A Travellerspoint blog

I would sell my snow boots for a cappuccino right now...

sunny -2 °C

And that is saying something because there is a lot of snow here and I would probably get severe frostbite and lose some toes! But seriously, it seems that cafe style coffee is a rarity in Jasper, all they have is this weird filtered stuff that tastes like instant :(

That, however, is my one and only complaint about Jasper! The town is absolutely beautiful, the weather has been freezing but sunny and everyone working here is really friendly. Last night we pretty much crashed as soon as we got back to the hotel because we were so exhausted from having no sleep on the bus ride and then a big day of walking around so we just had dinner at the lodge here and went to bed early. I think Nick watched some movie on the TV but I was out of it as soon as I lay down so don't really have a clue what it was, lol.

This morning we woke up nice and early and got picked up from our lobby by the SunDog Tour bus and went on a wildlife tour around all different areas of the Jasper National Park. There was one other family in the bus who were funnily enough from Brisbane and who were really friendly and we all seemed very happy for a chance to chat to some Aussies for the morning. The mum reminded me soooo much of you Mum!! She kept making these jokes and all the kids would groan at her and she asked us if we were on our honeymoon!!??? (Does that remind you of the trip we did in New Zealand mum??) Our tour guide was really cool and he showed us some absolutely breath taking places! Some of the lakes around here are huge and he said in the summer people do hiking trips and canoe camping where they just head out of the town with a backpack and a canoe and head over to a far side of one of the lakes then camp there for a few days. Sounds like an awesome trip to me so I have made up my mind to come back in summer and do that!! I can think of a few people back home who would love that kind of camping trip as well :) We also got to see quite a few wild animals. I can't remember the names of them all but Nick says we saw Elk, Mule Deer, Coyotes, White Tailed Deer, Red Squirrel and Big Horned Sheep. He got some really cool photos of the animals and of the scenery so check out his facebook album if you want to see a few, but once again, no matter how good the pics are they just don't do justice to how amazing the real thing is! Everyone needs to come on a trip to Canada!!!

When we got back we went into the town again and just wandered around for a bit and got some lunch then headed back to the lodge. It's a bit of a sleepy town so we are getting a chance to catch up on rest after some full on days in Vancouver. Oh, there is a lot of ice on the pathways outside so Nick and I were sliding around on it today and he nearly fell over once so I started mocking him and then slipped as well. That caused us to laugh so hard the guy on the other side of the road looked at us like we were going crazy...

Some other info I have noticed for you guys back home is that it's crazy how many differences there are between our speech and the way they speak here. Not only in the accent but also what sort of words and phrases get used and the inflections they give some of their statements. Like back home when you ask "How are you?" we put the emphasis on the word "you" but over here they put it on the "are". Makes it sound like less of a question but just more something they say out of habit. Also, they seriously say "Eh" after everything! They don't know what you're talking about when you say "bogan" and they laugh at the fact that we use the word "heaps" all the time. We have noticed the phrase "Yeah, you bet ya, eh" a lot and also "no way, eh!". So there are just some musings from an English teacher for you :) Can't wait to get to Nigel and Allison to discuss these findings and see what they think!! Nick and I also recon we can give the accent a pretty good go now that we've been around it for a while, haha.

Anyway, enough stories from me. I need to go and get the washing that I put on from downstairs and hang it up before it freezes! We are going to a church service tonight at a little Baptist Church that we found round the corner from our lodge and that we thought might be nice to go to and hopefully meet a few more people :) Seriously missing everyone back home and looking forward to Christmas day tomorrow! Oh and just realised that it is Christmas day for you guys over there now so MERRY CHRISTMAS from both of us!!! Miss you all!
Love Claire and Nick
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Posted by clairebear89 15:41 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Bus Trip Adventure (Mum, block your ears for this one..... )

semi-overcast 1 °C

IMG_0953.jpgIMG_0954.jpgSo I will start with our last day in Vancouver before I move onto our bus trip (just to keep you all in suspense regarding the title of this blog!). I managed to get Nick out of bed and sorted and we checked out of the hotel then headed down to check out the Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens. They were amazingly peaceful considering they were in the middle of the dodgy downtown area and Nick got another chance to get some arty shots on his new camera. He’s getting quite skilled at it if I do say so myself and I’m his helper… well I only really know how to set up the tripod but I do try and do that fast!). On our way back to get our bags from the hotel we stopped at a Starbucks because we noticed there was a pretty cool looking band setting up to busk outside. Turns out it was a good idea to stop because they were awesome! A Beatles tribute band who seemed to love playing and were really cool to talk to. So we hung around there for a while listening and had a chat to them before grabbing our bags and heading to the bus station.

