2016 in Review

Our travels during 2016

I was starting to write  “2017 in Review” when I noticed I totally missed writing about our trips during 2016 and there were four international trips and all of them were absolutely astonishing!

Here we go!  🙂

2016

January 

We started 2016 flying from Vancouver (YVR) to San Francisco on January 7th. From there we flew to Washington D.C. followed by a flight to San Maarten (SXM), followed by a flight on a very small plane  with Winair to St Barths (Saint Barthélemy, SBH). Yeah… it’s a long way!

From Saint Maarten to St Barths it’s a super short and super scenic ride.

We have been to St Barths before, traveling by ferry from Saint Maarten, but after you get on the plane for the first time, it’s difficult to go back to the ferry. The plane is much more convenient.  On top of that, we enjoy breathtaking views for the whole ride.

 

Flying with Winair from St. Maarten to St Barths

St Barths is a gem, and in our opinion it’s the best place in the world for beach lovers. Crystal clear waters, beautiful landscapes and delicious (although expensive) food.

SHB-10SHB-11SHB-12In our opinion, St. Jean on St. Barths Island is the best beach in the world.

Other whole time favorites are: Gouverneur, Saline, Colombier, Flamans… the list goes on and on.

Colombier-10Colombier-11Colombier-12Colombier-13Colombier. Usually it’s almost desert. Great opportunity to have the “private beach owner feelings”.  🙂

Saline-10We also love to hang out at Saline Beach. Totally unspoiled. Paradise on Paradise Island.

 

Although I don’t feel comfortable with the steep drive to Gouverneur Beach, I must add that it’s the second best beach on St. Barths, coming after St. Jean. There’s just one shadow there: The big tree where I am standing. Besides this tree there’s nowhere to hide from the inclement sun. It’s difficult to trust umbrellas as it’s usually windy and beach umbrellas don’t like windy places at all…  🙂

It’s common to find goats walking along the cliffs. It always surprises me their appetite for cactus! They eat it as they were Oreo biscuits!

 

The house we usually rent has an outside grill and once in a while we cook fresh Mahi Mahi. There’s a Fish Market in Gustavia and it’s great to go early in the morning to buy fresh catch directly from the fishermen.

For desserts we stop every day at  SAS La Petite Colombe.

 

St Barths st Jean-4

Of course I never get tired of posting pictures of St. Jean. My little paradise on earth. 🙂

There’s a lovely walking when you leave St. Jean and go up the hill. The views are to die for, and it’s also possible to see the airport’s runway right in front of you.

St. Barth has a really short runway and the pilots must have additional skills and certificates to land there.

As the plane needs to turn sharply after breaking, there’s always applause when the plane go to a full stop. The short runaway is one of the reasons for some people not flying there (the second reason must be the price to pay for those short-flight tickets… lol)

St Barths st Jean-10St Barths st Jean-11View of St. Jean beach from La Coline de St. Jean.

St Barths st Jean-12One of the shortest runaways in the world. Yeah, it’s really really short!  🙂

 

 

Scare face (just for the fun of it), leaving St. Barth on the small plane on our way to St. Maarten.

After spending almost three weeks on St. Barth island, we flew to St. Maarten where we stayed for a few days. Unfortunately, this time our choice of accomodation on St. Maarten wasn’t as good as on previous times and we didn’t enjoy our staying there. Moreover,  St. Maarten has been changing a lot, and I regret to say it’s changing for worst. It’s not on our plans to travel there again, unless it’s just to get the connection flight to St. Barth.

That being said, there are few pictures of Sint Maarten and St. Martin. We regret to having spent the whole holidays on St. Barth. Anyway… it’s none, eh?

 

 

 

Sint Maarten for a few days. “Happy Bay” used to be a nice and almost desert beach. Now we see dozens of condos close to the trail that gets to the beach and tons of cow’s poop close to the sand. Happy Bay used to be the best beach on Sint Maarten Island, but I am sorry to say that it’s past. No “hidden paradise” on that island anymore.

flying over the USA-10Flying over frozen US on our way back to Vancouver, Canada.

