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Last week my friend Samantha and I went on our first helicopter tour. The ride took us around Burrard Inlet, all the way along the coast of the North shore, before turning around and going all the way to UBC, and Jericho Beach., before flying over False Creek, circling the downtown core.
The experience was unbelievable, and the views of the city and the mountains on a clear summer day were outstanding! Here are some photos I took during the helicopter ride!
Helijet tours start at CDN$99 per person for the 10-minute tour, based on how many people are in your group. Standard for a couple is CDN$300 for both.
The Pacific National Exhibition fair is back in Vancouver at its usual home, in the grounds of Playland in East Vancouver.
The fair experienced some cut backs this year (the one I was most sad about wad the Pyrotechnic Spectacular nightly show, which was worth the entry price alone!). With these cutbacks, the fair is able to provide goers a 20% discount over last year’s prices, so you can now visit the fair for only CDN$16 (CDN$14 if you pre-buy online!).
The usual attractions are still intact, including the popular Superdogs, the hilarious pig races, as well as the breath-taking Peking Acrobats. The summer night concerts have a number of popular singers gracing the stage at night, and tribute bands also play at night.
You can also walk around the agricultural stages and take a look at the horses, cows, pigs and sheep (yes, that sort of stuff is interesting to city folk like myself!).
New this year is the Sportacular musical / sports show, which was very cool (especially the motorcycle tricks!), and the short but sweet 80′s Forever dance show. These shows combined don’t add up to the canceled Pyrotechnic Spectacular, but they are a great time.
The rotating exhibit this year is about Mongolia’s historic leader Genghis Khan; admission to the exhibit is CDN$3 per person. I found the exhibit to be quite interesting, showcasing a collection of artifacts and weapons that are centuries old.
If you want to go on the rides be prepared to spend extra as the rides are not included in this ticket (you can either pay for a few rides or get an all-in pass). Also, be prepared to spend quite a bit on food, as the usual suspects (wiggle chips, mini donuts, sno-cones, kettle corn, and cotton candy) can get a little pricey. Tip: Make sure to bring a water bottle to refill along the day, as even water costs CDN$4 at the park!
Check out the official website of the PNE to see what shows are playing when, so you can plan your trip to the PNE. Also, note that the park will be closed using both Mondays of the run of the PNE, to aid in the cost cutting.
The Sea to Sky Highway, which connects Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is one of the most scenic highways I’ve ever traveled.
The ride takes just over one hour since it was renovated for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but there are plenty of view points that will allow drivers to stop and really take in all the scenery in.
A couple of the stops look out into the ocean and the gulf Islands, but my favourite stops include Shannon Falls, near the town of Squamish, and Brandywine Falls, which my friend Ryan and I only just discovered on our latest drive up!
Vancouver’s iconic urban Stanley Park turns 125 years. An oasis of calm bordering the downtown of the city, Stanley Park is bigger in area than New York City’s famous Central Park, and is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, with over eight million visitors per year!
Stanley Park is surrounded by a large portion of Vancouver’s famous Seawall. The park is also home to other popular attractions in Vancouver, including the Vancouver Aquarium; the summer outdoor theatre series Theatre Under the Stars; horse-drawn carriage tours, the Stanley Park Train (which hosts the Christmas Bright Nights and the Halloween Ghost Train), and the summer outdoor movie series Fresh Air Cinema.
The park also boasts three beaches and a public swimming pool, as well as plenty of gardens, open spaces, picnic spots, and trails.
Last weekend, Vancouver dressed up in rainbows to celebrate LGBT Pride once again. Vancouver’s Pride celebrated their 35th anniversary in the city, and this was by far the most incredible Pride I’ve ever been to. From the events leading up to the parade (my favourite being Picnic in the Park, the weekend prior), to the amazing 2013 parade, Vancouver Pride did not disappoint.
Here are some photos of the Pride parade itself, the Pride Marketplace and beer garden party at the end of the parade, as well as random displays of pride around Vancouver’s West End.
The 5th of August 2013 is British Columbia Day, a celebration of the province I live in. It really is simply an excuse to have a holiday (there are no special celebrations for the day). However, how about I share some photographs I’ve taken of the beautiful scenery from around my province?!
We’ve had beautiful sunsets all week long in Vancouver. One of my favourite sunset-watching spots is at English Bay, in downtown’s West End.
Yesterday I couldn’t resist the beauty of it, and ended up jumping in the water with my friend Steve. First time I swim in English Bay in YEARS… and it was amazing!
Spring is one of my favourite parts of the year, whether I am home or away. This year, Vancouver treated us to a dry, sunny and warm Spring that was very unseasonal (it has now started raining and gotten chillier, after two weeks of blissful weather).
During my breaks at work, I sometimes like going around for a walk around downtown Vancouver’s West End, and was able to get some beautiful shots of the area with cherry blossoms in full bloom!
Kitsilano, a neighbourhood located across False Creek south of Vancouver’s downtown core, is home to Vanier Park.
