The Eighth Day of Christmas: Gift Ideas for the Travel Lover

Hey! Luggage…

I was in Vancouver when I saw THIS:

A map on a piece of luggage. Perfect! From Heys.

Check out what else they have too:

Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 8.08.29 AM

* All pictures from Sears Canada

Thursday’s Top 5: Sushi Restaurants

My boyfriend and I were discussing our favorite sushi places while out for that very food one evening last week. He then came up with a brilliant idea – why not dedicate one day on this here blog to a top 5 list?

Done.

So my first top 5 list, should appropriately be my top 5 Sushi Restaurants.

5. Sushi D – Little Italy – Toronto

All you can eat sush-magoosh. Sorry, that’s what my friend calls it when she craves sushi. And she was the one that introduced me to good all-you-can-eat sushi!

Green Tea Ice Cream – get it.

4. Fune Japanese Restaurant: Simcoe Street Downtown Toronto.

Great atmosphere – free sample appetizers – helpful staff. A tad bit expensive, but it’s worth it, once a year.

3. Asahi Sushi – Toronto (640 Church St. (south of Bloor))

Best in the city that I can find! I always go for the Agedashi Tofu, Miso Soup, and share the Asahi Boat (30 mixed sushi/sashimi).

2. Agrigato Sushi – Horeshoe Bay, West Vancouver B.C.

My first Vancouver sushi experience. Le boyfriend took me there, as it was the closest to where we were staying on this trip. He warned me that it wasn’t “good” Vancouver sushi, and that I shouldn’t base my Vancouver sushi on this restaurant.

Geez – it was delicious! The fish was so fresh – and REAL crab!! Yippee!

1. Alpha (1099 Richards Street – Yaletown) Vancouver, B.C.

I wish you could have a #1 that goes beyond #1…like a #0 or just a shocked face ( 80 – that’s my sideways shocked face) or something to that effect. I have NEVER tasted anything this good. It was melt in my mouth, an explosion of amazing flavours, with an outstanding staff to boot. Of course, I went there in style…with the former mayor of Vancouver. Yep, that’s how I roll. Sushi roll.

I am going to give an honourable mention to my homemade sushi – she says modestly. I’m pretty impressed, the three times I have made it. It just needs a bit of fresh fish going on, instead of the safe cucumber, avacado, fake crab, and smoked salmon business.

If I lived in Vancouver, or I have been to a few more sushi restaurants – like  Tojo’s or Blue Water Cafe – my top 5 would wipe out any hint of Toronto sushi. In a city that is home to the creator of the California Roll. You just can’t beat fresh seafood on the coast. The end.

Hittin the road again

I am off today on a 9 day journey back to Toronto, via Nelson B.C., Waterton, A.B., Grasslands National Park, Sask., Riding Mountain National Park, Man., Thunder Bay, Ont. and one final stop to break up T. Bay to Toronto.

Phew.

So long Vancouver, I’ll miss you!

Let the driving begin!!

Not too shabby, living in Vancouver

I am here in West Vancouver, babysitting a dog for a week and I absolutely LOVE it here. It’s my third time visiting the “best place on earth” – according to the limited edition license plates they produced. There is a picturesque scene awaiting me at every turn, so I believe this saying 100%!

Yesterday, I went for a jog around the neighbourhood:

Along the seawall in W. Vancouver

Keeping me motivated near the end of the jog

What a great way to explore the city. I could not believe some of the houses around this area. Jaw dropping…and what scenery to look out to!

I’m excited to get downtown Vancouver in the next few days and explore the view from the other side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge. I have driven downtown several times already this trip, and I can tell you that the road system is NOT the best place on earth. Traffic jam city!

After the jog yesterday, we met up with a few of my boyfriends friends and headed out in a boat around Howe Sound and Bowyer Island.

Again, my jaw was dropping at all the views around me. I even saw 4 different seals swimming around our boat. So neat!

A seal! Too bad I didn’t bring my Nikon

Never a dull moment in Vancouver…

 

 

R.I.P. Sir Elk

It’s been such a wonderful summer.

So many fabulous wildlife adventures and photographs taken, a ‘new’ camera inherited (story to come soon), and countless amazing meals eaten along the beaten trail.

I am so sad that it is coming all to an end…BUT not just yet.

There is this brief hiatus in Vancouver babysitting my boyfriend’s parents dog while they are off on an amazing African adventure. After that stop, we are on the road again.

This time, it’s not through the states, but through the quirky Trans Canada Highway en route back to Toronto. Instead of the 2 loooooong driving days to Yellowstone from Toronto, we are taking 9 – 10 days to slowly working our way back across Canada via some interesting Canadian historical sites (eg. The last spike, the burial ground of Louis Riel…).

BUT I must share a very brief and very sad short story with you that has been casting a gloomy cloud over my head, despite a very sunny and warm Vancouver, and a very excitable and heart warming dog to babysit.

There I was in Jasper, Alberta among a huge crowd of people photographing one of three amazing bull elks with crazy racks that I have now known for three years. Ps, a side note – I’ve been learning all the innate wildlife talk – it could have gotten more technical than that 🙂 more technical than ‘crazy racks’.

These elk were so docile and accommodating to the throngs of people, young and old…in their faces snapping off photos with flash, yelling, running in front of them, stalking them, attempting to feed them…you name it. I was impressed, yet again this summer, and so happy to see these stunning elk so healthy after three years running.

