Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Vancouver Day 2

Happy Leap Day! I know March is right around the corner (as in maƱana), and I'm still (slowly) recapping our Christmas 2011 vaca. Slow and steady wins the race right? Right!


All the walking the previous night had our tummy's growling for food. As with tradition on this trip, we jumped on Yelp to guide to us a delicious breakfast joint. Lo and behold, the two most recommended places in North Vancouver were right under our noses. To the market down under our hotel we went!

First up, Sweet Carrie's Dessert Shop. Everybody was raving about their pavlova so we promptly put in our request for one. Since we were there so darn early, we had the opportunity to observe them make one for us.
This thing was amazing. So fresh and delicate. Too sugary for my kind of breakfast, but something I would totally order again.

We took the pavlova to the bay side to enjoy while overseeing the water.

While the pavlova was drool worthy, we were craving something more filling and comforting for breakfast. We walked back into Lonsdale Quay's Market and ordered one of the most delicious ham sandwiches from All Day Cafe.  Check out this buffet of fresh fruit at the market though! Drool!

A little more satisfied, we went back upstairs to our room to have a couple more oranges and plug in our coordinates for today's outing. First up, Stanley Park!

Stanley Park was absolutely gorgeous with numerous entrances and running/hiking trails. You could spend all day here and never walk the same trail (starting to think this is a re-occurring theme in our trip since Whistler was like this)!! The scenery was also breathtaking despite the winter chill!

After driving around for a good hour (every time you park somewhere, you have to pay!), we drove to Chinatown to have lunch at Phnom Penh. You know this is the place to check out if Anthony Bourdain made a personal visit. We got there right as they were opening up at 11:30am. Thank goodness we did because not even 10 minutes later, this quaint lil place was packed to the gills with people and a line out the door was forming!! We ordered the Phnom Penh noodle soup, a rice flour pancake with eggs and green onions, and a half order of their famous chicken wings. Y'all even a half order of chicken wings was a ridiculous amount! We don't even want to know what a full order might look like... And because we're ravenous people, I totally forgot to take pictures of our meal. So just use your imagination mkay? Cool!

As usual standard of vacation time, we ate way too much so it was time to burn off those calories by visiting Robson Street. Robson Street is famous for shopping and home of the JapaDog. While I'm not a huge fan of shopping, we decided to partake to add the adventure to our "been there, done that" bucket list. I picked up a shirt at FCUK and the hubby picked up a track jacket for cheap.

Once we reached the end of the mile of shopping, we hopped into JapaDog to try out the interesting hot dogs! The place was tiny and overflowing with people.
Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic 

I ordered the Terimayo (right) and the hubby ordered the meatlovers (left). He also ordered butter and shoyu shaked fries and boy were they buttery!! I wasn't a fan of them, but the hubby wolfed them down. I'm guessing that means he enjoyed them.

Right next to JapaDog was Beard Papa's!! Beard Papa's has THE best cream puffs ever. Their strawberry one is to die for. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Unfortunately, today's flavor at this location was Mango and the everyday flavor, Vanilla. Undecided, I ordered one of each to take back with us to consume at the hotel.

After pigging out and putting in quite a few miles on our shoes, a quick nap was needed. After a brief nap, we headed out to Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Most of the trees and flowers were dead, but we still had a great time walking around the park. We spent 2 hours at the park if that tells you anything. Plus, this garden was GINORMOUS! Paved pathways led to unpaved walkways which led to open fields and various slopes. We got "lost" so many times! It was kind of fun actually. Enter re-occurring theme of endless pathways yada yada yada.
It rained on and off during our visit, and I was being totally goofy here. Hubby's idea - promise!

 I REALLY wanted to do the maze, but it was closed. Sad face.

The hubby decided we would visit the water park to cheer me up. Well, the water park didn't have any water in it and three lonely rocks left little to the imagination. Sad face again. The park was still decked out in Christmas gear and we are total 2 year olds at heart so we concluded the gardens with a silly picture.

The garden was super informative with various explanation plaques and I can totally see this place being a great picnic location. Even in the middle of dreary winter, the garden boasted a romantic aura. I can only imagine what it looks and feels like when everything has blossomed in the Spring!!

While we spent two hours at the garden, it sure didn't feel like it. We could have easily spent more time there. It's definitely a place you get a membership at so you can fully basque in the beauty and fully enjoy what all it has to offer.

