best of Vancouver in just a few short days.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Its been a crazy Winter here in Vancouver as we have not seen this much Sun over the winter period for as long as anyone can remember – maybe, just maybe this is a sign of a good tourist season to come for 2014.
We are starting to notice a big upswing in reservation calls for people who are now looking ahead to the Spring and Summer season get away’s. We feel this will be a good time to give you advice on how to utilise your time in the city with the few days that you may be stopping over. So we will guide you on what to do if you are stopping by the city for just 1, 2 or 3 days…

1 DAY VISIT
One day in the city may seem like there is no time to see anything, but we feel you can actually see a fair bit of the city due to the size and geography of the area, so, if you are only making a whistle-stop tour and still want to catch some sights, here are the places to see for just one day.

BIG BUS CITY TOUR – HOP ON HOP OFF Big Bus will be the very best way to see the sights of the city while having the freedom to get around at different stops so you can experience some pretty decent areas that Vancouver has to offer. The bus stop is quite literally a 1 minute walk from the hotel on Thurlow St – we suggest that you do a full circle tour on the bus, and then once back around, its time to use the Hop on Hop off option to good use.
Granville Island is a must see area in the city, it is our own version of Seattle’s Pike Place market There are some amazing boutique shops to browse and shop in, the wonderful Granville Island Market whic is open from 9am till 7pm seven days a week. There are also some really excellent restaurants to choose from too, our suggestion is to visit The Sandbar Restaurant, this really showcases the very best Pub style dishes, Seafood and an Asian infusion twist which is very very Vancouver.

Granville Island Website: http://granvilleisland.com/

After spending some time on Granville Island we highly recommend that you take a walk inStanley Park A diamond in the rough – Stanley Park is one of the largest public parks that shows you what the area once looked like before the rapid expansion of the city. The Park is located at the Western end of the downtown peninsula and at 1,001-acres there is plenty to see. Here you are in the heart of an ‘urban Rainforest’ so to speak, there is no shortage of spectacular scenery with the various species of Plants, trees and wildlife, it is a must see area of the city, just like Granville Island.

We also recommend that you purchase your Big Bus tickets with us at the front desk as it will be a cheaper deal for you – as opposed to buying a ticket directly from their website. We will send you their link below so you know what to expect when you get here.

BIG BUS Website http://bigbus.ca/home/

Sandbar Restaurant http://www.vancouverdine.com/sandbar

2 DAY VISIT
Now that you have gotten some of the downtown area out of the way, you can now start to explore a little deeper, if you have purchased a ticket with Big Bus you will have seen that they have a 2 day Pass – this will help get you to explore some of the older areas of the city.
Gastown and Chinatown are also a must see area of Vancouver, here you will step back in time and get to see where the original and oldest areas of the city began, you can check out the famous cobble-stoned Streets, incredibly stunning architecture and historical landmarks such as The Steam Clock, the Chinatown district (which is one of the oldest in North America and Canada – including the majestic and beautiful DR SUN YAT SEN CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDENS website http://vancouverchinesegarden.com/

Gastown Website:http://www.gastown.org/

GROUSE MOUNTAIN & CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE can be visited after spending some time in Chinatown and Gastown, you can head over to Waterfront Station where you can catch the Seabus over to North Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay (which is North Vancouver’s version of our own Granville Island, its smaller but very cute and offers some great views of the Burrard Inlet, Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park.

Grouse Mountain overlooks Vancouver and can be easily spotted as the middle of the three North Shore mountains that overlook the city, it is nestled in between Cypress Mountain to the West and Mount Seymour to the east. Grouse is excellent for Winter sporting activities for all the family – and in the summer it has great hiking trails, the famous Grouse Grind if you are up for a steep walking challenge and entertainment at the top for all the family to enjoy, this includes a lumberjack show which is funny and breath taking and a Bird Sanctuary and Grizzly Bear enclosure.
Just one stop down from Grouse is the world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, here you will get to experience one of the worlds largest suspended Suspension Bridges, high above the Capilano river and canyon, there is also a daring cliff walk and glass paths for the especially daring – its a stunning sight to be so high among the trees in this amazing rain-forest canopy.