Back to Canada-10

Traveling on Canada Line on our way to “Home Sweet Home”.

Getting home when we land at Vancouver International Airport is one of the best experiences any traveler can expect: Reliable, safe and clean Canada Line skytrain takes us from the airport to downtown Vancouver in only 25 minutes. Isn’t this fabulous?

Getting back to wear coats after spending pleasant days on the beach is not easy, eh? On the other hand, we were getting back home, and home is located in the best city of the best country in the world! So… it’s a pleasure to dress warmly, although it hiden our beautiful Caribbean tan.  🙂

February

Back from the beaches to the snow! We had lovely hiking experiences around Vancouver, including snowshoeing on Dogs Mountain (Mount Seymour)

 

 

We also traveled for a day trip to Squamish, where we walked on marked trails with almost no chance to have a “close encounter” with a black bear! 🙂 Thanks Lord the bears are hibernating in February, and there was no need to carry our “noisy bells”.

 

Day trip to Squamish

March

March is Spring time and Vancouver’s cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Vancouver is one of the best places to admire cherries and plums. If you are visiting Vancouver during Spring, make sure you visit Queen Elizabeth Park. The park offers  great views of Vancouver and is one of the best places in town to admire cherry trees. It’s a pink feast for the eyes!

 

We wraped March going to a soccer game  (Canada vs Mexico) but unfortunately, the Mexican team was luckier than ours and we regret to say that… they won.    😦

 

April

Clear days, not so much rain and it’s tulip time!

We decided to go on a day trip to “Tulip Town”, WA, a short drive from our home in Vancouver.

 

Traveling to Japan! 🙂

On April 24th we took a direct flight from Vancouver to Tokyo.

 

We stayed at Hilton Tokyo and I highly recommend this hotel for comfort, service and location.

 

Hilton Tokyo

There’ san excellent restaurant close by to Hilton called “Fungo”. We loved our dine experience there.

 

First morning in Tokyo we went to visit the mega-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. We went there by subway and found it very easy to navigate.

We didn’t go to the live auction as it happens very early in the morning. We went after breakfast and had lunch there.

 

Navigating the extensive subway network on our way to Tsukiji Fish Market.

 

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji is one one the best places in Tokyo for fresh catch. We had a delicious meal there. The interesting thing is that the restaurants start to serve lunch early in the morning and some of them had already people lining up by the door before 11am! 🙂

 

Difficult to choose with the menu written in Japanese but they have a menu with pictures that was handy when we were asking for our meals.

 

Hamarikyu Gardens is an absolute “must see attraction”. The pine (picture on the top right corner) is 300 years old and has pieces of bambu supporting the branches, otherwise they would break with its own weight.

 

Modern Architecture, beautiful metro stations and great art.

Architecture -1

Some of the buildings were really different from everything I have ever seen. 🙂

Asakusa is a temple with a very interesting history and is visited by thousands of people on a daily basis.

 

Asakusa

I came out being interviewed by the local television! They were asking me about my knowledge in case of an earthquake. I told them that living in Vancouver I am aware of what should be done in case a shake happens.

Asakusa interview-1

Being interviewed by Japan television! 🙂 That was awesome! 🙂

 

 

From Asakusa we went to visit Tokyo’s Prefecture. Two towers located in Nishihinjuku, with one of the towers giving free access to visitors on the top floor. The views are unbelievable.

 

 

TMGO-10TMGO Lobby

TMGO-11Leaving TMGO

One more garden that should not be missed during a trip to Tokyo is Gyoen. There’s also a Greenhouse carrying species from all over the world.

Gyoen-10

City views from Gyoen Gardens

 

 

We went by metro to Roppongi where we had a delicious lunch followed by crepe and ice cream.

 

Roppongi

The Imperial Palace is a great place to visit.

 

Imperial Palace, Tokyo

Nikko

During our staying in Tokyo we went on a day trip to Nikko, where we visited the Nikko Toshogu Shrine. It was raining and in our opinion it gave an special charm to this sacred and important site.

