Celebration of Light – Canada

Canada was the second country presenting a spectacular fireworks show during this year’s celebration of light, taking place in Vancouver. And we had the chance to watch part of it from our balcony in Burnaby. Fantastic, eh?

By the way, Canada won the 2013 celebration of light. Yay!

The Graham Clarke Atrium at Vancouver International Airport

After having had three fantastic weeks together, the time had come to say goodbye to our boys.

We checked them in, had some lunch and still had some time to spare. So were looking for a nice and bright area to sit, and we found the Graham Clarke Atrium, located on the departure level. There we saw some Northwest Coast native art. Beautiful, eh?

The Vancouver Aquarium – the destination of our last day trip with our boys

Unfortunately, Ben and Tom’s three week summer vacation has come to an end, and so they could decide what they wanted to do on their last full day before packing their bags and going back home again. Although we visited the Vancouver Aquarium several times during their stay here, they wanted to say goodbye to all the animals.

Once there, Marcus went to see Jack to take some pictures while Tom, Ben and I visited the wet lab one more time. There we had a closer look at the crabs which we didn’t have time for last Monday. A friendly volunteer explained the difference between real and fake crabs as well as male and female crabs to us and showed us some really nice specimen.

After that Ben and Tom joined Marcus at Jack and Daisy’s habitat whereas I tried to get some nice jellyfish pictures which is really hard to do.
After some (frustrating) time, I left the main building to go to the B.C. Sugar Pool, but I stopped at Elfin’s habitat where he was lying on a pile of ice cubes. Super cute, eh? I just had to watch him for a while…

When I finally reached Marcus and our boys, they decided to head to Hana and Helen’s underwater viewing area where they could watch Hana swim by a lot of times.

We met at the Wild Coast to watch a seal and sea lion show together, in which especially Willo, one of the Steller sea lions, performed really well.

Then we made our way back to Jack who was playing with a leaf, which actually isn’t good for him. Therefore we had to inform one of the trainers and spoil his fun…

Anyway, we also watched one of the penguin walks, this time starring Sechelt and Salt Spring. Those African penguins are just too cute to watch.

After that walk, we saw Elfin holding a blue ball in his paws, watched a dolphin show starring Hana and Helen, and said our final goodbyes to Jack.

Ben and Tom had such a great time that they cannot wait to come back and visited all the animals again.

A short hi to Jack and Daisy

After having spent most of the day at Porteau Cove Provincial Park, we just went into the Vancouver Aquarium to say hello to our favourite harbour porpoises Jack and Daisy – and both really came down to the underwater viewing area to say hi to us. That was so sweet of them!

After a short bye to Elfin, we tried our luck with more jellyfish pictures to enter the Vancouver Aquarium’s jelly invasion photo competition, and we finally went home where Ben and Tom enjoyed another swim in the pool.

What a great day!

We had a fantastic time at Porteau Cove Provincial Park

We actually wanted to go to Whytecliff Park in North Vancouver, but our navigation system somehow misled us and proposed a u-turn near Porteau Cove. So instead of following its instructions, we spontaneously decided to go ahead and stay at Porteau Cove.

Once there, we found one of the rare parking spots left, took our backpacks and started exploring the area a bit. Surprisingly enough, there were not many people walking along its rocky beach, so that we nearly had it for ourselves. Ben and Tom had a good time there, playing in and at the water, and they liked climbing that dead tree lying on the beach. I had to follow them, of course, to get some great pictures. I am still fascinated by the natural beauty there: the rocky coastline looking over Howe Sound to the mountains beyond. And look, some of those mountains still had some snow!

Anyway, we followed the coastline until we came to a little lagoon at the end of Porteau Cove’s campsite where our boys had some more fun playing in the water.

After having spent several hours there, we headed towards the pier again, got into the car, went along the Sea to Sky Highway (yay!) and headed towards Vancouver where we wanted to say hi to Jack.

(to be continued…)

Celebration of Light – United Kingdom

The Celebration of Light, held in Vancouver, is the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world. Each evening (there are three fireworks shows each summer) up to 400,000 spectators gather along English Bay to watch this great spectacle.

So at 10 pm when the fireworks started, we stood on our balcony (in Burnaby) and watched glimpses of this fireworks show (in Vancouver). Although we couldn’t see everything, it was spectacular nonetheless.

Stanley Park and Vancouver Aquarium – a great mix

Today we went to Stanley Park, because Tom wanted to see the totem poles there, and we actually squeezed some geocaching in so that we all had more fun on the way there.