For dinner, we Yelped it up prior to leaving our hotel after our nap and found a sushi joint everyone was raving about - Sushi Town. The place is connected to McDonald's, which was interesting.

Sushi Town serves complimentary barley tea upon seating. Yum! We ordered a sashimi platter, ebi and tamago sushi, and 2 rolls (spider and shrimp tempura).

Something NONE of the Yelp reviewers mentioned was the size of the sushi and rolls. Y'all, they were the size of my palm. No exaggeration. Check out the Canadian coin in the above photo as a point of reference.  Still don't believe me? Here's additional evidence.
That my friend, is my hubby's hand. Next to the ebi sushi. The tamago was even larger than
the ebi!! And my hubby definitely has man hands so go check out your significant other's
 hand to get a personal evaluation of this sushi!

And here's proof that the rolls were the size of my palm. I told you I wasn't exaggerating!!

Unaware of the size of the rolls (the hubby and I estimated a 1/4 cup of rice per piece), we were struggling to finish our dinner. Once the challenge was completed, we paid the ridiculously cheap bill (sushi was $1/piece and the ginormous rolls were $5.95 each!) and attempted to walk it off. Beyond stuffed, we went back to the hotel to pack up and reminisce about today's adventures. We were also starting to drool about our Seattle adventure which promised the freshest and largest seafood of our lives!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Random Mondays

Today's Random Monday Emoticon:

Item in question:
My cousin from the land down under is taking a 6 week(!) vacation to tour the U.S. Last weekend, he made a pit stop in his itinerary to stop in Dallas to visit family. The last time I saw him was in 2005 (with a family entourage of 17 travelled down under), and barely got to see him. Now that we're all a lil older and a lil more mature, I couldn't wait to reconnect with him. Him and his girlfriend, Lisa, are travelers extraordinaire. They've been to Fiji, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand just to name a few, and I wanted the low down of their adventures!

They landed in DFW on Thursday evening (Feb 16), and took them out to eat a Chuy's. Unfortunately, our 9pm bedtime came much too fast and we had to part ways. They were driving up to OK the next morning to meet up with the rest of the family and catch a Thunder game. Excited that they would get to spend time with more family in my hometown, I was sad that our time together was so short. And I totally forgot to take pictures with them. Super sad face.

Fortunately, my cousin that would be driving my Aussie cousin and his girlfriend took a detour South to have lunch with me prior to them heading to OK. You see, my cousin lives in Frisco, so for her to drive to downtown Dallas just so that I could have lunch with them totally made my Friday. I almost cried happy tears for a few more hours with them. The hubby even closed up shop a lil early to haul ass to have lunch with us at Perry's Steakhouse. Y'all need to have their pork chops. All 16oz of it. For lunch. Dinner is 32oz. Just saying.

On an extremely full belly and happier mood, I returned to work and they headed up North. Again, forgetting to take a group picture even though I mentioned I wanted one. Picture fail.

Sunday afternoon came with a quickness, and my parents along with my Aussie cousins came back down to Dallas in order for them to catch their flight out to Atlanta. We met up with them for lunch at a sushi buffet, and since they had a lil more time to burn prior to their flight, we took them to the Galleria. They were interested in checking out the All American Girl store, and were flabbergasted by the magnitude of the store and all that it had to offer to little girls. We chit chatted as we strolled around, and for the first time, I felt like my cousin and I really connected. Winning!

As we bid our final good byes at the Galleria rooftop parking garage (it was hella busy, darn President's Day sales going on. Ha!), the hubby reminded me I  really, really, really, need to get a picture with my cousins as this was the final opportunity. Thank goodness for the reminder because I totally would have bid adieu with yet again, no picture!
Just the "kiddos"

With my parents

The hubby and I wanted to travel to Australia for our Christmas vaca in 2011, but flights at $2,000 per person deterred us away pretty quickly. Ouch on the pocket book!! With my cousins recent visit, the hubby and I once again have the itch travel down under this Christmas. Here's to hoping we find a killer deal on flights!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christmas 20 1 1 : Vancouver Day 1

Ooooo. Ughhhh. Ouch. Eeeeek. Pass the pain killers - stat because we are sore. You know the pain that comes the morning after a workout that you haven't done in ages. The OMG! I can't lift my legs or bend down without feeling like 102? Yeaaaa. We were so there.

