Nostalgia

Nostalgia is hitting me like bees swarming around flowers in spring.

As I wrapped up my extensive travel across Canada, I came across the photos of people I have met and made friends with.

A huge shout-out to everyone who made my stay in Canada memorable.

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Thank you everyone!

8 Jul 2011, 3:28pm
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Ottawa & Gatineau

I’m nearing the end of my travels in Canada.

The furthest West I’ve gone in Canada is Gatineau in Quebec. This is the most French you can get in the entire land of Canada. 3 months worth of intensive basic French only got me as far as listening to a guided tour in French. Can’t say that I understood all that I heard, but hey, I can read the exit signs.

Kicked start the walking journey on a bright sunny morning. On hindsight, I must have been my fittest when I was in Canada! I walked a lot of places by foot!

Let’s head over to Quebec!

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From Gatineau, the view of Ottawa is pretty. Parliament hill looks picturesque.

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We headed to the Civilisation Museum of Canada to understand a little more about the Canadian’s way of living.

Can’t say that it was as good as how the travel guide paints it to be. I much prefer the mall at Washington DC.

I did like this exotic looking bus though.

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Back on the land of Ottawa, lies the Parliament Hill.

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Makes for a lovely way to end the night.

Even though this place probably sees more business travellers than tourists – given that it is the capital – it has its good tourist spots that are worthy of a visit. In my opinion, these beats visiting the museum at Gatineau.

I did like the one hour that I spend at the Byward market. If you are a bargain hunter like I am who likes to source for interesting nicknacks, this is a place that you would want to visit.

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Spend some time browsing through the street stores around the market for handcrafted items. I picked up a lovingly made dream-catcher with real parrot feathers for CAD10.

A little off down town, in a little serene neighbourhood lies Laurier House, former residence of Prime Ministers Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Mackenzie King.

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Much has been left the way it was when the two Prime Minister lived in the house.

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Le Salon.

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A well read man, is indeed a wise man.

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I can’t quite remember the story behind this veiled lady. But I truly recall being totally freaked out at the sight of the head. Not something I would want in my house!

Another place that is off the track but worthy of a visit – if you haven’t already seen a gazillion state houses and parliament house – is the Rideau Hall. Unfortunately, I think photography is not allowed in the hall.

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Photography is permitted in the next place of visit, the Parliament House.

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What a misfortune that I ran into some problem with my memory card and had most of the pictures wiped out. The horror!

But thankfully, this picture was saved.

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An iconic picture of Ottawa. Makes a very pretty postcard!

I do recommend that you take the free tour to have a full preview of the parliament house. The guides are really friendly and are well informed.

I can’t believe that my journey in Canada is really coming to an end. It has been one of the most exciting trip I have ever made in my life!

6 Jul 2011, 2:09pm
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Toronto: Casa Loma

It’s most girls’ fantasy to visit a palace or a castle at least once in their lifetime. The secret tunnels, the promise of the dark, dangerous and mythical – all rolled into one.

Casa Loma, built by Sir Henry Pellatt, founder of Toronto Electric Light Company, remains a worthy place of visit.

Step back into time as you tour the castle that has been fully restored to its full glory.

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The first site that greets you is a grand lobby that is big enough to hold at least 100 people.

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If you are wondering what those pipe are. They belong to this instrument.

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It’s a ginormous pipe organ. I don’t think it can be played anymore, but the size of it is incredible.

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Enter the library where Pellatt entertained guests and admire the carvings.

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Extremely old books. I wonder what do they contain?

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The dining and what Pallett’s wife would have worn during their time.

What amazed me through my tour in Casa Loma is that true to the stories and fantasy books that I’ve been reading, there are really secret doors and stair wells!

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Take those flight of stairs and enter the upper levels.

Henry loved his wife Lady Mary a lot. He designed her bedroom with her comfort in mind.

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On the second floor, you would also come across Sir Henry’s bathroom.

6 taps that controlled 3 different level of water. He sure knew how to live a lavish lifestyle.

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Taking one of the secret flight of stairs, you would reach the wine cellar. Sir Henry had an extensive collection of wine.

I wonder how many of these bottles of wine are still drinkable.

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Now on the outskirt of the castle lies the stable and the secret garden. I didn’t have the luxury of time to explore the gardens, but I did check out the stable.

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No horses, but I found a knight!

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You really never know what secrets castles keep. I wonder if at night this place will become a Nights at the Museum. Knight in shining armour anyone?

4 Jul 2011, 11:17am
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Toronto: Queens Quay & Old Town

We have travelled to the far East of Canada, the middle and now… to the West of Canada we go!

