Toronto Christmas Market

torontochristmasmarket

Hello everyone! I hope you all had happy and safe holidays and a happy New Year!! I have to say that I do love the holiday season when I’m doing fun things with friends and family but buying people gifts is so stressful!! This holiday season my family decided to go to the Distillery District in Toronto to look around and go on a brewery tour. I live just outside of Toronto so heading into the city is not a big deal as it takes no time at all to get there. Now, for those who don’t know what the Distillery District is in Toronto, it is this really neat place that has cobblestone streets, cute store fronts and no cars allowed so during the holiday season… or any season really, it is a huge attraction. I took some photos of the cool buildings at the centre square with the main clock as well as the green door that I passed that really shows the kind of scheme that you’ll find in this really neat place. For the holiday season it is even more impressive and special with this huge tree that is in the centre of the district that is all done up for Christmas. You can kind of see it behind the clock in the photo there. There are these little hut/shed/storefronts that are all along the road that sell things fitting the holiday season too. Things like mulled wine, hot chocolate, tea and cute useless knick knacks! If you are in Toronto or are going to visit, I would look this place up even if it’s not for the winter season. I’ve been in the summer months as well and it’s still just as beautiful then as it is in the winter.

Now, as I’ve said, this market is in the Distillery District so it only felt right that when my family showed up, that we go to the Mill St Brewery for a tour of the facility and a beer tasting. All my siblings and I are of age in Canada and the family has been talking about going to some wine and beer tastings in the future so this day trip seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was so much fun!! Even if you’re not a beer drinker, learning about the history of the Distillery District was really cool and understanding how beer is made is so neat to learn. After we had our little history lesson with the guide, we then got to go and try out four different beers that were made in the building. All of them were different with the level of hops or percentage of alcohol and all were amazing!

millstbrewery

Here is a photo of what the flight of beer looked like that we got. Everyone got to try the same beers on their own paddle and before each taste, the guide would tell us a little bit about the beer. Even if you’re not a huge beer drinker it was a really fun thing to do with the family, especially to cap off a great day in an amazing part of the city. I hope you had a cool or special moment with your friends and family this holiday season, it always seems important to keep up those relationships and do something different to keep your bond strong.

Road Trip to Alaska and Vancouver!

BC

(Moricetown, B.C)

I am so sorry for not posting in a really long time but I wanted to do a huge post about this amazing trip I just came back from. So as I’ve mentioned before in previous posts like my Welcome Post, I have just graduated from University and I tried planning a grad trip with some friends but no one was able to decide where they wanted to go and when we would be able to take a trip. Needless to say, our trip is postponed until next year when we actually have money to spend on a trip. Haha. Anyways, my Aunt and Uncle are big on taking road trips all around North America and one place they had never been to but have always wanted to go was Alaska. They were able to get 10 days off from work and they were going to drive across Canada to Prince Rupert, British Columbia (B.C), take the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry to Ketchikan for 4 days, and then take the ferry back to Prince Rupert and drive back home. When they told me about this trip I thought it sounded like so much fun and with my friends and I not sure about our trip plans, I decided that it would really cool to go with them. So off I went to Saskatchewan, where my Aunt and Uncle live, to start my trip.

Let me just also point out that the drive from Saskatchewan to Prince Rupert B.C is about four days long and we made the drive in a three person truck. Don’t get me wrong, it was a new truck so leg room wasn’t an issue but it wasn’t as comfortable as you might think spending all that time squished together like that. I loved this trip for all the photography opportunities that we had like when we drove through Alberta in Banff National Park and got to see the Rocky Mountains.

Rocky Mountains

I have never seen the Rocky Mountains but it was amazing despite the cloudy day that we had driving through. Stopping in here by the town of Banff was so nice and quaint with a huge, old hotel that sits up on a hill that over looks this river and as surrounding views of huge mountains from every direction. This place was absolutely amazing and if you haven’t made a trip to see Banff I recommend you do because the views are breathtaking.

The next stop was into B.C where we got to stop at a local fruit stand in the middle of nowhere and get some Rainier Cherries.

Ranier Cherries

For those who don’t know, Rainier cherries are the red and yellow ones. They lady at the fruit stand told us that they only grow in B.C and they are so good! They aren’t that different from regular cherries, they are a bit firmer but they taste just the same, I just really love the amazing colour of them. Our road trip portion was really cool because we were making good time during the day so if we wanted to stop in somewhere and try something out that seemed cool, we had time to do so. I have to say, I love the road trips where you don’t feel rushed and can stop in a fruit stands on the side of the road, or go into a small town and eat at a local restaurant or just walk around a small town.

