Lost and found

On our trip to and from Kelowna we used our GPS (Sat Nav). This toy (sorry tool ūüôā is wonderful when you are traveling around in unfamiliar areas. We were able to set out from Vancouver with our hotel’s address already entered and be confident that we would not only find Kelowna but also get all the way to the hotel.

Our GPS talks to us. No really it does. It tells us which turning to take. Now on a short journey in the city, it pretty much never shuts up. But on a long journey, where you are on the same road for a long time, you begin to wonder if it is on. Especially on this journey over the Coquihalla highway. The map shows you nothing but the road you are on. For five hours. In case anyone has forgotten, Canada is BIG. Really big.

We spent some time imagining what it would be like to drive from coast to coast. It would not only be the GPS that was silent. We would run out of conversation. Probably in Alberta.

Ok wines

Some years ago I recall asking my Canadian mother about Canadian wines. She had lived outside of Canada for many years but on returning to Canada had become a born again Canadian – everything about Canada was wonderful. No criticisms were tolerated.

However, my question about Canadian wines prompted my mother to pucker her mouth and wince. These turned out to be characteristic expressions that you could almost guarantee seeing on the faces of anyone drinking Canadian wines.

Thankfully things have changed a lot. I don’t know about wines in other parts of Canada, but in BC our wines have been winning awards and drawing attention internationally. So it seemed that it was our duty, as intrepid reporters,¬†to investigate the state of BC wines.

And what better place to do it than the Okanagan valley. Sue and I went over to Kelowna for a few days and managed to squeeze a few winery visits into our time there. In fact,  as Linda, our partner there, told us most people end up going on winery tours.

We started out around Kelowna where there are at least 16 wineries. These include Mission Hill (nice tour) and Quails Gate. Both of these have fine dining restaurants open both for lunch and dinner. Tip: if you are planning to eat at these places, make a reservation.

Kelowna is not the only place with vineyards. Driving south through Peachland and Summerland you see signs for a few wineries (helpfully signposted from the highway). We went to Penticton at the south end of Okanagan Lake and then up the eastern edges of the lake towards Naramata. The road up to Naramata was a wine mecca it seemed. Everywhere you looked, whether down toward the lake or up the hill sides, there were vines. The occasional fruit trees broke up the scene.

We had lunch at Lake Breeze winery. The patio was a lovely place to sit and enjoy the food. The menu included suggested wine pairings – which is the whole point of this exercise right? – and these worked well. I enjoyed their Pinot Blanc very much and Sue had the Ehrenfelser. Not a wine¬†variety we’d tried before – but this is the whole point right?

We can recommend the Okanagan. But you probably knew that. It is a destination for many people looking for the lifestyle. Recreational real estate has been one of the most buoyant of markets and the Okanagan has been on a building boom. Wherever we drove, it seemed there were new resorts or condo developments on offer. I thought that this might indicate an over-supply, but from what I gather demand is still high and though sales are no longer at their red hot level, they are still strong. From our visit I can certainly see why.

 

Ironworkers Memorial Bridge

Here in Vancouver we have two bridges that cross to the north shore, linking North and West Vancouver to the rest of Vancouver. The Lionsgate bridge is probably the best known. And with it’s three lanes, it can be a frustrating one to use.

But today I wanted to pause and think about the other bridge. It has two names: the second narrows and the ironworkers memorial bridge. The first name makes sense if you think of the Lionsgate bridge as the first narrows. The second name dates back to the catastrophic collapse of the bridge during it’s construction ion June 17, 1958. At that time eighteen ironworkers were killed¬†as the bridge fell into the Burrard inlet.

We may not think about this often as we drive over the bridge, but at least on this anniversary we should give a thought to them.  

New seabus for Vancouver

There is to be a third seabus taking people across from Lonsdale Quay to Canada Place. This brings our ferries up to three in number. We will also only have 10 minutes to wait for the next peak hour ferry, a 5 minute improvement over the 15 minutes now.

Of course we will have to wait until 2010 – the magic year when it all happens. Still it is a great way to travel, whether you are a tourist or commuter. You can even bring your bike aboard ūüėČ

Warmly,

Frank

Introducing ourselves

This is the first of our blog entries. We have been writing a weekly newsletter since December 2004. The blog will grow both from this archive of newsletters and from new topics as inspiration strikes.

I hope that you enjoy them and most of all find them useful when considering moving to Vancouver or other parts of British Columbia.

Warmly,

Frank

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