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Ever done a Snowmobile Ride with Dog Sleds?

For most of us, riding through the snow on a dog sled would be a new kind of thrill. For residents of Grey County, Canada, it is a routine mode of transport.

Grey County is bordered in the north by the impressive Georgian Bay, 220km by 100km, making it almost as large as Lake Ontario, one of Canada’s five Great Lakes. It is just 150 km away from Toronto, west of the Blue Mountains area of Collingwood, where skiers take on snowy slopes.

Mike Keenan took a thrilling ride across Grey County. The idea of Corporate Honchos going to work in Snowmobile excited him.

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Driving on a snowmobile is a lot like cross-country skiing: an opportunity to observe nature’s pristine fields bordered by naked deciduous trees shrouded in hoar frost, providing a mystical dimension. The trees glow along the carpet of snow; their crystals beam in jewel like fashion, a sparkling dance in strong sunlight, glistening and forcing to stop to revel in magnificence of it all.

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Snowmobiles are machines that transport you deep into the woods, offering vistas of partly-frozen creeks and snow-clad pine and spruce, uneven land, large rocks and limbs providing a unique gestalt. They are responsive and easy to drive, right hand controlling gas and left hand, the brake. As promised, the machine virtually stops on its own with the release of gas.

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There are 3,000km of groomed trails in the Grey-Bruce area, with no dangerous lake or water crossings. Trails are signposted and easy to follow. Mike witnessed myriad tracks, a large hare, perhaps a wolf but no actual wildlife, and although the trails he travelled were graded ‘Limited,’ they are fine with deer, white owls and the sheer beauty of nature in Grey County’s winter wonderland. Gloves, pants, helmet and boots kept them warm. There are two kinds of snowmobile enthusiasts: hard core, racking up as many kilometers as possible and the recreational, out of pure enjoyment. Many people even show up in business suits, the office goers.

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Next it was ‘Hike!’ that they repetitively shouted as teams of dogsled raced along a circular route at Doug Nixon’s Rob Roy Dog Sledding Adventures. The Alaskan and Siberian huskies, harnessed in two teams of two dogs per sled make you wonder how four dogs are able to carry each sled and the large musher. Mushers stand on two thin runners with a brake pedal in the middle. After a few sprints you get the feel of it, leaning into the turns, the sled easily maneuvers on the terrain.
It was minus 2 C, but the owner, Doug, said that these snow dogs liked it colder at minus 10-15 C. They are born outside and live outside.

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This experience was shared in the November-December 2012 issue of Travel Secrets magazine.

What’s the most scenic train trip in Canada?

We speak from personal experience here: Take VIA Rail’s Jasper-Prince Rupert train (formerly known as the ‘Skeena’).

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The journey was among the most beautiful and memorable we ever took. From the gorgeous views all through to the comfortable seating, it was the stuff a traveller’s fondest dreams are made of.

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This train connects with the Toronto-Vancouver train (the Canadian) at Jasper. The route takes you northwestward, first across the Interior Plateau to Prince George, and then along the Skeena River to the pacific coast and Prince Rupert. You get to see the most picturesque bits of northwestern British Columbia, with historical reminders of the lives led by ancient aboriginal people.

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From the final 3000 kms into Prince Rupert, the train follows the mystic Skeena River, famed for the thick mist that often shrouds it- “Skeena” means “river of mists”. The train winds its way along the forested canyons of the river, with the water below gushing over rapids before widening to a peaceful flow, mirroring the surrounding environment.

It is worth booking “Touring Class” where the dome car provides a perfect perch from which you can view the breathtaking scenery. This is available June to mid September. Economy class travelers get an excellent view from their own seats, too.

The Jasper-Prince Rupert trains depart three times a week year around from Jasper. The journey time is approximate 20 hrs. The schedule allows for daylight viewing of the spectacular scenery, and a chance to view wildlife in their natural surroundings.

With inputs from http://www.buzzviarail.in

 

What’s on offer for Vegetarians in Vancouver, Canada?

