Off To Canada (Again)

Holidays in Canada


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Finally home

Friday was our last full day in Vancouver but she saved the worst weather for the end of the week so we hunkered down in the hotel for a few hours before deciding that an indoor activity would be best. Nearby is a cinema so we checked what was on and went to watch Dr Sleep. It always feel naughty going to watch a film midday. Like you’re playing hooky from school or pulling a sick from work. Also, obviously, this makes it even better. Really enjoyed the film, not as good as the book but then they never are. A good version though for sure and Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson were both great but I have to give a special shoutout to Alexandra Essoe playing Wendy Torrance. She looked close enough to  Shelley Duvall but absolutely nailed her mannerisms (in The Shining), that it was an excellent choice and a brilliant bit of acting.

Later on we decided to eat in the hotel as we hadn’t eaten anything other than breakfast there (and a couple of small plates while having a drink). The Four Seasons in Vancouver is a relatively old building and apparently is shutting next year (I think it’s next year). The age shows in the rooms but the public areas are very nice. The bar and restaurant in particular are lovely. It turns out that the food is very nice too but you pay for it. The second most expensive meal of the holiday and we both left hungry…..we didn’t even have a bottle of wine. The service is excellent too, they certainly hire good people.

guess what the weather was like on our last half day before flying home? Yep. Stair rods. We got up, went down for our last breakfast and then returned to our room to pack. Once that was done we had to decide what to do for the next 6 hours. From previous experience (i.e. the day before) we knew of a place around the corner where you could hide away in darkness in a comfy seat for a few hours. Off we went to the movies again. We saw Ford vs Ferrari and we both loved it. Matt Damon and Christian Bale were brilliant and Amanda was almost sobbing at the end, which is apparently a seal of approval. I sort of knew the story of how Ford took on Ferrari to win Le Mans in the 1960’s but obviously I only knew part of it. It’s a great tale and anyone who enjoys motor racing will love it I think.

By the time the movie had ended it was time to eat as as our meal the previous night was so expensive we went cheap. Off to the food court at the mall. Delicious wraps consumed, we headed back to the hotel. We had decided that we might as well go to the airport early, drop the hire car off and wait there rather than tramp around in the rain. The traffic was pretty busy but we found the car hire return place pretty easily and then settled in for a wait until we could drop our bags off. When we checked in online earlier I noticed that even though I had paid £160 in total to reserve our seats, we had been allocated different ones. This happened on the outward bound flight too but I didn’t make a fuss because they’d put us one row closer to the door which makes it easier for Amanda. The homeward flight however put us an extra row back which  was a pain, not to mention instead of an aisle and window seat we had centre row seats. not a happy bunny I complained and was told basically, tough, sometimes this happens but you can have your money back. When we got to the airport bag drop off however we met a very nice lady who was actually waiting for us in order to help us with the wheelchair etc. We explained about the seat malarky and she said she’d try and sort something. We dropped off the bags and went to the BA lounge, which is very well hidden to keep out the riff riff like us obviously. As we went in, the lady behind the desk was also expecting us and took our boarding passes off us to get new ones with reallocated seats. At this point we had no idea where we would be seated but were promised it would be closer.

The lounge is excellent and a free beer (Crown Royal and ginger for her), some food, a coffee and cookie later and we got our new boarding passes. EXACTLY THE SAME SEATS AS WE HAD COMING TO CANADA. Result! This raises a question though. When I originally tried to reserve the seats these were not available either flying to or from Canada and yet we sat in them both legs. Am I stupid or is it just a huge con to reserve your seats? As it turns out, when I complained, I was told in future not to pay and to contact the special assistance group at BA and they will reserve our seats for free because we need to be near to the toilet and the entry/exit point.

British Airways’ Club World flight home was a bit sad. The plane was old. The screen was about 6 inch square and looked less than SD. Compare that to many airlines huge screens  and other facilities as you can see why it has a less than stellar reputation. The reason we keep using them is the staff. They are, without fail, excellent. Every time we’ve flown. We love them dearly and will continue to book with BA because of it.

Home now. Jet lagged, Tired one minute, Wide awake the next.

Where shall we go next time?


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Hotels

Back in 1988 our hosts took us on a brilliant road trip through the Rockies in their Westfalia van. We stopped in Kamloops on the way to visit their friends and then stayed at a few cheap motels in both Jasper and Banff. While we were there they also took us to see Lake Louise and into Chateau Lake Louise and it’s there that my (our) love of those historic Fairmont hotels started. We’ve since stayed in quite a few of them (7) but have a few to go to get the full set. Chateau Frontenac is high on that list for me.