Grouse Mountain – The Peak of Vancouver https://www.grousemountain.com/

Capilano Suspension Bridge Website: http://www.capbridge.com/

3 DAY VISIT
if you happen to be here for 3 days or more, then we absolutely encourage you to start to explore further out to areas like Victoria on Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island is a pretty big place – many believe that it is a fairly small place but don’t be fooled it is actually close in size to the UK!
Victoria which is the capital of BC is a very quaint and beautiful town, much smaller than Vancouver and certainly steeped in rich history of its colonial past – it too has a decent China town to explore.
We recommend that you use a Tour Operator to visit Victoria, the one way trip itself take roughly 3 to 4 hours to get from Vancouver to Victoria – this includes the stunning Ferry ride that meanders through the Georgia Strait and the Gulf island, if you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of some travelling Whales…..when you are in Victoria, take a visit to the Empress hotel for some High Tea!

We really like LANDSEA TOURS, they have an excellent package that will take you directly from the hotel to Victoria, they will also ship you around the town so you can get to enjoy the world famous Butchart Gardens, The Museum of Victoria and some time to walk around the downtown area, they will also bring you back to the hotel too – its an awesome tour where you can sit back, learn about the area and not have to think! We like that very much!

Victoria BC Website: http://www.victoria.ca/

High Tea at the Empress Hotel Victoria http://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/dining/afternoontea/

Landsea Tours http://www.vancouvertours.com/

Where to capture the very best Christmas lights in Vancouver…

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

December is here, the Snow has arrived and the festive cheer is in full swing on the streets in the West End. We have already seen and listened to some great Brass Bands and Christmas Carols being sung on Davie St and Bute St near the new Park and Rainbow Crosswalk, it is just a few minutes walk away so keep an eye out for the Christmas cheer here…

This is the time of year when all the festivities focus their attention on outdoing each other with the very best lights to dazzle all the family, so here we will tell where to go to get the very best Christmas Light displays…

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s Lights of Hope
The St Pauls Foundation of Light has been dazzling spectators that walk past the Hospital since 1998 and it is all for a very very good cause.
The aim of the lights is to help raise funds for the hospital itself, so it can purchase the very best medical equipment that it needs, it will enable them to increase funds towards better research and of the course enhanced Patient care for all those in need at St Pauls.
The lights are all assembled by Volunteers and my oh my are they beautiful….If you wish to check out the lights, head down towards Burrard and Davie and walk North on Burrard, it is just a 5 minute walk or so away from the Sunset Inn and Suites.

The hospital has a target goal to reach of $2.2-million – If you wish to help you can make a donation towards the campaign’s fundraising goal, call 604-662-HOPE or visit www.lightsofhope.com.

Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver
It may not seem the best time of year to visit Gardens in the deep of Winter, but wait, we think you should consider this one……The Festival of Lights creates the Gardens into quite a stunning wonderland, it is something that should be on your list when you come here especially as the Van Dusen Gardens are world famous and for good reason!
What is even better, you will be in the company of Elves, Candy-Canes and Hot chocolates to guide your way around this most serene settings.

vand dusen festival of lights map

Website: http://vandusengarden.org/

Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
We have written about the excellent Christmas train and the bright lights before, but it is that good that we feel it should be recommended a visit to come on down…
Check out Stanley Park like you have never seen before, the kids especially will love this trip out to the enchanted Rain-forest that we are proud to show off in the city.
Partial proceeds from the sale of Bright Nights tickets go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families. $1.4 million has been raised over the past 14 years.

Website: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

Capilano Canyon Lights
A very popular attraction that is a must see location no matter what time of year, Capilano is quite incredible when all lit up on these very dark nights, it also boasts the largest lit up Christmas Tree too, Standing 46.4m (152 feet) tall the Douglas-fir will be adorned in thousands of sparkling lights…..Woohoo!

