A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7, July 1, Canada Day

Back to Vancouver

sunny 86 °F

Today is our last day in Whistler...a gorgeous day...86 degrees. It is also Canada Day, Canada's Fourth of July. We started the day with the fabulous breakfast buffet at The Fairmont and then set off on the terrifying (for me) Peak to Peak gondola ride. This ride takes you up to the top of Mount Whistler, you then take another tram to the top of Blackcomb and then back down. Whistler sits at 7100 feet, Blackcomb nearly 8000. The views from the top of Whistler are breathtaking, particularly on a bright, sunny day like this where you can seemingly see forever. The ride up was enough for me. Margaret wanted to do the trek to Blackcomb and I wanted to get back down to the village to watch the US v. Belgium soccer match. So we parted ways and I hopped a gondola back down the mountain and managed to have a gondola mate who was a woman from Texas and she pretty much told me her life story during the 30 minute ride. I managed to find an Irish pub that had the game on in Hi Def and there was a wildly divided crowd, mostly rooting for Belgium which pulled out a squeaker in extra time, after Chris Wondolowski, our local Danville boy, missed a golden opportunity to win the game for the USA with 20 seconds left in regulation. After the game, we got into the car and set out for Vancouver. Our GyPSy Guide worked to perfection on the drive back and the scenery was just as stunning as the reverse trip we had made a few days earlier. Only problem was that the GyPSy Guide plays on the car radio via bluetooth and every time we got in the car my iPod would start with Five For Fighting's "I Get A Little Tired"...and we were both getting more than a little tired of hearing that tune every time we started the car. We stopped at Shannon Falls on the way back and the falls were stunning. We returned the rental car to the Vancouver Airport and caught a shuttle to the Hampton Inn...a definite downgrade from The Whistler Chateau Fairmont...but it served the purpose of being near the airport for our flight to Calgary the next day. We went to the nearby River Rock Casino and sat outside in the warm setting sun. Dinner and the ambience were quite nice. I decided to find a business center in the hotel to print our boarding passes, but my phone had died. There was a central information desk that had a computer monitor with a USB port and I took the liberty of plugging my phone in. The girl behind the desk nearly had a heart attack as she must have thought I was trying to hack into the casino's computer system. I explained myself and she directed us to the business center where I spent several minutes crawling on the floor trying to find a USB port. Finally did only to learn that our flight had been cancelled. We ended up on a flight later the next day. We returned to the Hampton Inn and watched Veronica Mars.

Posted by stevencavalli07 15:07 Archived in Canada Tagged day canada Comments (0)

Day 6, June 30, 2014, Whistler

Birdie at 18 for 79

sunny 78 °F

Woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning with weather to be in the high 70s. After the fabulous breakfast buffet, I headed to the Fairmont's golf course while Margaret headed for a massage and facial at Nita Lake Lodge (Groupon). The golf course is set amidst beautiful scenery with the Rockies everywhere in the background. I was paired with Mike and Jane from Vancouver who had driven to Whistler that morning. Mike is a lawyer and Jane a landscape architect. Nice folks as are all Canucks that we have met. I actually played decently and made a birdie out of a fairway bunker on 18 for a 79. Upon returning to the hotel, we headed to the Mallard patio for a beer and a game of doms...Margaret remains 0 for Canada. After a bit of R&R in the room, we headed to the Nicklaus North golf course for dinner, upon the recommendation of my brother. The food was okay but the service was perhaps the worst or equally bad as the worst service we have ever had at a restaurant. I also was eaten alive by mosquitoes. So we ended up back inside the restaurant and upon returning to the hotel went to the bar where we cashed in our two free martini vouchers. They had a young woman singing and playing the guitar who was so-so.

Posted by stevencavalli07 13:20 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 5, June 29, 2014, Whistler

rain 62 °F

Awoke to a so so weather day...rainy, cool, overcast. The Fairmont had a wonderful buffet breakfast of which we fully partook. After breakfast we watched the US lose to Germany 1-0 in the World Cup, but all was good because they still advanced. We took a walk though Whistler Village a charming area with many shops and restaurants. I was scheduled to play golf, but changed it to tomorrow when the forecast was for nicer weather. We took a drive north to the town of Pemberton which was scenic...everything is scenic in this area of the world...but the town was not terribly exciting. On the way back we stopped at the Nicklaus North golf course and had a beer out on the patio which overlooked a very nice lake with sea planes. After a little R&R in the room, we headed out for dinner at Crepe-Montagne a very small restaurant in Whistler village. They do not take reservations but we were immediately led to a very small booth in the back of the restaurant and had a very nice meal consisting of fondue and crepes (suzette for me) for dessert. The candle at our table went out and I tried to use the firepot beneath the fondue dish to start it and almost started a fire. Back to the room for doms and another W for SRC.

Posted by stevencavalli07 15:37 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 4, June 28, 2014 Vancouver to Whistler

