Greetings from Vancouver, Canada

Kanada - 19.8.2018 18:57

This post is about the first part of our trip in Canada. While I finish the pictures and writing of the second part, you can already check out the video of the whole trip here: https://vimeo.com/285648254 with password 1205.

So, Vancouver, it is claimed to be even the most beautiful city in the world. I’d always wanted to go to see Vancouver, the waters and mountains around it. We had really nice few days there exploring the city a bit, although spending more time in the parks in and around it, which I appreciated. I thought Vancouver was beautiful as well though, especially because of its surroundings. There were small planes taking off and landing on the water in front of the city, flying passengers to the many islands and coves nearby. We rented a tandem bike to explore Stanley Park, which is a big forest/beach/inland water area covering a peninsula right off the city. It was nice to ride around the peninsula along the sea and in the forests. Doing it with a tandem was another new experience in itself as well! Balancing it was more difficult than I had expected, but we managed it and got better at it, and avoided any accidents on the sometimes busy bikelanes.

One thing I didn’t expect of Vancouver was the large number of homeless people. I understand that the living costs in the city have gone up a lot, many rich foreigners are buying properties in town and also driving up the prices. We did see many Asians, and they seemed to have been pretty well integrated, as in the immigrants had been there for quite some time already and it would be easier then for new ones to integrate as well then, I guess. I’m not sure if the high living cost is the only reason for the big homeless community, as we observed there were very liberal and alternative lifestyles that could lead in to more people living on the streets. We didn’t have a car in Vancouver so we used the buses, and there we encountered many homeless people. Especially along Hastings Street, which was on the way to our Airbnb. There is a stereotype of Canadians being friendly, and to my surprise this was true, among the homeless especially. And why not!? My experience of alcoholics and drug addicts from Finland just told me a bit otherwise. But actually the homeless people we saw in buses were in general really polite and didn’t cause any trouble. And I was happy to see that they were treated with respect, as in people would offer their seat to a homeless person in a crowded bus.

We met other friendly Canadians as well. Our Airbnb host family was one really friendly and helpful family. They even picked us up from the airport and had put a bottle of rosé in the fridge for the honeymooners! We shared many stories together and had funny and meaningful discussions. And they even let us use their car for one day when we went hiking in Lynn Canyon!

Deb’s friend, Sarah, joined us for a couple of days as well! She had taken time off of work and traveled more than 10 hours by bus to come and see us. Sarah is a friend from when Deb worked at Mercy Ships, and they had a really good time reconnecting. We did some hiking together, like the day in Lynn Canyon, and also up to Cypress Mountain. Both were really nice days. One day we walked along the coast just taking in the sea air and stopping at benches to read the special messages on them. We explored Granville island together, an industrial area that had been turned into a recreational area with markets selling good stuff, like food and desserts. That day we, like thousands of other people, went to English Bay for the evening to watch a beautiful fireworks show by the South Korean team, who were competing against Sweden and South Africa. We ate there at the beach, watched the sun go down, and the evening ended with a blast, spectacle. It took quite a long time to get back home though.. which was no surprise. A surprise was that Deb and Sarah met another friend from the Ship after the fireworks. Vancouver seemed to be the place to be.

Oh and before Sarah came we had a great day in Deep Cove, just the two of us. We could get there by taking two buses in less than an hour. I would definitely recommend spending a day there. It’s a beautiful area filled with nature, and there is a small town with cozy cafes, restaurants and shops. The atmosphere is really laid back. People have houses, or free time houses, by the sea. And just looking at the houses is interesting in itself. You have even a better view of the area if you rent a kayak and paddle around the cove and the islands. That’s what we did, in tandem again. We rented a double kayak for a couple of hours and that was a great way to explore and do some exercise together. We were actually really active. After the kayaking we still went for a couple of hours’ hike to the Quarry rock, which was a nice look out from the beautiful forest where the trees are so big and old. The forest was different from Finland. It was very bright and green, and there was a lot of ferns and moss growing.

We enjoyed Vancouver. It seemed to be a good place to live, kind of like Sydney in that way. I would like to go back and explore more of the archipelago around Vancouver, maybe take a plane with pontoons. Apparently there are quite interesting communities in these hidden coves, which can’t be reached by cars.. Oh and I’m sure one wouldn’t need to go far to do some good fishing. And then of course there is the Whistler mountain, which we didn’t have time to visit this time. But we did a lot of great stuff with the time we had, definitely!

