Coffee at Capilano.

If you have an afternoon or morning free in Vancouver, grab the free shuttle bus that leaves from many spots downtown, and head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

The park is a beautiful nature area, even on the misty, rainy day I visited.

At the entrance, some native totem poles welcome you.

The main suspension bridge is awesome, views to the river below and surrounding forest on both sides. It swung quite a bit, so I put my phone away rather than lose it over the side to the fast moving river below.

Once you get to the other side, the “tree tops” walk awaits. 7 mini suspension bridges set among the tree tops. The park area is temperate rain forest and was so nice, I had to drag myself away.

Back over the main bridge to a sweet little coffee place. I had a coffee, locally brewed and delicious, along with a piece of vanilla and maple fudge that I bought at the Trading Post in the park.

On a sunny day, you would probably spend even longer in the park.

Free shuttle bus back to downtown, through Stanley Park, leaving nature behind till next time.

Sitting on the Surfliner

Yesterday and today I rode the train from

Anaheim to San Diego and back. The train is named the Surfliner and wherever it can, it hugs the coast. Some of the views from the train are gorgeous, beaches, coastal towns and surfers waiting patiently for the next wave.

One of the cutest places was San Juan Capistrano, the area around the train stop had a multitude of little coffee places which all looked rustic and boho.

Wish the stop was longer.

The trip takes about 2 hours and if you have the time, the train beats flying. No hassles with security, no crowds and you can sit in the cafe car and still see the views. Train rides have that calming feel as you take in the view, you are rocked into peace and quiet.

Anaheim station is very nice, futuristic and clean, however it is sadly lacking in places to buy refreshments. Maybe that’s planned for the future as it is brand spanking new.

It’s been a great trip, hope you like the pics 🙂

Waco, Way Cool

You don’t have to be a “Fixer Upper” fan to love Waco, but that is what took us there. The drive from Houston was pretty easy, a couple pretty towns to pass through but we didn’t stop.

When we arrived in Waco and the GPS took us to the address we plugged in, we spotted THE Silos and excitement like Christmas ensued.

The area is so well planned and thought out. A central area with grass and bean bags would, I imagine, be well used in summer. There were a variety of food trucks around the perimeter which added some colour and interest around the edge. The seed shop with its gardens out front, was absolutely gorgeous. As I wandered, I was filled with inspiration for my wee garden at home.

Magnolia Market had us wandering for quite a wee while. The goods in that store were lovely, sometimes taking you back to simple days, simple cooking and family kitchens. You could buy table ware, baking and cooking items, traditional and modern, small shelving, artwork, clothing and books. Purchases made, we headed to the bakery …….. well the minute you stepped inside this little shop, the smells were heaven. Choosing a cupcake flavour took a while but I ended up choosing two of Jo’s traditional ones and they did not disappoint……..DELICIOUS.

For lunch we headed to Magnolia Table. Once we spotted this, as we drove around the roundabout, more squealing ensued, as on the show, we had watched this space transformed from an old derelict restaurant into what it is today. It had been an icon in Waco, back in the day, called “Elite” and Chip and Jo took on the task of restoring to even better than former glory.

Walking in the door to a space we had only seen on TV was very very cool.

The food was awesome all round but my two faves, a peppermint mocha and Jo’s biscuits with strawberry butter. The biscuits were so fresh, and light and the butter just the right amount of flavour. The staff did Chip and Jo proud and were awesome.

We didn’t have a lot of time in Waco so we headed to an antique store, as Waco is famous for antiques. We found a couple treasures to bring home, and then headed to the river to see the metal cattle and the very pretty bridges. With the sun starting to set, the light on the bridges and the cattle was captivating.

This awesome day was finished off with a stop on the way back in the town of Hearne, more precisely to Penny’s Diner. This was a treat. A retro diner with amazing basic food and the best waitress we could ask for ……Sylvia. Totally recommend a stop here.

Sylvia sat at our table, we were lucky as it wasn’t busy, asked us about our choices and where she could, she customised our requests, one of us a vegetarian and the others not too hungry. Such great service and customer care.

Waco is worth a visit even if you don’t love Chip and Jo like we do 🙂


Sassy Seaplanes, Ferries, Trains and Buses….and an Island.

7.30 am start.
We headed out of the hotel into a brisk but clear Vancouver morning and walked towards the waterfront and the seaplane dock. Handed over the appropriate documents and waited for a seat on a flight. We didn’t wait long in the very warm waiting area and our names were called. Out of our seats like runners in a race, and down the dock to our waiting plane.

Our hosts were Harbour Air on their 20 seater float plane. After a safety briefing by the co pilot, we strapped in, and waited for take off. It was incredible. First the slow movement from the dock, then a bit more power and we were making waves, then full on thrust and we started to leave the sea behind.

