We started our one day in Vancouver nice and early being that our bodies were still in Eastern Time. We left our Airbnb in a beautiful North Vancouver neighborhood and spent several hours at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. From there we took a bus and Sea Bus (what Vancouver calls its fery) to downtown Vancouver.
When planning our day in Vancouver, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to eat at Japadog. I have no idea where I had heard of Japadog, but the concept intrigued me: Japanese flavors meet an American staple. I can’t tell you enough how delicious these hot dogs were! I wish there was a Japadog in Michigan!
After lunch, we headed to the Vancouver Lookout to get a bird’s eye view of the city (top). Built in 1977 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, the Harbor Center Building that houses the lookout was the tallest building in the city at the time. Nowadays, a glass elevator takes guests 168 meters (553 feet) up to a viewing platform with a 360-degree view of Vancouver from the 6th tallest building in the city. The Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant is also in the Harbor Center Building for visitors looking for a fine dining experience with an unbeatable view. As a cruise nerd, I enjoyed seeing the ships at Canada Place (left)!
From there we took a bus to Stanley Park and walked around enjoying the beautiful day. With over 1,000 acres, there is a lot to explore in Stanley Park. The park first opened in 1888 and was named after Lord Stanley, the 6th governor general of Canada. Construction of the Seawall (above) began in 1917 and took decades to complete. There is much to do in Stanley Park including 27 km of trails, a waterpark, beaches, the Vancouver Aquarium, or ride a horse-drawn carriage, trolley, or train. You could spend a whole day exploring the park!
I definitely feel like we barely scratched the surface of Vancouver! One thing I wanted to do that we just didn’t have time for was a culinary tour of Chinatown. I guess Vancouver will have to go on the list of places to return to!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop back next week as we board the Serenade of the Seas and head to Sitka, Alaska! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
A few weeks ago we took a getaway for a weekend in Essex, Canada. Only half an hour from Detroit, Essex is on the shore of Lake Erie and is known as Ontario’s wine country. We rented an AirBNB right on the water. Even though it was too cold to spend time on the beach, it was nice to sit in front of the fireplace and hear the waves crashing out the window. It was a very relaxing winter weekend.
We chose Essex because of the location. It was closer than most of our favorite places on the water in Michigan. Houses in Essex were much cheaper than equivilant homes on Lake Michigan. Factor in the exchange rate that the American dollar currently gets you about $1.25 Canadian, a weekend in Canada can be a really good deal!
Of course, going into Canada, you have to worry about border crossings. We crossed the border so late we were the only car in line and it couldn’t have even taken 5 minutes. Coming home on Sunday was a little busier, but it was pretty quick too, maybe ten minutes. If you time it right, crossing the border isn’t too bad.
Probably the hardest thing about taking a weekend in a foreign country is having to worry about customs. Normally, when you’re on vacation its not a big deal to bring leftovers home, but crossing the border makes that tricky. We had to buy the smallest quantities of food to cook so we didn’t waste too much and tried not to have leftovers from restaurants because there are stringent rules about what you can and cannot bring across the border. I don’t know how strict they are about enforcing those rules, but I didn’t really want to find out. To find out more information about what can be brought back from Canada, visit Customs and Border Control.
This was the first time I had been to Canada since I was an adult. Even though it is only an hour away, the border crossing was something that intimidated me. Now that I have done it, it really wasn’t a big deal. We will probably go to Canada more frequently now that we’ve done it and realized how easy it is.
Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
And You Should Too! Lonely Planet recently named Detroit as the #2 city in the world to visit! It was the only city in the continental U.S. to make the list and after this list came out, I was surprised by all the negative comments from my fellow Michiganganders. Yes, Detroit has been hit hard since the race riots in the 60’s to the more recent corruption scandals and a bankruptcy filing. It seems that Detroit is finally making a comeback, but for some reason the locals can’t see the progress. I am here to tell you to give it a chance!
1. Earlier in the year, Detroit was named an “unexpected food city” by National Geographic and once again, it was the only city listed in North America. The article sites Corktown favorites such as Slow’s Barbeque, and ethnic delights from Greektown (obviously Greek food prevails here), Hamtramack (Polish cuisine), and Dearborn (Middle Eastern eats). Alton Brown also listed Anthology Coffee in Detroit as one of his top 5 cups of coffee ever. I would say that’s high praise for the Detroit food scene and a reason that I should be more adventurous when dining in the D.
2. Downtown Detroit is home to one of the greatest collection of pre-war skyscrapers in the world. From the Fisher and Guardian buildings to the more modern Renaissance Center, there is much beauty and history to be explored in the city. I love that Pure Detroit offers tours of several of these buildings from their stores and fill visitors in on the history and significance of these architectural marvels.
