Capilano Bridge Park

April 10, 2019

The tourist attractions at both Victoria and Vancouver are expensive, but there the one place I felt was completely worth the money was the Capilano Bridge Park. Initially, I had planned to combine it with a visit to Grouse Mountain, but further research indicated it would be too rushed to enjoy either place. So, I dropped Grouse Mountain in favour of the park because it seemed to have more to do in this season, and the name said park. When you have five children in your party, one only 18 months old, it makes a difference.

 

It is a rainy day and the LO is napping so we opt to stay back in the parking lot while the others go ahead. When she wakes up, we are still doubtful. Then it stops raining. There is a light drizzle,but we decide to take our chances. I load the LO on my back and wake my way to the famous bridge.  I’ve been on suspension rope bridges before, am fairly stable and not afraid of heights so I was not expecting any thrills. However, it’s a whole different experience with a baby on your back and an umbrella in one hand. At the other end of the bridge, starts the tree top walk and the real adventure. We climbed into the trees and walked through the lush green canopy.  The best part is that the viewing platforms are attached to an innovative tree collar system that is adjustable and moveable and has no nails or bolts penetrating into the trees. No trees were harmed in the making of this walkway. Yay!! At the start of the walk, a park official gave the kids scavenger hunt sheets and it was as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids. We are a mad family like that.

The last piece was the Cliffwalk –  a cantilevered and suspended walkway jutting out from the granite cliff face above Capilano River. In some sections you are walking on glass, so you can see the canyon far below.

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To sum it up, everyone in our motley crew, from 18 m to almost 70 years, loved this park. As for me,  at the end of all the climbing and walking, with a baby on my back, I realized I truly am stronger than I think!

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San Diego Life – Safari Park

November 2018

We could have gone to the zoo, but A picks the Safari Park instead. We know we want to feed the lorikeets, go one the carousal and take the Safari train. By the time we get into the park, the LO has settled in for a snooze in her stroller. We have to wait for her to wake to do any of the above. The first thing we see is an armadillo. I never imagined them to be that small. The sister and Big Bro make a detour to the Ranger Station to return a $5 bill we found. The LO is comfortably asleep as we push her through the tiger trail. We hike up to see the condors. The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America. Their wings may stretch nearly ten feet from tip to tip. This enables them to glide on thermal currents 15,000 feet up in the air, but makes it very cumbersome to hop over a couple of feet. The LO wakes up sometime in the Australian Outback. Strollers are not allowed in the kangaroo (+wallaby) exhibit, so the LO stayed out with her aunt. After lunch we go to feed the Lorikeets. Before that Big Bro and the husband go to the bat house, while Big Sis gets her carousal ride. She picks an Okapi and insists it’s her pony, petting and nuzzling it. Everybody loves the Lorikeet feeding experience. What is not to love! The follow up is petting the goats. The line to get on the Safari Tram is now an hour long. We collectively decide we don’t want to stand in line that long.  Instead we have another go at the carousal, see the flamingoes again, but a blue ceramic gecko at the gift shop, watch a cockatoo go berserk and go home.

 

Butchart Gardens

April 7-9, 2019

The older kids are going hiking before we head back to Vancouver. The husband and I were going to take the LO to the bug zoo. Mum cannot decide which is less appealing. Luckily for her, things take an unexpected turn. The others cannot stop raving about the Butchart Gardens, forcing us to go back, even if just to see what the fuss is all about. The scene is very different when we arrive. Today, the skies are clear, sun is shining brightly and it’s neither too hot nor too cold. Yesterday, we were the only ones in the parking lot, today the place is teeming with cars.

We follow the path Akash had asked us to take and come up to a striking bird’s eye view of the sunken garden. Walking further, we reach the carousal. The LO can’t wait to get on. After a fun ride on a lion, we foolishly decide to let her explore the garden by herself, on foot. Little feet move faster than you think, and in directions of their choice. After scrambling after her down a grassy slope and somehow convincing her to run back up, we manage to get her into our trusty carrier.

Lunch, is a picnic under a flourishing cherry tree.