For this trip, as it’s a special occasion we’re returning to two of our favourite hotels and staying in one for the first time. I’m not including the first night as we’re just grabbing some sleep in an airport hotel and I picked basically the closest one to the airport. So on our first full day we’re driving up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler and staying at the Four Seasons. We stayed there once before towards the end of our epic road trip  in 2013. We loved it so much that we said that if we ever got the chance we’d love to go back. As it’s our 30th wedding anniversary we thought this would be as good a time as any to make that happen.

The last time we arrived at the hotel, we did so after a very long muddy drive from Nimpo Lake and I have to say, we both felt embarrassed at the lumps of mud clinging to the side of the car when the valet parking guys took the keys. We loved the room, the staff, the cocktail bar and the amazing steak restaurant in the hotel and we’re really looking forward to returning.

After four nights in Whistler we’re taking the two hour drive (that timing will be checked before we depart) to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to catch a boat over to Vancouver Island to spend four nights at the Brentwood Bay  Resort, about 30 minutes outside Victoria. We’ve actually stayed here twice before, once back in 2008 on our West Coast Adventure and again in 2013 at the start of our road trip. We love the location, the rooms, the food, the spa (ok Amanda loved the spa) and the pub (ok that was my favourite) and we can’t wait to visit again. This time we have longer so we intend to explore Victoria much more than we got the chance to do 31 years ago, not to mention it’s probably changed a lot since then. Back in 1988, I’m now ashamed to say, we went to the Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria to watch the orca show. The trainers told us (now it seemed ‘lied’ is the correct term) that the orcas could at any point easily jump over the barrier holding them in and they could return to the wild and they stay because they get fed and enjoy the activities. One of the beautiful creatures there was named Tilikum and if you have watched the documentary Blackfish you know all about Tilikum. I guess those were different times and looking back I’m horrified and saddened that we went there and paid money that perpetuated the captivity of these animals. I’m sorry. I truly am. Sealand closed in 1992 which is the only good bit of that sad tale.

Our last stop on this trip is in Vancouver itself and we have five nights in the centre of the city, staying at the Four Seasons. Although we’ve visited Vancouver a number of times, it’s usually only for a night or two, either at the start of at the end of a trip. The exception of course is 31 years ago when we travelled into the centre from Surrey quite a few times but the city has changed quite a bit since then. I’m hoping to get some tickets for the hockey while we’re there and as we have a car we can explore the parts that have been more difficult previously. We’re opposite the Vancouver Art Gallery and there happens to be an exhibition there that I really want to see. Other things on the list…Japadog, craft beers, poutine, Capilano and probably a whole lot more that we’ll try and squeeze in.

Should be fun.

 

 


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Lake Louise

Phew that was a long day. The flight was good and we collected the car at the airport. The issue was that my original plan was to stay in Calgary for the first night but The Boss insisted that she’d rather drive to Lake Louise straight away. After a few miles she was wishing she’d stuck to the original (we shall call this ‘better’ from now on) plan. It was just over 2 hours but seemed a lot longer on unfamiliar roads after a long flight, and even longer when someone needs a ‘comfort break’ <cough>. Regardless, we got here around 10pm, dropped the car off at valet parking and went straight to the room and slept.

Jetlag being what it is, meant I woke around midnight, 2am, 4am and finally I gave up around 5:30am and made coffee. The went to the 24hr deli for more coffee.

Today is a day of relaxing and recharging batteries (ours, camera and wheelchair). Amanda is off for a swim and I’m checking the photos I took this morning (see below)

DSC04067This is such a gorgeous location and hopefully I’ll be out to catch the sunset tonight. That depends on a couple of things

  1. If I have a beer or three later
  2. If the weather plays ball
  3. If I’m awake

Tomorrow we’ll hit the road and explore some, but there’s enough to keep us occupied today right here.

This is Fairmont hotel number 7 for us and, apart from the Savoy (which is just managed by Fairmont), it’s my favourite so far.


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Beer in Jasper

I received an email about our forthcoming visit to Jasper from the hotel. It read….

Thank you for making a reservation for our River Valley Package at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. This Jasper Beer & Barley Summit is a 3 day retreat bringing together legends of the brewing & distilling industry, today’s breweries & distillers, home brewers and passionate beer enthusiasts

This all sounds rather super except I didn’t book the River Valley Package, although I do quite like beer and stuff that’s been distilled. I was in two minds whether to contact them to correct the obvious error. I mean if I leave it, do I get free beer and whisky and stuff? Will I have to grow my beard a bit and wear a scruffy jumper and sandals, or is that just British CAMRA people? To be perfectly clear, I usually do wear these items even when not drinking beer. In the end, I emailed them and reminded them that we’re booked on a ‘Midweek Vacation Package‘ instead but might slip my sandals in just in case.

The weather is looking interesting for our visit too. Might have to add some thermals to the suitcase

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-15C after dark might stop me from trying to take some night time shots.

Unpacked and repacked my camera gear again. Just sayin’.