Tag Archives: Canada

A Spring Afternoon in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

White Rock Pier near the US/Canada border in British Columbia via ZaagiTravel.com

Soooooooo this post is a bit late, yeah?

I took a major hiatus from blogging this summer. Since starting my job at the online newspaper in April, I’ve had an incredibly hectic schedule, working 50+ hours a week and commuting 15+ more hours.

And now that I spend 9 hour shifts writing articles on a computer, sitting down to type up more text for a blog hasn’t been at the top of my to do list.

BUT… I’ve realized that I really miss it.

So I’m recommitting myself to getting back onboard!

Here goes it………..

Me and my cousin Sidney in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

In April I visited my cousins in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We went for an afternoon to this little town called White Rock, named after a giant white boulder on the beach.

The beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

The town borders Semiahmoo Bay, which is really fun to say. Try it….. See?

Semiahmoo in Salish (the local native tribe) means “half moon”, used to describe the shape of the bay.

Another fun word? Glaciation.

That’s what caused the big white boulder (a glacial erratic in scientific terms) to migrate to it’s current home.

It weighs 486 tons and is quite impressive to look at, to be honest!

The beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

We had a blast meandering around the calm coast, jumping in puddles of water with our wellies (or gumboots as my Kiwi would say)… 

My little cousin Sidney loved digging around in the wet sand — it’s amazing how the simplest things can often entertain children the most!

My cousin Sidney playing on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Driftwood and stones on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

My cousin Sidney playing on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Then, we had a blast going on a ‘pretty pebble hunt’, looking for the most interesting and unique rocks we could find.

Ever since I was little, my dad and I would go on scavenger hunts at the beach in Newport or Huntington down where I’m from in Orange County. On each beach trip he would find his favorite little stone and hold on to it, keeping it in his pocket for months or sometimes years at a time.

The stone he currently carries he picked up on one of our walks a few years ago. Its designs remind us of the beautiful ancient cave paintings in Lascaux, France. I love that he carries it with him at all times.

Driftwood and stones on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

The beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comDriftwood and stones on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comRocks and stones on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

After looking around at the various colors and shapes that riddled the foggy beach, we eventually made our way over to THE namesake rock.

After admiring the massive feature, standing in it’s solitary glory, we walked back towards the long wooden pier.

At the end of the pier is where my cousin Johnny proposed to my now(favorite)cousin Erica.

You could take a tip out of Johnny’s book of romance and dance on the pier in the moonlight… just putting it out there.

The pier at the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

A duck on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comA duck on the beach in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

While we didn’t stop for any food in White Rock, I spotted numerous fish n chips restaurants and gelato cafes that looked to die for!

If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a stop at this quaint little beach.

Just a hop, skip and a jump over the American-Canadian border and you’re there!

See below, the trees on the opposite side of the bay? That’s Amurica! Told you it was close.

A view of the United States from the Canadian beach of White Rock, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

A Perfect Day in VanCity! Poutine + the Beach at Spanish Banks + Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Poutine at La Belle Patate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

We started our day how every day should begin… with poutine.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a crazed-obsessed fan of poutine. It all started back in 2001 when I visited Canada for the first time.

My best friend Amanda (who, if you’re reading this, I miss the absolute crap out of you) lived in Toronto for a couple years. We spent a day at Wonderland, an amusement park, and she and her family introduced me to the beauty of life that is poutine.

It is one of my guilty pleasures. I will always love it.

Poutine Menu at La Belle Patate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comFor my American and other poutine-deprived readers… poutine, in it’s purest form, is french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (or as my boyfriend likes to call them, squeaky cheese). The word poutine itself means “mess”, kind of. But it tastes like heaven, I promise.

The dish originated during the mid-20th century in the French region of Canada, otherwise known as Quebec.

If you haven’t tried it you can pick up a bag in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. It’s obviously not as good as the real deal but it’s a good replacement option.

Anywaaaay… back to my poutine-adventure in Vancouver.

My cousins and I arrived on Davie St, which is also the location of Canada’s largest gay community, and we quickly spied La Belle Patate.

Davie Street sign in the West End of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

La Belle Patate, one of the most popular spots in BC to grab a hot container of la poutine, is also known for their Montreal-style smoked meat.

