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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Travel resource

TRVL app for iPad

I just discovered a fabulous travel resource: http://www.trvl.com/
This is a travel app for iPad. So if, like me, you travel with an iPad to do your reading and communicating while on the road, download this app and you will have the world at your fingertips. Literally.
It is almost like a coffee table art book with photos of countries from around the world. Swipe each page to access articles, maps, photos and link to many of the places you want to travel to.
I am finding it helpful in planning my trips.
Hope you do, too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Next stop? Mexico!

Where are we off to next?
Paamul, Mexico!
For some relaxation, diving, snorkeling, reading, eating, playing on the beach and seeing some Mayan ruins!

Right now we are sorting clothes that we won't need to bring back. We will leave clothing, shoes, books etc. for a small Mayan village where everything can be put to good use. During my last visit there, I even left my suitcase behind. A very pregnant mom claimed it to serve as crib for her baby. It works well both ways - leave behind what you don't need but what others can still use; and you won't have any luggage to check for the return trip.

We are also taking pencils, sharpeners, Spanish books, paper etc. We will visit a library project that friends have started. Over the past several years they have fundraised and worked hard to build a library for a Mayan school. Now they are working toward a preschool. Check out their volunteer work here: http://www.booksformayans.org/

Monday, January 21, 2013

Postcards from Everywhere

Here's an idea for you if, like us, you have children, grandchildren or special friends back home while you are off globetrotting.
Ever since our three year old grandson was born, I have mailed back a postcard to him. Wherever we are I look for child friendly images and write something about the place we are visiting.
Next I tried to find a post office and ask for interesting looking stamps.

I found a card album that holds probably about 100 post cards of 4x6 inches. Right now the collections hold 38 cards from far flung places, like Paris, Singapore, Dubai and Saskatchewan. There are pictures of lighthouses on the Oregon coast as well as of the Great Wall of China.
The album will make for great storytelling, one day, when we might not travel as much. It is also a special keepsake for both of our grandsons now.

So next time you visit a place, whether it is near or far, be sure to send a postcard home! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Vancouver B & B experience

Vancouver B.C. is a gorgeous city, in as far as cities can be gorgeous. Usually I stay with friends but this time we needed a different place to stay. I spent many nights googling for just the right spot. Didn't want to spend a fortune but wanted a clean place in a good location that offered:
a) a kingsize bed
b) free parking and
c) free wifi.

I find that often the cheaper hotels (Motel 6 up to Best Western) offer free wifi but the high end hotels charge more for wireless in your room. I refuse to pay extra for wireless...

Free parking turned out to be non existing in Vancouver - costs ranged from 15.- to 25.- per night extra to park your car in their garage.
Kingsize beds are hard to find in this kingsize city - at least in any hotels that are under 200.- per night.

After perusing Travelocity, Travelzoo, Booking.com and sites like this, I started from google maps - focused in on downtown and told it to "search nearby". I found a B&B that had the answers.
Check out: http://www.granvillebb.com/ 
Granville B&B is a gorgeously renovated mansion right along Granville (and 35th ave). The house was sufficiently sound proof not to hear the traffic too much, although we had a room in the back. Not sure how noisy the front rooms are.
Beautiful, high end furnishings and decorations. No costs were spared when building this home: deep tub, his and hers sinks, beautiful bedding, white fluffy towels. Everything spotless.
And while there was lots of privacy (you receive a code to get in when you arrive) the lack of personal contact was a bit.. well.. impersonal. It's more like a hotel than a B&B.
Breakfast was nice but meagre: juice, good coffee, choices of cereals and fruit. One slice of french toast. OK but not the abundance that one might expect at $125.- per night.
But with parking included this was one of the best deals, in a comfortable, clean environment, that I could find in Vancouver.


Smart Travel Tip: coming from mild Salt Spring Island, we did not have a windshield scraper in the car but found a frosty car outside . Using a credit card type card (I used my library card) works wonders to get ice from the windshield!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Hot Spring Getaway

Looks idyllic, doesn't it? It's that - and more.
We are spending two nights at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Not a bad way to spend a few days of January - soaking up the hot minerals and strolling through the small, mostly deserted resort town.
The hotel has newer wings and an old heart. In previous years we've stayed in the newer, more modern rooms which, sometimes, even have heated bathroom floors. This time we're in the old part, the floors creak but it does elude more charm - reminiscent of days when people flocked to the resort town to soak in the hot springs.
If you do come all the way here to stay, it is nice to stay in the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel itself which is the only hotel that offers 3 pools of (the original hot springs) hot mineral water. The lap pool is slightly warm, the children's pool is warmer and the adult soaking pool is really warm!
There are several other local hotels which are nice and have views of the lake, but without access to these pools. The local public pool is, of course, open to anyone even if you are just in town for the day.

The hotel has changed since the 'good old days': there's WIFI and gift shops. But even those have their charm.
We had a nice dinner in The Black Forest Restaurant in town.
My favorite gift store is closing, which is too bad but I am enjoying the 50% off prices while I'm here. We'll also stock up on the local specialty: hazelnuts straight from the orchard.

I highly recommend a few days at Harrison. It's an easy drive from the ferries and the Vancouver area. The hot water is divine, the hotel luxurious and the views... amazing when the sun broke out today to reveal snowcapped mountains surrounding the lake. Only problem is: the days are too short to do all the things I wanted to do while we're here!

Check out: http://www.harrisonresort.com/