Tag Archives: Canada

Visiting Virginia – Delta – British Columbia – Canada

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You have heard Tin Man speak of his love many times…….

Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

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When Tin Man started his blog one of his first followers was Virginia…a friendship blossomed….

In the Spring of 2014 Tin Man rode a train across the entire country of Canada and ended the journey by spending the day with Virginia and the Good Husband…

You can read about that trip HERE  

This time The Tin Man was able to spend three delicious days with Virginia and The Good Husband..

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Virginia’s home is Paris….

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We had a delightful time on the front patio, surrounded by beautiful flowers…….

sipping bubbly, noshing and waving to the neighbors as they drove by…..

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Then one day ………off to the beach we went…..

but first …..the red lipstick from Theadora of Paris: People, Places and Bling…to match the cute red handbag also from Theadora….

Our Theadora, as she has become to known, lives in Paris and is another blogger who has become part of the family…

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Off to a friend’s home for an evening party….

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Magic and Delight abound when one is in the presence of Virginia….

Of course……..culinary delights abound…..Aromatic, Marvelous Chicken Curry…..Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce…..Cheese Puffs…..oh swoon….

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Of course these delights are picked fresh from the garden………

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The Back Porch is the perfect place to take an afternoon nap or enjoy a good book….

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A pleasant evening of companionship and conversation….

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The Good Husband builds model Ships….intricate and amazing work….

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Forever the beautiful ambiance and culinary delights….

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Three Days of Pure Delight….Tin Man rested in the lap of Buddha receiving blessings for the journey home…

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The Bengal Lounge – Fairmont Empress – Victoria – British Colombia

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Located within the walls of the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Colombia

is hidden a jewel of the old world.

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The Bengal Lounge…….

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Drawing inspiration from Queen Victoria’s role as the Empress of India,

this colonial style lounge is known throughout Victoria for its authentic curry buffet and signature cocktail menu

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The hallway to the Bengal is adorned with beautiful fabric tapestries from India…

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Cocktail and martini aficionados will appreciate The Bengal Lounge’s extensive selection of signature drinks with such names as the Bengal Tiger, Ivory Hunter and Tiger’s Kiss, to name just a few!  

Tin Man decided to have The Empress 1908, a recommendation of the server….Canada 233Canada 234

For a meal, English Fish and Chips seemed appropriate….

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The Bengal Lounge is quite a proper sort of place to sip on a cocktail, not at all like the casual sports bars found in the U.S.

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The Beautiful Bengal Tiger Fur Hangs over the fireplace, a reminder of times gone by…

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Tin Man was reminded of Madonna’s song: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun when he spied these two…evidently a cocktail too many…hehehehhe

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Pure Delight at every turn inside this Grande Dame of a Hotel….

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The Empress Hotel – Victoria – British Colombia – Canada

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When it was time for Tin Man to celebrate his 60th Birthday there was no hesitation as to where the event would take place……..The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Colombia.  After a brief stay in Seattle, it was time to take the ferry over to Victoria Island….

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Canada 072………and then after a peaceful voyage, we arrived and our beautiful Empress Hotel…..the Edwardian, château-style hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury for Canadian Pacific Hotels as a terminus hotel for Canadian Pacific’s steamship line, whose main terminal was just a block away.   The hotel was to serve businesspeople and visitors to Victoria, but later as Canadian Pacific ceased its passenger services to the city, the hotel was successfully remarketed as a resort to tourists. Victoria emerged as a tourist destination beginning in the mid-to-late 1920s.

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The hotel was built between 1904 and 1908, opening for service in that year. Additional wings were added between 1909 and 1914, and in 1928.

During this time, The Empress (as it was known then) played hostess to kings, queens, movie stars and many famous people.

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In 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales waltzed into the dawn in its Crystal Ballroom – an event considered by Victorians to be of such importance that almost 50 years later, the obituaries of elderly ladies would appear under headlines such as, ‘Mrs. Thornley-Hall Dies. Prince of Wales Singled Her Out.’

