A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

On the Trail of Odin and Athena

overcast 15 °C

It’s mid September and the changing colours tell us that it’s time to start packing up our island home and setting off on another adventure. Although we live on the edge of one of the world’s most expansive rainforests, and look out over the cerulean Salish Sea towards the permanently snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, this summer’s perpetual sun was sometimes dimmed by smoke from more than 600 forest fires. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and we were rewarded with some magnificent sunrises from our kitchen window....
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We also had many sightings of whales, sea-lions, seals, otters, vultures and eagles, and this morning, as we prepared to leave, a huge school of dolphins swam right past our front windows. This is one of the many eagle-eyed raptors that we saw on a daily basis as they surveyed the beach below us hunting for prey...
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Thanks to the wonders of laser surgery James now has eagle-eyes and was able to create this colourful ratatouille dish for one of our summer parties...
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But, when it comes to colour, Sheila surely took the prize for creating this beautiful quilt for a very special person...
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Summer was a busy time with several family visitors from the U.K. along with trips to Vancouver, Victoria and Campbell River. One trip to Government House in the provincial capital of Victoria was especially memorable as we went to witness long-time friend, Joyce, receiving an award from the Lieutenant Governor for forty years of community service. Here is Sheila and Joyce at Government House following the award ceremony...
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Our garden suffered this summer through four months of drought with temperatures close to 30 degrees but James, with the aid of members of his woodworkers guild, was able to add a colourful addition to the Japanese Garden...
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And here is the finished Torii gate...
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Now the rains have come to our little Pacific island and it is already snowing in the mountain passes, so we are taking off to explore lands steeped in ancient mythology. We will start in Scandinavia, the land of Vikings, smorgasbord and wooden longships. From there we will wend our way south to the Aegean sea in search of some late autumnal sunshine and the home of Athena. But first a quick stop in our native England. Come with us as we go in search of Odin, and his Greek cousin, Athena.

Posted by Hawkson 12:44 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

Los Colores de Sudamerica

rain 8 °C

Our journey to the end of the world and back took us through an amazing kaleidoscope of colours that began with James and his son, Ian, swimming with the sharks in the warm aquamarine seas surrounding the Galapagos Islands...
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Their next adventure was zip-lining high above the verdant canopy in the tropical cloud forest of Mindo, Ecuador. It was there that they encountered thousands of flambouyant butterflies...
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The South American continent is vast and it is some 15,00 kilometres from our home in the North Pacific to the tip of Patagonia at the other end of the world. Our first stop together was in Peru where 65,000 indigenous dancers and musicians in their brilliant costumes took nearly 24 hours to dance their way through the streets of Puno, more than 12,000 feet above sea level on the shores of Lake Titicaca...
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The perpetual sun that followed us to the end of the world and back warmed us as we visited the floating Uros islands on Lake Titicaca and shone on the brilliantly painted reed boats of the Aymara peoples - and from there the colours just kept getting more vibrant. First there were the stalls laden with all manner of carnaval paraphernalia on the chaotic streets of La Paz, Bolivia, followed by the incredible reflections on the surface of the salt flats in Uyuni...
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And then to Valparaiso, Chile, where elaborate murals adorn almost every building in the old port city...
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Following the tree lined avenues and boulvards of Santiago we headed to southern Patagonia where this solitary king penguin was showing off his brilliant plumage to his black and white megellanic cousins. We imagined him saying, "O.K. Clear the runway. If Wilbur and Orville could do it..."
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The starkly white Perito Moreno glacier of El Calafate in Argentina led us on to our next stop, Buenos Aires, where the parks and gardens were festooned with blossoming trees. But then the vineyards and leafy avenues of Mendoza drew us back to the Andes. From Mendoza we headed north to Cordoba and then on to witness the incredible vistas of the Iguazu falls...
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Next stop, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the colourful favelas that festoon the hillsides. Sheila couldn't resist buying this shawl on the beach at Copacabana for our dear Cuban friend, Lourdes...
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For the statisticians: this journey of 75 days took us more than 24,000 miles (the earth's circumference at the equator) by a total of 29 flights. We stayed in 27 hotels and guesthouses and ate in more than 150 restaurants. Now we are back home for the summer – just one bed and one restaurant and time to plan our next adventure in this wide and wonderful world. But first, a big thank you to all the terrific people who helped us along the way and listened patiently to our garbled Spanish. After several years of trying we have finally grasped sufficient so that we no longer begin each conversation with, “Hables ingles?” (Do you speak English?).
A special thank you to our very good friends in Cuba – Leyani, Osvedi and their sons in Vinales, and Las tres amigas, (the three friends); Lourdes, Marisol and Rita in Havana. Muchos gracias to them for their kind hearts and incredible generosity, and thank you for coming along for the ride. We hope to see you soon on our next Blissful Adventure somewhere in this wonderful colourful world. Adios for now.

Posted by Hawkson 16:56 Archived in Canada Comments (8)

Out of Touch

storm 6 °C

Dear Regular Blog Readers,
James wants to let you know that he and his son have NOT been eaten by sharks or giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands. They are having a great time diving and sunning themselves. However, the Galapagos is more than 1000 kilometers from Ecuador and getting on the internet has proven difficult for James. Rest assured that as soon as the internet becomes available, James will be back with blogs and photos. Meanwhile don’t feel sorry for them!
From the Wife who is suffering in the gales off the West Coast of Canada!!