Website: http://www.capbridge.com/explore/canyon-lights/

Coal Harbour/Canada Place/English Bay
Although not on an official list a very good idea is to head down to the water as there will be trees, boats and yachts all decorated and decked up for the festive season, a great opportunity to see how the locals dazzle at Christmas time.

Halloween Events during October!

Monday, September 30th, 2013

October is here and that can mean only one thing………..HALLOWEEN!!!

This is a great time of year for kids and adults alike as it is the best time of year for fun dress up! If any of you will be in the area during the festivities and you want to find a good costume, we recommend that you visit DRESSEW on Hastings St, this fabric shop is amazing and will be a great place to find a fab costume for a Halloween Dress-up party. Please get there early as this place will have a huge line up closer to the event!
http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/09/halloween-costumes-vancouver-dressew-supply/

HALLOWEEN TOURS

HAUNTED VANCOUVER TROLLEY TOUR
2.5 Hrs of Vancouver Ghost Stories featuring stops at Vancouver Police Museum and Mountain View Cemetery
When: OCTOBER 18th – OCTOBER 31st, 2013 – excluding Sundays and Mondays
http://www.vancouvertrolley.com/tours/seasonal/haunted-halloween

FORBIDDEN VANCOUVER – THE LOST SOULS OF GASTOWN
Take a journey into the cobbled stone streets of Gastown and venture through some of the back alleys on the scary Macabre Journey that will be sure to make your hair stand on end….
http://forbiddenvancouver.ca/home/the-lost-souls-of-gastown/

HALLOWEEN GHOST TRAIN IN STANLEY PARK
Travel through the silver screen into the world of classic horror movies! Take your velvet seat on the Halloween Ghost Train and journey back to a time when moving pictures unearthed the shadows that lay sleeping in the dark recesses of our minds. Awake Dracula! Awake Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Phantom of the Opera. Crawl out from your coffins, slither from your slabs, and ooze out from your tombs! These October nights summon you from darkness.

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/ghost-train.aspx

Friday, October 11 – Saturday, November 2, 2013
Closed Thanksgiving Monday, October 14
Afternoon matinees
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11:00am – 6:00pm (train only)
Nights
6:00pm – 10:00 pm seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving Monday)

FRIGHT NIGHTS AT THE PNE
Western Canada’s Scariest Haunt – Face your fears. Fright Nights possesses Playland, featuring 6 fright houses, 12 rides, and the freaky sideshow, The Monsters of Schlock.
October 11th to November 2nd
http://www.frightnights.ca/

NIGHTCLUBS-HALLOWEEN PARTIES & EVENTS
For the younger crowd out who are looking for an awesome Nightclub party Halloween Style, click on this link for all the big parties to choose from: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/09/halloween-parties-vancouver-2013/

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Rainy day things to do in Vancouver!

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Rain Rain go away come again another day! Um…well no…The Rains have well and truly arrived and this is generally the run of things for us till Mid Spring! So what do you do in an inclement climate? In all honesty quite a lot actually – so read on and prepare yourself for some excellent indoors activity for all the family to enjoy! Don’t forget to grab an umbrella from us behind the Front Desk…

MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY at UBC
A huge hit among the guests here and with the locals alike. Located in the beautiful grounds of the University of British Columbia the MOA has a vast collection of Pacific Northwest and First Nations artifacts and historical information on the way of life in days gone by of human activities and civilizations.

