Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vancouver magazine's Restaurant Awards leaves out fish 'n chips

Two-piece cod fish 'n chips from Red Fish, Blue Fish
Photo by Sue Frause

Vancouver magazine's annual Restaurant Awards were recently announced, but alas, no category for fish 'n chips. One of my favorite dining adventures is seeking out the best fish 'n chips in a city or region. 

I've discover some memorable ones during my frequent travels to British Columbia. Here are some of my favorites. Oh, and don't forget to click on and see who won in the four dozen categories. They did have a Best Seafood category, which was won by Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown.

Sue's Favorite Fish 'N Chips Spots in BC

Monday, April 27, 2009

Canada confirms six cases of swine flu

Federal health officials have confirmed six cases of human swine influenza in British Columbia and Nova Scotia and are warning more cases are likely in the near future as medical personnel around the world test for the virus linked to a serious outbreak in Mexico.
Read the rest of the cbcnews.ca story here.

A Trojan condom promotion in Mexico City, April 2008
Photo by Sue Frause

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Springtime at The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay near Victoria on Vancouver Island is 104 years old this year. She's lookin' good; and not an ounce of Botox!
Photos by Sue Frause

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More crazy questions about O Canada!

Sunset at April Point Resort & Spa in British Columbia. Sue Frause photo.

I don't know where these email forwards originate from, but a native of Montreal who now lives in the Pacific Northwest sent me this one. Apparently it's from an international tourism website.

That in itself sounds a bit phony, but supposedly the questions are real ... and of course the answers are a joke. Thanks to all the Canadians who have such a good sense of humor about all this silliness.
Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? EnglandA: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.
Q: Will I be able to see polar bears in the street? USAA: Depends on how much you've been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto. Can I follow the railroad tracks? Sweden
Sure, it's only 4,000 miles, take lots of water.
Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada ? SwedenA: So it's true what they say about Swedes.
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? USA
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your north...oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is north in Canada? USAA: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.
Can I bring cutlery into Canada? EnglandA: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys Choir schedule? USAA: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? GermanyA: No, WE don't stink.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? USAA: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? Italy
Yes, gay nightclubs.
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? USAA: Only at Thanksgiving.
Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? GermanyA: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada , but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. USA
A: It's called a moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? USAA: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Window on Canada: Echo Valley Ranch-Spa

Echo Valley Ranch and Spa
is located southwest of 100 Mile House in British Columbia. It's a dude ranch, spa and great place for group getaways. Sue Frause photo.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Canadian Tulip Festival blooms brightly in Ottawa each year

Tulips in Vancouver's West End near Stanley Park. Photo by Sue Frause.

The largest tulip festival in the world is not in Holland, but in Canada. Ottawa is hosting the Canadian Tulip Festival for 18 days, from May 1-18, 2009. More than 1,000 volunteers produce the colorful show that has expanded its venues and activities. The Tulip Route includes the traditional sites at Major's Hill Park, Commissioner's Park and Dows Lake, but activities will also be held at Festival Plaza outside City Hall and Lansdowne Park by Queen Elizabeth Drive.
Celebridee, the festival's celebration of ideas, will be staged in the Belgian Mirror Tent located at Festival Plaza in front of City Hall. Musical acts include Ian Tyson, Kleztory, Lynn Miles, Meredith Luce, Kellylee Evans and Fred Penner. The Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe will give 23 performances in the Mirror Tent, presenting the best in Chinese acrobatic and circus performances. Also in the Mirror Tent is Seven Fingers, an ensemble of Quebec's top circus performers in their production of La Vie.

The International Pavilion expands this year at Lansdowne Park with 25 embassies and local cultural groups. A new event, the Circus School and Vintage Carnival, will give people the opportunity learn circus skills such as juggling, stilt walking, trapeze techniques and trampoline skills. There are also free live performances, vintage rides on a 1917 Ferris wheel and such speakers as Rick Mercer, Margaret Atwood and Lawrence Greenspon.

Oh, and there will be tulips, too!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

MV Coho: Black Ball Ferry Line turns 50

One of the many ways to get to Vancouver Island is via the Black Ball Ferry Line between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, BC. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the ferry line, based in Washington state's scenic Olympic Peninsula.

A new perk aboard the MV Coho during the 90-minute sailing is duty free shopping. Coho Duty Free features savings of up to 50% off regular taxed prices on such items as liquor, fragrances and tobacco products. Located in the mid-ship lounge of the main passenger deck, the shop is open seven days a week. The MV Coho operates year round, providing an international link between the US and Canada.

To celebrate its golden anniversary, Black Ball Ferry is giving away a free weekend vacation for two every month during 2009. Enter to win at the ferry's recently redesigned website (the link is above), which now includes trip planning, special packages and online reservations.

