Category: travel

The Great Canadian Adventure – a book to entertain and inform

Book cover for Damian Trasler's book on immigrating to VancouverI wanted to let everyone know about this great book by Damian Trasler because I am sure it will be of great interest to anyone planning a move to Canada. And the book is available at $2.99 as a kindle download (I don’t know how long this special price will last).

Damian brought his family, including three daughters (aka the weasels), to Canada in 2009. This book is beautifully written and very amusing. Believe me, most books on this subject are dry and boring, so it is refreshing to be able to recommend a book which will both inform and entertain.

You can read Damian’s own introduction to the book on his blog, or go directly to Amazon to buy the book.

Our top 5 apps for Vancouver’s visitors

screenshot from the Visit Vancouver iPad appIf you are planning a research trip or holiday in British Columbia then you might want to get these apps to help you make the most of your trip.

1. Visit Vancouver iPad app

This new app for the iPad is pretty comprehensive (and free too). You get:

  • A guide to the local transit system for finding your way around
  • Hotel and hostel guide
  • Restaurants
  • Activities of many kinds
  • Local calendar of events
  • And beautiful video and photos to inspire you

Find the app at the app store.

2. Street Food Vancouver

The street carts selling food to passing pedestrians have grown way beyond the humble hotdog stand. Now you can sample food from a huge variety of cuisines, really showcasing all that Vancouver’s foodies can provide. The Street Food Vancouver app lets you find what food trucks are operating and where.

Details for Street Food Vancouver are also on the app store.

3. On the Go Kids

If you’re visiting with your kids then this might be the app for you. Full of events and activities for the younger set, you can search for activities that they might enjoy. A research trip needs to include fun time for both adults and kids. Find out what your family activities will be when you’re living here.

On the Go Kids can be seen here.

4. Canucks

If you really want to experience being a Vancouverite then you have to support the Canucks NHL hockey team (assuming they get to play this season). This app will keep you in touch with what may just become your team.

Go Canucks at the app store. (Other versions are available for blackberry and android at the Canucks site.

5. Translink’s trip planner

This is a really useful app for getting around on the transit system. It even includes up to date information on bus arrival times etc. Some features require a subscription.

Details here.

Finally if you know of any other apps or resources for those visiting Vancouver (or elsewhere in BC) then let me know.

Crossing over to the Island

BC ferry links the mainland to Vancouver Island
BC ferries link Vancouver Island and the mainland

Vancouver Island is typically called The Island by people here in B.C. We have a lot of islands but Vancouver Island is the big one. In fact it is about the size of England.

I have just been using the ferries as I am writing this in Victoria. We are here for some business and for my cousins’ party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!

We came over on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. This takes about an hour and forty minutes to get you to Nanaimo.

This was both a business and pleasure trip for us and looking around at the passengers I’d say that most look liked they were there for pleasure. They were dressed for the outdoors, with hiking boots or sandals, t-shirts or fleeces (on the decks the ferries can often be cold and breezy).

There were others who were probably on business. Heads buried in their laptops or going over papers. They wore more business attire, though we are not a dressy people here, so there were no suits that I saw.

I guess we have mixed feelings about the ferries. That stretch of water is a nuisance. It’d be nice to be able drive the whole way. And relying on BC Ferries, which has a monopoly, is annoying.

On the other hand, there is definitely something relaxing about the sea voyage. Even if you are on a business trip, you can relax a bit, enjoy some spectacular scenery and chat with people you meet. The time goes quickly enough and you’re probably less stressed when you arrive.

For those who really are in a hurry there are the air services linking the Mainland and the Island. These can be a great way to travel as the views are spectacular. Flying with Harbour Air, for instance, will take you from harbour to harbour in 35 minutes. And enjoying the views is also going to help you relax before your ever so important meeting!

Is this the right area for me?

Maple Ridge
New home development in Maple Ridge

This week we have three families over here in B.C. on their research trips so it made me wonder how people make the decision about what area is right for them. That is a pretty big question, isn’t it?


As an example of how not to do it, I am borrowing from a client from a few years ago. Before we met them Charles and Camilla [not their real names] had been out on a research trip. They did this all themselves.

Camilla had done most of the research on the internet. She and Charles ended up with a short list of areas they thought might suit.

Charles told me that the research trip ended up being more of a holiday than a research trip. They did hire a car and drive around the areas on their list, but Charles said it was “like being on a bus tour, only without the commentary”. They drove along pretty streets, saw some ugly areas, passed shopping areas and schools but knew nothing much about any of them.

In the end Charles and Camilla spent most of their time just being tourists. They enjoyed the trip but when their visas arrived, and they finally contacted us, they were no wiser about where they wanted to live.

By contrast Kate and Wills [also not their real names!] were here a couple of weeks ago. They’d been in touch before hand and we’d talked on the phone. This helped because we came up with a rough idea of the areas that would work given their budget for a home to buy. Even though they don’t expect to buy immediately they wanted to rent in an area that they could afford when they were ready to buy.

Kate and Wills thought that Maple Ridge or Langley would be the best fit for their budget. Neither of these areas are ones that I know well, but that’s where our local experts come in! I referred Kate and Wills out to our partner in Maple Ridge. [We have 15 partners covering all the major areas in B.C. from Victoria, Greater Vancouver and into the Okanagan]

The tour that Kate and Wills had took them around Maple Ridge and Langley. They went to see a few homes in both areas that were in their price range. Kate particularly liked this because, as she said, “the pictures on the internet don’t tell the whole story”. Kate liked some of what she saw and both of them know a lot more about what kind of homes and areas might work for them.

More importantly, to borrow from Charles, their tour came with a commentary. And both Kate and Wills were able to get answers to questions that they didn’t even know they had until they saw the areas from a local’s view point.

So imagine that you’ve used two weeks of your precious holiday entitlement, plus a load of money, on your research trip. Would you prefer to be Charles and Camilla or Kate and Wills?


A Canadian in Oz

Last week our daughter, Gwen, returned from two months in Australia. She was there for a theatre course and then spent the rest of her time backpacking around the east coast of Australia. She had an awesome time, as you can imagine. She snorkelled on the great barrier reef, went to Bondi beach, cuddled a Koala and generally enjoyed herself.

We thought it was interesting as we listened to her stories about her travels that she always told people she was Canadian. After all she was born in England and lived her first 15 years there, so for her to identify herself as Canadian after only 5 years in Canada may seem amazing.

We are often asked how are children have settled into life in Canada, and I think that Gwen’s story answers that question perfectly. She told anyone she met that she was Canadian and only confessed to being British if her Vancouver friends made her.

Gwen enjoyed Australia and wants to go back for a working holiday some time in the future. In fact she’d prefer to go there than go back to the UK. What’s nice for us is that she definitely thinks of Vancouver as home.  

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