Toronto is the largest city of Canada and it’s bustling with activities. The pace of living is slightly faster than the rest of Canada, and the shopping is good. The weather ain’t as crazy as Winnipeg nor Boston, making it a great place to visit.

One of the most famous icons of Toronto is the CN tower. It’s distinct shape marks the skyline of Toronto.

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The best time to visit the CN towers is pre-night fall.

You get to see the gorgeous sunset…

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And you may be in luck to watch a game 533.33 metre down.

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And of course, when you’re in the land of the Canadians, you definitely have to make time for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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But if you ask me, my favourite spot in Toronto has got to be Queen Quay. It reminded me so much about Sydney Harbour. Plus, I got to eat the famed ice-cream – the shop is located somewhere along the Quay and the chocolate ice-cream is fantastic.

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That aside, the streets of Toronto are worth exploring. You never know what you might run into!

More ice-cream?

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There is little doubt that you should spend a few moments at the Old Town.

Get some local produce at the Lawrence market, smell some flowers and catch a glimpse of the famous Flatiron building.

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Canadians sure have a sense of humour.

Tomorrow, I’ll bring you to visit a site that is whimsical in its own rights.

14 Jun 2011, 6:22pm
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Canada: Calgary

Calgary in its own rights, is a pretty charming town.

Not only is it famous for the Canadian Rockies, it is also famous for the Canada Olympic Park and Scotiabank Saddledome.

At the Canada Olympic Park, you get to read about the history of the Winter Olympics, try on some equipment and play some sport – if you are up to it.

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After exploring the exhibits at the visitor centre, you should head up the hill to check out the ski jump complex.

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Fifteen minutes of uphill climb and chilly wind later, we’ve arrived!

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The scenery is pretty… Till you look down!

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Skiers are such brave people!

Similar to the Olympic Park, Sandledome also held some Olympic games during the Winter Olympics in 1988. It lies near the grounds of the Stampede Corral. Ice Hockey anyone?

It is not difficult to understand why Sandledome is named the way it is.

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Unlike Toronto, you can pretty much see most of Calgary when you are at the observatory deck at the Calgary Tower. Besides having the Rockies protruding at the far end of Calgary, the city is laid in neat rows on flat land.

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Far right: Calgary Tower.

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The Rockies lies right at the end on the far left.

In my entire life up till then, I have never really seen a full mountain range from afar. I vividly remember peering down on Calgary from the air and teared at the sight of the Rockies. It was and still is very beautiful.

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The other side of Calgary.

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The business district of Calgary at night.

Even during autumn, the streets of Calgary resonates the charms of Winter.

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And guess what Calgary has that Singapore doesn’t?

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Now A&W won’t you just come to Singapore?

9 Jun 2011, 5:05pm
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Canada: Banff

People who say that there is nothing to do in Canada have never been to Canada’s pride national park.

Next stop in project touring Canada: Banff.

Famous for its snow-capped mountains and lush green, Banff is one of the top destination for locals and tourists alike.

This place is heaven. Although, my Finnish friends were quick to add that this does look like their yearly Christmas season back home. But till I knock on the doors of Santa Claus and ask for a spin in his sleigh, let’s just stick to the itinerary.

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Tunnel Mountain.

One can easily figure out why Banff is one of the 1001 places to see before you die.

Banff is gorgeous. It’s hard to contain one’s excitement in this white wonderland.

The air is fresh. So fresh, I truly believed that my lungs were renewed.

Country music – checked. Sports wheels – checked. Here goes the road trip!

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The first stop. Lake Minnewanka. It is called the “Lake of the Spirits”.

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Nothing truly spooky about this place. Just a sense of calmness.

Along the road, we encountered many animals. This truly is a national park. Big-horned sheep ahead!

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Gorgeous coat.

I had hoped that we would have seen more than these sheep – like elks or deers – but no such luck as the weather turned for the worse the following day.

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Banff is pretty in all directions. This random shot taken from inside the moving car is proof.

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Banff is overgrowing with pine trees. The smell is so refreshing.

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The climb is steep and long, but we definitely need to reach the peak of Sulfur Mountain.

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See that? Yes, that is where we will be heading towards.

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Victory picture with my Finnish friends.

On the way down, we spotted the Brewstar.

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How I wished I had the time to visit the polar bears!

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And as night falls, what a lovely little castle to live in for the night… Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

There are of course other places that are worthy of a visit in Banff.

On the top of the list is Lake Louise.

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A pity it was really snowy. So we couldn’t take a good snap shot of the vast lake.

The town is charming though…

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What better way to end the trip then to tuck in to a Wendy’s meal.

7 Jun 2011, 4:35pm
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Vancouver: Whistler.

With only four days in Vancouver, I managed to squeeze in a day at Whistler. After all, I do need to satisfy my craving for snowboarding.