The morning we were set to leave Jasper, just 3 days ago, we were stopped to photograph a black bear with one cub on the Icefields Parkway when a motorcycle stopped beside us and gave my boyfriend some very saddening news.

This one guy from the three bull elks (the smaller one as he is known) had just been hit and killed by a transport truck on the Yellowhead Highway where we always see him.

It was heartbreaking and so damn frustrating and it has kept me heavy hearted ever since I heard the news.

R.I.P.

The home stretch!

Oh my goodness ‘northkate’ is AMAZING!

I am in the home-stretch of my summer camping/driving adventure, 2012, fresh into Vancouver, B.C. at my boyfriends parents house for a little bit of ‘luxury’ (aka – shower, mattress AND linens, and a coffee maker).

Before I even get into anything from my summer thus far (3 weeks to go!), I need to re-read for the tenth time this evening, the AMAZING, spectacular, thoughtful, entertaining, superbly written, and educational posts written by my dear friend northkate.

Who wants to move to Switzerland asap and experience a teeny bit of what she has been exploring there?

I cannot thank her enough for all the spectacular posts she has written. I am now going to push her (quite forcefully) to continue posting.

If not on my blog, then her own. I think she is such a remarkable person and has quite a lifetime full of travel experience in her very young years to create her own blog.

Wouldn’t you all agree?!

Thank you so much again k.

Stay tuned for an influx of a billion wildlife photos, hiking adventures and oddities discovered along the long winding roads.

Fantasy Friday – Happy birthday to my sister!

It’s my fabulous sisters birthday, so I am dedicating my Fantasy Friday destinations to a few of her favorite places:

Her favs:

Grand Floridian Resort at Disney World

Brugge, Belgium

London, England

Las Vegas

Cuba!

Jasper, Alberta

Waterton, Alberta

New York City

Some places I think would be her favs some day:

Vancouver, B.C.

Yellowstone

Chicago

Rome

Practice makes perfect, I hope!

I acquired a new camera a few weeks ago, and made the switch from Canon to Nikon.

It’s true that they are both great brands, but alas, this Nikon has been borrowed, so I can’t be picky and stick with the tried, tested and true Canon.

This summer, I am also embarking on a 2 month long trip (thank you teaching job!) to several national parks in the USA and Canada, then over to Vancouver.

My main mission?

Animal photography!

So to help me learn all about Nikon’s, I turned to an expert in this field – my boyfriend.

He took me out on the weekend to test out this Nikon while using his 70-200mm 2.8 lens, which he is also so graciously is letting me use all summer.

Our subject?

Trains! With a few animals here and there as we encountered them.

Here are three of my favorite practice shots from the weekend:

Craziest animal encounter – my dog Peabody!

The train! Only took 1 hour to get to our spot…

My dilemma

This summer I plan to head out on the long road.

The long road to…Grand Teton National Park and then Yellowstone National Park and then Waterton National Park and then Jasper National Park…and then civilization again in Vancouver. And then back to Toronto via ???

So here is my dilemma:

When I am in camping mode, I can pretty much ditch all those luxury goods and services, except one SIMPLE thing.

a shower, a toilet, a cell phone, a comfy bed, COFFEE!

And since my boyfriend insists on dragging me out of my warm sleeping bag (with 2 layers of pants, 3 pair of socks and 5 sweaters of course), into the extremely cold and dark bowels of the morning – sans coffee, well, let’s just say – my extremely laid back self has daggers, no wait, chain saws aimed at his head. (I love you…..).

After we see the peek of a sunrise – as us two, the lone souls in the middle of a deserted road, along the majestic Teton mountain range, with the jagged peaks welcoming the rising day into it’s arms, waiting for that magic light to take breathtaking photographs of a grizzly bear and her cubs grazing amongst the golden backdrop… Ok – get the picture?

Well I NEED MY COFFEEEEEEEE!!!!

We tried so hard last year to find a way to make a nice cup o’ in the car; tried to find a gas station open early enough for a steamer; I sweetly batted my eyelashes at my boyfriend to wait for me to build a fire and boil some water (no time…lighting is money honey!); attempted to wane myself off the addicting brown stuff…

Nope. I NEED MY COFFEE!

So, here is the best I could come up with, which would produce semi-warm liquid water, in which I would throw in a Starbucks single:

Somehow, I don’t think this will cut it. I’m still trying and welcome and suggestions 🙂

Weather Win: Part 2

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I get 2 weeks of March Break, not 1 like most Ontario teachers. But I take full advantage and am very thankful for it.

And as I have realized, may people don’t know what this holiday is.

My boyfriend from Vancouver calls it Spring Break. But, when I think of Spring Break, I think of going to Daytona Beach, Florida to party in February with all the other university students (which I did not do).

It’s a week (or 2 in my case) for students and luckily teachers to have off to recharge and relax after 2/3 of the school year has been completed.

PLEASE look at how lucky I am weather wise again this week:

I’m hoping that Friday and Saturday will improve as we get closer to the weekend, but I cannot believe how gorgeous the beginning of the week is going to be.

The curse from my father and sister seems not to have passed to me. Every time they asked for vacation time, no other employee around them would ask for the same week – guaranteed rain.

Thanks Toronto for making my staycation sunny and warm!