A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Seanjo

Vancouver

Capilano suspension bridge, Stanley park, Robson street, Canada Place

overcast 23 °C

Day 39

After waking up and eating a bowl of frosted flakes we set off to explore Vancouver. We found our way to Canada place, and bought a ticket for the Hop-On-Hop-Off Trolley, and set off for the Capilano suspension walk bridge (capbridge.com). After finding the free tour bus (but we paid for something) we headed across the Lions Gate Bridge that ran thru Stanley Park. That park is bigger than Central Park, apparantly. Arriving at the Capilano we wander along the to find the walk way. After bouncing our way on to the bridge we did enjoy it. Then followed a tree top walk with tree's that were up to 1000 years old. After finishing the tree top walk, we did the cliff walk, which was a walk out over the top of the forrest, with nothing but a little wood below us. Was amazing view, however the guy in front of us wasn't really enjoying it - he didn't look down or out once. He just had hands on the rail and head in the air, the gift shop did receive a visit but didn't find that much appealling.

Back on the free tour bus (?????) across Lions Gate Bridge, we stopped near Stanley Park to suss out what was happening. We found a souvlaki truck. The couple serving were great and we got to sign the truck as well. Food hit the spot, but we did have a distraction when a pedestrian was hit by a SUV. A little bit of blood and 2 medic's got him safely in to ambo. After that we headed to Stanley Park to see what they had on offer. After walking 2km's we gave up and took cheats way and took a guided tour. The tour guide/driver was fantastic. Finally the tour finished in Canada Square and back to hotel to freshin up to meet Bob & Pat for dinner at Bellagio, a new place that just opened on Canada Day. Bob yet again had tuned the waitress again. Go stud muffin. After a good dinner we said our good byes and hope they enjoyed their 2nd Trafalgar tour.

Day 40

Today we had later morning start again, the last few early mornings had taken toll. So we thought today was a good chance to experience the other side of Vancouver. We saw the BC Stadium being built, the Space Museum, China Town, Gas District and some other places. And we got the same great driver again from yesterday. Bonus! Now the tour had finished it was time for some shopping. The shops we hit and just made the bag's a little fuller :-).

Tonight we had micro wave dinner and packed for our last offical stop of the tour 2011, San Francisco.

Posted by Seanjo 15:49 Archived in Canada Tagged bridge suspension capilano vancover Comments (0)

Canada - Trafalgar Tour

Calgary, Jasper, Banff, and train trip to Kamloops & Vancouver

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Day 30

Today we were heading to Calgary, but it was going to be tricky. Our flight was strangely enough set up to fly to Calgary via Chicago. With a 50 minute stop over. We were worried with the amount delays in Chicago due to extreme weather over the last month but all was good. We safely made Chicago in time for the connecting flight. I was luckily enough to get a seat in ecomony Plus as Jo was booked in the last seat in economy. After a brief discussion with stewdess Jo was able to sit with me and we played Phase 10 for the next couple of hours.

When arriving in Calgary we collected bags, and needed to find a ATM to pay for our taxi. Going to the Bank of Montreal ATM you will soon realise that ANZ travel cards will not work here. Interesting!! We organised a taxi and informed we had a travel voucher from Trafalgar. This did the trick and we got dropped off at our recently renovated motel.

Found a Safeway supermarket up the road to make some rolls for dinner and got some money from CIBC too. Crashed in bed that night after a long travelling day.

Day 31

Woke up to a fine & sunny day. Polished off some breakfast then organised a taxi to take us to International Hotel down town. We had 8 hours before we met the rest of group from Trafalgar tour so we thought good chance to venture around Calgary. Amazing to see the sky walks that connect all buildings while Calgary go thru their freezing winter.

Finally the time had come to meet our tour leader, Russell and rest of the group. There was 50 new faces sitting the dining room. And most of the age group was 50+. Russell explained to us how we meet in the morning and where to leave bags so they could be packed on the bus. We had a welcome drink with the group then headed to China town for dinner. When we got to the restaurant Uncle Benny greeted us, and we sat down to a feast, then back to the hotel before the first official day of the tour.

