Otherwise known as YVR, this is one beautiful airport. As soon as you enter, there is a nature theme, even sounds like the trickling of streams… that’s because there are actual streams winding their way through the space.
There’s stunning Indigenous art, and another great feature is the aquarium. It’s so well designed that as you come upon it, it looks a part of nature & you’re drawn to its relaxing flow. To many viewers’ delight, 2 scuba divers suddenly appeared in the tank to clean & check the fish.
There are so many things to see as you wander through to pick up someone from Arrivals or while you await your own flight.
Cartier, Burberry, convenience shops with snacks & amenities to make your trip better & many other stores line the corridors, along with quite a good selection of food. There are a couple of sit down restaurants, if you’re looking for a more civilized meal that takes a little more time, or there are spots like A&W, Subway, Salmon & Bannock (with a delicious fresh beet salad & also candied salmon on a bed of fresh lettuce for those of us with dairy & gluten intolerances or who want to eat a little healthier). Of course there’s also Starbucks.
The washrooms are always clean, with plenty of soap & sanitizer. There are water stations so that you can bring your own bottle to refill. There’s a play area & plenty of seating to watch the planes come & go. The only thing that is still lacking is the complete shortage of outlets to recharge phones, laptops, etc.
Vancouver International Airport was fabulous this trip. It’s beautiful, yes, but it was also efficient & very clean. Our luggage went straight from YVR to RAK & back with no issues… thank goodness.
We managed to get quite a bit of work done at the tables near the manmade little creek that meanders through the food court prior to boarding. We’re always there AT LEAST 3.5 hours before our flight because if you’ve ever driven from Abbotsford to Vancouver – anything can happen. This relaxing spot makes for a really nice start to a holiday.
Jemaa El-Fnaa Market is a square & market place in the old city or Medina of Marrakech, used by locals & tourists.
During the day it’s mostly fresh juice stalls, merchants with traditional leather bags, jewelry & brass cups, youths trying to get you to pay for photos with monkeys & then there are the snake charmers. There are plenty of small cafes & restaurants to have a meal or Moroccan Mint Tea.
As the day progresses, the entertainment changes: late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with dancing/acrobatic boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), storytellers telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines or Argan oil lotions & such.
The souks with the spices & fruit are beautiful in their gorgeous colours & smells!
As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food stalls as the number of people on the square peaks. Steam rising from food stalls greets you, as do the greeters trying to invite you over for a meal.
The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market: both for the common daily needs of the locals & for the tourists looking for something to take home with them.
On other sides are hotels, gardens & café terraces, narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.
The square is so busy that you must watch as you go, for mopeds rush past at breakneck speeds! There are carts, pulled by donkeys, loaded down with fresh bread or fresh produce.
If you want to go into the alleyways we suggest one or two things: 1) Ask your Riad or hotel to find you a guide. You’ll pay them a little to help you not get lost & they’ll take you to what you ask to see. 2) If you don’t want a guide, always look like you know what you’re doing – if you don’t, some troublemakers take note & may try to pickpocket you or otherwise bully you into paying them some money. We chose a guide & had no trouble. Our friends went it alone, and did have a bit of an issue.
The best view of the market will be from a restaurant rooftop patio. We suggest https www.zeitouncafe.com You can enjoy the craziness from the comfort up above! You can hear the entertainment + the Calls to Prayer. Take a peek at our video here: https://youtu.be/xqKpYCBXhWQ
While in Morocco, we’ve got many events & activities planned & most had the same thing in common… the pickup each morning by the companies was at the El Fenn. We decided we should know where this is prior to going so went searching… we didn’t have far to go as it’s right around the corner from our own Riad.
We’ve learned to not assume anything from the front of a building here in Marrakech – some entrances are a huge wooden door in the middle of a stone wall, others are glass, but once you go inside, it’s usually quite something else. El Fenn was the most surprising yet.
The colours & art were bright & beautiful with an African feel. There was beautiful clothing, footwear, there was decor & jewelry, furniture & even a cool brass moped with a cowhide seat! Giant vases in a cerulean blue, lanterns upon lanterns lit up every corner, and brightly coloured bunting hung throughout the lobby. There was an amazing display of colourfully painted full-size branches in vases.
Then there was the stairway up to the rooftop… a shiny, red corkscrew of a staircase that lead up to a beautiful patio with stunning views of Marrakech & two of its spectacular mosques.