When it comes to food, Vancouver has always had a healthy west-coast vibe to it. Now on the cutting edge of the latest trend – part-time vegetarianism – the bustling seaport in British Columbia is dishing out a sumptuous vegetarian spread larger than ever.  

Vancouver has long been a great city for a tofu fix, but now the chefs are branching out into sophisticated vegetarian dining fit to lure even the hard-core carnivores.

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At The Acron, Chef Rob Clarke’s award winning menu features beautiful vegetarian, raw as well as vegan plates. No tofu turkey or fake sausages here, but you’ll never miss meat while dishes like crispy beer-battered halloumi on a zucchine rosti with pureed peas, cauliflower mac and cheese, delicate raw beet, and macadamia nut cheese ravioli are around.

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Exile Bistro‘s plates are always filled with the west-coast’s seasonal wild bounty – wild mushrooms on barley bread toast with cashew cheese and dandelion salad is just one of them that gives you a fair idea of what’s served here.

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Burdock & Co.‘s, Chef Andrea Carlson keeps it simple but high on flavour with small plates of local vegetables – braised and charred leeks with hazelnut Romesco sause or whole roasted Walla Walla onion with pine mushroom and cheese fonduta. We are already drooling here!

For more plant forward food far from crunch granola of yore, you can try these two too –

The Parker for late-night cocktails and noshes and

Heirloom or Graze for good old vegetarian comfort food.

Restaurants play their part well, but the hotels are soon catching up with the Vegetarian fever in town –

At The Four Seasons, Chef Ned Bell loves his vegetables and makes a d=generous display of it with his “Farm-to-table”menu brimming with “nutrient dense and plant based” delicacies.

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The Sushi bar at The Fairmont Pacific Rim serves up pressed and salted watermelon nigiri to mimic rare tuna for vegan diners.

Whether it is for health, environment or local “root-to-shoot” eating, Semi -Vegetarianism is on the path to soon becoming Vancouver’s new signature cooking style. 

For more on Vegetarian Vancouver, check out these restaurants.

I’m booking myself on VIA Rail Canada. Am I on the right track?

Imagine breathing in the wonders of pristine nature as your train winds its way through a vibrant landscape. From the Atlantic to the Pacific and the barren North to the bustling metropolitan hubs of the South — Canada remains unique at every turn.  Rail makes it possible to explore remote regions that today remain difficult to reach by other modes of travel.  img_2142Oh yes! Team TS travelled VIA Rail Canada–the national rail passenger service from Prince Rupert Island to Jasper, and it was a terrific experience all the way through.

Sit back and relax as the friendly crew abroad the VIA Rail network work hard to ensure a safe, comfortable and satisfying journey. VIA Rail operates almost 500 trains weekly across 12,500 kms, connecting 450 communities across Canada. The fleet includes 396 passenger cars and 78 active locomotives that serve 159 railway stations. 3386_photo_high_res_jpg On board, there’s a variety of factors that guarantee a memorable journey. For example, sumptuous food. Relish the best of Canadian delicacies prepared by renowned chefs. Take your pick from nourishing and delectable meals, such as gourmet cuisine made with rare ingredients served along with Canada’s finest wines. On the menu you will find, summer fresh hummus and crackers, fresh veggies and coriander wrap with sesame mayonnaise or the yummy Fourmi bionique gourmet mix. Sip on a glass of Diamond Estate Canadian red wine, as you enjoy the view rushing by the window. VIA Rail Canada   _sht7717 Remember to bring along your favourite old-time games – give the smartphones a rest. The skyline cars have tables and long bench seating perfect for card and board games. Also pack some music or a book, a camera for the spectacular views, comfortable footwear and sunglasses. _sht1968-lower-berth-night-time-1 _sht8927 VIA Rail is the best way to explore Canada’s diverse natural wonders, cultural attractions and proud history. If you are travelling with family, it couldn’t get better than this. For more about VIA Rail; Check out their Evolution blog. VIA Rail on Facebook and Twitter. Images: buzzviarail.in

Take me on a road trip through the Icefields Parkway, Canada.