 

Kamihatsuishimachi is a famous bridge in Nikko with a beautiful story.

 

We returned to copy early night and went for sushi in Shinjuku.

sushi-1

Back to Tokyo and back to sushi

Yoyogi Park-1Yoyogi Park, just before heading to Meijin Jinku

One of the most inspiring places in Tokyo is Meiji Jinku, we had a lovely time there and could witness a traditional wedding taking place.

 

 

Traditional wedding ceremony taking place at Meiji Jinku

On April 30 we boarded the high speed train (shinkansen) to travel to Kyoto. It was a beautiful sunny day and we could appreciate Mount Fuji.

 

Kyoto Arrival-1

Arrival at Kyoto train station, on our way to the hotel.

 

We loved our accommodations in Kyoto, at the “Royal Park Kyoto”. We have no doubts about staying there on our next visit.

Kyoto Gallery-1

This gallery has many tourists appreciating exquisite foods and objects. It’s located less than 10 minutes walking from the hotel.

Kyoto-1

Kyoto viewed from one of the bridges

Kyoto-2

 

Heilan Shrine, Kyoto. This is an absolute “must go” when you are in Kyoto.

If you like gyoza, go to “Chao Chao”. It’s a minuscule restaurant, with a huge line to get in. Usually it takes 1 to 1.30 hour to have a seat. They don’t take reservations. You will have to wait. The gyoza they serve here deserves each second of the waiting. It’s absolutely delicious!  🙂

 

We rented bikes for several days and this was the smartest idea ever! We should go “everywhere”! Bikes are really cheap there (less than 10 dollars / day) and it’s funny because it’s allowed to bike on the sidewalk! In fact, “everyone” rides a bike on the sidewalks, probably because the streets are narrow and it wouldn’t be safe for bikers and cars. Another different thing from here in Canada is that helmets are not mandatory. They even don’t have helmets to rent! Next time we visit Japan I will make sure to bring our helmets with us (just in case toc toc toc).

 

Biking in Kyoto. We biked along all the paths of the Imperial Palace. Amazing!

Another awesome place that should be visited is Nijo Castle. We rented pre-recorded explanation so we could get the whole history while there.

 

Nijo Castle

Nijo-jo Castle-1

Nijo-jo Castle

Biking in Kyoto-1

Renting a bike in order to explore Kyoto’s attractions is something I highly recommend and I can’t wait to repeat!

Yakaka Pagoda-1

On our way to visit the Yakaka Pagoda

One of the most amazing places in Kyoto is the Kiyomizu-dera. We had a blast there!

 

Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera-5Kiyomizu-dera-6Kiyomizu-dera

By the end of the day, when we were returning to our hotel we saw a beautiful art presentation happening along the river bank. An artist painting a beautiful sign (no idea of what was written  though) while classical Japanese music was being played by a young man. Quite inspiring late afternoon.  🙂

Night-5Artist performance by Kamo River bank.

After shower and a quick rest we went to explore Gion, the neighborhood famous for its nightlife.

Night-1

Geishas in Gion

Night-2

Kyoto is kind of  far from the sea and this is probably the reason for sushi and sashimi not being so popular here as they are in Tokyo. Most of the restaurants serve “cooked” meals instead of raw fish. Delicious anyway.

Without any doubt this is probably the most famous and most visited attraction in Kyoto. It’s beyond description. You must go there, walk through the gates and feel the energy of this place. It’s absolutely marvelous.

 

 

One of the most interesting places where we have already been is Sanjusangendo. It’s a budista temple founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed my a fire.

It’s forbidden to take pictures inside, where there are 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.

 

Sanjusangendo

Biking “everywhere” in Kyoto also took us to the super famous “Philosopher’s Path”. Although this is a super-attraction during Spring (Ferry Blossom festival) we enjoyed it a lot and it was awesome having the place to ourselves instead of fighting with the crowds! 🙂

 

Philosopher’s Path

The “Gold Temple” is another landmark that should be on your bucket list. We visited Kinkakuji Temple and can’t wait to go back to admire that masterpiece again and again.

