Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Internet surfing jewel

I just wanted to share this website with you. I have been perusing it for the past half an hour or so. It's proving to be a very handy one-stop site. World Travel Guide has information on just about every place on the earth. Countries, regions, cities, you name it. I was just reading about Macau (which is in Asia). It even has info on Bhutan, a country I intend to visit when I take my RTW (round-the-world) trip in a couple years. Another cool aspect of this site is the "Inspire Me" feature. Select from a drop-down menu your holiday type and when you want to go and a list of various places, near & far gives you ideas to visit. Want to know practical things about your fav destination? This site has it too and very easy to navigate through. World Travel Guide is now in my favourites list. Check it out!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Atop A Man-Made Perch

Here is an informative article that I wrote for my travel writing class in March 2009. I have to say that this is a great way to see Vancouver!


See Vancouver from a different vantage point by visiting The Vancouver Lookout. Located at the top of the SFU Harbour Centre building at Vancouver’s waterfront, the lookout highlights the city’s splendour in a 360ยบ panoramic view at 130m (430 feet). The Harbour Centre building boasted, up until recently, as being the tallest building in Vancouver. The Lookout itself was opened in 1977 by astronaut Neil Armstrong and has since wowed viewers of all ages.

A glass elevator whisks viewers to the observation deck in an amazing 40 seconds. Upon entering the lookout, viewers can request a complimentary guided tour or wander solo. A tour is roughly 30 minutes and the friendly staff reveal interesting snippets about Vancouver and point out more than just the landmarks. If wandering on one’s own, information about the city and its landmarks are displayed on informative placards throughout the observation deck. A small shop provides tourists with a place to purchase souvenirs of their above ground visit.

A clear day is always best for breathtaking views of the mountains, Vancouver Island and even Washington State. Cypress, Grouse and Seymour Mountains are stunning, appearing almost close enough to touch. Stanley Park and The Lion’s Gate Bridge show off Vancouver’s luscious greenery. A sense of the great expanse of the Port of Vancouver is apparent. It is truly a magical way to take in the sites of Vancouver, far away from the clamour of the city below.

The central location at 555 West Hastings, a block from Waterfront Station and numerous bus stops, permits visitors easy perusal to other favourite city spots such as Lonsdale Quay, Gastown and Canada Place. The all-day entrance fee allows freedom to enjoy daytime, dusk and sparkling night views. Open daily, The Lookout can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Adult:                        $13
Senior (60+)             $11
Student with valid ID   $9
Youth (13 - 18)          $9
Child (6 - 12)             $6
Child (5 & under) - Free

Group Rates (10 or more)
Adult:                            $11
Senior                             $9
Student/Youth (13 - 18)  $8
Child (6 - 12)                  $5
Escort/Chaperone is complimentary - 1 for every 10 

Taxes included in all rates.

The Lookout is every day, year round.

October 16 – April 27 9:00am – 9:00pm
April 28 – October 15 8:30am – 10:30pm


Here are a few of my favourite (Parisian) things

As the christmas season draws near I am, as so many, reminded of what we love about the season. This also reminds me of what I love about my beloved Paris. So I will reminisce and take you to my favourite Parisian places and things. A fitting way to end off musings of my 40th birthday trip. What will be my next "wanderings" about you ask? Why my absolute favourite place to live - my adopted hometown of Vancouver, BC. I am also in kahoots with the universe to see so much more of this beautiful wide world we live in.

Now close your eyes for a moment, think of Paris and then open them again. What pops into your head? A slideshow of memories pops into mine. So much to choose from! I'll do my best not to get lost in la-la land.

The most iconical monument in Paris is the Eiffel Tower. What orginially was a temporary exhibit and abhorred by many has now become synonymous with Paris. It is a favourite of mine not only because it represents Paris but because I celebrated my 40th birthday on it. For months and months I had a "mantra", if you will. I told everyone that "If life begins at 40, then I'm celebrating by drinking champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower." I didn't even know there was a champagne bar when I made my claim. I just knew that I would be at its peak on my special day. To top if off, I climbed all 710 steps to get to there. I even beat my  travelling companions, who took the elevator. See, being active does have its payoffs! You get there faster due to shorter lineups. The views were breathtaking, the champagne was sparkly and attaining my goal did me proud!

Next on my list is The Louvre Museum. Yes, it is huge, overwhelming and can never be fully appreciated in one visit. I've been there twice and both times I was exhausted after only a few short hours. So why is this immense and laborious museum my favourite? I haven't quite figured it out myself. Yes, Musee D'Orsay is much easier to navigate around and slightly less crowded but it doesn't draw me in as the Louvre does. Perhaps the vastness of the art collections, the beauty of the architecture or its place in French history draws me in? I cannot say. I just know that every trip to Paris I will try to include yet another visit to discover further artistic treasures.

Let's move onto the Latin Quarter. There is so much to enjoy in the Latin Quarter. Walking around the Sorbonne, Paris' world-reknown university. Watching the sun set over the Pantheon. Shopping in all the little boutiques and shops. Enjoying a delicious meal at one the numerous restaurants. Finally, a great treasure of the Latin Quarter: The Cluny Museum (a.k.a. National Museum of the Middle Ages), home of the medival tapestry The Lady and The Unicorn. This set of six tapestries is considered the greatest work of art of Europe's middle ages. I learned of them years ago in college and have wanted to see them ever since. They truly are beautiful.

The Notre Dame de Paris is a stunning gothic styled cathedral. Again, I learned of the Notre Dame in college, with it's 'flying buttresses". A buttress helps to support vaulted ceilings but are on the outside of the building. It is seen mostly in gothic architeture and really is quite stunning. A beautiful building that has large stained glass windows, numerous flying buttresses and 400 steps to the top of the bell tower. The stairway to the bell tower is open to the public. I did not realize this until we were about ten people away from climbing them. I was assuming we were lining up to go inside (and was a bit confused as to why we lined up to go inside a church). The original circular staircase slowly winds up to the first level and is a bit dizzying to say the least. Going slowly helps. Gargoyles and fabulous views from this level are great. After catching our breath the guide led us up another set of circular stairs and then up a creaky wooden ladder to see the bell of the cathedral. Victor Hugo helped make it famous with his tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That is one big *ss bell. It took 12 men to ring it and I'm sure they were all deaf from that job. Wow! Coming down from the bell tower but still at the top of the towers I was amazed at the view of Paris. I don't think I could get tired of any view of Paris.

Finally, I have to say I love the very typically touristy Seine River sightseeing cruises. This I owe to my sister. She really wanted to go one. Spend an hour to see all the arciteture that is iconically Paris. On these "bateau mouche" you are slowly led along the Seine to view the major landmarks. There are numerous companies dotted along the river that you can choose from. We received a discount with Bateaux Parisiens because we had transit passes. Not a bad deal. We went early evening while it was still light out and by the end the sun had set with all the city lights illuminating the skyline. Convenient individual handsets provide a guided commentary. It really was a fantastic way to see Paris. Yeah, it's touristy but it's inexpensive, fun and great if you don't want to spend alot of time visiting each individual landmark.

I could go on and on about other things about Paris that I love: wine, food, cafes, and the joie de vivre
that the french embrace! Though I think it's time to focus on other parts of the world and my favourite city. I hope you get a chance to visit your favourite parts of the world and enjoy what makes them your favourite!