Saturday, 9 April 2011

April in Vancouver

Eeva's Spring Guide to Vancouver
I've blogged about where around town I've been so now I will write about stuff that is yet to be done around town. Kinda like a travel guide - only I've taken everything from the Internet.
Hey - that's what it's there for :-o  !!

Now of course there are the year round things you can do like visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Aquarium but I think I want to find out what stuff is going on that is usually only in April/springtime.

VANCOUVER CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL - The city in pink! With the lovely mild weather here on the west coast the cherry blossoms welcome spring in pink and rose hued splendor. Various bike tours, walking tours, painting events and even a haiku invitational allows everyone to be involved in some ways. I attended the "Cherry Jam" at Burrard Station. They had musical performances and vendors offering samples all beneath a breathtaking canopy of pink blossoms.

MAKE IT VANCOUVER! CRAFT FAIR - Apr 15 - 17, 2011 at the Croation Cultural Centre you can find unique and one of a kind crafts and jewellery. Plus it's a fundraiser in support of Union Gospel Mission. Check it out. Entry fee is $5 and children under 12 are free. Visit the website for a coupon for $2 off your entry.

VANCOUVER SUN RUN - April 17, 2011 - This annual 10km race is the largest of its kind in North America. No need to be an elite athlete to take part. All you need is comfortable shoes, perhaps some sunblock and the stamina to walk or run 10km through Vancouver. Oh yeah and cough up the registration fee too. I have done this in the past, either walking or a walk-run combo. Decided to skip it this year but there is always 2012...

PLAYLAND OPENS (at PNE grounds) - Although you have to wait until the end of the month it still is open in April. Summer is on the way when Playland opens. Go out and have fun on the wild rides this amusement park offers.

HASTINGS RACE COURSE OPENS - Horse races, casino games, dining and other events all start on April 16, 2011. Now I have never been to see or bet on the horses but I have heard it can be fun.

SMELL THE ROSES AT VARIOUS GARDENS - Spring is a great time to visit some of our cities great parks. The Rose Garden at Stanley Park is in it's glory. Take a walk around Van Dusen's Botancial Gardens (fee required) or meander through Queen Elizabeth Park. If you like (and the grass is dry) bring a picnic lunch, a blanket and bask in the colourful beauty around you.

And of course the wonderful April fresh things you can do any old time is to start sitting out on the patio for your meals/drinks at your favourite restaurant, smell the daffodils, picnics in the park, walks throughout the city, race around the Sea Wall on two wheels or two feet or work up a sweat by surviving the Grouse Grind hike!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Printed Word for Inspiration

Although I like to see shows and pictures of far off places it is usually the stories behind the pictures that I enjoy even more. I often read travel literature and the occasional how-to travel guide with great pleasure. Now there are a plethora of books out there that cover pretty much every type of "travel" you can think of. And you can probably find it at Amazon or Chapters with relative ease. It's all out there for you to indulge in.

In regards to travel literature, my personal favourite "sub-genre" is women travelling, particularly, women travelling solo. I find it reassuring and motivating that there are hundreds of other women who, like myself, long to see the world on their own. There is something empowering to be able to do it by yourself. And really, from what I've read, you rarely end up alone.

Below I have listed a few of my favourite books - either travel literature or how-to guides. I hope some of you find them as interesting as I have.

My all time favourite travel book (to date) is The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner. In 2006 these three 20-somethings quit their jobs and travelled together around the world for a year. Although the book is not about solo travel their story is very an interesting one. The writers not only included what they saw and where they went, they opened up their hearts to show how they felt and grew as women. I highly recommend it. They also have a travel website filled with plenty of information. Check it out at Lost Girls World.

Seal Press put out Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo (Editors: Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick, Christina Henry de Tessan), a compilation of 23 short stories from around the globe. Some are funny, some heartfelt and yet others filled with adventure. This was actually the first book that I read about women travelling solo. Here is a link to an interview with the editor Ingrid Emerick on the website Expat Women.

Thinking about going around the world (a.k.a RTW trip)? If you're like me and have this as a lifelong goal then get yourself a copy of Rough Guides First Time Around The World (3rd edtion, 2010) by Doug Lansky. This book has information to cover pretty much anything to do with extended travel. Even if you are not planning on circumnavigating the globe but want to travel to certain areas of the globe, this book is a great option. Actually any Rough Guides travel book is helpful in my opinion. Take a visit to the Rough Guides website for updated info or to download their iPhone app. Just a note - I'm about halfway through this one and I have learned plenty!