Every minute of the half hour flight was filled with beautiful scenery. Over the greenery of Stanley Park, the ribbons of concrete at the international airport and over the water and many many islands. Islands with jetties and houses and beautiful green trees, turning on their autumn colours.

As we flew over Vancouver island towards Victoria, we saw local morning traffic, quiet beaches and boats underneath us.
The seaplane docks right in the heart of downtown Victoria, making it so easy to start the process of wandering the quaint streets, with beautiful buildings and some amazing shops.

After a great coffee and Cronut at the Crusty Bakery,

we wandered into a book shop called Russell’s.

This is not just any book shop! 3 floors of books, old and new. The basement has a mind boggling catalogue of 1st editions, vintage and rare books. I enjoyed finding Trixie Belden Mysteries, Donna Parker stories, along with Mark Twain, Frank Baum and AA Milne vintage copies. Very hard to drag myself away from this store, but the Butchart Gardens were waiting for us. We hopped on a local bus, headed to the gardens and after almost an hour we were there.

The Gardens are stunning, even in autumn. My favourite was the Japanese Garden, with it’s peaceful zen feel, stepping stones and water trickles, little bridges and monuments. It was hard to believe I wasn’t in the temple gardens in Narita. All the different areas were so immaculate and beautifully cared for that it was hard to choose. The Ross fountain will take your breath away.

The family who lived here and built the gardens did so over 100 years ago. Throughout the gardens are also beautiful statues. The warthog was wonderful.

The weather and the gardens didn’t disappoint. Next stop, another local bus to the ferry terminal at the other end of Vancouver Island.

The Coastal Celebration was the ferry waiting and we were soon on board and saying goodbye to Vancouver Island. The trip home was longer than the way over of course, taking an hour and a half, but it was still spectacular. This time with the view from sea level instead of a few thousand feet, we saw stunning inlets, islands with few inhabitants and beautiful beaches, trees and jetties.
The ferry is large and comfortable and the time passed quickly.
Docking back in Vancouver, it was still another 40 mins, bus and train to return to our starting point of downtown.
A 12 hour day, and every minute totally fantastically great!

Cable Car Bliss and Buddha.

What to do if you have 30 hours in Hong Kong…..

Jump on the subway to Tung Chung station on Lantau Island and begin a very peaceful few hours.

The train was easy to sort as the subway map shows all the interchanges.

As I left Tung Chung station, I looked up and there were the cable cars suspended in front of me, beginning their 5 km journey to Buddha. I crossed the road, headed up the escalator to the ticket booth. I had been advised to purchase the “crystal car” (glass bottom) for 2 reasons…… the view of course, but also because the line for this car is much quicker 🙂

I waited no more than 2 mins for my crystal car and then there it was. I jumped in, excited to see what was before me and as soon as we left the confines of the cable car station, ………..

The journey to the giant Buddha is a 5 km cable car ride , or a 3 hour hike. The hiking path was often visible beneath us and looked to be in good condition, so I would try this on another occasion, if I had time.

As we passed over the island, there were amazing views of Hong Kong airport, a dream for any aircraft geeks out there and I spotted a fave in the distance with her distinctive livery.

The ride was so peaceful with just the sounds of the cable and the wind, the island laid out below and beyond……

As the cable car neared the spot where we would disembark, I started to get glimpses of the reason for my visit………

The day was beautiful and I was excited to leave the cable car and head to the giant Buddha. There was of course, a small touristy area to walk through on the way to the Buddha, with eating places and shopping and something I found kind of disturbing…….Starbucks

There were also cattle wandering and eating, not at all bothered by the people. I later researched about the cows, and it’s actually quite a sad story, which I won’t share here. Like me, other animal lovers will find it frustrating that as humans we are once again not doing enough.

So after wandering through the wee “village” I came upon the steps to climb to get to my destination. I didn’t count exactly but there were just over 200 steps. Although it’s a steep climb, it is a fairly easy climb as there were landing pads after every 12 or so steps where you could catch your breath, take a photo, before continuing.

The views from the top are 360 degrees as advertised and it’s a stunning place to wander, enjoy Buddha and just “be”.

The return journey on the cable car was just as breathtaking and it was all too soon that I was back in the throngs of Hong Kong on a subway! This was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and I would recommend a visit.

That Donut though !

I was in LA the other day and a friend and I took advantage of a lovely sunny day and drove to Huntington Beach for lunch.

We decided on a place on the pacific coast highway called Simmzy’s Pub. It was buzzy, friendly and had a great looking menu.

We chose to sit on the terrace and overlooked the beach across the road. The beach wasn’t too busy and it looked stunning.

Simmzy’s has brilliant beer selections but we stuck with a fave….. Italian Pinot Grigio.

