Monday, April 21, 2014

Victoria's Hotel Grand Pacific Offers 'Man Tea' in Cupcake-Free Zone

Traditional tea service won't be part of the 'Man Tea' in Victoria.
Photo by Sue Frause.

Here's a fun, fresh idea. Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, BC is offering a Man Tea in The Pacific Restaurant. Putting a manly spin on Father's Day, you won't find any cupcakes, quiche or pinky-pointing cups of Earl Grey tea. 

The afternoon tea service includes such manly bites as house made pork pies, hanger steak sandwiches, mini venison burgers and tourtieres (French Canadian meat pies). And instead of a cup of tea, enjoy a classic Lagavulin whiskey cocktail or a tea-infused cocktail. I want what they're having!

Tea room activities include conversation, reading newspapers and men's magazines, or playing chess or backgammon. There's also table shuffleboard in the lounge or head outside to the patio putting green.

The Man Tea will be offered at The Pacific Restaurant June 13-22 inclusive, from 2-4:30 PM. Price is $42 per person, plus tax + gratuity. Book online or call the restaurant at 250.380.4458.
Hotel Grand Pacific looms high above Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Photo by Sue Frause.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Notre-Dame de Québec's 350th Jubilee Celebrated with Only Holy Door Outside Europe

Photo by Sue Frause

When I first visited Quebec City during Carnaval de Quebec in 2002, I made a point to visit Notre-Dame de Quebec. The Sunday mass was in French, as was the singing by the children's choir -- it was magical. A dozen years later, the cathedral is celebrating its 350th anniversary. Notre-Dame de Quebec is the first cathedral built in North America, and the first Catholic parish established in the Americas north of the Spanish colonies. 

Photo by Sue Frause

In addition to the many activities marking the 350th Jubilee, Notre-Dame de Quebec has also been honored by having the only Holy Door in the Americas and the first one outside Europe. It opened December 8, 2013 and will remain there until December 28, 2014. Even though I was raised Catholic, I'd never heard of or seen a Holy Door. Simply put, it's a symbol of oneness with the universal church. It's also a symbol of convocation, an invitation to persons of good will to enter, no matter what their religious domination. 

Photo by Sue Frause

To visit the Holy Door, begin in the Garden of the Jubilee to the left of the Cathedral-Basillica. From there, follow the walkway leading to the Holy Door, and go through it. You'll now be in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, which houses relics of "forebears, the saints and blesseds of Canada who blazed a path of faith for us to follow." When leaving the chapel, a guide will stamp your pilgrim's credential with the seal of Notre-Dame de Quebec. 

Vue panoramique du Vieux-Québec | Panoramic view of Old Québec
 Luc-Antoine Couturier

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Washington State Ferries: Anacortes-Sidney ferry returns with spring sailing schedule

Washington State Ferries in Sidney, BC with Mt. Baker in the background. Photo by Sue Frause.
Yet another sign of spring, along with Daylight Savings Time and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, is when Washington State Ferries switches to its spring sailing schedule. During the winter, there's no ferry service between Anacortes, WA and Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island. 

On Sunday, April 6, WSF's spring schedule goes into effect and the international sailings between the US and Canada will include one round-trip sailing per day (the summer schedule begins June 15 and includes two round-trip sailings per day).

In addition to the return of the Anacortes-Sidney route, additional changes go into effect on April 6 with WSF's spring schedule :
  • Weekend inter-island service in the San Juan Islands
  • Three boats serving the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Four mid-afternoon sailings on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route will leave 15 minutes earlier to better match the schedule of the second ferry. It will join the route on Mother's Day, May 11.
  • The last sailing departing Coupeville leaves 5 minutes earlier, at 9:10 PM
  • New this year are round-trip tickets available between the San Juan Islands and Sidney, BC
Passengers boarding Washington State Ferries M/V Chelan in Sidney, BC. Photo by Sue Frause.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Are Local: Free Guide to the Best Indie Spots in Victoria and Vancouver

The Little Cheese Shop on Fort Street. Photo by Sue Frause.
I picked up a cool, free guide during my last visit to Victoria. We Are Local's Victoria & Vancouver: Your Free Guide to the Best Indie Spots is a handy little pocket guide that lists indie business that specialize in fashion, home decor, gifts, recreation, culture, food and drink. 

