Chalet Alta Vista – Whistler

Chalet Alta Vista
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

This is Chalket Alta VIsta – what a relief to the normal backpackers we have been visiting! This is our accommodation in Whistler, about a fifteen minute walk from the ski village and only minutes to the lake and Whistler Golf Course.

The Chalet is like a big house and very comfortable. We stayed three nights and spent a lot of time lounging about and doing short trips into the ski village. We met some great people here and we were sad to leave. One such person was Craig, a fellow Australian who lived and worked in the Chalet and had actually met Simon three years earlier!

Neither recognised one another although we were sure that there was some connection as Craig was from the Illawarra and had a number of friends from the Shire. It was only while Simon and Craig were talking cars (I left them for a second!) that they realised they had met before. Simon mentioned that he lived in Bangor and Craig started to describe someone he once knew who lived in Bagor, described Simon’s street and that this guy owned a Toyota Soarer – it was at this point that Simon realised Craig was describing him!

They had met through the Toymods car club and even more bizarre Simon had driven Craig in his car for over an hour once yet still hadn’t recognised him. Craig was able to log onto his computer and show Simon photos of his car!

Whistler Village itself was nice, although it is a bit too purpose built. Almost like a theme park for adults. While we were there there was a mountain biking conference on and one of the ski slopes had been converted into a bike park. The golf course (one of three in Whislter) looked very fancy, we could tell by the pretty cool buggys and the fact that all the people there looked like they were straight out of Miami Vice – very white teeth. Whistler is a mixed bag of backpacker and rich – you know which camp we are from.

I really enjoyed Whistler and even though it is summer there was still plenty to see and do.


Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Our final day in Vancouver before we head off to Whistler so we decided to head off to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. To get there we took the Seabus (ferry) to North Vancouver and then a bus up to the bridge. The Bridge was built after a settler discovered a huge gorge running through his land and no way to cross. He then sold the bridge to an aspiring scot who charged city slickers 10c to walk across the bridge.

This started a craze that continues today – however inflation means you pay $20 to cross the bridge now. On the site there is also a historic tour telling the tale of the bridge (lots of romance involved but I wont bore you with the details) and on the other side of the gorge is a series of boardwalks through the forest and a treetop walk.

Walking across the brigde was a bit of a worry as it tends to swing and shake as about a hundred tourists clomp along. Once you get used to the swaying though the walk is quite something. I’m not sure of the exact dimensions, I’m sure Simon can fill you in, but I did note that if the Statue of Liberty were standing next to the bridge it would come up to her shoulder and it is so long that two 747’s could fly wing to wing under it.

I really enjoyed the tree top walk. This was 7 bridges linked to platforms positioned halfway up Douglas Firs in the forest. When we stood on one of the platforms and looked up, the tree was so tall that you felt you were standing on the ground and not halfway up the tree. Simon has a photo that gives you a bit on an idea of just how tall the trees are, one though was about 200ft tall.

Simon and I can understand why this has been a tourist attraction for over 200 years, very pleasent day out and a bit of a thrill as well.

A blog for all you foodies


Originally uploaded by simmogem.

This one is for all you food nuts out there – you know who your are Jenny and Kimberley – how do corn chips come in three different colours?! Now before you say food colouring I have already checked that and even the organic corn chips with no added flavours or colours come in this vibrant red and greeny blue colour. When you have the answer post a comment – I will pick up a special souvenier for the first person to give me the explanation. These tri colour corn chips were not a one off either, they are what most establishments serve.

More on food, Mums and Dads relax we have been eating well. Groceries here are fairly well priced and like Sydney if you hit China Town you can pick up some great stuff. Simon whipped up a pretty good chilli con carne the other night and we had it for lunch again the next day – this did our budget the world of good. Therefore here is the second food task of the day – we need some more recipes like this. The main criteria is that ther require few ingredients and they are relativly easy to whip up in a busy hostel kitchen.

My other note on food, or more so shopping for food, is on the Choice Supermarket in Vancouver. This is gluten free shopping heaven. The store is an organic supermarket but on all the shelves the gluten free products are marked with a blue tag – this made my life about ten times easier. In fact supermarkets in Canada are generally shopper friendly. NIce wide aisles, soft lighting, dark timber fixtures and all have a little coffee shop in the front. The Marketplace, a supermarket in downtown Vancouver was so comfortable we had our breakfast there – also it was $2 for a muffin and coffee – can’t really beat that.

Anyways, look forward to the recipes. I will pop a couple of reviews up from time to time.

