Tuesday, September 27, 2022

AMTRAK RESUMES SERVICE TO VANCOUVER; CANADA WAIVES COVID-19 BORDER REQUIREMENTS


Beautiful views of British Columbia aboard Amtrak Cascades from Everett, WA to Vancouver, BC. 

The last time I visited Canada was in the summer of 2018. Which means it has been four years since I've visited our neighbor to the north. Oh, Canada, how I've missed you! 

But with Amtrak Cascades service resuming daily service September 26, it's full speed ahead for me to take the train from Everett to Vancouver, BC (I've already booked my ticket for a couple nights in November). Here's updated information about the resumption of train service between the two countries

Fun letters in Robson Square during my last visit to Vancouver BC.

In other upbeat news, Canada has removed all COVID-19 border requirements beginning October 1, 2022. That means you no longer need to show proof of vaccination or don a mask when boarding a train or plane.

View from the Wedgewood Hotel of the Vancouver Art Galley at the corner of Hornby and Robson. 


Planning Your Trip






©SueFrausePhotos

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Amtrak Cascades resumes service between Seattle and Vancouver BC


It's what many Vancouver BC bound travelers have been waiting for! With Amtrak Cascades service between Seattle and Vancouver suspended since 2020 due to the pandemic, I heaved a huge sigh of relief and gave a virtual fist pump when I discovered the trains will roll again between the two cities on September 26, 2022. 

The reason for the delay in resumption of service is that Amtrak was working in conjunction with WSDOT, ODOT, VIA Rail Canada and other federal agencies. Lots of chefs in the kitchen!

The first Amtrak Cascades train north to Vancouver will depart Seattle at 745AM on Monday, September 26 -- stopping at its usual five cities along the way (Edmonds-Everett-Stanwood-Mount Vernon-Bellingham) and arriving in Vancouver at 11:45AM. The southbound train will depart Vancouver at 5:45PM and arrive in Seattle at 10:10 PM. 

A single roundtrip is offered daily, with a second daily trip added in the future as Amtrak staffing and equipment allow. The popular Amtrak Cascades route also offers three daily round trips between Portland and Seattle, two daily round trips between Eugene and Portland, along with two daily buses between Seattle and Bellingham and four daily buses between Seattle and Vancouver BC. 

In addition to the standard entry documentation requirements, the Canadian and US Governments have several additional requirements for travel into Canada and the United States. Those not meeting the criteria will not be allowed to cross the border. 

TRAVEL INTO CANADA

All passengers must use the ArriveCAN app before travel and wear a mask in Canadian stations and on board trains while traveling through Canada. Non-Canadian citizens must be fully vaccinated and carry the vaccination record that was uploaded into ArriveCAN. See details on the Government of Canada and Via Rail websites.


TRAVEL INTO UNITED STATES

Non-US citizen passengers must be fully vaccinated with a U.S.FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine. Details on the US Department of Homeland Security website. 


TICKETS

Travelers may purchase tickets online at Amtrak.com and AmtrakCascades.com or by calling 800.USA.RAIL.

Monday, August 08, 2022

'World's Best Donut Tour' launches in Vancouver BC, its first location in Canada

 
Vancouver's Olympic Cauldron is located next to Canada Place and was built for the 2010 Winter Games. The cauldron is occasionally lit for special events. ©SueFrausePhoto

The Underground Donut Tour (aka 'World's Best Donut Tour') launches its first tour in Canada, specifically Vancouver, BC. The seven-year-old tour company currently runs in 11 cities in the US, UK and Ireland. 

"Vancouver has always been on our list of cities we wanted to open and when we saw the incredible selection and styles of donuts available, everything just clicked," said Jeff Woelker, founder of the Underground Donut Tour. 

But not to worry, the tour is not underground! As the company explained, underground is meant to be 'secretive' or 'in the know'. So now you know.