Kinkakuji Temple-1Kinkakuji Temple-2Kinkakuji Temple-3Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple-4Kinkakuji Temple-5

One more marvelous temple with manicured gardens: Ryoanji, where one of the attractions is the Japanese gardens.

 

Lunch was at Sakon, just in front of Ryoanji Temple.

 

Kyoto has many Temples and we were delighted we could visit almost all of them (at least the most famous are on our “been there” list!). Ninnaji Temple (pictures below) is another gem that should not be missed.

Ninnaji Temple-1

Ninnaji TempleNinnaji Temple-2Ninnaji Temple-3

Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji Temple-4Ninnaji Temple-5Ninnaji Temple-6Ninnaji Temple

The most famous gardens (sand garden) is Ginkaku-ji and we went all the way up in the mountain (by bike!) to visit it. Absolutely astonishing!

Ginkaku-ji -1Ginkaku-ji -2Ginkaku-ji Ginkaku-ji -3Ginkaku-ji Ginkaku-ji -4After lovely days in Kyoto it was time to return home! We took the shinkansen (fast speed train) to Tokyo where we flew back to Vancouver.

Shinkansen-1Shinkansen-2At the station, ready to board the super-fast shinkansen on our way back to Tokyo

Shinkansen-3The train we will be boarding arriving at the station.

Shinkansen-4

We were lucky again on our way back to Tokyo, as the day was clear and Mount Fuji was totally visible. What a view!

When we arrived at Tokyo Train Station we changed to the super-modern “Narita Express” that took us to the airport. In my opinion, the “Narita Express” is the best way to travel to Tokyo’s main airport. It’s a modern train that includes flat screens where  flight schedules are displayed.

 

From Tokyo Station to Narita Airport traveling the efficient and comfortable “Narita Express”.

Although the 8.30 hours flight it’s over our “limit” for deciding “business first” instead of  “coach” (economy)  class, we flew economy as we didn’t pay! We used our Aeroplan miles to get free RT tickets paying only the taxes (around CAD 100.00 each).

Free travel made us happy travelers, even on coach seats!  🙂

airplane-1

May 

May was a great month to stay home and enjoy the beautiful Spring days in Vancouver!  🙂

June

We hit the road again!  On June 3rd we flew from Vancouver to Jackson Hole where we stayed for a couple of days.

We chose the nice Huff House Inn . Super comfortable and large room with delicious breakfast. The B&B location is superb (three blocks from the main square) and there’s also a hot tub located in the backyard.

Grand Teton-1Flying from Vancouver to Jackson HoleGrand Teton-2

Almost landing @ Jackson Hole Airport

Grand Teton-3

Huff House Inn @ Jackson Hole

We rented a car (from Budget) in order to better explore the region.

 

Jackson Hole main square and our rental vehicle

We were fortunate to find several life while exploring Grand Teton during a day trip.

Grand teton-1

Grand Teton National ParkGrand teton-2Grand teton-3Grand teton-4Mormon Row @ Grand Teton National Park

Grand teton-5Grand teton-6Grand teton-7Grand teton-8

 

Jackson Hole Lake Dam

Food in the National Park restaurants always come in huge amounts. They probably are aware that hikers’ appetite are enormous, like starving tigers!

Jackson Role food-1Large portions at Grand Teton National Park lodges

We went on some very interesting hikes at Grand Teton and I am glad we didn’t need to use the bear spray that was provided by our B&B

 

When visiting Jackson Hole make sure you know the days and times for the live performance in the city center. It’s a lovely show figuring cowboys fighting for a girl.

Jackson Hole show-1

Taggar Lakes-1 There are several hiking trails at Teton National Park,  I highly recommend “Taggar and Bradley Lakes” hike. It’s brilliant!

Taggar Lakes-2Taggar and Bradley Lakes hiking trail

Taggar Lakes-3Taggar and Bradley Lakes hiking trail

Taggar Lakes-4Jenny Lake is absolutely astonishing!