Day 32

Early start, we had breakfast with a couple from Essex, and despite the age gap we got along really well. Then onto the bus. We headed out past some ski jumps used when Calgary hosted the winter Olympics (think Eddie the Eagle) and they still get used today - even in the summer. Our lunch stop was at the Columbian Icefields and we got to walk out on a glacier which was neat (and really cold 0 degrees, Sean wore shorts). Had lunch there - there then continued our trip, and stopped at the Athabasca falls, which were really nice to see. Only 45 minutes to Jasper - and along the way we saw a Black Bear, then 5 minutes out of Jasper another one. The cars and busses stopping to watch don't seem to phase the grazing of the bears. They just mind there own business and keep on eating. After an exciting day travelling and seeing amazing wildlife, we met new people over dinner. We were seated with two ladies from Long Island (one saw Secretariat run in the Belmont in 1973), New York and a couple from Sheffield, which was a great. Had a lovely chat with them over dinner. For dinner Sean tasted Bison meatloaf, very interesting.

Day 33

Sleep in and time to explore Jasper. Had a good look around and a spot of gift shopping. Met up with the rest of the group to check out a really neat Canyon. Then back to Jasper for one last look around, before the nature walk. Bus picked us up and took us to Mt Edith Cavell. Glaciers and views from here were pretty amazing. We even saw a Marmot, which is an interesting creature. Almost looks like a cross between a possum and a beaver.
Weather was starting to close in so we cut the hike short and headed back for the hotel. The temperature had dropped 10 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Day 34

We woke in the morning to find the storm from last night had caused snow to fall. For breakfast today we sat with people from St Cloud (Minnesota). First trip of the day was Lake Peyto, what amazing view. Sean also got to play with snow for the first time. He also threw snowballs around too. So back on the bus and we stopped at the spiral tunnels - these were amazing. Trains use these tunnels to get through parts of the Rockies - really is great to see. Some of the long freight trains can even see there end after they turn through the mountain and come out underneath the other tracks - really need to see this to fully understand. Had lunch at lake Louise Village, and went on to explore some of the other lakes in the area. There really are some spectacular lakes. The other highlight was seeing 3 more black bears today. Got into Banff around 5.30, and had a quick tour around Banff, before we got to the hotel. Had a lovely dinner at the hotel, and one of the staff actually grew up in the same little Aussie town as Jo - small world.

Day 35

Canada Day - got on Bus and headed off to discover Lake Louise. It was pretty amazing. Had some lunch then headed to the Gondola's. Went up Sulphur Mountain in the Gondola, and had amazing views from there. Even took the boardwalk out to the weather station, for even better views. A few little squirrels were the only sign of life from there, but good view of the Banff Springs hotel and Golf Course. Watched the Canada parade, through the main street of Banff, and most of the parade seemed to be made up of Marching Bands from local schools, which we don't really see that much of back home. Had dinner at an Irish pub, but ran out of energy to stay up and watch the fireworks. It doesn't get dark til around 11 at the this time of the year, so can't really have then any earlier.

Day 36

Today we had quick breakfast then had our own walk up to Tunnel Mountain. It took just over 40 mins for us to climb it. Fantastic views were in store, of Banff, the golf course and the hotel. Finally we wandered down and saw plenty of people starting their trek up Tunnel Mountain. We decided to make our way to golf course. After another 1 hour walk we finally made it to the course. Purchased some lunch had a look around then decided to head to Banff Hot Springs. We waited for 40 mins for the bus but it never arrived, but to our joy a Elk stopped by to say hello - and it was no further than 10 metres from us. We got some great shots and watched how it stopped traffic in 45k/m zone. Amazing!

We walked all the way back to the hotel, and we were a tad exhausted, but we needed to prepare for the Farewell Dinner. Tonight we sat with Mike & Kate who came from Albury. Funny couple in there 60's. More packing then bed cause we were up at 5.45am for the train.

Day 37

Today we snuck down to the golden arches for breakfast and sneaky look at the internet. Back to hotel and 36 of us were heading on the Rocky Mountaineer. Ten of the 36 were travelling in the gold leaf while the rest of the red leaf. On the train we went. Waved our good byes to Russell & Patrick from Trafalgar tours.

The trip on the train was going to take just over 10 hours to our first stop, Kamloops. The views on the train were amazing, plus we had the experience of travelling thru spiral tunnel's. That was pretty cool! Most the time the cabin staff just fed us food. Finally we arrived at Kamloops and they had organised a bus for us, which took us to our hotel 20 min walk out of downtown. That was frustrating.

We needed to stretch our legs so we walked into town and caught up with Bob & Pat who were staying in gold leaf supplied hotel. We had some food at a irish pub and discussed how the service varied. Time was up and we wandered back to hotel know we were hopping up in another 6 hours time.