Arrived in Vancouver Indigenous totem poles at Stanley park The Hollow tree at Stanley park. Here people have been taking pictures with their vehicle parked inside the tree for decades already. We continued the tradition. Breakfast at Honey Donuts and Goodies fuelled us for kayaking and hiking in Deep Cove Kayaking at Deep Cove was great fun! Hiking through the bright and spacious forest in Deep Cove. This would be amazing for mountainbiking! On top of Quarry rock in Deep Cove. Vancouver at the back. Beer tasting in Deep Cove style Coastal walk at the North shore of Vancouver together with my wife and her friend Sarah. Lion's gate bridge and Stanley park at the back. Found this on the beach At Cypress Mountain viewpoint with my wife and Sarah. Vancouver at the back Fireboat putting up its own show before the fireworks Fireworks spectacle by team South Korea in English Bay, Vancouver Some natural swimming pools in Lynn Canyon Picnic lunch at Rice lake with wife and Sarah At Lynn Canyon  Ice cream with my wife and Sarah. I had salty liquorice (salmiakki) and mint chocolate chip cookie dough flavours

Aloha from Hawaii

Yhdysvallat (USA) - 2.8.2018 08:59

Check out our new video at: https://vimeo.com/282805357

Password: 1205

Greetings from paradise!

When I was a child I dreamed of going to Hawaii. But it was so far away from Finland, and so expensive. The Canary Islands or Thailand were usually the easier holiday destinations. I never thought one day I would go to Hawaii. But I did. We did! It was conveniently on the way from Sydney to Vancouver.

It was expensive, but totally worth it. We had such an amazing time!

We flew in to Honolulu, which is the capital of the “aloha” state on the island of Oahu. On our way we travelled back in time! That was so weird. We had already had breakfast that day in Sydney, but we had it again the same day in Honolulu. We were so tired when we arrived very early in the morning. The US customs wasn’t even open yet so we had to wait for the staff to come to work before we could enter their country. You hear all those rumors of how intimidating the immigration is at the US border, but we had none of that. The friendly man said aloha and didn’t ask further questions. I do believe the rumors though.. Anyways, we were so tired, too many crying babies on the flight. The Dreamliner was a nice plane in itself though, big windows and such a smooth landing we didn’t know if we had touched the ground. Maybe it was just not to wake anyone up so early.. although we figured people in Hawaii get up very early. Sunrises are beautiful. Back to being tired, the excellent news for us at the time of arriving to our hotel was not only that we got an upgrade because we’re on honeymoon, but also the fact that we could check in at 7am instead of 1pm! We had breakfast and crashed on the bed.

We woke again in the afternoon and felt like it was morning. Did some bikini shopping and got a local sim card, which is great since it works in Canada as well and we can pick up Uber rides because of the mobile data. We went to watch the sunset at Waikiki beach and had some fish tacos for dinner. Couldn’t believe how loud the people were in the restaurant. And the tipping culture. Still getting used to it. The same with your purchases being hit with the tax at the cashier and there you go suddenly spending 10% more than you thought. But it’s probably just my cultural stiffness.. The beauty of the nature and the island lifestyle make up for it all.

So we spent almost four days on Oahu, renting a car for one and a half days. Even though Honolulu is quite a big city, the Waikiki area was nice and walkable. There were plenty of shops and restaurants. The island offers much more though. We paid a brief visit to the historical Pearl Harbour, and visited also Dole pineapple plantation. We also hiked up the crater at Diamond Head (with hundreds of other people). Then drove to the North Shores along the west coast. The scenery changed dramatically from dry to lush and mountainous, and there were really nice beaches at the North Shores. We had excellent shrimps at Giovanni’s shrimp truck. I never thought truck food could really be any good but I have to say these were probably the most delicious 12 hot and spicy shrimps I’ve had in my life! We spent our afternoon on a beautiful and quiet beach that I had spotted from the map. There was even a natural ocean pool! Turtle Bay, but don’t tell too many people about it. There were nice beaches at Haleiwa and Waimea as well. But we continued to Lanikai where we stayed in an Airbnb. We had a tasty seafood dinner there and the next day woke up to watch the sunrise at the beach. We had to get up early anyway to return the rental car and catch our flight to the island of Maui.

We had originally booked our flights to the Big Island where we could have explored the volcano national park, but because of the volcanic activity the park is mainly closed, so we decided to go to Maui instead. And I’m happy we did, since Maui was epic!

We spent 7 days on Maui, which was a really good amount of time to explore the whole island. Rental car is a must. We had a nice Jeep, which good on some of the bumpy parts of the road to Hana. The rental company we used on Oahu and Maui is called Alamo. They had frequent shuttle buses from terminal to their office where we picked up and returned the rental cars. Their service was very good and fast. No issues, and returning the car was very easy.