We finally made it to Prince Rupert B.C where we got to spend a relaxing afternoon just walking around this cute seaside town. It has an amazing waterfront and boardwalk with fantastic restaurants overlooking the harbour.

Prince Rupert.JPG

I was sitting on one of the patios where we were having a drink and snapped a photo of this amazing view to show you. How nice is it? There was so much life here with fishermen coming in with their daily catch and the seals swimming around in the harbour. We stayed here for the night and then at 8:30 the next morning we had to be up and on our way to the Alaska Marine Highway departure mark.

Marine Hwy.JPG

This was such a cool experience for me. I have never done anything like this but would love to do it again. So for those who don’t know, the Marine Highway is basically a huge, heavy duty boat that takes people and, if they want to pay extra, their vehicles. Some people bring their RV’s on board to travel, others just have motorcycles that they’re using; one couple had this awesome looking tandem bike that they were going to use when they got off in Ketchikan  to bike along the coast of Alaska up to another port and get back on the Marine Highway ferry to get back to B.C. So this boat is really neat with the way it works which is, you pay to get on the boat at the stop you’re going to be at, you board and get off when the boat is at the stop that you need and if you want, you can catch the boat back to Canada when it swings by your port in 4 days or whatever. We got on at Prince Rupert, ferried the 7 hours to get to Ketchikan, stayed in Ketchikan for 4 days then ferried back to Prince Rupert when the boat was on its trip back. It was really nice that the ride to Alaska was during the day so that you didn’t really feel the need to take a nap or anything like that and you could just watch the scenery go by. On the way home, our ride was from 7pm to 3am so we booked a sleeping cabin to rest on the way back.

Ketchican Sign

Ketchican

We finally got to Alaska and the landscape is amazing with this cute city set and surrounded by mountains. Now keep n mind that we stayed in the tourist part of town and did not venture into the local side but that was because of the activities that we found to do that kept us busy for the 4 days we were there. Above is the sign that every tourist stops to take a photo of and I have no doubt that this is the salmon capital of the world- they sell smoked salmon in jars everywhere. In clothing stores, shoe stores; we walked into a local shop that sold beautiful carvings from animal bones and horns and in the back corner of the store was… you guessed it, smoked salmon. any product you can think of was made with the flavour of salmon. They even had a brewery of some sort just outside of town and there was a flavour of liquor in smoked salmon. How crazy is that? I didn’t try any because, I’m sorry, it grossed me out a little bit. I like smoked salmon as much as the next person but I felt like that was crossing a line. Haha.

The lower photo of the shops on the piers is one taken from the old/original part of Ketchikan. A local told us that majority of Ketchikan that you see in the touristy part is actually built on huge piers over the water because the land is naturally hilly and steep so there was no good place to have a city. When walking along the main road, you can see stairs go up the hill with three to seven different staircases building off the main one leading to different houses. Some of the main staircases have been named with street signs because that was how people got around before! So the original part of town was really cute with the shops suspended over the water and the amazing local carvings being sold there.

Salmon River

This is the river that is just before one of the harbours and it is were all the salmon go during the salmon run. Apparently it is quite the sight to see with fish going everywhere and tons of bears wandering into this part of town to get a catch of fish for themselves. Unfortunately, we were a few weeks too early to see this but I’d love to go back and get some photos when it does happen.

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I think what I loved most about Ketchikan is that there are these amazing carvings all around the city. Whether it’s a hand carved bear catching a salmon or if it’s an ornately carved bench or even a totem pole. There is always something amazing to see.  Another local told us that his father was a wood carver who carved some of the totem poles around town and even told us the story of his family’s totem pole which was so interesting. It’s one thing to see a totem pole and appreciate  the work but it’s another to understand the meaning and references behind it.

One thing that I have to recommend was a Crab Fishermen’s Tour that we booked for one of the mornings. It was so cool and so hands on that any one of any age would love this. What is really neat is that this boat that you use on the tour was actually featured in Season 2 of The Deadliest Catch. This boat was seen on the show getting hit by a massive rogue wave and was almost capsized but was lucky saved just in time by the captain so that no crew member lost their lives. If you go to their website they have the clip of their boat on the show and it is so crazy what happened to them! But after that incident, the captain decided that he didn’t want to go rushing out into the seas anymore so he turned his crab fishing boat into a tour boat for people. He kept the machinery used to haul the nets and cages over the side and they actually use them on the tour which is cool but they have all stadium seating in the main and upper deck. I have to say that while it was really cool to see the tanks at the front of the boat filled with little sea creatures like shrimps, octopi, starfish and King Crab, it was so cool to see the bald eagles.