Inputs from TS Intern Arushi Rajput.

An immaculate blend of blue and green, with streaks of white glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and the serene snow capped mountains – one glance at the Canadian Rockies and you’d forget to blink. Set amidst all this beauty, the Icefields Parkway is one of  the world’s most stunning roads you’ll ever come across.

Stretching all the way from Jasper to Lake Louise, the 232 km double-lane highway winds along the Continental Divide through rocky mountain peaks and vast sweeping valleys. Rated among the best in the world by both Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic magazine, the Parkway lives up to its tagline – “The Most Spectacular Journey in the World.”

Image: www.wildnatureimages.com
Image: http://www.wildnatureimages.com

With every few miles travelled, you will be treated to some of nature’s masterpieces- the majestic waterfalls, the ancient glaciers, the liveliness of the fauna – all set within valleys of thick pine and larch forests. It’s a traveler’s dilemma when it comes to choosing where to stop and take it all in. Here’s a little help on getting the best out of your trip:

Image: www.tripadvisor.co.uk
Columbia Icefields  Image: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Hike

There’s no dearth of hiking trails to choose from – short walks or long excursions, you an easily get acquainted with nature on foot.

See

This is a land with a unique blend of the natural elements. You can start with the Columbia Icefields, the weeping wall in Banff, the lakes and valleys.

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Always be camera ready, you never know when you might find a mother bear and her cubs or a deer merrily grazing around (Seriously! Keep a safe distance though). But otherwise, in these parts, still-life isn’t that boring either.

Peyto Lake Image: www.boomsbeat.com
Peyto Lake Image: http://www.boomsbeat.com

Banff and Jasper National Parks

Here’s where you can admire the tumbling falls – Athabasca, Tangle and Sunwapta, and lakes like the ever-so-blue Peyto.

Lake Louise

The deep blue hues of the water is perfect to relax and refresh. However, if you don’t want to relax just yet, then there is a plenty to do here- rent a canoe, stroll along the river, go horseback riding or hike!

Can’t wait to go now? June to September is the best time to pack your bags for this road trip.

Know Before YOU Go:

This website can help you plan your trip.

More to read:

Cycling the Icefields Parkway

Roadtrippers – Driving Alberta’s Icefields Parkway

Monty’s Musings- RV trip on Icefields Parkway

A few stunning photographs by Peter Carroll

 

 

 

 

The best pizza in Toronto?

Honest answer: we can’t say. Our team has toured Toronto twice and enjoyed some good slices of pizza, but a few days in a city cannot make you an authority on its best eats.

Having said that…

…We know the best resource where you can learn not only about Toronto’s best pizza, but also its best bars, bakeries, bistros, bubble tea and more!

Here it is.

BlogTo, in their own words, are: ” Toronto’s most-visited web site for local news and culture, best of lists, restaurant reviews and events. Founded in 2004, we’re a growing and diverse team of artists, baristas, bakers, tech geeks, DJs, fashionistas, comedians and people who take daily multi-vitamins. ”

About the best pizza: check out their list, and you will know where to go.

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Have you cruised over Vancouver, Canada on a floatplane?

No? You will want to, once you find out how much fun Sonali Shah had while cruising and flying around in one. 

Over to her:

As I fly over mini islands, I peer to see boats leave a foamy trail and watch the water below me shimmer. And the sea seems to merge with the clouds as the sun plays its tricks. I gaze farther and can’t tell whether I am seeing the mountains, clouds—or is it water? The cockpit of a floatplane does prove to offer the best view with enchanting illusions. I am flying over Vancouver in west Canada in a floatplane and thoroughly enjoying myself.

seaplane canada
Image: victoriaroyals.com

Floatplanes, also called seaplanes, are those that can glide over water as well as take a tour of the sky. A typical routine commences at the harbour, so take-offs and landings are on water, and a short scenic flight in between makes up the rest of the programme. Floatplanes are popular in Canada, not just for tourists, but also for many a wealthy businessman to get from one city to another.

