Road Tripping From Vancouver to Banff

There are three things you need to be aware of if you’re ever planning on road tripping through Canada.  Number one; Sirius XFM plays A LOT of Eminem (Seriously, after 800km I can confidently say that I’m well-rehearsed enough to stand up and be the real Slim Shady).  Number two; Maple Cream Biscuits make for the best road tripping snacks.  And Number three; snoozing is impossible and that five hour stretch will quickly turn into a seven hour stretch because the views just keep getting better and better.  You’re not going to want to shut your eyes and you’re going want to keep stopping to snap away. 🙂


Our road trip began in Vancouver where we picked up this baby.  Our booking was originally going to give us a Volkswagen Golf, but when Sunny saw that there was a Dodge Charger available we decided on a sneaky upgrade (I mean, come on, it’s The General Lee!).  It was a lot of fun – especially when it came to whizzing past all those ambling camper vans on the road between Jasper and Banff.

We split our road trip into three days; on day one, we drove the scenic route through Frazer Canyon from Vancouver to Kamloops, on day two we drove up through Jasper to Hinton, and then on day three we drove Icefields Parkway all the way through Banff to Golden.  We only had a few days but managed to cram a hell of a lot in along the way including stopping to see bears at the side of the road (don’t look for the bears, look out for all the other parked cars!), mountains, rivers, four kilometer long freight trains and dip our feet in all of the gorgeous (but freezing!) lakes.  It was absolutely nackering, but so worth it!

Moose Lake, BC.

The Road to Kamloops




The Grizzly we caught scratching his butt 😉


If there’s anything you want to know about driving in Canada, feel free to fire away!  Have a great week! 🙂

Vancouver in a Day

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Okay, let’s be clear; we actually had a grand total of three days in Vancouver (two and a half, really, when you count the fact that we were stuck in immigration for most of the afternoon after we landed).  But, we pretty much explored the whole city in one day and then used our second day to explore North Vancouver – including Capilano and Grouse Mountain (stay tuned for that one…).  Of course, Vancouver isn’t a small city and we were absolutely cream-crackered by the end of the day (maple cream-crackered), but we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see. 🙂

MAIN STREET

Back when we booked our trip we were stunned by how expensive hotels in Vancouver are and really struggled to find something that wasn’t either horrendously expensive or waaaaay out of the city.  We settled on the Best Western Plus Uptown Hotel, which was just off Main Street in an area called Mount Pleasant.  I’m told by an ex-Vancouverite that it used to be a bit of a run down neighborhood, but recently it’s undergone a bit of gentrification with its mural art, poke restaurants and taco bars.  The hotel was great; especially the crew on reception who were full of insider info and put out fresh drinks at the end of the day for weary, overheated guests to take back to the room.  We weren’t far from downtown but not close enough to walk (especially as there was heatwave on while we were there) and so we ended up using the bus to get around quickly.




GRANVILLE ISLAND

We started off the day on Granville Island, heading over there nice and early for breakfast waffles before all the crowds of other tourists swooped in.  It’s not technically and island but a peninsula wedged between downtown and South Granville and while it used to be full of factories and warehouses, nowadays its home to Vancouver’s Public Market and foodie heaven.  From fruit and veg to doughnuts and bagels, and pies and oysters to clothing and artwork, it’s my number one recommended place to hit up if you’re ever in Vancouver.  We wandered around the stalls, stuffed our faces and shopped for some unique bits and bobs to bring home.



STANLEY PARK

From Granville Island, we caught one of the cute and colourful little Aquabuses that ferry people around False Creek, and got off at Yaletown.  From there we had the crazy idea to walk the seawall to Stanley Park, hitting up Sunset Beach and English Bay along the way.  By that point it was late morning, it was getting hot and it was much longer walk than we realised.  BUT!  It was a lovely walk and well worth it to see the beaches.

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s not-so-little oasis right on the edge of downtown.  It’s more than just a public park, it’s actually 400 hectare rainforest and home to plenty of wildlife (including racoons and beavers).  It’s also where you’ll find the famous Vancouver Aquarium.  We didn’t have much time to explore the whole park, but we did walk the scenic sea wall route which took us right past the famous first nation Totem Poles.



