Spring Skiing in BC

My favourite time to be in Vancouver is springtime. I was a little early for the cherry blossoms, but the first warm weekend and sunny skies did have a few trees blossoming early. It was my first trip to BC that I truly felt like a tourist – renting a car and booking hotels is something I´ve never done before.

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Gastown´s steam clock

Fewer and fewer people from my UBC days are left, and the city has transformed so much since the Olympics that I barely recognised parts of downtown. Robson street and Granville look like old-fashioned relics of the good old days, Gastown looks the same but feels completely different, and I don´t even remember what the new Olympic Village neighbourhood looked like before it was there.

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UBC alumni reunited in Olympic Village

Going to BC means the routine family check up. My grandma would be furious is I was around and didn´t visit. But visiting her always means a cloud of guilt, for not visiting earlier or more often, not staying long enough, and not eating enough. This time, I got in the most trouble for not calling ahead since she didn´t get a chance to cook up a storm and overfeed me the best Guyanese chicken curry you´ve ever had, but it wasn´t meal time and we had places to go.

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the Fraser River

I was with Master Chef Thrainn, on his first visit to BC, and I wanted to impress him with the wining and dining scene. It wasn´t all fancy – Tim Hortons and A&W are Canadian musts, and wine tasting in Langley and visiting a BC liquor store to see the Okanagan selection were part of our master plan. I saw my oldest friend from Canada, Lisa, who took us around the vineyards, and visited her younger brother, sous chef at Coquilles, in Gastown. We had to go to Cactus Club and Earls, the two Canadian chains I owe all my server training to, and the trip highlight was hands down Araxi in Whistler; the shucked right in front of you oysters, fresh sea food and local wine list impressed even Thrainn, who doesn´t normally like oysters.

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The Peak2Peak Gondola, taking us from Blackcomb to Whistler mountain

We spent four days in Whistler, with fresh snow on our first day and a couple days of powder, but most importantly, we had three days of sunshine on the slopes with a hottub to soothe our muscles every night. I had a friend in Whistler and a few in Vancouver to visit, and we tried some local brews at the Craft Beer Market.

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feeding the birds on 7th Heaven

We started our trip with the first night at Cultus, and woke up to a glorious morning on the lake. We ended our trip with an upgrade at the Shangri-la hotel, in Vancouver´s tallest building, but looking across at Trump tower made us prefer the view from our other hotel balcony peering down Thurlow street to the Olympic torch. Stanley Park was still as I remember, but the one morning of dismal rain we had on our trip ruined our plans to bike around it. At least I have that and a few more cherry blossoms to come back to, so its not goodbye yet…

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Wine Regions in the Lower Mainland

Most of BC’s vineyards and wine production happen in the Okanagan, but recently wine making has become increasingly popular in Langley and the surrounding areas. There are a handful of vineyards in Cloverdale, just a few blocks north of the American border, and even some as far east as Abbotsford (Mt. Lehman Vinery – free tasting Thurs, Fri and Sat 1- 5pm).

Domaine de Chaberton vines

My sister and I went wine tasting to three vineyards one sunny afternoon last week, and although that might not seem too exciting, its pretty amazing we can go wine tasting as a day’s activity from Chilliwack, and even more amazing that my sister Kristjana wanted to come with (anyone who knows Kristjana understands that inside joke).

notice her glass is empty? scandalous…

We started at Neck of the Woods vinery, which last year used to be called Glenugie, and a few years before that, Real Estate Winery, so getting directions on google maps was a bit confusing. The only wine I remember was their Chardonnay that actually smelled like petroleum… the lady was really nice though! Then we went to Domaine de Chaberton which is a long standing winery that used to be run by a French and German couple. They recently sold their winery and now the new owners run a line of their ‘less-europeany’ wines as Canoe Cove. It sits in far-south Langley where they actually experience a sub-climate to the rest of Langley, great for white grapes, so they had an excellent chardonnay and my favourite was their gewurztraminer. They age their chardonnay in french-imported oak barrels that sit in this cellar the lady described as a reverse-sauna. It smelled like one.

Township 7 Winery

We ended our day at Township 7, which is a beautiful winery nestled among horse farms and Cloverdale equestrian park, but all their vines are just show vines and I think all their grapes are grown in the Okanagan. We ended our day there with the only tasting session that wasn’t free (a mild $3) but thankfully Kristjana was a responsible enough driver to have only tasted less than a milliliter of maybe half the varieties.