The lanterns swing in the breeze, there’s lots of plants & trees, comfortable seating, even futons. The tiles that Morocco is famous for did not disappoint here, herringbone green on the floors paired with the brick walls & mirrored bar made for such a lovely spot.
I had a refreshing Red City Rosé Cooler – Rosé wine, fresh strawberry, Triple Sec & sparkling wine – delicious. We were served spiced olives & salted peanuts as a snack.
Dinner was from the bar menu – a Spiced Lamb Burger with Feta & minted raita sauce & also a Red Bean & Mushroom Burger with Cheddar Cheese, both with tasty homemade, fresh cut fries.
We’ve learned that staff are not in a particular hurry in dining establishments, unlike on the streets where it’s rush, rush, rush. We work fast-paced demanding jobs at home so are learning to slow down here & take it easier, to relax & enjoy the moment. We were lucky to have gotten a spot on the patio it seems, as reservations are required for dinner service & we can see why.
We were able to capture tons of photos from inside while we waited, but also of the patio & its brilliant sunset, with the fading light overtop of the exquisitely lit mosques, where you can hear the Call to Prayer echoing.
We’d like to make a reservation for dinner at some point during our stay & see what the dinner menu & seating elsewhere upstairs will bring.
If you’re looking for a fantastic girls’ day out – I would highly suggest Downtown Chilliwack but first making reservations at Fortitude Wine Bar for 2pm (you’ll see why, keep reading).
Start out with an early 9 am breakfast at Cultivate Cafe at Minter Country Gardens. Enjoy a leisurely, scrumptious meal made by the talented Chef Cam & served by his adorable wife, Peggy. They’ve even got delicious baked goods or frozen soups to take home with you. I’ll always recommend the Eggs Benny – the. best.
Make a quick right out the door of the cafe into Minters & see all the lovely plants, flowers & gift items on your way into Marais Tea, also in Minters. The loose leaf teas are so fresh & there is something for everyone. They carry delectable chocolate as well.
Next, shop in all of the wonderful stores in the area such as Classic Home Decor & Boutique (so worth the extra minute to go to Alexander Avenue for the clothing, purses, art, decor & furniture that Barb has specifically chosen), then Circa Vintage on Main Street(we could wander among the vintage lovelies & chat with Darby all day!), The Button Box(the girls here are fun & their carefully curated decor & clothing pieces are so good), Pick Eco(it smells divine & they’re always at the ready with ways we can all become more ecologically conscious), also Fraser & Co.(this is an adorable store with gently used & new fashions), and Marion’s Dressing Room(vintage clothing to swoon over)on Mill Street, Lolly’s Fashion Lounge (fashion forward pieces + Matt & Nat purses & other accessories) on Wellington Avenue, also Creekside Chilliwack(beautiful country chic decor), Batiqua(handwoven baskets & decor), The Bookman(the best selection of new & used books, even some collectibles), Mary’s on Wellington(luxury underwear & pjs), Payton & Buckle(shoes, shoes, shoes & purses), The Veganist(a little grocer with tasty alternative choices in food & other products, including gluten & dairy free items), and Pink n Blue Kidz(new & gently used kids’ clothing). Magnolia & Oak(fashionable women’s wear, shoes & accessories – we’ve spent a LOT of time here!), The Local Space(some fun & saucy gift items, clothing, skincare, accessories, all locally, Canadian-made), Hunni’s(lovely women’s wear, including hats & accessories), Spruce Collective(clothing, puzzles, art, cards, candles, kitchenware & more) & The Chwk Store (good quality Chilliwack branded clothing, mugs, stickers, etc) are all in District 1881 on Yale Road.
If you’re looking for premium hair products & services, then stop in at Michael’s on Main, they’re award winning & have been 74 years in business, they carry Kevin Murphy, L’anza, AG hair products, DesignMe, Kenra, Mighty Moose Beard Oils & Balms, and Morocanoil haircare.
Really beautiful lashes & brows are crafted at Voila Lash Lounge, the best coffee or tea is right next door at Smoking Gun Coffee, again on Yale Road. They’ve got their own roasted blends for you to take home & treats to go with it.