We decided to hold off packing until after breakfast. If we could even get to breakfast, that is. Surprisingly, there were even more people today at breakfast then yesterday! So many more that we decided to take our breakfast back to our room. Put our dining table to use as a eating utility instead of a drying rack. Ha!

After a breakfast for champions, we packed up all our gear and checked out of our hotel. The drive leaving Whistler was bittersweet, but we were looking forward to what Vancouver had to offer.

2.5 hours later - hello, Vancouver! First order of business - FOOD! More specifically, dim sum. Yes, again. Told y'all we LOVE dim sum. It's one that we wouldn't get tired of eating every. single. day. Thanks to some reviewers, we decided to try out Kirin Seafood on 12th. After some difficulty finding the restaurant (it's on the second level on top of the mall), we were ready to get our grub on. Only to realize the restaurant was booked for the day. Next opening was until well after 2pm. WHAT?! Completely lost, we walked downstairs into the mall to re-plan. Thankfully, there was a Starbucks so free wifi for the win! Back on Yelp I went in search for another dim sum joint.

Back on the slopes in Whistler, one of the girls in my class, Carmen, is a Vancouver native and told me to check out Dai Tung for cheap, family style dim sum. I input the address into my phone's GPS and we were set. But first, we needed to get our parking validated. We stopped in at the grocery store in front of Starbucks within the mall and sampled a slice of some type of orange (wish I could remember!). It was so sweet! Even the hubby loved it, so I knew I had to purchase a few. Well, they only came in bags and the smallest was 4lbs! Yikes! Looks like we're eating these bad boys at every meal.

Oranges - purchased. Parking - validated. GPS - set. We were finally on our way to lunch. Navigating to the place was a breeze, but the parking lot was so small. We found a sign that directed us to more parking in the rear. The sign led us down a sketchy road when we came upon another sign that directed us to a sketchy parking garage designated for Dai Tung. Unsure, but with no where else to park, we reluctantly parked and hid everything out of site. (Note: What's up with Canadian parking being so darn small and tight? We rented an Impala, but parking made us feel like we rented a tank!).

The restaurant was packed to the gills, but I approached the hostess to give them my name in exchange for a number. 20 minutes later, we got a table and we got a grub on! I've never seen dim sum carts stacked so full and high with food before! Lunch was uber cheap - $20! Sweet! For the same amount of food that we order in Dallas runs us almost $40.

With our bellies were satisfied, we decided to hunt down our hotel in Vancouver and figure out how we wanted to plan the remainder of our Vancouver trip.  We stayed at the Lonsdale Quay hotel in North Vancouver. The place was quaint and unique, but we had an uber difficult time finding it. We drove around in circles for a good 20 minutes prior to locating the hotel and its parking.

Checked in and settled into our hotel room, we ate a few of our 4lbs worth of oranges and decided a quick nap prior to the evening was needed.

After the refreshing nap, we decided to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge. Since it's during the holiday season, Capilano has lined their entire park and bridge in Christmas lights. Being a huge fan of Christmas lights, we decided tonight would be perfect. We plugged in the coordinates in my phone and off we went.

Only to drive into a steady rainfall. We parked and got out, but decided an umbrella was most definitely needed prior to proceeding so we got back into the car and located the nearest grocery store in hunt of an umbrella. We plopped down $16 at SaveMore and walked out with a HUGE umbrella. It easily stood 4 feet in height! More prepared, we navigated back to Capilano Bridge, paid our dues, and entered the park.
Horrible picture taken by the courteous employee. Check out the size of our
umbrella. Is that not ginormous?!

Capilano Bridge had a challenge for its visitors to locate certain locations throughout the park and obtain a stamp. If you collect all the destination stamps, you received a completion certificate upon exiting the park. You can bet I was gung ho about completing the challenge. Yes, I am 5 years old. First up, crossing the suspension bridge!

Once we reached the other side*, we began navigating the park and collecting those stamps! First up, the animal wilderness area.
Hubby couldn't resist fresh fish!

Then we learned about the technical things about the park.

We even got to navigate the treetops of this beautiful rain forest guided by Christmas lights. Again, missing out on spectacular views due to the darkness. Super sad.

Once we were over the hills, through the woods we would go! But first, we had to cross back over the suspension bridge. The hubby and I may or may not have stomped relatively hard while crossing causing the bridge to sway threateningly....