They carry a variety of poutine dishes including traditional — my favorite, smoked meat, chicken, galvaude (chicken and peas), BBQ, BBQ chicken, BBQ smoked meat, BBQ galvaude, Italienne (with meat sauce), Hot Dog, Steak Hachee, Hamburger Steak, Bacon, Vegetarian, Mish-Mash, All Dressed, Extreme, Steak & Pepperoni, Supreme, Mexicana, Meat Lover, Deluxe Smoked Meat, Breakfast, Choux Chous (fries, coleslaw, and sauce), Donair (tomato, onion, sweet sauce, donair meat).

There is literally something for everyone!

Their sizes come in small, medium, and large. Or, you can order “all you can eat” for $19.50 Canadian dollars. I ordered a small — pictured below — and loved every. single. bite.

Traditional Poutine (French fries, gravy, & cheese curds) at La Belle Patate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Traditional Poutine (French fries, gravy, & cheese curds) at La Belle Patate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Empty box of Traditional Poutine (French fries, gravy, & cheese curds) at La Belle Patate in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comClearly.

Well, with poutine in our bellies we made our way down to the Spanish Banks Beach, located along Northwest Marine Dr.Apartment building with a tree on the roof in Spanish Banks beach, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comMy cousin Erica pointed out this apartment building with a tall tree located at the very top.

I’ve tried to figure out what exactly the story is behind this tree, but have not succeeded. Yet. If you know, please comment below!

I took some sweet photos of my cousin Johnny holding his son (and my godson), Wyatt.Beach at Spanish Banks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comIt was fun to walk along the beach in the sun with family. I could see this being a very cool place to hang out during summer when the weather is a little warmer.

Beach at Spanish Banks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

We kept walking south until we found ourselves at the heart of English Bay.

Inukshuk - ancient symbol of the Inuit culture - Beach at Spanish Banks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comWe came across this striking monument — known as Inukshuk — which is an ancient symbol of the Inuit culture. Traditionally used as a navigational aid, it represents welcoming, hospitality, and friendship. You may recognize it as the symbol of the 2010 Olympic Winter games.

This particular landmark has stood at this site since 1987.

Sailboat and kayaks at the beach at Spanish Banks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

After lounging and relaxing for a bit we made our way to one of my favorite places in all of Vancouver, Stanley Park!

As we exited the car, after parking near the Brockton Point lighthouse, this beautiful water plane flew overhead. The dark clouds and snow-capped mountains in the distance made for a gorgeous backdrop as the plane flew west.A water plane over the beach at Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comA water plane over the beach at Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comWe continued on, walking down the lighthouse stairs to the seawall.
View of the bridge from North Vancouver from Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

The air, crisp and clean, felt fresh in my Los Angeles lungs. The dark green tones of the trees and blues of the water and sky made for a relaxing atmosphere. It’s hard not to love Stanley Park. Whether you come to exercise, play on the beach, ride a bike through the scenic trails (you can easily rent a bike and it looks like a lot of fun), or simply get away from the urban environment of downtown, it is a definite highlight of Vancouver.View of the beach and sea wall at Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comA short walk from the lighthouse is an awesome life-size bronze statue of a woman in a wetsuit, flippers and all. It’s appropriately named… Girl in a Wetsuit.

The piece is inspired by the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sculptor Elek Imredy revealed the statue in June 1972.
Girl in a Wetsuit by Elek Imredy, modeled after the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, at Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comNext on the sights-of-Stanley-Park trail was the First Nations totem poles.

Located in Brockton Point, the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, the totem poles are the most popular tourist attraction in all of British Columbia.

The collection, which began in Lumberman’s Arch nearly 100 years ago, is made up of 9 totem poles. They vary in style and material, each as beautiful as the next.First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point at Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.comBeing part native, I have a fondness for native art and culture.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the term “totem” actually originates from an ojibwe word “odoodem”, meaning “his kinship group”. While the Ojibwe people did not create totem poles, the Anishinaabe language did contribute to their name!

First Nationals totem poles at Brockton Point at Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

My favorite is the one on the far left in the picture above. I love the turquoise and red accents over the black and white.

