Saturday, June 29, 2013

WAWeekend: A Taste of Our Northern Neighbor

One of the many good things about Washington State is its proximity to Canada. In Seattle, we are about a two hour drive or 30-minute flight from British Columbia, our next-door neighbor to the north.

So when news from Richmond, BC, a suburb of Vancouver arrived in the inbox last week, it tickled our taste buds enough to make us think about heading north this summer. And here are but a few samples of why the temptation is great. . .

RS9411_Dining - Night Market - Asian 7

Sweetly flavored mini-donuts. Skewered seaweed.
Squid pancakes. Roasted yams. Fresh duck wraps.
Sweet mango and cream. Chinese dragon’s beard candy.
Swirly hurricane fries. Japanese takoyaki.
Spicy BBQ squid. Grilled beef or chicken skewers.
Vietnamese salad rolls. Burgers with sushi rice buns.
Japanese corn dogs. Smoked turkey legs. BBQ abalone.
Grilled lobster.Chinese noodles and dumplings.Butter chicken. Soba noodles with savory toppings. Stinky tofu. Shaved ice . . .

. . .are among the goodies found at:

Richmond’s two acclaimed Asian night markets -- The Richmond Night Market and the International Summer Night Market. The two markets combined offer nearly 150 food stalls, more than 400 retail vendors and a variety of entertainment to their more than 15,000 visitors each weekend.

Night Market 2013

Richmond Night Market
Open: May 17 until October 14, 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturday, 6 to 11 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
Location: 8351 River Road next to Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line.
Cost: Admission is $2 or, buy a transferable Zoom Pass - $10 for 7 tickets or $20 for 15. Seniors and children 10 and under are free. Parking is free.
Get there (by transit): Take the Canada Line to Bridgeport Station and then walk about 200 meters west along River Road to the market.
Get there (by car): Head north on No. 3 Road at Bridgeport Road and follow the signs.

RS9862_Entertainment - Night Market  15 

International Summer Night Market
Open: May 10 through September 8, 7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturdays, 7 to 11 p.m. Saturdays and holidays.
Location: 12631 Vulcan Way just west of the Knight Street Bridge.
Cost: Admission is free. Parking is $4, or purchase a transferable parking pass – 5 for $15 or 10 for $25.
Get there (by transit): Take the Canada Line to Bridgeport Station and then catch a free five-minute shuttle ride to the market (starting June 8).
Get there (by car): Head north on No. 5 Road at Bridgeport Road, turn right on River Road and then follow the signs.
There’s a free shuttle between the two, so you can easily visit both in a single evening.

081608 - Richmond, BC
Chung Chow photo
Richmond Summer Night Market
Each weekend throughout the summer 300 vendors selling a wide assortment of products and food items.  The largest venues of its kind attract some 14,000 people.
James Chu cooking up satays for the masses.

Our friends at Richmond Tourism offer these tips for enjoying the markets to the max:
* Bring cash. Although some merchandise vendors accept debit cards and there are ATMs on site, it’s easier for everyone if you can pay with cash on the spot.
* Be prepared to haggle with the merchandise vendors, but not at the food stalls.
* To avoid the crowds, come on Fridays and Sundays and arrive early.
* For the most action-packed fun, come on Saturdays and stay late.
* For the best deals, come on Sundays, especially late in the evening when vendors are trying to sell as much stock as possible before the weekend is over.
* Don’t be daunted by the longest food lineups – they’re long because the food is good. Besides, they move more quickly than you think.
* Expect to spend between $2 and $8 on most food items.
* Note that pets (dogs and cats only) are welcome.
* Neither market is licensed, so no alcohol is sold on site.

If  You Go:

Drive time from Seattle: About two hours depending on International Border Crossing wait times. Passport/Citizenship documentation required:

Map picture


The two markets are near several hotels. The Richmond Night Market is steps from the River Rock Casino Resort Hotel or a short walk to the Westin Wall Centre.

The International Summer Night Market is a little further over from these two hotels – a 5 minute drive. Or, there is the Sandman Signature Hotel, a bit closer. All the hotels are 5-10 minutes from the markets.