I suggest a floatplane ride during summers to discover hidden Alpine lakes and one during the winters to meet hanging glaciers and mountain ridges of the region. If you’re a skilled skier, you can go down the slopes in style. You can also set off on day trips to bays and small islands in the neighbourhood. Maybe pack a picnic basket to take along or bring back a bounty from the local farmer’s market? The options to sight-see and participate in outdoor activities are numerous – bike excursions, whale-watching, city tours, kayaking and wine tastings are available on different routes.

Vancover canada
Image: http://www.whistler.com

On the day I showed up in Vancouver for a short, scenic ride, the waiting lounge for passengers looked pretty busy. We showed
our boarding passes at the gate and filed ahead to board the aircraft, but I fell behind the line as I was shooting pictures. Now as luck would have it, I was the last person to board the plane and could not sight a vacant seat. Before I could voice my concern to the crew member at the door, he smiled at me and said, “Go on ahead to the cockpit, right beside the pilot.” I was mighty excited at hearing that and would’ve done a little jig at the spot, if I weren’t inside an aircraft! The pilot was a friendly fellow who asked me put on a set of headphones if I wanted to communicate with him, or hear his “jibber jabber” with the base over the radio. He was generous with information about where we were flying and said that he finds Vancouver to be the most beautiful city in Canada, to fly over.

The pontoons on the plane helped us take off on the sea, spraying water on either side and we cruised ahead faster than I had imagined. It picked up enough speed for me to begin to worry and soon, without a warning, lifted itself up, and the rotating blades on the nose did a good job of keeping us midair. After about 25 mins of breath-taking views of Vancouver, we glided back with a spray to the harbour. I stepped out feeling a tad woozy, and think that my tummy had a hard time deciding whether it was supposed to feel air or seasickness!

Know Before You Go
• Pick a sunny day for the ride. The sight of the rivers glistening in the sun is enchanting.
• Do carry your passport along. It serves as photo ID.
• The co-pilot’s seat is mostly available for passengers, but most tourists don’t know about it, as it isn’t particularly mentioned anywhere. So do march right ahead to the cockpit and think of Travel Secrets when other passengers look at you in awe.
• Most popular regions in British Columbia, connected by floatplanes are Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, San Juan Islands and Horseshoe Bay.
• On an average, a return journey costs CAD 100. Get a CAD 8 discount by booking tickets online on www.seairseaplanes.com.

 

Where can I enjoy the world’s best Ice Wine?

Pressed from frozen grapes, ice wine is luscious and intense. It is sweet enough to be enjoyed as dessert, and perfect for rounding up a meal, preferably starring foie gras and blue cheese. Accented with lychee, papaya and pineapple, it gets a whole new dimension. And added to sparkling wine or cocktails, it is a seductress.

Canadian ice wines

Canada (Icewine) and Germany (Eisewine) are the world’s largest producers of Ice wines. About 75 percent of the Icewine in Canada
is grown in Ontario. Canadian law requires that the grapes must hang on their vines well into early winter – until they are frozen to -80 C and reach a minimum of 350 brix (amount of sugar). The fruit must be picked by hand, in the cold. It takes at least six hours to harvest and press the grapes – usually during the night. The labour and complex fermentation process makes it expensive, but a chilled bottle of Icewine is totally worth it.

Niagara Ontario Canada boasts 25 beautiful vineyards just 15 to 20 minutes outside Niagara Falls, Canada in quiet and charming Niagara-on-the-Lake. The entire Niagara wine region along the shores of Lake Ontario-is home to over 50 wineries. Discover the best of the region’s vineyards by following the Wine Route of Ontario through the countryside by car, bike or guided tour.

Team TS toured the Inniskillin winery on a crisp winter morning. The full, grape-scented vineyards were soaked in gentle sunlight. Then we tasted the first sip of ice wine, and it was love at first sip. If Canada is on your plans this year, do tour the Niagara wine belt. You’ll thank us for the idea!