TIP: The Brockton Point totem poles also have public restrooms and a souvenir & snack shop.

Checking out the totem poles was a great way to wrap up our Vancouver adventure.

I truly love visiting my cousins in Vancouver. I miss them and the city so much already.

Each time I visit I discover something new to love about the Canadian Pacific Northwest. Next time, we plan to explore Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island.

What are you favorite things to do and see in Vancouver?

What about Vancouver Island? What do you recommend I see and do there on my next visit?

German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

As I opened the car door and jumped out into the crisp November air I shivered and slid my knit toque* onto my head, pulling it down far enough to cover the tops of my ears.

The cold still shocked me every time I stepped outside. The late autumn weather in downtown Vancouver was colder than the coldest night all year in Southern California.

Across the street, on the corner, I could see white Christmas lights and a line of people in coats, boots, toques and gloves.

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Once we had my god son all snug in his stroller we began following the smell of roasting bratwurst that filled the air. I began realizing just how starving I actually was.

Sidney, Erica’s four-year-old daughter, stood at my side and held her arms up towards me with her infamous (as well as irresistible) sassy smile on her face. I reached down and lifted her up onto my hip before walking across the street and getting into the long but quickly moving line.

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Approximately ten minutes later we walked through the entrance. The adults of our group made their way to the booth where we could show ID in exchange for a bracelet that allowed us to consume alcohol. You know you don’t want to miss out on some mulled wine!

Before we could satisfy our grumbling stomachs we needed to satisfy the youngest awake member of the family – little Wyatt was in and out of a deep sleep despite the high energy environment around us.

So Erica and Sidney had a photo op with the Gingerbread Man & Woman. Pretty nice of them to take a moment out of their busy schedule — you know with all that running as fast as they can. Ha! This is where you laugh… Okay, moving on.

Gingerbread Man at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Then I took Sidney on the Carousel a few times. Four-year-olds. They dig that stuff. And maybe 22-year-olds do too.

Carousel Ride at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

That evening we ingested vast amounts of traditional German food — including the longest bratwurst you’ve ever laid eyes on (just see below) generously topped with sauerkraut; Schnitzel, which was breaded and fried to perfection; freshly roasted chestnuts; and the delicious (but strong!) Gluhwein, steaming hot red wine spiced with cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and citrus that warms you from the inside out.

Bratwurst at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

After over-indulging our appetites we walked around and checked out the different Christmas gifts and decorations being sold by vendors at nearly fifty wooden booths — things like nutcrackers, German beer steins, tree ornaments, and a whole lot more! A talented live band played festive Christmas music on a stage in the center of the event.

Live band at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

I stopped to take some photos of my brother and his fiancee — wouldn’t this have been a sweet picture if he weren’t chowing down on those spiral-cut-potatoes-on-a-stick? I don’t know their actual name but they were delicious so I don’t blame him.

Romantic View of the Christmas Tree at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Then the rest of us gathered for a group photo.

Christmas Tree at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

It really was an incredible way to spend the holidays with family. It’s barely September and I’m already looking forward to this year’s German Christmas Market experience!

Nutcracker at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

The Vancouver Christmas Market is located at 650 Hamilton Street on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. It takes place from November 22 – December 24.

Adult tickets (13 years and older) cost $6 on weekends and during the evening on weeknights; $3 during the day during the week; $3 for kids 7-12 no matter the day or time. Kids 6 and under enter for free.

TIPS:

1. Admission is CASH only!

2. Print off the VIP Fast Pass from their website, it saves you time in line.

3. Once you pay to enter the Christmas Market you automatically get in free on return visits! Just hang onto your ticket.

4. During lunch you can BOGO! Buy One, Get One ticket FREE! Just print the lunch pass on their website.

5. When you buy a mug of Gluhwein or Feuerzangenbowle you automatically put down a $2 deposit for the mug. If you’d like to keep your mug like I did, go for it! If you’d like that $2 back you can exchange your mug for a toonie (a.k.a. $2 Canadian dollars).

* For all you non-Canadians out there, a TOQUE is a round-shaped hat normally worn during cold weather, and otherwise known as a beanie.