For more accommodations and information:

Photos used in this post were provided to us by Tourism Richmond. And a reminder to all of you using Google Reader to read TravelnWrite. Time to find a new reader and we are on both BlogLovin' and Digg these days. Google Reader is being discontinued this weekend.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Wedding Night ~ and other Travel Tales. . .

IMG_20130620_162149_853We’d ditched the wedding duds hours earlier --  opting, as they say,  ‘for something ‘more comfortable’. 

The lights were dimmed and we were snuggled up together on that,
. . .our first night as husband and wife. . .

wedding 001. . .well, as snuggled as one can be sitting side-by-side in the ‘no smoking’ section of a Delta Airlines flight that was whisking us across the continental United States to our Caribbean honeymoon hideaway. 

(Can you believe they had smoking/no smoking sections?!)

As a newspaper reporter, I didn’t have a lot of vacation days; so no time to waste when it came to travel.
This Friday is the 33rd anniversary of that first trip.  Although we no longer have those jobs with limited vacation time, we still believe there is no time to waste when it comes to travel! But sometimes it is good to pause in the planning and enjoy a trip down Memory Lane as well. . .

1980’s: Those wild and crazy early years. . .

PicMonkey Collage

Even with only two weeks annually, we managed to cram a lot of travel into those newlywed years.  Hong Kong,Thailand, followed by Singapore and Malaysia and then Japan. We couldn’t get enough of Asian cultures, the food, and history. The now-fading photos (above) were taken in Thailand (circa early 1980’s)– notice those look-alike white pants. And, btw, that elephant had just ‘goosed’ Joel!

The Call of Aloha . . .

VegasHawaii2012 060

VegasHawaii2012 067When we couldn’t make it to Asia, we’d head to Hawaii; a relatively ‘close’ getaway requiring only a 5+ hour flight from Seattle.

We were captured then by its ‘aloha’ magic  and our recent entry into the timeshare world has made O’ahu  our tropical ‘home away from home’ – for a few weeks each winter.

The 1990’s South of the Border ~ Down Mexico Way
DSCF2815A serendipitous set of events that prevented us from returning to Thailand, took us to Puerto Vallarta in 1993; a trip that was to turn our 8 – 5 work world upside down and change the course of our lives. 

(In this photo we were posing next to our first banana crop.)

Six months after that visit we had purchased Casa de la Playa, pictured below.  A decade later, we had quit those 8 – 5 desk-bound jobs and set out on the course of adventure we continue today.

Casa de la Playa 001

33 Years ~ What a trip!

We now spend nearly five months, sometimes more, living out of our suitcases. So many places we’ve seen; such wonderful people we’ve met. Land and sea; land or sea – doesn’t matter to us. Traveling independently, we’ve  follow our hearts; returning to favorite places and discovering new destinations.  Going ‘where the winds blow us’ has resulted in some amazing places, for instance:

PicMonkey Collage
From top left, clockwise:  Off-the-tourist track towns of Mexico; Bologna, Italy; Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Scottsdale, Arizona.

PicMonkey Collage
From top left: Venice, Italy; Loutro, Crete; Kotor, Montenegro,  Lake Chelan, Washington State.

PicMonkey Collage
Clockwise from top left: Walla Walla, Washington; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take;
but by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Thanks for joining us today while we paused to admire the views on Memory Lane. We hope when you take a backward glance at your travels,  you’ll have as many of those breath-taking memories as we do. 
But enough looking back! Time to get started on the next trip. . .

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, be sure to stop by Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travels. And for those wanting to know about my rendezvous with Nancie McKinnon, check back this weekend!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: Do-It-Yourself Room Service

There is nothing we like better when traveling than to sip that first cup of morning coffee in bed or while sitting on the deck enjoying the view from our room.  Just grabbing a few more minutes of lazy relaxation is a perfect start to a day.

GreecePt12013 079

On our recent trip to Greece that’s how we pretty much started each day. At the Hotel Manessi in Poros, Greece we were up early to watch the waterfront come to life each morning – cup of coffee in hand.