JAPADOG

By the time we did a loop of the park it was time for a pitstop and we just happened to stumble across a Japadog Stand.  I’d heard about Japadog before heading out to Canada and then passed one of the stands on the afternoon we arrived.  They’re basically Japanese-themed Hotdogs, which sounds really weird, I know.  But, as a self-proclaimed hot dog connoisseur I felt it my duty to give one a go.  I know, how I suffer, right?  We went for the Terimayo, which is a hot dog topped with teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise and seaweed, and d’you know what?  It was… really weird.  But good weird.  Like, really good weird. The salty seaweed totally made it.



VANCOUVER LOOKOUT

Next we took a tip from our hotel receptionist and headed back downtown to visit the Harbour Centre’s Vancouver Lookout.  We like to climb to the highest point whenever we visit a new city, so the Vancouver Lookout was definitely on our list.  However, it costs $17.50 each to zoom up in the glass lift to the viewing platform.  Thanks to a sweet little tip from our hotel receptionist, we got in the lift (for free!) and whizzed up to the revolving restaurant instead.  It was mid-afternoon, they were only serving small appetizers and drinks and it was pretty much empty.  We bought a hot drink for around $6 each and just sat and watched the view go by. Of course this trick would never work during peak restaurant hours, but during the middle of the afternoon it worked like a charm 😉


GASTOWN

Gastown is the oldest part of downtown and is named after “Gassy” Jack, a steamboat captain from “oop norf” who made it to Vancouver in 1867 and decided he’d had enough of the high seas and opened up the city’s first saloon.  It’s full of old brick buildings that reminded me a little bit of New York and is the best place to head to if you’re looking for a bite to eat.  We ended up at Gringo on Blood Alley which is basically where I want to retire to someday.  80s Music?  Check.  Stadium Nachos and Street Tacos?  Check.  Cocktails with Gummy Worms?  Check.  Neon Lighting?  Check.






COAL HARBOUR

We ended the day in Coal Harbour, which doesn’t really have that much to see or do – it’s basically a big harbour and bagged the name “blue blood alley” thanks to all the swanky apartment blocks and mansions there.  But, it was a nice place to round off our first day.  We walked down to the water and watched all the sea planes coming and going – flying off across the water towards the mountains – and then ended up soaking up the sunset on the terrace of the oh so trendy (and very reasonable) Cactus Club with a burger each. Perfecto.  🙂

Phew, that was a long one!  Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

 

Oh Canada…

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I’ve just come back from a week driving around British Columbia and Alberta and all I can say is, Oh Canada!  If you’re with me over on Instagram then you’re well aware and have probably been following along with my Canadian adventure via Stories – but oh my gosh, it’s been absolutely amazing.  I’m nackered, I’ve been feasted upon by mosquitos, caught an air-con cold and have eaten waaaaaay too many Maple Cream Cookies (…and brought four more boxes back with me in my suitcase), but have loved every single minute.

The reason we went out there was because Sunny’s cousin (who lives in Calgary) was getting married in Kananaskis, and so when we RSVP’d to the invitation we decided – what the hell – we’d tack on a little Canadian road trip before the big day.  We flew into Vancouver and spent a couple of days exploring the city, and then took a few more days to drive the scenic route to Kananaskis, hitting up Jasper and Banff National Parks along the way.  We had an absolute blast and definitely want to do another driving holiday sometime soon.  Once I’ve vanquished jet lag and unpacked I’ll go into a bit more detail, but for now, here are some of my favourite snaps (and, if you’re curious, all my Canadian Stories are available to watch over on Instagram – just go to my profile page and look for the highlight reel titled ‘Canada’). 🙂













Have a fab week everyone! (And Happy Canada Day!) 🙂

How to Plan a Travel Capsule Wardrobe in 5 Steps

If you’re like me then you know the drill.  You leave packing right until the last minute, throw in as many clothes as you can for as many different eventualities as you can, sit on the case… and then come back having worn maybe a third of it.  Argh!  By the time you read this post I’ll almost be on my way back from Canada – the first trip I’ve taken in a while – and this time around I’ve promised myself to streamline my travel wardrobe and only pack clothes that I know that I’m definitely, absolutely going to wear.  I’m yet to be converted to the whole capsule wardrobe thing in my day to day life, but I’m definitely on board when it comes to travelling.  Who wants a bulging case and last minute panics about what to wear when you want to be out and about exploring anyway?  So, without further ado, here’s how to plan a travel capsule wardrobe in five easy steps.

