7.24.2017

589. Rockies Roadtrip | Day 4 - Seawall and Nook

Vancouver digital orca
Today was my favourite day from the trip so far! In the morning, I went with my aunt and uncle for dim sum breakfast. Then I went exploring on my own. I had about 5-6 hours until I was to meet my aunt again for dinner, so I decided to check out the Seawall. I've mentioned before that I love walking around harbours, ports, coasts, etc so I knew I would love the seawall. I have to say that after visiting it today, I definitely want to move to Vancouver someday! If I lived there I think I'd go to the seawall at least once a week. I would want to live in one of those beautiful condos right beside it. Going back to Toronto and walking around at our harbour is going to be so depressing for me now after this walk lol (& the harbour at Toronto is usually my favourite place in the city) I can't believe that the last time I visited Vancouver before this trip was in 1998!! From now on I think I will want to come every summer.

Today was also the perfect day because the weather was nice and sunny; warm and no humidity. I started my walk at Canada Place then walked all the way to Stanley Park, around the entire park, then out at English Bay Beach. I estimate about 11km? I ended up walking for literally 5 hours but I did stop a lot in between to take pics. Only took 2 quick sitting breaks though to update my Instagram lol. About halfway through I had wished I wore sneakers instead of heels (well they were platform sandals). I am so proud of myself for finishing the entire walk though (and more)..my legs didn't even feel tired though just the soles of my feet hurt a bit because of my shoes. But I definitely want to do the walk again at least one more time before leaving.

Now this is one of the weirdest and craziest coincidences I've ever experienced IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Nearing the end of my Seawall walk, I walked by someone who looked pretty familiar. I just thought in my head "no way that's him" and kept going...then I heard someone call my name...turned around and the guy followed me. It turns out it's a guy I met back in 2009 in Toronto at my hotel (he was visiting from Germany). After that we didn't talk for a year or two then when we did, we met up again when I visited Munich in 2012. Since then we didn't talk or keep in touch at all. & today...after 5 years I run into him at the Seawall all the way here in Vancouver!! I can't really believe it myself..but such a small world. He's here from Germany visiting his uncle too. Hopefully we can meet up again sometime before I leave hahah.

So I took a lot of photos today..had to narrow it down to my favourites:

Vancouver seawall
Vancouver seawall
Siwash Rock Seawall
My favourite stretch of the seawall

Seawall Vancouver
English Bay Beach sculptures
Funny sculptures at English Bay Beach. I forgot the name of the artist but I remember my aunt and uncle in Shanghai had some works by the same artist at their house.

Nook Kitsilano
Then for dinner, my aunt and I went to Nook, a popular Italian restaurant by Kitsilano Beach. This place reminds me of Gusto 101 in Toronto. The food was really good and I especially loved their pizza - it had the thinnest and crispiest crust I've ever eaten.

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7.23.2017

588. Rockies Roadtrip | Day 3 - Granville Island & Aboriginal Restaurant

Granville Island fish market
Today we went to Granville Island for most of the day. It's a pretty popular attraction with a lot of boutiques and a large food market. I bought a few random things and souvenirs to bring home to friends. After that we went to an authentic Aboriginal restaurant (one of the best in Vancouver and all of Canada apparently) called Salmon N' Bannock. My sister actually came to Vancouver a few weeks before I did and really loved this restaurant, so I wanted to try as well. It was really good and I definitely recommend it if you like meat. I don't particularly like meat and I'm usually afraid to try new kinds but today I tried venison and it was really good. I've been in Vancouver for only a couple days and I think I already gained a few extra pounds lol. I've eaten way too much since I got here and besides walking, I haven't done any other exercise yet. At this rate I definitely have to go a diet when I get back home! It's true that Vancouver food is a lot better than Toronto..plus I find it to be quite a lot cheaper here (especially since their tax rate is much lower too). Tomorrow morning we are going for dim sum with my other aunt and uncle. I am full just thinking about it hahah (but excited, since I love dim sum). They also just moved so I think we will see their new house as well.

Granville Island
Granville Island
Granville Island
Granville Island market
Granville Island
The seagulls here in Vancouver are quite large/fat and very vicious. They're not afraid of people at all and would come up and steal food lol. Then they would fight over the food with each other. In this photo there were a few of them standing here staring at a family eating hot dogs..ready to swoop in and take what they can. There were even warning signs posted up at Granville Island about them stealing food right out of your hand. My aunt and I had fun observing them.

street art
Venison
Here is the venison sausage appetizer we ordered..served with sage-blueberry preserve. It was delicious. I expected it to taste more game-y but it was pretty mild..kind of tasted like bratwurst sausages actually.

