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


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



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. 


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


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 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.

Monday, May 02, 2022


M/V Coho arrives in Victoria's Inner Habour 

With Washington State Ferries canceling its Anacortes to SidneyBC route this spring and summer due to crew shortages, it will be more challenging to get to Vancouver Island from my home state of Washington. Oh sure, you can drive north of the US/Canada border to Tsawwassen and take BC Ferries to Swartz Bay, north of Victoria. The Victoria Clipper V ferry makes the nearly three-hour trip between Seattle and downtown Victoria, and Kenmore Air has daily 45-minute float plane service between Seattle's Lake Union and Victoria. But for folks like me living on Whidbey Island, a better and less expensive option is taking the Black Ball Ferry Line from Port Angeles on Washington's Olympic Peninsula to Victoria, BC.

I've taken the Black Ball's MV Coho several times in the past few years; once with my vehicle and another time as a walk-on. I prefer the latter. The Coho was built in Seattle for $3 million in 1959, and at the time it was the most expensive and largest privately funded passenger and vehicle ferry built in North America. 

The 90-minute sailing across the Strait of Juan de Fuca provides wide-open views of the Olympics, with plenty of wildlife sightings, including eagles and whales. While onboard, enjoy the comfy interior lounges, solarium, pet-friendly zones, cafeteria, gift shop and duty free store. The ship docks in Victoria's Inner Harbour and if you walked on instead of taking your vehicle, many of the hotels, restaurants and attractions are within walking distance. For more information, visit Tourism Victoria's website. 
BC Parliament Buildings in Victoria's Inner Harbour 

Black Ball Ferry Line has a variety of hotel partners within walking distance from its Victoria terminal in the Inner Harbour. And when two adults travel with a hotel package, up to two children ages 11 and older may stay and sail for free. In addition to hotel packages, Black ball also offer various attractions such as Butchart Gardens, the Royal BC Museum, IMAX and a traditional afternoon tea. Here are two of the hotels that are offered, both of which I've enjoyed over the years. 
The Oswego Hotel
The Oswego Hotel is a boutique hotel located steps away from the Inner Harbour and downtown Victoria. The hotel features a modern design and luxury amenities. All suites have gourmet kitchens, while the elegant bathrooms include soaker tubs and separate showers. The onsite Bar500 serves authentic West Coast Italian cuisine. Room rate per person including ferry: From $126 USD.
Inn at Laurel Point
The Inn at Laurel Point is located in downtown Victoria on the edge of the Inner Harbour, within easy walking distance of the Parliament Buildings, Royal BC Museum, Beacon Hill Park and downtown shopping. The inn prides itself in being a haven for travelers wanting an authentic West Coast experience, offering opportunities to reconnect with nature. Their newly landscaped award winning gardens are now open. Room rate per person including ferry: From $142 US. 
The Butchart Gardens 

Black Ball Ferry Line also offers Day Trip Packages, for those not spending the night. One of the more popular ones is The Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of floral displays spanning a century. The package, from $108 USD per person, includes: 
  • Black Ball Ferry fare
  • Admission to The Butchart Gardens
  • Round-trip shuttle from downtown Victoria to The Butchart Gardens 
The MV Coho arrives in Port Angeles, Washington

Click on for schedule/reservations/packages

Port Angeles Terminal
101 E. Railroad Avenue

Victoria Terminal 
430 Belleville Street


Effective April 1, 2022, pre-arrival COVID testing is no longer required for fully vaccinated travelers entering Canada. 
Please Note: Filling out information on ArriveCAN is still required, and must be filled out within 72 hours of entering Canada and prior to arriving at the Port Angeles, WA terminal. Visit Black Ball's COVID-19 requirements for more information. 

Monday, April 11, 2022


Holland America's Koningsdam plies the waters of Vancouver's Burrard Inlet en route to the Port of Vancouver, its homeport for the summer Alaska season.

Holland America Line is the first cruise line to return to Canadian cruising following a 2+ year industrywide pause due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  

On Saturday, April 9, 2022 the Koningsdam was the first ship to return to Victoria in 905 days. And on the following Sunday, April 10, the Koningsdam arrived in Vancouver, the first ship back in port in more than two years. The day was filled with events that included a pier side celebratory ceremony and an onboard plaque exchange to commemorate Koningsdam's first-ever call at Vancouver. 

In 2022, six Holland America Line ships will call at Victoria and Vancouver for the Alaska cruise season. In total, the six ships will make 45 calls at Victoria and bring nearly 75,000 guests to the port. In Vancouver, 76 cruises will begin or end in the city, welcoming approximately 140,000 guests. 

For Canada and New England cruising on the East Coast, two ships return in May, cruising between Boston, Massachusetts and Quebec City or Montreal. The Nieuw Statendam and Zaandam offer itineraries ranging from 7-24 days to more than a dozen Canadian ports.

Koningsdam's Grand Dutch Cafe

'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...