Posted by Hawkson 15:27 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

On The Road Again

semi-overcast 17 °C

While every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, ours usually starts with a long haul flight. But, although we are headed to the furthest fringes of eastern Europe, we began with a relatively short hop to our nation's capital – Ottawa. These are the parliament buildings...
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And this is the KitKat themed cake that James made in Ottawa to celebrate our friend Trudy's significant birthday...
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Canada is vast and the "short hop” to our capital city took us four thousand five hundred kilometres by ships, buses, cars a train and a plane – a distance greater than we will travel over the next few weeks when we pass through 15 countries from Tallinn in the northern Baltics to the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. But first, a trip around southern Ontario to visit friends and see the breathtaking Niagara Falls...
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Visitors from all over the world are enthralled by the spectacle of the Falls, but not so many realise that just 20 kilometres away is Niagara-on-the-Lake - Canada's prettiest town. This is the historic high street where many of the buildings are 200 years old...
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Southern Ontario lies adjacent to the United States and before the American War of Independence (1775 – 1782) there was no effective border. However, in 1812 the two countries were at war and fortresses were built on both sides. Fort Niagara on the U.S. side is just a short distance across the river from Niagara -on-the-Lake...
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And this is one of the many canons in Fort Henry, Kingston, aimed across the border at the United States. These fortresses and canons haven't been needed for over 200 years but we keep them just in case a lunatic ever becomes the President of the United States!!!
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It is fall in Canada and the Ontario maples are beginning to take on their fancy vermilion plumage. ..
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The countryside will be aflame with colour in a week or so and then will come the deep freeze with temperatures plummeting to minus 30 degrees celsius or lower. So – it's time to for us to push on southward to the Mediterranean. First, a brief stop in England. See you soon.

Posted by Hawkson 13:35 Archived in Canada Comments (9)

Home Sweet Home

sunny 16 °C

Here we are safely back home on our little Pacific island and although we've travelled 42,000 kilometres since January we have felt at home the entire time. Despite New Zealand's unique flora and fauna the geography is very similar to that of British Columbia - a rocky shoreline encircling ranges of snow capped mountains surrounded by temperate rainforests and pristine lakes...
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The culture of New Zealand was also familiar to us and was reminiscent of the England of our childhood. There is far less American influence than in Canada, and British favourites like Devonshire cream teas, fish & chips, and Cornish pasties are everywhere.
Tasmania, with its tiny population, was built on the backs of transported prisoners and the architecture has a distinctly British style. This corner pub/hotel could be anywhere in England...
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And this is an original 1825 hasp on the door of Richmond Goal – the first of Tasmania’s infamous prisons for women transportees...
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We felt completely at home in Tasmania as we did throughout the rest of Australia. The main island of Australia is vast and although we drove some 7,000 kilometres in three weeks we barely scraped the southeast corner. Thanks to friends in Melbourne, Mount Victoria and Sydney, we got a solid introduction to local life, however it was the variety and quantity of wildlife that surprised us most. We loved seeing the flocks of emus in the outback. This mother had three chicks...
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We especially loved seeing the kangaroos, the koalas and, of course, Australia’s iconic black swans...
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You might think that we felt so at home in Australasia because of the similarity between our language, customs and cuisine, but, in truth, we felt just as comfortable in Japan. Maybe it is the Japanese people’s incredible politeness and honesty that we enjoy. We thought we had seen everything when the waitress chased after us with a 50 cent overpayment, until the check-out clerk at a Tokyo supermarket ran into the street because we had not taken the 1 cent change for a carton of milk. We have so many wonderful memories of this trip, but the flowering of the cherry trees at Kanazawa Castle will forever symbolize Japan in our minds...
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Despite a few showers when we arrived in Tokyo, the sun soon came out and the Sensui-ji temple at Asakusa looked amazing in the early morning light...
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However, it didn’t take long for the tourists to show up...
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With Tokyo’s population exceeding the whole of Canadas it’s not surprising that the city has vast shopping centres. The best known is the Ginza where we went looking for a birthday card. We were directed to a shop with 17 floors dedicated entirely to stationery - all manner of paper, pens and cards – and were surprised to see that the 11th floor was described as ‘The Farm”. Could that mean stationery dedicated to agricultural business? No – it is actually a farm...
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... a hydroponic farm growing vegetables for the 12th floor restaurant. Nothing surprises us in Japan and we spent our final night in the Akasasa district at the Ninja Restaurant as guests of our friend Yoshie. Ninjas were spies and assassins in 15th and 16th century Japan when it was
considered unseemly for the samurai warriors to engage in subterfuge. The ninjas were a feared underclass because of their believed ability to make themselves invisible and to kill silently. We were greeted outside the restaurant by a ninja warrior dressed entirely in black and led to our 'dungeon' through a labyrinth of dark tunnels and secret doors. We were then served a multi-course haute-Japanese meal by a 'Ninja' waiter who couldn't have squashed a rumour let alone a fly...
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So, that’s it folks, another part of the globe explored and explained. We trust that you enjoyed the experience – we certainly did. We truly appreciate your presence, and your comments, and we hope you travel with us again the next time we pack our bags and head out on another Blissfull Adventure.
Sayonara for now.

Posted by Hawkson 20:28 Archived in Canada Comments (8)

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