Jenny Lake-1Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake-2We left Grand Teton National Park and drove north to get to the Yellowstone National Park. I must confess that entering in the Yellowstone is a breathtaking experience. We almost feel the energy changing in the air. So happy to be here!

Yellowstone -1Entering Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone -2Our rental vehicle and the beautiful open spaces along the road

Yellowstone -3Several waterfalls and great trails along the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone -4Our first stop to see a geyser was at West Tumb Geyser Basin.

There are several boardwalks along the site from where we can see (and smell) and take pictures of the pools.

Yellowstone -5Yellowstone -6West Tumb Geyser Basin

Yellowstone -11Yellowstone -12Yellowstone -13Yellowstone -14We continued moving north on our way to Mammoth Lake. There were plenty of wild like along the route (most bisons). So far no moose or elk or wolves….  🙂

Yellowstone -15We were delighted with our choice of accommodation at Mammoth. We decided to stay inside the Park, in order to be able to enjoy the early hours without the need to drive.

The “Lower Terraces” is located by the side of  “Mammoth Lakes Hotel”, so as soon as we dropped our luggage inside the room we went out to walk along the boardwalks along the terraces.

Terraces-1Lower Terraces

 

Terraces-10Terraces-11Terraces-12Terraces-13View of our hotel from the top of the “Lower Terraces” and steak dinner after a beautiful hiking along the Lower Terraces.

 

Dinner was at our hotel (Mammoth Lakes)

Lamar-1

On June 6th, we started early in the morning to the “Lamar Valley”, famous for having a great variety of wild life.

We weren’t disappointed! We had “close encounters” with buffalos, elk, birds, cubs, …

Lamar-2Lamar-3

This black bear was paying all attention of her surroundings having a “fluffy” bear but by her side.Lamar-4Lamar-5Lamar-6Although some folks carrying huge telescope lenses told us “have a look, there are two grizzly bears over there, close to that tree on the top” we couldn’t see them. I guess it needs some “practice” identifying animals in such a long distance.

Lamar-7Lamar-8We must drive with super-extra-attention as our wild friends cross the road without ever looking around!

Lamar-9Lamar-10Lamar-11Lamar Valley is one of the most incredible places where we have been. Really amazing!

Lamar-12On the above picture: There goes a wolf with its beautiful tail

On the picture bellow: There goes a deer, running for his life with a wolf a few feet behind him…   It’s a wild world! 🙂

Lamar-14

Lamar-15

Lamar-16Driving along the Yellowstone Roads is always an “adventure” in itself! 🙂

From the Lamar Valley we went to explore the “Upper Terrace”

Upper Terrace-1

Upper TerracesUpper Terrace-2

Upper TerracesUpper Terrace-3Upper Terraces

Fumaroles-1

Roaring Mountain Fumaroles deserves a quick stop while driving along the park

Fumaroles-1-2.jpg

 

Norris Geyser Basin

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River-1

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River-2

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River-3

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River-4

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River-1

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River

 

Blink of Upper Falls

 

Heart of the Caldera  @ Yellowstone

 

Beautiful waterfall and “walls” along the road

Evening hours are excellent to spot more wildlife along the roads. We saw one mummy bear with her two very small cubs.

 

Black Bear (mom and two little cubs)

The elks who recently gave birth stay resting and enjoying the last sun rays of the day, specially along Fort Yellowstone (almost in front of out hotel). One of the elks chased us although we were far away from it and didn’t make any kind of movement or staring. We didn’t run away but it was kind of frightening!

 

Elks by the hotel door and by the houses of Fort Yellowstone.

It was time to leave Mammoth Hotel and go to our second accommodation inside the park: On our way to the Old Faithful Inn.

 

We saw this beautiful grizzly bear while driving. Look what happens with the road when such an animal appears: Everyone leave the cars in the middle of the road and try to take as much pictures as possible. This explains the huge traffic jams during summer at the Yellowstone!