Day 38

Second day of train trip - another early morning. Saw plenty of ospray nests and eagle nests, went through plenty of tunnels, amazing scenery, but it was a long day. Train was due to get in around 5, and we didn't get in until after 7. We were greeted by protestors who had recently lost there jobs with Rocky Mountaineer (which is why we had staff from other countries who didn't have much knowledge of the area). They bussed us away from the depot so we weren't closely subjected to the protestors. Then when we got to downtown vancouver, we then caught another Cab to our hotel for a well deserved sleep. It is amazing how tiring it is sitting down all day. Looking forward to seeing Vancouver. Yay

Posted by Seanjo 09:33 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Minneapolis & New York Mills

Delays & catching up with host family & huge shopping centre

overcast 20 °C
View North America 2011 on Seanjo's travel map.

Day 26

Leaving Lexington was a lot trickier that expected. Arriving at airport we had found out our flight was cancelled and the next available was the following day. This was due to big storms going thru The Windy City. So after Jo pointed out we were meeting friends in the Twin Cities they organised a flight with Delta. That was good news, the bad news was we had to wait just under 12 hours for the next flight. Under rules of checking bags in we needed to wait 6 hours. And let me tell you Lexington airport has no starbucks. So all we had was each other the newsagent, and thank goodness free wi-fi. It had nothing but we still spent just under $200. :-) Once bags were able to check in we ate some more food and cruised the net.

Finally 6.50pm came, in the air we were heading to the Twin Cities and to meet Angel & Johanna. The airport was tricky to meet the girls for pick up but standing in the middle of road worked well and off to New York Mills we went. On the way we stopped at Don Pablo for late dinner. Finally arrived at 1am. All exhausted. The bed never looked better. What a day!

Day 27

I think we had only slept for 5 hours before the sun shined thru the window and we were welcomed in the kitchen by Marlys & J.D. What a welcoming! For the next 6 hours I think i personally ate 5kg's of food. Catching up with some more family we heading out for ten pin bowling and a few cold ones. Angel kicked butt, i think she has been practicing. :-)

Later that night we playing a game called Phase 10. By the people who made Uno. It was great fun until 1am when the eye lids gave up.

Day 28

Pretty cruisy day. Ate more food, played b-ball, watched Angel sink more shots that Tony Parker and I just broke the Welcome sign. So much for the goose move. Later in the day we went to Andy's baptism. Come back played some more Phase 10, then headed to Tim & Kim's for BBQ and some outdoor games (including ladder golf and frisbee).

Day 29

After saying our farewell's it was back into the car for the 3.5 hour drive to Minneapolis. The trip went quickly after recapping our couple days in the thriving metropolis of New York Mills. We checked into the hotel (really nice) then headed to the Mall of America. This mall has it all - people come from all around the US to visit. It even has an amusement park including several roller-coaster rides in the middle of it. After buying our own copy of phase 10 and a few other things we were, ready to experience Mongolian BBQ (Angel and Johanna's choice) It was awesome. Back to the hotel, to re pack and the flight to Calgary via Chicago.

Posted by Seanjo 07:57 Archived in USA Tagged cities new york 10 twin mills phase Comments (0)

Kentucky

Lexington, Paris, Louisville - race horse heaven

overcast 25 °C
View North America 2011 on Seanjo's travel map.

Day 23

Arrived at Lexington, Blue Grass Airport and it made you feel very comfortable with the wonderful horse pictures and statues. Hired a car to have first driving experience in the USA. Got to Hotel, and checked into a nice King room - such a change from a little double bed in Miami, New York and LA. Settled in for the night so hubby could watch the last round of the US Open. Rory played wonderfully for all 4 rounds.
Sitting in the hotel looking at the maps of Lexington you soon realise this the horse breeding capital of USA. Knowing that, i got very excited of what we could see in the next couple of days.

Day 24

Had an awesome breakfast at the hotel, and set off for Claiborne farm. Claiborne Farm is just outside Paris, Kentucky. Small little town that didn't have too much happening on Monday morning. This was the farm where Secretariat was trained and spent his stallion career (and is now buried). Was great to get to tour this farm. We even got to pat the 2 race horses Pulpit & Blame, which was awesome (some even fed them peppermint candy - cos they love that) Quite a large tour group with lots of kids (but that happens). We then went to the Kentucky horse Park and saw the statues of Man O War, and Secretariat.
From there we headed to Ashford stud farm (part of Coolmore's stud farm), and saw Giant's causeway (the horse not the amazing part of ireland's landscape). The country side however does remind us a lot of ireland. Ashford stud was a brief tour and a lot more commerical enterprise. Took the easy option tonight microwave dinners and a good sleep.

