Category: vancouver

Fog and temperature inversions

Looking down on the fog in Vancouver
Looking down on the fog in Vancouver

I may turn this into a weather blog the way things are going. Here in Vancouver we have had snow, rain, floods and now fog. Without getting too (or even at all) technical I can say that the cold weather at sea level and the warmer weather above has trapped the fog at sea level. A lot of the Burrard Inlet and the lower reaches of the north shore have been shrouded in fog all week.

This can make for some crazy experiences. If you are reading this on the web site you will see the photo that my friend Geoff took from Cypress Mountain this week. You can see the fog blanket below. What you can’t see, is that Geoff and other skiers and boarders on the north shore mountains were in t-shirts. It may have been freezing at sea level but on the mountain slopes it was 15° or more.

I wanted to take a picture of the fog too, and headed up to the view point on Cypress but there were so many others doing the same thing that I was turned away.

The fog is due to go tomorrow.

Flying out of YVR

I am writing this at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), sitting in the beautiful landscaped area the other side of the security checks. Not something you expect to say about an airport – landscaped interiors! But there is a stream, a huge fish tank, bridges and comfortable seats. Lots of them, most of which are empty.

Above me the walkway has a stream of people walking. They have arrived off some international flight (your intrepid reporter is not going to find out which one). If anyone has flown into YVR they will have walked along this way too, looking down on the stream and wondering what the line-ups are going to be like at immigration.

Of course there are the usual duty free shops to entertain me. And I have had my double espresso from, unfortunately, Starbucks. My daughter, Alice, would be horrified. She, like me, favours the boutique coffee bars – caffe artigiano, 49th parallel or the like. (Ask Alice for her favourite ones in Victoria if you’re planning to visit there).

The standard of service has been good so far. The security staff were friendly. No bleeping sounds when I went through so no need to frisk me. The barista at Starbucks was super friendly too. Perhaps he wanted me to leave him all my Canadian money as a huge tip.

One thing worth noting is that I am using the airport’s free wireless internet connection. Something which I find very useful. It is too crowded at Heathrow for me to have even tried looking for a hot spot so I don’t know if it is available there for free. I do know that Vancouver is very well served by free WiFi connections. Some are deliberately so, and others simply not secured. I doubt that you would need an internet connection of your own in many downtown apartments… just borrow one of your neighbours!

In London, on my last visit, I struggled to find an internet service that did not charge and at a huge cost. Hotels have certainly woken up the fact that they can charge for this service and make a bit of extra money on the room bill. Grrrr.

I cannot say that I am looking forward to the flight. This, as you may know, is going to be a very short visit to the UK. Arriving tomorrow (Thursday) and returning on Monday. In the meantime, two days at the Opportunities Canada Expo at Olympia. Anyone who sees me dozing off there will know why. I am hoping there will be somewhere I can get regular supplies of double espressos. Or doppio ones from Starbucks as I will need them.

See you in London.

Snow angels

Snow season is approaching. We have already had some snow on the north shore mountains. Like most Vancouverites I am hoping for a lot of snow to settle on the mountains.

One of our friends has some lovely photos of their hike up on Mount Seymour last week, where there was enough snow for their oldest daughter to make a snow angel. For their youngest, not yet a year old, it was her first experience of snow. How exciting.

Actually locals too have this same excitement about the opening of the ski season. With the mountains visible from all over the area we have a constant reminder of the state of the snow and the urge to get out onto the mountains comes on strong.

It is something that most of us from other countries have not experienced – the thrill of waiting for the fun to start. And here in Vancouver, unlike eastern Canada which has already had a big winter storm, we look forward to snow purely as a recreational activity. It is rarely an inconvenience. And if we do have a big dump of snow, then the kids get to enjoy a “snow day” – with their schools closed.

Happy 150th Birthday BC

Today British Columbia is 150 years old. On November 19, 1858 in Fort Langley British Columbia came into existence. The colony’s first Governor James Douglas presided over the ceremony held in the fort. Apparently it was raining. By contrast today is bright and sunny.

There are a few other differences that someone present at that ceremony 150 years ago might notice. Fort Langley did not stay the capital for long. New Westminster took over only a year later and eventually Victoria.

More obviously of course, the Province has grown in population. It is estimated that in the 1850’s there were less than 150 people of European descent west of the Rockies. The first BC gold rush in the same year and the second one in 1862 soon changed that. Tens of thousands of men, and a few women, came up from California seeking their fortunes.

There were no roads in the colony at the time. Instead the rivers were the main transport routes. With the Rockies as a seemingly impassable barrier and transport no faster than walking or paddling pace, it must have seemed a very remote place.

The area was also densely forested. Imagine the huge first growth forests. Nowadays we have to use our imagination since so little of these mighty trees are left. I doubt that the few Europeans looked on these trees as anything but a nuisance or a business opportunity.

British Columbia has come a long way. Like me, many others are still attracted to this beautiful part of the world.

Summer in Langley, White Rock and Surrey

Last week we featured Nanaimo (and beyond) and looked at the top things to do in the summer according to our partner Gary and Toni.

Now Juliet, our partner in the Langley area (and beyond) offers her top 3 things to do in the summer. You may have guessed that I am making the most of our partners to take a break from the newsletter writing!

GREATER VANCOUVER ZOO, ALDERGROVE, LANGLEY

When I took some English visitors to this zoo last year, they were amused by its simplicity and primitiveness. Seeing it through their eyes, it did strike me how slightly run-down it appears compared to the more slick zoos and animal parks in the UK.

But it does have a kind of old-fashioned charm; a refreshing lack of corporate commercialism. Despite its brush with controversy over the years, and if you can cope with the whole idea of paying to see caged animals, which as an animal lover I counter with the education it has given my kids, it is a great day out. When I was there last, I spent a whole day with the kids walking leisurely around the zoo’s never-crowded trails, taking a trip on the train, watching the kids play in the playground, walking around the indoor creepy-crawly section with both eyes shut, watching the falconry display, and finishing with a look around the small but surprisingly impressive gift store. If you go, don’t miss the grizzly and wolf enclosure; it seems a little more like a natural habitat, and passing through the sets of locked gates on the tour bus, complete with knowledgeable guide, it almost feels like a short-lived but real safari.

WHITE ROCK BEACH, WHITE ROCK

Ahh…White Rock. One of my favourite places in the world. Even if I can’t afford to live there, I find myself driving the 20 minutes from Cloverdale at least three times a week. There is something about the expanse of sandy beaches, with distant islands and mountains looming on the horizon of the shimmering Pacific, that makes me feel absolutely connected to Canada. Just walking on those East beaches when the tide is out, or swimming in the ocean when the tide is in, is a perfect example of what this country has to offer: clean seas, beautiful scenery; un-crowded, unspoiled and simply stunning. A little further along to the west and you will find a European influence in the bars and restaurants with their cold beer, busy patios and inviting ambience; and the beachy shops with their bikinis and beach balls.

BRUNCH AT NORTHVIEW GOLF COURSE, SURREY

Sitting on the patio at Northview Golf Course on a sunny Sunday morning, it is hard to believe that you are in Surrey. Not known for its natural beauty, but more for its continual development and much-maligned reputation as a crime-haven, Surrey is in fact quite stunning. A great way to see this beauty is sitting overlooking a perfectly manicured golf course (of which there are many in Surrey) with a backdrop of distant snow-capped mountains, a plate of delicious food in front of you. Northview will take your breath away, even if you skip the golf and head straight for the buffet.

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