 

Artist’s Paint Pots

 

Beryl Spring, Firehole River and Fireholle Falls

Driving along the Yellowstone is a constant adventure and it’s important to drive slow and paying close attention for wildlife

Yellowstone-60

 

There are several super scenic spots and we went to all of them (at least to all that were marked on the map that we got from the Visitor Center!  🙂

 

Fountain Paint Pots

 

Firehote Lake Drive

We divided our trip to the Yellowstone in three parts, staying in different hotels (all of them located inside the park) to take advantage of the attractions nearby and without the hassle of driving without sunlight.

Out “new home” was a stone throw to the most visited and famous attraction in the Yellowstone Park: The super famous “Old Faithful”.  We stayed at the “Old Faithful Inn” and could hear the geysers during the night. An unforgettable experience, for sure.

 

Our bedroom at the Old Faithful Inn, the crowds waiting for the Old Faithful and The Old Faithful “in motion”.

It’s hard to get a room at the Old Faithful Inn and if you don’t book one year in advance, you may have luck in case someone cancels the reservation. To increase your chances, keep hitting the “refresh key” during late hours and if there’s a free room you can make your reservation. We did this and were lucky to get a cabin ar the Old Faithful Inn & Cabins.

 

The Old Faithful Inn from outside; our Cabin; the beautiful interiors of The Old Faithful, the schedule time to the geysers (printed at the reception) and our delicious dinner at The Old Faithful Restaurant.

The best thing to stay at The Old Faithful Inn is that you have the geysers to yourself! We woke up at 6am in order to watch the blow of the Old Faithful and it was amazing as there were less than a dozen of people around!

Old Faithful-40Old Faithful-41Old Faithful at 6am: Private show!Old Faithful-42Old Faithful-43Old Faithful-44Observation Point-1On our way to the Observation Point

Observation Point-3View from the Observation Point with the Old Faithful Inn on the left Observation Point-4

Observation Point-5Observation Point-6Observation Point-7It’s a great (and easy) hike to the “Observation Point” from where we have a nice view of the Old Faithful Geyser and also to the hotel and other less important geysers.

 

Upper Geyser Basin

 

Healthy breakfast at The Old Faithful Inn

We attended the “Architectural Tour” at the Old Faithful and I highly recommend it. You may book it my phone or at the reception.

 

Architectural Tour @ The Old Faithful Inn

Geysers at Yellowstone-1Castle Geyser

Geysers at Yellowstone-2

Geysers at Yellowstone-3

Geysers at Yellowstone-4Chromatic Pool

Geysers at Yellowstone-5Grotto Geyser

Morning Glory-1

“Morning Glory” is the cover picture of several books about the Yellowstone. The fame is totally justified: It’s a glory!

Morning Glory-2Morning Glory-3It goes deep deep deep on earth. Amazing!

 

Grand Geyser (one of the longest eruptions)

Black Sand Basin-1Black Sand Basin

Black Sand Basin-2Black Sand Basin

Biscuit Basin-1Biscuit Basin

Biscuit Basin-2Biscuit Basin

We went on a lovely (and quite arduous) hike to Mystic Falls.

Mystic Falls-1Hiking to the “Mystic Falls”

Mystic Falls-3Hiking to the “Mystic Falls”

Mystic Falls-2

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls-4We did it!  🙂

Grand Prismatic Spring-1Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest in the US and third largest in the world. It’s surreal to view this in person.

 

Grand Prismatic Spring-2Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring-3Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone-90Grand Prismatic Spring

Splitting our staying in the Yellowstone National Park in three different places was the best decision possible! Not only for the change in accommodations but also for staying “up close” to the best attractions without needing to be riding a car all the time. Thumbs up and if you want the best experience while visiting the Yellowstone I recommend you do the same: split, split, split!  🙂

We arrived at the “Lake Lodge”, a brand new hotel that is also part of the Yellowstone hotels and lodges. This is a brand new one, with comfortable accommodations and was the most “luxurious” of the three where we stayed although it lacks “character” and the waiters at the restaurant were lacking training as the service was the slower service we have ever seen “anywhere”.