Salmon and Bannock
All the mains came with a side of bannock which was also really good. I had the Birch Glazed Wild Sockeye Salmon. It was delicious as well..I loved the sauce they used. If you come to Vancouver I would definitely recommend this restaurant and be sure to book in advance because it's very popular. We were pretty lucky to get a table on the day (I had emailed to reserve a few hours in advance). They got back to me really quickly to confirm my reservation though. & the service here was excellent!

Cheesecake Etc
We wanted dessert but my stomach was already bursting by the end of dinner since I was so full..so we decided to walk it off a bit first then go to have cheesecake at Cheesecake Etc. instead of the restaurant. My aunt had also taken my sister here when she visited, and they really loved it. I don't really like cheesecake but decided to go try it because of the reviews, and I loved the atmosphere here. It's a jazz bar and very cozy and romantic as well. Perfect date spot. I had the strawberry one and my aunt had blueberry. I couldn't even finish it because I had then slipped into a food coma hahah. But then after that we took a loooong walk which helped a bit.

Cheesecake Etc Vancouver
A bit of history on this little cheesecake cafe...(dating back to Paris!)

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7.22.2017

587. Rockies Roadtrip | Day 2 - UBC & Canada Place

Bellagio Cafe Canada Place
Today, I went with my aunt to UBC then around the harbourfront area of Vancouver. Then in the evening we went with my other aunt and uncle who live in Vancouver for dinner (along with a few of their friends as well). I wanted to visit the UBC campus as one of my Toronto friends studied here for the last several years and suggested I visit. He's now back in Toronto so my aunt and I went around on his recommendations of where to go and eat.

Poutine
Rose Garden UBC
Roses
Visiting the campus made me think back to all those years ago when I was applying to universities. I had actually wanted to come to UBC before..I applied for a business program and got accepted. But then I ended up staying in Toronto since I also got accepted to the Fashion Communications program at Ryerson and decided to go there instead..I wonder how different my life would've turned out if I did end up going to UBC for business!

Fairmont Pacific Rim
The Vancouver Club
Vancouver Canada Place
Vancouver cruise seaplane
Then we walked around downtown a bit and went for some dessert by the water (first photo). I realized that for all the cities I've visited so far (and even at home in Toronto)...my favourite areas to walk around are by the water/harbour. I really loved it here..will have to come back another day for a longer walk. There were a lot of seaplanes flying around. They're so cute! We actually have one booked next week to fly to Victoria..I didn't realize they were so tiny. Either the cruise ship is huge or the plane is tiny hahah.

Next time I come to Vancouver I definitely want to add on a cruise trip to Alaska as well. I wanted to go this time but unfortunately my dates didn't work out. I really love Vancouver so far and it's only my first full day here.. I already want to come back again in the future!

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7.21.2017

586. Rockies Roadtrip | Day 1 (of 20) - YYZ to YVR

view from the plane
I'm currently in Vancouver!! I'm sooo tired right now though (not sure why - I doubt it's jetlag since the time difference is only 3 hours with Toronto) so this will be a quick and brief post. I arrived earlier this evening and came to my aunt's place. I will be staying with her for a few days and seeing relatives/friends until Anouk and Dan arrive for the actual roadtrip. (When I left Toronto, it was pouring rain. Now in Vancouver the weather is perfect; sunny, warm and no humidity. The plane ride over was pretty nice. I loved the view flying over all the States like Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, etc. It was interesting to see the changing landscapes from the plane. I spent most of the flight looking out the window and snapping pics. I will be posting my experiences on Instagram and Snapchat so follow me on there (@leftbanked) if you want! I will also try my best to do daily blog posts.

YYZ YVR
Minnesota view from the plane
Minnesota - perfect squares

South Dakota view from the plane
South Dakota - at first I thought it was the desert but I guess it's grasslands/prairies..

view from the plane Montana
Montana - my favourite! I want to go here so badly. Lots of mountains and beautiful landscapes

view from the plane Montana
Montana view from the plane
view from the plane Montana
view from the plane Montana
I really want to do a roadtrip all across the US someday

WestJet to Vancouver
& finally, arriving in Vancouver...more to come tomorrow!