The gardens are beautiful and well laid out. The serene Japanese garden with its carefully cultivated wabi-sabi, the soft gurgling of moving water, still little ponds and the tap-tap of the sōzu is a unanimous favourite. There is a little icecream parlour in Butchart gardens, but before you get there, a small window has been cut in the hedge for the best view ever of the harbor. The icecream parlour, to my surprise and delight had a couple of vegan flavours. Usually that means getting a sorbet, but not this time. We spend the next three quarters of an hour in the plaza outside the gift shop where the LO runs about and “smells” flowers. It is almost time to leave when I realized my purse is missing. I retrace my steps frantically with no success. With fingers crossed I show up at the information desk hoping someone has turned it in, and what do you know, someone has indeed turned it in. Life is beautiful.

Vancouver – Day 1

April 9-12, 2019

PC – Mahesh Raju

It’s a rainy day, what should we do? Granville Island with its covered markets seems like our best bet. The kids have a field day playing in the Kids Market. The boys play video games, the girls play in the play structure with its two-story high slide and the LO enjoys the ball pit. The adults have nothing to do beyond some perfunctory supervision. Yet, other than mum and my sister, none of us could explore the market.

We headed back into downtown for lunch as the market has limited vegetarian/vegan options. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out an address on a map, but downtown Vancouver is a tight grid of one-way streets. The lunch spot I had picked was a chain, and we landed up different locations. SMAK is a quick service restaurant serving healthy, locally sourced food in compostable containers.  Totally my kind of place. Last night we tried Caribbean food at Calabash. The downstairs serves as an art gallery for local artists and a club with a live DJ. The food was excellent, the vibes  friendly, and  staff  great. However, if you choose to walk down to the restaurant, know that the neighbourhood is the opposite.  Downtown Eastside  is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, and  is infamous for its levels of drug use, poverty, crime, mental illness, prostitution, and homelessness. Two blocks on every side, the city is very different.

Homelessness is a social crisis that has been rapidly accelerating over the last decade in Vancouver. The husband and I were unaware of this and were certainly not expecting to walk right into the thick of it, with our mother and child in tow. I went from being surprised to alarmed to wary. It was very disturbing. It is one of the things I will remember about this city, along with all the beautiful experiences we had hear.

Victoria and Vancouver through the eyes of a child

               My Vancouver trip     

                    By: Akash Roy

   This spring break, my family and 2 of my cousins with their families took a trip to Victoria and Vancouver, Canada. My aunt from the east coast planned an extremely fun vacation. I was not really that excited because I had to leave my pet tortoise Flash with our friends in San Diego, CA, but I was really looking forward to seeing my cousins. Also this time I got a new phone to take pictures with on our trip.

   

We first went to Victoria. We had to drive our car onto the ferry. It was a huge ferry. Nearly 200 cars could be parked on it. The ferry had lots of entertainment. You could go outside on the deck or the top deck, you could go shopping, or you could play in the miny playground. What I liked the most and I recommend that you see in Victoria is Butchart gardens. It is beautiful and magical, especially with a light drizzle.

We went to Fisherman’s Wharf  where we saw floating houses. We then took a long walk on the sea wall where we saw an awesome Otter and lots of giant kelp. We also took a water taxi to our hotel. A water taxi is a boat painted black and yellow that takes you to different ports. Another thing I really enjoyed was hiking to a waterfall. The hike was very green. When we got to the waterfall there was a viewpoint of the waterfall. There were stairs leading to the bank of the stream. There was also a mini waterfall next to the bank of the stream. It was all together quite a spectacular sight.

We also visited a castle called the Craigdarroch castle and learned that my sister and my cousin sister are so suckey at races!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There we learned about the artifacts and how people lived in the castle over 100 years ago.

    Vancouver is a fun and popular place to go to for summer break because the weather is warm and sunny. We went in spring because it is not as crowded. It was raining half the trip but it was a blast. What I enjoyed the most was Grouse Mountain and the aviary at Queen Elizabeth park. At Grouse Mountain we played in the snow, we saw bears that had just come out of hibernation, l also enjoyed sledding the amazing slopes they had. At the aviary we saw lots of birds. I also liked the bird hunt at the aviary. We saw all sorts of tropical birds. I really liked matching parrots along with the Australian King Parrot.