3. If you are looking for a little culture, the Detroit Institute of Arts has a world class collection of art in an absolutely stunning building! Located in Midtown Detroit, it is within walking distance to the Detroit History Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Detroit Science Center, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit as well as Wayne State University, The College of Creative Studies, and the beautiful Detroit Public Library. This is really the cultural hub of the city.
4. Speaking of culture, Detroit is also home to many beautiful theaters. Take in a show at The Fisher Theater, Fox Theater, Detroit Opera House, Masonic Temple, The Fillmore, or Orchestra Hall to name a few. The theater tradition in Detroit dates back to the 20’s with The Fox being the first theater to be built with film sound equipment. Part of the music for West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein was composed on the piano in the Fox Theater. Hello, Dolly actually premiered at The Fisher Theater before making its debut on Broadway. Orchestra Hall is home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the 4th oldest U.S. Orchestra. (wiki)
5. Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons, oh my (sorry, no bears) now all reside within the city limits. In the late 90’s, in a plan to begin the revitalization of downtown, Ford Field (Lions) and Comerica Park (Tigers) were built adjacent to each other on Woodward Avenue. As of 2017, both the Pistons and Red Wings now play at the new Little Caesars Arena in Midtown. With the most Stanley Cup Championships of any NHL Team, Detroit is affectionately known as Hockeytown. With all of Detroit’s sports teams downtown, that is one more reason to visit the city during any season.
6. I remember visiting Belle Isle about 15 years ago and it was rundown and desolate. In 2013, the State Park Service took over management of the park and has begun a beautiful restoration! The beautiful Belle Isle Aquarium which was the oldest continually operating public aquarium in the U.S. until it closed in 2005 is open again and is home to fish from around the world. Next door, The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is another Albert Kahn masterpiece full of beautiful palms, cacti, and ferns. I recently visited the Dossin Great Lakes Museum for the first time and I was truly impressed (expect an article on that at a later date). In the summer, visitors flock to the beaches to cool off in the Detroit River. Of course, a visit to Belle Isle would not be complete without a spot at Sunset Point to photograph the beautiful Detroit skyline (top).
7. Of course, if you venture just outside the city there are some additional must-see attractions. Located in Dearborn, The Henry Ford, known as “America’s Greatest History Attraction”, is made up of a collection of historic buildings with costumed reenactors at Greenfield Village, The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, and The Rouge Factory Tour. Of course there is also the Detroit Zoo, which despite its name is actually in Royal Oak. The highlight of the zoo is also the newest attraction, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center where you can get up close and personal with the penguins! Don’t miss the Outback exhibit either: the kangaroos can hop right up to you!
Like any major city, Detroit does have crime. Visitors just need to remain vigilant and stay in the tourist areas. Detroit is not a city where you want to go exploring off the beaten path. I have noticed on my recent visits to the city (which tend to be on weekends), there really don’t seem to be a lot of people around. Don’t let the negative press surrounding Detroit, keep you from experiencing this unique, impressive city.
Thanks for stopping by! To plan your trip to Detroit, check out VisitDetroit.com. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.
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On my last trip to Chicago, I was very excited to go to the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower Skydeck and get some cool shots of the city, although I was quite terrified of the elevator. On this trip, we elected to try the CityPass, which saved us a little bit of time, I would imagine it would be a lifesaver during busy times. When I got up to the Skydeck I noticed two things: 1.) There were a lot of people up there, all trying to do the same thing I was trying to do and 2.) I was not going to get the skyline shot I had in mind. Luckily it was a beautiful day and I was able to get a few shots that I could work with.
About the Photo:
As I eluded to, I had to do a little more editing on this photo than I usually do. Shooting through (dirty) glass is an added challenge; I had to take out some of the grime and reflection that I got from the windows. It was edited from a JPG with Photoshop Elements.
Nikon D3100 with 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens handheld
January 1, 2015
My most recent vacation was a weekend trip to Chicago after New Years. It was a busy, museum-filled trip with my favorite being a traveling Disney Archives Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. We got the CityPass for this trip and it really paid off! It didn’t make much of a difference at the SkyDeck or The Field Museum (although we did arrive at the Field in the afternoon when there was no line at all) but it really paid off at the Shedd Aquarium where the line was down the steps and people were waiting out in the open with slush falling from the sky. If you are planning on visiting Chicago and you want to see the sights without worrying about arriving early to avoid lines, the CityPass is definitely worth it! For more information visit http://www.citypass.com/!
This photo was taken near dusk on the steps of the Field Museum looking out at the city. I really like how the statue stands taller than the skyscrapers in the distance.