Christmas in British Columbia

Christmas Morning arrived and so did a sweet little gift from the Hilton!

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A happy Christmas surprise from the Hilton

 

Breakfast in the lounge was a festive affair with everyone wishing everyone else a merry Christmas! Afterwards I bundled up and set out for Stanley Park. The most direct route was on the bus and took an hour. First I had to walk back to the Skytrain to reload my transit card. There was a Starbucks open on the corner so I popped in for a flat white and a boxed lunch, because doesn’t it seem like you should have a picnic when you visit a park?

I got to the bus stop a few minutes early, with enough time to appreciate how cold it was! The bus pulled up and was nearly empty so I got a seat at the back. Everyone knows those are the bounciest, hence the most fun. That’s also apparently where people want to sit when they do things I am almost certain the bus driver would not appreciate! As the bus got more and more crowded, some guy sat next to me with a pancake breakfast though he apparently didn’t get a fork to go with it. So as we rolled along, he would stick his hand in the container, hunch over, and shove food in his mouth. He looked like he’d had too much eggnog the night before, if you know what I mean! Anyhow, as soon as he finished his breakfast he hopped off. By the time we got to the park the bus was packed and we all streamed off to enjoy some nature!

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Bouncing around the back of the bus. Now that’s a party!

It was a lot colder at the park than it had been in Burnaby so the picnic wasn’t really very appealing. Also, all of the park benches had a thick layer of frost. I started walking around the seawall instead. The first thing I found was the Lumberman’s Arch.

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Would have been more fun if there had been some brawny lumberjacks lounging around

 

Next up was the replica of a figurehead from the SS Empress of Japan, which sailed to the Orient from 1891-1922.

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Just past the figurehead is Girl in a Wet Suit, a modern-day mermaid sculpture from Elek Imredy erected in 1972.

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Luring the ships in

I was heading around the point when I noticed some amazing Totem Poles rising up a few yards ahead so I turned left instead. It was an amazing collection.

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Love these

I cut back over to the seawall and discovered a magnificent view of the Vancouver skyline. Sadly, the sun was in the wrong position, so it’s hard to appreciate it from my photos.

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I wish you could see how beautiful this was

I’d booked a seat for a 4:40 viewing of Rogue One and since the bus ride was an hour, I decided to head back to the bus station. I took the scenic route back to the bus stop, which involved hiking up some ice-covered slopes and past some trees that rivaled the redwoods in California.

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Big tree

The bus ride back was very entertaining. I sat in the back again even though the bus was practically empty. The first stop a really smelly guy got on and sat next to me. My eyes were watering but thankfully, he got off about ten minutes into the ride. The next guy who sat in the back of the bus, sat in the seats facing me and slowly unzipped his jacket, staring at me the whole time. I was starting to wonder what was coming off next and then he looked down and a tiny dog head popped up. He looked at me again and began petting the dog and talking in baby talk. I assume to his puppy. He only rode along for a few stops and then he zipped up and hopped off. He was replaced with a couple of guys who seemed to smell OK and didn’t even look at me. I was beginning to relax and then the argument started. The guy by the window thinks family should love you unconditionally (agreed) and they shouldn’t threaten to kick anyone out ever (OK I can see that). The second guy sort of defended the family and said the first guy needed to follow the rules (makes sense) then the first guy went off on him, yelling “they yelled at me and they know I can’t take that with my condition, there can’t be any yelling any time. It upsets me!” The other guy said he was right (although clearly immune from his own rules). Then the second guy said that wasn’t why they wanted him out, it was his hygiene. This was sort of shocking but maybe that’s because I was judging him by that guy that got on first. When they left the rest of the bus ride seemed kinda dull, but the view was interesting.

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Canadians are tough!

Since I hadn’t had my picnic and it was way past lunch time, I walked through the Crystal Mall on my way to the hotel. That was no problem since they are adjacent and it also allowed me to get out of the cold! Turns out it was an Asian market. I walked the entire thing trying to find some lunch. Unfortunately, they don’t market their wares for English-speaking diners. I finally found a food court that had a picture of yakisoba right next to a bubble tea shop that had English translations. Lunch was amazing!