The cliffwalk was absolutely AMAZING!! Being thrill seekers, the rush of being suspended hundreds and hundreds of feet in the air by a narrow walkway through the mountains was unbelievable. This was by far the coolest thing about visiting the park in the dark!
The only thing the hubby kept repeating was,
"how do people not just jump off these things
and plumet to their deaths?"

You could touch the rocks and read about all the fun facts regarding the mountains. The uplighting bouncing off the rocks illuminated the adjacent rain forest and you could see the rushing river below and the taller than skyscraper trees.

As our cliffwalk concluded, it also signified our time spent at the park was coming to an end. With all challenge stamps collected, we signed off in the guestbook and exited the park to obtain my completion certificate.

We contemplated on dinner as we drove back to the hotel. Since our hotel is in North Vancouver, we decided against driving into downtown Vancouver and just park our car at the hotel and walk up the street to a sushi joint for a quick bite. Tomorrow will be another exploration day of Vancouver!

*The bridge is suspended over a gorgeous gorge, but we couldn't see it at night. I've been here before, but I felt terrible that the hubby wasn't able to fully enjoy the experience because I chose to see the park dressed in Christmas lights. Result - visit the park in daylight to fully get the experience and enjoy the views. It wasn't worth the extra dollars to view the lights. Sorry hubby!

There also aren't any pics of me at the bridge because every time the flash went off, my eyes went completely shut. Without the flash, the pictures were completely dark.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's 2012

Valentine's day (along with many other holidays) are now super commericalized, and is one of the holidays the hubby and I don't really "celebrate". I get him a card to acknowledge the occasion, but that's about it. Do you really need a holiday to remind you not to take your loved ones for granted to and to show them that? For some, maybe they do. For us, that display of gratitude and affection happens every day starting with a kiss and I Love You good bye as we start off our day, as we greet each other welcome home, and good night as we close our eyes in the arms of one another in place we call our home.

While Valentine's day is just another day for us, my sweet hubby decided to drive 50 minutes after a 9 hour work shift at the shop to surprise me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers* and to have lunch with me at Blue Fish.
Please pardon the background noise and just focus on
the flowers mkay? Thanks!

On a last minute decision, we met up with our close friends Vandrew, Sopie, and Ly for dinner a Kobe Steaks. This place has by far the most tender filet mignon's for a hibachi joint. Delish! Romantic one on one dinners are a thing of the past. A fabulous dinner with your closest friends are so in!

How was your Valentine's day?

*According to the hubby, the original bouquet he ordered had lots of calla lilies (my fave!), but when he went go pick it up, the florist couldn't find it and said someone else must have taken it. Really?! What's up with people jacking my floral arrangements?? FYI - someone took my wedding bouquet during our reception. Lame!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Random Mondays

Today's Random Monday Emoticon:

Item in Question:
I'm a HUGE advocate of reading reviews prior to making reservations at a location or purchasing an item. I toss out the OMG! This is the best... and OMG! This is *&$%@^ reviews then revel in everything else. The amount of time I spend researching and reviewing things prior to committing might be a bit excessive. Excessive meaning, hours spent one day only to continue contemplating the next two, three, four days. Then re-reviewing the following day. And maybe the following, following day also. Yea. That kind of excessive. Total Type A over here - duh!

Any how, while I read tons of reviews, I've never been the one to actually write a review. Why? Probably laziness with a side of eh, I don't really care to. Who am I kidding. It's definitely laziness.

During our Christmas 2011 trip (which I still need to finish re-capping. Oops!), the hubby and I utilized Yelp and various other reviewing sources like crazy. Boy, were they helpful!! It helped decide our daily meals and adventures. When we came back from our trip, I decided that I would start writing reviews on TripAdvisor for everything we did and everywhere we stayed, and on Yelp for everywhere we ate. Check out this report TripAdvisor emailed me the other day.
I only have done 14 reviews, but have reached 1,696 readers?! Get out of here!!

Seriously, how freaking cool is that?! I'm definitely going to continue writing reviews, but for everything. Bought something - review! Ate somewhere - review! Stayed somewhere - review! Did an adventure - review! Now, I'm a read AND write review go crazy kind of gal. Yikes!

Are you an advocate for reading review prior to committing something? What about writing them?


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