Read more:

The Best Icewines of Canada

Icewine from Ontario, Canada

Icewines from around the world

Q: What should I see and do in Vancouver, Canada?

vancouver

Other big cities of the world have famous towers, bridges and churches. Vancouver’s calling card is its incredible natural beauty. Set in the midst of mountains and ocean, the city has a happy, resort-like feel all year round. You are sure to stumble upon some secrets on your own, but here is a quick introduction to the key pleasures that you will experience, even if you are there for just a couple of days.

Take a ride on the Skytrain—it will get you from the airport to the heart of downtown in 22 minutes flat. While arriving on time, you will also savour some of Vancouver’s most stunning views from your window. The train goes over the world’s longest cable-Supported bridge over Fraser River.

skytrain1

Enjoy maple syrup: you are in Canada, after all! The best way to get the most pleasure from this delicious syrup is to drench your buttery croissants and fluffy pancakes in it. Don’t forget to buy a bottle or two for back home—it makes a great gift, too!

maple

Join the rush hour: Rush hour on Monday in Delhi and Mumbai versus peak time in Vancouver will have your eyes popping out. No packed-like-sardines trains and buses, no traffic jams. It’s just a cool line up of long Lamborghinis, fast Ferraris and hot Harley Davidsons easing their sleek bodies on the smooth tar, dazzling in the sunshine. Well, that’s your introduction to Vancouver’s work force!

Take a walk in Stanley Park: Early in the morning or late in the evening, this sprawling Park is Vancouver’s pride and joy. Spread over a little more than 1000 acres, Stanley Park nudges downtown Vancouver and loops around the English Bay. Stop and smell the flowers, catch a concert, or delve into its secrets—some of the rocks here are more than 32 million years old!

Vancouver_Stanley_Park

Stay in an apartment hotel: on or close to Denman Street is the best location, because it puts you right across from the stunning, sparkling English Bay. Fresh produce from farmer’s markets and supermarts is always just around the corner, and you will enjoy buying your groceries to dish up a home-style or exotic meal in the comfort of your apartment.

Shop at Robson Street: this is British Columbia’s hippest street for shopping, entertainment and nightlife. Whether you want to splurge or just people-watch, this is the street to be on.

Robson-Street

Watch the sunset at English Bay: Kick  off your sandals. Feel the sand between your toes. Watch the sky turn a rich shade of marmalade. Sip roadside lemonade, watching bronzed bodies sprawled all around; some absorbed in beach reads, some lost in each other.  Watch out for the golden retriever bounding behind a ball. Steer clear of that handsome jogger in the yellow tee. But do lean close to the bushes that line Stanley park, because big bunches of berries hide within. Sensory Overload Alert!

Take the Seabus into Granville Island: here, Vancouver’s best coffee is brewed and the city’s freshest salmon is served. But besides the gastronomic delights, this middle-of-the-city island is abuzz with theatres, pubs, shops, studios, galleries and much more. Kids will love the Adventure Zone here.

Take the cable car up to Grouse Mountain for some gorgeous views from the North Shore peak which sits 4000 metres high. The one-mile aerial tram ride is wonderfully scenic. In winter, this is ski and snowboarding heaven, with exciting hiking trails in springtime.

cable car up to Grouse Mountain

Best Time to Go: Year-round. Winters are mild and wet, with the best hotel and activity rates. Spring is filled with daffodils, and summer is when the city bursts into festival mode.

Getting There

Vancouver International Airport
www.yvr.ca.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is situated on Sea Island, 10km (6 miles) south of downtown. All major international airlines have connections to Vancouver.

For more information: http://www.tourismvancouver.com

Q: I am going to Niagara Falls. What else should I see and do there?

ImageA: TS Editor Shubhra Krishan has 10 great ideas for you!

Catch the night lights: During day, the Falls are bathed in sunlit rainbows. At night, they change into an opera of light and grandeur. Take up a room that gives you the view; it’s every bit worth the extra you pay. If you’re lucky and a local festival is on, you’ll be treated to some magnificent fireworks, too!