The walking tour includes four of the best donut shops in Vancouver. A tour guide shares the history of each location, along with local sights, sounds and tastes of the area. 
The Underground Donut Tour takes place primarily in historic downtown neighborhoods, Coal Harbour, Gastown and the West End. Local architecture is highlighted, including the 83-year-old Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Canada Place and the adjoining Olympic Cauldron, and the donut shops along the way. 

"We're so excited to launch this tour and show off Vancouver's natural beauty, architecture, history, and of course the donuts," said Ainslee Dalzell, manager of Underground Donut Tour Vancouver.

The Vancouver tours begin August 12 and run every Friday-Saturday-Sunday at 9AM and 12PM, year-round. The company expects  additional days and times will be added soon. 

Tickets are $40CDN for adults and $25CND for ages 10 and under. Tickets may be booked for Vancouver at Underground Donut Tour beginning August 8, 2022.  



Monday, May 30, 2022

FLEURS DE VILLES' FLORAL TRIBUTE TO WOMEN DEBUTS IN VANCOUVER

Frida Kahlo - Chicago 

Fleurs de Villes returns to Vancouver this spring with a floral trail of 30+ installations, each created by a local florist. This year's Fleurs de Villes FEMMES, June 3-12, is a "celebration of remarkable women." At the center of this annual floral trail are 15 mannequins, each depicting a significant woman. The free event is open to the public.

Be it Lilith Fair founder Sarah McLachlan, immigrant advocate Adrienne Clarkson or trailblazing artist Emily Carr -- audiences will be able to learn more about these women through colorful floral displays. Images and QR codes on the sculptures link to profiles of each woman, highlighting their cultural and historical significance. 

Twenty-five local florists will be represented and visitors may obtain floral trail maps at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver concierge desk, the Fleurs de Villes website or scan a QR code at each stop to follow the trail. 
Queen Elizabeth I - London

Along the Fleurs de Villes floral trail, Vancouver restaurants will feature special menus and pop-up patios for trail-walkers:
  • 1931 Gallery Bistro at Vancouver Art Gallery: Floral Cocktails
  • Holts Cafe Vancouver at Holt Renfrew:  Afternoon Tea
  • P2B Bistro & Bar at Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront: Floral Lunch Spot
  • Nightingale: Floral Cocktails and Blossom Pizza
  • Showcase Restaurant & Bar at Vancouver Marriott: Six Femmes Cocktails
  • Fairmont Hotel Vancouver: Veuve Clicquot Champagne (celebrating 250th anniversary)
Michelle Obama - Chicago 


Featured Florists for Fleurs de Villes FEMMES in Vancouver 
June 3-12, 2022

Adele Rae Florist, AJR Designs, A Passion for Flowers Design Studio Ltd, Arizel Studio, Avelyn Florist, De La Flore, Elope with Us, Flower Factory, Garden Party Flowers, Gilligan Girls, Greenscape Design & Decor, J Events, La Fraise Rose, Manites Flower Shop, Rex & Moss, ROA Floral and Event Designs, Sophie's Flower Pedals, Vanousha Flora, Vivio Flowers, Brenna Quan and Fleurs de Villes very own Fleuriste de Maison, June Jung. 
Jane Austen - Miami 

The global FEMMES tour will visit 11 cities in four countries in 2022. Fleurs de Villes is a Vancouver-based luxury brand founded in 2015, specializing in bespoke fresh-floral experiences and activations. 






Wednesday, May 25, 2022

FLIX BUS: NEW SERVICE DEBUTS THIS SPRING BETWEEN SEATTLE & VANCOUVER BC

 

There's a new bus service between Vancouver BC and Seattle that makes its debut this month. With Amtrak Cascades announcing it will not resume train service between the two cities until the end of 2022, this is welcome news for travelers who would rather take the bus and leave the driving to them. Count me in! 

FlixBus is scheduled to provide cross border service between Seattle and Vancouver beginning Thursday, May 26. One-way tickets are $17.99. The trip also includes stops in Everett and Bellingham. 

