There is nothing like a visit to a botanical garden in the early Spring. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s not and here’s proof. Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver was breathtaking and we didn’t want to leave.
The rain brought with it silence and solitude as we walked along the massive pathways that guided us past a menagerie of trees, shrubs and perennials.
It was the cusp of late winter dawning in to early spring and the gardens took on an interesting profile.
The deciduous trees had long been bare and there was some evidence that flowers were awakening from their deep slumber. The sky was overcast and provided a grey backdrop to the illustrious palette that lay before us.
I’ve noticed that one of the things that I tend to do while I travel is to snap photos for no good reason. Usually, I am on a tour bus or casually walking along a city street that I decide to immortalize my surroundings by capturing random scenes through my camera lens.
It doesn’t have to be something massive or particularly significant; I’m usually moved to do so because of how I am feeling at the moment. I’m usually overwhelmed by the people, a particular circumstance, an unusual building….something that captures my attention that compels me to document it.
Of course, those pictures usually turn out to be a blurry mess and sometimes in rarer moments, they become unforgettable treasures. I decided to share a few with you dear reader in the hopes that you could appreciate the method to my madness: “Sometimes the best photos are the unplanned ones”.
I’m a day late and probably a dollar short with this one. But my favorite photo this week is one that was taken at the Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver in the winter.
I loved the way the pink heather climbed up to greet visitors who may be sitting in the gazebo. While it was most certainly a cold, rainy day, we barely noticed it.
It was absolutely fascinating to see a garden so lovely despite the inclement weather. It was as if hope, personified , tipped its hat to assure us that everything was going to be just fine. I thought it was the perfect…picture perfect moment to capture.
I first heard about the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (1505 2nd Avenue West , Vancouver, BC V6H 3Y4) while watching Rachael Ray’s $40.00 a day show on The Food Network’s channel back in 2006. Rachael was tasked to buy Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for under $40.00. This particular show had her searching the city of Vancouver for those elusive restaurant deals and P.I.C.A. was one of her choices. My daughter and I were planning a trip there because we had frequent flier miles to redeem and we were fortunate enough to get a crazy deal for a great hotel on Priceline. So, we thought it might be a good idea to check it out. Besides, P.I.C.A. is located right outside the entrance to Granville Island which was convenient since that was another stop on our itinerary.
Founded in 1996, P.I.C.A.’s cooks are actually students who are training to become chefs of fancy restaurants that I will never be able to afford. Seriously, Bistro 101 is a teaching restaurant that provides real world experience for up and coming culinary masters. Students work in every position of the restaurant: from the cook to the host to the server to the bus boy…..they get to experience all aspects of running a restaurant.READ MORE
My friend Nancie from Budget Traveler’s Sandbox, whose blog happens to be celebrating its first birthday, had a great idea. She suggested that her travel blog buddies begin a new segment on their blogs: Travel Photo Thursday. So…..beginning today, I will post pictures that move me, has affected me…..pictures that I simply LOVE.
Today’s pic is from my Vancouver, BC trip in March of 2006. I was fortunate enough to visit Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in the heart of Vancouver. This was a special treat for me since I love to garden myself, so I wanted to be inspired. In fact, I have a gardening blog that admittedly needs to be updated, but you can see why such a place would be interesting to visit.
This picture was selected because it perfectly encapsulated what I was feeling that day: complete serenity. I felt an overwhelming rush of peace and tranquility as I walked through the solitary gardens. Times like these seem to bring you closer to God, who I believe is the only one who could create such beauty and serenity. I hope that you enjoy it.
We visited during their rainy season, but that didn’t drench our spirits. Vancouver is one of the friendliest cities in North America and you can practically eat off the ground it’s so clean. Their transportation system is very user friendly and great restaurants abound.
Take a trek to Granville Island to enjoy their top notch farmer’s market and be sure to grab a bite at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts right at the Island’s entrance and don’t forget to take the ferry to Lonsdale Quay where you can take the bus as soon as you dock to the Lynn Canyon Park where you can traverse their cool suspension bridge.
Priceline is tricky, but it can be a very rewarding experience for those who are looking for great deals on hotels. I’m not fond of using them for airfare that much because you may find yourself on flights that have the most undesirable departure times. While I am pretty flexible with flight times, they offer too much of a mixed bag for me.
But if you are looking to try your luck at securing a great price on a hotel room, by all means, try Priceline! In December 2005, I was planning for my trip to Vancouver for March 2006 and decided to see if I could luck up on a room at a good price.I was aware that it was pretty early to be looking for a room because Priceline typically sells excess inventory for Hotels at almost the last minute.
So, booking it early didn’t exactly heighten my chances of getting a good deal.However, I’d noticed that a couple of people had already booked great deals for that location on Priceline according to their posts on www.biddingfortravel.com. So, I threw caution to the wind and decided to go for it.READ MORE
Our flight to Vancouver was scheduled to depart Atlanta at 8 am on March 3, 2006; the reasoning was that it would allow us to have a large part of the day remaining to see Vancouver when we arrived since they are three hours behind us. However, our flight was delayed and we were fortunate enough to be re-routed on another (United) flight (that one left at 7:00!!) that would have a stopover in SFO rather than Chicago. During our flight, we were treated to the film “The Family Stone”. I had carefully avoided it in the theaters, so I was none too pleased that it was my only choice for in-flight entertainment. Ironically, it turned out to be a pretty good movie…who knew? We brought snacks along with us since we’d left too early to stop anywhere and we were only offered beverages and pretzels during the flight…no real food unless you were in first class.
We arrived in SFO in five hours and had a one-hour layover until we caught our flight to Vancouver. Our transfer gate happened to be in the same terminal only a few gates down. We took that opportunity to buy lunch at the Subway sandwich shop in the short time that we had…it’s amazing how the mind clears when hunger is satisfied. Our flight finally touched down in Vancouver two hours later. We had to get cleared through customs and proceeded to the baggage claim area. I stopped by the ATM to get some Canadian cash and my $300.00CAN withdrawal converted to $264.00US…not a fantastic exchange rate…but oh well.
Right outside the door to the ground transportation area we were able to get round trip tickets on the Airporter bus (departs from the International arrivals level curb every 20 minutes from 8 am to 7 pm every day) that would take us to our hotel. We paid $18.00CAN pp and were issued tickets that resembled cash register receipts. I guess our hotel was too far because we were let off at the Marriott to transfer to a smaller shuttle bus (we waited roughly 10 minutes) that took us to the entrance of the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina Hotel (http://www.westinbayshore.com/home.asp).
We were quickly checked in and after nicely refusing assistance with our bags, we were on our way to check out our room. Now, we booked our room via Priceline….we were not expecting anything grand and suspected that our room would be sub-par given that we only paid $60.00US per night. Luckily, for the most part, we were wrong. The room was a standard consisting of two double “Heavenly” beds, night table, three lamps, armoire with television set, a desk and two cushioned chairs, phone, in-room safe, hairdryer, ironing board and iron, umbrella, two comfy bathrobes, toiletries, lots of thick thirsty towels, coffee maker with complimentary coffee, minibar and a full length mirror.READ MORE