I only discovered Vanier Park in 2012, after returning from Australia (despite having lived in Vancouver for 14 years now!). I always saw the park across the harbour from Sunset Beach in downtown, but never actually made the track over.
As I took biking as a hobby last summer, I visited Vanier a few times over the summer, and got to really fall in love with it. While there isn’t a beach in Vainer Park, the park has a huge grass area perfect for playing sports, having picnics, or simply hanging out. The park also has amazing views of downtown Vancouver, and is home to some pretty cool museums, such as the Vancouver Space Centre, the Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Vancouver.
The park can easily be reached from downtown via a ferry from Yaletown right into the park, or by walking / biking along the False Creek seawall!
Below are some pictures I took during some of my adventures over to Vanier, so you can see why this park kind of stole my heart.
One of Vancouver’s top outdoor attractions is its famous Seawall. The best part of this attraction is that it is free and highly entertaining!
What started as a 7km walking / biking path around the perimeter of Stanley Park, has now extended to surround most of Downtown Vancouver, and extends from Canada Place, around the world-famous Stanley park, and all the way to the Southern neighbourhood of Kitsilano.
The 22km Seawall offers beautiful views of the waterfront and many different parts of the city, from the Central Business Area to fancy neighbourhoods, Vancouver’s chilled-out West End, parks and beaches. The scenery is so varied and beautiful, and can be enjoyed on walks, jogs, roller blades or bikes.
Christmas is almost here, and the 12 days of Christmas activities list in Vancouver, Canada, have almost come to an end. Today’s treat, is a Christmas classic not exclusive to Vancouver – one of the season’s most famous ballets; one who most people surely have heard of at some point in their lives.
Day #11: Goh Ballet Academy’s ‘The Nutcracker’
On Friday the 21st of December 2012 I went to see the Goh Ballet Academy’s production of the classic Christmas tale: ‘The Nutcracker.’ This was the first time I saw ‘The Nutcracker‘ and the first time I ever went to the ballet – I really enjoyed the experience!
The story is reminiscent of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ but set in a Christmas world. The ballet, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was performed for the first time 120 years ago just this past week. This classical ballet continues to have multiple yearly productions all over the world; the ballet today continue to captivate the minds and hearts of the audience. And it’s easy to see why: because it’s truly magical.
‘The Nutcracker‘ is a beautiful story about a girl, Clara, who is given a wooden nutcracker as a Christmas gift during a Christmas party. As Clara falls asleep, she goes into an adventure along with the nutcracker, who soon becomes a handsome prince.
When Clara falls asleep, the set around her grows bigger, giving the illusion that she has shrunk. Shortly, a band of rats (and impossibly adorable little kids, dressed as mice), led by the rat king, attack the girl. The nutcracker comes to the rescue, along with his army of toy soldiers, and after a battle, the king rat is defeated.
The nutcracker (who has now turned into a handsome prince) and Clara go on to an enchanted winter wonderland, where they are greeted by a the snow king and queen, along with dancing snowflakes. Then, they take a sleigh over to a beautiful place (the Kingdom of Sweets) where they are entertained by a number of performers from all corners of the world: Spain, Arabia, China, and Russia. There is also a sequence of dancing flowers, before the Sugarplum Fairy takes to the stage, dancing various numbers along with a prince.
At the end of this beautiful string of ballets, Clara, with the wooden nutcracker in her arms, is woken up by her mother. The ballet ends leaving the viewer with the question of whether the entire thing was a dream, or if the girl was actually transported to the beautiful wonderland.
Goh Ballet Academy’s Take on the Ballet
Let’s begin with the sets. The sets were amazing. The detail on every component of each set was impeccable, and it was sometimes hard not to pay as much attention to the set itself as to the performers. There were a few set changes: the outside of a mansion, then the inside of it, followed by a winter wonderland in Act I. Act II begins with a Heaven-like set, complete with clouds, before moving to the Kingdom of Sweets, a beautiful city-like set, which appears to be carved of wood.
Costume-wise, the costumes are fantastic. Everything from the beautiful glittering tutus of the fairies and snowflakes, to the outfits of the citizens and the soldiers, to the stereotypical clothes of the world performers, to the rat disguises, were captivating. There was so much detail and care put into the costumes that they enthralled the viewers, make everyone feel connected to Clara’s adventure.
As for the ballet itself, it is outstanding. The principal dancers in this production are members of the New York City Ballet and are expectedly talented. What was surprising (simply because of the hype given to the guest stars), is our local talent. Vancouver’s own Goh Ballet Academy has some admirable dancers. Everyone, from the older, more experienced dancers, to the little children dressed as mice, were a joy to watch. The synchronicity of the performers in some of the numbers, when there were a dozen of them dancing along, was admiringly perfect.
Kudos as well to the Vancouver Opera Orchestra for providing their talent to bring to life the magic of The Nutcracker with Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music. Another talented bunch, hidden under the stage, out of sight, but a crucial part of the story telling!
Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker only played from the 19th to the 23rd of December 2012, at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. However, if you get the chance to see the ballet in your city or in a future year (I know we get a production of it in Vancouver every year – this year we got two different ones!), I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!