 

Stroll up Clifton Hill: this steep street snakes its way seductively up Niagara town. It’s filled with fun, and dotted with cool, kitschy attractions: souvenir shops, open-air eateries, ice-cream parlours and museums with names like Nightmares Fear Factory and the Fun House. Perfect for both adults and kids.

Clifton-Hill

 

Try your luck at the Casinos: The town of Niagara has two towering casinos, equipped with state-of-the-art slot machines and dozens of table games. After you have viewed the Falls at night, get inside one of them and try your luck.  Who needs Vegas?

casino niagra falls

 

 

Get a view from above:  The 12-minute Niagara Helicopter ride is totally worth the splurge.  Let the snug headphones hug your ears, and lift off to enjoy some of the world’s most spectacular aerial views. This short trip is composed of two things every traveller craves:  jaw-dropping moments and fantastic photo opportunities.

Drive down to the Floral Clock: Located at the foot of Niagara town, this 40-foot wide timepiece is decorated with—hold your breath—nearly 20,000 carpet bedding plants. It has been keeping time with flowers and sunshine since 1950. Stand, stare, and of course, adjust your watch.

floral clock

Take a walk in the Park: The Niagara Parks Botanical Garden is a floral wonderland with 40 hectares of plants and flowers, including a rose garden that boasts more than 2400 roses. Winding footpaths lead past the Butterfly Conservatory, ponds and arboretum. The best part: admission is free!

botanical garden niagra

How about a holiday in Newfoundland?

So, where are you going for your next vacation? Singapore? UK? New York? Vegas?   Y-a-w-n.

At Travel Secrets, we’ve been dreaming of destinations faraway. Micronesia. Monaco. Newfoundland.

Our Canada writer-photographer George Bailey was in Newfoundland, and his pix make us want to fly there, fast!

Travel Secrets_Newfoundland

To go, fly from Toronto to St. John’s Airport.

Flight time: 3 hours.

Round-trip fare: approx $ 600 (less if you’re willing to take a hopping flight).

Stay at Balmoral House:

four-star luxury at a jaw-droppingly affordable $ 120 per night

travel secrets_newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador is a little smaller than California, slightly bigger than Japan, and twice the size of the entire United Kingdom.

Though Newfoundland and Labrador is larger than some countries, it certainly doesn’t feel crowded with a relatively small population of 510,000

Travel Secrets_Newfoundland

The spectacularly preserved fossils and petrified remains found at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve on the Avalon Peninsula date back 565 million years. It’s the oldest, most diverse assemblage of multi-cellular life ever found on earth.

Travel Secrets_Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador is served by both scheduled airlines and charter services, and can be reached via national and international connections. Our province is home to two international airports – located in St. John’s and Gander – as well as domestic airports in Deer Lake, Stephenville, St. Anthony in Newfoundland, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Churchill Falls and Wabush in Labrador. These airports are destinations for many major airlines, including Air Canada, WestJetContinental, as well as the locally-owned and -operated Provincial Airlines.

29,000 kilometres of bays, guts, headlands, harbours and coves.

travel secrets_Newfoundland

Before you go, get to know these Newfoundland words:

Bliver – “to shiver with cold”

Chucklehead – “a stupid person”

Drook – “a valley with steep wooded slopes”

Duckish – “between sunset and dark”

Duff – “pudding of flour, fat pork and molasses”

Funk – “smoke or vapor of evil odour”

Gulvin – “the stomach of a codfish”

Huffed – “vexed”

Puddock – “stomach”

Slob – “ice newly frozen”

Swatch – “to shoot seals in pools amid ice floes”

Trapise – “to walk around unnecessarily”

Twig – “to catch a meaning”

Newfoundland Sayings!

Idn’t dat fulish bye – (Isn’t that foolish…and of course we Newfies say bye at the end of many phrases, instead of the eh associated with Canadians!)

Arse foremost – (Backwards.)

Scoff and a scuff – (Meal followed by a dance.)

I’m craving deep serenity. Can you suggest an away-from-it-all island?

Shubhra Krishan finds serenity sprinkled all over Prince Rupert Island, British Columbia, Canada

It is almost the end of the world, and I am happy. Standing here, who wouldn’t be?

