My Visit To Vancouver

I recently had the opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Columbia for work and I was looking forward to it since I haven’t been there since I was about 14 years old.  I must say, although I didn’t get to sight see a great deal, Vancouver exceeded my expectations.

Vancouver is a thriving multi-cultural community situated between a breathtaking mountain range and the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The city appears to have invested a lot of money and effort into developing its harbour and shoreline trails.  As a former roller derby player I was envious of the miles of smooth pathways and wished I had brought along my roller skates to get some exercise and take full advantage of these wonderful trails.  Without my skates I had to settle for a leisurely 10 km jog around the scenic Stanley Park. I say leisurely because there were many photo stops along the way to photograph the natural beauty of the area as well as cherry and apply blossoms which were in bloom while I was there.

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Not far from my hotel, the Hyatt, was the 2010 Olympic Cauldron which was considerably less magnificent than I had remembered from watching all the television footage of the event.  In its defence however, I did not get to see it lit up and there was a barrier around it to the mar the visual effect.

One item that was as good as the hype from the Olympics was the Japadog food truck.  A juicy hotdog with traditionally Japanese toppings like seaweed and wasabi sauce may sound odd together but came together in a surprisingly tasty meal.  I completely understand why they were in such demand during the Olympics.

As with most conferences I attend I seem to eat my way through them and the conference in Vancouver was no exception.  I can’t even remember how many mouth-watering salmon dishes I gorged myself on, especially sushi.

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One of my favorite meals was at the Cactus Club across the street from the Hyatt. I had the butternut squash ravioli with truffle butter sauce and jumbo prawns for an appetizer and the raincoast greens salad as my main.  Everything was so fresh and tasty and the Bellini and their Signature Sangria weren’t too bad either.

They Hyatt itself is a newer tastefully decorated hotel with the most attentive and helpful concierge staff I have had the pleasure to deal with in recent years.  Not only did they provide maps, directions, suggestions and arrange multiple tours and transportation for our diverse group. They also (without us asking them to) called around to confirm attractions we wanted to see would be open and thankfully too, since the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden was not open on the day we wanted to visit.

My one minor complaint with the Hyatt was the new elevator system that could not keep up with the extremely large volume of guests that wanted to use the elevators all at the same time when the sessions let out.  I took more than one elevator trip with a repair technician as he tested the system but I was comforted by the fact that they were actively trying to correct the problems.

One of the tours that the concierge suggested was a free tour and I love free. Tour guys operate in a number of larger centers and their guides work strictly on tips.  Emma (I believe her name was) was our guide for the morning, leading us around the downtown core telling us about some of the more interesting buildings, like the Marine Building and Christ Church Cathedral.  She also pointed out some of the many art pieces, like “The Pendulum” and “The Drop”.

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I found it commendable that in the current climate of cutbacks for the arts Vancouver has implemented a policy whereby for every square foot of new private sector re-zoned space built in the downtown core the builder is required to contribute $1.81/per sq. ft. to a public arts process.  These art projects have certainly lent themselves to the beautification of the area and created more interesting items for tourists (like me) to admire.

All in all I had a great conference in Vancouver.  Oh, and I learned some stuff for work too.  LOL

As I said at the start of this post Vancouver exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return.

 

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Our Villainous Family Day

I want to start by thanking all the wonderful sponsors: Disney Parks, MomSelect, Duff Goldman, HP, All, Wisk, Twinings Tea and My Image Bracelet Maker for supplying free products and providing me with the opportunity to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration.  Although I’ve received free products, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Once my @Home Celebration kit arrived it was time to start the planning.  To me Disney is about making memories and spending time with family and friends so what better day to have our party than on Family Day.  It also meant I had a long weekend to get organized, or at least try to.

We received a Villains themed celebration kit so I sent out the invitations saying Disney Villain costumes were encouraged but not required.  I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of friends who are more than willing to dress up and act silly just because it’s something different to do on a cold Family Day.

I’ve come to the realization that roller derby girls and their families are some of the most fun and outgoing people I know and I love them all the more for it.   They take my Disney obsession in stride and never think twice about joining in with my craziness. They even dressed up as Darla, Jafar, the Sith Lord and the Evil Queen among others for the party.

In addition to the Villains theme I decided to focus on the tastes of Disney.  I invited a large number of people who have never been to a Disney Park so it was fun to introduce them to some of the more famous Disney dishes and ones that are personal favorites of mine.

The menu consisted of:

Cheese Soup from Le Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad from Sunshine Seasons at EPCOT

Kalua Pork Sliders with Spicy Pineapple Chutney from EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Pop Century Resort

Beignets from Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

Dole Whips from Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom

There were also poison candy apple cake pops and a beautiful Maleficent cake to go along with the Disney Villains theme.

Once everyone had “stuffed their faces” (as someone put it) it was time to move on to the games.  The kids enjoyed playing tape the smile on Mickey, creating custom creations with the My Image Bracelet Maker and doing the Villains puzzle while the adults watched and chatted. Our youngest attendee was only 2 ½ months old and even he got in on the action by getting his photo with Maleficent horns on.

It was a lovely evening and one that probably would not have happened in the middle of a cold and nasty Canadian winter if not for the #DisneySide @Home Celebration so again I say thank Disney Parks and MomSelect for this opportunity.

When all was said and done I cleaned up and then sat down with a soothing cup of Twinings Goodnight Blend Tea.  Although it’s not my usual brand of tea is was a pleasant change and a great way to end the day.

All I have left to do now is print off some of my favorite party photos on all the HP photo paper that was provided and deliver them to my friends as mementos, oh and plan the next party because this one went so well.  Everyone who attended has decided to make it a monthly event to get together with our families and come up with some theme for the evening.