Well those three are my top picks but there are a few others that are also worth mentioning:

Adventures of a Continental Drifter by Elliott Hester - This book was certainly enjoyable. Tales of Elliott's adventures in 2002 when he quit his job & started travelling from place to place. He also has a syndicated travel column and another book called Plane Insanity (he was a former flight attendant).

Practical Nomad- How to Travel Around the World by Edward Hasbrouck (4th edtion, 2007) - Although I haven't completely finished this book it is filled with good information. A bit more detailed than the Rough Guides' book but also a bit harder to get into.  I will get through it though.

I know I've posted quite a few books but I do want to make mention of two other books - mainly because they have gotten away from - literally. Both of these books I have, unfortunately, left on the bus and nobody has turned them in. People, please if you find a book on public transit HAND IT IN TO THE DRIVER!! They send it the Lost and Found so they can be reunited with their absent-minded owners. Thanks :)
I do intend to re-purchase these books and finish them. Not because I found them to be superbly written but because the premise was interesting and I wanted to hear the end of their tales.

On the Couch by Fleur Britten - This UK journalist decided to travel across Asia and stay only in the homes of strangers by using the CouchSurfing online network. Since I am a member of CouchSurfing I wanted to read about her tales. Although I found her writing style to be rather bland I will eventually finish this book to hear the stories and what her final thoughts are about this alternative form of accommodation.

Grounded: A Down To Earth Journey Around The World by Seth Stevenson - My sister gave me this book for christmas and I started reading it this month. Seth and his girlfriend embark on an RTW trip without taking a single airplane flight. They use train, bus, and boat and see the world from a closer vantage point. I was bummed I lost the book because I barely even got into it.

Well those are my extensive reads for the time being. If you get a chance to read any of them I do hope you find them as intersting as I have.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Diwali Festival 2010 Vancouver

"Better late than never" as the saying goes. And so it is with my entry about the 2010 Vancouver Diwali Festival. I attended on one of the days & took some pictures but just haven't gotten around to making an entry - until now at 5 months later. Oh well.

To best describe the Diwali Festival I decided to copy & paste the description from the Vancouver Diwali Festival website (see link above) as they sum it up well:

A beautiful dance performed amazingly
on the main stage

"Vancouver Celebrates Diwali is a South Asian arts & culture festival intended for all cultures and communities. Diwali means “row of lighted lamps”, and its worldwide festivals are a unifying celebration of light over darkness that symbolize the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Celebrated across South Asia, this festival is experienced on a grand scale in almost all regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of the New Year. People give expression to their happiness by lighting diyas (clay lamps), displaying rangoli (colorful floor mosaics), decorating their houses, bursting firecrackers, partaking in sumptuous feasts, and celebrating with dance, music, and storytelling. For all, it is a time of renewed spirit, celebrated with family and the community through joyous music, dance, crafts, and delectable sweets."

The festival ran from Nov 2 - 7, 2010 with various activities & workshops around town. I attended on the last day, which was a Sunday. From 12:00pm - 6:00pm the Round House Community Centre in Yaletown was buzzing. Actually it was bursting at the seams. A free event that had several stages, food vendors & a great view of a beautiful rangoli certainly wowed many a people. It was the largest attended Diwali Festival in Vancouver's seven year history. As much as I enjoyed it, I hope that next year they hold it at a larger venue. It was packed!

When I arrived the crowd was already a fair size and I only found standing room only for viewing the main stage. The dancers and the musicians were enjoyable. I particularly fond of the bright coloured costumes worn by the variety of dancers.

Asian & Indian dancers performing
together amazingly.

Inspiring musician.

I just love the stunning costumes.
A short while after watching these stunning performances I went to the lobby area to meet a friend. We walked around & found the large rangoli which was almost complete. The bright, colourful, large floor mosaic was simply amazing and my favourite part of the festival. I was amazed that  it was make from dyed rice (or something similar - it looked like rice). Unfortunately for me the battery in my camera died and I couldn't take any pictures. Perhaps next year. And I do hope they have a larger site to hold it at. That was my only complaint.