Thanks for stopping by. Because of your interest and support, I’ve recently moved my Canada travel blog to fancier digs–and my new address is a lot easier to remember: www.theseboots.travel

You’ll find everything that’s already here over there–but with much fancier wallpaper. Please come by and say hi…and maybe even sign up to receive an RSS feed!

This just in from @fairmont hotels via Twitter (and why YOU should be on Twitter too!):   Twitter Early Access (in advance of Travelzoo launch on 3/18/09) – $101 room rates at The Fairmont Empress –http://tinyurl.com/empress101
The Fairmont Empress on Victoria Harbour

The Fairmont Empress on Victoria Harbour

Victoria, BC‘s most-photographed hotel, the venerable Fairmont Empress, celebrates 101 years this year but in this economy she’s the one bearing the gifts: until March 24, you can book a room for any time up to December 23, 2009 for just $101 a night, INCLUDING a 15% discount on food, drink and indulgent Willowstream Spa treatments. It doesn’t get better that that–especially if you’re paying in Euros or US dollars.

 

If you’re tempted, don’t dither. This special package will hit TravelZoo on Wednesday…

Last week I wrote about how I had thrown caution to the wind and applied to be a volunteer performer at the 2010 Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. (Trust me: you have to capitalize all that stuff or you risk a knock on your door from the Olympic Language Police.) 

Here’s the note I just received by e-mail from “The Ceremonies Cast Team”:

“Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“We have received your application for consideration as a Volunteer Performer. [Editorial aside: You catching all these capitals?]

“In April, we will begin the audition scheduling process for auditions starting in May. As we anticipate receiving thousands of applications, this process will take several months. Please be aware that submitting an application does not guarantee an audition.

“All applicants, whether selected to audition or not, will receive information regarding the status of their application via e-mail or phone by the end of June 2009.”

Kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it? Giddy even. So now I guess I just have to wait for the phone to ring–or not. Likely not. But if it does, I’ll let you know what happens next on the Long Road to Olympic Stardom…

So recession kinda sucks huh? Seems every day it gets a little harder to justify an evening out when the sky is apparently falling. The way I see it, we can either cloister ourselves at home with our favourite depressant (in my case, Bombay Sapphire) and wait the downturn out–or, we can get out there and lift a budget-friendly glass to better times.

Win a Zin gift certificate!

Win a Zin gift certificate!

Think you can’t afford an after-work get-together with friends right now? Not true! Check out the great $2 tapas menu on offer between 4 and 7 pm at Zin on Robson from March 16 to April 30.

Executive chef Karen Gin’s menu of toonie treats includes mac & Jack (with a hit of Jack Daniels), chili lime-glazed chicken wings, naan pizza, braised short rib poutine, and my personal all-time lounge-food fave: truffle popcorn. 

Zin is one of my two favourite martini bars in Vancouver (more about the other one later) and I’ve got a $50 gift certificate to Zin to give away in a random draw on March 27. To enter, just leave a comment answering these three important questions: 

  • shaken or stirred?
  • vodka or gin?
  • one olive or two?

Make sure I can get in touch with you, and good luck! (And if just can’t wait to win, make sure you make Happy Hour reservations: call Zin at 604.408.1700.)

PS: Blog about this contest at your own site with a link back here and you’ll get a second chance to win!

It’s spring break in BC’s Lower Mainland and that pretty much guarantees a gloomy weather forecast. (Old joke: how do you know what the weather’s doing in Vancouver? Easy: if you can’t see the mountains it means it’s raining and if you can see the mountains, it means it’s going to rain.)

You can’t let the wet stuff dampen your holiday spirit. Just grab the Gore-Tex and a sturdy brolly (the cheerful, wind-resistant offerings from Vancouver’s Cheeky Umbrellas are well worth the bucks) and make like a local with some of these recommended rainy-day pastimes:

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

Vancouver loves a Cheeky Umbrella

  • Visit Hong Kong without a passport on a trip to Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre, where the city’s sizeable Asian population comes to shop, eat and be entertained. 
  • Cloudy skies only heighten the moody atmosphere of the Museum of Anthropology, a celebrated repository of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art at the University of British Columbia
  • Look up when it’s coming down: head for the snow on the nearby North Shore mountains. Look for specially priced ski-and-snowshoe packages here.
  • Steamy and tropical, the domed Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park blooms with birds, butterflies and lush floral vistas. (It’s the best place for foolproof photos, too.) 
  • Indulge your inner culture-vulture at Tickets Tonight with last-minute, half-price tickets to Vancouver’s primo arts events and wait out the monsoon in a matinée.
  • Rain or shine, the Whistler Mountaineer train between North Vancouver and Whistler is the best way to take in the coastal scenery along the Sea-to-Sky corridor. (The season runs May to October.)
  • Drop your umbrella and your shoulders and say spaaaaaaah. My favourite sanctuary is still (and will likely ever be) the Absolute Spa chain, now with a new location at Park Royal in West Vancouver. 
  • When you’ve exhausted the indoor pleasures of Granville Island Public Market, pop your top and walk the False Creek seawall west to Kitsilano Beach or east to Science World.
  • Like hockey but can’t afford tickets to a game? Head downtown to Vancity Theatre for the Hockey Nights in Film series during spring break.

Where do you like to pass a rainy day in the Lower Mainland? Please share your suggestions!