The booklet is part of We Are Local (Locally Yours Since 2004), and contains a wealth of must-stops in both BC cities. First on my list was The Regional Assembly of Text, which I wrote about in my EatPlaySleep blog. Nearby on Fort Street are three good foodie stops: Choux Choux Charcuterie, specializing in house made sausages and pates; Chorizo & Co., a Spanish delicatessen; and The Little Cheese Shop, offering both local and global cheeses. 
A slice at Pizzeria Prima Strada in Cook Street Village. Photo by Sue Frause.
In Cook Street Village, a pleasant walk from Victoria's Inner Harbour, the Rainbird Boutique is all about rain gear; Big Wheel Burger serves "real" fast food; and Pizzeria Prima Strada makes yummy Neapolitan wood-fired pizza. Follow We Are Local on Twitter @wearelocalguide. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

TED 2014: Vancouver hosts 30th edition featuring Bill & Melinda Gates, Chris Hadfield, Sting

Orbis World Globe at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Photo by Sue Frause.

TED, the global non-profit devoted to "ideas worth spreading," is moving its annual conference from Long Beach, California to Vancouver, British Columbia for its 30th anniversary. That's really big news for Vancouver, which will welcome speakers and attendees from around the world March 17-21, 2014. This is a new chapter for TED (which stands for technology, entertainment and design), and a real coup for Vancouver. It beat out 30 other North American cities to host TED, which will draw more than 1,200 of the world's thought-leaders for four days of talks, seminars and events. TED will be held at the waterfront Vancouver Convention Centre, built in 2010 for the Olympic Winter Games, while TEDActive (the live simulcast) will take place concurrently in Whistler. 

Looking across Burrard Inlet from the Vancouver Convention Centre to the North Shore Mountains.
Photo by Sue Frause.
Here's an explanation from TED Curator Chris Anderson on why TED relocated to Vancouver: "It is truly one of the world's great cities, not just because of its beauty, but because it is walkable and forward thinking, bursting with innovation. And there is this commitment to really try and figure out sustainability."
The Olympic Cauldron at Jack Poole Plaza adjacent to the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Photo by Sue Frause.

Among the 70 featured speakers at the sold-out event are philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, novelist Isabel Allende, gun law activitists Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, musician Imogen Heap, street artist JR, athlete and actor Aimee Mullins, conversationalist Charlie Rose, architect Moshe Safdie, writer Andrew Solomon, and musician and activist Sting. The 18-minute talks and presentations will range from technology, entertainment, design and education to climate change, architecture, music, physics, parenting, typography and fireflies.

A view of Coal Harbour from Jack Poole Plaza. Photo by Sue Frause.

So where will the "TED-sters" hang out? According to Tourism Vancouver, here's their best guess for where speakers and attendees might be seen around the city:
  • Eat ~ Top restaurants such as Hawksworth, Miku, Blue Water Cafe, Market by Jean Georges and Tojo's.
  • Drink ~ Hip Gastown cocktail and wine bars such as Pourhouse, The Diamond and Salt Tasting Room. 
  • Shop ~ Holt Renfrew, Secret Location, Alberni Street (Chanel-Tiffany-Louis Vuitton-Tory Burch-Burberry), Gastown (indy boutiques-designers).
  • Sleep ~ Fairmont Pacific Rim, Fairmont Waterfront and Pan Pacific are all across from the Vancouver Convention Centre. TED's website says their other partner hotels include the Marriott Pinnacle and Le Soleil.

The theme of TED 2014 is The Next Chapter. TED 2015,Truth & Dare, will also be held in Vancouver. Dates are March 16-20, and the price to attend is $8,500.