We had an Airbnb for our stay in Maui. It was located in south Kihei, which I think was a perfect location. The beaches in Kihei are much nicer and less crowded than those in Lahaina, where many of the tourists tend to go. Also, Kihei had a lot of services available and was a good location to explore the island. We saw many sea turtles when snorkeling at the beaches in Kihei/Makena area. The water was so clean and clear. It was pristine. Like it was supposed to be, everywhere, before man polluted the waters. And the beaches were sandy, no trash anywhere! So pleasing. It’s such an isolated place. That comes with a cost too. We thought we save a lot living in an Airbnb and cooking ourselves, and then we were quite shocked about the prices in a grocery store. But that’s it, the logistics of getting food and goods to the islands is so expensive. A simple package of toast bread was 5$, a bit fancier bread was already 9$. Four cans of Maui brewing company’a beer was also 9$. Mmm, pineapple wheat beer for the hot summer’s days. It was so worth the money.

We had sunny weather throughout our stay there. It was between 30 and 35 degrees. We were able to work on our sun tans. The Airbnb had beach chairs and the works, so we really enjoyed comfortable staying on the beach. The first night, we went for an evening swim at sunset and I almost bumped into a massive sea turtle! We saw many of them the following days as well. Amazing creatures. The snorkeling from the shore was good, but we still paid for a snorkeling trip to Molokini crater, which is supposed to be one of the top 10 snorkeling spots in the world. It was good and colourful, yet I would say we saw more interesting stuff at Palawan in the Philippines.

Besides the ocean and snorkeling, another highlight was the road to Hana, which is basically going around the East part of the island. We went via the south side, so we started by going through the dry and windy. It was spectacular. We drove through lava fields and dry lands, which changed to tropical forest around the eastern bend. On our way we stopped to eat local fruit from farmers who had fell in love with the island and its lifestyle. I can see why. During the day we did almost a three hours hike on the Pipiwai trail, which starts from the ocean, following the river leading from the seven sacred pools all the way to a beautiful waterfall. The trail follows the river and goes through a bamboo forest. A wonderful experience! The bamboos make an almost instrumental sounds when clonking to each others in the wind. Pipiwai was the highlight on the road to Hana, but we saw many more waterfalls and pools along the road still. We also explored a cave on the black sand beach, which gets its colour from the lava rock. The evening we ended in a surfing town called Paia.

Talking about surfing. I had to try that, of course. No instructions, but after about one hour of surfing I was able to stand on the board and ride a wave, three times! It was nearly sensational, the feeling when the wave took over and the board picked up speed.

We did some cocktails (Mai tais), good food (ahi and poke), chilling and sitting by the pool as well, although our week was pretty active! Difficult to say which one was the most unforgettable experience, but surely the summit hike at Haleakala Red Hill was an amazing one! We drove, from practically sea level to 3,050m altitude. On the way we passed through different climates, until we were above the clouds. Once up there, we did a 3hr hike down and up the crater. The scenery was like from Mars. Volcano cinders, red dirt, black dirt, species that can’t be found anywhere else. Dramatic landscape, and then clouds hanging low below. We went quite far to the crater until there were no other people. There was no sound. It was beautiful. I ran a loop around a cinder, which was a mistake. In that altitude and scorching heat I lost my breath and was exhausted! And that was at the bottom of our trail. Now we needed to hike up all the way had come down. But it went well, we made it back to the top. In perfect time to witness the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen! We sat on our beach chairs on the summit above the clouds watching the sun paint the sky and the dancing clouds as the evening turned to night. Just to reveal the most amazing starry sky!

Waikiki beach My little mermaidHonolulu as seen from Diamond Head 

Trying the local dish, Poke! Really yummy, raw fish. Banana ice!My wife having so much fun in the Waikiki waves Submarine at Pearl HarbourWhipped pineapple  The best shrimps I've ever had - at Giovanni's shrimp truck

Did you know that coconut palm trees were not original to Hawaii Our secret beach on the island of O'ahu, with a natural ocean pool 

Dinner with my beautiful wife Sunrise 6am at Lanikai beach Sunset at our home beach in Maui

Makena beach   On the road to HanaThe south side of Maui was very dry and windy Black goat on the lava fieldsOn the road to Hana - stopping to eat a fruitplatter in a bamboo garden Sandals Waterfall on Pipiwai trail Measuring the size of this plant Looking that the tree is in healthy condition after all those tourists climbing on it Bamboo forest The last waterfall on our Pipiwai trail On our way back Seven sacred pools leading to the ocean Cave exploration The sand on this beach was black from the lava rock The beautiful Hakeakala crater from 3000m   Silver sword is a plant that can be found only here in the crater The hike up from the crater was strenuous  After the crater hike we sat down to watch the sun set Watching the clouds dance as the sun set No more t-shirts and shorts in 5 degrees weather! Teaching myself to surf at Kanapali beach Happy man after learning to catch a wave  Snorkeling in the Molokini crater   My wife got friendly with the sea turtles  Local dish, Ahi Local dish, fresh fish Mai tais on the last evening in Maui