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In the 1930s, Shirley Temple arrived accompanied by her parents amid rumors that she had fled from California because of kidnapping threats, a story borne from the presence of two huge bodyguards who took the room opposite hers and always left their door open.

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On May 30, 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended a luncheon at the Empress, as guests of the Provincial Government.

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For many years the hotel did not have a sign above the front entrance. The strong emotions the hotel evoked in Victorians and its guests and protectors is exemplified in the statement made by an irate gentleman, as workers raised the sign above the front entrance:

‘Anyone who doesn’t know this is The Empress shouldn’t be staying here.’

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The hotel has received several accolades including Travel + Leisure Best Hotels of the World and recognized on Conde Nast Gold List. The hotel became Victoria’s first Five Green Key hotel as acknowledged by the Hotel Association of Canada for sustainability practices.

The Tin Man booked a Fairmont Gold Two Bedroom – Two Bath Suite at The Empress, as it was to be a grand celebration….

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The Suite faced the harbor and as it went around the corner also faced the Government Buildings…..Marvelous views….The Tin Man could often been seen at the window waving to tourists below as if he were English Royalty…

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The Gold Level Suite provided a lovely lounge in which Tin Man relaxed everyday and had a delightful breakfast…..

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With Beautiful Views of the Harbor…and occasionally a visitor…….. 

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In the Afternoon, Tin Man enjoyed Tea in the Lounge……never leaving the Gold Floor to explore for the first several days……

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The Morning of his 60th Birthday, Tin Man was awakened by the doorbell and a bellman delivered a most beautiful gift,  a Fairmont Robe, monogrammed in gold with Tin Man’s initials………….

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The Tin Man scampered down the hall to enjoy breakfast in the lounge

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…..upon return ……look at the most delightful gift left in his suite….

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The Afternoon of his Birthday, Tin Man decided it was time to leave the floor and explore the hotel…….but first….

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Yes, that is correct, time for the Formal Afternoon Tea, served in the Tea Room of the Hotel….

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 A time honoured tradition for over a century, the world renowned tea lobby of Fairmont Empress has served England’s most beloved ritual and Victoria’s grandest tradition of Afternoon Tea to famed royalty, celebrities and dignitaries alike.

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Surrounded by rich chintz fabrics, antiqued tapestries and rugs, elegant wing back chairs, vintage furnishings and hand-carved tables, the picturesque backdrop of the Inner Harbour provides the quintessential Victoria experience to all who grace Afternoon Tea.
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Chef and Team prepare house-made signature Empress scones, delectable pastries and tea sweets daily, reflecting locally sourced ingredients to ensure an authentically memorable experience.

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From the original blend of The Empress Tea created specifically for Fairmont Empress, served in dainty William Edwards china and sterling silver service to the enchanting ambiance of the live piano

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After Tea, a walk about the Hotel and Grounds….

Oh …….the most beautiful Flowers…..

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 Canada 132Canada 134Attached to The Empress is the Victoria Conference Center….oh beautiful architecture….

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The Empress holds many charms to behold….

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Pure Magical Delight…..a most marvelous adventure.

The Staff of The Empress was over-the-top attentive and worked to ensure that everything was perfect.

Duane LaChance, the Concierge Gold Manager, was absolutely incredible and made this a most memorable stay.

So, it was time to enjoy the last beautiful sunset from our suite and continue our adventure…..

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Lake Louise – Alberta – Canada

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Our Canadian Exploration with Uncommon Journeys has taken us to

Beautiful Lake Louise in Alberta

The hamlet is named for  Lake Louise

Which in turn was named after the Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939)

The fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, and the wife of John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll, who was the Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

Everyone was upset that the Lake was still frozen over; we found it quite amazing and wonderful…

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Of course the place to stay is the Chateau at Lake Louise

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The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a Fairmont Hotel on the eastern shore of Lake Louise, near Banff, Alberta.

The original Chateau was gradually built up at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was thus “kin” to its predecessors, the Banff Springs Hotel, and the Château Frontenac.

The hotel’s wooden Rattenbury Wing burned down on 3 July 1924, and was replaced by the current Barrot Wing one year later. The Painter Wing, built in 1913, is the oldest portion of the hotel still standing.