On a rainy morning there was nothing to do. So we went to Granville Island and saw a lot of shops which was my least favorite part of the trip. When we went to the kids market there was a game arcade which was awesome. That same day we went to capilano suspension bridge. It is a 435 feet long hanging bridge that is 230 feet above the ground !!!!!!!!! The bridge was shaky but I was not scared even though my dad was shaking with fear and I could sort of feel it.

There was a very lucky accident that occured. One of our friends from Seattle the home of the Seahawks spent their vacation in Hawaii. Except when they were coming back we were able to meet in Vancouver on our last day in Canada. I was very happy to see them.

    The weather in Vancouver and Victoria was very wet. What I mean is that it rained every day but only in the mornings and nights. Luckily, we had packed all the jackets and stuff we needed. Although, we should have brought more socks. Also luckily all the hotels we stayed at had umbrellas we could borrow. We ate a lot of cuisines like a new version of sushi, indian food, Jamaican food, vegan food. Vegan food was fine with me because I hate cheese.

What I loved that we had on our trip was something called a butter chicken samosa. I wish I could get it here. Guess what? We got gelato 3 nights in a row at 10 pm!!!!!!!!! My favorite gelato flavor was lemon sorbet. My mouth is still watering from that first taste.

In total I had a superb vacation with my entire American family. I can’t wait for the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Victoria

April 7-9, 2019

Victoria is a small little port on the island of Vancouver. The only way to get here is by ferry and what a ride it is! While I enjoyed the open seas, the LO monopolized a slide her size in the play area on-board. I never knew she liked slides so much. It kept her entertained for an hour almost each way.

 

PC – Ashok Roy

Our first stop was lunch. The restaurant I picked was located in the public market. I was expecting a farmer’s marker like setting, with stalls and hawkers selling fresh produce, but this was nothing like that. The restaurant I had picked was closed. A sign of things to come. It was like a curse following us, wherever we went – closed. The market had a few other options, and everyone got something. The little boys got bento boxes and it seemed like a fair substitute for the sushi they were clamoring for. For my part, I was so excited to see vegan poutine. I thought I would never eat poutine again. It was so unimpressive that I may never eat poutine again.

PC – Ragini Murugan

We walked around the Inner harbor, all the way to the Thunderbird Park and from there to Fisherman’s Wharf. The park was closed, so I had to settle for letting the kids run wild in a random park under a random cherry tree in full bloom. This turned out to be quite the highlight of the afternoon. Lara danced under the tree singing “It’s snowing, it’s snowing!”, as petals fluttered to the ground. Mira danced with her. The boys ran around the park and even made a new friend. Mum lounged under the tree and the LO toddled about taking in the excitement.

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PC- Ashok Roy

The floating houses at Fisherman’s Wharf are postcard pretty. In my mind’s eye, I see the residents laughing and dancing under twinkling fairy lights, on warm summer nights, long after the last tourists have gone.  A tiny water taxi takes us back into downtown.

After all my intensive research and meticulous planning, dinner reservations are changed at the last minute. I am obviously annoyed, but all is well that ends well. Everyone enjoyed their dinner at Varsha.

Victoria and Vancouver

April 01, 2019

Of all the cities in this world, why would you pick Vancouver? Lord, when I am forty, please don’t let me be this boring. I mean, I don’t mind doing it as a part of a larger itinerary, with something more exiting – like Banff, but not as a standalone trip. What were we supposed to do there for an entire week? A week’s worth of time off from work, that could have, should have been spent at some place more exciting.

That was me all of February. I did my research and decided the focus of this trip had to be food. I planned and mapped our trip around it. It wasn’t until I made dinner reservations did I experience those first shivers of excitement. Then last week, an off-chance comment at work, sent me on some deeper research into local immigrant communities. Now, I feel like we have a robust itinerary. Our things to do focuses on immersing ourselves in different cultures. I have planned entire walks in different neighbourhoods, dinners, desserts and drinks. I have lunch spots mapped out.  With a large group of twelve, including four children, one toddler and one senior, I don’t know how much we will accomplish. The big flaw in the plan is that there are no breaks or downtime. I know from experience how the will go, both ways. One way you could end up with cranky kids (and adults) and the other means lots of wasted time. We will have three cars, so we could potentially split up and re-gather as we need. I have an excel sheet with multiple tabs showing where we will be at different times – broad area + specifics. This is going to be so much fun.