If you’re into thrifting, there’s some great little stops on Main Street(the Hospital Auxiliary), Kipp Street(MCC), and a few on Wellington Avenue (Unique Thrifting has 2 spots) that are fun to wander around in & make it easy to upcycle clothing or home goods at a fair price, each of these locations give back to their community in big ways.
Now that you’ve shopped till you dropped, you’ll be glad you reserved at Fortitude Wine Bar to end the afternoon on a relaxing, delicious high note.
An absolute gem in the heart of @downtownchwk in @district1881 is @fortitudewinebar
The atmosphere is classy yet comfortable. The walls are a chic, matte navy blue with hints of green velvet on the banquets & gold accents in the lighting.
The wine or bubbles flights are served on wooden boards as is the charcuterie, that gives that rustic texture.
The appetizers were fresh & delicious from the escargot, to the chef’s board, from the Caprese salad, and the meatballs to the Bruschetta or the blue cheese stuffed dates.
Two of us enjoyed a crisp, delicious Prosecco while the others tried wine flights with some they loved and one not so much. But the excellent servers were helpful in finding another wine to try instead & that one was a hit.
The service was excellent, the pricing was fair & the total atmosphere of wandering along from Main Street and down Yale Road to our destination was just right.
It was easy to sit, visit & carry on conversations while overlooking the new additions to the neighbourhood. Downtown Chilliwack has been working hard to revitalize the businesses, from touching up or refurbishing the historic buildings, being conscientious of our yesteryear when building new ones, also improving the walkability(including parking), and for your viewing pleasure – notice the gorgeous murals found on many walls & most nooks & crannies. Each with a plaque to explain their origin & the artist that created them.
The breeze in my hair, the billow of flags & bunting, the chatter & laughter of long weekenders… the clink of my Hazelnut Espresso Cold Brew tumbler to my husband’s Chardonnay glass while watching sea vessels of all kinds sail past us at La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib House.
We had wandered by a few eateries on our way through town but this one had great views & lots of seating, so after about a 10 minute wait, we were seated on the harbour-side outdoor patio. Staff were friendly & chatty, also quick to bring water, without being asked & our food came quickly as well.
My husband ordered the 2 piece cod & chips & I decided on the crispy cod sandwich with chips & coleslaw. The batter was just enough, the coleslaw was fresh & crunchy, the chips were hot & there was malt vinegar, a sign of a chef who gets it.
It was so nice to sit, enjoy the view, talk about what we’d seen along the way so far & hear the waves beneath our feet, as the restaurant is literally built over the water. Lots of other people were walking, some with their dogs, along the boardwalk or out & about with their babies in strollers to take advantage of the dog days of Summer.
The prices were reasonable & the servings were a good size. There’s a drink menu & wine list with many selections + the food menu has a lot of choice. The patio had plenty of seating, or you could sit at the bar inside, there’s more seating with comfortable soft armchairs indoors, along with more family-style tables. This venue could easily host your family birthdays, or get togethers with a few friends.
As you drive into La Conner, on the corner of First & Morris Streets, you can’t miss a two-storey antique store with the tattoo-ish looking signs letting you know you’ve arrived at Nasty Jacks Antiques.
Each time we visit we have to wander through the two floors of collections to see what they’ve found since our last stopover.
From the glass bottle collection, to their HUGE selection of Time magazines & comic books, to china & silverware, the heavy antique furnishings (my favourites are always the old roll top desks & library card file cabinets… oh! and the old typewriters!), to the many, many pieces of art… there is something here to intrigue you for sure.
Before you even go inside, there’s an All Knowing Zoltar fortune telling machine – that works! Next to it is one of those penny press machines that stamps your penny with a local design.
There’s some really cool handblown glass buoys, tons of old keys, record albums, copious amounts of Mad magazines, jewelry – both costume & real, quite a lot of antique looking yet modern signs (Route 66, Chevrolet, gas station logos, etc), antique clocks, and well, you just really need to see the rest for yourself.
You’ve not had tea until you’ve had an afternoon Cream Tea. Now, you could have High Tea but really a simple Cream Tea will do. We found ourselves in Bradford-on-Avon, England.
The difference? High Tea consists of both savoury finger sandwiches & sweet pastries with your tea, delivered on a tall tiered platter – you can even have Prosecco or Champagne! Cream Tea is either savoury or fruit scones with your pot of tea.