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Coming down her Grand Staircase, one is mesmerized by the grandeur and beauty

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The Lobby is large and magnificent

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Well off to the dining room……oh my, where to sit the views are spectacular..

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Oh…………YUM……..Breakfast is a pure delight…….

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Walking the grounds is very much like being inside a Fairy Tale.

The hotel was first conceived by the railway at the end of the 19th century, as a vacation destination to lure moneyed travellers into taking trains and heading West.

By the time airplanes and automobiles had displaced the trains, it had gained sufficient renown to have a life of its own. In 1999, Canadian Pacific Hotels (a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway) acquired Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, and adopted the Fairmont name for all of its hotels, resulting the in the Chateau Lake Louise being operated as a Fairmont hotel.

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From the start, the goal was to exploit the stunning natural beauty of the emerald-green lake and of Victoria glacier which rose above it. 

Here is a photo of Lake Louise when she is not frozen…

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We never saw the emerald-green lake, but the glacier was most impressive. 

The surrounding mountains were so spectacular…

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We had such a grand time visiting this grand dame and were so pleased to see her covered with such lovely ice and snow

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We hope you have enjoyed visiting this most incredible place with us…

Look over your shoulder one last time for a glimpse of her beauty…

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Athabasca Glacier – Columbia Icefield – Canada

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Canada 422As part of our Uncommon Journeys Train Adventure across Canada, we disembarked the train after four days in Jasper, Alberta, Canada for marvelous ride through the Colombia Icefield.

Our destination was the Athabasca Glacier in the midst of the Columbia Icefield.

What a marvelous ride it was..

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The Athabasca Glacier is one of the six principal ‘toes’ of the Columbia Icefield, located in the Canadian Rockies.

In the photo below you can see the Glacier just behind our heads…

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The glacier currently recedes at a rate of about 5 metres (16 ft) per year and has receded more than 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in the past 125 years and lost over half of its volume.

The glacier moves down from the Icefield at a rate of several centimeters per day, leaving behind mounds of crushed rock…

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 The leading edge of the glacier is within easy walking distance; however, travel onto the glacier is not recommended unless properly equipped.

Hidden crevasses have led to the deaths of unprepared tourists.

YIKERS………….we best take the bus!

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We went to the Icefield Interpretive Centre, and purchase tickets to take the Terra Bus out onto the Glacier.

These are fantastic vehicles and the only ones in existence are here on the Icefield and in the Antarctica.

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The Athabasca Glacier is surveyed each day in order to ensure that it is safe for our excursion onto its surface….

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No matter the age of the individual, once upon the Glacier, we all become curious youngsters…..

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We had a grand time visiting the Glacier and will have those marvelous memories for all time…

 

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As I write this post we are back at home in Texas and it is 103 degrees and the memories are most wonderful!

Thank you for taking the time to join us.

Here is a parting shot of us at Portage Glacier  on the Kenai Peninsula of the U.S. state of Alaska taken in the 1990s….

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Uncommon Journeys – Canadian Panorama – Across Canada by Train

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It began as dusk approached and gathered us into her arms….we walked to Union Station in Toronto to begin our train trek across Canada.

Excitement abounded……..we were all a dither with expectations of a wondrous trip…

Outside the station was a beautiful sculpture of the Olympic Torch..

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Passengers bound for distant points all converged together…

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The time drawing near for our departure…

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Uncommon Journeys (click here for information) conducts this two week fully guided tour across Canada, but once a year.  We had decided that we would give it a go.  Never had we been on a guided tour before and therefore our apprehension of someone owning our time was great. 

The itinerary for the trip included the following:

Day 1: Arrive Niagra Falls

We had a terrific stay at the Sheraton on the Falls (Canadian Side of Border)

You can read about that part of the Journey by clicking HERE

Day 2: Arrive Toronto

We had a grand time in Toronto the Westin Harbor Castle.  We spent our free day exploring this wonderful city which was highlighted by a welcome dinner at the acclaimed Canyon Creek Grill, a favorite haunt of the great and near-great in Toronto.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

Day 3: Depart Toronto

 The stunning train is a perfect 1950’s time capsule with the famed Vista-dome cars, a real old- fashioned dining car and first rate dining and service.