Day 25

Drove to Louisville today, to see Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby). Was a very impressive race course, and Sean would visit every week if we lived here. He was in heaven. The history of the Kentucky Derby is amazing. We even spent 3 hours in the museum (which is a long time for me), but there was a lot to see and do. Had small feed here and Jack was a great waiter. Even gave us some tips on making Kentucky Burgoo. When the ingredients start with with 1 fat hen it has to make you laugh. Jack recommended we try the Derby Pie dessert. It was pecan pie with choc chips and raspberry sauce. (Making my mouth water right now!) It was so yummy, and Jack received & deserved a good tip after this service.
Then we stopped at White Castle, so Sean could say he (just like Harold and Kumar before him) had been to White Castle. Do need to say the burgers are small and not as good compared to maccas cheeseburger.
Also stopped at Keenland race course where the only race 2 months of the year but the biggest & best horse sales. The track a polytrack which was made from sand and shredded car tyres, very interesting.
We decided to explore the part of Lexington where we were staying, and shopped up a storm at Wal-Mart. What a great place. We then found a great pub/restaurant for dinner called Saul Good, to cap off our time in Kentucky. Great chance to test 4 beer's in 200ml glasses for 8 bucks. What a deal! Stephen was our waiter and he actually met a Aussie girl in Honolulu so you knows how Aussies talk :-). After great feed, we nibbled on junior mints and drank Pepsi Max at hotel.

Posted by Seanjo 11:42 Archived in USA Tagged downs churchill claiborne keenland ashford coolmore secretariat blame Comments (0)

Miami

South Beach, Everglades and Seaquarium

sunny 37 °C
View North America 2011 on Seanjo's travel map.

Day 19

By the time we got to Miami the day was almost over, so went for a walk to Lincoln Mall and found a nice restaurant for dinner. It's like hardware lane or Lygon St in Melbourne where people stand out the front trying to sell their menu to you. The thing you need to watch for is adding in tips and taxes.
We did find a really nice Italian restaurant and most places do a cocktail happy hour, which lasts for several hours. Food pretty good standard, and
The guy at the front desk of our hotel kindly booked us a trip to the everglades for the next day which should be good. Weather was hot & humid when we arrived so it really takes it out of you.

Day 20

Got on bus for Everglades tour, and are discovering that if you want a job in Miami you need to speak both Spanish and English. Along the way the bus driver (Mario) pointed out the island where Ricky Martin, and Shakira and almost every other latino stars have houses. Didn't take long to get to Everglades, and Mario got us our tickets for our airboat ride. Miami is going through quite a severe drought at the moment so the airboats cant take you far, but we got to see some gator's in the water and some baby ones on the river bank. Then we went for a walk around the park, and Jo got to hold a 1 metre long gator. We even tasted Gator, they have gator bites, which I would suggest taste more like pork than chicken. When we got back to the hotel the humidity got the best of us and we crashed out and watched the US Open golf on TV. By evening we got our energy back and headed back up to Lincoln Mall for dinner - and sampled another restaurant - again the food was good. Found Macy's department store and plenty of value here. Decided to book tour for Seaquarium for tomorrow.

Day 21

Same tour driver (Mario) picked us up for Seaquarium. After dropping off people for city and boat tours we were the only ones left on the bus going to Miami Seaquarium. We got to see all the dolphin/sealion/more dolphin and most impressive was the Killer Whale presentations. Well worth seeing!
If it was for all the school summer camps visiting we may have almost had that park to ourselves. We watched round 2 of US Open again seeing Rory tearing them up. Another hot & humid night.

Day 22

No real plans for today. Although Jo had a craving for a grilled calamari salad for lunch, so we set off in search for that, (without being harassed by a Maitre D trying to talk us into other cocktail happy hour). We found (of all places) a book store cafe which was brilliant, and would highly recommend it to anyone travelling to Miami - it's called Books and Books (and also in Lincoln Mall, South Beach). Jo also found Macy's again and found some more bargins. Washing and packing was on order for the night. Also found quality Japanese take away just down from hotel. Went down a treat. Prepare for Lexington Kentucky.

Posted by Seanjo 18:16 Archived in USA Tagged lincoln miami everglades seaquarium Comments (0)

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