Margaret's Birthday

sunny 75 °F

After our last breakfast at Le Soleil, we cabbed to the airport to pick up a rental car which would take us to Whistler. Got off to a good start when we received a free upgrade to an SUV because they were out of the cars I had ordered. Got off to a bad start when we decided to purchase a Garmin GPS which did us no good on the trip to Whistler but finally worked on the way back. During my research for the trip I had learned from a tripadvisor post about a device called GyPSy guide (the caps are appropriate...and you will find out why if you read on). Although not technically a navigation system, the GyPSy guide is the equivalent of a talking Michelin Guide which works via GPS technology. It was pretty expensive, $39.99 per day, but if you had it 7 days or more, it worked out to about $15 per day...or so I thought. When we finally located the information center in the airport where you could acquire such a device, I told the young lady behind the counter that we would need it for a total of 10 days. So I expected it to cost around $150...wrong. She said that will be $340. I said there must be something wrong and showed her the page from my tavel binder that explained the lesser daily charge if you had it for more than 7 days. Well, she called the GyPSies and finally said to me, "Here, you talk to her." After I tried to explain my plight and how they were surely wrong about the $340, she said, "You know there is an App you can download for $5!!" I admiited that I did not know that. Then began the next ordeal, as I tried to download the app courtesy of the airport's free WiFi only to be informed by Apple that my iPhone lacked sufficient storage. So, I bought more storage, the max I could obtain...still not enough...So, two hours after picking up the car, we were still at the airport. I deleted a bunch of apps that I use sporadically but could live without...still not enough storage. Margaret was doing her psychological best to try and calm me down...and I responded with...let's just get the heck out of here. So, we got in the car and headed north toward Whistler on the incredible Sea to Sky Highway...the views on which were largely occupied by Howe Sound a spectacular body of green emerald water...part lake, part river...winding its way through the magnificent Rocky Mountains. Howe Sound is North America's southernmost fjord, located northwest of Vancouver and extending from West Vancouver north to Squamish. Surrounded by towering peaks that rise straight out of the sea, Howe Sound is Vancouver's playground for sailing, diving, camping, hiking, and a host of other recreational activities. The Garmin GPS was not working but we really didn't need it for $15/day. Miraculously the GyPSy Guide did download onto my iPhone although we never really quite figured it out and we were either ahead of it or behind it for most of the hour and a half drive. It often provided entertaining and informative naration of many spots we had passed ten or fifteen minutes before. On the return trip from Whistler it performed great and on the rest of the trip as well. We arrived at the spectacular Fairmont Chateau Whistler which we had reserved through the Chase Luxury Hotel Collection. We were upgraded to a slope view room...one of the LHC collection perks. Unfortunately, although we had arrived after 4pm our room still was not ready. We were sitting around the lobby and, finally, the young Asian man behind the desk who was trying to speed up our room's readiness, came to us with a card for a $75 food credit and suggested that we might enjoy their outside lounge which had spectacular views of the valley below and he would bring the keys as soon as the room was ready. We were finally led to a beautiful room and soon there was a knock on the door and one of the staff brought in a miniature martini shaker with the Fairmont Whistler logo and two chits for a free martini, also part of the LHC collection package which also included breakfast each day. I had previously made a dinner reservation for this most special occasion (won't publish the number) at The Grill, the Fairmont's fine dining restaurant. The dinner and service were perfect (as the Canadians love to say), complimented by a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia Cab. I had alerted the restaurant in advance about the special occasion and there was a nice complimentary dessert with candles...a lot of chocolate stuff...tasty. In fact, we must have milked 10 or 11 of these free desserts throughout our visit.

Posted by stevencavalli07 15:12 Archived in Canada Tagged birthday magaet's Comments (0)

Day 3, June 27, 2014, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology

Woke up to rain in Vancouver, perfect day for a visit to the Museum of Anthropology on the campus of the University of British Columbia. We actually determined that the best way to travel was by city bus. We walked a couple blocks to the bus station and, with some help from a bus person, found the right machine to get our tickets. The MOA, as it is known to the locals, was clear across town and was about a 40 minute bus trip with one transfer. The MOA is renowned for its displays of world arts and cultures, in particular works by First Nations peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations . As well as being a major tourist destination, MOA is also a research and teaching museum, where UBC courses in art, anthropology, archaeology, conservation, and museum studies are given. MOA houses 38,000 ethnographic objects, as well as 535,000 archaeological objects in its building alone. The most iconic object in the Museum is probably the yellow cedar sculpture The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid, which was depicted on the Canadian twenty-dollar bill from 2004 to 2012 . The Museum contains several large Musqueam artifacts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as many contemporary works commissioned from Musqueam artists such as Susan Point, Joe Becker, and Robyn and Debra Sparrow. The Museum's Great Hall contains many fragments of totem poles from Haida and other First Nations villages along British Columbia's coast. There are approximately 2800 objects in the African collection. The earlier collections came to MOA via missionaries, travelers, and ex-colonial officers. The collection includes masks, Yoruba thorn carvings, over 100 Makonde figures from Tanzania, approximately 100 Asante gold weights, weaponry from South Africa and about 100 mortuary objects from Egypt. After several hous at the MOA we returned to the room for a little R&R. We then set out for the Gastown District and dinner at the Water Street Cafe which was fabulous. Margaret had crab cakes and gnocchi (good not great) and I had a caprese salad and veal scallopine. Gastown is a national historic site. Diectly across the street from the WSC is one of Vancouver's main tourist attractions, a steam clock. The steam clock is one of only a few still in existence and it's whistle sounds every hour on the hour, accompanied by a puff of...what else...steam. For such an important tourist attraction, the steam clock was stuck on 4:27 during our entire stay. We left the restaurant and began walking toward the hotel when we happened upon the Vancouver Tower. We had obtained tickets to the VT when we first arrived but never quite got around to it. It was nearly sunset and we ascended to the tower and it is pretty spectacular. It is one floor beneath a revolving restaurant, although the floor we were on did not revolve. It did have spectacular 360 degree views of Vancouver and we got some really nice photographs which I will try to add at some point. We then came across Bacchus restaurant, which I had seen during my reseach for the trip. I knew it had a piano bar and so we went in for dessert and port...the piano player/singer was quite good. We shared a lemon tart and then walked back to the hotel for a game of doms...Marg still 0 for Canada!! Tomorow...Whistler.

Posted by stevencavalli07 14:08 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (0)

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