Pt1Crete2013 074Most of the places we stayed in didn’t have room service options but they had something even better: a pot in which to boil water, cups, saucers and spoons.

We were at the Corelli Suites in Elounda, Crete when I took the photo below and to the right.

Pt1Crete2013 110

Not only was this do-it-yourself room service convenient, it also saved us a couple hundred dollars over the course of our month-long stay.

Sfakia2Amster2013 364Good coffee – no longer just the Nescafe powered stuff – can be found in upscale coffee bars throughout Greece. In the places we visited, the cost was about $2US a cup for coffee and  $3US for a cappuccino.

Don’t get me wrong, we did visit any number of those coffee houses for a java jolt in the afternoon, like the one pictured above in Heraklion, Crete, but morning was the time for ‘home brew’.

Doing Do-It-Yourself Room Service

We brought a pound of Starbucks ground coffee, the individual filter holder and filters in our suitcase.  As we used the coffee and filters, it made room in the suitcase for souvenirs like honey and spices. We did replenish the Starbucks (yes, Starbucks has come to some places in Greece) but bought a smaller quantity to use up before our return.

Arizona Spring 2012 147Note:  When we take road trips that begin in Kirkland, I always stick our hotpot and two cups into the car.  Two years ago, while staying at an upscale Vegas hotel, that didn’t offer in-room coffee, we saved having to dress and go to the coffee shop (where two coffees were $10US) by simply using our do-it-yourself room service pack.
Do you use do-it-yourself room service?  If so, what tips do you have for us on this Travel Tip Tuesday?  Please add a comment below or shoot us an email and we will make sure we publish them in a future post.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

WAWeekend: Having a blast on Snoqualmie Pass

It was a blast on Snoqualmie Pass that led to this post.  Quite literally.

ChelanManson 027

Ellensburg 014
Snoqualmie Pass, about an hour east of Seattle, was once the hunting ground and homeland of the Native Americans tribe, the Snoqualmie (snow-qwal-me).

It now the highest point on  Interstate 90, Washington’s major east-west link.

Road improvements near the pass’s 3,022-foot high summit are prompting sporadic road closures of an hour or so and reduced speeds. 

Thursday evening’s blasting tossed and tumbled so many boulders onto the roadway that crews were still feverishly working hours later  to open the roadway by mid-Friday morning. 

That would be the same Friday as my scheduled one one-day road trip to Eastern Washington.

Ellensburg 011

I was among the hundreds of travelers who were waiting for the road to open. The good news was that I’d reached the summit’s recreation/rest area just minutes before the backup stretched beyond its exit.
Ellensburg 007

Ellensburg 009The summit at one time had little more than a Rest Stop.
Today,that same rest stop has been joined by ski areas and their lift stations, a vacation home development, a hotel and several coffee shops, one of which is located in the historic rest stop.

Ellensburg 006

That café/store, Red Mountain Coffee, (pictured above) was doing a brisk business. 

Next door, in the entry hall to the public restrooms, the state has mounted a framed narrative of the history of Snoqualmie Pass. And quite a history it has:  

In June 1858: Seattle area men, believed to be miners, cleared a trail to Lake Keechelus,  ([pictured below) just east of the summit.
WAFebMarch2012 003

Ellensburg 003
1865– 1867:The trail was widened and could then accommodate wagons, although weather destroyed it regularly requiring it to be rebuilt. It also required travelers to ferry across Lake Keechelus.  (Some on-line sources say portions of the old wagon road can be seen from the area’s Denny Campground.)

1884 – 1887:  An Ellensburg company improved the road further – but travelers had to pay a toll when using it.

Ellensburg 004

1905:The first auto drove over the pass on what was then called, Sunset Highway.

1934: the roadway was paved.
AZroadtrip2012 003

Roadway improvements continued and in 1981 the roadway lanes were split with west bound opening west of the Snoqualmie River and Denny Creek on a bridge span 200-feet high.