MOA WEBSITE http://moa.ubc.ca/

VANCOUVER ART GALLERY
Centrally located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver and very close to the Robson St shopping district, the VAG is home to over 9000 pieces of Art, it is also has a fantastic Cafe. Many of the Artworks are from a local source such as the Emily Carr University, also, each year the Gallery presents two to three international exhibits–traveling exhibits from around the world–and 10 to 12 in-house exhibitions that draw from their own extensive collections.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is located at 750 Hornby St, between Robson and Georgia in downtown Vancouver

VAG WEBSITE http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/

SCIENCE WORLD
Another huge hit for locals and tourists, Science World is the giant Golf Ball looking building that is situated at the eastern end of False Creek.
The whole family will get great enjoyment out of this place and it is fun fun fun, so get your Geek on and learn some Science!

SCIENCE WORLD WEBSITE http://www.scienceworld.ca/

VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
Nestled in the heart of Stanley Park this is the perfect rainy day location as you are in the heart of the beautiful rainforest and with the creatures that love the water the most. A hit for all the family you will all come away with something different young or old. The aquarium has a strong focus on the local environment of the Pacific Northwest waters. They run lots of events throughout the year and the famous Otters and Beluga Whales are sure to put a huge smile on your face because they are so cute!

AQUARIUM WEBSITE http://www.vanaqua.org/

GRANVILLE ISLAND
Just a small Boat ride away, Granville Island for Vancouver is what Pikes Place Market is for Seattle. At Granville Island you have the large Public Market, Theaters, Restaurants, Kids Markets, Granville Island Brewery and lots of cute boutique shops to enjoy. It is also a hub for Art (Emily Carr Art University) and live entertainment with the famous Buskers to enjoy.

GRANVILLE ISLAND WEBSITE http://granvilleisland.com/

SHOPPING!!!!
A good old fashioned past time to keep occupied in the rain is shopping – YAY! Here are a couple suggestions for some popular malls to choose from…..go on buy us something pretty…

PACIFIC CENTRE MALL
Located in downtown Vancouver and easily accessible by bus, cab or foot, this has all the brand named stores and food court to suit your needs in a compact and comfortable mall in the heart of the city. Just across the road on Granville St is the famous The Bay Store…check it out!

PACIFIC CENTRE MALL http://www.pacificcentre.ca/en/Pages/default.aspx

METROTOWN MALL
Boasting over 400 Stores and easily accessible via the Skytrain, this is BC’s largest Mall, you can literally spend hours and hours here, so make sure you have enough space on the old credit card as you will want to shop shop shop until you drop.

METROTOWN WEBSITE http://metropolisatmetrotown.com/

We will leave you with a great poem about the Vancouver rain, it really sums it up quite nicely. So please don’t let it bother you, get the raincoat out and the umbrella up and brave those elements, there is so much out there for you to enjoy it will be shame to miss out…

At Kitsilano Point there is a great story that sums up our “Raincity”. Which has been carved onto a large rock, it is a lovely testament to the inclement weather.
This story stone, entitled “Vancouver in the Rain” is one of ten across the city.

“It is probably fair to say that one of the things for which Vancouver is most famous is rain. It is true that it can and will rain here for weeks on end. Several years ago I found myself coming close to being thoroughly disgusted with the rain, unusual for me as it usually bothers me not at all.

I was walking home from work and was mumbling under my breath the whole way, carrying on about how this weather was suited only to ducks. The building I lived in at the time was a large square building surrounding a brick courtyard. I came around the corner into the courtyard and there, to my amazement, was a beautiful Peking duck, having a ball in a huge puddle in the middle of the courtyard. It was quacking and splashing with such obvious delight that I had to smile, glad that such joy could be found in the gray wetness of such a day.

I really love the rain in Vancouver. I have been told that the Inuit have hundreds of words for snow. I have often thought we don’t have nearly enough words for rain, for there are so many types of rain. There is soft rain and hard rain and sideways rain, rain that makes you instantly wet, and rain that leaves soft kisses on your cheek, like the wings of a butterfly. There is cold rain and warm rain, go out for a walk rain and stay in bed with the cats rain. There is booming rain and whispery rain, rain that lulls you to sleep and rain to sing you awake. The rain brings us all the shades of gray, but it also brings us the wonderful greenery which surrounds and blesses us.”

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