I must say I did a bit of a Granddad Coleman and made sure we were there 2 hours earlier than needed to be but I’m glad I did because there were already quite a few people waiting for the bus and some people at the end of the line missed out. So after standing in the freezing cold for over an hour waiting to board the bus we finally got on, got comfortable and settled in for a looooong ride. I take back everything I said about the plane being uncomfortable! It was absolute paradise compared to that bus trip!! As I’m sitting writing this my knees and shoulders are still aching from being all squashed up all night and Nick must be feeling so much worse!

But anyway, to the fun part of the trip ☺ When we got to the bus station at Jasper it was 6:15am and we had expected the station to be open so that we could wait in there in the warm until it was daylight and we could find out way to our hotel to leave our bags there, but unfortunately the station was closed, the weather was absolutely freezing and the bus left before we had asked anyone what to do. After wandering around a little to see if anywhere close was open we went and huddled in the door frame of the bus station and resigned ourselves to waiting in the cold for a while. After a few minutes this young guy wandered past as if he was looking for something and I said “Oh don’t bother, none of the doors are open”. He then explained he was looking for his brother who was supposed to be getting off the same bus as us but who he hadn’t seen turn up. Then he laughed at us sitting there and asked if we were waiting for someone. I said we were just waiting till the hotel would be open and asked if he knew of anywhere close we could chill till it was and he said he actually worked at Lobstick Lodge and that he could take us up to Tim Horton’s (a bakery that is everywhere in Canada) to wait in the warm. So, despite Nick’s concerns that he was the Canadian version of Ivan Mallat) we jumped in his car and he took us up the street and came in and had a coffee with us while he waited to hear from his brother. Turns out he had backpacked all around Australia and figured that since all the Aussies were so nice to him over there he thought he should be helpful to us. Was very cool to meet and chat to a real local and get his views on everywhere he went in Australia (some things he said were very amusing but so true!) and he is one of the chefs at Lobstick Lodge so said he will catch up with us again once we head up there and tell us some more cool stuff to see around here.

So mum, yes we did get in a car with a stranger but don’t worry, he was very nice and didn’t kill us ☺ Figure it’s all part of the adventure! We are now sitting at Tim Horton’s waiting for it to get light enough to head up to the lodge. Will post this blog and catch up with you all once we get the wi fi sorted at our hotel!
Love Claire and Nick

Posted by clairebear89 12:40 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

If not for our accents, you'd think we were locals!

sunny 3 °C

Oh, and aside from the fact that we are carrying big backpacks around everywhere and wandering around staring at stuff that is probably fairly normal over here, haha! But we have mastered the public transport system of Vancouver and I feel totally confident that I can get myself anywhere (well anywhere within Downtown Vancouver.....) without any troubles. I must say I'm pretty proud of that little achievement :) We are still absolutely clueless when it comes to tipping so probably highly offend some people by giving not enough and then absolutely delight others by giving three times more than usual. We also have no idea how it works as far as do we leave it on the table?? (tried that and I have a sneaky suspicion a homeless looking guy took it before the waitress came back) or do we just hand it to them once they give us our change back? Or do we tell them how much to take before they give us our change??!! These are the questions that keep me awake at night... haha.

So anyway, to our day yesterday! I was extremely excited to realise that our hotel room has a decent looking coffee machine, so that was praise point number one for the day :) Am having one right now as I write this and am very happy with how nice it is. We managed to get to Granville Island yesterday morning, we thought it would be markets like back home but it's more like food markets with all fresh produce, so we got some great bagels and wandered around, me enjoying the sights and lucky Nick enjoying the sights and the smells (stupid nose!). Had a pretty funny moment on the way over to Gastown as we were waiting at the bus stop with our hot chocolates and were laughing at something then Nick took a big mouthful then I said something else and he just lost it and spat hot chocolate everywhere then looked up to realise right across the road from us was a huge group of people waiting to cross at the lights, all looking disgusted at us! Needless to say he was very embarassed and I cried laughing. In Gastown we did some gift shopping and checked out the steam clock and Gassy Jack Statue (yes I did spell that right! No idea why he is called that but pretty funny anyway). There were lots of very touristy gift shops that we had fun looking through and got a few little things for people before we realised that it was way past lunch again and decided to go into this cool looking place called Chronic Tacos. I had my suspicions that it was called that because it would give you chronic food poisoning but it looked pretty clean and the waiter and waitress were really cool so we decided to give it a go.
BIGGEST TACO OF MY LIFE!!!!
Sorry, but that statement deserves it's own line... Those of you who have seen me eat a taco or burito or whatever the folding ones are called know that I am incapable of folding even a normal sized one, but these had a really small outside layer and ridiculously large amounts of filling! It was a lost cause from the start... absolutely delicious though :)