Choosing what to eat wasn’t easy as it all sounded delicious. In the end it was a salad for each of us. I chose a prawn and citrus salad with pepitos and a wicked dressing.

However…… it’s dessert that will blow your socks off. A donut filled with apples and cinnamon with salted caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. A few pistachios and you have a masterpiece.

We shared it, needless to say!

Time to San Die…..Go

The Greek islands are becoming a memory, a pretty, blue water, welcoming village memory.

I have been in San Diego for a few days now and although I’ve seen a bit, there is still much more for another time.

The eating out choices are phenomenal. I have tried Mexican, French, and Farmers type freshness. None disappointed. The area I stayed in was Hillcrest and it gave off a really cool village vibe with many choices in Great cafes.

Wandering around Balboa Park was stunning. Home to 16 museums and numerous gardens, as well as the zoo, I did not see it all, so will need to plan a return visit. The rose gardens were absolutely beautiful with hundreds of colours and some amazing scents. Adjoining the rose garden is the cactus collection and while it can’t compete on beauty, it was equally interesting.

The park also houses a globe theatre which is the venue for Shakespeare plays and looks like it belongs in England. It even has a pub 🙂

Lots of very cool architecture is shown in all the buildings that house museums and in the California Tower, which was built for a World Fair in 1915.

The Navy has a commanding presence in San Diego and is home to an aircraft carrier called the Midway which is now a museum and is an awesome sight. How do those things float ??

Beside the Midway is a statue, that is a tribute to the famous V Day print that shows a kiss between a sailor and a nurse in Times Square in 1945. A favourite print of mine, I loved the statue and it was huge!

The Coronado Bridge leads you to Coronado beach. The beach is lovely and that’s not just my opinion, but shared by a family of squirrels living amongst the rocks at the edge of the sand.

The beach is also home to a stunning landmark, the Coronado Hotel, which opened in 1888.

This was the last stop on this trip, and has been fun.

Until next time …..

Monopoly anyone ?

Dormitory life is a difficult beast, as soon as one is awake, pretty much everyone wakes up, with squeaky bunks and feet climbing down ladders. We took turns in the communal bathroom down the hall, and turns having our suitcase open. There was no room to have more than one case open at a time.

We were finally ready and hit the London streets. First stop, a patisserie on the Edgeware Rd. I felt very sorry for the staff here, it was quite busy, they seemed quite disorganised and under pressure. We finally got breakfast though and it was fine.

After a group effort of purchasing day passes for the tube, we were away. For the first time time riders amongst us, you could see the excitement as we travelled through a monopoly board…… Baker St, Marylebone and Piccadilly Circus, where we got off.

The streets still had flags hanging from the lampposts and across streets, after the Royal Wedding. It all looked really festive. After a photo shoot with Eros, we wandered further into the monopoly board toward Leicester Square. This area had changed a little since my last visit. The grass area was bigger, the ticket booth was a real shop, not just a kiosk and the whole place seemed cleaner. The Empire cinema, the venue for many red carpet film previews was still the focal point of the square.

From here, I took the girls down some historical alleyways towards Covent Garden instead of along the direct route. We passed pubs that were a couple hundred years old, that made you want to put on a crinoline dress and step inside, and theatres that have seen so many musicals, you have to respect the history and the stories, and the celebrity that would have performed there.

As we approached Covent Garden, I felt like it was 30 years ago and I was returning to my flat after a day out. This had been my stomping ground and I was excited to be back there. Memories flooded in… favourite bakery, no longer there, the Punch and Judy pub, still there, and the sights and sounds of the market days. We wandered the Jubilee Markets and I grabbed a cheese and onion pasty, and devoured it, could have gone a second 🙂

Toilet calls were needed and in the Covent Garden market area, we could only find one and that required a pound to go! When you gotta go, you gotta go, so a pound was spent. Didn’t it used to be a penny!!!!!

Leaving the markets, we passed the Royal Opera house, which I was surprised to see had stores at the street level now, and up to The Nags Head….home 🙂 I poked my head in the door and apart from a wallpaper change, it looked pretty much the same, strangely comforting.

This is where the group had to begin peeping off as the rest of the journey was not as 6. Two we’re off to Paris, myself and is off to San Diego and 2 staying in the UK.

The goodbyes were hard and tearful. We had experienced so much love and laughter over the the 8 days in Greece and did not want it to end. And there were 2……we headed back to the dorm, picked up bags and headed to Paddington, and jumped on the Heathrow Express. This train service is costly at 22 pounds, but really efficient and quick. It was a nice feeling to see the Air New Zealand counters and check in, get rid of the suitcases and relax airside. The time flew by and we were soon on board choosing movies and eating dinner while winging to LAX.

San Deigo here we come, more soon……..