At the foot of the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s Prince Rupert Island is a jewel of a place, crowned by gleaming snow peaks. Alaska is a soft whisper away. For miles all around, there is nothing but open road and blue sky.

Island Road

Just two hours ago, I was in the midst of a bustling city—Vancouver. But from the whirring wings of the Hawk Air Bombardier that lifted me off, to the soft ripples beneath the ferry that deposited me here, the noise slowly fell away, and peace took over.

The morning is still young, and diaphanous mist hovers like a tentative lover on the bosom of the island, dipping lightly down for a kiss when the breeze nudges it.

A serene spot

My host Bruce Wishart, a handsome Canadian with a complexion that owes its glow to these wonderfully moist environs, straightaway whisks me off on a tour of the tiny town. The SUV curves lazily around the ribboned roads, sliding past spacious homes that are now basking in gentle sunshine.

Road 2

We stop to gaze at some towering totem poles erected by the Tsimshian people who lived here thousands of years ago. For those who need their fix of history, there’s plenty here, beginning with the story of Charles Melville Hayes who had grand plans for this island, but went tragically down with the Titanic. Incredible as it seems today, Prince Rupert was one of North America’s most populous regions before the Europeans made contact.

Deer on Prince RupertAt one point, we screech to a halt, barely avoiding hitting a majestic creature that lopes artfully away. “Deer!” I exclaim, filled with childlike excitement at my first spotting of wildlife. My host arches an amused eyebrow, and tells me that for all its endearing looks, the deer is actually a bane for the residents of the island. It likes to steal into their manicured lawns and nibble on lovingly nurtured leaves, leading to much frustration. Makes me realise how relative the term ‘stress’ can be.

“For lunch, I am taking you to a very special place,” Bruce promises. ‘Special’ actually turns out to be one of my life’s most memorable meals. We drive to the edge of the water, and into the charmingly named Cow Bay Café. On the day’s menu are the region’s favourite dishes, starring salmon and halibut. I am vegetarian, so I opt for a lasagna featuring spinach and pumpkin. In response to my hesitant query that the pumpkin might impart a sweetness to my meal, the restaurant’s petite owner hurries out of the kitchen.  Her name is Adrienne Johnston, and she is originally from—hold your breath—Pune, India! She is anxious to explain how she will boil the lasagna to make sure its sweet quotient goes down. Soon, I am delving into the world’s most luscious lasagna—this alone is worth coming back to the island for!

Cow Bay Cafe

Come twilight, and we zoom off for another drive. Just a few miles from the island, on a slight incline, we cross a string of lovely bungalows, much larger than those on the island, and majestic in their isolation. These, I am told, belong to those who find even Prince Rupert too ‘noisy’ for their liking. All I can say is, imagine these men and women on a trip to Delhi or Mumbai!

Home Work Craft Store

After a relaxing hour in the hotel, I step out for a spot of shopping. Right across the street is a massive quaint store stacked with things of almost all description. Books, records, antiques, furniture, coins…the owner, a hearty Canadian, informs me that he only sells some of the stuff in here—“The rest is for myself,” he says, a mischievous twinkle in his sea-blue eyes.

Chef Willy Beaudry

Dinner is at the beautiful Crest hotel, where Chef Willy Beaudry’s experienced hand dishes up an exquisite spread. Savouring my wood-fired pizza, watching a majestic cruise liner lay anchor for the night, I realise:
who needs a meditation camp? This, right here, is bliss!

North Pacific Cannery

Shop at: Home Work craft store on Cow Bay Road, an Aladdin’s cave of unusual treasures.

Dine at: The Cow Bay Cafe, overlooking the harbour

Stay at: Crest Hotel www.cresthotel.bc.ca

Must Do:  Salmon fishing, whale watching and bear watching

Must See: North Pacific Cannery Museum, established in 1889, and almost completely intact.

Read more about Prince Rupert and get travel deals here: www.hellobc.com/prince-rupert.aspx

and www.visitprincerupert.com/

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