Oh, another two funny stories that I just remembered - the one gift shop that we walked into that looked like it had expensive stuff (they asked us to leave our backpacks behind the counter so we didn't knock stuff off the walls) Nick tried to touch an Indian drum that was hanging on the wall and it fell off and made a massive bang! Couldn't have picked a worse shop to be clumsy in! And the other is that when we were in a clothes shop called Roots, we both had jumpers we wanted to try on and the lady brought us to the change rooms and asked if we wanted to go into one together and I was like (with a disgusted look on my face) "oh no, he's my brother. Separate would be great!" she laughed so hard and we heard her still laughing as she was walking through the shops. I think people over here just assume we are a couple despite the fact that we look so similar...

Ok, sorry, back to the day - We then took the Sea Bus across to North Vancouver and spent a bit of time at the Lonsdale Quay Markets where we got a few more gifts (got a very cool one for you Renae!) and then headed out to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which gets done up with millions of Christmas Lights for the month of December. The bridge is over a huge canyon and there is also a cliff walk and tree top adventure part and everywhere was covered in lights so that was probably one of the highlights of the trip so far. It's impossible to describe just how beautiful it was. Even Nick's awesome camera skills don't quite do it justice (but they do look very cool so check them out in his Canada folder on facebook).

Then we came home (bus ride was interesting as it was absolutely packed and the bus driver was cranky and kept yelling at people - we hid down the back) and as we waited for the Sea Bus we had Maccas (which by the way, no one calls it that over here! They stared at us like we'd gone crazy when we said that, then we said, "You know, McDonalds" and they were like, "Ohhh, Mickey D's". Weird...... But anyway, the sizes over here are ridiculously large. The smallest size meal we could get had chips (got laughed at again for that one, apparently it's fries) and drink that were more like our large.

Ok, so it is 9:30am over here. Nick is still in bed so I will have to get him up and make him pack his bag so we can check out as we are heading to Jasper tonight! Getting excited about seeing snow but also a bit sad to leave Vancouver as it really is such a beautiful place! Hope you are all getting really excited about Christmas, and as always, we really miss you all!!
Love Claire and Nick
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Posted by clairebear89 09:08 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

So many Starbucks'!

sunny 2 °C

That is my number one observation for Vancouver so far. They are everywhere! Nick and I were sitting having a coffee at Starbucks yesterday while looking across the intersection at another Starbucks. Would love to steal one of the hundreds here and somehow transport it back to Toowoomba :)

So yesterday was amazing! The sky was a crazy bright blue and the sun was fairly warm, the wind was freezing cold but that was ok, and we even had a sleep in (though not planned and we were a bit annoyed that we missed half the day!). We had planned to go to Granville Island in the morning but figured there wasn't time left to do that properly so we got up and headed straight to Stanley Park and wandered around for a while until we found the Aquarium and then spent a few hours there checking out the dolphins, some massive amazon fish and otters and my favourite, the beluga whales. They were so cute! Nick took heaps of photos to practise with his camera and then we went and checked out the totem poles on the edge of Stanley Park. They are seriously tall and very cool looking and reading some of the history about them was really interesting.

We then started heading downtown to do some shopping and it was then that I realised we hadn't eaten all day (it was about 3:30pm). Poor Nick must have been starving but since I'm used to not eating at school I hadn't really thought about it and he was just too nice to bug me about finding some food!! So we walked into the next Subway we saw and got ridiculously large subs (they put about twice as much filling in them as they do back home!) and I think Nick thought it was the best meal of his life, haha.