Two Eagles.JPG

Eagle.JPG

So what happens is they take the boat out and the boat stays in the Inside Passage so no worries about sea sickness because it’s a very tame tour that you take, nothing like what they did on The Deadliest Catch. Anyways, while on the tour they have some fish that were recently caught and they hack the fish up in to chunks and the boat makes its way to this little cove. The crew members line up and just start chucking the pieces of fish into the water and, I kid you not; about 25 eagles just rush out of the nearby trees and swarm around the boat. They move fast so I was even surprised I got the photos I did. In the first photo with two eagles, they are both aiming for that splash in the water which was a piece of fish. In the photo with a single eagle, he was circling and biding his time until he decided to dive and scoop up some fish. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Like I said the boat has two levels to it and while the bottom level is nice because it has heat, you’re close to the tanks and can get up close and personal with each creature in the tanks and talk to the crew, the upper deck is where I recommend you sit if you can deal with the potential wind and rain depending on the weather you have. The reason for this is the views you get. I could still see to the deck below and I still had the opportunity to touch and hold a range of crab (I didn’t just because they are huge and have you seen their claws?? I was not about to take the chance that I would or could get pinched!), in my opinion, the view of the eagles was so much better on the top deck. You could look all around and there were eagles everywhere! Such an amazing experience and I really recommend this trip for anyone no matter the deck you sit on!

Grandville IslandStanley Park

When the three of us got back to Prince Rupert after our 4 days in Ketchikan, we went our separate ways. My aunt and uncle started their 4 day drive back to Saskatchewan and I got on a plane to Vancouver to spend a few days there by myself before going back to Ontario. Vancouver was so nice! It was a bit nerve racking being in a city by myself for the first time but I loved it. I only had a day and a half to spend there before my 7:30 am flight on the third day. I walked around the area where my hotel was during the half day and that was a lot of fun. There were cute little shops all around and some really good restaurants that I got to try.  The second day was much more action packed for me because I did more exploring of all the classic tourist spots in Vancouver like Grandville Island and Stanley Park.

Grandville Island was so much fun. It is 100% a tourist place to go but it has cute little cafés, authentic gift shops, an amazing harbour with some seals playing around and a cool looking market. I actually really enjoyed wandering around Grandville Island. It’s not huge but there is quite a bit to see and it was packed so it was easy to kill a few hours there.

The totem pole photo is from my trip to Stanley Park. There was a whole bunch of totem poles but I couldn’t get a good enough shot without having 100 people in the photo as well. This park is really nice though! There is a great path that goes around the whole perimeter of the park with two paths, one for bikers and one for runners or walkers. I don’t know if anyone else does this or not but I find that when I walk I daydream a lot. I see what’s in front of me but I almost zone out while I walk so when I get to my destination I’m stunned that I got there, you know? So I’m walking around this one touristy part of the park where the horse and carriage rides are and I had planned to walk 3-4 km before turning around and going to another cool part of Vancouver. HA. Yeah, that did not work out as planned. So I daydreamed and when I got back to reality I realized that I had actually walked about 5.5km and there was no where close for me to stop to turn around. I had walked so far that it was still busy on the path so going against the current would have been a pain and not worth it and I was so far that there were no easy paths that I could have taken to get to a road to call a cab to get out of there! So I did what anyone else would have done. I walked the rest of the 5km to get back to civilization so I could call a cab. I accidentally walked a full 10.5 km in bad shoes! Who does that?? It was great exercise, don’t get me wrong, but the blisters on the bottom of my feet would tell you a completely different story of my experience! Haha.

Anyways, my trip was fantastic and I recommend that you guys look into doing something like this if you can because it was so much fun! Alaska was great but if I could go back I would want to go to a different town or city and see that they’ve got going on, I’ve had enough smoked salmon to last me a little while!! Vancouver is definitely somewhere I think everyone should go to at least once, it is beautiful and there are so many cool things to do that I didn’t have time for but I would love to go back and do more exploring.

Love,

R.A.B