Ellensburg 012

2005 – 2017:  The state Legislature approved the  Transportation Partnership Account gas tax, which secured $551 million to improve the first five miles of the corridor to the east of the summit (notorious for snow slides that often close the road in winter).

The work involves adding a lane in each direction, replacing deteriorating concrete, adding and replacing bridges and culverts, extending chain up/off areas and replacing the snow shed (think open air tunnel over the freeway) just east of the Snoqualmie Pass Summit with another structure to reduce winter avalanche closures.

This portion of the project is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

If You Go:

Map picture

Expect delays and reduced speed areas when traveling over Snoqualmie Pass.  Blasting continues and schedulesfor closures resulting from it  – as well as road conditions – can be found at the Washington State Department of Transportation, click WSDOT.

Have you ever hit a road block on a road trip?  What did you do while waiting to resume your travels?

That’s it for this weekend. Hope you are having a good one what ever road you are following. . .come back soon!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Heaven ‘Scent’: Our Greek Orange Odyssey

Sometimes it was soft;  a feather tickling our noses with a hint of sweetness. . .
illusive and fleeting. . .
Sometimes the air was thick with the heavenly scent of 
~ orange blossoms ~

GreecePt12013 072

When we planned our Greek travels we didn’t realize that both  our destinations - the Peloponnese and Crete -- are two of the country’s major orange producing areas.  Greece, in fact,  is the European Union’s third largest orange producer, just behind Spain and Italy, respectively, and just above Portugal and Cyprus.

GreecePt12013 049Our Orange Odyssey began with the first whiff of the tiny, but pungent, blossoms on the island of Poros, a stone’s throw from the  Peloponnese. 

The Odyssey sent all our our senses into overdrive.  We saw, smelled, touched, and tasted oranges; from those tiny little white blossoms to the end product. (We drank orange juice by the gallons it seemed, sometimes each glass seemed gallon sized.)

GreecePt12013 065

Born and raised in Pacific Northwest agricultural areas, we are conditioned to think of fruit harvest as taking place in the fall.  In Greece, we learned, Valencia, the thin-skinned ‘summer orange’  is harvested between February and October with peak harvest falling in May – July. 

GreecePt12013 134While in Nafplion, that Venetian-style city in the Peloponnese, we bought a bag – filled with a dozen oranges for one euro ($1.30US) – from the display pictured below – one of many at the city’s  street market.

GreecePt12013 139

As we wound our way up and down, over and under the Peloponnese hillsides, we  traveled through the Laconia prefecture’s Evrotas River valley – one of the largest citrus growing regions in Greece.  Here we rolled down the car windows so we could enjoy the area’s aromatherapy.

PicMonkey Collage

Pt1Crete2013 083We continued our Orange Odyssey in Crete, where we restocked our citrus supply from this selection at Elounda’s street market.

Pt1Crete2013 149Elounda, on Crete’s northeastern shore, is where we spent several days revisiting favorite places. We ‘deck dined’  at our studio apartment feasting on breakfasts of Greek honey, fresh strawberries, home-canned cherries and, of course, oranges.

Pt1Crete2013 125

Sfakia2Amster2013 010In Hora Sfakia, on Crete’s southwestern coast, we watched the orange vendor as he parked his truck, announcing his arrival and product for sale using the horn mounted  on the cab.

Sfakia2Amster2013 011

His oranges were likely the ones that the owners of nearby Delfini’s Restaurant used in their display to lure tourists and visiting hikers – it worked on us each day of our stay.

Sfakia2Amster2013 047

That is our contribution to Travel Photo Thursday, an armchair travel event hosted by Budget Traveler’s Sandbox each week.  Head over there and take a few more trips  today. GreecePt12013 072 

Nancie McKinnon, a Canadian, who created both the BTS blog and the weekly photo event, lives and works in South Korea. . .she’s heading home to Halifax next week for a visit.

And guess what? 

She and I will meet for the first time ‘out of the blogosphere’ on Monday and you’ll never guess where. . .come back next week and I'll tell you!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer in Scottsdale? Say, Spa-aahh!