Last night Alison came and picked us up from our hotel and took us out for dinner at this really retro old diner on Granville St. It was great to catch up with her and also to meet two of her friends from church over here and we finally got to ask some locals about what the go is with public transport and with tipping (both of which we have been so confused about!). Oh and we also found out that it's just the norm to give way to pedestrians all the time, Nick and I had been thinking everyone was must so nice letting us cross in front of them all the time :)

When we got back we skyped Mum, Dad, Kaitlyn and Amy and it was so great to have a chat and let them know how we are going and hear some news from back home. We managed to get up early this morning so are about to head off and do Granville Island for breakfast seeing as we missed it yesterday! Looking forward to checking out the markets and hopefully getting some cool presents for everyone back home.

Hope you are all well, sorry if these are a bit boring but they are mostly for the sake of mum and dad who I know want to hear every little detail of our days!! :)
Love Claire

Posted by clairebear89 08:50 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

Time Travel

overcast 4 °C

So thanks to the time differences between countries (which I cannot understand despite it being explained to me a million times!) we got to live the 19th of December over twice :)
The first day consisted of the plane trip.... and that was about it. I know i'm not a patient person but that many hours just sitting still nearly killed me!! Korean Air were great to fly with though because the food was surprisingly good, the air hostesses were really lovely and our bags didn't get lost - all major pluses of the first 19th of December!! No majorly annoying people on the plane (except the guy sitting behind me who took his shoes off and then put his feet up on my arm rest!!) and Nick and I both managed to get a little bit of sleep. We know this because at different stages we both woke up and realised we had been drooling.. classy I know... :)

When we finally got here we went through all the customs stuff, which was in itself pretty exciting because even all the customs officers were glad to hear our Aussie accents, and then got onto the SkyTrain. It's apparently 'the longest automated light rapid transit system in the world' according to my tour book but all I know is that it was a crazy smooth ride for a train and that there was a guy on there who was speaking so annoyingly loud that he narrowly escaped getting a 'team punch' from Nick and i!

Our hotel room was ready as soon as we arrived even though it was only about midday so we were extremely thankful for that! We chilled for a bit and then went shopping for some really warm jackets and stuff like that. I made a bit of a fool of myself getting all excited about the weird coins the first time I got change, and Nick took heaps of photos of a really cute squirrel while we were walking through Stanley Park, and then we went to The Keg for dinner. There are literally no words to describe how amazing the steak was at this place (I think the cow we ate must have been sacred or something??) and the lady serving us had spent a few months in Queensland so we had heaps of fun chatting with her and she told us a few things to check out tomorrow.

Now we are back in the hotel, about to crash after an incredibly long and exciting 'double day'. Missing you all heaps already but really looking forward to our adventures over the next few weeks!

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Posted by clairebear89 19:16 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Goodbye Australia!!

Well it is currently midnight and I'm writing a quick blog before I attempt to get a little bit of sleep before driving to Brisbane (at 3:30!) and then getting on the plane!! Absolutely exhausted after all the last minute packing and the church carols tonight but starting to realise that this is not some weird dream and I am about to leave the country :) Woot!!

Not sure how Nick and I are going to survive the plane trip as when we all went to Europe a few years ago it was the two of us who complained the most about cramped knees and sore necks, but at least the others won't have to hear us whinge this time :) Have a stop over in Seoul which is only an hour so seriously hoping we make the next plane. Having mental images of us running through the airport screaming and dragging our bags behind us (flashback to the Europe trip when we missed the train......)

So the next time we post will be from Vancouver, unless my hands have frozen solid and it's a physical impossibility to type..... I really don't handle cold well so be prepared for a lot of whining about the freezing weather ;) We will miss you all heaps but are so excited about all our adventures and especially about getting to see where Nigel has moved to and meeting all his new family and friends and most importantly little Carter :)

Night!!

Posted by clairebear89 06:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

One week to go!

So one more week and we will be wandering through Vancouver (most likely lost and trying to find our hotel..... but still, an adventure!!)
Getting very excited as I picked up the tickets today :)
Now I just have to pack.... hmmm... think it sounds easier than it is going to be. Maybe I'll just bring an empty bag and buy everything over there!!IMG_0837.jpg

Posted by clairebear89 03:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Planning Like Crazy!

IMG_0664.jpgSo considering this has all been a bit of a last minute decision, Nick and I have been spending heaps of time lately ignoring all the other school work we need to do and instead planning this trip :)
Passports are on the way, accommodation is currently being booked, plane tickets are on hold and i have a note book full of places that we want to see!
Just thought we would start this blog so that you guys can keep up with where we are at, check out our pictures, send us messages and also so that we have something to look back on when we get home. So hope you enjoy the read!!

Posted by clairebear89 01:39 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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