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The first night we joined for cocktails in the swank, end of train ‘Bullet Lounge’ before our welcome aboard dinner in the art deco diner as we roll west over the Canadian National Railway

We were given a private dining car to enjoy a most marvelous dinner..

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Day 4: En Route

We booked a Suite on the Train which gave us a king sized bed, two baths and two picture windows to enjoy the beautiful Canadian sights.

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It was amazing crossing the Canadian Prairies aboard the Canadian.

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Civilized amenities abound including hot showers, a special lounge just for First Class passengers and the best dining on any train in North America, deluxe train travel at its very best in a manner that has all but vanished. 

Each morning, the staff delivered Breakfast to our Suite…

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We had no desire to leave our suite and the cabin staff was so very attentive to our needs.

We enjoyed reading and before dinner cocktails in our suite, unencumbered by anyone…

 

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Day 5: En Route

We were overnight on train en-route as the Canadian sped across the great prairielands over the Canadian National Railway

The views were breathtaking…

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As part of booking the suite, the Canadians call it the Romance Package……and it was, we had Champagne and Flowers delivered to the suite each evening….

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Day 6: Overnight Jasper

After lunch the Canadian begins its ascent of the eastern slope of the Rockies, a not to be missed spectacle.

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This afternoon, we arrive in gorgeous Jasper and transfer to the Amethyst Lodge for our overnight stay in this magical and unspoiled mountain hamlet. All evening free to relax in this glorious setting

Wandering about the town were Elk…….what fun..

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We had a delightful time wandering about and visiting with locals…

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We dined at Papa George’s and had some of the finest French Cuisine…

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Day 7: Overnight Banff

We spent a stunning day of sightseeing as we traveled to Banff via the Columbia Icefields Parkway

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 We were thrilled to get a ride on the Glacier itself on a ‘Sno- coach’  before our arrival in Banff for our overnight stay

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Day 8: Overnight Banff

We enjoyed a full day in Banff beginning with the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain

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followed by a visit to the Banff Hot Springs that have made this village famous.

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Later that night we had a special dinner at Le Beaujolais….

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Day 9: Overnight Banff

Another magical day with a sightseeing tour to Yoho National Park that takes in Bridal Veil Falls, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise with all afternoon at leisure to further enjoy Banff

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 A fun “selfie” with our great tour director, Patrick…

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Day 10: Overnight Banff

Our final day in Banff we planned to sleep in and to enjoy Banff at our own pace

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Day 11: Depart for Vancouver

We depart this morning after breakfast bound for Jasper with a special sightseeing tour north over the Icefields Parkway stopping at Peyto Lake and Sunwapta Falls en route….

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Later we board the westbound CANADIAN, featuring spectacular views of the Rockies from its many vista-dome cars, one of the great travel treats in the World.

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Drinks in the classic Observation Lounge are a highlight tonight followed by dinner in the diner as we roll west over the historic Canadian National Railway.

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Day 12: Overnight Vancouver

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The CANADIAN arrived in Vancouver after breakfast time…….we had the most marvelous Duck Confit Eggs Benedict on the Train…

 

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 We enjoyed a brief sightseeing tour of this beautiful city, Canada’s third largest.

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The balance of the day was leisure…. we found a delightful Japanese Restaurant, tucked away on a side street….

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We are anxious to get to sleep, because the next day we would meet Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

Day 13: Spend the Day with Virginia

We spent a grand day with Virginia and the Good Husband…read about it CLICK HERE…

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Day 14: Journey Home

Alas, our incredible Canadian Adventure has come to an end….aboard the plane…….

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Home Sweet Home

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I must admit that as I close my eyes each night, the vision of our nightly Champagne comes to mind…

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Hope you enjoyed this trip across Beautiful Canada with us…

St. Lawrence Market – Toronto – Canada

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After our marvelous morning at Clafouti’s Patisserie it was time to explore more of Toronto

We are just in day two of our two week journey across Canada with Uncommon Journeys train exploration known as Canadian Panorama..