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Like a little slice of Tokyo…

Yesterday at the Metrocenter Mall I’d noticed the Silver City Movie Theater and booked a ticket to Rogue One. That’s when I learned about D Box seating. D Box seats are cutting edge theater chairs that move with the movie action. So, OF COURSE I wanted to upgrade my seat. Thankfully there was one left for the 4:40 show.

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Must find D Box seats in Chicago!

Believe me when I tell you, that was the most exciting movie experience I have ever had. When Jyn was running thru the fields the chair was wobbling left and right like I was running with her. When Cassian was blasting the stormtroopers, the chair was bouncing around all over. And when the rebel fleet was zipping around it took everything I had not to call out “Pink Leader, standing by!” I’m not going to lie, there were moments I was bouncing around giggling because I was having such a good time. I do feel bad about that kid next to me. The seat was $23 (Canadian) and it was one of the best moving experiences I have ever had #worthit!

 

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Christmas Eve at the Christmas Market

I was really excited to explore Vancouver so I had a quick breakfast in the lounge and then headed out to see the city. That’s when I learned I wasn’t actually staying in Vancouver. I was in the next city over, which is Burnaby. Luckily the Hilton was only a few blocks from the Skytrain. My first stop was the Vancouver Christmas Market.

The Skytrain stop was literally up in the sky and the elevator was broken. I hiked up the six flights of stairs with all the other Canadians and noticed the train was already there. I hopped on and then got out my map. As we pulled out of the station I discovered I was headed in the wrong direction. Which was a great way to see more of the city!

I got off at the next station and then climbed a few more stairs to get to the opposite platform. The best part of that whole experience was that there wasn’t anyone on the train so I found a seat by a window. It was a thirty minute ride to the Christmas Market, which was near the end of the line.

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Easy to find Christmas in Vancouver

When I got off the train, it was a short walk to the Market, but along the way I found an exhibit of Christmas trees and animated window displays at Canada Place.

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These were my favorite trees

I strolled along the dock watching everyone take selfies.

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Perfect selfie spot

The Christmas Market was just down the street. There was a small cover charge, which seemed odd, but certainly worth it!

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Totally locked down, I guess because of the cover charge? Still #worthit

The Vancouver Christmas Market really strives for authenticity! The Gluhwine was perfect.

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Oh my God I love hot wine in the winter.

The vendors were selling actual German foods like spatzle and currywurst and schnitzel. I got a handbrot because the sign said it was traditional and I’d never had one before. Also, it was before I saw the spatzle booth. Still, it was a good call! It was hot and delicious, stuffed with ham and cheese and topped with sour cream and green onions.

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Even the people selling the handbrots were German

I browsed through the rest of the stalls. Most of them were selling glass ornaments and other things that wouldn’t travel well so I decided to push on.

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More hot wine, please!

On my way back to the train station, I noticed a giant pixelated orca. I headed over to check it out and arrived just in time to watch a seaplane taking off!

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This is my new favorite piece of art. Thanks, Douglas Copeland!

It was getting a lot colder and the sun appeared to be going down already so I headed back to the Hilton. When the train arrived in Burnaby, I cut through the Mall to warm up and find a few souvenirs. The Metrotown Malls should have been named the Mall of Canada. It’s nearly as big as the Mall of America. There weren’t any souvenir shops and it was Christmas Eve so it was super crowded!

I visited Lush and Sephora and got enough supplies to have a spa night back at the hotel! I walked back, ordered in some room service and called it a night.

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Me time!

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Vancouver WA So Friendly!

I had a few hours before my train pulled out so I decided to walk around downtown Vancouver and explore the street art. During the course of my walk every single person I passed by said hello. Five of them wished me Merry Christmas and one guy told me I had great hair. I really, really love Vancouver.