More than 405,000 passengers and 120,000 vehicles make the Port Angeles-Victoria run every year. Since operations commenced in 1959, the Coho has transported more than 21 million passengers and five million vehicles.

The M.V. Coho in Victoria Harbour
Photo by Sue Frause

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Good travel deals 'cross Canada

Coal Harbour, Vancouver BC

I'm not familiar with
Doctor's Review, but started following it on Twitter after they started following me (I'm @suefrause). The publication is based in Montreal and is one of Canada's leading physician journals. The content is all written by doctors. Check out their Deals of the Week that include:
WestJet offers its lowest prices
Sunwing 7-day all inclusive trips discounted
Long weekend deals across Canada
Hyatt knocks 10% off its hotel price
Take a date to the movies for $2
A view from The Westin Bayshore Vancouver
Photo by Sue Frause

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jogger murdered in Vancouver's Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Photo by Sue Frause.

The two things that grabbed me while reading the news story in The Vancouver Sun about the murder of Vancouverite Wendy Ladner Beaudry were that she was the mother of two girls (I have a son) and that she was jogging alone in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Three years ago, I got to know the park quite well while doing a travel feature for The (Everett) Daily Herald, Park with Spirit. I'm not a jogger, but I did walk a trail down to the beach by myself:
"The trail heads are easy to spot along Chancellor Boulevard, and I took Pioneer Trail that eventually hooked up with Spanish Trail. Fortunately, the weather was much more outdoors-friendly than the day before, when a downpour forced me inside for most of the day. The 20-minute walk along a steep ravine took me through cedar, hemlock and stands of Douglas fir mixed in with the brilliant leaves of red alder and maple trees. A lone jogger passed me, as did a couple walking hand in hand. As I walked deeper into the forest, I had to remind myself that I was in a city of more than half a million people."
I went on the walk after breakfast, and I did have a few eerie moments while making my way down the hill. And now with this sad and tragic news, I will be much more careful about hiking on my own. It's a reminder that as much as we'd like the world to stay away, at times it rears its ugly head.

My heart goes out to Wendy's huband, children, family and friends.

Photo of Pacific Spirit Regional Park by Sue Frause

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nova Scotia the new Napa?


It looks like Nova Scotia may be giving BC's Okanagan Valley a run for its loonies as its winning wine ways continues to escalate. As one of the four provinces of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia is on tap to be home to 13 wineries in its five wine-growing regions by 2010: Annapolis Valley, Bear River Valley, LaHave River Valley, Malagash Peninsula and Marble Mountain in Cape Breton.

There are currently 11 wineries in Nova Scotia: L’Acadie Vineyards, Bear River Vineyards, Benjamin Bridge, Blomidon Estate Winery, Domaine de Grand Pré, Gaspereau Vineyards, Sainte-Famille Wines, Petite Riviere Vineyards, Jost Vineyards and Lunenburg County and Williamsdale Winery. The last two are producing fruit wines only

In spring '07, L’Acadie Vineyards (named after Nova Scotia’s signature white grape), opened as the province’s first organic winery. Scheduled to open May 1, 2009 the Muir Murray Estate Winery will offer wine tastings, wine making and grape-growing seminars. While the Benjamin Bridge Winery isn’t open for visitors yet, it's already producing wines (its Nova 7 sold out in a month). And with its near perfect growing conditions for sparking wines, it will debuts the first vintage of its Methode Classique in 2011. When the winery officially opens next year, it will be the second winery in Nova Scotia to have an on-site restaurant.

As one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America, Nova Scotia's long tradition of growing grapes goes back to the 1600's. Hybrids such as Seyval Blanc and New York Muscat and red hybrids like Marechal Foch and Baco Noir are attracting notice from experts and oenophiles, with local winemakers taking home 19 medals at the 2008 All Canadian Wine Championship.

In the Annapolis Valley, located an hour from Halifax, visitors can tour four wineries and sample wines: L’Acadie, Gaspereau and Muir Murray Estate and Domaine de Grand Pré (the latter serves lunch).

The Nova Scotia Fall Wine Festival is Sept. 7-Oct. 30 and offers more than 35 tastings, grape stomps, gourmet dinners, cooking classes and food pairing events. The festival website also has links to the wineries.

Grapes growing at Quails Gate in BC's Okanagan Valley
Photo by Sue Frause

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Vancouver Island: BC Ferries saves ferry to Sidney

Mt. Baker
Mount Baker aboard Washington State Ferries from Sidney to Anacortes
Photo by Sue Frause

No, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke. Thanks to the BC Ferries who have agreed to waive the $100,000 annual fee charged to the Washington State Ferries, the international sailing of the Sidney, BC ferry to Anacortes, WA will continue this season. And hopefully, through 2011.

Read more about it in my Seattle P-I blog.