That's good news for me, since Everett is my closest departure point, and the fare from Everett to Vancouver is $15.99. There's also a $2.25 service fee. For add-ons, is you can select your seat for an additional $1.49 and travel neighbor free for an added $4. Complimentary onboard amenities include extra leg room, free Wi-Fi and power outlets.

The cross-border bus service runs five days a week in both directions, Thursday thru Monday. The Seattle bus departs for Vancouver at 7:30 AM from the International District, arriving in Vancouver at the Richards Street-Waterfront Station at 11:40AM . The bright green bus departs Everett at 8:20 AM and 9:30AM from Bellingham. Return trips to Seattle depart Vancouver twice daily at 12:45PM and 3PM. 

ENTERING CANADA

You must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information before and after your entry into Canada. The mobile app is free to use. Details and download apps available online. And of course bring proof of identity (US passport, passport card or NEXUS card). 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

VANCOUVER ISLAND'S MUSIC BY THE SEA FESTIVAL RETURNS THIS SUMMER TO VICTORIA AND BAMFIELD

Music by the Sea Festival in Bamfield

Vancouver Island's annual Music by the Sea Festival returns for the first time since 2019, and will be held in two locations on BC's West Coast: 

July 23-30 ~ Bamfield
Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries

August 1-5 ~ Victoria
Victoria International Marina

The festival features 14 concerts spanning musical genres from classical and chamber to contemporary and jazz. Music by the Sea made its debut in 2006 in Bamfield, and has hosted professional musicians from around the world. The remote location has welcomed adventurous music lovers for 16 years, but festival organizers envisioned adding Victoria to the mix in order to attract a wider audience. 

This year will be the debut of a series of five indoor concerts at Victoria International Marina on the Inner Harbour -- featuring the same company of artists performing in Bamfield.  Sixteen artists will work together to create this year's unique program, remaining in residence during the duration of the festival. They hail from British Columbia (Victoria, Vancouver, Bowen Island, Nelson); Banff; Toronto; New York; The Netherlands and Barcelona. 

Individual tickets and festival passes are available for purchase online or by phone at 250.728.3887. 



Victoria International Marina in Victoria's Inner Harbour


Friday, May 13, 2022

AMTRAK CASCADES: NO TRAIN SERVICE TO VANCOUVER BC UNTIL LATE 2022

Amtrak Cascades arrives in Bellingham en route to Vancouver BC. ©SueFrausePhoto
 

Like many fans of the city of Vancouver, BC I've been anxiously awaiting the resumption of Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver. Sad to report that Amtrak has announced there will be no train service to Canada until late 2022. Boo hoo!

Amtrak informed the states of Washington and Oregon that their popular Amtrak Cascades service north of Seattle will not resume until late 2022 due to Amtrak staffing shortages. 

WSDOT and ODOT express extreme dissatisfaction with the plan and urged Amtrak to at least begin offering service a few days a week on an interim basis until full service can resume in December 2022. Amtrak responded it is committed to an earlier started day if employee resources allow.

Several staff positions need to be filled; They include conductors, on-board service staff and mechanics. Progress is being made in recruiting new staff; but once hired, they must undergo extensive training programs prior to starting their positions.

The route serves Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Stanwood, Mount Vernon, Bellingham and Vancouver BC. It has been suspended since May 2020 when the Canadian border closed  to non-essential travel. Daily bus service between Seattle and Vancouver BC and Seattle and Bellingham will continue to be offered through the Amtrak ticketing system.

Email updates for Amtrak Cascades service are available by free subscription.


AMTRAK RESUMES SERVICE TO VANCOUVER; CANADA WAIVES COVID-19 BORDER REQUIREMENTS

Beautiful views of British Columbia aboard Amtrak Cascades from Everett, WA to Vancouver, BC.  The last time I visited Canada was in the sum...