On my first visit to Vancouver I discovered a treasure trove of #streetart. It’s chock full of interesting art and a fantastic way to spend a morning! I could see a wall of art from my room at the Hilton so I headed in that direction first.

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Bicycling by Jon Stommel

I found a fantastic and whimsical piece of street art (Bicycling by Jon Stommel) tucked away behind my hotel. Next to it was the bridge I could see from my hotel room (I couldn’t find the artist) and the wall of murals which turned out to be the Remembrance Wall for veterans.

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Wall of Remembrance by SubM2

Lots of different scenes painted on the Remembrance Wall!

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You can find out all about it at http://www.ccmurals.org/remembrance-wall/ (Thanks Clark County Mural Society!)

I turned the corner and headed back to the park. There’s a great statue of Captain George Vancouver and he was all decked out for the holidays!

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I walked past the park and then stumbled across Brewery History.

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Nice work celebrating the history of brewing in Vancouver from Tamra Pfeifle Davisson. Second place in the 2012 Mural Competition!

Right around the corner from Brewery History was Flying Umbrellas, a really whimsical piece I loved. This is also where some guy told me he loved my hair, which in no way influenced my affection for this piece!

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Flying Umbrellas from Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei

I kept walking, received a few Merry Christmas wishes from random citizens, and then found Chlolav’s Landing by Guy Drennan and Lindia Stanton.

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I circled back towards the hotel and passed the Farmers Market

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2013 first place winner from Travis Czekalski

I ducked behind the Plaid Pantry to take a picture of the Grape Quartet and accidentally discovered Chinook Nation, the 2012 first place winner from Travis Czekalski.

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@rathersevere on Instagram. Nice work!

Finally, I headed back into the HIlton to pack up. Next stop the other Vancouver!

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I love you, Vancouver!

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Christmas in BC

Since the Trump election, Canada looks more and more attractive! So this year for Christmas, I decided to go and check out the western Canadian coast. You know, just in case…

I’ll be leaving Chicago and flying into Portland. On a recent business trip I fell in love with the Hilton in Vancouver WA and since there is an Amtrak station less than a mile from there I decided to use that as my launch pad.

My itinerary runs from Vancouver to Vancouver aboard the Amtrak Cascades. Turns out there are a lot of things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas break and I’m going to cram as as I can in the two days I have there!

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Happy Holidays!

 

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Cesca’s Patio

Tomorrow morning I’m off to Seattle and Bob starts his new big league job so we decided to meet for dinner. Also, I won’t cook anymore so I had to go somewhere. We picked Cesca’s Margarita Bar and Grill because they have a patio and it was a temperate 66 degrees (winter is coming…).

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Nice night for a stroll

We opted to sit on the patio, because it probably won’t be open much longer. It was super cute with metal tables and chairs, umbrellas, festive lights, and lots of peppy reggaeton music.

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Patio time!

I had a mango margarita because I wanted to be able to tell you how delicious they were. They were delicious. We both ordered the tortilla soup and a burrito. The portion size was ginormous so I only finished about half of mine, but it was delicious and I’m already planning to go back for more soup after the first snowfall! The burritos were American style but tasty and nearly as big as Bob’s head.

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Delicious burrito

If I didn’t have a 6AM flight I’d have stayed to sample more margarita flavors. Guess I’ll have to go back…

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Adventures in Andersonville

Last spring I moved to Andersonville, because why not? I love Chicago and Andersonville is my favorite part.

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Moving into my place

My work schedule keeps me on the road a lot. And I was gone the entire month of July for my epic cross country road trip (#mtts2016). So I’ve decided to explore as much of my new town as I can when I am home!

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My neighborhood candy shop… Candyality!

I’ll share it with you here…

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The world outside my window

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Richmond to Baltimore on #MTTS2016

I had every intention of blogging each night on #MTTS2016. Sadly, the schedule got away from me and I was having too much fun! So I created a series of videos from each leg of the journey. Here are my memories of Richmond…

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