We went hiking to the “Lower Falls”. It’s kind of steep but it totally worth it!

 

Lower Falls-1On the way to The Blink of the Lower FallsLower Falls-2On the way to The Blink of the Lower FallsLower Falls-3On the way to The Blink of the Lower Falls

Blink of the Lower Falls-10YEAH!!!! Finally! We got there! @ The Blink of the Lower Falls

Blink of the Lower Falls-11

View of Blink of the Lower Falls-10In this picture it’s possible to see where we have just been (close to the falls, on th right hand side).

View of Blink of the Lower Falls-11

On our second hike (to look to the Lower Falls from a different angle, we were able to see the amazing place an eagle has chosen to place her nest and there’s a small eagle there. You will see it if you click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Inspiration Point

 

Inspiration Point

volcano-10

Mud Volcano (where a buffalo sat outside the washroom’s door so no one could get in. Fortunately there was no one inside, or he (she) wouldn’t be able to get out.

Buffalo-10After this picture this guy went to block the public washroom’s door.

volcano-11This place smells bad! It is called “sulphur caldron” and it’s hard to be standing there, even for a few minutes. It is surprising that the buffalos don’t give a *** and they live there placidly, as if they were laying down on the Eden Garden.  🙂

Sulphur Caldron-10The acid is so strong here that it’s almost like a battery acid! Holy smokes!

We went to the Yellowstone Lake Hotel for a light lunch and enjoyed the opportunity to admire the lake (it’s really enormous!). We also saw a “cute” elk that loved to be “posing” for us.

Yellowstone Lake-1Lake HotelYellowstone Lake-2Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake-3Super Cute

Yellowstone Lake-4Super Cute

On our way back to Jackson Hole we enjoyed a beautiful drive along the Tetons looking dor moose (saw just one but it as hiding in the bush)

We stayed at the “Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa” and definitely wouldn’t stay there again. We didn’t enjoy the accommodations (pretentious and not “comfy”). We didn’t enjoy the hot tub (should be a peaceful area but there were over twenty  girls screaming without any supervision and there was no one from hotel’s staff to report). Last but not least, the “amenities” (toiletries) were wrapped on cellophane  paper with huge tags where it was written “this article is for sale if you open it you blah blah blah).   Argh!!!!    Never again, for sure.   We missed our B&B where we stayed in the start of the trip (most pleasant and probably 1/3 of the rate).

 

Tetom Mountain Lodge and Spa. We definitely wouldn’t repeat when visiting the region again.

 

We had great (and steep) hikes on top of the mountain. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to ski Jackson Hole as the terrain is really really steep.

We went for margaritas in a nice bar called Mangy Moose and also discovered a good place to have dinner, called “Teton Thai” (delicious, outside patio and awesomely priced).

 

Margheritas at “Mangy Moose” and Margheritas and Thai Food at “Teton Thai”

We returned to Jackson Hole square to buy some souvenirs (they have beautiful jewelry there). There’s an amazing bakery where we got delicious sweeties and coffee called “Persephone Bakery”. If you are in the region, I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s really good!

J Hole -1The sheriff patrolling the streets of Jackson Hole, like in the Old West movies.

From Jackson Hole we flew to Vancouver with a connection in Denver, Colorado.

July and August

Busy with summer visitors in Vancouver. We enjoyed the gorgeous weather and lots of summer activities happening in our city.

September

We flew to San Francisco and from there to Hawaii (Big Island).

You can read about our trip to Hawaii clicking here

From the Big Island we flew to Oahu where we stayed for one week.

We arrived at Waikiki Airport and rented a car.

We stayed at Marriott, beachfront location at Waikiki Beach with lateral views to the sea.

Marriott Waikiki-1

On Sept 27 we visited Pearl Harbor.  This is an amazing place to visit where you will learn a lot from the war and probably will get emotional thinking of all people who lost their lives to protect freedom.

If you would like to visit Pear Harbor you must book your tour in advance. Just check the Pearl Harbor website and there will be instructions on how to book, what you can bring during your visit, etc.