Victoria Harbour


Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Yesterday we had taken a walk to the harbour of victoria so Gemma could see the Empress Hotel and spotted the Legaslative Legaslative Building. We took a free tour and learnt that to celebrate a visit from the Queen they had installed 3000 lights to the outside of the building that are turned on at night.

I thought this would make a great photo so this evening we headed down to the harbour again (15 minute walk). The sun sets at about 9pm here so we left at about 8:10 so we could find a good spot before it got dark. I still have a bit to learn when it comes to dressing appropriately for the Canadian climate as my T-shirt and polar fleece vest left a little lacking once the sun dropped.

Gemma, my kind assistant, went and found us coffee while we waited for what seemed an eternity for the lights to come on. I assume who evers duty it is to flick the switch was asleep at their post as they didn’t come on until after 9:30pm.

ONce the lights were on, finding a place to clamp my camera to became quite a task. We treied a park seat, a war memorial, a high tension cable supporting a pole but the best photo ended up comming from the camera being perched atop a bin! And who should we find trying to sqeeze his way into the photo. None other than Captain James Cook who has taken up prime position in front of the harbour and the Empress.

I’ll have to edit the bird poo out later.


Cycling Stanley Park


Originally uploaded by simmogem.

This would have to be up there with my favourite days – following Simon around Stanley Park on a bicycle!

I’m not much of an adventurer and I haven’t ridden a bike since I was about ten so I was a little unsure about how I and my butt would go riding a bike all day, but it was fantastic. The weather as you can see was glorious and the track follows the harbour shoreline giving uninterupted views for the entire trip.

We also rode over the Burrard St Bridge to Granville Island. The island (not really and island more of a peninsula) has a series of old warehouses converted into shops, markets, art galleries and what appeared to be a arts college. The whole place has a carnival feel to it and was a great place to sit and watch the world go by.

After a drink and some tri coloured corn chips (more on that later) we mounted our bikes for the ride home. As I said I did ok on the bike, except for one section of the ride and that was going back over the Burrard St Bridge. People often say ‘I almost had a heart attack’ when they are a bit short of breath – but I say to you I really did almost have a heart attack! Overall the day was really enjoyable and I would recommend that anyone visiting Vancouver should hire a bike and ride Stanley Park.

post script – 13/06/06: My butt is killing me!

Quick Update

Now at Skagway, our last stop on the cruise.

Have taken loads of photos and lots has happened in the last two days.  When we return to Vancouver (sunday) we will update the blog with our diary entries and upload some of the pictures for you to see.  But for now, we are safe and having a great time.

We enjoyed reading your comments, keep them coming.

Gemma and Simon


White pass Railway in Skagway
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Skagway is our longest stop on the cruise and is a historic Gold Rush town that has been preserved to appear as it did in 1898. Reminds me of visiting Old Sydney town when I was about 5.

Skagway claims to have invented the board walk in an attempt to keep mud out of the shop fronts. Speaking of shopfronts, on entering Skagway I commented to Gemma that buildings all had false fronts or facades much like a movie set. Initially we thought this was to provide the illusion of being in the late 1800’s however, our tour guide later that day explaine that this was actually historically acurate. Skagway began as a tent city and some stores/resturants errected false building fronts in front of their tents to give the impression of a more classy establishment. Some of the buildings even have given the impression of additional levels through the facades.

The gold rush in Skagway lasted all of 3 years between 1897 – 1901. Skagway has survived ever since as a tourist attraction drawing visitors to the White Pass Railway which transported gold seekers from the sea port to the gold fields in the mountains 3000ft above.

This brings us to our shore excursion. At 9am we departed aboard the last carriage of the White Pass rail. The steam engine has been replaced with a diesel motor but the carriages are authentic. The railway was fantastic. Starting at…well sea level and climbing to just under 3000ft in about 15 miles is an experience. To think that the tunnels were carved from the solid granite mountain by hand over 100 years ago seems impossible. However considering the alternative of dragging food, tools and other supplies up the mountain by hand justifies their labours.

You can ride the railway to Yukon which is well into Canada but is a 6 hour return journey. We opted to take the 3.5 hour trip that takes you to the peak (which is also the Canadian border) and then turns around. We choose to do the trip in the morning as we thought the ‘evening’ summit may not provide as good photo opportunities. I guess we forgot that the sun sets at 11:45pm here.

Once back in town we had a bite to eat then took a free guided walking tour of historic Skagway provided by the parks and wildlife authority. They actually buy and restore historic buildings and then rent them back to the retailers for a tidy profit. A government authority that seems to be doing quite well and giving back to the community?

We finished off the day with a drink in a Saloon on the mainstreet. Having the longer time makes for a much more relaxing experience.

Check out the photos to see more.