We hopped the Trolley to head back downtown……we exited the trolley early to walk about a bit and enjoy the sights…

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Our destination was the Famed St. Lawrence Market

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This market has achieved the status of Number One Food Market in the WORLD

……..well you know the Tin Man…..if it is about food, it must be explored…..

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We enter the Market and the World of all Culinary Delights embraces us….

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Okay…..Okay…..Okay…enough temptation……..time to eat (again)

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Oink……….Oink……….it was good!!

Time to explore some more….

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 ….and then before us …….. WHAT….THEY ARE GRILLING OCTOPUS…..my favorite….

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We find a table out on the patio and place our order….

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Soon the Delights of the Sea are before us……the aromas exotic and marvelous…

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Oh, Pure Heaven, this is the place to visit when in Toronto……but it is time to take to the streets again…

We do need to meet our Tour Group for Dinner Tonite…………ha….

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A quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and have a cocktail….

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Then it is off for our last meal on solid ground for the next four days…….so excited about getting on the train…

Excited about Dinner at Joe Badali’s Italian Restaurant…..

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We are a large group, so an Italian Restaurant is the perfect place…..the service is great and the food fantastic…

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Now that Dinner is done……we being the train trip…..stay tuned for that exciting adventure…

Hope you enjoyed our stay in Toronto…

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CLAFOUTI : Toronto – Canada

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It began by a chance meeting in the virtual world of Blogging….and so the journey continues…

We booked passage on Uncommon Journeys Canadian Panorama cross country Train Excursion……..two weeks…yikers I thought….

Our Second Day was to be spent in Toronto….not caring for Large Cities….I saw her looming before us…construction cranes everywhere..

You see, in Canada,  there are two seasons:  Winter and Construction

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Virginia of BEL OCCHIO’S BLOG had already told us of Queen’s Street and Clafouti…home of the BEST croissants outside of Paris…….off we went

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Pure Victorian Delight……….peace, tranquility and not one construction crane in sight…..only the rumble of quaint street cars going by….

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Then we turned the corner and there it was…………Clafouti….mecca of the Croissant and the Crookie………….more about that later…….

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We came to the well worn steps leading to her front door….

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Inside………the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee….

Clafouti reaches out and throws a Parisian Wrap around us….

Just look at the Delectable Delights……….

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We grab the table next to the window……….Virginia’s favorite, so we could look out at the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street….

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Our Croissants so flaky and delicious………the coffee, rich and fragrant…..

We did not try the Crookie……a Croissant with an Oreo Cookie baked inside…..Clafouti created this masterpiece…

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The Bell on the Door was always a-tinkle with customers coming and going…..

The Bohemian Interior of Clafouti so enchanting….

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Alas, time to go explore the Park and seek out those mysterious albino squirrels, Good Husband of Virginia has spoken of…..

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We look back at our Clafouti……..and think of all the times our friend Virginia sat here gathering strength…..

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The Park is full of Flowers………but not one albino squirrel to be seen…..

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Time to hop the streetcar and head back for dinner…….What a treat is was to escape to Paris for a couple of hours……..

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Until next time…………

Niagara Falls – Ontario – Canada

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We began our Two Week Trek by Train across Canada in Niagara Falls

It was May; however, the Falls were still partially frozen…….Check Out Those Large Ice Chunks

This was the View from our Hotel Room. The Sheraton on the Falls…….Just Amazing

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Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States

Here is a Photo of the Falls Completely Frozen over in 2014

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…….and one from 1911…

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From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island.

The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island.

The Views were Spectacular…

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The Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls is an international steel arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge, and is a world-famous tourist site. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States (to the east), and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (west).

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In the Mornings the Falls and River are Shrouded in Mist and Fog…….Enchanting….