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7.20.2017

Best Memories of Capri

Capri
I was recently contacted by Expedia to share my experiences of Capri. Last Spring, I semi-spontaneously booked a trip to Italy; mainly to visit Capri and meet up with Anouk (who coincidentally I will be meeting up with again in a few days on our next trip!). Before that I never had a strong desire to visit Capri. It was a pretty random destination for me and I had a long list of places I had wanted to visit more. But now I can definitely say I'm extremely glad I went because it was one of the most memorable and best trips I've ever had!! I notice a pattern now..usually it's the places that I had never really wanted to go at first that turn out to be my favourites afterwards (Russia and Prague especially). Now it has been over a year since I visited Capri and I definitely want to go back again soon. Here are my favourite memories from that trip:

Capri
Via Tragara Capri
After a 45min ferry ride over from Naples in which I felt extremely nauseated..I arrived at the sunny and serene island of Capri. I instantly felt better. My hotel was the beautiful Punta Tragara Hotel, located at the tip of the island overlooking the famous Faraglioni Rocks formation. At the ferry dock, I was greeted by one of the hotel's porters who took my luggage away to bring up to the hotel..while I would be free to walk around the town and get to the hotel at my own leisure. There are no cars on this part of the island. Just windy and narrow streets lined with luxury boutiques, restaurants and stunning views over the sea. As I kept walking, the street got quieter and I was sure I had made a wrong turn and walked the wrong way. Then up ahead there were two Italian men, painting the wall of a villa. One on top of the ladder painting, while the other held the ladder for him as they chatted in Italian. I felt as though I walked into a movie scene. I asked them for directions and they didn't know English at all..so after a few moments of trying to understand each other, they pointed straight ahead and said "5 minuti!" So I continued on my way...

Punta Tragara Capri
I've done a review of Punta Tragara already before so I won't go in detail again...all I can say is it was the best hotel I've ever stayed at in my life so far! It was like a dream. My suite was perfect. I wish I actually lived there. It was two floors. My favourite feature was the two-storey window/doors opening onto the balcony. The hotel was small and intimate. During my entire time there I only saw maybe one or two other guests..so I felt like I was actually in my own home.

Punta Tragara Hotel Capri
The perfect "office"

Punta Tragara Capri view
Punta Tragara Capri
I LOVED the pool and outdoor lounge area. I could've spent all day there. The servers were so friendly and attentive. I am quite the workaholic and never really stop working (including when I go on "vacations") or relax...but here I was the closest to feeling relaxed in years.

Capri sunset
Perfect spot to watch the sunset

Capri boat
Capri Fariglioni
The next day, Anouk and I took a boat to sail around the island, visit the grottos and sail all the way to Positano and back. It was such an amazing experience. I got extremely seasick but it was still very enjoyable. The boat was private with just us two and a very good looking sailor ;)

Terrazza Brunella
Caprese salad
Even though I was in Capri with a friend/Anouk, we still spent some time separately and to do our own things. I love travelling by myself actually but the one thing that I will never get used to (or veryyyyy slowly getting used to) is eating alone lol. In some restaurants it's ok but in some (such as this very romantic and formal restaurant) it can be a little awkward. Actually the most awkward moment is when you have to ask for a "table for one". I always cringe a little inside when I have to say that. But then I'm usually ok after I sit down and pretend I'm super busy on the phone. The waiters here were so nice and I think they felt a little sorry for me because they kept coming to ask if everything was ok and to chat lol. By the way, I fell in love with Caprese Salads on this trip. All the ones I had in Capri were amazing (obviously) then when I came back to Toronto I went in search of the best Caprese Salad in the city (Scaddabush) and even made my own a few times (which were not really good).

Villa San Michele Anacapri
View of Capri
On our final day in Capri, we went over to Anacapri which is another side of the island. Anacapri is quieter and more residential...but the views there are definitely worth going for. We visited Villa San Michele which is the former home of Dr. Axel Munthe. He was from Sweden but went to Capri to build his dream home when he discovered the view from this tip of the island. I can definitely relate. Well if I could have a home in Capri that would be a dream come true as well for me.

Gelato Capri
& finally...one of the best memories of Capri was here, enjoying our last gelato on our last night with a very charming waiter named Fabrizio. Hahah. It was probably the funniest moments of the trip.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Expedia. All views expressed are my own.


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