We enjoyed a wonderful tea at The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford on Avon. They’re double winners for UK’s Top Tea Rooms & we could see why. The staff dress in costume & the decor is so interesting with antiques & family photos.
When we ordered we received two scones, Devonshire Cream, strawberry jam & a pot of tea made using the freshest loose leaf tea. Everything here is made using only the best local, organic ingredients, and you can certainly taste it. Wonderful!
1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?
Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:
My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.
My Return Ticket:
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.
The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.
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3. How do you fund your travelling?
I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.
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4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.
I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:
• Houston, Texas
• Cayman Islands
• The Netherlands
• New Zealand
and most recently,
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5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.
I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.
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6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?
The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.
Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.
It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.
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7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.
I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.
Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be
Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.
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8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.
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9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?
I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.
It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.
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10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!
My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.
Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.
Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.
We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.
It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.
We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.
We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.
My Return Ticket:
Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!
An amazing view of the Acropolis from the ruins of the Temple of Zeus
Mythological & Majestic
We arrived in the evening after a ride in a taxi from a lovely young man who gave us a lot of local history on the way from the airport (contrary to comments we had seen, we were not overcharged for the taxi from the airport as it is a set fee) & yet were met at the door by our wonderful host Yiannis who took our suitcases, checked us in & gladly gave us an idea of places to eat etc. We went to our room which was just as pretty as on the website only to hear a little tap at the door.. it was Yiannis with a bottle of chilled champagne! Did we feel like royalty! Enjoyed that and the fact that we had a bar fridge plus another small fridge to keep some champagne for in the morning with orange juice!
Had a very comfortable, restful sleep & then were surprised again by the breakfast spread! My Lord there was the freshest fruit, the best breads, any kind of cold cereal, two fresh squeezed juices(I saw the juicer; it was FRESH!) and they would bring you a fresh cappuccino or whatever you wished… fresh cooked bacon, eggs… Greek Yogourt, fresh honey… so good!
We were given excellent suggestions of where to go and set up on a tour one day to see Sounion with a very good tour group. A decent sized, brand new luxury bus; very comfortable and worth the trip. The weather wasn’t great but the guide was lovely and there was a place to have tea or something to nibble, plus a nice gift shop. The photo ops were stupendous!
Back to Ava… we cannot tell you how thrilled we were to see that in reality you can nearly step out the front door and TOUCH Hadrian’s Arch at the Temple of Zeus and also the Acropolis! It is that close! That’s value to be among all those restaurants, all that shopping, all the history and again; right outside the hotel… Crazy! You need to stay here and you need to stay for a week just to relax and enjoy it. Lovely… clean; the housekeeping was immaculate. The suite is so perfect. Nice TV, lots of clothing storage, good reading lamps, a nice table & chairs to eat or write in journals at, plus a writing desk; gorgeous bathroom with a beautiful painted ceiling… we just loved it and three nights wasn’t long enough…
Thank you, Yiannis & also the girls (Andrea was one) who were lovely hosts/hostesses.. always smiling & couldn’t do enough for you. We have stayed in hotels in Paris, London, Vegas, Mexico, Vancouver & Whistler to name a few and this was the best rest, food & service we ever had all in one stay. Thank you, Ava!
The Return Ticket gives the AVA Hotel, Athens Greece: four tickets out of five
The Return Ticket gives Athens, Greece: four tickets out of five
Step inside & experience the history of British Columbia. Since 1886, the Royal BC Museum has preserved & shared the human & natural histories of this province. Discover the famous First Peoples, Natural History & Modern History Galleries – – a feast of sights, smells & sounds of beautiful British Columbia. There are displays of ancient tools & weapons or even teepees. The Museum is also home to a cultural precinct including the BC Archives, Helmcken House, St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, the Netherlands Centennial Carillon, Thunderbird Park and Mungo Martin House/Wawadit’la. There are different floors & each has its own theme.. there is an old village on one floor that features a movie house, train station & real cobblestone streets. Another floor is filled with animals from ancient & modern times… walruses, birds, even a massive wooly mammoth!
Since I was 5 years old, this has been a place I have loved to go. My grandparents first took me then & I’ve loved to go back year after year, with my own children & now my husband, who is originally from England. Each year there is a new main exhibit, once it was about dinosaurs & most recently the artifacts from the Titanic were featured. We were humbled by the experience of portraying passengers on the ill fated ship… very real, very touching, very emotional…