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Strolling about the Park we found the Dogwoods beginning to Bloom…our Hotel is the building behind the Tree

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Of course, all that exercise worked up an appetite….Lobster Roll and Caesar Salad

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Back to the Falls for one more look………perhaps to sing a song……

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A Little Wine Tasting before Bed………

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Well off to bed…..this vacation is just starting…….

Thanks for coming to visit Niagara Falls with us…..hope you enjoyed!

 

The Yellow Brick Road

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Though it has been said time and time again, it must be said again:

Oh you are the best friends anybody ever had, and its funny,

but I feel if as if I’d known you all the time, but I couldn’t have, could I ?”

tinny

We’re off to see Virginia, The Wonderful Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog.
You’ll find she is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things she does and creates and writes and paints and plants and cooks……….oh my!

We’re off to see Virginia. The Wonderful Wizard of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog……… Also known as The Goddess of the Rainbow…..The Iris Goddess

Recently The Tin Man and his Spouse ventured off on a two week train trip across beautiful Canada.

Their trip began in Niagara Falls and they trekked across the woodlands and plains, then over and through the majestic Rocky Mountains..

as they traveled each day brought them closer and closer to Virginia.

Virginia, known only through her most amazing blog: BEL’ OCCHIO’S – The Beautiful Eye

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Tin Man and Spouse were all a dither when they finally arrived in Vancouver to Meet Virginia and the Good Husband

The day arrived ………..the elevator door opened and so it was begun…

…the Friendship of a Lifetime……..Hugs that did not want to be released…..

Arms tucked together like lost lovers in the side streets of Paris….

Giggles and Whispers……..Eyes Moist with Emotion…

so it began….

Here is the Story in Virginia’s Words…..CLICK ME

After a delightful respite with coffee on the patio of the hotel, we ventured off to the Center of Oz

FINALLY, I enter into the magical world I have seen on Virginia’s Blog…..

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Oh, to be surrounded by Paris……every nook, every detail……a personal touch…..creations all by the hand of Virginia….marvelous

The Good Husband has built Ships………ships on which we can carry our dreams and desires….

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This Parisian Refuge is tucked in the Canadian Countryside…..lush and green, a place where human sustenance begins….

On the Back Patio…..a Garden Bed, in which to lounge and read as Oswald The Gentleman Rabbit comes to visit….pure magic, I say, pure magic lives here….

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We began on the Front Patio…..with fresh baked scones, prepared by The Good Husbands….

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We spoke of Theadora Wizard of the magic kingdom of PARIS: PEOPLE, PLACES AND BLING!

 and our friend Goddess of the Beach THE COASTAL CRONE

There were even Poppies…..not the Poison Kind, after all this is real life – not the movie!

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Story after Story……..Laugh after Laugh……..Introspection after Introspection….the bond was formed

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but………..it was time…….The Culinary Goddess began her Magic…..

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She pulled out her Magic Wand and we were under her spell….

Silence and Let the Magic Work…

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It was if The Good Husband and Virginia entered into a beautiful Viennese Waltz….and allowed us to join them….

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The Magical Elixir was produced….a Grand Cru ’81 Margaux….oh my…

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The Rooms filled with the Fragrances of the Culinary Magic and the air felt as if it was filled with Fairy Dust…

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Check out the menu and recipes CLICK HERE

The enchanting table inviting us to sit……..we, hesitant knowing that the day was coming to an end….

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Then The Magical Culinary Goddess produced Humming Bird Cake……baked especially for the Tin Man because Virginia remembered that Mother of Tin Man made this when he was a wee tot…such love….

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We lingered as long as we could …..our embraces new again….one last look back and there was the faithful Buddha holding a flower in his lap for our safe travel, as always…

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Never, Ever, Ever…….in my wildest dreams did I ever think that a blog would lead me down The Yellow Brick Road of Life to find soul mates waiting at the end!

Never turn away from the gifts that life brings you, for they are abundant..

To Virginia and The Good Husband……..our Most Dear and Marvelous New Friends,

Thank You for Such Beautiful Memories!

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If you want to read more about this day, here are Virginia’s Stories….

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

DINNER WITH THE TIN MAN

DINNER WITH THE TIN MAN……TALES OF THE EMERALD CITY