A pity I had only enough time to shop, but not enough time to try the slopes!

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Just look at those people go. Utterly jealous.

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But hey, there is shopping ain’t there?

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Of all the cities I have travelled, it is just ironic that the place that has the most christmas-spirited lighting is in Singapore.

As it turns out, the weather got worse as the day went by.

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I had to try something. So… What is left but…

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Tubing!

It was totally hilarious. All we wanted to do was to sit in the tubes to take picture. But we got really really stuck…

Or at least I was.

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That’s my JC friend who has since gotten hitched.

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Love the snow, hate the frozen butt.

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Did I mention that my favourite winter sports to watch is Curling?

2 Jun 2011, 4:16pm
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Vancouver: Victoria Island

One of my favourite places in Vancouver is Victoria Island. An unassuming little town with an old charm that lingers in your heart three years on.

I’m a city girl, and to wake up in one of these must be a total enjoyment.

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And as usual, I’m decked in my all time odd attire. Love the shoes though.

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Lunch was this mouth-watering plate of beer-battered fish-and-chips. Nothing beats eating seafood along the docks. For that matter, nothing beats eating seafood along the coasts!

If you have just about 1 hour extra, you should take time to visit their Miniature World. This place is a toy haven for children and adults.

It’s quirky, whimsical… and fun!

I was genuinely impressed with the detailing.

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Everything is clock work. Right to the carriages.

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A lot of people stopped to take pictures at this huge display depicting fairy land.

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A tribute to London.

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I could go on and on rambling about the museum.

But with one hour to go and a ferry to catch back to mainland, it’s shopping time!

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After all, I really truly am a city girl at heart.

24 Apr 2011, 11:26pm
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I left my heart in Vancouver

As I fight off these mounting piles of work, let’s tour one of my favourite cities in the world – Vancouver.

I’ve grown up in a city state so I enjoy the buzz and the hype of a cosmopolitan town. Vancouver is all that plus fantastic weather thrown in. I can run around in boots all day for all I care.

The moment I step off the plane and have dumped my luggage, I started my mini tour at the harbour.

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I do think Toronto’s harbour looks way much prettier. Vancouver’s harbour look strangely similar to the one in Hong Kong.

A short walk thereafter, I enter the historic gastown. The streets were pretty empty.

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Terribly shaky picture I know. But yeap, touristy picture… checked. Strange how I really liked the whole denim skirt with black tights combo then. If only I can ditch the fur jacket for a long coat.

There is just something amazing about the traditional vibe in gastown that made me smile. Cluster after cluster of shops that reminded me of cowboys and horses.

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Adjacent to gastown, one should check out the Sun Yat Sen garden that lies somewhere in Chinatown. It is said to be really pretty with awesome botany.

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I didn’t stay too long to linger in Vancouver’s chinatown and headed straight to the city centre.

Unlike Singapore’s orchard where you have to jostle with the crowd, Vancouver’s city centre is busy yet has a tinge of calmness to it all.

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Taken from Banana Republic’s flagship store in Vancouver.

Until you see a car like this.

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Just like our local sunflower motorbike, this has become Vancouver city centre’s resident car. Everyone takes a snap shot with the car.

Well you would have thought that I would have gone crazy shopping, but I realise that I wasn’t as shopaholic as I was a famished girl in the cold winter. After digging into Kebabs for breakfast, I had the most delicious nutella waffles along the street at Cafe Crepe Express. So delicious that I do think about it ever so often.

Ah, and with that I leave you with one of my favourite moments in Vancouver.

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Calm, serene, beauty.

If only.

16 Apr 2011, 11:42pm
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Canada: Winnipeg in the Winter

First November 2007 is a day to remember. It was the day when I experienced my first snowfall!

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The start of a -40 degrees Celsius winter.

I did warn you that Winnipeg’s winter is crazy right?

So crazy they need bulldozers to cart off the thick snow.

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But the snow does make my school campus look really beautiful.

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That winter, I learned the new definition of a refrigerator. It is to keep your fizzy drinks warm from the cold harsh winter. They will explode due to the coldness, if left in the open.

That winter, I also learned that it is wise not to hang your clothes outside of your home to let it drip dry. It will be frozen.

That winter, I also tried my hands at many things that I can never do in Singapore. It was the first time I made a snowman. I was super duper happy.

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I also attended my first ever ice hockey game.

Boy, was it violent.

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And snowboarding!

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I’ve never had so much bruises on my knees before. Pain aside, it is really so exciting to snow board down the never ending slope.

I can’t wait to jump at the chance to go snowboarding again!

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