Once there, we were surprised that only a few people were strolling around the totem poles which gave us the rare opportunity (at least during summer time) to get some pictures without having tons of people in them.
From there we also had a great look at Lions Gate Bridge and Brockton Point.

After having had some lunch, our boys discovered a tree they could climb on, and on which they could put some of their new-found energy to use.

In order to avoid the sun when walking along the seawall, we choose a trail we had never walked before, that let us through the forest of Stanley Park. Really nice!
Well, we ended up near the Aquarium and decided to go into it to have some more fun.

We came on time for the penguin walk where one of the penguins seemed to have a look into the beluga habitat. Maybe one of the beluga whales there was watching her, too?

Anyway, we spent some time with Jack, watched a show with Hana and Helen, and returned to the B.C. Sugar Pool, where even Daisy came to the underwater viewing area posing for pictures. Those two harbour porpoises are super cute!

After that we saw a sleepy Elfin having a nap, and headed into the main building to get some more pictures for the jellyfish photo competition.

We all felt that the day was over in next to no time, but nevertheless, it was a really great day.

I love driving on the Sea to Sky Highway

Although Alice Lake is about an hour’s drive, I absolutely love driving on Highway 99, especially on the part called the Sea to Sky Highway which starts at Horseshoe Bay and ends at Pemberton. I am always fascinated by the beauty of it, especially driving along the coast of Howe Sound.

So on our way home from Alice Lake, Marcus took some pictures with his phone – and they turned out pretty well, eh?, considering that he took them out of the car while I was driving.

A very relaxing day at Alice Lake

When Marcus and I went to Alice Lake about two months ago, we were hiking along a trail that let us explore all four lakes there, but as Ben and Tom love being near and in the water a lot, we just packed our picnic box, picnic blankets, swimming things for the boys, my Kindle and our cameras – and off we went to spend a relaxing day at the lake.

Luckily for us, there weren’t many people around so that we could choose a really nice spot to sit. Ben and Tom were very much interested in getting their own kayaks this time after having shared a canoe at Buntzen Lake some days ago. So they rented some kayaks, and immediately went kayaking in them.

After a while they came back – hungry, of course -, had some snacks, went swimming and diving in the water, came back for lunch, took their kayaks out again, came back for some food, went swimming again… They definitely didn’t get bored all day.

Shortly before going home, we even saw those cute Douglas squirrels. Especially one of them was very sneaky as it went into someone else’s bag, retrieved some food from there and sat on one of the benches to enjoy his stolen snack which must have been especially tasty, as the squirrel came back several times to get more of that.

As all of us had so much fun at Alice Lake, it will definitely be on our list of what to do with the boys next year.

(to be continued…)

An interesting day at the Vancouver Aquarium

We were one of the first visitors to get into the Vancouver Aquarium – and that was what we intended as we wanted to visit the wet lab first. After having washed our hands, we had a look at all the different local species there, including various sea anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. Marcus and Tom even got the chance to have a sea urchin each on their hands which moved forward there. Great, eh? However, as time was limited to a ten minute slot only, we didn’t get the chance to see all the other animals. That means that we simply have to be back next Monday!

When we headed outside the main building, we saw Elfin enjoying his lunch. So we didn’t stop, but went to watch one of the belugas’ training sessions which we enjoyed a lot, especially when Aurora demonstrated how she could spit water out of her mouth.
After that we saw another training session, and this time the most fascinating activity was watching Hana jumping out of the water to reach the end of a pole.

On we went to Jack and Daisy’s habitat where we could observe a training session with them as well. Especially Jack interacted a lot with his trainer Indy.

Our boys wanted to go back into the main building to watch Hana and Helen from underwater – and so we went. Both dolphins came down to say hi to us. Just look, aren’t they absolutely adorable? From there, we also watched one of their shows which was quite an unusual perspective, but great, too.

Before going back to Jack and Daisy, we tried to capture some more shots of various jellyfish to enter the jellyfish photo competition. And then we spent some time with Jack who came down to welcome us there.

But then it was time to watch one of the seal and Steller sea lion shows, and one of the sea lion girls was already poking her head out of the water, waiting for her show to start – which was really good.

As I absolutely love those axolotls, I persuaded the boys to come and see them as well as the frogs. Besides my favourite axolotls, I especially liked this grim-looking waxy monkey leaf frog. Cute, eh?

On our way to the B.C. Sugar Pool, we saw Elfin, holding a yellow ball in his paws, and that was so cute to watch.

Anyway, when we were at Jack and Daisy’s underwater viewing area, Jack came down once more and said hi to Ben and Tom who both had lots of fun with him.
Soon it was time to leave. So we waved goodbye to Katmai and Elfin, and went home.

This was such an amazing day!