The  air was thick – a 111-degree blanket enveloped us – as we made our way across the expansive grounds of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess to the resort’s Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa, an air-conditioned 44,000 square-foot oasis of health and beauty. A place so large, there’s a greeter who escorts you to your destination within its spacious confines. It’s like a resort within a resort.

Scottsdale2013 171 
The Well & Being concept -- introduced just last January -- combines health, wellness, nutrition, integrative medicine, skin care and fitness. Folks here say they are the first luxury resort in the United States to implement such a comprehensive approach.

So health-serious are they, there’s a full-time doctor (a real M.D.) on staff at the spa. 

Scottsdale2013 114We toured the facility that offers a demonstration kitchen and workout areas as well as some 30 treatment and consultation rooms, (some of which open  to the patio pictured above). We watched a class doing exercises on surf board machines while a video of waves was projected on a large screen behind them.

  Scottsdale2013 113

One feature neither of us were inclined to try was the Aerial Yoga where yoga poses are done (think upside down yoga) with the support of these suspended cloth slings (which, they say, allow for greater stretching).

Say Spa-ahhh. . .

Following the tour I headed to the large and luxurious dressing/locker room and, while sipping some Prickly Pear lemonade, suited up in a fluffy robe and slippers. I was about to have my first-ever facial. Rose Marie, an aesthetician who’s worked here for 11 years, introduced me to its wonders.

Scottsdale2013 122

Because I’d never had a facial before  I chose it over a list of seemingly endless spa treatments.  Mine, a 90-minute treatment, began with an up-close and personal face photo (Brace yourselves! The images on that computer below are me and quite frightening). The two images, Rose Marie said, show sun damage and capillaries – I think they showed age as well!

The ‘reality show’ was followed by applications of  the ‘lotions and potions’. It was a botanical bonanza that included, but not limited to, an aloe cleansing, mists of lavender honey and rose geranium, a sweet cherry enzyme peel and a carrot seed soothing serum.  . .you get the idea. . .

 Scottsdale2013 121
One thing to keep in mind about spa treatments in resort settings like this one, is the cost of the treatment gives you access to all the other spa amenities and features on the day of your treatment (come early, stay late; a resort within a resort). 

Here those amenities include: steam rooms, saunas, a eucalyptus inhalation rooms, a private rooftop pool, and a three-story therapeutic waterfall, inspired by the real thing in the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls.

Scottsdale2013 116

Scottsdale2013 169

If you are like The Scout and not ‘in to’ spa treatments,  you can purchase a day pass here to use the non-treatment facilities.  (Free access is included with those booking the Fairmont Gold option).

Scottsdale2013 117

TravelnWrite regulars will recall we nabbed a good deal on November’s Black Friday for our stay here last December. The new spa concept was introduced about a month after our visit. Now that we’ve tried it, we can’t imagine a stay that  didn’t include significant time at their Well and Being Willow Stream.

The Scottsdale Spa Experience

Scottsdale2013 174Whether a long-time spa enthusiast or a newbie to the spa world, summer in Scottsdale is the time you’ll find both great hotel rates and good deals on spa packages and treatments.

To see a few of this summer’s deals: click on Experience Scottdale’s link:  Summer Spa Series

For information about the Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa, or call 480-585-2732.

An example of their Seasonal Offerings is this, one of  their June specials:
  • 45-Minute Treatments Monday - Thursday
    Need a quick mid-week spa fix? Choose from these 45-minute energizing spa treatments designed for the person on the go. Available Monday – Thursday all day long. 45-minute Energizer Massage or Customized Facial. $129 each
That’s it for this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday!
If you have a tip about spa treatments or where to find deals that you’d like to share with other readers, please write a comment in the section below or send us an email to   Small print: We want to thank the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for hosting our spa visit and treatment.

If you’ve not yet signed up to receive TravelnWrite posts, please do so on the blog’s home page, top right hand corner.  If you want to follow us on Facebook, click this link!  And, as always, thanks for stopping by today!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...