1. Do Your Research

Before you even touch any clothes, you’re going to employ a bit of Google-Fu.  Research where you’re going, how long for and what you’re going to be getting up to while you’re away.  The answers to these questions are going to help you build a destination appropriate capsule wardrobe:

  • What’s the weather going to be like where I’m going?
  • Are there any events that I need to bring specific outfits for (like a wedding)?
  • How long am I away for?
  • Are there any local customs when it comes to fashion (will I need to cover up?)

2. Plan Must-Have Outfits First

Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to get stuck into your wardrobe, starting with the must-have basics.

A Travel Outfit

What are you going to wear when you’re on the road/in the sky?  Set aside something comfortable that will work as your “Travel Outfit”.  The bottom half is the most important part in my book; I like to be comfy if I’m going to be sitting down for a long time, and like to wear a pair of shoes that I can slip off if I want.

Event/Activities Outfits

Are you going to a special event while you’re away?  Are you going to be doing a certain activity that’ll need a certain outfit?  Are you going to be swimming?  Make sure these outfits make it into the suitcase before any others.

Knickers and Pjs

We all sleep, we all wear underwear (…right?).  So make sure you’ve got enough to see you through.  And when it comes to underwear, pack a variety that’ll work with different outfits (Spanx, Stick on Bras etc…).

3. Try On Some Outfits

With your must-have items sorted it’s time to work out what else you want to pack, keeping in mind that you want to build a versatile, interchangeable wardrobe.  You want colours that work together (some people like to choose black and white with accent colour) and items that are going to layer well.  Again, think about where you’re going, the weather and the sort of things you’re going to be doing.  Ask yourself:

  • What am I going to wear if it gets really hot?
  • What am I going to wear if it suddenly gets chilly?
  • What if it rains?
  • What am I going to wear during the day?
  • What am I going to wear out at night?

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4. Build Your Capsule from the Core, then Add Extras

Now that you’ve got some ideas, you can start building your travel wardrobe starting with the basic core capsule items.  Here’s a basic list, obviously it’ll be different depending on where you’re going, for how long and your person style, but it should be enough to get you started.

  • Bottoms:
    • 1 Pair of jeans
    • 1 Pair of black jeans (that can be dressed up or down)
    • 1 Skirt
  • Tops:
    • 2 T-Shirts (one white)
    • 2 Blouses
    • 2 Vests/Camis (for layering)
  • Dresses:
    • 1 Casual
    • 1 Fancy
  • Outerwear:
    • 1 Jacket (what kind of jacket will depend on your destination)
    • 1 Jumper/Cardigan
  • Shoes:
    • 1 Comfortable pair for walking (trainers or boots)
    • 1 Pair of smart flats (could be sandals or ballet pumps)
    • 1 Fancy pair (evening shoes or heels)

Once you’ve got your core capsule sorted, you can start adding extras and statement pieces. 🙂

5. Add Accessories

Now that you’ve planned your outfits you can start adding accessories.  Try and streamline, picking items that will go with everything you’ve picked out so far and make sure you’ve covered the essentials like bags and belts.

And there you go, one travel capsule wardrobe that’ll free up some space in your suitcase and stop all those last minute wardrobe panics!  Have a great weekend guys! 🙂

Ponta de São Lourençao

On one of our last days in Madeira, we decided to drive to the eastern tip of the island.  Ponta de São Lourençao is a craggy peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, flanked by islets and white water.  It’s a strange place; when you set out from the car park and walk between huge, red rocks it looks a little bit like somewhere in California or Arizona, and then you turn a corner and peer over the cliffs and you could be in Wales or Cornwall.  It’s a mish-mash of textures and colours, which only makes it all the more photogenic, I guess!   You can walk all the way to the tip (8 kilometers), but we gave up half way.  We’d tired ourselves out from walking up Pico Ruivo and the surface of the trail wasn’t the easiest the walk on.  Yeah, yeah!  Excuses, excuses!  😉