Visiting Pearl Harbor

Turtle Bay-1Day trip to Turtle Bay

During our staying on Oahu Island we chose a day to drive all the way north where we spent amazing hours at Turtle Bay.  I would’t like to “stay” there, as I love all the action of Waikiki, but for a day trip it’s a lovely place to go and I highly recommend it.

Turtle Bay-2

Oahu has amazing beaches, specially between June and October when the sea is calmer.

Kalahopele Gulch is another favorite

When it’s not “surf season” and the sea is calm, Waimea is a paradise (for me!). Not the same scenery as during January & February….

Waimea-2

Not far from Waimea Beach there’s a delicious food truck selling amazing shrimps and pineapple juice (inside the fruit).

Delicious shrimp and pineapple

Driving west gives lots of unspoiled beaches that look like private beaches. Waimanalo Beach is always a favorite!

Waimanalo Beach-2

Waimanalo Beach-1-2.jpg

Waimanalo Beach (you can see “Rabbit Island” on the left hand side

One of the things we love on Oahu, is the live atmosphere in the evenings. There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. The best restaurants on the island are located along Waikiki and also excellent shopping malls.

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Tanaka of Tokyo  –  International Market Mall

Every time we go to Hawaii (Oahu) we go to Hanauma Bay. The best time to get there is early in the morning, as soon as they open the gates. Having the bay for just a dozen of people is superb and as soon as the crowds get there it’s time to leave!  🙂

Hanauma Bay-1Hanauma Bay-2

One of the advantages of staying in Waikiki is to be able to go to the beach in the evening, after returning from day trips to more distant places on the island. Pristine and calm waters were a “must” after a busy day sightseeing along the island.

Marriott Waikiki is EXCELLENT, I highly recommend it. Completely the opposite of the Marriott located on the Big Island that we really disliked.

Oahu Final-1Oahu Final-2Oahu Final-3

November

We traveled to Washington D.C. where we had a great time visiting Museums, Art Galleries, great restaurants and also enjoying an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with our son and his fiancé.

We stayed at Hilton Garden Inn Alexandria and liked the location although pretty “basic”.  It probably will not be our first option on a next trip there.

Plane-1

From Vancouver to Toronto and from Toronto to Washington D.C. (this picture is the second leg)

Every time we travel to Alexandria (VA) our first stop is at our favorite restaurant in town: Ischiban on King Street, Alexandria.  Always fresh, always delicious always reasonably priced and with an attentive and friendly service.

Ischiban-1

We have been to Washington D.C. more times than we can remember or even count. It doesn’t matter as we love to visit all the Museums, the National Gallery and many other “tourist attractions”!

FBI Building, The White House (with the moving truck ready to move Obama out and bring Trump belongings in), Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery

National gallery-1National Gallery

National gallery-2Viewing my beloved Canadian flag at The Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.

National gallery-3Capitolio viewed from The National Gallery

New Museum-1Visiting the new Afro-American Museum

New Museum-2Capitolio almost during sunset

We love love love Alexandria! So fond memories of this little town!

Alexandria-1Old Town Alexandria

Alexandria-2Old Town Alexandria

We also had a great family time during the delicious Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving-1Thanksgiving Dinner with our son and his fiancé

The day after Thanksgiving is the same for everyone: “Fighting” for a good deal at the shopping malls. Crowded and fun (specially when you find a parking spot without having to wait “years” for it… lol)

Black Friday-1

During our staying there we also had a fabulous picnic along the Potomac river. The young couple is awesome to prepare everything and to cook one of the best BBQ ever!

Pic Nic-1-2BBQ along the Potomac River

Pic Nic-2BBQ along the Potomac River

Pic Nic-3BBQ along the Potomac River

We never miss an opportunity to attend Mass at The National Cathedral and to thank God for the great things he has been doing to all of us during our lives. We are grateful to the lives we have, we are grateful to our family and to our country. We thank Him profoundly.

Food and scenary D.C.-1D.C. is such a gorgeous city